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So yeah, I haven’t been around for a while. This is why.

Over the past several months my dad braved a massive onslaught—the evil ravages of severe COPD, liver disease, bladder cancer, and a handful of other medical problems. He had an astonishingly strong constitution but he was so tired from fighting such a difficult battle. Dad died on Saturday morning, October 11th, 2 months and 13 days short of his 76th birthday.

I was with him during his final days. We talked, we even laughed a few times, and I told him everything I wanted him to know. I also said I’d be pissed if he didn’t stop by every so often to haunt us and fuck with our lights.

We weren’t with him when he died—I think he wanted to check out on his own, without us hovering. I know he’s happy to be free of all that illness bullshit. I know because when my mother called to say he had just died, I felt a cloud of energy wrap itself around my head and shoulders like a shawl—it was full of happiness, relief, love, and peace. It was Dad, without a doubt, letting me know he was fine now. I couldn’t stop smiling for several hours after that. That was his final gift to me.

Everything looks strange, as if viewed through a filter or from a warped angle. I can look at something blue and know that it’s blue, but the color doesn’t look right somehow. Objects appear closer or further away than they actually are. My normal surroundings look familiar but foreign. The reality sometimes slams me out of the blue: Dad is really gone. It helps me to know he’s okay but it doesn’t keep me from crying.

Anyway, enough about me. This is about my dad. And in honor of his 100% Irish ancestry, his twisted sense of humor, and his fondness for the occasional cocktail or two, I’m holding a virtual Irish wake for him, where we’ll eat, drink, celebrate his life, and tell some stories. He’d like that.

So help yourself to some refreshments, mingle with the other guests, pour your favorite tipple—gin, tea, soda, beer, whatever—and let me tell you a few Dad stories.

For starters, Dad had the best poker face of anyone I’ve ever known. It’s a shame he didn’t actually play poker because he could have cleaned up and retired early. Between the poker face and the gravitas in his voice, he could have you believing almost anything he said.

When we were at restaurants, he liked distracting me during dessert so that I’d look away. When I looked back, my dessert would be gone. As I got older I became wise to this ploy. Mostly. One night he sat across from me and stared behind me. With a perfectly straight face and a calm voice he said, “Isn’t that strange…a three-headed man just walked in the door.” Mind you, I wasn’t a little kid at the time; I was about 16 and knew there was no such thing as a three-headed man. I said to myself, I am not turning around, he’s just messing with me again, I am NOT turning around…  But the expression on his face—a mix of genuine curiosity and confusion—would have convinced even a seasoned FBI profiler to check it out. What choice did I have? Of course I turned around. And of course there was nothing there. When I turned back, Dad had my chocolate pudding and a shit-eating grin on his face.

Then there was the time he had Army recruiters calling me. Those of you of a certain age will remember those business reply cards inserted in magazines, where you could send away to the Army, Navy, etc., for information on enlisting: Yes, please send me some materials on joining the United States Army. Dad filled one out with my name and contact information. I was 12 at the time. He figured they’d send me some brochures and it would be a good laugh and that would be that. Little did he know then that the gag would go even better than he expected; one night I received a call from a sergeant at our local Army recruiting office. I stammered through the call, trying to discourage the sergeant from having any further interest in me without disclosing that, you know, I was only 12 and my dad was just fucking with me. Dad was tickled pink that his prank yielded a bonus prank. He would talk about that sergeant for years. “That poor bastard…” he’d say.

Like most dads, mine had many words of wisdom. One of my favorites was the way he explained why he didn’t put any stock in UFO sightings:

“Think of the advanced technology required to travel light-years to earth. Now if you’re an alien that advanced, why would you fly all the way over here just to fuck around and play UFO??”

He was nothing if not practical.

Dad was a good-natured guy and very charming when he wanted to be. The nurses in the ICU said he was their favorite patient because he was pleasant and funny and never complained unless he was really in discomfort. That’s how he was. He didn’t make a fuss and he didn’t need anyone fussing over him.

Two days before he died, he said Mr. Weebles and I should have some fun while we were there (my parents retired to Florida, as all New Yorkers are required to do). He told us to go to Universal or Disney but urged us to avoid the new Harry Potter rides at Universal because he heard they were still ironing out some mechanical difficulties. Unbelievable. The Grim Reaper was pulling up to the curb and there was Dad making theme park recommendations. As if I’d leave him to go stand on line with a bunch of sniveling kids, obnoxious adults, and teenagers wearing TURN DOWN FOR WHAT t-shirts. As if I’d leave him to do anything.

