Wednesday, July 1, 2015


We’ve all been there, too long without sun.  You put on your favorite shorts and you realize people are putting on their sunglasses to block out the glare from your overly white legs.  Jill Conner Browne,THE Sweet Potato Queen, once wrote that brown fat is much more attractive than white fat, and if you think about it, it is true.  Uncooked bacon is white and gross but cooked bacon is brown , crispy and deliciously attractive.

  So it goes with our friend Gladys.  She too believes brown fat much more attractive but when you’ve been told to stay out of the sun, what’s a girl to do?

Not wishing to be blinding in shorts Gladys decided she would venture into the realm of self-tanners.   She researched and researched to find one that would be A. easy to use and 2. not messy and of course C. didn't stink.  Finally settling on L’Oréal tanning towelettes she read the directions and followed them to a T.  She brushed the dry skin from her body with a horse hair brush,  shaved the hair from her legs, and exfoliated to the point her skin tingled until she finally deemed her skin prepared.  She applied Vaseline to her hands so as not to have orangish palms and started as the directions stated from the bottom wiping upwards in steady and even strokes.  She swiped and wiped and covered all the parts of her transparently white body in the hopes that she would look as if she had just returned from several weeks in St. Tropez.  Then just as the instructions directed Gladys stood naked waiting for it to dry.  Thinking that it would speed up the drying phase of the project she maneuvered her tanning body to the fan in a Frankenstein gait and assumed a crucifixal stance.  She oscillated to dry evenly to make sure that her vacationish tan would be consistent and look “real”.
Gladys waited twenty minutes and looked down at what should now be tan legs.  She inspected her arms but it did not appear anything had happened.  There was no bronze glow.  She did not appear to have spent one minute on a sunny beach in the Caribbean much less a month.  No all she saw was her still blinding white legs and raw chicken colored arms.  

 Disappointed and confused she went back and read the box.  Quick and convenient, smooth and even application it said.  Unique self-tanning formula applies easily and dries quickly.  Surely thirty minutes should be enough drying time she thought.  She opened another packet and withdrew another towelette.  She applied another layer to her arms, legs and torso and because a little is good but more is better she went over her body a second time.  Again she Frankenstein walked to the fan and stood arms outstretched waiting for magic to happen.  Ten minutes passed and she could tell no difference.  Twenty minutes passed and again no change except her skin appeared a little pink but she figured after all the scrubbing, rubbing and shaving it had a right to be pink.  Thirty minutes passed and again she saw no visible results. 

Gladys decided that it must be her skin type.  She tanned beautifully in the sun but must not react to self-tanners.  She gave up and put on her uniform of the day, yoga pants and tank top, and settled into her normal pattern of life, tan-less and vacation-less. 

Several hours later she answered the call of nature and upon washing her hands she noticed a definite change in her coloring.  Excited she stepped into the living room where the light is brighter.  She rolled her Capri up her leg and inspected the now garish orange of her extended leg.  Oh no!  She pulled the other leg up for inspection, it too has turned an Oompa loompa-ish color.  She shucked her clothes and inspected the rest of her once transparently white body.  She let out a disappointed sigh and realizing she was now the color of iodine.  It looked as if she has bathed in Betadine and forgot to rinse it off. 

She put her clothes back on and resigned herself to the fact that the next week maybe two she will be a freakish color of orange which would fade to a freakish babyshit yellow and then  white as snow.  The color is only temporary she told herself.

She propped her feet upon the ottoman as the sun glinted in on her from the window behind.  She looked at her legs and tried to convince herself that it wasn’t really that bad.  Orange is the new black, right?  That’s when she saw it.  There were white lines that traveled up her calf not just one but numerous white streaks and blotches.  OH MY GAWD,  WHITE BLOTCHES in her Oompa LOompa Tan.  It is much too much to handle.  She ripped off her clothes and jumped in the shower complete with Brillo pad and Comet scrubing the ugly orange skin from her body to no avail; all she accomplishes is to come out smelling like a clean toilet with very raw skin. 

