Basking In The Shade

17 May

Cigarettes, Shadoobies, and Section 347

5 Apr

It happens everyday. Here she comes down the street. A short, bitter, gray haired woman walking her dog. In one hand is a cigarette; the other, an apple. I’ve never seen the color of her eyes because they are always squinting in disapproval and veiled by the smoke from her most recent exhale.

She is home all day, every day. Watching. Any time I look out the window I see her standing in various yards letting her dog leave shadoobies all over the place – all the while staring into their windows and garages like their home is on some sort of tour.

I try and be tolerant of other personalities but it is hard when every day for six years you watch someone let their dog take a shit in your yard while puffing on a cigarette and staring into your window.

If you have ever lived in a neighborhood with a homeowners association, you know what a pain they can be at times. I like the idea of them so that all properties don’t have tires planted in the yard, paint buckets tipped over and dead cats laying around, but sometimes it’s a little over the top.

For a while I had a group of girlfriends that would come over each Tuesday night, and one friend would always spend the night. She would park out on the road so she would not block our cars. After several weeks, I received this letter in the mail from the HOA:

Dear Homeowner, You are parking in the street overnight, and according to Section 347 of 1867 this is unacceptable. Please use this Response Paper to explain how you will handle this situation in the future, and to let us know if you need a copy of the covenants for review.

The only thing I wanted to read 1867 sections of was US Weekly. I grabbed my pen and wrote them back:

Dear HOA, In the future, I will not allow her to park in the street unless I collect a fee.

A few weeks passed and I received a “Second and Final Notice” letter. This seemed a little dramatic since my old neighbors used to play naked badminton in their back yard and I don’t recall them getting a letter.

I wasn’t sure what to do so I called and asked them for suggestions. I needed to know what happened after the “Final Notice.” Do they kick you out? Good, enjoy the mortgage payment.

The conversation went something like this:

“Neighborhood Management, This is Robert.”

“Robert, hi. This is Kari Green. I have…”

“Oh, yes. Miss Green. Hello. I received your letter.”

I was a little taken aback.

“Great, so then you know why I’m calling.”

“Actually, Ms. Green, let me stop you. Your neighbor across the street is the one that is complaining. They are having issues backing out of their driveway when the girl with the silver Honda parks on the street.”

“What? Well, maybe you could contact them and suggest that he take a driving class again so he can successfully back out of a driveway.”

There were a few moments of silence.

“Being able to accomplish such a feat would help him in the long run and be less of a nuisance to others.”

“Miss Green, that’s enough.”

“What if he’s in an emergency situation and he can’t back out of the driveway because he’s a moron? Not my problem!”

I hung up the phone. I was not going to be told “That’s enough” by someone who worked on unpaid neighborhood patrol.

Another week I received a letter that informing me that I left my trash can out too long and that it was due back in at a certain time on trash day.
Rolling my eyes the entire time, I responded:

Dear HOA, Sometimes it is hard being a single girl and having all of these responsibilities. When I get home at 10pm and it is freezing and raining outside, the last thing on my mind is walking outside to roll the nasty garbage can back into my garage so that it will drip water all in the corner and puddle up and be potentially unsafe.” I signed it with a frowny face and wrote “PS – I can’t do everything by myself.”

Over the course of the next few years I would get an occasional letter about some weeds in my front flower bed, a couple more about the parking situation if I had friends over, and another one about the garbage can. I would just respond to each of these with something like, “Thank you for stating the obvious. Make it a great day.” Two of them even came certified mail so I literally had to drive to the post office to go and pick them up. For these response letters I took a picture of myself in front of the post office and in one hand I had the letter wadded up into a ball, and the other hand was giving a “thumbs down.”

My favorite letter of all came while I was dealing with a leaking roof. I had already spent several months and several thousand dollars to repair the problem. When I opened my mailbox to find a letter that told me that there was some roof staining that needed to be removed, I went off on the Girl Scout going door to door selling cookies. She was the only person outside.

I threw down the rest of the mail, stormed inside and wrote the following:

Dear HOA,
Congratulations for making me dread walking down my driveway every day to check my mailbox. I have a constant headache. Every time I open it I have another pain in my ass letter telling me that I can’t have friends over, I’m too lazy to bring up the trash, and now I apparently can’t take care of my house. You know what? I pay my dues on time and I would like to make a personal guarantee that I have the most fun house in this neighborhood. I would also like to take this time to make a suggestion to you since you have no problem making suggestions to me. Why don’t you save the money that you spend on paper and stamps mailing me regular letters and certified letters, and install garbage cans around the neighborhood where people can clean up after their dogs take shits in my yard. I don’t know how many more steaming piles I want to look at in my front lawn from the lady down the road who walks her dog, lets it roam around and use the bathroom there while she smokes a cigarette and eats an apple. It’s gross. It’s all gross, and I don’t have time for it. I have now wasted ten minutes of my life that I’ll never get back. And please don’t contact me again on this matter and by the way I just spent $6,000.00 on a new roof so there will be no more stain so you can save that letter too. This should result in no more letters. And if it does, I am not guaranteeing that I will read them. XOXO–Me.

After this outburst, my mailbox went silent. Life was good. Then I planted some rosebushes that exploded in size. I knew that I needed to have them cut back, but I just had not found time. One day, as I’m going through my mail I noticed a letter from the HOA. Here we go, I thought.

Dear Homeowner,
According to section 697 of the covenants, shrubbery must not exceed three feet. The front flower bed on your property does exceed this. Please use the enclosed response paper to let us know how you will handle this situation.

I debated and then decided that I could not pass this up.