For as long as I can remember, every phone call with my dad concluded with both of us saying, “Okay, talk to you later. Hug.” I don’t know how it started but it lasted right up to our last phone conversation—with him being 75 years old and me 46, we still said, “Okay, talk to you later. Hug.”

Here’s to you, Dad. Here’s to everything you were, and are. I love you, and I miss you. Talk to you later. Hug.

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I don’t want the comment thread to turn into a pile of maudlin. I’d rather continue the celebratory vibe, so I invite you to share a funny anecdote about one of your dearly departed loved ones.

Also, what’s that fragrance you’re wearing today? I find it especially provocative.

Good morning, friends!! How the fuck are you? I have missed you all THIS MUCH (outstretch your arms on either side of you and measure the amount of much between your hands).

As many of you may recall, I have a touch of insomnia. I went to bed one night, hoping that I would be able to fall asleep quickly. When I woke up, it was May. Remind me not to mix Nyquil with my gin anymore. It’s delicious and has a lovely color, but it packs a greater wallop than I expected.

So anyway, since I’ve been awake I’ve been catching up on everything that’s happened since January. I had no idea the world was in such turmoil. It’s so sad to hear about current events, and it’s chilling to see how history is repeating itself. For crying out loud, did Gwyneth Paltrow learn nothing from her time with Brad Pitt and Ben Affleck?

Not much is new with me, aside from feeling really well rested and having especially unappealing bed head. Oh, but get this [Editor’s note: Shameless bragging coming up]: While I was sleeping, I was selected as one of BlogHer’s Voices of the Year, for this post—which, by the way, was also Freshly Pressed!

You may recognize some other names on the list of BlogHer’s Voices of the Year, so let’s stand and give them all a round of applause. Seriously, stand up. You over there, I see you. Get your ass out of that chair, bro. Don’t make me come over there.

For those of you who have joined us since that Freshly Pressed post, a hearty welcome! Please help yourself to a drink. We’re out of Nyquil mixer, though.

And to all of you, sorry I’ve been asleep for so long. But you’d be surprised how easily a batch of Nyquil & gin shooters goes down. I’m still catching up on replying to comments but I’ll get to you all very shortly.

Now enough about me. Tell me about you. What’s new with you? What have you been doing for the past 4 months? How do you feel? You know I care deeply about your welfare.

Next up: Something Blue, Something Red, Something Hot, Something Dead. I think you know what I’m talking about.

What you don’t see

January 8, 2014 — 398 Comments

The other day I was minding my own business, waiting on a subway platform. Three girls, about 15 years old, were about to pass me, and they were looking my way. One of them pointed at me and said, “You’re FUNNY looking!” She and her compatriots roared with laughter because this was the most hilarious thing ever.

Fortunately for them I was caught off guard and I didn’t react. If I had, their delightfully charred remains would have been scattered across the third rail. Alas, I hadn’t expected to be zinged by a trio of idiot adolescents, so I was unprepared. I just stood there, speechless and confused.

I confess, I do not have a thick skin. What can I say, I might be foul mouthed and full of piss and vinegar, but I’m also a dainty little blossom. (Fuck you, stop laughing.)

And because I’m a delicate flower, my first instinct was to cry big sobby tears and hide my face in shame.

"Hello. My name is Madame Weebles. I am very pleased to meet you."

Hello. My name is Madame Weebles. I am very pleased to meet you.

My second instinct was to come out swinging.

"I'm funny looking how, I mean, funny looking like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you? What do you mean funny looking, funny looking how? How am I funny looking?"

I’m funny looking how, I mean, funny looking like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny looking, funny looking how? How am I funny looking?

But by that time it was too late to do anything. The train arrived and that was that.

For the record, I don’t think I’m funny looking. I don’t have any extra limbs, and my eyes, nose, mouth, and ears are all in the proper places. I don’t notice too many people shrieking and recoiling in horror when they see me. However, I am almost criminally self-conscious about my looks and I always have been. Critiques of my appearance, whether insults from strangers or insensitive comments from people I know, wound me deeply. It’s my Achilles’ heel. I’ve battled with it for as long as I can remember.

