I've got bruises and cuts everywhere, 'cause I can barely walk straight when I'm not carrying heavy objects, let alone when I am. So I'm behind on everything, which seems to be a perpetual problem, which seems to suggest that maybe there's just too much everything, you know?
[Quick announcement: On Tuesday, if Obama loses, I'm gonna kill myself. I'd move to Canada, but I don't have a passport. I just want to put that out there so we're all on the same [web]page.]
If Obama wins, and I think he will, then I can fully devote myself to all the other exciting things coming up, like Obama winning, the release of the Hot Blogger Calendar (Click here to view more details and to pre-order using my affiliate link therefore supporting me which is what we're all here for right, ME?!?!) and Sex Blogger Calendar, my Mom's birthday, National Novel Writing Month and maybe finishing unpacking.
So I have a story to tell you about hope and Dixon the Douchebag of the Week, who wasted 5 hours of the best most beautiful years of our lives on Saturday. I keep trying to edit this story 'cause it's so long, but every time I edit it I seem to make it longer. So welcome to long story time.
Me and Natalie, the last time we lived together -- Willard '03-'04.
Look at that couch in the background! It looks so comfy!
I've got a long well-documented fondness for craigslist and I recognise its fallibleness. So I guess ultimately this is a story about what we expect from people, what "good faith" really means, and how petrifying it is when someone refuses to abide by the arbitrary rules of human morality you thought were implicit. I make this mistake often. Then I ask myself: why do I continue to expect?
At one point in this story, I will be suggesting for the fifth time a certain angle at which to push the couch from our hallway into the living room and A;ex will say, "why do you keep trying the same thing over and over again." And I will say, A;ex, as a sane person, you do not understand this, but your team in this endeavor -- me, Natalie, and Caitlin -- we do the same things over and over again expecting different results. Natalie will point out that it's the definition of insanity. We'll all laugh, knowingly, and push, and the only thing different about this time is that the bottom of the couch cuts right through my palm, an injury I don't notice 'til hours later, but which doesn't actually matter, obviously.
Natalie and I, proud underemployed U-Mich alums, operate on a steady budget of broke-to-almost-broke and so we planned to get most of our furniture from craigslist or the street corner (coincidentally, this is also where we get our blow jobs).
Nata's developed a severe craigslist addiction over the past two weeks;' hauling Caitlin to at least five house/yard sales. Nata even enchanted a (obvs gay) woman on the Upper West who asked them to stay for dinner and sold Nata a teevee that didn't work. (Sidenote: howevs, when we informed her the teevee didn't work, she ripped up Nata's check. 'Cause that's what PEOPLE DO.)
The sofa is the most important thing we've been seeking. A;ex's grandfather is ill and her family keeps changing their mind about what's best for him, and so his old sofa has been offered and then taken back several times. It's like what my ex used to do to me with her bank card when she was in the mental hospital, except not evil.
A final take-back was initiated last week, so we made other arrangements. On Sunday morning A;ex is given the go-ahead again. Too late; we've already promised Dixon we'll buy his couch for $125 'cause it looks like something we could fall asleep on. Here's the ad:
So it's Saturday morning and the Team is in action. We've all been in overdrive supporting Natalie's yard sale addiction and complementary willingness to traverse crosstown for a deal on a stack of paper plates as well as my general mishap-hood and Saturday is no exception.
Caitlin's bringing me a dresser from the goodwill in New Jersey, A;ex is picking up the ebay teevee from Queens and she's got a coffee table and a bookshelf for Nata already in her car, and eventually Caitlin & Natalie rendez-vous @ the W.Harlumbia Palace to go get the couch and then Natalie realizes she's broke. Together, Caitlin & Natalie have got about $65, so there's no sofa-getting until A;ex unloads the furniture in Harlumbia, then goes back to get me & my stuff & my cash in Midtown and then takes me uptown.
Being poor takes a lot of time, we can't just call Ethan Allen and be like, what's up Ethan, I need a couch and some chairs, and he'll be like, okay, cool. Instead we must deal with Dixon.
So, a few hours behind schedule, A;ex gets me in midtown, we go uptown to W.Harlumbia where Cait & Nata are waiting. A;ex double-parks, we dash inside, have a five second Team Meeting and when we emerge, Alex has got a $115 parking ticket. Caitlin & Natalie get in Caitlin's car, we get in A;ex's car, A;ex yells at the ticket, and we then we hear a sharp plunking noise.
