Memories may be beautiful and yet

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2 men and a baby

While traveling with my mom years ago she asked if she could borrow my drow blyer. But she didn’t say “Can I use your drow blyer–I mean blow dryer,” she just said “Can I use your drow blyer?” and stared at me blankly.

And I was lost in my thoughts.

Did she mean drow blyer? Why isn’t she correcting herself? Maybe she can’t hear herself anymore… Is this where I’m headed? Should I call it a drow blyer when I give it to her? Maybe it really is a drow blyer and I’ve been mistakenly calling it a blow dryer…

Getting older is fun because your brain just starts breaking down. Or rather, intelligence and wisdom combine with such intensity that it short-circuits normal brain function.

For me, it started with the little things. Answering the remote when the phone rang. Texting my cousin Laura that I couldn’t find my phone. The phone I was texting her from (never mind — found it!).

The other day an Airbnb guest came into the kitchen and instead of saying good morning I blurted out happy birthday.

I was as confused as he was. It was so ridiculous that I wasn’t even sure I had said it. I popped a coffee into the Keurig, thinking Did I just say happy birthday? Why aren’t I acknowledging it? And why isn’t he? Oh god – it’s drow blyer all over again.

I fantasized about trying to cover with “That’s right — I bought this coffee maker 2 years ago today. Happy birthday, Keurig!”

But then I’d be the guy who keeps track of his appliance birthdays. So to remedy the situation I just started coughing hard to indicate that we were going to the next scene — like adding a dissolve in Final Cut.

It didn’t work. He asked if I needed some water, and then asked if it was my birthday.

Last week I went to Target and realized in the parking structure I had left my shoes at home. I went back to check my car three times thinking there’s no way I walked out of the house and got in the car and drove to Target in bare feet. My sandals must have slipped off my feet and were in the car under the seat somewhere.

They were not. And of course I’m not gonna drive all the way home to get them, so then I was just THAT GUY. Walking bare foot across the disgusting parking garage floor. Standing barefoot in the elevator as nervous parents pulled their children in closer. Padding across the cold vinyl flooring inside Target, collecting dirt and hair on my bare feet like a Swiffer.

I get so enraged when I tell Siri “Call mom” and she replies with something random like “The time in Perth, Australia is 11:20pm.” But I’m becoming as non-sensical as Siri. I’m broken.

If I were a toaster, I’d take myself back to Best Buy. “This thing is broken. I just got it half a century ago but now when I press toast it just starts playing the Star Spangled Banner.”

It doesn’t help my memory problems that I have an irrational fear of forgetting people’s names during an introduction— especially if they’re a close friend or family member. The fear has turned into a kind of power surge that instantly clears my memory the moment I begin to introduce someone, making it impossible to remember ANYONE’S name, ever.

“Bob, this is my sister… the uh… daughter of my mom… and they call her… it’s a funny story – she was named after a river in Butte County… but we just call her…. Sestra.”

“Hi – I’m Kelley.”

“KELLEY – yes. You can also call her by her actual name, Kelley.”

It happens even when I do something as mundane as sending a text to a friend. I create a new text, and then rack my brain trying to come up with their name.

“Come on, Paul – you know this. Tall… Korean.. my closest friend… Kimchi? That sounds wrong. Kim Jong-un? I know it starts with Kim…. ALEX! So close…”

A couple weeks ago I got together with Alex and Derek, my two closest friends in all the world. Derek abandoned us years ago when he moved to New York to take a job as a greeter at Banana Republic. Or something like that — he always tells me what he does but I don’t listen. I know he’s famous, but I’m not sure why. I assume he’s just really good at folding shirts. Derek’s been doing some kind of sketchy injections for years that he refuses to discuss but it’s why he still looks 14. Alex is the actual baby of the group, and he’s Asian. I like to point out that he’s Asian, because having an Asian best friend makes me seem less racist.

Anyway, as we sat together eating frozen yogurt I shared with them how the other day I couldn’t remember my age. I knew it was one of two numbers, and I was either going to be really happy or really bummed when I found out which was correct. I finally had to look at my drivers license, which stupidly doesn’t even tell you how old you are unless you do the math (Millennials: math was a kind of number science we had to do in our heads before Google could think for us).

At that point, Alex confessed that he has to sing what he’s doing or he’ll forget it by the time he gets to the other room.

