Archive for the 'Human Oddities' Category

Licked by Larry

NS November 29th, 2011

Do you remember the stories I told you about the Guinness world book of car crashes, and the longest night a 19-year-old girl ever spent on a European misadventure? Well, in one of those stories I promised to tell you about the longest taxi ride ever and realised today that I had never got round to it. I figured I better rectify this toot suite, before all the Saturday nights I have spent watching X Factor turns my brain into a chocolate fondant-type pudding that, like Louis Walsh’s common sense, spills into a nonsensical puddle when prodded.

So, the taxi ride.

It began when I decided to be responsible and stop at 6 drinks instead of my usual 9. I fell out of the rowdy American blues bar where I’d been hanging out with my friends since we finished work. I staggered to the curb in my high heeled boots and flagged down a taxi almost straight away. As I slid open the mini van’s door, I realised there were already two gentlemen (I use that term loosely) inside.

“Sorry!” I said, and began to close it, but one of the men said they weren’t going far and so long as I didn’t mind the driver dropping them off first, I could share the taxi with them. Because my suspicion of humanity had not yet kicked in (I was only 23, and a happy drunk), I gladly agreed and hopped into the back seat. I sat beside one of the men, whose name now escapes me, and he introduced me to his brother Larry, who sat on the row of seats behind me.  There was something odd about Larry that I couldn’t quite place so I resorted to squinting my eyes at him whenever we passed underneath a street light. It was a Wednesday,  2-for-1 on whiskey drinks, so this meant that squinting didn’t achieve much besides creating two blurry visions of Larry instead of one.

The man beside me (let’s call him Dick), asked what I’d been out celebrating.

“The invention of alcohol, mainly,” I chuckled. “How about you guys?”

“Oh, Larry here just got out of prison yesterday.”

Gulp.

“Ah, you don’t say! Fascinating.” Cue another nonchalant-but-desperate squint at Larry as we passed under a street light again. I was about to ask what he’d been inside for but the swastika tattoos that littered Larry’s neck like graffiti on a store-front shutter rendered this line of questioning irrelevant.

I turned back around and plastered a small, tight smile on my lips, trying not to freak out or panic. I didn’t have long to contemplate my next move because at that moment Larry chose to scoot forward in his seat, so that I could feel his breath on the side of my face, and proceeded to run his tongue, very slowly, all the way from the base of my neck to just behind my ear. I fought the urge to wipe his saliva off and moved away ever so slightly but kept the polite smile on my face, not wanting to provoke my Hitler-loving travel companion. For a woman who is used to having altercations with sexist assholes on a regular basis, and standing up to them, this required a huge dose of self-restraint.

It was at this point that I realised we’d been in the taxi an awfully long time for a ‘quick trip’ to drop them off and that we’d gone outside the city limits and were quickly approaching the flat, featureless countryside that exists everywhere along the edges of suburban and small-town Indiana. The taxi driver was getting fed up with Dick and Larry’s vague directions and mutterings about their destination being ‘just up here a little ways’ and demanded they either give him an exact address or get out. Twenty minutes later,  the neo-Nazi neck lickers were standing outside the minivan shouting abuse at our Pakistani driver, telling him to go back where he came from while kicking the side of the vehicle and blocking it from turning around or moving forward. When I told them to stop and let us go, Dick lived up to his name and began hurling insults at me too.

This was not amusing anymore. I began to have visions of being marched out into the cornfield at gun point with my poor taxi driver, who looked so perplexed and kept repeating, as if for reassurance of his company’s policy, “I cannot carry passengers who refuse to give an address and who treat me in this manner.”

Finally,  Dick and Larry grew bored of terrorising us and walked away into the pitch black night. I breathed a sigh of relief and looked forward to finally getting home. What should have been a 5 minute ride had taken the best part of an hour and had ruined my buzz. Fascist criminals with twisted world views will do that, I hear.

Unfortunately, the taxi driver couldn’t find his way out of a wet paper bag (this was pre-GPS days) and so we drove around in Nowheresville for another half hour before we found a rural gas station at which we could get directions back to the city. Finally, over 2 hours after I stepped into that ill-fated taxi, I arrived home, less than 2 miles away from the bar I’d walked out of earlier in the evening. I mumbled a brief outline of the situation to Noble Husband, washed my neck several times, and then went to sleep.

The moral of this story is: sometimes it is bloody well safer to walk home (even drunk and alone, at night) than to get a taxi. Oh, and always check fellow passengers for prison tats that may indicate a propensity for douchebaggery.