Dear HOA,
Thanks for another letter, I was starting to get worried. I know that my shrubs are very tall. I’m just thankful that I have shrubs. Have you seen the neighbor’s backyard? They don’t even have grass, let alone beautiful, budding rose bushes. I realize that I need to get these shrubs trimmed back, and it will be done next week. Thank you for being so diligent in contacting me any time I leave a lamp on overnight. Also – I was wondering how the progress on the garbage can installation was coming based on our last conversation. A lot of things have changed since then. We don’t park on the street, I move my trashcan in on time, and I have a new roof. You know what hasn’t changed? The Smoking Lady letting her dog take shits in my yard. Every day I will see them coming. She’s puffing on her cigarette, chomping on her apple, and the little pain in my ass dog is straining one out in my yard. Maybe that is why my rosebushes are so tall. See, it’s the vicious circle of life. You may think the language in this letter is offensive. You know what is more offensive? Walking outside to enjoy some coffee and stepping into a steaming pile of dog shit. Please use the enclosed response paper and let me know how this will be handled.
Signed, Tired of Talking About This And Getting Your Letters

When I finally decided to put my house on the market and sold it, I received a letter from the HOA stating that they wish me all the best and will miss me being a part of the neighborhood. For some reason, I don’t believe them.

Two Stories Too Many: The Beginning of My Illustrious Career at the Marietta Country Club

5 Apr

The Interview: Was I in the right place at the right time? Absolutely.

In high school I decided I was ready to start making some cash. I was too young to work at a strip club, so the country club seemed like my only option. Plus, I didn’t think I could deal with the general public at some place like Applebee’s.

I applied at Marietta Country Club, a local golf course community where plenty of old men had plenty of cash. I walked in and had a job within the hour, without having to take any clothes off. The interview went something like this:

“Hello, Miss Green, I see that you’re fifteen years old and this is your first job application. And I see you enjoy shopping, eating out, and…vacations. Me too, Honey. What brought you to the illustrious Marietta Country Club?”

“Well,” I glanced at her nametag, “Judy, if I may? I’m interested in the country club lifestyle and feel that I will fit in well here. I enjoy expensive food, golf and tennis (I played neither) and Lucinda Walsh Dixon is my favorite character on ‘As The World Turns.’ I’m pretty good at convincing other people to do what I want, in fact, just this morning I talked my way into a “C plus” in Algebra and, well, Lord knows that wasn’t happening on it’s own. I like talking to people too. My favorite food is seared tuna. I was just introduced to, and found myself enjoying, Willett but please don’t tell my parents. My mom is waiting in the parking lot because I cannot drive yet. She had to drive me here for this interview. In fact, they said I can get a car if I get this job so do you know how much longer this will take?”

“Thank you for the information. All of that information. We would love to have you. Most of our new hires begin on the beverage cart and the downstairs bar and grille.”

“Wait, I can serve alcohol? I’m fifteen.”

“Yes, it’s a private club so we have different regulations to follow. About serving, that is. Not consuming.”

I smiled.

“Do I get cash tips? That don’t have to be claimed as income?”

She smiled. “The members have club number accounts that they use for payment, but most of them also give cash tips if you take good care of them.”

“When can I start? Do your uniforms have the choice between the regular skirts and then the slightly shorter ones?”

I learned a lot about myself and way too much about the members from working there. Within my first two weeks I discovered I didn’t want to be anything like most of them when I grew up, if and when that entailed old man makeouts, lengthy hugs and lousy threesomes with the babysitter.

Seagrams & Secret Hot Tub Parties

My first day involved driving the beverage cart around the golf course about seven hundred times. My first day involved giving these old, rich men tall drinks and long hugs. My first day also involved getting huge tips for pretending to be interested in their dumb stories. The age range of these men was somewhere between 77 and 107 years old. Actually, that depended on the day. There was another younger & much more fun group, but we will cover those stories later on.

As my first day out on the course was coming to a close, I was self-celebrating the fact that I did not run over that squirrel that kept sprinting out in front of my cart. I hoped he went somewhere else tomorrow. As the sun was setting, a strapping old gent in plaid pants and a non-matching pink argyle sweater approached me.

“Kari,” he hissed with his whiskey breath flaring like a dragon. “My wife is out of town, and some of my friends are coming over for a hot tub party. I would like for you to be there, and if you come,” he leaned in closer to my ear, “then tomorrow I will take you car shopping, and buy you any car that you want. And I’m not kidding.”

Neither was I. I wasn’t really sure how to respond to all of this. I began by wiping his dragon-spit off of my cheek. I was 15 years old. He was 105 years old. I felt this was an opening for a bad/good Lifetime movie. I imagined it being called something like “Hot Tub Hell: The Tale of a Young Girl’s Adventures at a Geriatric Hot Tub Party That Ended in the Cardiac Ward at Kennestone” due to the heart attack I anticipated him having at any point in the night. What do Geriatrics do at a hot tub party? Drink Seagrams and 7 and talk about their 401K’s and the war? I didn’t want to find out. I just looked at him and smiled and said that I had plans, but I really appreciated his offer (seeing as how I briefly considered attending). The next weekend he totally ignored me like we had broken up at the eighth grade dance. When I set his wedge salad in front of him I whispered, “I didn’t want your stupid car anyway.”

Who are you WITH?

10 Jun

When you have the opportunity to crash a stranger’s high school reunion, you don’t pass it by. I can’t say no to things like this because they are just Heaven’s little blessings coming down to make a regular night way more interesting.

One night some girlfriends and I went out to dinner at Henry’s, our favorite restaurant.  The table next to ours had a rather large party. Two guys that looked like they just left the gym and tanning bed (and probably did some laundry) in bedazzled Ed Hardy gear were checking out our table.

A girl stumbled out of the bathroom and pushed her way past them, and sat right down with us. She acted as though she had been drinking since the previous Tuesday.

