Friday, December 9, 2016

Saves 9

When I was a little girl the world seemed gigantic to me. Just like, really overwhelmingly huge. One place in particular always left me with a mixed feeling of awe and dread; University Hospital in Krakow.  It was a castle, maze, galaxy, hospital, and whatever else I could imagine it to be. My mother was the Queen of it all, which was a little intimidating to me. When I was 11 my mother started taking me there to volunteer taking care of the elderly patients and sick children while she worked in the ICU. She was... is, a nurse, and a really good one. Some called her a legend, because none of her patient’s ever died on her shift. Maybe before or after she left, but when she was on she worked her hardest to save every life. She was an inspiration, and like the hospital, she was bigger than life. When I grew up and became a nurse myself, everything seemed smaller. The world got really small, the hospital wasn’t as vast, but the legend of Marynia was larger than ever. She was something of a celebrity, and sharing her name and profession was a bit much.

After I finished secondary my mother really wanted me to take the Matura test and go to Wein like she did, but that seemed like... a lot for me to process. So instead I traveled and bounced around Europe for a while. She was the exact opposite of ecstatic about that. I did get an education in my own way, learning this and that, directionless but observant. I wanted to be a nurse but I wasn’t ready to take up the responsibility that would come with being the daughter of Marynia Majchrowski. I studied lives and experiences I never knew existed and gained skills I never imagined I’d need.  Sometimes I would get into trouble just to see if I could get myself out of it. I thought it was too hard living up to the impossible standard my mother had set, but those few years gave me the confidence to believe that I could handle anything she could. Now as an adult I am a little more jaded and a lot more realistic, but my mother was and always will be a giant to me.

I however, was not a giant, so Marynia K. Majchrowski decided to move to the US to make her own name. I went to school in California and ended up going into nursing after all, since the expectations of an anonymous girl new to the US weren’t so high. I work in the Emergency Department of another University Hospital, USC. It’s not as big as my mother’s University, but I look forward to making it my own. It’s a trauma center, so we see some pretty messed up people. It doesn’t bother me because in the last 6 years I had seen and done some pretty messed up things, most of which I’m proud of. Not all of it, but most. On the night shift we had little to worry about, because Dr Walker was there. He was by far the most talented, gracious, humorous, and intelligent Emergency Department doctor in the state. He knew 3 languages fluently and another 2 conversationally. He was very handsome and very, very married with two kids, but that didn’t stop all the nurses from flirting with him. He accepted the attention graciously, but it was very apparent that he was happy with his life. He radiated that happiness to his patients. I’ve seen patient’s pulse and blood pressure fall just being in his presence. He would laugh when a patient recovered, cry when they didn’t. This is the story of a crazy few months were no one laughed.
There’s a little crew of us who all work overnights, and we arranged it so we work the same nights as much as possible. Coincidentally those nights were almost always the nights that Dr Walker worked. About 3 months ago we got a call that a 23 year old female was coming in by ambulance. When she got to us she looked like she’d just fought a pack of wolves. She was bloody, battered, broken, like, a total mess. She was missing teeth and her face was near unrecognizable. We called a code and most of the ED rushed to her side; her vitals were terrible and she was crashing fast. Walker was a blur, barking out orders, and directing traffic. Dr Walker had a great record when it came to saving lives himself. He was nowhere near my mother’s mark, but his reputation in the city as being an expert was well known. We work in a rough area, so seeing victims of violent crimes was an unfortunate but all too regular part of the job. This was different somehow. Her name was Joanne. She wasn’t much younger than me, 24 years old, White, just an average girl, nothing spectacular about her. Her wounds were from far from average and way more than I’d seen in the worst domestic violence victims. This woman had been abused and beaten for some time. The EMS crew said that she was dumped on the street a few blocks away from the hospital. She was bleeding from several different types of wounds, and Dr Walker was determined to stop them all. He did his best, we all did, but by the morning the best we could do was stabilize her. For most doctors this would have been considered a victory, but Dr Walker set very high standards for himself, so by extension the rest of us did too.  Dr Walker stayed with her until the family came and he explained what happened. He was shaken… we all were, because as a team we went as he went. It was a shitty way to end my shift, my third in a row. My only consolation was I would have a few days off to de-stress. The next night I worked, the mood in the ED had returned to normal for everyone but Dr Walker.

He did a great job managing things as usual, but we could tell that his thoughts were somewhere else. The charge nurse that night was Juliet, my best friend, ass-kicker, and unapologetic ginger of the ED. She was in her mid-40’s, worked overnights, and ran the lives of her 3 teen aged sons in the daytime, but you would never know it by the energy she brought to the job. She was great at managing all of the different personalities and characters in the ED staff, which was very much like herding cats. She kept us in line by being so empathetic that she could tell when one of us was going to lose our shit before we did. This was great for me since I tended to lose my shit frequently. Another reason why I chose to start my career in America is that I had a bit of what people call a short fuse. I like to say that I enjoy spirited conversation. The police called it "assault." Whatever.

In between patient’s I went and asked her what as up with Walker. “I don’t know” she said “I guess you noticed how he isn’t as focused as he usually is. Maybe he needs to get laid. I’d be happy to take him in the supply room and relieve his stress. With my vagina.” Did I mention that she had the filthiest mind in Southern California?  Dr Walker walked by and gave us a weak but genuine grin. “But your right, he definitely isn’t his usual hyper-chipper self.” She came over to my side and said “I think he’s not over that girl from last week. You know how detail oriented he is. There’s something bothering him about that girl and he won’t tell anyone what it is. Personally I think she was just 4 hours into a night of heavy S&M and forgot what her safe word was. Mine is banana.” I looked at him down the hallway, and all the signs I had missed up to that point were crystal clear. He was distracted. This was more disturbing to me than anything I’d seen in the worst neighborhoods of Hungary, Poland, and France. Seeing such a strong man so shaken gave me the chills. I put it out of my head. In most ways nursing is just a job like any other except every now and then we see patient desperately trying to die, and we have to stop them.

I was two days into my next three day stretch, and the grind was wearing on me. Coffee wasn’t working to keep me awake anymore, and for the first time in my life cocaine seemed like a viable alternative to Starbucks. I had just finished wrestling a psych patient down so we could give her 5-and-2, which always puts me in a festive mood. Just as I was catching my breath we had another EMS crew sprinting through the ambulance doors with a critical patient. My heart froze as I ran to assist; it was another young woman, one who looked frighteningly like me if I hadn't just been run over by a train. She had broken bones, spiral fractures, clean breaks, puncture wound, and lacerations. It was like someone went down a Reddit list of 13 great ways to hurt someone without actually killing them. Her name was Gloria. She was a Music major at the school. She played piano. The fingers on her left had been systematically broken one by one. If there was no nerve damage she might be able to play again one day. One day in the far future. I was on autopilot as we slid so easily into our appointed roles. As an ED team we were kind of a well-oiled machine. It was that speed and efficiency that saved lives.

