Laurie Brown's Blog

December 23, 2014

I got hit on by the Santa Claus at the mall tonight. My husband was buying some candy at the See's kiosk and it was taking forever because the woman in front of him had some dispute about the price of a box of almond clusters. I wandered over to Hickory Farms to look over that stuff and that only took a second (cheese, sausage, cheese, sausage) so I moved on to go check on Santa Claus because when I walked by earlier he looked thoroughly exasperated. There were no children in his corral thing and he was adjusting his giant fan which I totally understood. I was standing there staring at him when he looked up at me, waved and with a look on his face that made me immediately uncomfortable he walked over to the edge of his pen. He wished me a Merry Christmas and I said Merry Christmas back and he began preening in a Santa Claus-y way, touching his suit jacket and belt and stuff. He was just staring but he seemed to be looking for a compliment so I said, "You look good. You must have had a nice summer." He didn't seem to know what to say to that so he just patted himself a bit more and then said either he gained weight or lost weight but I couldn't quite hear him. I said, "What?" and he said the weight thing again but I still couldn't hear him so I just nodded. Then he started to stroke his beard and said (I think) that by next year his beard would be longer. He was going to...something. I said, "What?" again. At that he kind of threw up his hands and started to exit the corral to walk over to me. The exit queue was kind of wind-y though and long and he was kind of slow. He was crossing in front of me, right to left, looking straight ahead as my husband approached from my immediate right. By the time Santa hung a left and was coming back towards me Mike was standing right next to me. Santa hesitated for an instant but it's not like he could stop and go back now so he continued on, but fortunately for all three of us a baby intervened just before Claus got to us and I quickly said, "Bye Santa" and we scooted away. It was a flattering moment but also kind of gross.
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Published on December 23, 2014 10:57 • 40 views • Tags: christmas, humor, santa

December 20, 2014

When I was little, still riding a tricycle little, I was chit-chatting with the boy next door who was black and I said, "I'm vanilla ice cream and you're chocolate ice cream." I thought this was a brilliant observation...an observation, not a judgement and if it was a judgement, which is wasn't, who doesn't like chocolate better than vanilla? Losers that's who. Anyway, the boy took offense and told me he was going to tell my mother on me. I was crushed and I've been trying to make it up to black people ever since.

Whenever I hear people say, "I don't see color", I want to say, "Oh, are your rods and cones fucked up?" It's a ridiculous thing to say. Of course they see color. We are human beings and part of being a human being is to size up other human beings. Color, age, dress, weight, sex, whatever. This is what we do as people. I'll be totally honest here...for most of my life I wasn't wild about the company of older white men and I actively avoided them. Too domineering as a species. I've always liked Mexicans of all ages and sexes because they're really fun, generous, loving people. I'm afraid of 75% of the older black lady checkers at the supermarket because they seem really angry all the time. I love older Jewish ladies because they are brutally honest ("Why don't you do something with you hair?") but still manage to seem caring not critical. I'm not wild about Central European men in general because they can be extremely sexist. The point is, I've been seeing color my whole life and sorting and cataloging people as I see fit.

My number one scary person? The hard core Christian. Mostly female. Mostly white, although the black Jehovah's Witness ladies can be scary too. And annoying. "June" was relentless coming to my house every Sunday for months because once I let her in to show her my Barbies. Finally I had to tell her that I was probably never going to find Jesus and if I did it wouldn't be her strict skirts past the knee Jesus but more the hippie guitar-playing Jesus and with that she never came back. But the white Christian lady who harps on and on and on and never accepts anything you say and is completely committed to changing the very essence of who you are, this one I avoid like the plague. The instant I see that gold cross hanging loud and proud I'm on notice.

