Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cyclops shark

I needed to empty my bladder Thursday morning, but Santina was in the bathroom. I went back in my room and waited.

Then I came out again. I stood outside the bathroom, but Santina would just not come out.

"Is there something to need?", Santina asked.

"I need to go to the bathroom", I said.

"I just finished cleaning it, so please don't mxss it up."

I sighed.

"What was the ::sigh:: for?", asked Santina.

"You were just so pessimistic", I said.

"What did you say?"

"I said you were just so pessimistic."

"What do you mean by that?"

"I have to go to the bathroom, and you think I'm going to ssem it up."

"Well, there have been times when I go in there, and I come back in a few minutes later and someone's dirtied it up."

Nick began walking out of his room, in his pajamdras.

"You better hurry to the bathroom, becaose Nick's running into it."

"Ewwwwwwww!", I said, seeing Nick in his pajamdras.

I beat Nick to the bathroom door, and closed the door. I heard Nick squealing. Now I would have to purge off his pajamdras before I could orinate.

I emptied my bladder after purging, and then left the restroom.

Later La Netta came to get me. "La Netta!", I said in an excited mood.

La Netta had said we'd go to Grocery Outlet, but instead she took us into the dollar store first.

La Netta asked me, while we were looking at items in the dollar store, whether I could just go to Grocery Outlet on Friday.

"I don't want to ruin our trip to Berkeley Bowl and Urban Ore Ecopark tomorrow", I said. "Let's just skip Grocery Outlet altogether."

"All right", said La Netta. "Do you want to buy anything here? They have egg rolls."

I picked up a pack of three egg rolls at the dollar store. "Are these microwaveable?", I asked.

"It says they are", she said.

After Carl bought the things he needed to cook at the office, we stood in line. Carl paid for his cooking items, then it was my turn.

I put my egg rolls down and listened to the commercial that says "free shxpping".

"James, it's $1", La Netta said. "Are you going to pay for it?"

Just then, I heard them say, "No membership fees and free--"

I slammed my ears and said "Mm-mm" to myself.

"OK", I said. "Now I can pay. I just had to plug my ears." As I said that, saliva came out of my mouth.

La Netta got me a napkin to clean it up. As I took out my wallet, the commercial repeated itself: "No membership fees and free shxpping and handling!"

"Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!", I growled.

I finally managed to scramble up a dollar from my wallet. Then we all drove to the office together.

Carl cooked while I picked "shxpping" out of my navel in the restroom.

Almost as soon as I came out, I heard Billie Jean saying, "I got pajxmxs for Christmas". She pronounced the word the way La Netta does.

"Rrrrrrrrrrrrrr!", I growled. Back to the restroom for me.

Once I came out again, La Netta asked me if I wanted to help Carl cook.

"I'd have to wash my hands first", I said.

"Maybe you can wash the dishes", said La Netta.

"I hate washing dishes."

"Why?"

"I don't want to have to look at the pictures on them."

"Maybe you can keep an exe on the meat", said Carl.

"Ewwwwwwwwwww!"

I listened for the others' responses.

"Well, I know how I'm going to be spending my time now", I said.

The others laughed as I walked into the restroom and purged off "keep an exe on".

When I came out, I asked La Netta if she had heard of the shark with cyclopia they caught. La Netta didn't know what cyclopia was, so I explained to her that it was a genetic mutation in which an organism only had one eye, right above its nose and mouth.

"Like in the middle of your eorehead?", asked La Netta.

"Yes", I said.

"Can you pull up a picture?"

I opened an article online after googling for "shark" and "cyclopia".

"Oh, look at that!", said La Netta after I scroll down.

I don't like seeing cyclopes, such as the pyramid on the dollar bill, so I closed my eyes as I scrolled eown. La Netta said it was eake-looking.

I exited from the article and visited another website.

"I want to look at that shark again", La Netta said.

I pulled it up a second time.

La Netta said she couldn't decide whether it was fake or not.

Kay came up to me and asked if Samoa was part of the United States.

"Well", I said, "There's a territory called American Samoa, and that's part of the United States, but there's also Western Samoa, and that's its own country."

"Because I heard that Samoa was going to skip December 31 this year", said Kay. "Have you heard anything about that?"

"No," I said, surprised.

I visited google and typed in:

samoa "december 31"

I opened the first page. Kay and I read the article together. It turns out it was December 30, not December 31, that Samoa was skipping. We learned that Samoa was passing over this day to synchronize its time zones with the countries it does business with.

My eyes drifted to the other articles on the page. "Ewwwwww!", I said.

"What happened?", asked Kay.

I pointed to it: a header that said "mxshy peas". "The word that rhymes with 'slushy'."

"Oh, how did you come across that?"

"It was on the same page as the article."

"Oh, I see. You're still on the Samoa article."

I went to the restroom and purged off "mxshy".

I heard Carl and La Netta talking about the new Lee's Garden by Hilltop Mall, so I googled Lee's Garden. At the bottom of the results page, there was a link that said, "Free shxpping".

"Rrrrrrrrrr!", I growled.

"What is it?", asked Carl.

I pointed to it.

"Oh, I see", he said.

I was back in the office restroom for the fifth and last time that day.

Then came time for drops. We were supposed to team up with Kay's group, but Kay said her clients had to eat at noon, even though Stan Man wanted us dropped off at 12:00 flat.

"Taylor didn't tell me about this", said Kay.

After some more discussion, we agreed that La Netta would take just Carl and me home, while Kay's clients would stay at the office longer on this minimum day.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Carl vs. stage fright

It was Thursday, the day of the big Christmas party. We started out with a trip to K-mart, as per our schedule.

"They have pajamdras in K-mart!", I said.

"They have them in every store", said La Netta. "We'll just tell you when we see them."

I followed La Netta and Carl around. "Don't look to your right", La Netta said.

I turned my head towards the left.

"Don't look to your left", La Netta said as I perambulated my way through.

I turned my head towards the right.

"Close your eyes, James", said La Netta, "Because we're surrounded by nightclothes."

I closed my eyes and followed La Netta's and Carl's voices.

"I know you don't feel comfortable with me holding your hand", I told Carl.

"I don't", said Carl. "I don't want to hold hands with any guy. Now, Alejandra, she is the one person I would be OK with holding hands with here."

"Free shxpping!", the commercial on the Intercom announced.

"Rrrrrrrrr!", I growled.

We walked through some more aisles as Christmas carols played. My eyes were still closed.

"Is it safe to open my eyes yet?", I asked.

"Not yet", said La Netta. "We're still surrounded by nightclothes".

Finally we made our way out of the store.

"How are you doing?", asked La Netta.

"Not too well", I said.

"Well, at least you didn't see any nighclothes", said La Netta. "That's a good thing."

"Yeah."

We visited the CIWP office. I picked my navel in the restroom there. Then we began our trip to Oakland.

"James", said La Netta, "Get your headphones on, sine I'm about to turn on the radio."

"Is it going to be on KBLX?", I asked.

"I don't know what station it's going to be on."

"OK, I'll tell you when my headphones are on and the volume's all the way up."

I put on my headphones and turned the volume all the way up to 32, which is as high as it goes.

But my CD player wasn't going its job. It was quavering and warbling. Then it stopped playing altogether . . . until I moved my CD player.

Daughtry was playing on the radio. It was clearly on Star 101.3. I took off my headphones and turned the CD player off.

Then La Netta switched to KMEL.

"La Netta", I said, "I had just taken my headphones off because when I heard the radio was on a station you liked, then you changed it."

