Archive for May, 2012

We were trapped.  I held my daughter precariously in front of me, my shoulders weakening. Faint sunlight filtered in through the tiny vents above.  Surrounded by filth and fecal matter, disease festering on ever surface.  My grip was loosening.  Her little body dangling over a pool of decayed filth and chemicals, certain death in physical form.
“Daddy!!!”
“Shit!  Hold on, baby…hold on to Daddy! Pleeeeaase!”‘

But let’s rewind first before we get that little scene.  As I left off in the last post, we were just making our way into the over-crowded annual Lilac Festival in our city park.  As we shoved through the pounds of sweaty, smelly patrons and their over-heated dogs on too-long leashes that tangled in the feet of all that passed by, we had decided to make our first destination the kiddie carnival rides.  We were at least going to make this fun for our child if anything.
I picked our daughter up and put her on my shoulders just as two pit bulls on flimsy leashes walked by, right at her face level.  I don’t trust anyone’s fucking dog around my child, particularly in hot, crowded, confusing places like this for animals, where their agitation level is probably pretty goddamn high.  I felt like biting every fucking person that bumped into me, I could only imagine how they felt. The owner gave me a self-righteous look that implied “Pit bulls are beautiful and loving dogs and the public fear in them is unfounded and a result of BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH”.  Bitch, please.  They’re living chainsaws.
I looked up, “There, up over the hill, is where the kiddie rides are, we can-OWWWW!  FUCK!!”
A crushing sensation over my foot sent tears to my eyes.  I staggered and my daughter nearly fell off my shoulders.
“Oh…sorry about that..he heh…” replied the yuppie bitch who had just pushed her toddler mega-stroller over my foot.  I use the word “stroller” but that’s not apt.  This thing was not simply to transport small kids around in a convenient  manner.  This thing had eight-inch, treaded tires for off-road support, shocks, a double wide passenger section, double canopy, about five different compartments for storage and 3 racks underneath for more storage.  And their kid wasn’t even fucking in it!  The thing was loaded like a fucking camper, like some doomsday preppers ready to make their last stand.  They were packed to the crest with coolers, bags, toys…
I hopped  back on my foot and shot her a look.
“Rick, don’t,” my wife cautioned.
“The thing is a fucking Hummer Stroller,” as we pushed on.  It never ceases to amaze me what yuppies spend their money on, thinking the “biggest and most expensive” was what you bought if you “really cared”.  Like that fucking stroller was really gonna play a deciding factor in their kid getting into Harvard.  Or that other parents like us actually looked at them in envy.  I felt the urge to pop another yuppie bubble, but suppressed it.
We got to the kiddie rides and bought a roll of over-priced tickets to get on ’em (the line to get tickets only took twenty minutes!) and then stood in line at the kiddie train for another solid fifteen minutes.  When we finally got our little girl on and she was all buckled in, we stepped back and beamed.  Her first solo run on carny ride.  And she looked calm.  The little girl in the car behind her…not so much. As soon as the ride started, the little blonde slid out of her belt and stood the fuck up.  The attendant hit the E-stop and the girl tumbled forward into the lap of another kid.  The father went ballistic, hopping the gate and screaming at his kid and shit.  The girl looked like she was barely two.  Her eyes wide with shock and tears.  The father pushed her back into the seat and made some violent threat about not standing up, then he stepped back and the ride started up again.  Our daughter was now enraptured in the drama unfolding behind her, as the little girl starting screaming and standing up again.  Another E-stop and the another tumble and the father was hopping the gate again.  Well shit…
Before he even got to the train, my foot had extended just enough to send him sprawling onto the grass.
“Oops.”  I nodded to the attendant who let the little girl off and she was running over her daddy’s back and to her mother waiting arms, tears streaming down her face.  The dad got up and gave me a look, but he wasn’t gonna do shit.    “She was fine!  She’s old enough!  She can handle the train!” he screamed to everyone within twenty feet.  Fuck, this guy was gonna have this girl snow plowing his driveway by the time she was four.
The ride finally finished and we moved on to the ferris wheel, with a line that snaked around the bend and ended somewhere in China.
“No.  I’m not standing in this one.  I just ain’t,” I said.
My wife sighed but I could see she had little more interest than me in standing in another line of attrition.
“Then we’re hungry, let’s head to the food tent,” she responded.
We pushed and shoved our way through the vendors and pavilions until we came up the hill to the gigantic food tent.  The thing was like a circus tent, only all the animals inside were dead and ready for consumption.  We muscled our way in and looked up in the horror: within the outer circle of food vendors were nearly four hundred people, shoulder-to-shoulder, back-to-back.  There were no discernible lines to each of the vendors, just hordes of people pushing and shoving and flapping money in their outstretched hands.  It looked like the floor of the stock market, except people were haggling for meats and fats fried in corn-syrup sauces and grease.  Vertigo set in almost immediately.  Trying to get you bearing was a hopeless task, you just bowed your head and tried to push along behind the first person you saw, hoping they would lead you to food.
At one point, we got pinned between a table of mindless zombies eating with their heads down, oblivious to the constant bumping and abuse they were receiving from the bulging crowds, and another table of mentally challenged adults who were on some kind of field trip.  Now I’m no heartless bigot and have the kindest of hearts for our mentally challenged brethren…but when one of them has vomited all over his face and hand and is trying to eat it again…them vomits it back up…then starts to fling it in our general direction and paint my daughter’s hair with it…yeah, I get a little…upset.
I quickly scooped up our girl before her scalp could be pasted with what appeared to be cottage cheese and bile, and turned my back to him, hoping to avoid too much spray.  Luckily my wife spoke up before I had to:  “Yeah, um…who ever is taking care of this nice gentlemen….could you please get him cleaned up….HELLO…ONE OF YOU!?  WHO AT THAT TABLE IS IN CHARGE? HEY! I SEE YOU LOOKING AT ME…SOMEONE CLEAN THIS GUY UP…..”

