The Rules

Henceforth:

1) All restaurants will give you free bread. Good bread, not the cheap peasant loaf they keep on hand for disliked relatives and poor tippers. Violators will be jabbed at with the jagged crust until they learn their lesson or require medical assistance.

2) No restaurant will require me to say anything like “Triple Moo-tini Milksplosion” in order to obtain a beverage or foodstuff. Violators will be required to have an equally ridiculous nickname branded on their foreheads.

3)  All dogs will be issued a memo that they may regard me from a respectful distance (let’s say 300 yards) but must not in any way lick, nuzzle, touch, smell or shed on me. Violators will be shaven in the style of a Standard Poodle, regardless of breed, and re-named “FiFi.” Ditto for their owners.**

4) Phonetic spellings are immediately illegal and must be corrected at the shop owner’s expense. Shops with names involving both “Kwik” and “E-Z” will be burned down and the earth salted.

5) All customer service staff will be friendly and eager to assist. All managers will  be solicitous and defer to the customer in matters of dispute. All stores will be laid out in such a way that a reasonable woman in her early 30’s armed with semi-concrete notions of what she wants can find it. Violators will be abandoned in the labyrinthine innards of a decrepit Meijer and forced to attempt escape while fleeing baggers infected with whatever everyone had in 28 Days Later.

6) All cute shoes will come in sizes larger than “zygote.” Clothing for larger girls will NOT be emblazoned with four enormous flowers, nor millions of tiny ones. All bras will fit properly the first time.

7) Slanket and its bastard offspring are immediately and indefinitely illegal. Anything combining a Slanket with a Popeil product is extremely illegal.

8 ) Grammar, syntax and punctuation will be cherished and used properly. Using LOLspeak, IM-ese or L33Tspeak will be punishable by tattooing of The Elements of Style on the inside of the offender’s eyelids.

9) Michael Bay is now illegal. Anyone found to be aiding and abetting Michael Bay is hereby sentenced to star in a remake of their all-time favorite film, directed by Michael Bay, written by Michael Bay, and co-starring Michael Bay.

With a special guest appearance by Michael Bay.

10) All Americans will appreciate the inherent value of other cultures. All other cultures will appreciate that we are so loud and big and boisterous because we have enormous hearts. Everyone, everywhere, will take better care of this blue rock we share. Violators will be locked in a room with both Paulie Shore and Yahoo Serious. Repeat offenders will be handcuffed to them.

Thank you for your cooperation. We now resume our regularly scheduled reality.

[**ATTENTION DOG PEOPLE: I know, I know, I am a soulless creature from beyond Hell because I don’t want dogs touching me. I’m at peace with this. Also, of COURSE I didn’t mean YOUR dog.]
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Stuff from the Attic (June 2009 Edition)

In the wake of the recent (and, let it be said, extremely fun) Claire De Lunacy blogoversary, I’ve found myself struggling to come up with something blog-worthy to fill this site. I’ve had several false starts, but they seemed too facile or insubstantial to sustain an entire post (and if something on THIS site is too ephemeral to support a post, you know we’re in trouble). So, just to keep the blood pumping, I present to you the following list of topics currently banging around in my noggin’.

1) Henchmen of shared nationality and language who, despite being utterly alone unless fighting the hero of the pic or book, speak English with each other. We’ve all seen this a thousand times. James Bond is scampering about, chopping necks and turning his shoe into a shaped charge against the wall of the evil mastermind’s lair, and miles away, Sergei and Boris are walking the perimeter, conversing in a language they no doubt had to learn for solely professional reasons.  “But,” I hear you asking, “what if they’re under orders to speak English, so that the dastardly associates of their employer can speak with them directly? What if, in the underworld of crime and perfidity, English functions much as it does in the world of legitimate business, a sort of koine that assures everyone is at a mutual disadvantage during negotiations?”

To which I reply, “Oh, piffle.”

Seriously, if you’re in another country (even for work) and you’re back at the hostel, waiting for dinner or to be abducted and sold into white slavery until rescued by Liam Neeson, are you chatting with your mates in Castillian about the latest episode of 30 Rock? Of course you aren’t.

[NOTE: Obviously, this rule doesn’t apply if you’ve brought a potential love interest back to the apartment, in which case you behave as though you were steeped in the same cultural and linguistic influences they were, so that they see you are a person of substance, and also so that they will let you touch their naughty bits.]

But Sergei and Boris aren’t interested in gettin’ it on, they’re (presumably) trying to pop a cap in the gent from MI-6. Plus, in accordance with the Convenient Plot Furtherance Act of 1982, they are inevitably childhood friends who dreamt of one day working as the muscle for one of many human embodiments of evil, and are therefore no longer trying to impress one another.

