Mean Boys: All My Friends in High School Were Gay Men. It Was Awesome.

In 9th grade, I had the body of a 32-year-old woman, the eyebrows of a lunatic, and the style of an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog from circa 2004.

The cherry on top?

I just moved schools.

I only really knew a couple of people before I moved, so I was open to making new friends. On the night of open house, I met someone who was about to either make or break my high school experience.

A revered figure within the community, Buford Roberts was notorious for flaying people alive with his insults that were as sharp as razor blades, right before hanging them out to dry for the world to see.

No one was safe, including teachers.

One look at me, and he made me his little project. I wasn’t complaining, either. You didn’t want to be one of the unfortunate ones who weren’t in his social graces.

Homecoming King, Prom King, and Regina George of Fairview High School were just a few of the titles he held.

I froze like a deer in head lights when he approached me. I already knew who he was, because you didn’t just not know who he was.

He stood at about 6’4, with light mossy green eyes that made you feel like he knew all of your secrets.

Because, he did.

His most notable feature was his hair, which wasn’t shaped in any particular fashion. Because there was so much of it, it sort of resembled a powerful, all-knowing bouffant that surged with gossip.

Either way, with his squarish jawline and a nose that would make Paris Hilton jealous, there was definitely a good-looking man underneath all that high school awkwardness.

“You look good in green. Has anyone ever told you that?” he coyly smirked, exposing his impeccable white teeth.

Somebody had way too many coupons for Crest White strips.

Before I could answer, he aggressively grabbed my arm, pulled me closer to him, and looked me directly in the eyes like he was about to beat me up.

“You’re cute. Let’s be friends,” he said, tenderly letting go of my shirt.

Oh, okay.

I mean, I wasn’t going to say no. I didn’t have any friends, plus he held the school’s crotch in the palm of his hand. Social suicide wasn’t exactly on my agenda that year.

Buford wasn’t just a Mean Girl, though. He was also annoyingly funny, which meant that no matter how awful he was to you, or told you that your outfit looked like shit, he said it in a way that made you feel important.

“Did you get dressed with your eyes closed this morning?” he’d say to my best friend at least once a week.

Like a ruthless dictator, he’d wait for about five seconds, then burst out into laughter, which let everyone else in the group know that it was okay to laugh as well.

If I’m being honest, though, this girl did kind of dress like an owl going to prom.

That year, Buford developed a “crush” on this same friend, and tried to convince me to get her to go out with him. I saw straight through this, It was just a gentle maneuver to elevate her popularity, while making him  appear less gay.

If that was even possible.

One day, he passed me a note in the hall, which I eagerly opened in my social studies class.

“Do you have a boyfriend named Arnold* that I need to know about?” it read in a sarcastic tone.

He was referring to her boyfriend who was like 17 years her senior.

“This is so stupid. I mean… I just don’t think this is going to work. She led me on for far too long. I don’t want to be friends with her anymore,” he wrote, masterfully manipulating the entire situation.

That day, my friend called me in a panic.

“We need to talk,” she said in a worried voice.

“Yeah, I know. Buford is mad at you. About the whole Arnold thing,” I replied.

“I KNOW! He completely ignored me when I spoke to him today. He literally pretended like I didn’t exist when I said hi to him in the hall,” she continued laying out the pre-cursor to WWIII.

Oh no. It was worse than I thought. He had already doomed her to ghost status.

“Well, what are you going to do? You seriously don’t want him mad at you,” I responded.

We are already disliked by nearly every girl in school. Were we really about to revoke our social rising amongst our gay friends?

I pushed for dating Buford.

“Look, you’re just going to have to break-up with Arnold. I just moved to this school and I’m not going to let you jeopardize our chances of having any friends. We can’t lose Buford as our ally,” I told her.

“It’s not that easy, Hannah. And, isn’t he is gay? I mean there’s just something different about him,” she argued.

“I mean not officially, but who cares if he is gay. Just let him be your boyfriend. Now do what you have to do,” I strategically advised.

Thankfully, within a week or so, Buford quickly forgot about the whole ordeal and got a different girlfriend from his church.

Talk about a close one…

A few months later, little to my knowledge, he entered me into an actual popularity contest. Yes, it was that wonderful time of the year, where the school voted for the most-liked kids in each grade. It wasn’t that I was disliked, but I certainly wasn’t the most popular girl in my grade. I was shocked that I even made the list of top five.

I was even more surprised when I actually won.

I remember thinking, “This is not right. I am not the most popular person amongst these other girls. I’m not even a cheerleader.”

After I found out I won, the first person to congratulate me was Buford.

“Congrats on the big win. You really deserved it,” he said in the most fake pageant queen tone I’ve ever heard.

“No, I didn’t? What are you even talking about. I’m definitely not the most popular person in my grade,” I told him.

I know,” he said still brilliantly smiling.

“I might’ve had a hand in swinging the election a bit,” he explained.

Buford was the president of student council, which meant that he was in charge of the ballots for any kind of vote. In an act of immense political corruption, he personally voted for me about 900 times, so that I’d win.

“OH MY GOD! BUFORD! I DIDN’T EVEN WANT TO WIN!” I yelled.

“Yes, you did. You did want to win. But it wasn’t possible. So, I made it possible. You’re welcome,” he said.

What was he? The Robin Hood of popularity?

He was right, though. I guess this meant that I was officially popular by law.

It was nice not feeling alone during my first year at a new school. Me and my best friend quickly became a part of Buford’s squad of suspected gay kids, except we really were straight.

It also led us to question our own sexuality.

“Have you ever noticed that all of our friends are gay?” my best friend asked me one day.

“Well, not officially gay,” I reminded her.

Whatever that meant.

“Yeah, but like, have you ever thought that you were gay? I mean… maybe we are gay, too. Like, how do we not know that we are gay?” she tried reasoning.

“I mean, I think you just know,” I said back.

“Wait, do you need to tell me something?” I followed up to my last question.

There seemed to be an internal struggle of sorts going on.

“I don’t think I’m gay. I’m just wondering how you know if you are or not,” she said in a way that made me think she’d seriously spent some time muling this issue over.