I know that looks are the least important thing about a person when it comes right down to it. But for so long, I truly believed that my appearance rendered me inferior, that my value as a human being was directly proportional to my physical attractiveness. I’m fully aware, incidentally, that my mishegas is insignificant in comparison to the difficulties of those who are judged because of their race, disability, sexual preference, or something else that people shouldn’t give a fuck about. And this incident got me thinking about how freaked out I get. It also reminded me of this fantastic post written by the divine Jen Tonic back in 2012, in which she listed five things she loves about herself. It all started coming together for me as I tried to think of even one instance where I benefitted from someone approving of my looks. And you know what? There aren’t any.

I know now what would have been the appropriate response to those silly little creatures. I would have started with a sarcastic slow clap and then launched into my reply:

That was an amazing jab. Well done. You are shockingly clever. Really, congrats.

I don’t give a flying fuck if you think I’m funny looking, dear. I don’t know what you see when you look at me and frankly, it doesn’t matter. Because here’s what you don’t see:

I have a big heart, and I’m caring and kind. So kind, in fact, that I’ve decided not to shove you onto the tracks. I’m a loyal and fierce friend and if you hurt someone I love, I will cheerfully cut out your heart and jam it down your throat. I’ll help people whether I know them or not. I’ll offer my time, energy, money, or a sympathetic ear and/or shoulder to cry on. I don’t care which. Whatever helps, I’ll give.

I’m successful. I don’t mean that in a financial sense. I mean that whenever I’ve put my mind to something, I’ve done it and I’ve done it well. Sometimes I fly by the seat of my pants, but my pants have always landed me in the right place because they’re very good navigators. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, both personally and professionally.

I’m funny. Not funny looking, just funny. Whether I’m writing or talking, I can make almost anyone laugh. I take great pleasure in this. I have a good sense of humor and great comic timing. By the way, your fly is open. Ha, made you look.

I’m smart. As in, answering all the questions on Jeopardy! smart. Finishing the NY Times Sunday Magazine crossword puzzle in pen smart. I know a lot of shit. And if I don’t know it, I learn it really quickly.

I’ve worked hard to improve myself. I learn more every day about what’s important, what isn’t important, and what I’m here on earth to do. I should add that a lot of the credit for this goes to my therapist and to Ben & Jerry. The value of the insight found at the bottom of a pint of Chubby Hubby cannot be overstated.

So go ahead and have a laugh at my expense, Miss Thing. I have a good life and wonderful friends, and I’m going home to my comfy apartment to see my adorable cats and my fantastic husband who loves me no matter what I look like.

And even though looks truly don’t matter, I’ll have you know that strangers often stop me to compliment me on my hair. I have pretty eyes, a hot rack, and an engaging smile, and even though I’m 46, I have not one wrinkle. NOT ONE. Let’s see if you can say the same when you’re my age, little girl.

So put that on your lollipop and suck it.

If you were with us last year, you may have read about my experiences with dead people here, here, and here.

This wacky stuff started about 5 years ago, for reasons unknown. It escalated after I became a reiki master. And it seems that I now have a bunch of abilities with things that are sort of…you know, odd. Unexplainable. Paranormal. Yeah, I don’t understand it either. But those of you who have firsthand experience with me on this know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, I wanted to learn more about it, as in, am I losing my mind or is it a real thing? So I took a class on psychic mediumship. I know, it sounds nuts. Unfollow me if you must.

It was a small group, just two other students aside from myself, plus the teacher. We took turns trying to sense any non-corporeal people who might be present. And to quote Velma from Scooby Doo, “Jinkies!”

The first time I tried to “read” one of the students, I “got” the presence of a man and described him, and the student said it sounded like her uncle. I said I had the sense that he was a fisherman or a dock worker or someone who worked on or near water, and I had a strong feeling he died at work. Apparently her uncle was a fisherman, and he did, in fact, die on a fishing boat. So far so good. But later I worried that my brain was fucking with me because I was getting conflicting info. I said, “I’m thinking that he died of a heart attack, but then I’m also getting that he died because of an accident, they can’t both be right so I must be imagining all this.” She told me my read was correct; her uncle had a heart attack on the boat, which caused him to have an accident that ultimately killed him. What a shitty way to go. (But I was secretly glad that my impressions were correct. That makes me a bad person, doesn’t it.)

And then here’s what happened when I read for the other student:

Me: Okay, I’ve got a man, it looks like he’s bald, with a round face and sort of protruding ears. I’m getting the sense people might have thought he was a bit strange or off-kilter. Does that ring a bell at all?
Other Student: Yes. (She was laughing.)
Me: It sounds like an F name, maybe Frederick or Frank.
Other Student: His name was Frank.