Sleep, my pretty, sleep

NS March 14th, 2011

As I stood at the sink this morning washing dishes, I found myself continually glancing out the window at the glorious sunshine and our freshly-cut-for-the-first-time-this-year lawn. I smiled contentedly and thought of all the things I wanted to get done today.

With Noble Girl at school and Noble Boy at the childminder’s, I had nearly 6 hours of time in which to tick things off my to-do list. Census forms needed filling in, car tax needed renewing, a session on breastfeeding and newborn care with a client tomorrow evening needed preparing, many emails needed sending and at least three posts needed writing, for various blogs (both mine and others’). I also thought I’d squeeze in a walk and perhaps a chapter or two of a new novel on a park bench somewhere, if I had time.

But then I made the mistake of turning on a BBC talk radio show while I finished my chores. I listened with increasing levels of astonishment as various Londoners called in to explain why they wouldn’t be donating any money to the Japanese disaster relief funds being set up. They have enough money, it’s a rich nation, they have the resources and efficiency to do it themselves, what difference is my few quid going to make, who knows where money donated to charity really goes, the audacity of said charities in having admin costs and paying salaries, blah blah blah blah blah. Heard it all before. Doesn’t make it any less annoying to hear, but at least it wasn’t particularly shocking.

And then we have an older woman, one claiming to be horrified by what’s happened in Japan, banging on about how her Christian faith tells her to extend sympathy and help, but…BUT…

What about the war? she says.

Jesus. Will ‘the war’ ever go away in Europe? I’m so sick of hearing about ‘the war’ that I almost wish another, more awful and far-reaching one would start just so I wouldn’t have to hear about this one again.

Beryl from Merton, or whoever she was, goes on:

Japan never admitted to or apologised for the atrocities it committed during World War II, according to her. At least the Germans had the good sense to be ashamed and hold themselves accountable. But not the Japanese, no. And it’s just not quite right, is it? To give our few hard-earned pounds to a rich country that hasn’t come out and said sorry for killing scores of our boys in uniform 60-some  years ago. Could it be that earthquakes and tsunamis and other natural disasters are God’s way of punishing us for past mistakes, for not treating each other and the planet a little more kindly?

I’m sad to report that the radio show host didn’t tell Beryl to fuck off and take her brand of ‘Christianity’ somewhere it might be better appreciated (I don’t know — maybe Hell?), but I certainly did, right there in my kitchen.

It made me so angry and despondent at the human condition that instead of doing any of the things I’d meant to get done, all of which involved dealing with, speaking to or thinking of other people, I instead switched off the radio, put the computer in sleep mode and spent the rest of my day reading a novel, from start to finish, while drinking enough tea to sink a British battleship. When I put the book down briefly to boil the kettle, stretch my back or go to the toilet, I’d think of Beryl in Merton and, in order to protect myself from the sense of frustrated rage that threatened to darken my mood on this bright Spring day, I made like a laptop and put myself into sleep mode too.

If you’d have seen me or tried to interact with me at that time, I’d probably have held up a sign that said, ‘Noble Savage isn’t available right now. Her sense of morality and indignant rage have reached levels not advisable or compatible with the Spring 2011 operating system. In the meantime, please be appeased by this rhythmic and colourful graphic.’

When I emerged from my literary cocoon and was forced to interact with others at the school pick-up, it was like someone had moved the mouse and woken me back up. God, what melodrama! Why do I get myself so worked up and allow Beryl in Merton to represent The Entire World, Ever? I thought I’d gotten a handle on this when I finally stopped reading the comments on online news stories. At least I’d recognised the impending meltdown and shut myself down before any lasting damage could occur and ruin my day. A day spent absorbed in a book is something I haven’t done in quite a long time and was a much-needed respite from the daily grind.

If I had a shrink, she might call that progress. Or she might say, “See you next Wednesday…and for many more after that.”

Humiliation, suburban style

NS April 28th, 2010

Inspired by More Than Just a Mother’s post on getting trapped in her newly-constructed chicken run, which, to her embarrassment, her neighbour most likely saw, I found myself reflecting on the myriad strange things my own neighbours have seen at this madhouse.

First, let’s start with our house-warming party, which fell near Halloween. We decided to have a gathering for Noble Girl’s little friends from play group during the day and invited our neighbours to drop by then too. Small talk while the children played and looked adorable in their costumes seemed like a good enough ice-breaker. We invited some of our friends ’round for a boozy costume party later in the evening as well, of which I informed our neighbours when I knocked on their doors, to warn them of the possible noise.