On Derek and my confused look, he continued.

“Like I’ll start singing ‘I’m going to the dining room to get myself some scissors…’ as I’m walking, and the melody helps me remember…”

I honestly don’t know if that’s better than just standing there with your mind racing. Also who keeps scissors in the dining room?

Derek refused to admit he’s having memory problems, then launched into his annual complaint that in 15 years I had never come to visit him in New York.

“Are you serious? I just saw you there last year.”

“What are you talking about?”

“A year ago I came to New York and saw your office. I stayed with you at your home upstate.”

Nothing.

“I had to take a train to get there. We took the train together both ways. You made us breakfast every day.”

He squinted. “It’s beginning to sound familiar…”

“OMG I have to write this down.” I picked up my iPhone, opened the Notes app, and stared at it.

No. Not now. Don’t do this.

“What. Was. The story. What am I writing? You JUST told me.”

They stared at me with blank faces, chewing slowly, like 2 dairy cows that had just been asked for directions to the Grove.

Realizing that the three of us are all becoming dim as dairy cows was unsettling, but also somewhat comforting. At least if we’re going down, we’re going down together.

So we sat together in silence, licking our spoons and watching the sun set. In so many ways.

Then a piano fell out of a 10th floor apt. killing us instantly.

(I decided to punch up the ending – that sunset line was too depressing).

How to handle a noisy neighbor (Streisand edition)

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There’s 3-4 Middle Eastern guys that live directly behind me, so their balcony looks down on me (as does anyone under 30). They’re insanely loud when they talk in Arabic to each other, which is often on the balcony, even after midnight. I lie in bed at night, half seething about how disrespectful they are, and half baffled that even inches apart they have to yell to communicate.

I usually run through the angry old man things to do, like call the police or complain to their building manager, but sometimes I fantasize about walking out beneath their balcony and just having an insanely loud fake phone call for 20 minutes. When our eyes finally meet and their arms are up in the air like “WTF???” I’d just smile and give them a neighborly wave, then get back to yelling on the phone.

Plan B has me facing a giant flat screen playing gay porn out my bedroom window, in plain view of their balcony, which I’m assuming would make the balcony less enticing to a group of Middle Eastern guys. Although this is Hollywood and the neighboring balconies would probably be stacked with shirtless guys sipping mojitos and jockeying for position.

I’ve also considered facing a speaker out my bedroom window, and looping Streisand’s “Don’t Rain on my Parade” until they go insane and fling themselves off the balcony. The downside is that it may make them declare Jihad on me — or worse, on Barbra.

(I just noticed the only tools in my revenge arsenal are gay clichés. Maybe I should try to hairdress them to death.)

Today’s yelling started early — and for a moment I considered doing the neighborly thing. What if I just brought them over some homemade cookies, and nicely asked them to keep it down on the back balcony – at least after midnight? What if they were friendly and cool and apologetic? What a breakthrough that would be.

Or what if I brought them a bottle of Patrón and made them do tequila shots with me, as I explained the problem? Then I’m just the fun, party neighbor who gets them, but also likes to sleep at night. We’d be drunk and laughing and they’d give me some crazy nickname in Arabic that’s probably offensive but I’d never find out. An hour later when I finally leave we’d be laughing and hugging goodbye, and one of the hugs goes on a little longer than it should have and when I pull away our eyes meet and — well at this point, the fantasy starts going in a direction I hadn’t even considered but the point is we’re all getting along REALLY well, and the noise is never again a problem.

I wonder – will I finally do the right thing – reach out and communicate? Or just internalize my rage, have a glass of wine, and blog about it?

The suspense is killing me.

I am my mother

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Mother and son at a wedding at the Plaza in NYC.

My mom is obsessed with getting the perfect table in a restaurant. The joke was that the first sitting was just so she could have a moment to look around the restaurant and find a more ideal table before requesting to switch. Growing up we were used to this so we just let her drive that train whenever we went out. To me it was always a funny anecdote about my mom, until I started dating Sam.

We sat down at a cafe once, and I noticed he didn’t take off his jacket and was only half sitting in the chair. When I asked if he was going somewhere he didn’t stop texting but added “I’m just waiting for you to choose a better table.”

“What are you talking about? I don’t do that. My mom does that.”

“OK.”

His patience with it was even more infuriating. He was not complaining, he had no issue with it, he had just completely accepted it, and was apparently living in “reality.”