After a conversation that left me wondering, we found out that she belonged upstairs in the party room, where her high school reunion was taking place.

“You girls should definitely come upstairs and party with us,” she slurred.

“Isn’t there like, a check-in or something?”

“Who cares?” she leaned in closer and whispered to us, “The guys up there are so hot. And rich. And they would love you girls…trust me.”

Morgan asked, “Which reunion is this?”

“Class of 1989, Wheeler. I’ll be looking for you!” She got up and left us, with the bill for the drink she just ordered.

After minimal deliberation, we decided that we needed to make it up there ASAP, even though we graduated elementary school in 1989.

We finished dinner, marched ourselves up there and headed straight to the dance floor.  We wasted no time in trying to blend in and act as 1989-normal as possible.  We were noticed not only because all four of us just barreled in three hours late, but also because we obviously were recognized by…no one.

This guy with a boating shirt and fisherman hat walked directly up to Simone. We got nervous.

“Oh, my god! What in the world have you been up to? You look amazing.”

Simone darted her eyes at us as she said, “Hey there…you!” We saw her look down at his nametag. “Oh, wow…Jeff! You look great too. What’s up…fella?!”

“No, you first,” he continued.

“Well, I’ve become very…spiritual since everything that happened.”

I had to grab a glass of wine before I lost it. I looked around for anyone.

“Celeste, where is Morgan?”

“Getting her picture made with Nelson.”

“Who’s Nelson?”


“What are you talking about?”

“Kari, Nelson was on yearbook staff. Get with the program. He asked you to prom & you said ‘no way’ and he was devastated for hours.”

Jeff opened up his conversation to the group.

“Did you girls get some of the cake? Heather made it! Go get some,” then Jeff started giggling to himself and continued, “That’s what she said!”

Simone looked at us and then back at Jeff. “Heather always made the best cakes!”

Simone hates cake. And obviously doesn’t know Heather.

I turned around and this guy came up to me who was grinning from ear to ear.

“How in the hell are you??”

“Great! How are you?” I asked.

“What in the hell have you been up to,” he asked me as he punched my arm like I just scored a goal.

“Not sure where to start! Let’s see, finished up at Cornell, and did psychology research over in…Hawaii. Hawaii taught me a lot about myself. Surfing, tiki bar serving, you know, the ‘yoush.’”

I think over the course of that evening I was an ER Nurse, a professor, and an astronaut.

We got involved in all of our favorites, a Dance Off, The Train, The Cupid Shuffle and Electric Slide.  We continued talking to people and making up stuff that we had been doing for the past 20 years. Little did they know that 20 years prior to tonight, I was caring for our 4th grade class hamster.

The class photog announced that it was time for some group pictures. We were hopping in photos with various groups, and finally with the entire group in front of the “Class of 89” sign which would later become a Facebook profile picture.

We got the popular kids to do a round of shots on Nelson.  Then we had to do another one because Jeff didn’t want to be in the “shots” picture because he just finished nine months in rehab. We were going to be all over their website and I couldn’t wait.

During the dance off I got a little nervous because everyone was standing in a circle clapping to the beat. When one person would get in the middle, the circle would chant “Go Tommy, Go Tommy” and Tommy did a little dance and then the next person went.  We were all making eye contact with each other because we would have to wait for the crowd to say the person’s name once before we could join in, hoping no one would notice.  My turn arrived, and no one knew my name. Thank goodness the girls yelled my name first, then everyone else joined in, looking confused.

After about one hour of this, three ladies who appeared to be on the Class Reunion Board of Directors approached us. Their hair was styled the same way, and they stepped in unison.

“Um, excuse me, who are you with?

We all stood there for a minute, hoping someone else would answer her question.

Simone looked at her and said, “We are with Karen.”

The Reunion Nazis stared at us blankly.

Thank God Nelson ran up, sweating with excitement.

“They’re with me!!” he declared, a little too proudly.

“Who is with you?” she asked.

Nelson brushed the dirt off his shoulders and said, “All of them. We are in open relationships.”

The Reunion Nazis continued staring.

She looked right at me. “Where are your armbands? They came in your registration packets.”

I did not break her stupid stare.

“Yeah. Who wants to wear that mess,” I said. “We left them in the car. They really hinder some of our better dance moves.”

She kept staring.

The committee walked away looking totally annoyed, and we decided it was time to make a run for it.  We gathered our things and left in intervals. We laughed the whole way down the stairs, and the whole way home. They would be talking for weeks about us, and wouldn’t even know our names.

The Legend of Smokey Throat and The Lucky Rock

10 Jun

One day I had a message in my office voice mail from a lady that sounded like she had just been punched in the throat. I couldn’t tell if she was using her real voice or an electrolarynx.

“Sherri, I’m going to need to come by and sign those forms, and I need you to call me.  This is urgent. I’m on my way now,” said the robot voice.

I was in a meeting when she walked in.

“Hello? Hello! I need Terr..Perry.”

Of course she did. I left my meeting and caught my first glance (and whiff) of Smokey Throat. She smelled like she’d been laying in a hot garbage can full of cigarette ashes for two years.  She had a Publix bag full of other Publix bags and stood in the door. I’m sure Publix would feel ill represented.

I hesitated. “Hi. I’m Kari.”

“Do not come forth. I am highly contagious.”

Smokey Throat pulled out two rubber gloves and put them on.

“Where are the documents for signing?”

At this point I was not sure if I should open my window or spray her directly with Lysol or Raid. I contemplated opening my window, but only to jump out.

“They’re right here on my desk.”

“Don’t come over here, I’ll just sign it and give it back to you, but throw this pen away after I’m done signing.”

Great, I thought. Should I fashion these papers into a paper airplane and launch them across the room?

I tossed her the paperwork from the other side of my office.