Bottom line, henchpeople who are nowhere near people who do not speak their mother tongue should converse in it without feeling obligated to help the audience along.

[This goes double for Klingons.]

2) And speaking of James Bond, why can’t we have a movie about Q-Branch? James Bond is 007. That means there are at least six other 00’s out there (unless they start with 000, in which case there are seven), and I’m betting that they give Q-Branch as much trouble as James does. Are we meant to believe that wacky hijinks ensue only when The Man Who Really Should Only Be Played By Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan comes around? I think not.

I’m picturing a series of films starring John Cleese. Music by Danny Elfman, with special guest Eric Idle as “Zed,” the lowest-ranking member of Q-Branch whose zany antics create problems for R at first, but ultimately provide the solution to the crisis facing the team.

Gold, I’m telling you. GOLD.

3) Cable Internet should not just fail for no discernible reason. I pay top dollar each month for Road Runner Turbo. When it works, it is a heavenly connection to the global information stream. When it fails (which it does with alarming regularity ever since Time Warner sent me an “improved” replacement modem to exchange for the old one that worked PERFECTLY WELL WITHOUT ANY TROUBLE, EVER), my wrath becomes a molten volcano of  earth-scorching magma, eager to strip the flesh and sinew from those who have denied me the chance to show Dramatic Prairie Dog to the one friend who hasn’t yet seen it.

Even now, THIS VERY SECOND, my Internet is out for the fourth time today. The FOURTH TIME! It often lasts for an hour or more. Requests for assistance are met with blank stares or infuriating questions (especially to an IT person) like “Have you restarted your computer?” and “Is your house properly wired for both electricity and cable?”

No, jackass, I’m living in a sod house on the banks of Plum F-ing Creek with Mary and Laura.

Bah!

[This topic may grow into a full-blown entry, depending on how my next volley of requests is handled by the TWC crew.]

4) Hormones make you fat. OK, I’ll admit that the pepper-and-olive pizza I eat a little too often is aiding and abetting the ‘mones in their evil quest to turn my ass into an earthwork, but my regular workouts don’t cut the difference anymore. When, last week, I realized I had not only stopped losing weight (even with the help of Fullbar), but was GAINING, I knew it was time to take drastic measures. So, now I work out twice a day…strength and flexibility in the morning, aerobic exercise at night (if you know what I mean, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Oh, who am I kidding, I’m riding a freaking bike).

So far, I’ve stopped gaining. However, my overall wimpiness and disturbingly taut pants suggest even more drastic measures may be necessary, e.g. not eating a bowl of cereal every night even though cereal is a gift from Ceres to show that we are worthy of deliciousness.

And if I have to eliminate cheese, there may very well be no point to living.

Also, I could probably stand to workout harder. And longer.And, God help us all, join a gym.

Me! Be a joiner! The mind boggles. Ah, well, no one said being a glamor girl was easy.

But if that fails, I am just biting the bullet and shopping around for an eating disorder like my friends. Well, I mean, an eating disorder that makes me thin rather than saurian.

5) Chaz Bono has a rough ride ahead. I feel Chaz’s pain. Here’s a person who has spent their life trapped in the wrong body, and has weight issues to boot. Chaz, buddy, I am pulling for you! I hope that, as they did for me, your weight issues start to resolve as you resolve your gender issues. Plus, the testosterone will help you build muscle, which, as the Lotte Berk method teaches us, eats fat. Sure, you’ll have to work hard, but I’ll bet that with your limitless financial resources and access to Hollywood’s beautification professionals, you’ll be running through the surf, Hasselhoff-style, in no time flat.

Just remember the words of C.S. Lewis: “You don’t have a soul. You ARE a soul. You HAVE a body.”

Also, please remember that I was so supportive and send me any extra trainers and/or plastic surgeons you have laying around.

6) Going back to school is nerve-wracking but also exciting as hell. For those of you who don’t know, I’m going back to college in the Winter quarter of 2009-2010. I made a promise to myself when I was but a sprout, and that promise was that I would become a doctor of philosophy in the science of linguistics. As of this year, that dream begins to come true. I’m writing essays, I’m gathering letters of recommendation, I’m purchasing raccoon coats and little football pennants that say things like “Rah!” (just in case I’m thrown back in time and have to wrap things up in the 1920s). I suspect that my mania regarding this process is the real reason I’ve been blog-avoidant of late; I’ve been trying to conserve my creative and intellectual juices so that I may make a favorable impression on the doyens et doyennes of academia who will determine my worthiness for further growth.