“I think you just know if you are gay. I don’t think we are, but I do think most of our friends are. I know a lot of people consider it to be bad here, but I don’t care. It just doesn’t matter,” I said.

We seemed to both agree upon this and left it at that. It didn’t matter to me if my friends were gay or not. Not only were they the funnest people to be around, they were also the funniest. They made me feel included, when I could’ve easily been excluded.

Fast-forward to 10th grade, where we all decide to take my mom’s new creative writing class. No offense to my mom, but this class was a shit show, and she loved it. It was just me and all my friends writing horrible comedic material that my mom had to grade.

That’s where I met another squad member, Cody. We bonded over him telling me captivating stories about what life as a Pentecostal was like.. Between people slithering down the aisles of church like snakes to a strange man possessed with a dark demon, it was enough to give Stephen King a run for his money.

I know that we did have actual assignments to complete, but I don’t remember any of them.

Except for one.

Our final project was to create and film a story. We were split into groups, in which I was separated from my best friend, but put onto Buford’s team. Naturally, he would take the lead role as the villain in the classic vaudeville story that we wrote together.

I couldn’t tell you what exactly this movie was about. All I remember is being tied to a tree, right before Buford punched me in the stomach  for a more “dramatic effect.”

My junior and senior year, I transferred again to a community college to complete an Associate’s Degree, while I also took my high school graduation requirements. Even though I didn’t get to hangout with my friends as much, we still stayed in touch. Thinking back on my high school experience, I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I had two really fun years of being a part of a group of people that I genuinely liked.

During my other two years of high school at college, I actually learned how to do math.

Now, that’s a success story that we can all rally around.

Today, Buford is an all-star traveling nurse, who currently lives in St. Louis with his long-term boyfriend. He grew out of his awkwardness, styled his hair, and is annoyingly handsome.

He is also still a total bitch. Let me make this clear. 

But in a way that makes it okay, because it’s funny, which is an important life lesson to remember. Buford taught me that you can be mean to people, but only as long as you do it in a comedic way that makes them feel like it’s okay to be the butt of your joke.

It’s a great social skill to put on your resume and will make you famous at holiday parties.

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🍕My First Job Out of College Required Me to Rub Cream on an 100-Year-Old Man, but at Least I Wasn’t a Pizza Delivery Boy 🍕

When I graduated college, I believed that the world was my oyster.

What I later found out was that the world was my oyster, but only in the sense that I needed to find the pearl ASAP, so I could sell it in order make my next student loan payment.

Upon graduation, I honestly believed I was going to get a job at the Smithsonian. Obviously, reality checks weren’t in surplus back then.

Instead what I got was a brutal blow to my ego and a job at the local Planet Fitness.

Once a month, the gym offered free pizza to its members.

While this might seem unethical, let me be the first to tell you that it actually worked.

Hell hath no fury like a Planet Fitness on pizza night. I couldn’t help but stare in awe as people quickly formed a line outside and demanded slices of free pizza like they were picketing for fair wages during the height of the Great Depression.

After working there for all but maybe three weeks, I had seen enough.

I opted for what sounded like a better gig and applied for a strange job that I found on Craigslist. After an extensive interview process at Taco Casa, I ended up becoming a paid friend to a gold digger and her 100-year-old husband.

Since my boss didn’t want to spend time with something that now resembled a tortoise from the Galapagos Islands, she steadily began putting me on babysitting duty.

Basically, all I had to do was keep an eye on him and make sure he didn’t drive his golf cart off a cliff or fall down, which ended up being a lot harder than it sounds.

Honestly, looking back, the job wasn’t that bad. A lot of my afternoons were spent dipping my toes in their infinity pool, while Mr. Winkler* bobbled around in the water like a lifeless fishing lure.

Occasionally, his rusty old voice would croak out a sexual harassment or two, which helped me determine that he was still alive and well.

“Hell, he’s harmless. His mind’s gone,” his assistant of 30 years told me one day after we both heard him casually telling a 19-year-old and her mother to “take their tops off.”

While his brain told him differently, he was no longer a head honcho living in the smoke-filled executive board rooms of the 50s anymore.

“At that age, he can get away with whatever he wants to say. They ain’t gonna lock that old man up. He’s always askin’ women to take their tops off. Ain’t nothing new there, My mother used to work for him before I did. She said they only built that hotel over there, so that he could keep all his women in one place,” he continued, not making his escapades any more redeemable.

Little did I know, his flirtatious nature would be put to the test the day the maid didn’t come to work.

Guess who was the only person with him.

Yours truly.

“Where’s Amy? I need her to rub my cream on my skin for me,” his froggy voice complained from his bathroom.

Apparently, this special cream helped his skin from cracking. It was part of his morning routine that I was thankfully not involved in.

“I’m sorry, she’s not here, sir. It’s just me,” I yelled back from the hallway, which featured a Sistine Chapel-esque ceiling.

“Well… I need someone to help me. If she’s not here, you’re going to have to do it,” he replied from behind the door.

Ah, the moment of truth.

While hospice care is certainly not my area of expertise, I made my way down the hall to meet my fate. You can’t just tell a struggling old person to f*ck off.

He opened the bathroom door.

Without any clothes on, I couldn’t help but notice that his 6’4 frame was shriveled with age. There he stood in a pair of the longest tighty whities that anyone’s ever laid eyes on.

It’s funny how at 97, he looked like a naked baby: vulnerable, helpless, and in need of someone to tend to his demands.

I internally screamed as he handed me his medicated cream in a manner that suggested I better get to work if I wanted to get this done by the end of the day.

This was a moment where you know there is no other possible outcome than sucking it up, and sticking your hand into a wet pile of shit with a smile on your face.

So, that’s what I did. In 9.2 nano seconds, I managed to cover his body in a thick coat of cream, which he helped rub in.

When I was finished, I awkwardly bowed, not knowing what else to do, and left the bathroom.

We never spoke of it again.

When I worked for the Winklers my life was sort of like a full season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, except it was all real and had no written punchlines

It was so sad and morbid that it had to be funny.

