Tuesday, August 23, 2011

IN THE DREAMHOUSE: Churros, and toy garlands

Unfortunately, in my dream there was no chocolate.
Written 8/20/2011 

             The first dream last night was dark and disturbing, and featured churros prominently. It was Christmas Eve, and I had come to an outdoor churro restaurant with Anthony, Mom & Dan, and Vincent D'Onofrio. It was night, and crowded.

              I had no cash in my pockets, and needed to pay with credit. The restaurant made you call in your own credit charge by phone, but you had to use a floppy menu that doubled as a cell phone to make the call. There were puffy buttons built into it. I had no flat surface to work on, just standing around in the  crowded outdoor restaurant, so I kept fucking up and misdialing because of the weird buttons and floppy multi-fold menu.

              It took forever, and a rude little boy kept purposely bumping into me. I made loud huffy noises and moved further away, hoping to get the message across to the kid’s lazy father. It didn’t work and the kid kept bugging me.

              When I managed to poke in the correct number on the menu/phone, the operator running my transaction through tried to counsel me on being wiser with my money, and how maybe going out to eat was an unnecessary expense. I was like, “Yeah, but it’s CHRISTMAS and I’m out with my family to celebrate.”

              I finally completed my transaction and obtained my churros, which weren’t that great. But I couldn’t find the rest of my party, and was in a panic since it was deepest night. I ran down a dirt path bordered by high weeds looking for them, then finally found them at the car.


              In the second part of the dream, I had to use an old person’s walker to get to a new house Anthony was staying at. I scrape-walked miles through Orange to get to it (in the middle of the night of course), and I think it was off of Palmyra. The house was in a tract behind some other houses, with dirt roads and chainlink fence. Pretty ghetto. The house looked monochromatic and shitty at first glance.

              You had to climb up a short ladder to the door hatch, which opened like some kind of submarine or space ship hatch. Anthony met me at the entrance. There was a rack to hang the walker on, and I had to chain it up like a bike so nobody would steal it. I had a hard time maneuvering the ladder and the chaining of the walker, which Anthony had no patience for. Once inside you had to climb down another short ladder through a very narrow and claustrophobic chute. I got really nervous and ill-tempered with Anthony because he was lagging in front of me, keeping me trapped in that little space. It was lined with shag carpeting.

Shag carpeting everywhere. Mostly mustardy shades. Was it the '70s?

              Then we emerged into the main house which was large and interesting.

              At first I thought we had bought the house together, but then realized he was renting, and there were MANY other roommates. There were hip young people everywhere. Not sure why we weren’t living together, like maybe it was before we cohabitated.

              As Anthony was leading me off to his room a guy who looked sort of like Perez Hilton but not quite as faggy stopped me to ask if it was true that I worked in a library. I said yes, and he immediately pulled out his wallet and offered me his business card, then wanted me to just look through his whole wallet, which he seemed very proud of. It was full of arty paper crafts featuring children’s picture book style art. I couldn’t really figure out what the deal with all of it was, or what HIS deal was. But I was trying to be nice. I couldn’t find anything that looked like an actual business card. I told him I was Anthony’s husband, just to make sure that was understood, and he said, “Yeah, like, we all know that already.” Good, I thought. But I still couldn’t find a business card in all that paper artiness. Confused, I just handed his wallet back and took off after Anthony.

              A weird guy with dark hair kept following Anthony around and hanging all over him. The Perez Hilton guy also caught up with Anthony and me.

              We were hanging out on a bare mattress, nothing sexual, just sitting there talking in some common room where a bunch of the bohemian inhabitants had gathered. Then Perez gave me a pointed look and said, “You better warn him what’s coming up behind,” and nodded toward Anthony. I looked behind Anthony and that god damn brunette dude was crawling across the mattress behind him, and actually lunged up to HUG him. Anthony was startled, like a deer in the headlights as the brunette hung all over him. I lost it and told the guy to back the fuck OFF, because that was MY HUSBAND. I was totally posturing like a tough guy, until the weird guy backed down and took off.

              Then I was mad at Anthony for not telling the guy to get away from him. Some of the other roommates made me feel guilty for taking my jealousy out on Anthony, so I apologized.

              It seemed like all the other roommates were working on fascinating art/craft projects. Why were they all so artsy and creative? How had they all happened to end up there together?