Not that they want to hear about my juices, creative or otherwise. In fact, I’m fairly certain no one does. Let’s just pretend I never said it and focus on my casual usage of French in a context designed to make me appear worldly without being a pompous ass.

There – that’s better, non?

7) My being transgendered does not give you the right to disrespect me. I didn’t want to take a whole blog post with this topic, as this particular saw has several busted teeth, but a recent incident freaked me the hell out and I had to say something.

I keep an announcement board on the window of my office, a little dry-erase deal with the names of myself and my assistant written along the left-hand side, with a magnetic dot indicating whether we are “in” or “out,” and a space to clarify as necessary (e.g., “in a pointless meeting,” “saving children from burning orphanage,” “having lunch with the Married Crush in the hope that my telepathy will finally kick in and she will find herself immersed in the golden sunbeams of my undying adoration, whereby she will realize she has been a fool to toy with me and loves me as well,” et hoc genus omne). Usually, I don’t even look at the board; I just slide the dot from “out” to “in,” unlock my office, and begin counting the minutes ’til five o’clock.

That day, however, I noticed something different.

Someone had erased “Claire” and written my OLD name. Not the name by which I was known, mind you, but my old LEGAL name.

Now, I hear some of you asking “So? What’s the big deal?” and I get that, I really do. After all, it was just a simple scribble on a white board.

That said, imagine if you will my confusion and, yes, fear. Here was a bit of information that, while hardly a state secret, was not common knowledge, even among my friends. Here was an act that said, in essence, “I am denying you exist, and I am quite literally attempting to erase you.” Was this a harmless prank, or was some whack-a-do hiding in the creepy warehouse shelves behind me, waiting for me to be distracted so they could brain me with a pipe wrench and add bits of my body to the silver skeleton in their basement?

In erasing my name and writing the old one, they were (whether they were cognizant of the fact or not) challenging my right to exist as myself. They were attacking me, in a “safe” place, with my own possessions.

I felt violated. I felt sick.

And then I got angry.

I wiped the board clean, re-wrote my name clearly and firmly, and then e-mailed HR.

Now, it must be said that the HR department was exceptionally helpful and kind. They immediately contacted security to see if any tape was available for the time when the “prank” most likely occurred. They were sympathetic to my concerns, and assured me that action would be taken against the person who had done this. After talking with them, I felt reassured – clearly, someone cared and would support me.

Presently, the perpetrator remains unknown (at least to me). I’m not going to pretend this is as serious as the attacks that happen to transpeople every day, both in this country and worldwide. After all, I didn’t have to earn my lesson with blood or, worse yet, my life.  But to me, a girl who is already hyper-vigilant when in public, the loss of one of the few places I felt safe to relax my guard is a very real attack on me and my right to live my life.

I’m not going to let it change my desire to see the good in people, or to try my best to be an ambassador for transpeople to the mainstream world.

But just the same, Ice Station Zebra is a little colder these days.

CDL Blogoversary, Day Six: Reduction Redux

We’re celebrating Claire De Lunacy’s First Blogoversary, and I’ve invited some very gracious and awesome friends to contribute to this mess, sharing their words with you, my beloved readers. Through June 10th, there will be a new post from a different guest each day, culminating with a new, full-length short story by yours truly. I hope you enjoy my guests’ work as much as I do, and I hope you’ll stick around to see what happens during the NEXT year.

[Today’s Guest Blogger is Heather Holmes. I met her through a mutual friend and then got to know her better on The InterWebz via Twitter and Facebook. Heather’s undergoing breast reduction surgery TODAY, and has opted to share her story with us here. Drop by her web site, Bohemian Bumblings, and say hi!]

We always want what we can’t have.  We all are always saying, “I wish I had this,” or “I want that” (insert your own wishes and wants).  I think women in particular are guiltier of this, perhaps because of the standards to which we often feel we’re held by society.

Let’s take a common example – breasts.  Breast augmentation accounts for nearly 20% of all procedures done today in plastic surgery.  That is a whole lot of fake boobs, especially when you consider just how many procedures fall into the plastic surgery category.  A week ago, I was sitting in a scientific session where researchers were discussing a promising new material for breast implants that is potentially safer and more durable than what’s being used today.  Huh.  “That’s funny,” I thought, “considering that in a week I’m going in for breast reduction.  My SECOND breast reduction. SO many women are paying thousands of dollars [or using myfreeimplants.com – yes, it is a real site] for something I’m willfully getting rid of.”  It would seem that I have the unique ability to regenerate boobs.  Don’t you wish you were me?