“We’re not done talking about this,” I pouted, quickly scanning the restaurant. “And if you’d like to finish you can join me at the table by the window which just opened up.”

I was driving with my mom once — of course she was driving and I was in the passenger seat, with the window cracked a few inches for air. Suddenly she closed my window from the driver side. When I asked what she was doing she replied matter-of-factly, “you’re cold.”

Thank God she was with me – I hadn’t even realized.

As an Airbnb host, I can see my mother’s influence on a daily basis.

If a guest is reading in a dimly lit room they may as well be a drowning child. Thankfully I’m there to swoop in and turn on the lamp that is right next to them.

I’ve also gone into the guest room WHILE THEY WERE IN IT and opened the blinds for them or cracked the window, biting my lip to not add “it’s so stuffy in here – I don’t know how you stand it.”

I’ve brought an unrequested blanket out to a guest watching TV, literally laid it over them, and walked away. You’d think I’d feel the need to add something like “Don’t worry — I’ve inherited my mother’s magical abilities to assess other people’s body temperatures.” But no — I’m just a total stranger, swaddling them in a blanket and leaving the room.

Honestly, I’m lucky to have inherited even a tiny portion of who my mom is — she’s truly a superhero.

After my parent’s divorce, my mom raised 3 kids on her own, worked a full-time day job while getting a business degree at night, and after graduation started her own biotech recruiting company.

She’s a natural beauty with a spectacular wardrobe and always dressed to kill. Parents’ night at school was usually a gaggle of frumpy, middle-aged women left slack-jawed when the door burst open and in walked Alexis Carrington – even my teachers were intimidated.

Daphne Lewis – my beautiful mom.

But she didn’t just rely on her appearance — she was successful because she always put others first, both personally and professionally. She still invites every single person she knows to Thanksgiving to ensure no one is spending a holiday alone. She refuses to hang up on telemarketers, and will spend 5 minutes apologizing for not wanting what they’re selling. She has literally taken a homeless women to an ATM so she could withdraw more money for her. When I finally came out to her over the phone at 27, she insisted on flying to LA the next day to meet my boyfriend.

My friend Derek loves to tell the story of walking with my mom and I on a cold San Francisco morning. When Derek mentioned getting something to eat, mom said “I’ve got muffins,” and handed one to each of us. After a moment, Derek pulled me aside and whispered, “Paul, the muffins are still warm. She just pulled a hot meal out of her purse.”

I could only shrug. “I know. She’s like that.”

Over the years she’s tried in vain to instill in me some kind of work ethic — as a child I can still hear her trying to teach me the phrase “elbow grease” as it pertains to scrubbing a bathtub.

Can you imagine me “scrubbing” something? 40 years later, my idea of hard work is spending a week at a luxury spa, writing a one-paragraph review for a travel magazine, and then complaining about my “exhausting” travel schedule.

At 66 mom was featured in Divas, Dames & Dolls, a book about remarkable women, because OF COURSE SHE WAS.

Even retirement (or “re-wirement” as she called it) didn’t slow her down. She began to volunteer full time at the Red Cross in San Francisco, and in her 70s still spends her vacation every year building houses around the world for Habitat for Humanity.

Her commitment to volunteering is one thing I don’t have — at least not yet. While my 79-year-old mother is mixing cement and lugging rebar in Tibet, I’m in sunny LA wearing sandals because my back hurts if I have to bend over to tie my shoe.

But seeing these little Daphne-isms in myself today just reminds me how lucky I am to have her as a mom. The compassion she taught me has informed my writing, drove my career at HERO Magazine, Pallotta Teamworks, and the Ellen Show, and made me a great Airbnb host. The truth is, I may never become the superhero my mom is, but I do occasionally get to borrow the cape.

And while I may be my father in my head, my heart is pure mom.

I am my father

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Sitting in the diner at Galpin Ford waiting for my car to be tuned up, and I’m suddenly flooded with memories of my father. Diners were his world. It’s where he’d go to brainstorm business ideas, write lyrics on napkins, and entertain waitresses. He lived to make people laugh, and most people who knew my dad called him the funniest guy they knew. Diners were the place he’d go to try out new material.

