mimi smartypants
Seriously, though: what's with the penguins?

cockroach rodeo

I see lots of young, hip women wearing tops covered in rhinestones, great big bat-wing sleeves, keyhole shoulder cutouts. Apparently this is a style. No matter how much it reminds me of a Florida retirement community.

Not that I have a lot of room to snark about fashion, with my talking pants and basic black everything. Just giving some fashion advice. There is nothing that young, hip women love more than fashion advice from a boring old mom-lady. I’m just trying to help! I am so damn helpful! In one day:

1. I gave directions to three different people, including some foreign tourists who kept asking me “Michigan Avenue? Michigan Avenue?” while clutching and pointing at a map of Tokyo or Crimean War battlefields or the Beijing subway system, I don’t know, but it was definitely not Chicago.

2. I helped a blind man shop at Trader Joe’s. I was reaching for the cheap tofu when the guy touched my sleeve, handed me a short shopping list, and said, “Could you help me find these things?” He had a guide dog with him but guide dogs are not very good at picking out snacks. It was kind of fun. At one point I even got to do advanced shopping tasks like read him the fiber content off a cracker package and help him decide which jar of olives was a better deal.

3. Yesterday I went to mail Bookmooch books at the self-service post office kiosk (do I ever say, print, or type the word “kiosk” without mentioning how happy that word makes me? Never.) There was a old bearded man in salwar kameez behind me who asked me some question about the machine in incredibly halting English, and I did my best to answer but there was no way he understood. When my transaction was finished I wanted SO BADLY to walk away but I could not in good conscience leave this confused old guy, so I stuck around and helped him with his rather stupid postal business. (He wanted to weigh all his standard-size, locally delivered letters to find out how many stamps to put on them. Dude, shove some “Forever” stamps on there and call it good. Sigh.)


Although it does explain why I had the words “elephant hyena anus” written on a Post-It note: I wanted to share those things with you!


1. You have to swap clothes with someone. Who will it be? Everything will magically fit you, that is not a problem. Or, as a variation, you can assemble an outfit off of your fellow commuters: I get her shoes, his scarf, etc.

2. Pick someone on your train car to fuck. Pick a guy and a girl, no matter what your orientation. Or pretend you have a Boner Gun/Female Excitement Ray and can arouse people just by glancing in their direction.

3. Everyone on this train was a baby at one point. A little, pooping, crying, drooling baby. Nora always finds this idea really funny when I mention it (perhaps because of “pooping,” which is a second-grade Magic Comedy Word), but if you are in the right mood the idea of a train car full of former babies can cause beatific Buddhistic compassionate peaceful feelings, which in turn can lead to a calm satisfaction with how wise and compassionate you are. Wow, you’re one smug motherfucker, aren’t you. Someone should kick you in the face.

4. Speaking of, who on this train could you take in a fight? Pick somebody to hate. Picture yourself standing up and thumping the hell out of that person. Picture the spilled Starbucks, the torn North Face jackets, the general pandemonium. Maybe he would fight back. Maybe other commuters would join in, vigilante-style, to beat the crap out of you. Picture your black-eyed, bloody-nosed self being carried off the train by the police, still thrashing and fighting. Hey, I won’t be in today. I kicked everybody’s ass and got my ass kicked in return. I’ll check email later.

5. Listen to your iPod, look out the window, and it is the soundtrack to a transitional scene in your movie. The scene where a character is going somewhere on public transportation. Maybe it’s the latest Radiohead album, the city is all rainy and melancholy. Maybe it’s more upbeat music and your character is thinking about what a wonderful goddamn day it’s going to be.

6. Picture yourself running alongside the train, smashing down buildings like Godzilla. Or, if you’re not so aggro, just jumping and bounding over buildings like a gazelle. Or, if you’re me, licking and biting and otherwise mouthing all the architectural details. Chomp at the cornice, nibble at the gutter, lick the gargoyle.

7. Eavesdrop. Most people are boring, especially in the morning, but sometimes you will hear something good. Try and see what people are texting, the song on their iPod, what books they are reading. Get really judgmental about what they are reading. Why are they reading that crap? Ugh.

8. Read your own book! Read as if your life depended on it! Because this is one of the few reading opportunities when you won’t feel like you could be doing something more productive.

9. Play fashion cop. Make people over. That woman needs to lay off the eye makeup. That one needs to cut about six inches off her hair, it’s making her look way older than she is. Christ, dude, get some pants that fit. You can also play regular old behavior cop, if necessary: last week I told some kids who were horsing around and riding in the space between train cars to knock it off.

Kids: [general hoots and laughter, mutterings about what a stupid old biddy I am, a ramping-up of their dangerous activities]

Me: No, really. That’s just plain not safe.

Brave Sarcastic Kid: Nice of you to care about us, ma’am.

Me: If you all get squished on the tracks, it’s going to make me late. That would be fucking annoying.

Kids: [silence]

And they actually did knock it off, which shocked me.

—mimi smartypants, easily shocked.