Author Archives: victoriataylor85
Vicki had the following prompts to choose from:
Amy – The man with the shovel kept appearing at that same spot
Cameron – Making words out of numbers on an upside-down calculator
Erika – I thought it was just a glass of water, until it wasn’t
Jen – Opening line: Watermelon Juice and champagne cocktails make for a sweet hangover.
Warning: All of the events you are about to read are based on my true story. Beverages have been changed for detail embellishment.
Watermelon juice and champagne cocktails make for a sweet hangover. At least I was in good company when the four glasses of sweet, sweet danger hit my lips like water. My roommate and I woke in a headache of hysteria as we laughed over my misery from the night before. If only this sweet concoction had been available to me last night, I could have put my watermelon champagne goggles on, although, I don’t think it would have helped.
To summarize the meet-cute, which ended up being a meet-awful, I had been asked out on a date by a dude who stumbled upon a little, quaint bakery that I frequented. Being in a terrible funk of a mood, I looked the part with no make up, messy side-braided hair, yoga capris, surf shirt and Vans shoes. Can you say hot? But this guy (to be known from now on as Bakery Boy) talked his way into my cold exterior while I chomped on a chocolate croissant, and I went with a “yes girl” attitude and accepted a date. I mean, how bad could a guy be if he thought I was attractive and funny enough in my homeless looking state. I made it through a bit of an awkward, but not terrible, first date with Bakery Boy. My jury was out on him so I decided to give date two a try.
It was terrible. Note to self: trust the gut. Something came over me that told me that this was going to be a complete waste of my time. New to the world of dating – yes, that’s right, new to dating – I talked to a few guy co-workers about the upcoming date and funnily enough, they gave me the OK to bail. However, if I’m going to be a bitch, I’d rather do it to someone’s face rather than give a lame excuse like “Oh, I got food poisoning at lunch,” or “I have to deep condition my hair.” So I did what any girl, I think, would do: I sucked it up, looked forward to a free meal and left to meet Bakery Boy for a 7:15pm date.
On my way out, the roomie gave me a quick “have an open mind” pep talk and said she would meet me out of a drink later.
It’s five minutes before 7:15 and he calls me, just like he did on the first date.
“Hello?” I said.
“Hey Hey! Uhhh, where are you?” he said in a tone like I was already standing him up. Yes, he did this to me on the first date, too, only I was one minute late.
“Uh, well, it’s not 7:15 yet. So I’m on my way to the restaurant.”
“We were supposed to meet at 7.”
Having the compassion that I do, I immediately felt a pang of niceness. “Oh, sorry. I thought you said 7:15.”
“Nah, I’m just kidding. I did say 7:15.” I wish my massive eye roll was visible over the phone. When retelling the woes of just this part of my date to the roomie later that night over those watermelon champagne cocktails, she slammed her glass down and said she would have turned the car around right then.
White knuckling my steering wheel, I said through my gritted teeth: “OK, so I’ll be there at 7:15.” I hung up and dreaded the night even more. However, I was a bit curious on a more psychological level to see just how insane this guy could be.
I showed up to Cattleman’s, which if you haven’t been, is wonderfully decorated in a terribly tacky western-style, and I think it was probably the first established building in Livermore, probably in 1859, just as the wild frontier was emerging. I met him at his car where he gave me a hug, tried to lean in for a kiss – that I happily denied – and immediately jabbed me for being two minutes late.
“I guess I’m just more punctual that you are.” I let that one slide and didn’t respond to his attempt to jest me. “I think they might give our table away since you’re so late.”
“REALLY?” I exclaimed. He noticed my shortness and tried to play it off but we shuffled our way into the saloon-like doors, our spurs clicking on the worn floorboards.
I moved my piece of hay to the side and tipped my 20-gallon hat up and saw it was dead in there. Only the crickets were chirping. I had the urge to walk to the hostess stand in my chaps and ask where I could find Curly because he stole my horse and was wanted with the sheriff. I contained myself, though, and we walked to the front to claim our reservation. My eagle eyes saw that the name had been crossed off. Oh, this will be fun, I thought.
“Did you give away our reservation?” Bakery Boy asked to a waitress who happened to be standing there.
