Sunday, August 18, 2019


When I was a first year at NYU, I was passionate about ventriloquism and comedy even though I sucked. (Luckily now I am mediocre). Most of us really and truly sucked, yet we were billed rising stars. The audience grimaced, as if the only thing that should have been rising was their asses out of their seats. Some of us were NYU students and some of us were semi-homeless, but by the way we all dressed really and truly who could tell the difference? 

After getting off the stage with May Wilson, who was then a converted Juro former Jerry Mahoney doll, I was followed by a guitar player. Like all of the alternative rocker bad boys who invaded my teen girl fantasies from the radio, he had an acoustic guitar and sang in a way that reminded me of Layne Staley. He even said he was dedicating his set to Layne Staley. Hot. 

He said his name was Mark and he sported the peroxide hair, smattering of a goatee, sunglasses inside, and leather jacket with Marlboro Reds in pocket despite the warm weather. He was sulty, sexy, and something that made me want to take my panties off right there. I eyed him and smiled hoping he would see me but unsure of what to do if he would. Every girl there felt the same way too. He had hot guy problems. I was wearing a baby doll dress and would have thrown my panties but alas, I would have gotten arrested and would have had a tough time explaining that one to my parents. 

A busty red head moved closer to the stage. I could tell she was one of those dumb girls from a Bumfuck town who majored in lit and thought Mark was singing directly to her. She made no secret of the fact she thought I was below her as she had rolled her eyes when she saw me exit the stage, doll in hand. She was just another shitty element to what had been the shittiest year of my life in a minute. 

New York had been hard on me and my first year of college had kicked my ass. My anxiety had been such an issue that despite my work ethic I was placed on academic probation just because I was so crazy that I misplaced homework, froze up during classes, and just fucked up everything I touched. I medicated my nerves with drinking, smoking and food. All made me crazier and calmer at the same time. I was still stuck on a dude who saw me as nothing who was in college in another state, but his drug habit was getting him kicked out. I was crying over another dude who said he wanted nothing to do with me but saw me as a friend. Another fella I flirted with thought I was gay. I had a crush on a chick. To say there was a lot going on was an understatement. 

My then roommate had a boyfriend who loved her which made me want to jump out the library window but three people had already done that and I am all about being original. However, I couldnt hate her too much because her cousin had been brutally murdered by a Peeping Tom last week and she was back in Florida where she was from to sit Shiva. So when Big Red scowled at me I was devoid of all feeling. Life had already taken a dump and she was just another turd in my toilet bowel. After this it was back to my room and my precious puppet children.  

When Mark finished his growling via acoustic guitar, Big Red marched up to the stage and in a Long Island accent that still haunts me to this day said, "Mark, I loved your guitar. You are soooo incredibly rockstar."

Looking at Big Red I wanted to tell her she was so incredibly desperate but you don't mess with a firecrotch cause a firecrotch is crazy. It's the law of the jungle. (It's also something I heard a drunk uncle warn a male cousin about once). Mark nodded and brushed past her like she wasnt there nearly knocking her over. I bit my lip trying not to laugh as she narrowly missed tumbling. The only thing better would have been if that bitch fell on her ass.

Mark kept walking until he saw me. He said, "Hey you, I dig your puppets."

I wasn't expecting this. My words started to stammer, "Thanks."

"May Wilson is hot. Does she really give good head?" It had been a badly conceived joke and the delivery was terrible but it turned a hot dude on. God is good all the time!

"I dunno, she never invites me." Okay stupidest reply of the century. I have a hot bad boy who wants to talk and this is how I mess it up. Meanwhile Big Red was glowering out of the corner of my eye. I went from being happy to totally elated 

"Want a cigarette?"

"Sure." I took one and we stepped outside. We smoked and talked for a few minutes. Big Red walked passed us and made sure to make an obnoxious coughing noise as she walked by. I liked the fact our smoking made her angry. It meant all was right in the world. 

"Wanna blow this joint and hang out in my room?" Mark asked after we put our cigarettes out. 

"Sure.You got booze?" There would probably be a bad decision involved and my area of experience when it came to sex was like Donald Trump to politics, but why let inexperience stop me? I should have been listening to the words come out of his mouth but he was so Goddamn cute that as Sanford Meisner said, "Words are immaterial."

When we got to Mark's room, we ended up drinking Jack Daniels and smoking more cigarettes. He ended up telling me about his ex, Natalie, who was in the music school too. They dated and the break up was bad. As a matter of fact, she had toyed with his emotions last week. Mark was an artist and a tortured soul and he said, "She broke my heart so badly, I wrote a song about it."

