Timeline of a Kinko’s Trip.

The Insurance Nazis who emailed me some important documents today demanded that I sign them all and either fax or scan them back over to their offices.

Fax.

Or Scan.

Those were my only two options here.

And so begins the conundrum…

Since last time I checked it wasn’t the year 1995, I knew I would not be using my non-existent fax machine to fax them in. Also, since I am a broke-@$$, very recent college graduate (SHUT UP, everyone. Two and a half years is still recent), sans the funds and technological prowess for such a luxury machine, I also knew I would definitely not be scanning them in.

Therefore, I realized I would now be forced to venture out to the nearest Kinko’s to take care of this mess—and this is how things would play out once there:

  • I will insert my credit card into the little timer box and watch the seconds tick away and the money add up as I sit and watch the sand trickle through the Hourglass Of Doom while the public PC from the Clinton Era takes seven minutes to boot up and open my documents.
  • I will attempt to scan these documents in and, upon realizing I have no idea how to actually do that, I will then give up and make my way over to the fax machine (which is securely chained to the desk because, obviously, fax machines are a hot commodity these days).
  • I will then commence faxing while simultaneously bursting a blood vessel in my left cornea out of frustration. (Are there really that many wrong ways to work a faxing machine, you may ask? Yes, yes there are. And that was with the directions typed out in big, bolded letters and duct-taped mockingly to the wall in front of my face.)
  • After witnessing my palpable distress, the prepubescent Kinko’s employee boy behind the counter will ask me if I need help, and I will obviously tell him no, because at this point it is imperative that I prove to this sweaty Noxema case-study in Keds that I AM NOTHING if not competent of feeding a few papers into a slot and dialing a few numbers on a keypad.
  • Minutes will pass. Tempers will flare. Buttons will be pressed threateningly with much more vigor and force than necessary.
  • Finally, an eerie peace will settle over the Green Hills Kinko’s as the little scrolling fax screen tells me timorously: “Faxing…Complete?” (My violent nature has apparently caused this skilled, finely-tuned machine to question and doubt it’s own abilities—and rightly so.)
  • Blood pressures will then begin to lower, but only momentarily, as I eject my credit card from the charge box to see a grand total of $4.50 for the entire endeavor. Four dollars and fifty cents for a mêlée with technology and a couple of documents which I was pretty sure I’d signed in the wrong place anyways.

Then I tripped over the welcome mat as I was exiting the store.

And there you have it, everyone. All in a day’s work.

Hayley’s Favorite Things.

In honor of the annual Oprah’s Favorite Things episode that aired Friday, I have begun an ongoing list of my favorite things. After I was able to recuperate from the sheer terror of this:

(Terrifying)

…I commenced my own list. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

1. LinkedIn:

On Twitter, I am no one. On LinkedIn, I AM SOMEONE.

I have a volatile relationship with Twitter—joining, quitting then joining again—all because of my insecurities due to my lack of followers.

Lady Gaga has 7,143, 558 followers; I have 65. I realize meat dresses do wonders in regards to boosting Twitter followings, as do ongoing debates over one’s status as a hermaphrodite. So maybe it’s my own fault—I guess this is what I get for being so blatantly female (except for this time in my life):

Questionable.

In the heat of the moment, I’m ashamed to say I’ve firmly tweeted out ultimatums to the Twitterverse, threatening to remove myself once and for all if I didn’t garner more fans STAT. Then, upon seeing violence/verbal abuse wasn’t doing the trick, I tried a different approach by tweeting, “I feel very self-conscious over my lackluster number of Twitter followers.” In my experiences, guilt trips have always worked in the past, especially when you have some sort of ammo on which to build them (…like being 14 and overhearing your father telling his work friends that you were a “mistake.” Years later, he still maintains he actually meant “not planned” and that “mistake” had just slipped out by accident. That’s like meaning “tolerable” and saying “Miley Cyrus” instead. I’m not buying it, Tom. Time to up the ante for the 9th year in a row this Christmas.)

Needless to say, my efforts were all in vain and I am still sitting at a disheartening 65.

On the other, more self-righteous hand, I have a solid 98 (and counting) LinkedIn followers. (I know some of you will argue that on LinkedIn they are not considered “followers,” and to you I will say, “Kindly STFU. Remember, I overheard my father telling his friends that I was a mistake. Therefore, they are considered followers.”)

