Voicemails from my Mother

Below I have transcribed the best voicemails my mother left for me in 2014. Happy New Year!



“Hey Tasha it’s your Mom! The TV just fell off the wall, if you can believe that. I just called your Dad. It’s unbelievable. Missed Bart by a hair! He came screaming into the kitchen. And I was on the phone with a new provider trying to get information for Noah and you can imagine what I screamed. I’m sure she has special notes in her folder about how I need mental health referrals too. Oh my God! Oh my God! Unbelievable! It’s still playing smooth jazz, but the whole front, I mean there’s no cracks or anything, cause it bounced off the dog bed, BUT everything is a color grid. So I’m sure it’s like totally totaled. Your dad is having a fucking fit, as you can imagine. I missed your call last night cause we were out to dinner! We went and, um, opened a bank account, got a safe deposit box, you know, very close to the house and then we went to this Prime Cuts place that’s crowded all times of the day, every day of the week, and it was excellent, absolutely excellent. But I’m at the dog park now and there’s nobody here for Bart to bully so I thought I’d call and chat. A Cane Corso just left the other fenced in area and him and Bart were going at it through the fence, it was giving me a heart attack. And this woman was on the phone the whole damn time! These people with dangerous dogs show up and they’re on the phone the whole damn time, it just makes me crazy. But, my dangerous dog is like by himself with his brother, the poodle, so that’s the only reason I’m calling you. Just want to clarify. Bye!”

October 24, 2014 9:46 AM



“No!… Tasha, I need you to hashtag or tweet number sign boys sade and type in Delvin, because I don’t know how to do that and they’re eliminating my two favorite stars which is Delvin or Sassandra! Please do it quick! Bye!”
May 6, 2014 8:59 PM



“Hey Miss Natasha, it’s your mother and I was calling to go over this San Diego information with you. There’s a couple things I know your dad would really like to do. One I think we should drop him off and go somewhere else but Old Town is mentioned throughout so I’m sure if that’s where you live that’s cool. Um… what else… Oh, what was the name of the place that starts with a ‘B’ and has a bunch of museums and stuff? You can just call me back, maybe we’ll talk this weekend. It’s about a quarter to nine here and I’m exhausted so I’m gonna be going to bed soon and um I’ll let you, You probably heard that our second offer on the house, our counter offer, was accepted so we got a really good deal and Bethlehem is a great area to be in. So, I think we’re very fortunate. Um, that’s it. I don’t have to go back up there on an emergency house hunting trip, put the dogs back in the kennel. So I cancelled again! She’s gonna think I’m insane because I just begged her to take them this morning, thinking I had to go up there and look at a half dozen more houses. So, we are done, we will have the closing done the week of the 22nd, the week before we leave to come out to you. Hopefully we’ll um I’ll be moved in by mid-September and this will be listed by the beginning of October. But, I can purge happily! The garage door is broken and I can’t get out or get the trash out to the curb. I mean it really could have injured me today. It came right out of the ceiling, the entire frame, and Wow. Um, luckily Weasley was already in the car and I wasn’t standing where I usually stand when I push that button. But anyway, I couldn’t get back in once I got out and shut it so, um, hopefully the fix it man can fix that tomorrow. That’s it! Have a good evening. Hugs to Murphy. Hugs to Josh. Goodnight! (long yawn).”
August 7, 2014 8:45 pm





“Hi, it’s me just feeling sorry for myself because everybody’s at Ludfest, but me! WAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Goodbye!”
August 8, 2014 8:09 PM


The Sofas: and the highs and lows of shopping at thrift stores

One of our hurdles in the move has been furnishing our new apartment. Replacing the bed was fairly straight forward, but the rest has been a struggle.

Initially all we had was a beach chair. It was mine, and I am somewhat selfish, so I had a seat and Joshua would sit on a box of books. Our tv was balanced on another box of books.

For a few weeks we had a twin air mattress set up, which functioned as a sofa like piece which could be used as a sofa-like object. Then Murphy bit it, and it deflated instantly.

