Dangerspouse Rides Again

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Garage - Track

Oct. 03, 2003 - 5:51 a.m.

My radio hero Jean Shepherd once said "Nostalgia is a social disease." His tales of gritty, often terror filled and confusing (but always hilarious) kid years never devolved into sappiness. He told it like it was. Whenever I think of this story my youngest sister told me, that quote always springs to mind. She may wax nostalgic about a few adventures some day, but not this one....

I have four kid sisters, and all of them are absolute nuts. I blame my mom, an ardent Women's Libber, for hammering into them that a strong personality was the greatest quality a woman could have, and no quirk should be supressed. So our family history is littered with stories of my sisters' numerous escapades, usually involving some sort of casting aside of social inhibitions. Like when my sister Patty, attending a concert by Elvis Costello (her favorite artist) at a major venue in NYC, ended up playing the drums in his band. Late in the concert the real drummer took sick and had to leave the stage. Elvis asked over the mic if anyone in the audience knew how to play the drums, so my sister vaulted over the rail and offered her services. Patty never held a drumstick in her life, unless it had at one time been attached to a chicken. Mr. Costello didn't know that. He showed her to the drum set and they started the next song. Patty blissfully began banging out random beats and crashes, completely divorced from whatever music was being produced around her. I have a photo of her somewhere from that night, her head just visible over the drum set, a semi-orgasmic smile plastered on her mug, one arm mid-descent. And Elvis Costello looking over his shoulder in horror at her. Mercifully the concert ended after only a few more songs, after which Patty sprinted back into the audience. She has never since expressed any remorse for her deceit.

As much a spectacle as she made of herself though, Patty was anything but embarrassed. In fact she brags about it to this day.

Kathy, meanwhile, had one of those adventures *nobody* can look back on without cringing....

Kathy had all my other sisters beat in the nuttiness department. No stunt, prank, dare or fiasco was too outrageous not to be at least considered. For the most part she pulled them off with aplomb, but one time, one memorable time, a seemingly tame action backfired on her.

This goes back a few years, back to when Kathy took a job as a clerk at our local Macy's Department Store. She had only been on the job about two months when one of the girls she had become friendly with invited Kathy to a party at her place. A number of other Macy's employees would be there and it would be a good way for her to meet them. The party was to be the coming Saturday night.

Friday night before the party Kathy was with her boyfriend at his parents' house. After dinner the mom asked if they wanted dessert. Kathy had spotted a large jar of Jalepeno peppers in the pantry and jokingly asked if she could have that as her dessert. The parents set the jar before her, thinking to play along, but she opened the jar and one by one ate the *entire* contents. They just stared at her. She and boyfriend had a good laugh at the expression on the folks' faces, and Kathy returned home a little while later.

The next night Kathy left Macy's and headed for the party in Jersey City. It was in a small apartment overlooking the Hudson River and Midtown Manhattan. There were perhaps twenty people already there when Kathy arrived and she was introduced all around. With the exception of the hostess, she had never previously met any of the others. She sat down, grabbed a canape and started chatting with the woman next to her. Not two minutes later (she told me) she felt all the blood and heat drain out her face, and rivulets of sweat started channeling down her face. Her gut strained against her control tops and she couldn't feel her feet. She hastily excused herself and lurched to the bathroom.

The Jalepenos were about to exit the building.

Now I don't know if you've ever had the pleasure of abiding in a small apartment in Bergen or Hudson County, NJ. The prices tend to be sky high because the commute to Manhattan is a snap. But that doesn't mean you get much for your money. I can attest to that, as I lived in a 2-room, 1-bedroom dwelling nearby for a two year stretch. The walls were so thin you could hear your neighbor eating a marshmallow from four rooms away. This was the sort of apartment Kathy found herself trapped in the bathroom of for two hours straight. Yes, two hours. She told me that try as she might, there was no controlling the muscles south of her bellybutton. Things were being expelled from her at Howitzer speed, with noises to match. She told me that in between blasts she could hear the conversations in the other room (mere feet away) gradually die down, until the last hour and a half passed in complete silence, punctuated only by her frequent alimentary thunderclaps.

Finally after two hours she staggered out of the bathroom, drenched in sweat and almost transparently white. Everyone in the room just silently gaped at her as she staggered over to her coat, mumbled a 'Goodnight' and headed out the front door to her car. She had gone to the house of someone she barely knew, filled with new strangers, said 'Hi', then monopolized their bathroom for two hours only to say 'bye' when she re-emerged. And I won't even mention the smell. The woman apparently never spoke to her again, and word of the event spread among all her co-workers. The only consolation, she told me, was that the event was so horrible there was no way for them to embellish it and make it even worse for her.

Fortunately she's a tough kid and now she tells the story with a laugh. She only lasted a few more months at that job anyway before going on to better things. But I have noticed that ever since, her choice in condiments tends to be on the more bland side of the scale.

That reminds me: time for breakfast!

Ciao (or "Chow" I suppose)....

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