Wednesday, July 05, 2006

House of Sand and Snapple

Some names have been changed to protect the innocent. Others have been changed to amuse me. Still others have been kept because they were too surreal to fictionalize. However, all events are accurate and truthful.

It started out as any Friday night would, with my roommate Isabelle threatening to excommunicate me if I refused to come out with her.

But this was no ordinary Friday night. Oh no, this was the night before I would be spending 48 straight hours (drum roll please)…..
with my temporary Life Partner…. (wait for it)
and his son….. (wait for it)
in the Berkshires where no one can hear my screams….. (wait for it)
at the home of Wendy, the Snapple Lady.


Isabelle was saying…

“Carm, this is bullshit! I would totally do this for you!”
”Isabelle, I have to be up at 6:00, and I can’t be hung over, I have to spend the day with a small child.”
”But that’s six whole hours away! And you can be hung over, kid’s LOVE alkies!”
”No, I’m not going. I have to pack. Sorry.”
“Fine. That’s it. If you want to be that way, fine. Just know that I am downgrading you from friend to acquaintance AND starting a sorority with Natasha and you can’t be in it. We’re going to have secret handshakes and cheers and you’re not invited to pledge.”

I looked to Natasha for support. She just shrugged and went back to cruising the Internet.

“Yeah. Ok, fine, whatever. I’m still not going out though.”

In a last ditch effort, Isabelle snatched an errant Valium that had fallen onto my comforter during packing and threatened to throw it out the window if I wouldn’t come out.
I screamed in horror, but fortunately for everyone involved she was bluffing. She returned the pill to my med pile and stormed off to work on the Eta Nu cheer.

Natasha grudgingly agreed to help me go through my entire wardrobe and remove all things deemed “non child friendly”.

After nixing every leather micro mini, skin tight tube dress, shirt with guns, skulls, expletives and (after extensive argument) my “My Other Ride is Your Dad” tee shirt, I was left with exactly two things to wear, which I packed alongside my one pair of non-heels and the giant bottle of Valium my mother had Fed-Exed me “just incase”. (Just incase of what, I’m not sure. Just incase I had to sedate a small village, perhaps).

6:00 rolled around and while my alarm clock didn’t wake Natasha, the sound of my terrified wimpering did. She dazedly attempted to comfort me as I got out of bed and finished packing.

Although I was terrified, I had set aside an hour the night before to go over some ground rules with my dear friend Alabaster.

Spending 2 straight days at the House that Snapple built with my temporary life partner…um... Anoosh Goldenblatt, was daunting enough. Throw in his seven-year-old son… um…. Bailey, and this was fast shaping up to be the weekend that sent me (right back) to the mental hospital.

Alabaster talked me down. By talked me down, I mean fed me Stoli and Sodas until I stopped speaking. Once I was sedated, he reminded me that children can sense fear, and if I wanted an out side shot at surviving, I would have to remain calm and not make any sudden movements. He also told me to make sure not to nick myself shaving if we were going to go swimming, because children can smell one particle of blood in 1,000 particles of water, and if they do they go in to frenzy and try to bite your face off. He later rescinded that comment and said he was almost certain it was true of sharks, and not small children.

Though visions of having my face bitten off still danced through my head, I walked calmly out of my building to find the Jetta parked outside. Clearly anticipating how nerve wrecking this experience would be for me, Anoosh was kind enough to ease the transition by blaring Daniel Bedingfield’s If You’re Not the One, and belting out the lyrics at the top of his lungs, to the horror of both his son and me.

The ride up to the Berkshires was nowhere nearly as horrific as I imagined. Actually, it was kind of peaceful. Son of Anoosh mostly watched DVDs and was very nice to me. Possibly on pain of death from his father, but beggars can’t be choosers.

The last time I saw Bailey, the only question he had for me was how soon would I be leaving. This time however, he had several more. He asked me if I had any kids and I told him I didn’t. He asked if I was married and I told him I wasn’t. He asked if I had ever been married and I told him no way. Then he asked if I ever wanted to get married and I told him no. He asked why not, so I told him I thought marriage was icky. He agreed with that solid logic… and it was pretty much smooth sailing from there on in.

On the way up we stopped at this place called Jiminy Peak, some country style ski resort cum pseudo amusement park.
We went on this alpine-slidesque-roller-coaster thing a couple times. After a few go-rounds, Bailey decided he wanted to ride with me instead of his dad. I have no idea how or why this happened, but the next thing I know I’m strapped into a tiny plastic seat with a seven year old boy strapped between my legs. That’s usually the part of the nightmare where I wake up in a cold sweat and swear I will never take Quaaludes before bedtime EVER again… except this time I couldn’t wake up. I have to say, of all the things that have ever found there way between my legs, this was by far the one I most wish I had been drunk for. Amazingly, I made it through the entire minute ride without accidentally squishing him to death or permanently traumatizing him… that I know of.

Following that, we had lunch at the restaurant at the park where Anoosh decided that the table with the geriatric crazy man mumbling to himself would be an ideal place for us to sit. Anoosh was very busy eating his bleu cheese burger, which is perhaps why he didn’t notice that Crazy Man was enthusiastically telling Bailey all about how much he loved little boys, and how pure they were, and how much he enjoyed sucking their toes.

I decided not to interject, because for all I know about child rearing, this may have been totally normal behavior. Like, maybe Dr. Spock recommends a weekly lunch with deranged pedophiles to build a child’s character or something.

After all of the literal and metaphorical roller coasters had been exhausted, it was time to head over to Wendy’s house.

Now, I’m sure most of you, like me, remember Wendy the Snapple Lady from the string of bizarrely amusing ads in the 90’s, and if not from that than from Celebrity Fit Club, or I Love the 90’s. I’d met Wendy once before and since she was exactly like her television persona… friendly, loud, effusive…. I was sort of expecting her house to be a giant creepy Snapple shrine.

Either that, or I imagined the entire thing being filmed, and in a few months from now I’d be watching TV and a Snapple ad would come on….

“Carmela, from Manhattan, writes ‘Dear Wendy, I always wondered what it would be like to spend a day at your house, simultaneously trying to make my boyfriend’s son not hate me, while desperately attempting not to sound retarded to a group of people twice my age AND continuously being fed to the point of immobility!’ Well Carmela, pack your bags!”

Wendy’s house ended up actually being pretty normal. It was giant, and pretty and the only sign of her secret Snapple life was the giant Snapple vending machine in the living room.

Truth be told, it ended up being a really great weekend. Once the terror subsided, I actually had a lot of fun. Wendy was an extremely gracious hostess, Son of Anoosh was nice to me and even shared his greatest fear with me (it’s “large, African American males”). He even drew a picture of me… in which I was smiling, and not being shot in the face or publicly lynched, which I think is a good sign.

Lest it be too fairy tale though, Anoosh’s wife chose this weekend to announce her engagement, putting a nice, big, screeching halt to the fun. But that’s really none of my business, as Anoosh gently reminded me (and by gently reminded me, I mean belligerently screamed at me while I cried).

To top it all off, I still managed to squeeze in a holiday BBQ with Isabelle, Alabaster and Muffin. (Which was fun, although Isabelle maintained that I was barred from her sorority, yet invited Alabaster to join, thus causing Muffin and myself to create a retaliatory sorority… Kappa Gamma I Date Dads).

As I watched the fireworks from atop Anoosh’s building, being plied with liquor by his cute 20something neighbors, I realized…. not only was this the most surreal 4th of my life, it was the best.