Dorky Dad did it. I’m pointing a finger, and it’s not my pointer finger.
At any rate, I jump here, in this post, fully into the life and times of Blogville. Make me mayor for a day, woncha? City keys and all?
So, yes, I’ve been tagged with a meme. And even though these memes feel like chain letters, I’m doing it, and not just to avert seven years of bad luck. I’m supposed to tell you Six Weird Things That Have Happened to Me. Since I consider every blog post thus far an account of something weird that’s happened to me, I may find myself stretching for fresh material. Maybe I could turn this meme into Six Weird Vomit Stories, as those seem to be heaving themselves at me fast and furious in the last month.
However, I’ll attempt to abide by the rules. Since I don’t do that when I drive or converse (I speed and interrupt), this, too, may be a stretch.
Here are the parameters, according to Dorky Dad: “…each player starts by blogging about six weird things about themselves [sic]. Those tagged must also blog the rules in their blog while tagging a half a dozen people of their own. It’s also important to inform the tagees that they’ve been tagged.” He then went on to adjust the subject this particular meme, so that the topic is about six weird things that have happened to the blogger in question.
1) I received my first kiss as an adolescent when I was trick-or-treating. My pals and I rang a doorbell, and a drunken teen answered. His name was Randy. He propped himself against the doorframe, gave us all some Bottle Caps, and then swooned over how cute I was in my costume. Smelling of something Genuinely Drafty, he leaned in and whispered at me, spittle on his lips, “Can I give you a little kiss?” Because I had no self-esteem and couldn’t believe that any male would *ever* want to kiss me for being cute (I was ten, and it already seemed like a drought), I nodded shyly. It was quick and, yup, spittle-ridden. My knees got soft, and suddenly my pillowcase of candy felt very heavy.
I was dressed that year as Pippi Longstocking. To aid my braids in standing straight out from my head, my mother had bent a wire hanger over my head and braided my hair around it.
Weird thing? The name Randy.
2. In high school, I was deeply into forensics. No, you CSI fans, you and your slow-motion bullets should sit back down and stop waving your remote controls in the air so excitedly. I mean competitive speech tournaments. Like “Hi, my original oratory today will expose how ludicrious contemporary advertising is, and I will refer to the commercial featuring figure skater Peggy Fleming throwing a pack of chewing gum into a swimming pool as evidence.” Like, “I totally am advancing to finals in Lincoln-Douglas Debate this weekend!” Like, “I cannot even believe how unprofessional those poster boards looked for the extemporaneous speech on horror films. The blood on them was sooo obviously catsup. What judge would be fooled by that?”
At any rate, in 1984, on the way home from a speech tournament one weekend, our bus pulled over in Belgrade, Montana (this is still not the weird part), at about midnight, so’s all of us hyper and hungry teens could up our blood sugar even further (after four or five in an hour, Pixie Stix start to lose their punch) with stacks of pancakes at an all-night diner. I was ten feet inside the door of the joint when I was frozen to the linoleum. There, in a vinyl booth, eating their own stacks, were the members of none other than…
I can hear your intake of breath as you read this, you know.
But you need to breathe. Exhale, already. Yes, I typed Night Ranger. You read me right.
They of “Sister Christian” fame. They were chillin’. They were eatin’. They were chattin’. They were motorin’. And what was their price for flight?
A diner full of MTV-struck forensics geeks, that’s what.
After all lurching to a halt simultaneously, the 40 or so of us on the team quickly became overly casual–we sure as cattle rustlers weren’t going to give those megastars a chance to think we were some dumb Western bohunks who’d never seen a metal hair band live and eating pancakes before. So we shuffled, en masse, to a group of booths, where we talked frantically of everything *except* the rockers in our midst. Animatedly, we ordered, dug our fingernails into each others’ legs under the table, and hissed discreetly, “OMIGOD. OMIGOD. THEY ARE SO HOT. WHAT SHOULD WE DO? SHOULD WE DO ANYTHING?”
Eventually, my natural leadership emerged, and I decided to take charge of the moment and make it last forever, much like a newlywed who gifts his bride of three months with diamond tennis bracelet from Zales.
Grabbing my placemat, only slightly smeared with blueberry syrup, I marshaled two of my entourage and goosestepped us over to The Table of Ranger. Drawing upon all my speech training, I looked them firmly in the eye, gestured confidently from above the waist, and imbued my tone with a natural and conversational rhythm, squeaking oratorically, “Excuse me, Mr. Rangers of the Night, we all here [gesturing widely] think you are super–er, *immensely*–talented and are ever so very honored that you have come to our fair state of the big sky, so could I have your autograph on this placemat to commemorate this monumental happening?”
That placemat still lives in a box in my basement. After eight rounds of fisticuffs and team debate back out on the bus, I stepped in as the judge and decided I had won the autograph tournament. The trophy was mine.
