written for Orlando's Loose Lips reading, at the request of Tod Caviness
While I know that headlines mixed with apologies always come off as forced and insincere
I do want to apologize to Tod for agreeing to do this show tonight
I don’t watch or read the news anymore
so I am entirely unqualified to perform at this reading
I can’t fully blame it on the 2016 election
But that is the point when the mere mention of certain names
Not just one name
Certain names led me to thoughts that made me question my mental stability
So I stopped following headlines
apart from the inescapable ones
And even then
Rather than rub my hands together until some rageful Hadouken shot out of them
I would close whatever tab or feed had let me know about …
and try and find some weird animal story that calmed me down
In Egypt, for the second time in a decade
archeologists dug up the skeleton of a whale
We spent hundreds of years thinking birds were kaiju
Creative paleontologists frankensteining bones into creatures that didn’t precisely exist
so maybe there wasn’t a whale with legs
Maybe a whale-like aquatic blimp thing swallowed another animal
and like two lovers buried with their bodies intertwined
their skeleton fused into a beauty our world hasn’t earned yet
Or maybe whales used to have legs
Not manatee-like dolphins
or calm gray whales or smiling bottlenosed grampuses
Nasty Anubis headed predators who terrorized whatever sea dried up leaving Egypt behind
Whales that walked on land
dove into the water
and massacred Everything
Whales with legs
I was going to spend ten to fifteen minutes regaling you with weird little rumors
because there aren’t yet any facts about whales with legs
weird little rumors about their diet
how fast the moved
how they looked like some massive coyote and an enormous porpoise
fucked in some unimaginable position
How they probably used to have antlers
because currently scientists think that whales
evolved from ancient deer
which is not something I’d ever considered
I was going to just try and entertain you with these ridiculous rumors
but just after my plane landed in Orlando
my phone let me know that Todd Akin died
In 2012 Todd was a Republican nobody who decided to run for the US Senate
His complicit idiot family
would like America to remember him as a patriot
who dressed up like a minuteman on the 4th of July every year
and told stories about America’s evolution from British territory to Freedom Loving Paradise
But if anyone does remember Todd Akin at all
it’s because in a 2012 interview
he was asked about his stance on abortion
and Todd Akin said that
womens’ bodies have a way of avoiding pregnancy in the cases of legitimate rape
I didn’t know that whales evolved from deer cousins
Shed antlers and webbed toes to better fish
I don’t know quite how evolution worked in this scenario
I am not a scientist
And even the scientists don’t yet know how an herbivorous prancer
Became one of the fiercest aquatic predators of its era
But they do know
And have known for at least decades that humans have not yet evolved into the ability to instinctively prevent a pregnancy through force of will
Even shameful Republican senator wannabes
who walk back their remarks and apologize
claiming they were misquoted as though they had evolved a sense of shame
and learned that their misogynist
rape supporting propaganda was nothing but cruel and hurtful lies
fabled to stupid men and complicit women
Whales with legs would fuck up beachfront property rates
Mitch and Marjorie toasting the sunset
Hear a rustle from the garbage cans beneath the porch
and begin shouting the least creative slurs in The English language
at whatever seagull raccoon or member of their staff has disturbed their idyllic moment
but we know raccoons don’t venture this close to the coastline anymore
and seagulls have moved inland and become lakegulls
because wherever a beach full of plump tourists and unsuspecting aquatic life gather
is just an All You Can Devour Buffet to the ever-increasing army of Whales With Legs
These four legged splashing leviathans with two webbed feet and two hooves
that could swallow a family of four whole but choose to chew them instead
because they love the sound of the screaming
There is no escaping the platoons of oncoming apex predators
Whales. With. Legs.