I have spent minutes, half-hours even, typing in my “Present Job Title” and “College Degree.” I have tediously outlined my previous work experience, dutifully reporting all the way back to my days as Secretary at Texas Stud Weld & Fastener, Inc. (my father’s stud-welding company, where he likes to refer to himself as “The Texas Stud” and rides around the office parking lot in a used golf cart he found on eBay). I have the entire layout perfected, and I am vaguely peeved but mostly flattered that people are probably using my profile page as a blueprint for their own, less impressive page.

 

 

 

2. Dirty Rap Music:

The dirtier, the better—I’m from Houston, I have an excuse.

If I had to listen to one genre of music for the rest of my life, it would be dirty rap music, with an emphasis on Gucci Mane and Swishahouse.

I cannot explain it, nor do I have to explain it. (Do you think Weezy has to explain the AK 47 tattoo on his neck, or the MOB (Money Over Bitches) tattoo on his chest, or the smiley face tattoo on the inside of his lower lip, or the ultra-violet star tattoos on the side of his face (google it)?? NO. He doesn’t. You know why? ‘Cause gangsters don’t explain. They just tat it up. They also probably do a bunch of other dangerous, semi-illegal stuff. But for this post, we’re just going to focus on them permanently embedding ridiculous images on their flesh.)

Hawwwwt.

The best thing about dirty rap is the fact that it evokes zero emotion in me. If you know me, then you know that within the first four seconds of a sad country song I am bawling my eyes out. This is not an exaggeration. While the rest of my friends were enjoying the excitement of the CMA awards a few weeks ago, sitting in the stadium while Carrie Underwood belted out “Mama’s Song,” I was the emotionally unstable lunatic hunched down in my seat quietly sobbing while simultaneously texting my own mama who, sadly, does not have her own song. (Damn you, Carrie Underwood. Damn you for making all of us other daughters look like talentless, unfeeling offspring with bad hair.)

I am not proud of it, but I was even reduced to tears one pathetic afternoon when a Jessica Simpson song came on the radio. It was her hit, “With You,” and when she sang, “With nothin’ but a T-shirt on, I’ve never felt so beautiful, baby as I do now that I’m with you,” it was ALL OVER. I was embarrassed for myself, but mostly I was embarrassed for my friends riding in the car with me, trying (in vain) to ignore the audible weeping coming from the back seat.

This is why I listen to dirty rap. With this genre, I never have to deal with heartbreak or sadness, unless you count the one about the ho who wasn’t bringing in enough dollah billz and was dumped by her pimp. But honestly, I have no sympathy for her because she should have stepped her pimp game up a bit once she realized there was a steady decline in biznass. Hos these days…

But really, how can you not love a song that yells, “Yeah, she know she bad, bad as a motha f*ckah” over and over to a driving bass beat, with other random rappers arbitrarily yelling indecipherable expletives over the singer in the background?

There are also valuable lessons to be learned from these songs. For example, Gucci Mane speaks fondly of his ladyfriend, saying, “She my shorty, she gon’ hold my forty.” Now this man knows how to make a woman feel needed—if it weren’t for her, who would be there to hold his malt liquor? I would gladly hold a forty for my man, especially one as appreciative as Gucci Mane. It’s just so refreshing in an age of such rampant disrespect, and it’s definitely a breath of fresh air compared to all the other jokers who take us for granted.

Definition of a gentleman.

Another reason dirty rap music is top notch is because of the music videos that accompany the songs. A prime example of this is Soulja Boy’s “Turn My Swag On,” which consists largely of a 19-year-old Soulja Boy rubbing money all over his body and jumping up and down on a bed. We also get to tag along as he completes such riveting endeavors as brushing his teeth and then pouring himself a big bowl of cereal. It’s fascinating though, because he is a millionaire and is infinitely more successful than any of us could ever fathom being. And, because he said this: “Skeet Skeet Skeeted on that hoe yea boy, I make it rain, Shawty dont do me, I don’t play no games.” Well said, Soulja.

You Will Never Be As Rich As Him.

I once met Paul Wall at a UofH football game back in 2003. He was wearing a wife beater and had six golden teeth and there were women in bikinis surrounding him. It was everything I ever dreamed it would be.

Men, Listen Up. (Ladies, You’re Welcome.)

Is it wrong to write off entire groups of men within a three second time span? Is it wrong … or is it efficient?

