My daughter and I befriended our 25-year-old neighbor back in December. It seemed to be wonderful timing, since he’s a strong man and we’re now just two little weak girls living all by our lonesome. (This is sarcasm.)

And I won’t lie, I found him attractive at first. I might be old enough to be his mother, but I can still appreciate a handsome man. My 40’s are supposed to be my sexual prime and I had a couple of friends tease me a bit about it, plus I also hammed it up just for shits and giggles.

Those thoughts quickly vanished when my daughter and I came to see that this kid is on a road to self-destruction. His daily ambition is to get high and drunk. I’m not much of a drinker, but I do smoke marijuana. It was nice to have someone to smoke a bowl or joint with for a change, since my best friend quit some time ago.

I was in a fucked up daze for all of the month of December and most of January, so I let it slide when he’d get so drunk that he passed out on my couch. I’d wait a bit, then gently shake him awake and send him to his own condo. (Which belongs to his father, who lived there before him.)

He’s asked me to help him out with a pinch or two of weed because he smoked all of his up.

“How do you still have so much? I run out and you seem to stockpile it.”

I’m a lightweight even after partaking off and on for 9 years. (Don’t think that I don’t have any vices, because I do.)

It’s starting to seem like the only reason he contacts me now is because he wants to get something from me. He’s even asked me for money. I’m as fucking poor as a church mouse and he knows it.

Fuck that noise.

My brain is wired to “fix” people, but thanks to many differing factors, I’m coming to the stark realization that I can’t.

You cannot fucking fix people.


But, all is not lost.

I’m finally on the road to re-wiring and “fixing” myself.

And because I’m starting to look for my truth in my own dark alleyways, I need to kindly as possible step away from my neighbor before he brings me down with him.

Dreamlife of Dogs


What occurs in the mind of a cur by the fire?  On the rug as he growls and he drools, as he spasms and twitches?  A bloodbath of rabbits where the faecal aromas are sublime?  In the dreamlife of dogs, these we think are the riches.  There the crow’s provocation will no longer be endured.  There the insolent rat is subdued and is stricken and shaken.  There as King of the Rains, the Wild Rover, (the bitches’ rump so fine).  This the dreamlife of dogs?  Or are we mistaken?  For all that we know, in the hound’s inner world, there are marvels to rival the greatest that man can envision.  A palace of scent where the laws of the pack are redefined.  Is the dreamlife of dogs maybe ripe for revision?  But the dog as he sleeps is opaque as we are.  We dream as we live all alone in this nightmare of history.  And as much as I know who you are in the dark behind your eyes, the dreamlife of dogs is no more of a mystery.  – Shriekback



Idolatry – Pt. 5

Suspended in white, swimming blindly until my limbs give out and I sink like a stone and brace for impact…

A gentle arm embraces and holds me close, enveloped in tender warmth. Embryonic comfort dispels my vertigo and I twist to face my invisible savior. An intimate dance in the ether, wings enfold us in a twirling cocoon of polymorphous release as a distant chime intensifies in tandem with the orgasmic signals broadcast from my every nerve ending until I’m nearly pulverized by the rising crescendo of perfect euphoria —

— my iPhone rattles against the wood of the nightstand blaring out its insistent ringtone. Awake, all dust and sharp edges, I hoist the phone to my ear.


“Hi, Sammi.”

It’s Melinda and her characteristic Sunday morning voice of contrition.

“How you doing this morning, Mel? You alone?”

“Yeah. I don’t remember how I got home but my car’s not here. Must have been one of those guys buying me drinks.”

“It was an Uber driver, Mel. I called him for you on my way home.”

“Oh. Right. Thanks, Sammi.”

“Why are you up?”

“I don’t know. I think I felt guilty. You always have to babysit me. Maybe I have a problem…”

“Mel, lay back down and go to sleep. We all have problems and yours won’t seem half as bad once you sleep it off.”

“Yeah, I know. Thanks, Sammi. I’ll call you later.”

“Sweet dreams, Mel.” Now kindly stop fucking up mine.

I drop out of bed and throw on my robe. Filling a glass with tap water from the bathroom sink, I down it in a single gulp and saunter out to the living room. A mosaic of interlocking rain patterns slides down the glass of the back door and I can see Akaaneh braving the elements with bucolic disinterest from his muddy sentry post. Though there’s an awning over the patio, I opt to take my coffee indoors today.  I need to collect myself. For the last 24 hours, the only thing that’s served to dilute the alarming effects of this enigmatic little effigy upon my psyche has been a nagging embarrassment at my own lack of logic in allowing him to take on the characteristics of anything but a piece of decorative statuary.  So while Mel ponders whether she’s approaching the threshold of alcoholism on the other side of town, I sit here cradling my coffee mug and wonder if I’m approaching the threshold of madness. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the majority of suicides are performed on Sunday mornings. Maybe that’s why so many otherwise spiritually bankrupt people keep showing up to church each week. It’s not so much devotion as suicide prevention.

