Dear Kansas,

Hey, home-for-now-state! What up, hawg?! It’s a beautiful day here and I really appreciate that, but gorgeous weather does not cancel out the idea that this state is crawling with morons and I think it’s your duty as one-fiftieth of the United States to do something soon, before Lenexa puts out Olathe’s eye or Topeka goes up in flames because Lawrence was playing GI Joe with a can of hairspray and a Bic lighter.

First of all, let’s address the whole “driving issue.”  I’m coming from a place of ignorance here, I admit that.  I learned to drive in a state where you had to prove, in order to begin the licensing process, your awareness that the turn signal exists.  This was quite helpful when the actual driving test happened, as one had to prove proficiency in using a turn signal in order to pass.  It’s a pretty good system, when you think about it, letting people know your intentions on the highway, especially when one of my fine, fellow residents is performing the maneuver that I like to call, “The Kansas Slide.”

The Kansas Slide is really awesome and harkens back to the courage of those hearty pioneers, I’m sure.  It’s almost like watching an automotive ballet, but performed by people who have been eating LSD by the handful.  Take a six lane highway, with two left turning lanes.  Your initiator of The Kansas Slide will begin in the most extreme right hand lane and drive, diagonally, toward the most extreme left turn lane.  The entire movement is performed, of course, sans turn signal.  If executed correctly, the sounds of tires squealing and brakes grinding is a symphony of terror.

Granted, I lived other places where people were reluctant to use their turn signals.  People from Connecticut, for example, aren’t very likely to wear their driving intentions on their sleeves.  But Kansans? Lord Almighty! You people seem to have active suicidal tendencies.  It’s extremely disconcerting and it makes me uncomfortable to watch.  I just can’t figure out how to schedule a county-wide intervention.  I do appreciate the opportunity to chat with long-dead relatives and Jesus on an almost daily basis, though.

Additionally, I think, Kansas, that we need to have a conversation about pizza, and baked goods.  Are you aware that they suck here?  This tragedy on a plate that you people insist on calling “New York Style Pizza,” is a colossal joke that somebody, somewhere played on you.  I lived in New York, Kansas.  New York Pizza is a friend of mine.  You, sir, are not serving New York Pizza.

Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up, shall we?  New York pizza does NOT taste like a friggin’ saltine cracker, nor is it an under-baked and soggy mess of raw dough.  Adding the injury of gallons of sauce to the injury of an already completely fucked-up crust is not helping your cause.  And the cheese? Please! What are you people thinking?! The cheese should form a layer that feels almost al dente and does not feel like a ball of phlegm in the mouth.  All in all, it’s been a very long time since I had a piece of pizza that didn’t make me want to punch my server in whatever incarnation of junk they were sporting.

But, as I mentioned, baked good in general are problematic in this state.  It had never been my intention to turn into Caroline Fucking Ingalls when I moved here, yet I bake bread from scratch any time I want to enjoy a meal (which is to say, just about every day.)  Have you any clue how labor intensive baking bread actually is? I mean, if it’s done correctly.  Sure, I could slap a yeasty ball of wet flour in the oven and sacrifice a cat (presumably the preferred method of bread baking around here,) but that would be a cheat, as I see it.

Yes, we’ve been over it a million times — I am an uppity, East Coast Bitch and I make ridiculous and ludicrous demands that people and things make sense.  I know your reluctance to see my side, but maybe you could try for me now.  I trust I’ve made myself clear on th — oh.  Wait.  I just remembered something important.  Let me translate my words so there’s no confusion:

You people no drive good.

Pizza bad here.

Fix, please.

Sincerely,

Joy M. Cranky-Pants, Reluctant Resident

Love and Dancing

April 20, 2008

Okay.

I seriously almost cried just now, watching the Bay City Rollers sing “Saturday Night.”  Don’t get me wrong – losing 185 pounds of stupid fat in the form of throwing Satan’s Retarded Little Brother out of my home is the best thing that’s happened to me in a long time.  I’m just mourning my youth, I think – or more like lamenting the loss of what I thought my life was going to be like.  There’s one of them “double edged swords” for you.

