Mama Bear

On a recent afternoon, while preparing to leave the house to run errands, I noticed that my shirt was on inside out. So, after pulling it off and flipping it right side out, I then put it on backward. This is one of the few times in life that I have questioned my decision to not have children.

It seems probable that these sorts of things will be happening more frequently as I head towards the light, and it might’ve been nice to have someone around to keep an eye out for it.

I have enjoyed my unencumbered life of telling jokes in smelly bars, and dating men who were rarely a good idea, however oftentimes, I feel melancholy knowing I’ll never get to experience that superhuman mom strength that happens when a 57 Chevy slips off the blocks and traps your toddler under the axel. And then, for some reason, you’re able to lift a 3,000-pound truck with your left hand and use the other to yank your kid to safety by his hair.

The first time my mom performed such a feat still fascinates me. I was in the second grade, and we lived in the small town of Hereford Texas. It’s known as the beef capital of the world and is the kind of place where men open doors, say ma’am, and take their hats off when they enter a room.

The town got its name from The Hereford, which is a breed of cattle. And cows are like flowers; when there’s a bunch of them, they’re very fragrant. The residents refer to this fragrance as money, which sounds better than saying that your town smells like cow shit.

Sandra was my best friend in those days. We went to school together, were in the same Blue Bird troop, and spent hours playing at each other’s houses. Her mom was nice and would give us snacks like crushed ice cubes, which we’d eat with a spoon from a coffee cup and felt very fancy doing so.

One Saturday morning, while walking to my house to play, we got to witness my mother turn into a superhero. About half a block from home, which was on the opposite side of the street, I could see her standing on the front porch watching to make sure we crossed safely.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a dog about the size of a Shetland pony started galloping towards us. And not in a friendly, tail wagging, “Hey, how ya doin?” sort of way.

Don’t know exactly what breed of dog it was but it looked like the kind that patrols the grounds of a junkyard and finds joy in killing little girls. As we began to scream and scatter like baby chicks, he sunk his fangs into Sandra’s back and began to shake his gigantic freak head, flinging her tiny body to and fro.

Somehow, amid all the terror and mayhem, I saw my mother spring into action in slow motion. She leaped from the porch and sprinted shoeless, down the block and across the street, grabbing this beast by the scruff of the neck and lifting him off the ground.

Apparently startled (as one would be by being interrupted in the middle of a kill) he yelped, which caused his jaws to release their death grip on my friend’s spine and she tumbled to freedom.

With one hand, my mom raised him above her head, twirling the enormous hound like Wonder Woman’s lasso, and then hurled him into a yard several houses down where he hit the ground running and never looked back.

That memory is the reason my sweet little mama is still on my ‘top 5’ list of people that I want with me in a bar fight.

I Care Not for This

There are many annoying things about being a grown-up; Sound reasoning. A common-sense approach. Doing better because you know better.

It’s stifling.

Oh, and let us not forget Einstein’s “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Thanks for bringing that to my attention, ass.

Remember nights filled with way too much red wine and crazy love affairs with the wrong person where you truly thought things might end differently this time and not with a broken heart or sleeping on a spinning bathroom floor next to the toilet?

Those days are gone, friend.

It seems like when you break a bad habit the wanting of it would go away, right?

Shouldn’t it just magically disappear?

Nope, it does not.

Still want it. Still like it. Just not going to do it.

Why?

Because you’re grown and now you know better so you do better…even if you’d rather not.

You Ain’t Nobody

Just discovered four brand new linen napkins in a kitchen drawer. They must have been purchased during a time in my life when I felt I was too good to wipe my hands on my jeans. 

And The Livin is Easy

Remember when we were kids and thought that pistachio nuts were red? Then we found out it was because they were being doused in the cancerously delicious dye Red 40.

That was sure fun.

On lazy summer evenings, during that magical time when moon and sun simultaneously rise and set and your soul whispers that anything is possible, we’d hop on our bikes, with little red-stained fingers, and happily cruise along in the mist coming from the truck spraying for mosquitos.

