Que Sera Sera

It’s a list-y kind of week:

Sorry, but you know I’m just going to link to my No Shirt Cousins post again tomorrow. A girl needs a holiday, yo. In the meantime, here are some things I am thankful for. Some things for which I am thankful. Whatev.

Things of late that please me to no end:

Things of late that I am just about fed up with:

You know,

Some of the best stories begin with, “So there was this stripper…”

The best story ends with:

“And you actually paid her water bill?”

“I hate my life.”


This weekend I:

Bishop Allen:

I cannot urge you strongly enough to go check out this CD. It’s a band including but not limited to Christian Rudder, formerly of The Spark, who is very funny and cute and evidently capable of sounding like several of my favorite bands all at once. I haven’t stopped listening to it since it arrived in the mail two days ago. Seriously, if you don’t like this music, you should go to the hospital or something because you must be dead inside. Go order it. Now!

Happy Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown:

This is my favorite time of year. I love fall, and I love the holidays, and I love seeing all of my crazy wonderful family members that I don’t get to see the rest of the year, just because of silly things like time and schedules and distance and parole violations. Okay, so no one in several branches of my family tree has ever been arrested, or at least served time, but some of them are on pretty thin ice, which makes the holidays that much more entertaining.

We usually go to Texas for Thanksgiving to visit my mom’s side of the family, which is my favorite, because they’re all crazy, but a really good, fun, let’s go shopping and drink margaritas and all sit around and tell our favorite Onion story crazy. But this year we’re going to stay in town and visit my dad’s side of the family, some of which are normal and pleasant and some of which are so crazy they should be followed by video crews constantly. We’re spending Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt and uncle’s house, with all of my cousins’ kids, who are all 10 and under and named things like Chase and Cale and Austin and Ashton, and they’re all really cute but so, so loud, and all you hear all day long is shrieking and crying and NANA! Nana, look! Look! NANA! but Nana never looks, probably because Nana has learned to preserve her sanity by tuning out the small stuff and tuning in solely for the catastrophes, because lord knows my gorgeous oblivious cousin and her perennially baseball-capped husband wouldn’t realize one had struck until someone was being lowered into the earth in a Jon Benet-sized coffin.

Anyway, no one’s really crazy at this gathering, aside from maybe Chase, and I am seriously keeping my eye on that kid once he gets all his adult teeth. Everyone at this gathering is nice and wearing sweaters and drinking chardonnay and watching football, but sometimes, we leave this gathering and visit another branch of my dad’s family tree—a branch where people have lots of Bibles and La-Z-Boys and their houses always smell like peanut brittle. I love it when we get to drop by these branches, because that’s where the fun begins.

I’ve mentioned it before briefly, but one year we dropped by my dad’s aunt and uncle’s house after Thanksgiving dinner to visit his other uncle, Uncle Rob, who was sick and dying very slowly. Uncle Rob was a very nice, smart, quiet man, and he was a sort of confirmed bachelor and collected art and sent out beautiful handmade Christmas cards every year, although no one in his very Southern Baptist immediate family liked to acknowledge the reasons behind all of that. Anyway, my dad, brother, and I leave the Normal Thanksgiving to go say hello to Uncle Rob at his sister Aunt Alice’s house, where Uncle Rob is sitting in the darkened living room in his robe, sipping soup from a TV tray and watching a Judy Garland movie. Aunt Alice and her husband, Uncle Leon, are sitting with us too, and we’re all sitting there, my brother and I still wearing our coats over our nice clothes, all of us making very quiet small talk and saying no thank you to offers of peanut brittle, when there’s a huge crash from the other room, and then:


and it becomes immediately evident that the No Shirt Cousins are somewhere in the house.