“Yikes, I guess the hostess did. I’m really sorry. We will get you seated in just a minute. I’m really very sorry.”
I chimed in with a happy sing-songy voice. “Oh that’s OK. Don’t worry about it.” Again, the restaurant was feeding crickets.
But he turned to me. “See? They did give our reservation away because you were late. I kind of want to meet this guy who took our table.” I started to see some hidden rage and wondered if he had just been released from his most recent anger management session.
“It’s no big deal. They aren’t very busy and I’m not starving this time,” making sure to mention that he didn’t feed me in a timely manner on our first date.
He paused for a minute. “Yeah, I think I want to find out who this guy is.”
But thankfully, our table was ready. As we were led to our trough via the Oregon Trail, I looked past the point of no return. Bakery Boy turned to me and said, “I’m going to try to get something free out of this.”
My jaw dropped and I knew I was officially in the deepest shit a girl can find herself in.
We sat down and the flannel-mouther painfully started the report building conversations only to soon be interrupted by the waitress when she asked if we wanted something to drink.
“Beer.” I said abruptly. As soon as it arrived, I cut the dust and downed the hatch. I felt like I needed to slide my empty glass down the long table to a bartender on the other end and wait for the “what’s troubling you, sweetheart?” talk.
I opened my menu but before I could even look, Bakery Boy recommended the “Dinner for Two” and said it was the best deal. Interesting on multiple counts. In one sentence, he had successfully proved that he knew all about the menu – upside-down mind you – and threw down the cheap-ass card. And it wasn’t the best deal, because if I got a $17 steak and $5 beer, it still would have been less than the $70 bill he picked up. Fail on his part.
“Well, I think I’ll get either the filet mignon or rib eye.”
I didn’t want to announce my order but I felt obligated. “I’m going to have the prime rib.”
“Oh good, I was hoping you would say that so I could have some.”
No. Uh-hu. Boundaries buddy. One thing you need to know about me is that I don’t share food willingly. There are a few exceptions to this rule and those people know who they are. I’m territorial when it comes to food. When I explained this as bluntly as I did just now, he was majorly taken back. I knew at this moment, there would be no third date and he would be lucky if I didn’t get off this rickety wagon and make my own trail to freedom. But I stayed, for the sake of research.
The meal was ridiculous. Bottomless bread, bottomless salad, a heaping mound of “tumbleweed onions” for an appetizer, main course with heavy side dishes, and dessert. The Dinner for Two could have easily been called the Family Meal Deal. There is a reason why America is fat and Cattleman’s is a proud contributor.
The appetizer came out seconds before our entrées and the waitress apologized profusely, which I accepted and moved on. The manager even felt the need to come by and say that he would take the appetizer off the bill. Fine by me. I had already determined that I wasn’t paying anyway. But Bakery Boy couldn’t go without making the following comment: “Looks like we got something for free after all!” I looked for something to gauge my eyes out with.
When my prime rib was placed in front of me, I dived right in. About half way through our meal and continued awkward conversations, I peered up at him and saw him looking at my food and then at me. And then back at my food. And then at me. Annoyed, I asked, “Would you like some?”
“Well,” he said slyly, “I have only been eying it since they brought our food.”
Ugggggggghhhhhhhhh! I cut off a good piece and just slopped it on his plate. Anything to get me through this night faster. But it wasn’t good enough.
He inspected the meat. “Oh, there’s a lot of fat on this piece,” he said perplexed. He cocked his head, squinted his eyes and said, “Did you give me that piece on purpose?”
My face went into shock. Openly irritated, I cut off another, bigger piece and threw it down on the plate with a forceful: “Here!”
I went back to eating with a smirk for my assertive action. After a few seconds, I looked up to see him studying me and he knew he pushed a button. Really, he’d already pushed all my buttons by this point.
There was no way I was finishing my food or the dessert, so at least I got some leftovers and massive chocolate cake out of the night. When the check came, I ignored it. I wasn’t about to do the check dance where I pull out my card and he would offer to pay, because honestly, I think he would have “let me” pay half to empower the woman in me. That would be bullshit. I thought about proposing him to pay me for this night; however, I think that’s illegal. I looked everywhere but at the check. After about 5 minutes, he picked it up. He laid the bill in the middle of the table so I could clearly see it and stammered as he talked out the tip he was going to give. I looked at the ceiling for about two minutes while he figured this one out.