Many of my favorite dad memories took place at Bob’s Big Boy in Cupertino. My parents divorced when I was 9, and dad was clueless in the kitchen — the only food items in his bachelor kitchen were milk, cashews, Pepsi, and Oreos. (He only ate food that was black or white. Hard to believe he died young). If he was feeding me, it thankfully wasn’t at his house. So we both loved eating out — dad was in his element and I was witness to the man at his best, making jokes and blatantly flirting with waitresses.

Ray Horne

One of his go to jokes when the kids were all slumped forward waiting for our food, was to look behind us and suddenly sit up and clear away anything in front of him to make way for the food. This prompted us all to excitedly sit up and clear our placemats, then look behind us to see… Nothing.

He must have found the disappointment on our faces endlessly amusing because he did this almost every time we ate out, and we always fell for it. It’s a trick I still whip out now and again.

Bob’s Big Boy used to advertise that their shakes were so thick you could hold them upside down and they wouldn’t pour out. Can you see where this is headed? Once I decided to show dad this miracle with my own thick, freshly delivered shake by holding it straight out, a foot above the table, and turning it upside down.

It worked! Even though the shake was over-filled into an ice cream swirl above the top of the silver goblet, nothing spilled out. Unfortunately, dad was joking with the waitress and missed it. I reset the shake and tried again.

“Dad — look!”

When dad turned around I stretched my arm out directly in front of him, and turned the shake upside down in mid-air. The contents hit the table so hard the splash hit both our faces, covered the entire table, and slowly poured onto both our laps.

With shake dripping from our hair and noses, we just stared at each other in disbelief. Me at Bob’s misleading ad campaign, and dad at the realization that his son was most likely mildly retarded.

My first thought in the diner this morning, as I saw the old men drinking coffee and joking with the waitresses, and remembering my father, was – what is it with old guys and diners?

Then I realized I am now older than my father was when he died.

It’s 40 years later in a diner that looks and feels exactly the same as it did with my father. Just as he did, I’m writing and brainstorming – although the napkin is now an iPad. And I’m getting paid to do what my father did for free.

Thanks dad — guess I’m a Big Boy now.

Don’t touch me there. Or anywhere.

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Being an Airbnb host is a crash course in multiculturalism, as you may be suddenly living with guests who have never been to America, seen a Western toilet, or know what a Bloomin Onion is.

One guest insisted I remove the plant from her room, because she was positive the plant would “eat up all the oxygen” and she would suffocate in the night. I tried to explain to her how photosynthesis works, and even showed her some articles, but she was not having it. Although this may not have been a cultural thing — it’s more likely she was just an idiot.

But there are things we do in America that simply aren’t done in other countries. Giving a thumbs-up in the Middle East, Latin America, and Western Africa has the same meaning as holding up a middle finger in the U.S. — or more literally, I’m going to jam my thumb in your anus. I’m guessing this is why Siskel & Ebert never caught on in Pakistan.

When a Persian couple successfully backed their car into the guest parking spot a few months ago, I came outside and gave them an enthusiastic thumbs up. Which I now realize was the equivalent of yelling “Welcome — I’m going to anally rape you!”

They took their time getting out of the car.

I’m also a pretty touchy-feely hugger, and in many cultures hugging is not appropriate — especially for a man to hug a single woman who’s not a family member. In my mind, we’ve been living together for a week, sharing a bathroom, discussing our days and eating together… when that guest leaves my impulse is to give them a big California liberal hug. Most of the time it’s natural and reciprocated, but if they suddenly tense up or shrink into their shoes, I know I’ve overstepped. While my thought bubble is “I am warm and affectionate and wish you well,” they’re reading “I want to give you a thumbs up in the name of Satan.”

Some countries just have different rituals than we do – especially in the bathroom. For example, guests from one particular country often do something I can’t figure out. I won’t tell you which country, because then you’ll think people from China are weird.

After these guests take a shower and dry off, they often carefully fold the wet towel and set it back on top of the folded/dry towels. At first I thought it was just an anomaly, but it began happening so often I actually had to post a sign that said “Please hang wet towels to dry – do not fold and put back on shelf.”

I somehow refrained from adding the word “O B V I O U S L Y” which my friend Alex points out I always add to emails when I’m angry (which is 100% of the time).

Even with the sign, more than half of these guests continue to do this (just happened again this morning!). Does anyone have any cultural insight to this? It now fascinates me. And infuriates me.

Obviously.

