Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Why if I use the words 'my blog' one more time, you have permission to smack me

me: nothing remotely interesting is happening to me. have any stories for my blog?
Tom: Um...None that would meet your standards. sorry
me: standards? i have standards? that sounds very haughty of me. So, what's wrong with my blog?
Tom: Nothing! I was saying you have standards for your blog
me: but, i do?
Tom: as in high standards
me: I don't!
Tom: Oh. Well it SEEMS like you do...
me: common misconception, I guess
Tom: I have nothing
me: gotcha

Tom: I went for a nice hike on Sunday in the Whites
me: that's cool
Tom: but that isn't blog material
me: I see what you're saying
Tom: You need to get on Facebook
me: blechhh. i don't see how that would help
Tom: Well I posted some nice pics of my hike there. Plus...it could be just one more way to meet that special someone
me: ew, ick
Tom: just sayin'
me: that sentence was gag-worthy. Anyway i think i'm giving up dating, which is not helping my blog one bit
Tom: Me too
me: it just keeps getting worse and worse date-wise, and i'm out of this town in about 3 months anyway, so what am i doing? i think i quit
Tom: an honorable decision. you've def given it your all
me: i'm exhausted
Tom: emotionally, physically
me: emotionally, physically, all of it
Tom: yar, I know. me too. just call uncle
me: i'll call aunt
Tom: actually, thats probably the only approach you haven't taken
me: what?
Tom: ...not trying at all
me: not trying as an approach to what?
Tom: to finding that special someone
me: if not trying is an approach, then it kind of becomes trying, in a way, doesn't it?
Tom: Of course!
me: so the point is to trick the universe into thinking you really don't care when actually you do
Tom: well, no. its a zen thing. I'll explain over a beer sometime. Gotta go
me: ok. hey, do you mind if i post our conversation on my blog?
[*crickets*]
me: sounds like a yes to me. but is it a yes you mind or a yes you don't mind?
[*tumbleweed*]
me: ok, but don't be surprised when you read about this on my blog
[*coyotes*]
me: my blog!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Why if I play my cards right, I may never have to house-sit again

Now, Internet, we know each other fairly well by now, don't we? So, let's assume you have just returned home from a restful week in L.A., to find that I, your friendly neighborhood house-sitter, have faithfully fed, watered, and exercised your dog, retrieved your mail, protected your home from intruders, and even dutifully composted my banana peels. Now, Internet, if I said to you, "Ok, I'm about done here. I just need to clean out my pot and I'll be on my way," would you a) assume I had made some pasta and left the pot to soak in the sink or b) gasp loudly, exclaim What?! and scurry off to check your dog's pupils?

And, knowing me as you do, when faced with the second reaction, do you think I would clarify you as to your mistake, or reply, "Oh, I thought you guys were cool?"

Or, at least, can you guess which one I wish I had said?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Why I don't like house-sitting

Friends of the family and last-minute house guests "Dan and Erica," who I don't know from Adam, roll in at 9:30 on a Friday night with their sleeping child and kick me out of the room I'm in (which happens to be the only room with a t.v. and a computer in it) and glare at me when I close a door too loudly or speak above a whisper. No t.v., no computer...no, no, it's fine. I'll just go...read. Quietly. No, I adore doing school work on Friday nights, really. So much for my quiet evening being snowed in with Netflix.

Then, nine hours later they left for the airport, but not before eating my leftover mac and cheese from the fridge that I had just made that night and was really looking forward to having for lunch today, and, I swear, stealing my roommate's Tupperware container. What really irks me is either they thought they were eating mac and cheese that had been in the fridge for over a week (ew), or they knew it was mine and they ate it anyway. Bastards. And the Tupperware...well, the last I knew it was in the dishwasher and now it's not. Now I have to explain to my roommate that this is the second piece of her Tupperware set that I've lost (though it's probably not fair to call it a "set" anymore, and "lost" doesn't seem like the right word either, although it amounts to the same thing). She's probably thanking her lucky stars right now that she's moving out in 5 days, and crossing her fingers for better, more responsible roommates.