Dr Walker should have been proud of himself; this was not an easy one. She had a deflated lung and a lacerated spleen. We patched her up well enough to get her to ICU. She would leave the hospital 3 weeks later, in a wheelchair. She would need that wheelchair for another 6 months. He was there when she left. One of the day shift nurses, Maureen, watched the whole thing. For the first time ever I was grateful that she was exceptionally nosy. She told me every detail, how she thanked him, and how her parents thanked him. She recited the whole scene as if she were a court stenographer. I held back tears as she told me in her thick West Indian accent how he, for all of his effort, and for the fact that she was sitting there in front of her, alive, could not stop apologizing. She was alive, not physically well, but emotionally and spiritually she had been healed. She could not describe what had happened to her more than she was returning home from a late class, and was abducted somewhere between her bus stop and her apartment. There was torture; there was pain, and a ruthless, sadistic coldness to everything he said to her. She told the detectives that he kept blaming her for what happened, blaming her for what “she made him do.”

Two weeks passed and we didn’t have one patient like that. I spent more time with Juliet after work; she would make sure her kids got off to school then we would process the events of the night, and by "process" I mean drink a bottle of wine each and share impure thoughts about the male ED techs.  It helped, and we needed the release; the whole hospital did. No one said it but that break gave us the greatest relief you can imagine, greater than taking off your bra after a long day. We relaxed, we exhaled, we let our guard down, and naturally you know what happened next.

This time it was early, so early in my shift we had barely put our things down. The day shift was giving report to the overnight nurses coming in. In the middle of report an EMS crew bursts in, panicked. They were kids, and this was obviously their first trauma victim. There were two shifts of nurses there, which meant that we were all in each other’s way. Fortunately Juliet was there too and herded the cats. She has a voice slightly more peaceful than a train wreck, so she is great at getting people’s attention. She directed traffic and made sure that no one was doing anything redundant. For all her insanity she was the calmest person in an emergency; mothers are good for that. We ran in all directions like dutiful children finishing up our chores.

Her name was Elysian. She looked as artful as her name was. She was pale and graceful, like one of those elves from the movies. She had long jet black hair and crystal blue eyes. Her left arm was covered in tattoos of vines with thorns. She told me later they were catbriar vines. They were intricate; she said it took for 8-hour days to finish. She had no broken bones, just deep purple and black bruises all over her. She seemed like the type to bruise easily anyway.

Unlike the others there wasn’t much to do with Elysian; once we had made sure there was no internal bleeding, there was nothing we could do for the tissue damage other than make sure that she was comfortable while she healed up. She had been walking home from one of the buildings over at the art school, and just like the others she had no idea what happened next. Just like the others she woke up to a nightmare of a beating, all the while her attacker blaming her for what she had made him do. There was no finesse to this one, no subtlety. It was hurried and sloppy. With the other victims he took his time, starting the damage out slowly and building to a crescendo of violence until the victim blacked out from the pain. The scars were both emotional and physical. He never raped any of them... I guess he thought THAT was the line not to cross. Psychopaths are funny that way.

It turned out to otherwise be a slow night, so I had some time to talk to her. She said that she didn't know where she was, but she had been unconscious for about an hour; she managed to look at her watch at some point. People really need to wear watches more often. They come in handy when being kidnapped my a serial killer. She said that as soon as she woke up he started hitting her with all of his might.  At one point she played possum so he would stop hitting her. He turned the lights on, and she peaked at the walls. They were covered in a wallpaper of blood-spattered newspaper clippings, website articles, and photographs of one person. A couple of times he wore himself out from exertion, and she called him an out of shape pussy boy. She told him that the newspapers on the wall were not only cliche, but tacky. He beat her harder. I liked this girl, she was a badass. Anyone who risked getting their ass beaten worse just to taunt their attacker while he has you tied up to a chair can be my BFF forever.

"I couldn't read all of the text, but the guy was murmuring to himself the whole time, and I distinctly heard him say 'Dr Walker'" she said.

I bit my lip; my suspicions were confirmed. There was no way that it was a coincidence all of these girls ended up on our doorstep the same nights when the same crew was working. This guy must have stalked us to find out our schedule. I knew this wasn't random, but I was missing this last piece of the puzzle. This guy was hurting these woman to get at Dr Walker. It worked; Dr Walker had been a nervous wreck since all of this began. I think he figured this out long ago but he didn't want to worry the rest of us. He's probably been trying to fix this himself. That's his way, to help everyone else and never ask for help. "Did he say anything else?"

Something about "just as long as I did. Just as long six more...."

Six more. Six more. That would be nine. I prayed to God that he would be caught before then, but me and God aren't exactly on a first name basis. Not anymore. Over the next 3 months we got 5 more victims, all around my age, all beaten within an inch of their life. The only pattern was their age; 2 were Black, one was Asian, and two were white. They had jobs in all different locations; it seemed like they were kidnappings of opportunity, which would explain why the intervals were random. Some of the nurses stopped working our shift. Police and news crews hovered around the hospital all the time now. At one point Dr Walker, knowing that he was the cause, went on long term leave. It killed him that he wasn't there to help these girls, but he couldn't deal with the guilt of knowing that he had some part in all this. Him leaving just made things worse though; the month he was gone, the victim went into a deep coma; her injuries were too severe. Her name was Jenny Chang and she was a pharmacy tech working her way through the pharmacy program at USC. She had a large family and most of them were there when they decided to take her off of the respirators. The family asked that Dr Walker be consulted before the final decision was made though; he said that they should wait a little longer. He thought that due to the nature of her injuries her body might take a while longer to sort itself, and there was still a chance that she could come out of the coma. The rest of the attending doctors said it was impossible, right up to the day when she woke up and smiled at her parents. He saved her life from home. Dr Walker came back soon after; he figured if he couldn't stop this guy at least he could save the victims. After number 8 the entire hospital was on edge. Everyone from maintenance to executives were going sleepless. This one man had terrorized most of Southern California, and he was building to his grand finale. I was pissed, I was angry, and I felt helpless. I had had enough. It wasn't enough to patch these girls up, someone had to stop him.

I had a hunch, an instinct, a feeling, and I had to act on it. As I said before, I was a woman with a certain set of skills you wouldn't know by looking at me. In my time bouncing around Europe I learned some things to keep myself safe, like how to handle a knife. For two weeks before my shift I walked alone to The In-n-Out near the hospital, and got a burger and fries; unhealthy I know, but it was all in the name of vigilante justice. I made sure to walk the same rout every night, and was always alone. I knew from the various descriptions I pieced together from this guy that I could take him; he was only a real threat if you were tied to a chair. After a couple of weeks I started to think nothing would work, until one night a felt a sharp pinch on my ass. No one was around so it shocked the shit out of me. I thought maybe it was a Wasp. When I reached back there was no wasp there, but there was a tranquilizer dart.

