Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dude, where's my couch?

This morning it was back to program after a four-day week-end. We started out by going to the office for Carl.

I went to lie on the sofa in my usual couch room. But instead, I found that room decked out with exercise equipment.

"That's the exercise room", La Netta said.

The exercise room? I walked out, and there was still a room to its left. That was the room that used to be the exercise room.

I discovered the couch had been moved there. So in other words, the couch room and the exercise room had had a Freaky Friday.

I went down and sat on my couch. I looked around the room and at first I didn't see any of the games and puzzles they had had in the couch room. But then as I sat down and looked at the whole room, I noticed some games on the shelves to my right. There were Scrabble and Monopoly and geography jigsaw puzzles. But I didn't see the Dipser-man puzzle.

Just as I was about to sit back down, however, I noticed a puzzle stashed under the shelf with two others. It was a Marvel Comics superhero puzzle.

I checked the side I saw. They had a small picture of all the superheroes on the puzzle -- and one of them was Dipser-man!

"Ewwwwwwwww!", I shouted.

"I'm going to the restroom", said La Netta.

"I'll be in the men's room while you're in the women's", I told La Netta. "I saw the superhero puzzle."

I purged off Dipser-man in the restroom, then came out when I'm done.

"James, do you want to go into the exercise room, since the puzzle is in the couch room?", La Netta asked.

"I'll be in the couch room", I replied. "I just won't look in that direction."

"OK."

"James, I have a song to show you when you're ready to come see it", said Carl. "I printed it out."

"All right, Carl", I said.

I lay on the couch for several minutes without falling asleep. Then I got out to see what Carl wanted to show me.

"I'm ready Carl", I said.

Carl handed me two pages he had photocopied. "It's called 'I Wanna Be a Celebrity'," he said.

I looked at the two-page song. Carl's song began like this:

I wanna be a celebrity
High-class living, that's the life for me
I ain't worried, about no punk-ass paparazzi
I wanna be a celebrity


"Is this a parody of 'Minority' by Green Day?", I asked Carl.

"It wasn't meant to be", said Carl.

We left the office at 10:00 to go to Lucky's.

"Since we're picking up Ken, we're going to go to the Lucky's in El Cerrito Plaza instead of the Lucky's in Hercules", said La Netta.

"Sounds good with me", I said.

"And we're still going to Big Lots, but it'll be the Big Lots on San Pablo instead of the Big Lots in Hercules."

We drove over to Lucky's, where I got my Tampicos. They had the pineapple coconut flavor this time -- excellent!

Then La Netta took us into Joann Fabrics.

"James, look at these animals!", said Carl.

"Is it safe to look?", I asked La Netta.

"Yes, it is", she replied.

"You could get something here for Jolene!", said Carl.

They had squirrels, various birds including a great blue heron (it was their Audubon Birds collection) and even dinosaurs,

"Audubon Birds", the sign read. "Itsy Bxtsies . . ."

Ewww!

"Is this a stegosaur?", I asked.

"Probably", said Carl.

I couldn't find the tag.

"A triceratops!", said Carl.

"LIke Baby Bop", I reparted.

"Not quite the same, though", said Carl. "Ooh, a Tyrannosarus rex!"

La Netta, Carl and I got in line.

"Whxxps!", I heard a woman say.

"D'OH!", I said, slamming my forehead.

"Oh, James", said La Netta sadly.

"D'OH! D'OH! D'OH! That clumsy ox!"

"Are you going to stop!"

"D'OH!", I said, trying to bop the center of my forehead in just the right way. "D'OH!" Another miss. "D'OH!" I nailed it!

"That was the last one", I told La Netta.

"Good", said La Netta.

La Netta got a page from the office saying Ken had arrived. So we drove back to the office to pick our mopey friend up.

"James need to use the restroom", La Netta told Ken once we arrived.

I went in the restroom and purged off "bxtsies". I spent the rest of my time purging off the "whxxps".

A man from another business in the office knocked at my door. He told me he had to use it.

I buttoned up and let him in.

He seemed to be in there a long time. "I'm done", said Carl.

"We're still waiting on James to finish using the restroom", La Netta said.

"He's still in there", I said.

"What did you say?", asked La Netta.

Just then the man walked out.

"I said he was still in there", I answered La Netta.

I walked back in and finished up, then came out.

Ken and Carl both got their lunches at the burrito truck. I told La Netta I'd just have an enchilada meal for lunch (one of my dinners from Lucky's).

The others ate lunch at Davis Park.

"Last night, I was thinking about Lamesha and Tiffany and Jolene", I said.

"All your friends", said Carl.

We listened to Star 101.3 at Davis Park. Carl and I sang along to "Dancing with Myself" by Billy Idol.

"The faucet was drxpping", said Ken as we drove back home.

"Ewwwwwwww!", I said.

"Ooh, sorry James", said Ken. "I shouldn't have said that."

"Want to gather all your juices?", La Netta asked me as we got to my house.

"Is it 2:15?", I asked.

"It's 2:12", La Netta replied.

I got my two Tampicos and bagged them. Then I set them down in front of the house, waiting for Stan Man to arrive.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Not the place?

Wednesday was the last program day of the week, the day before Thanksgiving. Since Ken wasn't coming, we were teaming up with Cliff's group (Cliff had Lance, Marta and Alfonso).

In the morning, Cliff was trying to get Lance in the right seat. "Scxxt over, Lance", he said.

"Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!", I growled.

Instead of going about with the places Carl had requested on the schedule, we went to the 7-11 site so Alfonso could work.

"We're in Berkeley", Carl said, "We could be going to Urban Ore Ecopark and looking at computers."

"Exactly", I said.

"Are we supposed to just sit here and wait for an hour?"

La Netta then took us into Food Maxx. She wanted us to prepare for Thanksgiving.

"James, do you want to get a lemon meringue pie here?", La Netta asked.

"Pia's getting one for me", I replied.

"What would you like here?"

"I think I'll get a Mexican dinner, to have after my lasagna."

La Netta picked out vegetables for her Thanksgiving dinner, then took me to the frozen food aisle.

I saw a shelf full of pizzas, then some lasagnas, then some frozen meat, and continued going down until I got to the Don Miguel shelf.

"4 for $5.00", the Mexican food was labeled. I knew I couldn't go wrong. I picked out four of their Mexican dinners.

Into the shopping cart they went. "They were four for $5.00", I told La Netta.

"That's a good deal!", she said.

La Netta then looked at the spices and herbs.

"What's spearmint?", she asked.

"It's a green plant from the mint family, often used in flavoring candy and chewing gum," I told her.

"Then I don't want to use that."

We all paid for our stuff, then we got back into the van.

"Scxxt over, Lance", said Cliff.

"RRRRRRRRRRRRRR!", I growled.

"Now, James", said Cliff, "I'm not trying to diss you when I say those words. I can't keep up with all those words you don't like and your vowels, the I's and O's and U's."