For instance: The Diary.

I often worked from their house when they went on vacation, which meant that I was given an ample amount of time to sift through the pages of a diary that I accidentally found one day.

A strict code of ethics would have probably suggested that I shouldn’t have opened the diary in the first place, but who are we kidding?

Things like this make up the evil core of my being.

“I just can’t believe my son is a pizza delivery boy,” the author confessed.

Uh. what?

I knew she had a son, who was a stock broker, but she had never mentioned her other son, the pizza delivery boy.

“I mean, I’ve given him everything in the world, and he becomes a pizza delivery boy?” I read deeper into her soul.

I put the diary face down.

I had to take a mental break.

After I was done zoning out for a solid five minutes and had fully processed the gold mine I just found, I picked it back up and continued.

🍕

“He could’ve been anything. We’re millionaires and he is actively choosing to be a pizza delivery boy,” she whined.

“He’s rejected the lifestyle we live. What do I tell my friends? I don’t know what I did to deserve this,” the frantic cursive handwriting read.

My boss’s sons had long moved out of the house by then, so I didn’t personally know her pizza delivery boy son. 

But Mr. Winkler’s assistant did.

Pizza delivery boy! No, no, no. Jesus help her. We gotta pray for her,” he said, with tears streaming down his face.

He was laughing so hard that he couldn’t speak.

🍕

Pizza delivery boy!  God help the b*tch. Oh, she has it coming!” he continued laughing, as he walked away, shaking his head.

It was no secret he couldn’t stand her.

While this job was entertaining, it started to become stressful. At times, it felt like managing a pack of insecure Ozzy Osbournes.

I knew I had to figure something else out.

I decided to apply for graduate school way past the deadline, since more school seemed like my only choice.

Two more years of college would be a breeze, and it would give me time to think about what I wanted to do with my life.

LOL, yeah right. 

To be continued…

The Shawshank Redemption: Nursing Home Edition

If you need a long-term panic attack, I highly suggest living beside a nursing home.

In my case, the situation is comparable to a cute young couple who find out 10 minutes into a horror movie that their surprisingly cheap new home is possessed with ancient demons.

Naively, I couldn’t believe it when I found an awesome deal on a two bedroom, two bath, newly renovated apartment. The house was adorable and homey, plus it was also in a great neighborhood located only a mile away from the beach.

Meanwhile, my landlord forgot to mention that my room also included a birds-eye view of the man who tries to escape from the clutches a of nursing home worker every day.

Oopsies.

Welcome to the neighborhood, 12 to 17 panic attacks per month.

When I moved in, “excited” doesn’t even begin to explain how pumped I was about leaving my old house and getting away from my desperate 49-year-old roommate and his Cheweenie dog.

Yes, you heard that right. After I launched a Google investigation a few weeks following my move-in, I found out my supposed 36-year-old self-proclaimed young bachelor of a roommate, was really older than my dad.

Cool!

Also, for those of you wondering what a Cheeweenie dog is, it is basically a hybrid of Wiener dog and Chihuahua, mixed with Gary Busey.

The welcome mat placed under our front door, read “Meerkat Crossing,” and invited visitors into our home with this dog’s face printed on it.

Oh, and he was also wearing a Santa Claus suit.

Casual.

Realistically, we didn’t even need the mat to warn people that Norma and Norman Bates lived with us. John* and Meerkat had a very codependent relationship, so whenever Meerkat heard someone coming to the door, he let out a series of snarls and vicious Rottweiler barks, which I guess were meant to protect his “Mother,” aka my fully grown male roommate.

Meerkat was quite possibly the biggest asshole I’ve ever met, and that’s saying a lot, considering that I’ve been sexually harassed by one of my old bosses before.

This weiner dog had some kind of sick vendetta against me for no reason at all. When I’d get home from work, I’d find him in my room, rolling around on my brand new white rug, with a gleeful look of hatred in his eyes.

Like a mother with a spoiled brat of a child, John always encouraged Meerkat’s disgraceful behavior.

Awwww… Look how cute he is!” he’d say in his Big Bird voice as Meerkat rubbed his ass all over my rug. “He just loves that rug!” he’d laugh from my door, watching his child destroy my things with loving eyes.

There’s so many directions I can go with living here for a few months, but I’ll save that for a different day.

Halloween will probably be an appropriate time to tell everyone the story about when John dressed up for this upcoming holiday, and went out to the bars as a “Cereal Monogamist.”

And yes, I mean cereal, as in the cereal that you eat.

Needless to say, I was definitely thrilled to leave those two behind and start a life of relaxation in my new place.

As if.

About a month after my move, I started noticing this ear piercing electronic sound wave, which I thought was the UPS truck until a few weeks ago.

I was walking down to my car, when my neighbor pointed towards an old man, exiting the nursing home from a back door.

“There he goes again!” he heartedly chuckled like jolly old Saint Nick.

“Excuse me?” I replied, being totally clueless.

“The old man that tries to escape the nursing home every day. He’s right there! That noise is the alarm that he sets off when he exits the backdoor. See, that lady chasing him? She’s gonna wrestle him back in. Oh… oh… HA! She’s got him!” he announced like a Monday night football commentator.

“Dear God. I thought that was the UPS truck backing up every day,” I said, as my brain turned into a pile of mush and my existence slowly faded to black.

So young. So innocent.

I watched as an enraged nurse chased after him, grabbed his arm, and pulled him back into the building, as he made a facial expression that screamed, “Help me, you dumb bitch!”

What.

The. Fuck.

Just. Happened?

“Yeah, he does it all day long. Any time you hear that sound, that’s him trying to escape,” he turned and walked towards one of his barefoot Children of the Corn.

Those kids are always screaming underneath my window in the alley like their damn heads are on fire.

I got into my car and thought about life and death immediately.

I am even going to live to the age where I want to bolt out of my nursing home and be free? Will my friends and family visit me? Will I die before my future husband?

What about that guy that sits out front every day with no legs? Will I have legs? What would life be like if I couldn’t walk?