Maybe it’s neither. Maybe it’s actually called “The reason why I will be alone at 35 and by alone I mean ALONE because I hate cats and don’t even have the option of being a Cat Lady.”

Whatever it is, it’s an active part of my daily life, not unlike flossing or complaining. Some people spend months, yearseven, trying to decide if a certain person is right for them or not. YEARS. That’s a lot of wasted time, and I’m all about efficiency when it comes to important things, like cleaning and packing and evaluating potential life partners based on their choice in footwear.

A valuable quality I’ve discovered in myself is my innate ability to size up a man’s interests, personality and general likeability solely by what he is wearing on his feet.

You might at first scoff at such a claim, adding that even if one had such a skill surely no one would utilize it. “Isn’t it risky?” you ask. “Completely ruling out an innocent individual within the time it takes to high-five a midget? Aren’t you afraid of writing off someone who might actually be interesting and semi-normal, all because of such a shallow stipulation?” And to that person I would say, “Midget jokes are sorely overdone.” Then, I would proceed to say, “And no, I do not have those fears, because my premature judgments are never wrong.”

Take the curious case of Crocs, for example. If a man is wearing Crocs when I first lay eyes on him, it means a number of things. Most importantly, that he is alarmingly inconsiderate of my pupils and their need to see something less douchey. It also means that he probably slipped on his thumb ring, smoothed out his jorts and set out to annoy the shit out of the rest of the world that day.

I will leave Crocs alone now. I feel like I harp on them with the same frequency that I write out “Hayley O’Brien” on any and every writable surface, and that is bordering on just unhealthy. It’s difficult to restrain myself though because Crocs are such an easy target, and I justify my condemnation by maintaining that anyone who wears them publicly is a glutton for punishment and is basically begging for a verbal lashing. And who am I to deny a masochist his pain?

Next order of business: flip-flops. This trend is harder for me to criticize since flip-flops are about as rampant as Kanye twitter rants. But it really just comes down to this: flip-flops are lazy.

Just look at their name- flip-flops– which has outrageously been reduced to a mere “flops” as the years have gone by. If you wear flops, you are basically saying you take the easy way out and generally back down from a challenge. This is not an attractive quality. It’s like, “I’m getting dressed and about to have to make a game time decision; I finally washed these jeans, I actually ironed this shirt, and I even changed my underwear today. Now, to complete the look … I think I’ll go with these psuedo-shoes that expose the majority of my pale, unappealing feet, which are really only harnessed in by a disconcerting two straps of rubber that converge between my even more unappealing toes. Yeah, this looks good.” It’s like his head was in the game the whole time, and then he just gave up right at the very end. Flops look sloppy and careless- anyone can slip on a pair and call it a day. But it takes an interesting man to put the flops aside and opt for a stylish shoe that doesn’t leave his feet hanging out the sides, all up in everyone’s faces.

All of this isn’t petty and superficial, but rather a wise, preemptive mechanism for gauging levels of compatibility. If you have on kick ass shoes, I can guarantee you we will have something to talk about if I approach you. It’s like we are already on the same wavelength in life before even meeting; it’s a beautiful and comforting thing. On the flip side, flops guarantee an uphill battle from the beginning, starting with the obvious problem staring me in the face, combined with countless other unforeseeable issues down the road.

Personally, I’m a sucker for really cool shoes—think David Beckham or Kid Cudi or Kanye style. (Put on a pair of old school high top Nikes and I am yours ‘til the end.)

 

Hawt.

I realize this is an acquired taste for most, so I am also open to the more conventional footwear available for men—cowboy boots, Sperrys or even just regular New Balances. Most anything other than these is a complete deal breaker and will most likely contribute to the majority of the problems you face later on in life (don’t say I didn’t warn you).

So there’s the hard, cold truth: When I am presented with a potential male suitor, you’ll no doubt find me instinctively glancing at his shoes. If my glance is met with low-top Skechers paired with ankle socks, you will then find me uncontrollably shaking my head and thinking about how painful our first date would be. (The only exception here is men over 70. At the airport the other day I stumbled upon a man with mid-calf-length socks and strappy velcro sandals (aka Jesus sandals). My blood pressure immediately jumped 47 points, until I looked up to find a sweet, elderly 75-year-old face attached to those controversial feet (well, first attached to his neck and body, which was then eventually attached to his feet). I breathed a sigh of relief and focused my fury on the character behind him sporting these):

 

Unless you are Shaquille O'Neal, you cannot wear these.