I'm never house-sitting again.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Why my love of acronyms may be spiralling out of control

Well, Internet, I must really like you, because I have cast aside pesky annoyances like school work and a personal life in order to bring you a new and piping hot version of everyone's favorite and (only slightly irreverent) internet search query advice column. And so, without further ado, I present to you the second edition of Just, Unequivocal, Sincere and True Answers to Life's Important Questions, aka, JUSTALIQ. Read, learn, and feel reassured that there are people out there who are even more confused than you are.

Q: Why do girl sometime lie to a guy and say i se you as a friend? (sic)

A: There are many reasons why a girl may tell you that she sees you as a friend. The first one that comes to mind being, you're her friend. But you said that she lied when she said she thought of you as her friend, which to me indicates that you are not her friend. Now why would a girl tell you that she sees you as her friend when she does not in fact see you as her friend? Would you excuse me while I lie down for a minute? My head is whirling.

Ok, I'm back. Now I think I understand what you're getting at here. You think she sees you as more than a friend, am I right? You think that in fact she pines after you, doodling your name in marbled composition books, lingering after class hoping to catch a glimpse of you in the hallway, pretending to drop her pen just to catch a whiff of your sleeve on the way down to get it, or at least, since you've never actually received any information to confirm it, that's what you very sincerely hope. So why, then, would she tell you that she just wants to be friends with you, when you have such ardent dreams of kissing with tongues, and maybe, after a few months or maybe a year, some incidental boob contact? Well, as you may have guessed, the only logical answer is she's playing hard to get. You're going to have to try harder. Leave notes in her locker, every day, and if that doesn't work, every hour. Walk slowly back and forth on the street in front of her house, waiting to see if you can catch a glimpse of her. Sneak into her bedroom while she's out and write I love you in lipstick on her mirror. Trust me, girls love this stuff. When she threatens to call the police, that is a test. Don't fall for it. Do you think she dates guys who give up that easily? Do you think she likes quitters? Restraining orders cannot break the bonds of true love, my friend. Follow these simple tips, and with any luck, no girl will ever dare call you her friend again.


Q: Why is it easier to find a dating partner when you already have one?

A: While some people call this The Universe, Needing Amusement, Has A Hilarious And Fairly Ironic Sense of Humor phenomenon (otherwise known as the TUNA(HAHA)FISH phenomenon), it is in fact a result of simple psychology. For instance, have you ever witnessed someone eating French fries, and then been struck with a sudden, uncontrollable urge to gorge on the salty, greasy, piping hot and perfectly crisped goodness yourself? Well, now imagine that you're the fries. Seeing that you're a hot and tasty commodity, admirers will come out of the woodwork with a sudden desire to gorge themselves on you. Mmmm, I want some of that, they may be thinking with a gleam in their eye and saliva on their chin. So, as long as you are dating someone, you will appear to others as dateable, and thus desirable. Conversely, if you are single, you are the equivalent of day-old bagels in the bargain bin. Eww, why would I want that? savvy shoppers and potential dates will think. No one else wanted them and neither do I. This is also known as the single and screwed phenomenon. The best way to score hot dates is thus to make sure you keep up your market value. Being in a healthy, happy, long-term relationship is hands-down the best way to attract attention from the opposite sex. Unfortunately, the rigours of a loving, mutally satisfactory long-term relationship generally tend to preclude the possibility of dating around, which is sort of a catch 22, I understand. So ultimately your choices are either A) the old ball and chain routine, aka emotional, physical, and spiritual closeness with another human being, a guaranteed date on weekends and major holidays, cutesy e-mails and "just because" gifts, help doing the dishes, taking out the trash, and finding your keys, and if you're lucky- your laundry appearing magically fluffed, perfectly folded and smelling of spring rain, backrubs, footrubs, chicken soup when you're sick, your own personal heater on cold winter nights, secret smiles, fingers through your hair, nails lightly scratching absent-mindedly up and down your back, and not to mention healthy doses of regular sex, or B) single and screwed. Choose wisely.