Finally, the light at the end of the trail was approaching fast. I took my shopping outlet-sized doggie bag and walked passed the hostess stand where Bakery Boy took two handfuls of mints. Fucking free loader.
“Would you like one?” he said as he offered me a stolen mint.
“No thank you.”
“Uh, fine,” he replied in an offended valley girl voice.
Upon walking out, he still thought the date was going well enough to ask if I wanted to continue to hang out. Explicit tourettes was happening in my head, but I composed myself to politely say “no” and walked to my car. I tried to escape so I gave a quick hug to rid him from me along with a half-assed “bye”.
“What? No kiss?”
The amount of times I pick my jaw off the floor this night was making my arms tired. I made a snap decision. I’ll never see this idiot again in my life, and I got a free 15-course meal. I can sacrifice one peck on the cheek. Gross.
I immediately made it to my roomie at the bar to recount the events of the night over sweet, blissful alcohol. We laughed at my misery and I felt good again. As we drank and laughed the night away, she bet money that he’d call me. I countered and said that I was so cold that there would be no follow up. It amazes me that some people actually think their social behavior is OK. I had been experiencing a lot of negativity in my life over the past few months, but at least I knew I could present myself as an acceptable human being in public. Never thought a pat on the back would come in the form of spending an hour and a half with a total idiot.
Hung-over moments like these make you appreciate the friends you have, no matter how far away they seem in proximity or in emotion. Those sweet drinks are just what a girl needs to heal sometime. Not because of the alcohol, but because of the connection you feel and conversations you have when you’re with someone, anyone, who truly understands you. And that’s why watermelon juice and champagne cocktails make for the sweetest of hangovers.
*In case you’re wondering, yes, he did call me again, but I let it that one go to voicemail.
Vicki Taylor lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and loves to write about the horribly humiliating events of her life and welcome others into her personal chuckle hut. In between working and working out and working out her mind, she puts pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) in an attempt to open up her life to others in her official start of her first novel. She lives an active lifestyle, has the best dog in the world and enjoys adventuring anywhere that will have her.
Vicki had the following prompts to choose from:
Amy – A plastic flamingo and a gnome
Cameron – Reading while under water
Erika – When is a woman like a baseball bat?
Jen – Cotton candy on a rainy day
Wendy – What would you do for a Klondike bar?
Prompt numero uno called my name, but didn’t want to tell me what to write. Here’s my attempt at channeling my inner Gnome…
“Ugh, she’s there again. She thinks she’s so cool standing there in that puddle day after day. And for what? Just to tick me off? What a schmuck. She’s got to stand there in the middle of that pond drawing attention to herself while I sit here in the shadows being forgotten about. That’s one narcissistic pink bird if I’ve ever seen one!”
Grumpy. That was one word to describe the little man who sat in the dirt, hidden behind the rose bushes and making it impossible for him to move or be moved. His hair had grown old and white and his beard unkempt. His red hat slouched low on his head and tucked behind his large, spade-shaped ears. His eyebrows were stuck in a turned right angle in the position, similar to a Real Housewife’s botched Botox injection. His beady eyes were as white as snow; however, his pupils small, dark and evil. One eye squinted permanently as if he had been forced to eat only sour lemons during his creation. A tobacco pipe dangled from a crease in his beard, just below his warty round nose, and the awkwardness of his angry face was reflected in his stiff body stature. He wore a yellow jacket that was propionate to the size of his head, but his legs were stubby and almost nonexistent. His hands were glued to his sides and mistakenly the same color as his jacket – almost as if someone had lazily manufactured him.
There had been others like him over the years, but they seemed to get prime real estate in the old woman’s garden. The others had upturned lips, happy faces and rosy cheeks that welcomed people up the flagstone walkway and to the front door of the Victorian-styled house. Since Gnome had none of these traits, he had been forgotten about, and every year, found himself being carelessly pushed farther back in between two rose bushes.