Oh, and one more thing—never, ever touch these. Don’t even think about it:

 

HIGHLY DISTURBING. (Sorry, Blair).

Keep Cool My Babies.

Is This Real Life?

I’m not even on hallucinogens being videotaped by my exploitive father and I am still asking myself, “Is this real life?”

I mean, this line up—seriously? Not only is Conan going to be back on the air where he belongs (correction: he belongs right here next to me, doing the String Dance while I run my fingers through his voluminous head of ginger hair), but he will also have this line up on his first week back. Unbelievable:

• Monday, Nov. 8 – First Guest Poll winner, Seth Rogen and musical guest Jack White

• Tuesday, Nov. 9 – Tom Hanks, Jack McBrayer and musical guest Soundgarden

• Wednesday, Nov. 10 – Jon Hamm, Charlyne Yi and musical guest Fistful of Mercy

• Thursday, Nov. 11 – Michael Cera, Julie Bowen and comedian Jon Dore

Okay, first things first.

There is apparently some sort of poll to decide who the first guest will be. If it were up to me, we would all sit and stare at Conan for that ten minute period. But unfortunately TBS had other ideas and the winner will be revealed on the show. Next there’s Seth Rogen. Seth wouldn’t be the first person that comes to mind when thinking “PREMIERE GUEST SPOT,” but I guess he will forever be cool because he impregnated Katherine Heigl and smoked shrooms with Paul Rudd. (Speaking of people whose hair I need to run my fingers through…I love Paul Rudd. I fell in love during the staircase scene in Clueless and kept on falling with every Friends episode.) Sometimes I feel like Seth tries too hard during interviews and is always yelling at me arbitrarily, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be too enraptured by Conan’s albino skin and all around sheer aura to let the likes of Rogen get me down.

Tom Hanks is a logical choice for a second day guest because, really, who doesn’t like Tom Hanks? I like Tom Hanks … but I like his son even better. I fell in love with Colin Hanks the first time I laid eyes on him in Orange County. (I realize I have already thrown around the “L” word several times within the context of this post; you should know this is only going to escalate as I continue.) He is just the right amount of geeky and endearing and smart and cute and ohmygosh, MTV productions should be ashamed of themselves for leading us naïve females to believe such a combination really exists. But I will have no time to mourn the non-existence of Shaun Brumder, because Jack McBrayer will be out on the stage next and I will start the love-fest all over again.

I love Jack in a much different way than I love Colin, but the love is still there nonetheless. Jack occupies a special place in my heart because he essentially got his start playing a page on Conan’s show. Anyone with any sort of Conan interaction is destined for greatness, and Jack is no exception—his character on 30 Rock is highly entertaining. (Tracy Morgan’s indecipherable outbursts steal the show every time though, in my opinion. How does he even talk like that? He could say “mass puppy genocide” and it would still be funny.)

And Jon Hamm. Jonnnnn Hamm. I’m going to save everyone time here and avoid the most obvious commentary for this fine specimen of a man. I will admit there was a brief period of time where I faltered in my adoration once I learned what a man-whore he was on Mad Men. But then I calmly talked myself down and reminded myself that man-whores need love too, and I ended up feeling guilty for passing judgment on Don and his obscure past! He’s slick. See how he did that there? You gotta watch them; those man-whores turn it back around on you. Every. Time.

Um, I don’t know who Charlyne Yi is. Should I? This is the one glitch in the whole “best line up in the history of line ups” schtick. I will do some research and get back to you on that one.

Okay, we are doing Julie Bowen now because I am not mentally and physically prepared to expound on Michael just yet. (Just typing his name makes me sweat. Not in a gross way, just like, in a hot way. Like, he’s so hot that he makes it feel like the temperature of the room is rising… like, in a sexy way… not…gross…yeah.) I like Julie because I like Modern Family, and I like Modern Family because I like Ty Burrell (Phil). Phil is hot, and he is a dad, which makes him a Hot Dad, which makes him a rare, desired commodity, which makes me tune into ABC every Wednesday even though I cannot deal with Sarah Hyland (Haley). CAN. NOT. (I saw pictures of her 19-year-old self frolicking around in the ocean in Hawaii with her famous boyfriend without a care in the world and I decided right then that she would be added to the list of public figures I would work hard to actively shun.) But I suffer through it all for Phil.

