Book Tour for IODINE: Day One, Miami

I spent nineteen weeks on bedrest when I was pregnant for Baby Augusten, and that was one of the only times in my life I’ve ever consistently watched television.  I didn’t particularly want to, but when I tried to read, the movement of my eyes back and forth across the page made me vomit.  I loved it when Gwen Stefani said she couldn’t wait to have another baby because pregnancy is so romantic.  One friend of mine was unremittingly constipated during her first pregnancy, and the only thing that helped was if she sat with her feet up on a paint can (gallon size).  She was so mad at her husband for her condition that she made him sit in there with her during the entire arduous process, which is, indeed, like dancing in the rain with your beloved while Sinatra sings ‘Around the World.’

I would watch NOTHING but crime shows:  all the Law & Orders, all the CSIs, and every possible documentary on Court TV about serial killers.  I’m sure this was good for the baby.  I also sang him old hymns, but then realized they were all about blood of Lambs, and Rugged Crosses, so I gave that up.  The point is I absolutely fell in LOVE with David Caruso, in that way you fall in love with someone who is just . . . off?  And he doesn’t know it?  But you’re sitting across from him at the Pizza King in Richmond, Indiana and you can’t help thinking, “What IS he?”  I confessed my love for him to my niece Abby, who said, with great sincerity, “WHAT?!?  Where do you think that man learned to act, K-MART?!?”

So here I am and in case you were wondering about all those shots of Miami in the program and how everything is so gorgeously colored it makes you sad and hungry at once:  yeah, that’s computer-generated. Coral Gables itself it exquisite, though.  MOST IMPORTANTLY:  on the flight here I talked for the entire trip with a couple named Aldine and Otis, who were leaving in the morning for a cruise.  Aldine’s older daughter arranged the trip for her mother as a 60th birthday gift, which suggests to me that Aldine raised that child right.  These were two of the finest people I’ve ever met – I say that sincerely.  They were entirely open-hearted and genuine and smart, and if Aldine ever does stop working so much, I would like for us to be neighbors so I could go to her house every day for cookies.  It’s possible they’re my new best friends, AUGUSTEN, SINCE YOU SAID INGRID MICHAELSON IS YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND.  Here’s what they were like:  you know how you have friends to whom you can say ridiculous or raunchy or inane things and it’s all just fine, and then you have friends to whom you can reveal the deepest things in you without a moment’s hesitation?  They were the latter kind.  They made my heart sing.

Here’s a funny story.  When I was sixteen I had an emergency appendectomy, and while I was recovering my sister and my high school boyfriend went out to get me some gifts. They were at the drugstore and a true Hoosier Sasquatch walked in and ended up in their aisle.  Tim’s eyes got wide and he gestured with his head toward the man, and Bigfoot had the worst plumber’s butt EVER.  And he was HAIRY, like his back was hairy and his partially revealed buttocks were covered by a pelt.  As you may know, Melinda is not the most subtle person when she finds something amusing, and I believe she bent double, snorted, dropped what she was holding, and began gasping for air. 

Sasquatch headed down another aisle and Tim insisted they follow him.  By this time Melinda was deranged.  Then they stood behind him as he paid for his, I don’t know, weasel jerkey, and as he walked out the doors of the store, HIS PANTS COMPLETELY FELL DOWN AROUND HIS ANKLES.

Oh what a funny story this has always been!  Melinda is laughing right now ha hahahahaha!  Except today I landed in Miami and as I was getting off the plane I thought, “Why are my pants slipping down?”  My arms were full, I had my computer bag, so I just kept walking, and I was about, I don’t know, fourteen miles from baggage claim, and I HAD to check a bag because it had a dead rabbit in it and I couldn’t very well run that through security, and as I walked with my arms full, my pants just kept slipping and slipping.  I was frantically going over the morning.  I had deliberately chosen these pants.  They had NOT come from the fat section of the closet, where I keep the blue jeans I wore during my fourth month of pregnancy, that time right before you have to begin wearing Hand-Crafted Amish Barns.  I began to perspire a tad.  By the time I reached baggage claim, my pants had declined upon my person to such an extent that you could see the whole of my underwear, my hipbones, and a birthmark known only to my mother.

Everyone in Miami has been extraordinarily kind to me, which makes me wonder if my second pair of pants has also fallen down.

