Don’t Fear the Reaper     

I think everyone knows who this title was stolen from, but YOU CAN’T COPYRIGHT A TITLE!


I was sent out of the house so I wouldn’t get in the way of preparation. (All hail to Rom and D., who did everything.) Rom had planned to put those number candles on my cake (said cake being a pan of brownies, so dark that their batter looked like asphalt), but was thwarted because $ General was out of 0’s. (Or they figured people with “0” in their ages don’t want anyone to know their age.) I did find 0’s at Walgreen’s, but by then it was too late, and he had committed to candles which spelled out “Happy Birthday.”


The last time I’d been by My Shelter House, as I now think of it (hey, it was our polling place for many years, too), I disapprovingly noted the peeling paint, and hoped it would be spruced up in time. Apparently we were the first people to reserve it this year (hey, it’s not even Memorial Day yet!), because they called Rom and asked when we intended to get started (our rental fee entitled us to occupy it from noon until midnight, although Nick ordered us to be out by 11, so he wouldn’t have to deal with us professionally), so they’d know when to be done painting. So you can thank me for the beige paint with dark green trim.

I had been starting to think, “A party! What was I thinking?” and getting panicky, but I thought, You have several bottles of sedative on hand, so chill. “Only 3 bottles?” I asked Rom, checking the fridge once we got there. “I don’t want to see you after more than 3,” he responded grimly.

I was delighted to see some former co-workers I seldom get to see, as well as current Tolerable Co-Workers, as they are known, as well as my Numerous and Aggressive In-Laws, as they are properly called. I must mention the brilliant collection of cards,  including 911 references (how common are these among the ranks of greeting cards, really?), and one with actual Scratchy Glitter on the front, which, for some reason, although I loathe it, I feel compelled to touch every time I encounter it. Ew ew ew ew ew, as Eminem said about certain strange and disgusting sexual practices involving tubing.


Yes, there were some, even though I hadn’t asked for any. I didn’t refuse any either, though.

Today I used my gift card for Thornton’s. I figured it was the perfect excuse to try the dreaded Roller Grill Item, which actually turned out to be pretty good. Since there’s no place to sit down in Thornton’s, I took my Item and my drink and trundled across the street to Walgreen’s, where I had a little picnic on their bench under the awning, safe from both the blazing sun and the giant storm cloud, which for some reason were both in the sky simultaneously, and neither of which I wanted to be under.

I received gift cards for Walgreen’s! and for Barnes & Noble! and for Canton Inn! and will report back on what use I make of them, and, for that matter, how I manage to get to Canton Inn, which will probably be a story in itself.


I was solemnly presented with a creepily natural-looking crow, which has been handed down to several people celebrating significant birthdays. We proceeded to argue about whether it was taxidermy or not, and whether it had actually made a noise, or whether we’d just imagined it. I thought it should croak “Nevermore,” or, as one of Rom’s nieces once thought it was, “Quoth the Raven, ‘Never mind.'” Puts a whole different spin on the poem, doesn’t it? At any rate, the Old Crow now perches above this computer until I can figure out who else to bestow it on.


A couple people asked if the fabled Nick (one person actually called him that) was going to make an appearance. I was even asked if he was a real person or just a fictional character. The latter theory was gaining credence as a couple hours went by without him. After 2 1/2 bottles of apple ale, and a little too much food, I started thinking I might be about to be sick. I headed for the bathroom in case this happened, but luckily the crisis passed. And who should I see when I came back out, but the said beast himself, proudly carrying a 12-pack of ale, in case I needed more. He was duly inspected by the gathered FanBase. His lack of fire-breathing ability was deplored, but the length of his fangs and scaliness of tail were much admired, until all the attention made him slink back into the outer darkness, though not before grabbing a quantity of brownies.

While Nick was out of the room, Rom thought it would be fun to play with Nick’s younger cub, who had been gleefully running around up to that moment. So Rom charged at the cub while making a monster noise, causing the poor thing to flee in a panic, squealing in terror and flapping his tiny wings.


I include it here because we had it at such a polite volume that probably no one could hear it.

–Bruce Springsteen, “Darkness on the Edge of Town”–because I walk streets of fire, obviously!

–R.E.M., “Out of Time”–That’s me in the spotlight, that’s me in the driveway, losing my religion…

–the Doors, “L.A. Woman”–I had to include some Doors, and this one doesn’t have any songs that are 20 minutes long and involve screaming.

–Blue Oyster Cult, “Agents of Fortune”–this features “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” which Sister Elizabeth told me she considers my theme song. So I’ll just have to have it played whenever I walk into a room.