Okay, everyone. As excited as I am about Michael Cera being on the show, I am also a bit nervous; I am genuinely concerned about what will happen to my television set with both Conan and Michael on it together, simultaneously, sharing a screen shot. Spontaneous combustion is almost inevitable. (I felt the same way when Martha Stewart was on Oprah the other day, but for very different reasons. Martha Stewart on the Oprah show?? That’s like putting a donut on a cheeseburger (…or something). Such huge, all-pervading powerhouses together on one screen almost blew my mind, and I kept thinking it was only a matter of time before it would blow my TV out, too.)

Anyway, aside from the very obvious and palpable danger, I am still unspeakably ecstatic about this pairing. Both are great on their own, but combined? Can you even imagine the magic that will happen on that stage that night?

No. The answer is no, you cannot. None of us can, because we are all but mere mortals. Mere mortals just living in Conan’s world.

You don’t have plans on November 8th at 10 pm. If you do, you’re wrong. (PS- The new band will be called “The Basic Cable Band.” Genius.)

*Update: I now know who Charlyne Yi is. I wish I didn’t, but I do. Charlyne is the rumored love interest of Michael Cera. Nothing more will be said of her, as I choose to focus on other more worthy guests who don’t make a habit of stealing other people’s future potential lovers.

We will all finally be able to hear those four beautiful words again: "Keep cool my babies."

Childhood Regrets, Part I.

I recently visited my parents in Houston and spent an evening flipping through old photo albums…

…and now I suddenly feel the need to apologize profusely to anyone who attended my 11th birthday.

I was confused at 11 years old; I thought Doc Martens were an acceptable addition to any outfit, that shooting the peace sign to everyone I came in contact with was a suitable alternative to a wave, and that a group of 5th graders would actually enjoy what I had planned for my birthday party that year.

To commemorate my 11th year on this earth, I begged my parents to hire Stevie Valentine to entertain the captive audience I had in my backyard, whom I had originally lured in with promises of cookie cake and the chance to beat a poor, lifeless donkey mercilessly with a stick until a dried up tootsie roll popped out.

Stevie Valentine was the post-pubescent boy with the pre-pubescent voice and complexion; the boy wonder with the body of a gangly 19-year-old and the pimples and sporadic voice-cracks of a greasy 14-year-old. Quite the phenomenon he was, that boy. Stevie was an “entertainer” of sorts, capitalizing on his singing yet also possessing a vast array of hidden treasures, such as his locally-famous style of dance (consisting mostly of uncomfortable pelvic thrusts sprinkled with a few powerful finger-snaps here and there) and his uncanny ability to play the hell out of a tambourine.

Anyway, Stevie was a regular down at the Texas Opry Jamboree in Magnolia, Texas, the live music venue where I sang and clogged every Saturday night (fare for another post entirely). Stevie covered such classic hits as “Jailhouse Rock,” “Rock Around The Clock,” and perhaps his most requested tune, “Great Balls Of Fire.”

Stevie wore painted-on tight black Wranglers with a belt buckle the size of my head and starched button-downs with flames on the back. He parted his hair on the side and poofed up his bangs to offensive heights with what I could only assume was some sort of industrial-strength, possibly-illegal hair spray. Stevie had an adams apple that could double as a weapon and a vocabulary that made him sound as if he should have been hanging out at a 1950’s sock hop while sippin’ on a 5 cent cream soda and telling Suzy she was the “bee’s knees” … and not shimmying around on our back deck on a make-shift plywood platform my dad built, singing about balls of fire to a group of brat-faced attention-deficit 5th graders who’d just recently discovered MTV and a disdain for the general population, simultaneously.

But this didn’t get Stevie down. No, Stevie sang his heart out with every intention to blow his audience away more and more with every high-note and hip-thrust. He even planned ahead for the mass-hysteria that would erupt after his final song, bringing along with him a briefcase full of head-shots (in both black and white AND color) and not one but two fresh Sharpies to sign autographs into the wee hours of the evening. Yes, Stevie thought of everything … except his competition.

Because then, this happened:

Cassette tape available for sale upon request. Serious inquiries only, please.

