Yes, Minnesota Vikings, We Can

I can’t believe I’m late to this youtube party.

The Dynasty Rides Again and…an Unexpected Endorsement

So two weeks ago, I bought some Mexican take out and drove over to my buddy’s house in St. Louis Park to watch Gophers-Hoosiers in HD. On the way there, the Dynasty started driving a little funky—resisting when I tried to turn the steering wheel. Felt like the alignment was off, or there was ice grinding into the wheel well or something. But I muscled ‘er down 394, gritted my teeth over the General Mills Blvd exit, and got a block from Jorgy’s house when SCCKKKRTT-CLNK-CLNK-CLNK-TTT-CH-LNK-LNK-SCCCKKRT-BUD-DOOMP-CHOOM!

Done.

WTF? It was brutally cold, so Jorgy actually drove the block it took to de-damsel in distress me, and we pushed the car to the side of the street.

That Saturday, my father, Gandalf the Grey, came out to see if she was salvageable.

“Jesus Christ, Steve. It’s always somethin’, isn’t it?”

Broken axle.

$60 for a front passenger’s side axle at Napa Auto Parts.

We used dad’s AAA card to have it towed before the sweet suburban couple on Flag Lane in SLP called the authorities about the automobile setting in front of their home, the automobile that looked like it belongs on the West Baltimore set of The Wire.

Where did I tow the car? A warm garage? Back to my parents’ estate in WBL?

Try the alley behind another buddy’s house in Uptown.

That’s what we Marsh boys have been taught to do with a car. Screw taking it someplace and laying real money out, when you can put it up on blocks somewhere and alienate your friends by imposing. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, I’m not a homeowner yet, so I don’t have a yard where I can put cars on blocks. Had to settle for my buddy Danny’s extra alley space.

Yup, we fix our cars like decent folk used to get abortions.

So this last Sunday, my buddy Danny wasn’t only gracious enough to let us use his alley for what’s now, thanks to the cold snap that started on Tuesday, an indeterminate amount of time (Only joking, Danny! We’ll be back this Saturday to, ahem, get ‘er done–I promise.), but he even brought out a couple of beers while my dad and I started the job.

Dad showed up around noon, and after we jacked up the Dodge, while we were waiting for the loosening agent to start working on the wheel, he shocked me.

“Took your mother to a movie last night.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Took her to see Rambo. God, Stevie, you gotta see that.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, Rush had Sly Stallone on on Friday. God, it was a good movie. A lot of shooting and explosions—mom couldn’t watch it anymore about halfway through.”

Turns out Rambo is kind of a message movie. Operation Burmese Freedom, as it were. My dad had more surprises. Now he was lying on a blanket in the alley, grunting underneath the front end as he removed parts from the car. I crouched over him and handed him various tools, and tried to pay attention to the procedure, but basically just prayed the jacked-up Dynasty wouldn’t collapse on top of my 66-year-old father, who was lying on a blanket next to a snowbank. Just crouched there and tried to control my shame, basically.

“Did you see that Obama talk? Wow, he sure is a good talker.”

“Uh-huh.”

“If McCain gets the nomination, I think I’m going to vote for him.”

“Really?”

“Uh-huh. I haven’t voted for a Democratic nominee for President since 1960. But if the conservatives can’t nominate somebody conservative, they don’t deserve my vote.”

“Really? Would you vote for Hillary too?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Ron Paul is conservative, dad.”

“Sure, and I kind of like Ron Paul. But he doesn’t have a chance, Steve. And he wants to end the war.”

We got the wheel off first, and then we (oh, who am I kidding–he) removed the disc brakes. But he started having problems with the nut on the end of the hub. He cursed a couple times. “Hey, does your friend Dan have a hammer?”

“I’ll check.”

“Do you remember that song, ‘If I had a Hammer’?”

“Uh-uh.”

