Friday, February 24, 2012
Happy Birthday, Father Pie! (Also, Für Brenda)
We had some celebration in Casa Birkenstock this week- Pater Pie celebrated entering his late-mid fifties with a small household get-together in the kitchen area, and reminded Birkenstocks and Vissers alike why we love him by bringing the sacred thing that is pizza into our home.
He decided that in lieu of a cake, he wanted his mother's sour cream and raisin pie, which Estelle volunteered to bake in our shitty oven. Very apt, I must say, although I do not do raisins. I'm sorry, but you left a bunch of grapes out in the sun, now they look like James Earl Jones, taste of ozone and you want me to eat them? Mister, I got a couple of places you can take your raisins. Psh, next you'll be trying to tell me you forgot a bunch of other fruit in the cracks of your couch cushions for your health and pleasure- please, I'm not that naive, ok? Either way, the aforepictured pie, after many many years of baking in aforementioned shitty oven, came out lovely and pie-like and Estelle even went to the effort of separately baking some crust letters to spell out Happy something on it. It went away sharpishly even though there were mumblings of leaving it till the morrow whence it would be properly cooled down etcetera etcetera but you fool no one, father o' mine. When I woke up the next day there was only about five square inches of terrorised raisin pie left, and I'll give anyone three guesses where it went.
Oddly, the night took a serendipitous turn when Estelle enquired as to the skill displayed by miss Sandra Bullock in that one FBI beauty pageant movie, and had me illustrate (badly) how to make a wine glass sing. The glass she had was mute because of a gold rim (god that sounds potentially both extremely dirty and very vague on the reason why), so we pulled out some more stem-ware from the cupboard to see what would work.
We had great fun experimenting, figuring out the different sounds made by the different shaped glasses, with harmonies and all kinds of high-brow shenanigans abound. We were two bow-ties and a pair of suspenders short of a barbershop stem-ware quartet, which is impressive any day of the week, lemme be the first to tell you. I nearly lost some bladder control out of excitement when I realised that I had an app on my phone that had been sitting there, just waiting for the day when it would finally become useful and warrant its existence in my life. 'Twas a guitar tuner with a function to tell you the key something is playing/humming/karaoking-in-pajamas-with-hairbrush-microphone-in-its-bedroom in. I summoned it like a level 2 hedge wizard who would at last get to show those bastards up at the University the life-saving properties of his neverending-handkerchief-from-the-sleeve trick, and proudly announced "A! B flat! A little bit below C!" as water was transferred to and from the favourite-son (brandy glass).
Barend showed suprising aptitude for this hugely, massively and inarguably useful skill, as he would often drift into virtuoso-type silences like some badass Beethoven being hit over the head by a sledge-hammer shaped epiphany, and everyone's conversation would grind to halt as we heard some sweet, haunting note of echoing nostalgia emerge from the unplayable golden rimmed glass of legend. It sang undying mnemonic tunes under his tender fingers, telling of a great many wonders past, forests and streams, calling forth the sounds of both the violin and the squeaky washing line alike... it was magical. I could not resist the urge to lay some sweet photo filters on those pictures to convey the sheer majesty of the moment and the utter bullshit of my purple prose.
But yes, excellent evening. I emptied the rest of my instant camera cartridge in its honour, and I believe my father at the very least had the gift of the next-day hangover to remind him of the fun he had on his 56th birthday party.
Sad news now.
Alien invasion / Mayan end-of-the-world 2012 party I was helping the newly redeemed Tertius to organise for his own birthday. Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that the promised delivery date of said apocalypse was the 4th of February, a good many ths and rds of February ago.
Yeah, it didn't so much happen as it did not happen. As it turns out, second chances are cheap, and I hand them out like that shady man in the white van hands out lollipops after school lets out. About a week before the party was to happen, communication from ol' T started drying up. Usually he was rather prompt and sparky about replying to my emails with my updates on document and logo designs for our Alien / Government co-op (yes, in case you're wondering, this thing would have been Matrix levels of intricate and mythologically steeped), but suddenly he went rather worryingly mute. At first I did not ascribe this any particular meaning other than he has a steady job and I mooch for a living, and continued to put my man-hours of design and writing into the project. Let me be clear on this point: this is the kind of work- designing and executing elaborate adventure/game parties for people- for which I charge handsomely and which I do exceptionally well. I had somehow talked myself into doing it for free out of some kind of misplaced loyalty for the man who had not two months prior sat on my bed and accused me of Satanism.
Two days before the damn world is meant to end with a bang, it's his actual birthday so I call with a "Happy birthday" on my lips and a "You better not fuck me over this time, shithead" in my heart. He does not answer. I try again, he does not answer. Of course I leave a message, and send a text, even mentioning he needs to OK one or two things before the weekend party, but nought. I am nothing if not scarily persistent (ask Dirk about Veronica Mars if you don't believe me on that), so I call again. Now his phone is off. On his birthday.
