The Negress. The 10. Things That Do Not Exist.

The Negress apologizes for the tardiness of this week’s list but her energy has been sapped by some strain of viral ickiness that is ravaging the Cube Farm.  Dick Cheney being seen in sunlight and various others babbling in such a way that they obviously are not cursed with self-awareness made the Negress want to compile this list. So, here we go.
1.    Welfare queen. Ronald Reagan rode into the White House on this nonexistent trope.
2.    The Knockout Game. Take a look.
3.    Dick Cheney’s soul. It was removed during his most recent heart procedure.
4.    Ugly babies.
5.    Ugly brides.  All right, the last two go hand in hand. They exist but you cannot share those judgments no matter how much of a hot mess the individuals are. Bite your tongue until it bleeds.
6.    A Chevrolet that makes you salivate. Anyone remember the Chevette and the Lumina? Things have not changed that much.
7.    A wine under $20 that makes you swoon. The Negress has some expertise in this area. She will say that truly awful wines have pretty much gone away (alright, maybe Barefoot and any pink Zin) but there used to be some surprising wines in this category. Not so much anymore.
8.    Dressy Birkenstocks. Many thanks to the fabulous Kate Clinton for this one.
9.    Partners in a relationship who “provoke” domestic violence.  Have a conversation with the hand and get the hell out of there. The Negress understands that some are unwilling to give up a societal position that comes with staying with a batterer. All she can say is take a cue from Robin Givens.
10.    Insurance salespeople with scruples. The Negress wandered through this thicket during the period before she got properly medicated. See Diogenes.

The Negress. The 10. Moving

The Negress moved recently to a smaller place and, after thinking other people might want her excess stuff, is donating pretty much all of it to save on storage space rent. She’s moved about 10 times in her life and she’s getting very tired. But some universal truths do attach themselves to the process. Here they are:

1. Don’t.

2. No one is going to want your crap after you’re dead. Behave accordingly. If someone says they want something, consider giving it to them now.

3. You will find as you unpack that 30 percent or more of what you have, you can do without. Especially books.

4. You may find some things in unexpected places, e.g. underwear in with the cookbooks.

5. Avoid using the worst movers on the planet. Furniture as kindling is not a good look.

6. Try not to spend 36 hours straight moving stuff up and down three and a half flights of stairs on one end and  two and a half on the other. The Negress was actually hallucinating at one point.

7. Don’t move. The Negress will say it again, especially if you do not get paid time off.

8. Towels and a suitcase represent an excellent way to transport wine for short distances.

9. If a contractor from a cable and internet provider well known for its shoddy customer service arrives at your door, send them away after complimenting their tattoos. Then wait for the nice, polite actual employee from said entity to address the problem in less than an hour, He also tells you the contractors are idiots.

10. Take a leaf from the Negress’ mother who said, ” I don’t want y’all coming in here after I’m gone and saying, ‘Why in hell did she save this?'” Words to live by. They should ringing in your head as you pack.

Notes of a Chronic Negress: Spring Training

By the way, much of this is based on truth.

“I love you.”

Oh shit. If the Negress hadn’t been perched on those stairs with that guy right in front of me,  she could have gotten away clean.  The railing had her pinned on one side; the wall on the other. As it stood, she was going to have to respond to this tequila-fueled declaration. The truth was not an option. She can’t say to someone who is furry drunk that she only slept with them because she was out of batteries for the vibrator. Or that, every once in a while, she needed to feel someone else’s skin to remind you that you’re alive. He was still there, nut brown and swaying, hair sweaty with some other bad trouble who made him think a trip to the clinic might be in order.  She doesn’t know the other one,  but she worked at Centerfolds. This guy wasn’t the brightest in the world — read Dean Koontz, had van seats as permanent furniture — but who was she to talk since the Negress woke up bare-assed on a waterbed in his house on Mother’s  Day? The mother of his kid came by to drop off Junior and, at first opportunity, the Negress bailed.

