Basically, I’m a big fat guy. Funny then, when I walked into my daughter’s gym last night for a mandatory parent cheerleading meeting, I was one of the smaller bodies there. Cheerleading moms are huge. Looking to gain some sort of popularity they lacked in high school? Probably. That’s sad. But this isn’t a tale of fat moms living their sad lives through their sixth- through eighth-graders in short skirts and peppy ponytails. This is how one observer – a journalist, mind you – got roped into going to the meeting in the first place. And what happened when I got there. None of this is made up. “OK, we had some drama last year, things got a little out-of-hand, but that’s not going to happen this year,” said the head coach, the mother of one of my daughter’s dance club chums. “Really, it was bad. I let things slip and it just kind of snowballed. “But that was a first year in a lot of years of having a team, and we’re, well, we’ve got growing pains. It’ll be better this year, I’m much stronger now.” This was her opening statement. I flipped open the notebook to take notes; as a reporter, I smelled muckraking blood. The meeting did not disappoint. I was one of three men there, in a sea of fat women and their pre-teen and teen daughters (my wife and daughter had a prior commitment; being the great guy I am, I went in their place). The woman was completely disorganized. Would there be tryouts? “Yes, maybe, I dunno,” she said. “It looks like we can take all the girls, so that’s my hope.” Will there be competitions? “Oh, definitely, but I don’t know where or when. I’ll let you know, though.” “I have seen on TV, cheerleading is full of drama,” said one mom, her arms and calves covered with really hideously bad tattoos. “Is that going to happen here?” “Oh, it is, it’s really bad, especially girls of this age,” the head coach responded. “They’re at the age, you know, when they’re saying she’s fat, she’s ugly, yeah, it was bad. “But not this year. I’ve grown, I think. I’m much stronger. I’m not going to put up with it.” I am not getting that warm feeling that this will be a good environment for my daughter. What did the coach know? She knew that cheerleading is really, really expensive. There will be a camp for the girls this summer. She didn’t know when. She did know that each girl would have to pay $130. Oh, and she needs it next week. Before the girls know if they made the squad or not. And the outfit will be $500. “And that’s so cheap, you don’t even know.” I’m now starting to see some serious monetary problems. But the coach keeps opening her mouth and the money issues fade. It gets more scary. “Kendra will be the head coach,” the women said. “I’m an old fart, seriously, I was a cheerleader all through high school and I haven’t led a cheer in like 15 years. “I don’t know the moves, so I’m just going to be at practice to monitor things.” Problem is, Kendra is a ninth-grader, going into 10th. And she strikes me as a real bitch-on-wheels-in-training. “We all know Kendra had some, uh, issues last year,” the coach said as Kendra laughs. “But she’s grown sooooo much, she’s really ready for this.” I whisper the question; seems like Kendra and her posse of hell-bitch cheerleader pals from high school screamed at the girls last year. Screamed. Into these little girls’ faces. Many departed, their fragile pre-teen egos crushed by the Mean Girls. By now, I’ve been in the hot gym for an hour. I’ve got pages of notes to take back to my wife and daughter. I’m smirking. But the story needs an ending. Not a happy one, because there isn’t one here. The coach doesn’t disappoint. “Just so you know, parents, if you’ve got fifth-grade girls going into sixth, you’ll find out, just, well, just buy Midol right now and start giving it to them,” the coach said. “I had a lot of girls complaining of cramps at practice last year. A lot. “I just tell them that they’re looking at a lifetime of cramps, so get over it and give them Midol.” The cheerleader moms looked satisfied. The vice-principle, a man, looks stricken. I want to ask him how he though the meeting went. But even I'm not that mean.
ThomG / Thursday, April 27, 2006 / 1 comments
My daughter has two cousins – sisters – who are very close in age. They get to see one-another several times a year, and my daughter is getting to be pretty good at general observation. I guess the girls were arguing about some trivial detail – as sisters close in age are wont to do – and my daughter walked out of the room. “All they do is fight,” she said. “Yes, they do,” my sister-in-law responded. “I guess it’s because they’re premature,” my daughter said. My sister-in-law had to leave the room before busting up. “I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was the wrong word,” she said.