Fuck you, Mr. Elevenses, I am not so easily put off. I phone his brother and someone who used to be a mutual friend (who I believe said the long goodbye to the back of me after glimpsing my horns and red forked tail some time ago), but neither answer. Then and there I decide to fuck that gently with a spoon, as Dirk would say, and since I had people organised to play aliens for me at this event, I decided to call it cancelled so I could at least give them those two days' notice. I don't mind telling you I felt a fool, dammit, a FOOL. *Mr. T Voice* Everyone I knew with a lick of sense had been screaming at me not to take the guy back into the fold, and here I was left standing with my metaphorical dick in my hands. Also: apologies for that last mental image.
A day later, after my incessant phone calls- more to make the point that he was purposely avoiding me than anything- he smsed. Not called, mind you, but texted. I had been labouring under the assumption that I had somehow slipped up and burped hellfire or muttered in tongues under my breath at some point, but as it turns out, he says, he was just so busy with new studies and work that he had decided to cancel the party and throw out the two months of work I had been doing for him and the nearly R400 he had spent on props. He had been so scared to tell me this, he said, that he had decided to wait a week to 'fess up, allowing me to continue working on it, and sending him updated graphics and copy each day. Ah yes, that old chestnut. The age-old conundrum: to screw my friend over because I'm a tit-witted coward, or- no wait, that sounds about right, let's go with option A.
After blankly refusing him re-entry into the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and multiple "please, I really value our friendship- you know, I could have just kept quiet, aren't I a shining prince for having spoken up at all?"s on his part, I concluded by sending him a (still greatly reduced, friend-of-a-friend rate) invoice for my time spent working on the project. He promised to pay it into my account, and asked to come pick up the props he had left lying in my room. When he came to collect them I had my formidable Fee Fi Fo of a dad go out to the gate to hand it off to him as I could not be arsed to give a single fuck, but after my dad had been out there for about 10 minutes I grew suspicious, and when I heard his VERY SERIOUS FIRM DISCIPLINARIAN VOICE all the way to the kitchen, I went outside to see what was happening.
Turns out my dad had flat-out SCHOOLED a motherfucker on the ethics of friendship and loyalty and not being a arse-nippling coward, and for good measure had shat all the fuck over him for not simply bringing cash to pay the little I had bothered to charge him for my wasted time. Did he have any cash on him? Yes, but he didn't have change, he only had 300 (my invoice was for 250). That's fine, we'll take it.
You need to read that last sentence with an intonation of "we're doing you a fine favour here son by not simply taking your car keys off you and sending you home minus your shirt and shoe laces." He left in a damn hurry and in a faint haze of urine. He did try to text me again after that, still asking to please be let back on my Christmas card list, but buddy, you done screwed the pooch this time. I will kill many an elected official and/or Afrikaans pop singer for any one of my friends, and I suppose now I know that I'm willing to write off even attempted exorcisms and welcome them back with open arms, but it's good to know I have a final straw, really.
Brenda, my absolute, 100% favouritest person in the whole wide world & web and numero uno best friend has been having a truly shitacular week, and thusly I have chosen to humble myself on the altar of the internet gods to perk her up a wee mite. I mean really, it was such a bad week she was actually transmitting bad dreams to me via numero uno best friend telepathy, so I think she deserves the hurting I'm about to heap on myself. It's at least a week until I have my wisdom teeth removed, so I'll dig into the Snofferol Archives for this one.
This is me, Loraine the Breathtaking, at the tender age of 10. If I look slightly odd and you can't place what's bothering you here, it's for two possible reasons:
1. My dad used to cut our fringes and since my hair used to be more or less a foot thick pre-hyperchondria, what you're seeing there is a coiffure that defies the laws of physics.
2. The eyebrows of the Loraine in the picture above are... well, I'll allow you to come up with your preferred adjective here, but now that I've pointed them out to you I'll bet you've cocked your head to the side and gone "oooh yes, that is strange... that's- what is that?"
(Let's call the unspoken third reason "not quite having grown into all my amplitude yet.")
This is a story, children, about the evils of lying. It is also a moral- or an Aesop, if you will- about lying well, goddammit, cause if you're going to do it- commit.
I was a very naive and sheltered 10, if you can believe such a thing of the Tourettes-ridden loud-mouth you have come to know and, well, know, over the last few months here. I had a small TV in my room- my first- having always loved the talkies, and having inherited it after my great-uncle Jurie moved out of the little room in the back yard, he having inherited it in turn after we had finally bought a television for the lounge that didn't require hand-cranking in order to raise colour. I had set it up on the top of some tall structure at the foot of my bed so I could lie back and look up to see the moving pictures I so loved without ever having to move my ever expanding little pre-pubescent arse.