The Negress’ wasn’t always like this or else there would be not story to tell. You wouldn’t always find her perched on the stairs of this bar listening to some coke fiend talk about interstate trucking. She does come here a lot, but she’s run out of reasons why. It was good trouble once, a place where a girl could go when she needed to be kissed but didn’t want to make breakfast for some jerk. Lately everyone was getting married, going to rehab or smoking so much dope that the mere thought of sex makes them tired and cranky. Why did marijuana have to make a comeback right at the time when sleazing around has been deemed fatal? What happened to the seller’s market she was used to?

Crueler friends might say 30 pounds happened, but her arms don’t keep moving when the Negress stops. Also, this baggy grunge rap fashion thing was a godsend to us women of substance. Real women eat and that’s all there is to it.

Which may also explain why she gave that restaurant  goof so much of her valuable time. In case you’re wondering, this isn’t the guy the Negress was looking at when this story started, although this joint played a  role in her running into him repeatedly. The Negress was bored, he kissed well and knew a thing or two about what she considered the finest of dining. When he came over, she would end up with rug burns and odd marks on the couch. His good trouble turned to bad when the Negress found out about the woman with the gun and the toddlers. And half the teachers at this one elementary school. And five other women she knew, one of whom confided that she was relieved when her clinic run turned out to be just a non-specific infection.

At this point, high mileage was not a good thing even though it did seem to improve technique. The Negress usually put latex where it belonged, but not always. You gave blood and lost some sleep watching the mail for a week or two.

 Oh yeah. Back to the guy in front of her. He was still swaying there, expecting The Negress to say something like, “Honey, I love you so much I’d go your bail before I’d pay my rent” or some other declaration that indicated permanent brain damage on her part. She thought she’d gotten away clean. We kissed one night after the Mother’s Day thing, but it felt like a Pekingese was trying to pick her nose. The Negress had seen him up here a couple of times since then, but he had been cool. No excessive mooning, no pining. He hung with this coke dealer who was a a total bore. The Negress finally shut him up with a reasonably coherent discussion of the economics of the baseball strike. One of the bartenders bought her a drinkfor her  trouble, saying that was the longest ol ‘Dillweed had gone without speaking. The Negress considered it a public service.

All right. The Negress has hatched an escape strategy. “Uh, Dick, can we talk about this some other time?”

“No,” he bleated. Dammit.

“Well, will you excuse me for sec? I’ll be right back.”

Thank God there was a side door out of there. She was down the steps and in her truck in no time. He wasn’t there the next time she came back so the Negress hoped he got the message.

Although it may be hard to believe from what the Negress is telling you here,  she can do celibacy with panache. She’s talking years, kids. Some 21-year old goober tried to pick her up with that tired old line about how she needed to relax. The Negress replied that she wasn’t going to end a two-year string of doing without for him. He looked ashen. “How could you go two years without having sex?”

“It’s easy. You get up one morning, brush your teeth, get dressed, do your hair,  go to work, go out clubbing, come home and what do you know? You didn’t have sex. A day becomes a week, weeks months, you get the picture.”

He asked her to leave his apartment  (The Negress was stuck there after some ill-advised drinking).  She thinks he thought it was some elaborate con. Sometimes the truth does work very well.

One of these days the Negress will find a man (or woman, but we’re getting to that) who will last from spring training to the World Series. She’s not lonely exactly, but sometimes an arm around you at night would be great. Or a phone call when Frank Thomas jacked one past the Russian space station (she’s waiting on this feeling from Adam Dunn). Or someone who would get the picture when you said something about sticking around for winter ball and hockey season. She was tired of explaining her jokes to people who were supposed to care about her (her tribe is out there and she will find it later).

Or maybe she’ll just settle for a good kisser who didn’t piss on her bedroom floor during an alcoholic blackout. That was bad trouble. She kissed so much during that day and a half, the Negress felt like the lower half of her face was smeared and runny. If  she could have attached those lips to someone who knew where the bathroom was, half the battle would have been won. He knew baseball but often forgot which league the Astros are in. He lost his scholarship on that basis alone (though, now that might not be a deal breaker. The pissing, yes.).

