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Two cats, a killer, and Craigslist: Time Travel with Nicki Ep. 2

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It all started because I had two cats I needed to get rid of. And by get rid of, I mean give them away to a good home, not drown them in the bathtub or anything. I should tell you right now I am not a cat person. I am a bit of an attention whore and I need animals who will stare deeply into my eyes all day, follow me around, and laugh at my jokes. That’s why I have dogs now. Hell, it’s probably why I have a kid. But cats make you work for their love, and I just didn’t have the time.

It was 2003 and I was living completely alone for the first time ever. I had an adorable loft apartment across the street from a crack house on the outskirts of downtown. It was great. When your neighbors are prostitutes and drug dealers, no one cares if you have your stereo up loud at night. One afternoon I remarked to a fellow I was casually dating, “you know, I think I need a pet.”

The next time he came over he brought two tabby kittens. Obviously, Romeo didn’t know me very well. A sensible gentleman would have brought me a goldfish, or paid for me to go to rehab. But I bought all the necessary cat junk for the little fur balls and promised myself I would be a good cat mommy.

I used to break all my promises to myself.

Fast forward six months. Romeo is history, like many a Romeo before him, and I am dating Johnny Hollywood. (Remember him? The guy who bought me these.) I am spending most nights at his place, because it is nicer, and since he has a severe case of psychosomatic asthma, the cats are not invited. “Well, at least they have each other”, I thought, as I dumped three days worth of kitty chow into a bowl. I would even leave the TV on CNN so they could stay up to date with world events and not feel sequestered.

Two young cats left to their own devices can be real assholes. They shredded my vintage leather jacket. They shredded my Dad’s old Pottery Barn couch. They shit in weird places, like on my pillow and in my shoes. After a month of little human contact and sporadic feeding, they had become mostly feral and had taken to scrounging for old Taco Bell in the trash.

Meanwhile, Johnny Hollywood had invited me to move in. But first, the cats had to go. But where? Hollywood suggested I place an ad on Craigslist. I thought Craigslist was just something guys used to have secret gay sex, but he assured me it works like a charm for getting rid of unwanted pets. I placed my ad (adorable cats free to good home) and waited.

And waited. And waited some more. Two weeks passed. One Monday night, I was sitting at my laptop googling “how to humanely kill cats” when my email notification pinged. It was a message from someone calling himself Andy. He wanted to come see the cats, he said. He and his girlfriend would take them if they were healthy. I texted the number with my address and told him to come on over. Praise Jesus, I thought, breathing in the ammonia scented air, these jerks are out of my life for good.

Less than an hour later, my doorbell rang. I opened the door, and immediately I felt something was wrong.

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Ok, it wasn’t that wrong. It was more like this…

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He was a youngish white guy. Pasty, thin. Completely nondescript. But even as I was ushering him in, my spidey sense was tingling like crazy. He stuck his hands in his pockets, shrugged his shoulders, and smiled. With his mouth, not his eyes. His eyes were like two dead fish floating in a bowl.

“Hi. I’m Andy. I’m here to see those cute wittle kitties.”

I’m not kidding, he seriously said “wittle”. I started to feel panicky.

“Uh, yeah. Sure, sure. Um, let me go grab them. Uh, where’s your girlfriend? I figured she would want to check them out, too.”

“Sabrina’s at work. She trusts I’ll make the right decision. I always make the right decision. Ha! Well. We just really want…pets. Just some little things to love.”

“Umm, ok. They’re probably upstairs in my room. You just, um, hang out a minute and I’ll go get them.”

So I left him there, leaning creepily against the foyer wall while I climbed the spiral staircase to my bedroom. There were two thoughts swirling in my brain. One: something is up with this guy. He just doesn’t seem right. At all. Two: Once again I have proven to be too stupid to live. No one knows this guy is even here. Who invites some random Craigslist stranger into her home? All that reading up on serial killers, and I fall for the oldest trick in the book.

When I got to the top of the stairs, I stole a glance back down. “Andy” had moved over to the big windows on the other side of the room, and was peering outside through the slatted blinds. I crept into my bedroom and looked for the stupid cats. I finally found them sleeping in my closet, and stuffed one under each arm and crept back downstairs before Andy could locate the knife drawer.