The No Shirt Cousins are Alice and Leon’s grandsons, three wild-eyed sweaty boys all between the ages of 11 and 14, and while I’m pretty sure that all of them are named Travis, my brother and I refer to them as the No Shirt Cousins because, plainly enough, they prefer to forgo some garments, regardless of season. I suppose this makes wrasslin’ more accessible or something; I really have no idea. Anyway, the No Shirt Cousin creed is KILL YOUR BROTHER EVERY SINGLE DAY BOTH BROTHERS AT THE SAME TIME IF YOU GOT TO TRAVIS I SEE YOU HIDIN’.

So: on the TV, Judy Garland is singing that song about the trolley, and Uncle Rob and Aunt Alice and Uncle Leon never change the pitch of their voice, and my dad says yes, he’d love some peanut brittle, and my brother and I are staring at a spot on the carpet, wide-eyed, because we know that if we look at each other we will scream or laugh or die or something. And in the other room, tensions are escalating.





Crash, bang, etc.

This goes on for several more minutes, with no one in our room batting an eye, until the loudest crash yet causes someone to make a harrowing, chilling sound, like the sound someone with a horrible accent and a cold who is in the throes of puberty would make if they were screaming and sobbing and trying to bash their brother’s head in with an oscillating fan all at the same time, and then without a word, Uncle Leon stands up, sighs, removes his belt, and walks out of the room.

I’m so sad to say that I didn’t get to fully witness what happened next, because my dad suddenly stood up and fast-forwarded through that whole it’s been great, thank you, no, we really should go speech, and before we could hear any more than a yelp and one last MOTHERFUCKER, we were in the car, speeding back towards civilization, where people wore not only shirts but sweaters, and the only screaming was because Chase is standing in front of the TV while The Little Mermaid is on again, Nana.

This year, we’re in town again for Thanksgiving. This year, they’re probably big enough to do some serious damage. This year, I cannot wait.

Try as you might:

The other night when I walked into the Y, I noticed a sign that just broke my heart: We want to be the best part of your day.

A little reality:

I have been receiving am alarming amount of email lately where complete strangers compliment me and make jokes about wanting to marry me. Now, I’m not going to lie and say that isn’t flattering and it doesn’t make me smile and feel like a badass, but I am a bit concerned that you people are not getting the Real Deal from my words, so I’m going to fill you in a little here just to make sure everyone knows I’m not always flitting around, casting off bon mots and kissing exotic boys.

I liked the movie Romeo + Juliet, and not for ironic reasons. My favorite song of all time, also for unironic reasons, is “Brandy” by Looking Glass. Monday, did I wash my hair? No. On Saturday I didn’t get out of bed until almost 3. I do not floss every day, or even every week. My little brother stopped thinking I was cool years ago. I’m pretty sure my parents don’t even think I’m cool. My nose is not cute. I am not hot. I have never owned thong underwear. I’m not even going to tell you the state I awoke in this morning. I’ve had no idea who anyone on The Real World is since 1999. When I’m drunk, I sing. Loudly. If I shower in your shower, I’ll use your scented body wash, even if I brought my own. I am not tall or graceful. I will covet your french fries. I have a sneaking suspicion that when I try to act sexy, it’s actually just funny. I probably think I’m a lot smarter than I really am. If you were in the same room as me while I was reading, you would get mad because I can tune you out so well I’d forget your name.

Really, what I have going for me is pretty much what I’ve said before: I’m very friendly and articulate, and my hair almost always smells like wildflowers. Just not yesterday.


A few years ago, I had one of the most entertaining co-workers on the planet. She was crazy, and while I could spend hours telling you all of her crazy antics, the best, craziest thing about her was that her eyeshadow matched her outfit every single day. She evidently had one of those huge 48-shade eyeshadow palettes that you got for Christmas when you were 14 from your cheap aunt, only she used hers, every single day. She could whip up any combination possible. Seriously. Like, she had this sort of iridescent orangish shirt she’d wear sometimes, and when she did, her eyelids weren’t peach, or bright orange. They were the exact same shade as the shirt, complete with those shiny lines that Bugs Bunny always had on his eyelids when he dressed like a girl. When she wore black, it was dark, smoky grey. One day she showed up in a blue shirt but with purple lids, and my other co-workers and I held a pow-wow where we decided that she must have gotten ready, spilled something on her purple shirt, and had to make a last-minute switch. She was that dedicated.