Okay, my turn.  I handed our daughter to my wife and spun around to the guys wheelchair.

“OKAY!…COME ON, BIG GUY, WE’RE GOING FOR A DIP IN THE HIGHLAND POND.  Can you hold your breath?  Can you?!” as I began pushing his chair away from the table.  He let out a “WEEEEEE!” and coughed up some more vomit.

“Umm, sir….*sigh* I have him.  I’ll take him….”

It was some teenager that had obviously been saddled with way too much fucking responsibility while her superiors took full advantage of her “resume building” charity work and were probably “taking a moment” at the beer tent.  Well, my heart can’t bleed for everyone.
“Okay, he’s all yours…”
I’d like to say we moved on from there…but we did not. The crowd barely budged.  The smell of cooked meat and grease was everywhere, but none within reach.  Plus, after Pukey McPukertan, I had pretty much lost my appetite, and I was really starting to get a bit of agoraphobia from all this shit.  I just ain’t built for it.  I yelled to my wife I wasn’t hungry and I would just wait outside the tent for her and our kid…and didn’t wait for a response.
Outside, I stood uncomfortably to the side, just looking at the masses of people…and it really started to hit me: almost everyone I looked at seemed fucking spent.  Like miserable and not even trying to hide it.  There were a few smiles and laughs, mostly from the beer tent, but most of these masses of faces looked exhausted and pissed.  What the fuck were we all doing here?  Why did we all try to force half our city’s populace in such a small area in one afternoon?  There will be other days…other festivals.  What drives us to engage in such hopelessly disastrous social events?  Before I could even ponder the answer, my cell phone rang.  I picked up and it was my wife from the far side of the tent.

“I got our food order in but I’m still waiting for it.  Our daughter needs to pee…like right now.”

“Now Now?”

“Rick, come get our daughter and find a fuckin’ port-a-potty.  And hurry.”

“You’re kidding….”

She wasn’t kidding…and the line went dead.  I shoved my way back into the smelly pile of flesh within the tent, after nearly starting several fistfights and stepping on a toddler laying in the mud (it was an accident, and I’m pretty sure he was alive…thinking back, it may have been a doll but I really didn’t have time to look), I made it to my wife’s side.  I bent down and scooped up our daughter and proceeded to shove my way back out.

“Do you really have to go, honey?”

“Yeah, I have to go pee.”

“You can’t hold it till mommy can take you?”

“No.  I gotta go RIGHT NOW!”  And when she says “Right Now” you got about sixty seconds, roughly.

