Valium Vickie

Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 5 Valiums of 2011

First off, thanks to everybody who read, commented on and shared the letters, ramblings and stories I put up on this thing all year. I know there's a few people who have read everything I put on here, and I really, really appreciate it. I love sitting around and writing this little blog. If I could, I'd move way up into the mountains (no specific mountain range, just "the mountains"), grow a really long, straggly beard and spend my days posting on here and making bathtub gin. Sure, I'd have to occasionally make the two-day trek into town to get my provisions at the general store -- and maybe I'd pick up a stand-up gigs at a random Elks Club or an American Legion from time to time. But mostly it would be the blogging and the gin.

Anyway, I've got some big plans for our slutty little Vickie in 2012. First, I want to design this blog so at least it looks semi-professional and presentable. Then I want to expand the reach of this vehicle of absurdity to as many people as possible. Finally, I'm going to try to post at least once per week; no more of this once-a-month bullshit. If anyone has any advice or ideas on how I can do these things, I'm all ears.

Ok, based on pageviews, here are the five most-popular Valiums of 2011:

5. The Cat's Out of The Bag: A Father's Day Story -- This is a true story about the most creative present my sister and I ever gave our dad, complete with a comparison of my former cat, Hilary, to a random homeless guy.

4. A Romantic Comedy That Doesn't Suck Really ... -- Because I'm a giant pussy, I often find myself saying things like, "No, no, babe. 27 Dresses sounds like a great movie ... let's just get that one." Of course, the upside of seeing scores and scores of mindless romantic comedies is that I'm now officially an expert on the genre. This post is about the romantic comedy I would make if I made romantic comedies.

3. Dear Richard Dreyfuss -- A letter I wrote to the acclaimed American actor (and well-known Taiwanese sex symbol) Richard Dreyfuss about how I let him down when I was a sixteen-year-old prick.

2. My 6 Most Overused Words -- A 677-word explanation of why I use the words Ridiculous, Fuck, Amazing, Jesus Christ, Shit and Nice so often.

1. Dear God Hates Fags -- An actual letter I sent to the morons over at the Westboro Baptist Church in which I asked for their help with a very sensitive family matter. This one was my favorite, too.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

'The Christ out of Christmas': A Ubiquitous Holiday Conversation

Some variation of this uncomfortable conversation took place in many, many homes this past Holiday Season:

A scruffy man in his late 20s or early 30s is sitting on a living room sofa, holding a paper plate piled high with assorted appetizers and staring at an ornately decorated Christmas Tree. To his right is a scowling older woman (in her late 60s or early 70s) who is sipping a 7&7 and to his left is a corpulent man in his 50s with a plate of cookies and a bottled beer. 

Man in his 20s/30s (Clears his throat): Is that an artificial tree? Wow, it looks so real.
Woman in her 60s/70s: It sure is. That's the thing about the artificial ones they make nowadays. You can't even tell the difference. That's what I don't get about these people who go through all that trouble year after year with the real ones. Tying up the tree on the car and lugging it into the house and watering it all the time. And these people always say the same thing, "But I just love the smell of the real trees?" The smell of it. (Shakes her head) People are so damn screwy these days.
Man in his 50s: Got an artificial tree five years back, and I can't figure out why the hell I didn't do it sooner. I'm never going back. Sure, you pay a little bit upfront. But you make up for it. Boy, do you make up for it. You figure you pay $25/$30 every year for a real one, in a few years with the fake one, you go ahead and recoup that investment. Best decision I ever made ... get an artificial tree.
Women in her 60s/70s: $25 is you're lucky. It's outrageous what they want you to pay for a Christmas tree today. I was at the Home Depot with my nephew and I said, let me just see what they asking for the trees this year, and I couldn't believe my eyes. $50 dollars! I nearly spit.
Man in his 50s: Highway robbery is what it is ... with these goddamn prices today, and the economy being in the toilet and all that. How are people supposed to afford that? Tell me that (Shakes his head and sips his beer).
Man in his 20s/30s: Yeah, I guess artificial is the way to go.

For two full minutes, there's an uncomfortable silence in the room.

Woman in her 60s/70s: And they start earlier and earlier each year with the decorations and the music and all. This year our Sears had their Christmas stuff out the first week of November. First week of November! Used to be, the Christmas stuff went out after Thanksgiving. That's the way it should be. What the hell do you need it out there for months and months. Next thing you know they'll be putting it out before the kids go back to school. And for what? It's all over so quick, anyway (Shakes her head and takes a long, loud swig of her 7&7).
Man in his 20s/30s: It didn't seem any earlier ....
Man in his 50s: It's a scam is what it is. The longer they have you looking at all this goddamn stuff, the more stuff you end up buying. Even when they can't afford it .... they just put it on a damn credit card. No wonder this country is in the shape it's in. I was over at the Wal-Mart a few weeks ago, and these fools are pushing around these giant carts that are just filled to the brim with lots and lots of junk. That's what it is ... useless junk. Oh, and don't get me started on what these corporations are trying to do to our Christmas. I was walking out of the store, and the man at the door stopped me and said, "Happy Holidays to you, Sir!" I says, "Happy Holidays yourself, pal! This is Christmas. You hear me? Merry Christmas is what you say to folks around here. I don't care what those suits tell you ... Christmas is what we're celebrating here and don't forget it." Then I stormed right outta there (Shakes his head and takes a long drink from his beer).
Woman in her 60s/70s: (Tilts her head in the direction of the man in his 20s/30s) It's your folks over in Washington that are doing it, you know? So damn worried about offending people, our government is. Don't get me wrong, I have a girlfriend that's Jewish, and we got some of those folks who wear the things over their faces ... what they do they call themselves?
Man in his 20s/30s: Muslims?
Man in his 50s: Terrorists is what those people are.
Woman in her 60s/70s: Right, Muslims. Why do I always forget that. Anyway, my point is ... they're so damn worried about making sure no one gets offended, they're gonna take the Christ right out of Christmas. You mark my words. It's gonna happen. I just hope I'm dead and buried before they ever do, though, I tell you that (Shakes her head and takes another long, loud swig of her 7&7).