What was that, I ask.
A;ex gets out of the car, fully raging, and discovers someone's thrown a nail at us. A nail. I don't know why people do what they do, I'm not God.
I tell her nice optimistic things, which's an attitude I only pull out in times of crisis.
We arrive at Dixon's apartment on 72nd street with our two-car caravan. He's moving to California with his boyfriend, probs so they can tan year-round while sucking the fruits of their mad twatwaffledom and smoking meth from each others assholes.
Nata and I go upstairs, check out the couch.
Dixon admits he's not sure how they got it in there in the first place. Problem #1.
I don't like him, Natalie says. He seems a bit slow.
We'd expected to like him, because of the Instant Homosexual Bond.
The couch isn't as promised. It's falling apart at the edges, the lining's frayed, the skirt's threatening to abandon ship altogether. It smells a little and is impossible to move. Problem #2. But we've not come this far for failure.
I sub out, put Caitlin in, 'cause she's stronger. It's tight quarters up there, we need geometry and manpower, and I've got no idea how the fuck they ever got that couch in there, possibly it was airlifted.
So while they struggle, I walk down 72nd to get a fountain soda. The weather's cool crisp autumn (my favorite) and I'm thinking about how well everything's going considering how terrible everything was, about how people can make up for concrete things but the heart-hurt takes more time, thinking about all the stories I do not and wouldn't tell, and the ones I don't understand yet, of how maybe not everything happens for a reason but things have a way of working themselves out. How nice it is to have people who try to do what they can without expecting absolution, not now or even soon, but just 'cause they can, and we all do what we can, like everyone who did what they can the first time around, too, and all the others after that.
I'm thinking about how strange and silly crazy we all are, and how we go on, and how much better Coke tastes from the fountain than it does from the bottle.
I'm thinking about curling up on the sofa with Natalie and making animal noises all winter. I'm thinking about all the things I miss and the things I'm looking forward to, how to follow your gut and still retain dignity, and then I return to find Nata curled up in Caitlin's front seat saying she thinks she's made a big mistake.
Nata always takes full responsibility for things going wrong if she's even remotely involved. Caitlin takes full responsibility for things going wrong when it's clearly not her fault or within her control at all, like a plane landing late. A;ex always takes responsibility when she thinks it's probs her Mom's fault.
I don't know what I do. Maybe I avoid taking responsibility for situations and logistics but do accept full responsibility for emotional damages, or maybe I don't. Maybe I try not to be involved, or when I say it, I'm just saying it.
It's falling apart, Natalie says, back to the couch now.
We're not paying 125 for it, I say. We'll bargain.
There's this Cuban woman up there yelling at us in Spanish, she says.
You speak Spanish, I say.
She's not helping, Natalie says.
I call Caitlin. Are you okay, do you need help. She's in one of those moods: This crazy woman is mouthing off to us and she just said we need more strong men and there's no way we're getting it out of here. So obviously now it IS ON AND WE ARE GETTING THIS MOTHERFUCKER OUT OF HERE.
The first time Haviland met Cait she said to me afterwards; "Cait's my kind of lesbian," 'cause Cait looked like she'd get really competitive about moving heavy objects and always offer a ride like she did that day they met -- offering the ride.
Caitlin says there's nothing I can do so I just pat Natalie's hair and we eat chips.
15 minutes later, A;ex & Caitlin & Dixon emerge triumphant with the couch, having squeezed it through so many narrow impossible spaces. Dixon almost dies but A;ex saves him from getting crushed. A;ex is feisty and secretly strong, tired but determined, she's a good one. I'm probs driving her bat-shit insane but til I do, I can't seem to cease the sky-high investment of labour and time on her part. Her sanity is a heavy object, too, the kind that carries itself.
I don't really know if I deserve friends like this, I'd never move a heavy couch for any of them. Obvs as I could not move my own.
"She's my hero," Dixon says about Caitlin. Everyone is very friendly, there's no signs here that anyone will magically transform into an evil bastard. You can never tell with these things.
"I feel like the couch is kinda damaged in parts -- "I begin to tell Dixon.
"Seventy-five," he says.
And Natalie and I are relieved. So finally we get the couch strapped inside Caitlin's SUV. A;ex and I end up running into her friends on the street and driving them crosstown, Nata & Cait are getting Starbucks and Pinkberry for everyone and so about an hour later we're all back in West Harlumbia.
