Date Archives August 2011

Man’s dominion over nature?

Since we only had a few days to spend in Long Beach this year, we tried to cram as much as possible into those days. So instead of sleeping off the previous night’s booze, we rose early and drove to downtown long beach to go for a morning horseback ride along the ocean. We arrived a bit too late for the first ride of the day, so we had an hour to kill in the area, which felt like much longer as nothing is open that time of day. During our hour, we spotted this charming sign:

Really? At no point during its construction did anyone look at it and say “Gee, that’s an awkward pose, and it sort of looks like this dog has a big deformed ballsack”? Because it took me quite some time to figure out that it was intended to be a paw and NOT a ballsack, and it wasn’t just the early hour clouding my judgement.

We also spotted some deer grazing in a nearby field, relatively unconcerned about the morning’s light foot traffic. This meant they kept eating instead of raising their heads or doing anything picture-worthy, so in a move that is bound to end either in hilarity or tragedy, I encouraged Jason to go near them with the phrase “Oh, they won’t hurt you, I just want some pictures.”

Jason cautiously moved toward them, warning them “Hey deer! Predator moving in your area!”, and this is what happened:

Apparently we’re not so great at the menacing predator thing, even if we are the top of the food chain. Those deer weren’t thinking “Oh no! Apex predator!”, they were merely annoyed. In the event of some apocalypse that wipes out civilization, should we survive the initial impact, I don’t know how well we’ll fend for ourselves by attempting to annoy food to death.

After the hour had passed, we went back to ride some horses. Two years is long enough to forget just how obstinate a horse can be, and as it turns out, their obstinacy hasn’t lessened in any way. This time, I was seated on an obstinate horse named Gunner, who seemed rarin’ to go, fighting to move forward as everyone else was still mounting their horses. Oh, he was rarin’ to go, all right. Rarin’ to go right back into the pen to eat some oats. It didn’t matter how much I pulled back on the reins, said “whoa”, or shot thoughtwaves of “I am going to have you turned into glue” at him with my brain, he wasn’t having it, and proceeded to trot right into the pen to chow down, with me dragged along for the ride like fat ballast. After he was forcibly dragged away by the wrangler, he then stood in line backwards with his head wedged into a corner like he was a little kid pouting. We were warned not to let the horses eat any of the dune grass as it’s not good for them, but Jason’s horse recognized that he’s a pushover and viewed the whole trip as an endless snack bar. CHOMP. CHOMP. CHOMP. “Hey, no, I don’t think you’re supposed to do–“CHOMP.

We were furthermore instructed to keep some distance between our horses, which had been easy to do two years ago when it was just the four of us, but we had a lot of butt-sniffers in this group, which meant that horses were lashing out at one another with some frequency. I managed to mostly stay outside of the fray, but every once in a while, Gunner the butt-sniffer would wedge himself up in a group of horses just for sniffs and giggles.

After the ride, I was helped off my horse by a five-year-old, which didn’t do much for my sense of self-confidence. I paid this child back in kind by not tipping him and hobbling away bowlegged.

Godzilla vs Mothra: The Kite Battle

Since we were convinced that Long Beach is a magical kite-flying location, we purchased two kites of our own to have a Godzilla vs Mothra battle on the stretch of beach behind the house, because we’re mature adults.

After we finished flying kites, I waded out into shallow water and ran through the flocks of birds that had amassed nearby, because if I’m going to develop a reputation as a bird-botherer, I’d at least like that reputation to be known far and wide so I can justify strutting around in a leather jacket with a bird-botherer club logo on the back.

Go fly a kite! …oh no, sir, not you personally.

Our first day in Long Beach was gorgeous, sunny, and warm–perfect weather for attending the ongoing Kite Festival. My expectations were low. Given that this is a rather small town, I thought that perhaps there would be two grizzled old men fiddling with kite strings and a tourist’s kid poking seaweed with a stick. From previous kite-flying experience in the flat midwest, where the only stiff breeze immediately precedes a tornado, I knew that kite-flying involved a lot of running back and forth across a public park with a kite dragging on the ground behind you, and the activity basically stopped when you were tired of running and involved zero kite ascent. I wasn’t actually sure that kites could fly, and always assumed the Mary Poppins “Fly a Kite” song was a form of cruel taunting and the scene featuring kite-flying involved the best special effects the sixties could muster, that kite-flying in general was a myth perpetuated to children, much like Santa Claus. Imagine my surprise when we arrived, and hundreds of kites fluttered in the air, while others were tossed into the sky effortlessly. Where was the running? The frustration? The cursing?

As the kite displays wound down, we made our way back down the main drag with our purchases and on my insistence, stopped for pictures at the wooden standees.

“I wasn’t even buying hot sauce!”