 

READING:

Books & Books is owned by Mitchell Kaplan, whom I consider to be one of the most important independent booksellers in the country, along with Nancy Olson, Richard Howorth, Tom Campbell & John Valentine, and the owners of Powell’s Books in Portland.  Honestly, the store, which has two separate wings divided by an outdoor wine bar, looks like the soaring interior of some of the most beautiful rooms in the New York Public Library.  His stock is immense – gorgeous covers facing out all the way to the ceiling.  The reading went very well; as with my last two events, the audience was so silent I began to worry that some of them had passed.  No one moves or breathes – it’s very strange.  I know it has something to do with the intensity of the story and the language, but the reaction has been very consistent.

I was very aware of one man in the audience, who was listening particularly closely.  He came up to me afterward and it turned out to be Phillip Smith, a visual artist who has written one of the most compelling memoirs maybe ever.  The lovely editor Peter Borland sent it to me as a blurb request, and even though I don’t have time to blurb anymore, I would have not only offered an entire paragraph, I would have donated blood and cut off all my hair for Wigs For Bald Babies.  We’ve had a correspondence since then, and when he introduced himself I jumped up from the table in utter joy.  You know how there are people like that?  You are just instantly kindred?  We spent the rest of the evening together, and our conversation was of the sort that makes life worth living.  Phillip isn’t actually a writer; he’s a painter, so the fact that he was able to capture the absolute unearthly wonder who was his father is doubly interesting.  Order it right away, particularly if you are trapped in empiricism or repetition or stuckness, because this book, which is entirely factual (believe me, I can spot a lie in a memoir faster than George Stuteville can lose a golf ball in a pond), defies everything we think we know about life.  I was heartbroken when I finished it, not just because the ending is so moving, but because I missed him, I missed Lew Smith, a saint and a healer and a miracle-worker.  I thought of how the poor, humpbacked Apostle Paul must have felt:  “He was just here!  I could have met him, spoken to him, and it’s too late, he’s gone!  And I’m extremely unattractive and I really don’t like women, and I’ll probably end up in jail and then I’ll invent a new religion entirely counter to the one that Jesus intended, BECAUSE I AM JUST SO DARN MAD.  And oh, what Sermon on the Mount?  I don’t seem to have a copy of that.”

Mitchell gave me an entire bag of gifts – great books, and a t-shirt, and a canvas tote bag, and he was in all ways the soul of generosity and kindness and graciousness.  He didn’t even BLINK about the dead rabbit on the podium.  The last time we were together was the last time we saw Larry Brown before he died, so it was a bittersweet (but mostly sweet) reunion. 

My flight leaves at ten in the morning and I get to spend the weekend at home, so I can celebrate my daughter’s 24th birthday.  I’ll probably do other stuff too, like maybe eat some cereal, or look for a belt, some stuff like that.

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Published in: on September 5, 2008 at 8:23 am  Comments (50)  

50 Comments

  1. I’m sorry that I don’t have anything to really contribute to this post but I just wanted to stop here a minute just to say something. Probably because it’s six in the morning and I’m not thinking clearly, and as I am temporarily unschooled and unemployed (the woes of a college student) I have ample time to read blogs at six in the morning.

    I just discovered Haven Kimmel’s blog a few days ago and it’s been a wonderful experience coming here. Not just for the posts but people leave such wonderful comments in reply. I first read Zippy about six years ago when I was 14 and in that six year period I never heard anything about the author and always wondered where she was and what had happened to her. Then I stumbled upon this.

    The six years of waiting has been well worth it.

  2. Carolanne, bless you for this kindness. I too am temporarily unschooled and unemployed; I find that while that condition can be worrisome, it allows a lot more fun for blindingly strange adventures.

    I’ll be happy about what you said all day. Even on an airplane.

  3. Haven- safe travels! I have been keeping you in my thoughts and prayers as it is raining here in Nashville and I have been hoping it has not been in Miami because you deserve sunshine. Are you getting sunshine?

    I agree with Carolanne. This blog is heaven.

  4. Haven have a safe flight home! Enjoy your time in Miami!!! And gee you will have Hannah and the other two greeting you when you get in!
    Give my niece a great big 24th birthday hug from me!

    Love you all!
    Julie

  5. Carolanne, forget about that airplane business. My flight was delayed from 10:15 to 4:45. I can’t count, so I don’t know how many hours that is but it seems like A LOT. I’m in a Burger King. I don’t eat Burger King. By the time I leave here I will have aged 25 years.

