A FEW OF US WERE MOANING
(a true story)
Christmas morning 2006...
Kim and I were lazily laying around in bed, sort of half-contemplating
No kids. No presents to open. No relatives in town.
What's the point of getting up?
I should point out that it's my fault we were home for the holidays.
I hate Christmas and everything involved in it.
Kim could take it or leave it, but it's really me who absolutely despises every
frigging thing about the Yuletide season.
Everything's made of plastic, the music sucks, and we're all supposed to
pretend to be nice to each other for three weeks out of the year?
Sounds like a whole lot of bullshit if you ask me.
But hey, I know I'm in the minority on this one, so I just tend to stay home
and not Grinch everybody's big buzz.
So there we were laying around Christmas morning.
The cats were wrestling around on the quilt and it was all pretty cute.
Our cat, Mr. Hyde (an aptly named mix of Siamese and something else evil)
was rubbing his face on my hands and purring.
The whole scene was peaceful and sort of sweet.
Then Hyde bit me.
Hyde's bitten me before but they were just gentle love bites.
That's been our agreement ever since the BIG INCIDENT.
The incident occurred one night while I was asleep, shortly after we got
Hyde from the Humane Society.
I was in deep sleep when Hyde crawled under the covers from the foot of the
I should tell you right here and now that I sleep in my birthday suit (don't visualize this please, I only bring it up because it's integral to the story).
Hyde hung around near my ankles for awhile, then he decided to investigate his undercover surroundings a little further.
The long and the (sadly) short of it was that Hyde crawled up between my
legs and bit me in the sack.
And you know what?
I don't ever want to wake up that way again.
I immediately bolted upright and started punching at the source of my pain
(i.e. the cat). I didn't know it was the cat though because I was asleep.
I just knew the boys and I were under attack and I came out swinging.
If there's anything worse than a panicky cat trying to get out from
underneath of bed covers, I don't know what it is.
Hyde scratched and clawed, desperately trying to get out from beneath the
sheets, and tore up everything tearable on his way out.
This only took a few horrible seconds. Then I was awake. And angry.
Realization? That little s.o.b. just took a bite out of my goods!
I spent the next several minutes chasing him around the house nude,
wielding a fire poker (the first thing I picked up).
In my state of rage, I fully intended to pin the cat into a corner, impale him
with the poker, and then eat him while he was still partially alive.
Yes, it was a little unreasonable, but it would've been oh-so-satisfying.
But Hyde wisely ran and hid, thus sparing his own life and also preventing
an ugly house call from PETA.
So ever since that incident Hyde and I have this agreement. He's allowed to
gum my fingers and rub his teeth around on them - and that's all.
I figured he's always felt a bit bad about what happened and now he's trying
to be a good boy.
But on that particular Christmas morning, Hyde welched on his end of the
This sudden bite of his was a chomp to my pointer finger, then another
lightning-fast chew on my middle finger.
My first thought was that I hoped it wasn't serious; I mean I can do without
my pointer finger, but I NEED that middle finger on a daily basis.
There was some blood, so I dutifully went into the bathroom, washed it out
with soap and water, cleaned it with rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide,
then swabbed it up with NeoSporin.
I bandaged it, and feeling very pro-active, went about the rest of my God
damned Christmas Day.
It was about 3pm when my fingers really started to hurt.
I took the bandages off and saw that the two puncture marks were now
white blisters filled with fluid.
I took a pair of tweezers soaked them in rubbing alcohol, cleaned them off,
poked the blisters and effectively drained them.
I have a friend who, years ago, was scratched by his cat.
They were playing and the cat swiped him a good one. Several days later my
friend began to feel horrible. No energy, achy etc.
He found a growth in his armpit and went to the doctor.
He was diagnosed with (cue Ted Nugent) CAT SCRATCH FEVER!
It took my friend a better part of the year to recover from this ailment,
during which time the growth in his pit grew to "the size of a Twinkie."
Doesn't that just make you crave Hostess?
My friend's story drifted across my mind as I finished draining my digits.
And three hours later when my fingers turned beet-red and the punctures
began to abscess, the opening power chords from Terrible Ted's tune began
to seriously slam my brain.
And that's A-B-C-C, A-B-C, A-B-C-C, C-B-A-A if you play guitar and want to
try it right now.