One day, the mighty Oprah was on (as she was in yesteryear) and I felt sickeningly grown-up watching her right in my very own room like that. I mean damn, baby, I had a remote and everything. She had someone on who was illustrating some kind of a fancy grown-up lady device that did some shit to your eyebrows that seemed to me unlikely to occur in nature. There was some kind of precedent here I was not privy to, some secret Lady-thing, where it was understood that this device- held to your eyebrows and compelled to make a loud *click*- was truly miraculous in achieving whatever the hell its goal was without inflicting pain in the process. Now I was buggered if I knew either what the end-game was here with the clicking and the jumping up of the well-kept ladies every time the effete gentleman would come at them with the device or why they thought this was so impressive, but I was also damned if I wasn't going to take a hearty swing at it myself. Was I not precocious and wise beyond my years; an old soul to be heard told by every teacher I had ever flashed $10 words at? Then surely I qualified to be a part of this elite grown-up woman's club of the clicking of the device that did something with the eyebrows that was lovely and sophisticated and so on.
My solution, brilliant as I'm sure you and Doc Brown would both agree- sheer elegance in its simplicity for achieving both eyebrow alteration and painless clicking: a nail clipper. I did not bother with a mirror, for I did not really know what the result was that I should be aiming for nor did I want to get up and miss any of the potential brow-manicuring action. So there I would sit, grabbing a length of eyebrow, and systematically had at it with the nail clipper.
Once the show was over, I decided to check out my handiwork in the bathroom mirror. Yeah, was not expecting that bullshit, I'm sure you'll be shocked to know. I panicked. What to do? What the mothering fuckless hell to do?! My mother was an artist, so a fairly free spirit and a scattered mind, plus it was getting dark and, you know: wine, but even so she was sure to notice her eldest child had started going bald from the eyes up. Ingeniously, following on the true mastery of the thinking that had brought me to this impasse, I landed on a cheap plastic mask that was hanging around my room from the last birthday party I had attended.
I moseyed- nay, sauntered- into the living room as though I was trying to spell out the word "nonchalant" with the sway of my hips, and sat down on the couch, daring the TV-watching family to find fault with my appearance or demeanour. Of course the true genius of the mask was the strategic advantage it afforded me in allowing me to check my parents out through the eye-holes while I rested my chin on my casual as James Dean palm without giving the game away. You see? Naive- like a fox.
My mother raised the alarm straight away. "Why are you wearing a mask?" She asked. "No reason," I said, throwing a Meryl Streep Oscar winning lilt of cool into my voice as I said it. My answer was scientifically formulated to satiate any curiosity and invite no further questions. "Take it off, what are you hiding?"
So apparently I can passably do a Meryl Streep and a James Dean, but my Mata Hari needs work because I broke like twig in a gale force. I ripped it off my face, hoping that in the absence of Mata Hari hopefully a Cosette would save me, and sobbed for my life. Someone, I cried in the anguished sobs of the bitterly wronged, had stolen into my room in the dead of sleep, and had inexplicably and in coldest blood cut off most but not all of my eyebrows! The cruelty! The inhumanity! I was but a girl, in the prime of her youth, yet to blossom into beauty, and they faceless They had taken something so irrevocable, so essential my face as a whole! I would never be the same again- I remember as though it were but yesterday the full and bushy brows of an unsuspecting Loraine, a Loraine who did not appreciate her follicular blessings, her hirsute gift, I-
I'm sorry to have to report, and I say this with the heaviest of hearts dear Pielings, that at this time, somewhere between the second chorus of "Innocence! Innocence!" and the first reprise of "The Men Who Come For Little Girls' Eyebrows In The Night", my mother giggled. The weight of this- this being only the absolute end of my life as I knew it, the only good reason I had ever heard for a life of self-enforced nunship- was entirely lost on the woman who had given me life. And to top it all off, despite my painstakingly thought up cover-story, so well conceived in its richness and so brilliantly executed in its delivery, she bought not a word of it. That was the day I learned that I was a terrible fucking liar, and that I should just never try my hand and the noble art of bullshit again lest I end up without eyelashes next time.
Either that, or I learned "Lie Better." I guess you'll never know. *waggles fully fleshed-out eyebrows.*
So that's my tale of woe, and I hope desperately that it did something to cheer up my Brenda since I have neither the airtime to text her nor the capacity to astral project into her bedroom and watch her sleep a la Edward Cullen or Amy Farah Fowler. Don't worry Bren, if this didn't do it, just wait a week and you'll have pictures of me swollen up like a chipmunk to keep you warm at night. If you're really lucky, I might even mime a little video for you to one of the actual Chipmunk songs, but you had better have lost a limb to gangrene if I'm gonna do the Chunk Shuffle for you.