Monday, February 24, 2014

Fifty Shades of Satire (Chapter 3)

I can't wait.
     I have to call Kate. She'll be ecstatic. And elated. And enraptured. And other words that begin with e and make me glad I own a Thesaurus.
     "Who's this?" she demands when she answers the phone.
     To the point, as ever.
     "Kate!" I squeal. "It's Ana!"
     "Who?"
     "Ana. Ana Steele."
     "Doesn't ring a bell."
     "Ana, your roommate."
     "Ana?"
     "Yes!"
     Finally.
     "My roommate?"
     "Yes!"
     "Ana's not home," she cheeches to my chong.
     As predicted, when I am finally able to prove my identity by answering a gauntlet of password questions, she is euphoric.
     "Wait a minute," she says, cutting me off. "Anthony Wiener just texted me those photographs you were telling me about. I'm looking at them now... ewww!"
     "What's wrong?"
     "Let's just say we'll need some new pictures." 
     Now it was my turn to be excited. This means I'll get to talk to Christian Grey again, and maybe even see him again.
     I immediately call José, who conveniently happens to be a professional photographer when he isn't busy rolling drunks outside of the Old Plantation, a local gay bar in Downtown El Paso.
     "Who are they gonna call?" he once justified his actions to me. "The police? Don't make me laugh. Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha! I SAID DON'T MAKE ME LAUGH!"
     So I call him.
     "Ana who?" he says.
     When we finally get everything straightened out, he's excited too.
     "Have you seen the pictures Kate just sent me?" he asks me. "Boy, am I in the mood for a cucumber salad."
     In the end, I have to talk him into taking the new photos of Mr. Grey for Kate and myself.
     "Why would I want to do something that so obviously would be good for my career?" his enquiring mind wants to know.
     "How about for a shiny new penny..."
     "Don't make..."
     "...that's been up Christian Grey's oompa-loompa?"
     José squeals with delight, and then I hear a muffle sound. I guess José is playing hide-the-gerbil with his phone again.
     I take that as a yes.
     Now, all I have to do is call Mr. Grey. I dial 4-1-1.
     "This is Information," the operator flirted.
     "Yes," I tell him. "I'd like the personal number of Christian Grey the billionaire."
     "Hold please." There's a brief pause. When he comes back, do I detect a hint of jealousy in his voice? "His number is..." 
     I've wasted so much time on the phone that my shift is over, and I go to clock out. I don't see Paul on my way out. In fact, I haven't seen him for a while. I wonder where he is?
     Well, I can't worry about it now.
 