 

That’s right.  I had indeed hired Stevie to entertain my guests. But it was still my birthday party, after all, and there was no way I was going to let Stevie Valentine one-up me on my special day. Plus, on top of everything else, I lived by my mantra, “You gotta give the people what they want,” whether it was a juice box or a private performance of some of my greatest hits. And, judging from the mood of the party up until that point, I knew what my people wanted: my unique and exclusive rendition of “Cowboy Boots,” a little diddy my friend Aunt Cookie’s ex-husband wrote back in ’91. For those of you unfamiliar with this classic, below is an excerpt of the song:

“I can ride a horse, or drive a car,

I can dance around, or sit at the bar,

I can do anything I want to,

And it feels real good in my cowboy boots.


People ask me why I don’t wear shoes,

When I’m out walkin’ in my cowboy boots,

It may look funny as heck to you,

But it feels real good in my cowboy boots.


I went to the Rodeo the other night,

Everyone thought I was such a sight,

They said, ‘Hayley, you’re sure lookin’ cute,’

And I said, ‘That’s ‘cause I’m wearin’ my cowboy boots.’”


(Actual performance available upon request.)

When I’d had my fill of Stevie, I gave the hand signal and motioned for my dad to pop my tape in the sound system out on the deck. I wanted to warm the crowd up with a few numbers off the album first, then bring the party to a whole new level with a surprise live performance of “Timber, I’m Fallin’ In Love.” I was getting annoyed though because I was about to take the stage and my dad still hadn’t even set up the video camera; I didn’t have time for amateur mistakes like this and decided right then that I’d have to look into hiring a manager first thing tomorrow morning.

Needless to say, I gave the performance of a lifetime to 15 very undeserving recipients who couldn’t recognize artistic genius when it was belting out beautiful chords and gyrating right in front of their bratty little faces. And, also needless to say, Stevie Valentine was put in his place and forced to admit defeat that night. My dad paid his dad the hundred bucks at the end of the party, while Stevie ate his feelings in the form of delicious cookie cake.

While I had a blast at what was obviously the party of the decade, I’m not so sure everyone else enjoyed themselves as much. But not to worry, this lesson wasn’t lost on me; this year at my birthday party, I promise not to make anyone listen to me sing any bizarre country songs from the early 90’s. Instead, we will watch me clog a clogging performance to “Cotton-Eyed Joe.” Below are a few pictures to “whet your palettes.” Mark. Your. Calendars.

If you have issues with my hair in this picture (and you should), please take that up with Trudy Frank immediately. (back row, far right.)

If you have issues with my bow tie and/or all-around generally offensive image here, again, take this up with Trudy. You can reach her via FB.

 

Something out of nothing.

Sometimes, we have to create something where there is nothing.

Like having to create a level of tolerance for Affliction T-shirts where there is fortunately zero; or creating acceptance of some peoples’ decision to wear ankle socks. Since moving to an otherwise foreign city, I have created (read: forced) beautiful friendships where there were previously none.

Exhibit A: I now have a friend in Hershel, the retired widower who lives across the street from me in Nashville.

This relationship formed organically when I ran shrieking and flailing both arms over to his house last week. The reason for my atypical (read: typical) behavior was the ginormous flying wasp in my house hovering around my head that morning. As luck would have it, the nozzle on the Raid can I had purchased the day before was busted and janky, and I had already used up all of the Windex killing the fire ants in my bath tub the week before. (Windex is the Duct Tape of liquid chemicals, as in I can typically find a reason to use it for all sorts of things on a daily basis, and those reasons never involve cleaning windows.)

Anyway, being as a wasp inflicts more fear deep in my soul than Jake Pavelka’s Crazy Eyes, I immediately evacuated the house and ran in no particular direction other than AWAY FROM THE DANGER… which landed me first at my next door neighbor’s house.

I pounded the door and waited for her to answer and, upon her doing so, I politely asked if I could borrow some Raid. I figured Raid was a substance every functioning household should possess, as BUGS ARE THE ENEMY AND SHOULD BE OBLITERATED IN THE MOST INHUMANE WAY POSSIBLE, which clearly meant watching them be inundated with deadly chemicals and squirm their way to a torturous death. As per my life, when time and safety are both of the essence, I chose the one house on the block whose answer to my pleas was, “Sorry, I don’t keep that anywhere near my home. I am a purist and don’t support the use of hazardous chemicals.” Though shocked at her naivety, I simply didn’t have the time right then to educate her on the joys of dangerous, deadly liquids you can emit with just a mere squirt from a bottle.