We drove to Taco Bell. As soon as we got out, I saw a woman wearing pajamdra bottoms get out of the restaurant and walk towards her car.

"Is she wearing pajamdra pants?", I asked La Netta.

"I don't know", La Netta said.

A little later, she said, "Yeah, she is."

"Ewwwwwwww!", I said.

I went into the restroom while the others were ordering their Taco Bell meals and purged off the woman's pajamdras.

I washed my hands and came out . . . only to discover the others were eating their meals inside Taco Bell!

"So you guys are eating inside?", I asked La Netta.

"Yes, we are", La Netta replied.

"OK, then I guess I'll finish up purging the SC-words."

"How long is it going to take?"

"Not too long."

I walked back into the restroom and did Cliff's two "scxxt over"s. I was thinking to myself of the "scxxt this way" I heard during my physical, and had to think "ayw sith toocs" to myself and chant "scadoloot this way" while purging.

Finally, I got to both "scadoloot over"s.

As I was washing my hands, I heard Carl knocking at the door. "James?", asked Carl. "When are you going to be out?"

"I'm going to come out right now", I said.

I finished washing my hands and opened the door.

"Boy, that was quick!", said Carl. "James, I've got a question with you. Are you familiar with the song 'Your Body Is a Wonderland'?"

"By John Mayer?", I asked.

"I don't know who does it."

"Your body is a wonderland", I sang. "Your body is a wonder I don't lose my hands . . ."

"James", said La Netta. "Not the place. Not the place. If you and Carl want to sing that loud, you go outside to do it."

Carl and I sat down in our seats. "It goes like this", said Carl, "We've found love . . . now make it/We're in a deep sea of blankets/Take all the big rules and break them . . ."

"Yes, that's 'Your Body Is a Wonderland' by John Mayer", I said.

"Same song?", asked Carl.

"Same song."

I stared at La Netta.

"What?", La Netta asked.

"You know what", I replied.

"I really don't. What is it?"

"When you said, 'Not the place'."

"Oh. I said that because this was not the place for you to be singing that loud."

"You don't like James' singing?", asked Carl. "It's clear you don't know a good thing when you hear it."

"I didn't say I didn't like his singing. I just said here was not the place."

"I'm going to take over all your stations! I'll take your gospel station and replace it with rock-and-roll!"

"Did you hear how loud James was singing? People were looking at you two."

"I'm going to take over your gospel station and replace it with rock!"

"Carl, I think you need some gospel".

"There's a time and a place for gospel, and it's called church!"

"There's too much repression of loud in this world!", I told La Netta angrily.

"Well, you were in the restroom for a long time", La Netta said. "People kept trying to use the restroom while you were in there, and they were already upset . . . then when they heard you singing that loudly . . ."

Carl continued to argue with La Netta, and La Netta told him he was just acting like that because they were combining groups.

As I was looking outside, I saw a building that said . . . was that C-tibank on the building?

I looked more scrutinizingly. "C-tibank", it read.

"Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!", I growled.

"What?", asked La Netta.

I pointed to it.

"Oh, God!", La Netta said.

"I didn't even see that", said Carl. "You can see it from just the right angle." Here, you sit in this seat, with your face back to it."

We finished our Taco Bell meals (well, I hadn't gotten anything) and were too early to go home. So Cliff drove to a dollar store.

La Netta asked whether I wanted to go in with her, and I replied in the affirmative. I'd rather be with La Netta than Cliff in case I had some words to ask about.

Just after I walked into the dollar store, I saw a box filled with Dipser-man stickers and glitter. "Ewwwwwww!", I said.

La Netta hadn't even seen it.

"Dipser-man to your right", La Netta said as I walked eown an aisle.

"Thanks for telling me, La Netta", I said.

"Anything for my friend James", said La Netta.

As we walked through the store, I tried to cup my eyes but I kept seeing more Dipser-man stuff. There seemed to be an "Ewwwwww!" at every corner.

"They must have a deal with Marvel Comics", I told La Netta.

"Yeah, they must have", La Netta said.

I purchased a box oe Copitos there, and after we left, we drove home in the van, dropping off clients one by one. Cliff said "ice xxxxx punch" as he talked.

"Blechhhh!", I said. "Did Cliff say 'I-word punch'?"

"He did", said La Netta, "But it was an accident."

"James, I'm not trying to hurt you", said Cliff. "It's just I don't think about what I say when I speak.I don't remember what I said, so I can't keep track of all your E's and I's and O's and E-I-E-I-O's."

Carl tried to make conversation with Cliff, but Cliff told him that he didn't want to speak, because he "might say something that will upset James".

We finally made it to Carl's house, wherefrom I took a ride home in Stan Man's van. La Netta handed my the bag full of Mexican food.

I took my food home with me and told Claudette my taking Zoloft would be delayed because I had a lot of purging to do.

I purged off Cliff's "ice xxxxx", then "C-tibank", then all the Dipser-mans. At dawn Thanksgiving morning, I finally mixed my liquid Zoloft with Tampico and drank it.

A semi-pleasant surprise in the mail

One of my staff placed an envelope on my dresser. It was mail from my mother, whom I had asked for money to replace my mangosteens.

After midnight, I sat down with the envelope and tore open the top. I had asked for $7, so I was expecting to see a five and two ones. I pulled the contents out with my eyes closed so as to prevent me seeing a cyclops pyramid.

What I felt was clearly not money, so I looked at it. It was a paper folded up in thirds.

A letter, maybe? Then I opened it. I saw the C-ti logo. On the top right.

"Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!", I growled.

There were two fives in the paper. My mother had left me some money after all. I read the paper to see how many "C-ti"s I word have to purge off, and the word C-ti appeared five times in her note from C-tibank. That made six "C-ti"s total.

The C-tibank message was crossed out, and my mother had written, "James -- a little extra. -Mom"

I placed the $10 in my pocket. Then I folded up the paper and threw it away.

The rest of my night was filled with purging off all those peanut-buttery "C-ti"s.

I hear what I'm afraid of hearing

This morning, Stan Man gave me my four-milligram pill. He told me it would be a while until he was ready to take me to Dr. Levine.

Several minutes later, he came in and said, "Get ready".

I put my shoes on and buttoned my pants. I then applied deodorant and combed my hair. I went to the bathroom.

I came out and asked Stan Man if I could have some money. He took out my book, gave me $20 and had me sign for today and the last time I received money.

Then I saw Stan outside by his van. I asked him whether he was ready, and he said yes.

I grabbed my sleep mask and red bag, and drove with good old Stan Man.

He was on his cellphone with Pia, so I plugged my ears.

When I unplogged them for just a few seconds, I heard Pia say something that sounded like "mxss" three times.

Then I heard Stan Man saying, "There's been an accident on the freeway".

"Stan, did Pia say the M-word?", I asked.

"I said, 'There's been an accident on the freeway'," Stan repeated.

"I asked did Pia say it."

"James, there's no way you can hear Pia."