For my birthday Josh purchased an armchair and ottoman I had paired together and really loved from the consignment shop on our block. So, I sat in my arm chair and Joshua sat in the beach chair and we watched our tv on a box of books. Our roommate sat in his computer chair in his bedroom.

Things worsened when Murphy took to sitting in the beach chair in Joshua’s absence, and in a poorly executed leap of an exit ripped two long strips down the middle of the seat. I duct taped it.

Our roommate purchased a pub style dining set I found on Craig’s List for a hundred dollars. More seats! We moved the tv to a pub seat. We could unpack the boxes of books, and stack all the books on the pantry shelves!

I continued to look for furniture via Craig’s List, which predictably didn’t really produce ideal sofa options. Understandably, Josh cracked. “I’m so sick of being uncomfortable. I come home and I either have to perch on this chair six feet off the ground or go to bed. We’re getting a sofa today,”

To be fair, he often sat on the cushioned ottoman, but I encouraged this outburst, “The oppression ends today!”.

Then the conflict began. Josh set a budget of $150 for the new sofa, including having it delivered. I had aesthetic  guidelines, that I could only identify in the moment. We went to no less than a dozen thrift stores that Saturday. There were plenty of sofas one of us approved, but none we were both on board with.

A week later Josh called from a sidewalk sale at the AmVets down the street.

“I found our sofa! It’s only twenty dollars!”

I was immediately skeptical. When I arrived Joshua was standing proudly in front of a green grey monstrosity. There were white paint speckles on the back of the sofa. The color was warped, having obviously been in the sun for more than just today.

“I don’t like it,” I stated simply, already envisioning the debate that would ensue.

“Sit on it. Come on. Sit down” Joshua countered.

“I don’t want to sit on it.”

“Toots, c’mon, sit down.” He looked at me firmly.

I sunk into the deep expanse of green grey sofa, “It smells”.

“It’s twenty dollars. It’ll be a transition sofa.”

“No because if we get this we won’t get a new sofa. I don’t want it. I don’t like it. It smells weird.”

Josh abruptly turned and walked into the store. When he returned a small elderly woman was following him with a neon “SOLD” sticker. I watched in disbelief as she explained our time table for picking up the sofa.

I glowered as Josh called our roommate to come help him hoist the sofa onto the car. Being less than two blocks away they planned to  balance it on the car before lugging it up the stairs to our living room.

Bitter, I went to the bedroom and pretended to be sleeping. Far be it from me to offer any assistance bringing that beast into my home. From our floor to ceiling window I watched the spectacle of them loosely carrying it into our apartment complex. They were drenched in sweat and the behemoth sofa appeared to swing them back and forth with it’s own life force.

Eventually I came downstairs. Josh was stretched across the sofa, which now bordered an entire wall of the room, forcing my adorable arm chair in front of the window. (It should be noted that this is the window which is beside the train tracks and a horrible seating arrangement.) I began to vacuum the sofa around Josh. The white flakes fluttered into my attachment. Josh stirred, and understanding this was the best way to make peace, began flipping cushions.

“We could get some spray stuff to make it smell different,” he offered.

“I guess we’ll have to.”

Over the coming weeks the condition of the demon sofa only deteriorated. In my cleaning I discovered random cigarette burns only visible once you were really submerged in the sofa. Murphy had taken to barreling down the staircase and racing toward the living room, leaping into the pillowy sofa gleefully. He was unstoppable in this pursuit. The back cushions ripped forward and stuffing began to explode into the air with every landing. Murphy snapped his jaws through the air, as if he were catching snowflakes. Toxic snowflakes. I was forced to duct tape the back cushions into their original placement.

IMG_4510One weekday, shortly thereafter, I snapped. Merlin had coughed up a rather horrifying hairball in the center of the couch. As I cleaned the mess I realized that the cushions themselves were discoloring the paper towels. I shoved the sofa into the kitchen. I pulled all the cushions askew. I envisioned stabbing them with a fork, pouring ketchup and mustard all over them, doing whatever I could to render the sofa as intolerable to Joshua as it was to me.

I texted him, “The sofa is gone. I got rid of it. #strongman”

He quickly responded, “Lol, no u didn’t”

“I did. I was really angry and my adreanaline was up.”