Q: Why my girlfriend keeps contacting me after we broke up.

A: First, look deep within yourself and ask yourself this question: "What do I have that she wants?" Well, you might say, she obviously misses my intelligence, my warmth, my natural charm and charisma. In which case I say, no, dear, that is not at all what I am talking about. I mean, literally, what do you have that she wants? Take a look around. Is your apartment still littered with her clothing, books, Mr. Whiskers the cat, etc? In that case, promptly return her belongings, and you should notice a significant and immediate reduction in attempts at contact.

Ok. So she's still calling you? Let's re-evaluate. Check again. Perhaps there is something you have over-looked. Are you perhaps still the guardian of some of her more valued possessions? Her iPod, Tiffany bracelet, 2008 Passat? In this case the reason she's calling is most likely to tell you that if you don't hand them over like, now, she's calling the police. You would be wise to comply with her demands.

So, problem solved, eh? Unless of course she's still calling you, in which case there are only two possible explanations: A) she's a crazy psycho bitch who will break into your apartment with a knife and a gallon of pig's blood while you are out, in which case you may want to check behind the curtains before you go to sleep, you know what I mean? or B) you really are just that charming, that irresistible, and that hard to get over, you handsome devil you! If this is the case, then you're really in a pickle. Trying to stave off the crazed advances of a lovelorn ex-girlfriend is like trying to wrestle a dog away from a bone. So, what do I do? you may ask. Well, I'll tell you. You find her a bigger bone. The only way you can make a clean break is if she finds someone more charming, more handsome and more irresistible than yourself. I know, I know, I know...Sorry, what was I thinking? For now let's just say at least AS charming, irresistible and handsome, and that will have to do. Good places to look are the gym, office buildings, or Wall Street. Or, even better, a gym in an office building on Wall Street. Once you've targeted your victim, er, let's just call him the New Boyfriend Substitute, all you have to do is set up an introduction and walk away, patting yourself on the back for another successfully executed and mess-free break-up. And while you're home alone, pursuing your carefree bachelor lifestyle, watching the game on t.v. and belching, you can be secure in the knowledge that your ex has now completely forgotten about you, and is eagerly feasting upon her new, really big bone.

That's it for today, folks! If you have a question you would like answered in a future edition of JUSTALIQ, please submit it to www.google.com, and click on Diary of Why. Call now; operators are standing by.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Why I like house-sitting

Cute dog +


cable t.v. aka my presssshhhhhuuusssss with marathon re-runs of America's Next Top Model (oh Tyra, how I've missed you) =



one lazy, rainy afternoon. Yaaaawwwwn.


Maybe I'll have something exciting to post soon. But most likely not. Cheers, all.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Why it could always be worse

So there's a large bump on my forehead, which I can only assume is a zit, but man, is it impressive. It looks like a giant goose egg, like I clocked myself and good, and I'm half afraid something is trying to bust out of there. So far my theories are a) hormonal imbalance or b) I'm a unicorn! And apparently I'm not the only one. (Make sure you at least click on the last two links - totally worth it).

So apparently, it could be worse. And once again I have to say, thank you, bangs.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Why don't I ever learn? Aka, blogging - it's cheaper than therapy

My office at school is next to a flower shop. Piled up outside their back door today were mounds of boxes, abandoned ribbon, scattered petals, withered leaves and twisted stems, and one, solitary, trampled rose. The slowly decomposing detritus of one more Valentine's Day gone by.