     It's the next day, and we're at the Old Plantation waiting for the Man of the Hour to arrive.
     Kate pulled some strings and other body parts, and we're using the special Smegma Room. It's a lot nicer than it sounds.
     It's me, Kate, José, and Travis. Travis is a friend of José's who I'm just now introducing for no apparent reason.
     The time we spend waiting gives us an opportunity to get to know one another better.
     "You know, José," I say, "in all the time I've known you, I still don't know what your last name is?"
     "It's Schwartz," he says, proudly.
     "Schwartz?" Kate interjects. "What kind of a name is 'Schwartz' for an illegal alien from Mexico?"
     "It's my given name," he tells her.
     "Give it back," she tells him, rudely. 
     As I'm removing José's hands from around Kate's neck, the fatally seductive Christian Grey makes his grand entrance, fashionably late, like Kate's period.
     Kate immediately takes control of the whole affair.
     "Here," she tells him, "put on this hat. And these shoes. And this red rubber ball. On your nose! What do you think I'm talking about?"
     When we're done, we're all more tired than Oprah Winfrey's excuses for not marrying Stedman.
     Not Christian Grey, though. He looks as fresh and energetic and ready to conquer the world as if he just graduated from Clown College.
     "Miss Steele," he says, looking not just into my eyes, but into my soul. My knees grow weak. "Would you care to join me for coffee?"
     Care to? Care to? I would love to! But...
     "I'm afraid I can't," I offer, weakly. "I have to drive my three huge friends and all this photography equipment back in my tiny little Volkswagen Beetle."
     I wave my hands toward them like a Sesame Street muppet.
     "No problem," he tells me. "Crockett!"
     From out of nowhere, his driver/slash/bodyguard/slash/optometrist is standing next to him.
     "Yeah, pal?" he says. He's wearing an Armani sports jacket with a powder-blue t-shirt and white linen pants. Slip-on loafers, no socks. His hair is more suited to the beaches of Miami, not Downtown El Paso.
     Mr. Grey waves a hand dismissively in the direction of my friends.
     "Take care of these three, would you?"
     "Whatever you say, pal," Crockett says, and pulls a gun out from beneath his jacket. I think it's a Bren Ten, a stainless-steel handgun manufactured by Dornaus & Dixon.
     "No, no," Mr. Grey corrects him gently, stroking the barrel of the gun with the tips of his long fingers as if it was a... um... ah... well... something longer than it is wide, if you get my drift. "I mean, take them home." 
     Mr. Grey promises to take me to a world-famous restaurant.
     And he does.
     McDonald's.
     "Would you like something to eat?" he asks, like the gentleman that he is.
     I sit in the chair he offers, and avert my eyes, looking at the top of the table as he walks to the counter. I don't get it. Is this a date or what? I eat it anyway. I don't know what it is, but it's definitely not a date. Maybe a fig.
     He comes back carrying a McDonaldland tray. On it is coffee for him, and two Big Macs, a large order of fries, plus two-for-one-dollar apple pies, and a cup with hot water for me.
     "I asked for hot tea," I tell him in my small voice. My subconscious rolls her eyes at my meekness. They roll under someone's shoe where she can't get them.
     "And hot tea you shall have, my dear," he says as he reaches into his breast pocket. He pulls out a teabag of Earl Grey tea still in its packaging envelope. Say what you will about Christian Grey, the man has class.
     I pick up the teabag, put it in my purse (for later), and take a sip of the hot liquid in front of me.
     "I like my tea weak," I explain.
     "I guess you do," he says, eyeing me appreciatively. "Tell me about yourself, Miss Steele. I want to know all about you."
     When I wake him up twenty minutes later, I'm done with my delicious water and he's ready to leave.
     We walk down the street, and stop at the corner of Norfolk and Way for a red light. We're waiting for the little green man to show up. Little green man? What the heck am I talking about? I have no idea.
     Embarrassed with myself, I turn to run away, and smack headfirst into a lamppost. I bounce back into Christian's strong arms, thinking, "It's not the heat, it's the stupidity."