Am I supposed to be starting a family right now, so that I will have someone to take care of me when I’m old? Will my future kids like me? What if I don’t have kids? When should I decide if I want kids? 

I spun myself into a web of despair and anxiety as I drove my Mini Cooper to my friend’s house to layout at the pool.

Is my body going to turn into a pile of mush and saggy skin? Or will I be one of those fit old ladies? What about Kris Jenner? Can I look like that? How much money per month should I start saving towards plastic surgery? 

I was lost in my vortex of a brain all day and couldn’t concentrate on anything other than this old man running away from being locked in a nursing home.

After I witnessed the Shawshank Redemption that was happening outside my back door, I believed that was the worst of it.

I was wrong.

It keeps happening day in and day out. A constant reminder that death and old age are only two steps away.

But damn, my rent is reasonable for Orange County.

I guess it’s worth a few panic attacks per month?

How a Doll Named Puddin’ and Her French Sisters Fueled My Childhood Nightmares for Years

When I was a little girl, my grandmother gave me a present that fueled my nightmares for years. Her name was Puddin’, not to be mistaken for Pudding, which is something I actually enjoy.

To this day, I’m terrified of babies and dolls, so I just want to take this opportunity to thank my mom and grandmother for contributing to this psychological problem

You see, Puddin’ came before the cute and class-act American Girl dolls. These dolls were a different breed, because they included harmless books and a compelling backstory. But being that it was the early 90s, my doll included a horribly mismatched pastel outfit and a dead look in her eyes.

If Felicity was busy conjuring up her desire for independence in colonial Virginia, then my girl Puddin’ was hard at work conjuring up spirits with Ed and Lorraine Warren.

An image of her still burns in my head today. She had thick black hair that was parted down the middle and separated into short pigtails, which was led by curled-under bangs that sat an inch off her forehead. She was meant to look like an actual baby, which scared me even more, because she looked like a grown woman in the face.

On her infant-shaped body, she wore bloomers and a light pink, yellow, and blue-checkered plaid dress, but the plaid was in haphazard places.

A yellow patch here, a blue patch there.

It was chaotic at best.

Her classic baby doll eyes were black and soul-less, while her mouth was fixed in a position that suggested she just got lip fillers from a doctor in Beverly Hills nine seconds ago.

By most people’s standards, she was probably beautiful. I wouldn’t know, because I shat my pants even looking in her general direction. All I can tell you is that I liked her about as much as I like shoveling horse shit.

Which I’ve never done, but I don’t think I’d enjoy it either way.

Pretty much from the day I got her, I created a space in my closet that resembled a maximum security version of solitary confinement. I buried her under a mountain of clothes, where I hoped she would live out the rest of her days in complete isolation from the world.

I was a smart kid, so it was an easy solution. I would  just never mention to my grandmother that Puddin’ was busy living amongst mole people.

Everything was cool and I had solved the problem.

Until her sisters arrived from France.

After my parents came back from a European vacation, they decided to gift me with a couple more pint-sized demons, as well as a doll case that I didn’t ask for.

Now, my new unwanted doll collection was to be put on display in the corner of my room at all times. It was like some sick form of torture that they dreamed up as a punishment. My rock collection was way cooler and rocks also don’t have human-like eyes to stare at you all night long.

Bonjour to more nightmares!

Like, was it that hard to pay attention to my actual interests?

ANYONE!?

The French doll sisters were beautiful, and I know this, because I was forced to look at them before I stayed up all night went to sleep.

If Puddin’ was a giant adult baby, the sisters were refined Victorian models. One had blonde ringlets, a gorgeous outfit, and a parasol, while the other one had a light brown up-do, a tiny matching hat, and a very expensive circle skirt.

They were around a foot and a half tall and had small porcelain faces, and life-like eyes that promised something devilish behind them. The dolls were hand-painted and probably cost a small fortune, but several questions remained:

  1. Did my parents know me?
  2. Had they ever witnessed me playing with a doll?
  3. In what world were these tiny psychos something that I’d actually be interested in having featured in the corner of my room?

An over-sized t-shirt that said “I Love Paris” would’ve sufficed.

My first night with the sisters involved me keeping my door all the way open so that the hall light would shine brightly enough to help me keep an eye on them. The next night when I went to sleep, I was met with more anguish and anxiety. The brown-haired one that looked like a French Audrey Hepburn was staring directly at me.

Did she just blink?

She just blinked. OH MY GOD. 

Did the blonde one’s parasol just move? There’s no way the air conditioning could’ve gotten inside their glass mausoleum.  

I was going crazy at this point, because I hadn’t slept in nearly 36 hours. They were too delicate to hide under clothes in my closet, plus my parents would notice them missing when they came to wake me up in the morning.

I devised a plan, that went on for several weeks.

Every night before I went to sleep and my parents were off to bed, I would get up, place the dolls in the hallway, so I wouldn’t have to look at them, shut my door, and bring them back inside in the morning before my parents noticed anything fishy.

It was only after then that I was able to go back to sleep and stop worrying about the evil sisters.

Then one day, my parents noticed the dolls in the hallway.

“What are your dolls doing in the hallway?” my mom asked.

“Well, to be honest with you, they scare me and I hate them,” I stated matter-of-factly.

I don’t really remember how the sisters met their fate, but I don’t think they were around much longer after that.

But Puddin’, didn’t seem like the type of girl who was easily intimidated. She was going out with a bang.

Covered in mouse droppings, she lived the majority of her life like a Balinese prisoner. For approximately 15+ years, she served a particularly grueling sentence due to my immense dislike of her.

When I moved off to college, I pulled a Toy Story 3, and obviously left her behind. Plus, how weird would that have been for me to bring a baby doll to college.

Talk about Daddy issues.

But the story doesn’t end there.

When I was back at home visiting for Christmas break one year, my grandmother asked me if I remembered Puddin’.

Oh, you mean that baby demon you got me? How could I forget?”

“Yeah, of course. It was that doll that was supposed to look like me that you got me for my birthday as a kid,” I hesitantly responded.

What in the world would spark a conversation about a forgotten doll?