Nice.  And we were off.  With her cradled in my arm I was jogging through the park at a steady clip, scanning the horizon for the purple shit-shacks like a desert dweller looking for an oasis.  Every time I found a row, the lines were backed up twenty feet.

“Daddy, I gotta go….I gotta GO!”  Judging by the pitch in her voice, we were down to the last twenty seconds, then the yellow river was gonna flow.  We had circled back to the entrance and saw two purple shitters placed under a tree with only a couple folks in line.  I ran up to the front of the pack a flashed my best mean-mug at the sucker already standing there.

“Hey, the line starts-”

“I will hurt you.”

“…fine…dick…”

One of the doors opened and a hefty gentlemen, also referred to as “fat ass”, lumbered out.  We trotted up to the door and prepared to step in…then I got a good smell and even worse glance inside.  It was a goddamn holocaust.  A fecal war zone soaked in urine and blue sanitizer. Drenched toilet paper lined the floor and walls.  Liquid shit coated half the seat and back wall.  The toilet itself was nearly filled to the top in a mound of paper and…god, I don’t even know.  I choked back vomit and quickly turned away.

“Oh GOD….oh god….we can’t go in there, honey.”

“Daddy…I gotta pee right now!  I GOTTA-”

Bile crept into my mouth.  “…*hmph*…baby, I can’t take you in there…daddy can’t…”  then she started crying.

Oh fuck me.  Time to be “tough daddy”.

“Okay.  Listen to me.  Put your hands against your chest and keep them there.  DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING!  Keep your eyes closed.  Daddy is going to hold you over the toilet.”

She nodded quickly.  I picked her up and walked back in and locked the door behind us.  With one movement, I hiked her pants down and held her in front of me in a squatting position, her tush hovering over the toilet, my back muscles locked in agony.

“Okay.  Don’t open your eyes.  Don’t move your hands…just pee.”

“Daddy, you’re shaking…put me down-”

“Shit!  Hold on, baby…hold on to Daddy! Pleeeeaase!”‘

“I can’t…”

“Just PEE!  PEE RIGHT NOW, DAMMIT!  Daddy’s shoulders are gonna break off…”

I suddenly heard the heavenly sound of tinkling beneath us, as my legs joined my back in trembling.  I was holding my breath, but the sights were doing serious mental damage.  I had never seen such filth in my worst nightmares.  Such massive quantities of human waste seething all around me.

“Hurry, honey…god hurry…”

“Okay, daddy. I’m done.”

I hiked her pants up in one more quick motion, reached behind me to unlock the door and slammed my way out backwards.  I made it a few steps before plopping my daughter on the ground and vomiting against a tree.  I looked up and a small crowd was standing around us.  I wiped my mouth and smiled.

“Beautiful day, huh?”

I scooped my girl back up and walked to an open area on the grass and sat us down.  My cell phone jingled.  I answered to my wife on the other end.

“I got the food, where are you?”

“We’re at the entrance.  Bring the food, we’re going home.”

“We just got-”

“I nearly dropped our daughter in seething pile of shit and piss.  I’m calling it a day, dear.  And I’m calling a cab.”

“…a seething pile of shit?”

“Love ya!” and I hung up.

Twenty minutes later, we were piling into a cab to go about three miles back to our car.  After recounting our daughter brush with toxic death, my wife spent the car ride home cradling our little girl and stroking her head, “We almost lost you….we almost *sob*…”.

As we pulled into our driveway and my family was walking inside, I walked to our garage with purpose and came out with an axe.  My wife didn’t cry out in terror, however…she knew what I was doing…and she approved.

I walked calmly to the back yard and proceeded to chop our lilac bush to kindling. The Lilac Festival was over.