IMG_3968“Send me a picture.”

I sent him a picture of the empty living room.

“Wow. Ok then.”

We agreed that we would purchase a new sofa and have the same delivery men take away the demon sofa from outside our door.

Obviously when he got home he learned the truth, and had to move the sofa back to the living room, but a deal is a deal!!! ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT!!

ikea-ps-organizer__71352_PE186737_S4In JoshuaLand the major issue was our lack of a dresser. We have an ikea shelving contraption in the closet which was his daily undoing.  It is called “Ikea PS Organizer” and it was a steal at $25. Except after it took me TWO ENTIRE DAYS to put it together I suspect the PS stands for piece of shit.

Anyway, Josh spilled his clothes from the slippery plastic cloth shelves into the cat food and water which is also kept in the closet on a regular basis. Thus, the following Saturday we set out to get a dresser to appease him.

Then something beautiful happened.


I found a gently used spring green Ethan Allen sofa for $130.

It even matches the ottoman from my birthday chair.

Insisting this would qualify as my anniversary gift, I stretched across the sofa until Josh returned with an employee and a “Sold” sign. Luckily, this was a brief stalemate.

“Well, you have your sofa! We just won’t do the spa pedicure part of our anniversary.”


And we still continued on to Ikea for our dresser!

Within two days everything had been assembled/delivered and my arm chair was moved back to it’s appropriate nook, away from the window of deafening train noises.


Slowly, slowly, this homestead is coming together!

What furniture/decor disagreements have you had with your roommates/significant others?

A Bed from Bob

We have moved to San Diego! (a post explaining that journey pending).

Our first night we drove straight to the beach and marveled in it’s salty beauty, then slept on our roommate’s blow-up bed. Naturally, the agenda for our first day in California: buy a real bed, return to beach and salty beauty.

Initially, our loose plan was to get a U-haul and head for Ikea. In, out, done. Then, I had remembered an ad I had seen online,

“Why don’t we call that Craig’s List ad? Those mattresses were cheaper and maybe we wouldn’t have to rent the U-haul…”

My Joshua, always up for an off the beaten path adventure, agreed. He called the cheapest option. Despite not offering delivery services, he was assured that our mattress could be strapped to the top of his Mitsubishi Lancer easy-peazy-safely. “A Lancer, man, I could strap four mattresses on one of those!” the voice on the other end of the line assured.

Joshua put the address in our gps and we were on our way!

The location of these mattresses for sale was… unassuming.


We were not expecting a self storage facility.

My first thought was that these are definitely stolen mattresses! Scandal! Followed by, Let’s go check ’em out! and also a more audible “Let’s put our wallets in the trunk!”… Some semblance of safety, always.

“Yeah, about that” Josh said seriously, scanning the perimeter.

We were greeted by a charming older man, with tufts of electric white hair and bubbling blue eyes. His skin was dark and dry. He emoted nothing less than my perception of “iconic Californian”, albeit aged, with his flip flops and carefree mannerisms.


“Hey guys, I’d be Bob!” he beamed.


The mattress you see has “BOB MATTRESS” painted across it in red. There are toys scattered around. It only vaguely seems like a serial killer thing to do, right?





He welcomed us to his showroom,


We were given permission to bounce around as we pleased. In Baltimore we had been sleeping on a mattress we had inherited from my old roommate, who had inherited it from her parents, and legend has it had been THEIR first mattress… yadda, yadda. We were basically accustomed to sleeping on a lumpy straw bed. THESE BEDS WERE LUXURIOUS. This was our first step toward meeting our motto: Everything better in California!

Bob walked in on us giggling on an especially pillowy Queen and offered us a discount, with a wide smile.

“Yeah, that’s one of my favorite beds there. Real comfy, right. Listen, I could knock off another hundred for you two,”

“Sounds good to me,” Josh said, rolling off the bed.

In total, Bob had about seven storage units stuffed with mattresses. He showed us where we’d need to park with a bow and gave us instructions on how to have the office open the gates for us. We retrieved cash from a nearby ATM and drove through the maze back to his aisle of units. The system for moving his inventory was seamlessly efficient.