Mark hit play. He growled in his Layne Staley knock off voice, "I fucked you 20 times and you came 20 times and stole my heart. And now you are a fucking bitch ripping me apart."

There had never been such wordsmithing since Shakespeare. The alcohol was starting to hit me, but not so much that I knew to bite my lip to keep from laughing. Mark said, "Let me play you a second track."

Who was I to stop this visionary and original thinker from showing me his work. This selection called Natalie went, "You were the piece of my heart that made me weep, you woke me up by sucking my dick in my sleep."

I wanted to ask if this was a comedy show, because the drunker I got the funnier he became. But this was my chance at action, action that had alluded me all year and now it was a hot guy. I wasn't looking for love. I was just looking for him to be his hot self. Now if his hot self would stop talking that would be the trick, because the more he talked the less attracted I was becoming. Hoping to save the evening I said, "Kiss me you handsome fool."

"Handsome fool, I like that. And just so you know, I'm very focused on my music career and I am not looking to be your boyfriend. So I want to give you some good, clean fun." I wanted to tell him a little less conversation a little more action, but I didnt want to do that. Why? Because that would mean quoting a musician with some talent in front of this Friday night mistake. 

Tom then proceeded to kiss me. Actually it was more like a booze and cigarette tasting slobber. However, it had been a lonely year and I wanted to see this car wreck explosion to the bloody end. I kissed him again. I needed more booze. It's the only way I wouldn't hate myself later. Tom then said, "When I am a famous rockstar you can say you fucked me."

That statement alone made Layne Staley kill himself all over again. No wonder that poor soul chose to be a shut in. I wanted to get on that program too. They say God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves, and thats when Nature took over. The British came to town and I had no tampon. So I told him as he groped me that I would have to take a rain check.

Eager to save the evening, Mark said, "You can still suck my dick."

I lied and said I wanted the whole groupie sex experience and made my exit promising to call him with no intent of ever doing so. While I had yet to meet Natalie, I could safely say that her dumping his ass clown was the best decision of her life thus far. 

Big Red ended up hooking up with Mark a week later, and I know because I saw them together where Big Red rolled her eyes and Mark looked the other way. They would break up the following week, and yes he wrote some song about her that he uploaded online. The words were, "Big Red, gave the best head....." She had Mark and I had nothing, so she could take her superiority and choke on it.

Mark did not end up becoming a famous rockstar. After college, he bottomed out on booze and coke and had to go to rehab where he found Jesus. Shortly thereafter he found a broken and desperate woman who looks like she doesn't make eye contact to marry him. They both operate a therapy practice where they help children with their self-esteem. On his facebook page his bio says, "I wanted to be a rockstar and that didn't happen. Now I help kids live their best lives. I'm winning."

Yeah Mark, glad you grew up. Glad you are less of an asshole. Glad you are helping the greater good. Free advice, don't play your clients any of your music. It will set back any therapeutic progress they might make ever. Just saying, rockstar. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

And the Cards Read Her

Setting: Tarot Shop

I am sitting across from Kat, 50s, a client who wants a Tarot Reading. As an aside, I was taught to read Tarot from a Roma Woman. The Roma folk believe the cards can get mad. Me, I just think people are crazy.

Me: Shuffle the cards and lay them out.

Kat: Don't you lay them out?

Me: I was taught you don't touch the cards at all. That way you get the most accurate reading.

Kat grumbles and shuffles.

Me: Do you have a question for the cards.

Kat: How is my relationship with my son?

Me: Turn them over.

Kat: Don't you turn them over? I have never been read this way before!

Kat turns cards over. It's a bunch of reversals indicating her kid is a moron and she's a ballbuster for a parent. In Tarot words this relationship is a shit show.

Me: Looks like you and your son have been butting heads.

Kat: No, it has been getting better. He went to rehab.

Me: It shows more struggle ahead.

Kat: Is he going to relapse! I can't believe these cards! They are upsetting me! How could they do this!

Me: The swords don't necessarily mean a relapse. They are a warning. He's a kid, he is 20 and thinks he knows everything. This is why he has you, Mom. But just relax, it's a warning for him to stay on top of whatever he's doing for himself.

Kat: I need to ask my cards about relationships.

Kat angrily shuffles and lays them out.

Me: Relationships with whom?

Kat: Anyone.

Kat lays the cards and turns them over. The cards indicate a confused woman in denial.

Kat: I don't like this spread.