Heads up, chicken butt!
              Finally Anthony and I were alone in his room, but one whole wall of it was open to the hallway, and another bedroom. Right across from us a strange girl was curled up in a drawer that had been pulled out onto the carpet. The floor around her was littered with craft projects. She had a strip of cloth wrapped tightly around one arm, making me think she was a junky. But she was funny and nice. She and another girl were making a garland of plush animal heads and I was SO interested in that. There was also a garland nearby that was strung with little toys, like vinyl figures.

              I woke up wanting churros, and thinking about making garlands from stuffed animal parts and vinyl figures.

Friday, August 19, 2011

OFFICE PRODUCT OF THE MONTH : bedazzled blue stapler

You know you want one, but you can't touch this.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

IN THE DREAMHOUSE: 3-headed sock puppet

          A few nights ago I had this surreal dream (hard to describe) that involved sock puppets I had made, and putting on a show with them, and stringing little Christmas tree lights through them for eyes. There was also playground equipment; swings hanging from chains, that sort of thing. I levitated up to a chalked gymnastics bar and was performing puppet shows on the monkey bars or whatever they were. Before I went to bed I had NOT been drinking or smoking anything, so I'm not sure why my dreams were so loopy.
This was my first attempt at drawing the 3-headed sock puppet from my dream
          The first time I tried drawing that 3-headed puppet, my creative license took over and I made it too cute, with a little hat and some props. Then I realized the REAL 3-headed sock puppet with lights for eyes looked more like this:
More lumpen, less jaunty
          Now maybe I can stop thinking about that stupid puppet.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

DUMPSTER DIVING : sickroom toilet

I love a man who's willing to go this far for comedy.
          Whoever left this NEXT to the dumpster instead of INSIDE it must have thought, "It's new, still in the plastic, it would be a shame for this lovely wheeled sickroom toilet to go to waste! Someone will want it."
          They probably envisioned some decrepit old person in the throws of some depressing illness spotting the little toilet out by the dumpster and crying, "Oh, how delightful! I was just NEEDING one of those nearby because I keep shitting myself uncontrollably. This is a good day indeed."
          When Anthony and I spotted it, we joked and then I said, "You know, someone should really take it over to the senior center downtown, I bet THEY could easily find someone who needed it."
          Anthony was like, "Well, go ahead then."
          I stared at it. It's obviously new and unwrapped. But it's still a toilet. By the dumpster. A grim little sickroom toilet. Reminder of the inevitable indignities of old age and failing health.
          I walked away, feeling guilty.
          But not before we had Anthony pose for me to take a silly picture, both of us giggling like assholes.

I TURNED 40 : second installment


          When last we left my 40th birthday party, Sugar the pretty pony had just come 'round the corner to visit.

Look at my pretty pretty purple tail... I'm a little birthday pony.

Me and Anthony hangin' with Sugar

          Sugar was immediately surrounded by friends and family eager to pet and praise. My mom had a vegetable platter nearby, so we started feeding baby carrots to Sugar. That was totally fun because of her snuffly horse mouth. Way cute.

Matt with Sugar, Julie with Sugar, Doug making out with Sugar

Aunt Wanda and Lauren with the pony of honor

          After a while, we decided to release the pony and her handler, since they weren't going to let any of us RIDE the pony. But whatever. Anthony, Lauren & Eric, and my stepmom and I all followed Sugar out to her little trailer and got to see all her party clothes and costumes. We waved a fond farewell as the pony was chauffered away...

The birthday pony cake

          Anthony made my official birthday cake, which was chocolate, of the bundt persuasion, and topped with chocolate frosting and MY LITTLE PONIES yes it was! I felt guilty cutting into it. But not that guilty. It was delicious and then gone.

Anthony goes berserk, resulting in the tragic death of the pony pinata

          I LOVE pinatas. I love busting the crap out of them. I love it when adults nervously suffer the indignity of a blindfold and a crowd of people spinning them in circles and then yelling directions at them while the blind one swings a gaily festooned stick around in the air.
          Little did we know that typically gentle Anthony would be the one to bash that little crepe paper pony wide open in a whirlwind of power and fury. Actually, I was not that surprised because I know the warrior that lurks within the quiet man, but everybody else was stunned and excited. During Anthony's sudden attack on the pinata, he even bashed a bird feeder to smithereens and sent shrapnel flying!
          Later on in the day, fired up on candy, I grabbed the poor crippled pinata pony and savagely broke one of its remaining legs, then threw the corpse on the ground and stomped the shit out of it. My Aunt Penney witnessed my act of brutality and said, "Gosh, Tommy, we've never seen that dark & violent side of you..."
          Judging by the pinata incident, if Anthony and I were warriors or soldiers (don't laugh), Anthony would be the one to inflict the mortal wound on our enemy, and I would be the one to run up and kick him while he's down, shouting, "Yeah! Take THAT!"