"Son of a....*"

I was gently awakened with a hard right cross to the chin. I heard more than saw one of my teeth skitter across the floor. The love tap was followed by three more to the face, and another two to the abdomen. He had certainly refined his attacks. It actually looked like he was in better shape than what the other victims had described. I knew that taunting him makes him sloppy, and I was Oh so good at it.

“You know, if you’re going to hit me, you may want to get a weapon. A crowbar or brass knuckles maybe. I’m from Poland; my people survived 2 World Wars, the Germans and the Russians. You’re from the Valley yeah? I doubt you’ve survived anything worse than unexpected rain." He cracked me again on the side of my face; I almost felt my cheekbone give way, but it held. I have to admit, he was literally knocking the sass out of me.

“You think your funny bitch? I’ve been watching you. I’ve been watching you this whole time. I knew I would end up with one of his own, but it took me a while to figure out who. Then I saw you, how he looks at you. I knew you were the one, the one that would hurt him the most.”

My left eye had swollen shut, and he stayed to that side so I couldn’t see him clearly, but his voice definitely sounded familiar. Before I could open my mouth again I heard my left collarbone crack. Well, there goes that arm.

“You know I can see why you’re his favorite, you have good ideas.' He walked to my right side so I could see him more clearly. “A crowbar is way more efficient.” He pulled back and slammed the crowbar down on my right thigh. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of hearing me scream but it hurt like a MOTHERfucker.

“Vinny?” It was Vinny, a lab tech that worked overnights He left the hospital after his daughter was diagnosed with cervical cancer. His 25 year old daughter…

“You’re probably shocked. I don’t fucking care if you see me now. You’re the last one, the 9th one. Nine lives for the nine months that incompetent asshole did his experiments on my little Suzy before he finally murdered her. Did you know he used to do oncology? I know. He was supposed to be the best. I counted my lucky stars that we worked in the same hospital so our insurance would cover it. Suzy was getting real bad so they admitted her here. For 9 months Walker did all these tests and chemo and anything else he could think of to get her better, he said. I think he was just trying to get his name in the papers for curing a girl of cancer. Well he fucking didn’t, and my little girl suffered every single day of those nine months. He quit oncology for the ER after, probably fucking ashamed at being a total torturing failure. He got away scot free and I had nothing left but 9 months of agony and my little girl’s dead body. But we’re going to be even now.”

He put down the crowbar and picked up a very dented aluminum baseball bat. “See, the Asian girl was supposed to die, but SHE. JUST. WOULDN’T. DIE.” With every word he swung the bat nearer and nearer to my head. He wanted me to flinch. I didn’t.

“But you will. I’ve had a good amount of practice, and I think I’ve perfected my craft to where you’ll get far enough into the ED to die right in front of him. Then maybe I’ll go to Mexico. Or shoot at some cops, I haven’t decided yet.”

I was finally ready. “I have been working with Dr Walker for a long time. He feels every patient’s death like it was his own child. He was probably devastated when your daughter died, and I really am sorry for your loss. But if this, all of this is your response… If you really thought that taking away nine other daughters from their fathers would somehow make you even with the universe, then you’re really the fucking failure in this situation, not him. Hopefully in her next life Suzy gets blessed with a competent father…”

He roared and came at me, blind with rage, just what I wanted. While he was monologuing I got the knife I taped to my lower back out and had cut the plastic ties he put on my wrists. He swung wildly with the bat and I leaned back easily. He missed by a mile. I dropped to one knee and jammed my knife right into his right knee, severing his ACL and PCL (I hoped.) He screamed like a banshee and immediately went down. I went to work on that leg; cut his ACL down near his ankle. He probably wouldn’t ever use that leg again. When he reached down to grab his knee I took the opportunity to stab my knife into his shoulder. Well, there goes that arm. I got up unsteadily. I wasn't sure how deep the damage was to my thigh, but it felt like someone dropped a truck full of anvils on it, so I guessed it wasn’t OK. I pulled myself up, one arm and one leg completely functional, and grabbed the bat.
“You know what’s the saddest fucking part? For all this shit you’ve put everyone through, he saved them. He saved EVERY. GOD. DAMN. ONE OF THEM.” It was my turn to accentuate my words with stabbing pain. I slammed his disabled knee and shoulder over and over again with the bat. “Isn’t it ironic? Dontcha think?”

He cried. He rolled around. He screamed. But I didn't stop. All I heard were the cries of those girls, and I hit him til the cries stopped. I wasn't sure if he was silent or I had quieted the memories in my head, but either way it was quiet. I felt nothing and heard nothing. I found my phone in a corner of the basement. Through my good eye I blearily took in the history of what he had done. He wasn't really careful with covering up evidence; he obviously didn't have a long term plan. I called 911. I fell into a corner and started to cry, big heavy tears. I wasn't crying because I was scared, or sad... I was angry. I was still full of rage, and he wasn't moving and I couldn't beat him anymore and I couldn't stop wanting to hit him. It felt good, past the revenge, past the fact that there would be no more broken girls, it felt good to hurt someone. That part wouldn't make it into the newspapers when they interviewed me over the next few months. But I knew it. I know it and I am completely fine with it.

The EMT's allowed me the honor of rolling the piece of shit's unconscious body through the ambulance doors. They applauded me like the conquering hero I was. I only had full use of one arm and 1 1/2 legs, but I did it. I didn't kill him. It wasn't on purpose; turns out I passed out right after I called 911. Who knows what would have happened if I could have stayed on my feet. I know, but again, the media didn't need to know that. Juliet came over to help me to a stretcher. "You attention whore, you look like dog meat." She went about addressing my wounds, tears smacking me in the face the whole time. "I may look like dog meat but it's better than being an ugly crier." I tried to laugh, but it hurt when I laughed. Or breathed, or existed really. Juliet moved over as Dr Walker looked over me. "It's over" I said "he only got eight. He didn't get me. I got him, you see that? I got the fucker." He put his finger to his lips "I know Mary, I know. Now be quiet while we get you patched up." He smiled that special smile of his, "You look like shit."

That was the first time I'd ever heard him curse.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Personalities, Ordered

Nerds and geeks are often labeled as troubled, weird or “having something wrong” with us. I’m here to tell you that this is probably true, but it is not a bad thing. I wear it as a badge of honor; who wants to be normal anyway? The idea that we are weird and troubled does not mean that everyone else is somehow more functional than we are. Even so, people who are aware that they are broken and dysfunctional are the sanest ones because we have better insight into ourselves and by extension people in general. The crazy ones are the people who ardently believe that they are completely sane and rational. Trust me, I’d rather be socially awkward and under control than “normal” and a raging alcoholic. Yes, those are sweeping generalizations and yes there will be more.

