Friday, October 22, 2004


Because I have no skills, and also no income, I took a temp job the Contemporary Resort at the Magic Kingdom, which was fun until the boss started referring to the guests as, quote, “fags.” WELCOME TO DISNEY WORLD!!

It was fun, for perhaps the first five minutes, driving through “property” as we wretched locals call it, racing the monorail (I have a somewhat unhealthy monorail fixation: “It’s an ELEVATED TRAIN! On a RAIL! ONE rail!”) and parking about eight feet away from Space Mountain. That’s just not something you do every day in downtown Cheboygan.

They put me in the business center of the hotel’s convention area. According to the temp agency, the position was Monday through Friday, 8-5, professional dress, Word intensive, very minor Excel, so I was not at all surprised to discover that the job actually entailed a seven-day schedule, 7 AM-3:30 PM, business casual, excessive Excel, and absolutely zero Word work.

“No math,” I’d warned the temp agency.

“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that at all,” they people told me.

“Here is the cash drawer,” said the woman who trained me. I have since bankrupted the entire Magic Kingdom.

Those of you preparing to conduct fax work or Internet surfing or general breathing within the Business Center of the Contemporary are hereby advised to sell off a few children first. Five bucks to send a fax. Per page. Want to get online? Ten bucks. Every fifteen minutes.

The thing was, I’d relay the prices, and then lower my eyes in shame to the cash drawer, and nobody ever said anything about it. These were people who had just paid eighty dollars a head to stand in very long lines with very hot and very smelly people for a ninety-second boat ride past creepy little dolls doing the can-can. Five dollars a fax was a steal.

I tended to the copy machine, for the most part, which worked perfectly unless you wanted to turn it on or reload the paper or in general copy something. I was often scheduled with Joe, who had just completed an MBA in finance, and we’d stand there, with something like five college degrees between us, two of them at the Master’s level, absolutely flummoxed by the credit card reader.

The suckitude of all this was much mitigated, however, by the food. Sometimes a banquet would end with chicken l’orange to spare, and we got to scrounge. Disney scrounge is better than meals cooked solely for me, particularly by me. I found a leftover piece of cheesecake once, and it cost something like $45,982,867,632,875,625, and it tasted like it.

Also, sometimes the chefs would come into the Business Center to copy their menus, which meant that I actually had the opportunity to say, in acutal reality: “Hi, Chef!” If just one of them had answered, “Hello there, children,”one time, I do believe I would have worked there until the end of time.

Alas, it was not to be. One morning as I sat copying, a manager stopped by to make a phone call.

You know this guy. This guy is the guy who, in the mere act of entering a room, announces “ASSHOLE A-COMIN’!” I don’t know what it is, exactly—the gelled hair, the Trump ties, the lack of an immortal soul-- but you can just tell that this is going to be That Guy who talks very loudly on his cell phone about his golf game while undertipping the bartender.

At that particular moment he was speaking with, I believe, another manager. “Here’s what this beyotch in the Fantasia Ballroom wants,” he began.

Well! It sounds as if Mr. Asshole is having a bad day! Maybe he—

“The fags from the tennis association are in today,” he continued. “Did you see those two fags at breakfast? I bet they were (really bad word) each other under the table.”

Oh my yes, we got nothing but maaaaaaaaagical memories here at the Proportedly Happiest Place On Earth.

This, of course, was excusing the morning this guy trapped me up against a counter as I quietly swore at the Excel sheet and said, “What’s going on?” Well-- a lawsuit, for starters.

Just as I was arranging for my departure I discovered that—because Irony looooooooves me—a frightening percentage of the engineers from my day job were arriving for a conference entitled Conference For Stupid Boring Hydrologists Who Lay People Off Without Warning.

I can take a hint. Fare thee well, unbalanced cash drawer.

wishing upon a sexually harassed star at:

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

There's Room For Me Now

Dave Barry has retired, sort of.

column syndicates may reach me at:

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


I believe we may declare the ‘80’s as officially over now.

We are all aware of my strong feelings regarding Mary Lou Retton, so you can imagine my galactic upset when I came upon a full-length article discussing her lifelong heartbreaking struggle with: an overactive bladder.

As previously discussed in this space, I enjoy announcing to everybody I know, as well as a whole entire Internet's worth of total strangers, that I HAVE HEMORRHOIDS. And HEMORRHOIDS are completely uncool, so I can’t imagine that it’s any more fun to have to pee all the time.

I practically do this anyway. Anyone who has been in my general vicinity while consuming anything over .000000000001 milliliters of alcohol had better prepare themselves for a conversation conducted in four-minute intervals. “’Scuse me—exit strategy for the Chablis—be right back.” Dreeeeeeeam date!

I am so glad that Mary Lou decided to share this with us. This is easily the most important celebrity endorsement of a bodily dysfunction since Jerry Mathers bravely denounced psoriasis. I cannot wait for the Oprah interview, for as we all know celebrity discomfort does not exist unless it has been publicly wept over first.

Well, the position of National Spokesperson For HEMORRHOIDS seems to be open. My life is going to be so much more awesome now.

be sure to stick the landing on the toilet seat:

Sunday, October 17, 2004

View From the Stage

Bad times here in The Swamp, what with the job losing and the vote-not-counting and the fuel injection buildup and all, but I’ve been handling it as a responsible adult should, by which I mean “with a great deal of alcohol.”

It is never a good idea to attempt to drink yourself from the brink of a potentially enormous depression. What you need to do is drink while wearing enormous amounts of hair spray and surrounded by very unattractive members of the opposite sex. Then you’re depressed and flammable.