At this point I’m thinking, “Seriously?? Wow. Holy fuck.”

Me: Was he your grandfather?
OS: Yes.
Me: On your mother’s side, yes?
OS: Yes.
Me: Do you have something of his, like a box, or something that’s kept in a very specific box? I keep getting the impression of a special box.
OS: He made my grandmother a carved wooden box, which my grandmother left to my mother, and she gave it to me.

NO WAY!

Me: I just heard “Te amo” in my head. Did he speak Spanish?
OS: Yeah, he was from Puerto Rico.

Whoa, this shit just got real. Also, hearing a foreign language in your brain out of nowhere is kind of unsettling.

Me: Okay, now I’m hearing “little flower.” Does that mean anything to you?
OS: Oh my God! He used to call me “Florecita.”

Grandpa Frank was speaking to me in English again, but “Florecita,” as you might have guessed, means “little flower” en español. By this time, the poor woman was a sobbing mess and I was casually freaking out.

And thus I concluded my first readings as a medium. Go figure.

Lonely among us

December 3, 2013 — 209 Comments

The holidays. For many, they’re not cloyingly sweet happyfests like on the Hallmark Channel. No, for a lot of people, ’tis the season to be lonely. Loneliness is probably as old as time itself but I suspect it’s more virulent now than in days of yore.

First, let’s get one thing straight: Being lonely is very different from being alone. You can be both, but not necessarily. You don’t have to be alone to be lonely, and you don’t have to be lonely when you’re alone.

Loneliness hurts, emotionally and physically. Several months ago, Mr. Weebles was telling me about a thread on an online forum he reads regularly. This particular thread was about doctors who work in the ER. One post was from a doctor who had a patient come into his ER at 4am with a triage complaint of “lonely.” That broke my heart—the idea of someone suffering so much that they needed to go to the ER. Were they in that much pain? Or were they desperate for someone to talk to, for any sort of companionship? Or both? I don’t know what happened to this person but I hope he or she is okay.

There have been times when I’ve felt so lonely that I thought it would crush me. Sometimes while I was living by myself, sometimes while I was living with others. I can’t decide which is worse. On the one hand, when you feel lonely and you live alone, the isolation adds to the feeling that you’re the only person left on earth. On the other hand, when you feel lonely and you live with other people, their presence only exacerbates the pain and disconnection. It sucks no matter what.

Technology has been a major contributing factor in making this modern scourge, this loneliness, so nasty. We’re competing for attention with iPods, smartphones, video games, and the internet, and we’re losing.

Admittedly, through the internet I’ve met excellent peeps I never would have known otherwise. The flip side is that although it can bring us together globally, it separates us locally. We stare at our phones instead of engaging with the humans around us (I have been very guilty of this). We play Candy Crush and send lives to our friends instead of looking people in the eyes and talking to them (again, mea culpa). Blogging, Facebook, Twitter and other social media, internet surfing, IM, texting, whatever. And how many of us have felt lost in the vast sea of statuses and comments everywhere? It feels terrible to be overlooked, and it can happen so easily when people have an unending feed of info. It’s a wild paradox, isn’t it, connecting with others and being completely disconnected at the same time.

Here’s another downside of the internet. It’s VIRTUAL. It’s as real as it can be under the constraints of the various platforms, but it’s not real life.

The virtual world gives you the luxury of portraying yourself as you want to be seen rather than as you are when you’re in the same room with someone, talking in real time. You can choose your words wisely. You can post only about the great things going on in your life (by the way, fuck you, humblebraggers), share inspirational quotes like you’re gunning for Deepak Chopra’s job, and craft beautiful bon mots that showcase your creativity and humor. They don’t tell the full story.

That’s the problem with social media. Unless you’re a witless putz or you genuinely don’t care how you’re perceived, you’re going to put your best foot forward. Anyone who has an online presence isn’t showing you the real deal, no matter how forthcoming they are. Because real life is messy and unedited. You don’t see them struggling for words and saying the wrong things, and you don’t have to experience their unpleasant moods. Take my posts, for instance—I’m generally not an ass online (shut up, I said generally). I may occasionally air my dirty laundry here, but I’m going to make sure it’s well-phrased dirty laundry, and I’m not showing you all of it. I still control what you see, even when it looks as if I’m baring a lot. Like a good strip tease.