Accepting the hypothesis that as nerds and geeks we are all mad here, let’s delve into the ways we may be mad from a psychological perspective. We have talked before on this site about mental illness, mostly focusing on psychotic, mood, and anxiety disorders. We talk about these diagnoses (what I refer to as “The Big Three”) the most because they’re the most disruptive to the lives of the sufferer and those around them right? I do not find this to be true. The Big Three are the disorders that people can most readily identify, but I contend that Personality Disorders can have more insidious and long-term effects on a person’s life and social environment. A personality disorder has 5 key elements according to the DSM-V which are:

1. An enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior. This pattern manifests in two or more of the following areas:
a. Feeling
b. Thinking
c. Interpersonal relationships
d. Impulse control
2. This pattern deviates markedly from cultural norms and expectations.
3. This pattern is pervasive and inflexible.
4. It is stable over time.
5. It leads to distress or impairment.

Personality disorders also have 4 common elements common to each diagnosis. These are:
1. Rigid, extreme, and distorted thinking patterns (thoughts)
2. Problematic emotional response patterns (feelings)
3. Impulse control problems (behavior)
4. Significant interpersonal problems (behavior)

Personality disorders are further divided into three groups called “clusters” (I know this seems a bit obsessive itself, but people who study psychology LOVE grouping things. It’s like, our pastime.) These clusters are:
Cluster A - the “odd, eccentric” cluster
Cluster B - the “dramatic, emotional, erratic” cluster
Cluster C – the “anxious, fearful” cluster

I’m sure it won’t be hard to figure out what group your specific personality type is in. Chances are that people have been calling you one of these descriptors all of your life. I usually get Cluster B myself, though anyone who has been around me for more than 3 minutes usually classifies me as “odd” as well. I cannot make this point strongly enough; just because you find that you have some of these symptoms IT DOES NOT MEAN that you have the disorder. All human behavior exists along a spectrum, and all people will exhibit some disordered behavior at some point in their life. Just because you like to clean does not mean that you have a pathological illness. Maybe you just like the lemony fresh scent of Pine Sol. A lot. It is fine if you identify so much with some of these behaviors that you strongly suspect that you may have one, but I urge you to see a mental health professional before self-diagnosing. Personality disorders are hard to diagnose because they can be difficult to distinguish from normal transient states without proper training and experience.

I would say that many nerds and geeks would trend towards Cluster C disorders, particularly Avoidant PD. Many times people who would fall into this category identify themselves as introverts. There is a point when mere introversion can become a crippling inability to excel in interpersonal relationships both professional and personal.

In Cluster B, which I have extensive experience with, I would say many nerds and geeks *cough LARPers cough* could fall into this category as well. I say LARPers and tabletop RPG players because those are games that cater to extroversion and being able to express emotions openly and freely. These behaviors become problematic when the person is unable to regulate their behavior, that is, know when to turn it off and on. Its fine to be a manipulative, conniving scumbag in your Vampire LARP, but you should not also be one at work the next day. People in this cluster tend to have the least insight into their problematic behaviors, instead constantly blaming others for the problems that they themselves cause. In stark contrast to Cluster C types, Cluster B types rarely think about their own internal states, so they most often are encouraged to seek help by those around them. Cluster B disorders can be the most destructive of all the personality disorders as they are most often described as being “toxic,” and their behaviors take a great emotional toll on those around them. Healthy Cluster B traits can make someone the life of the party; pathological Cluster B traits can cause someone to be the inevitable cluster-fuck drama bomb of the party.

Finally Cluster A traits can be shown in the quiet reclusive geeks and nerds, the ones who retreat into their hobbies because they are unable to relate to others. These are the types, such as the Schizoid PD, who you can only connect with through their hobbies. You may only see them at conventions where they can indulge in their particular area of interest in the company of like-minded individuals.

This is all just some information to get you thinking about if a personality disorder is negatively affecting your life in ways that you may not realize. If you have more questions about these disorders, information about them is available almost everywhere on the internet. It’s easier to become curious about a diagnosis than to come to a conclusion about whether you have something or not, so please see a therapist. Maintaining good mental health is a communal activity and the more we talk about bit the better we can help each other. If you have any questions or you need direction, you can tweet me or email me at

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

That Time I Was Black-shamed at Work

So there I was...

I work at a a part time office job. I don't have a lot of other Black coworkers, which doesn't really bother me because that's been my life and I know how to blend. I'm very Suburban. I've stopped saying that I have “White” traits, and instead I have Suburban traits. I realized recently (it shouldn't have taken me this long) that being Suburban is not tied to being White, and I should do stop perpetuating that line of thinking. There are plenty of Black people from the Suburbs, there are entire towns of Black Suburbs. You should see my Whole Foods!

So like I said, me and this girl rarely work together, but every time I do work with her she always has something slick to say about our backgrounds. At first I thought I was imagining it, but I soon realized that 1. there was definitely shade coming out of her towards me every shift, and 2. she had no idea she was doing it. First there was the religion talk; she's very religious and talks about it fairly constantly. When I told her I wasn't religious, there were judging looks, but I let it go. I thought we should be friendly, and I'm not about workplace drama. Then there was the day she was talking about her lineage. She knew all about her background and ancestors. She stated to me, repeatedly, how HER family were NEVER slaves. I said I don't know much about my family past my great grandmother. She was incredulous that I didn't know more, again repeating that SHE was NOT descended from slaves. I told her that it seemed like she was judging me about that. Even my White coworker said something about her insistence on that point. She denied it. I let it go.

Yesterday was the last straw. I go in, friendly as can be to everyone, including her. Again, I try to foster some kind of office-civil relationship. I was looking through Facebook and saw a funny Color Purple meme (the details are irrelevant, but trust me, it was Hilarious.) and I show it to her. She laughs, I laugh. Pleasant moment right? She then proceeds to explain TO ME the joke that I HAD JUST SHOWN HER. She literally asked me if I knew that it was from “A movie called The Color Purple.” At that moment I had a moment of clarity where I realized she had been what I can only call Blacksplaining* things to me from day one. She was constantly explaining Black culture to me, a Black man. I told her point blank to stop doing it. She didn't feign ignorance; her ignorance was quite genuine.

I make jokes about being White all the time, but they're MY jokes about ME. That is not license for others to do so unless we are good friends; me and her are definitively not friends. When other people make inferences or statements about my Blackness I get REAL serious REAL quick. She kept laughing and smiling and saying she was sorry. I told her she wasn't sorry and that I was offended. I said it three times, and each time she said “Ohhh, don't be offended.” I was clearly offended, which she should have recognized because it's not a common feeling I feel in my feels. It's incredibly hard to offend me, so when I am, I don't let it go. Still, she was laughing and asked for a hug. I told her to back off. I told her she's been doing this from day one, trying to make herself feel like the Superior Black Person at my expense. Her apologies were both condescending and belittling at the same time. She kept trying to explain herself, and I had to, again, repeatedly, ask her to stop because she was just digging the hole deeper.

