Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tweeker vs. Mom

1 hour after acquisition – “Natasha?  That you?  Gruuuul, where you been?  Oh, she not there?  Ok.  Thanks.”

12:56 am Day 1 – “Where you at girl?”

3:45 am Day 1 – “Girl, hit me up.  I need you.”

3:57am Day 1 – Hang up.

2:57 am Day 2 – “What up girl?  Call me.”

3:54 am – Day 2 Hang up.

12:59 am Day 3 - “Where you at?  I need me some.”

 Dear AT&T,  I would like to thank you for providing me with a phone number previously used for the arrangement of late-night love-fests.  And cheers to you Natasha for such an active nightlife with so many eloquent suitors.

2:15 pm Day 4 - “Girl,  you know where I score me 40 tabs?”

12:53am Day 4 – “Yo, you get me an ounce girl?”

Oh, I see.  While these were clearly booty calls, it was the booty I’d improperly identified. 
Dear AT&T, thank you for providing me with a phone number previously owned by the love child of Pablo Escobar and Tony MontaƱa.

Poor Natasha.  I’m not certain why she needed to give up her old phone number and why I was the one lucky enough receive her displaced digits.  Maybe they ‘try to make her go to rehab and she said “no, no, no.”’ Could be that the popo shut her down.  Perchance she didn’t quite break bad and her meth lab blew up and left her comatose (happens every day here in Middle America –at least that’s what ABC’s investigative journalists claim). Or perhaps she found Jesus and felt that he would prefer her to live clean and thus she was forced to throw the monkey off her back.  Regardless of Natasha and her new life path, there were a hand-full of people in a nearby area code blowin’ up my phone, rousing me from my well-deserved-post-multi-state-move-slumber in the wee hours of the morning looking for Natasha and her bag of booty.  Clearly, they’d not yet received the message that Natasha and her medicine bag had been replaced by a 40 year old mom with recyclable grocery bags.   

Initially I wasn’t overly concerned.  Natasha seemed to be nothing more than a tart with bad credit who had a few people trying to hunt her down.  But by day four when the messages became more specific asking for specific quantities of goods, I began to worry.  It’s not unheard of for my mind to run a muck and turn the mundane into the tragic within seconds.  While I have long suffered from Severe Overactive Imagination, my hubby's ability to explode into paranoia is absolutely stunning.  I debated telling him about the my recent requests as I was certain he would most likely turn my phone immediately over to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. 
“Honey, look at this text I got today.”

                “God!  What is this?  That is it.  We call the police!”

“Ok, calm down Sparky. I was just thinking maybe I should go get a new number.”

“What? No! What if FBI is tracking this woman?  They come and they find you?  They think you are doing this drug thing.  I am foreign!  They will take me! I can’t go to jail.  Look at me!”

Every time I think that I have the market on self-centered exaggeration cornered, That Turk just blows me out of the water.  I’m the one suddenly linked to the Cartel, but he’s the one in danger.  Well played Turk, well played.

I tried to be rational and calm for once.  The Turk was preparing to leave on a business trip and the last thing I needed before being left alone in a new house in a new city was an attack of Severe Overactive Imagination.  Hours after the Turk’s departure I received a repeated request.  “Where you be?  I need those tabs.”  Alone with only the Midget to protect me, the phone was suddenly a time bomb.   Do I ignore it?  Call in the ATF, FBI, SWAT -anybody else with letters? Do I just send back a friendly text:

“Hello Tweeker, I know you are jonesing right now, but you have reached a wrong number.  Be a lamb and please delete this number.  Best! ;)” 

In the end, I took the mature option – I hid the phone in my purse and pretended I’d never seen the message.  As the hours wore on, I became certain that the deafening silence received by my junkie friend in response to his request had driven him to follow my pings on nearby towers to determine my location. (I think it’s important here to note that I watch a bit too much CSI for someone with my condition.)

A few hours later, with a sleeping Midget at my side, I heard the inevitable “THUD” from an undetermined location.  This was it.  It was him.  It took a few hours, but The Tweeker had finally found me.  I’d hoped the neighborhood of well-kept ranchers (ok, except for those people on the corner who really need to make a date with the weed wacker) but overall, a very this-is-not-the-place-to-score-a-hit zone, might deter him.  Clearly, I’d expected too much of my crack-head friend.  He was here for Natasha and clearly she’d moved-on-up since their last encounter.  