A small clearing in the bushes arched over him. The shaded cover gave him a limited view of the garden in addition to his already compromised peripheral vision, but sat him just near enough to the walkway that he could see people coming and going from the house. It wasn’t a bad spot for an irritable gnome to be if only he wasn’t directly behind a small pond that was the obvious attraction to the yard.
The pond was manmade without a symmetrical shape. Rocks and a few tall grasses erratically grew around certain spots at the pond’s perimeter. The old woman had invested in a solar powered fountain that bubbled all day long and gave the garden a soothing peacefulness.
Gnome’s scowl predetermined his attitude to despise absolutely everything that came his way – he actually liked his negativity and loved that his presence could make even the chirpiest bird hop by him quickly. But what he really hated in his unmoving world was the creature that stood in that pond every day.
Flamingo. She stood there. She stood in the middle of the pond. She stood on her one, wire leg that was firmly planted in the mud. Her vibrant hot pink body was etched with feathers. She, too, was an immobile creation, but her two wings were not since they were actually bolted into her body. Sometimes when there was a breeze in the New Mexican air, her wings would spin ever so slightly next to her neon body; yet she never moved. She never flew away. And that’s all that Gnome ever wanted her to do. Leave.
Flamingo’s long, skinny neck curved in a drastic “S” shape all the way up to her little head and oversized beak. She had a doofy expression, like a dog with its tongue hanging out of its mouth, and bewildered deer-in-headlights eyes. She was absolutely hideous and tacky but was the diamond in the old lady’s yard. She adored Flamingo.
The rest of the yard was overgrown with odd knickknacks and figurines, trees and plants. The old woman who lived in the house was a member of the local gardening club but no one could have come to that conclusion by the randomness of the scruffy garden. Gnome could care less about everything else in the garden because for his concern, the only thing he could really see was Flamingo.
This day began like all the rest, although he thought it would some how be different. He thought she’d be gone.
“Hey you!” He shouted. “Why don’t you go back to Florida where you came from?!” Gnome shouted. Deep down he knew he could only hear himself but he still bullied her. What he didn’t know in his world was that Flamingo, and him too for that matter, was not from Florida, but rather a warehouse in Plano, Texas that manufactured tacky garden accessories. Old women who belonged to gardening clubs with tawdry gardens were this manufacturer’s target market.
Gnome heckled Flamingo in this manner every morning. He had heard the old man next-door yell at some kids in a gruff, authoritative voice from time to time and they ran away in fear. Gnome figured it might work to scare away this bird, but it never did. Still, he tried.
“There are no shrimp in that pond Pinky! You’ll turn white soon!” He chortle and cackled and cracked himself up, and took great pride in his terrible torments to her. But she never moved, which just seemed to aggravate him more.
Just before noon, the mailman came up the walkway. “Just on time,” Gnome said in a friendly manner. “What do you have today for us?”
The mailman dropped a package on the doorstep, shoved a pile of mail in the slot in the door and bounced back down the flagstone way without a word.
“Errrr, what a schmuck,” grumbled Gnome.
Time passed like any other day but when you’re a gnome, you don’t know the difference. Boredom doesn’t exist. It’s just the way of the plastic garden creature life. Things happen all the time that cause excitement in the day. Rain brings crawly worms and snails that climb up and all around. Blooming roses attract various insects that buzz and hum. Even the neighbor’s cat thought that Gnome’s little crevice in the bushes made for a cozy spot to sleep for a full day. In the evening on that same day, that cat also thought Gnome’s particular spot was a special enough place to dig and sit for a while. A horrible stench came from the cat and was left in the ground. The smell remained for days despite the cat covering dirt on top of it. So you see, excitement comes in all forms, but isn’t an expected part of a garden gnome’s life.
On this particular day, no animal life had passed by him. The afternoon wind started to kick in and Flamingo’s wings took a leisurely spin. Gnome grumbled at the sight of her intentional “look at me” attitude.
The old woman emerged from the creaky house and maneuvered down the walkway for her afternoon stroll. “See ya later, Margerie,” Gnome called. He watched her waddle away, more spritely than usual, until he couldn’t see her past the bushes.