Bob is in blue. Hi, Bob!

During the loading/tying/strapping process Bob and I visited and I got to know him a bit better. Bob has been running this business for seven years, much to his surprise. He explained that many of his customers are repeat customers who come back for mattresses for their kids/guests/etc. Low overhead and rapid moving of product allow really cheap prices, everyone is winning. #Winning.

Then, Bob started to philosophize. A muslim man with an elaborate turban and robe approached us. Bob redirected him to the showroom unit, then turned and smiled, “Hope he doesn’t blow us up.”

I stared, “Uhhh”.

Bob smiled. “Dy’know there are people who really think like that. You’ve got to watch out for that group think stuff, Natasha. People get scared and then agree to agree on something and somehow agree that now it’s true. Because it must be? Because they agreed?”

Joshua was still tying the mattress.

“Yeah. That group think stuff is what’s actually scary.”

“Exactly, that’s exactly my point. How long do you have to be a fish in water before you know you’re wet? We’re in the water, Natasha.”

Now, Josh had finished up.


We hopped in the car.

Bob handed us some candy as we put our seat belts on.


Customer service at it’s finest.


We still ended up at Ikea, for our bed frame.


Masseuse Got Ya Girl Feelin’ Loose

I was cruisin’ Living Social deals the other day when I came upon a “60 minute theraputic auromatherapy massage” at quite a bargain. The last time I got a massage was in 2006 before my final round of ACTs, and my score went up four points overall. So, clearly, all massages are legitimate. Being super stressed once again, I jumped at the deal and got one for my mom for Mother’s Day as well.

When I arrived there was no one in the “waiting room”, which was actually just a couple sofas, a mini-fridge from a college dorm room, and hippie posters. Keep in mind this space is on the second floor of some sort of office building with narrow, quiet hallways outside of Pittsburgh. I was having serious doubts as I called out, “Umm, hello? Is there anyone here?”

What I can only describe as a stern blonde gymnast appeared in shiny polyester clothing, “Oh, hello. Did you fill out your intake forms?”




She spun back down a hidden hallway behind a cloth armchair and returned with a clipboard. They requested a medical history. I found that a little intrusive so I gave them my email address and crossed out the next three pages.



She led me down the hallway into a small room with a massage table and paintings of oceans. I had a moment of apprehension but  it turns out that twenty lavender scented candles and an ocean soundtrack have pretty much the same effect on me as a night at the bar has on the Jersey Shore cast; and stripping down to my skivies with a stranger suddenly didn’t seem so preposterous!

She reviewed where I was ok being massaged from a checklist (hard and soft limits!) before we began. She started with my shoulders, and I gradually became a zen puddle person. She moved me around, threw my limbs in new directions. She poured oils and lotions all over me. I may or may not have moaned once or twice.

By the end I can honestly say I was a little bit in love with that woman. I was the epitome of relaxation. I felt limber, calm, flexible. I had visions of myself jumping over buildings in a single bound, doing cartwheels, or maybe even ballet! As I went to tip her I realized I only had seven dollars in my purse and considered offering her everything in my possession. Android phone? Coach wristlet? Burts Bees chapstick? I didn’t need any of it anymore! This is clearly the kind of feeling that lures people into cults, but thankfully, she declined my worldly possessions and I continued on to my gainful employment.

Maybe next time!

There went the neighborhood

It’s time to talk about my neighbor, “Bessie”. She moved in across the street around the same time as us, at least that’s what I assumed when I witnessed her drag stained, ancient carpet we had ripped out of our house into her own home.

There were other red flags. Our moving truck backed into one of her many cars lining the street and she demanded $500 cash to repair the already beaten vehicle. Her grandchild is at least eight and when I met him he was running up on top of cars one right after the other in his under-roos. Their backyard is clearly the island for misfit toys and semi-broken playground equipment. Most haunting, however are the windows of her home.

