Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The manatee has become the mento.

I locked myself out of the house today for the second time in recent memory. Because it was the second time, the emergency key that usually lives at the neighbors' house was sitting on the end table right inside the door I had just swung shut like a big idiot. My first coherent thought as I stared at the locked door, now totally unable to go teach the lessons I had to teach in 15 minutes, was "why doesn't the cat know how to unlock the door?"

Earlier, I'd thought about doing a blog post on The Most Ridiculous Trains of Thought You've Entertained Today, and that cat thing is the tip of the iceberg.

Anyway, so there I was, laden with packages for the post office and a big ass purse and a bunch of music books. I called in to cancel my lessons, begged the Brit to come home early and let my sorry ass in, and decided to walk to the nearest post office, about 1.5 miles away. I felt fortunate, to be honest. It was a gorgeous day, all bright sky and crisping orange leaves, warm sun and high wind.

You know how things shake loose when you start walking? Another item for the post about Ridiculous Thoughts came up while I was kicking leaves. I started mentally singing this call-and-response song I remembered from some backstage down time with my 7th grade choir, a kind of joke of a class. The song went like this, if it were (for example) about me, today:

Leader: Booty, booty, bootayyyyy!
All: Maven's in the house!

I didn't get called out during 7th grade because for most of the year I had zero reputation of any kind, except maybe for singing really high in choir. But I have such a clear memory of sitting there before a show, with all these rowdy kids clapping and hollering:

Leader: Titties, titties, tittaayyyyys!
All: Aneesha's in the house!

Leader: Party, party, partayyyy!
All: We all in the house!

Leader: Honky honky honkayyyyyyy!
All: Amy's in the house!

I remember how Amy waved and shook her hips, cutely. I admired this girl from afar, for no good reason other than that kind of projected coolness and mystique that some people have. She was an 8th grader, in my algebra class, and was dating a dude named Doug, who was 21, which is obviously disgusting. The ick factor was not clear to me when I was 12. Every morning Amy would waltz into algebra and write "Amy loves Doug" in swirly cursive on the blackboard before the bell rang. If you sat in a desk she'd sat in previously, you'd see "Amy loves Doug" pencilled onto the desk.

Amy walked with an alluring pigeon-toed shuffle. I made my mother insane by adopting this walk, briefly. I remember doing it while shopping for jeans, an arduous task at any age, but particularly at porky age 12. "What is that walk?" my mom asked, exasperated. I stood staring into the full length mirror, checking out my stance in the gray Lee button-fly jeans we ended up buying. Cool I was not.

I had this entire flashback, jeans and all, in the span of about one city block. Shortly after that, a feisty miniature dachshund herded me up the sidewalk, running circles around me til I finally squatted down to pet it. A dude driving a school bus tried to holla at me, to which I thought SERIOUSLY? out a school bus? I don't want no scrubs. I walked back to the house along the lake, where I spotted a skinny middle-aged man, shirtless, hairy, facing into the sun and windmilling his arms. It was probably an exercise warmup, but it looked mystical: as his arms circled, a flock of honking geese struggled up from the ground against the wind, as though he were levitating them.


I suddenly remembered that I had my ipod and spent the rest of my lockout listening to a This American Life rerun I hadn't heard before, the one about prisoners doing Hamlet in prison. I was freezing by the end of it, but totally entranced, emotionally involved. Sometimes I do think art can save the world. It can at least make you feel human.


  1. As my apartment has a self locking door, I always live in fear of your predicament. And I think one of my cats COULD unlock the door, but he is probably too lazy and ornery to do so.

    Anyway, I loved that episode of This American Life. Seriously, I think everyone should hear it.

  2. Bootay: Madness in the house.

    This is a great post. I loved every word.

    I will report in the tucked-away anonymity of a comment box -- this is to bold to reveal on blog --, that in 9th grade there was a girl named Martita. She was fabulously grown and Euro. She legitimately rocked a beret over her fantastically short and butchered faded fuscia hair and had tragically beautifully smudged koal eyes and wore striped leg warmers on her arms and had a perfect, chapped pout. She was organically beyond us all. And after school Timothy Hutton (YES!) would scoop her up for gross yet fascinating trysts. We knew not what to say to her. We just stared with eyes sparkled and jaws slacked.

  3. I just spit out my juice laughing at this post, and now I have fucking TLC going through my head.

    I listened to that episode of This American Life this morning on the way to work. Loved it. Loved loved loved it. Did you listen to the one a couple weeks ago about the dude with all the wives?

  4. Thanks for this post. I've been thinking a lot about my life & what path to take and have always struggled with whether I can take an artistic path over a more blatantly socially conscious path. I actually interned at TAL for a few months & after I left, I struggled with that question in entirely new ways. This whole story of then & now is far longer than what I'm giving here, but basically, I have found myself turning back toward an artistic career (in sound) and I just wanted to thank you for saying that it's a good thing. Or, at the very least, help in little ways.

  5. This blog is seriously one of the best I've ever read. You are hilarious. Thank you fir sharing.

  6. You know I'm totally with you on that last paragraph. A great big yesss.

  7. Maven's in the HOUSE!

    And, I entertained that exact cat-door-opening concept last weekend, moments after locking myself out of a place I'm house-sitting. As it turns out, I'd left the sliding screen door to the porch unlocked and the cat had opened it. The little gap she left in sneaking out alerted me to the fact that it was unlocked, and I got back in.

    Do not give up hope.