“It was a Peter, Paul and Mary song. How did it go? Lemme think. [Starts singing.] If I had a hammer/I’d hammer in the morning…

Dan was working on putting a new baby seat in the backseat of his car in his garage. I shouted towards the garage. Asked him if he had a hammer in there.

“Of course.”

“And, Danny, do you know the song, ‘If I Had a Hammer’?”

“Of course I do! [Starts singing.] If I had a hammer/I’d hammer in the morning/I’d hammer in the evening/All over this land. [Starts singing more confidently.] I’d hammer out danger!/I’d hammer out a warning!/I’d hammer out love between my brothers and sisters…

My Carbon Footprint

Yes, I know this is no way to run a proper-ass blog. You’re supposed to feed your audience little bits of candied horseshit every day, shorten your paragraphs to Tidbits length and include a bunch of flikr images.

That’s not how we do it on The Hero.

We take three months off before coming down with a cold on a Saturday night and then we rush out a half-assed post about the politics of mukluks.

The thirteen loyal readers who survived my autumn dormancy know that I’m the last spoiled working class kid in America. I’m 31, but mommy and daddy still hook me up with expensive gifts every Christmas, as eager to belie the idea of the meritocracy as any parent who holds an executive job at Allina or an engineering position at 3M. So I put in my request around Thanksgiving this year, the way that I always do. I wanted a pair of Will Steger Mukluks.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been wearing Nike Dunks or Nike hi-tops. I love that Complex Magazine Kanye-look, even though I’m not organized or well paid enough to even come remotely close. But this winter, I’ve been forced to freshen my style through practicality. I went native doing that damn bicycle story for MSP this summer and now I commute to work on a brand new Bianchi. I went on my first December bike ride ever earlier this month, and although I’ve wussed out and taken the bus 50% of the time, I’ve had a blast fishtailing through the icepacked trails, even enjoyed my first winter wipe out, sailing over my handlebars into a snowbank. But my white, pink and green Nike SBs have gotten obliterated by riding in winter conditions, and every time I ride, my jeans get all wet, crusty and muddy, especially my lower legs. And my jeans get caught in my chain–I can’t do the “messenger roll-up” in 12 degree weather.

Mukluks appeared to be the answer. So I told my mom I wanted a pair of Stegers. They’re these moosehide boots; kind of macho, Native American-designed Uggs. And they have tall canvas uppers that go almost all the way to the knee, so not only would I stay dry and warm, but my ratted-out denim hemline wouldn’t get snaggled. And I would freak out everybody at the office by flipping my look, moving towards a Mad Jack the Mountainman situation. Grizzly Adams meets “Stronger”? Perfect.

But then I got a call from my mother a couple weeks before Christmas. “Stephen,” she asked, “Is there anything else other than the mukluks you would like for Christmas?”

Well, I need all sorts of practical shit like furniture and rugs but of couse my answer was, “No, why?”

“Well, your father doesn’t want to give money to Will Steger.” She sighed. “He thinks he’s a communist.”

“Let me talk to him.”

I always feel a little cultural dissonance when I talk to my dad about politics. I work at a magazine downtown that is probably pretty typically MSM–everybody is deciding between Hillary or Barack, and they’re not so much contemptuous as they are incredulous that there actually are people that listen to Fox News or Rush Limbaugh out there, somewhere. Most of my co-workers live in the city, downtown or by the lakes. (There’s probably some Republicans on the ad sales side of the building, but I hardly ever go over there–pretty strict separation between Church and State in our shop). Anyway, I’m pretty sure most of the editors I work with don’t interact with people like my father, a retired Teamster living in WBL who tunes in AM 1500 as he practices pool shots in the basement. They just don’t.

My dad was coming in hot. I think he might’ve even called Will Steger an epithet that rhymes with “rockfucker” right away. “I will not give him a penny of my money,” he said. He was bellicose. Self-assured.