Flipper and I, because we are old and tired, attempted to change our weekend standard of hoisting our breasts and two pina coladas while scoping a CityWalk bar for dance partners who potentially might be able to define, or even spell, words like “exponential.” It never works—sometimes it not-works to the point of asking law enforcement professionals to intervene—and we agreed that it was time for a drastic change in tactics. So (you only live once, and you gotta take chances, you, know?) we decided to hoist and drink and scope at an entirely different bar.

This plan might have worked had we actually found another bar in which to execute it. We committed a major error in attempting to find a club in downtown Orlando that 1) contained more than two people, bartenders included, and 2) did not appear to transmit syphilis via air molecules.

I can’t remember the name of this place—we chose it, after much careful deliberation, the instant we were informed, via sidewalk hollering, that ladies were admitted without a cover charge—but at this point that’s just as well, since it will make the post traumatic stress syndrome therapy that much easier to pull through.

I really don’t know what went wrong here. It seemed like a reputable enough place, judging by the largely naked woman perched in a swing behind a street-facing window. The fact that she weighed 250 pounds was nothing but encouraging: “We don’t judge by appearances, here in the Worst Bar Ever!” The walls were oozing a yellowish liquid, yes, but that was just part of the sit-down-and-immediately-contract-crabs ambiance.

We left, reluctantly, after two entire seconds. When the bouncer starts swinging canisters of nitrous oxide onto the bar next to the enormous bag of pretzels and the mini-keg, it’s time to move on.

I tore off the ID wristband I'd been given and scrubbed my entire arm raw on the concrete. It was the only way to feel clean.

It’s official, now: Orlando has the Worst. Downtown. Ever. Bear in mind that I say this as a native of Cincinnati, where the nightlife pretty much consists of two raccoons fighting over a half-eaten potato chip in front of the courthouse. We walked around for an hour, and there was more going on at the main branch of the public library, where the street people were having a better time yelling at the potted palms.

So we defaulted to Plan B, which actually was an early draft of Plan A, which, as always, involved the Council of Eight (four breasts, four pina coladas total) at CityWalk. We drove to Margaritaville, which involved finding I-4 from downtown, which, thanks to extremely assical signage, occupied an entire half hour and a great deal of swearing. It’s a good thing we don’t have a lot of tourists trying to get around, here in Orlando.

Things improved immediately, as it was Two-For-One AARP Night at Margaritaville. We were the youngest people there by, at minimum, four decades. The Margaritaville dance floor has these enormous screens near the ceilings, huge sail-like things that intermittently relay vintage footage of Jimmy Buffett singing and boating and in general gazing down upon this, the themed restaurant fashioned in his holy name. And Jimmy—you could just see it, even Jimmy was all, “Oh my God, these people are lame.”

Younger people did filter in later on in the evening, which made things infinitely worse. We were besieged, at one point, by a group of fellows clearly choppered in from 1992. Parachute pants, enormous gold necklaces, the whole entire football field: Yo yo yo yo, homey, let’s bust down to the Kid ‘n’ Play concert!!

The saving grace was the house band, Blue Stone Circle. They’re a fantastic group, equally capable of smacking around ‘90s pop as well as Southern rock. Their repertoire called for, at one point, a fiddle, and once the fiddle comes out, you know you’re done, as far as having a crap evening is concerned. The lead singer hauled some chick onto the stage, asked her to stand with legs akimbo, and as Flipper and Jimmy and all God’s children watched the fiddle player ripped off this incredible solo while holding the fiddle between her legs. It left me awestruck, and also sad, and jealous, as that was more action than I’ve gotten in the past six months. I need to find out if they have any openings for groupies, and apply.

They had skank immunity, too, these guys. At one point two all-but-unclothed women—their shifts in the swing must have just ended at the Worst Bar Ever—climbed up onto the stage, whereupon the lead singer immediately jumped overboard, along with the bass player. The keyboardist kind of squished over as much as instrumentally possible, but the poor drummer had nowhere to go, trapped as he was behind a Plexiglass acoustical break, which for his sake I hope also functioned as some sort of shield from the HELLO, I AM A VERY SEXUALLY ACTIVE PERSON smell rays emanating from these girls’ overly flabby, regrettably exposed abdomens.

And yet I had ninety minutes of happiness, there in Margaritaville, jumping up and down in the shadow of the fishing reels hanging on the walls. I was twenty-seven, with glittery hair, and dancing.

I wonder what it’s like, to be in a band with an unobstructed view of the human debris parade passing below. I think I would cast myself into one of the amps after a week, knowing that I walked the Earth with people who think it perfectly OK to wear sweatpants and a polo shirt at the same time.

If Blue Stone Circle was watching Flipper and me, they got an eyeful of two women followed around the floor by a medical technician and a person wearing a sunvisor…inside…at night.

See, the problem with dancing these days, even while young and throwing off glitter sparks, is that people can partner up with you without your consent or even your knowledge. We politely attempted to dance ourselves to another part of the floor, and yet…there they were. I once executed a spin during a particularly moving verse of “Play That Funky Music,” only to find myself face to face with The Sunvisor, soul patch and all, arms over his head, grinning at me.

“WHOOOOOOOOO!” said he.

Dance cards and chaperones, I think, were not entirely bad things.

So Flipper and I took a break outside to catch a bit of TV news and breathe air unfouled by the castoffs of Yo! MTV Raps, and discovered possible origin of The Women That Drove 45% Of the Band Offstage: Paris Hilton was in town. Not just in town, but downtown. There was a reporter standing about eight feet from one of the bars we had just left. Paris had arrived in the pod that bore her, and skanks were now running all over the city, not unlike baby spiders spilling out of Charlotte’s barn sac. The TV sound was off, but we could read Paris’ lips: “Is it my turn in the swing yet?”

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