Cards: You don't like my spread, well I don't like you.

Me: These are just warnings. Warnings that while things are good to pay attention to what's around you.

Kat: I have never had a card reading this foreboding before!

Me: These are just warnings.

Kat: These cards are fucking liars. They are cursed.

Cards: Well at least we ain't cursed with denial and stupidity.

Kat shuffles cards again. She gets several reversals and turns them the way she likes. I don't argue.

Me: It looks like everything's going to be alright.

Timer goes off.

Me: Do you want more time?

Kat: You're alright but these cards, I don't like them.

Cards: Whatever, Loser.

Kat exits grumbling. She pays.

End scene

Sunday, August 11, 2019

All In the Draw of the Cards (Kim Carnes)

One of the survival jobs I have had over the years is I am a palm/tarot card reader. Most recently, I scored a gig where I read for a few hours a few days a week. For the most part it's pretty chill and I like most of the people I read for. Actually, it has been an honor to read for several who just inspire me to continue to follow my dreams even in slow season because they ask me about the future of theirs. It has also been a reward to help people remember they deserve love and happiness. But then we get people who probably need more help than I am qualified to give.

Enter Virginia. This woman, who apparently has been to every psychic in the store, wanted a reading with me because we had never met. A life coach with her own business, Virginia has blood red hair, probably dyed from the blood of an ex or her cat that she killed.

Virginia: Ask the cards, what is the future of my business? It's been slow. Will things turn around?

I turn the cards. It is a bunch of cups, swords, and death.

Me: These aren't great cards, but it means things could still turn around if you have a new strategy like a marketing plan and also budget/save your money. That way you have resources for a rainy day.

Virginia: When will money come in?

Me: The cards don't give dates or times but soon. Summer is going to be over, people will come back from vacation. The cards are telling you to make a business plan. There is a lesson in all of this.

Virginia: I can ask my Sugar Daddy for the money. Will Ike my Sugar Daddy give me the money? We are in a sub/dom relationship. He says he is getting sick of bailing me out financially.

I turn the cards again. Cups are in the middle which according to the cards means yes. Outcome isn't so great but hey.

Me: It shows your sugar daddy will give you the money, but you mentioned him before and he seems like a jerk honestly. Why not look into a marketing plan because this seems to be a pattern. I'm not just saying it but the cards are too.

Virginia: I don't have time for that. I need a solution now. You know what I can do. I can do magic, that's what I can do.

Me: I don't think you need to do magic. I think you need to wait the slow season out and relax. The cards are telling you that and so am I. See, no magic necessary.

Virginia: I have done magic before and it has worked.

I nod unsure of what to say/do.

Virginia: You don't believe me? Well I can do magic! Trust me, I can do magic and it has worked many times. Lady, I can do magic. I can do magic so good I am better than David Copperfield.

I nod still unsure of what to say or do.

Virginia: I can do magic. And if you don't believe me ask the cards. They know my magic works. Cards, should I do magic?

I ask the cards. We get a bunch of swords which aren't good news. The cards agree with me. This idea is cat shit crazy.

Virginia: Oh I know the cards and these aren't good. Ask them again if my magic will work. Hey, you haven't seen anything until you have seen me do magic.

I flip the cards. Note, in old Gypsy tradition it is said if you ask the cards the same question twice they get mad.

Cards: Did we stutta mutherfucka? And who would go to life coaching from you. Bitch, you cray cray.

Me: The cards are saying you can do magic and they apologize for doubting you. I also apologize for doubting you too.

My buzzer goes off.

Me: Your time is up. Pay out front.

Virginia: Oh I can do more time.

Me: Great.

Cards: NOOOOOOO!!!!! Haven't we suffered enough.