While catching up on my e-mail last night, I noticed the ex was online. I had long since removed him from my contact list to reduce the temptation for self-destruction, but all it takes is sending one e-mail to someone whose name starts with J or D and there he is in the drop-down list, and this time with a little green icon next to his name. I knew I shouldn't say anything, I didn't want to, but I did. It had been three months since the last time, and I knew his trip would be coming to an end soon. I wondered if he was back, wanted to know if he was 5 miles away or 5,000, just for my peace of mind. And so I asked. He said he was back, had just returned that very day, in fact. And already I knew I had made a huge mistake. I felt nauseous, like I always do when I talk to him. Like nothing will ever be right again. We talked for a minute, maybe. I told him I'm still in school but finishing in May. He said his trip was great, but hard to put into words. So he didn't. He said he was tired, had to go to sleep. I said ciao. But then, he stayed online. His little green icon still glowing half an hour later, when I had to turn my computer off so I would stop checking.

I didn't think about the fact that it was Valentine's Day until it was too late. At first I thought, Oh, how ironic that the first time you talk to him in three months is on Valentine's Day. What a sickly sweet coincidence. And then I thought, You idiot. I could have at least let him think the possibility existed that I was on a date with someone. But instead I handed him definitive proof that ten months later I am, in fact, still very much alone.

Until that point it was just Thursday, but then all of a sudden it was Valentine's Day, and I felt like I had been punched in the gut. Sometimes, even now, ten months later, it still feels like Day 1, like we've just broken up all over again. All along I've been telling myself that I just need time, I just need more time. But I'm tired of the waiting game, and I'm beginning to doubt the wisdom of the sages, who preach that Time, in all its elusive, slippery wonder, is the great panacea. But perhaps it is, after all, and perhaps I need to let it run its course. Maybe in ten more months I'll be cured, or maybe another ten months after that. I just need to know that there is an end in sight. I need to know that there will eventually be a time when he will no longer be able to make me cry. When I won't miss him so badly it hurts.

For now I'm focusing on the fact that, at the very least, there are 364 whole days between me and another Valentine's Day. And, if I'm smart, it will be at least that long before I'm tempted to chat with him again.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Why 'news-worthy' sinks to a whole new low, aka I could probably tell Julie Chen a thing or two myself

Just in time for everyone's favorite heart- and flower-filled holiday: Breaking news from our CBS news correspondent Julie Chen, who informs us that douchebags are everywhere, even on Match.com!





I think he's just misunderstood, don't you?


I mean, with an IQ like his, we mere peons probably can't grasp the intricate nature of his complex thought patterns. And he did go to an Ivy-League school, after all, and we know that only first-class citizens and all-around good guys come out of there.

Actually ladies, now that he's universally mocked and reviled, it might be the ideal time to snag yourself a pink-shirted, silver-suspendered, overly-moussed, BMW-driving, MENSA card-carrying, bench-pressing, fancy lunch-having model/actor. That is, if you can stomach the bile that rises in your throat every time he speaks. Or blinks. Or exists.

But don't get ahead of yourself, ladies. After all, he lives in a secure building, so even if you can make it past the doorman, you'd better hope the elevators are working, or you'll be hoofing it up 31 flights of stairs to his Buckhead high-rise condominium. (I personally am not sure what a Buckhead condominium is, but I'm sure many of my worldier, savvier readers do, and are duly impressed).

Strike while the iron is hot, ladies. After all, it's not often one comes across someone of his caliber. (Although, why do I get the feeling that in his case caliber is just another way of saying small penis? But hey, what's a tiny dick in the grand scheme of things, when what's really important is that every night you'll be sharing stimulating, intellectual conversation together. And working out together. Wearing pink together. Gazing adoringly in the mirror together). And I don't mean to be hasty here, but I think I speak for all of us when I say, John Fitzgerald Page, will you marry us?

(Thanks Tom, for sharing this).