This is November 1st, the night of Carly's Tabloid Trainwreck Party. Natalie keeps sticking things under her shirt to see if anyone thinks she looks pregnant, so that she can be Juno and Peter can be the boy from Juno. Peter's her boyfriend, he just flew in from London and is sleeping in Nata's old apartment down the street -- the apartment she would've moved out of already today but then this couch thing has taken forever. Nata's younger brother is moving in here on the 4th and Nata's going to South Africa to save the world on the 8th and her company is two weeks late with her paycheck so she's had to borrow and so I'm just telling you, this is what's going on.
And as for me, well, you know. Me me me and more of that.
So it's dark and we take the couch out of the car and into the building.
It won't go through our door.
It just won't.
And we huff and puff and move and lift and twist and when it finally enters, it's shot back into the room across the hall. Here's a diagram I've drawn for you about the impossible situation we've set up for ourselves:
We try several tricks to get it out of Nata's room and fully into the hallway, where we anticipate smooth sailing and are sorely mistaken. We've scraped up the walls real good and employed various to total body weights for the cause. There's been a lot of laughing and screaming and roaring. We've been at it for about an hour.
Natalie's new job is standing in the hallway and growling like she's about to give birth, which makes Caitlin laugh so hard she's distracted from her task of being the strongest person. When we make progress we cheer, when we lose we scream and growl and kick. It's getting into slapstick territory, that special space where life's ridiculous logistics wedge themselves between the ceiling and the floor, refuse to budge ... and then start getting a little rank.
Nata: "Marie, I feel like we're the weakest link."
Me: "Nata, it smells icky."
Natalie: "I know, it's the couch."
Natalie: "Maybe it's me."
Me: "Is it the couch? It didn't smell bad before."
(Natalie sticks her nose in the cushions): "No, I don't know what it is. Maybe. It didn't smell when we got it. Did I mess up? It's probably me."
Me: "It's not you."
Caitlin: "I feel upset."
Natalie: "I'm so sorry this is my fault, it was my idea to get the couch, now it'll never go in."
Caitlin and A;ex: "OH IT IS GOING IN."
Natalie: "My stomach is sad."
Riese: "Isn't it fun that we're all here together?"
[Natalie starts singing Missy Higgins at the top of her lungs, Caitlin and Alex sit.]
A;ex is doing this cute rage thing she does where every time I have an idea she goes "REALLY RIESE?" and forces me to go into detail revealing that a large section of my spatial relation-related plans involve desperate certain magic.
Eventually we determine we'll have to take the door to the living room off the hinges to provide an extra inch of space. Alex and Catilin do this, then we eat Pinkberry and laugh about the things that make us laugh and that make other people not like to hang out with us. Nata goes down the street to wake up jet-lagged Peter to help with stage three.
Me: "Does anyone else smell that smell?"
A;ex: "You always think you smell weird things."
Me: "Caitlin, you smell it, I know you do."
Caitlin: "I smell it."
Me: "It smells like a dead mouse, doesn't it?"
Caitlin: "Uh-huh. Ut-oh. Oh boy."
A;ex says she can't smell anything but then points out that I refuse to go into corner delis 'cause they smell like deli and I don't want my clothes to smell like deli and possibly I have an acute super-human sense of smell. But then Caitlin investigates, smells around the couch and then razors open the inside of the couch and the smell wafts out, engulfing the previously fresh air we'd so innocently been breathing.
It is FOUL. It is the unmistakable smell of DEAD MOUSE. We have been sold a couch with DEAD MOUSE IN IT.
Caitlin: "Oh boy."
Me: "Get it out of here! OMG! I don't want a couch that has a dead mouse in it."
A;ex: "I can't fucking believe this is happening right now. Like Really? Really Dixon?"
Caitlin, eyes watering, puts on her hoodie for emotional support, plugs her nose and says "oh no" while A;ex mutters to herself and I sit in the living room trying to be chipper, 'cause like I said before the only time I'm good at being chipper is when everyone else is upset or sad, 'cause I like to go against the grain.
I call Natalie who's mostly horrified that she thinks she's made a mistake and wants to take full responsibility.
We have purchased a sofa. It was overpriced and took the strength of two lesbians, one bisexual and one "I don't believe in labels" to get it into the apartment at all and will take quantum physics to push it in any further to its landing spot but needless to say, no, no, no, we are not getting this into the living room after all, we don't want this thing anymore! This is G-d saying do not take the couch.