"I heard her!"

"What did you hear her say?"

"I heard her say the M-word."

"There's no way you could have heard the M-word, because Pia is on the other side of the cellphone."

"And I heard her say Smart & Final."

"I said 'Smart & Final'. I was telling Pia where she could get your lemon meringue pie."

A little later, I heard Stan Man say something that sounded like "Freeway on the shoulder mxss".

"Freeway on the shoulder what?", I asked Stan.

No response.

"Stan?", I asked again.

Stan continued talking to Pia.

"Stan?", I asked again.

"Yes?", said Stan.

"Freeway on the shoulder what?"

"What are you talking about?"

"What you just said. Freeway on the shoulder something".

"I didn't say that. You sound like you're suffering from delusional paranoia."

"It really sounded like it, Stan."

"Well, it wasn't that. And Pia didn't say the M-word. Just to clear your conscience." Stan went on. "You sound like you want to hear a word so you can purge."

"I want not to hear a purge word today."

"Well, you sound like you do, because you've been asking about words all this drive. Do you want me to turn on the radio?"

"No, that will make it worse."

We got to our stop at Berkeley.

"Stan?", I said.

"Yes?", replied Stan.

"You know how some people hear what they want to hear?"

"Mm-hmm."

"Well, I'm just the opposite. I hear what I'm afraid of hearing."

"I understand that, but you've been really stressed out today."

We then walked up to Dr. Levine's office.

Suffering in the stores

"Monday needs to be Carl's day", said La Netta.

Yet she drove us to the office yesterday "just to use it". Then she told us to go on with our day.

We visited Smart & Final, the place I had requested for picking up my Thanksgiving meal.

La Netta took me to the pies, but we couldn't find lemon meringue. I settled on a box of macaroons.

Then we hit the juice section, and I got two Tampicos. I looked at all the Toranis before picking out a passionfruit Torani.

Finally, the entrée. La Netta told me they had "the I-stuff" to the right side of the freezer, so I just looked at the left. We saw pizzas and Mexican meals, even Dino Bites.

Then we got to the Michael Angelo's meals. When I didn't see anything I liked better, I walked back to the $7 Michael Angelo's meals. I picked out one called Vegetable Lasagna.

"Could you check this box for the T-word?", I asked La Netta.

She inspected it and it was safe.

Then I read it myself. One part said the meals were "shxpped straight to you".

We bagged and carried out the goodies I had bought, then La Netta went into a beauty shop.

"What's wrong?", she asked me as we were driving.

"I saw the SH-word on my vegetable lasagna, and I'm going to need to go somewhere where I can pick my navel."

"Are you still going to be able to eat it?"

"Yes. It's not like the T-word or the I-word."

Our next stop was Big Lots. I picked out some headphone batteries.

"Is that all you came in here for?", asked La Netta.

"Yes", I replied.

"Well, we're in here for a whole hour."

She took me to the restroom to spit. But by the time we made it to the check-out, my mouth was eull of saliva again.

"Thank you", the cashier told me when I paid for my stuff.

"Welkung", I replied.

"Thank you", she said again.

"Welkung."

We left and had lunch at Davis Park. I picked my navel there.

We left shortly after 1:00 for a trip to Goodwill.

KBLX was playing at Goodwill again. When they began doing song ID's, I said, "La Netta, they're about to do traffic."

"Then plug your ears", she said.

"Alouette, gentille alouette, alouette, je te plumerai . . .", I said.

I had done three verses when La Netta patted my arm.

"Yes?", I asked.

"Keep singing", she said.

"Did they say the M-word?", I asked.

"No."

I sang two more verses, then La Netta patted my arm again.

"It's over?", I asked.

"Yes", she replied.

I saw a porcelain cup with a snowman on it, just in time for preparing for winter. Something to purge off.

When we finally left the store, I breathed out a sigh of relief.

"Carl doesn't do that when we go to your stores", La Netta said.

"Carl doesn't suffer as much in my stores as I do in his", I replied.

We then dropped off Carl, and heard that Stan would arrive at his house at 2:20.

La Netta dropped me off with Santina at my house, where I set down all my bags near the door.

"Going really fast on the bxke", Santina said as a cyclist drove by our house.

Finally the door was opened for us, and I could purge off both "bxke" and the snowman cup.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Three superpowers

Friday was the day we had Urban Ore Ecopark and Berkeley Bowl scheduled. As we drove to Berkeley, Morgan Dukes, the DJ on The Light was talking about temptation.

"Whether it's that fine lady who catches your exe or that guy whom you can't keep your exe off of . . .", she said.

"Ewwwwwww!", I said.

We then made it to Berkeley Marina.

I went to the restroom and purged. When I came back into the van, La Netta said, "I thought you were going to the restroom."

"I did", I said. "I just came back."

"Wow, that was really quick!", she said.

Next came Urban Ore Ecopark. La Netta and Carl looked for computers.

I saw comic books. One was the Fly. I checked out the one to its top left. Then, between the two, I saw Dipser-man!

"Ewwwwww!", I said.

"What is it?", asked La Netta.

I pointed to Dipsey.

"I don't see it," she said.

"Here", I said, pointing to it.

"Oh."

Carl wanted to look at everything, but La Netta told him that our group had limited time.

Finally we left and drove over to Berkeley Bowl.

"So this is Berkeley Bowl?", asked Carl.

"Yes", replied La Netta.

"I have been here before."

When we went in, La Netta asked me where I wanted to go.

I told her I wanted to look at fruit, candy and ethnic foods.

We started out at the candy section. I picked up some cocoa-covered biscotti in the shape of balls, as well as a bag of taffy.

As we walked by the sushi, I picked out a box of eel sushi.

We then visited the fruits. La Netta walked over to the clearance fruit section and said, "This is what Taylor was telling us about." She placed a bag of apples in her shopping basket, while I got some Driscoll's blackberries for only 79 cents.

"Do you have any sapodillas here?", I asked a man working here.

"No, this is all we have here", he said.

"He means at this store", La Netta clarified.

"Oh! What were you looking for?"

"Sapodillas", I said.

"Is that fruit?"

"Yes. Latin American fruit."

"If we have it, it would be over there. Let me check."

I followed him, often stopping for carts to pass by. Soon I was a long way behind him.

Carl walked right throogh. "Say 'excuse me'," La Netta told Carl.

Finally, we got to the Latin American fruit section. "We have sapotes", he said.

"No thank you", I said.

I looked around. They had cherimoyas and kumquats. There was also something called Buddha's hand. It was a yellow fruit that resembled a many-fingeed hand.

"That is the strangest fruit I have ever seen", said La Netta. "I don't think I could eat that."

"Oh, look", I said. "They have xoconostles." I had seen a xoconostle before at the Botanical Gardens in Arizona, but I never knew they produced edible fruit.

Into my basket the xoconostles went.

"Look, La Netta, there's jicama -- the vegetable that doesn't taste like anything", I said.