Another uncomfortable lull in the conversation takes place.

Woman in her 60s/70s: (pointing toward the direction of the kitchen) Who's that colored fella over there?
Man in his 20s/30s: I don't think you're supposed to call people col...
Man in his 50s: That guy. That's Lisa's daughter's "friend." Word is, Lisa's daughter's been known to run around with all types.
Woman in her 60s/70s: I guess it must be how she was raised.
Man in his 50s: Hmm (Shakes his head and takes a long sip from his beer).
Woman in her 60s/70s: Hmm (Shakes her head and takes a long, loud swig of her 7&7).
Man in his 20s/30s: Excuse me, I'm gonna go get a drink.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Cat's Out of the Bag: A Father's Day Story

When my parents got divorced, they did it the American way* -- my dad moved out, and my mom stayed in the house and kept the animals: Maddie, a 120-lb. Rottweiler; and Hilary, a gray and white stray cat from the SPCA. It was a strange trade-off because my mom was never much of an animal person. I mean, she didn’t support dog-fighting rings or anything, but I don’t think she really understood why otherwise normal people became so obsessed with their pets. 

To be fair, eventually my mom learned to love Maddie, so much so that she frequently took her to McDonald’s for hamburgers and ice cream. She even made Maddie homemade Lasagna the night before we had to put her to sleep because, well, “it was Maddie’s favorite.” Hilary, however, was a different story. I think my mom thought of Hilary the way people think about that homeless guy they pass on their way in to work every morning: They don’t dislike the guy, but they don’t necessarily feel the need to feed him every day, either. Much like the homeless population of America, I believe Hilary fell through the cracks of the Scrimalli (name changed from Bilski after the divorce) household.

Then, one Father’s Day as my sister and I were getting ready to stop over our dad’s place, we felt our gift selection – a tie, a Stargate DVD and a card – just wouldn’t suffice. Our dad needed something better this year. So my sister stuffed our already elderly cat into her ample purse, and we set off to give our dad a Father’s Day present he'd never be able to claim was unoriginal.

We knew he was happy with his new/old gift because he never said, “You need to take this cat back right now,” or “Are you guys out of your goddamn minds?” Instead, he burst out laughing, and it took several moments before he composed himself enough to mutter, “You know, your mother would kill me if she ever found out?” But, we argued, how would she ever find out?

As it turned out, mom noticed the missing cat right away -- not four to six months down the road like my sister and I had anticipated. Not only did she notice, she was also very upset about Hilary's disappearance. She actually sat Jess and me down and said: "Kids, Hilary must've gotten out and, well, it's been a few days now, so I think we may have to accept the fact that she's not coming back. I'm going to keep praying, but ..." And just like that, Hilary got a new home. Of course, my sister and I told everybody what really happened to the wayward pet. But somehow no one ever let the cat out of the bag (horrible, horrible pun absolutely intended). 

Hilary thrived in her new environment. She went from being a skinny, skittish creature that hid out in my mom's basement to avoid running into the giant Rottweiler that held dominion over the house to a morbidly obese diva that acted like every object in my dad's townhouse was her own personal possession. Meanwhile, my sister and I pretended to have faith that one day Hilary would magically appear on my mom's doorstep. Each Christmas, I made it a point to hold up Hilary's ornament and say: "Hilary, wherever you are, I hope you're safe and warm and happy -- and I pray when your adventure is finally over, you'll find your way back to your family, because we miss you, and we love you."

Then, years go by, and it seems like Hilary has been my dad's cat all along. One night, I'm out to dinner with my mom and she starts complaining about the dog's skin problems: "Hon, Maddie's fur is just so knotty and that dandruff is disgusting ... it's hard to even pet her when she's like this."
"You should get this stuff dad uses on Hilary, it's ...."
"Wait, did you just say Hilary. Like my Hilary."
"No, no, no. I don't know why I said that. Dad got a cat, and it's got all these crazy skin problems and ..."
"What's its name?"
"What color is it?"
"Gray, it's gray ... with a little bit of white on the belly and ..."
Before I can finish convincing my mom that Otis is real, I lose it and I'm laughing in the same uninhibited way my dad did when we offered him Hilary as a Father's Day present.
Then, I steady myself and tell her the truth: "Jess and I gave Hilary to dad years ago. I can't believe you didn't find out until just now. Everybody knew about it -- my friends, Jess's friends, even your own sister, mom."

Luckily, my mom has a great sense of humor, and she actually found it funny that we gave the cat she inherited in her divorce to the man she got divorced from -- and let her believe for years that the creature had actually gone missing. But even if she was pissed or hurt or both, it wouldn't have mattered too much. I know that cat ended up in the right place. My dad loved that thing more than most people love their immediate family. When Hilary's health took a turn and even an ardent PETA member would've said enough is enough, my dad shelled out thousands of dollars to put the damn cat through dialysis -- just so she could enjoy the good life a little longer. In the end, Hilary lived to be 24, which is like 142 in people years. By that time, our Rottweiler was also dead, so we had no old pets to offer my dad to fill the void left by Hilary's death.

* I say the "American Way" in reference to my parent's divorce because in certain Middle Eastern countries the men take everything, and the women are lucky if they are allowed to keep their clitoris's.