This is A COUCH WITH A DEAD ANIMAL IN IT and it's making the whole apartment reek. Surely Dixon will be horrified to hear what's happened to us, and to Caitlin his alleged hero.
And it's getting late and we're tired. We've gotta get dressed for Carly's party and my room needs some attention, the bathroom is filth, Peter's tired, Caitlin aches and still has to drive back to New Jersey and I need to become Paris Hilton so but first we must call Dixon to make arrangements, we figure he'll be apologetic and maybe offer a partial refund, or else fess up to selling us a couch with a dead animal inside it.
I mean, THERE IS A DEAD ANIMAL INSIDE THIS SOFA! I mean, that's a bad thing, yes, that's not the kind of thing you sell, that's the kind of thing you pay someone to remove. We even are prepared to offer photographic evidence of said dead mouse.
Me: "I wish we could send him this smell on email or text. Like a picture message but scratch 'n sniff style."
Getting the sofa out of the apartment is slightly easier, 'cause there's a lot of rage fits happening, and I think we broke it in four spots trying to get it out. I couldn't get near it 'cause I knew if the dead mouse fell out onto me, I'd drop dead on the spot.
Let's fast forward to an hour later. Caitlin has called Dixon, 'cause she's his hero. He didn't return her call. So we've called again. This has been a nightmare.
But not a serious nightmare like DIXON. Himself.
Now mild-mannered Dixon is a menace. Why are we telling him this, he asks. It's out of his hands now.
Obvs he's on meth or coke or one of the other uppers that makes you super-irritable, 'cause he does that thing that people do when they're strung out on uppers where they respond to mild-mannered comments with batshit crazy responses. For example (actual transcript of dialogue, obvs Nata remembers it all word for word, as we do as well):
Natalie: I’m saddened by the fact that you don’t think we could make this a bit more fair for us.
Dixon: I’m a good person! I helped you carry it!
Natalie: You didn't have to -- you should've said something at the time.
Dixon: We made a good faith transaction and that's the vaguarities [his invented word, not ours] of craigslist! This conversation is over!
Natalie: I've done many transactions on craigslist myself and if something went wrong I always try to do the right thing.
Dixon: I'M NOT HITLER! I'M NOT A NAZI!
I believe Caitlin and Natalie are now taking turns trying to reason with Dear Dixon to no avail, and Natalie's about to cry, and the couch is outside and it's cold and we're tired and we are at that spot in life where we seriously cannot afford to lose ten dollars, let alone an entire afternoon and forty dollars each, and we're supposed to go to Carly's party but now Dixon is making Natalie cry. We bought a cover for A;ex's grandfather's sofa so it's not that we're saving money now by taking the free one, 'cause the free one is sort of hideous looking and the cover was $70.
What I'm saying is there is no silver lining here, unless you're talking about the silver lining left behind by the shedded fur of a dead mouse.
Dixon: "This conversation is over. If you wanna have a rational conversation we can talk about Gossip Girl if you'd like."
Natalie: "What's gossip girl?"
Dixon: "That's what you are, gossip girl, a bitchy whiny girl who wants to get her way."
I don't see the similarities, but maybe that's just me.
Dixon is on the phone with Caitlin when Natalie screams "I FIGHT FOR YOUR GAY RIGHTS!" which barely misses Dixon's sheltered ear as he's now hung up on us.
I don't know what we expected, really, I guess we just figured, you know, something.
Caitlin had offered to help me move, she said: "it's the least I can do."
Me: "We should call him back and ask him if his refrigerator is running."
A;ex: "You better go and catch it!"
Dixon's said we can "do whatever we'd like" with the couch. We'd like to throw it at his face, or leave it on his sidewalk, but the idea of getting it back into the car and spending more time on this project, going Itty Bitty Titty Committee on his flat ass, is just overwhelming.
So we leave it on the street and now (Monday) it is gone, at the landfill.
Me: "oo, let's call him and say I'm voting Yes on Prop 8 and then hang up!" [sidenote: obvs I'd never do that, NO ON PROP 8 KIDS! NO!]
What was the least Dixon could've done?
Is he just not a good person on the inside? Is he right? Is it the meth talking? I don't know.
Somewhere between here and the West Coast, Dixon's buying processed snack foods with our cash. I hope he gets a flat tire. I'm sitting on the pilfered cushions right now. It's comfortable. It's not perfect but it does the trick.