I think it’s a sign that you’ve got a group of amazing friends when you look over your vacation photos and recognize that you’ve made even the mundane parts of the trip fun. Things like:

Picking burrs out of the carpet!

Going to Costco!

Waiting for a friend to finish up at a gift shop!

Not pictured: The three minutes we spent on the path to the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center when we finally figured out we’d need to buy an overpriced “Discover” pass but by the time we turned around to get it, the place would be closed.

Legend of the Water Dog

Today was absolutely gorgeous, one of the few summery days we’ve had this year, so I went outside to water my flowers–partially because I hadn’t watered them in a few days, and partially to enjoy the sunshine. Napodog came out with me, and began doing something I’d never seen before: flinging himself in front of the spray of water like he was a bodyguard defending the president from an assassin’s bullet. Over and over and over again. Eventually, I had to go inside and get my camera for evidence.

Time to get this dog a kiddie pool.

Still Puzzling

I’ve been giving some more thought to the Yankee Candle Scented Puzzles and I think the only way it makes sense to sell them in a store catering to nerds is if they have nerd-friendly themes. Lavender fields and Kinkade-like scenes aren’t cutting it. I believe these Lord of the Rings versions, however, would sell like hotcakes:

Yankee Candle Dwarf: Dirt, Beer, and Pretzels

Yankee Candle Hobbits: Apples, Grass, and Feet

Yankee Candle Orcs: Iron and Ox Blood

There’s so many more potentials–Gollum (fish breath and desperation), Gandalf (pipe weed and discarded fireworks), Lothlorien (haughty flowers and white wine), etc etc. And there are even more if they actually make The Hobbit into a movie–Smaug! More dwarves! More elves!

…I’d buy ’em.

Dance Madness

As we’ve recently acquired a 24 hour fitness membership, Jason and I have taken to attending Zumba–a one-hour dance aerobics class that leaves us drenched in sweat and smelling like year-old unwashed socks. Despite that description, it’s high-intensity fun, and the hour flies by. Today, as we were waiting for the spin class to end, a hippie-looking chick (likely with the name Hawthorne Blackberry Dewdrop Meadow) floated up to where we were waiting in line and began pinching the parts of her stomach that showed between her shorts and her sports bra. I immediately became annoyed with her. This annoyance grew when we entered the classroom and she parked herself in front of me and began her stretching exercises. It’s not so much that I’m opposed to stretching, I just don’t know what the benefit is from bending at the waist and using one’s fingers to stretch one’s asshole and vagina. This is aerobics class, Buttercup Sunshine Peace Willow, not a gangbang. You’re not prepping the area for a Brazilian wax, Daydream Iris Patchouli. Plus, the room is mirrored, so no matter how desperately I tried to look away from Butterfly Freedom RayneFlower’s Porno Yoga, I couldn’t help but see it. Then, when class started, Fern Karma Sage Shalom completely blocked my view of the instructor and while the rest of the class was performing a mixture of Latin dance moves, she was languidly waving her arms and twirling like she was at Woodstock. My annoyance was compounded by the instructor’s occasional use of showtunes, which is my number one music hate, ranking above banjo hoedowns and clown rap. Get a large group of people together and have them sing an upbeat song about overcoming adversity and it’s the equivalent of aural torture for me. Chain me to a chair and force me to listen to nothing but showtunes for hours on end and I’ll confess to any crime. Any crime. Yes! I ate a grape at the grocery store! Yes! I scavenged the last of the icecream out of the freezer! Yes! I admit I purposefully antagonize tailgaters! I’ve done it ALL, just please make the music stop! The only way I’d ever watch Glee is if I’ve been tipped off that this is the episode where all of the cast members explode one note into the first song. Even then, it might be a struggle. So given that we were dancing to showtunes AND I couldn’t see the instructor’s cues through Windsong Ocean Mist’s interpretive dance of whalesongs in a tree, this really amounted to nothing more than an exercise in frustration. At least my hate muscle had an opportunity to flex.

It’s not a boy!

Jason and I have been taking stock of our relationship as many couples do, by posing the question, “What could make our happiness more complete?” The answer came nearly immediately, and after we filled out some paperwork, I am now well on my way toward getting my tubes tied, as neither one of us would be thrilled if the other came home from the store with a six-pack of babies, squealing “They were on sale!” Oftentimes as we’re out and about, a nearby child will devolve into a blubbering, screeching, snot-covered mass of tantrum, and I will turn to Jason and enthuse “I want fifty babies. Right now. But since I don’t have fifty childbearing years left, we’re going to have to have multiples at a time and you’re going to have to help.” He ponders. “I suppose I could help with that. Giving birth to my babies would be like the end of the Shawshank Redemption, where they’re crawling through a tunnel of filth toward freedom. After they escape, they’ll rip off their umbilical cords in a rainstorm, move to Mexico, and build boats to help fund our retirement.” Other times, when we’re watching TV or perhaps having a tender moment, I will thrust a hand out from between my legs and growl in a Gollum-like voice “Teach me how to play Magic: The Gathering, Daddy!” I’m certain it’s easy to imagine how quickly he jumped on board with the tube-tying train just for the potential end of the crotch hand puppet baby.