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. And no matter how you choose to celebrate or who you may (or may not) share this day with, just watch this video and remember - it could always be worse.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Why 1 + 1 ≥ 2

Ask and ye shall receive; I was in need, and lo, Molly did hear my cry. I'd like to break a little from the regular format around here in honor of my friend and fellow Diary of Why reader's international blogging debut. She joins us today direct from the Iberian Peninsula, having battled the inconveniences of different time zones, Spanish-language keyboards, and angry bulls running wild in the streets, and she has risen victorious. And so, without further ado, won't you please give a warm Diary of Why welcome to everyone's favorite hispanophone, and my good friend...Molly:

Spain: The land of flamenco, paella, and bullfighters. And very horny people.

I’ve never been all that successful in my love life back home in the States. I was kind of an awkward, shy girl in high school (ed. note: While there are many adjectives I could think of to describe Molly, I don't think "shy" would ever be one of them), repressed by my mother’s castrating moralist attitude and, in retrospect, struggling with my sexual identity. If I had to write a blog about my love life up until I turned 22 the entries would be very short and quite uneventful, the most exciting one narrating my first kiss at the local ice cream joint and my place of summer employment, Moose Kone, when I bribed my gay best friend into sticking his tongue down my throat in exchange for a free ice cream cone, moose droppings included (Ed. note: That Molly! So shy! Although in her defense I can add that, against all sense and reason, we didn't know he was gay then). (For some reason the owner decided to give the lovely name of "moose droppings" to the toppings. Between that and all the free ice cream we handed out that summer, it’s no wonder the place went bankrupt after 3 months). I digress.


A couple "relationships" and several years later, I find myself much more comfortable in my own skin, but still not that successful on the dating scene. I marvel at Rachel and the numerous dates she goes on- where do all these people come from? (Ed. note: There's no mystery to it- Perhaps I should lead a seminar called 'You too can find dates on the Internet!'). I’ve passed months in New Jersey without any sign of interest from anyone mildly acceptable (Note: I’ve never had problems in picking up short, 50 year-old latino men).

And then, I came to Spain. I arrived in Madrid a month ago, PhD qualifying exams recently taken, ready to cut loose and, with any luck, do a little research for my dissertation. Just like that I found a place to live with two extremely nice girls: lesbian, pot-smoking communists who have been living together for the past two years. What more could I ask for?


In general, I find that people here are much more direct in their come-ons. I’ve been propositioned several times in the past four weeks. Let me offer an example: I’m in a bar with my roommates and some of their friends. One of them, there with his girlfriend, with whom I’ve shared a total of 5 sentences since I met him two hours earlier, comes up to me:

Him: I think we’d make a good couple, don’t you?
Me: uhm…
Him: I’d like to propose something, if it offends you just tell me and I’ll stop.
Me: … ?
Him: Well, I like you, I think you’re cute, and I thought maybe we could spend the night together.
Me: … ¿cómo?
Him: Oh, you’re offended, never mind.
Me: But, you’re serious???
Him: Yeah, of course. You don’t want to, never mind, I’m really shy with these things(?!?!?), forget about it.
Me: Uhm, yeah, I think that would be best. Besides, I’m confused, isn’t that chick over there your girlfriend? I mean, I know my Spanish isn’t perfect, but I think I know what novia means.
Him: Yeah, we live together. But we have an agreement, you know, an open relationship.
Me: Yeah, I think I’m gonna pass, thanks for the offer though!


Meanwhile, I spent the rest of the night dancing in circles around the pub trying to avoid another one of the friends, who finally managed to corner me and say: "I like you, I like how you dance. Do you want to get together?" Aaaah!

I asked myself, is it something in the water? My exotic American accent? Given the deep love and admiration felt for the US in this country, I highly doubt that that’s the explanation. (Ed. note: Sarcasm, of the scathing variety, I believe). Perhaps people are still rebelling after the 40 years of dictatorship? But no, that ended in ’75; these guys weren’t even born then!