Recently I saw a quote that said, “We shouldn’t compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reels.” But that’s exactly what happens: We compare our everyday lives with those highlight reels—the happy photos, the carefully cultivated personas, the thoughtfully written posts, the pithy tweets. It’s easy to start assuming that everyone else has it better, and at some point it might make you feel kind of shitty. And lonely. It’s not that misery loves company; it’s that nobody wants to feel like the only one not invited to the party where everything is amazing. We want to know that we’re not the only ones, that we’re understood and acknowledged.

As I said, the internet has served me extremely well overall. I’ve found so much wonderfulness in the friends I’ve made online, many of whom have become closer to me than people I’ve known for ages in real life. But technology facilitates feelings of rejection and neglect in a way that wasn’t possible before we were all connected by—and to—so many devices. So surf carefully, look around you occasionally, and take everything with a few grains of fleur de sel.

This has been a public service message from the Weebles Wellness Committee. Because Madame Weebles cares and doesn’t want you to wind up in the ER.

Fuck you, Congress

October 2, 2013 — 195 Comments

I wish I could say I had no words to describe the utter stupidity and insanity you’ve displayed. But oh, do I have words.

You scum-sucking vermin. You cretinous, moronic little monsters. You have no idea how much I fucking hate you. SO MUCH HATE.

Mr. Weebles said it best yesterday: You have no interest in serving the American people; you’re interested only in serving your own selfish agendas, inflicting your own ideologies on everyone, and screwing over the guys on the other side of the aisle. That goes for all of you, not just those of you whom I’ve targeted before.

And for you small-minded, bigoted bastards who will do anything to thwart any and all policies the president initiated—I know most of you are THIS CLOSE to calling Obama “Boy.” You should all become Satan’s girlfriends in Hell.

You can’t come to an agreement to keep the government running? Then you’re not doing your fucking jobs. So why can’t we eject all of you from your cushy little seats? I want to stop paying taxes. I want to fire all of you. I want to see all of you rot.

So many people depend on the government for their income, their livelihoods, and so much more. You’ve made it patently obvious that you don’t truly care about any of them. And all you mean-spirited jackals can do is puff out your chests and bloviate. Fuck you.

If you actually cared about your country, about the American people, you would have gotten it done. You didn’t. You should be fucking fired. All of you. Choke on those furloughs, motherfuckers.

As for you, John Boehner, fuck you especially for saying, “The American people don’t want Obamacare.” Is that a fact? Did you interview every single American citizen? I’m quite certain you did not.  You may be Speaker of the House but you absolutely do not speak for the American people, you demonic pus-filled slimeball.

Children would do a better job of running the government than you people. Even the kids from Lord of the Flies would do a better job. They’re not nearly as petty as you troglodytic* half-wits. Blow me.

You could have come to an agreement. You could have found some ground on which to compromise. But you all let your personal interests and your hatred of the other party blind you to the all-important fact that YOU WORK FOR US.

You failed. Miserably. I wish we could charge you with criminal negligence and throw all your sorry asses in jail. I cordially invite all of you to fuck yourselves as hard as possible.

*Apologies to actual troglodytes. You’re probably smarter.

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This Fuck You Rant was inspired by the government shutdown, and also by my friend Rants. If you haven’t read his stellar screed on Congress, you should do so right fucking now.

“You aren’t in your body.”

For years I heard this from therapists and healers. You aren’t in your body. What the hell does that mean?? What kind of hippy-dippy crap is this? Of course I’m in my body. I’m sitting here. You can see me. It’s not like I’m floating around in the ether. If I’m not dead, then I’m in my body. So why don’t you shut the fuck up, go eat your bean sprouts, play with your crystals, and leave me alone.

Go away.

Go away.

It took me ages to wrap my head around what “being in your body” actually means. It means being present in my body, using it mindfully to experience the world. The body isn’t a vessel that contains the real “me”—it’s part of the real “me.” I had wrongly dismissed it as nothing but a shell, an unwieldy blob I had to lurch around in.

See, I got tripped up by the difference between the body and its appearance. Its appearance has no bearing on my personality, intelligence, sense of humor, kindness, or anything else, but my body itself is part of what makes up ME. It might not look the way I want, it might make weird crunchy noises when I stand up, it might hurt from time to time. But it’s not a separate entity, and I should value it and take care of it. Because as we all know, it sucks when the body breaks down. As Count Rugen so wisely observed, “If you haven’t got your health, then you haven’t got anything.”