Gladys once again read the directions on the box and realized she will just have to admire her orange fat and maybe make application at the candy factory.
In the mean time if you are looking for an Oompa Loompa I happen to know where you can find one. 
Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-do
I have a perfect puzzle for you
Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-dee
If you are wise, you'll listen to me
What do you get when you try to look tan?
Wiping and swiping with a towlette in your hand
You don’t end up looking like one of the Coppertone Clan?
What do you do next is try to make yourself look bland.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Gladys and Kahuna slept the sleep of parents.  A sleep in which every creak or groan, cough and hiccup awakens you from a sound sleep to jumping up looking for the boogeyman or at the very least the boogeyman’s throw up.    Gladys jumped and looked at the extra large numbers on the clock.  The green glow read 2:22.  She settled back on the pillow and closed her eyes tight trying to will herself back into the land of slumber.   Kahuna rolled over patted her arm and began his ascent into dreamland.

The warm wash of sleep swept over the couple and the night became still and quiet.  Then through the silence came that sound that makes mother’s ears perk and fathers duck under the covers.  It was the sound of horking.  If you are a parent or a pet owner, you know the sound of which I speak.  The sound that breaks through the night causing you to leap from the bed in which you share with said child or pet, switching in on lights and grabbing towels.  You begin the search for the pile of puke in a futile effort to clean it up before it soaks into the mattress. 

All of a sudden you are a ninja warrior, flipping and leaping wiping as you go.  Your partner snatches the offending creature from mid-hork and carries them gingerly but quickly to place where they can safely retch their guts without offending your sleeping place.  In mere minutes you have managed to completely undress the bed and redress it with clean linens as you carefully wad the wretched fouled sheets into a ball keeping the effluent away from you, the bed and the floor.  Then as deftly as you cleared the bed you are washing the foulness down the drain. 

Your partner is not sitting to the side sleepy eyed and waiting.  Nay they are dealing with the poor child, four legged or two, who has now managed to expel three days’ worth of intake onto the bathroom floor.  Your partner has their own choreography of dancing around the pile of vomit gathering paper towels while still holding on to the patient and wiping up with their feet.  They chasse’, pirouette and plié’ while wiping the face and patting the back of the sufferer.

Finally all is clean and all is calm.  They settle back into clean sheets still cool from the early morning.  The invalid between them on a towel with a bucket close by.  You look at the clock and it now reads 2:28.  You have performed the vomit ballet in six minutes.  You wait for your heart to stop racing and you take deep breaths.  You realize at 2:46 that you are waiting in anticipation for the initial horking sound and sleep will not return.

It is in those moments that you realize that you will not be sleeping and you reach to check the poor offending soul who has sprung you from slumber and they let out a long low snore. 


Monday, June 1, 2015


Gladys crammed the last of the groceries in the cramped refrigerator.  “Do you smell that?”   She asked Kahuna.

“Smells like dead fish and broccoli” he answered as they both squeezed their heads into the semi-cooled space. 
They took all the groceries out and wiped down every inch of the box.  They sniffed every piece of food and cleaned the outside of all the containers.

“What do you think that smell is?”  Kahuna asked as he started replacing food into the tepid cooler. 

“I think something died in here.” Gladys answered.   “This thing isn’t even cooling, in fact I think the freezer done froze up and it has completely shut down.” 

Gladys did all she could to keep the smell down.  She scrubbed and cleaned.  She put bowls of baking soda in the crisper drawer that would barely open.  Who bought a refrigerator with the door that opened into the cabinets instead of away from them?  She put freezer packs in the refrigerator trying to keep the temperature cool but not turn the cooler down any further.  The little freezer was so iced over that the door barely opened.  Obviously it was time for a new refrigerator. 

Gladys went on line and shopped and shopped for a fridge that would fit the odd space in the little kitchen.  Success!  And it could be there in only three weeks!  Three weeks was nothing right?  You stand that smell for three weeks, maybe.

The day finally arrived.  Gladys sat anxiously waiting for the call giving her a smaller window than between 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.    Gladys sat thinking about errant meteors and how up here in the hills she was closer to them when the trill of her cell shook her out of her reverie.  