I once again cleansed my wounds as best I could then hit the hay.
The next morning I woke to find two bright-red, sausage-like finger things
where my hand usually is. The holes on my fingers were swelled up
ridiculous, and white with goo.
They hurt and the whole deal was foul.
I figured I'd give the doc a call and see what he made of it.
But being that it was the day after God damned Christmas, things in
doctor-land were slammed.
Both my doctor and Kim's doctor were understandably too busy to see me.
But both of them concurred after hearing my symptoms that I should go
immediately to Urgent Care.
I'm not an alarmist at all. Never been a hypochondriac.
I'm very suspicious of doctors for the most part, and when I'm around them
my nose is always sniffing the air for a whiff of quackery.
I've gotten in arguments with doctors because I told them I disagreed with
And boy, they don't like that a bit...the God Complex and all. They smile
with that smug, bemused, cocked-eyebrow that seem to say to the world:
Don't you dare contradict me, you ignoramus...I spent eleven years in school
and that makes me right.
Worse than that, most patients believe every word that plops out of doctors'
mouths. They don't bother with a second or third opinion, they don't try to
research the thing themselves, they just Believe.
If I was a 'Healer' and the people around me 'Believed', I might get to
thinking I was like God after a while too.
Not being pro-active is quite a gamble in my mind.
My motto: never believe anything anyone tells you - you'll live a lot longer.
So with all that preamble, guess what?
I ended up going to Urgent Care after all.
I just couldn't stop picturing that growth in my pal's pit.
When I opened the door to the place and viewed the cast of characters, I
First of all, there were 53 people in the room (yes, I counted. What else
was there to do?) and most of them were coughing.
Why can't people cover their mouths when they cough, huh? What's the
fucking problem? I know that sharing your mystery disease via the air with
the rest of us probably doesn't bother YOU too much, but how's about
sputtering that spew into a hanky and keeping it yourself, Mr. Outbreak?
I was met at the reception desk by a woman who didn't lift her eyes to look
at me when she spoke.
"Jim, um, James Walker"
"You're number 24...have a seat..."
And oh, the warm, caring, healing waters began to gently flow over me.
Florence Nightingale handed me a stack of forms to fill out.
There was no place to sit so I stood by a door. I leaned up against it and
immediately the door flew open and hit me in the head. A nurse coming out
on the other side said - sorry - and looked down at her clipboard...
"Wilson, Henry Wilson?
A hunched-over man I had taken to be a cadaver suddenly sprang to life in
his chair. His red-rimmed eyes flew open and he began pulling his ancient,
boney self up and out of his seat.
"I'm here..." He said in a whisper voice.
Yes, I thought. But I'll venture a bet that you can safely cancel next
I sat on the floor to fill out my forms.
I could've sat in the seat that the wheezing geezer had just vacated, but I
figured I'd let someone have it who looked like they might need it more.
Plus, it looked like he might have gotten some of that old man crud on the
chair, and I can't have that. But other old biddies don't seem to mind sitting
in old crud. They don't even look for stuff like that.
As a matter of fact, other seniors are likely dropping and smearing their own
old crud like the gangbusters.
So I was fine there on the floor.
Till some My-Name-Is-Earl-looking guy started trying to chat it up with me.
"Hey buddy...whattya here for?" He asked.
"Cat bite." I said.
"I threw my back out yesterday. Worst pain I've ever been in. I spend all
day Christmas in bed. My wife..."
And blah blah blah.
He just wanted to share his malady with anyone with a set of ears. Mine
were just there at the right time.
I let him run his mouth and tuned him out, dreaming of a place with no
mullets or El Caminos.
Five minutes or so later his presence was requested in the examination
Thank you, merciful Christ. I know I'm something of a disappointment to
You, but I promise I'll try to stop doing all that stuff I do that I know You
don't like so much. Amen.
About 10 of the 53, wait - 52 people in the waiting room were in wheelchairs.
There were also several people holding their heads.
A few of us were moaning.
Anguish, pain, sickness, depression, horror. This is a room in Hell.
A young man burst through the door sputtering and coughing. He was so
ghostly pale his face looked nearly green. He stood there or a moment, then
announced to the receptionist,
"I don't...I don't know what I've got!"