I was a youngster in the days when Disco was cool and great fistfuls of John Travolta’s chest hair were considered damned sexy.  I was young and naive enough to believe Disco, like CHIPS, was permanent.  If you traveled back in time and talked to my 9 year old self, you’d probably want to punch me in the face.  I would encourage you to do that, too; Somebody needs to knock some sense into me before I start sporting that FeMullet in 6 years.  But I digress.  I was all over the disco stuff, as much as a prepubescent could be.

In fourth grade, Vicki “The Bitch Who Would Ruin My Life ON PURPOSE in 7th Grade” Y. was quite the fan of the crazy sound that was rocking the airwaves, too.  She even went so far as to write a really crappy three act play that was set in a discotheque and it revolved around three pretty young things hoping for their Last Dance for Romance.  In a move that could be easily be misconstrued as oddly feminist, every character written required ovaries.  I will explain to you now that getting the boys in my 4th grade class involved in a play (that also includes dancing,) involved basically the same Sysiphean effort as getting those same 4th grade boys to play Barbie Dolls.  I unsuccessfully tried to accomplish both.  I still have a scar on my left arm from what I like to call the “Chris G. Skipper Incident.” 

So Vicki wrote her not-really-feminist manifesto and even got permission from our teacher, the oldest and most sadistic woman living at the time, to stage a production for the entire class.  Because it was my 15 minutes to be Vicki’s best friend that week, I was given the covetable role of “Darla,” the character not quite a pretty as “Anastasia,” the girl who will have every boy panting and excited and begging to dance with her.  Vicki would be playing Anastasia, and I sincerely doubted she’d be able to fill her other myriad duties of director, producer, prop mistress and all-around Hitler-like dictator with itty-bitty-breasts a-budding.  I didn’t want to see her “fail,” per se, but I did want an opportunity to get my hands on the script which included very little actual dialogue and no discernible plot whatsoever.  Seriously, Act III read something along the lines of, And then they all show up and have some pretty colored drinks and dance.  Anastasia has a fight with Robbie.  They make up.  The End.  From about halfway throught the first page, the whole thing became less of a “script,” and became something more of a “suggestion.”  The quiet writer inside of me at that time was deeply offended. 

It was my foolish insistence that people watching a play might want some plot or, at the very least, decent dialogue that doesn’t contradict itself and involves more than the phrase “Let’s Dance,” regurgitated like bad Lo Mein at five minute intervals that proved to be my downfall.  Even our peers, who would have gladly swapped their Star Wars trading cards for what was shaping up to be a three hour long production of Saturday Night Nothing  if it meant the Succubus of Room 114 couldn’t torture us with more fractions, would be pelting up with our oversized copies of Your World and You twenty minutes into it. Vicki did not take my suggestions as being “constructive.”  She felt I was challenging her authority and “acting big.”

So she fired me. 

I then spent my recesses watching her and Karen R. scheme and whisper and practice disco dancing.  And while I longed to be a part of her group again, I yearned for something more: to be grown up, to be desired, to be feminine and graceful, dancing all night with someone who found me irresistible.  This is the mind of a young girl at its very worst and its very best.  And tonight, when I heard the Bay City Rollers singing about dancing on a Saturday night, I didn’t immediately feel sad because I am sitting in my bed, wearing boxer shorts I stole from my son when he outgrew them and an “I’m With Stupid” tee shirt that serves no real or clever purpose, except to insult the dog on the bed next to me.  I didn’t feel sad because I am 39 now, and at home on Date Night and watching something on VH1 about female rappers wearing tiaras (a truly, Joy-Specific WTF Moment if ever one existed,) and sharing slightly stale Pringles with the cat. 