The thing is, Will Steger is probably a lot like my father. Another cranky 60-something dude that spends a majority of his time figuring out how to get back to the woods. But instead of going elk hunting in Colorado every November like my dad, Will goes to the arctic circle on dogsled expeditions that 6th graders follow along on the internet every March. And Steger is an “explorer”–which means he figured out how to get North Face to pay for all his fun.

The last couple years, Steger has tied his brand into global warming activism. That might sound cynical, but the whole thing feels a little Born Again to me. On the other hand, I understand how seeing the dramatic polar ice melt up close could inspire a moment of clarity, so it makes sense why Steger has started pouring his resources into the Will Steger Foundation and Global Warming 101, a public awareness initiative. But I don’t trust this explorer-to-crusader transformation completely. I don’t trust this global warming freak out in general maybe. At the very least the proposed solutions seem kind of radical. I just watched Planet Earth, for instance, and a bunch of scientists and activists on disc 4 were basically arguing that the only way to really fix climate change is to get rid of 80% of the world’s population. They were just thinking aloud. Maybe it’s heretical, even straight up ignorant in this day and age, but I’m just not buying it yet. Solutions like that sound a little too Brave New World. And my skepticism is a probably a partial result of my father’s influence, because for him, “Global Warming” means one thing: taxes.

And I don’t want to start paying a carbon tax either, but more importantly, regardless of whether I believe Al Gore is more eco-Fascist or Nobel laureate, I needed those goddamn mukluks now. Like, way before the polar ice cap disappears, right? So I told him that I do believe global warming is really happening, but I’m not sold on this carbon dioxide crisis. Carbon dioxide isn’t toxic like mercury, right? Aren’t we breathing carbon dioxide right now? Couldn’t this warming be the result of solar fluctuation?

My enthusiastic skepticism seemed to satisfy my dad. He asked me why I wasn’t sharing this information with my “liberal buddies.” I sensed my in. I told him that Global Warming 101 is completely separate from Steger Mukluks, and that the boots are even made in Ely, so we would be balancing any trickle down by at least contributing to our economic sovereignty.

Epilogue:
Fuck yeah I got the boots. My new carbon footprint is sick.

Boy Friday

Because Stephen Hero isn’t affiliated with my primary employer, Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, you might make the mistake of assuming that on this “blog,” I have abandoned the assets that have made me such an editorial success: a subtle, variegated knowledge of the suburban mind, and the ability to tell my reader exactly where to get the good shit. Stephen Hero is not just some extremely well-written, hyper-literary diary. It could even be argued that I am doing my daytime employer a service by heeding the call for more transparency in the media; that in today’s “Fair and Balanced” climate, a window into the sources of the various isms and phobias that coalesce into what a charitable reader may perceive as my “bias,” and a less charitable one as my “prejudice,” is a good thing. A fringe benefit maybe, but that is not the point. Here, I can tell you exactly where to get the good shit too.

This last weekend, I was in charge of getting two things for my mother’s surprise party for her 60th birthday: The Keg and The Cake. I needed cake for 65, and I’ve heard that sheet cake is expensive, so I was prepared to spend some money, especially considering that I didn’t really start investigating this cake situation until two days before the big party. At first, I wanted to give the job to my girlfriend’s friend Kalinka, a Brazilian pastry chef that works in a St. Paul restaurant. Kalinka is a dessert sorceress. She bakes this incredible coconut fudge cake–it’s the only cake I’ve ever liked (I’m a pie man). There is something spiritual and authentic to her creations that belies the category of “confection.” (A benign eating disorder?) But Kalinka was already baking a cake for a wedding for one of her countrymen, and she didn’t have time for her friend’s big, white American boyfriend. (Racism!) I don’t have any other pastry chef connections, so I called the bakery by my house, the Uptown Wuollet’s, and for $75, I told them the flavor of cake I wanted and what to write on top of it: “Happy 60th Birthday, Mom/Jean Ann.” When the cake was unveiled, I think some people were a little confused by the Mom-slash-Jean Ann thing, but everybody loved how it tasted and one of my mom’s little old lady friends said, “When I heard Stephen was getting the cake, I just knew he would get a Wuollet’s.” (See, how killer that Mpls.St.Paul affiliation can be?)