La Netta pointed out the persimmons. They were $1.09 each. She and I had discussed persimmons before we went in, and she was considering trying a persimmon for its nutritional benefits.

I picked out a persimmon and bagged it.

"You picked out a good one", she said.

Then we paid for our goodies.

We left Berkeley to visit Jack-in-the-box, where Carl got his lunch. Then we drove to Kennedy Grove. Because of the rain, we stayed in the van -- except for yours truly, who went to the restroom to purge off Dipser-man.

When I came back, we discussed the foods we had seen at Berkeley Bowl. La Netta asked me everything I got.

"If you could have three superpowers," asked Carl, "What would they be? Me, I'd choose density control. I could run through everything. I'd make myself so dense that bullets couldn't faze me. And invisibility. I'd walk through a wall . . . rob a bank . . . and no one would stop me. And gravity control."

"I'd choose time travel", I said.

"How would it work?", asked Carl. "Would you get older? Younger?"

"I could go back and forward in time, and I'd be able to age or deage myself. I'd use it to change the past. I'd go back in history and keep Bush from getting elected."

"And keep Cheney from getting elected. Make sure his parents never meet."

"And my second ability would be . . . the ability to pull fillings out with my bare hands."

"Electromagnetic control!", said Carl.

"And my third ability would be mind control."

"That's a great one! I forgot about that! You could control me! La Netta, if you could have three superpowers, what would they be, and what would you call yourself?"

"I'd call myself Angel", said La Netta. "And I would have the power to bless people."

"You'd use spiritual healing?", I asked.

"Not just to bless people spiritually. I'd bless them with material things."

"OK, so that would be your second superpower", said Carl. "Manifestation -- you'd have the ability to make something out of nothing. What would your third superpower be?"

"Oh, I don't want to have too many superpowers. I don't want to be God."

La Netta went to the restroom. While she was in there, Carl and I tried to think up a third one for her.

"I know!", said Carl. "Enlightenment! She could teach any student, no matter how difficult."

When La Netta got back, Carl said, "Let's tell her". Carl told her about the third superpower he had in mind for our coach.

"I'd like that", said La Netta.

"What would you call yourself?"

"That's tough", I said. I tried to think up a name for myself.

"How about Liberty Lad?", asked Carl.

"That's great!", I said. "What would your name be?"

"Kid Phantom", replied Carl.

Carl then started to jabber about Star Wars. He told us about a Robot Chicken episode that parodied Star Wars. His monologue ended with "shxpping operation".

"Rrrrrrrrrrrrr!", I said.

"Sorry, James", said Carl. "But you got the point."

I climbed under the horizontal wooden bar that prevents cars from driving past that point and went to the restroom to pick my navel. Then I went back towards the van, ducking under it a second time.

La Netta took us home, and told me she hoped I enjoy my foods. When I got home I ate my sushi, then polished off the blackberries.

Arachnid detour

On Thursday, I was in the Dollar Tree. I had just bought two ham and cheese pockets from Tony's at the check-out when I was putting my change in my bag. I had to fold the dollar bills up the right way so I didn't see the one-eyed pyramids.

I was taking a while. As I folded them up, I overheard one customer saying, "Pxrdon?" to another.

"Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!", I growled.

As we drove to Pinole Valley Park, I said, "La Netta, I'm going to need to purge".

I got out near the portable. I walked into the portable and began purging off the "pardon". I thought N'drop? to myself, and then did 48 thrusts, each accompanied by a "padolardon".

I noticed the cobwxb in the back left corner of the portable had been cleaned away. But there was cobwxb and a eipser in the back right corner. There was a cobwxb in the front left, and a few lines of wxb in the front right.

I looked down. I resumed doing my ritual for "pardon", then saw the dipser again.

I inspected the immediate area of the dipser closely, and made sure there were no cobwxbs nearby. Then, I got out a beige paper towel from the dispenser and killed the dipser with it. Down into the toilet it went.

I closed my eyes and purged off the dipser. Then I went back to my "pardon" ritual. I thought a lot, sort of daydreamed . . . and then tried to get back in the kick.

I finally got another shocking "padolardon". Then I balanced on my right and left legs. I had to be very careful not to touch the cobwxb to my left.

I decided to sit down for the end of my ritual. I pulled my pants to my knees and sat on the toilet seat. Then I went through the shock of a "N'drop"/"Padolardon".

I did eight "padolardon"s at my groin, four "padolardon"s that went up to my abdomen, then one big "padolardon" that circled around my groin and went up. I washed my hands and I was out of there.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Friends for the first time

I had just finished a delicious meal of chow mein, hot braised chicken and eggplants with tofu. I decided to wash my chopsticks and then take my styrofoam out to the kitchen.

"Could you turn your sound machine down?", asked Levette while I was washing my chopsticks.

"After I wash my chopsticks", I said. "Did I hear the T-word on TV?"

"I don't know, because I was in the other room."

"AAAAAAAARGH! Now I'm going to have to purge!"

"James, turn your sound box down."

"How do you expect me to turn my white sound machine down when you don't mute the television when I'm coming out to the kitchen?"

I walked back into my room and put my chopsticks back in their ziploc bag.

"James, turn your sound machine down", Levette said. He watched as I moved the switch at the bottom along the continuum, graeually making my box quieter as it moved leftward. "Turn it down because I run this house. Is that a good enough reason?"

"No!", I said.

"Well, it's a good enough reason for me!"

After he closed the door, I said, "I HATE YOU, LEVETTE! I HATE YOU!"

Levette opened my door again. "I'm sorry you feel that way. I don't hate you."

I looked at him.

"I thought we were friends", said Levette.

"Oh, we're not", I said. "Actually . . . I mean . . . I'm your friend but you're not my friend."

"What do you mean you're not my friend? Haven't I always been nice to you?"

"Not really . . ."

"What have I done to you?"

"You've accused me of eaveseropping on your cellphone conversations."

"That was only once."

"It was twice."

"Well . . ."

"And the other day you wouldn't mute or pause the television when I came out to the kitchen."

"I turned it down for you!"

"That doesn't help! I could still hear the TV."

"Well, I have it turned down now, and you can't hear it."

"You're right, I can't hear it."

"So are we friends again?"

"We're friends for the first time."

"For the first time? I thought we were always friends. Don't I put out your chimichanga for you?"

"Yes."

"I think that's a friendly thing to do. Let's be friends, OK?"

"OK. But now I have to purge off the T-word."

"OK."

Levette knocked on my door a little later.

"C'min!", I said.

"James, you're not mad at me anymore, are you?", he asked.

"I'm not", I replied.

"Good."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Milkfish balls

Today I knew it was the Pacific East Ranch Market, so I brought the mangosteens I couldn't open with me.

Carl was telling jokes to La Netta as she drove to Miller's Knots. He told his standard joke about the guy driving throught he tollbooth who hands the tollbooth operator "these" instead of money, and the tollbooth operator says, "Ooh, I love raisins". This goes on for several days, and the guy finally comes up empty-handed and the tollbooth operator asks, "Where are my raisins?"