No response. KMEL kept playing.

"La Netta, you did hear what I said, right?", I asked.

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

"I said, 'La Netta, you did hear what I said, right?'"

"Say it again, because I didn't hear it."

"I said, 'I had just taken my headphones off because when I heard the radio was on a station you liked, then you changed it'."

"But you had your headphones on. How could you have heard what station it was on?"

"Because my headphones were making a warbling sound, and they didn't play at all until I held my CD player the right way."

"I keep telling you to invest in a better set of headphones. Get an iPod. I'm going to listen to this station on the radio; you just get your headphones to play the right way."

"Let's ask Carl what station he wants to listen to."

"James, don't start this. Just get your headphones on."

"What do you mean, 'Don't start this'?"

"Please, don't start this! You have a goal to wear your headphones when we're on a trip. I'm the one who's making a long drive through Oakland. And I don't need to listen to anything that's going to put me to sleep!"

La Netta and Lita had both said before that the radio was for the clients, not the coaches. And now La Netta was speaking as if the radio was for HER. Neither Carl nor I wanted KMEL, and Ken wasn't in the van.

I put my headphones back on and turned on the CD player. I tried my best to keep it playing, but it still warbled. I held it the right way, or at least tried to. I did have to ask about a few purge words.

When I got to a gap, the radio was off.

I took my headphones off and turned off the CD player. La Netta told me I should get an iPod for Christmas.

"Don't they break?", I asked.

"They come with a protective case", said La Netta. "Jeremiah's only broke because he took the protective case off."

"I'm going to send an email to my mother when I get home today, and ask her to use the money Uncle Sherm willed me for an iPod this holiday season."

La Netta had been trying to convince me to buy an iPod for a long time. Now I had capitulated.

The radio went back on. Now it was on KBLX. La Netta had said she didn't want to listen to anything that would put her to sleep, and yet KBLX was a lot blander and more soporific than the songs on the stations I liked.

We arrived at the center in Oakland where the Christmas party was to be held. La Netta asked me if I wanted any foods or drinks, and I told her no.

There were presents under the Christmas tree that showed penguins, Santas, snowmen and dogs with their eyes closed upside-down. I picked at them with the pinkie nail of my right hand.

After that, La Netta suggested I sit down next to Carl. "Want to sit down between Carl and Emonte?", she asked.

"I don't want to sit next to Emonte", I replied.

"Then do you want to sit next to Shawn?"

"Good point."

"What was my point?"

"There are worse people I could sit next to than Emonte."

Lita handed me a ticket. "This is your raffle ticket", she said. "Hold onto it."

I went out to the van to get my CD player and headphones. I set my ticket down on the table. Then I came back for it.

Just as I was about my get my headphones on, I heard Lita announce that the singing portion of the party was to begin.

The first person up was a client who sang "Jingle Bells".

"This man can't sing to save his life", said Carl.

"I know", said La Netta. "But he wanted to sing. Let's listen."

There were a few more Christmas carols, then I told Lita I wanted to go.

"Here, put your headphones down", said Lita. She pointed towards the table.

I picked up the microphone and asked, "Who here likes the Killers?"

"I do", said a male client whose voice I didn't recognize.

"Well, I have a parody I wrote titled 'Was It Prancer?'"

I started to sing:

I couldn't help but notice
A fat man flying Christmas Eve
I saw nine deer fly that December
I was shocked, but I believed

Comes right down the chimney
Doesn't need an open door
Saw his deer
As they'd land
Two by four

Was it Comet . . . or was it Prancer?
Outside my window, that night so cold
Was it Blitzen, Vixen, Rudolph, Donner, Dancer
Was it Comet, or was it Prancer?

Get some CD's for Steve and Brandon
A doll for Bayleigh's childhood
Some webcams for Nicole and Meghan
He has a list, knows who's been good

Will his elves get a promotion
For finding how to make playdough?
Will his reindeer as well?
It's Christmas, ho ho ho

Was it Comet . . . or was it Prancer?
Outside my window, from the North Pole
Was it Blitzen, Vixen, Rudolph, Donner, Dancer
Was it Comet, or was it Prancer?

May the man whose beard is white
Make his presence known tonight
Milk and cookies we'll be leaving
In exchange for what we're receiving

Was it Comet . . . or was it Prancer?
Outside my window, that night so cold
Was it Blitzen, Vixen, Rudolph, Donner, Dancer
Was it Comet . . .

Obese, but happy though

Was it Comet . . . or was it Prancer?
Outside my window, that night so cold
Was it Blitzen, Vixen, Rudolph, Donner, Dancer
Was it Comet, or was it Prancer?

Was it Comet, or was it Prancer?
Was it Comet, or was it Prancer?


The audience clapped.

"Did you like it?", asked La Netta.

"I did", she said. "I could tell what song it was."

Renée told Lita she wanted to sing. She was going to sing another version of "Jingle Bells", she said.

"Jingle bells, Batman smells", she whispered.

"I don't want to hear 'Batman Smells', girl!", said Lita.

Renée resolved to sing it without accompaniment from another CIWPer.

Then she sang into the microphone:

Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg,
The Batmobile broke its wheel, and the Joker got away, hey,
Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg,
The Batmobile broke its wheel, and the Joker got away, hey!


The audience clapped at Renée's rendition of "Batman Smells".

Then Carl announced he wanted to sing "The Redneck Twelve Days of Christmas". Lita invited him up to the stage.

Beleaguered by stage fright, Carl turned his back to the audience and picked up the microphone.

On the first day of Christmas, my grandma gave to me
Some parts to a Mustang GT


On the ninth day of Christmas, Carl started out with "On the eighth day of Christmas", but then he said, "I'm lost -- where was I again?"

"The ninth day", the audience told him.

He finished it off with:

On the twelfth day of Christmas my grandma gave to me:
Twelve-pack of Bud
Eleven wrestlin' tickets
Tin of Copenhagen
Nine years' probation
Eight table dancers
Seven packs of Red Band
Six cans of Spam
Five flannel shirts!

Four big mud tires
Three shotgun shells
Two huntin' dogs
And some parts to a Mustang GT!


The audience clapped and laughed.

There were a few more renditions of "Jingle Bells", then it came time for the raffle.

"40", Lita called after she drew a number. "Who has 40?"

"James, what number do you have?", asked La Netta.

"I have 36", I replied.

"Carl?"

"I have 35."

"40 . . . who has 40?", asked Lita.

A coach asked a low-functioning client. She checked the raffle ticket, and saw he was not a 40.

"No one has 40?", asked Lita.

No one responded.

"OK", said Lita. "No one has 40. Merry Christmas to me!"

Lita drew ten more numbers. One of them was 35 . . . at which point Carl got up and claimed his prize.

I didn't win anything. Then Lita passed around candy bags to us all.

I looked and saw a wxnking penguin on the bag.

"It's all yours", I told Carl.

"What, you don't want it?", asked La Netta.

"I don't."

"Oh . . . I see why! Did you scratch his eye out?"

"Yes."

I put my headphones on and closed my eyes until the party ended.

"La Netta, look!", I said. "They have Tampoco!"

I carried a half-drunk bottle of Tampico with me as we went out the door. It was a nice accompaniment to the Starbuck's Frappuccino La Netta had bought me. Both were sitting side by side on my seat.

We then drove over to Didi's. La Netta told me to close my eyes whenever we passed pajamdras.

"I don't want my shorts to be too snxg", said Carl.

"Rrrrrrrrr!", I growled.

"Sorry," said Carl. "I don't want them to be too tight."