  6. Julie, please see comment regarding ‘flight home’ to Carolanne above.

    Hey, did you see the comments from Jim Shue on the phobia blog! Our Jim Shue! It’s like we’re having a family reunion, only there isn’t any potato salad covered with flies!

    Love you,
    H.

  7. Oh, I wish I had been at the reading. I would have fainted due to the excitement at seeing a dead rabbit on a podium. Taxidermy in a book store = pure bliss!

    A trick I use during flight delays is to make up little back stories for each person sitting around me. The prim-looking woman in the corner is really a rogue nun on the lam from a sect of wicked Order of Saint nuns who made her steal kittens for Mother Superior’s kitten rug factory.

    Either that or start having a conversation with yourself. I find this to be especially helpful in freeing up space around you in order to spread out.

    Wish your daughter a VERY happy 24th B-day!

  8. Brandon, I do a similar thing, only instead I have conversations in my head with Bruce Springsteen, who finds me insanely fascinating. For a while it was James Taylor, because he seems like a smart, gentle man, but then he got all Martha’s Vineyardy and having the Clintons on his boat and whatnot, and I was like, dude, you’d be welcome to hang out with me if you were still a junkie.

    As far as rain, everyone here is discussing the hurricane. However, everyone is also Cuban, and so I can’t understand a word they’re saying. My cabdriver was just driving along, making with the yackety-yack, and I was pretending to understand him. I asked if he was from Cuba and he said no, Uruguay. I kid you not. I was like, well for the love of God.

  9. Bruce Springsteen came to Nashville two weeks ago and I went to his show and it was awesome. I bet he would find you fascinating, Haven. Heck, you are fascinating!

  10. Well, I’m only grateful to repay some sort of kindness to you.

    Sorry to hear about your flight. I’ve never had a flight delay myself, but I’ve seen people basically flip their nut as a result. I hope you’re holding together through all this.

    Speaking of airplanes though, this reminds me of how I first came across Zippy. Has anyone yet bored you to tears with stories of how they first encountered your works? This may amuse you though.

    I read in your second memoir that you were nearly mortified at the choice of cover for Zippy. Funnily enough, it was this picture which made me buy it. I was in the Sacramento airport out here in California looking forward to a long flight. I went into a little shop to pick out a book, and yours was the first one I caught sight of. I hadn’t yet realized it was a memoir, so I was began looking at another book to get. My mother came up to let me know the plane was about to leave us behind so I had better get a move on. I looked at Zippy and the competing book (which I can’t even remember what it was now) and thought I’ll never in a million years find another book with just such a cover, and so took Zippy up to the checkout counter. I didn’t have time to read anything on the back cover or anything in the book. I bought it solely based on the cover. To this day I’m thanking my lucky stars I did. It’s funny how things turn out that way.

    By the way, I hope your daughter has a happy birthday. And I hope your flight gets you there in time for it!

  11. Carolanne, things like this don’t bother me in the least. I am enormously patient — I think because I attended a Quaker Meeting three times a week for nearly eighteen years, then in seminary I attended every day. I can sit completely still and in silence for hours and hours. Also I am guided by one of my favorite quotations. There are signs in the Paris Underground that translate as, “In Case of a Terrorist Attack, Please Remain Sanguine.”

    Everytime I see people getting their squirrel on in impatience, because they’re behind an elderly person in line at the grocery store, or in a situation like this, I want to say, “Ooo you better hurry and get your way so you can rush through the rest of the day, which is exactly like the day before, and then you get to die!”

  12. You couldn’t possibly have a 24-year-old daughter. So, what were you, twelve, when she was born? You’re gonna’ be so busted when I meet you in Oxford on Monday and find out that the photos on your book jacket covers are twenty years old:-)

  13. I can’t believe how kind you’re all being by not mentioning my pants falling down in the Miami airport. I’m just PRAYING my sister skips today. She’s the kind of person whose pants would NEVER fall down in public. This is just going to be more evidence in her argument that I am the world’s oldest living hydrocephalic.

  14. Susan– I exaggerate not in the least. Three times I’ve been picked up by media escorts I’d never met before who said in loud and blatant voices, “OH MY GOD, you are so much more beautiful than your author photos! Who is taking them, a three-year-old? Why on earth would you choose pictures that make you look less pretty than you are? What are you THINKING?” Tell me: how does one answer that question?