“Aww, there’s the cute wittle guys! Hey, kitty kitty! Hey, kitty kitty!” He cooed in a strange, loud voice. He reached out a pale and flaccid arm toward me. Both cats jumped from my arms onto the couch. Their ears were laid straight back on their skulls. One was actually hissing.

“They’re actually total sweetie pies” I said idiotically. “They just need time to get used to people.”

“Ohhhh, I can tell. I can tell you wittle kitties are sweet. Samantha is going to love you guys.” He was still smiling that weird smile. His hands were balled into fists. A muscle twitched near his eye. I crossed over to the windows. The blinds were always closed, because I lived across the street from a crack house and all. I opened them now, and looked out.  A lone hooker stood on the corner, hot boxing a Newport. As I watched, she ground the butt under her heel and walked away. The street was utterly deserted. No one to bear witness to my grisly murder.

“I thought you said her name was Sabrina.”

“That’s what I SAID.” For the first time, his smile faltered, and he looked nonplussed. “You think I don’t know my own girlfriend’s NAME? You need to clean out your ears. Hahaha!” He reached for the cats again. They darted behind the couch. He threw his arms out wide and smiled a huge crazy smile.

“I’ll take ’em!! This deal is too good to pass up. You said you would give me the carrier too, right?”

“Ummm, yeah, the carrier is included. I have half a bag of food too, and toys.”

“Just the carrier. Samantha already got them food and toys. And TREATS. Lots of treats for my new wittle kitties.”

“Ok, well. Ok. Like, you want to take them right now?”

“That’s what I SAID, isn’t it? I’m a busy guy. I took a break from my important JOB to come over here. Sabrina can’t wait to see these little guys, and I know better than to disappoint my Sabrina.”

My body was buzzy with adrenaline. My butt was all sweaty. I couldn’t think clearly. I just wanted this guy out of my apartment. And I hadn’t forgotten my objective, which was ridding myself of these cats.

“Their carrier is upstairs. I’ll go get it.” I climbed back up the stairs, back into my room, and was in the closet reaching for the carrier when I heard an unmistakeable noise. The light tread of footsteps on my wrought-iron stairs. I whipped around, holding the carrier out in front of me like a lion tamer with a stepstool, and he was in the doorway of my bedroom.

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“What are you doing?” I said in a choked voice.

“I just wanted to see what was up here.”

I pushed past him, still holding the carrier in front of me. “It’s my room. Just my room. Do you want something to drink? Let’s go downstairs so you can get something to drink.”

He followed me down the stairs, and for the whole 6 seconds I kept waiting for his hands to close around my throat. They didn’t. I gave him a can of Mountain Dew from the fridge which he slurped greedily while I wrestled the hissing beasts into the carrier.

“Please take good care of them.” I was almost in tears.

“You know I will.”

And with that, he was gone. After I slid the deadbolt, I realized he never even asked the cats’ names.

Oh, man, I hope he didn’t kill my cats.

Oh, shit, I kind of think he killed my cats.

So. That’s the story of the time I met a serial killer on Craigslist. I mean, I’m pretty sure he was a fledgling killer, and I think by now he’s probably killed at least a few people. And what did I learn? I learned to be a little more careful about strangers. I realize most people cover this territory in elementary school, but alas, I took the road less travelled to maturity and adulthood.

I also learned that I am a complete asshole. I sacrificed those poor animals to save my own precious hide. But it didn’t bother me for too long. A week later I was on a flight to Amsterdam with Johnny Hollywood, and Andy and the cats were just another memory shoved down into the vault.

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P.S. What do YOU think? Was Andy a killer or was this just my imagination gone horribly awry? Have you ever felt Stranger Danger? How did you deal with it? Tell me all about it in the comments.

P.S.S. Please don’t call PETA on me. I take lovely care of my animals these days.

Meet Jingles, the chronic fatigue syndrome elf!