“There is a garbage dumpster in the parking lot in the back. You can throw it away there. What exactly do you have?”

“I don’t know. But I haven’t been the same since the trip. I’m probably going to die.”

Aren’t we all?

“Come over here,” she grunted.

I was a little confused because she had just moments before told me to stay away.  I spent my walk over contemplating who I should leave my clothes to in my will.  I didn’t even have a will, so I was screwed either way.

She said, “See this bag?  Reach in there and pull out that wad of tissue paper.  I haven’t touched it since the trip.”

I slowly looked inside.  I was in constant, silent prayer asking God to please protect me from her typhoidplagulosis (aka Death Virus).  The smell of old, musty cigarette smoke was so strong I thought I was going to throw up in her bag.  Maybe that’s why she carried so many.

I reached in there, holding my breath. I grabbed the wad of tissue paper and set it on the table.  The contents were as follows: a part to a lawnmower, some keys, and a rock.

“So, what’s with the rock?”

“You see, Mary,” she scruffed, “this rock was in my yard. It is shaped like a perfect heart. See?”

She shoved it in my face and I jumped back a little, trying to play it off so I didn’t completely offend her.

“Yeah, that’s really beautiful,” I replied.

“I dug it up and it has brought me good luck. Then I buried it. Then I had more good luck. Yesterday I dug it up so I could give it to the people buying my house so they’ll have good luck too.”

Based on her current condition, this rock seemed about as lucky as a swastika.

She slowly gathered her bag of bags and went on her way.  I wanted to give her a hug or some oxygen but felt it was too late.

Later, Lon came in for the closing. I told him the Legend of Smoky Throat and the Lucky Rock.

“We’re supposed to give the new homeowners the rock. For luck.” I said as I handed it to him.

He stared at me for a minute. “Are you serious?”

“I am truthfully recounting the story to you.”

He threw the rock in the garbage.

Wait, You’re Still Single? The Story of Fiesta Crotch

10 Jun


Who knew a friend’s birthday dinner could turn into a deleted scene of Jersey Shore?

My friend Taylor and I were discussing how to celebrate his upcoming birthday. He decided he wanted to go eat Mexican food and hang out with hot girls, in no particular order, and instructed me to handle all of the above.

The Mexican restaurant that he told us would host this anticipated fiasco scored a 65 on it’s health department inspection. I gave him a courtesy call.

“Hey Kari! Looking forward to the party?”

“Are you looking forward to dying? Listen, they scored a 65 on their inspection so I think we should go somewhere else.”

“You’re such a snob.”

“Do you want to catch something from rotting tortilla shells?”

“You’re ridiculous. All Mexican food is the same. We’ll see you there.”

We parked and walked into the overcrowded lobby and my first instinct was to yell their health inspection score and watch the crowd disperse.  But by the looks of this crowd it was obvious that anything over a 20 would be acceptable to them.

I walked up to the hostess stand to see if Taylor had called ahead.  Of course he did not so I put our name in. I was handed a laminated “number sixteen” that felt like it just came out of a bucket of Aunt Jemima syrup.

“This is really sticky.”

“We’ll yell that number when the table is ready.”

I looked down and the card had the letter “B” written on it.

Finally our letter/number was yelled, as promised, and they took us to our table. Taylor and his friends came strolling over with cuffs linked. Except for one guy. Tad. He rolled in wearing a pair of middle school basketball shorts and a ratty T-shirt.

About two weeks prior to this, Taylor’s mother called and told me about Tad.

“Hey Kari. I have someone I want you to meet!”

“Great. What’s wrong with him?”

“He is ‘so nice,’ and well, he’s not that cute but sometimes that doesn’t matter.”

I agree with her, but what she didn’t understand is that you need at least one redeeming quality.

“Now, Kari, I know you hate stuff like this, and I didn’t say anything to him, but he really can’t wait to meet you.”

“How does he know about me if you didn’t say anything?”

“It doesn’t matter. I have to go.”


Flash forward two weeks, and here we are at the e-coli infested restaurant with Taylor’s friends, including Tad. When this cat arrived, I could immediately tell we had a Situation on our hands. Similar to “Mike, The” except worse.

As he squatted down to his chair in a hover, he announced to us that he was sore from working out. Situation, Jr. took a quick scan of the table and asked what the ladies did for a living.  I decided to take one for the team and began to speak, but he cut me off.

“Do you have a college degree?”

“Yes, what does that have to do with anything?”

“Well,” SJ began to mutter between hands full of chips and salsa, “I don’t, but if I did I think I would make more money.  How much money do you make, before taxes?”

“That’s really personal.”

What?  Are you kidding? I just like to get that kind of shit out on the table, you know?”

He slapped the table and laughed while saying, “Pun intended!!”

He leaned in and whispered, “Can you pass me that salt, babe?”

He reclined confidently back into his chair and continued, “Well, I manage the gym…actually, I work at the front desk. Last year I’d say I pulled in right under $11 G’s.”

I chimed in, “Last year or last month?”

“Year. Duh.”

He sat, waiting for our accolades. I suggested he get a second job.

“I just really, really, I mean REALLY…love the ladies,” he crooned.


“You know, sometimes I just can’t tell one from the next to the next to the next to the next. I just…recycle them, you know?”

“Oh, you recycle? That is so great for the environment. Al Gore would be so proud.”

His voice was getting progressively louder and he seemed to be acquiring a geographically unplaceable accent.

He then began caressing the ponytail of one of my girlfriends. He got right in her face like a stalking mountain cat and said, “I like thick girls, you know?”

“No, I don’t know,” she responded.

“I mean, you’re not thick, you’re really thin.  And really hot.  What I mean is, I just like all kinds of girls.” He leaned into her and whispered, “Especially girls like you.”