     I look up into his eyes, and he looks down into mine. I hope there's nothing dangling from my nostrils.
     His are immaculate.
     Holy crap! Is he gonna kiss me, or what?
 
 
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Fifty Shades of Satire (Chapter 2)

My heart is pounding.
     I never should have had the Heart Attack Grill's two-for-one Lard Special with the free Diet Coke. I don't care what the Coca-Cola Company says, I bet there's some empty calories in there somewhere. They don't all dissipate in an effervescent sparkle of fizz once you pop the top, like my mother used to tell me.
     When the elevator finally spits me out on the first floor with a grunt, I'm more confused than a Hollywood starlet sitting in front of a plate of food.
     What the crap had just happened?
     On my drive back home, I think about a lot of things. I think about whether there will ever be peace in the Middle East. I think about whether we will ever judge each other by the content of our character, and not the color of our highlights. I think about what I'm going to eat when I get home.
     Speaking about getting home... 
     When I get home Katherine--Kate--must still be feeling sick, because she's sitting slumped at the kitchen table, hand to her forehead and moaning. She sure does moan a lot. I mean A LOT! I can't help but hear her all night, a-moaning and a-groaning and a-boney maroney.
     "I got the interview," I tell her, hoping it will lift her spirits.
     It does.
     "You got the interview!" she says, immediately brightening. "Oh goodie, goodie, goodie! Gimmie, gimmie, gimmie! Right there, right there, right there!"
     So I put the digital recorder down in front of her.
     "A little bit more to the left," she instructs, and so I do.
     She scoops it up in her hands, clutches it to her chest, shuddering. I've never seen her so happy. She's almost convulsing in excitement.
     "Okay, well," I tell her, "I've got to go to work, even though I told them I wouldn't be going in."
     She shudders a final time in acknowledgement, and grows quiet. She's sad to see me go, I guess.
     "Well... goodbye," I tell her.
     "Goodbye," she tells me.
     A midget strolls cockily out from beneath the kitchen table, flossing his teeth.
     "Goodbye," he says. 
     I make it to work. They're happy to see me.
     "You told us you weren't coming in," Mr. Clayton says.
     I've worked at Clayton's Hardware & Enema Supplies since I started at UTEP. They love me just like family.
     "I don't care where you go," he tells me, "just go."
     So I do.
     I'm back home. Kate's not there. I call my mom. She's not in. I call my dad, and only get his voice mailbox. I call a few more people I know, but they don't answer, either. I finally give 9-1-1 a try.
     "Quit calling us!" the emergency-operator teases, playing hard-to-get.
       Oh, I've got so much studying to do for my finals, but first I write an essay for one of my classes. I call it The Communist Manifesto and Other Decorating Tips.
     The doorbell rings, and it's my bestest, most dearest gay hispanic friend, José, with a bottle of Three Fingers tequila.
     "Don't you drink José Cuervo, my illegal alien friend?" I ask him.
     "It's too creepy to put something in my mouth that has my name on it," he explains.
     The doorbell rings again. This time it's Nosmo King, my bestest, most dearest gay African-American friend.
     "'Nosmo'?" I once asked him. "That's an interesting name. How'd you get it?"
     "My mother, when she was giving birth to me, said it was a sign from God. As she was being wheeled into the delivery room, she looked up, and there, just above the door, was the name 'Nosmo King.'"
     I remember wiping away a tear from my eye. It was a very touching story, especially since his last name is Jones.
     The doorbell rings yet again. When I open the door I see my gay Asian-American friend Kim Jong Eh? (no relation), and my gay Native American friend Dances With Gerbils. They're both my bestest, most dearest friends in all the world.
     After a few shots of tequila, they begin to throw a party that I'm not invited to.
     Suddenly, I'm in the mood for a cucumber salad.
 