No, you don’t, actually.  You can sit there and wish all you want, but take it from someone who is on the not-so-much greener side of the grass, large breasts aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.  Maybe I’m a bit more negative because I have had them for so long.  I’m not gonna lie –  I’ve used them to my advantage on more than one occasion.  But, when you’re 11 years old with a D-cup and most of your friends have barely hit the training bra stage, you can be sure it’s going to be a rough ride.

I remember sitting at lunch in 7th grade and all the boys giggling and being stupid.  Come to find out they were acting that way because one of them happened to notice I was sitting sort of hunched over (a common way to sit when you have ginormous boobs) with my boobs resting on the table top.  Not something I was doing intentionally I assure you! At that point in my life. I was really doing all I could to try to hide how huge they were.  Plus, in schools (or any big building) the air conditioning makes you freeze, and freezing boobs = erect nipples.  Try to hide D cups with high beams as a 12 year old – Ha!  Another time, in 8th grade, one of the boys told me that I had an uncanny knack for wearing tight shirts.  He was complimenting me; I was trying to figure out WTF “uncanny knack” meant.  Funny, I use that term all the time now.  Once I learned what it meant back then, though,  it just added to my trying to minimize them.

Bad posture is another problem.  Clothes that don’t fit properly, either because they’re too tight, or too loose and sloppy.  High beams.  Nicknames (my favorite being “Mount EverBreast”).  Custom-made bras because they don’t make ones to fit you at the store.  Yeah, all fun that you want to have, right?  I have yet to mention that up until I was about 25 I was moderately thin.  And short.  Little woman, ginormous boobs.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Skipping ahead to 2007.  I decided to undergo breast reduction surgery.  I was very open about this with my friends and family and received an amazing amount of support, mostly because they all knew what I’d suffered with for so long.  Sure there were a few naysayers.  “You’ve got a gift most women would kill for.”  Well, as it turns out I’m not most women, and I’m nearly willing to kill to be done with them.  I’m not an organ donor but I did tell a few people that if I could donate my breast tissue to them I would (I guess that’s something that hasn’t been scientifically studied yet).

About a month after the surgery, I was sporting great new perky boobs and feeling pretty good.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that another downside to these monsters is that they sag.  I look fine when I have a GOOD bra on but if I don’t my nipples are having a party with my navel.  Imagine how fun that is!  The weight is ridiculous.  I have no idea what this translates to, but with the procedure in 2007 about 450cc’s was removed from each breast [Editor’s Note: That translates to 15.2 ounces, or nearly two cups].  I think that’s quite a bit.  So yeah, back to the perky boobs…they were awesome.

“Were” being the operative term, naturally.  Shortly after the surgery, I went for my annual gynecological exam and decided to start on a different birth control.  I use the term “birth control” loosely, because for me it has always been hormone adjustment.  That is, keeping me sane, keeping my family from killing me, and keeping me from having 20 day periods.  Any ideas yet on where this is going?

People are all prone to different things.  Acne, weight gain, allergies, breast regeneration.  Oh wait, that last one is just me.  Or just me and about ONE in every 200,000 women that undergo reduction.  It isn’t a natural thing really, it is something that we do to ourselves, but it happens to so few of us that it is hardly acknowledged.  It seems that one of the things I am prone to is receptive hormones.  That probably explains the 20 day periods and the psycho moods (okay, more psycho than normal).  Oh, and it also explains why within 2 years my C’s went back to DDD/F’s.  What can I say?  Hormones love me.  It isn’t a mutual love though, that’s for sure.

Interesting though, isn’t it?  All of it – the way the human body works, the way the mind works.  We want and wish and hope and dream.  Often times, we can’t appreciate what we have, other times we are seriously hindered by what we have.  Someone once said to me that I was going to sit around and wish my life away.  Rather prophetic if you think about what that means.

I am fortunate that I am able to deal with my problem – and I know what caused it so I shouldn’t have to deal with it again.  IF, and that’s a BIG IF, it happens again while I’m not putting any hormones into my body (other than what is pumped into my food) I’m finding some budding scientist to do testing on my genes and find out what is causing my spontaneous re-growth and I’m bottling that shit and selling it.  I could give so many women what they think always wanted and I could make serious bank.  Seriously though, I hope it doesn’t come to that.

Back to where I started though –thinking about women, and some men, who actually get implants so they have breasts.  I can certainly understand the desire.  Breasts can be great confidence builders, they can give an appearance of absolute feminism, they are simply identifiers of that which is woman.  You’ve seen a very small part of my story to know that they can also be a really horrible thing to live with.  I haven’t even touched on the back pain that I have or how hard it is for me to find nice clothes or how hard it is to sleep at night or how I’m constantly fighting a rash that develops underneath them.  The pain is the real reason I am having it done again, it isn’t because I love surgery or anything.  It is because I’m miserable.  Yuck.