But what is a major life event without a party to celebrate its passing? A baby-free forever shower, of sorts? I had to forge my own path on this one, as a cursory search for “anti-baby shower” only delivered results for pregnant women who dislike traditional baby showers–not exactly the case here. Ideas for food and games were brainstormed, and while some were vetoed as too vile (“All I’m saying is, Melissa, I’m uncomfortable with the idea of a bunch of people rooting around up to their elbows in a giant effigy of your vagina to perform a home abortion.”) the others were constructed without too much difficulty, aside from an awkward moment at a thrift store when I came to the register loaded down with babydolls and baby magazines, wherein both the checker and myself worked steadily at avoiding eye contact. That, and having to wrestle one of my paper mache ovaries out of the mouth of the dog, who was doing his best to crunch it in half. Come the day of the party, we had four games ready to go: Baby Toss, Pin the Clamp on the Uterus, Nightmare Spawn Collage, and a Uterus Piñata, stuffed with crybabies, sour patch kids, sugar babies, baby ruth bars, and tiny plastic babies. The prize for the winners of Baby Toss and Nightmare Spawn Collage was a “romantic non-procreational evening”–a bottle of wine, a bar of dark chocolate, and a condom. For themed food, we had Baby Punch, a cake with a horrifying exorcist-like marzipan baby on top, cupcakes arranged to look like a uterus, and a meatloaf baby with a bacon diaper. Several people suggested that we register for gifts, but I was uncomfortable with that idea–after all, people who are having babies have a legitimate need for things, whereas we’re just jerks who are celebrating a surgical procedure, so I suggested that if people must bring gifts, to please bring something that we couldn’t have laying around the house if we were to have kids, or to consider making a donation to Planned Parenthood in order to help make every pregnancy a wanted pregnancy.

More terrifying before or after baking? You decide!

As people ate, they worked on their Nightmare Spawn Collages–their answers to the question of “If Melissa and Jason DID have a baby, what would it look like?” with piles of baby magazines and National Geographics, after which we hustled everyone outside to play a rousing round of Baby Toss. As I wasn’t about to buy a bunch of brand-new dolls to play this game, I bought whatever was available at the thrift store (causing the aforementioned awkward moment), numbered them 1 through 5, and had the participants draw numbers from a cup to determine which team received which baby, as they were all quite differently shaped and weighted–some were soft-bodied, some were hard-bodied, and one had its head, hands, and feet all made of porcelain. The game operated similarly to the familiar team water balloon toss game–partners stood a few feet apart and tossed the baby back and forth, backing up with each successful toss, and their team is eliminated once they drop their baby. The porcelain baby didn’t stand a chance, and the game ended as one might expect, cleaning shattered baby face off of my driveway. The rest of the baby was then turned into an art installation on the kitchen table.

Since we were now all outside, we felt it was a good time to tackle the Uterus Piñata, which we hung from a low-hanging tree branch in the front yard. Participants were blindfolded and armed with a hanger with which to beat the uterus. Though I’d made the walls of the pinata decently thick, it was taken down by the second participant, who sliced the wire of the hanger straight through it like some sort of organ-maiming ninja.

Jason and I then judged the winner of the Nightmare Spawn Collage contest, which was exceedingly difficult as there were so many awesome entries:

And our winner:

When we were finished passing all of the entries around, we went back inside to play Pin the Clamp on the Uterus. Originally, I’d designed the game so that there were only a few clamps in the bowl, and if the blindfolded participants picked something other than a clamp, even if it was properly placed, they wouldn’t win a prize. This was because I was under the impression that since I’d painted the wall poster, it would be tactile enough for people to figure out where everything was, and the tubes were fairly large targets. This turned out not to be the case, and the rules were revised on the fly so that if you managed to pin ANYTHING onto the tubes, you were a winner.

Once the prizes were exhausted, we opened our inappropriate gifts, which involved a fair amount of booze, sharp objects, and hilarious cards–we also ended up raising quite a bit of money for Planned Parenthood, so it was a success all around!

During the next day’s cleanup, we discovered plastic babies glued into inappropriate positions, and the dolls we’d abandoned in a pile in the front yard making their way up the stairs toward the house.

Lord knows what the neighbors thought.