“Well, you’ll be happy to know that I saved her! Your dad had her for sale in a yard sale after you left, and I had to keep her. I couldn’t believe he was going to throw her out,” she cheerfully explained.

You did what!” I panicked.

“I saved her! She’s with me now,” she kept gleefully saying.

This was like a real-life horror movie. Girl tries to get rid of doll that she is scared of, doll is like, “HAHA. LOL. Nice try.” Doll haunts girl for the rest of her life, until she is found dead at the bottom of her stairs with a broken neck.

On top of everything, I had mistreated Puddin’ to the maximum amount possible. I’m seriously surprised that a rat hadn’t partially eaten her face off, since my closet was located next to the attic, where the mice flourished like milk and honey.

So far, Puddin’ has not made her way back into my life, though.

That doesn’t mean that I’m not waiting for the day that she shows up on my doorstep in California, with her blank, expressionless eyes and a murder weapon.

I Hate People: Airport Edition.

Based on a recent traveling experience, let me tell you how much I hate people.

On my way back from Seattle, there was a woman sitting next to me on the plane, who felt the need to wrap pretzels in not one, but about nine plastic bags. This meant that every time she reached in for a pretzel to crunch directly into my earhole, she sounded like a roadside prisoner collecting trash from the streets of India.

2002

Seriously, based on her struggle, you would’ve thought she had a pair of Houdini’s handcuffs on, as she fought her way through the labyrinth of bags that she created for herself.

Automatic 12 angry stares.

About five rows up were two little douche bags, who appeared to be about 18 or 19. They were standing in line behind me in security as I was leaving, when I noticed their flat, monotone Orange County surfer-bro accents. Their height was possibly around 5’3, if they were stacked on top of one another.

Even worse, they were in matching outfits, which consisted of baggy-crotched sweatpants-shorts and oversized long sleeve t-shirts.

2003

“Broh, Rebeccuh is soh hott, dood. She fallowed me on Instahgram and she is lik so banginh. She’s Rachuel’s roommate. I’m defunitely fixinh to smash,” the littler one bragged with a tone that suggested he was not fixin’ to smash.

It’s honestly a modern day miracle that I didn’t let out a Big Foot summoning scream then and there, but somehow I was able to stand through about 40 minutes of this, considering the line was very long.

Once we boarded, they handed the stewardess their fake IDs, and asked for white wine.

It was approximately 6:15 a.m.

I hated them so much.

They reminded me of Tim and Eric’s Beaver Boys, who are fictional white wine and shrimp cocktail-loving bro besties. 

200

2001

You think I would’ve been cut some slack, due to my trip up there, but the traveling gods are never in my favor.

When I was still in Orange County, there was a problem with overbooking the plane. Naturally, all the passengers were asked to line up and say whether or not they’d like to offer up their tickets. Standing behind me, was a grown up Beaver Boy with a kid.

Baby Beaver.

Big Daddy Beaver was showing his kid around the airport like it was a shiny new medallion.

“Yeah, she’s our fourth one!” he said to some guy who didn’t even ask.

“It’s her first plane ride,” he commented to me, inching closer and closer into my back, so I would be forced to acknowledge his child.

Do not make direct eye contact,” I told myself.

“Well, I’m curious to see how she’s going to do on her first big plane ride,” he continued, aggressively pushing his infant into my body.

I’m absolutely not,” I commented in my head, considering that I hate children.

“She’s three-months-old. Yep,” he kept discussing, literally with himself, begging someone to pay attention to this cherry red gurgling face.

Some babies are cute. Some ugly as sin.

This was the latter.

I wanted to scream, “Stop pushing your damn tomato-colored baby into my back!” but they probably wouldn’t have let me on the plane.

He proceeded to make the loudest kissing noises onto Gordon Ramsey, Jr., which could be heard for miles.

2004

SMMMMMMUUUUUCHHHHHHHH” he suctioned onto her face, like an octopus catching a crab with its tentacles.

Oh my god. Please get me out of here.

I finally made my way through this obstacle course, and noticed the man going back to his wife, who disturbingly looked like she was about 70-years-old. She had long waist-length solid gray hair and a vibe that suggested her husband was one of those men that believed women’s bodies were made to be similar to a work mule, solely on the terms that they were supposed to pump out as many children as possible during the span of 20 years.

That is also a run-on sentence, but necessary.

This confirmed the fact that I feel very strongly about not having tiny psychos of my own any time within the next millennium.

Once I did get on the plane, I sat beside a woman who didn’t say one word to me, which is my ideal fellow passenger. Finally, I could relax a little.

The sun was setting and I looked out of the window to see the gorgeous sunset from the sky. That was when I noticed that the woman sitting next to me was taking a few pictures.

No big deal, right?

But she didn’t stop there. She took, hand on the Bible, maybe 7,000 pictures of the sunset. On top of that, she had a really shitty phone, so each picture came out looking like a giant indecipherable blob. I thought she realized the problem, but after about two full minutes of not taking a photo, she was back at it again, this time with flash.

2005

The flash only made the photograph worse, due to a common understanding of science.

Any third-grader could tell you that taking a picture through a reflective surface with the flash on is pretty f*cking stupid.

For about 2 hours, she experimented with variations of flash, no flash, some flash, window mirroring, direct surface contact, and nearly blinding me.

I endured this for 120 minutes, until the plane finally landed in Seattle. My left eye was about as handy as someone’s who had stared directly into a solar eclipse for three years.

Isn’t traveling so much fun?

2006

Channeling My Inner Haley Joel Osment at One of Savannah’s Weirdest Airbnb’s

About a year and a half ago, I fell in love with the city of Savannah, Georgia. Basically, Savannah is forged from the mind of someone who is seriously dark and demented, but also into super cute and pretty stuff, too.

If that doesn’t sound like me, I don’t know what does.

Everywhere you step in Savannah, someone is buried underneath your feet, got murdered by an axe, fell off a house into a spike, or totally haunts for shits and giggles. In contrast to all the weird stuff going on there, it’s an incredibly beautiful city full of parks, cool monuments, quaint coffee shops, and a ton of history.