"The guy says, 'Those weren't raisins -- my rabbit just died'," finished Carl.

"So instead of raisins he was eating rabbit pellets?", asked La Netta.

"Yeah."

"Yxk."

"Ewwwww!", I said.

When we reached Miller's Knots, I purged off "yxk" in the restroom, then asked for hand sanitizer. We worked on a schedule together.

"I smell rotten fruit", said Carl.

Then we hit the Pacific East Ranch Market. I brought out my bag of mangosteens with me.

"We're not doing that", said La Netta. "You brought them out to me one month ago, and they were rotten then. They're not going to let you take them back!"

"It's worth a try", I said.

"You can go in", said La Netta, "But I'm not going in with you."

"I'll go with him, but just to listen out for words," said Carl.

"No, James needs to take care of this by himself."

"That's OK, I can do it", I told Carl.

We walked up, and I waited by the cash register and conveyor belt. A woman came up to me and asked, "May I help you?"

"Yes", I said. "I'd like to return these mangosteens. We couldn't get them open."

"Oh, these are all dried up", she said. "Do you have a receipt?"

"I have a receipt."

I fumbled around for my receipt while the employee inspected my mangosteens.

"These are dried up. Normally, you can return them within seven days, but when they're already dried up you can't take them back."

"Do you understand what she said?", La Netta asked.

"Yes", I replied. "She said they have a seven-day policy."

"Right. So do you want to get anything here?"

"I want starfruit juice and meatballs. Do you have any meatballs?"

"Beef, fish?", the lady asked.

"Any kind will do."

"There are some in aisle 3."

La Netta walked to the fruit section. "We're here", said La Netta.

"So what am I supposed to get here?"

"Open your eyes", La Netta said.

"My eyes are open! I just don't see any starfruit juice or meatballs here."

"Well, then you can lead the way."

We visited aisle 3, which was full of frozen seafood. (Whew, that's four words with an F in them in a row!)

"Did I hear a WH-word?", I asked La Netta.

"I don't know", La Netta said, "But if you want me to help you out, you can't keep yelling at me."

"I was offended when you told me to open my eyes and my eyes already were open!"

"Well, it didn't seem that way, since you didn't seem to know where we were."

"All I saw around me was fruit, and I didn't see how I was supposed to get my starfruit juice in that section."

I finally settled on some milkfish balls. I checked the bag and there was no "txsty" on the bag.

"James, you didn't tell me you were going to do this when we put Pacific East Ranch Market on the schedule last week," said La Netta.

"Well, Ken was the one who requested it", I said.

"That was Ken? Really?"

"Yeah."

"I thought it was you."

Then we made it to the beverage aisle, but I couldn't find any starfruit juice. There were aloe juice and tea, but no starfruit.

I paid for the milkfish balls and we were on our way to Marshall's. Ken said "gxtcha" as we got back into the van.

No one wanted to go into Marshall's, so we just sat outside. "James, it's after 11:00", said La Netta. "Have you got your pills?"

"There's my four-milligram pill", I said, " . . . And there's my one-milligram pill."

"Do you want to take them now?"

"I can't. I have to purge off the WH-word and the G-word."

La Netta took this week's schedule out. "Let's see who asked for Pacific East Ranch Market this week."

La Netta fumbled through pages until she found the schedule. "Pacific East Ranch Market . . . oh, it was Ken! And Marshall's was Ken!"

"I was right!", I said.

We then visited the office. Inside the office, I purged off "whxxps" and "gxtcha". Then we waited for Taylor to drive us home.

Carl was browsing the Internet. He showed me something called HempCon.

Someone else used the computer and turned it off. Then Carl turned it back on. He printed something out.

Carl, Ken and I said good-bye to La Netta.

I decided to look up the Spanish word for mangosteen online. I opened Internet Explorer, and it took me to Crawler.

I typed in:

apple strawberry durian mangosteen cherimoya sapodilla loquat pomegranate manzana naranja nispero

and looked at the results.

I saw advertisements for fruit products. One item said, "Free shxpping".

"Rrrrrrrrr!", I growled.

I then copied-and-pasted the query into Google. "Ooh, open this page!", Carl said at the top result.

I clicked on the top result and got a Spanish Wikibooks page. It showed food words in English and Spanish. And mangosteen was . . . el mangostino!

I then visited the restroom a second time, this time to pick "shxpping" out of my navel.

Eventually, we made it home. We reached my home first, so I said good-bye to Ken and Carl.

Enough purge words

As I got into the van yesterday, I saw my neighbor walk out wearing a purple bottom with flower print. La Netta was calling into the office.

"What was it you had to say, James?", asked La Netta.

"I was going to ask, was my neigibor in her pajamdras?", I asked her.

"Yes, she was."

"Ewwwwwww!"

"We have that class today, so we're going to visit those places after drops", said La Netta.

"STARS?", I asked.

"Yes."

"Oh, god", said Carl. "I'll go in this one time, so James can ask his question."

We visited Grocery Outlet. La Netta stopped by the bandages and I saw those superhero bandages. "Ewwwwww!", I said.

"Who do you see?", asked La Netta.

"Dipser-man."

"I don't see Dipser-man."

I pointed to the top of the bandage box. "Here he is."

"Oh, now I see him."

We stopped by the lunchmeat, where I picked out some bratwurst. Then we visited the frozen foods and I placed six piroshkis into my basket. Finally, we hit the juice section, and I got a ruby pomegranate drink. La Netta checked and the bottle had no "txsty"s on it.

"James, are you going to get anything at Las Montañas?", asked La Netta.

"I was thinking of getting some marshmallow cookies", I replied.

"I thought last time you couldn't eat them because of what they had on them."

"You're thinking of the cookies with the faces on them. I didn't get those. I got the ones that are like Copitos."

"What now", asked Carl.

"I said, 'I got the ones that are like Copitos'."

"I don't know what that means."

"Copitos are a kind of marshmallow cookie, similar to Pom Poms."

"Oh! I know what you're talking about. The ones that are like turtles, but have a split in the middle?"

"No. These have X-hatching on the bottom."

"Oh!"

Once we got to Las Montañas, we headed for the pastry section. Carl asked if various cookies were the ones I was talking about. I kept telling him no.

"Those are in the boxed cookies section", I said.

I then went to Aisle 3, and soon found some Bombolín cookies for $3.89.

"Oh! Those!", said Carl. "They look sort of like Snowballs, with flat bottoms."

We reached the check-out and I paid for my cookies. Then we hit the office to participate in STARS.

I purged off Dipser-mans until Taylor knocked and aid he had to use the restroom.

Taylor came out. STARS was beginning. I had to wait for Carl to finish eating his burrito from the burrito truck.

"Scxxt up", Taylor told Gordon.

"Rrrrrrrrr!", I growled. "You said the SC-word!"