In an extraordinary moment of bravery, I decided that pulling the covers over my head was the not responsible parental response and tip-toed down the hall towards the thud.  Because of my problem with CSI, I know that one should flip on every light in the house when confronting an attacker – I wanted to be certain that should I survive, I would provide an outstandingly accurate description of the Tweeker to my assigned sketch artist.  And with the last flick of the light switch, there he was on the back deck.  He was as shocked to see me as I him.  His black eyes bugged out and he turned and ran towards the woods behind our house – his furry tail waving in the air behind him.  Yes, my thud was not The Tweeker, but rather the same clumsy squirrel who falls from the tree above our deck daily.  I think he’s a user.  

Don’t think I was left unscarred by the incident.  No, I did sleep with a knife on my nightstand for the remainder of The Turk’s business trip (which I promptly hid upon his return so he would officially ban be from CSI viewing forever.)  As for the Tweeker, I think he found a new dealer as my phone’s been silent for the past few days.  And as for the squirrel, well, like clockwork he thudded from the tree again this morning.  Poor guy.  They try to make him go to rehab and he say no, no, no.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Farewell Herbie

A year ago, in the hopes of a better life through a new job, we fled the city of brotherly hostility and headed to what I like to call Hooverville.  Though Hooverville is only 10 miles from the most liberal town in the Midwest, not an ounce of that crazy hippy liberalism poured over into the birthplace of President Herbie Hoover.  Last week, we got sprung from the joint.  Our stay was a bit shorter than originally anticipated but when the Turk’s company said “We’d like to whisk you away from the land of Herbie and its population of Rush Limbaugh devotees and  relocate you to a major metropolitan area,” who were we to argue?   As I sat amid the boxes last week and sipped a bottle or two of $3 wine, I was able to recall a few highlights from a year in Hooverville.  For your enjoyment, I share them with you here.

July 2011 – I secure a lease for a modest place in Hooverville.  Upon providing the other name on the lease – The Turk’s very, very foreign difficult to pronounce name- our soon-to-be landlord phones me and in a harsh tone says,  “I understand this world is full of foreigners and they have the same rights as everyone, but I just can’t have any kind of crazy foreign cooking going on in my house.  Some of that can ruin a house and I just can’t let that happen.  Not to mention I don’t want to smell that kind of stuff going on next door.”  After reassuring him my foreigner was only a Turk and this particular Turk couldn’t cook anything more than eggs, he allowed us to take the lease.  Welcome to Hooverville.

August 2011 – Mere days after our arrival in Hooverville we make our first trip to the local library.  Upon our arrival, a not-quite-potty-trained Midget releases free-range turds in the children’s section of the Hooverville Public Library.  While not openly discovered, I continued to harbor suspicions that we may have been caught on a closed circuit camera hidden in the shifty eyes of the Cheshire Cat on the oversized Alice in Wonderland book hanging above the children’s section.  (This incident remains prominent in my mind and continues to prevent us from embarking on our inaugural visit to our new library.  I hope to keep our new library system turd-free for as long as possible.)

October 2011 – The Midget and I stroll through Herbie’s National Park and discover grave stones for Herbert Hoover and Lou Henry Hoover.   With my infinite wisdom and strong background in US history, I find it odd that no mention has been made of  America’s first gay president – Herbie Hoover.  I rethink my initial disdain for the small mindedness of Hooverville.   Clearly Herbie and Lou are the reason Iowa was one of the pioneers in legalizing gay marriage (don’t worry, they didn’t stay liberal – they’re working very hard to overturn it).  

November 2011 – The Midget’s school prepares to enlighten an entire preschool full of impressionable, not yet formed minds on the history behind Thanksgiving complete with pilgrim hats and macaroni Mayflowers.  In an attempt to bring a little diversity to the lily-white school, one of the assistant teachers pulls me aside to ask – “How do they celebrate Thanksgiving in Turkey?  We want to be inclusive and expose the kids to as any different traditions as possible.”   Of course, in my sincerest voice, shockingly void of condescension and surprisingly free of laughter, I inform the poor thing that a terrible band of pirates led by Christopher Columbus, hijacked the Mayflower in the middle of the Aegean, preventing the ship from docking in Istanbul and thus, Turks do not celebrate Thanksgiving.  She bought it.

December 2011 – I learned Herbert Hoover was not gay.  Who knew?