“Gladys speaking” she answered
“Iz sis Gladees Mackinculty?” said the faceless voice
“Close enough” she replied.
“Ve are close but ze GPS does not show vhere ju leeve.  I need divections”
“OK,  first of all vhere, I mean where are you?”
“Ve are on Lional Cunyin.”
“Go up to the third light and turn on Hippie Hills, then follow the yellow airplane hieroglyphics.  There will be one at each intersection.  When you get to Hill Street make sure you turn around in the first side street and back the rest of the way up the street.  Oh and be careful of the woman who lives in the white house with the blue door.  She has a baseball bat and a foul temper.”
“Jes, Ok, but vhat are hiramglycolics?”
“They are little drawings on the curb.  Just look for the yellow airplane and go in the direction they are pointing.”
“Jes, Ok, I vill call you vhen I near”
“You might want to have someone guide you up the street too.”
“Jes, Ok, I vill call."

She waited, and waited, and made a cup of coffee and waited some more.  She emptied the old refrigerator out.  She watched an episode of Lost, and wondered if the delivery men were stranded on a deserted island with “the others”.   Her phone buzzed.

“This is Gladys”
“Jes, dis is Vladimir.  I deliver refridgadair to ju?”
“Not yet.”
“I stink ve took wrong turn.  Ve are in Glendale?  Dis is close jes?”
“No, is not close, is far.”
“Jes, I pick up Chuey.  He been der afore.  He knows de vay.”
“Ok.  Tell Chuey to follow the yellow airplanes.”
“Jes, he says jello airplane ees good.”
“Ve vill be zere in twenty minutes? Jes?”
“Only if you know a shortcut.”
“Jes, Chuey know.”

Gladys washed the dishes, vacuumed the floors and watched another episode of Lost.  That was it!  She had the answer now.  Chuey and Vladimir only existed in another dimension.  They were not real or maybe she was dreaming all of this.

She pressed play on yet another episode of Lost, because why not binge watch while you wait.  Something caught her eye.  In the window of her front door something was popping up.  It was a head.  It was a man’s head. 

Gladys opened the door and there stood Vladimir, sweat soaked and springing up and down on his toes trying to see in the door.

“May I help you?”  She asked
“I am Vladamir.  I have your refrigerdair.  I come in, no?”
“Sure come on in.  Did you find the place ok?”
“Jes, Chuey, he know vay.  He say turn avound, he say back up.  It vas, how you say, difficulty.  Ze road she turns, ze truck, not so much.”
“Glad you made it.  The old refrigerator goes out on the porch and the new one goes here,” she said pointing to the odd space in the cabinets.
“Jes, ve vill bring now.”

He sprinted up the stairs like nobody should if they don’t want to die of a heart attack.  Gladys walked out on the porch to see how they were going to get a refrigerator down the sketchy staircase. 
A large man with the refrigerator strapped to his back came first with Vladimir and who Gladys could only assume was Chuey bringing up the rear.  They guided the large man as he stepped one step at a time carrying it like a papoose.  They made it to the landing but got hung up on a plant.  The large man struggled and tugged trying to get loose from the tentacles of the vine.  He pulled hard to the right then jerked to the left with his oversized pack pushing him forward.  He stumbled down several steps, caught himself and righted his burden.  Vladamir and Chuey grabbed blindly to help steady both the man and the cargo.  Vladamir caught his foot on the next step and fell forward onto the back of the large man.  Chuey reached out to catch Vladamir but missed.  The large man, icebox and Vladamir tumbled down to the next landing.

The large man steadied himself against the railing but Vladamir was victim to inertia and tumbled the rest of the way down.  He jumped up, dusted off his knees and announced “Ve are here.”
Gladys, biting back giggles, replied “Yes and what a grand entrance you have made.”
“Jes, yust  wyke de Cirque Soliel, No?”

The big man muscled the unit into the small apartment and set it in place.  He smiled at Gladys and set to work deftly taking the wrapping from the appliance and setting up shelves.  He took a package from his pocket, pulled out a cloth and wiped everything down.  He then turned to the old unit, wrapped his arms around it and walked it out the front door.   The large man opened the door on the old unit and took two steps back. 