So I ended up on the front steps of Hershel’s house. Hershel scared me. But Hershel wasn’t scared of a wasp. Hershel was a man who’d get stung by a hundred wasps while walking barefoot on scalding hot coals with a midget latched onto his back stabbing him repeatedly in the soft, fleshy part of his neck with a dull butter knife and describe the whole experience as just “uncomfortable.” Hershel once had to help me jump my car and at one point held a jumper cable between his teeth as he burned his fingers on my engine while smoking a cigarette and cursing out the “GD foreign car makers” in a voice sounding not at all unlike handfuls of gravel being ground up in a rusty blender. Hershel told me he didn’t have any Raid… “but I have THIS.”

“This” was a rolled-up, yellowed, decrepit newspaper that I could’ve sworn I saw JFK smiling at me from the front page.

Hershel and I scoured the house for the wasp and, upon finding it, he yelled at me arbitrarily to “just calm down.” He swatted it and killed it, but not before looking at it ominously and telling me in a serious voice, “This ain’t no regular wasp.” I asked Hershel what that meant—what kind of wasp was it, if not a regular one? He shook his head in disgust at my ignorance and told me he wasn’t a Bugologist, so how should he know? Touché Hershel, touché.

He told me to come get him if I ever had any more “ridiculous problems.” I thanked him graciously for his offer and cheerfully asked his favorite kind of cookie so I could bake him a batch in return. He asked me why I would do that, as he was a “damn diabetic,” and he lit a cigarette and waddled back down my driveway.

So, while an irregular, potentially killer wasp impolitely flying around one’s home isn’t an ideal situation, I managed to find the silver lining and create a new friendship out of the ordeal—see? Something out of nothing. Now you try.

Honesty (like normality) is overrated.

You know that very moment when you’re faced with a significant other who keeps doin’ ya wrong time and time again, yet each time you’re in the midst of an encounter with them, harboring on the brink of utter and ominous disaster, there’s that little voice inside of you that secretly cries out in arbitrary hopefulness, “Maybe THIS time it will be different!?” I had that moment Monday afternoon at 2:38 p.m…

…Except I was in a Park-N-Ride airport parking lot and there was no Significant Other involved, unless you count the angry Arabian guy manning the pay booth.

Nothing is ever easy; my mom taught me this pertinent anecdote at a young age, and judging from the way things have been going as of late it’s proven to be quite apropos.

This notion is best applied to my experiences with airplanes/airports, most recently in the form of payment for the days I spent parked at the Nashville airport while visiting Texas for Christmas.

After taking extreme care to tightly pack (jam) an unnecessary amount of books, trashy gossip magazines, my fully-charged iPod and even my much-neglected journal all into my carry-on bag as anti-boredom options, I naturally opted to spend my idle time before boarding the plane back to Nashville cleaning out my purse. Which, in turn, involved me stumbling upon a tiny slip of paper with writing all over it. Writing which, in my hasty determination to inexplicably extract EVERY SPECIMEN from my purse that very second, I didn’t bother to read. (I do, however, recall it said something about “Nashville” and “parking lot” and “THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT” all over it. But that’s just in the details.)

Anyway, after I had successfully discarded everything except the essentials (i.e. iPhone, (empty) wallet, nine different flavors of lip gloss and a plastic screw-cap of a champagne bottle) I settled back into my seat, strangely satisfied, feeling much better from this bout of impromptu purging.

Cut to me sitting in my very tiny seat on the very tiny plane in front of a man with a very large penchant for sneezing into the back of my head every .2 seconds (I can’t go there with that right now; it’s too soon, too many open-ended raw emotions) and it suddenly hits me: That mysterious little piece of paper was my parking ticket. Now how on earth will the airport know how long I’ve been parked?

Let me interject this important side-note before I continue: The majority of my visit home was spent with my dad lecturing me on my parking in the “Short Term Parking” lot, versus the “Long Term Parking” lot which, in my defense, meant absolutely nothing to me since I was still riding the high of even being able to locate any sort of parking lot altogether. (Directions, much like sharing and unconditional love, are not my strong suit.)

Apparently, by parking in the short-term space, I was now going to be charged an absurd amount of money, as they charged by the hour and not the day. So this made for fun dinner conversation seven of the nine nights I was at home.