It’s supposed be all about the god damn flowers.  Lilacs to be exact.  Purple little blobs that bloom on bushes once a year that everyone is supposed to trip over themselves to gaze upon and smell.  As if they are the farts of the Gods in tangible form.  Once a year, for one week only, about half my city’s population cram themselves onto about four square city blocks in Highland Park to look at flowers, sweat, feast on sickening amounts of deep-fried lard, and sweat…a lot. People call this “fun”.
The Lilac Festival holds a bit of nostalgia for my wife and I…it was one of our first dates and was later where I proposed to her (right after hitting the beer tent) and it was the first festival we brought our then-infant daughter to.  We try to make it a point to come at least one day every year…but only on weekdays. Only.on.weekdays.  On weekday evenings, there is free parking in the field across the street and the crowds are tolerable, and pretty good times are had by all.  Hell, I even smell the fucking lilacs.
But during the weekend the festival becomes a fucking nightmarish social experiment on the human species to see just how much social torture they can take for hours on end while still pretending to have a wonderful and fulfilling family outing.  I’m not really sure who runs this experiment but I’m leaning toward either the Illuminati or Rich People, because it’s fun to blame them for everything.  It’s like Suburban Survivor, only no one knows what the fucking prize is.  I believe it is festivals like these that actually inspired Dante’s Inferno, ’cause you truly do find yourself on a progressive trip through hell.
Similar experiments have been done with other primates, chimps for example.  A pack of them are put in a fenced-in, but spacious area…and then the area is reduced and reduced, forcing the chimps to live in closer and closer quarters…until they all snap and start ripping each others fucking fingers and testicles off in an orgy of violence.  During weekends at the Lilac Festival, fingers and testicles are not torn off by the end of the day (not in large amounts, anyhow) but that fine line is ever-present.  Allow me to tell you of our family outing to this very festival just this past Saturday, the opening day (I’m talking to YOU.  Sit down).
Like I said, we normally stay away from weekends, but the weather window was showing this to be the perfect chance, and maybe only chance, ’cause rain was predicted for most of the following week. My wife made the proposal while my daughter and I were lounging’ on the couch watching Goonies on cable for the second time that morning. We found some previously undiscovered channel in the far reaches of our satellite package that was actually marathoning Goonies all day. Why would they do that?  You do not question genius.  You really can’t ever get enough Goonies and my young spawn had just begun to realize this herself.  Anyway, I reluctantly agreed to the proposal…isn’t that how everyone ends up in Hell?
We gathered up a few supplies in a back pack, layered the three-year-old with sunblock and jumped in the car to drive to…the shuttle pick up.  Yes, there is no parking on weekends at the festival site.  You have to drive to a shuttle site a few miles away and board some yellow school buses on loan from the city schools. Really elegant travel.  As we pulled into the parking lot and saw the already snaking lines just to get on the goddamn shuttle bus, my warning bells began to ring.   But because I already have quite the family reputation for being the Debbie-Downer, I bit my lip for the moment.  We had to park three lots away in asphalt purgatory just to find a spot, then walked ten minutes to get to the shuttle line, then another twenty minutes to board it.  It was approaching noon and the sun was high and blazing, and the sweating had begun.  As I stepped onto the yellow school bus with my daughter in my arms, a wave of hot body odor struck me in the face followed by the aural assault of too many screaming infants.  It should only be a ten-minute ride, we can handle this.  We shoved ourselves into the convection-oven-on-wheels like lambs to the slaughter, many of us still plastering fake-happy smiles on our faces to keep the facade of “No, no…this fun. Really.  Just a minor inconvenience…can’t wait for some deep-fried lard!”
As the bus headed down the road and made a left toward downtown, it instantly became clear that this would be no quick little jaunt.  The streets were jammed for miles, endless rows of tin cans on wheels sizzling in the noon sun, all pouring into a sea of confusion at ever stop light. You see, on opening day, the Festival Parade takes a large number of important streets out of commission and it was clear that they had yet to be re-opened.  Logistics are not a strong part of our city planning I guess.  So the shuttles were relegated to crowded side streets…along with the thousands of other cars full of geniuses who thought they could outsmart the whole “shuttle service thing” by driving as close as they could to the festival and just park on a side street and walk. A brilliant maneuver if only a few think of it.  Fucking Auto-Armageddon if EVERYONE attempts it.  One minute became ten and ten became forty.  Every child had to use the bathroom and they were pretty fucking vocal about it.  All of the infants had already fullfilled that obligation.  The smiles had all turned to tight-faced grins of repression.  Even with every bus window open, that fucking thing had to be 110º inside.  The park itself finally came into view, but at the rate we were going, we wouldn’t actually reach it until sometime in 2014.  Goonies would be over by then.  I looked down at my darling daughter as she looked back at me with those worrisome, innocent eyes that begged “Where are you taking me, daddy?  Why are we doing this?  What hell have you forsaken us to?”  Fuck it.  I peeled my sweat soaked body from the vinyl seats with an audible rip and stood up.  Yes, I stood the fuck up. Every eye turned toward me, including the driver.  I felt a sudden urge to scream “Oh captain, my captain!” and I never even saw that movie plus I didn’t think it fit thematically in even a minor way.  I picked up my daughter and turned to my wife. “We’re walking.  Let’s go.”  My wife didn’t even blink.  “Fuckin’ A, honey.” We shuffled to the front of the bus as everyone gawked at us and we turned to the driver.