In his 2014 memoir
written because his political career was over
because being called a nice man … authentic to his beliefs
by the woman who trounced him in the 2012 election
doesn’t undo being the decrepit face that first uttered the phrase
legitimate rape on camera
In the 2014 memoir Todd Akin rescinded his apology
and reiterated his chauvinistic fable about female anatomy
Whales with legs have heads like Anubis
A jackal decaying
Heart pumping embalming fluid
Whales with legs swallow apologies whole
Shred memoirs in their sharp beaks
Further research has shown that the gulls and Republican senators
can return to the coastline
Whales with legs were strictly freshwater hunters
Descendants of deer who looked like dogs
but swam like hippos
Whales with legs ate rabbits and fish in equal measure
Maybe? Nobody was there to take notes
I’ve been told not to bring any science into this room
so I won’t mention that next month
NASA is enacting every 90s disaster movie
by sending out missiles to blow up a Pluto sized comet
that is only supposed to be heading kinda sorta near Earth
Todd Akins isn’t even close to the worst Republican
who ran for office in the 2010s
but he is the only one held accountable
His party offered him money to drop his stupid ass
out of the senate race
knowing he didn’t have a prayer of winning
but if he’d just waited until 2016
he could have felt the party violently swerve into his lane
and he could have been the president of the entire United Shithole States
Whales with legs drink the blood of Anubis
under the 4th of July moon
Dress as minutemen and shout about
the good old days before all the best rivers dried up
Shriveled up fish on withered land
Whales with legs stalk a world that’s moved beyond them
They gnash their dentures at smaller whales
with teeth Flail their tails
Thin out the herd at both ends of the age spectrum
until there is only one generation of whales left
with enough legs to stand on
I don’t know if
at this point in my life I’m qualified to judge
every piece of shit politician
from any party for speaking their ignorant
and/or hate filled propaganda
Sure I have no power over any laws or any person
and I outgrew downpunching edgy humor in my 20s
but I’ve said some regrettable things that I believed in at the time
Anubis weighs the hearts of the dead
on a scale with legs
that nobody can read
Scales with legs
are jackle headed gargantuans
Digging up old shit the earth wishes it could forget
Anubis the paleontologist whale finds
Anubis the jackal with fins
The Egyptian jackal whale Anubis
Holds all of our secrets
In his razorblade hooves
Sniffs the garland of clover from the deserts of our past
And flings us in or away from the directions of our beliefs
I don’t hope Todd Akins is burning in Hell
I don’t believe in an afterlife
but I hope consciousness fades just slow enough
for him to have realized his Heaven was unreachable
My coworkers in the retail hell
I’ve been suffering through for the last twenty years
enjoy the curses I bestow on the rudest loiterers (never customers)
When the mood assassins leave without buying anything
instead ranting about prices or Amazon or their general inability
to distinguish a specialty bookstore from a hardware store
I say I hope he trips while crossing the street in heavy traffic
But no car touches him
He gets up and crosses completely unharmed
but shits himself every time he sees a car
and he has to bike to a boat to travel to some
Gilligan’s Island where he lives out the rest of his life
donating all of the money he earned to charities
unbeknownst to him
every retail worker he was ever rude to
and one day
when he is older and more in pain than my friends
he suddenly understands how awful he used to be
and decides to devote his life to undoing all the emotional turmoil he’s caused
and as he looks to the sky to thank
a completely absent higher power
an unmanned drone carrying a tractor trailer truck falls on his head and crushes him
Whales with legs carry grudges
like busy servers in chain restaurants carry plates and the fear of getting sick
without adequate healthcare
and this is why it’s so difficult for them to apologize
That’s the rumor anyway
Science doesn’t have the facts to back it up yet
Condoms should be free and frequently distributed.
A couple of lowkey, youngish teenagers come in and begin walking around and checking prices on things.
About a minute later, a woman in a non-matching Canadian Tuxedo (washed light on bottom, dark on top) cawed into the store.
Canadian Tuxedo: "You wanna buy some squishamallows?"
Me: "I'm sorry, you're going to have to put on a mask."
CT: "No, it's fine. I've been vaccinated."
Me: "You still need to put on a mask."
CT: "No, I --"
Young Teenager #1: "Mom. Shut up and put on your mask or leave."
CT: "Touchy Touchy." She puts on her mask. "Squishamallows. I got a stack a squishamallows, I can get them to you for cheap."
YT1: "Those are my squishamallows. They are not for sale."
CT: "Sure they are. They're like Beanie Babies, you got to get in and get out before they're not worth anything. I bet this guy would love to buy the whole stack of squishamallows."
Me: "Sorry. We're not buying squishamallows right now. Or ever, really."
CT: "Oh, you gotta buy squishamallows. They're the Next Big Thing."
CT: "We've got old manga, too. You need to buy any manga?"
Me: "Get me a list of what you have. If it's anything we need, we might buy it. But it won't be for much. Maybe $3 or $4 per book, most likely."
CT: "Oh no, these ones are worth a lot of money. You're gonna die when you see what we've got. They're so valuable. Mint condition."
Me: "Great. Get us a list and maybe some photos, and I'll let you know if we're interested."
CT: "Are you hiring?"
CT: "Not even for the summer? Oh, it's not for me. I mean, no offense, but I've got a much better job. It's for my daughter. She's very experienced she's got five years experience working at IDUGjhDGF,jDfgMNF."
Her daughter is MAYBE 15, probably 14. She shouldn't have five years working anywhere.
Me: "We're not hiring at all."
CT: "Well, I can leave you my card. That will change in a few weeks. It gets busy in the summer, and you'll wish you had someone like my daughter working here."
She sees that I have a box of food to my left. I had just had lunch dropped off when they'd shown up.