She stared at him. For a while. “It’s just, well, what you’re saying doesn’t make sense.”

The next topic of conversation was interrupted by the arrival of another couple.  She looked like Snooki after three years in a concentration camp.  Seriously, she looked like she had not eaten since 1993.

Then SJ, not missing a beat, stood up from his hover and checked Skinny Snooki out from head to toe while shoving another handful of chips and salsa into his mouth. He continued to creepily stroke her ponytail with the free hand that was not covered in salsa verde.

“So anyway, I think that sex is overrated.  What do you female lady-girls think? I like to watch other people have sex.  Whether it be live or on film, you know?”

“No, I don’t know.”

She looked at him and said, “Has anyone ever referred to you as ‘The Situation?’ Or ‘a situation?'”

He looked confused and she continued, “It’s just that I feel like we have the entire cast and crew of Jersey Shore here at our small dinner table.”

He started chowing on his burrito. Each bite resulted in sour cream dripping and salsa squirting everywhere. A big wad of refried beans oozed onto his lap.  He yelled some obscenities, shot out of his chair, and threw the burrito on the floor. He thrust his crotch into my friend’s face.

“Shit!  Look at this!” he yelled as he pointed to his fiesta filled crotch and tilted it up toward her face.

She turned her head in disgust.

“What?  Oh, I get it.  You’re intimidated because I’m so well endowed in these gym shorts.”

“Umm, no, actually, I just don’t want to have your penis in my face.  Under any circumstance.”

Fiesta Crotch searched frantically for anyone who might be paying him some attention.

“Seriously, sit down,” Taylor said.

He got mopey and sat down.  Then he grabbed my sweet, innocent friend’s arm and stared at her for what felt like four months.

“So can I get…your digits?”

She replied, “Huh? My what?”

Tad connected his chair to hers on his good side, and replied defeatedly, “I was just hoping I could get your number.”

“I only have two hundred minutes.”

He looked totally bummed and handed his phone to her and murmured, “Please just type it in.” She began typing and our other friend kicked her under the table.


He started flicking chunks of Fiesta off of his crotch in various directions. Some Fiesta landed in Skinny Snooki’s purse. She didn’t notice because she was too busy staring in her Caboodles hand held mirror and adjusting her hot pink zebra bra strap, which was hanging out of her white shirt.

Fiesta Crotch stage whispered to her, “I’ll call your phone so you can have my number too.  Then you’ll know it’s me and you can answer and we can talk. Are you on LinkedIn?”

He began dialing, held the phone up to his ear and then looked perplexed.

“Hey, that’s your work number.”

“Remember I don’t like to give out my mobile. I also accept facsimile transmissions.”

“I can’t fax. Great. Uggggggh. How are we going to stay in touch?” he asked.

She replied, “Just…leave a message.”

Fiesta Crotch lifted his arm up to have her feel his bicep, and we noticed that he had a big hole in the armpit of the shirt. Naturally we asked him what happened.

“I don’t know, nor do I care. It’s my lucky shirt” he said proudly.

“What happens when you wear your lucky shirt?”

“Lucky things.”

Then he started pulling on his armpit hair and laughing.

Finally our dinner came to a conclusion (thank God), and while walking out to our cars, I could hear Fiesta Crotch behind me talking to Taylor.

He said, “Hey, what’s the tall girl’s name?”

Taylor replied, “That’s Kari.”

I turned around, “I can hear you!”

Fiesta Crotch said, “We should totally go have a drink sometime!”

Taylor and I yelled simultaneously, “No!”

Then he turned around, “Can I call you sometime?”

“Um, call me next month.”

“Wait, when?” he said looking very puzzled.

“It’s leap year…opposite day.”

“I don’t understand.”

I continued waving goodbye as I shut my car door.

Poor Fiesta Crotch moseyed back to his car all by his lonesome. He looked back and announced to us that he probably needed to head home anyway.  I think that worked out best for everyone.

The Legend of Cat Vest

28 Feb

Those who are married or dating seem to make it their mission to set single friends up no matter the cost.  For some reason they find it unacceptable that you are not in a serious relationship, even if miserable.  You could even say you’ve been on a recent date but they need to know WHY you didn’t elope that weekend.  What happened?  Was it the food?  His shirt?  Calm down.

They offer words of hope like, “When you DO meet Mr. Right you will love it.  We are basically just an old married couple now.  We come home and put on sweatpants.”

I’m sorry, but when I come home to my husband I will not be putting on sweatpants.

The award winning comments come from those who think they are doing you a favor by insisting on setting you up with a man that they would never date themselves.  It’s usually a “neighbor” or a “guy down the hall at work.”  When you ask if they would go out with the datee, they’ll respond, “Oh, well he’s not my type, but I thought you might be interested.”  This is the equivalent of saying that he has fifteen stray/rabid cats and/or enjoys taking photos of birds in the woods.

I love hearing that “it’s not too late for me to have children,” or I “shouldn’t worry about what society says about it” from someone that I barely know.

I had a client come in for a loan closing that I had not seen in three years.  She sent me a fax (insert emojis) that I thought had to be a joke.  In the body of the cover page she had written:

“Can’t wait to see you later this week!  Are you married yet?  Everyone was wondering!  Can’t wait to hear about it!”

Who was everyone?  I had so many questions.

Her closing day arrived, and I went out to greet her in the lobby.  She stopped mid-conversation with her clients, dropped everything on the ground, and rushed towards me.  I held out my hand to shake hers, and she grabbed me by the arms, spun me around and yelled,

“OH, MY GOSH. Kari!  You look way better than I thought you would!  When you told me you were not married I didn’t know what may have happened to you!  But I’ll let everyone know that you look great.”

Again, the alleged “everyone.”