How to smile in Hollywood

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My smile routine on my morning walk goes like this:

  1. see stranger in the distance
  2. assess how and whether I’m going to smile at them
  3. look down and carefully study sidewalk
  4. on stranger approach, look up and see them as if for the first time
  5. deliver seemingly spontaneous smile or a noncommittal lip-pinch

The lip pinch says “I might smile if I knew more about you.” You can’t just keep looking at them the whole time, or they’ll think you’re insane, so it’s important to look at the ground until you’re close enough to pinch or smile at them for a brief but bearable length of time.

I thought of this today as I was passing a tranny hooker. They’re pretty common in my hood — Las Palmas gets a lot of squirrels, feral cats and trannies. And I tend to not smile at them, because a) they’re often fierce and I’m afraid they might yell at me, and b) I don’t want them to think I’m looking for sex. Even though I love shopping in any form, I’d rather spend my money at HSN. On the other hand, I don’t want to add to the oppression they’re probably already feeling. So if a noncommittal lip-pinch would be oppressive and ignoring them would be insensitive and a smile might be misconstrued, I had to whip out a totally expressionless face. Which I didn’t even know how to do until I remembered this smiley: 😐

It seemed to work — she passed me with the baffled look that any tranny passing a life-like mannequin on the street would have. And I think everybody won.

(Note: if you’re one of those angry people who don’t like the term tranny, imagine I’m saying trainee. “Hi I’m Methany, and I’ll be your hooker tonight. Candida will be shadowing me — she’s a trainee. Also she has a penis.”)

Next up was an Indian guy (dot not feather), who seemed nice enough in the distance but combed his hair straight down all around leaving vertical comb paths, like a garden that hadn’t been planted yet. And my thought was that giving him a smile would be a tacit endorsement of someone who in his 40s still hasn’t learned how to comb his hair.

But he was smiling in the distance so I don’t want to hit him with a suspicious lip pinch if he’s gonna be all smiley, because then I’M the asshole. So I decided to throw caution to the wind and bust out a smile, because I want to be a light in the world and I should just smile at everyone, even when their hair is a disaster.

When I looked up he was already smiling and downright wide-eyed about it, but his hair was even more chaotic than I had first noticed. I fantasized about saying “Good morning! You know, if you just take a half second to run your fingers through your hair like a normal, you won’t have those insane lines and I bet a lot more people would smile at you.” And he’d do it and say “Wow – what a difference! How can I ever thank you?” And I’d just laugh and say “Please — it’s what I do!” and we’d high-five and they’d tell that story in his family for generations.

Or else he’d say “It’s just a wig I’m wearing because the chemo made my hair fall out. It wouldn’t have been my first choice, but my mom bought it for me before she died last month, so wearing it is my way of remembering her on this morning walk that we used to take together.”

As his eyes well up he’d continue. “The doctors say it doesn’t look good, so I’ll be joining my mom in Heaven soon where hopefully we’ll be able to walk together again. Life is such a gift.”

And I’d say “Look even if it’s a wig it’s not gonna kill you to just push the strands back a bit with your fingers. Anyway this is my PowerSong so I gotta go — tell your mom I said hi.”

Actually I’m glad I didn’t say anything.

A mental trip to the ER

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Yesterday while watching TV on the couch, I suddenly felt a cold feeling on my shoulder. When it began spreading from my shoulder to my chest, I said out loud “here we go” and began to emotionally prepare for death.

Before the big sleep came I tried to get up but realized it would be easier to die already reclined on the couch. If I were standing I might fall and hit my head. Plus if I knocked over that lit candle and my body were charred beyond recognition they’d have to identify me by my dental records and then the whole world would know that I never actually paid for that porcelain crown because honestly it was too expensive and who has that kind of money to waste on something as extravagant as chewing?

I touched my shoulder — it was still cold and wet and I gasped when I saw bright red blood on my fingers. What the serious fuck? Apparently I’ve been shot in a gang-related drive-by and I didn’t even feel it because I’m too in shock and/or fat.

I was going to Google aneurysm symptoms but my iPad was all the way over by my feet, so I began frantically patting my chest trying to figure out why it was so cold.

Had I lost so much blood that my body temperature was dropping?

Or is cold and wet just how an aneurysm feels?

Or did I not notice a piece of the cherry Popsicle I was eating earlier had dropped off and landed on my shoulder, where it had been slowly melting?