First she said that she thought she had to explain to me the joke I had just showed her like I was one of our White coworkers. I asked her why she would think that. She said because I have worked in places with a lot of White people. Like the place we were currently sitting and talking in. The job she had actually had longer than I have somehow imparted Whiteness onto me and not her. She was flustered by now, and kept laughing and said something about me growing up in the Suburbs. She is from Philly, and I grew up in Woodbridge, NJ.** I guess that made her more authentic than me. Except for right now she lives a town a few miles from me IN A MUCH NICER AREA THAN I LIVE IN. At this point the irony was strangling me. She kept trying to convince me that it was all a misunderstanding, a joke. I was not laughing. Kept asking if I was offended, and I kept saying yes. Kept saying it wouldn't happened again, and I told her that it would because she had no idea that she was doing it and, I believe, did not even understand what she was doing wrong. The condescension in her eyes was still there. After several more insulting comments she left, but the insult stayed with me. It's still with me today.

It is ironic that as I am writing this there is a discussion on Twitter about Black nerds being bullied in HS. I was never bullied, but I was, I guess mocked is the best way to describe it. I was mocked by White kids, but it didn't matter because I felt intellectually superior to most other kids. Their words meant nothing to me. Yeah, I know how it sounds, but it saved me years of therapy. When I went to school in a different town were there were other Black kids, the mocking was more hurtful because I was so happy to be around more kids who looked like me, and they were not happy to hang around me. Yeah it hurt, which is probably why I'm still sensitive about the subject. Thankfully as I got older I met more Black people who accepted me for who I am, and I thought that part of my life was over. Imagine my surprise when now, at the ripe old age of 38, I still have to deal with judgment and people policing my Blackness. It had become so rare that I thought maybe I had imagined it, maybe I was being oversensitive, but no. This is a real thing and it has to stop.

I've seen that some people deny this happens, or tell people to just get over it. Having core pieces of your identity questioned by the very people you identify with is not something one just gets over. In fact, it's time we as Black people and American culture in general stops blowing off other people's feelings and experiences. I'm not saying spill your emotions all over the place, have some dignity for God's sake. I'm kidding mostly, but invalidating the feelings of someone who is opening up about a subject important to them is a major dick move. As I've said, this is a sensitive subject to me, but I can't imagine any Black person would respond positively to this treatment. Likewise, blaming everyone for the actions of a few is weak as well. In fact the reason this is bothering me so much is that I thought I was done with having to deal with this stuff. I don't really have a point, or a conclusion or anything. Just, don't be the dick that does this to other people.

*I looked up the internet definition of “Blacksplaining” and was horrified. For the purposes of this essay “Blacksplaining” is when one African American condescendingly explains a part of African American culture to another African American.

**Exactly what it sounds like. A collection of the most average suburban sprawl towns you could imagine.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

"A Few Words About Suicide" or "I Hate Your Joy"

My mother killed herself in a rather grisly fashion when I was 23 years old, and death has set up a permanent residence in my head ever since. It's a few weeks away from what would have been her 59th birthday, and she starts to flood my mind around this time. One of the big misconceptions about suicide is that it get's better when the environment a person live in gets better. I saw it in action; my mother started to brighten up in the weeks before she did it. Of course she was happy, she'd found what she saw as her solution to a miserable life. I can tell you from my own experience that reversal of fortune does not always effect depression, at times it can make it worse. Some people are so used to being miserable than when they finally get the things that make them happy, they become terrified of losing them. They kill themselves when everything is good. I call it “going out on top.”
People are shocked by suicide, especially when it's done by someone who they feel has a good life. What people don't understand is that a “good life” is relative. You never know who is really suffering unless 1. they trust you and 2. you ask them. The people who are most at risk rarely talk about it. That isn't to say the people who are vocal shouldn't be taken seriously. All expressions should be taken seriously. When someone who is really depressed suddenly brightens up, be concerned. One of the most dangerous times in the recovery of a suicidal person is when their medications improve their energy but therapy hasn't improved their faulty cognitions yet. People become more motivated and energized to act on their plans.
Major Depression isn't as dangerous as a Depressed and Manic self, the mixed episode. Hopeless, Impulsive, and full of boundless energy is not a good combination. If there's Winter Depression don't you think that Summer Mania is a thing as well? I've seen no less than 3 of my Facebook friends post about friends lost to suicide in the last 30 days. Good weather can be very depressing. Suicidal people, seeing everyone else having fun and happy, may feel even more broken because they feel they should be happy too. Warm weather is when these people are bombarded by everything that proves their faulty thoughts and automatic beliefs correct, much like being single on Valentine's Day. It's a stark reminder of everything you don't have. Depression warps perception; beautiful weather can be torture. I, personally, Hate Your Joy unless I'm happy as well. But I'm petty. “There's so much I SHOULD do,” the suicidal person thinks, “and so much I'm NOT doing. I'm a waste.” Suicide doesn't mean someone gave up on life; these people should not be reviled. Depression is something you succumb to, like any other terminal disease.
Depression loves rainy days and blizzards, abandoned train stations and isolation. There's a certain relief the depressed person feels when no one else is having fun either. Unseasonably warm weather throws people with mood disorders off, and they generally don't deal with it well. Depression is ever present and it doesn't take a day off. Its been my experience (as a Mental Health Professional I have come across A LOT of depressed people) that, as a friend, the best way to help them is to keep them out of their own head. If they don't want to go out, stay with them. A person cannot commit suicide if you're ass is always in their face bugging them. And eventually that may distract that person from their intrusive, self-destructive thoughts. They may not outwardly express their gratitude, but trust me, it helps.
Suicidal people don't need to be deified or have grand gestures to effect positive change; they just need to know that people would really have their lives wrecked if they killed themselves. Suicidal people are obsessed with death; it's a friend, a lover, a release, a safety valve that promises a solution. They're so in love with Death, everything and everyone else is obscured. It's not selfishness, the rest of the world just disappears, like sick twisted new infatuation. Like anyone in an abusive relationship, helping someone in this situation takes support, concern, and attention. You can't get tired or burned out. Make it a team effort so one person can pick up when another runs out of gas. It's hard to for the depressed person to know and believe that if you kill yourself you'll break so many people you care about.

Spring seems to be rush hour for the depressed at work. Pay attention to your friends, pay attention to the people who you could not live without. Because some of them may feel that everyone would be better off without them. If you are lost, message me, I get paid to do this and I offer my services for free as well. People need you. One death can have a negative ripple effect destroying so many others; those closest to you will feel it the hardest. If this sounds like you, Break up with Death. That ho don't love you.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Non-Productive Comedy Show, August 7th!

The Non-Productive Comedy Show is a live stand-up comedy and variety showcase that takes place the first Thursday of every month in Montclair, NJ, and features some of the best professional comedians from the Tri-State area.