So to all the girls and boys out there that love boobs – keep on loving them.  If you want them I hope you get them.  Just remember that sometimes you really do get what you hope for, and sometimes it turns out to be a nightmare.  By the time you read this, I’ll have undergone the procedure and should be near recovery.  Know that you’re reading the words of a woman written with DDD’s but at the end of the last sentence she’ll be a C again.

Cheers.

[It’s me again. What can I say? I’m speechless. I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly re-evaluating my personal wish list. Be sure to stop by Heather’s site and wish her a speedy recovery, or hit her up on The Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/LaVieBoheme73 (she’s got her updates protected, so a little paitence may be in order).

Coming up tomorrow: Television, and why it is is both inescapable and necessary. See you then!]

CDL Blogoversary, Day Two: Adam Lambert’s Loss is Our Gain

We’re celebrating Claire De Lunacy’s First Blogoversary, and I’ve invited some very gracious and awesome friends to contribute to this mess, sharing their words with you, my beloved readers. Through June 10th, there will be a new post from a different guest each day, culminating with a new, full-length short story by yours truly. I hope you enjoy my guests’ work as much as I do, and I hope you’ll stick around to see what happens during the NEXT year.

[Today’s Guest Blog is by Blanca Meneses, a friend I met on “The Twitter.”  Blanca is Cuban American and has lived in the US since 1969. She has an MBA in International Business, a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts and a Paralegal Certificate. She currently works as an in-house paralegal at a Fortune 500 company. When not working, Blanca focuses on her photography. She resides in Miami with her partner and their Goldendoodle, Cocker Spaniel and two cats. Visit her online at http://www.blancameneses.com]

I sit here today still dumbfounded by the results of American Idol. I still feel confusion and disbelief when I think about the results. I mean, Adam Lambert should have won, right? Right? He’s multitalented and the best contestant ever to compete on American Idol. But for some reason, or reasons, he did not win. We all know that now.

I remember that on that Wednesday evening, May 20, 2009, I was sitting in front of my big flat screen tv with my partner and our two dogs watching American Idol with the Bose stereo system blasting away just waiting for the results. Finally, after all the artists sang, some better than others, and after they dimmed the lights, my heart began to race. I was nervous but optimistic and hopeful. I was so confident, as I”m sure were many other Adam fans, that Adam would win. But when Ryan Seacrest announced Kris Allen as the winner I was in utter shock and disbelief and felt mentally and emotionally stiff. I couldn’t move! The phone rang. It was my partner’s mother. I’m screaming saying that this is BS! What?! What?! What?! What????!!!! The unthinkable had happened! Kris Allen won.

I was enraged. I went on Facebook to tell the whole world how I felt. My status was not pretty. In fact, I was fuming! I went on Twitter to tell the whole world how I felt. My 140 characters were not pretty. In fact, I was still fuming! Why didn’t Adam win? How did this happen? I was perplexed and upset! I was so enraged I even shedded a few tears.

Tears? Why yes, tears. Tears because I took his loss personal. Tears because I believe Adam Lambert lost because he’s “different” and obviously more colorful than the conservative Kris Allen, who, in my belief, didn’t win on talent alone. Adam Lambert has not really admitted he’s gay, but he is quite flamboyant. His black fingernails, his heavy eyeliner, his walk, his thick make-up, and at times his clothing, all gave way for people to think that he was over the top in every which way. But more important than anything, he is unbelievably talented.

Did Kris Allen win because of the conservative vote? Did Adam Lambert lose because he’s “different”? We might never know; however, there is wide speculation and much talk that the reason Adam lost and Kris won was because the conservative vote pushed Kris over the edge. So now, all of a sudden, we have conservatism vs liberalism and red states vs blue states in an American Idol competition. And here I was thinking that the election was over.

The bottom line here is that this country, although some states are making progress with LGBT issues and we have a Democratic president and a Democratic congress, is still quite conservative. It is the fight of the religious right vs those that are to the left of the religious right. I do believe that more and more people are becoming more accepting of LGBT people, but I also believe that homophonia is still alive and kicking in the good old USA.

So, in the end, I had to accept that Adam had lost this year’s American Idol crown. But, I do believe that he is well on his way to having an abundance of success. As a matter of fact, he might just be on his way to becoming the lead singer for Queen. Sweet and at the same time ironic, isn’t it?

Here’s to you Adam and to your undeniable talent!