This girl got married, and a few of us were invited to the wedding. I couldn’t make it since I had to be out of town that weekend, but you have no idea how sorry I was to miss this spectacle, especially since you have no idea how crazy this girl was, and how many crazy, crazy details I’d heard for the months leading up to the wedding. The bachelorette party story alone just floored me. Anyway, another one of my co-workers went to the ceremony, and she called me long distance from her car on the way home, since we had some money riding on the shadow.

“So?” I said. “Was it white?”

“No,” my friend said simply, keeping me in suspense.

No? What was it then?”


“Pink? What the hell? Pink?”

“Pink. To match the bridesmaids’ dresses.”

“Oh. Ooooohhhhh. Oh, man. That’s good. I had no idea.”

“I know. We were so in over our heads.”

The very short, un-punk rock list of things that never fail to make me sigh:

Mr. Rooney, we hardly knew ye:

Ryan: I wonder if the cops called him up and were like, “ROONEY! This is Sah-gent Payterson!”

My mother would be so proud:

Thanks to this post, I am now the number one search result when someone Googles “naked neighbor.”

Seriously, though, who’s searching for that? Like, people who are into neighbor porn? Is that some boring off-shoot of deliveryman/naked housewife porn? Or people who want to see their own neighbor naked? Maybe it’s those people who type crazy long sentences into Google like my grandma used to talk to our answering machine (“Please tell them that I called”), because I’ve received several hits from “i want to see my neighbor naked.” Then get off the goddamn computer and go linger by their kitchen window like the rest of us have to do, you perv. The internet is magic, but not that magic.

And yes, I am totally aware that this post will just garner even more of those hits, but I had to share. Sharing is my weakness.

Also, just for the record: I was wearing underwear.


The best person to play What’s Better? with is a seven year old, because they back their answers up effortlessly and establish this cool rhythm; you set them up and they knock them down. Like, if you say, “What’s better, ninjas or samurai?”, a seven year old will say, “ninjas, because samurai have bamboo armor but ninjas are really good climbers.” And if you say, “What’s better, fire or ice?”, he will answer without hesitation, “ice, because you can melt it and turn it into water.” And even if you think you’re throwing him a curveball, like, “What’s better, a saber-tooth tiger or a ghost?”, he doesn’t miss a beat with, “a ghost, because they cannot be cut with a knife.”

Also, seven year olds know all kinds of things right off the top of their heads that I’m not sure I ever knew, like how fast a cheetah runs and whether or not humpback whales have blood that a vampire could easily access. The big winners were pizza, ninjas, Boba Fett, and Princess Mononoke, and he didn’t even flinch when I tried to zing him with, “Dragons or dinosaurs?,” but just gave me a pitying look and totally schooled me with, “Sarah, dragons breathe fire,” and I really did feel foolish. Want to know how to stump him, though? “What’s better, pizza or ice cream?”

I am Living Life:

I’m not sure whether it’s the best feeling in the world or the worst, but if you’re mid-conversation with your face sore from laughing when your alarm clock goes off at 6 am, at least you know you’re alive.

Never My Love:

You know who I want to go on a date with? That guy from the Heineken commercial where they play “Never My Love” and his Jenny McCarthy-ish girlfriend talks on her cell phone and drinks his beer. Because number one, I like the way he makes that little check please motion to the waiter, and number two, I think he and I are both overdue for a good time.

Wave of humiliation:

So, my neighbor saw me in my underwear. And it wasn’t even my good underwear. It was my best bra, but the underwear? Not even the second tier.

How could this happen, you wonder? When did my life turn into a zany sitcom? Yesterday at about 5:30, evidently. I came home from work, and like I never, ever do, immediately took off my nice work clothes and hung them up so they wouldn’t wrinkle and waste away on the chest at the end of my bed. My bedroom closet is on the small side, so I keep a lot of my clothes hanging in the coat closet in the other room. After dutifully hanging them up, I walked through my main room back towards my bedroom, clad only in my bra and panties, and that’s when I noticed that the blinds on my kitchen window were open.