Buying The Keg turned out to be much more controversial. Again, I had left planning to the last minute, so on my way back from the Picasso and American Art exhibit at the Walker on Friday night (heavyweight art show, and the Walker was delightfully empty, even after 5 on a Friday), I stopped in at Lowry Hill Liquor to reserve a keg. They were out of everything, and they immediately referred me to Zipp’s. They said it was the spot for kegs in the Twin Cities. I called Zipp’s and asked them if they had Summit Grand Pilsner. They did, but only in 8 gallon kegs, and my father’s family was coming, and I was sure they would be able to burn through a 16 gallon. I asked if they had PBR. They said that PBR was their most popular keg, and their cheapest, at $49.99. I like a top shelf pilsner or a lager, and Zipp’s has everything, but something nice, like Stella Artois, would have cost me $125.

Only one problem: My sister. My sister is a horrible person, basically. This isn’t her fault, of course; it’s her mother’s. With all due respect (she did just turn 60), my mom was given two boys right off the bat, she was probably envisioning–accurately, it turned out–a future filled with broken furniture, small-time delinquency, cursing and the NFL. The good woman was desperate for a little girl. And when she finally got one, she spoiled her rotten. And now the rotten little girl has grown into a monster, a grown-up monster that loves Michelob Golden Draft Light. When I told Megan about the PBR reservation, she screamed into the phone, “STEPHEN, this isn’t about YOU!” This was a shock. I mean, I knew that my sister isn’t emotionally stable, and I knew that she liked Michelob Golden Draft Light, but the day before, when I told her that I was going to buy a Summit Grand Pilsner keg, she just sighed, albeit in an unnecessarily dramatic way, and said, “I knew you would get something weird.” Now she was furious about the PBR. But my dad’s family, a big, garrulous, blue collar family with rural Minnesota roots (Staples-Motley area) loves PBR. At least the men in the family love it. The women prefer Michelob Golden Draft Light, like my sister, and most females that live outside of the 612, but they had grown to tolerate the PBR fixation of the men. And my mom’s family, a smaller family–one younger brother, one younger sister–that grew up in Brooklyn Center in the 1960s, more securely middle-class, is basically a light beer/rose crowd. Still, they didn’t seem like they would be disgusted by PBR on a sunny summer afternoon. I mean, I myself have been a recreational pot smoker since the late 90s, never really a beer drinker, so I admit, I don’t have a deep understanding of beer culture, but nobody had ever betrayed any overt animosity towards the PBR tradition. Lately, PBR has even found some traction with some of my younger, more tattooed male cousins–adding another layer to what is now a full-blown inside family joke. The most reasonable explanation for my sister’s hysteria was that the party planning pressure was getting to her. After all, because it was a surprise party, this would be the first time she’d planned anything without my mother…

Here’s the deal: I’m not a cheapskate, but I already spent $75 on the cake. And at that point, I didn’t know that that was going to pay off in terms of prestige, so I thought the better chance of embossing my image/avoiding confrontation was through a premium beer. So when my brother gave me a ride to Zipp’s on the day of the party, I asked the keg attendent how much it would cost to switch to Michelob Golden Draft Light. “Why would you do that?” the guy demanded. “Why not keep the Pibber? It’s the best beer, and look, it’s only 49.99. There’s a reason we list it in bold! The Michelob is $80 and it doesn’t taste as good. Why would you change it? Why?” I thought he was going to start scourging his breast and tearing his hair out. At this point, the keg attendant, a wiry dude with bleached hair and combat boots that looked like Spike from Angel chimed in, “Why would you do that? Why would you get rid of the Pibber?” I said, okay, okay, give me the Pibber.