[It’s me again. Regardless of American Idol‘s role as, ahem, “entertainment,” I do believe that Adam’s decision to be open about his homosexuality adversely affected his shot at the crown. As Blanca said, his loss will ultimately be America’s gain, especially since the runners-up from Idol seem to make a bigger splash more often than their crown-winning counterparts.

Special thanks to Blanca for sharing her views! Be sure to stop by her site to say “hola!”

Tune in tomorrow for some short fiction!]

UNACCEPTABLE!!! (Holiday Edition 2008)

Dear Readers:

With the holidays just around the corner, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by the season. To help you make sense of this time of both joy and insane busy-ness, our planet’s top minds (Actual number of minds: one. Actual proximity to the top: eh, up there somewhere between home schooled kids and that Ken Jennings guy) have declared the following things to be immediately and irrevocably unacceptable for all eternity.

To wit:

1) Slanket: SNUGGILY UNACCEPTABLE!!! Yeah, yeah, I know, it was part of my Giftstravaganza Guide. That’s because we all need something we can buy on a whim and give to the person who would otherwise be receiving Hickory Farms products from us. But Slanket (and its insidious, low-rent doppelganger, the Snuggie) are forces for evil in this world, encouraging slothful, couch-based living and, more terrifyingly, ensconcing their victims in cozy warmth that will lull them gently into slumber – a slumber that will prove most unfortunate when they are captured by the aliens who created Slanket and taken off-world for menial labor and the entertainment of the alien masses.

FEEL MY TOASTY WRATH: Henceforth, all Slankets will be used to pacify violent offenders in our nation’s maximum security prisons. Alternatively, they may be turned around and used as bathrobes for giants.

2) Christmas in October: ANACHRONISTICALLY UNACCEPTABLE!!! OK, so I can understand that retailers don’t want to set out their holiday wares on December 22nd. But do they need to start bombarding us with Christmas cheer the same week as Halloween? Hello, there’s a whole ‘nother holiday in between the two! And I, for one, think National Cake Day deserves a little more respect.

TASTE MY TIMELY JUSTICE: From this day on, anyone caught displaying a Santa and a Jack O’ Lantern concurrently will be forced to watch “A Christmas Story” on mute while listening to Vincent Price’s soliloquy from “Thriller” on a loop.

3) Novelty Christmas Music Performed  by Animals: ANTHROPOMORPHICALLY UNACCEPTABLE!!! You know they’re out there, waiting. During the rest of the year, you feel confident you can avoid them. Oh, sure, you might be exposed to the occasional Billy Bass or analogous Chthulu-level horror, but overall you have an excellent radar when it comes to people who enjoy watching animals sing. Then along comes Christmakwaanzukkah, and suddenly you can’t open an e-mail or a white elephant gift without being exposed to – God help us all – Jingle Cats, Bark the Halls or whatever the hell this is. What in the name of all that is good and holy happened to Silent Night?

MY BITE IS WORSE THAN MY BARK: The degree of unacceptability involved requires the harshest treatment: offenders will henceforth be locked in a room with Bob Barker, a tarp and pruning shears, and will only be released when they have been spayed and/or neutered. It’s for the good of the species, people.

4) Delivering a Flawless Rendition of Steve Martin’s Christmas soliloquy from My Blue Heaven and Receiving Only Dull, Cow-Eyed Stares in Return: ENSEMBLE-COMEDICALLY UNACCEPTABLE!!! You spend years perfecting your craft (i.e., practicing in an offhand manner and relying heavily on your brain’s inability to forget anything it’s been exposed to, ever), and these are the thanks you get? Do you think that accent happens by itself, people? I put GEL IN MY HAIR, for Pete’s Sake! GEL!

WHAT’S ARUGULA? IT’S A VEG-A-TAB-UL: You are all hereby ordered to watch this movie and love it as I do, or I will be forced to reveal my hitherto-hidden infinite mental powers and wish you all into a cornfield.

5) The Following Conversation, Held Annually: PARENTALLY UNACCEPTABLE!!!

<RING, RING>

MA: Hello?

MOI: Hey, Ma. What does Dad want for Christmas this year?

MA: Well, you know your father. He’s impossible to buy for.

MOI: What about a tool? I think I saw a Deluxe HeeberJeeber 2000 on sale at Sears. Does he have one of those?

MA: Oh, honey, who knows what he’s got out in that garage? I haven’t been out there since 1978, and I don’t plan to go back. You know the socket wrenches went feral back in the early 90’s!

MOI: OK, well, what about clothes? I saw a very nice sweatshirt/flannel lumberjack thing/Cleveland Browns hat at the store the other day and…

MA: <noncommittal noise>

MOI: What?