The problem is there’s a fine line between good and bad trouble. If you hang with someone and it gets too boring, it may be good for you. But it won’t make you drive across town with a raincoat thrown over your nightgown because your phone rang at 2 a.m. with a highly improper (not to mention potentially painful) suggestion. Good trouble can talk you into it because of some deep mystical connection or just plain madness. Bad trouble makes you get a restraining order and change your number.

Most people the Negress  talks to think the distinction is a massive rationalization. “You shouldn’t try to justify this trashing around you by palming it off on something nearly mystical in its incoherence,” said one 12-step veteran pal of mine. The Negress drank another bourbon and told her to shut up.

The Negress has had jobs and everything (though lately not so much), but that’s of minimal consequence. The hours were flexible enough back in the day that arriving in the office at noon wearing sunglasses made little difference in my performance reviews. Most of the Negress’  co-workers at the time had settled for something calm. She sometimes got the sense they viewed her as a mascot of some kind;  still weird enough to drive a pickup trick and not have day-care problems. Their lives make the Negress cringe so back to the bars she went.

Frankly, the baseball strike nearly made the Negress into a nun. She had found most of her trouble by arguing about ball in a variety of joints. The restaurant guy was a Tigers fan. Mr. I Love You went to the Dome with the coke dealer, but had a hard time following the game. He thought it was too slow and there was nothing to watch, which almost matched her assessment of him for a long-term contract.

One night, another friend told the Negress her standards were too high. She had brought the restaurant guy into the picture, and had sampled Mr. I Love You back before she fell hard for a good friend of hers. The Negress was at the point in the bourbon here belligerent muttering was about the best she could do. The Negress couldn’t explain the good trouble-bad trouble distinction because all distinctions were pretty blurry. So was the road driving home(please note, this is stupid and don’t do it).

That was during a brief period where everyone the Negress knew was giving her advice even though she hadn’t asked for any. Did she look that troubled? At one point, the Negress decided it was a weird mix of envy and concern and just decided to smile a lot and forget every word.

Anyway, the Negress had to hit the road. Minor-league ball was calling. There was a prospect in Tucson that might have made it to the majors if he kept his sense of humor and continued to remember my phone number. Like most minor leaguers, he wasn’t a prospect.

Notes of a Chronic Negress: The Early Years

If you want to know where you’re going, you need to know where you’ve been. So every week at this time, the Negress is going to share a bit of her past with you. She has mentioned on occasion her love of baseball, but the biggest shift in her consciousness was caused by hockey. Here’s how it happened (present tense since adolescence is still very much with her).

I volunteer for the black and white set upstairs. Since it’s a Sunday, the family has split like an amoeba to their separate pursuits. My sister starts the foundation of the  air castle of her future funk. Mom and Dad watch the NBA Game of the Week. I can live with the NBA, but I am not in the mood for my parents. It happens.

In the days of three networks, gerbil races and Captain Tugboat, Sunday is a harsh TV day. I want something faster than basketball; something almost as fast as I think. I fiddle with the antenna and click the dial. Suddenly it’s on me. There are skaters, hair flying. Goalies fling themselves at the little black thing, looking electric and spastic but lovely. The reassuring voice of Dan Kelly breathlessly chases the action.

The rules fall into place. Any pass across two lines in illegal (This is well before the red line at center ice becomes decorative). Any scrum that ties up the puck for more than five seconds results in a whistle. There’s a box where you go if you’re deemed bad. This is school, but with more speed and faster retaliation (I haven’t made the last day of class in years, thus ducking every bully who believed in delayed gratification). I am hopelessly enthralled. This is the game for me. This is hockey.

A lot of the Boston Bruins are very cute. I like Derek Sanderson, who is chippy and has a mustache. I don’t really notice the lack of variety of skin colors. This is a foreign legion, but I am willing to sign on.