The next show will be on April 7th at 8pm at Just Jake’s on 30 Park Place in Montclair. Admission is $5, and food and drink specials will be announced the night of. Tickets are buy one, get one free with college ID. A ticket for our Crap-Raffle is included. It is exactly what it sounds like. MAKE SURE TO GET THERE ON TIME! 8PM! You miss the start, you miss a lot.

The Non-Productive Comedy Show features comedians from diverse backgrounds who have important/irrelevant/irreverent points of view on life, the universe, and everything. Each show has it’s own unique theme and features the aforementioned raffle where audience members can win quirky prizes of dubious value. This month’s theme is CONFLICT: Winter vs Spring, St Patrick vs Snakes, the Easter Rabbit vs Jesus, all of the classic conflicts of the Spring.

This month we are featuring:

Chelsea Moroski              Host of the Manifestshow Comedy and Variety show

Benel Germosen              The Creek and the Cave, host of Otakulyspe

Ritu Chandra                      Stress Factory, Gotham Comedy Club

Daniel J Perafan                                Laughing Devil Contest

And our headliner
KC Aurora                            LAUGHS TV show on FOX, Seeso TV

As always the show will be hosted by John Minus and produced by Frank Hablawi of

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Night at South of the Border

"I’m not going to do it."

"Oh come on. Let’s just check and see…"

"No, I’m NOT going to do it. Not this time."

"Babe come oooooooonnn."

"No way in Hell. I’m not going back to that place. I barely escaped with my mind intact last time. Also, it’s 4am. Nothing will be open."

"Fine. We’ll just play another game. I’ll ask you several uncomfortable questions about your bowl movements, and then you have to ask me…”

"FINE. Fine. We’ll go. We’ll go to your stupid Tchotchke Hell. May God have mercy on our souls.”
Jules took a deep breath and sighed before pulling off of I-95 onto the exit for his least favorite place on Earth. I present to you:

By John Minus

                Jules hated South of the Border. It was a neon soaked tacky oasis of a roadside attraction, a monument to everything that was tasteless and wrong about America. Jules considered himself to be a rather dazzling person with stylish and expensive tastes. This place was anathema to him; not only was he a fish out of water here, he was a fish in outer space.
                For Laverne however, this was right up her alley. Useless, poorly made trinkets were her bread and butter, her raison d’etre. South of the Border was the Mecca of Meaningless, the El Dorado of doohickeys. She looked upon South of the Boarder the same way Indian Jones looked on the Canyon of the Crescent Moon, with an air of awe and reverence.
                Normally two people with such diametrically opposed views on a place would never be able to coexist in harmony there, and this was no exception. Jules knew he would not know a moment of peace until they visited this den of camp and vaguely racist Mexican imagery. As he pulled their Range Rover into the parking lot, his senses were immediately assaulted by the awfulness of his surroundings. There was indeed neon everywhere, and it gave the entire facility a dull red luminous pallor that made Jules shudder to think what this place would look like in the daytime.
                South of the Border is a loose association of badly disarranged buildings billed as a resort rest stop; it was what Disneyland would look like if it was designed in a PCP-induced manic state and funded with welfare money and food stamps. All in all, it was not the preferred destination for someone who was used to hanging out in New York City nightclubs.
                Laverne on the other had spent much of her time in 4-star hotels but found this place to be far more exciting. She loved the day-glo gauchos, gushed over the wiener dog statues that were, or course, a dachshund in a hot dog bun, and swooned over the anthropomorphic cacti. She was in her element, and that element was cheap plastic crap. Jules was hungry so they wandered into what seemed to be the only open eating establishment in the area, Pedro's Diner. It was just as charming as it sounded. He was never too picky about what he ate, so he ordered a couple of hot dogs, some fries, and a soda that he was unfamiliar with called “Seize.” Sounded exciting.
     "Verne, you want anything?" he asked. "Yeah, a cheeseburger and some seltzer water." Laverne was entranced by a coin operated vending machine that dispensed plastic jumping beans dressed like the Village People. She was prepared to spend any amount of quarters to collect all five.  Through some clever manipulation of the soda machine Jules managed to obtain some seltzer water. It was by far the healthiest substance available.
"Isn’t this place great? Simply sublime."
"Great? Like a great waste of time? A great waste of time and resources? Yes, yes it is."
"No I mean just great over all." Laverne was in a state of revelry comparable to the first time Dorothy saw the Emerald City. Everywhere she looked there were grotesque caricatures of Mexican culture saturated with a color scheme that looks like it was taken straight from one of Hunter S Thompson's cocaine-fueled nightmares.
"We should call this trip 'Fear and Loathing in South of the Border'" Jules said, feeling very pleased with himself.
"Oh yeah, Hunter S Thompson right?"
"You know Hunter? I'll be damned."
"Yes Jules, I do know things. I was able to operate and survive before you graced my life with your narcissistic omnipotence."
                "HEY I'M NOT... Oh you said omni-potence. Never mind. Verne, I know you know things, you know lots of things, but you’re completely ignorant when it comes to pop culture, we both know that."
                "Yes," she sighed, "I know. But one of the most infamous legends at Drogehaus is about him. Back in the 60's Drogehause hired Hunter S Thompson to do an Aspirin commercial since they’d heard that he had some of the most epic hangovers in American History. The commercial shoot was a disaster. He was drunk the whole time and kept inserting long, meandering rants about Richard Nixon and lizard people into his scenes.  So, they were selling children's aspirin and he would insist, on camera, that children's aspirin was directly to blame for the pathetic middle-class warlords that allowed the Vietnam War to happen. At some point he spiked the entire shoots water with mescaline and peyote. Three months later the crew returned, but they were not the same people who set out into that Costa Rican jungle. It ended up marking the Golden Age of marketing creativity at Drogehaus, but none of their could be used in any campaigns as there was way too much nudity for an American audience. Sold great in Europe though.
Jules nodded attentively. "That. Is a helluva story."
"Yeah. I tell great stories all the time, you just don't listen."
Usually her stories about working in marketing at international pharmaceutical giant Drogehause bored him to tears, and he only listened out of duty and the responsibility to be interested in his girlfriend’s work life. But this, this was different. He was enraptured. As the words poured out of her mouth he could see and feel what was happening as if he'd been there. He drank another mouthful of Seize and suggested that they hit the stores before they closed.
Come now Verne, we mustn’t be late. Fame and fortune awaits us in Atlanta, and we can’t dawdle here all night.” Laverne was way ahead of him. She had finished her food and moved across the parking lot with dreamlike speed to Mexico Show West. As they approached the main curio store every sense was assaulted by some new insult to good taste, like what FAO Schwartz would be like if run by Peggy Bundy. Everywhere there were piles, piles of unidentifiable nothings that no sane person would ever put in their home. Fortunately for The Great Pedro, South of the Border was often frequented by no sane person, a demographic Laverne definitely embodied.
Jules! Babe look! It’s a cat wearing a sombrero and drinking tequila from its catty bowl!”
Catty bowl?”
Yes, you know… the bowl a cat drinks from.”
I think it’s more commonly known as a water bowl Verne.” Jules took another large swig of Seize. It didn’t taste like much more than lemon flavored antifreeze, but wow was he awake.
Whatever, it’s adorable.” She had a cart now, and was flying between the aisles, a blur of manic trashistic consumerism. Jules was glad they didn’t have pink flamingos; in his head he counted how many it would take to fill his truck. He saw them squawking and fighting over some piece of bread Laverne was tossing into the back seat. He saw them biting and clawing at him until they finally drove off of a cliff; his last moments spent fighting the avian version of Johnny Weir.
WHAT?!?” Jules snapped out of his reverie to see Laverne draped in a poncho and sombrero, with a bandolier over each shoulder, each little pocket stuffed with a tiny plastic taco instead of a bullet. “This is amazing. Look at all this treasure!” A bright orange what he assumed was Mexican mustache was perched precipitously on her upper lip. Her pockets were stuffed with chocolate candy cigars.
You look like you could be a statue outside.” Jules remarked. He was impressed at how clever his observation was. “Nailed it!”
If only. You could ever have this much style. Oh! Oh! Oh! CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS!” In a flash she was under the Christmas trees, gather up handfuls of tequila-shot tree ornaments.  Jules took another large mouthful of Seize. It was starting to taste better and better to him, and it seemed like he’d been drinking it for hours. He checked the time on his phone; apparently it had only been 10 minutes since they pulled into the parking lot. That was strange. What was stranger was the large Bald Eagle that glided low over his head. He looked towards the table were statues of Bald Eagles with an American Flag in one claw and a South of the Border shot glass in the other. The Eagle-in-flight dropped the shot glass on his head. It was full. Jules shrugged and made it not full.
He relaxed a little. This place wasn’t so bad. There were frogs wearing wizard hats and Dragons piled high in one dark corner of the store. What European dragons had to do with a Mexican themed souvenir store on the border of North and South Carolina was beyond him, but whatever. He shrugged and chugged some more Seize. It was really hitting him now. More Eagles left their perches, swooping down from the sky, hunting the many singing trout strategically placed in the impulse-buy area around the main register. The eagles soared away with their singing trout, carrying them off to meet their Democratic, American fate at the talons of Eagles that vaguely resembled Richard Nixon. He caught a glimpse of Laverne across the store. She looked smaller. And browner. And her mustache looked extra realistic. He thought this was probably worth investigating.
It was only 50 ft. between him and Laverne, but it felt like it took hours for him to reach her. By the time he got to where she was she was not, which he half expected but was also surprised by. He heard her voice, but it sounded muffled, as if she was yelling at him from behind a door or a thick glass window. Which she was.
Jules! Jules! I’m down here!”
Why do you sound Mexican?”
He still didn’t see her. “No, I’m really kind of enjoying this Mexican Laverne. Say ‘Badges! We don’t need no steenking badges!’” He was giddy.
Get me out of here you asshole.”
Truthfully he did not see her. He was distracted by a row of rainbow colored donkeys (wearing serape of course) doing the can-can dance. He was entranced. They had little mugs of Seize and were liberally sipping the probably toxic drink. He liberally sipped from his cup and all of a sudden there she was; a tiny Mexican Laverne in a South of the Border snow globe.
Well that’s just frickin adorable” he slurred, “A snow globe that looks like a Chicano version of my girlfriend. I should get it for her, it’ll be a hoot.”
I AM THE HOOT YOU IDIOT! THIS IS ME. I’m in the glass.”
Impossible. You’d be drowning.”
Laverne banged her head against the glass in exasperation. “Look around you! All of these people are different! We’ve been talking, and they all got here the same way I did; they were so engrossed by the wonders of Mexico West that they BECAME a treasure of Mexico West.”
Well that’s just stupid.” Snow globe Laverne was adorable, but he decided that he wouldn’t want her to stay this way forever.