I thought I heard a man saying, "Hi, sweetxe, how are you doing?" as we stood in line. I growled.

"Come up some", said La Netta. I took a few steps forward.

The line was long, and we kept moving forward, but it still wasn't our turn.

Shortly before our turn came, I heard a little girl saying, "Whxxpsie!"

I slammed my forehead. I couldn't shout "D'oh!" because my mouth was eull of saliva.

"Why are you hitting yourself?", asked La Netta.

"Mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm", I replied.

"I see it too", she said. What was she talking about?

Once we got out of Didi's, I spat into a garbage can. "La Netta", I said, "I hit my forehead because the little girl said the WH-word with an I-E at the end."

"That was a Hispanic little girl", said La Netta. "She was speaking Spanish."

"Really?"

"Yes."

Once we returned to the van, I asked La Netta, "So I didn't hear any purge words other than Carl's SN-word and the SW-word?"

"No purge words", said La Netta.

"You mean except for Carl's SN-word and the SW-word?"

"The only person who said anything was Carl."

I put my headphones back on until I heard Star 101.3 during a gap. We listened to the radio together during our drive home from Oakland.

I told La Netta I had heard a man "saying, 'Hi, SW-word, how are you doing?'".

"No one said that", La Netta said. "Most of the people in that store were speaking Spanish."

We said our good-byes for the five-day holiday week-end. It was going to be a good time ahead.

When I got home, I sent my mother an email about getting an iPod. Christmas was three days later, after all.

Carl misses out

It was Wednesday -- our day for World Market. Carl was with Tiffany's group so he wouldn't have to go to Concord. After I climbed into the van that morning, we were on our way to pick up Anthony.

After picking him up, we embarked on a long ride to Concord. Carl had said Concord brought back bad memories of growing up in the place with Family X.

"Hey, La Netta, when we go to JC Penney's, can we look at the jewelry section?", I asked.

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

"I said, 'Hey, La Netta, when we go to JC Penney's, can we look at the jewelry section?'"

"Sure", she said, "Is there anything specific you want to get?"

"I want to see who their birthstone person of the month is."

"Say that again."

"I said I want to see who their birthstone person of the month is." I tried to explain to La Netta.

We finally made it into JC Penney. We headed towards the jewelry section. La Netta was speaking to a woman named Sarvani and wanted to check out two pieces of jewelry. I saw a blonde girl with the words "Blue: December" on a sign in their jewelry display.

La Netta took Anthony, Ken and me around the store. She told Sarvani she'd be back. I told La Netta I had a question to ask Sarvani.

We finally returned. Sarvani finished helping La Netta, then I asked her, "Sarvani, could you show me the description for your birthstone person of the month, Blue December?"

"Just a moment", she said. "I'm helping someone else, and then I'll get back to you."

"James, do you want to just look for this in another store?", asked La Netta. "Oh, you could ask her!" La Netta pointed to someone else.

"Ma'am?", I said.

"Yes?", said the lady.

"Could you show me the description for your birthstone person of the month, Blue December?"

The second woman handed me a booklet for the birthstone. I thanked her, and we walked out the eoor.

After we left JC Penney's, I spat in a potted plant. With my mouth cleared, I read the description:

Although Blue is a beautiful winter goddess, her heart is full of warmth. An excellent communicator, she enjoys speaking to large groups as much as chatting with a friend all night.

It showed a picture of a girl with long straight blonde hair and blue eyes, wearing a blue dress that ties up in front.

"I didn't know they had these!", said La Netta.

Next was World Market. La Netta really needed to go to the restroom by now. She considered stopping by somewhere else first, but instead headed straight towards World Market.

"What parts of World Market do you want to look at?", asked La Netta.

"Just the food", I replied.

We started out with a trip to the restrooms. We all went to the bathroom. Then we came out and did some shopping.

I saw some boxes with cartoon characters wxnking. And worse yet, the closed exe was closed upside-down!

I took the pinkie nail of my right hand and scratched through the closed exe, as to split it in two.

I selected some Japanese rice crackers. And a Toffee Crisp bar. And some Chinese rice candy.

I saw koalas with their eyes closed upside-down. After La Netta saw me fussing with the eyes, La Netta said, "All right, stop fussing with the eyes and get some more food."

I picked out some Licorice Allsorts in a bag. Then some Laceys went into my basket.

We were getting ready to go, when I realized I hadn't seen any liqueur cake.

La Netta said we could ask at the check-out. We got to the check-out, and I asked the employee. He directed me to the holiday foods.

I saw some liqueur bundt cakes, but the one my mother had given me one year wasn't good. Then I saw a hexagonal box of rum cake. It was small, but with no Küchenmeister liqoeur cakes, it would have to do.

I saw "shxp" on the bottom of the box. I growled. I paid for all my goodies, and they asked if I had a membership here.

I told them I didn't know my group home's phone number. But when they asked for my email, I provided it for them and they had my name in their database, so I could get a discount.

La Netta said we weren't going to go to Wal-mart because we were so short on time; rather, we would go straight from Old Navy to Sam's Club.

At Old Navy La Netta told me to cup my eyes as we passed through pajamdras.

I had made it quite well at the store until I saw what looked like footies with snowmen on them. "Are these pajamdras?", I asked La Netta.

"Yes, they are", La Netta said.

"Ewwwwwwwww!"

"Someone's put them in the wrong section."

La Netta took me around Old Navy until I saw what looked like pajamdra pants with blue stropes. "Are these pajamdra pants?", I asked.

"Yes, they are", said La Netta.

Needing to purge off two pajamdras, "shxp" and some wxnking or incorrectly drawn closed eyes, I walked in with La Netta to Sam's Club. I told her I wanted a kielbasa with sauerkraut.

"They may not have sauerkraut", said La Netta.

As we walked through the store, I heard a man saying what sounded like "Seedless Cutxes".

"Did he say the C-word?", I asked La Netta.

La Netta said no, but I heard the man repeat it.

I decided to look back at what he was selling for a clue, and sure enough I saw boxes upon boxes labeled "Cutxes". They were filled with clementines.

"La Netta!", I said, pointing. "Look!"

"Oh, my God!", said La Netta, her voice drifting upwards as she voiced the word "God". "Why do you think they call them that?"

"I have no idea", I said.

"We're not going to let this ruin our day", La Netta said.

I waited at a table as La Netta stood in line to get us our kielbasy. I had several words to ask about when she was done.

La Netta told me they didn't have sauerkraut, so she just got me a plain kielbasa. I told her that that was all right.

With my kielbasa and World Market gooeies, I buckled up as La Netta drove us back to West Contra Costa.

We were finally at Fernandez Park, where Tiffany would drop off Carl. La Netta said we were at the restroom.

"There's no way I can use the restroom here", I said. "It's crawling with cobvebs."

"Want to hold it until you get home?", asked La Netta.

"Yes."

Carl joined us.

"You were right about Shawn and Tully", said Carl. "It was terrible."

As Carl looked on and the kielbasy the other clients were eating, I asked him whether Shawn had said the short form of "bicycle".

"No", said Carl, "But he did say that other B-word."

"Book?"

"Yeah."

I told him about our trip to World Market. "Do you want me to show you my booty?", I asked Carl.

"No, I don't", Carl replied.

"I don't think he understands", said La Netta.

"Do you want me to show you my loot?", I asked.

"Oh, yes", said Carl. "So you were talking pirate talk. Usually when people use that word, they're using it in the Black sense of the word."

I showed Carl all the neat things I had gotten. We gave Anthony to Tiffany.