Each bay window, typically made into a bench seat or treasured focal point of most homes, Bessie has stuffed with victorian dolls. Naturally, the big bay windows can only accommodate around twenty dolls. So the smaller windows have had her remaining collection pressed against the glass in a single file line. Every window has been dressed in this fashion, which begs the question… can she see out of her own home? From inside does the world look like endless planes of young girls facing away from her?

Are there more dolls inside the house? Does she have them in boxes, as “collectors items” or do they roam free–coming alive at night to tell scary stories of their era to the little boy in his under-roos?

One of my first conversations with Bessie transpired as she approached in her mini-van and called my name with more command than a friendly request usually summons.


“Yes? Hi…”

“Are you back from college?”

“I’m visiting for the weekend, yes.”

“What are you studying?”

“English, psych…” I was standing on the passenger side of her van and a dog was hanging out the window. As I reached to touch the golden head I had a horrible realization. The dog was stuffed. She had a taxidermied animal riding shotgun, positioned to be joyfully sticking his head out the window.

“Good for you.” She said, seemingly unaware in the change in my expression as I backed away, muttering some sort of goodbye before scuttling into my home.

There are so many questions which rampage through my mind as I try to confront this. Was this a beloved pet? Does she always keep it in the car, or does she move it around with her? Does he come alive at night, like the dolls, and provide a little whimsy to the grimness of her grandson’s day to day life? Or do the dolls dismiss him, being a mongrel beneath their pedigree?

Furthermore, if she is so attached to this animal why does she have a such a severe lack of affection for the living dog tied to her back porch? Ever since I met him I have referred to this dog as “Junkyard”, not merely due to his surroundings but also because of his unimaginable breed, callous demeanor, and general tramp quality as he hides from the elements under the porch. No matter the season, during the day Bessie keeps him tied to the porch. Upon closer inspection I have multiple times noted that his water is frozen. A fact I repeatedly mention on all my calls to animal control/humane society on his behalf. Once night falls he is released to roam our neighborhood. Assumably, hunting for his food.

Often I am confronted by Bessie as I come home from work. Her voice calls to me from the cluttered maze of her porches. She is always on a fact finding mission and I try to answer her as briefly as possible; never quite sure where in the mess her voice is originating. This morning was no exception, but she was easy to spy as Bessie has now died her wiry locks magenta and her pink head shone through the piled furniture she had burrowed within.

Much like communist domino theory I worry that soon other houses will fall to the magnetism of crazy hoarding renter on an otherwise upstanding block. In five years will Junkyard have his own gang? Only time will tell.

Good fences make good neighbors

It’s been several weeks since our family dog bit me (On letting sleeping dogs lie.) and yes, my relationship has changed a little bit with Rocco. I have a history of trying to maintain relationships with people who have hurt me, thus there is a certain loosely constructed pattern which has emerged as my response to such events.

The Path of Passive Aggressiveness

1.. I will talk to everyone but that person about how hurt I am. I will want to discuss what specifically I found hurtful, and why this action hurt me on this level, that level and another level. Furthermore, what could have possibly motivated their actions to do this? Theories will be constructed. Feedback will be noted.

2.. I will ignore this person entirely. Sometimes blatantly, other times with sly avoidance. OR I will be nice to my aggressor, under the reasoning, then they won’t hurt me again! Both options here are clearly maladjusted.

3. In due time, granted I am not assaulted again during this process, we will have a heart to heart during which I will confess that I was mad before but I am no longer mad and we can be best friends forever again! One or both parties will likely be intoxicated when this forgiveness transpires.

So far,

I have blogged about the experience with Rocco. I think he may be developing dementia or canine distemper. However, the general feedback has been that Rocco is an old dog, he didn’t mean it, he was probably sleeping with his eyes open. If he had intended to hurt me I wouldn’t have a hand left at all, yadda yadda.

I ignored Rocco for about a week, except when I was referring to him as Cujo to the rest of the family. Since, I have shared some food with him. He really likes ham. I have let him put his giant slobbery skull in my lap far longer than I normally would, ruining my outfit entirely.