  15. Happy Birthday to your fabulous daughter! After meeting you and her in Durham, one of my favorite dreams for my life is to become best friends with your daughter (I am twenty-one; I think a three year gap is a perfect best friend balance). That way I can hang out with you and her, singing Gillian Welch songs and discussing beautiful things (such as Obama) all the day long.

    Speaking of best friends, I love your new ones. Meeting people like that is one of God’s ways of showing us the light. I’m in a musical here at school, and the music director they flew in for the production has to be the only flawless human being since Jesus (and you). After not even five minutes of being in his presence, I was willing to sell any and all of my extremities and/or future children just to keep him close to me.

    I am ordering that memoir right this very second. I’ve been compiling a list of all of the books you mention — since no author has ever ever ever impacted me the way ALL of your work has, I figure that things impactful to you would be nothing less than sublime.

    A wonderful book tour to you!

  16. Also, the pants-falling-down issue? The same thing happened to me in New York, trying to get a cab back to the airport. My stuff was so cumbersome that I wasn’t able to adjust myself as need me, and I ended up with my leggings around my knees and my skirt ridden up around my bra.

  17. Linda – I was at the Springsteen concert, too! He was fab and I was so glad Patty had a real woman body. . . and she was sexy and rocking it. I went with my hubby, his 2 brothers and their SO’s (sign. others) . . . they drove from Louisville and NYC respectively so that all NJ boys could be together . . . what a hoot!

    Humm, we could drive to INDY for Haven’s reading??? We can stay at my insane sister’s place (the sister is insance, not her place) . . . a real dose of Midwest for you . . .

  18. that was “insane”, not INSANCE . . . the only post I didn’t proof, now I am an idiopath, too…..

  19. Now this is the second damned time my computer ate a comment and if it happens again I’m going to have a word with the fat cats in Washington. What it USED to say was:

    Brandon, I’m sure Kat will have a wonderful birthday, because she is almost always happy, even when she’s worried about things or has a lot on her mind. I believe her happiness is the result of her great and enduring kindness and compassion. Also she’s a phenomenal mimic, and that’s happiness inducing. And FUNNY? Good lord, some afternoons we end up curled up like snails, laughing so hard we can’t breathe. The most amazing thing about her (as her mother) is that she is very like me, only better in every way. If I have a relatively okay quality, she has it in abundance. We look almost like twins, except all of my deformities were corrected, they were perfected in her. I think this is how it is supposed to work: she is the superior human being, meaning I have done my work in terms of evolution.

    I’ll write a birthday blog post for her, because you must see the wonder that is her face.

    Thank you all for your best wishes for her.

  20. THANK YOU, KIMBERLY. I LOVE YOU, KIMBERLY.

    One time I was at a restaurant with my dad and his wife, and as she came out of the restroom we noticed she had somehow managed to connect the toilet paper to her person in such a way that it was threaded through her pant leg and out at her heel. She was walking toward us and the toilet paper was unwinding and unwinding, I mean like TWENTY FEET OF IT, and everyone in the restaurant was looking, and my father — who as you most certainly know — had a professional poker face, looked at me and just barely shook his head to indicate I should say nothing. We got up, walked to the cash register; by this time the toilet paper had looped back on itself and was about fifty feet long, and still neither of us said a word. We walked OUT THE FRONT DOORS and into the parking lot, and it wasn’t until she was getting in the truck that she noticed this long, long white trail following her and coming out of her pants. What a glorious day.

  21. Any chance you will be coming to Portland, Oregon?. How dead IS that rabbit, is it poke it with a stick dead?. I guess the alternative would be smelly with lots of rabbit nuggets. I just finished Used World. What a great place to get lost in. Yes I am a GUN.

  22. That reading sounds great, wish I’d been there, and I’ll have to add Wlaking Through Walls to my reading list. I can’t wait to read the blog about your daughter. It’s so beautiful when mothers and daughters respect and love each other the way it sounds like you two do.

    Unfort, my enthusiasm does not extend to the carpenter’s crack, and thank you kindly for that sasquatch visual. I can’t wait for this current trend of sagging your pants to end. My sons tell me it’s not that rare for boys’ pants to fall down in the halls at school because their arms are full of books and they can’t pull them up.