Bodies allow us to enjoy the sensual pleasures of this world, like food, sex, twerking, and this thing. So many wonderful things to experience. You can pet soft, furry animals, relish cool breezes on a hot day, feel sand squishing between your toes, see cheery, colorful flowers. But as with anything, there are pros and cons.

Pros

  • Opposable Thumbs. This could also be a con, because there are people who are so stupid they don’t deserve opposable thumbs. It gives them an unfair advantage over other, more intelligent life forms, like barnacles and algae.
  • Chocolate Pudding. I know I already mentioned food as one of the earthly delights, but chocolate pudding deserves its own category. That smooth, sweet, silky, creamy deliciousness. We couldn’t enjoy that without our bodies.
  • Ice Cream. See “Chocolate Pudding” above.
  • Crucial Communication Skills. Our bodies allow us to curse out people who annoy us. Or, if our mouths are full because we’re eating pudding or ice cream, we can flip them the bird. With both hands if necessary.

Cons

  • The Human Spine. If there was ever an argument against the existence of Intelligent Design, this is it. Otherwise some sort of update would surely have been pushed through already. Homo sapiens has walked the earth for a few hundred thousand years now, and we’re still only on Spine v1.0?
  • Bad Hair Days. I may not know my life’s purpose, but I do know that I was not put on earth to look like a Chia pet.
  • The Bra. BraNot the most comfortable item in the world. Also not the quietest. My bras creak like the hold of an old whaling ship. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if I weren’t in need of so much structural support, but as it is, my undergarment situation is less than ideal.

I’d say the pros outweigh the cons, but ask me again when it’s humid, my back hurts, and my brassiere needs a shot of WD-40.

In the meantime, take your bodies out for some pudding and savor every spoonful.

The latest news in the House of Weebles is that I got a tattoo this past weekend. Many of you knew about this already because I haven’t been able to stop yattering about it.

For years I’ve wanted a tattoo but I couldn’t think of anything that was meaningful enough. Until the ideal subject occurred to me and it all fell into place.

So behold, my first ink, in honor of the one and only Pickles:

IMAG0020

Doesn’t she look annoyed?? It was her default look—her resting bitch face. Those ribbons are there because even though Pickles didn’t like the things most cats typically like, she loved those ribbons that you curl with scissors. They were like kryptonite to her, she couldn’t resist.

I can’t tell you how much I freaking love this tattoo.

And it was a great experience except that after a while, it hurt like a motherfucker. It’s on my right shoulder, about 4-5 inches in diameter (that’s 10-12 cm for my metric friends), and took about 2 hours. I was mostly okay for the first hour but during the final half hour, if I had any secrets, I would have sung like a canary. I was kind of disappointed in myself; ordinarily I have a pretty high tolerance for pain so I thought I would fare better.

I’ve been trying to figure out how much getting this tattoo hurt in the context of other painful things I’ve known. I don’t have kids so I can’t use childbirth, the mother of all painful experiences, as a comparator, but I’ve known other flavors of pain. You may have seen this pain scale:

Pain scale

I posit that this scale is not sufficient. I propose this slight modification:

Improved pain scaleAnd now, here’s the list of my Most Exquisite Pains, in no particular order:

  • Severe sciatica. During the worst sciatic pain I ever had, it felt like jagged little shards of glass scraping along my nerves. I’m not a fan of this particular sensation. I give it a 5. Maybe a 5.5.
  • Having a head wound stapled shut. As if the pain of the stapling wasn’t enough, I could also hear the staples pushing into my scalp. An audio track does nothing to make this shit any better, trust me. This one is a 6.
  • Slamming my thumb in a car door. This happened to me more than 35 years ago but I still vividly remember how it felt. It sucked. A lot. I give this a 6, plus another 6 for the excruciating nail drainage that followed.
  • Stubbing my toe. I do this often because I usually walk around the house barefoot. The pain is relatively brief but always at least a 5. If there’s ever a competition for hopping on one foot while stringing expletives together, I’ll be a gold medal contender.
  • Leg waxing (yeah, including bikini line). The only time this really hurts is when the weather is humid. In which case I have to white-knuckle my way through. Beauty is pain, people. It’s no joke. But maybe only a 4 at worst.
  • Upper lip threading (which hurts WAY more than lip waxing, by the way). A friend of mine recommended this hair-removal method and she said it didn’t really hurt. She’s a fucking liar. I cried like a little bitch. I give this experience a 4.5 on the pain scale. And a 10 on the embarrassment scale.
  • Various medical interventions. Some hurt more than others, but the worst of them was a 5 or 6. And if you ask me, patients should be offered general anesthesia for all procedures, even for things as minor as stitch removal, mammograms, injections, etc. Yeah, yeah, I know about the risks involved with anesthesia, but you know what? I don’t give a fuck.