In the parking lot, when Spike was wheeling the thing out, I slipped him a five and divulged all of my pent up shame about cheaping out on my sister and asked him if there was anything, anything he could do about this situation, anyway he could help me avoid the inevitable scene at my mother’s 60th surprise birthday party, now only a half hour and a drive to Elk River away. “Oh,” he said, “so you want to make it look like your family is getting the frat boy beer, but you want to keep the Pibber?” I nodded. I was encouraged–Spike looked like he had a plan. “Okay, this is gonna be gross, so don’t look.” He went back to the cooler and returned with a plastic Michelob cap to sub for the Pabst cap. Then he pulled out a white piece of cardboard. He hocked a loogy, spit on the cardboard, and rubbed it in the gravel of the parking lot. Armed with the makeshift sandpaper, he began vigorously scrubbing away the PBR-PBR-PBR ink printed all over it. He looked up, pleased. “I do this all the time,” he said. Continue reading

The Crackheads, Whores, and Thieves of the Midwest Hotel, and Me

Every time I think I’m doing well, that I have a college education, a white collar job in an office building, even my own business cards, that I’ve narrowly escaped my white trash fate…well, THEY KEEP PULLING ME BACK IN.

Yesterday morning, my girlfriend and I woke up, had coffee, and kissed each other good bye. She was going to use the car, and I was going to ride my bike. She called moments after going downstairs and asked, “Hey, where’s the car?”

“What do you mean? Isn’t it exactly where we parked it last night after we came home from Spill the Wine?” [Note the classy wine bar where I spend time with my classy friends.]

“No it’s not.”

I went downstairs, and she was right, my 1990 Dodge DyNASTY was not parked where I left it after coming home. It’s a rustbucket piece of shit; why would somebody steal it? There weren’t any street cleaning or tree work signs, there wasn’t broken glass (not that there’s a functioning lock on the driver’s side door anyway). It really was gone. I called the city of Minneapolis, and asked if the car was in the impound lot. Nope. They asked if I wanted to report it as stolen. Sure. They tried to transfer me. “Sir, the Stolen Vehicle Department is really busy, can you call back in an hour or so?”

A couple hours later, at the office, I tried to call the Stolen Vehicle Department again. No dice. I waited another hour. It was around four at this time, and I called again. Nothing. So I called the impound lot again. The queeniest impound lot receptionist of all times took my call. I explained to him that I was having a helluva time getting through to the Stolen Vehicle Dept. “Your car got stolen? That’s so sad.” I agreed. “They are so busy down there, but let’s try again.” My chipper receptionist was the most proactive voice I’d heard all day. “And I’ll tell you what,” he said. “I’ll hold with you. How does that sound?” Fierce. He got me through to the dour-sounding Stolen Vehicle lady and she asked me make and model and year and where it was stolen and all that, and then she told me she was sending a squad out to ask me the same things over again. She took my cell number and told me the squad would call when they arrived.

They never did.

Cut to this morning. My dad called me at nine and told me that Jeff at the Midwest Hotel found my car.

Who?

He told me to call Jeff at the Midwest Hotel, a flophouse on University and Vandalia by the Dubliner Pub. I called Jeff. He told me that he was working the desk that morning, and this Mexican guy that had been staying at the Hotel for the past five days boasted that the Dodge Dynasty in the lot was his girlfriend’s car. But Jeff thought the guy sounded suspicious–“didn’t speak much English”–so he checked it out, and my proof of insurance and my dad’s phone number were in the front seat. So Jeff called my dad. “And I drive a Dodge Dynasty myself, so….” I told Jeff I would be there in an hour.

For all the millions of new StephenHero readers out there, my daddy is a retired truck driver who lives in White Bear Lake and takes care of my sister’s kid full time. My dad and his charge, Ashton, were supposed to go to the Twins game this afternoon, but he told me he had time enough before the game to come get me and give me a ride to this crackhead flophouse.