The day went well, though I was a bit disappointed when only one out of the four families we’d invited showed up to say hello and introduce themselves. I’d already known that the family on our immediate right wasn’t coming since they’d informed me that their Christianity prevented them from attending a Halloween party (I know, I know; I was surprised too and only just managed to not make a sarcastic remark about burning pentagrams on the lawn and sacrificial goats), but I was surprised that the two families to our left, both couples with children in their late-teens/early-20s, hadn’t shown since they’d seemed so enthusiastic about coming.

Later that night, dressed as a Murderous Prom Queen complete with bloody tiara and sash, I opened the door breezily with a cocktail in my hand, expecting one of our friends. Instead, I was greeted by the sight of the rest of our neighbours, potted plants and bottles of wine in hand. I stood mute, dumbstruck. They must have confused my invitation to drop by during the day with my mention of a party later that night. Cue desperate attempts to make respectable conversation while ignoring the fact I had on a rather ridiculous get-up that showed more cleavage than I would ever consider stepping out of the house with.

So that was their introduction to the Noble family. Fabulous.

In the two and a half years that have followed, things have carried on in much the same vein. They got to see Noble Girl run naked around the garden during the potty learning phase, intermittently stopping to squat and pee; they’ve had our cat sneak into their house so often that they’ve given up trying to keep her out and have semi-adopted her as their own; they happened to be getting into their car the one time I thought I could nip outside super quickly, in just my knickers and a long t-shirt, to put a particularly odoriferous nappy in the bin; and they heard every little bit of the last hour or so of Noble Boy’s birth, in which I let loose rather operatic-sounding noises from the dining room, with windows open wide.

But perhaps most cringeworthy of all was when my neighbour was handed the biohazard bucket my placenta had been temporarily placed in, dried blood and all, when they came over to see the baby a couple days later — NG had found it in a corner of the garden, where we’d put it for washing but which we’d promptly forgotten about until she put it in my neighbour’s hands. The look of  horror on his face when he realised what it was, masked by neighbourly politeness, will remain etched in my memory forever more. I didn’t dare tell him that what had once been in that bucket was now in our freezer, knowing he would never accept a drink requiring ice from us ever again, not to mention invitations to come over for a roast or stew.

There’s also the time we had put up a large marquee for a barbecue last summer and left it up overnight after a long drinking session. When I stumbled downstairs the next morning in my dressing gown to get water and headache pills, I looked out the back door just in time to see the pissing rain and high wind rip the (borrowed) marquee up out of the ground and send it tumbling arse over tits (as it were) across the lawn, onto the shed and nearly out of our garden entirely. I ran outside in my robe and slippers, face still smeared with last-night’s make-up and breath undoubtedly smelling like the floor of a pub after a 24 hour lock-in. And who just so happened to be out in his shed and jumped over the fence to help me wrangle the runaway marquee while I tried to keep my dressing gown from flapping open in the breeze? You guessed it.

Aside from the standard screaming (from the children) and shouting (from all of us) that they undoubtedly hear every day, we hadn’t had an embarrassing incident involving our neighbours for about a year and I thought maybe we’d broken the curse. But then Easter Monday happened.

At about 10.30am there we all were in the living room, still lounging in our pyjamas after a nutritious breakfast of chocolate followed by more chocolate. I started to tidy up and asked NG to open the door for me as I had my hands full of plates and Easter egg wrappers but she kept saying it was stuck. Thinking she was being ridiculous, I put the plates down and tried it myself. It wouldn’t budge. I looked at the lock and sure enough I could see that it had somehow slid all the way across, even though the key was on the other side of the door. The only explanation was that it had been nearly turned when we shut the door and the jolt of closing had made it turn all the way, locking us in. Utterly preposterous. I sighed and wondered why these things always happened to us.

Unfortunately, we had neither a phone nor a front door key in the same room so even though our small top window was unlocked we had no way of getting through it or even through our own front door. The Noble Husband wondered briefly if we could trust NG to go knock on the neighbours’ door if we lifted her out the window but that plan was quickly scrapped as we envisioned her running gleefully down the street in her pyjamas instead, her bare feet and chocolate-smeared face sure to get her taken away by social services were she to be found. Instead, NH flagged down a passing dog-walker and explained our situation.

“Um, hi, excuse me! Could you help us please? We seem to be locked in our living room and we don’t have a key to let ourselves out or a phone to call for help. Would you be so kind as to give next door a knock and ask them to come over with the spare key to free us?”

I really wish I was joking but those were pretty much his exact words.