This man actually managed to get an entire room of sick people to back up
Now I don't know all the ins and outs of what happened to James Brown
when he died a little while ago, but I heard he went in for a prostate
operation, and then died of pneumonia a couple of days later.
WTF? How does that happen?
Years ago, my dad had a tropical disease he picked up in Tahiti. While he
was being treated in the hospital he contracted a staph infection. He was in
intensive care for eleven weeks and they gave him the last rights three times.
But the old bugger hung in there and still he lives to this day.
You hear about this stuff all the time. Somebody goes into the hospital for
something, and while in their weakened state they contract something just
a-floating airborne through the facility, or they pick up some super bug from
all the handling from different people who may or may not have washed
properly after dealing with the last patient.
It's frightening, isn't it?
So while I was waiting there to see the doc, I was a bit anxious.
I heard that they might want to put me on liquid antibiotics. Hook me up to
an IV where a myriad of microbes and bacteria could get on the needle and
go all up in me.
I don't want a Twinkie, but I also don't want a scalding monster virus that
will liquefy my spleen.
I was all squirmy in my seat thinking of it.
Three and a half hours after arriving at this place, number 24's name was
"Walker? James Walker?"
Now I was transferred to the smaller waiting room.
Ten minutes later, Dougie Howser walked in.
Jeez, he was just a kid.
I thought he was the valet. I was going to have him mow my lawn.
He told me I was lucky I came in. His mother had been bitten by a cat, got
an infection and subsequently spent seven months in the hospital.
Cats eat mice and birds, scratch around their litter boxes in their own filth,
lick other cats hineys, and God knows what all, and they just don't get the
chance to brush and floss as much as they should. Stuff builds up on their
teeth and if it's real nasty stuff and they bite you, it goes right into your
They gave me shots, put me on antibiotics, and sent me home where I now
sit writing this.
Mr. Hyde is sitting right outside my studio, watching me while I tap away at
He looks serene and relaxed. So peaceful.
But I know the truth.
He can't fool me.
A few minutes ago he shut his eyes and nodded off to sleep.
I very quietly picked up my guitar and walked close to him.
And then my pick came down hard on the strings on that big A chord, and
I screamed at the top of my lungs:
"Cat Scratch Fevuh!!!! Cat Scratch Fevuh!!!!"
And now I'm on my knees and I can't stop laughing thinking about how he looked leaping a three foot spiral into the air, and running for his life up the stairs.
Two can play at this game, my furry friend.
You're just lucky I didn't use my teeth.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
(a true story)
The night that the show All in the Family debuted on television I was five years old.
It must have been a holiday of some kind because we had a bunch of people over to the house including my aunt Evelyn, and her close personal friend Eva. Eva was a young woman from Germany. I always thought she was pretty nice. I liked her
musical accent and hearing her stories.
We were having dinner and my Godfather Don asked what time it was. He said he
wanted to make sure he didn’t miss the debut of this new show, All in the Family.
He said he’d heard it was supposed to be hilarious and really off color. He excused
himself from the table and went into the TV room. I followed cause I wanted to see
a funny show too. He turned on the TV and put his feet up on the ottoman, really
settling in to enjoy himself. He had a drink in his hand (though he’s since quit
because the doctors told him his liver was going to explode) and a smoke between his fingers (he decided to quit when the doctors took out one of his lungs).
The show began with Edith and Archie singing and all that.
Then German Eva appeared in the TV room. She walked to the TV, changed the
channel, pulled the ottoman out from under Don’s feet, sat down on the couch, and
stuck the ottoman under her own feet.
“Hey...what are you doing?” asked Don.
“I don’t want to watch this stupid show” said Eva.
“Well, I do...turn it back on, you Nazi cunt.”
I’d never heard either of those words before, but by the look on Eva’s face I knew
they were heavies.
Eva got up abruptly, glaring at Don like he was the devil incarnate (which he
is...that’s why I like him) and made Evelyn take her home.
Everybody on our end thought the incident was pretty funny. Even my Mom,
although she pretended to be mad at Don.
Don was always doing things like that. He still does.
He’s 75 now and as full of piss and vinegar as ever. He got email recently and he
sends me filthy jokes every day, God bless him.
One time Don went into a Sav-On drugstore to buy a pack of cigarettes. He was
stuck in line behind an old lady who insisted on showing the cashier pictures of her
Don got tired of waiting so he opened the pack of cigarettes and lit one up.