You know who never bugs you about religion? The Buddhists. They're content to just rake their sand and arrange their seven rocks. Also the Hindus. I haven't chatted with a ton of Hindus but they ones I have seem, as a group, to be pretty chill about their religion and never try to recruit at all. Also I'm pro-cow myself. My biggest prejudice, and I'm right out front about it, is the Mormons. It's not just the ridiculous things they believe because all religions believe, in my opinion, ridiculous things, but the truly despicable way they treat women. I truly wish Mormon women would rise up and take a stand but they're kept too busy with their nine children and managing their prescription medications which keep them barely sane.

My point: You see color. And shoe brand. And giant freaky earring holes with those toy truck tires stuck in them. We have a brain and we process information. That's what we were designed to do. What you do with that information is up to you.
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Published on December 20, 2014 19:00 • 40 views • Tags: humor, opinion, race, religion

November 13, 2014

Growing up on the coast of California I thought icicles were fake. I thought they were something Charles Dickens made up and you bought plastic ones at Sprouse-Reitz. But no, they are made of water and cold air. In winter you can slip and fall on ice you cannot see and snow is not really that fun and making a snow angel is wet and cold and you will have to go in immediately after and change your clothes. Do not do make a snow angel if you are more then seven feet from home. Also, get hit one time in the face with a snowball and snowball fights, even playful, "romantic" ones will cease forever. And a word on snowmen: They are harder to make than they look. The bottom circle will end up somewhat square and the top will be a pinhead. Screw the middle. At some point you will look into it's one charcoal eye (because the other one has fallen out already) and say, "you motherfucker".
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Published on November 13, 2014 08:03 • 41 views • Tags: humor, snow, weather, winter

November 11, 2014

We had not planned on attending a full-blown Catholic Mass complete with Bishop on our last night in Paris but that is what we did. After grappling with the Marquis de Sade earlier in the day and eventually recovering, we had one last place we wanted to visit and that was Notre Dame. We were fortunate the Cathedral closed late as it was already after dark when we arrived. To my delight bells were pealing, the church square was full of people and we caught a glimpse of a retreating religious procession of some sort. We made our way inside.

It was November 1st, All Saints Day and it seemed right to pay the 2 Euro requested to light a candle for our dear departed loved ones. Actually we didn't know if it was 2 Euro per candle or 2 Euro for all the candles you could light but being a thrifty couple with the Euros we lit three candles for our 2 Euro "donation". I am not Catholic but Mike sort of is so he handled the candle lighting responsibilities. When we walked away from the candle area and into the pews we were handed a program, all in French, and managed to ascertain that Mass would be starting in just a few minutes. Exciting! Interesting! I wanted to stay. Mike was a bit reluctant but didn't protest so we found seats on the aisle where we could slip away unnoticed if necessary. The organ started to bellow away in a very dramatic fashion and the play...the Mass...was about to begin.

Another procession with a lot of robed people, priests and things I gathered, one holding a very fancy Bible above his head, started down the main aisle. Everyone arose and these priests, some alter-boy looking guys, a full choir and the Bishop himself in a splendid semi-pointed hat all made their way to the altar. The music coming from the organ was startling at times, almost scary, but the pretty procession and the devout believers and the beautiful old church partially shrouded with smoke from the incense was very moving and I couldn't help weeping from the majesty and magnificence of it all.

We all settled down and the service began. I've been to a few masses in my time for one reason or another and Mike being a former altar boy kept me on track although everything was in French. It was lovely really and the parishioners around us were very nice when it came time to shake hands and say a kind word. I just smiled and shook back not wanting to spew out "how much does it cost?" or "chocolate please" which were really the only French phrases I knew. We put a few Euro into the offering basket at the correct time and patiently waited while the considerable sized crowd took communion. I asked Mike if he would like to take communion in this special place but he said he couldn't because you have to go to confession first and he hadn't been to confession since the early 70s. Now Mike is a good guy but I doubt even the facilities of Notre Dame has the time required to hear 40 years of Mike's sins.