The best stick pony. (But don't tell the others)

          At the end of the party my mom seemed surprised that I actually wanted to KEEP the stick ponies, and other pony decorations, including the little rocking singing pony. She was like, "But isn't there such a thing as TOO MANY ponies?"
          No. There is not.
          I allowed guests to each take one plush hanging pony and one collapsible pony as souvenirs, but the rest were all MINE. Especially the stick ponies and the little flocked ponies.
          People kept asking me how it felt to be 40, and I kept saying it felt fine. But the next morning I woke up and looked in the mirror. I looked like SHIT.

Wait, I'm HOW old?!

Friday, August 12, 2011


This picture is kind of dark and blurry, but maybe that's appropriate for the occasion?
          Well, I turned 40 this summer, on July 4th. I don't hate it, due in large part to the fact that 4 is my favorite number, and turning 40 on July 4th seems kind of cool. And I felt very loved indeed, since my husband, my mom, and my Aunt Wanda put together an amazing party for me, with a PONY theme! I bet I'm the envy of every other 40-year-old man out there. Right? Because all 40-year-old men love ponies?

A pre-birthday strawberry shortcake at Aunt Wanda's

Anthony created these handmade invitations using prints of an old photo of me

At left: me and my handsome husband Anthony. At right: me with my dad & my mom.
          I feel very lucky that although divorced, my parents get along well with each other for special occasions that involve lil' ol' me. My stepdad and my stepmom are very cool about it, too. Not everybody can say that!
          NOTE ON PHOTOS: All the photos that have black borders around them are courtesy of my awesome sister-in-law, Lauren. She took tons of pictures that day, and then had them printed in a beautiful photo book, which I scanned so I could share them.  :)
          The photos WITHOUT black borders were taken with my cell phone, probably by me unless I'm IN the picture, and then Anthony probably took it. Unless HE'S in the picture, TOO, and then the pony probably took it.

Three shots of the enchanting pony decor, some of which was official "My Little Pony"

          Every little detail of the decorations was tailor-made for me. There were balloons in my favorite colors, teal blue and black, and even black HEART balloons!

Little collapsible ponies, little flocked ponies, pony pinata, rocking pony that sings... (it really does!)

My stepdad, Dan, being a good sport with a bow on his head. You have to do that with bald heads.

Hanging pony garlands: Threat or ill omen?
          At one point between presents and cake, my mom came over to me and said, "I know you would have loved having Courtney Love as a special guest at your 40th birthday party, but we couldn't get her. We have someone else, instead, which I hope will be just as good. They're about to come around the side of the house right now..."
          I froze in terror, staring at the corner of the house, wondering who or what was about to come around the corner. After a few breathless moments, all was revealed...

Sugar, the little birthday pony

          My mom had hired an ACTUAL LIVE PONY to make an appearance! Her name is Sugar, and she was done up in My Little Pony style with a purple tail, purple-painted hooves, and flowers braided into her mane. Admit it, you're jealous! My mom asked me if it was a good surprise, and I said, "Yes, and Sugar is definitely more sanitary than Courtney Love!"
          Julie and I were a little concerned that Sugar would notice the hanging garland ponies and take it as some sort of threat.
          There are more pictures to share, but I'll save it for a second birthday post, so the page doesn't take forever to load. Can you hardly wait?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


          While out shopping with my mom, I found these in a novelty paper goods store. Dude, I used to LOVE punch balls! I made my Grampa get them for me at K-Mart all the time (right before riding the little coin-operated carousel, airplane, and pony in front of the store), and just go batshit on it. For a gentle kid I sure enjoyed giving a punch ball a vicious rapid pummeling. Also loved the way a punch ball just keeps coming back for more. It HAS to, 'cause it's on a leash! That punch ball is your BITCH. It's like a hyper, suicidal yo-yo.
          And Squirmles! Totally exciting because they move almost like they're ALIIIVE. When I was little I loved any sort of fake pet. Pet rocks, invisible dogs, whatever. Squirmles are bigger, softer pipe cleaners you can name. And don't underestimate the transformative magic of googly eyes.
          Anyway, I had to buy these because they gave me a rush of childhood joy.