This was coming from a person that had on Mom Jeans, what appeared to be a fresh perm, and a sweater vest with a cat on it who was also wearing a sweater.  And some glitter.  Possibly left over from an earlier (and most likely failed) Pinterest project.

“Kari, are you 40 yet?”


“Well, you still have time to pop a few kids out.”

Pop a few kids out?  What are they, wardrobe malfunctions?  There was an awkward pause, so she continued,  “I mean, if you want to still.”

More awkward silence.

“I don’t really know what you want to do, but you can if you do.”

I asked, “If I do what?”

She said, “Want to.”

“Want to what?”

“Have kids,” she replied.

What I wanted to do was move on because her clients were sweating and I couldn’t think of anything else to talk about other than try to explain in 15 seconds or less how I love kids but just don’t happen to have any right this second.  Thus, I began to pray.  “Lord, it’s me.  Listen, I’m sorry I gave that woman the bird this morning in traffic.  Help me please faint right here in this lobby so we can change the subject.”

Secrets Do Make Friends, And Save Squirrels (another glimpse into my illustrious career at the Marietta Country Club)

9 Jun


Months passed before I realized why the golf pro was always in such an astounding mood. Early one morning I was coming back in after my first round on the beverage cart and he stopped me before I got up to the clubhouse.

“Kari,” he shouted from behind a tree, “Ride over here…shhhh!”

I rode over into the flower bed he was standing in and he grabbed a Gatorade can out of my cart and looked around with a huge grin on his face.

“Why are you smiling like that?” I inquired.

“Watch this.”

I watched as instructed as he dumped the entire can of Gatorade out into the budding rosebushes. Then he opened a beer can and poured that beer into the empty Gatorade can.

I began to wonder if I was on film and this was a test. I doubted it after about three seconds, as it was only 1996 and we weren’t that advanced.

He leaned over and kissed me right on the lips. Then he handed me two fifty dollar bills to keep quiet. My day was already looking up and it was only 7:45am. Well, sort of. My cart was now stuck on a root and I had to walk back to the clubhouse. They asked me what happened and I explained that I was trying to save a baby squirrel and just really needed some assistance.

Everybody Doesn’t Run on Duncan

11 Sep


Have you ever wanted to star in a psycho thriller set in Kennesaw, Georgia? If you like stalkers, insomnia and visits from Charles Manson’s offspring then you’ll really like this chapter.

One evening I was outside watering the flowers that my Dad helped me plant at my new house. We (and by “we” I mean…well, I think you know the answer to this) spent hundreds of dollars on these flowers so I needed to take extra special care of them. I was a new homeowner so naturally my yard looked like something out of L.A. Story, unlike the home next to me which looked more like The Money Pit.

At dusk, out of nowhere, a tall, thin, razor bald man with a long, full beard walked out of the neighbor’s overgrown yard. His silhouette was as eerie as Norman Bates’ house on the hill. He realized I was watching him and tried to blend in with the house. It was like that scene from When A Stranger Calls.

I continued to look in his direction, then smiled to break the more than awkward stare.

“Hi, are you the new neighbor?” I asked.

He glared at me through the darkness and swirling fog.

“I am called Duncan.”

This was getting weirder, but I tried to be optimistic.

“Well it’s nice to meet you, man called ‘Duncan.’”

He dissolved through the fence and into his backyard. I couldn’t tell if he physically opened the gate or just floated through.

“Hey pretty lady, do you want to come over?” he beckoned from his side.

I remembered at least some of my parents’ advice, so I didn’t just prance over there like an idiot. I pretended I didn’t hear him.

“Hey, I said come here!” he demanded.

I was so nervous at this point I dropped the hose and jetted toward my garage. He yelled over the fence, “Hey! Do you know what crystal meth looks like?”

I continued to ignore him as he continued to get creepier.

“Did I alarm you?” he whispered.

The only vision in my head was the cover of Silence of the Lambs. The instant that he called me “Clarice” I was going to throw my shovel at his stupid face. I looked for a white van with no windows. Instead, a black cat trotted across the road.

Duncan said in a demented sing-song voice, “I just want to show you something. Will you come inside my basement and let me show you my artwork?”

I continued to ignore him, still trying to get to my garage. My next plan was to get in my car and drive away. I was well aware that the hose was running full blast, but decided to forego walking back to turn it off & would deal with the water bill if and when I survived this episode. I was too overwhelmed by the thought of my body being found in the sewer drain the next day.

He threw a note over the fence at me. Based on tv shows I had seen, I knew that I needed evidence. I grabbed the note off the ground, ran to my car, and drove away. I called Andy, who has a safe full of guns-most of which look illegal. I was sobbing so hard that he couldn’t understand me. I told him to come over and meet me at the neighborhood pool before Duncan raped and killed me.

“What? Who is Duncan?”

He and my other friend Josh were there in five minutes. I imagined them gearing up like Rambo, headbands tied on with Survivor playing in the background. They were always looking for opportunities to bear arms, and better yet, stab or shoot someone. Maybe both–only time would tell.

Next, I called my roommate Kelly and told her not to come home. We rendezvoused at the CVS down the street, got in Andy’s truck and headed back to our house.

I began reading the note to them which was on some hand drawn stationery. It had a sketch of a scary, narrow face with a long beard and bald head. The man called ‘Duncan’s’ self-portrait. There was a dialogue bubble that read, “I’m the One.” It could have been a case study from a criminal psychology textbook. “This is what a serial killer’s stationary looks like” is what the chapter title would read. The note included, but was not limited to:

-Dialogue between various personalities and God
-Poems about the depths of his despair and murderous thoughts
-Notes to the government about how the banks own everything and working citizens get nothing
-A song to the homeowner that told him he should burn the house down

My hands were trembling as I read this. The handwriting and tone were changing, and I was waiting to hear the theme song from Unsolved Mysteries. We got back and Duncan was nowhere to be found. In my mind, since I had left the door unlocked in my frenzy to get out, I envisioned him laying in my bed amongst razor blades and rose petals, waiting.