MA: Well, I already got him one of those.

MOI: DAMN IT!

This is why my father has received a wallet from me every year for thirty-two years. They’re stacked up like cordwood.

I’M NOT A FREAKING PSYCHIC: Let the clarion call go forth, to the four corners of the land! Whoever invents a device that will detect the three tools my father does not already own at Christmas time shall receive a bounty of gold doubloons and, it goes without saying, several nice wallets.

Ignore these tips at your peril, my friends, because at any time, anywhere, you could find your stocking filled with a lump of coal we like to call…UNACCEPTABLE!!!

Unacceptable!!! (September ’08 Remix)

I believe it was Elbert Hubbard who defined “righteous indignation” as “your own wrath as opposed to the shocking bad temper of others.” This is because Elbert Hubbard was a bit of a jerk. OK, not really. Sure, he may have indirectly created Scientology by inspiring his nephew L. Ron with his wit and wisdom, but you can’t hold a man who said something as brilliant as “Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped” accountable for Tom Cruise and his silent-birthing, couch-crushing, Holmes-brainwashing shenanigans.

There are, however, others who must meet the business end of my wrath, and woe be unto them this day!

To wit:

Gas Station Guy Just Ahead Of Me Who Refuses To Pull Up Enough To Allow Me To Get Gas, Even Though His GIGANTIC HUMMER Could Easily Do So: UNACCEPTABLE!!! You are hereby sentenced to drive this for all eternity:

If it's good enough for my three-year-old niece, it's good enough for you, buddy.

If it's good enough for my 3-year-old niece, it's good enough for you, Chester.

Kroger Cashier Who Treats “Civilians” As Though We Are Incapable Of Grasping The Labyrinthine Complexities Of PLU Codes: UNACCEPTABLE!!! I know you’ve had extensive training, lady. I went through it myself, back when I was an indentured servant wasting my precious youth at the Evil M-Pire. However, you don’t exactly need to bust out the Rosetta Stone to determine that the PLU for black plums is, in fact, 4040; even if I didn’t already have it memorized, IT’S ON THE STICKER.

ON THE FRUIT.

RIGHT HERE, IN MY HAND!

But I digress. You are hereby sentenced to memorize all UPCs and PLUs for all products in the store and only consult the Thracian version of the PLU cheat-sheet (translation key removed).

Coworker Who Has Known for Three Months that They’ll Need a Loaner Laptop, But Tells Me about It the DAY BEFORE They Leave: RIDICULOUSLY UNACCEPTABLE!!! You are hereby ordered to surrender all computer equipment and make do with this abacus, quill pen, and stack of vellum! You may have up to three pigeons if you need to send an e-mail.

Frito Lay and Their Latest Creation, Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos: DELICIOUSLY UNACCEPTABLE!!! OK, so actually these chips are flavor-tastic and utterly acceptable. What I find completely unacceptable, however, is their tendency to vanish within hours after I open the bag. I innocently tear into a package of these mysterious and magical chips, and within a short time, all the chips have disappeared into thin air! I hereby command Frito Lay to investigate these unstable (albeit delicious) chips and invest in technology that will prevent them from evaporating (the only logical explanation for the disappearance of an entire bag of chips in such a short time, I assure you).

American Express Corporation, Along with the Marketing Agency Responsible for AE’s Latest Series of Ridiculously Condescending Small Business Card Adverts: NOT ONLY SMUG BUT UNACCEPTABLE!!! Seriously, I understand that cards featuring kitties and/or The Flash might be perceived by certain parties as unprofessional, but I wonder how many potential card holders are alienated by these ads as compared to those who cast aside their customized card featuring The Wonder Twins in favor of a shiny piece of gold snobbery. American Express dudes, you are here by sentenced to pay for your next lunch meeting with a card featuring Hello Kitty or this guy, (depending on which you personally find more abhorrent):

The worst part? That's not a hat.

The worst part? That's not a hat.

My Married Crush, Who Enjoys Flirting and Absorbing My Abject Worship But Will Never, Ever, Ever, Ever Follow Through Due to Being Straightjacketed by Societal Expectation: UNACCEP – Meh, I guess it’s kinda acceptable. Really, it’s been years now, and although our flirtatious exchanges and her fondness for dressing in a manner reminiscent of Doralee from 9 to 5 are great fun, she’s living in hubby-and-kids land, I’m over here in smartass lesbian land, and Chuck Woolery isn’t stepping up to help out. I hereby sentence MYSELF to get the hell over it.

And barring that, I guess I just need to remember not to buy any cats.