As the minutes past, he knew she wouldn’t be gone too long and he could see a change in the afternoon light. A sudden gust rushed the garden and Flamingo’s plastic wings spun quickly.
“Bet you wish you could fly away now! I wish you would!”
The wind pivoted the body of the bird in the water to turn her away from him so he could no longer see her profile.
“Oh! So now you turn your back to me? Real mature! Why don’t you tell me how you really feel Pinky?!” But he heard no response to his call other than the sounds in the garden.
The wind continued to come in abrupt gusts and the garden plants rustled as they were forced to mingle and tangle with other plants around them. A tree next to the house creaked as a heavy branch rubbed against another. It screamed in discomfort. The rustling became louder, and loose leaves and flowers ejected from their once nurturing homes. Even the Koi that shared the pond with the pink beast seemed perturbed by the sudden change in weather. Flamingo’s wings squeaked as they spun faster and faster. Faster and faster. Gnome’s excitement grew as he saw the wobble of her stand-alone leg start to increase. “Yessssssss,” he cooed. “Come on you stupid pink bird.”
And then it was that. One last forceful gust that toppled the plastic bird face first into the pond. The fish splashed from the abrupt intrusion in the water.
“Wahooooooo!” Gnome jumped inside himself. “That’ll teach you to stay out of my garden, Pinky!” Gnome had never felt so happy in his entire gnome life.
But it was short lived. With a face frozen in expression, the grumpy attitude always follows. Smiling cement frogs are always joyful and welcoming. Jade Buddhas are always enlightening. And grumpy gnomes are always grumpy.
“So what? Now you’re just going to float there in that pond?” More grumbling emitted from the fat, stubby character.
The old woman was in brisk stride as she hurried back from her gusty walk and bundled in her jacket. As she came up the walkway, she paused to look at the recent change in the garden.
“What a shame,” she said softly and walked away without giving it another thought.
Dusk set in and the windstorm had died down. Evening sounds of crickets chirping and frogs bellowing in song emerged from the earth and Mason jar lights that were scattered around the garden came to life, illuminating the bountiful plants. The garden seemed to make beautiful sense at this time of day, something that just looked cluttered during the daylight. The thriving night rolled in and the sky blackened. The plants became alive, just as the garden figurines fell fast. Gnome’s thoughts quieted. He could no longer see the pond that angered him during the day. Flamingo was finally gone, making him content. The hum of the nightlife roared in full swing and continued until the birds woke and took over in song when the dark night turned into dawn.
When morning came, Gnome found the neighbor’s cat wrapped around him. Grumpy as ever, he cursed at the cat to move, but it curled and wiggled all around him instead. He heard the old lady come out of the house and putter around in the yard a bit.
With his vision compromised he shouted, “Hey Margerie! Move this damn fluffy beast from my nook! … Margerie?!”
The old lady walked by the rose bushes and the cat scurried away. Her feet stood in the way of his once secluded archway.
“Thanks you old bird. That cat was driving me bonkers.” Her weight shifted as she picked a rose and walked back to the house.
Gnome’s vision sharpened as things came into view. He couldn’t believe what he was starting to see. If it could, his wicked scowl enhanced. His eyebrows grew vertically farther away from each other. His unseen frown became more extreme. He looked to the pond.
Flamingo had returned. Standing stronger than ever. The old woman must have brought her back to life. Curses.
The old woman reopened the front door and walked to the pond with a familiar looking box. The same box that the mailman dropped off the day before. He examined her opening the parcel and watched her walk to the pink plastic bird. She turned her back to Gnome, hesitated and then with a forceful downward motion, plunged something into the pond. She brushed her hands of dirt and placed them on her hips before surveying the pond. She walked inside the house.
Gnome was speechless. Shock. Because there he stood. A second plastic, pink flamingo.
All Gnome could do was grumble.
Vicki Taylor lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and loves to write about the horribly humiliating events of her life and welcome others into her personal chuckle hut. In between working and working out and working out her mind, she puts pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) in an attempt to open her life up to others with the official start of her first novel. She lives an active lifestyle, has the best dog in the world and enjoys adventuring anywhere that will have her.