“Open the door, man.”

“I…I can’t yet.  This isn’t the stop…you have to wait til-”

 “Open…..the….door.”

Somewhere behind us, someone farted loudly.  It wasn’t comical, though.  It served almost like a natural exclamation point to everyone’s current condition.  The driver turned his head and slowly reached for the door lever and pulled it.  It was like popping the cap on an overheated radiator.

“Ah hell, I hate my fuckin’ job anyway….”

We hopped off and onto the side of the street and the rest of the passengers followed suit.  It was some  kind of stupid revolution against a power that didn’t exist and was only leading us deeper into the pits of hell, but it felt important for a moment.  We walked the last half mile to the park entrance in near silence.  A procession of already exhausted and overheated festival goers who hadn’t even reached their destination yet.  As we walked into the park entrance, most attempted to put that fake, happy-face facade back on.  Making canned comments to their children about how much fun the festival would be.  Excitement, or something passing for it, I guess.  Then we passed the threshold and looked onto an endless sea of sweaty humans that went as far as our city eyes could see.  Nearly everyone holding a dog leash with a suffering canine lapping at the air with its drooping tongue in a futile attempt to stave off heat stroke, or pushing oversized baby strollers doubling as mini-campers that crushed every foot they rolled over.
The music blared.  The smoke from the food vendor tents choked the air.  There was no order.  No direction.  It was pure chaos.  I looked at my wife as she smiled half-assed back at me.

“We could be watching Goonies right now.” And I picked up our daughter and shoved our way into the giant super-organism of primates.

To be continued…

*Sigh* Okay society…I’m gonna help you out again.  Yes, yet again.  I should be getting paid for this shit.  Let’s talk about the big buzz word of the moment: Bullies!
Bullies are part of the human condition.  Hell, bullies are part of the animal condition too.  Shit, I bet grass considers fucking weeds to be bullies.  My point is that where there is life, there is competition, and where there is competition, there will always be some asshole trying to slap you down in some form.  All living things, especially ones that live as groups, strive to be on the top of the fuckin’ totem pole and there is always a pecking order.
Whether you are a goldfish in an aquarium getting slapped around by the beta fish, or a pansy house cat that gets harassed by the cocker spaniel, or the short, dorky kid in 8th grade who gets depantsed in the hallway and shoved into the lockers, you’re stuck in this system.  It’s natural law and there isn’t much we can do to change that.  And there isn’t much we SHOULD do to change that.
School bullying is currently THE hottest social and media hot-button trend going. For the longest time, it was ADHD and Ritalin, led by lazy parents and script-happy doctors.  Then it was the vaccination/autism connection (of which there is none) led by one of America’s greatest minds, Jenny McCarthy (Who used to play the bimbo host on an MTV dating game and then had a sketch comedy show in which she would vomit every episode and pick her nose).  But right now, nothing is hotter than bullying.  Particularly school bullying.  As if this is some new fucking behavior that kids have never had to deal with until recently.  Prior to 2005, kids acted like unicorn Care Bears in the sparkling meadows of civilized bliss.  Uh huh.
I guess my rant comes from two places here: The fact that the media is treating it like some kind of new epidemic that is destroying our youth’s culture, and the fact that many in society are expecting/demanding that it be removed from our culture all-together (as if that was possible).
Now I don’t want to come off as a heartless bastard (No, really, I don’t).  When a ten-year-old hangs himself in his closet because all the kids at school called him “faggot”, that’s fucking awful.  But that is not something you can easily just legislate away or make a bunch of advertising campaigns and documentaries and have kids, with their underdeveloped Jello brains, just suddenly “get it” and start giving out hugs instead of black eyes.
To my first rant, bullying is not new.  It’s as old as life, it has only grown more complex as life grew more complex.  I got bullied when I was a kid.  Kids got bullied in the 1865.  Kids got bullied in 1569, and I’m sure Neanderthals got ripped for wearing the wrong kind of loin-cloth to the Mammoth hunt. “Ug…Look at Magock!  He wear brown loin cloth! Not match boots!  Throw rocks at Magock!”  Kids have dealt with it forever.  And many have had to live with the scars that came with it.  And there have been many that never fully emotionally recovered or even killed themselves when they felt they couldn’t.  The media, however, is not presenting a “growing trend”.  They are simply creating the illusion of a growing trend and thus, creating more news for themselves.  This is what the media does and will always do.  They don’t just report on society.  They create stories for which they can exploit.  How the fuck else can they fill a 24hr cable news channel?