"I did", said Taylor.

I went into the STARS meeting. Justin was there once again. "Remind me of your name", he told Carl. "Is it Craig?"

"It's the short form of Will Smith's friend's first name on Fresh Prince of Bel-air", said Carl.

"It's the first name of Bush's strategist!", I said.

"Carl?", asked Justin.

"Yes."

"Carl Donner."

"Actually, it's Danner. It's a German name."

"You're German?"

"Yes. And English, and Irish, and . . . well, you get the idea."

"So am I. My last name's Hope."

"Like Bob Hope?", I asked.

"Yes."

"Do you remember my last name?", I asked Justin.

"No, I don't."

"It's Landau. Do you know what that is?"

"No, what is it?"

"It's Jewish."

"And remind me again, what's your first name?"

"James."

"James."

Justin went on to talk about safety.

Carl said, "'Keep your exe on the ball' isn't just a maxim for baseball."

"Ewwwwww!", I said.

"Sorry, James", said Carl.

"Yes", said Justin. "Keep an exe on the ball."

"Ewwwwww!", I said again.

At the end, Carl and I stayed so I could ask Justin a question about hugging. I explained that La Netta and I used to hug after showers, and that I came up with that reward system, but now Justin had told the staff that they couldn't hug their clients.

"Well, hugging isn't appropriate for the workplace", said Justin. "That's an example of a bad touch, like we talked about. If you want to hug while you're off program, that's fine."

"Actually, they do it at his house", said Carl.

"Then it might be appropriate", said Justin.

"You have the green light", Carl told me.

The meeting finished and Carl and I both waited for someone to come out of the restroom. I saw Sayun outside the restroom.

There was quite a line outside. Several more men went in the restroom.

Finally, it was Carl's turn. Carl went in, flushed and came out.

"Did you wash your hands?", La Netta asked Carl.

"Do I ever?", asked Carl.

"James, before you go in, let Carl wash his hands", La Netta said.

Gerardo rushed before the restroom.

"Gerardo, why are you here?", asked his staff.

"I need to go in again", said Gerardo.

"Again?!"

While we were waiting for Carl, Gerardo said, "Whxxps!"

"D'OH!", I said, slamming my forehead. "D'OH! D'OH! D'OH! D'OH! D'OH! D'OH! D'OH! D'OH! D'OH! D'OH! D'OH! D'OH!"

"James, is that enough times?", asked La Netta.

"No."

"You did that twenty times!"

Gerardo went in. Once he came out, I could use the restroom.

I purged off the "keep your exe on" and "keep an exe on" after much rubble-clearing.

I did Taylor's "scxxt up", but I had been thinking of other "scxxt" collocations such as "scxxt THIS way" from my doctor's appointment", "scxxt over", "scxxt back" and "scxxt by" and had to do some rubble-clearing with those too. Finally, I centered my hands around the right side of my groin and did "scadoloot op", then made a "scadoloot up" coming up, and it was out of me.

Gerardo's "whxxps" was surprisingly quick. He had pronounced it to rhyme with "groups", and I could easily taste whipped cream, so the "whadoloops, whadoloops, whadoloops . . . adoloops, adoloops, adoloops" went quickly.

"James", said La Netta, "When you're finished, come out to the van."

"OK", I told La Netta.

I finished with the Dipser-mans, then washed my hands and I was out of there.

Next came a trip to Goodwill, since Carl had not been able to go there on Friday. "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson was playing on KBLX.

Before long, I heard talking. "Is this traffic?", I asked La Netta.

"I can barely hear it", said La Netta. "Step back."

I stepped back and closed my ears.

"Yeah", La Netta said.

"Did they say the M-word?", I asked.

"No."

"So they are doing traffic, but they didn't say the M-word?"

"Yeah."

Eventually I unplugged my ears. The traffic had to be over by now.

Carl kept pointing out stuff to La Netta. We were about to leave when he noticed one more thing. He pointed it out to La Netta.

"Carl really likes shopping here", said La Netta.

Finally, we stepped out. Once in the van, I took my pills.

On the way home, we listened to Star 101.3. An unfamiliar song came on the radio.

"James, have you heard this song before?", asked La Netta.

"I haven't", I replied.

La Netta turned it off.

"Does it have any purge words?", I asked.

"I didn't want to take the risk", La Netta said. "You've heard enough purge words today."

Nobody told La Netta

On Friday morning, I was picked up for a drive to the Richmond Mental Health Clinic. I brought my red bag with me and listened to my headphones as I sat in the waiting room lest I hear any purge words.

Dr. Luburic came out, and I went into his office alone with him. He greeted me, and I sat down.

Dr. Luburic asked me if the new Zoloft was working out better than my old liquid Prozac. I told him I was taking it with juice so the taste didn't present a problem.

Dr. Luburic asked me whether I thought the medicine was working. I told Dr. Luburic that La Netta said I was asking about purge words more often, and was more tense.

Did I hear someone say, "Whxxpsie" outside?

"Did I hear a WH-word?", I asked Dr. Luburic.

"No", he replied.

Then he asked me if there were any side effects to the medicine, and I said no. We did discuss sleep -- I was still sleeping during the day as well as at night, and had those bipolar-type sleeping schedules.

Dr. Luburic told me he'd raise my dosage of liquid Zoloft to three milliliters, then go up to four milliliters after a week.

I came out to get Pia, and soon I was at the CIWP office with my red bag and sleep mask. Some people in the office greeted me.

I purged off "whxxpsie" in the office restroom, not sure Dr. Luburic had heard correctly. Then I stood around waiting for La Netta.

We were supposed to go to Berkeley Bowl on Friday. I watched the clock as it ran through our Berkeley Bowl time. But La Netta wasn't coming to get me. Why wasn't she getting me? I was here, right?

Finally, I saw Carl in the main office. Then I walked to the door and saw Ken and La Netta.

"La Netta!", I said.

"No one told me you were here!", said La Netta.

"So I guess it's Goodwill now", said La Netta as we left the office.

"I don't want to go to Goodwill", I said.

La Netta parked in front of another spot, then she drove off. I saw the word "bxke" on a sign.

She stopped at Jack-in-the-box. "Do you want lunch here?"

"That wouldn't cheer me up", I replied.

"No one told me you were here."

"Well, Lita and Maria saw me in the office. Why didn't they call you?"

"I don't know."

"What made you finally come over?"

"We were coming here to wait on you. We were waiting all that time at Berkeley Marina."

As we erove to the office, the radio was set to KMEL. A DJ said "cutxe".

"Echhh!", I said.

"I have an idea", I told La Netta. "We go to Berkeley Bowl, and then instead of eating lunch at Kennedy Grove, we change our schedule to go to Berkeley Marina."

"We already went to Berkeley Marina today", said La Netta.

La Netta drove over to Kennedy Grove. I took my towel and set it on the bench. I then went to the restroom and purged off "bxke" and "cutxe".

I came out and sat as the others ate their lunches.