To Be Continued

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Peaches Gets An Exorcism

This past weekend my 5 month old niece Peaches got baptized. My 90 year old cousin, a retired bishop, performed the ceremony. According to my cousin who did seminary in Rome, the baptism is actually a form of exorcism. This sounds intense but my 90 year old cousin is gentle as a lamb. He was the most well liked bishop in the Pittsburgh dioceses before retiring and married all my older immediate family members, my parents included. While he did not marry my sister Skipper or my brother in law Boomer, he made a celebrity guest appearance on the alter.
Sure, I get the church wants to play it safe and all. As a lapsed Catholic, for as much as the exorcism trivia was cool, it was also a bit much. Peaches is a 5 month old baby. She still has her brand new car smell. This small being who cries, poops, but also has a way of eliminating all familial drama when she’s around should be celebrated. Plus an RC baptism is the parent’s first chance at starting the college fund. It’s not the day where Peaches sits up in her crib, her head spins around in a 180 and she screams, “Demi! Demi!” (Note: Peaches has projectile vomited on me before so there is that potential). 
However, I will give the bishop this, Peaches is teething. Hell hath no fury like a teething baby. Peaches woke everyone up several times during the night because of the pain she was in. While I felt terribly for her ordeal, it also woke up the entire house. Her pooping schedule was also off, so there was the fear she would poop in the christening gown. I am sure she wouldn’t be the first baby to do so but still, a pooping baby in a white gown is the devil. So yeah, maybe my cousin had a point.
The most fascinating thing about  a christening and a new family member is talking to the older family members. We were trying to figure out how old The Bishop was. “He’s gotta be 90.”
My sister in law Marie laughs, “Isn’t that old?”
My brother Wendell says, “No, he married our parents, aunts and uncles. He’s up there.”
At the party, we all try to figure it out. My Aunt Barb says, “He married my husband and I 46 years ago and he had been a priest a while. And he renewed our vows 25 years ago. He has to be at least 90. But he’s still driving. How is he doing that?”
The man who christened Peaches just might be immortal like the Highlander. However, in the event he wasn’t I decided to talk to him a little about his life. First, I wanted to figure out how we were related as I have 26 cousins in my immediate family alone. Apparently he is my now deceased grandfather’s cousin. The Bishop studied in Rome back in 1952, and was away for four years from his family because flight was so expensive. He talked about how Europe was after the war, and how there were certain Communist countries he could not visit with his friends. It was a world without internet, cellphones, GPS, and cable TV let alone Netflix.
Just as I was well aware of The Bishop’s age, I also became acutely aware of my own. The world he knows is different than the one I know and will also be different than the one Peaches will know. Someday, she will look up at me with her big blue eyes and ask, “Auntie April, what’s a CD?”
She will also say, “I saw an old movie, one from the 80s and they had landlines. How did people function?” I won’t lie. I will say the 80s and 90s were hell because living without a cellphone is war and war is hell. Okay, maybe I won’t but it sounds like something crazy an older relative will say. Even those thoughts make me acutely aware of my age.
I can safely say I have known Peaches for her entire life. About a year ago we did her gender reveal party. Skipper was sick every day as she was in the early throws of pregnancy and craved Stove Top Stuffing which Boomer was forced to cook. Before the party, Skipper called me on my way to school in California to inform she had, “A bun in the oven.” This was after she and Boomer returned from Bonnaroo. So yes, Peaches has already been to a hippie music festival. 
I also feel old as I remember standing next to Skipper on her wedding day as maid of honor. Not only was it a lovely treat, but she was talking about having kids within three years. Then it seemed sort of scary because I had remembered Skipper as a young bride. When she tried on wedding dresses she started to weep stating, “I look like an adult woman who has a mortgage and pays her own cellphone  bill!”
I also remember meeting Boomer for the first time. It was clear he liked my sister and she liked him back. Being the big sibling I asked him what his intentions were. He said he liked Skipper. I looked him in the eye like Clint Eastwood and said, “Man, if you mistreat Skipper in any way I will kill you.”
It since has become a running joke between the three of us. Boomer is a good guy and has morphed into a good father. Peaches for the most part is a good baby. Towards the end of the day, it was my shift. Her parents wanted a nap and my parents had to clean after the party. This meant I was on baby duty. We played with her toys which had the same song going in a loop. Songs that were stuck in my head for days and yes they are still haunting me in my sleep. Peaches also tried to eat the entire train because why not. After all, earlier in the day they gave her an exorcism for a reason, right. When she had the train taken away she got my finger and gripped onto it with her tiny fingers. Swayed by adoration and amazed by her strength, I was caught off guard when she stuck it in her mouth and bit on it with her half of a tooth. (I had also hoped I washed my hands). The Bishop was right. This kid was possessed by the devil. 
After I yanked my finger out of her mouth Peaches started to hiccup and fuss. What to do? I don't have children and my parents are cleaning. Skipper and Boomer are sleeping. So I hiccup back. To my surprise Peaches laughs. She hiccups again, I hiccup back and she laughs again. It turns into a game. Now I am liking this. Peaches is an evil I can work with,“Peaches, you know your parents might not like this, but you might have a future in show business. Your Auntie April needs an opening act. Start working on your television 7. Save yourself a few years of grief. And as for that exorcism, we are all going to hell. You and I will just be in the back playing jokes on people.”