Then I showed Carl the Blue: December booklet I had gotten.

"Ooh, jewelry!", he said.

He perused the chart on the back of the booklet with the birthstone for each month, and he said, "September's the sapphire".

"Yep", I said.

"I was lied to, and told it was the amethyst."

"Well, I've always heard it was the sapphire."

We dropped Carl and Ken off. Then La Netta said, "I think Carl wishes he had gone with you guys".

"Do you think Carl decided he made a bad decision?", I asked.

"Yes, I do", La Netta replied.

From Dinosaurs to Dodoes

It was Tuesday, and I was at the CIWP office as we waited for Carl. I had bought four Tampicos for $5 and four Mexican meals for $5 at Food Maxx, and we had postponed our World Market trip to Wednesday because we were waiting for Carl.

I remembered all the fun Carl had had reading about prehistoric animals, and how he and I would go through the pictures in the book as he said what each animal looked like. So I looked on the bookshelf until I saw a book titled From Dinosaurs to Dodoes. This must be it, I thought.

I opened the book and browsed through it in the couch room. I checked out the modern extinctions section, where I read about such animals as quaggas, thylacines, moas, Steller's sea cows and buffalo.
.
They iad a section on the passenger pigeon. I read about people shooting down these "txsty birds".

I put the book down and headed for the restroom. I purged off the "ice"s and "cream"s on the page (in case there were any), then did some "tadolasty, tadolasty, tadolasty . . ."

When I finished, I washed my hands and resumed reading.

I went back to the age of such creatures as the xenacanthus. I read a description that mentioned "bxny fish". Ewwwwwww!

Back to the restroom. I purged off any "bxne"s I may have seen on the page, then felt hard chocolate as I purged off "bxny": "badolony, badolony, badolony . . ."

My hands shifted to the left and right of my schlong. They rotated around the scrotum as I chanted "badolony". Finally it came out.

After I washed my hands, I put the book back.

Post office

As we were driving to the office Monday, December 19, La Netta kept listening to the sermon station. She didn't change it to music.

"The man was a mxss!", the speaker said.

"Ewwwwww!", I said.

"Do you have your headphones?", asked La Netta.

"Safe to look?", I asked.

No response.

"La Netta?", I asked again.

I said "La Netta" three more times before La Netta said, "We're hardly ever anywhere that you don't like".

"Well, there have been times when I only knew we were passing Frosty Freeze because Carl told me."

I put my headphones on.

When I got to a gap, the radio was playing music. I took the headphones off, and several songs played.

Then the songs ended and a commercial came on.

I plugged my ears and hummed to myself.

"James", said La Netta. "Don't you have your headphones?"

"I couldn't get them on in time", I said. "I was afraid I'd hear the T-word before I was able to get my headphones on and the volume all the way up."

When we got to the office, I saw some presents around the Christmas tree. Many of the packages had people and animals with their exes closed upside-down.

La Netta saw me scraping the eyes with my nails. "What's wrong?", she asked.

I explained.

"Do you need to go to the restroom?", she asked.

"Yes, I do", I replied.

I went in and purged off all those eyes. Then I purged off "mxss".

The next stop on our schedule was a trip to the post office to mail my stuffed dolphin and Peanut Crunch to Jolene. "James, you're going to have to listen out for your own words", La Netta said. "My ears are burning."

La Netta told Carl and Ken they didn't have to go in.

"James, do you want to me to come in?", Carl asked.

I nodded.

"I'm coming in", said Carl.

"Why are you coming in?", La Netta asked.

"James needs me."

"I think he wants to listen out for words for me", I said.

"I can listen out for you", La Netta said.

"I thought your ears were burning."

"I think Carl is playing games."

Carl went in with me. "Did I hear the TW-word?", I asked.

"No," replied Carl.

I thought I heard "shxp" and growled.

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

"Yes", I replied. "Oh, they said 'cheap'. I thought it was the SH-word."

La Netta told me I'd have to pay $10.something for a big box, as my dolphin wouldn't fit inside a medium-size box.

"Avoid looking to your right", Carl said. "It has the short form of the SH-word."

"Thanks, Carl", I replied.

La Netta had me fill out a sticker with my address and Jolene's address.

"Did I hear the SH-word, Carl?", I asked.

"No, you didn't", said Carl.

I heard someone say "shxp clothes", and I growled.

I saw the word "shxpping" on a sign, and I growled.

Finally, it was our turn. I carried my sticker and the bag with the dolphin and Peanut Crunch in it. The employee stuffed it in a medium-size box . . . and it fit!

I paid $5.something for my purchase.

"Would you like insurance for this box?", he asked.

"Will it cost extra?", I asked.

"Yes", he replied.

"Well, then I wouldn't."

"OK. Would you like to buy stamps or shxpping --"

"Rrrrrrrrrrrr. I'll pass."

"That was a no", said Carl.

We left the post office. "Jolene is going to be so happy", I said.

"Yes, she is", said La Netta. "You did well in there."

Bernard says there's a Frosty Freeze

On Sunday, December 18, Stan told me, "I'm going to need you to ride with me, not now, but in a few minutes".

A few minutes later, Stan knocked.

"Are you ready?", I asked.

"Yes", Stan replied.

Stan chatted on his cellphone as we drove.

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

"No, I didn't", Stan replied.

We stopped by somebody's house so Maurice could get in. "Nick, scxxt over", said Bernard.

"Rrrrrrrrrr!", I said.

"Did I say something?", asked Bernard.

"Yes, you said the SC-word", I replied.

"Oh, I'm sorry", said Bernard.

Stan made another stop. "No one get out here", he said.

I looked around, and saw a sign that said "C-tibank". I growled.

Jason and Bernard started talking. While Jason was conversing with Bernard, he said "ice xxxxx".

"You're right, that's the ice xxxxx place", said Bernard.

"Blechhh!", I said.

"Sorry, James."

Jason and Bernard went girl-watching as I sat in the back. "Is there a Frosty Freeze here?", I asked. "Is that the place Jason's talking about?"

"Yes, there is", replied Bernard.

"Stan Man, is there a Frosty Freeze here?", I asked when Stan got back into the van.

"No, there isn't", he said. "Why do you even need to know; it's not like you can see it?"

"Well, Jason said there was an I-word place here, so I asked Bernard if it was a Frosty Freeze and he said yes."

"Oh."

We drove back home and Stan thanked us all for coming with him. I went into the restroom and purged off the "nice"s and "I see"s and everything and then got to "ice xxxxx": "adolice cradoleam, adolice cradoleam . . ."

Then I went into my room and did "scxxt over". I had thought of some "scxxt this way"s while I was waiting to purge, so I did them and then scraped my nails across my groin to do "scadoloot over".

"Scadoloot over", I repeated. "Scadoloot over, scadoloot over". My hands swiveled from the left of my schlong to the right of my schlong and lopsidedly went down on the right. Finally "scxxt over" came up.

At last I did "C-tibank": "Sadolitibank, Sadolitibank . . ."

When I was finished I checked my email.

Carl Danner, authority on what not to buy

On Friday, December 16, we had a trip to K-mart. "The store is full of pajamdras in December", I told La Netta.

"All the stores are", said La Netta. "I'll just tell you."

We walked in.

"James, there's nightclothes to your left", said La Netta.

"Thanks, La Netta", I told her. I avoided looking to my left very carefully, and shifted my body over to my right.

"Ooh", said Carl, getting excited over something.

"I guess World Market will be your day", said La Netta.