I thought about how I’d designed my whole life to be perpetually frivolous and carefree, a devil-may-care attitude that I justified and mantrafied as a celebration of freedom and spontaneity. Two years at Monmouth University yielded a reliable network of weed connections and a cavalcade of one night stands but precious little in the way of credentials or direction. That was eight years ago and I’m no more motivated by thoughts of practicality and responsible adulthood than I was during my senior year of high school. I had never given a second thought to this seat-of-my-pants approach to living until yesterday.  Suddenly, my lack of a reasoned template for the future has transformed from a source of smug satisfaction to one of shame and panic. Yesterday, a 30 year old single woman working as a receptionist in a dental office seemed a perfectly wonderful thing to be. Today as rain pelts the skylight in arrhythmic thuds, I wish to be anyone but the aimless party girl imprisoned by her own misinterpretation of what it means to live authentically.

A thunderclap breaks my brooding reverie so I get up from the table and walk outside.

“You’re too hard on yourself, Samantha. You can’t manufacture your destiny.”

I crouch to eye-level with Akaaneh and run a finger over his smooth pate.

“How are you speaking to me? Is there some kind of telepathy between us?” I ask in a foolish attempt to rationalize the incomprehensible.

“Something like that, yes. Our energies are intertwined. For now, I just need you to accept that and stop questioning your sanity.  Our friendship won’t get very far if you’re constantly second-guessing its veracity.”

“Why did you ask me if I knew how long you’d been waiting for me? How could you have known about me before I found you in the greenhouse?”

“Our energies are intertwined, Samantha. We’ve always known each other but at the moment, you’ll just have to take me at my word. When you’re ready, you’ll remember things. In the meantime, I’m here to guide you through the gauntlet of voices that will try to dissuade you from living your truth – including your own litany of doubt that just prevented you from enjoying a perfectly good cup of coffee.”

“Did I have coffee?”

“Exactly. Go get dressed and embrace the day, Samantha. When your mind clears so will the sky.  It would be foolish to waste such a beautiful day talking to a ceramic gargoyle in your backyard.”



Idolatry – Pt. 4

I leaned against the soundboard nursing my fifth IPA of the night while Melinda danced like no one was watching to The Jukes’ encore performance of “Trash It Up”. I used to love this place and when I say “used to”, I mean as recently as three hours ago.

When I pulled into the parking lot of the storied Temple of The Boss, I rolled my eyes at the sea of hipster kids clamoring for a spot in line at the ticket counter as if I had somehow matured out of such youthful silliness since last weekend. Something was amiss, but I wasn’t trying to affect some air of jaded cool — there was an urgency to this sudden impatience with my familiar haunts and those who frequent them. A feeling that there was something very important I should be doing — certainly more important than watching Melinda’s drunken Elaine Benes dance floor routine for 20 songs worth of tired Asbury Park nostalgia.

The house lights back on, I check on Melinda who is sandwiched between two Guidos at the bar. Judging by the duo of untouched Long Island Iced Teas sitting in front of her, it seems they had staked their claims simultaneously. Last week, I’d have had her back. But tonight, I put a hand on her shoulder and say —

“Mel, y’okay? I’m gonna blow, if that’s cool.”

“SAMMI!!! Where were you all night? Oh, wait — this is — what’s your name again, Sweetie?”

“I gotta go. Call me tomorrow, okay?”

Before she can finish introducing me to Giove or Giuseppe or The Situation or whatever the fuck these Goombahs called themselves, I’m wedging my way through the crowd and out the door.

Home. It’s where I’ve wanted to be all night long.  I roll a pinner and walk out back to unwind. This is what I’d been dreaming of throughout the whole interminable evening: a joint, a nightcap, my chaise lounge —

— and him.

My pulse accelerates as I lean down to examine his gnarled yet exquisitely lithe features. In an effort to stem this inexplicable endorphin rush, I begin to speak to him aloud.

“I think you need a name. You look like a Jeremy.”

“You must be joking. I look like nothing other than an Akaaneh.”

The joint fell from my fingers onto the patio. The statue hadn’t moved and a quick scan of the yard showed no signs of life.  It was almost as if the voice had come from inside my head. I steadied my hands and took a long swig of wine.

“Akaaneh,” I echoed.

“Do you know how long I’d waited for you, Samantha?”

