99 Bottles: An Introvert Peeks Outside Her Shell (A Whole Fucking Lot)

What up, homeslices. See how hip I am? I still say “what up” and am so gangsta I didn’t even use a question mark. Yeah, bitch.

bitch
I really just needed an excuse for Jesse Pinkman. And the word “bitch.” So here, bitches. Look how yummy he is like this. And the mood of the image. He’s subdued but intent and commanding as he precisely utters that one perfect word: Bitch. And now you know what time it is.

So. Y’all already know I’ve been pushing myself lately. More than usual, I mean. You know I had the April thing get canceled and I carp├ęd the fuck out of those diems (I just indecently Latined all over your faces. You’re welcome.). With the haircut. Masturdating with Deadpool. At the bookstore. At the park. At the park again. I even willfully introduced myself to a stranger! And the little turtle peeking out of the shell didn’t get her little neck cleavered! Do wonders never cease?

No.

They do not.

For the tale I am about to tell is a tale of public Stephanie in public at public places with public people doing public things.

In public.

Did I mention I did more things in public. Because I did.

I publicked my ass off. (That’s the correct way to past-tense verbify public. I know. I’m an expert on these matters.)

Ass Publicking Chapata One (That sounds so fucking wrong. So I’m leaving it.)

Rewind to Friday, April 22. That’s, what? Two Fridays ago? This dude suggested Happy Hour to me months ago, as a great way to loosen up, kick back and just enjoy life a bit. But I was adamant in my refusal. No. Fucking. Way. Was this ever going to happen. And then this dude pushed me to go “network” at Happy Hour for weeks. Relentlessly for weeks. WEEKS, I tell you! So I finally relented, but it was no easy task.

There’s a cool (and very popular) Irish pub within walking distance of my house. I’d been once before when the greatest history professor to ever walk the earth took all his Historiography grad students out for a couple of rounds on him. But that’s the only time I’d ever been.

Other than that, I was always on the outside looking in. I drive past the joint on a regular basis – in fact, I did so daily for several years.

But I was always outside.
Looking in.
At the people looking out.
At the people unwilling or unable or uncool enough.
To come in.

But this would be the day that I’d make the transition. I was fucking determined. But I was not going alone, damnit. That’s just pathetic. Single fat chick sitting alone at the bar during Happy Hour on Friday night? No.

Fuck
That
Noise

So what’s a girl to do?

Round up a posse of course.

I was having a slow work day, so I wandered around the building herding geeks. Y’all know those little decorator crabs? The ones that wander around, plucking pretty debris from the seashore and affixing it to their shells? So that they may adorn themselves in their very surroundings and be hidden and protected?

Decospidercrab.jpg

That was me.

Unwilling to remove my shell, I wandered the building plucking rogue geeks and affixing them to my shell. They followed me around like Mother Fucking Goose. I was the Pied Fucking Piper of Geeks, trying to lead them down the path of rowdy drunken carousing.

Dudes.

At one point, I had about seven geeks straggling behind me. I’d formed my own posse. And we were going pubbing.

If.

Fucking if.

If we could get The Sloth to go.

SLOTH
Does that bastard look like he’s going anywhere but to sleep?

See, these boys are a unit. And I was going to be the ultimate Dungeon Master, corralling them all for drinks and vulgarity and laughs.

Well, The Sloth would only agree to go if we could get Pookie to go.

So commenced The Hunt for Red October Pookie.

We couldn’t find him. I texted him silly pictures of The Sloth and Buttermilk doing slothy semi-gay things on warehouse equipment.

“LOLOLHAHAHA” came the mature and measured response.

Posse in tow, we rounded corner after corner until we had Pookie in our sights.

Naw man. It’s not pay week.

I told him I’d buy the first round.
He blushed.
I said, “I’m not being weird, you little fucker. Bring your damn girlfriend.”
He blushed again.

Well, I’d HAVE to bring my girlfriend.

I stared at him.

He blushed harder.

I stared at him.

He looked down at his book.

I stared at him.

I just really can’t. I’m broke! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!

“Pookie,” I glared into him with rage in my eyes and condescension dripping from my voice, “you’re dead to me. Now The Sloth won’t go. And then Buttermilk will back out. And then no one is going to go.”

What about Thundercat and Lebowski?

“I asked THEM before I asked YOU. But Thundercat is home alone with his spawn tonight, and Lebowski has to go to some viewing for a dead uncle he never met. You’re dead to me, you understand?”

