Tag Archives: Lisi

Story of the Day: 1-31-11

The Legend of Scary Gary: Part 1

This one might be a little twisty-turny, because the minute I started writing about it, another part of the story popped into my memory banks and I had to readjust the starting point. But it’ll be worth it, I promise. I hope. I hope to promise.

By the way, 1 month of stories, right? Not bad, right? Thanks. And we begin.

I moved to New York at the end of the summer after my senior year of college. That summer, I had been working in the children’s section at Borders in Ann Arbor with no idea of what I should do with the rest of my life. I wasn’t very worried about it, because I was young and that summer was filled with a steady diet of shenanigans. It’s hard to get too worried about anything when shenanigans are on the menu.

Borders was the best place to work, especially in the children’s section, where we got to do fun things like read books to kids at story hour and figure out how to shelf that annoying series of kids’ books with the googly-eyed animals in which the round, liquid-filled googly-eyes jut out 2 inches on either side of the cover.

That was also where I first discovered my fear of animal costumes. Not of encountering them, of being inside them. I was signed up to wear the Curious George costume for story time. The night before I got drunk. Yeah, college! I’m sure the alcohol was still leaking out of my pores when I got into work, but my coworkers were kind enough to not say anything, even though I was about to climb into a fuzzy suit and interact with a bunch of children.

I got the feet and the body on, no problem. It was when they put the head on me that I broke down. “I can’t do it!” I screamed. “Get this fucking thing off me!” I felt so gross and it was so hot and claustrophobic that I knew the minute I got in front of children, I would either pass out or accidentally murder one of them. I had to spend the rest of the morning watching my coworker Meredith valiantly performing the task that I was too chickenshit to do as I reorganized the googly-eye books for the gazillionth time.

When I wasn’t freaking out inside Curious George costumes, I was going through the post-grad motions in the house where I’d spent the previous 2 years of my life. I moved in the summer after my sophomore year with Chris O’ Connell and four strange upper-classmen, and I was currently on my fourth and final iteration of roommates. This iteration was anchored by Lisi’s younger brother Andre and his friends. I loved Andre like my own brother but his friends were punks. They spray-painted their tags all over the walls of the upstairs living room. Not in a drunken stupor, either. They had a house meeting about it. One dude was like, “do you guys think it would look fresh if we spray-painted our tags all over the upstairs living room, even though none of us know how to paint graffiti and our tags look like the scrawlings of preschoolers?” and the other dudes were all, “Totally.”

We had a lot of weird parties that summer with a lot of weird guests. One night we were hanging out on the porch and this older dude with a brushtache walked by and started talking to us. He introduced himself as Carl. He looked like Wooderson from Dazed and Confused with a dash of Hulk Hogan. He was drinking buttermilk out of the carton. He was one of those guys that you think it’s cool to talk to when you’re in college and drunk on a porch but if he came by one of your parties today you would probably call the police.

That night we ran out of beer after the stores had closed. Carl told us if we drove him to his ex-wife’s trailer, he had a case of beer that he could bring back to the house. I was the only one with a car, so I loaded up 2 guys with me … I wasn’t about to go by myself … and we headed out to Carl’s ex-wife’s trailer, which was like 15 miles outside of town at the end of a bunch of twisty-turny-methy-murdery dirt roads. Carl’s ex-wife was so country that her trailer wasn’t even in a trailer park. Just a trailer, all alone, in the woods.

Before Carl went up to the trailer, he gave us some helpful advice.

“I don’t think my ex-wife is home,” he said. “but if she is, she’ll probably try to shoot me. Keep the car running, and if you hear gunshots, get the fuck out of here.”

Sure, we said, nodding vigorously. Of course. Of course we would get the fuck out of there if we heard gunshots.

He nodded and got out. At the door to his wife’s trailer, he looked back at us and gave us a thumbs-up sign. He unlocked the trailer and walked inside while we watched in terrified silence, hyperventilatedly. After a few minutes that felt like more than a few minutes, like several minutes, like maybe even more, Carl came running out of the house carrying a case of beer. He leapt into the car and slammed the beer on the floor. “Go!” he screamed. “Go, go, go, go!”

We went. We went like we were getting chased by Mothman. We went screaming like children who had been terrorized by a berserker drunkard in a Curious George outfit.

“What the fuck, man?” I asked Carl, who was sitting in the passenger seat, chugging a Natural Light from the case. Natural Light! I swear, we went through all of that for a case of Natty Light.

“Oh, I was just fucking with you,” he said.

“Was that even your ex-wife’s trailer?” I asked.

“Yeah, but we’re cool. I’m still fucking her.”

“Cool,” I said. Inside, I was starting to wonder if maybe it wasn’t time to look into getting out of Ann Arbor.

Carl stopped by one more time that summer, but by then we had a bigger concern: Player Black.

— To be continued —



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Story of the Day: 1-26-11

A Terrible Name

Before our daughter was born, Sarah and I had four names we were trying to decide between. They were:

Charlotte. Plusses: It is a very cute name. Can be shortened to Charlie, and little girls think boy nicknames are pretty cool. Minuses: It is very popular.

Lucy. Plusses: It’s classic. Peanuts is the best. Minuses: A bit boring.

Juniper. Plusses: It’s interesting. Cool nickname possibilites – Juni and Juno. I have never met anyone named Juniper. Minuses: I have never met anyone named Juniper.

And Hazel. Which [spoiler alert!] was the winner of the name contest.

It first entered our consciousness the night that Lisi came to visit with her son, Fiver. Fiver is the name of the prophet rabbit in Watership Down. We were joking around and said that it would be funny if we named our daughter Hazel, because Hazel is the leader of the rabbits in Watership Down. And then Hazel and Fiver could hang out and, I don’t know, get attacked by owls or whatever rabbits do. It started as a joke, but the more we thought about it, the more we liked the name.