For a long moment, I’m frozen, mute. Finally, I resolve to put an end to this psychotic episode, bolting up from the lawn chair and swiping my wine glass from the patio table. Just before I slide the back door shut, I hear a faint voice like a mixture of silk and gravel —

“Goodnight, Samantha.”


Friday Funhouse 21: Scheduled Sex


It’s common knowledge that the integration of scheduled sex into a relationship is typically a harbinger of doom. I take this sentiment a bit further with a profound distaste for anything that’s scheduled. For whatever reason, we take comfort in predictability, even as regards our media consumption. Sunday is football day. If it’s Thursday night, break out the Chardonnay for another Ladies Night Gilmore Girls marathon. As scheduled. Just like last week. Just like next week. So very reliable. So very dull.

If you’re starting to suspect that the preceding paragraph was just a pretense for announcing that this will be the final installment of my scheduled weekly attempts at humor, you can consider that suspicion confirmed. Mind you, I’m sure you’ll see posts in a similar vein when the mood strikes me, so the only things really being retired here are a recurring title and an expectation. Good riddance!

I would like to thank everyone for their loyal patronage. So how to go out with the appropriate level of fanfare? Today’s video should be something historic. Educational. Shitfaced. Here’s a Drunk History take on the life and times of Harriet Tubman:




Idolatry – Pt. 3

Bombarded by twin fronts of fertilizer and foliage, I move like the tranquil eye of a storm towards the greenhouse at the rear of the store.

I push a hand truck through aisles of displaced flora until the downy blue clusters of an Adriatic Ageratum beckon a closer look.  Satisfied, I place two of the bushes onto the cart and turn to make my way back to the registers.

That’s when I got my first look at him.

Resting on a shelf of gardening implements at eye-level, a leonine chimera, sleek and stoic like the iconic statuary adorning Notre Dame Cathedral, he elicited a silent gasp that I can’t explain as I ran a finger across his stony features.  It was as though the proprietors knew that to place him alongside the adorably ugly and squat little trolls out front would debase his aura of mischievous yet debonair calm so they hid him back here among the flowering plants where a more discerning eye would be likely to find him.

My heart quickened as I waited for my receipt.  I felt like I was pulling a heist and the cashier’s nonchalant manner was starting to piss me off.  When she finally handed me the curled slip of register tape, I immediately scratched out the cost of the statue in a symbolic gesture.  If Dolores wants to reimburse me for the plants, that’s cool, but this seductive little fellow is mine all mine.

I loaded up the hatchback for a smooth getaway.

From the curb I can see Dan left a note on the front door.  If I don’t read it, I can’t be accused of ignoring whatever entreaties for my attention it may contain, so in one fluid motion I rip it down, crumple it in my fist and chuck it over my shoulder into the hydrangea hedge at the end of the driveway.

I leave the plants in the car and walk inside with the gargoyle, passing through the house to the back door where I perform a cursory scan of the fenced-in landscape.  Just there – one eye positioned to gaze peripherally inside through the patio doors, the other trained on the lush green sea of grass beyond the tiny courtyard.  I situate its base a half inch into the small dirt patch bordering the concrete, take a step back and smile at the subtly magical transformation my new friend has wrought upon this previously uninspiring chunk of South Jersey real estate.  I remember the Ageratum in the car and trudge back out to finish the chore.

My hangover is finally starting to lift so I make myself a guacachito and wolf it down on the sofa, plate balanced precariously across my knees while admiring the exquisite curvature of his arched and winged torso through the door.  I try not to overthink the sudden outbreak of goose flesh on my arms, tiny blonde hairs standing at attention as electricity races up my spine and my face goes flush.

The unmistakable physiology of a woman in love.

I wonder if this odd rush of feelings is anticipatory.   After all, the only thing that would inspire me to discard of a reliable fuck buddy like Dan with such uncharacteristic insouciance is a waxing desire to fall in love – to jump headlong into all-encompassing crazy brain-scrambling soul-fucking infatuation.

It had been a long time and I’d hardened myself considerably in the interim.  I sometimes worry that I’ve become too transparent to bewitch a beautiful unsuspecting boy with my stale array of coarse charms.  Before dialing Melinda to confirm that we were still on to meet at the Stone Pony for tonight’s Southside Johnny show, I glanced outside and thought I saw a subtle smile of approval play across his ceramic countenance.  It was like he knew – my unspoken desires, my secret vulnerabilities and maybe even my fate.

It all seemed so innocent then.  Even so, I blamed it on the residual effects of last night’s pharmacological feast and resolved to kick Molly to the curb along with Dan – cold turkey for two guilty pleasures whose times had long passed.