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This is Jingles. He is Sadie’s “Elf on the Shelf”. In case you are living in a fallout shelter, “Elf” is a little toy that you can use to launch a nice Big Brother spy mission on your kids at Christmastime. Elfie sits on his shelf, or wherever, and watches your kid all day. Then at night, he reports to Santa on the day’s transgressions before flying home. As a parent, it is your job to move the elf each night to his new spot so your child can find him upon waking up. Also, the child cannot touch Elfie or she will contract full blown AIDS she will rub off his Christmas Magic.

I can’t believe I actually fell for this shit. It’s because I saw one too many pictures like this:

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Freakin’ Pinterest is the bane of a lazy Mom’s existence. “OHMAGAWD!” I exclaimed. “How cute is that! This is going to be sooooo fun! Christmas memories. YES!!!” And before you could say “Kris Kringle” I was slapping down my plastic at amazon.com. I couldn’t wait for Elf to arrive! Where would I hide him? How would Sadie respond? Even more important, would he actually make her BEHAVE???

Two days later Elfie arrived. I had gotten the $30 version with elf, book, and bonus DVD. Now from all these pics I had seen of Elves hanging from Christmas trees and ziplining through kids bedrooms, I figured he would have a bendy Gumby body. Not so. Get some duct tape, ya’ll, if you plan to get freaky with your Elf. He is your basic “Made in China” piece of shit with a felt suit, permanently sewn together hands, and no feet. Workshop accident, maybe? Even worse is his face. From all the photos, I knew he had an impish grin and upturned eyes, but let me tell you…look in his eyes and it’s clear to see he has killing on his mind.

Later that night, I introduced Sadie to him. Now keep in mind, she isn’t even three. So, in addition to explaining about the old fat man who brings toys in his magic sled, I am now trying to coax her tiny mind around the idea that this CHEAP DOLL is actually one of Santa’s magical elves. I read the book for some backup help. But with awesome writing like this:

“Each night while you’re sleeping to Santa I’ll fly to the North Pole right through the dark sky.”

and….

“A push or a shove I’ll report to the boss but small acts of kindness will not be a loss.”

She was more confused than ever. I kinda get why the book was self-published. “Let’s give our elf a name!” I cried, undaunted. “Ummm, you do it.” she tells me. Now keep in mind Sadie names EVERYTHING, even her turds. So I named him Jingles.

I also thought the whole no-touching thing would be an issue. But she has never tried to touch him, ever. Little kids can sense evil.

But the main thing I hate about Jingles is that I’m supposed to move him every night. It sounds fun, it’s not. The last thing I want to do after I get home from work is make some holiday magic. The first night I put him in the leftover Halloween candy. I also put him on top of the aquarium with a fish net. I put him in the Christmas tree (yawn) and then her stocking (double yawn). And after that, he’s pretty much stayed on top of the bookshelf. Sadie doesn’t care.

And the few times I’ve tried to use Jingles to stop her bad behavior, i.e. “Sadie STOP punching the dog!! Jingles is watching and he will TELL SANTA!!” she has looked at me with a “bitch, please” face, like, “ok mom YOU can’t tell me what to do and now you think I’m going to listen to that toy?” And, sadly, she is 100% right.

Here’s the moral to this sad holiday tale: make your own traditions. I’m an unconventional Mom with a crazy, wild ass kid. Something that’s mass produced and comes from a box is not going to make our season bright. I could have just as easily bought a two dollar rubber snake (Sadie loves snakes) and made up some sort of tale around him. Even better, we could do this in JULY when I don’t already have a long list of shit to do. If you love your elf, awesome. You are a better woman than I. It just seems like anytime I try to be the kind of mom I’m not (organized, cheerful, crafty) I lose out on being the Mom I am (awesome).

take this job and shove it!

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Confession: I’m a bridge burner. At least, I used to be. I was a pyromaniac-immolating jobs, friendships, romantic relationships…..and standing back to watch the blaze with glee. I would nearly always do this in the month of December. While others were trimming their trees, sipping cocoa, and ice skating hand in hand, I was getting all contemplative and feelingsy. This had nothing to do with Christmas, and everything to do with the impending end of another year. Another year gone, and I was still broke, still crazy, still not where I wanted to be, and someone must be punished.