Soon enough the mass was over and the holy people filed out to the beautiful organ music and the pealing bells. We waiting a few minutes and then made our way to the front to see the altar and the little stand of religious relics which were slivers of bones of Saints and a tiny piece of the True Cross. Not being a Catholic I felt I shouldn't really stand in line and make a real Catholic wait to see these important things so I gazed from afar. Mike had no such reservation and got up very close to the golden stand. I was awed by the still smokey Nave and the pilgrims so deep in reverence that they stayed motionless for several minutes deep in prayer, heads touching the marble of the altar steps.

It was time to leave and we walked out the Cathedral doors into a different scene altogether. The bells were still ringing to a horde of happy people and a folk singer was playing nearby. A man with a homemade device that made giant soap bubbles was flinging the iridescent globs into the air to the delight of a crowd of children. On the edge of the group of children was a bearded homeless man, his arms full with two dirty shopping bags filled with dirty items. He had a look of delight on his face too at the soapy bubbles and that sight, the song of the folk singer and the ringing bells all made me cry again at the beauty and simplicity of this scene I was now a part of. It was very touching. But then, all of sudden, three military looking men with machine guns appeared. They wandered the crowd in a staggered line and then took up a post right outside the church, guns pointed toward the crowd. No one seemed alarmed but I had no idea if they were for us or against us and felt the need to leave. The magic was gone. We took refuge in a nearby restaurant where I had a Croque Monsieur and a glass of Pouilly-Fuisse and our trip to Paris wound down.
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Published on November 11, 2014 11:30 • 11 views • Tags: catholicism, notre-dame, paris, travel
How the Marquis de Sade Almost Ruined My Day

A perfect Paris afternoon at the lovely Orsay art museum, famous for their collection of French Impressionist masterpieces. These wonderful paintings will make any woman feel beautiful and romantic and like there is nothing at all wrong with the world. Add a charming lunch at the museum's elegant restaurant with a handsome companion, fine food and wine and a delightful waiter willing and able to answer simmering questions about French history and you have an experience fit for a Princess.

So, it was with this open mind and heart and a pleasant little wine buzz that we approached the new controversial but titillating Marquis de Sade exhibition at the museum. Mike and I had been cute and flirty with one another over lunch and were looking forward to what we thought would be a sexy, provocative exhibit. These were works of art said to be influenced by the Marquis and it was exciting to imagine what we would see.

It was very dark inside but the many video screens hung showing clips from movies made the darkness understandable. It was also very crowded which was also understandable given the somewhat lurid press the exhibit had received with the International New York Times even throwing around the word pornography. No big deal I thought because art was always upsetting people, that was part of the point usually. But still, even away from the video screens it was pretty dark, and awfully warm and filled with the smell of other humans.

I was feeling a little less happy at this point and turned my attention to the works of art. I almost immediately regretted it. Daggers piercing flesh, severed limbs held aloft, screaming babies being carried away in the mouths of lions. And image after image of violence against women. And this was just the very beginning. I no longer felt like a princess but more like a peasant woman who out of circumstance sees awful things all around her. I wasn't liking this at all.

By the second room I knew I had to get the out of there. It was so dark and so crowded that I had lost sight of Mike and had to search him out to tell him I would meet him outside the exhibit when he was done. He wasn't surprised. I headed for the exit but the exhibit space was a maze of dark and confusing rooms. Turn one way and I'm confronted by a life-sized someone carrying someone's head on a platter. Turn another and an agonized man is having his guts torn from his body. I finally see what I think is the last room but it isn't. It dead ends in a far back corner and I have to turn around, almost knocking over an old woman with cane in doing so. Now all the people look freaky and grotesque to me and I'm sweating and feeling desperate to get out of there. As I race from room to room I fleetingly see pastoral paintings of lesbians doing their lesbian thing and they do bring a tiny measure of comfort as they seem loving not violent. Thank God for the lesbians but still I must get out.