     Saturday at the store is going to be a nightmare, especially since it's Tuesday.
     "Hey! We told you to..."
     "I'll work for free," I say.
     It seems to pacify them.
     "Okay," Mr. Clayton says, happy to have me. "Just stay in the back where the customers can't see you."
     I agree, and even promise to buy everyone a pizza later.
     "Don't bother," he says. "We can see the results of eating too much pizza."
     They're like my second family, always looking out for me. 
     I'm at the back counter, discreetly eating a chimichanga. I glance up and--crap!--I find myself trapped in the bold gaze of Christian Grey. I'm like a deer caught in the headlights of an 18-wheeler barreling down the road at it.
     Not just crap, but holy crap. What the hell is he doing here?
     "Hello, Mr. Grey," I tell him. "This is a pleasant surprise."
     "Yes," he tells me. "For you."
     "What can I help you with?"
     "I was at a store. It was called Nothing But Lampshades. That was all they sold. Lampshades. But I, Miss Steele, am a man who needs more than lampshades."
     "I understand completely," I tell him, not understanding at all.
     "Actually, I don't need anything. I was just in the neighborhood, and I wanted to express how much I enjoyed our little interview the other day."
     "So did I," I tell him. "I just wish I could have gotten some pictures of you to go with Kate's story."
     "Pictures? I'll have my dear friend, Anthony Weiner, send her some. Just give me her cell phone number."
     "Gee, thanks," I tell him, thinking how excited Kate is going to be when she gets them.
     "Ana!"
     It was Paul, Mr. Clayton's youngest brother. I've known him every since he was molested by his uncle. I had heard he was home from Princeton, where his family lets everybody assume he's going to college, but is really just a janitor there.
     He puts a too-familiar arm around my shoulder, and pulls me close. I can see Mr. Grey's eyes narrow and his face harden from the corner of my eye.
     "Er, Mr. Grey... this is Paul. His brother owns this store. Paul... this is Mr. Christian Grey. He owns everything else."
     "Christian Grey?" Paul asks.
     "Yes," I tell him.
     "The Christian Grey?"
     "Yes."
     "Not Christian Gray, but Christian Grey?"
     "Yes, yes. Christian Grey. Now get your hand off my ass and say hello."
     "Wow," he tells the Master of the Universe. "Is there anything I can do for you?"
     "Yes," Mr. Grey answers, his tone clipped and cool. "You can leave."
     "Yeah, I can do that," Paul says and disentangles his arm from around me. As he leaves. Mr. Grey eyes him steely as he walks away. Like a predator predatoring his prey, he watches Paul but speaks to me.
     "Hmm, I guess I will need some things after all," he says, casually, with an undercurrent of danger.
     "Of course," I tell him, "...Christian."
     "Please... call me Mr. Grey."
     I step from around the counter, and bump into our bow rake display. They all come crashing to the concrete floor. I'm surrounded by a sea of rakes. Maybe more like a school of hungry sharks in a sea of concrete. Crap, I'm bad at metaphors.
     I cautiously move one foot forward, stepping on the head of a rake. The wooden handle snaps upward fast--Whack!--and it hits me smack in the face--"Ow!" The force of the blow makes me step back--Whack!--and a rake hits me on the back of my head--"Ow!" I step forward. Whack! I step back."Ow!" Forward. Whack! Back. "Ow!"
     Whack! Whack! Whack!
     "Ow!" "Ow!" "Ow!"
     "Do you need some assistance, Miss Steele?" Mr. Grey--my hero--asks me.
     "No, no," I tell him. "This happens all the time." 
     In the Gay Mafia, do you think getting "whacked" is a good thing?
     Whack! "Ow!"
     Neither do I. 
     He buys some rope, duct tape, and a gag.
     "For the body in the trunk," he kids, kiddingly. "Do you have any blindfolds?"
     "The bandana you bought as a gag can also be used as a blindfold," I say, saving him some money. He may be a billionaire, but I'm sure he didn't get there by being a spendthrift. "Anything else?"
     "Yes," he says, looking around. "I will also need some hydrofluoric acid."
     "Hydrofluoric acid?"
     "Yes. Is that a problem?"
     "No, no," I assure him.
     "Along with a plastic container big enough to contain, oh, say, your friend Paul."
     "Hmm, I don't know if we have one that big."
     "If you don't, then two will do."
     "What are you going to put inside them?"
     "The acid."
     "The acid?"
     "Yes."
     "Any decent acid is gonna eat right through plastic."
     "Not hydrofluoric," he assures me. "Mr. White, an old chemistry teacher of mine, once taught me that."
     "What kind of plastic, then?"
     "Polyethylene. Just look at the bottom for a triangle stamped 'LDPE.'" 
     Okay, I admit to myself. I like him.
     I walk him to the front of the store. At the glass-sliding door, he turns around and faces me, saying nothing. He looks around my place of work a final time.
     "This place looks so much different through binoculars," he tells me.
     "What?"
     "Just kidding," he says, "Anastasia."
     His tongue caresses my name like it was the last donut at the Krispy Kreme. I don't know what's going to happen next. Is he going to take me in his arms? Kiss me?
     He hands me a shiny new penny.
     "For luck," he says
 
