Read my other Shorties too!
Bob, his brother, and some friends took me out to a local bar. Bob wanted to introduce me to a very special drink called a ‘Cement Mixer.’ "It tastes like mint chocolate," he assured me. He asked the bartender, Tammy, for the ingredients. Then I was carefully instructed on how to imbibe this drink.
"First, take the shot of lime juice, and hold in in your mouth, OK? But DON’T swallow it yet!" OK, no problem.
Suddenly, I realized why the drink was called a cement mixer. The lime juice makes the cream in the Bailly’s curdle! The contents of my mouth had suddenly solidified and expanded twice their original volume. I started laughing hysterically, silently quivering and vibrating, since I couldn’t manage to swallow all the gook and laugh at the same time. Meanwhile Tammy was running around screaming, "You guys are so mean! Do you want some water?!? That’s so terrible, you are horrible people! Are you OK?"
I finally managed to stop laughing (after about 10 minutes!) and swallow the whole mess down. Tammy was very nice to me, but then ignored all the guys out of spite, despite the fact that I wasn’t mad at all.
"Now, you’re gonna take the Bailly’s Irish Creme, and toss that in too. BUT, don’t swallow them, just sorta mix ‘em around in your mouth." Tammy, the bartender, watched every move. I tossed in the Bailly’s, and dutifully began puffing out my cheeks, mixing the liquids, just as Bob yelled, "CEMENT MIXER!"
The sister of a friend of mine, who lived on my street, owned a goat. She normally kept the goat up the road at a riding school, with a horse she took care of. I had watched this goat grow up from a small kid, that would stand on my lap, to a large horned animal, that butted me down the stairs when I tried to force-feed it a sugar cube. (Don't do that with a goat - they don't like it!) One thing I learned from the goat (besides not force-feeding it!) was it's bleat. I could imitate it so well, it would bleat in response, thinking me to be another goat. One afternoon I was on my front lawn with a friend, and demonstrated my goat-noise. "Baa-aaa-aaaa! Baaa-aaa-aa!" Suddenly the front door flew open, and out ran my brother Matt, screaming, "The goat is here! The goat is here!" He quickly stopped short, embarassed, when he saw only me, and the goat nowhere in sight.
My dad, "Homer," is frequently the subject of my writing, especially when it comes to the food he eats. Recently this memory came to mind: My dad cooked up a batch of oatmeal in a pot, but didn't eat it right away. A bubble formed inside the oatmeal, and as it cooled, it hardened slightly, trapping the air inside. Later, he decided to reheat the oatmeal, right there in the pan. A few minutes later - BOOM! - the oatmeal exploded. My mom came home to what seemed a Julia-Childs-kitchen-terrorist-act. Oatmeal on the ceiling. And the floor. And the cupboards, the windows, the walls, other pots, the cat, and of course, my dad.
Not Quite Siblings
In graduate school I became friends with John. John was a really great, sweet guy, who happened to share the same last name as me. He always dressed really well, had a hysterical sense of humor, and was very well-liked by everyone. John was also very obviously gay. We shared some classes togather, and in one particular class, my goup counseling class, we had a guest speaker one day. At the beginning of class we went around the room introducing ourselves to the speaker. "I'm John Maitri," announced John, the first student to introduce himself. I followed next, since I was sitting right next to him. "I'm M Maitri." Everyone else was introduced, and then the speaker began her talk. Halfway through she suddenly stopped, and looked at John and I. Pointing her finger at us, she cocked her head and asked, "Are you two brother and sister?" At that point, John put his arm around me and loudly announced, "No! We're married!!" The class busted up laughing in surprise, while the speaker just sat looking confused.
Boom Box Splat
My first car was a 1990 Ford Festiva. My little blue roller skate. My laundry basket on wheels. A great little car with terrific gas mileage on a no frills budget. No air-conditioning, no cassette deck, power nothing. I treated it like shit One of my funniest memories:
I got in my car to go to work, and turned on the radio. One of my favorite songs was playing so I turned up the volume till it was blasting. Driving off, I heard a splashing sound. I turned around to see where it was coming from, and was totally shocked to see water shooting up out of a grill over and over again. I couldn’t figure out why water would do that until I realized I left a window open. Rain water had filled the speaker and with each thumping bass note the speaker shook, causing the water to jump upwards through the grill cover.