  23. Ahh…the way Pizza King cuts the pizza into squares, and if you order the vegetarian pie, they empty the salad bar including radish slices on top: I have communed at the Pizza King in both Richmond and Delphi, Indiana perhaps more than is prudent.

    As a high school teacher, I can tell you that the pants falling down situation seems to be on the wane, but I have had my share of (mostly) young men waddling into the hall to readjust. Never fear, it’s a sacrifice one makes for fashion. You might adopt the latest antigravitational strategy which appears to be a belt with a ridiculously large and overtly threatening buckle cinched precariously below the pelvis.

    My 10th graders read the prologue to Zippy today as we embarked on a memoir writing/reading extravaganza. These city kids are awed by (and not a little suspicious of) a town half the size of their school, a population that is contained in about a block and a half of row houses in our fair city.

    I notice that the northeast does not figure into your book tour, alas.

  24. I read at Powell’s for THE USED WORLD, and in Manhattan at the B&N in Chelsea (which is closed now, I think), and that was only months ago. That was a big tour, and they rarely send me to the same cities that close together, with a few exceptions. I always go back to Indianapolis, to Muncie, to Oxford and Memphis. I go to Seattle every other year. For TUW I also did three cities in California. Oh and I also headlined with Augusten at a lit festival in Vermont. Every couple of years I read in Boston. In general the entire situation makes no sense to me. For instance, I haven’t been back to read in Cincinnati or Dayton in YEARS, which would be so simple after Indiana, and I had huge crowds there. It has never made a dog’s lick of difference if I said, “These are the cities that draw huge crowds; these are the bookstores that have the best event coordinators.” They simply do what they will.

  25. Why, my birthday also happens to be this weekend, Sunday to be exact. I can’t help but feel a cosmic connection with your lovely daughter. Go Virgo!

  26. Steiner, I once went with Kat’s father to visit a friend of his in Delphi, Indiana, and as we pulled into the town, Kevin sighed and said, “And God created Delphi, and then there were none.”

  27. Hi Haven–I am a new subscriber to your blog and wanted to let you know that I just finished reading COUCH and loved it as much as ZIPPY! The last four pages of “Blizzard Baby, 1978” made me cry! So simple and sweet, yet so powerful. I confess to being an old softy where baby stories are concerned, as the proud mama to a 1-year old son and aunt to a 4 week old baby girl, but something about that piece really got to me. Well done! I’m very much looking forward to attending your reading in Naperville on Tuesday!
    Stephanie

  28. That toilet paper story makes me unreasonably happy.

    I hope your daughter has a great birthday! And I’m so jazzed to come see you speak in SIX (count ’em!) days! I can think or speak of almost nothing else, I’m so insufferable.

  29. KateCake: It was much funnier than I can tell it. It was one of the most painfully hilarious things I’ve ever witnessed. And that Bob Jarvis — she never had a CLUE what he was doing.

    I hope when I’m introduced you jump up and down or maybe do a little Snoopy dance!

  30. Good heavens, how did you know I would do that? Do you have spies????

    I hope your pants fall down! (No I don’t, that would be terrible. But if they do I promise to be a human shield.)

  31. Here is why it is great to be the unemployed and unschooled right now- you can wake up and read this blog and 3 of your 4 kids are in school and so you can laugh really loud and the 2 year old just thinks you’re funny. Then you can laugh at yourself really loud because you wrote uneducated instead of unschooled-which I am fairly certain makes a big difference in who you are. I wish I could write a more witty and insightful comment but I am spent after reading you and all of the witty things already said.
    Happy birthday to your daughter and please make them send you to the west coast. We’re dying here. Have I offered you a vacation home in Laguna yet?

  32. About the author photos… tell them why yes, your three year old niece did take them. And she’s having an opening next week at the Guggenheim. 😀

  33. I just wanted to mention I’ve never had my pants fall down in public. Oh no, instead I gained the freshman fifteen and ended up skipping the undies so I could squeeze into my capri pants. And of course, I split my pants and walked around campus with my fat, naked butt poking out of the slit in my pants. I eventually realized it and wore my coat the rest of the day, but I just wanted to reassure you that there are worse things in the world than dropping your pants. At least you were wearing undies.

  34. haven? i would have been more embarrassed to admit to liking david caruso than to admit to my pants falling down in public.

    i’m just sayin’…

  35. Back when I used to drink-alot-I would lay on the sofa possibly drowning in a pool of my vomit as we drinkers like to say, and watch David Caruso on Hill Street Blues and cry. I loved him that much. When he left the show I hit my bottom, as we also like to say, and got sober. No joke.