I couldn’t depend on Rocco to get hammered and break the ice for our heart to heart. He’s in recovery. Before we rescued him he was a shameless booze hound. At least that’s sort of what the rescue society told us about him. He couldn’t keep a roof over his head, sounds like addiction to me! Anyway, since it was up to me I confronted him when I came home from the bar,


I could never stop loving you, but I’ve been a little afraid of you lately. I’m so sorry if I’ve seemed distant. I’m sorry I called you Cujo for awhile too, that was rude.

I know that normally I let you sleep in my bed when your mother is out of town. I just can’t do that anymore. It’s sort of irresponsible at this point… and well, I’ve learned a lot about the importance of boundaries over the years. Good fences make good neighbors and all that. Surely, you understand?

I’m just worried about you! You seem a little agitated lately? Do you know where you are right now? You’ve lived with us for four years now. It’s me, Nat. I give you ham! I am not supposed to give you ham, but I give it to you because I love you, Rocco! And I care about your happiness! And then you went and bit me! (at this point I began sniffling) How could you do that to me? I let you sleep in my bed and give you ham! Well no more bed! And if you bite me again there will be no more ham! Good fences, Rocco! Good fences!

Rocco wagged his tail and licked my face. I tripped up the staircase and ordered him to escort me to the attic, where I live.

We’re best friends again :)


After Brit’s birthday party with her family, which was just the cutest, I headed to the tea room for pearl family dinner. I, naturally, was running late and found Michelle, Mara, and Rachel waiting.

At the martini bar I knew what I wanted to try, the candy cane martini! The description sounded just so delicious! Rachel and Mara felt the same way, but Michelle went rogue with some sort of tropical concoction. Oh, my regrets! As the waitress delivered our drinks the first red flag was that the candy cane martini was completely clear, from the description I had expected it to be, well, red. Or at least have red sugar on the rim! Second red flag was that the stentch of stark mint liquor that was radiating away from our glasses,

“Oh, those smell great!” Michelle sipped her tropical paradise with great bemusement.

We three leaned into our drinks and gingerly sipped the concoction. Choking coughs exploded. We flagged down our waitress,

“Hi, um, these aren’t very good.”

“Yeah, people don’t really seem to like them.”

“Really? Because they taste just like listerine.”

“That’s what I’ve heard.”

“Well, we’d like something else.”

“I’ll try and see if I can get them taken off. I can’t promise anything, but I’ll see.” She walked away, indifferent to our collective dismay.

“You know you’d think she may have mentioned that when we were ordering…” I began.

“Well, I’ve got news for her, I’m not paying for that drink.” Racheal stated.

We simmered at the ghastly thought of paying ten dollars for an acid de menthe martini while Michelle joyously drank her paradise tropical heaven. Life was so unfair! Luckily for everyone involved the waitress reported that we did not have to pay for our drinks. Mara and Racheal both have had the occasional temper, so the waitress really dodged a bullet there whether she knew it or not. Little did we expect that it was my temper that would flare as the evening progressed.

Rach retired for the evening and the rest of us trudged on to none other than Altos! Brit and Chris arrived, my college parents, Erica and Carbone joined us! My lucky stars! I had so much to brag about to them. Guess how early I get up in the morning now Mom and Dad? Before noon! Guess who is clean and sober now? My son, Merlin! Guess who hasn’t over drafted their bank account in months? NATTY! It was a gleeful reunion.

Things did, however, take a turn. There was a certain bartender we’ll call Andy, whom used to be a lowly patron like the rest of us but in my absence has become a bartender. One of the many mysteries of the world given his disrepute among some in the bar’s inner circle. Nevertheless, he was now an employee at the altar of Altos at which I worshipped and when he pointed out I had not paid my eleven dollar tab the night before (I had left in a whirlwind), I was more than happy to have it added to my current tab. No, Andy wanted cash. Why would Andy want cash? I have every reason to believe Andy wanted to put that cash in his pocket, especially since he was whispering.

I refused, I said, “It will have to be added to my current tab.” I wanted no part in defrauding my favorite dive bar with that Judus! The rest of the night when I ordered “Tall Jack and Coke” I received a glass of ice with two drops of Jack and a splash of coke. I wish I was exaggerating, but I wasn’t the only one who noticed this gross travesty.