The cashier said, “Sir, you can’t smoke in the store.”
And Don said, “Well, if she’d get the fuck outta my way I could smoke it in the
He was banned from Sav-On for life.
Another time he showed up at his local breakfast spot and ordered the breakfast
special. The waitress told him they’d stopped serving breakfast at 11:30. Don
looked up at the clock on the wall. It read 11:20. He pointed out that it was only
11:20. The waitress said she knew that but the cook started cleaning the grills off at 11:20. So Don told her he thought that was stupid, and once again asked for
breakfast. The waitress got mad and told him he couldn’t have breakfast, and why
didn’t he order lunch and keep quiet? Don said he didn’t want lunch he wanted
breakfast, and why the fuck did they advertise breakfast until 11:30 if they were
going to only serve breakfast until 11:20? The waitress told him to get out so Don
picked up a coffee cup and threw it at the clock, shattering both, then he stormed
He was banned from the Old Town Cafe for life too.
Speaking of the Nazi cunt, Eva...I remember the day that Nixon resigned.
I was in Mexico with my aunt, my mom, her friend Peggy, Peggy’s daughter,
Florence, my sister Barb and this Eva. I was the only boy.
We were listening to all the goings on on the radio. Everyone was rapt, being that it
was such a big to-do, fixed on this little radio on the kitchen counter.
We were all in this house my mom had rented. It was up on a cliff that overlooked
the beach and the brilliant, blue water below. I remember the sun being insanely
I was bored there in the kitchen so I was fidgeting back and forth on a bar stool.
All the women were gathered, listening. And they were wearing swimsuits. Eva had
on a bikini. She was in her mid-thirties then and pretty damn happening. I looked at
her breasts, beautiful and full, pushed up and pouting in her bikini top. I became
transfixed on them. I began to have the first sexual feelings that I can recall. I got a
stiffy, and just sat there staring.
Then she said (in her thick accent), “Chimmy...vot are you staring at?”
I turned so red I was purple.
I got up and ran out of the room with my boner poking straight ahead like a pup
tent. All the women started laughing when they realized what was going on. I
headed for the bathroom (the only place I could be alone for a minute and straighten out my thoughts among other things). I threw the door open and there was Florence (then about fourteen) quickly pulling up her shorts yelling,
“Hey I’m in here!!”
Her pubic hair was poking over the top of her shorts as she pulled it up. I said sorry and ran for the back door.
I sat outside on a hot, white wall looking at the ocean, totally confused by what had
just happened so fast.
It had been a big day.
(a true story)
I drove down to Northern California awhile back to visit my dad. My mom,
Lucy, died a couple years ago so now my sister and I try to see the old man
as much as we can.
He seems to be doing okay, making the major adjustment slowly, but
keeping up his routines that give him some kind of stability and comfort.
We were worried about him at first.
When Kim and I showed up after hearing the news about my mom, we
walked into the house and there was dad at the breakfast table, sitting alone
in the silent house. He was having his “lunch”; using a chocolate biscotti
from Costco to spoon tuna out of the can and into his mouth.
Just shock probably, we thought, envisioning some mighty interesting
So my sister Barbara and I have been taking turns going and seeing him,
making sure he’s not eating frozen peas mixed with Kibbles and Bits, or
turning into Ronald Reagan.
To get a more complete vision of my dad, close your eyes and imagine the
Skipper from Gilligan’s Island. Got it? Okay, now for his speaking voice,
imagine Floyd the barber from the Andy Griffith show, combined with the
awkward...strained...and chopped...speech pattern...of William...Shatner.
It’s always been surreal being around him. He’s a very strange person. He
believes that the rest of us should be able to read his mind, and that makes
for colorful conversations. Such as:
Where’d she put it?
What key..? Who?
Water, water, water.
What are you talking about?
Yer MOTHER, kid!!
Oh. What key?
To the GRANDFATHER CLOCK, kid! Jesus...
Mom...she kept the key? I’m confused.
No, jeez...your mother used to wind...the clock while I was out...watering.
We...had...two keys. Now I just lost one of them and I...can’t...find the other
one. Aren’t you listening to me? Jeez, Lucille...where’d you put it?