Andy and Josh did a full search of my house, yard and attic with guns drawn. This was the best chance they ever had to shoot someone, and they were savoring it.

“We’re gonna go search the neighbor’s yard,” Andy said.

I looked at him and got nervous.

“You can’t go over there and shoot him.”

“Yes, we can.”

“No, you can’t.”

Fifteen minutes later, still toting their 9mm’s, they rushed back over.

“We found him!” Andy gasped. “He was sitting in the corner of the flower bed, staring over here.”

Josh said, “So, do you guys know how long he’s been sitting over there watching you sleep?”

After my third wave of nausea passed, I replied, “I’ve never seen him until today.”

“Well, I bet he’s been over there for weeks waiting for you to get home so he can watch you without you knowing. I wonder if he can see into your shower? What about if he watches you shower and-”

“Please stop,” I said through a squint of disgust.

Josh called the police and explained most of the story. Andy tried to lighten the mood by asking us if we’d ever seen a silhouette next to our beds in a flash of lightning while waking up from a dream. It didn’t work.

Two police cars arrived in my very friendly, family oriented neighborhood. I can only imagine what the dinner conversations were as the neighbors saw the law pull up to our house. The officers told us that they would go over there and “check it out.”

Twenty minutes and 3 bottles of wine later, Paul Blart and Barney Fife came back over and told us that we “had a real Marilyn Manson case on our hands.”

I looked at them, “Do you mean Charles Manson?”

They looked confused. I rolled my eyes. Barney Fife pulled his pants up higher and said, “Yeah, the perp wasn’t really making any sense. He was in and out of thoughts…sort of hazy.”

“He was laying in his sleeping bag, surrounded by artwork or something. He had newspaper clippings taped all over the wall. The letters were cut out, and it spelled something,” Blart added.

“What did it spell?” I asked.

“We’re not sure.”

They looked more confused. I rolled my eyes again.

Andy and Josh stayed at the house with us, and I don’t think I slept more than six minutes. All I could imagine was Duncan bursting through our back door and Andy unloading an AK-47 into his chest. We developed a schedule over the next few days:

-Leave for work, all at the same time
-Fall asleep at work because we didn’t sleep the previous night
-Get off of work, call someone to drive us home to get clothes
-Find a creepy ass note on the front door from Duncan
-Spend another night in fear, contemplating suicide
-Repeat tomorrow

As for the daily love notes, they’d say things like, “Hey Pretty Neighbor, sorry about the confusion last night! How about those cops? Those lights scared me…I hope they didn’t scare you.” Another one said, “Hey, I’m sorry—you’re so pretty. Please come over and let me show you my paintings. Pretty please.”

One day my friend Shannon was over. We were sitting in my living room making our plans for the night. I saw a shadow across my front window, dropped my coffee on the ground and turned white as a ghost. All of the sudden I heard Duncan yelling my name, (how did he know my name? oh dear Lord, he went through my mail…) and banging on the giant front window.
Shannon got her phone out, had 911 keyed in and was ready to hit send. I grabbed a Louisville Slugger, swung open my front door and stood there wondering if the prison wardens would let me wear a different jumpsuit. Orange doesn’t look good on redheads. He came to the door and I held the bat in front of me.

“What do you want?” I whisper-yelled.

He calmly replied, “Hi. Can I have my letters back?”

Thanks to network television, I had learned to make copies of the evidence with my employers’ copy machine. I grabbed his “originals” and threw them in his face.

“Here are your stupid letters. And if you ever come over here again I will bash your brains out with this bat. And I’m not joking!”

He took his letters and smiled at me.

“Thank you, Pretty Lady,” he whispered, “I’m so sorry about all of this.”

He slowly turned and walked away after blowing me a kiss.

I called the police again. They finally started investigating the matter and had made some interesting discoveries. It turns out the home next door was vacant, and the owner of the property had planned on renting it out. Duncan had been hired as a contractor to prepare the home for rent. The landlord had no idea that Duncan was spending the night there, or using the property as his home base for weird. The owner of the property let Duncan go immediately and had the policemen escort him off of the property. For about 2 days we had total peace.

One day I came home from work, checked my mailbox and what did I find? A note on the stationary from the fiery pits of hell. It read:

“Hi Pretty Neighbor. Sorry that no one understands us. I need to leave my supplies in your yard since I have been kicked off the property next door to you. I like doing work for pretty young girls like you, so I didn’t think you’d mind. I need your phone number since they won’t let us stay in touch here. I’ll be back to get the tools this weekend. Looking forward to seeing you again. I bought some new cologne. Hope you like it.”

I was so nauseous I could barely stand up. I walked slowly, inches at a time, to my backyard. I saw a pile of tools laying there. I swear I heard The Omen soundtrack playing. I fell to my knees and cried. Then I threw the tools into the neighbor’s yard and called the landlord.

“I thought Duncan was fired?” I demanded.

“He was. What happened?”

“Duncan threw his tools in my yard and left me a note saying that he’d been kicked off your property!”

“Did you call the cops?”

“Yes, I call the cops every five minutes but that does not seem to stop this psycho asshole from ruining my life!” I yelled.

The next night a few of my friends came over to have a “relaxing” evening and try to calm everyone down. One friend brought a box of Dunkin Donuts to be funny and marked through “Dunkin” and wrote “Duncan.” Another friend used dry erase markers to draw a picture of his psycho stationary on my bathroom mirror. When I walked into the bathroom I screamed, and then could not stop laughing. I don’t think I have slept a full night since then.