I would like to take this moment to mention that over the course of two days, I think I also fell in love with my Airbnb hosts, Richmond and Robert,* one of which, may or may not have been a full-blown ghost.

A few weeks before the trip, I booked a room at this lovely mansion that was about a mile outside of all the hustle and bustle. From the pictures listed on Airbnb, the house was white and had different-sized windows trimmed in a robin’s egg blue color, while the door was painted bright orange. An abundance Spanish moss hung from a large tree that sat on the right hand corner of their lawn. From what I could see, the pictures showed an incredibly historically accurate restoration done on a 120-year-old house.

As a person who studied history for six years, I was super pumped.

LOL, just wait.

Upon arrival, I was greeted by Richmond, and later introduced to a spirit of a once living being Robert. My initial impression determined that they were both nice people, but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t feeling some serious animosity between the two.

From my best guess, Robert was probably in his late 900s, and operated off of a barely-beating heart. On the other hand, Richmond, possibly 61, clearly bought this mansion (with Robert’s money) as his “fixer-upper” and steady project, all in the effort to keep his mind off the fact that he married a the non-CGI version of the mummy from The Mummy.

Rather than saying much of a hello, Richmond pushed me through the door and towards the guest book located in their stunning living room that could’ve doubled as a museum.

“It’s a custom that all guests must sign the guest book upon arrival,” he informed me like a school mistress ready to slap my wrists with a ruler.

“Oh, okay,” I happily said, but thought: “Well, it’s clearly your world and I’m just living in it.”

The entrance of the house was spectacular, complete with a spiral staircase, a grand piano, and several paintings that looked like they cost more than my life would at auction.

“ROBERT!” Richmond blindly yelled, summoning his sugar daddy like a butler, although I was sure he was Richmond’s personal Go Fund Me account.

“CominGGG…” Robert said in a way that made me unsure if he had a pulse.

When Robert entered the living room from a cold dark spot in the back of the house, I was alarmed. Not only did his previous location make me feel like he was sleeping in his coffin out back, but his skin looked like it was hanging on to dear life, clinging to his face in the hopes of making it just one more day. Sun spots and sores the size of craters swelled across his face like a mold-infested piece of diseased bread.

Oh my God.

^My face after seeing Robert.

“FolloWW…mEE…uPP…thiSS…waYYY…tOO…youRR…rooMMM,” he spoke in a slurred chirp, similar to a dying bird.

He had a posh, rich American accent that stemmed back to the 1800s, which appeared to be the century that he was born in. The way he concentrated on saying sentences as slowly as possible was painful and often led Richmond to cut him off with crossed arms and an irritated eye roll after he got through about two words.

Robert was basically the epitome of someone you send to a nursing home.

Ah, the things you’ll put up with for money.

When we finally made it up the stairs, he led me through the hallway and into a decent-sized room. Being that I’m annoyingly observant, I noticed that this room had a very particular theme to it: Oriental.

There might as well been an enormous sign hovering over the bed that said, “Welcome to China. Have you been? No? We’ve definitely been and want you to live vicariously through us while you stay in this room.”

To say they were overdoing it was an understatement.

Robert left the room and I unpacked my things, got ready for dinner, bid them goodbye, and went out for the night. I was excited to explore the city and get a feel for Savannah. That night I had scheduled dinner, followed a ghost tour with some giant-haired woman named Alyssa. Her stories were about as compelling as a cassette tape describing the process of how she permed her hair for the past 20 years.

What I didn’t realize, due to not experiencing the full essence of Robert yet, was that I had already paid for a ghost tour by selecting his house as my Airbnb.

But before my disappointing stunt with Alyssa, the human Pomeranian, I did actually have a spooky experience at the restaurant I went to that night, The Olde Pink House.

I’m not one to sit there and read 7,000 Yelp reviews, so I missed out on the fact that this place is teaming with pissed off spirits.

Classic Hannah.

When I got there, there was no room upstairs for those who hadn’t made a reservation. Peeking into the inside of the enormous block of a mansion, I could see that the dining areas were just large tables in different rooms of the house. The hostess asked if I minded sitting in the dungeon  basement, which naturally sounded like an incredible idea to my creepy ass, who’s mildly into the idea of hanging out with a ghost.

The basement of this old place was decked out in about 6,000 candles, which illuminated the otherwise pitch black dark room. I had to conceal the total lady boner I was getting for this beautiful southern gothic chapel of nightmares.

I was having a blast soaking up all this demonic cool energy, but after a few drinks from a rather modern menu, I got a bit tipsy and needed to use the little squirrel’s room.

The bathroom, thank God, was not lit by a candle. There was one stall with a door on it and then an open area with a mirror and sink. When I got into the bathroom, I felt like someone was in there with me, but inside the stall. I didn’t see anyone’s feet, so I went to grab the door, tugged on it, but it was completely locked.

I waited patiently for about five minutes and then was like, “Okay, am I being crazy?” I peaked back under the stall to see what was going on, but I still didn’t see any sign of life in there. I decided to try the handle again. This time, the door to the stall flung straight open when I pulled on it.

UH. WHUT.

Nevertheless, I had to pee. I think if I wouldn’t have been drunk, I probably would’ve been too spooked, but I didn’t think too much about it and just did what I had to do.

I came back to the table, and decided to check out the dessert menu, but then got distracted about a little vignette on the house’s history.

“Oh, are you reading about how this house is haunted?” the waitress noticed.

“No… wait, what are you talking about?” I looked at her.

“Well, I saw you going into the bathroom and I wondered. There’s a ghost that is seen in there quite often. She’s called the “Master’s wife.” Basically, it’s legend that her husband did have intimate relationships with some the enslaved women here. There’s bad energy and sightings, particularly in this part of the house, since her cupboard was located down here. They say she tortured some of the women in there.

Intimate relationships or rape? And Master’s wife? WTF went on in this house?” I thought, and immediately insisted arguing with.

“My guess is the later, but it is said that the Master’s wife still haunts that particular area. She’s been especially known for messing with the locks on the doors, often locking women in the bathroom with her.”