I think my mother is resting peacefully.
So I showed up at Dad’s house this most recent time after driving for ten
hours. I walked in, we chatted for a few minutes, had a couple of cocktails,
and seeing how it was about 8pm I asked him what the plans were for dinner.
He said, “Well, I thought you could cook something.”
I told him that I just drove ten hours to get there and if he thought I was cooking, he could go get fucked.
You’re taking me out, I told him.
We started calling a few places to see what was open and it turned out,
everyplace in his little town that didn’t cause extreme intestinal distress was closed Mondays.
So I got in the damn car, went to the damn market, and shaking my head and muttering to myself the whole time, cooked our damn dinner.
Before going to bed that night my dad said, “Okay 10.15 tomorrow...we’ll go
to the produce market...”
I’m usually an early riser, but dad lives basically in the forest. Very quiet.
When I visit down there I’ve been known to sleep till someone wakes me up.
“Can you wake me up by 9 if I’m not already up?” I asked.
He said sure, and the next morning I was awoken by a fist beating on the
“Quarter to ten, Jimmy...get up.”
Quarter to...God Da...arggh.
So I raced around and was ready by 10.25. Dad was all in a dither.
We jumped in the car, got down to the produce market (tents set up on the
parking lot of a church), and dad nearly leapt from the car, clearly agitated.
It was 10.30 am and 105 degrees.
And I don’t do heat.
We approached a small group of old folks gathered around a woman who
“R65...322” she said.
“That’s me!” a blue-haired, doddering granny delighted. She proudly handed
over her ticket stub to the woman running the raffle, and received a head of
iceberg lettuce. Granny beamed.
“Shit!! We missed it!!” Dad said.
“Oh, I didn’t know there was a raffle” I said.
“Kid, I told you - 10.15!!!” Dad said.
In the past I would’ve pointed out that by him saying “Produce market at 10.15”, well, that doesn’t automatically explain to me that there’s a RAFFLE that my dad wants to go to at the produce market at 10.15...but I let it go.
“Last week I won potatoes...” Dad said.
I had no response to that.
The next little exchange that we had, standing out there broiling on asphalt
under a raging sun, really stands out in my mind as one of our great father /
Here it is:
Alright, kid...here’s 20 dollars.
Get whatever you want.
Uhh...I don’t want anything. But thank you.
Get some fruit.
But, I don’t want any fruit.
Oh...well, you see...that’s what YOU eat for breakfast.
It’s good for you.
(a blank stare)
Well, at least get the zucchini.
Zucchini? For what?
For the CASSEROLE...Jesus, kid!
I’d like to start a band called Jesus Kid.
Three months ago, I found some of my Grandma Bessie’s old recipes in a
box we took from her house when she died several years ago. Over the next
couple of weeks I cooked a few of them, and had told dad about it. One of
the meals was a zucchini casserole. When I told him I’d cooked it, he
grunted, and that was the end of it. Till now I supposed. I deduced that this
was what he was on about, this casserole I’d eaten and digested 12 weeks ago.
Are you talking about Bessie’s casserole?
Yeah! You can cook me that casserole.
Well, heh, a couple of things. First, I haven’t exactly committed that recipe
to memory quite yet. Sorry about that. Second, had I KNOWN you wanted
me to cook you Bessie’s casserole, I would’ve made it a point to bring the
recipe with me. Sadly though, it’s 500 miles away from here in a box on top
of my refrigerator.
Dad furrowed his brow and squinted into the sun.
Well then what are we doing here?
And that was my thought exactly.
THE EXTERMINATOR GAVE US THE SKINNY
(a true story)
It was sometime in late 1993.
Kim and I had just kinda started, um...getting physical.
Sorry, I don’t know how to sugarcoat these things, please forgive me.
Now you know.
We were living in LA.
Kim was working for this old-timey movie producer guy - Dino DeLaurentis.
This guy started off in Italy as a younger man producing Fellini movies and other
cool stuff. Then after he moved to the States he produced the first remake of KING
KONG with that hubba-hubba Jessica Lange back in the day.
He also did David Lynch’s bizarro masterpiece BLUE VELVET, SILENCE OF
THE LAMBS and tons of other great flicks.
Suffice it to say, she had a great job and got to meet a lot of interesting folks during her stint in LA.