I just felt kind of badly for the 9 year old me who really expected so much more than what she got when it came to dreaming about love and dancing.  Oh, I don’t feel too badly for her; she’ll live in Paris and New York.  She’ll travel extensively.  She’ll meet people who will help her be successful, people who will love her and people she will love, but she’ll never be the Queen of the Disco, and I know, in my heart, that’s what she really wanted. 

Just so you know: Vicki’s play closed before it ever opened, due to the fact that you can’t scotch tape tin foil onto a soccer ball and expect it to look like anything other than some sort of sad joke.  We went back to playing jacks at recess, which suited me fine, because I could get to tensies and around the world in my sleep.  Disco, as we know, began to suck and it wouldn’t be too far in the future before I heard the sound they were calling “punk,” that spoke to me more and on a deeper level than the BeeGees ever did. 

But it might have been nice to have been Darla, the not “as pretty” one, with three or four spoken lines and a scripted grace. 

Here’s Something…

April 19, 2008

So, here I am … in my house, except it’s an aparment, and some people think you’re lying if you call an apartment a “house,” which I get — because they are two different things.  But I don’t want to own property (I did that once before, and you have do to things like mow your own grass and replace your own furnace — and furnaces are expensive.)

So, I sold my house about ten years ago and starting living in apartments, where guys with most of their ass showing come and reset my air conditioner when I need them to; and that works for me.  My friend, Al, keeps telling me that real estate is the next “Big thing,” and I tell Al, “Order another pitcher of beer and leave me alone.” Because — while he might be right, I don’t want to own anything with upkeep.  I don’t feel permanent enough for that.

The former financial advisor in me says I must tell you that real estate is the best investment.  The person that lives in this world says, get an apartment — there’s no damned reason to fix your own dishwasher.

1. What was your first reaction when you found out Dame Ruth Dickson, Chief Executive Elitist, wanted to be Your Friend On Gather?

Well, Kris, to say The Pants were excited would be an understatement. We got so excited we not only started to refer to ourselves in the third person, but we also tried to hump our own leg. Without getting too graphic for your audience, all I can say is that it was one of the ugliest instances of self-abuse imaginable.
2. Were you aware of Dame Ruth’s existence before this?

I was. I’m not proud of this, and if my parole officer ever catches wind of it, I could be in some “trouble,” but I had a “Dame Ruth Subscription.” I had accidentally run across one of her brilliantly worded comments on one of, I believe, John O’s articles, and I clicked her profile. This was, of course, back in the days that you could do something like that and not end up having a Gran Mal seizure from information overload. I took a very snowy Sunday afternoon and studied her writings. Articles, comments — you name it. It was like I was starving and she was a loaf of bread and a jug of wine. I’m not ashamed to admit it — I have a little girl-crush on Dame Ruth. It’s a beautiful and natural thing.

3. When you found out you couldn’t actually accept her invitation, what did you do? Did “pee yourself” ever come to mind?

No. “Pee myself” did not come to mind. What immediately came to mind was, “There’s got to be a website somewhere that gives tips to would-be arsonists.” Always remember, Kids: Google is your friend.

4. How has this affected your relationship with Dame Ruth?

Well, it’s severely impeded what I would like to believe is a burgeoning friendship. I’d like the chance to dazzle her with my Stupidity, but I don’t want to presume too much since we‘re not technically “friends.” When I publish an article, I check back obsessively, hoping she’s commented on it, but I realize she can’t easily be aware of my actions. In short, our inability to “seal the deal” on our friendship is, in the words of N Sync, “tearin’ up my heart.” In fact, I feel like Joey Fatone without a sandwich — unfulfilled, void, empty.

5. Do you feel this “Hawthorne” person is in any way responsible? Why on earth would you think such a thing?

Yes, I blame that bastard, Hawthorne — I never had this problem before! And I can still receive and see friggin’ friend requests from that lunatic who’s trying to put himself through medical school solely with Gather points! Where is the justice in that, I ask you? It’s like a sick joke — any moron with a “GAME: Name Anything” can theoretically ask for and receive my friendship, but I am denied this lovely woman’s company and it makes me want to… well, the attorneys say it’s best not to show my hand.