Apparently the interest in me isn’t limited to the male sex, either. Back at home with my lesbian roommates, it seems that I’m acting as a catalyst in breaking up their relationship. Molly Homewrecker. Turns out Silvia has a thing for me, which she confessed the other day while Julieta was off visiting her parents. I have nothing to do with what’s going on with her and Julieta, she says. Problems from before. In the meantime she’s cancelled their romantic Valentine’s Day trip that they had scheduled for this weekend, and she’s planning on moving out in the next two months. Great. Now I have to find a new place to live, but I was so happy here! All I wanted was a nice apartment and fun roommates, and I walk into this mess. Why Molly, why?


I must admit that despite the problems my time in Spain so far has been quite a self-esteem booster. I never suspected that there could be so many people out there interested in me. However, it would be safe to say that this trip hasn’t been the most pleasant of experiences. Do I unconsciously seek out weird and uncomfortable situations? Why do my "relationships" always seem to involve more than two people? I can’t help but think that Ms. Higgins lied to us in math class: One plus one may sometimes equal two, but as a general rule, it usually adds up to at least three or four.

Wow. Complete with Moose Kone and Ms. Higgins references. I suddenly feel like I'm fifteen years-old again...Well, thank you, Molly, for that funny and insightful glimpse into your swingin' Spanish life. Please check back and let us know what happens next! And now, Readers, won't you let Molly know you appreciate her efforts, and leave her some comment love?

(Diary of Why will now return to regularly-scheduled programming...)

(Unless of course you (yes, YOU!) have a Why story of your own to share, in which case, send it on over!*)

*Disclaimer: Diary of Why does not discriminate on the basis of age, citizenship status, color, disability, marital status, national origin, race, sexual orientation, sex or gender identity, or religion. Offer does not expire. See store for more details. Void where prohibited.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Why boring is the new black

I went on two dates this weekend and still have nothing to write about.

Oh, and if you have ever been interested in writing a guest post on Diary of Why, now would be an opportune time. (Hint hint, I'm looking at you Molly, cough).

I'll be back when something happens, or when I have more than five consecutive minutes of free time, whichever comes first.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Why men are a pain in the back

The last time I talked to him, he wanted to go out for a drink. Then after some back and forth on the phone, all of a sudden it was over, and I never heard from him again. One minute I was talking to him, an hour later he wasn't answering my phone calls. Just like that. I was curious, of course, but I wasn't about to dig any deeper. I had already made two unreciprocated attempts at contact, and that's my limit. Any more reeks of desperateness, and I wasn't desperate, or not for him, at least. I did wonder though, if I would ever run into him. I wondered if it was less of an if and more of a when. We seemed to have no trouble running into each other when we were on speaking terms. (This being Cambridge, and capital of all manner of "It's a small world after all" -type coincidences). But still, nearly two months, and nothing.

And then I changed my routine. Took the bus to Harvard Square instead of Central Square. Then, because I was going to the hospital to vote, I took Cambridge St. instead of Broadway. And le voilà. He saw me first. I was walking with my head down, as usual, but even so, I saw the jolt of recognition in his body. Then, because I had been looking for it for months, I noticed his peculiar, bouncy gait, his hunched shoulders. We made eye contact. He looked guilty, like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar. He half-smiled, a shit-eating grin, looking for a reprieve, an unspoken agreement hesitantly spreading its tentacles in the air between us. So that was it then. He was going to continue walking west, I was going to keep going east, each of us smiling awkwardly and knowingly, and pretending nothing had ever happened. It was decided.

But then I changed my mind. Just as we passed each other, I stopped, turned. "Hey?" I said questioningly, eyebrows raised, equal parts breezy nonchalance and measured defiance.

"Hey," he said warily. Guilty eyes. Shit-eating grin.

"What's up?" I said.

"Nothing," he said defensively. "Just saying hi, that's all."

"Oh. Hi."

"Hi...How are you?"

"Good, how are you?"

"Good."

"Ok...Well, bye then." And I spun on my heel and walked away, heading east, off to carry out my patriotic duty. I didn't wait to see the expression on his face, but I imagine it was pure relief.