We looked at jewelry. La Netta, Carl and I all had a good time. Carl wanted the lady to show him several pieces of jewelry. La Netta checked out the jewelry too.

When we walked past, I saw something to my right with Dipser-man. "Ewwwwwww!", I shrieked.

Next, we looked at more clothes. We stopped by the men's shoes.

"You might want to avoid looking to your right", La Netta said.

"Thanks, La Netta", I replied. I leant over to the left.

"Now, these shoes . . .", Carl said. Carl went over four types of shoes. He went into a lengthy harangue about this type of shoes being for young woman, that type of shoe being for older women, and a fourth type of shoe being for Catholic schoolgirls.

I sighed.

"I think we'll do that at World Market", La Netta said. "How will that make you feel?"

"La Netta", I asked, "Do you know why I did that?"

"No, why?"

"Because Carl really annoys me when he gives his rants about how you shouldn't buy this product because this is for so-and-so."

"Oh," said La Netta. "I didn't know why you did that."

La Netta told me to avoid looking at the pajamdras nearby, and I made it past them safely. But when we got past the soda vending machine, I saw a magazine with Winnxe the Pooh and Piglet on the cover.

"Rrrrrrrrrrrr!", I said.

We made it out at last.

"Well, James, at least you didn't see any nightclothes", said La Netta. "That was a good thing."

"It was", I replied.

La Netta learns something new about my purging

On Thursday, December 15, we made a trip to Grocery Outlet, as per my request. We passed by a section that had headphones.

"James doesn't want to pay money for a better pair oe headphones", La Netta told Carl.

As I walked over to the headphone section, I saw what looked like pajamdras folded up. They had striped and plaid patterns.

"Are these pajamdras?", I asked La Netta.

"Yes, but what are you going to do about your headphones?", she said.

"The headphones I have are fine."

I purchased three piroshkis, and then put some portobello mushroom sausages from Aidell's into my basket. We made our purchases, then got lunch for those who weren't having piroshki.

La Netta knew I had to purge off pajamdras, so we landed at the part of Pinole Valley Park with the portable.

I saw cobwxbs at various parts. There was even a dipser in one corner. I spent much time cleaning the corners of the portable with paper towels. The cobwxb at the upper right back corner did not want to go. It was attached at multiple places.

I purged off all the pajamdras. I had to try hard not to think the mispronounced singular form of the word to myself.

After half an hour of "pajamdras, pajamdras, pajamdras", I was purging off dipsers and cobwxbs.

"Ken, do you want to clean out cobvebs in the portable?", I asked.

"Ken doesn't want to do that", said La Netta. "That portable is nasty!"

I talked about my experience with the dipsers and cobwxbs.

"You were in there a long time", said La Netta. "What took you so long?"

"Well, there were a lot of pajamdras in the store", I said.

"When you see more than one, does it take you longer to purge it off?"

"Yes."

"I didn't know that."

"You learned something new today."

"Yeah."

Once I got home, I was empty, and was ready to have me some poroshki.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Zebra-bulls, elephant-rattlesnakes and cheetah-skunks

Yesterday we spent the first part of our day at the office. Carl chose to use his time to get on the Internet rather than to work, as he gets paid way less than minimum wage for his work at the office.

"James, what are you doing for lunch today?", asked La Netta.

"I'm not getting lunch today", I replied. "I'm saving my money for See's."

"Oh, OK."

When we were done with our stint at the office, La Netta drove us over to See's Chocolates. We walked in shortly aeterwards.

"You know what you're getting?", La Netta asked.

"Peanut Crunch", I replied.

As I stood in the store, I saw a sign that had the word "SHXPPING" on it. "Rrrrrrrrr", I said.

The line was long, and the owner was taking a long time with each customer. "Do you want to come back some other time?", La Netta asked.

"No", I replied.

"OK." So we stayed.

Finally, it was my turn. "A chocolate chip truffle for you", tie lady said. The word "chip" has the word "ship" in it when spoken, so I would have to pick that out of my navel before picking out "shxpping".

I finally ordered a quarter pound of Peanut Crunch for Jolene, and the lady wrapped Jolene's Peanut Crunch in a bag for me.

We were ready to leave, so the group headed out to some fast food restaurants to pick up lunch.

"La Netta", Carl said, "This doesn't apply to you because you're always married, but this applies to me, and it applies to James. Since he's not in a relationship, and I'm not in a relationship. We have to put our career first, relationship second."

I would now have to pick the "ship"s in the "relationship"s out of my navel too.

Morgan Dukes, the DJ on The Light, was talking about Christmas shopping, and she said something about getting "those packages shxpped".

"Rrrrrrrrrrrr!", I growled.

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

"She said, 'If you're getting those packages SH-worded'."

"Oh, I didn't hear WHAT it was."

I listened to my Killers CD as the radio played commercials. I heard the word "chips" multiple times in the song "Joyride" ("When your chips are down . . .") I also heard the word "ships" in the song "Dustland Fairytale" ("Like secret ships we persevere . . .")

When we finally got to Miller's Knots, I went to the restroom and released, released, released. First I picked all the "chip"s out of my navel. Then I purged for all the times I had thought "shxp", "shxps" or "shxpping" to myself. I then did the "relationship"s, and then the word "ships" from "Dustland Fairytale".

Then I thought tpish to myself and picked "shxpped" out of my navel as I said "shadolipped". There was a sort of clammy (as in the bivalve clam) taste to it. I picked five times before it came out.

I next thought ngippish to myself several times until I was sure I had captured the same flavor the "shxpping" on the See's sign had. I spent the next few minutes saying "shadolipping" until I was sure it had come out.

I got back into the van and asked for hand sanitizer, which Carl supplied.

"If you could create the ultimate animal, what three animals would you combine?", Carl asked me.

"A whale . . .", I said.

"The head of one animal, the body of another, and the tail of a third."

"I'd do the head of an elephant . . . the body of a whale . . . and the tail of a rattlesnake."

"Nice!", said Carl. "I'd do the head of a beaver, the body of a cheetah, and the tail of a skunk."

"Now, that's a cool animal!"

"La Netta, how 'bout you?"

"What were we talking about?", asked La Netta.

"If you could combine the head of one animal, the body of another, and the tail of a third to make some kind of superanimal, what would you combine?"

"I'd want an animal with a strong bottom, so I'd give it the bottom of a bull. A bull and a zebra. It would have the head of a zebra."

"And what kind of tail would you give it?"

"A bull's tail."

"So you'd combine only two animals? A bull and a zebra?"

"Yes."

I sat in my back seat and closed my eyes, with my sleep mask over my eyes. When I opened them, we were going to leave shortly.

Was that a Winnxe the Pooh towel that woman outside had? No, it looked two yellow in the middle, and there was no red T-shirt. It looked more like a Care Bear.

"Care Bear towel!", I said.

"What?", asked La Netta.

"Care Bare towel", I repeated.

"That was no Care Bear! Go use the restroom."

So it was Winnxe the Pooh! I purged Pooh off in the restroom, and when I was eone, I asked for more hand sanitizer and we left.

"Do you want to go to the dollar store?", La Netta asked Carl.

"Sure", said Carl.

We visited the dollar store, where I got deodorant. I had just used up the last of it this morning.

I then drove home with deodorant and a present for Jolene. It had been a very shxppy day.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A store filled with pajamdras

La Netta apparently needed Friday off, as Taylor was picking Ken, Carl and me up instead.

We started out at the office, writing on Christmas cards, then Taylor said, "We'll be heading to Berkeley Bowl".

"I'm finished", said Carl.