6. Has “Hawthorne” bothered you prior to this?

Yesterday, I would have said “yes,” but I have had my treatments, much like Malcolm McDowell’s Alex character in A Clockwork Orange, and now, whenever I try to criticize Hawthorne, I become filled with, and am forced to expel, a vomitous bilge.

7. Since both you and Dame Ruth are over the age of 17 and therefore outside Gather’s hip new target demographic, do you feel there is anything you can teach other members? What?

I’m glad you asked this question, because I believe that Gather, having watched plenty of James Bond movies and then, having had them interpreted by Austin Powers movies, is aware that the most damage to an organization can come from an alliance within. In short, I believe this conspiracy to keep Dame Ruth and I apart is a measure of self-protection on Gather’s part. If we were to begin following each other around, leaving comments that were not only “smarter than the average bear’s” but spelled, punctuated and capitalized with a marked absence of internet acronyms, it might catch on. By the Arlo Guthrie definition of it, the two of us together might just look like “queers.” But if a third person were to emulate us, then we’d be classified as a “movement” and all hell could break loose.

8. Are you aware of the reinstatement of the “Hands Across America” movement to try to bring you and Dame Ruth together?

I was not aware of it, but as I have come to recently learn, Gather Friends are a quickly mobilized army and their weapons are “caring” and “love” … and in some instances, “righteous indignation” and the “ability to bitch in a generally coherent manner.” I love them all, and I appreciate their efforts. Entering into Day Two, as we are, it’s been tough on me. The not knowing, the infinite questioning — “Will Support ever respond to me?” “Will Dame Ruth get tired of waiting and find someone new?”

It’s… harrowing. And that’s not hyperbole. It’s just my heart.

9. What would you say to those determined to keep you from becoming BFFs? (See, Gather? Joinin’ that hip new target demographic here.)

I wouldn’t say it to them, because I don’t believe their attention spans lend themselves to understanding mere spoken logic. Instead, I would recreate that fabulous scene from the musical, 42nd Street and sing this:

What do you go for,
Go see a show for?
Tell the truth
You go to see those beautiful dames.

Now, I know I should probably be quoting Rent, given the mentality and age of those involved, but the Universal Truths (and Ruths,) are best found in the classics.

10. What would you say to Dame Ruth if Gather ever allowed you to speak to her?

I would tell her how I admire her wisdom and her dead-eyed accuracy with a well aimed barb. I would beg her to accept me as an apprentice. Then the questions would start: I would ask her if Tony Curtis is a good kisser. I would ask her if she’d kissed anybody else famous. Finally, I might try to amaze and astound her with a few well-dropped names of my own, but I would never presume to be on her level.

11. What would you say this has done for the following: world peace, global warming, your Gather experience, and network television?

This tragedy has done more to destroy the fabric of society than it has done to mend it. I predict that if this situation is not remedied as quickly as possible, we’ll see both an upswing of violence in the Middle East, as well as an inability to tune our coming Gather Playlists to anything other than Gangsta Rap. Seals will begin clubbing themselves, while polar bears look on in horror actually drinking Cokes.

My Gather experience has been effed for almost a week, so this just added insult to injury. As far as network television is concerned, I blame this whole “Dame Ruth & The Pants Must Remain Apart” for the fact that TV Land is now showing something called “The Big 4-0” approximately 23 times per day, thus robbing me of multiple episodes of my beloved The Andy Griffith Show.

Additionally, if something isn’t done soon, I fear that He will come like a thief in the night, you will not know the seasons but for the leaves on the trees, and the rivers shall run with blood. But, again — Gather knows best. I hope their little Apocalypse is a decent trade for my non-friendship with Dame Ruth.