  36. LOVE the toilet paper story!!!!!

    My parents live in Naperville and I have been to that book store many times. I was thinking of asking my mom to go meet you, Haven, but then I came to my senses. Although, some of her childhood stories would make your roar. Especially the one where she tried to befriend the “hobos” who stopped at the back steps of her parents house in Virginia in the early 1940s but they never wanted to talk. My daughter just LOVES that there were really “hobos” – she was so taken by the term that she and her friends, who go to school in downtown Nashville, starting calling this little park by the library Hobo Park because a lot of homeless folks congragated there. That was until the city bull dozed it and “cleaned it up” so the working people could enjoy it without the “unsightly” homeless people cluttering it up. If only we could see our homeless today as my mother saw the hobos of her time- down on their luck or just wanderers.

    Sorry, guess I got off track a bit there.

    Happy Birthday to your fabulous daughter!

  37. Oh sure, come to town (Portland, OR), and I miss it. It figures while I’m out cat wrangling, and explaining to the neighbor “where all of his cats came from”, no, your cats aren’t Catholic, Scottie didn’t didn’t transport them, and homeless zombies didn’t dump them here. You need to spay and neuter…argh. I’m off track again. Oh well I found your web site so now I have no excuse for being senile and uninformed. Enjoy the birthday.

  38. Happy Birthday Kat !!

    I dont know you but here is a present.

    Just cut and paste the above link into your browser.
    To anyone else there are a couple swear words in this so if they offend you you have been told.
    Christ I hope this is ok

  39. I couldn’t read this whole blog because I had to get down to the comment section to tell this: Pants fall down in Miami…worrisome? I think not! Please, please tell them about the time you walked around the Marsh store in New Castle, IN with an umbrella on your head…open…with every color of the rainbow…singing at the tops of your lungs “Gee aren’t we havin some fun…here in New Castle, IN in the Marsh store…..la la la ” and then said to the clerk…Hello Maria…I CAN call you Maria can’t I?”..and her name was Sue! Tell them about that moment. Oh wait, I just did. Although you did have a dead rabbit this time…

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY Tater Bug…love you and so proud of you everyday!

  40. Hey Melinda I saw this and thought of you!

    http://consumerist.com/5046010/pricey-stove-recalled-for-shooting-flames-at-your-face

  41. I am sorely behind in leaving comments on my ‘usual’ blogs, but I always make time to leave one with you, Haven.
    a) ita (I totally agree) with Abby re David Caruso. Sorry. Oh. And I was a total Law & Order freak for the last several years, but after listening to Wayne Dyer for a while I thought to, for example; tune into old Everyone Loves Raymond and King of Queens reruns, which made me laugh out loud all by myself while sewing away in the studio, and I really do think it’s healthier. Than, you know; freaking out about all the horrible things people do to kids and each other.

    b) I hope you got contact info for Aldine and Otis! You know you can have more than one best friend. Different best friends for different reasons.

    c) Pants falling down for no known reason? I’m jealous!! You must be losing weight without even trying!

    d) If I do nothing else this weekend (and I’m doing a lot) I am going to buy Iodine! And then I am going to buy Walking Through Walls.

    sure wish you and Augusten would do a joint reading/visiting tour through Northern CA. Just sayin’.
    Happy birthday to your baby girl!

  42. OKAY MELINDA ARSE MULLENS. This is how it really went. I had a TERRIBLE EMERGENCY APPENDECTOMY that was one trillion times worse than the one Jim Shue remembers Melinda having, which was more like just a little poke, oh, you’re better, go on home. I ended up having a grand mal seizure that lasted nearly five minutes, and I bit off the side of my tongue. I was unconscious for some days, and then tested a lot and blah blah, and then I was put on Phenobarbitol and Dylantan BOTH AT ONCE because that was the way things used to be done. Now I personally found my epilepsy diagnosis amusing, because of course everyone had always KNOWN things weren’t right in there, and so one night at Mom’s I said, in front of a grotesquely 1970’s feminist lunatic friend of hers, “HEY! This means I get a helmet!” And the Gloria Steinem of New Castle, Indiana said, “How dare you belittle yourself in that way, not to mention desperately handicapped people. Have some respect, for god’s sake.” Delonda just very calmly reached over and put her hand on Crazy’s arm and said, “That’s enough,” but Melinda and I got up and left.