You’re tiny, which will make sex difficult. Not impossible, but difficult.” Jules tapped on the glass of all of the snow globes to see if what she said was true. All of the people inside where garishly dressed, just like her, and the harder he tapped the more they shook. “It’s the Seize. You have to drink the Seize and you can see everything here for what it really is!”
Jules thought this sounded like a capitol idea. He hadn’t had any in three minutes. He opened his travel cup and took four great big swigs of Seize. It still seemed to be mostly full. “H-uh,” he thought, “that’s off.” When he looked up from his cup what he saw was even odder. Everything in the store was dancing, singing, moving. Rubber snakes slithered everywhere; cacti played vihuelas, and small, snoring Pedro’s continued to be small and snore.
Oh no. No this isn’t right. I ate the wrong mushroom. I thought this place would be strange but not tiny water-breathing Verne strange.” The water breathing part is what really held his attention, far more than her shrinking and suddenly becoming a Mexican man.
The others, they say you have to use a sword and magic. That’s the only way you can defeat the dragon.”
Jules was convinced he’d lost his mind. But fuck it, he thought, its 5 am and my girlfriend’s in a snow globe. Also, swords and shields were the most accepted tools for exterminating dragons. “OK MEXICO SHOP WEST, YOU WANNA GET WEIRD?!?! LET’S GET WEIRD!” He searched frantically around the store for something that would help him fight A DRAGON. He doubted that this was a real thing, despite all he had experience so far because-why-would-oh-yeah-he-had-already-had-this-conversation and there was most definitely a …”
Jules’s inner monologue was cut off by the jet of searing flame that just missed melting his head from his shoulders. He crouched behind a nutcrackers shaped like obese women on house robes. “Why are you here? What do you have to do with Mexico?”
I’ve been displaced you see”, said the dragon which curiously enough sounded exactly like David Tennant. “Now if you’ll kindly die I can get back to my nap.”
Jules frantically searched for a useless piece of ceramic crap that could save his life. Eventually he found some Pedro’s in karate gi’s sparring in the corner. He asked a battalion of animated water guns to cover him and, to his surprise, they did.
Hi Pedro’s, look, I’m in a ridiculous fucking situation and I need your help. Can I borrow a pair of your sparring gloves?”
Sure holmes, they said in ridiculously over–exaggerate Mexican accents. Joo tryeeng to save your girl right holmes?
Um yes. Yes I am.”
Then vaya con dias brother. There’s nothing stronger than true love. Not even that pendejo Dragon.”
Um thanks Ped… Pedros.”
In unison they answered “NO PROBLEMS HOLMES!”
So racist” he mumbled under his breath. As Jules walked back to where the dragon was, he couldn’t fit the tiny gloves on his fingers. He had a revelation and took another big swig of Seize.
Meanwhile Laverne couldn’t help but note the irony of her situation. If she was shopping, she’d buy her in an instant. She was, in fact, adorable. This situation wasn’t adorable though, and she thought hard on how to get out. Her neighbor to her immediate right was an insurance salesman from Dubuque who was on vacation with his mistress, who was in the globe to his immediate right.
How long have you been here?” Laverne asked Dale the salesman.
Two years. My, um, acquaintance didn’t want to come here… “ “NEVER WANTED TO STOP IN THIS HELLHOLE” she creamed from behind him. “Yes… she didn’t want to come in but I’d heard of this place and how could you pass up classic pieces of Americana like this for these prices?”
RIGHT!?!” Laverne exclaimed, “This stuff is found treasure! I don’t like becoming part of the treasure though. Jules better find us a way out of here. This is the third most ridiculous trap I’ve ever gotten stuck in”
Yeah. Number two was when I stuck in a snowbank off the main trail while snowboarding and couldn’t extricate myself without the use of a snowplow and some very understanding Park rangers. The first involved the Sears Tower. I’d rather not go into that one.”
Jules had the gloves on, and had transformed into some kind of Street Fighter. Ok., he thought, I think I’m getting the hang of this. He rounded the corner to where the dragon had somehow collected all of the snow globes. Including the one that Laverne was in.
HEY! Dragon Tennant! Drop the Pedro Laverne and step away!”
Look mate, you don’t want me to drop her, or any of them, because they’ll all die. Well to be honest I’m going to crush them all after I eat you, but I’ll do you a solid and kill you before you see them die.” The dragon struck out with cobra-like speed, nearly catching Jules off guard. He recovered and came around quickly, looking to bite Jules’s leg off at the knee. Jules had jumped to avoid the first attack, and since he saw that the second attack was coming in low, he did a hurricane kick, spinning and catching the dragon right in the temple. He then threw a fireball that connected with the dragon’s temple, causing stars to circle his head. (yeah apparently he could do that now).
Pedro-Jules-Ryu dashed across the room attacking Dragon Tennant before he could get his wits about him. He recovered faster than Jules thought possible though, and their two attacks, the dragon striking from above, Jules striking from below, met with a ferocious crack. Jules had landed a devastating right uppercut to the dragon’s jaw, shattering his scales; he then delivered a thunderous body blow with his left hand, driving all the breath and fire from the dragon’s lungs. He finished him off with a giant leaping right handed uppercut. SHIN, SHO-RYU-KEN. The dragon flew across the room, slamming into a giant pile of ceramic sombrero ashtrays. As he passed out he turned back into the dragon paper weight he had been when they entered.
All the snow globes shattered and the people inside were freed. Jules rushed over and hugged Laverne tightly. “Oh Verne, don’t you ever get caught in this kind of stupidity again, and this is the third worst trap I’ve had to save you from. I mean, do you remember the Sears…”
YES I REMEMBER. But thank you. She gave him a tender kiss which he gladly returned.”
Ok let’s get the hell outta here Verne. I have all the roadside distraction I can take for one lifetime.”
As they said this Dale stepped outside and was immediately gored by a massive ceramic bull. Jules and Laverne looked around and all of the animal statues on the premises had come alive, and were chasing the other poor victims around the parking lot. Between our heroes and their car was a bear, a flock of plastic pink flamingos (I knew it, Jules muttered) and most heartbreaking of all, the giant red Weiner dog
Yes. Weiney. I named him.”
Well Weiney is gonna turn us into Wieney shit if we don’t do something.” Jules still had some Seize in him, so he was still in karate guy form. Laverne wouldn’t normally be able to fight her way through these monsters… unless…
Give me the Seize.”
What? No! What? I think this is pure liquid hallucinogens!”
Just give it to me.” Laverne pulled a small, ceramic mustachioed female Pedro Gymnast from her hemp purse. “I was going to save her from that place, but now she’s going to save us.” Laverne took her little Pedro Gymnast Sombrero, and stuck it into her hair. Instantly she turned into a world class gymnast.  “Ok let’s go kick some tacos.”
Pretty sure that’s racist too!” Jules yelled as he charged into battle. Laverne flipped, twirled and leapt into the crowd, single-handedly taking out all of the flamingos. Jules shattered the bear with huge fireball, and soon the only obstacle left between them and freedom was Weiney.
Not Weiney, I can’t destroy Weiney”
It’s ok Verne, I’ll deal with him, and you just get to the car.”
No. No.” she whispered.” I have to get a handle of my obsession with knickknacks, and this is as good a chance as I’ll get to literally face down my demons.” Weiney barked a high pitched bark and charged, his tiny Weiner dog legs flailing about. It was the cutest thing Laverne had ever seen. Still, as he went to head butt her she deftly leapt straight into the air, somersaulted three times, and came crashing down in the top of his head. A crack went down the length of his spine, and Weiney was no mar.
I know that was hard for you Verne”
No, she flashed her eyes at him, full of rage and sadness; “you will never know how hard that was. Weiney had the best puns, the best bumper stickers. And I killed him. Let’s get this trip over with.”
Jules and Laverne solemnly headed towards their car, Jules secretly picking up a piece of shattered Weiney on the way. It was the least he could do. Behind them came the shrieks and screams of the other captors they had never bothered to try and save.
The rumble of the car starting soothed them, until they realized that wasn’t the only rumbling hey felt.  Sara looked in the mirror and saw a giant “South of the Border” sign come swinging at them.
DRIVE, DRIVE NOW!” Jules saw what she was yelling about and barely got the car out of the way, losing a rear turn signal in the process.
NO ONE LEAVES SOUTH OF THE BOARD UNTIL PEDRO SAYS SO.” His giant neon frame glowed menacingly as the coming dawn crept towards them over the horizon. He pulled himself free from the ground and awkwardly ambled toward them, his sign ready to flatten them. Fortunately Laverne had one more trick in her bag; a Sombrero ashtray.
I know. But it was cute.” She slammed it down on the dashboard and the whole car began to change. It grew a giant black mustache, and the rumble of the engine sounded more like a snore.”
Put him down Jules. Put that giant sleepy literally walking stereotype down.”
Say no more.” Jules did a K-turn floored it, and with the power of the sombrero shattered Pedro’s left leg, sending him flying to the ground forever. Or until they rebuild him, he’s just made of neon lights and cheap steel; it won’t really be that big of a project. But for the immediate future the threat was over.
Hey I wonder what happened to all those other people,” Laverne asked.
I dunno,” Jules answered. “Wanna get breakfast? I think there’s a Hardee’s around here somewhere.”
No that’s OK. Hey, can we not stop until we get to Atlanta babe?”
Sure thing Verne.”
We don’t stop unless I have to pee.”
What do you mean nope?”
Okay fine. Just to pee. But I keep your credit cards the rest of the trip.”
Laverne smiled a little smile to herself. She didn't have to go back to SotB ever again. She peaked in her bag and a tiny little Pedro smiled back at her.
We'll be together forever!”
Nothing babe, just saying we'll be together forever.”

Aww, that's sweet Verne.”