Five years ago at Christmastime I was working for a new-home builder. We’ve all heard of McMansions, well I sold McHovels. I once saw a kitchen cabinet fall off while I was giving someone a tour of a model home. I was constantly harassed by my creepy boss (he had tiny soft Little Person hands) and I made something like 47 dollars a week. I also worked two nights a week at The Lodge Bar. The Lodge Bar was a cheesy chain nightclub with a hunting lodge theme. I know, it’s really embarrassing. I had been working both jobs all year, but suddenly December came and I decided to get out the matches. I quit my day job, filing a complaint against Mr. Creepytown, and I quit my Lodge Bar job too. This email I wrote them made the rounds in the industry, passing from person to person, but since I started blogging I have received several requests to post it. So here you go, my early Christmas gift to you. I will post unedited, and footnotes as well.

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On Sun, 12/21/08, Nichole wrote:
From: Nichole
Subject: Partnership…..not!!
To: some people who shall remain nameless
Date: Sunday, December 21, 2008, 4:25 PM

Hey guys,

This is usually the time of the week that I email my partnership availability. (1) Well, this week I am emailing that I am quitting this janky shit shack called the Lodge Bar. I have been tending bar longer than most of our staff has had pubic hair, and in twelve years in this industry, this is the absolute worst job I have had. I came in with my eyes open, I was warned. I knew it was corporate and cheesy and the epitome of everything I loathe in life. But I really needed some extra cash. Sadly, the cash never came. I have never worked so hard for so little return. (2) At this point I would feel like less of a whore giving hand jobs in a massage parlor. Even more frightening is the fact that most people who work there actually think it’s cool, as is evidenced by the fact that they are lurking about every night whether they are working or not. It is such an alien concept to me, since everytime I walk through the door I feel like I am dying inside. I have not seen a group of people more zealously brainwashed for a common cause since the Third Reich. Since I am not a sycophantic turd who drinks/sleeps with management, I get treated poorly even though I am literally one of maybe three girls who work there that can actually mix a drink. Apparently, the priority is to be an adderall-crazed poptart who gyrates behind the bar all night giving free drinks to every d-bag that throws me a wink.

Our customers suck. Only people that do suck would want to come to the Lodge Bar. If I see one more fat girl sucking down a fishbowl I am going to go on a killing spree. Oh, and while I am it…..quit billing DJ SEAN as the best DJ in the city. That washed up coke mess has been a social pariah and known douche since the late 90’s. I am frankly amazed he has managed to have a renaissance of sorts in the redneck club scene. Also, napkin throwing…don’t get me started. I love how we can waste upteen boxes of napkins a night throwing them into the air like ghetto confetti to bad techno music, but if I crack open a Red Bull to enjoy, I get looked at like I just stole the Hope Diamond.

I have been enduring the hour of phone calls a week, inviting people in to enjoy a “VIP Happy Hour” consisting of soggy sub sandwiches and cheese cubes from the Ice Ages, but now I am responsible for selling New Years Eve tickets!!!! As if I know anyone, self included, who wants to ring in the new year surrounded by dead animal heads and the finest that Price Hill has to offer. So while I would love to be your resident cougar (even thought I look younger than half these leather-faced tanning bed junkies) I am saying sayonara suckers, I am off to greener pastures.(3) Thank God. Don’t worry about getting me my last check since you never managed to process my paperwork correctly anyway.

xoxoxo
Nicki D

P.S. Jenny, you’re actually really cool. Get out while you still can. (4)

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1. “Partnership” was a nice markety term given to the hours a week we were required to come in to the Lodge Bar and make telemarketing calls to people, inviting them to come in for a “VIP happy hour”. We were required to do this without being paid, because, hey, we’re all partners here at Lodge Bar!
2. Technically this was not true because my day job sucked pretty hard also.
3. I had no job prospects whatsoever.
4. I have zero recollection of who this “Jenny” person is.

In conclusion, I would like to say that The Lodge Bar was no better or worse than any other club. I was 32 years old! I was ready for a different phase in my life. And the next year, I got married, and the year after that I got pregnant, and here it is 5 years later and it’s hard to remember that life at all.

I haven’t set anything on fire in a while. I love my job, my husband, my daughter, my house. But it is good to know that when things get bad, I have the ladyballs to fuck some shit up.

P.S. If you currently hate your job, feel free to use this email as a template.