3) One time when I was performing during the half-time show of the Super Bowl (*ahem*: Super Bowel), I was part of a really embarrassing ‘wardrobe malfunction.’ My costar and I had practiced and practiced our choreography for three whole minutes before the show, but then, in the heat of the floodlights, something went terribly wrong, and suddenly my fellow chanteur reached over and ripped the leather right off my potential-baby-nursing-equipment, leaving me exposed and feeling a rhythm-nationed loss of control.
I was so distraught I had to call up my nephew JerMajesty for a comforting chat about colonics.
4) In my junior year of college, I spent a whole lot of late-night hours playing cribbage and drinking from a keg-o-liter in the dorm room of my posse, which consisted of one guy named Rick. Oh, and sometimes a guy named Rolf. Everyone else was asleep at 3 a.m., as we pegged and nibs-ed and skunked and gulped and chugged.
One night, full of Leinenkugels, having suffered the blow of yet another great cribbage loss, I took a restorative break in the bathroom, an adjacent room that consisted of one stall and two sinks. As I sat relaxing and chanting “fifteen-two, fifteen-four, fifteen-six…,” I heard the door open.
“Um, hi, I’m *in* here,” announced me.
“Yea, Joce, I know, but I gotta go,” said The Rickster.
“Well, you’re going to need to wait a minute ’til I’m done,” I countered.
“Naw, I’m already going right now,” Rick assured me.
Bwah? Then he turned on the tap and gave the sink a quick swirl of cold water, kindly cleansing it of his urine before I would need to wash my hands.
Chivalry was not dead.
5. In 1993, in the mountains outside of Leadville, Colorado, I camped in the back of a Chevy Van with Then-Beau. At somewhere between 11,000 and 13,000 feet (oxygen deprivation fuddled my mind), the night air was chill, and I could not stop shivering, even under under a Mexican blanket and with my hood cinched around my face. My nose, in particular, was the temperature and consistency of frozen yogurt.
In a gesture of affection, Then-Beau formed an O shape with his thumb and fingers, placing the O over my yogurt-nose, to warm it up. Promptly, he fell into a deep sleep, as the men in my life do when laying next to me. My nose gradually warmed, and I, too, dozed off. Six hours later, I awoke, the O hand still clamped to my beak.
I was a little touched by his unconscious devotion to my schnoz. But mostly, the O-print that remained on my face for the next two weeks was, well, a little weird.
6. As I wrote recently, my dad was addicted to the tv game show Jeopardy; from my teens, I regarded Alex Trebec as a clipped and slightly-condescending uncle who visited our home every afternoon at 4:30. I didn’t know what he was all about, but he seemed smart and as though a mojito might do wonders for his disposition.
As I got older, watching the show became more gratifying for me because I could actually answer some of the questions. And then, in college, I realized I could answer a lot of the questions. Tacitly, my dad and I came to the understanding that we were really good at this show. We could yell out answers at the tv and pretty much be right.
Certainly, this was not a phenomenon enjoyed by thousands, nay, millions of other fans across the nation. Surely, this armchair mastery of question asking in categories like “Bird Talk” and “Medieval Europe” was unique to us. We knew we were good, and our abilities were rare.
Thus, you can imagine our excitement when Jeopardy announced it was coming to our town for a contestant search. Clearly, we would go through the motions of taking their little test and jumping through whatever other hoops they’d hold up for us (demonstrating aptitude at clicking a button or enunciating, “I’ll take ‘Cheeses of the World’ for $400, Alex”), but equally clearly, at least one of us would be taking a trip to a television studio in Culver City, California, where we would garner fame, money, and, ultimately, a return trip to the Tournament of Champions.
The day of the audition, we waited in line for hours, as the queue snaked around a downtown building. Eventually, we made it into the crowded testing room, feeling confident that the prescreening quiz was just a formality–a weeder–and soon we’d be in a much smaller room, with the real candidates, giving genuinely challenging questions to their advanced-level answers.
When the ten-answer pretest was handed out, I treated it like the SAT’s, kicking back for some free-flowing brain-snapping fun. But, hmmmm, the first answer was not exactly one onto which I could mindlessly jot down, “What is malaria?” In fact, I couldn’t think of anything to jot down. Skipping the ones I didn’t know, I soon found myself on answer number five, which I *guessed* was, “What is saffron?”
Then again, it could have been cinnamon. I wasn’t, technically, sure.
This test was actually kind of, um, hard.
At the end of the allotted time, our tests were collected, and then the correct questions were revealed.
As it turns out, I got two of the ten questions correct. This score was average, and only two people out of the room of hundreds were heading to the next round of testing. My dad and I, however, with our wide-open schedules, were heading to the Perkins to slurp soup served in breadbowls.
Harumph. How very weird the whole thing was: the one time Jeopardy administered an uncharacteristically difficult pre-screening test was when they held their search in my hometown. Any other time, I *know* we would have made the cut.
Why, later that very day, we were back in our lounge chairs at home, watching Alex quiz his contestants, and I’ll be dadgummed if we didn’t get every question right.