A week before she was born, my parents came out to visit. We had managed to keep our name choices a secret up until that point, but with the birth date so close, we decided to run our names past them. BIG mistake. As soon as we told them the names, they both said, “Ugh. Well, whatever name you choose, do NOT go with Hazel.” We were both totally surprised. To me Hazel seemed, at worst, innocuous. But their reactions made it seem like we had decided to name our daughter Adolf.

“Hazel is an old lady with cankles,” my dad said. Cankles! I had never heard my dad use the word cankles before.

“The other kids will call her witch Hazel!” my mom complained. Which, A) do kids have any idea what witch hazel is? and B) Witch Hazel is a badass nickname! 

The day before we were to go into the hospital and get induced … which we had to do because the baby was two weeks late even though in my estimation they totally misjudged the due date but whatever, I’m not bitter … and when I say “we had to get induced” I really mean Sarah … we told my parents that Hazel was the winner. They reacted well. “Well, she can always change it later in life if she doesn’t like it,” my dad said. We had since come up with the nickname Zellie, which seemed to soften the blow somewhat. And my dad decided as long as he could call her his little Hazelnut, he’d be okay.

We sort of had the last laugh when we announced her birth on Facebook. Commenter after commenter told us how much they loved her name. “You notice that no one of my generation said they liked her name,” my dad remarked, unwilling to budge an inch.

In the meantime, the name Hazel seems to have exploded onto the zeitgeist. Julia Roberts’ new daughter has the name. Barely a day goes by that we don’t hear about another Hazel somewhere in our extended social circle. By the time Zellie gets to school, Hazel could be the new Britney. We’re not worried, though. We’ll just change her name to Juniper.

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Story of the Day 1-23-11


Sarah and I went to see Hair today. It was the first time we’ve been out of the house on our own since Zellie was born 8 weeks ago. Hair is my favorite musical of all time and there are a million things I’d like to say about today’s performance, but I need to bust out a quick story because it’s late and I have video games to play.

I’ve only seen Hair one other time in my life. I watched the movie many times growing up, but the movie was made in the 70s and is a totally different kind of experience than the play. It’s still great in its own right, but it has that 70s disco-ness to it that was inescapable for a few years.

The other time I saw Hair was when I was in college, at the Fox Theater in Detroit. Lisi and her family were big Hair fans, so we met them there. The Fox Theater is the coolest theater in Michigan and even though we only lived about 45 minutes away from Detroit it still felt like an extra special treat going there.

On the way to the theater, there were reports that a dead body had been found in Kurt Cobain’s house. They couldn’t identify the body because its face had been blown off. For some reason, my first thought was, “oh my God, Beck killed Kurt Cobain.”

The next day, I was listening to CK105, the shitty popular radio station in Flint. The opening chords to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” came on the air. I turned it up, ready to have a moment of respect for the lost king. But when the verses started, it turned out it was actually Weird Al’s “Smells Like Nirvana.” I picked up the phone and called the station. 

“Too soon, man,” I told the DJ. “Too soon.”

“Fuck you,” the DJ replied.

So far, I’m 0 for 2 with CK105.

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Story of the Day: 1-10-11

Little Green Men

I saw a UFO once. It was the summer after my freshman year of college. That was a strange summer. We were all the same to each other even though we had created new lives and identities in other places. It was like we returned from summer camp to find a new summer camp built where our homes used to be.

Lisi was visiting. We had just gone to pick up Keith Bradburn at his house in Flushing. Fairweather, Rosenberg, and someone else … McCurdy? … were riding in the other car. We were all headed back to my house in Clio. I was driving the Sunbird. It didn’t even have a name, my car. It was just the Sunbird. That’s how much I hated it. 

We were heading north on Linden Road. Rosey and the others were in front of us. As we crossed Pierson Road, I saw a triangle of light hovering in the sky, right above I-75. 

“What is that?” I asked. 

“UFO, I guess,” Keith said.

“Shit,” I said. “What should we do?”

“Let’s get under it,” Lisi suggested, “and see if it lifts us up.”

I stepped on the gas and headed east on Pierson Road, trying to see where exactly the ship was located. It was impossible to tell how far away it was. It could have been close and small or far away and huge. All we could tell was that it was a triangle shaped thing with lights underneath it that hovered in one place. It didn’t make helicopter noises. It definitely was not a plane. I’m not saying it was filled with a buncha ETs, but it was definitely unlike any other aircraft I have ever seen.

We drove for about a mile, trying to get underneath it. Just when we seemed to be getting a bead on its location, it stopped hovering and flew off into the distance. It didn’t shoot across the sky in a quick burst of light, but it did move across the sky in a smooth and direct line that implied it was moving very, very quickly. We couldn’t keep up, so we turned around and headed back to my house.

The others were waiting when we arrived.

“Did you see that thing?” we asked. 

They had, but they hadn’t tried to chase it down. No one seemed as excited as I was about it, but everyone admitted it seemed like a pretty strange thing.

We thought we should report it, but we didn’t think the police would care. So I called CK105, Flint’s biggest radio station. 

“We just saw a UFO!” I said, when the DJ picked up the phone.

He asked me what I’d been smoking. I’m not sure if that’s exactly what he said, but it had a similar flavor of sad local DJ ineptitude. 

“You’re working the late shift at CK105 in Flint,” I complained. “A guy calls you up to say he just saw a UFO, and that’s the best you can do? Are you the worst DJ in radio history?”

He hung up and didn’t mention anything about our exchange on the air, proving that he was, indeed, the worst DJ in radio history.

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