Squirmles & Punch Balls: that's how I roll, bitches.

Monday, August 8, 2011

JOCK STRAP : mystery solved

          Way back when I was getting ready to enter the 7th grade, they required all boys to obtain jock straps for P.E. To my shame I was never able to figure out how it worked, even though it certainly isn't that complicated. Recently it suddenly dawned on me in a moment of forehead-smacking clarity that I had confused the "strap" with the "cup," thinking they were one and the same when in fact they are not. Come with me on this lifelong journey from ignorance to understanding.
          It was during the last dying days of the summer of 1983. My dad had taken me to Army Navy, which is a dreadful place for a "sensitive" boy to find himself during the nightmare blur of days leading up to the first day of junior high. Most of the Army Navy is devoted to fishing, hunting, camping, and sporting. Lots of plaid, brown, beige, and camouflage. I was more of a unicorn, Scratch 'n' Sniff sticker, stuffed animal kind of boy, so I totally felt like I was in enemy territory.
          I swear no one told me about the cup. Or if they did, they didn't bother to explain it was something separate that is placed into the jock strap pouch that goes over your junk. I really had no idea. I was in a blind haze of denial, mortified that I had to go out and buy something specifically for my PENIS & BALLS. It seemed like a form of torture, an intentional humiliation forced on me by the public school system. I was pretty sure girls did not have a checklist that included tampons and Gynelotrimin.
           I resentfully stomped into the Army Navy dressing room and glared at the ugly beige standard issue jock strap. It looked kind of like an old pair of underpants that had fallen apart from wear until all that was left was the elastic band, and that mysterious pouch. A pouch facing OUTWARD with snaps to fasten it shut. How the hell was my google supposed to fit into that? And get SNAPPED IN?!
           My bits were firmly attached to my body (still are), and as far as I knew detachable penises only existed in novelty songs.* It was baffling.
          "How is everything going in there?" my dad called from outside the dressing room.
          "Fine!" I blurted, turning the jockstrap inside-out and yanking it up my thighs to see if that made more sense. It didn't, because I was still convinced my junk was supposed to go INTO the snapping pouch, otherwise what's it for?
          "You need any help in there?"
          "NO!" I screeched, stuffing my balls into the pouch and getting horribly tangled in the strap. Wrong. All wrong. I gave up and pulled it back off.
          I emerged grimly from the dressing room, insisting everything was great, the strap is just nifty, let's GO, Dad.
          On the first day of junior high my best friend and I hunkered in the corner of the boys' locker room, wide-eyed and disgusted, trying to appear as inconspicuous and NOT gay as possible. We both rolled our eyes and shook our heads at the idea of the jock strap and agreed we would NEVER wear one of those things. I don't remember if I actually threw it away, or just kept it in my P.E. locker in case I ever had to prove I had one.
          It should go without saying that I couldn't WATCH the other boys and observe how they donned their straps and dealt with the pouch, any more than I could just walk up to one of them and say, "Excuse me, may I ask you for some help with my jock?" For a bullied little pudgy gay nerd, the only way to even SURVIVE in P.E. was to keep your head down, not make eye contact with anyone, and strive for invisibility.
          A few weeks ago I caught some of "America's Funniest Videos," and saw a disturbing clip of two little league boys knocking the baseball against their athletic cup-protected crotches. A little light went off in my brain. Athletic cup. An athletic cup is one of those hard plastic thingies, which must be what goes...
          INTO THE POUCH!
          My jaw dropped. I smacked my forehead. Not having been an athletically inclined boy, the idea of special gear to protect your crotch was just never a practical reality, and not something that ever would have occurred to me. And if either of my parents had started to say, "Do you understand what a jock strap is for?" I would have interrupted, "YES, I understand everything, I have no questions, now can we talk about something ELSE?"
          I guess in today's world a scared little queer boy faced with jock strap uncertainty could use the internet for help. But then his parents would probably just find pictures of men in jock straps in the family computer's history, and that would spark a whole dilemma of its own.

*please excuse my creative license, "Detachable Penis" by King Missile didn't come out until 1992.