Hocus-Pocus and . . .
Our friend is a resident anesthesiologist, and before that a medical student in Pennsylvania. While he was still a student, he had to take an anatomy laboratory class in which he was given his very own cadaver. Usually each team would name its cadaver. Paul took Bob's suggested name. His cadaver was named Abra. Abra Cadaver.
Trick or Ouch!
Every Mischief Night, the night before Halloween, my house would be besieged by tricksters. Our doorbell would ring incessently, my parents cars would be soaped, toilet paper hung from our trees. After a particularly terrible Mischief Night, my mother was prepared for the following year. Part of the evening, she hid on our darkened porch. As kids came to ring the doorbell and run away, she would squirt them with a bottle full of water and amonia. Surprised and often scared witless by this crazy lady, they'd run away carrying the smell of their attempted crime. On another Halloween Eve, my mother apparently didn't want to lie in wait for her victims. And tired of the constant bonging of the doorbell, she devised another solution. She taped a tack to the button. The doorbell stopped ringing, and the next morning, the tack was gone.
One morning I woke up on my back, and I couldn't find my left arm. Seriously. It was missing in action, gone without a goodbye, out the door, not even a parting farewell. It had fallen asleep, and I couldn't figure out where it was. All I had to do was find it. Knowing my arm was still attached and that it was somewhere didn't necessarily provide me any comfort, and I was rather freaked out in my search for it. With my right hand, I slapped the covers trying to feel my arm under them. No luck. I patted across the pillow, thinking my arm was above my head. Not there either. I finally managed to locate my left armpit, and following the line of my shoulder, discovered my left arm. It had been wedged under the pillow, above my head.
Do you remember those awesome red boxes of Animal Crackers? They even had a convenient string stapled on the box so you could carry it around with you. I remember eating each animal only after carefully examining it to determine its species. And then meticulously biting off its head, you know, to put it out of its misery faster.
Someone should have told my Dad more detail about Animal Crackers, because one time he ate a whole box of them. Well, they weren't Animal Crackers either, they were "People Crackers." And they weren't cookies, they were dog biscuits shaped like mailmen, vetrinarians, and dog catchers.
"Is It What?"
I was walking through my college's cafeteria when two hallmates stopped me. "Is it not your night tonight?" Hunh? I thought perhaps I looked angry when I wasn't, so I asked her to repeat the question. "Is it not your night tonight?" By now I was terribly confused, and somewhat concerned that I couldn't make sense out of this bizarre inquiry. So for a second time I needed to hear the question again. And felt immediately foolish when I finally understood it. "Is it Nacho Night tonight?!?!?"
When I started first grade, I was put into the lowest level reading class. No one knew I'd learned to read over the summer. Of 3 or 4 reading groups, mine consisted of myself and two other kids. We started at the lowest and easiest reading books and activity cards. Once, I remember being yelled at because the teacher had called my reading group and I hadn't heard her call my name twice. Ironically, I was reading a book (more difficult than my reading activity cards) and was so engrossed I never heard her.
I progressed through the low level group, through the intermediate group, and even through the high level group. Actually, I read every single book, worked upwards through every activity card from the easiest "white" cards through the entire rainbow to the last "gold" cards. There was nothing left for me to read - I'd read everything available. Finally, they had to send me to a second grade reading class. I remember feeling proud one special day, having started at the bottom and proven myself - and surprising my teacher along the way. We'd written a letter to Amy Carter, then President Carter's daughter, and she had written back to us personally. I was chosen to read the letter out loud, because I was the best reader in the whole class.
It was my younger sister's prom night. My mom and I helped her to get ready, curling her hair, and helping with makeup. The whole family watched as her date arrived to pick Amy up. The obligatory photo-taking took place. Even my brother, Matt, not feeling well and home on college break, came down to see Amy off.
I don't remember how Amy's prom ended, but I do know what she witnessed when she and her date returned to the house. Matt was stretched out on the living room sofa but it wasn't long before he leaped up to toss his cookies. Unfornately, he never made it to the bathroom and decorated the carpet instead. Trying to be helpful I went to clean it up. Amy and her date walked in before I could finish, on my knees with a large metal spoon and an old basin, scooping up my brother's ex-dinner.
The Art of Being Human