I met Jeff in the parking lot. He was a forty-something white dude, in jeans and a t-shirt, with greasy grey hair, smoking generic cigarettes through yellow teeth and scratching the homemade tattoo on his arm. “My boss wanted to tow the car, but I thought there was something funny about the situation,” he said. “And ‘course, I drive a Dynasty myself.” He pointed at it with pride. “There it is, the white one, behind the hotel.” I thanked him and turned my attention to the brown one in the lot. I walked over to see how they had massacred my boy. The plastic around the steering column was ripped away, and a screw driver had been used to start it. My dad climbed in and showed me how to use this technique, since it’s probably not going to be worth taking it to a garage and having the steering column rebuilt. (May I just say, fuck.) There was a hamper of dirty laundry in the back seat, and an unopened box of Corn Chex on the passenger side floor. Jeff leaned in, “I think the white woman who stole the car is still up in 25 with the gentleman who’s renting the room.”

I was pissed. I mean, it’s a piece of shit car, but now I was going to have to drive it around with a screwdriver while this Chex-eating Goldilocks was up sleeping off her dimebag in room 25? I didn’t care that my 22-month-old nephew was running around the parking lot while some creepy old homeless dude was going through the Midwest Hotel dumpster looking for aluminum cans. This was bullshit. So against my better judgement, I called 911. I talked to the Minneapolis dispatch. I told her the story. She asked me if I knew the woman that had stolen my car. I said I did not. She told me the car wasn’t even reported stolen and that I had to call St. Paul because the Hotel was in their jurisdiction. I told her that I had tried to report the car stolen all day yesterday but that the department hadn’t sent a squad to take the report. She asked why wouldn’t they have sent a squad? I called the St. Paul dispatch. I told her the story. She said she had to call Minneapolis and then she would call me back. Ten minutes later, the Minneapolis dispatch called me back. I told her the story again. After accusing me of “not telling her everything” she told me that I would have to make a new report and call back. At this point, Jeff came out to the parking lot again and said that it was getting close to the end of his shift, and that he had to go work his second job scrapping metal in an hour. Finally, I called St. Paul and told her that the SUSPECT WAS UP IN ROOM 25 AND FOR CHRIST’S SAKE WHY WEREN’T THEY DOING ANYTHING ABOUT THIS? She said fine, she would send over a squad.

While I was waiting, I tried to regain my genteel composure. I slipped Jeff a $20 tip for his trouble. He explained that the Hotel has a reputation. “Hey, I’m sorry about this. I just hope they don’t treat you like you’re associated with the hotel. St. Paul considers this a ‘problem spot’–there’s drug dealers and fights and whores out in front all the time–so they’re not very quick to send over a squad. One time, I was held up at gun point, and they didn’t send anybody for 45 minutes.”

A strapping, blue-eyed, crew-cut St. Paul stormtrooper stepped out of his prowler. After a couple of piquant remarks about my poor disfigured Dynasty he asked, “So you don’t know any of these people, sir?” No. “So how did they get your number?” I pointed at the proof of insurance and the other piece of paper with my dad’s number on it lying on the passenger’s side. The cop turned his attention to Jeff. Jeff told him about the braggadocious non-English speaker and his girlfriend in room 25. “Somalian?” the cop asked. “Nope,” Jeff said. “Mexican, I think.” The cop called backup (sweet) and told us to sit tight. In about two minutes another St. Paul cop on a motorcycle showed up. Alright, finally, there would be justice! These wanton bitches were going down and I would be righteously, deservedly, elevated above the unwashed!

Nope. The cops came down and told me the other lady had fled and there was just a black chick left in the room. They told me that I could just take the car, since it was never reported stolen in the first place. (Right.) Oh, and that I should check under the seats for drugs. (Solid advice.)