How could something like this go on? Several staff saw me at the office, but not one of them called La Netta. Because of that, I was left without getting my juices at Berkeley Bowl. La Netta had told me when we missed Big Lots on Wednesday that I could get my juices on Friday, but that never materialized because of staff negligence. Never before have I felt so neglected at CIWP.

Carl's God-size ego

We were on the way to Fernandez Park Wednesday morning when Carl said he smelled something.

"When was the last time you took a shower?", asked La Netta.

"My last shower was on Sunday", said Carl. "I missed my Saturday shower, so I took it on Sunday."

"James, when was your last shower?

"My last shower was last night", I replied.

"Did you change your clothes?"

"Yes."

"Did you put on deodorant?"

"Yes."

"Everyone here showered but you, Carl. You say you smell something, but you're the one who smells!"

"It's not the smell of B.O.", Carl said. "It was something on the road. It's gone now."

Someone opened the door.

"Now, I smell it again", said Carl.

"Carl, you need to shower!", said La Netta.

"I take three showers a week!", said Carl.

"You're a grown man, you should be showering every day", said La Netta. I cringed at hearing a twentysomething boy referred to as a "grown man".

"La Netta", I said, "I'm older than Carl and I only take three showers a week."

"Well, you're making improvements", she said. "I remember when it used to be only one shower a week. You're trying. And Carl -- he's not even taking three showers a week. He's been missing his showers."

Finally, we hit Home Depot, where Carl had wanted to go.

"OK, Carl's going to lead the way", La Netta said.

Carl led the way, and soon we were at the headphones. Carl showed me the expensive noise-cancelling model he had been telling me about.

We looked at them together for a moment, then we walked around the rest of the store.

"Oh look, palm and ixora", I said. "Remember how I was telling you about ixora?"

"No", said La Netta, "What's that?"

"It's a elower that belongs to the same family as the gardenia, coffee, the noni and cinchona -- that's what they use to make quinine."

"To make quinine -- what's that?"

"It's a medicine they use to treat malaria. It's bitter."

I saw a metal play labeled "Drxp tray".

"Ewwwwww!", I said.

"What's wrong?", asked La Netta.

"See this?", I asked, pointing to it.

"Oh."

"There was a one in a million chance that that would happen", said Carl.

Once we finished with the inside, we visited the garden section of Home Depot.

"Oh, look, a banana tree!", said Carl.

"How tall do banana trees grow?", asked La Netta.

"They grow very tall", I said. "About the size of coconut palms."

La Netta looked at some sago palms and ophiopogons.

"Remember how I was telling you about phormiums?", I asked La Netta. "Here's a phormium!"

A woman came and asked us, "What house do you work at?"

"I don't work at a house", said La Netta. "This is Community Integrated Work Program at Jacuzzi Street in Richmond."

"How could you tell this was a disabled program?, I asked.

"He's smart", the lady said.

"I know", said La Netta. "He's a genius."

Our next stop was Big Lots, where I was hoping to get juice. We started to go into Big Lots, but then Carl tried to "help" Ken get out.

"Get out . . . get out . . . let me hold the door", said Carl.

"Carl, Ken can get out by himself", said La Netta.

Carl said, "I'm the leader around here -- you follow me!"

Carl then walked off into Big Lots without La Netta.

"This is too much", said La Netta.

"La Netta, aren't we going to go into Big Lots now?", I asked.

"Carl is doing too much. He walked in without us! We don't need any trouble from the store."

Carl finally walked out. He got into a heated argument with La Netta.

As we walked into Taco Bell, Carl asked, "Who does La Netta pray to every night?"

"God", I replied.

"And who am I?", asked Carl.

"God."

"See? I made La Netta! She should be following me!"

I ordered a soet-shell taco, a flatbread, a chicken chalupa and an empanada.

"Who gave his life like Carl?", I sang to the tune of the gospel song. "Who paid a price like Carl, there's no god, there's no god, there's no god like Carl."

"Can you not use my human name?", asked Carl.

We drove over to Kennedy Grove, with our Taco Bell. La Netta told me that instead of us going to Big Lots, I could get my lunch at Berkeley Bowl on Friday.

La Netta and I talked about Carl as I set my towel down on the bench. Then she let me use the restroom.

I purged off "drxp" in there: "dradolip, dradolip, dradolip, dradolip . . . " . . . 90 times. Then I got it to up. The "drxp"s tasted like water, tap water.

I came out and talked with La Netta some more. Carl was sitting at a distant table.

"Do you want to go for a walk?", La Netta asked.

"Sore", I replied.

La Netta put on "Someone Like You" by Adele as we walked. Afterwards she put on "Rolling in the Deep".

"James, were you offended when that lady asked about our program?", asked La Netta.

"No", she said. "I just didn't know how she knew we were a disabled program."

"Maybe because she saw an African-American girl with three Caucasian males", said La Netta.

"Maybe."

We finished our walk. I collected the towel and headed back home.

As we did drops, La Netta asked what song I'd like her to play on her iPod. I suggested "Brighter than the Sun" by Colbie Caillat. I had to spell her name for La Netta.

After listening to that song, I requested "Standing Still" by Jewel. La Netta had a hard time finding it.

"Do you like Elton John's 'I'm Still Standing'?", asked La Netta.

"I don't know that song", I replied.

Finally La Netta found it.

"Ooh, I like this song!", she said.

She dropped me at my house. We said our good-byes, I hoping to get my juices on Friday.

Loving Someone with OCD

On Tuesday, we were going to Barnes & Noble, which I had requested for our schedule.

Shortly after we entered the bookstore, we came across a mother with her small children. She said "cutxe pie".

"Echhh!", I said.

"James, are we going to be able to do this?", asked La Netta.

"Yes", I replied.

"Lead the way to the New Age section."

I looked around me. To my right was a book of Marvel superheroes. "Ewwwwww!", I said.

"What?", asked La Netta.

I pointed to Dipser-man.

"Are you going to be able to do this?"

"Yes." I walked and walked until I made it over to the New Age section.

"They've moved the sections around", said La Netta. "The New Age section isn't where it used to be."

While I was there, I spotted a book titled Loving Someone with OCD. I took the book off the shelf and showed it to La Netta. "Look what I found!", I said.

"Loving Someone with OCD", she said. "Loving James!"

La Netta then got a call from the office, and had to pick up Ken. After we drove to the office to pick Ken up, La Netta drove back to El Cerrito Plaza and parked in front of Trader Joe's.

"James, do you want to go to Chef's so you have something to eat?", La Netta asked.

"Actually", I said, "I was thinking of getting my lunch from Trader Joe's."

"The thing is, if we go into Trader Joe's, you have to open your eyes and find what you want to find."

"I can do that", I said.

We went in, and I told her I was hoping for one of those sushi plates. We found lots of sushi, but no sushi plates.

I found something called a Vietnamese wrap, and got that instead. I had never had Vietnamese food before, not even pho.

