the Bucky Four-Eyes Cotillion

Friday, February 18, 2005

Joanie loves tchotchkes

Would you be surprised if I confessed that I'm not quite normal? I'm pretty sure I'm harmless, unless you're dancing with me, but I've always been just a little "off" in the brain.

For instance, when I was in kindergarten, it came time for Show and Tell, and oh my god, I hadn't brought anything! That just wouldn't do, so I pinched my earlobe until it bled. Then, when Mrs. Kiel called on me, I stood up and proudly announced, "My ear is bleeding!" She was all freaked out, thinking I'd had an accident, and asked me what had happened. "I pinched myself really hard!" I replied cheerfully, dripping blood on my shoulder. It's a good thing I didn't go to Catholic school, 'cause they'd have had me in the exorcism rec room faster than you can say Your mother sucks cock in hell!

I didn't try to be different, but it just seemed like my choices were never the same as those of my peers. When all the other girls in the sixth grade were swooning over Barry Manilow -- and I think there are still some of them who aren't in on the joke yet -- I was grabbing for a hand-me-down copy of Frank Zappa's Apostrophe. When the wholesome girls joined the cheerleading squad or the debate team in high school, I was out in some alley downtown, smokin' Camels and pukin' cheap wine.

Jim knew I was like that when he met me, and I didn't try to change it or make a secret of it when we started dating. He claimed to be attracted to my creativity and spontanaeity. So I don't know why he seemed so taken aback when I started carrying the Gumby and Pokey figurines around with me.

Gumby and Pokey were small, inoffensive, and fit into my pocket. So why wouldn't an adult carry them everywhere? There might not have been a problem if I had just kept the fellas in my coat. But no, I felt that my little friends should be welcome wherever I was, and would set them on the table in front of me in restaurants, at the bar, at wedding receptions, you name it. I bore easily, you see, and having figurines handy satisfies my short attention span. It's all perfectly logical and not the least bit crazy. Nope.

We were frequent visitors to the Capital Coney Island in those days, and the waitresses there were openly delighted by Gumby and Pokey. I'm sure they thought I was about three teetering steps away from a helmet and diaper, but since I wasn't making trouble or drooling, they seemed to have a good time with my table toys. Yes, I know that sounds dirty. And Gumby just makes it dirtier. Say hello to my little frien'! Even now, nearly 20 years after the fact, the old waitress who still works there refers to me as "the Gumby girl." (Note to waitress if you're reading this: I don't mean you're old, I just mean you worked there in the old days. Yeah. That's the ticket)

Jim, unlike the waitresses, grew less and less amused by our tiny yet perpetual dinner companions. He began to hint, then downright request, that I leave my proof of retardation home when we dined out or bar hopped. Silly me, I just kept on my merry path to social oblivion, and never saw the warning signs. I never should have brought my diminutive, bendable pals to the Checkpoint.

Back in my 7-Eleven days, the Checkpoint was a fairly inoffensive, inexpensive place to get sloppy drunk and stumble around the dance floor. Jim and I went that night because Checkpoint was the closest bar that wasn't playing country music. As we settled in at our table, I automatically pulled Gumby and Pokey out of my pocket and set them on the table in front of me, arranging them just so to maximize their attractiveness in the glow of the tabletop candle. Jim casually mentioned that he had asked me very nicely to please leave those at home. I just kind of shrugged. That's when he must have snapped.

Before I could react, Jim had both the asparagus man and his orange equine longtime companion in his hand. I watched in horror as he dipped Gumby into the flame of the candle until black, stanky smoke billowed out. Pokey also got a baptism by fire, and he didn't exactly come up lovin' the Lord. Jim laid the newly crispy critters on the table in front of me, sat back, and arched an eyebrow as if to say, "Buy all the Gumbies and Pokies you want. They're all toast. All of 'em."

It was a heartbreaking loss, and I carefully gathered up my mini burn victims and hid them from the toy-burning ogre. Who knows what kind of desecration he had in mind for them next?

The moral of this story is: Keep your tchotchkes in your pocket!

ps: For the record, I kept them, and they were used on one of our wedding cakes (next to the words "Let me stand next to your fire").

7 of you felt the overwhelming need to say somethin':

Blogger Squirl said...

I remembered your telling me that Gumby and Pokey got burned. I didn't remember that was Jim who did the dastardly deed. No sense of humor.

9:27 AM, February 19, 2005  
Blogger Katy Barzedor said...

Well, G&P are having their revenge right now, 'cause Jim had to work this morning!

9:32 AM, February 19, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well now, of course, it's a little too late (or is it?). But you could always start up again carrying them with you. Then, when you go out, take something of Jim's - I dunno - like maybe a toothbrush or a sibling - and dip it in fire, sit back, raise an eyebrow as if to say "so what if it was your brother? You got another one"

10:53 AM, February 19, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you'll appreciate this:

I was reading your story and when you got to the part about Jim dipping them in the fire, I started laughing and laughing and laughing.... and Hubby looked over and said


(I usually only laugh that hard at her stuff.)

thought you'd appreciate the comparison.


11:36 AM, February 19, 2005  
Blogger Katy Barzedor said...

Actually, revenge involving a toothbrush is usually better when the victim doesn't know, if you catch my drift. ;)

Dazed and Confuzed -- now I have to go add that one to my list of movie faves. A classic!

6:21 PM, February 19, 2005  
Blogger Katy Barzedor said...

Danielle -- Thanks! If I can make just one person out there somewhere lose control of his or her bodily functions, just once, this will all have been worth it.

6:31 PM, February 19, 2005  
Blogger Katy Barzedor said...

Your poor army man! No man, not even a plastic one, wants his barrel bitten off. Hope he got a purple heart.

We were meant for each other, you and I, Spoonie. This one time, at band camp. . .

7:27 AM, February 22, 2005  

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