Look we’ll never know what really happened – so be careful out there, people.

Charming racism and fish

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What fishing looks like in my head.

Today I had a sweet couple from China, who had just arrived from Vegas on a typical West Coast tour. After losing $100 in Vegas and visiting the outlet shops, they asked for my advice on a fish tackle shop to find a gift for the girl’s fisherman father. I said “If you want to find the perfect gift for a fisherman, you are talking to the right guy!” Then I looked up fishing store on Yelp because they were talking to the wrong guy. I’ve never fished for anything but a compliment.

So anyway, adorable and charming little couple, describing their journey and asking for recommendations on where to go next. Their eyes lit up about New York, Boston, and Miami, but when I suggested Chicago, they visibly recoiled.

“Oh, no… too many black people…”

“Oh…,” I said nodding and wide-eyed, like you do when you’re being supportive and overly-affirming to a foreigner struggling with the language.

To a native English speaker, I’d have nervous laughed and said something like “Did you just say too many blacks?” But to someone with a thick Chinese accent struggling to speak English, I just smiled and said “Yes but just the right amount of deep dish pizza…”

In my mind I wanted to add “But New York also has a buttload of blacks, and honestly if you’re avoiding blacks you should probably steer clear of every major city in the U.S. And PS: how many is too many? Also you can’t say stuff like that, because it’s actually pretty racist and offensive. Especially coming from a Chinese couple — because you’re terrible drivers but I wouldn’t say that out loud because that’s racist. I mean I said it right there, because I was making a point.”

But seriously, can you imagine rush hour in Shanghai?

I probably should have taken a stand or at least pressed for clarification — I feel like I missed out on a potential Rosa Parks moment. (Although frankly, I don’t know Rosa Parks’ whole backstory on her back of the bus story. Maybe she took a shine to the married bus driver and wanted to sit in front because she’s a slutty home wrecker. Maybe she saw a spider in the back of the bus and moved to the front because she’s just a fraidy-cat. We’ll never know the real story).

All I know is that if I had suggested San Francisco and they had said “Oh no — too many gays…” I would have gone OFF. (And by gone off, I mean watched TV with a glass of wine).

Anyway, I just shrugged and withdrew to my bedroom, as my charming but racist guests headed up to discover the Walk of Fame.

I probably should’ve given them a heads-up…

Apparently Yanni is some kind of drug

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I was just channel surfing and accidentally ran aground on PBS, a network built on the principle that begging for money 24/7 is morally superior to airing commercials. PBS primarily alternates between 3 shows: Yanni in concert, Wayne Dyer, and begging for money. Today it was Yanni in Concert, or Yawni as I used to call him in college – although that joke only works when it’s written, or if you do a yawning hand emotion when you’re saying it. Since Yanni has always been the David Copperfield of music to me, I thought it would be fun to see how terrible he had become.

After a minute it was kind of ok, so while I was waiting for the terrible I started tapping my foot, just to pass the time. The concert is like a circuit party for old straight people whose only drug is Chardonnay. As the music kept building and more instruments and singers joined in, audience members began hugging each other, openly weeping, and generally falling apart.

Suddenly the song became so exciting I felt like the whole Universe was opening up to me and I was a flower bud that had just discovered sunlight. Packs of wolves were circling and howling and stars began shooting across the sky and the music continued to build until I wanted to stretch my arms out wide like Christ the Redeemer (if that Christ is just posing to be awesome and not being nailed to a cross or whatever), and yell “Yes! Yes! We are alive and we all are one!”

Thankfully the song finally ended and I quickly changed the channel to something that is a better reflection of how young and hip I am.

Pretty little cream puff liar

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As a part-time Airbnb host I’m now basically a full-time maid, and have become an expert at quickly cleaning and prepping both my guest rooms and the 2-bedroom unit I manage upstairs. I assumed I’d be constantly tossing out dead hookers and trying to get blood stains out of the carpet — but for the most part guests clean up after themselves.

There’s often food left in the fridge, which I usually throw out because cooties. Leftover ice cream I will obviously eat because Africa. Today’s bounty left over from a family of Chinese guests was a bakery box full of untouched cream puffs from Beard Papa’s, a bakery famous for its cream puffs. I’m not a pastry guy, so I saved them for my fat-free friend Shafik.