Finally, finally, I see the literal light at the end of the tunnel and I flee the horrible images both art and human. I sit on a hard bench in the atrium and try to pull myself together. I feel nothing like I did a half hour before. Not pretty, not light-hearted, but damaged by what I have seen except for the lesbians. My husband joins me. I don't want to be in the beautiful museum anymore. I don't want to see the full-sized taxidermied giraffe on loan from the Natural History Museum to celebrate their 100th anniversary. I don't want to shop in the bright colorful gift shop which is simply unheard of. Shopping at the gift shop is my favorite part of any trip to an art museum. I just want to go outside. I need fresh air desperately.

We exit. My stomach is upset and my back is starting to hurt. My lower back is a weak spot and in the past I have had spasms so severe that I've been bed ridden for weeks. These spasms are starting as I walk outside and I feel scared. I'm a long way from home.

The river, the Seine, is right across the street and there are wide, wooden steps where all sorts of non-grotesque people are relaxing, enjoying the warm, sunny afternoon. We join them and after a moment Mike gets up and says he will walk on and find water. My dark mind immediately invents a story where he never comes back and when I make my way back to the hotel there is no record he was ever there and I realize I have been abandoned in Paris. But then, in reality, there is a little boy in a blue sweater with a little dog in a red collar and they are playing right in front of me. Contented looking others are strolling past, many arm in arm. I lean back on the steps to ease my back and my hand brushes the metal and wire top off of a champagne bottle. Working barges float by and bateaux after bateaux filled with happy tourists cruising the sights and snapping pictures of the beautiful museum behind me. It amuses me that a miniature speck of my picture will be in a lot of people's vacation photos. Fame, tiny and nameless though it may be, after all.

Finally, I see my husband in the distance. He had to go a great deal further than he thought to find water. He is concerned for me, for my stomach and for my back. But I'm feeling better now. The air, the boy and the dog, the river and the boats have all made me feel better. And my sweet, handsome, concerned husband who now needs the water more than I, who did not abandon me in Paris, makes me feel best of all.
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Published on November 11, 2014 11:27 • 43 views • Tags: art, paris, romance, violence

October 9, 2014

The Portrait of Dorian Gray Except With Honey

I experimented with a honey face mask today. This is a very messy, sticky procedure. I got my hair out of the way as much as I could for the obvious reason, put on an old t-shirt and squeezed the living hell out of the bear-shaped-with-nipple-headed honey container. This took awhile as it's a thin stream and mine had been sitting around for awhile.

I slathered it on and immediately regretted it. I do not like the smell of honey and I was basically inhaling a quarter cup of it through my face. 10-15 minutes? I am not sure about that. Also, there's something completely unnatural and almost psychotic about sitting around thumbing through a magazine wearing a face full of honey. And glasses...how? The dogs were super into me though.

I made it just short of ten minutes and went to rinse it off which was difficult as it had sort of melded into my skin. Also gross. But then when I finally got it all off, dried my face and got the honey off my glasses...I looked amazing. I didn't even look like myself. I looked like I had had excellent, very expensive plastic surgery. I looked like effin' Nefertiti!

But as I admired myself something started to happen. The effects of the honey were starting to wear off. Already! There was nothing I could do to stop it. After about twenty minutes I looked exactly like my regular self, maybe slightly more glow-y, with a sticky hairline.
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Published on October 09, 2014 12:47 • 6 views • Tags: comedy, honey, humor, skin-care, women

September 19, 2014

Time and tide wait for no man they say but what about us women? Do time and tide wait for us? Let's examine these separately:

Time: According to the majority of cosmetic manufacturers, apparel makers, hair doer-uppers, exercise studios and countless other for-profit machines interested in making money off the ever present theory that women are horrible beasts after age thirty or so, the answer seems to be yes, time will wait if you spend enough money/devalue yourself sufficiently. I laughed to self just last night as I slathered on various lotions and potions promising me not only to maintain my healthy glow but to actually make me look younger by ten years. That is a whole lot of optimism for a product in a tube that was glued to a paper card. I greased myself up and snuggled into bed. My dog apparently felt the hopeful cream was working and I was more lovable because he kept trying to lick my face all night.

