Roaches, singing toasters & bad eggs.
I talked about stories the other day, and it made me think about the stories that I have to tell. Some I’ve told before, either in person or in print. Others are just floating around in the back of my brain, waiting for an opportune moment.
One thing led to another, and I decided that if I’m ever motivated to write my memoirs, I’m not going to bother actually going through my life in chronological order. Or any other sort of order, really. I’d rather just lay out my life as a collection of anecdotes as they occur to me. Like this:
I once traveled from El Paso, Texas, to Tlahualilo in Mexico to attend a quinceañera. I wasn’t invited because they really wanted me there, I was invited because they wanted my boyfriend (at the time) to escort the birthday girl during her presentation. (There was a whole lot of family drama going on, but I won’t go into detail.) My boyfriend ended up getting sick as a dog while we were there, to the point where it looked like he’d be too sick and weak to perform his duties. They brought an elderly woman in, who pronounced him a victim of the evil eye. She took out a chicken egg and proceeded to pass it up and down along his body. The point was to draw the evil stuff out of him and into the egg. When she was done, she cracked the egg into a glass of water. When the white and yolk hit the water, it roiled and started to steam. She said that he was now free of the evil eye, and then she pulled something out of her pocket and handed it to him. “Just in case,” she said, before she swept out of the room.
She’d given him an aspirin.
I worked as a police dispatcher for a while. We usually had one or two people dedicated to answering 911 calls during traditionally busy hours, but those of us who manned the radios were also expected to pick up 911 calls whenever we could. One call came late at night, from a woman who was urgently whispering into the phone. She told me that she believed that someone had broken into her house, because her toaster was singing.
My first thought was that she had mental issues, but you have to take every call seriously — dismissing someone or making assumptions is just a really bad idea. We dispatched an officer, who found no evidence of a burglar or home invader, thankfully. Later, I found out that the woman actually had a singing toaster — when you pushed down on the lever to toast your bread, it played songs. The toaster had started to sing in the night, which, naturally, freaked her out. The officer thought that the toaster had just malfunctioned, but who knows? Maybe someone… or some thing… just really needed some toast.
Moral of the story: Singing appliances are a bad idea. And, yeah, don’t make assumptions.
A few months into my senior year of high school, we moved from El Paso to Overland Park, Kansas. This irritated me to no end. We’d moved from Southern California to Texas when I was thirteen, which had been a particularly bad move from my perspective, but, since I was a minor, I didn’t have any control over it. Thus, the minute I graduated high school, I hopped on a bus (I still didn’t have a driver’s license, let alone a car) and ended up back in El Paso, where my friends were.
Eventually, my boyfriend (at the time) and I got an apartment together. We made a deal with the owner: she told us that the last tenant had left a mess, so if we agreed to clean it up, she would waive the deposit. We thought that sounded like a great idea, because we were young, stupid, and poor.
We arrived in our first-ever apartment and found out what “a mess” meant: the previous tenant had painted murals on the walls with the materials that she had handy. Blues were achieved using toothpaste. Dirt was chocolate syrup. Naturally, the word had gone out, and every cockroach in the area had shown up to party.
They were brazen about it, too. We were stuck: we’d made an agreement, so we grimly went about stocking up on cleaning supplies and cans of Raid. I was scrubbing at a particularly stubborn bit of crap right in the middle of a wall (thank goodness it wasn’t actual crap) when a cockroach crawled straight down the middle of the wall, ending up directly in front of my face. I’d been concentrating so hard on getting the wall clean that I never saw it coming. It crawled into my direct line of sight — about four inches from my face — and I freaked.
I jumped back, screamed, “RAID!!!” and my boyfriend, reacting, snatched the nearest can and threw it at my back. I can’t verify this next part myself, because it’s fuzzy — I was in full-on “GAAAAH ROACH” mode — but he swore up and down that I snapped my hand out behind me and caught the can without looking.
I don’t remember whether or not I actually turned to look at it, but I do remember catching it, whipping it around, and smashing the roach with the side of the can. Who has time to find a fricking spray nozzle and make sure it’s pointed the right way in a situation like that?
I tend to think the blind behind-the-back catch was probably real, because the last thing I would have wanted to do is take my eyes off that filthy little bugger. If you take your eyes off of them, they teleport… but they can’t do it while you’re looking. (I mean… that has to be true, right?)
Probable spoiler: I doubt that I’ll ever actually write my memoirs. That just feels weird.