ThomG / Tuesday, April 25, 2006 / 0
Everywhere you go in Tuscany, you'll find David weener bookmarks. It must be a popular item to bring home (we passed). This shot was taken in Florence. We didn't actually see the original David (you see one stone weener, you've basically seen them all). But we did see the replica in Florence. And we watched as photographer after photographer - adults, mind you - do the standard perspective shot of their wife/girlfriend/mother holding or kissing David's privates. Weird. It's a weener. I guess since I have one, the novelty is lost on me (and I'm not discussing size).
ThomG / Tuesday, April 18, 2006 / 0
I’m driving home from work and I pass a 76 gas station. This is one of the last full-service gas stations that I know of around here. For years, they’ve had this big billboard where you could request birthday greetings, wedding announcements, funning and uplifting sayings. The station when through a complete refit recently. The old orange billboard gone, but they out up a new one on the gas price sign. Here’s what was on the sign last night: “He can lick can also bite.” Huh?
I’m in the car again, listening to bad local FM radio (oh, how I want Sirius Satellite Radio). On comes a commercial for a Lutheran grade school: “Little Natalie knows all seven continents; she also knows her purpose on this Earth.” I need to enroll. I’m 43 and I’ve got no fucking clue what I’m doing here.
On the river trail today, in a brief respite between rainstorms: “Why can’t we drive?” a child of like 5 asks his mother. “Because, that would defeat the purpose of walking on the river trail.”
ThomG / Thursday, April 13, 2006 / 0
If your ass weighs 100 pounds all by itself, and you need the use of a motorized cart to get through the supermarket, you are TOO FUCKING FAT. Chrissakes, what is happening here? First, that grocery stores need to stock motorized carts is fucked up. Second, if your marshmallow-butt precludes you from walking a distance of less than 100 yards all at once, YOU ARE TOO FUCKING FAT. So I go into Winco last night to get a few supplies so I can make stew. It sounded good. I was on the eastside of town, having just dropped off the boy to basketball practice. My mistake. Winco is like Wal-Mart, full of welfare pricks clutching their coupons and entitlement cards shopping for pure shit. Clogging up the aisles looking for pre-packaged garbage, all the while either yelling or smacking five unruly kids – all of who have runny noises and no shoes. I turn into the soup aisle to get some organic beef broth, and there’s two fat-assed women riding carts. And you could tell that they didn’t know one another. Along for the ride were two scraggly looking men, both with long, greasy hair and less teeth than God intended, throwing shit into the carts – while both women grunted and pointed (both where huge, well into the “Thar She Blows!” fatness where their huge, sweaty tits rested in their laps and made for this solid cascade of blubber from their multiple chins to their pussy bellies). Neither cart – and both were nearly full – had not one single item of pure, wholesome, honest-to-God food in them. One cart was loaded down with four CASES of generic soda. Chips. Cookies, microwave dinners, boxed instant potatoes (boxed potatoes? What the FUCK?) I just wanted to get in front of them, turn gracefully and scream; “You see the reason you have to have a motor attached to your ass, right?” Instead, I put the stew meat and the bag of organic carrots on the floor and left (well, fled is more like it). I went to Safeway. Yes, they employ motorized carts there, too. But only one was in use – by a frail woman easily in her 80s, accompanied by her granddaughter(?) Mostly, the folks who shop there are professionals. That and hard-working locals who picked up actual food that you have to cut, peel and cook. Usually, it takes my iPod and a stiff drink (afterward) to navigate Winco. Now that I’m on this no-processed-food mission, Winco keeps getting tougher and tougher to do. I just keep looking at the bright side – my ass doesn’t have to be motorized anywhere.