So many fond memories and upper respiratory infections.

Twas a simpler time when it was safe to be outside from dawn to dusk. Just hanging out on the curb, waiting for your dad because he promised you could spend the weekend with him. And you could just wait and wait and wait until the night was as black as pitch and your mom would finally make you come inside because he didn’t show.

Ah, the carefree days of childhood.

Up from San Antone

From the time I was old enough to sneak into bars, all I’ve ever wanted to do was be a stand-up comic.

Life changed during the summer of my nineteenth year on this planet when the comedy boom of the 1980s hit and Jolly’s Comedy Club opened in my hometown of Amarillo, Texas.

That’s right, the Amarillo.

The one from Route 66 and Amarillo By Morning. It’s actually mentioned in a lot of country songs because it just sounds like the name of a town that you’d hear in a country song. A dusty, little cow town on the plains of Texas. I-40 runs right through the middle of it, leading anywhere but there…which is exactly where I wanted to be.

I hated small-town life. Dreaded the thought of getting stuck there, marrying a feedlot cowboy, and then dying. And not necessarily in that order.

My first time on stage during that open mic, Tuesday, June 22, 1987, 8:15 p.m. central time, (every comic can tell you their comedy anniversary) I knew things would be okay. It didn’t matter that there weren’t a whole lot of laughs, cause I was saved. No cowboy husband or a job slinging hash for me.

Onward and upward!

I performed secretly for months before telling my ridiculously overprotective, single mother and older brother that I wanted to drop out of Jr college and go on the road telling jokes. They took it surprisingly well. Probably because I prefaced it by saying, “I have something to tell you. I’m a lesbian.”
After a really long and incredibly awkward pause when it seemed like they both might burst into tears, I said, “I’m kidding, I’m going to be a professional comedian.”

“Thank you, Jesus,” was their heartfelt response.

That was when my brother revealed he’d been worried that I might not be straight because my roommate and best friend at the time was a hefty girl who played catcher on our church softball team.

If he’d ever paid attention to the way I played right field, his worries would have been laid to rest much earlier in the season.

As it turns out, my friend wasn’t gay either. She was just chubby.

And, by the way, my family doesn’t think that there’s anything wrong with being homosexual. It’s fine. Just as long as it’s not one of us for cryin’ out loud.

Anyhoo, after religiously doing open mics and not getting laughs for another year or so, it seemed like the perfect time to hit the road. So, I then quit my high-powered waitress job at the Red Lobster, even though I’d just gotten my year pin with the diamond chip in it. (See how serious I was?)

By the way, when I say there weren’t any laughs when I first started I’m being only slightly self-deprecating. There were some but just not very many. As is the case with most new comics. Usually the audience members were people I knew. Some of them I’d grown up with, gone to school with, and worked with. Most of them just sat and stared.

Thanks, guys.

It isn’t easy trying to chase a dream when it feels like nobody’s rooting for you. It hurt my feelings at the time, but I’ve come to understand this; it isn’t that people don’t want you to reach for the stars because they don’t like you. Nope, that’s not it at all. Sometimes they don’t want you to do it because it means that they too will have to try.

And who wants to do that? I don’t blame them. Trying is hard.

Don’t let anyone kid you. It’s nothing like not trying.

And, so began the journey. July 3, 1988, I quit my day job and hit the road in my 1974 canary-yellow Ford Pinto. I was twenty-two years old, had zero money in my pocket, and even less of a clue about how the world worked. I know: awesome game plan.

It’s always felt like I was raised twice in my life. First, in a small town by a nice family who didn’t drink or smoke and a grandfather who was a Methodist minister. Then again in green rooms, showrooms, and comedy condos across the country by comics who drank, swore, did drugs, and fornicated with cocktail waitresses in the bedroom next to mine.

I must tell you, it’s made for an interestingly boring life.

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