Two minutes later our neighbours’ son, who was home from uni and whom we’d only met once, appeared with the key, let himself in and then released us from our four-walled, chocolate wrapper-strewn prison.

So I have to wonder: what’s next? Are they going to somehow walk in on me on the toilet? Will our bed go slamming through our adjoining bedroom walls in a moment of frenzied passion, sending plaster and lingerie flying, like often happens in comedic films? Will I make a derisory joke about David Cameron and then find out they are Tory voters? The multitude of humiliations are too many to contemplate.

Photo credit

The voices

NS March 19th, 2010

You may remember that, around a year ago, I told you about my robot persona and how this robot got Noble Girl to do pretty much anything. Of course, it caused some embarrassment in public, but well worth it in my opinion.

Since then, I’ve been voice to numerous objects and imaginary friends, with characters including: Washa Washa, the flannel that talks in a funny voice while it scrubs NG’s body at bathtime; Mrs. Mouse, the meek and mild rodent that implores noisy children to eat their dinner quietly and without too much mess; Crazy Dancer, the madwoman who starts falling down and dancing uncontrollably to make the children laugh when they’re being especially grumpy; Queen, the regal lady who graciously accepts bows and curtsies and speaks softly and kindly to her loyal subjects; Pirate, the gruff-and-tough sailor who talks to the kids when we’re stuck in traffic; and Tree, a high-pitched, cheerful lass who explains topics relating to animals or nature — all affable, harmless creatures of mine and NG’s imaginings.

Yesterday, however, a new personality came to life. One that was entirely my creation and invoked, spur of the moment, in a desperate attempt to drink a cup of tea before it went cold. “Behold!” I said in an enthusiastic voice (though Noble Girl and Noble Boy had no idea what that meant) “The Queen’s cousin, the Duchess, is here — look!” Then I did two spins in quick succession and suddenly, I was an uglier, meaner version of Mary Poppins, with a terrible British accent. The Duchess drew herself up to her full height and looked down what I imagined to be her wart-covered nose at the children. She sniffed and sighed.

“What is this?” she bellowed. “I didn’t ask to see these children, what are they doing here? How did you get into my house, young lady?”

NG, wide-eyed and with a smile on her lips, replied: “I live here! Who are you, please?”

“Who am I? Who am I?!! I am your majesty the Queen’s sister, the Duchess. But I’m not as nice as her and I don’t suffer fools gladly. Are you a fool, young lady?”

“No,  I’m a little girl.”

“Well I don’t like little girls either. OR little boys. Unless…”

“What, Duchess, what?” NG was practically wetting herself with glee at this new arrival.

“Well, I can tolerate children but only if they do as they are told and let the Duchess drink her cup of tea before it goes wretchedly cold. And no whining. The Duchess canNOT tolerate whining. Do you think you can do that?”

“Oh yes, Duchess, yes! We’ll be good while you drink your tea! Can we go sit in the living room with you?”

“Certainly. But we will march there. Royalty do not ‘walk’. We saunter and march or glide. Got it?”

“Yes! Oh, I love you Duchess,” she said as she threw her arms around my hips and hugged me tightly.

“Hmm. Well, I love you too. Now come tidy up your toys and then read a book on the sofa with your brother, very nicely, while I have the royal tea. Okay?”

“Okay!”

I know it’s wrong, I know. It’s manipulative, lazy parenting. But damn if it isn’t also fun and efficient. The Duchess means business! She not only got NG to eat all her dinner, including all the spinach, but got her through the bath and to bed without so much as a wobble. As far as I’m concerned she can stay as long as she’s getting things done. Soon, not even the Duchess will be able to prevent a meltdown on the high street or a plate of food pushed away without being touched. And at that point she will likely have to fly away on her jewel-encrusted dragon. But for now, she’s gold dust. I’m keeping her.

Photo credit

Google can solve your marriage problems

NS October 14th, 2009

Or at least that’s what some people think.

Go to Google and type in Why is my husband and see the list that it auto-suggests. Some of the good ones include:

…so mean to me

…such a jerk

…so moody

…so angry

…so grumpy

…so selfish

…so stupid

Type in Why is my wife and you get:

…so mean

…so unhappy

…always mad

…so stupid

…always tired

…so angry

…cheating

…crazy

…so cold

It looks like the sexes can at least agree on one thing — both men and women can be mean, stupid and angry. Probably because their spouses rely on internet search engines instead of face-to-face communication, is my guess.

Go on, ask Google something and let us know what you find!

H/t to The Noble Husband for spotting this

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