When I woke up and looked in the mirror and took in my disheveled appearance I had half-forgotten the enthusiastic promises of the little tube but I did think I looked pretty good. Not ten years younger but not really any older than when I went to bed so I guess I held steady overnight. That was cool with me.

Tide: Despite all the Pagan-y witchcraft stuff that likes to equate women's menstrual cycles with the moon (I used to have a witchy friend that would advise everyone in sight when she was on her "moon") and the scientific fact that tides are controlled by the moon...is that true? I'm writing that like it's fact and I don't even know that for sure but let's go with it because I don't feel like stopping and looking it up...we women don't have any control over the tides thus tides do not wait for us. However, if you have on your cute jeans and are walking at the water's edge in bare feet with the cute jeans rolled up just so so you look like you're a model in a feminine hygiene ad (Laurie can stroll on the beach with confidence knowing she's fully protected with the new Shame Proof Maxi Pads with Wings and a Tail) a rouge wave will come and get you soaking wet and not cute at all. Upshot: Tide will not only not wait for women but will fuck them up if given the chance.
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Published on September 19, 2014 09:32 • 61 views • Tags: humor, tide, time, women

September 16, 2014

It confused my parents when as a teenager I failed to follow the female protocol in my family of getting pregnant and dropping out of high school. Junior year went by with no baby on board which was alarming to them but not fatal. I still had my senior year. But when I managed to graduate without toting a bundle of joy either inside or outside my green and gold gown it was aggravating to them. Who did I think I was? These were the plans they had for me and I was ruining everything.
My inconsideration in this matter made me unpopular in my family. Because this was out of their realm of expertise female-wise, I was seen as difficult, crazy even and as a person who thought she was too good for everyone else. I became the classic white sheep in a black sheep filled family.

My mother felt strongly that children needed to get the hell out of the house immediately upon reaching age 18, earlier if possible, so the issue became, what to do about Laurie? If I wasn't going to help myself by having unprotected sex and (hopefully) getting married far too young, it was up to my mother to find someplace for me to go. After a few false starts, that became college. The only thing I had going for me was a brain and that was going to have to suffice.
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Published on September 16, 2014 11:16 • 58 views • Tags: humor, memoir, parenting

September 10, 2014

To say I was unprepared for the high voltage sexual undercurrent that ran through the Formica tile floors of Macy's Monterey was an understatement. In retrospect, it makes sense, especially on weekday nights and weekends when the store was mostly staffed with sixteen to twenty-four year olds. There were few customers on say a Wednesday night and really only one person needed to be on the floor. The other person could easily take a "break".

I started out in Children's. The clothes were tiny so very manageable and it was staffed by other girls roughly my age. I was sixteen when I started and the oldest girl there was nineteen I think, but she was very knowledgable if you know what I mean. None of us knew each other before this job even though the Monterey Peninsula is pretty small. We all went to different schools and a couple of girls even went to Junior College. Junior College was kind of a big deal because it wasn't high school even though you did probably still live with your parents.

Keep in mind that this was 1976-1979, the somewhat recent past of the free love 1960s and pre-herpes and AIDS epidemics. The big issue was avoiding pregnancy which wasn't that hard since Planned Parenthood had been visiting the schools since Junior High. Like I knew I had a cervix and it was somewhere near my stomach area but where it was exactly and what it did I had no idea. But I knew I could take a little pill that looked like a St. Joseph Aspirin for Children and not have an aspirin needing child of my own and that was really all I needed to know.

I'm pretty sure Children's was known for having the cutest girls (immodest) with Juniors being a close second. The thing with Juniors was they were always busy and didn't have time to flirt with the stock boys, guys from Sporting Goods (I wasted a good eight weeks of my life trying to work my magic on a Sporting Goods guy that when I think about it now was probably gay) or the guys from Stereo. The Stereo guys managed to be both a cut above and a cut below. Above because they made a commission not just an hourly wage. Below because some of these guys were pushing thirty and none of them were students. Even the guys in Security, who were getting up there in age by Macy's meat-market standards, were still in their seventh year at JC.