Moments later I opened the fridge door, looking for my career as I often do, and there was the box. Unbelievably, it was still there even though it had been almost 5 minutes since I left it there. I pulled out the cream puffs, poked them a bit, and began talking aloud.

“This is so random. Who would eat these? Who goes to a bakery to buy cream puffs? And why would you buy a full box of six, and not even eat one of them? Asians are crazy.”

I picked up a vanilla puff, turned it over in my hand and set it back down. Then I picked up a chocolate one, smelled it, and set it back down.

“It’s not worth it. I just did my morning walk and had a protein shake — I’m not gonna throw away a day of healthy eating just because some guest left random pastries in the fridge. That is madness.”

I set the box down, took a few steps away, and spun around so I could take it all in.

“I don’t even know what a cream puff is. Is it a donut with cream in the middle? Who knows? Maybe I should throw them all out – that’s the smart thing to do. I’ll throw them out. I’ll just throw them all out.

I’ll take a small bite of one and then just toss them in the garbage. The calories aren’t worth it.”

I went back to the chocolate one I had a relationship with, and took a small bite.

“So random. Why is this even a cream puff? Where’s the cream?”

I took a bigger bite, and my mouth exploded with sweet, creamy vanilla pudding. It burst out the other side onto my hands and began dripping onto the floor — the only save was to shove the entire thing into my mouth. It didn’t all fit at first — I had to aggressively push. My eyes rolled back into my head.

“Jesus fucking Christ…. Who would eat this?”

I paced the kitchen in circles, chewing and wiping the cream off my face. Impossibly decadent. Why would anyone eat these? If I ate a second one I’d probably have a heart attack right there in the kitchen.

For the second one I chose vanilla. Again I tried to take a dainty bite like a fat girl on a first date, but it was impossible — the cream shot out the back — the rest was on my hands and eventually all over my face as I quickly stuffed it into my mouth, gulping and chewing faster to try to take it all in (I should really write for porn). It was at that moment that my iPhone beeped with a text message.

“Hi Paul — we accidentally left a half-dozen cream puffs in the unit when we checked out this morning. They’re for my friend’s birthday tonight — from her favorite bakery in Little Tokyo. Do you mind if we drop by later and grab them?”

For some reason I stopped chewing for a moment, contemplating if the half-eaten one in my mouth could still be saved.

I tried to have Siri reply but my mouth was so full of pastry cream the dictation came out “Cream bash? Lee doo beaver Santa fidge?”

Then on her own Siri said aloud “I don’t know what you’re saying and you’re disgusting.”

I wiped some cream off the screen and manually typed a reply. “Did you leave them in the fridge?” I asked, in an inexplicable bid to buy more time.

“Yes – there should be a whole box in there.”

“Shoot – the maid usually throws out any food she finds in there — let me text her,” I improvised, frantically rinsing my hands and face in the sink like a meth lab worker who just heard a knock at the door.

I took the box to the garbage can to hide the evidence, opened the lid, and paused to narrate my options aloud.

“They can’t see me now – no one can see me. I’m alone in a kitchen. I don’t know these people and I’m never gonna see them again.”

I grabbed a third cream puff, stared at it for a good half-second, and stuffed it in my mouth.

By now I was almost positive the maid wasn’t going to find anything in the fridge, because the fridge was empty. Also, I don’t have a maid and I hadn’t actually texted anyone.

I cautiously looked out both windows, half expecting to see a Chinese family on their toes straining to see inside, then closed the lid and put the box back on the counter.

“There’s no use wasting these delicious cream puffs — what would Sally Struthers say?”

I grabbed my phone, wiped off some more cream, and texted back, recommitting to the lie.

“I’m so sorry — the maid said she threw out everything she found in the fridge.”

“Really? Oh no…”

“I know,” I replied, then added “She’s from Guatemala…” apparently thinking that would explain her stupidity.

“No problem — we can pick up some more. We thought about just telling you to eat them yourself!”

“LOL! I wish you had,” I texted back breezily. “OK have fun at the party…”

They knew I was lying. I shouldn’t have added the exclamation point after LOL — it reads as an over-laugh. LOL is already all caps. Never yell an LOL. You may as well scream “I JUST ATE YOUR CREAM PUFFS, BITCHES!”

A few minutes later I began to feel intensely guilty about the whole thing. The kind of guilt that only 3 more cream puffs can assuage.

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