About two months later I walked into Kinko’s, and as I turned the corner, I saw Duncan running off his gross stationary. I stopped dead in my tracks. He saw me. I ran to the bathroom and called Andy.

“Andy, I don’t know what to do.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I’m at Kinkos, and Duncan is here. We made eye contact and I ran into the bathroom. I can’t walk out or he’ll see me.”

“How long are you planning on staying in there?”

“I guess until you get here.”

He sighed. “I’ll be right there.”

“You can use your guns this time.”

It’s Christmas, Charlie Brown, & Cujo is coming too

24 Oct

When you think of Christmas break, do you think of 97 degree temperatures, plagues of gnats and high heeled sandals? If not, clearly you didn’t spend your college years at Valdosta State University in south Georgia.

One Christmas, my roommate thought that “we” needed to get a live Christmas tree for our apartment. Where were we going to get a live Christmas tree this close to Florida? It would have been easier to find a palm tree, but if we settled for a palm tree, then I wouldn’t have this to write about.

Pam held in her hot little hands an ad that stated ”The Greatest Tree Lot in The South” was just a “few miles” down the interstate, so we hopped into my jeep and began heading more south. We were laughing and talking until I noticed we crossed the Florida state line.

“What just happened?” I asked.

She gave me the please-don’t-ask-me-that look.

Another hour passed. In silence.

Finally she yelled, “There! Turn there!”

She pointed to a dirt road off of the interstate. Not an exit. We were now driving through a pasture. Pam looked at her paper, then looked up and pointed to a tree.

“Go that way.”

“Pam, what in the world are you reading?”

“I got this ad from the girl at Piggly Wiggly.”

I frowned. “What girl at Piggly Wiggly?”

We had never shopped at Piggly Wiggly.

We approached what I believed to be the baby Christmas tree section. These were like if Christmas trees had puppies. The pasture ended, and we just looked at each other. We got out of the car in our dresses and high-heeled sandals, and looked around. After a few minutes I started to get nervous.

In the distance I heard a pack of dogs, growling and barking. I also heard a loud engine and a possible chainsaw. The sound got closer and closer. Suddenly an old blue pick up truck with a gun rack came barrelling out of the woods. Two massive dogs jumped out of the truck and galloped towards us, the sounds of their slobbery barks echoing amongst the pines. Their facial flaps were rippling in the wind and drool was plastered on the sides of their fat stomachs. We ran as fast as our high heels would take us toward my car, jumped in and slammed the doors. A man who resembled Santa Clause (except with a really dirty beard. But I supposed Santa’s beard is pretty dirty anyway) rolled out of the truck in a faded pair of denim overalls.

Pam and I looked at each other. I said, “We just drove three days to get here, we’re getting a damn tree.”

We got out of the car and walked over to introduce ourselves. With fake names of course. He nodded and tipped his hat in return. How very Southern of him. He reached into the back of his truck and pulled out a massive saw.

This is it, I thought, this is the end. This is how it ends in movies. Two stupid girls drive out to a death trap according to instructions from a girl at Piggly Wiggly, and their bodies are found strung up in a baby Christmas tree lot.

He took out a cigarette, lit it, and looked at us as he exhaled into the wind. This is what serial killers do, I thought, they enjoy the whole process of planned murder. He tossed the saw down onto the ground in front of us. It bounced on the dry panhandle dirt, kicking dust into our faces.

“There you go ladies. Take your pick.”

“I’m so sorry. I’m not sure I understand what is happening.”

“You just pick the tree you like, cut it down, blow your horn real good and I’ll come bag it up when you’re done.”

He winked, put his hat back on and got in his truck. Cujo and Old Yeller stayed with us. They sat next to each other, watching and panting.

“Pam, get the saw.”

We wandered around for a while, and finally found a Tween Tree that was at least as tall as our shoulders. We decided this was the one. It was getting dark.

“How are we going to cut this tree down? I’ve never even cut the grass before.”

“Why do you think I would know?”

Pam sighed and said, “I’ll hold back the branches and you saw the tree down, please.”

Southern Santa may as well have handed us a butter knife. I was using all of my strength, pulling and pushing back and forth as hard as I could with the saw. My triceps were on fire.

“Kari, I think this tree is too thick. We need another one.”

“Oh, yeah? You think so? You could tell just by standing there doing nothing?”

We made our way to about five other trees and finally found one that looked cooperative. At this point I didn’t care if we only had a branch. It quickly fell, knocking off most of the pine needles. Rolling our eyes, we got back into my car and blew the horn per Santa’s instructions. I had a bag of Doritos in the back so I gave them to the dogs while we waited.

His truck came barreling out of the woods again and as he pulled up Cujo and Old Yeller stood at attention, licking the Dorito residue off of their dog beards. He threw the tree into his truck, knocking off some more needles.

“Girls, y’all sit tight for a minute! I’ll be right back!”

We were exhausted, my hand was bleeding from the saw and there were pine needles in my hair. A few minutes later Santa came back with the burlap wrapped Charlie Brown tree and threw it on top of my jeep. The last remaining needles fell off from the impact.

“That’ll be six dollars.”

I handed him a ten and said “Merry Christmas.”

As we drove away, he stood there smiling and waving at us as if we were his daughters on our way back to college. I swear there was a tear in his right eye. We stopped to wave goodbye, and for a moment I felt a wave of emotion as I looked at Cujo, Old Yeller and Santa Clause standing there alone in the pasture off of the dirt road off of the fexit three days south of Valdosta State.

I told Pam to write down the address and we would mail them a Christmas card. I couldn’t wait to take a family portrait with Pam in front of our Tween Tree Trunk and mail it to our parents and friends back home. They would be so proud of what college had taught us so far.