CT: "Oh, I didn't know you were eating lunch. I'm sorry. Is it from Bridge Pizza?"
CT: "Do you ever order from Bridge Pizza?"
Me: "I'm not familiar with them."
CT: "Oh, they're the best. Two pizzas for $17. Large pizzas, not the small ones. And the people there are so nice. And it's local. You should be supporting local businesses, not ordering from chains and what not."
Me: "This is from Wrapture, which is about a block and a half that way. Very local."
CT: "Well Bridge is the best pizza in town. And they're gentlemen. Not like these other place, you know?"
CT: "When do you work?"
Me: "Constantly. There's no schedule though. I'm just here when I'm here."
This is a Complete Lie.
CT: "So if I come in in, say, a few weeks, you'll be here eating Bridge pizza and ready to buy our manga."
Me: "You never know."
CT: "Ok. Well, we've got to go. We don't need anything here right now. No offense."
Me: "None taken."
CT: "Last chance. A whole stack of squishamallows for a Very Reasonable price."
Me: "Thanks, but we're not buying squishamallows right now."
CT: "Hmph. Your loss."
The nearest place called Bridge Pizza is about a half an hour drive on the highway.
Faceless Torso On Grindr: U lookin?
(Spoiler alert: I'm not.)
FT sends three pictures in rapid succession. Two are incredibly blurry face pics of someone who probably looks somewhat like me. The third is Clearly either His High School Wrestling Photo from 1993 or a picture of someone who is not him. Either way, not how you should be representing yourself to people when you are 45 fucken years old.
Me: You wrestle?
No Longer FT: Not anymore.
NLFT: No. I got injured.
Me: Did you break a hip?
Then he blocked me.
I'm not sure why I thought of this today, but I remembered, perhaps, one of my most culturally ignorant but inoffensive moments of the last decade.
As many of you know, I went to school as a Deaf Education major. I was, many many years ago, near fluent in ASL, and tried to be vigilant about keeping up with Deaf Culture.
Almost a decade ago, I started the Insafemode Podcasts, and put them up on my own website, as well as iTunes. They contain a couple of stories about a few of my Deaf friends from Cape Cod.
A Deaf friend of mine messaged me and asked if there was a version that was accessible to the Deaf and Hard Of Hearing.
I spent about an hour trying to figure out how to justify my desire to not write up transcripts of the podcasts because I just didn't feel like I had time.
And then I realized, I was reading all the posts from a book. Books Exist And Are Accessible To The Deaf And Hard Of Hearing. So I sent her the PDF, shortly after I slammed my head my head so hard into the counter that it made a dent.
While I'm away, Comrade is playing the role of me in Harvard Square.
Insomnia Cookie Employee 1, eating a cookie his coworker just made: "This is underbaked, m'dude."
Insomnia Cookie Employee 2: "They're the best that way. Insomnia cookies is the top of the underbaked cookie game."
Comrade: "Insomnia Cookies , where the cookies are less baked than the staff."
"Come on girls, get those butts up, and down, and UP, and DOWN. Whose children are these, ladies? They're not our children, right? They're Destiny's Children. All the single ladies know what I mean, right? OOOT! OOOT! I wanna see you racing around those living rooms like You're Aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive. Yea, I Sia! WOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOO!"
So, the art of improv is alive and well at the yoga studio beneath our store.
I posted a while ago about the Optimistic Reviewer I've encountered who gives almost everything five stars, including books that she never actually read because she ordered it online, and it didn't arrive.
This was today's gem:
"Honestly, I picked up this book at the library because no one else had checked it out and I felt bad. I also kinda liked the cover.
It was good! I enjoyed it emensly. Could use some more editing." Five stars.
I can't wait for the day when I run across a review where she Doesn't give the book five stars.
"This book abour mudering my parents wasn't really for me. Especially the part where the author came to my house and murdered my parents in front of me while I was reading the book. But I did love their use of punctuation!" Four stars.
Kid Who Just Started Collecting Pokemon Cards: "Do you have any John Lennon cards?"
Me: "Um. No?"
Kid's Friend Who Knows More About Pokemon: "I think he means Charmeleon cards."
Me: "Huh. That's definitely a maybe."
Working in collectible retail means you field a lot phone calls from people looking to sell collections of various things tangentially related to what your store actually sells, or Not At All related to what your store sells.
For the most part, people try and unload baseball cards, Beanie Babies, DVDs, video games, or National Geographic magazines.
Today, someone Actually called the store, trying to sell a collection of pogs.
Wannabe Pog Seller: "Do you know of anywhere that might be interested in taking them?"
Me: "No. I took a collection of pogs to the dump once, and the employees tracked me down at my house and made me take them back."