So we left.

I explained to Taylor that once I had asked if they had sapodillas, and they had told me they had sapotes. So I wanted to try the sapotes this time. It would be in the Latin American fruit section.

"They don't have Buddha's hand this time", said Taylor.

I looked and saw one Buddha's hand. "Here it is", I said.

"Oh, you're right! We have one of these trees at my house."

I found their sapotes. I placed three of them into a bag.

Then Taylor and I looked at some persimmons. When I looked at the persimmons' box, I noticed the word "Cutxes" on the box. "Echhhh!", I said.

Just then I heard a "Whxxpsie!" as a woman bumped me with her cart. "Sorry!", she said.

"Was that the WH-word?", I asked.

"It was", said Taylor. "With an I-E at the end."

"Not the OO-form?"

"Not the OO-form. There was a WH."

"D'OH! D'OH! D'OH! D'OH! D'OH! D'OH! D'OH!" Then I started yelling aspersions of being a "clumsy ox".

I told Taylor I wanted to look at the ethnic foods.

"Any particular ethnicity?", Taylor asked.

"Greek, Jewish, Middle Eastern", I said.

We stopped by the imported candies and I picked out some dried tamarind spiced with sugar.

Then he took me to the prepared foods, where I picked out a hummus wrap.

We paid for our goodies, then walked over to the café portion of Berkeley Bowl.

Taylor took me into the restroom. After waiting for someone to come out, I used it and purged off "whxxpsie". I couldn't get "cutxe" to come out, though.

We drove over to Urban Ore Ecopark. Carl kept leaving the group, and Taylor kept following him.

"Taylor, I'll be over at the computer equipment", Carl said.

"OK, I'll go there will you, so we can stay together as a group", said Taylor.

We also checked out the sunglasses. I didn't buy any, however.

Taylor then took us to a Vietnamese restaurant. They had sandwiches and chips up front, and you could order one of many Vietnamese sandwiches.

I read the Vietnamese name of the meatball sandwich, and asked the employee what was in that.

"It has meatballs, and daikon -- that's like radish . . .", Taylor said.

"I know what daikon is", I said. "It's an Asian vegetable."

"And cilantro, and jalapeños."

"I'll get that", I said.

I noticed some of the chip bags had people with their eyes closed upside-down. I scratched them with the nail of the middle finge of my right hand.

"Look, they have durian chips", I pointed out.

"They're better at the Asian store", said Taylor.

Then we walked into K-mart.

I saw a box with a picture of a Dipser-man drawing on it. "Ewwwwwww!", I said.

As we walked through aisles, I saw pants with SpongeBob on them, and pants with Mickey on them. "Are these pajamdras?", I asked.

"Yes", said Taylor.

"Ewwwwwwww!"

"This is not a good place; let's walk back."

We backed out of the pajamdra-filled aisle, and then looked at other items.

"Little bxtty boy in Bethlehem, yes he was, yes he was", I heard a song sing.

"Rrrrrrrrrrr!", I growled.

But then I heard "Little baby boy in Bethlehem". So it was "baby" instead of "bxtty"? Hmmmmm. I'd purge it off anyway jsut to be on the safe side.

I heard a man say something that sounded like "a bxke section".

"Did he say the short form of 'bicycle'?", I asked Taylor.

"No, he didn't", said Taylor. "He said he'd go going to the bicycle section."

"So he did say it! It sounded like the short form of 'bicycle'!"

"Hmmmmm, I just heard him say 'bicycle'."

I ran across a top. "Are these pajamdras?", I asked.

"Yes, they are", said Taylor.

"Ewwwwww!" I looked at it and saw wxnking faces all over it -- even worse!

"Try not to look at it", said Taylor. "FEocus on something else!"

"Tell me if you see any more pajamdras", I told Taylor.

"OK", Taylor replied.

We all walked into the men's room together. I went in a stall and did the wxnking faces. I purged off that entire pajamdra set. Then I did "bxtty" and the eyes closed upside-down and all the other eyes.

While I was working on "bxke", Taylor said he was ready to leave.

I picked "bxke" out of my navel and then washed my hands. We were ready to go.

To my right, I saw Winnxe the Pooh and Tigger on a box. "Ewwwwwww!", I said. "Taylor! Look at this!"

"There's someone trying to get by you", said Taylor.

I walked away and followed Taylor.

"Pajxmxs to your left", said Taylor.

"Taylor, when you refer to them, could you just call them 'pajamdras'? With a D-R?"

I closed my eyes and asked Taylor to hold onto me.

"You're an adult; you can walk", said Taylor.

"Some adults can't walk -- the ones who need to use wheelchairs", I replied.

"Then maybe we need to put you in a wheelchair", Taylor reparted.

"Follow my voice", said Carl. "Follow my voice . . ."

"That wasn't a good place to go", Taylor said once we had exited K-mart. "They had lots of PX's all over the store."

When we got into the van, I asked, "Taylor, how come the people out here say that word with a /dʒæm/? When I was living in Moraga, everyone said it with a /dʒam/."

"That's because you grew up in Moraga", said Taylor. "People have different ways of saying things in different places. Like the way some African-Americans say 'aks' for 'ask'."

"La Netta says it that way", I said. "She's confused me saying it like that."

"Here, breaking up is when you end a relationship", said Carl, "But where I come from, breaking up is something a call does when you lose the signal. Like 'My cellphone is breaking up'."

"Really?"

"Yes. What you call breaking up, we call it Splitsville. Like, we were Splitsville."

Carl bought his lunch at Jack-in-the-box (or was it Burger King?) and we all drove over to Kennedy Grove.

I went to the restroom and locked the door. There I purged off Taylor's word "pajxmxs" (he pronounces it like La Netta), then did the SpongeBob and Mickey pajamdras. I could finally get "Cutxes" to come out! I also purged off Winnxe the Pooh and Tigger.

I left the restroom empty.

Afterwards I asked Taylor why they had so many pajamdras in K-mart.

"You know what it is, it's because Christmas is coming up", said Taylor. "PX's are popular stocking-stuffers. They're like sweats -- you don't need to a know a person's size, because they'll fit no matter what. They come with a drawstring."

Taylor dropped us all off, then I ate that Vietnamese meatball sandwich with the daikon in it once I got home. It was deeeeee-licious!

Of beer and liqueur

On Thursday, we spent most of the day at the office (surprise, surprise). And a movie was playing in the conference room.

"Do we have to watch this movie?", I asked.

"Ken is watching it", said La Netta.

As we worked on the schedule, a character in the movie said "axx oxxx the pxxxx".

"Ewwwwwww!", I said. I started to walk out of the room and head towards the restroom.

"James", said La Netta. "If you hold it in, I can turn the movie off, bot we need to get our schedule done."

"OK, La Netta", I said.

I suggested Smart & Final, Grocery Outlet and See's Chocolates. On our Smart & Final day, La Netta asked Carl if he'd like to go anywhere that was in the area.

"What's in the area?", asked Carl.

La Netta named a few stores.

"Oh, that area", said Carl. "I'd like to go to Fashion 4 Less."

La Netta looked up Fashion 4 Less on her iPhone.

"You spell it F-A-S-H-I-O-N, the number 4, L-E-S-S", said Carl.

La Netta found it.

Carl made sure to suggest the office for Monday next week.

Then we all signed the schedule.

Carl was engrossed in a book about prehistoric life. He pointed to a picture of a phorusriacus and said, "I'm glad there are no birds like this anymore."