I draw pictures of my favorites on my notebooks. I hurl myself around a sixth-grade classroom playing all five of my favorite players, who live together and get into trouble (No girls. Ick.) I am a fool among my classmates more than usual, but I don’t care. They are often wrong – about Vietnam, me and the order of the universe. I have hockey now and I really don’t care what anyone else thinks.

The Negress puts her hat in hand

At some point recently, the Negress ran out of options. The kindness of friends and strangers was exhausted, and the social services gang had nothing to offer but food stamps. There ‘s rent to be paid and job searches to continue via the Internet. She has acquired a roommate, a charming medical student named Nafees, but that’s not enough. Besides being too broke to pay attention, she is too broke to make a down payment on filing for bankruptcy (no excuses but there are reasons). If you can help, click on either of the “Go Fund Me” on this page. There may be knitting or pie in your future if you can help. Also, feel free to pass the word, all 60 of you who read this regularly.

Dragging Tyler Clementi’s survivors into the abyss

Dragging Tyler Clementi’s survivors into the abyss

Right after the Negress was feeling a bit better about progress, these noodniks come along. If the world were more equitable, Tyler might have lived longer. He’s not the first person to be initiated sexually by someone older than he (there’s a lovely nude pic of a 21 year old Negress out there somewhere taken by a n0w-dead 60something boyfriend). To make hay of such is unconscionable.

Amorosa Bella 2010 Chardonnay, James Family 2010 Chardonnay and a Trader Joe’s Valpolicella

The Negress is not a Chardonnay person. It’s not an unusual prejudice. She doesn’t stereotype Chardonnay drinkers except for one instance when she was on a boat to Christchurch, New Zealand. She was drowning here sorrows in Diet Coke and looking at her fresh road rash from the sheep station road. As she contemplated her torn flesh and sipped her caffeinated bliss, she saw a man chomping on a cigar wander up to the bar on the boat. He said in what was a Texas accent, “Give me one of them oaky, buttery Chardonnays.” Besides the indications of Dead Palate Syndrome that the request signaled, the man was in New Zealand in 2003, for pity’s sake. He was within sputtering distance of some tasty Sauvignon Blanc (this was before the Kiwis upped the acid level and emphasized immaturity so that some of their worst wines now taste like green pepper marinated in lime juice), but he wanted Chateau 2 X 4 with movie popcorn butter on top.

Green grow the grapes but they will ripen in time

This is where it all begins but it’s the ending that makes all the difference

All this is to say that the Amorosa Bella and James Family Chardonnays (2010 both) would have annoyed our cigar chomper. These wines are full-bodied but light on their feet, and pair nicely with strong flavors as well as more delicate foods. They are neither too naughty or too nice. There’s a touch of minerality to each that is usually bludgeoned to death by more careless winemakers. If you are the sort of person who cringes when the phrase “California Chardonnay” is uttered, you will drink these and ask for more. If you’re lucky enough to live in a state that allows direct shipping, try the folks at Cellars of Sonoma in Santa Rosa. These wines were featured in their wine club in the past two years so they may have some lying around.

A little closer to home for some of you is the 2009 Pasqua Valpolicella Ripasso Speciale 2009, which found its way into the Negress’ cart at  Trader Joe’s. As a rule, she avoids most of the Trader Joe’s cheap and cheerful wines, because they usually do not make her happy (see the Jolly Rancher episode)  But the Pasqua retailed for $10, making it a Pol Roget compared to some of the crap they sell. However, as much as she loves Valpolicellas, this was not one to write home about. Her take on the Italian favorite involves roast meat and earthy flavors and she knows not to expect Amarone when she’s kissing his younger, more callow cousin. But, this was a wine like many wines; not so bad as to require a screed condemning anything and anyone who had been part of its coming to store shelves. Pasqua 2009 is the epitome of  ‘meh.’ In short, 24 oz. you should have replaced with something memorable. And sometimes that doesn’t involve wine. Stay tuned.