skot AT izzlepfaff DOT com
Tuesday, 02 August
And so the parents blew into town this weekend, and much merriment was had. They got in on Thursday evening--I had somehow managed to misunderstand this and thought they were coming in on Friday, and had already made some plans--but it was no trouble, really: they would spend the evening "walking around." I'm an excellent son. I have plans, parents! I know you drove seven hours to get here, but would you mind terribly, oh, I don't know . . . walking around? That would be great.
(No, really, it was fine. They wanted to walk around. Incidentally, my father is having knee surgery later this year, which I think explains a lot about the streaks of utter perversity that I often display.)
So we met up at their hotel and then caught a cab to the Mariners game. (My father, now all but retired, has made it his mission to visit as many stadiums as possible.) I had wrangled some pretty decent seats down off the first base line, and so we settled in happily with some beers. Well, not the wife: she hates American beer. So she instead had a Mike's Hard Lemonade, or, more aptly, Mike's Hard-To-Drink Lemonade; that brine really is fucking ghastly. I mean, yes, there's something vaguely un-American about the idea of serving wine at a ballpark, but is this really the best we can do as the only non-beer option? Couldn't the poor wife get a fucking tequila shooter or something? Anyway, memo to this Mike person: You suck. Please stop, for God's sake.
Naturally, the Mariners got clobbered. By Cleveland. Which really tells you all you need to know about the Mariners this year. They are utterly opposed to favoritism, and will cheerfully lose to simply anyone. My mother asked adorable questions:
"When will the pitchers get to bat?" she asked worriedly. I think she felt that they were being excluded.
"This is the American league, Mom. The pitchers don't hit," I explained.
She looked worried again. "Why not?"
Good question. "Because the American league sucks, Mom."
She was apparently satisfied with that. Probably because all she watches are NL games, and because Dad is a Cubs fan. She's used to horrible nonsense and fatalism.
The game itself, though, was kind of exciting, particularly if you enjoy watching pitcher after pitcher take endless numbers of warm-up pitches: three pitchers were ejected from the game, including the supremely hopeless Shigetoshi Hasegawa, who, clearly disgusted over instantly giving up a home run, immediately plunked the very next batter he saw. The umpire, no dummy, tossed him, much to Shiggy's delight: "Stupid game, awful team, I'm no good. Send me home!"
In the very next inning, Cleveland's pitcher bonked one of our losers--Betancourt? I don't care--and then he got tossed, but not before the benches cleared and the players stood around bristling and not doing anything else. Even the bullpens cleared. I crowed, "Watch out, everyone! Here come the pitchers!" It was like the Invasion of the Trotting Anemic Huns Who Forgot Their Weapons Anyway. The worst damage these guys could do, really, was to threaten to pitch for you.
And then, later, another Cleveland pitcher nailed Ichiro right in the small of his back. BOOOOOOOO! Now, this was clearly a total mistake, a pitch that got away from the guy; retribution had already been had. And obviously the benches knew this too, for they failed to clear this time. No matter: the guy got tossed too, because, you know, you gotta. We stared frostily yet again as some anonymous clam got rolled out of the bullpen and threw for fifteen minutes. I went for another round of beers and Mike's Undrinkable Superfund Tailing Pond Insult.
The next night (can you guess what my parents did during the day? "We walked around.") we went to one of our favorite restaurants, a tapas joint called the Harvest Vine. As usual, they did not disappoint, and we leapt like animals onto the small plates of ridiculously good food: tomato salad dressed in a simple vinaigrette, sea salt and parsley; cheese plates; olive plates; meat plates; rib plates . . . you see what I mean. The tomato salad prompted my father to declare, "We're doing that again." Pause. "That and some more blue cheese." Pause. "We're going to need more wine." Indeed.
Then, at one point, he told us a good supper story, which I'll try to recreate here, but I'm not sure I can do it justice. This was a story from the bad old times, his wild days when he and my mother were young and crazy and all that.
It seems that he was at a party, and it was hosted by one of his crazy friends who, in his spare time, did some hunting. One of the things he hunted was coyotes. (Back in the day, I know that certain counties or cities would pay bounties for coyote skins, as they were regarded basically as pesty scavenger dogs, barely above vermin.)
At this party was a vastly unpleasant woman: she was making everyone angry, and in general just being a pain in the ass. So while she was distracted (and presumably irritating people), a plan was hatched: the host, with my father's help, fetched a coyote carcass. But not just any old dead coyote . . . this one had been skinned. Now, I don't know if you've ever seen anything skinned up close and personal, but I know from watching my father skin elk and deer when I was a kid, but it ain't pretty. Bulging eyes starting from naked sockets, a horrible profusion of exposed teeth, awful blue arteries tracing the whole pink terrain of exposed skin . . . it's fucking horrible.
They took this awful specimen and put it in the woman's car, in the driver's seat. In what is easily my favorite touch of the whole prank, they also carefully positioned the dead thing's paws right on the steering wheel, so the horrendous dog-corpse appeared to be some ghoulish canine chauffeur, all set for a midnight ride straight to Pandemonium. Then they simply waited, and of course the time came for her to leave. My father and his co-conspirators watched from the bushes as she approached the car, and opened the door.
Now, it's bad enough to open your car door and find, like, some unexpected dude just sitting there grinning, or whacking off, or playing whist, or whatever. But when she opened the door, what she saw was some EC Comics vision straight from the Pits of Beyond: a denuded, pink musculature of vaguely canine aspect, with prominent staring eyeballs and far too many teeth; its paws in an obscene mockery of helpfulness, perched at ten-and-two on the steering wheel, waiting to drive her straight up the Devil's rectum.
She screamed like a scalded harpy and dashed off into the night. It took them twenty minutes to find her. In the meantime, others of course removed the horrible evidence from her car and cleaned out the front seat. When she shakingly returned to the scene of the crime, she was assured that she must have gotten a hold of some terrible shit to have seen such things, but look: it's all fine now! It must have been in her head.
This is what passes for dinner conversation in my family. I laughed and laughed and laughed. (And by the way, my mother, who does not lie, vouches for this story.) What would I do to have stories like that? Just about anything. I'd take a pitch right in the small of my back. I'd drink a Mike's Date Rape Special. Or hell, maybe I'd just walk around.
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My friend Sheryl boiled a coyote skull once. It was for an art class. She needed to draw a skull. She asked a taxidermist for a skull and got a skinned coyote head and he told her to boil it to get the meat off. She boiled the skull wrong. The collagen and connective tissue hardened and she had to chip the meat off with a butter knife. It took two days. Fortunately she took photos of the process. While the skull was boiling in a pot on her stove, the eyeballs became purple with a white fog over them. The end.
But is it worse than Zima (the Mike's Hard Toilet-Bowl Cleanser, I mean, not the flayed coyote carcass)?
Mike's Hard Lemonade is manna from heaven compared to Mike's Hard Iced Tea. They are the second and third worst alcoholic beverages I have ever had.
I've heard that the notorious "Brown Acid" warned against at Woodstock causes similar naked coyote corpse sightings.
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