    So the next day we went helmet shopping, except I found something SO much better. It was a miniature umbrella that strapped around your forehead with elastic and velcro — I tell you, it was a little piece of wonderful — and it was white with red polka dots. I sometimes saw truly eccentric old people wearing them as they rode around on their mowers, because as you know, if you live in Indiana you have one goal and one goal only: cut your grass until it screams.

    THEN Arse and I went to see my surgeon, and while there I climbed up on an ottoman (there was a reason — it involved a STORY — and shouted, CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT I CAN”T GET DOWN!! Then we went to Marsh’s grocery and I walked around in my umbrella hat rewriting a beloved Steve Martin song:

    OH we’re having some fun
    Here at the fabulous Boarding House
    in SAN FRANCISCO, California!
    We’ve got music, we’ve got laughter
    and wonderful times.

    But you know I see people
    going to college for fourteen years,
    studying to be doctors and lawyers,
    And I see people at 7:30 every morning,
    Going to work at the drugstore to sell
    Flair pens.

    But the most amazing thing to me is:
    I get paid for doing this.

    If you haven’t heard this song it is absurdly funny, because it has no rhythm, no tune, no elements of what we call a ‘song,’ and he just noodles around happily on his banjo. Besides “I’m So Mad At My Mother,” it was just my favorite thing in the world, especially the way he said, “Fllllair pens.” So I was just trying to add some levity to our grocery shopping, with the umbrella hat and the song, in which it became people who work at grocery stores. And then when we were checking out I said, “Rita? I can call you Rita, can’t I?” And her name was Marsha. So it’s pretty much NOTHING like Melinda tells it, I was totally dignified.

  43. Here’s another good part! I was sleeping at Melinda’s the night before THE HORRIBLE DISASTER — I stayed with her most of the time –and I was asleep on the couch in the living room. She was in her bedroom at the end of a fairly long hallway with the door closed. I woke up and knew something was very very wrong, because both of my knees were pulled up to my chest and I couldn’t move them. I felt so terrible and scared I kind of whispered, “Lindy?” which she couldn’t have heard if she’d been sitting in the room with me, and four seconds later her bedroom door opened and she came flying down the hallway saying, “What’s wrong, what’s wrong.” Dr. Heilman said we should get right to the ER, so Melinda turned to me and said, “Hey, want some fried chicken livers and a cup of coffee?” and I said, “Heck, yeah.”

  44. Y’all, you need to give a very close graduate school type reading to the section on David Caruso. I loved him because there was something very very wrong with him and those sunglasses, and his impossible pauses, oh but mostly I just loved him because his character was so freakish. I mean he is probably just a total freak and I love him.

    But he was a genius in Hill Street Blues. He was GREAT. And then there was . . . bum bum . . . JADE.

  45. KateCake, if you ever need a favor, if your car breaks down or you need someone to come over RIGHT AWAY because you’re having a collapse of the vapours, or you’re out of milk and really need some coffee, just call me. Your story is so much worse than mine in a beautiful beautiful way that I will be forever grateful. Thank you, Panty-Free Kate, thank you.

  46. Oh heavens, do not promise me something like that. I might just do it.

    Also, you said PANTY!

  47. Kate, you know the best time to say panty?!? TO A DUDE!

    HAVEN: John, do you have panties in the wash?

    JOHN: Please. Please.

  48. Oh don’t I know it! My husband has NO sense of humor when it comes to his panties.

  49. Oh, dear, you are revealing tooooo much. Your pants falling down in Miami–next you tell them about the time my skirt was caught in my panty hose in San Diego and I walked up on stage like that and couldn’t understand why the audience was laughing before I said a word. When I realized what happened I pulled the skirt out and said, “Speaking of cellulite,” and they all laughed. Ha. It was either laugh at myself or slit my wrists and since God did not choose that moment to activate the San Andreas I laughed.
    Happy Birthday Kat. If I can reach you by phone I will sing to you–a torment I inflict on all whom I loved on the anniversary of their births.
    John does too have a sense of humor–maybe just not about his panties.
    I love you insanely.

  50. I thought of another story about no panties, cellulite, and panty hose but it’s far too shameful to mention here.

    Hi Mother Delonda!!!


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