Back on the plane, this alarming realization disappeared just as suddenly as it had come as I began plotting ways to eject the oxygen mask from the ceiling to use as protection from the Swine Flu’s poster child himself behind me, cruel and unrelenting in his passionate sneezes. It wasn’t until I’d landed and located my car that I began to worry again.

At the pay booth, I immediately confessed my irresponsibility to Bob. (Bob was the angry Arabian man’s name. Bob looked like he should be called Bob about as much as Miley Cyrus should be called tolerable.) Bob quickly ran out of his little stand and began waving his arms recklessly at the line of cars behind me, screaming that he had a “situation” on his hands and they’d have to move it along to another line. I could already tell this encounter was going to fall under the category of “absolutely ridiculous.” I just needed Bob not to let me down on this one.

Apparently, the standard procedure for when a “situation” like this happens (which, from his reaction to it all, seemed as though I was the first person in the history of airport parking lots to ever lose (throw away) their parking stub) is to quickly whip out a note pad, look the driver straight in the eye, and firmly inquire, “So, how many days were you parked here in my parking lot?”

I’m a firm believer in karma, so I knew that if I tried to pull a fast one on Bob I would ultimately pay in the end, possibly in the form of never getting to make sweet love to Michael Cera. I especially couldn’t lie to Bob, a man who, in his hey-day, probably resembled the lanky kid from Slumdog Millionaire who got tricked by the mean game show host and as a result ended up being thrown in prison and inhumanely tortured, and who can lie to someone like that? Not me, that’s who.

So I told him: “From Saturday, December 20th, until today, December 28th.” It felt good to exercise honesty in an age of rampant deceitfulness and corruption.

“Okay. Were you parked in long-term or short-term?” he asked.

Crap.

“…Long…term…?”

“Okay,” he said, “I’ll be right back.”

Minutes later he plunged through the little pay booth window and shouted in my face, “You LIED to me!”

Whyyyy did I do it? I instantly saw the sad face of the lanky Slumdog kid in my mind, and one tear was slowly rolling down his cheek.

“You told me the 20th! I just ran your license plates, and you got here on the 19th! You LIED to me!”

Oh. Well then. I never even really liked Slumdog Millionaire, anyway. I think I fell asleep after the first twenty minutes or something.

I explained to him very explicitly that I didn’t mean to fudge on my dates; it was an honest mistake. I really did think I left on the 20th. (And I really did! I even told him I left on a SATURDAY, which was the 19th.)

He was mumbling to himself as he calculated my total: $100.00

Of course, I screamed “WHAT??!” in his general direction, for no apparent reason either, considering I possessed absolutely no concept of parking lot rates and fees these days (much less any day). But a hundred bucks for my car to sit in a parking space for a week or so just sounded illogical. So I expressed my outrage appropriately.

“Well, the long-term parking rates are $9 per day. And you were here for ten days. So you will pay me $100,” he explained.

I’m still not sure where that extra ten bucks came from, but I decided to cut my losses and fork over the … check.

Big mistake.

Once again, I’m fairly certain I must’ve been the first person in Tennessee to attempt paying a fee with a form of money made out of paper that wasn’t green with a dead president on it.

As Bob began short-circuiting while hunched over some ancient machine, I sort of leaned my head into the window and calmly asked him if everything was all right. That’s it. That’s all I asked him. No flailing of limbs or stomping of feet (I know, surprising).

“You really just need to calm down, Miss,” was his curt response.

Yes, I really did just need to calm down. How dare I inquire about the progress of my rare paper-money payment?

Finally, at the urging of the menacing car horns building in unison behind me, I told Bob that I had a credit card, if a check was just too much to handle. This pleased Bob to no end and even helped soften his feelings toward me after my embarrassing, unnecessary outburst a second ago over if my check was all right or not.

Bob took my credit card, ran it smoothly and infallibly through the machine, and smiled at me while he handed me his business card (which did, in fact, have “BOB” neatly printed across the front. I’m not sure why that surprised me).

In the end, Bob ended up apologizing to me for the situation; talk about a change of heart! I solemnly forgave Bob, while simultaneously shaking my head in shame at the airport security and how easy it was this day and age to lie to foreign parking-lot attendants. I put Bob’s card safely in my wallet and made a mental note to choose his lane next Christmas.