Simultaneously, a situation erupted at our home table. A giant man, being around seven feet tall, has inserted himself at our table. He was blonde. He had a shrunken head. I wish there was a more politically correct, medical term I knew to describe his appearance, but the best way I know how is to say this man had a shrunken head. I would later learn that when he joined our table he had asked Chris which one of us women folk was “his”. When Chris claimed Brit he unknowingly threw Michelle and I to the wolves.

He sat down between us. I’m unsure how the conversation started but before I knew it, he was talking about doing drugs in his van in the parking lot. How tempting!

“Oh really? You have drugs in your van? What kind?” These are the kinds of things I say that further conversation with crazy people when I should be running away.

“Dro. I got purple weed.”

“Oh, I can’t smoke weed. I’m job hunting, sorry.” I shrugged.

“What do you do, girrrrrrrl?” He smiled, and his little eyes in his little head seemed to get even smaller.

“Do you have any fentanyl lollipops?” I couldn’t resist. This could be my chance to finally try them!

“Whaaaa?” He looked baffled. This was not my chance. Which is probably good, given he was a weirdo with a van in the parking lot. I went back to the bar for more whiskey water. When I returned there was a dispute between shrunken head and Michelle.

“No, no, I’m a scorpion! You’re a toad! It’s in my nature! I will hurt you!” Michelle was emphatically gesturing as if she had a stinger.

“I’m a scorpo.” he replied with a smile, as if this was the only thing separating them from a night of bliss in the van.

“Scorpion,” I interjected,”with a stinger,” I hooked my arm over my head erratically.

“I’m a scorpo!”

“You’re a TOAD!” I had lost my patience, “She’s a scorpion! You’re a TOAD!”

Michelle joined in, “You’re a TOAD, a TOAD!”

The man began shaking his head, clearly thinking to himself, these stupid stupid drunk broads, and fished out his driver’s license. He showed us his birthday, “I’m a scorpo.”

Michelle and I blinked and looked at each other. We realized what he meant. The age-old fable of the scorpion and the toad was lost on him. He thought we were talking astrological signs. He was a scorpio. Clearly, it was time to close my tab. I wrestled back into the bar line. Andy handed me my tab. Fifty-one dollars. Eleven from last night and forty for my four whiskey waters? At a normal bar, I admit, this would not be unheard of, but at Altos? I was outraged! I could not believe I was paying this much at Altos when  I could still walk in a straight line unassisted! I did not put up with shrunken heads to pay normal prices! It was robbery!

I went back to my table and announced what had transpired on my receipt. Immediately my friends bubbled with unflattering antecdotes and defamations of Andy’s character.

“I’m a sister wife! I just can’t!” Michelle shrieked, I turned and realized she was still battling her toad at the end of the table. Not to be distracted, I continued scribbling my letter to Andy on the back of my receipt,

Andy, you are manipulative and untrustworthy and no one trusts you. You make terrible drinks. You tell lies. I don’t trust you.

I waved my receipt in the air, “I wrote it! I wrote it!”

“You don’t know what my husband is like! I could never be with another man! The sisters would never allow it!”

“You’re right! We wouldn’t!”

“He’ll kill her for sure!” Sometimes the lies we tell at Altos become more of a game. Bar improv, if you will.

“Wives? Your husband got wives?” We had lost shrunken head in translation again.

“Polygamy! I’m a polygamist! I have a husband who has lots of wives! I have no rights! I can’t do drugs in your van! I’m a scorpion!” Michelle was throwing everything she had in protest.

“Go give Andy your letter!” Brit encouraged.

“Absolutely!” I walked toward the bar, rereading my defiant masterpiece, but then… I changed my mind. I ran to the jukebox, I looked over my shoulder, I slid the letter/receipt onto the top of the jukebox ever so slightly and ran outside. The following day I would be exposed to many of Michelle’s impersonations of this action.

I’m sure that my receipt and my message are still on the top of that jukebox for the taking. Just as I’m also certain, the man with the shrunken head will forever remember Michelle as the polygamist scorpo who got away.