February 2012 – With the threat of an impending ice storm looming, I call to cancel that evening’s appointment with our tax preparer.  For years I’d been tackling the task on my own, but decided it was finally time to allow a professional into the dirty recesses of my tax life.  Why?  Because when one lives  las if one is in the witness protection program, moving a ridiculous number of times in the course of a couple years, things get a little more complicated than this Consumer Math graduate can handle.  It seemed our taxes needed more than a few glasses of wine, a few clicks of the mouse and a “hope they don’t come after us” attitude.  I was prepared to be Prepared, but not at the risk of impending icy death on I80.   After following the progressing storm on-line for a few hours, it appears things are only going to deteriorate.   Following countless attempts (clearly I was not the only client glued to that day) I finally reach the surly, geriatric answering the phone at the tax office, and request to change our appointment.   Her reply was curt and definitive. 

“No.  I will not change your appointment.”
      “But there is an ice storm.”
 “It will be fine.”
      “Well, disagrees.  Can’t you reschedule me for next week?”
“No.  I’ve spoken to Jesus.  He says it will not be freezing.  You’ll be fine.’
      “Um, excuse me?”
“What didn’t you hear?  Jesus says it will be fine.  We’ll see you at 6:00.”
“6:00.  Don’t be late.  We’re busy.  I’ll pray for you.”

As a lapsed Catholic and Sister Nora  survivor, I am smart enough to know that one does not argue with surly geriatrics and their personal connections with Jesus.  We arrive promptly at 5:55.  No ice.  If only I could get the old gal on speed dial to help with a few other things.

March 2012 – I finally made a friend in Hooverville.

April 1 2012 – She moved.  I’m still recovering.

May 2012 – While renewing the Registration on my car, I am forced into a smack-down with the County Treasurer  after overhearing his high volume disparaging comments about “Damn immigrants with names no one can pronounce.”  Ironically, it isn’t my “damn immigrant” he is talking about but I feel the need to stand up for all “damn immigrants” just the same as that is just how I roll.  After a history lesson in which I evoke Pocahontas’ name and a mocking of his pasty skin-tone, I depart successful.  I’ve heard the little man continues to quake whenever he sees a chubby white girl with a crazy foreign last name.

May  2012 – Face a repeated snubbing by the women of Hooverville at the Tuesday Night Library Fun.  The same moms who chat me up on the cul-du-sac  suddenly no longer know me when in the presence of the locals.  Word is out I’m a Liberal.  After two months of Tuesdays, I lie and tell the Midget they’d canceled Tuesday Night Library Fun.  I suck as a mother.

July 2012 -  The Turk moved on to our new major metropolitan area ahead of us while I finish out my work contract and wrap things up in Hooverville.  Rushing from Preschool to work one sweltering morning, I stop off to cancel water service.  The snarly secretary has been mysteriously replaced with a typical Hooverite – bleach blonde, black roots, chipper with a twinge of under-the-breath snark. 

 “Oh I looooove that necklace.  Where did ya git it?”
“Oh gawd.  I had to go there once.  It was horrible.  No really.  It was so creepy. “

Ideally this is where the conversation would have turned to me but this Herbette had no need for a partner in this exchange.  I’d opened the floodgates and Girl had somethin’ to say.

“I got sent there once when I worked for this plumbing company.  I was so scared.  I mean look at me!  My blonde hair and blue eyes, I just looked like some kind of exotic target to those people.  The men were so creepy!  I felt like they all just drooled over me.  Creepy Turkish men!  I mean they just leered.  I felt like one of them would steal me if I went out alone.  I mean those men were just so creepy.  Where you ever there?”

      “Um yes.  I lived there for three years.”

“So you know what I mean.  Were you military?”  (Why do people always ask that – for the love of God look at me!  Since when do they allow high maintenance goddesses in the military?)

      “Military?  Me – no.  I am married to one of those Creepy Turkish men.  Then I gave birth to one of those creepy Turkish men while I was there .”

“Oh. Um, your final bill will come to your new address.  You have a good day now.”

While Hooverville was not a hit, being back in my native land wasn’t all bad.  I was able to be there for family events I’d never made it to before.  I whipped out my best Martha Stewart as my family descended on my home for Christmas for the first time ever. (Traveling to Philadelphia or Turkey was a bit too much for them, but a couple hours outside of Des Moines  - no prob.)  And best of all, I was there for the birth of my niece.   Not all of Iowa is like Hooverville, but getting the Turk to buy that was virtually impossible and who could blame him?  He got snubbed even more than I did.  One thing I had on my side was a deep understanding of the natives.  While you most definitely cannot go home again a deep understanding of the population makes a long-term visit manageable.   

It is with no sadness in my eyes that I say, farewell Hooverville!