The following excerpts from my life are true stories, as I remember them. The names have not been changed and no one is innocent. Although sometimes humorous, these cautionary tales are surely examples of what not to do.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Toward the end of my sophomore year in high school I spent a great deal of time with my friend Danielle. One day after school, assuming her parents would be out of the house for a while, Danielle and I had made plans to hang out at her house. So we began the long trek through the suburbs of North Highlands, Ca.

Along the way we came across a small white kitten sitting alone in the middle of the sidewalk. “Aww, what a cute little kitty” I said, picking it up and kissing it on the top of the head.

Looking back, I’m not sure if it was out of sheer boredom, or some lame form of teenage rebellion, but for some reason I decided at that moment that I was keeping this kitten and no one was going to stop me.

Danielle and I continued walking toward her house, kitten in hand, when we came upon yet another kitten, sitting alone in the grass next to the sidewalk. This kitten was equally small and equally cute with all black fur and bright green eyes. Don’t ask me what I was thinking, because surely I wasn’t, but I picked up the second kitten and said, “Come on, lets go.”

“Are you trying to get arrested for grand theft feline?” Danielle asked me jokingly. “Do you have some form of kitten kleptomania I should know about?”

We continued on our journey and eventually arrived at my friend’s house, went to her room and sat our bags down. I had just hopped on Danielle's bed to play with my new pets, when we heard the front door slam closed. Danielle sprinted to the living room to run interference with her parents, shutting the bedroom door behind her, while I furiously began searching for a place to stash my kitty contraband. Moments later Danielle re-entered her room and in a voice that was a miraculous combination between a whisper and a yell instructed me to "Do something with those cats, NOW". I froze, like a tiny, white deer in headlights. Danielle dumped the contents of her backpack on to her floor and handed it to me. "Here, put them in here" she said. I proceeded to stuff the pair of harlequin hairballs in to the backpack and cinched it up tight when her mother walked in and said,

"Your friend needs to go home now."

Danielle and I stood there, unable to speak, just staring at her mother.

"...does she need a ride?" Her mother asked.

We nodded nervously and followed her mother in to the living room, backpacks, cats and all. Danielle's dad grabbed his car keys and made a motion with his arm that meant follow me. I obeyed, following him cautiously, turning back to look at Danielle just long enough to make an "OMG" face as I left. I walked with my friend’s father to their old brown station wagon, one backpack over my right shoulder, and cradling the second feline filled sack in my arms.

Now, the drive from Danielle's house to my own was in actuality about 10 minutes, but when you are trying to hide a bag full of cats in plain site whilst sitting next to a parental unit you’d be amazed how time seems to stand still. It seemed to me as if we were stuck in some cruel Escher painting on an infinitely looping road for an eternity.

About 2 minutes in to the drive (or 2 years depending on where you were sitting) the kittens suddenly sprung to life and began squirming and fighting to get free. I attempted to cover the sack-o-cats with my scrawny arms, but it wasn't quite cutting it. The more I tried to conceal the chaos, the more the kittens wiggled and fought. The bag was moving and writhing in my lap as though it had a life of its own. I looked over at my friend’s father to see if he had noticed (I mean, how could he not) at the same time he slowly turned his head to look at me. Our eyes met and I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. I tried to smile at him innocently, but instead ended up making some weird creepy grin that I can only imagine looked like the evil clown from Stephen Kings “IT”. Danielle’s dad raised his eyebrows, making a sort of "wtf?" face and then turned his eyes back to the road.

At this point I assumed that if her dad hadn't noticed by now, then I was probably in the clear.

I assumed wrong.

It was then that the kittens decided this backpack wasn't big enough for the both of them, and began to fight amongst themselves. My attempts to hold the cats still were all in vein, as the more I tried to subdue them, the angrier, and feistier they got, until eventually they were mewing and hissing in defiance. I thought I should try to mask the noise by making conversation, but my feeble attempt at small talk only came across as insanity, as my mouth was doing all the talking, but my brain was preoccupied with the unmitigated ridiculousness of the situation I had gotten myself in to. Words just kept dripping from my lips in no particular order, like a leaky faucet I was clearly unqualified to fix.

I did ultimately manage to make it home without Danielle's dad asking me any questions, though I never could be sure if it was because he simply didn't notice, or more likely because my behavior was so extreme and absurd that he was just happy to hurry up and get me out of his car.

Although “Don’t let the cat out of the bag” may be a popular western idiom, I can tell you from experience that life is a lot less complicated if you just refrain from putting cats in bags in the first place.

(or tall guys shouldn't wear blue hats)

The early years of my high school career were spent with my parents and my older brother (whom we lovingly refer to as Bullshit Bill) in a small townhouse in Orange County. This was not the glamorous Orange County of the film with the same name, or the television show The O.C. Think Slums of Beverly Hills and you'll get the idea.

Being an all-around general pain in the ass, as most teenagers are, my brother had gotten himself in to quite a bit of hot water (to put it mildly) lately. He had been dating an inappropriately older woman (like Mary Kay Latourneau inappropriate) and our parents had finally decided to put their collective foot down. Henceforth a curfew was to be enforced; A curfew which was utterly and completely unfair and unrealistic: 1 am.

On this particular Friday, Bill had left the house earlier that afternoon and was already gone by the time our parents got home. As the sun began to set over the barrio, the scowls on our parents faces became increasingly terrifying and when the clock slowly ticked it's way to 1:07 my mom exploded like a nuclear bomb. The profanity flew like a shock wave through our tiny two-story apartment. Around 1:30 the phone rang. My mother answered it and listened with a frighteningly quiet rage, then without saying a word she hung up. My stepfather asked, "Was that Bill?" My mother nodded. "Where is he?" My mom picked up her purse and headed toward the front door. She muttered something that sounded like "Disneyland" and then left.

Over an hour went by before we heard our old green Bronco pulling up out front. Soon my brother burst through the door in a manner reminiscent of Kramer from Seinfeld with his excuse exploding from his mouth like some verbal vomit he was unable to contain: "It's not my fault" He said in an unnecessarily high volume. "I was on my way out, 'cause I didn't wanna be late, 'cause of my curfew. I don't know what happened. I was the tallest guy in the crowd. I was wearing a blue hat. Someone pointed the finger at me..." Before he could finish, my parents and I cut him off, yelling in frustrated anticipation,

"WHAT HAPPENED?" Bill put his head down, let out a somber sigh, and with a seriousness I have never heard from him before or since, said: "Pluto got pushed."

We all looked at each other.

"Pluto got pushed?" I said.

"Why would you push Pluto?" Our father asked. My brother flew off the couch, flailing his arms wildly and yelled,

"I WOULD NEVER PUSH PLUTO. I love Pluto. He's a lovable fucking dog. I told you, I was the tallest guy in the crowd! I was wearing a blue hat! Next thing I know the Adventureland police are taking me away to Mickey Mouse jail. I told you they got the wrong guy."

The mystery of who pushed Pluto remains unsolved to this day. I don't know if it was because my parents believed my brothers story, or if they were just so impressed with the bizarre creativity of his excuse that they didn't have the heart to punish him, but in any event, on this early Saturday morning Bullshit Bill lived to B.S. another day.