“What is that smell?”  He growled.
“We don’t know.  It was like that when we moved in.  I think something died in there.”
“No ma’am it’s too small to get a whole body into, maybe one cut in half.” Replied the giant.
“I’m not even going to ask how you know that.” She replied with a forced smile.
“Yes ma’am prolly best you don’t know.”

The three men said their goodbyes and made their way back up the stairs as Gladys stood wondering, was it all really a dream?  Perhaps it was heaven or hell or perhaps we are all just LOST.  Well either way at least now her food will stay cold.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Beverly Hillbilly

It was grey and foggy.  Gladys looked at her little dog Bozz, shook her head and said “let’s wait a bit buddy”.   She knew the May grey would creep out just as subtly as it had crept in.  She was used to the fog that occurs when the low altitude clouds form over the ocean then the winds blow them inland creating fog and drizzle.  Sometimes this weather phenomenon lasts all day, sometimes it lifts midday and once again the skies are azure blue and life returns to normal.

Most non-southern Californians know about the ill effects the Santa Ana winds have on people but very few know that May Grey or June Gloom also affects the inhabitants of the sunny desert metropolis.  It coats them in a film of despair from which only the brilliance of the sun can cleanse.  But I digress.

For clarity here is a little background on Gladys’ neighborhood.  The street is extremely narrow only wide enough for cars to park on one side of the throughway.  People in this area for some reason don’t use their driveways or garages, instead they choose to park along the narrow street.  In addition to being narrow the street dead ends and because of the row of cars it affords no possibility of a turn around.  One must either back their way out or park their car plant daisies on the hood and call it art.
The normal protocol for parking is to pull into the side street, which also is a narrow dead end, and then back up the street until you arrive at your destination.  The problem is directly across from the side street is a house.  The owner of the house usually puts his garbage bins in front of his house to prevent parking.  Let me also say that since Gladys moved here she has learned that there is a parking dick on our street. She isn’t sure who it is but said PD  has felt the need to put notes on her vehicle reprimanding her for parking in various spots. One was quite incoherent and hateful.  Luckily Gladys is easy going and wrote it off to it being Hollyweirdness.   Again I digress.

Finally the sun won the fight with the gloom and Gladys laced up her shoes and leashed up Bozz.  He danced happily as they trudged up the staircase leading to the street.  The neighborhood is mostly quiet; while it feels like a mountain retreat it rests above Sunset Strip in one of the busiest cities in the world. 

 There were the normal noises that permeated the day, birds chirping the construction workers next door pounding nails and sawing but there was also an underlying vitriol.  It echoed through the canyon.  This was the same canyon that echoed the lyrical sounds of Joni Mitchell, Buffalo Springfield, Graham Nash and others of the era.  Only this wasn’t the twangs of guitars and melodic sounds of harmony; it was yelling and cursing and what sounded like a jack hammer against a metal building.  

Bozz breached the street first and backed up a few paces.  There before him, stuck mid-turn around sat two large men encased in a giant green garbage truck looking fear stricken.  There was a stream of obscenities and nastiness emanating from the other side of the truck.  Bozz and Gladys approached the scene with trepidation.  Behind the truck stood a short woman with a baseball bat threatening the men in the truck as they inched forward and back in an attempt to make a 587 point turn.  They were attempting to make this turn while not backing into the car parked in the crash zone, her car.   This was the same woman who had left the note admonishing Gladys for parking her car too close to the turnaround site.  The incoherent note writer now stood in the middle of the narrow road replete in housedress and baseball bat threatening the very people who clean up her trash.  The men in the truck nervously look from the safety of the 5 ton truck carefully trying to avoid the deranged woman while still doing their job.  They inched forward, back, forward and back as the crazy woman screamed and swung her bat in their general direction. 

Bozz sensed discord, decided to piss on the garbage bin and head back to the house with Gladys in tow.  She cast a few glances over her shoulder as the big green giant inched it’s way to safety.

Gladys sat on the patio listening to the sounds of the garbage truck lumbering his way down the hill back into the safety of the bustling city.  She wondered was it May Grey that had the woman in a tizzy or maybe she had her first encounter with a real Beverly Hillbilly.