UHHHHH, that literally just happened to me!” I told the waitress.

“I’m not surprised. We’ve changed the locks more times than we can count, but there’s still issues and sightings every day,” she continued, scaring the shit out of me.

I should’ve known something like this would happen to me. I mean, after all, Savannah is known as the most haunted city in America.

Yet, one question burned in my mind that night:

Did I just sit down and pee on a ghost’s lap? Specifically, a ghost named “Master’s wife?”

If so, that is wrong on about 92 1/2 levels.

When I got back to the Airbnb, all of the lights were turned off.

Perfect, more fuel to fire my nightmares.

Upon entering the foyer, I noticed that one light was on in the hallway. This room was the study, which I had seen on the listing. I was curious about what kind of books Richmond and Robert had in their library, so I decided to see what I could find out about them from their belongings.

Boy, was I in for a shock.

Apparently, Richmond and Robert had a bit of an unhealthy obsession.

With foxes.

If I sat there and counted all of the fox trinkets, pictures, memorabilia, stuffed animals, furs, decorations, and books, I would’ve been in there until 7:00 a.m., begging for a coffee, which would undoubtably turn my skin into a galaxy of hives, since I’m allergic to it.

I imagine fox-counting in that room as a form of punishment in North Korea. It’s like one of those hidden object computer games, but in real life, which makes it so much worse when you can’t find that damn fox hiding on top of a rusty old wheel.

“Sir, I’ve counted 402 foxes. Please, it’s been 11 days without food or water.”

“Find the 405th fox and it’ll all be over.”

“God have mercy on my soul…”

I was so distracted by the foxes that I literally jumped a mile when I heard:

“Some saYYY…that your waiteRRR…or waitresSSS…is just an apparitioNNN…in the nighTTT. Who knowSSS…maybe I’MMMM…even a ghosTTT!”

It was the deteriorating 700-year-old voice of Robert, replicating the same scare tactics that a summer camp counselor would use to tell tales by the fire.

At first, I was only scared by the commissioned oil painting of Robert and his gold-digging husband, which sat on the window sill, guiding all the guests upstairs to their rooms, but now I was starting to rethink things a little.

Before I could turn around and hand out a fake laugh, like it was some kind of participation trophy, Robert had disappeared.

Wait.

But seriously where did he go?

I lost focus on the foxes, and now concentrated on why Robert had said such a weird thing and then vanished in the span of .06 seconds. Did that old dude just escape through some creepy trap door or something? Was I unknowingly on an episode of Scooby Doo? There were like four flights of steps that he had to climb to get to his bedroom. There is no way that he was able to scale that with his brittle-ass bones.

^Hey Fred, BAD IDEA.

Plus, how was Robert automatically vibing on the fact that I “felt” a presence when I was at dinner?

Weird…

Thankfully, the next day, I was heading off to Charleston, which was 10/10 not as fun as Savannah, FYI.

On my way back from Charleston, I decided to stop in Savannah again. I checked Airbnb and saw that I could have, quite literally, a bit more R&R.

We went through the same drill of signing the guest book, Richmond yelling at Robert, and Robert leading me to the room.

They had this routine down like clockwork.

But this time when Robert opened the door to the room, I nearly fell to the ground, seriously almost peeing in my pants. It was like a moment on Wheel of Fortune when they pull away the curtain to reveal what enormous prize you’ve won.

In this case, I won a bed that nearly touched the ceiling, and a room oddly decorated in children’s coloring books.

^Similar reaction. 

On either side of the bed, there was a wooden stool, meant for quite literally climbing into this night time version of Mt. Everest. It looked like it had been made for a person that was not an inch below eight feet tall.

“Robert, has anyone ever fell off this bed?” I attempted to say without laughing uncontrollably.

“WelLLL… yeSS, buTTT… it was heRRR… owNNN… damNNN… faulTTTT,” he responded in an angry tone.

I couldn’t contain myself. I had to look at the floor and stifle my laughs into my shirt. I was nearly crying. I imagined whoever suffered that, left their house with an actual concussion, because it was a solid six foot drop down to the bottom.

^person who fell off the bed. 

I really wanted answers concerning the decor of this room, but I felt it was probably best to just leave some things unknown.

The next morning, I was getting ready to enjoy a day out in the city. I was putting my makeup on in the bathroom when all of the sudden Robert scared the living daylights out of me, quite literally vanishing IN thin air.

“WoulDDD… yoUU… just looKKK… therEEE? See thatTTT…. little reDDD… birdDD?” he whistled through his ancient mouth.

I turned to look at out onto their front lawn to what he was pointing at. When I turned back around, Robert was gone.

Oh, for the love of God.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

That confirmed it. Robert was a ghost.

So, there you go. If you ever stay in Savannah, don’t waste your money on an actual ghost tour. Just stay at this particular Airbnb, which I’d be happy to give you the contact information to. You’re bound to have a few frights all to yourself.

I just don’t recommend sleeping on a bed that’s 15 feet in the air.

It was her own damn fault, though.

I Survived a Close Encounter with a Bear… and Almost Sh*tting Myself

Have you ever stared into the pit-less eyes of a black bear?

Me neither, because I was too busy running to the other side of the bridge to get away from it. Actually, I was such a little bitch, that the video I have of this epic wildlife encounter is just the camera going everywhere like The Blair Witch Project, and a female park ranger speaking to the bear very calmly, saying, “You’re okay…”

In the video, the bear looks at me for .08 seconds like, “This thot… like I would even f*ck with her,” while eyeing down the giant South African man standing beside me like, “Hi, Daddy. ;)”

I wasn’t planning on encountering a bear, because isn’t that kind of something you want to avoid for obvious reasons?

Not on my bucket list: reenacting The Revenant.

Apparently, Americans have a reputation for being p*ssies when it comes to putting ourselves in danger’s way, which I was told after I met the bear. I thought about it, and it’s probably true, considering the day before, I refused an exit row seat on the plane because it was “too much responsibility.”