The first time I ever made out with anyone in Macy's itself it was with one of these security guys...he was like the Assistant Manager of Security. He took me up to the roof to some storage area he had a key to and we went inside. I really wanted to look at the view from the roof but I was on my fifteen-minute break so I had limited time. There was weird stuff in there, some fixtures and surprise, surprise...a couch. We more or less got right down to business and started making out. It was exciting because of location, location, location and he seemed really into it. It was okay, but he was messing up my clothes trying to get at things and I was sort of a fastidious dresser and fussy about my clothes so it was distracting. Nothing really happened because, you know, I had to get back to my register. Whatever. Compared to what else was going on in the nooks and crannies of a mid-evening small market Macy's this was tame. Kid-stuff.
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Published on September 10, 2014 13:09 • 77 views • Tags: 1970s, humor, macy-s, teenage-romance

August 27, 2014

Crazy Lady v. Bird Food Vending Machine

I had a lovely lunch today with my handsome husband at a peaceful Japanese restaurant. The food was delicious and the bathroom (important to middle-aged ladies) clean and spa-like. Outside was a charming pond, nicely landscaped. Two Canadian geese slowly paddled escaping the heat of the afternoon.

I say to the geese, "I wish I had something to give you." Mike says, "Do you have any change?" Are these geese taking money now? I know Canadian Geese can be aggressive but I didn't know they were accepting pocket change in lieu of bread crumbs. But no, there is a bird food (the pellet kind) vending machine in a little group of bushes. Twenty-five cents a go gets you a tiny handful of food. Perfect, I have $1.25 in quarters.

I put the first quarter in and start to turn the handle-crank. At the first click ducks and geese by the hundreds (very slight exaggeration) start emerging from under trees and bushes and start flocking towards this food source, flinging themselves into the pond in a very alarming way. They are hungry. I finish turning the crank, all is going well, but when I go to open the little metal flap...nothing. I drop the flap and shake the machine. I open the flap...two pellets. 12.5 cents apiece. I throw them in the water at the 150 duck/geese and not willing to be daunted go back into my wallet for a second quarter because the first quarter was obviously faulty. This time...three pellets. Now five pellets of bird food have cost me ten cents apiece and I don't like it and the birds don't like it.

I turn to my husband Mike. Please take care of this. Now, yes my husband is Italian-American and yes he is from New Jersey but I don't have conclusive proof that he has ever jimmied or let's just say "broken into" a vending machine (it wouldn't have been for bird food in any event) but he usually helps me out in a jam. Mike roughs the machine up a little but no additional pellets. (Let me note here that this friggin' machine is full of these damn pellets. Completely full, no space at all.) Well now this is not okay with me. Not okay with me at all. The injustice! Fifty-cents spent, birds waiting for a snack. No.

It's a beautiful day, I'm wearing a sundress, sunglasses and I have my summer handbag slung over my shoulder. I tell Mike to stand back and I start kicking the shit out of this vending machine. This is pent-up anger/frustration from 50+ years of being screwed over by vending machines. Remember the Twix you didn't give me? Wham! That day you gave me a diet coke when I wanted a regular coke?" Bam! The time you only had gum? A-hole! I'm going all "Bad Girls Club" on this thing and using kick-boxing moves I learned in a class 20 years ago. I am the only lady at the pond beating the crap out of a pellet machine. I feel very empowered.

But the inevitable happens. Any wise person could have seen it coming. For I am wearing flip-flops. A fancied-up version because I'm going out to lunch but still not exactly made for kicking the ass of a vending machine. My big toe connects with something metal and a shockwave travels to my brain. I stop quickly and allow myself to be quietly led to the car. After we get all buckled in Mike says to me, "Well, one thing about you, you're never boring." And I think this is just about the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me.
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Published on August 27, 2014 12:45 • 54 views • Tags: birds, comedy, humor, women