Well, I thought, I should close those blinds, since I’m walking around in my underwear. And evidently at that exact same moment, a butterfly flapped its wings in South America, causing a breeze that looped through the hemisphere like those little dotted Family Circus lines, culminating in that extra gust that boosted my neighbor as he sprang up the steps, and, like he sometimes does, paused to knock on my window as a friendly hello, precisely at the moment I reached for the mini-blinds, standing in my kitchen clad only in my underwear.

Hey— he started, and then I went, Aughhh! and he yelled Whoa! and then I screamed and shut the blinds and ran into my bedroom and hid under the comforter for the next 20 minutes.

I relived it all night long, in my head and while recounting it to friends, and I have come to the harsh realization that due to this incident, in combination with the bug incident, I am now officially not only someone’s Crazy Neighbor, but someone’s Crazy Naked Neighbor. Maybe this is some whacked-out karma for noticing his boxers while we worked on the pilot light in the basement, but at least those were shorts that were underneath his clothes. It’s just not fair. Usually when someone sees you in your underwear, you kind of had some idea that they might see you in your underwear, and you could prepare for it, whether by picking the best ones out of the drawer, or standing in a more alluring pose, or lighting some candles and putting on some Morphine, or at least just dimming the goddamn lights. Standing in your well-lit kitchen at 5:30 pm in the old VS cotton bikinis? Not so hot.

I can’t believe I had already taken off my knee-high leather boots. That would have made it at least a little cool, because then I could be the Crazy Naked Neighbor Who Thinks She’s a Superhero.


Sometimes I get really bummed out when I realize I will never see my own skeleton.

Herman’s Hermits:

Sometimes I can’t believe that I’ve lived 25 years without any potential suitors ending a mix tape with “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter.”

Science is sweet!

My trip to Missouri was fabulous. Laura’s party was fabulous. All of her friends were fabulous. I seriously had no idea how attractive the scientific community was. Doesn’t it make you sleep better at night knowing that not only are they out there being young and smart and contributing to Science, they are all adorable to boot? Some of them are even good kissers, too. I’m chalking that one up to my magic red mary janes.

Being at a party where you’re the only one not pursuing your PhD in biology can make a girl feel a bit insignificant, especially if said girl has had more than her fair share of gin and tonics, and people keep asking, very conversationally, about your degree. There’s no cool way to say that you and your degree have done all you’re going to do together, and now you’re answering phones. I always forget to mention the cool part where I’m writing a book. Anyway, they were all very nice and funny, even when they got off for a minute on humpback whale communication and megahertz and they were all blah blah science and I was all blah blah trashed. The very nice boy next to me assured me that they would not talk about science all night, and I asked him to please stop me if I suddenly felt compelled to enter the conversation by bringing up my third place seventh grade science fair project. Making perfume out of an orange rind just isn’t as conducive to getting this party started as, say, House of Pain.

Laughter and cold air:

In the interest of maturity and good karma, the three moments I knew I was in love:

January 4, 2002: Sharing a cigarette on my balcony in the silent snow at one in the morning, after the opening night of The Royal Tenenbaums, when I asked him his favorite part and he exhaled smoke and warm breath and said, “When you laughed out loud and no one else in the entire theater did.”

December 2, 1996: Meeting his parents for the first time over Thanksgiving break at their house out in the country, with him walking me to my car afterward, throwing his head back and laughing under all those cold, bright hard stars.

October 1, 1994: Laughing nervously at my parents’ front door after an evening spent sitting on the sunroof of his mother’s Honda and talking, watching our breath linger in the air between us because I was too nervous to watch his eyes, when he suddenly caught my wrist mid-sentence, pulled me towards him and kissed me with a kiss that still makes my knees weak when I think about it.

Copyright © 2001–2012 by sb
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