“An alarming trend is being reported throughout the nation.  Dirt.  Yes, dirt is being seen and found in alarming quantities all across the nation.  People from all walks of life have been reporting that they have simply noticed that dirt is everywhere…especially in the ground.  That’s right, a possible new epidemic of dirt..right beneath your feet.  Scientists are mixed on this latest find.  Some are simply baffled on how much there really might be…more than we ever thought possible.  Others are calling for more studies and still others are demanding immediate action to protect our children from this alarming trend….of dirt.  Maggie Sykes of Endicott, NY is refusing to let her children go outside until more is learned about this possibly dangerous increase in dirt…”

I’m not saying never trust the media to keep you informed, but understand that much of those news outlets come from a place of business and profit…not social goodwill.

To my second rant.  What really can we do or should we do about school bullying?  Let’s remember you are dealing with kids and teenagers here.  Their brains are so fucking underdeveloped and primal, things like ad campaigns and YouTube movements are gonna amount to little more than a brief fireworks display followed by “eh…I’m bored, let’s inhale some DustUp”.  It’s easy to get them all yapping and acting all activist-like about anything for a week, but they have attention spans of goldfish.  You are not going to reprogram them with ads and songs or celebrity campaigns or “A very special episode of Glee”.
Look, we need to be vigilant of the extreme cases.  Kids being beaten to a pulp for ANY reason is awful and should be stopped.  Parents need to keep an eye on their children and take notice of their emotional states.  No kid gets to the point of fucking killing themselves without giving TONS of signs beforehand.  The parents that say “He was so happy…I had no idea”….yeah, they are full of shit and have to live with that guilt the rest of their lives.
There are some simple fixes for the latest technological advancements in bullying, though.  Getting bullied on Facebook or some other social networking site?  Here, watch this: GET THE FUCK OFF FACEBOOK! Done.  No one needs to be on Facebook.  People getting a hold of your “secret, private” texts and pictures?  I got that covered: STOP SENDING THEM! Try calling the person and talking with them one on one.  Once you put anything out into the electronic ether, it’s there forever.  Don’t text sensitive stuff.  Don’t SEXT anyone.  Done.  You’re welcome.
And as for the rest of it?  Getting shoved in the lockers, getting mocked for your clothes, someone writing obscenities on your text books, someone demanding your lunch money….FUCKING DEAL WITH IT.  It does not get any better, little 10-year-old boy or girl.  You will be bullied your ENTIRE life in some form or other.  People will always try to tear you down to get above you, to take what you have.  You gotta learn from the get-go that you have deal with that bullshit as best you can.  Whether it’s avoidance, using your wits, using your fists, joining groups and getting allies….they all have their pros and cons.  Dealing with people you don’t like and who don’t like you is required in a civilized society.  I’ve punched bullies in the mouth.  I’ve had other friends punch bullies in the mouth for me.  I’ve made friends with bullies.  I’ve avoided them.  I’ve firebombed their Ford Mustangs at 2am.  You stand on your own two feet and deal with it…and you learn something about yourself when you do.  Like I learned that I have a talent for throwing flaming materials at other people’s property.  I mean…like…really accurate too.
That’s it.  You don’t like it…..WHAT YOU ARE YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT, BITCH!?