I know a lot about hair, makeup, and how to look pretty for pictures in Alaska, but I can’t say I know much about the great outdoors. Shit, it wasn’t until I started researching this trip, that I realized icebergs are made from glaciers. In my defense, though, why would I know that? I can tell you anything you want to know about Southern Baptists, Pentecostals, why Chick-Fil-A is closed on Sundays, where the nearest Walmart is (I think southerners are bred with like a sensor in our nose to detect this), and different variations of poisonous snakes, but icebergs?

Forget it.

You’re SOL if you wind up with me as your partner on Naked and Afraid. Day one, I’ll contract some form of malaria, and my partner will have to hunt, fish, and build a hut out of sticks, just to keep me alive.

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel all around the world, but I can’t say that I ever really thought about going to Alaska. What would someone like me do there?

Take a lot of pictures.

And that’s exactly what I did. I came, I saw, and I essentially conquered… with my camera.

I left LAX in my traditional, “Is that girl someone from a Disney Channel movie that I saw once?” attire. Most people at the airport appear like they just crapped their sweatpants 20 minutes ago, so I’d say it’s not a difficult look to achieve.

The unfortunate part about all of this is that after traveling in airplane mode for seven hours, despite all efforts, you’re going to look like shit. I swear, there is something in that recycled air that makes your body Anamorph into what you looked like in middle school. I always come off the plane with like 19 pimples, a bigger nose, and puffier eyes.

If you don’t believe that the 19th century belief of miasma is real, I bet you will once you come off a plane ride that’s longer than two hours.

It’s not an ideal way to greet someone that you haven’t seen in a month.

Flying in, the mountains were enormous. Little green islands popped up across the waterways. I felt like I had been whisked away on an episode of an adventurous date on The Bachelorette, minus having 18 other boyfriends, which could be cool, but sounds totally exhausting.

I was finally there and I felt great, but still a little nervous about one thing: bears.

Before my trip, you best believe I watched close to 50 YouTube videos on bear attacks. Black bears: fight back. Grizzly Bears: accept your death and crawl into a ball.

I was keeping it cool on my first real day in Alaska, which began with a nice breakfast, followed by a day full of hiking around the glacier and waterfall. Although, I will say that I was disappointed to find out that Nugget Falls is sadly named after gold nuggets and not chicken nuggets.

During our walk back, my new bae caught wind that a bear was rustling around nearby from a park ranger. I thought I avoided this the first time we walked in this area, but unfortunately the bear was back for a bit more of fishing.

“This is a once in a lifetime experience! We have to go watch the bear!” he grabbed my hand and dragged me down the trail TOWARDS A BEAR.

We got to the little bridge that the bear was hanging out at and waited for quite a while.

“Nothing to see, here!” I was just about to say, when something began rustling in the bright green bushes to our left.

“Oh God,” I thought. I eyed down the people around me, deciding who I’d push over the bridge first, in case of the event that I needed to save myself.

I’m not above that. Yes, I’d have to live with the guilt of it, but at least I’d be living.

I definitely couldn’t throw over Riley, who invited me on the trip. That would just be flat out rude. Riley’s friend, Jacs, would be devastated if I knocked one of her parents into the river, who were also visiting, so Mainey and Boss Man were out of the question. The crew from the BBC would be too much publicity.

That left Binoculars, who stood above me like a tall balding pine tree. I hated his vest and I found his spectacles unnecessary, since the bears were right there. I could leverage his body and tip him straight over the short barrier of the bridge, which was the only thing that separated us from the bear. It’d be enough of a distraction for me to get out of there and run to the car like hell on wheels.

Now that I had a plan in place, one that I couldn’t divulge to anyone standing around me in fear of being committed to a mental institution, I felt a bit safer.

Being that I’m extremely morbid, I always have a plan for when an unpredictable disaster strikes. One of my most recent ones involves a midnight break-in at my house. In this scenario, a deranged criminal finds a way to get inside, while I’m home alone. Considering that I don’t have a gun anymore, my plan of action is to:

  1. Use the pair of scissors beside my window to tear out the screen quickly.
  2. Throw my expandable foam mattress out of the second story window.
  3. Climb out of the window, pray that the mattress has enough support in it, so my legs don’t break.
  4. Land safely and run into the nearest gated community.

 

Ask me about my movie theater plan.

Back to the bear. After a few minutes, I realized that the bear wasn’t very interested in us. She was just there to do some fishing. It wasn’t long before three cubs also emerged. At one point she sent all three up into a nearby tree, while she got to work. It was actually the cutest thing I think I’ve ever seen.

Well, after I stopped shitting my pants.

^My face.

She did come by and sniff us, just kind of checking out the crowd, but didn’t seem scared or aggressive at all. It still spooked me, hence the Blair Witch footage. Thankfully, Riley was the closest in the line of fire, so I’d be spared, but certainly mourn over his death if an attack occurred.

I slyly hid behind the massive father of Riley’s friend, knowing that if anyone could fight a bear, it would be someone who actually went by “Boss Man.” He looked like he could knock someone’s head off with a thump of his index finger and thumb. It’s a wonder that his daughter ever got married, because I’ll tell you straight up what I’d do if I met my future in-laws for the first time and the dad’s name was Boss Man: start reconsidering if this love is worth my life.

After two or so hours of bear watching, I felt like I had personally made friends with this bear, Nikki. I knew all about her family, and how she got relocated after digging in the trash. It must be cool to be a bear and every one be completely in awe and petrified of you.

Doesn’t sound like a bad gig, honestly.

My overall takeaway from coming face-to-face with a bear is that it wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be, and that animals should really not be kept in zoos. I’ve met a Sun Bear, when I was in Bali and it made me pretty sad. The poor thing was kept on an island of cement with a moat around it. But, this bear was happy and enjoying life as she was supposed to. It was a great experience, so I’m glad that I got to go hang out with a bear for a day, even though I couldn’t say that a week ago. A week ago, I was watching videos titled, “Bear Attacks Caught on Camera.”

Does anyone know how I sign up to be interviewed for I Survived? Because I did. I survived watching a bear catch fish without having a heart attack and destroying my brand new jeans.