I don't care, I tried to tell myself. I'm too cool to care. I refuse to lower myself to accusations, to anger, to groveling, to saying Please, just tell me why! That stuff's for crazy psycho chicks, and that's not me. At least, not anymore. I'm twenty-seven now, and beyond these petty little grievances. I don't give a shit why some flaky art history student whose sexual orientation is questionable at best goes all deer-in-the-headlights when he passes me on the street, I tried to tell myself.

I had almost convinced myself, too, when suddenly the entire left side of my lower back spasmed, leading to crippling, hobbling pain. As I walked home hunched over, my hand pressed into the twitching mass of nerves of my back, I thought back on all the psychology classes I had taken over the years, and reconsidered the effectiveness of repressing my emotions. Let's just say the next time I run into him, he better have something more interesting to say, or else be ready to shell out for all the Advil I'm going to need as a result of him being a giant pain in the ass. Er...back.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Why Finger Phobia and the Severed Digits would make a great band name

When I was young, I had a great-uncle Kyle who happened to be missing two fingers on his left hand. He liked to scare kids by telling them he bit them off while eating a hamburger. Then he'd reenact the scene, pretending to take a big, hungry bite of imaginary burger. He also had a trick he was particularly fond of, where he would show me one of his good fingers, and place the knuckle against the edge of a table. Then he would bear down on it with all his weight, huffing and puffing, produce a popping sound, and finally hold up his hand triumphantly, neatly sans finger. This sleight of hand (if you will) may not sound all that convincing to you, but to someone who believed Mr. Rogers was actually speaking to her through the t.v., and who had only recently stopped falling for the "got your nose" gag, it was all too gruesomely real. And, while the twenty-seven year-old me can look back on all of this with a bemused sense of humor, I must admit that the five year-old me was, quite frankly, terrified.

One afternoon the family was gathered at my grandparents' house when Uncle Kyle arrived with my Aunt Gertie. I cringed inside when I saw him. I knew what was coming. Spotting me, he brightened. "Hey!" he said. "Come here, I want to show you something!" Reluctantly I slunk over, hoping against hope that he would have some new material this time. A quarter from my ear, some vigorous cheek-pinching, heck, even a good Indian rope-burn would be better. Please, just not the finger thing again. No such luck. But this time, before he had a chance to reach the "punchline," something inside me snapped. I screamed in his face and ran shrieking hysterically from the room, then locked myself in a spare bedroom and refused to come out.

Safe in my aunt's old childhood bedroom, her Gone With the Wind and Don Quixote posters still taped to the orange walls, my terror quickly dissolved into confusion and embarassment. Why had I done that? Now everyone was going to think I was a baby. Plus I had a sinking feeling that I had done something bad. I may have only been five, but I knew that you were always supposed to be very polite to old people, and what I had done was very, very rude. Would I get a spanking for this? I wondered. Yes, I decided, I might get a spanking for this. Oh what had I done? I checked the door again to make sure it was locked. And not a minute too soon, because just then someone started jiggling the doorknob on the other side, and there was a voice saying "Let me in!"

"No! No! No!" I said.

But...it was strange. The voice hadn't sounded angry, like I thought it would.

"It's ok," the voice said, "I'm not angry. Open the door."

"Is he there?" I asked.

"No, Uncle Kyle isn't here. It's just me. Let me in now, please."

And I did. "That really scared you, didn't it?" my dad asked, stroking my hair. "You know it's not real, right?"

"Yes," I sniffled.

"It's ok, he's not going to do it anymore."

"Not ever? Promise?"

"Not ever. I promise. Now let's go back out with everyone else."

I shuffled back out with my head down in embarassment, and everyone was kind enough to pretend that nothing had happened. In retrospect I wonder if maybe everyone else was just as embarassed as I was.

And I wonder if just maybe, in the car on the way home, my Aunt Gertie thought, "Well someone had to say it. And thank goodness, because if he asked me to pull his finger one more time, I was going to scream."