 
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Monday, February 17, 2014

Fifty Shades of Parody (Chapter 1)

I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror.
    Damn my hair--it looks like a tumbleweed on steroids, only not as manageable. I look at my roommate, the beautiful Katherine Kavanagh. Only she's not so beautiful now. Now she's in bed, sick as a pig.
    Hidden under the blankets, there seems to be an abundance of her. She's sweating more than Rosie O'Donnell's upper lip. Writhing in discomfort, as opposed to datcomfort. Her moaning sounds are heartbreaking.
    How can I stay mad at her?
    Poor baby.
    Somehow she talked me into interviewing some super-duper, wowie-zowie mega-industrialist for the student newspaper, Mein Kampf. It's an interview she should be doing, but, like I said, she's sickiepoo. I know, because I can see her contortionating under the blankets. Her eyes are rolling back in their socket like a possessed Linda Blair in The Exorcist, only with smaller breasts. She's my bestest, dearest friend.
    God, I hate her.
    "Goodbye," I tell her.
    "Goodbye," she tells me.
    "Goodbye," says a voice from under her blanket.
    "Holy fudge!" I say.
    Only I don't say fudge.
 
   Christian Grey is the Head Hookah of Grey Enterprises Holdings & Fish Market, Inc. I make it to his headquarters with enough time for a quick stop at Taco Bell. I'm still wiping off the special taco sauce when I walk into the lobby of GREY HOUSE, his 69 story office building.
    I'm greeted by Olivia Spade, a young blonde intern seated behind a solid sandstone desk. She's beautiful, in an ugly kind of way.
    "And you are..." she asks me.
    "Anastasia Steele," I tell her.
    "And this concerns..."
    "I'm here to see Mr. Grey."
    "Can I ask you a personal question, Ms. Steele?" she says, leaning forward confidentially.
    "Of course," I tell her.
    "Where did you buy your little ensemble?"
    "Oh, the Puke Brothers," I tell her. "Why? Do you like it?"
    "No, I just want to make sure I don't shop there by mistake."
    My confidence immediately deflates, although, to tell the truth, I don't know what it would be like flated.
    "Can I get you something?"
    "Do you have any Taco Bell?"
    As it turns out, they don't. I make do with what I find between the cushions on the couch I'm sitting on. Finally...
    "Mr. Grey will see you now," Olivia tells me, and holds the door to Mr. Grey's office open for me. "Do go through."
    I get up, and smooth the wrinkles from my skirt, just as a tall, elegantly dressed African-American gentleman exits.
    OMG! It's President Obama! He's holding a shiny new penny in one hand and wiping away tears with the other.
    He's crying?
    Once he takes the money out of my wallet, redistributing my fair share to Olivia, he feels much better. He even gives me a smile, his dark eyes crinkling at the corners.
    I look.
    He barely left me enough for an Enchirito.
    "You don't need to knock," Olivia tells me, counting her cash. "Just go in."
    As I walk past, the door closes behind me, catching the heel of my left foot. I stumble forward, hitting my head on a low beam. Ow! I put one hand behind my head, rubbing it gingerly, and the other forward to steady myself, accidentally placing it on a wood-burning iron stove. Hot! I quickly remove my hand from the scalding metal, lift it to my mouth, and blow on it. I shuffle backward, and back into a door with a "Wet Paint" sign on it. Aw, nuts! My navy-blue jacket is ruined! As I step forward, the door opens behind me, and an ironing board falls, hitting me on the top of my head. I stumble forward, needing air. I'm at an open window, still blowing on my burning palm, while my other hand rests on the windowsill, keeping me balanced. The window falls down hard on my one good appendage--Yikes!--crushing it and trapping it at the same time. I have to use some force to pull it out, and the momentum spins me around making me fall face-first into a wedding cake. Yum! Unable to see, I stumble around deliciously and step right into a bear trap.
    Ouch!
    I'm such a Nordberg.
    I hope I didn't embarrass myself.
    "Nonsense," Christian Grey says, opening the jaws to the trap. "I barely noticed."
    When my eyes finally focus, I can see that the great Mr. Grey is pretty young for an old guy. And pretty good-looking to boot. He sees me seeing him.
    "Miss Kavanagh is indisposed," I sputter, "so she sent me. I hope you don't mind."
    "And you are..."
    "Anastasia Steele."
    "And this concerns..."
    "I have some questions, Mr. Grey."
    I smooth a stray lock of hair behind my ear.
    "I thought you might," he says, deadpan, as opposed to livebucket.
    "You're very young to have amassed such an empire. To what do you owe your success?" I ask him.
    “Before every business deal," he confides in me, confidingly, "I stick a shiny new penny up my arse. And then, just before the meeting is to begin, I go to the bathroom and take it out. When I meet my opponent, I give him that penny, telling him it's for luck. That way, when we're negotiating, I can never take him seriously knowing that he's handling a penny that's been stuck up my bum."
    I was amazed at his business acumen. I look at him. He holds my gaze steadily, impassive. My heartbeat quickens. My face flushes. My nose runs. I quickly catch it and return it to its original position on my face.
    Why does he have such an unnerving effect on me? His overwhelming good looks? The way his eyes blaze at me? The smell of his cologne?
    Mmm... eau de ratatouille.
    "And," I continue, "once you've beaten your opponent in a bitter beetle business battle, what do you do to, ah, chill out?"
    "Chill out?" he says, lifting one eyebrow. "Well, to chill out--as you put it--I climb with the sherpas on Mount Everest. I run with the Tarahumara in Mexico. I watch Oprah reruns with Stedman. I'm a very wealthy man, Miss Steele, and money gives me class, a lot of class," he says, and blows his nose into the sleeve of my navy-blue jacket to punctuate his point.
    There's a knock on the door and Olivia enters.
    "Mr. Grey, forgive me for interrupting, but your next meeting is in two minutes."
    "We're not finished here, Andrea."
    "Olivia."
    "Don’t ever correct me, Andrea. Please cancel my next appointment."
    "Very well, Mr. Grey," Olivia, I mean Andrea, says, and then exits, not letting the door hit her where the good Lord split her.
    Crap, crap, and double crap!
     Where's he going with all this?
    "I'd better leave," I tell him. "I don't want to keep you from anything."
    He steeples his fingers in front of his mouth, and balances himself on one leg.
    "Plus, I do have a long drive," I continue, continuing.
    He walks me to the door, still on one leg.
    "We have an excellent internship program here," he tells me. Why is he telling me this? Is he offering me a job? "We can always use a good woman around here who knows her way around a coffee pot."
    "Oh, I'll bear that in mind," I murmur. "Do you know where the nearest Taco Bell is?"
    "Out there," he says, and points out of his office and toward the street. I'm surprised when he follows me out and walks me to the elevator.
    "Anastasia," he says as a farewell.
    "Christian," I reply.
    "Please," he tells me, "call me Mr. Grey."
    And, mercifully, the elevator door closes.
    On my nose.

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