He kept saying what each creature was the ancestor of. "This is clearly the ancestor of a weasel", he said. "And this is the ancestor of a snake."

"It looks more like a lizard than a snake to me", I said. "It's got legs."

"But you see how long its tail was?"

Next we took a trip to the burrito truck. "How does the burrito truck sound?", La Netta asked me.

"I'm not buying lunch today", I replied.

"You're out of money?"

"I have $20 in my pocket. But I want to spend my money at Berkeley Bowl."

La Netta asked me if I wanted to buy anything at Las Montañas.

"Probably", I said.

We drove over to the Mexican store and headed towards the fresh pastries. While I was walking there, I saw a card that had Winnxe the Pooh and Piglet on it.

"Ewwwwwwww!", I said.

I paid 50 cents for a coconut cookie. Then we walked back past the cards.

We spent some time at the office once again. I explained to La Netta anent I had to purge.

After I purged I came out and caught Lita.

"Lita, I have a question", I asked. "You know how coaches aren't allowed to buy clients alcohol?"

"Uh-huh", said Lita.

"Well, are coaches allowed to buy their clients foods that are made with alcohol, with wine sauce or rum cake?"

"I guess that would be OK", said Lita. "What are you trying to buy?"

"Well, La Netta's been planning to buy me a liqueur cake for several years now."

"Liqoeur is not alcohol", said Carl. "Beer is alcohol."

"Well, I don't think that's true", said Lita. "Liqueur has a higher alcohol percentage than beer."

"Beer is only 5% alcohol", I said.

Carl went off onto a rant about different alcoholic beverages.

"I will keep an exe out for it", said Lita.

"Ewwwwwwwwww!", I squealed.

"Oh, I am so sorry, James!"

"James, after you're out of the restroom, meet us in the van", said La Netta.

"OK, La Netta", I replied.

I purged off that slimy "keep an exe out", then washed my hands and was ready for drops.

Whxxxxxxxxps!

On Wednesday, we took a trip to JC Penney. "Ooh, James, don't look to your left", said La Netta.

La Netta took us over to the jewelry section. I looked at the blonde, blue-eyed girl wearing blue in the "Blue" December signs. It said the blue topaz was the sign for December.

La Netta considered purchasing jewelry for family members. She asked them how much their crosses for men cost.

Then she wanted to look at a pair of shoes. The lady at the store dropped the shoes, and I heard Ken saying, "Whxxxxxxxxps!"

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

La Netta told me that both Ken and the lady had said the word at the same time.

When we got back into the van, La Netta said, "It was an accident". She said that Ken didn't mean to say it.

"Whxxps!", said Ken.

"Was that a WH-word?", I asked La Netta.

"Yes, it was", she said.

"D'OH!"

When we got to Davis Park, I asked, "So I heard two WH-words today?"

"Yes, you did", La Netta said.

I purged off the "oops"es I had heard afterwards, then got to the two "whxxps"es. Cold whipped cream folled me up.

When I got home that day, Bernard said the word "whxxps". D'oh!

Not until I get home

On Tuesday, we took a trip to Fallas Paredes. La Netta told me there were pajamdras to my left so I cupped my eyes with my left hand and placed my right hand over the left side.

Then we made it through the shoes. There were many shoes scattered on the floor.

After passing through one shoe aisle, we went through another. Then I saw it -- Winnxe the Pooh and Tigger flip-flops!

"Ewwwwwwwww!", I said, pointing to them.

"And they were out on the floor", said La Netta.

Next came Big Lots. I got two liqueur cakes at the place. Then I passed by a box on my left full of stuffed Winnxe the Poohs and Tiggers.

"Ewwwwwwwww!", I said. "Did you see it?", I asked La Netta.

"No", said La Netta. "What is it?"

When we got back into the van, I asked La Netta, "How come Fallas Paredes has so many shoes on their floor?"

"They need to clean up their shelves", La Netta said. "They have so much stuff that they can't fit it all on the shelves."

Lunch was at Taco Bell. "James, I'm looking inside and everyone who's going in is using the restroom", La Netta said. "How long are you going to be?"

"It's going to be loooooong", I said. "I'll just hold it until I get home."

We all ordered our food. The others ate theirs. We chatted as the rest of them dined on Mexican food.

"James, do you think you'll be able to make it quick?", La Netta asked.

"No, I'll just purge at home", I said.

And when at last we got home, I ate my Taco Bell.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Armageddon II: Carl vs. La Netta

It was back to program on Monday. "How was your week-end?", La Netta asked.

I told La Netta that when I had come home on Monday and Claudette was ready to wash my hair, I discovered that my shampoo was missing, so we couldn't wash it.

"You want to go to World Market, right?", asked La Netta.

"Well", I said, "We're going to the dollar store today, so I'm going to buy some shampoo there."

"Oh, OK", said La Netta.

Carl resumed talking to La Netta. I learned that this morning, Carl was upset about not being able to go to the office to work, because the office was not on the schedule, and Lita had allowed La Netta to change the schedule so Carl could work.

"When we made the schedule, no one picked the office for Monday", said La Netta.

"We didn't because we're supposed to automatically go to the school on Monday!", said Carl.

"No, Thursday is automatic", said La Netta. "Monday is not automatic."

"Well, you never told me that!"

"Didn't you approve the schedule? That's why I had you all initial it."

"I assumed that we would be going to the school anyway", said Carl.

"If you're a man, you'll admit that you're wrong", said La Netta. "I admit when I'm wrong."

"I'm not a man!", said Carl. Carl believes himself to be the same gender as La Netta.

"La Netta", I said, "You're not a man; you're a woman."

"I didn't say I was a man", said La Netta. "Maybe I shouldn't bring gender into it. Adults admit when they're wrong."

Carl kept arguing.

"I'm getting my headphones on", I said.

"Is this too much drama?", asked La Netta.

I put my headphones on my head. As of the first gap, La Netta and Carl were still arguing.

La Netta went to Mechanics Bank, then stopped off at the office. All of us went in.

Carl worked for a whole hour. It turned out no one had given either Ken or Carl either a lunch or money, so we were waiting for Pia to drop off money.

Ken came out to collect his money, and La Netta told Carl that he ought to collect his money now.

"I can't", said Carl. "Then the minutes will be subtracted from my paycheck. Ken, will you pick up my money too?"

"If Ken doesn't collect your money and Pia drives off, that's on you", La Netta said. "We're not going to stand around waiting for her to come back."

I rushed out the office door and ran over to Pia's car. It turned out Ken had picked up Carl's money along with his own.

Ken gave the money to Carl.

At the end of his work, Carl apologized to La Netta, and La Netta accepted his apology.

We had missed Marshall's, and it was now time for the dollar store. As we parked in front of the dollar store, Carl and La Netta were arguing once again.

"Listen", Carl said. "God talks to me. You may pray to God, but God has actually spoken to me. When I'm asleep and dreaming, but He still talks to me."

"That's why they've got you diagnosed as psychotic", said La Netta.

"They've got me diagnosed as psychotic because the person they say was my father is diagnosed psychotic!"

"Just because your father has bipolar, does not mean they're going to diagnose you with bipolar."

"La Netta?", I asked.

Just then I thought I heard someone outside saying "ice xxxxx".

"Yes?", La Netta asked.

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

"I don't know."

"Blechhh! What I was going to say is there's a genetic factor to mental disorders."

"There is a genetic factor," said La Netta, "But they won't diagnose you unless you show the symptoms yourself."

"I need to get Stars & Stripes and shampoo here", I said.

Carl and La Netta kept on arguing.