"Now where do you want to go?", La Netta asked.

"I want to go to the juice section", I replied.

We were soon at the beverages, where I picked out some cranberry hibiscus blend and a gallon of sweet tea. My three items rang up to $12.

When we got to KFC, I went into the restroom and began purging off Dipser-man. I came out briefly, then went back in to finish purging off Dipser-man and then embark on "cutxe".

"It's 1:30", said La Netta.

"Let me wash up!", I said.

I washed my hands, then came out.

"Did you take your pill?", La Netta asked me.

"No", I replied.

"Why not?", she asked.

"Because I haven't finished purging."

$4 wasted

October 31 had rung around the corner, and you know what that meant -- Halloween.

We were supposed to go to Smart & Final this week, but La Netta forgot to put it down when she was making the schedule. She said she'd probably take me there Monday morning.

When I asked about Smart & Final, she said she couldn't take me. But she knew I needed my juices, so she did take me to Las Montañas.

While we were at the pastry section of Las Montañas, I saw a little girl in Mickey Mouse -- pajamdras?

"Is she in her pajamdras?", I asked La Netta.

"Yes, she is", replied La Netta.

"Ewwwwwww!"

I had something to purge off now, but we made it to the Tampico section, where I picked oout two Tampicos.

After I paid for my Tampicos and had them bagged, we made it to the van, wherefrom we drove to the office. I purged off the little girl's pajamdras in the restroom.

Renée was in the office with Lita. She was discussing Halloween costumes with Lita. "I've got these pajxmxs, I could be a great baby", said Renée.

"Rrrrrrrrrrrr!", I growled.

"Oh, is that a word?", asked Lita.

"Pajamdras, yes", I replied.

I went to the restroom again, and purged off "pajxmxs" -- this time the word, not the object. Renée had pronounced it the way La Netta does, with the middle A as in "spam".

When I came out, Carl was complaining to La Netta about not having a Halloween costume. So La Netta painted his face. Carl sat for a long time while it was painted, so Carl could have something to celebrate his favorite holiday.

We then left for the annual Halloween party. While we were driving to the party I noticed the Las Montañas bag looked different from how it usually did. I checked it out, and saw some bats for Halloween. When I looked at the top, there were two dancing sketons! And then I saw three dipsers crawling!

"Ewwww!", I said.

"What is it?", La Netta asked.

The Las Montañas bag has Halloween stuff on it.

La Netta looked at her own bag. "I hadn't noticed", she said.

"Now I won't be able to drink the Tampicos. I wasted $4!", I said.

La Netta said that once we stopped, she wanted to get a look at my Tampicos.

Eventually we did stop at Emeryville Marina, and La Netta got out of her seat. She looked at the Tampico that had shifted to the middle of the van. "This one's fallen out of its bag, so does that make it OK?", she asked.

"No", I said. "Because it was in there before."

"I have an idea", La Netta said. "Carl was going to buy something for the party. How much did the Tampicos cost?"

"$4.00."

"Carl could buy the Tampicos from James."

So Carl gave me $4.00 and the Tampicos were his. He carried them over to the party.

I then went to the CIWP restroom, and was purging off dipsers. While I was in there, I saw a booklet called The Atheist Test, which told the story of a Coca-Cola can that was formed by natural evolution. Then it pointed out the design of the banana. It said, "To say nobody designed the banana is more unintelligent than to say nobody designed the Coca-Cola can". I got all six dipsers by the time I had to come back out.

"Magandang umaga, James", I heard a familiar voice say.

"Magandang umaga, Clarissa!", I replied.

"Komusta?"

"How do you say 'hate'?", I asked.

She told me, so I could say, "I hate Halloween".

"Is Tagalog subject-verb-object, or subject-object-verb, or verb-subject-object, or what?", I asked Clarissa.

"Tagalog is a language", said Clarissa.

"I know it's a language, but is it subject-verb-object, or subject-object-verb, or verb-subject-object?"

"It's a subject, I guess."

"Do you know what 'subject' and 'object' mean in grammar?"

"No."

"Well, this is what I mean. English is SVO -- we say 'Jolene ate the taco'. In Japanese, which is SOV, they say 'Jolene taco ate'. And in Arabic, they say 'ate Jolene taco'. It's a VSO language."

"Oh, I think in Tagalog you have the verb in the middle."

I looked at Clarissa's shirt. It had an owl on a tree branch and the moon.

"And there's a -- what do you call it?", Clarissa asked.

"A cobveb", I filled her in.

"James!", said Rajendra.

"Rajendra, is that you?", I said.

"Yes", he replied. "What am I wearing?"

"You're wearing a black jacket . . . and a white dress shirt . . ."

"What am I wearing on my eyes?"

"You're wearing sunglasses!", I replied.

"Right!"

"Awesome!"

La Netta was busy listening out for words for me, and I was equally busy asking about purge words.

"Did I hear the I-word?", I asked La Netta.

"They don't even have that here", said La Netta.

Meanwhile, Snodgrass was causing some problems. He was leaning forward in his wheelchair.

"Scxxt back, Shawn", a staff said.

"RRRRRRRRRR!", I growled.

"Oh, James, they do have the I-word!", said La Netta. "And they're bringing it out!"

"Get some ice xxxxx!", said Lita.

"Blechhh!", I said. "La Netta, she said the I-word!"

"I know", said La Netta.

Then Rajendra said, "ice xxxxx".

"Blechhh! Rajendra said it too now", I said.

"Yeah", said La Netta.

"Would you like some cake and ice xxxxx?", asked Kay.

"BLECHHH!", I said.

"You didn't hear a word then", said La Netta.

"Yes, I did. Didn't you hear Kay saying 'cake and I-word'?"

"I didn't hear that."

"Kay?"

"Yes, James", said Kay.

"Did you say, 'Would you like some cake and I-word'?"

"I did", said Kay.

Rajendra said "ice xxxxx" twice more.

I kept saying "Blechhh!" until La Netta mercifully embarked on drops. She said she was waiting on Wanda, then she pushed Snodgrass' wheelchair and Snodgrass joined us on the ride home.

"Miiiiiiiiiine! Miiiiiiiiiiine!", shouted Snodgrass.

"Mike?", I asked. "Is he calling Mike Williams?"

"I think he's saying, 'Mine'," said La Netta.

Snodgrass got into the middle row, while Carl was up front. Snodgrass was screaming and saying his typical "Loooooooook!"

"You want to fight?", Carl asked.

"Carl, don't fight with Shawn!", said La Netta. "Shawn's done nothing to you!"

"Shawn is an inferior life-form!", said Carl. "He is beneath me!"

"No one is beneath no one!", retorted La Netta.

Carl was threatening Snodgrass while Snodgrass was squealing and yelling, "Fuck you, bitch!" all the way home to his house.

We dropped off Snodgrass, then took Carl home. Then it was my turn.

"James," said La Netta, "You'll soon be home where you can purge with no interruptions."