ThomG / Wednesday, April 12, 2006 / 0
“Why do you have to be such a fucking prick?” the pimply-faced asshole in the white Ford Ranger pickup asked. “Look, it’s 7:30 p.m. and I’m trying to enjoy an evening with my family,” I said. “Besides, that’s private property and it’s a DFG violation to be tearing around in it with motocross bikes and four-wheel-drives.” “We’re going to fuck you up you fucking bitch.” “Yeah, thanks for stopping.” “I mean it bitch, we know where you live, we’re coming back to fuck you up.” “Uh-huh,” I said, rolling the trash can up the drive. “We’re coming back to fuck you up, bitch.” “Yeah, thanks for stopping – and thanks for your license plate number.” Then this prick-bastard showed his toughness by peeling out – on wet pavement – in his mommy’s P.O.S. Ford. I pulled out the phone and dialed the Redding Police dispatcher for the second time in 15 minutes. They are no fucking help. I live across from a huge field of beautiful valley oaks. It’s about 5 acres. Deer live there. Pheasant, quail, opossum, skunk, raccoon, ring-tailed cats, coyote, fox. And plenty of dipshits who drive motocross bikes and four-wheel-drive trucks all over the place. The neighbors call the cops each and every time the kids get in there. Then we wait for hours while no cop shows up. (You Tax Dollars At Work!) Last night, I’d had it. While getting the trash cans, I yelled, “I’ll give you guys one chance to move out before I call the cops.” They flipped me off. I called dispatch. They said they’d send a unit. “For real this time?” Then this little pimply bravado – maybe 18, tops, about 120 pounds, wet – drives up and jaws with me. (I so wish he would have gotten out and walked onto my property; just under the surface of my skin is months of pent-up frustrations about my mother’s death that no amount of exercise can quell – but a good ass-kicking on a little prick would). So I call dispatch again. To report that there were now threats made. I requested an officer come to my house and file a report. Our neighborhood cop, Officer Wilkins, called from his unit. At 10 p.m. “Are they still there?” he asked. “Noooooo, they’ve left. Thanks for responding so fast.” “The weather,” he said as he exhaled. “Listen, there’s really nothing we can do,” he added. “Yeah, and when my tires are slashed, then what?” “Well, you have to actually see them in the act, and then, it’s only a misdemeanor.” “What do you suggest I do?” “Well, Greg Snow is the owner, right? I know him pretty well. We need to get him to put up better no trespassing signs, maybe a fence. Then we can go after them.” Great. “Let me know if you can’t get ahold of him,” Wilkins said. “I know him pretty well.” Snow’s on vacation. So much for going through “official channels” to fix something.
I knew, the first year of living in Northern California, that the winters would be wet and stormy, the summers hot and clear. I've been here for nine years now. And I'm sick and fucking tired of the rain. I've been back from Italy nearly three weeks. It's rained every single day, save for two. Beautiful days where I got out to hike and snowshoe. Hell, I even redid the flowerbeds for the spring (whenever that is). Mostly, I've come down with seasonal depression disorder. (Maybe that should be capitalized. I dunno.) Everyone's mood is "on-edge." Smiles evaporate in a moment's notice. Nerves are like a slab of raw chicken. No one is happy. And how can you be happy when a half-inch of rain is falling on you every day? Oh, you try. You tell yourself that this is weather and it'll pass soon enough. You joke with co-workers that we'll all be wishing for that wet spring, when it's July and there's not a breeze to be found and the temperature is 116 degrees in the shade (and we again make news for being the hottest place on the planet; yeah, laugh, but it's happened before). There's nothing to be done but wait it out. Before you slit your wrists and pick up a Mac-10 and start spraying the office with small-arms fire. No one is having fun. Oh, I've tried. I rode in the rain on Saturday. My mountain bike shoes are still sodden - there's too much moisture in the air to get them to dry. I thought about taking the dogs for a walk yesterday - between storms - but it never let up. (My poor dogs are starting to atrophy before my very eyes). I keep thinking of a science fiction short story I read as a kid. Ray Bradbury’s “The Long Rain.” Short plot – three guys crash-land on Venus, a planet of perpetual rain. They all – save for one succumb to the unending rain. I’m hoping to be that lone survivor in this current stretch of gloom.
ThomG / Monday, April 03, 2006 / 1 comments
Thom Gabrukiewicz is both a communicator and a writer of flash fiction. Most of what he writes is kind of dark, with occasional forays into the light.
He’s a winner of some awards and has covered two Winter Olympics. He’s also written a guidebook about hiking with dogs.
He’s fiercely loyal and has a malevolent side that seems to visit less and less. He’s both a hopeless romantic and a realist.
He's currently working on community wellness issues in Wyoming.