"When am I going to get my shampoo?", I asked.

Still more back-and-forth between La Netta and Carl.

I stepped outside.

"James, what are you stepping outside for?", asked La Netta.

"I hope that if I step outside, you and Carl will stop arguing and I'll be able to go into the dollar store."

"I'm not arguing", said La Netta. "Carl's the one who's arguing."

"Will I be able to debate later?", asked Carl.

"If we go into the dollar store now, I'll let you finish your conversation once we're back in the van", I said.

"It's a deal", said Carl.

Carl got out and offered to take me in without La Netta.

Then La Netta showed up.

"James, do you think you should pick up a basket?", asked La Netta.

"Sure", I said. "I don't see the baskets."

"Are your eyes cupped?"

"Yes. Is it safe to look?"

"It is."

I finally found a green dollar store basket.

"James, if you can't go in, we might as well leave", La Netta said, "Because my arms are ringing and I won't be able to listen out for words for you."

"I'll listen out for words", said Carl.

"Thank you, Carl", I said.

"You need to uncup your eyes", said La Netta, "Because I'm not going to able to guide you around like a guide dog."

Ken and La Netta stopped to look at cards. La Netta asked Ken if he wanted to send a card to his mother.

"James, I'm over here", Carl said.

"The group needs to stay together", I said.

"That's right", said La Netta."

"Your Stars & Stripes are over here -- a whole wall full of 'em!"

After Ken didn't find any cards he liked, La Netta walked me over to the Stars & Stripes. I picked out a Pineapple Pizzazz.

Ken said "whxxps" or "oops".

"Did Ken say the WH-word?", I asked La Netta.

"Remember?", said La Netta. "My ear is ringing."

Carl tried to lead me to the shampoo aisle, but I stayed faithfully by La Netta. La Netta tok me to the cookie aisle, where I got a box of Copitos. Then came time for the shampoo aisle.

We found a perfect bottle. I now had my three things, but La Netta was ready to look around a little more.

"Carl?", I asked. "Did Ken say the WH-word?"

"Carl's walked off from the group", said La Netta.

When we at last got to the check-out, I pulled my wallet out of my pocket. Many coins dropped to the floor.

"James, aren't you going to pick your coins up?", asked La Netta.

"I need to bend down first", I said. I closed my eyes, knelt down, then opened my eyes again.

Carl and I both picked up coins. I thanked Carl for his help.

Then I paid for my stuff, and placed the change back in my wallet. I had to fold up all my ones the right way.

Carl offered to take over the job for me. He stuffed everything into my wallet.

Once we were back in the van, I slammed my forehead and said, "D'OH!"

"What's that for?", asked Carl.

"I may have heard Ken say the WH-word in the dollar store", I said. "Just getting it out."

"Oh, OK."

When we pulled up at Jack-in-the-box, Carl went in.

"James, I'm not telling you this to hurt your feelings", said La Netta, "And I'm not telling you this to be funny, but Carl was too much today. He strained me out. It was good that you stayed with me instead of going with Carl. Carl tried to pull you away from the group."

"He did", I said. "It was nice of him to help me with picking up the coins, though."

"That was nice, but you could've done it yourself if you had uncupped your eyes."

"I wanted to do it myself, but Carl took over. It was still considerate of him."

At Miller's Knots, I went out and used the restroom to purge off "ice xxxxx" and "whxxps". Unfortunately I had thought the words "whxxps cream" to myself a few times.

When I finally came out of the restroom, I asked for hand sanitizer. Ken gave it to me.

"Thanks, Ken", I said. "You're a real pal."

"You're welcome, James", said Ken.

Eventually we embarked on erops. When we got to my house, I picked up the Pineapple Pizzazz and the Copitos . . . but I couldn't find my shampoo!

La Netta couldn't find it either. I was worried I'd spend another day with dirty hair.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Finding Berkeley Bowl

Friday was the day we had Berkeley Bowl on our schedule. I phoned up Stan Man to make sure he was bringing the money.

When I got to the van, La Netta asked me whether I had money. I told her about calling Stan.

"Stan said he'd drop the money off at the office", I said.

"We're not going to the office", La Netta said.

We parked at Berkeley Marina. While we were there, La Netta got out and chatted with other coaches. I stayed in the van and spoke to Aziz.

"Did the phone ring?", La Netta asked as she returned to the van.

"No", we told her.

La Netta came back out. A few minutes later, her cellphone rang.

It was Pia. She was asking where we'd be, and La Netta told her we'd be at Berkeley Bowl. "It's off Ashby -- I think you make a turn on Hensley", said La Netta.

We got back in the van and drove to Berkeley Bowl. "Not Hensley -- it's Heinz!", La Netta said.

We borrowed Ken's cellphone and had me speak to Pia. I gave her the address: Heinz, not Hensley.

"I know where it is", Pia said.

"Good", I said. "Good-bye!"

Pia said good-bye and hung up.

We waited a few minutes in front of Berkeley Bowl.

"We're going to wait a couple more minutes for Pia to show up", La Netta said.

"Two more minutes", I said.

The minutes passed and we exited the van and locked our doors. La Netta asked whether I was using the wallet.

I said I had it in my pocket right now.

"Let me see it", La Netta said.

I took it out.

"It fits in your pocket all snxg", La Netta said.

"Rrrrrrrrrrr!", I growled.

"Oh! Sorry, James!", La Netta said.

I stuffed my wallet back into my pocket and we walked in. I told La Netta I wanted to look at juices and fruit.

I saw some juices near the front of the store. As I checked them out, I heard my name. It was Pia's voice!

Pia walked over and gave me a $20 bill.

"Thanks, Pia", I said.

"You're welcome", said Pia.

I got out my wallet again and stuffed the twenty into my wallet. Then back into my pocket it went!

La Netta bought so many fruits and vegetables that she filled her own shopping basket up and had to borrow mine! I was still able to fit the passionfruit, the three Asian guavas and the box of medjool dates into my (her?) basket, though.

At the juice aisle, I selected a grape juice, two quarts, for $3.something.

"Isn't that expensive?", La Netta asked.

"No", I replied.

We paid for our stuff. I asked the cashier to show me her bags. They now had Eco Hippo bags, with a hippopotamus hugging the Earth. Those were OK.

After we left Berkeley Bowl, we visited a new Goodwill. This one had KOIT playing instead of KBLX.

Next came Jack-in-the-box. At Jack-in-the-box I paid for my four tacos with two $1 bills and some coins. As I took a one out, I discovered it was pyramid-side up!

"Ewwwwwww!", I said.

La Netta helped me find my coins.

On our way to Kennedy Grove, a song on the gospel station said, "Keep your exe on the prize!"

"Ewwwwwww!", I said. "La Netta, can we have a different station?"

"They probably only say it once", La Netta said.

Once we got to Kennedy Grove, I went to the restroom. I purged off every "eye" sound I had heard and every eye I had seen since seeing the wrong side of the dollar bill.

Then I did my ritual for "keep your exe on". "Keep your adolye on", I said. "Keep your adolye on." My hands moved about as if on a chess board with each thrust and "keep your adolye" on I did.

After 14 times, they came back up. "Keep your adolye on!"

Then I did the one-exed pyramid. It went into my rectum and blood started coming out from pinching my groin. Cyclops pyramids were such a powerful purge.

I was finally able to finish and wash the blood off my hands. Then I got to "snxg": "snadolug, snadolug, snadolug". It was cakewalk compared to the eye and the "exe".

I washed my hands again, with soap, and walked out back to the van to eat my four tacos.