Audience Members in the ScalpMed Infommercial, what with the Fake-Ass Clapping & Repetitive Nodding Seeming to Indicate a Suspicious Familiarity with ScalpMed & Its Dark Magic: CREEPILY UNACCEPTABLE!!! (Except for the hostess, who is MILFy and therefore borderline acceptable) We all need something to watch when the musical guest on SNL isn’t to our liking…and in my case, the percolating phials of follicular fiendishness known as ScalpMed was what caught my eye this evening as I waited for the Kings of Leon to finish whingeing their way through whatever it was they were doing (nice Tina Fey glasses, by the way, Nathan). You are hereby sentenced to rub ScalpMed all over your face until you either turn into a werewolf or a member of Kings of Leon.

Idiots of the world, beware! At any time, your behavior could push you from mere annoyance to a place you’ll never want to visit…a place where you have become…UNACCEPTABLE!!!

Things That Should Not Be: Collectibles Edition

I’m a fairly easy-going sort. When I see someone wearing, say, a trucker hat and a winkingly self-aware novelty tee shirt, I smile and say “Hey, hipsters need love, too.” When I’m parking my car and someone driving a Speck or Microbe or whatever the hell these wind-up cars are called steals my spot TWO SECONDS before I pull into it, I (try to) think “Well, they’re doing their part for the environment. I don’t mind walking seventeen blocks in four-inch heels.” Now that I’m an aunt, I find myself forced to endure things such as Ben 10 and Hannah Montana in order to remain in the good graces of The Little Emperor and Her Highness, also known as my nephew and niece.

In fact, I will even go so far as to tolerate the collections of knick-knacks, gewgaws and miscellaneous crap my friends and loved ones have in their homes (if only because I know I must have somewhere to flee in the event my book collection causes my home to collapse, killing the neighbors).

However, sometimes the percolating cesspool of popular culture belches forth an abomination so hideous, so wildly unacceptable, that I must speak out. “Why share these things, then?” I hear you asking. “Why not work to conceal them from the innocent eyes of those who may encounter them and be forever scarred?”

Because if I must suffer, so must you all, say I.

To wit:

1) Terrifyingly “adorable” Gangsta Babies. The dead-eyed stare of a doll is already fairly creepy; add piles of bling, typo-riddled marketing copy filtered through the paternalistic racism most commonly associated with Rudyard Kipling (“Carrot-toped homey” comes to mind) and the soullessly malevolent, emerald-green gaze of Pookie, and you’re looking at a lifetime of sleepless nights, my friend.

2) A thin candy shell over a pulsating heart of evil. OK, I promise not every entry will be about the disturbing fauxbies generated ad infinitum by the, uh, disturbing fauxby industry. However, these M&M babies ignited a special fire of searing hatred in my heart by committing the dual crime of being advertised in last month’s issue of Smithsonian AND making it impossible for me to eat delicious M&M’s without seeing their creepy little faces whispering “I melt for no one.”

3) Anything encrusted with Swarovski crystals. Swarovski walks a fine line – on the one hand, they have some lovely crystal pieces and jewelry that (almost) justify their price by adding beauty to your home, office, ears, navel, septum, et hoc genus omne. On the other, they’ve apparently decided to release all their leftover bits to the masses for use as spackle for EVERYTHING EVER. One young woman, encrusted head to toe in Swarovski, recently caused a ten-car pileup simply by stepping into the sunlight. OK, not really, but it’ll happen, mark my words.

And for those of you with too little taste and too much money who want something a little, ahem, “classier” than Swarovski, why not browse here?

4) Anything found in the Museum of Food Anomalies Give this site a gander, and you will never, ever look at your salad the same way. The banana with a face in it will haunt my dreams.

5) Peripheral junk-obelia that only hastens the demise of civilization. Hollywood has long ago abandoned any pretense of artistic integrity – try to remember the last popular film that didn’t feature a McToy tie-in or squawking electronic gadget released along with it – but sometimes, they run right past Ridiculous and scamper, giggling, into the arms of Utter Desolation of the Soul. These “dusty jams” may be a little out of date, but that just illustrates the longevity of our culture’s sad pageant of marketing-based suck-itude. My personal “favorite?” The C3PO tape dispenser. Nothing says “Amber Alert!” like a droid with a crotch-mounted tape wheel. YIKES.

**Note Bene**: I don’t agree with the site’s rating system, as I find both German Teachers and John Wayne to be indicative of quality and goodness, rather than horribleness and inanity.

OK, kids, I know you’ve got your own set of criteria for this category. Please, bring me your ALF alarm clocks, your Jesus action figures, your snack foods based on moderately successful second-generation children’s programs: there is room for all at the table of Things That Should Not Be!