So on my pain scale, the tattoo was a 5. But on the scale of happy I’m at about a 12, so it was totally worth it.

You may recall my very enlightening chat with Abraham Lincoln from a few months ago.

Last week I communed with the spirit world once again in hopes of interviewing another famous dead soul. The first one to make himself known was a lovely, warm being, but not the best interview subject. I’m so sorry, Monsieur Marceau. Perhaps another time.

After bidding him adieu, I sat in silence for several minutes. Then I heard something rattle across the floor. It was the pit from a peach I had eaten earlier.

Message from beyond, or cat toy?

Message from beyond, or cat toy?

A strong breeze passed through the room even though the windows were closed. The cord from the blinds began to sway, back and forth. Back and forth. Like a…pendulum.

Waaaaaaaaaaitaminute. Pit and pendulum??

“Mr. Poe!!”

“Blast, you startled me. Now I’ve spilled my wine.”

“Sorry, I’m just so excited, it’s not every day the Master of the Macabre drops by, you know. Here, I’ll pour more wine for us.” I opened a nice cabernet—I thought he would enjoy that (don’t ask for the details on how ghosts drink, it’s very complicated and somewhat messy). We toasted and settled in for a nice chat.

MW: So how have you been? What have you been doing lately?
EAP: For the past year or so I’ve spent much of my time haunting the creators of The Raven in hopes of driving them mad. I think that would be quite fitting. Did you see that movie? It was an abomination.
MW: Yeah. It sucked mightily. I’m sorry, Mr. Poe, you deserved much, much better.
EAP: I agree. And please, call me Edgar. This wine is quite nice, by the way.
MW: Would you care for some more? I’ll top off our glasses. I’m so glad to have this time with you—you died too young. By the way, speaking of people who died too soon, Abraham Lincoln visited me too. Have you met him?
EAP: Oh yes, Abe and I drink together regularly. He’s the best wingman. That “Honest Abe” shtick of his works every time. Me, I just work the “tortured writer” angle. Chicks love that shit.
MW: So you’re both basically players. Nice.
EAP: Don’t hate the player. Hate the game.
MW: Whatever you say.
EAP: You know, it’s too bad I’m not alive now, I’d be a fantastic movie or TV writer.
MW: Yes you would. Do you have any favorite TV shows?
EAP: Twilight Zone was genius, of course. Which reminds me, I’m having brunch with Rod Serling next week. I loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The American Horror Story series is excellent too. I also enjoyed WKRP in Cincinnati.
MW: Excuse me?
EAP: Loni Anderson. She was a hot number.
MW: I wouldn’t have expected you of all people to like a sitcom.
EAP: Did you hear me? Loni Anderson. We need more wine, by the way, this bottle is empty.
MW: I’ll get another. So tell me, which movie version of your stories did you like best?
EAP: I liked Pit and the Pendulum with Vincent Price. But I was disappointed that Roger Corman didn’t take more liberties with the stories to give the women skimpier costumes. Vincent is in my regular poker game—he has an amazing poker face. Then there’s Hazel Court, who was in a few other Corman versions. What a great rack. I keep inviting her for a little afternoon delight, with—
MW: Yeah. I don’t want to hear details. Now—
EAP: Have you ever tried absinthe?
MW: Once or twice, yeah.
EAP: I happen to have a bottle with me. Be a lamb and pour us some. Better yet, let’s just drink from the bottle.
MW: We’ve already had a lot of wine, you know.
EAP: Exactly. Now it’s time for some real alcohol (takes a few swigs and drains half the bottle). Here, have a few belts. Now where was I? Oh yes, I was telling you about my torrid affair with Mata Hari. She might have been a spy but I discovered exactly which button to push to get her to reveal her secrets, if you know what I mean…
MW: Eww. No. You weren’t telling me about that.
EAP: No? Oh yes, you’re quite right. It was about my delicious weekend of debauchery with a buxom peasant girl from medieval France. I bent her ov—
MW: No. It wasn’t.
EAP: …that was right before I met some of Nefertiti’s beautiful Nubian handmaidens. Those maidens know how to use their hands all right. And don’t you just love that word, Nuuuuuuuubian. Come on, say it with me.
MW: I don’t want to.
EAP: And then there was the time I met up with some of the Vestal virgins from Rome. Virgin in name only, by the way. They were wild.
MW: I really don’t—
EAP: But nowhere near as wild as Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Mary. I had a threesome with them many years ago. Those Catholic girls really know how to get their freak on. You’re Catholic, right?
MW: Edgar! Give me that absinthe. You’re skeeving me out.
EAP: What a delightful word. Skeeeeeeve.
MW: This conversation makes me want to bathe.
EAP: Excellent idea! Would you like me to scrub your—
MW: Goodnight, Edgar.
EAP: You’ll invite me back soon. You’ll see.