There was a woman in Kim’s office who was taking a trip to Israel with her
husband and her kid.
She asked Kim if she’d take care of the house while she was gone.
This was a very thrilling time in our budding relationship.
I had an apartment in Pasadena but I had a room mate - no good for the, uh...getting physical.
Yes, we sinned, okay? It was against the Lord and stuff so they tell me and I guess
we’re going to burn in Hades.
That’s the way the cookie crumbles.
Kim had an apartment but she was trying to extract herself from her room mate who used to be her boyfriend. It was very touchy and potentially an emotional powder keg. No good.
So it was difficult to find a good place to sin.
But - once in awhile when one of Kim’s coworkers would ask Kim to house sit it’d
all work out.
One time, Kim house sat at this woman’s house who used to be Madonna’s assistant during the TRUTH OR DARE period.
We stayed at her place for weeks. The place was adorned with somewhat Goth swag this chick had pilfered from Madonna. Lots of flowing curtains, black candles,
statues, and like that.
I recall we had the Graham Parker cd, THE MONA LISA’S SISTER on a constant
loop whenever we were there.
The things that stick in one’s head are so odd.
So Kim decided to house sit for this Israel chick.
This was not going to be quite as exciting as the Madonna-decorated joint, but
the location was great; just a couple blocks off of Melrose.
Lots of restaurants, shops, and stuff to do. Perpetual hub-bub.
It was a Friday and we were on our way to spend the weekend at the house.
Kim was going to be taking care of the place for five weeks.
As we pulled up the the place - a very cozy bungalow-style cottage - Kim told me
that the woman who owned the house had a live-in maid named Olivia. Olivia
apparently had left the house that afternoon to go stay with her family while Kim
was house sitting.
So what do I do? I ask Kim if she’s REALLY sure this Olivia is gone and the
moment we walk in the door to the house I start screaming,
“Hey Olivia! Hey Olivia, where are you? What’s going on, baby? Where are ya,
I’m barreling though the house, throwing doors open, yelling for Olivia.
I throw this one door open, and sitting on the bed is...Olivia.
Here’s this young Mexican woman who has been minding her own business,
patiently waiting for her family or whatever, and suddenly there’s this tattooed
stranger hollering, knocking down her door, and scaring the living daylights out
When I saw her I was completely mortified. The last thing I expected to see as I
screamed Olivia, was OLIVIA.
She stared at me from her bed, her eyes huge with fear.
She said something in Spanish in a trembling voice.
I’m sure she thought I was going to kill her.
I apologized and shut the door quickly.
I turned and looked at Kim. I put my hands in the air.
“I didn’t know...I’m sorry. I feel terrible. I’m such a tool! What the hell is she still
doing here anyway? She was supposed to be gone this afternoon! Oh my Lord...”
We went into the master bedroom and shut the door.
Then we laughed into the pillows for twenty minutes.
I mean, try to imagine what was going on in this poor woman’s head.
The more we thought about it, the funnier it became.
Shortly after that, we got ready for bed, leaving the poor distraught Olivia to
As we were climbing under the covers I saw something dart across the floor and
under the closet door.
“AHH! Holy God...d’ja see that?” I said.
Kim said no.
“It was a big black thing...it ran across the floor!!” I said.
“Oh God, what?!” Kim said hopping into the bed and pulling the covers around
“I have no idea...” I said.
I walked over to the closet door and threw it open.
I heard a skittering sound.
I looked at the wood floor and there, running back into the shoes was a big
“DAHHH!!!” I yelled leaping backward a few feet.
In all my years living in LA I’d never even SEEN a cockroach. Not one.
That was New York stuff...not LA. That’s what I thought anyway.
I tried for about fifteen minutes to find the roach so I could smash it, but it never
I laid there in the dark for hours, listening in the silence for a new skitter.
Waiting for the insect to run across my face and mouth in the dark.
But it didn’t come back.
It was a very long night.
The next morning Olivia was gone, and we never found out what the mix-up was,
and why she hadn’t left by Friday afternoon like she was supposed to. I’m thinking
she probably mentioned me to her family.
Kim and I had pancakes at Farmer’s Market and spent the day goofing off.
Sometime during the afternoon we had a couple of beers and Kim suddenly decided she wanted to a tattoo. She got a cute one too, on her shoulder.
