Shake Your Tailfeathers
Sometimes I perform my written pieces for an audience. I always find this to be a little scary because with stand-up you want to get consistent laughs and if you don't, it can get a little disconcerting. But with written pieces, it's all about the journey and if it's a funny piece, you hope to get some guffaws along the way. This is a piece I did last night for the show Inner Monologues. The theme was "Heroes and Villains":
Villains come in all shapes and sizes. And in real life, their “villainy” tends to sneak up on you. But one thing I do know, there’s always a name for this evil.
There’s my 30-something Polish landlord, who, when I describe her evil ways to people, they imagine an old, bitter woman, twisting her mustache and plotting. I can’t figure out if she’s racist (my boyfriend is black) and anti-Semitic (cause I’m a Heeb), just hates me, severely needs to get laid, or is a combination of the three. Last year, she almost didn’t renew my lease because there was a mouse in the building. Now, please note, there are other tenants in the building.
“Before you lived here, there weren’t any mice,” she said, glaring at me like I had completed the great faux paux of her people by trying to dip one of her beloved polish pierogies in ketchup instead of sour cream.
“Yes, but before I lived here there weren’t any jews, either,” I replied. And we just stood there looking at each other, because technically, we were both right. But soon after, she fell back in the wrong when she yelled at me for walking across the floor in my bare feet after ten p.m. “What reason does anyone have to be awake after then?” she remarked in disgust. And let’s not forget about the time she called me dirty. I’m thinking that’s not her slang for “incredible human being.” If she were a comic book villain, I think her name would be Rhodent, just like the bad guy in Dick Tracy.
And there was the Chinese woman that tried to help me find clothes when I was in Shanghai on vacation. As I’m sure you know, Chinese people are on the small side. So am I. That’s why I thought I’d fit right in. Seems I forget about some of my sizeable assets. So I walk into a store and before my eyes even focus on a piece of clothing I hear, “WE HAVE BIG SIZE!”
My first thought? Maybe you could sweet talk me a little before you pull out the muumuu. They brought out the XXXXL shirt (I kid you not) and I put my head in my hands for a little while so she wouldn’t see me and my pride cry and hold each other. But alas, not even this size fit.
She looked at me disapprovingly while staring at my chest before uttering, “we no have here.” That’s right, she had the nerve to accost my breasts. My grade A (or maybe bigger), all natural, cultivated in America with American products (like apparently milk with steroids in it) breasts. And the fact was, I think she had a pretty good idea there was nothing that I could do about them, so to point that out felt a little “you may have coca-cola in America, but we have itty bitty waists”-esque. Her villain name would have been Dr. Ignorant.
But bad guys don’t just come in human form, there is many an evil animal spirit lurking as well. I may be a vegetarian, but I would eat a peacock in a second. I’m not even picky: peacock brownies, peacock pizza, I’d even eat peacock ice cream with a little feather sticking out of the cup for garnish. And then I’d eat the feather. Maybe you’re wondering: why all this spite? You seem like such a little ball of well-adjustedness.
In that case, I have two words for you, passive-aggressive, but let’s get on with our story. I was about 3 years old (yes, I was the same size) and I was at the London zoo with my parents for a day out. I was in my stroller, buckled in tight, because I was “mama’s little explorer” in those days. Anyway, I had seen all sorts of lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my, and I was ready for a snack. It was then that my parents handed me a chocolate chip cookie. And this cookie was like the size of my head (which is not that small). It was glorious. (How I yearn for the days before I had to worry about my girlish figure.)
I took a bite and began to smile from the top of my ears to the tips of my toes. And I think it was at this point that my parents had turned away. But I was very content. And it was then that a peacock waddled over to me, plumage all aflutter. (Which frankly is weird, because the male peacocks are only supposed to shake their tailfeathers when they’re trying to find a lady peacock to mate with.) Apparently English zookeepers think hungry, horny, 3-feet tall birds should just be able to mingle amongst the common folk.
This peacock stared at me with his beady little eyes lowering his head so we were almost at eye level. And then, he grabbed the cookie right out of my hand and stood there, just past my reach, chowing down on my cookie. And as I was fastened in, there was not a damn thing I could do. And like some kind of school bully, he stood there until he finished the whole cookie before running away. And then I yelled out, what? Don’t you want to insult my mama while you’re at it!” as I shook my little fist.
My parents never saw this peacock, or so they say. They just thought I had a very vivid imagination. I know they thought this, because they asked if the peacock could talk and what his name was. And I would say his name was Professor Shake Your Tailfeathers.
Any maybe you’re thinking, but Emily, these people and animals seem misguided, and a little callous, but not villains, persay. And I say, good point. And then you add, but you didn’t even tell us the villainous story about how you were on a plane coming back from China and a little boy peed on you. And it wasn’t even the first person he had peed on on this flight. And the flight attendants just laughed and tried to explain that it was a custom. And you figured they meant the fact the little boy was wearing pants that were split down the crotch was the custom and not the fact that he just gave you a golden shower. And then I’d say, true, but I only have 7 minutes up here.
The point is, if you look up villain in my good pal, Webster’s dictionary, you’d see one of the definitions is: [clear throat]: “any character who opposes the hero.” And maybe I’m going out on a limb, but I think I get to be the hero in my own comic book of a life. That’s what happens when your boyfriend is a supervillain.