Absinthe

On behalf of Edgar, Madame Weebles would like to apologize to Poe fans, Roger Corman fans, Hazel Court, Catholics, Nefertiti, Nubians, medieval French peasants, Vesta and her virgins, Mata Hari, Mary Queen of Scots, Mary Tudor, and women in general. It was the absinthe talking.

Here’s my problem. It’s about the Hershey bar.

Hershey bar

It’s about this.

Like most other red-blooded Americans, I grew up loving Hershey’s chocolate. Regular Hershey bars, Hershey’s with almonds, Hershey miniatures, Hershey kisses, etc. I wasn’t proud, I’d take any variety that crossed my path.

I was indoctrinated at a young age. As a little kid I visited Hershey, Pennsylvania, and toured the factory. I knew S’mores weren’t complete without a few squares of Hershey’s chocolate. And I saw the commercials proclaiming Hershey’s “the Great American Chocolate Bar.” Mr. Hershey put a lot of effort into creating a delicious, affordable milk chocolate bar for us. He was a true American hero.

Original Hershey bar

Giving America cavities since 1900.

So back to my problem.

After more than 20 years of devotion to Mr. Hershey and his fine products, I went to live in London—a Hershey-free zone. I had to go without my favorite chocolate bars. But you know what they say: if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with. So I hooked up with Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate.

My British friend with benefits.

My British friend with benefits.

My relationship with Mr. Cadbury’s confections felt perfunctory. Mechanical. Our encounters were zipless fucks.

One day I received a package from a friend at home who took pity on me and my Hershey-less existence. He sent me a big box of Hershey bars and Oreos (another delicacy not found in the UK). I was in heaven. And I wanted to share my bounty with my flatmates. One was from Malaysia and the other was from Greece. Neither of them had first-hand knowledge of the joy of the Hershey bar, although they had certainly heard about them. It was my responsibility as a good American to show them some confectionery examples of our global superiority. We went into the kitchen to enjoy the contents of my care package. There was a Dairy Milk bar sitting on the table so we added that to our feast.

It would be the first time I ever tasted the two chocolates side by side. I ate a piece of Cadbury’s first and then reached for a Hershey bar, fully prepared to bask in smug contentedness.

In stark contrast to the Cadbury chocolate, the Hershey bar tasted like what I imagine passed for chocolate in the former Soviet Union. It wasn’t creamy, and it tasted sort of sour and “off” compared to the smooth sweet flavor of Cadbury. How had I not noticed this before?

I was horrified. Was America’s favorite chocolate bar nothing but a poser? I glanced at my companions, hoping they hadn’t noticed my confusion and despair. But they had. They looked at me with the sort of wincing pity usually reserved for someone who just got an awful haircut and wants to be reassured that it doesn’t look that bad.

I felt duped. I had spent my whole life in the North Korea of chocolate, unaware that a vast, glorious world of better chocolate was out there. I had drunk the chocolate Kool-Aid. The Chocolate Emperor Had No Clothes.

But I knew I couldn’t swear off Hershey’s completely. Eventually I’d go back home and it would be everywhere. The honeymoon period was officially over but that didn’t mean we couldn’t still be together. Instead of looking at Hershey bars with blind adoration, I’d treat them as longtime foil-wrapped little spouses. And you don’t leave foil-wrapped little spouses just because they aren’t perfect.

Don’t get me wrong, I still keep Cadbury around. I’m only human, for crying out loud.