We rented the movie MISTRESS starring Robert DeNiro (Ernest Borgnine has a
delightful cameo in the film as well), bought a bunch of provisions, and went back
to the house.
We cooked dinner and listened for the very first time to what has become one of my favorite albums - WHATEVER by Aimee Mann.
But whenever I hear that record now it reminds me of what happened next...
We ate, drank, and as the night came down, settled in to watch the movie.
Kim sat on the couch, while I reclined back on my elbows leaning on the
We were about halfway though the movie when something ran quickly across the right side side of my peripheral vision. My head snapped to look but it was gone under the sofa.
I made a sound like a little girl scalded by a hot bath. I jumped up.
“AHH! I think that damn roach is back!” I said, standing there in the middle of
the living room.
I grabbed the remote and hit pause.
Ernest Borgnine froze in position.
I got down on my hands and knees and peered into the blackness under the couch.
“D’joo see that?” I asked Kim, who was in some kind of an upright fetal position on
She had a horrified look on her face.
I looked back under the couch.
For some reason, I blew a mouthful of air into the dark.
A sound not unlike a Rainbird sprinkler came back at me.
I realized it was the fast, crisp beating of insect wings.
I jumped back, and a fast-moving roach about the size of a Cadbury chocolate
Easter egg ran out of the dark and then into a corner by the front door.
It sat there shifting its weight back and forth.
It was so big I could see it breathing, wings moving up and down with fear.
I ran into the kitchen to grab a newspaper to swat it with.
I flicked the light on and nothing could have prepared me for what I saw next;
The walls were covered with these roaches.
There were dozens of them; on the kitchen cabinets, running across the linoleum,
moving sideways across the window.
They were everywhere.
“Holy fuck, we’re infested!” I bellowed.
I grabbed a newspaper from a pile in the pantry.
Two roaches skittered underneath.
“GAHHH!” I said.
I rolled the newspaper up and decided to go after the original culprit who was still
shuddering its horrible wings in the corner. One at a time I figured.
I ran at it with my weapon, and as I brought the paper down it jumped, then FLEW
into the air and across the room, landing on the mantle above the fireplace.
Oh God these things could fly?
Well that raised the stakes a little.
It turned and faced me, bearing down for whatever was going to happen next.
It hunkered down like a bull in a ring.
I ran at it with the paper again, and once again it FLEW into the air.
Its cellophane wings made the sprinkler sound again as it landed unsteadily behind the couch.
“I’m getting outta here, me!” I said.
Kim was way ahead of me.
We ran into the bedroom to get our stuff and bail out.
We turned on the lights and saw about ten of these roaches scramble across the floor and walls.
We both screamed.
In about four seconds our stuff was thrown into our bags and we were running for
the front door.
I remember passing a baby’s crib as we headed for the door and seeing a couple of the bugs running around inside it.
We both screamed again.
As I grabbed the door knob and pulled there were three or four of them clinging
onto the outside of the front door.
We screamed again.
Christ, this was like something out of a fucking Stephen King story.
We threw the luggage in the back seat of Kim’s car and hopped in. The whole way
back to my apartment in Pasadena we just kept shuddering and going
The next day Kim called the exterminators.
A few days after that she went back to the house to retrieve a few items we left
behind in our exodus.
There were dead roaches everywhere. A few live ones lay on their backs, legs still
moving feebly in the poison air.
The exterminator gave us the skinny:
Turns out that being as close as we were to Melrose, and Melrose was rife with
restaurants, the restaurants were also lousy with bugs.
One restaurant would call in the air strike and the little beasts would move next
door till the death cloud blew over.
When that newly-infested restaurant called the exterminator, they’d simply move to
the house near the restaurant.
When THAT house called the bug guys, they moved to the NEXT house. And so on
till they reached the house where we were staying.
We just all happened to hit the right weekend all of us.
When Kim called Israel to tell her friend what had happened, the woman said.
“Oh yeah...that happens once in awhile...”
Jesus! THAT happens once in AWHILE? Does it rain frogs too?
Just goes to show that human beings can adapt to anything no matter how
One thing; we never did see the end of that MISTRESS movie.
I keep meaning to rent it again but I have this fear that I’ll keep feeling tiny
phantom antennae brushing my cheek every time I start to get interested in the