I put the laundry hamper full of dirty whore clothes and the Chex Mix on the curb, started my car with the thieves’ screwdriver, and we were all pulling out of the parking lot, when a black lady came running out of the Hotel. “Hey! Hey! Can you please pop your trunk?” I sighed. I really think I sighed. Audibly. “I left some of my stuff in the back.” I popped my trunk and got out of my car and rolled my eyes at the cop. I pulled another laundry hamper with this chick’s shit out of my trunk–there was even a framed photograph of this woman in there (evidently, from better days)–and handed it to her. “Thanks,” she said.

Merry Christmas

Oh, and I have one Marsh family yuletide tale. A couple of Saturdays ago, my family planned on going to see the Mary Poppins dioramas at “Macy’s.” My nephew is a 15 months old now, so it was going to be his first time. We were all going to rendezvous at my apartment in uptown and then drive downtown together. My brother was early, and he came over and we were sitting on the couch smoking and watching a little football while we waited for my parents and my sister to show.

My parents were supposed to be there by eleven, and it was inching closer to noon, when my brother finally spoke up.

“Hey, are we really going to Marry Poppins?” he asked.

“Yeah, why?”

“It’s not going to be an intervention or anything like that is it?”

I started laughing. “Are you that paranoid?”

“I’m serious. Remember when mom and dad told me they were taking me ‘go-karting’? I remember driving by the go karting place in Blaine and saying, ‘We’re not going go karting, I guess.’ I spent that Christmas in treatment.”

“Yeah, I remember. We played dominos during family visitation.”

Dog Eat Dog Consumerism

Last Sunday, my cousin Chelsea threw a puppy shower. I have never heard of a puppy shower, but in our brave new world, dogs are the new babies, right? Children are eaten in Washington; dogs are showered with gifts in Minneapolis. This makes sense amidst the mindless, amphetamine-fueled consumer culture of 2006.

But for some of us, it doesn’t. For some of us, a puppy shower is where we draw the line. And this puppy shower would wind up a howling mess of salty tears and broken glass.

At 3 pm, my sister called and asked, “Hey, are you coming over here?”

I said, “Yeah, I think so. On my way.”

“Well, don’t bother. I got into a fight.”

“At a puppy shower? Really?”

“I’m coming over. I’ll tell you about it.”

The version I was able to piece together goes like this: my sister and my dad were sitting in the living room with my cousin April and her husband and all these other people that work as public school teachers. My dad thought it was a good opportunity to wonder aloud why school teachers have a union because aren’t they government employees anyway? So this militant 40-year-old government geography instructor becomes very agitated by this line of reasoning. She’s been drinking (and who knows how many anti psychotics she’s on) and she steps to my dad and starts calling him names–“You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about…you don’t know anything about teachers!” My dad was holding my 14 month-old nephew so my sister gets up and asks everybody to chill out. It’s just a conversation.

Then the woman made a terrible mistake. She slapped Megan. A little background: My sister isn’t a biker chick. She’s 5’8”, with an athletic build, but she’s always been a very girly-girl. She has hair extensions. And her nails are done. And she was wearing a pink tracksuit. But when it comes to her US Weekly-christened child, Megan is Tyler Durden. Megan is The Bride.

She went postal. She grabbed the woman by the head and used some Jean Claude Van Damme move that my brother taught her and broke this poor woman’s nose. How beautiful, a mother’s protective instinct. Jeez.

Chelsea took the drunk teacher’s side and kicked my sister out (this woman was a) Chelsea’s fiancé’s sister and b) still bleeding, so Chelsea didn’t have much of a choice really). Megan, my dad, my mom and Ashton were forced to flee to my apartment.

After my sister recounted the entire story, my mom was sitting on my couch, kind of anxiously, with her hands in her lap. She sighed one of those small Catholic sighs of hers and said, “Well, I don’t know what this is going to mean for Thanksgiving and
Christmas.”