As I walked away, he was laughing, blushing and apologizing.

I flipped him off without looking back.

So, as anticipated, everyone backed out. I nearly had The Sloth convinced, until he remembered he had other plans. Looking up at me from the filthy warehouse floor, looking every bit like he’d just disappointed the potty-mouthed version of Mother Teresa or gotten caught sniffing his finger after scratching his ass, all wide eyed and hesitant, he tells me…

Aw fuck, I wouldn’t have been able to go even if Pookie went. I promised Dangerhole I’d drink with him tonight.

“That’s a thing? Are you fucking kidding me? Are you fucking kidding me right now, Sloth?”

Noooooooooo. It’s his drinking weekend, and last time I wasn’t there to keep him calm, he broke someone’s face and went to jail. That cost us a month of drinking money, man. I’m sorry, but I promised.

I called them all lousy motherfuckers, told them to enjoy their weekends jerking off in their mothers’ basements and stalked off. This whole mission lasted about two hours.

I had a decision to make, and fast.

To Happy Hour alone? Or to Home?

And then I remembered: you don’t have a home. You have a dwelling. A domicile. A house. Is that where you want to go? You want to go cry in bed? That’s preferable to going out just because you don’t have the support of a group of semi-friend stoner geekboys from work? You barely fucking know them anyway.

Decision made, I clocked out early and determined to open the place. It opens at 4:00, and I knew I simply Would Not Go if there was already a crowd before I got there. So if I was gonna tackle this, I was gonna do it on my own terms.

Fuck the Geek Squad.

The fears we don't face become our limits
I’m done being limited by my fears.

Everything happened in slow motion:

I pulled into the parking lot.

I braked to a stop.

I put the car in park.

I looked at the guy unloading liquor from the back of a pickup.

I looked at him look at me.

I killed the ignition.

I palmed my keys and wallet.

I pushed my shades atop my head.

I opened the door.

I stepped out.

I closed the door.

I walked to the front (because I wasn’t a regular and didn’t realize there was a back entrance).

I opened the door.

Pub Life

I observed the old men at the bar.

I chose a stool near the register.

I sat on it.

I put my things down.

I made eye contact with the regulars observing me, the stranger.

I smiled back at the bartender.

Do y’all have cider?

Stella, please.

Thank you.

I opened my very first bar tab.

It’s Stephanie.

Haha no, I’m not new in town. I’m just new. To going outside.

Cue laughter.

A big exhale.

My first sip.

And I was in.

Pub Life

Listening to the old men, who trickled in one at a time, talk about golf and wives and exes and crooked dicks and business trips gone wrong.

Right about the time I agreed to try Irish Champagne (apparently just some sort of Irish beer mixed with cider), Wes plopped down beside me.

Irish Champagne
Irish Champagne

Soft. Blonde. Blubbering. Gay. Twenty-something. College student. Clearly a regular. At some point, he simultaneously cracked open a Miller Lite and a lame joke. I laughed politely.

Then he showed me the picture he had up on his phone, “That’s my granddad.”

Is he flexing?

“Haha yeah.”

“Why is he in his tighty whities?

“Haha Haha………Haha. I don’t really know. I took a picture of the picture, and I think he must have been posing for grandma back then.”

The bartender, a chick, chimed in, “So that’s where you get it from.”

Haha no way, he was definitely posing for grandma, not some guy.

Laughter.

Much much laughter.

“That’s not what I meant,” she said, “although…but I meant the flexing in your underwear.”

He laughed and agreed that must be the case.

Wait. Wait. You flex in your underwear? And people…people know this about you?

“Hahahahayeah, wanna see another one??”

And from that point forward, I called him Flexy Wes and finally just Flex.

At some point in the midst of all this, I took a phone call. Laughing my ass off, I went to one of the tables by the window for the call. And I saw it. I became aware of what I was doing.

I was one of the ones on the inside.
I was looking out.
At the ones looking in.
I was looking out.
At the ones unwilling or unable or afraid.
To come inside.
I wasn’t one of them anymore.

By the time Flex left, I was about four or five ciders in and was feeling righteously buzzed. Also, the Friday night crowd was fast filling up the place, and I felt it was time to make my exit.

Fucking proud of myself, too.

I sat in my car for quite a while, waiting out the buzz. It was worth it. Totally worth it.

Ass Publicking Chapata One, Part Two

I got home. Changed clothes. Plopped down in bed. Updated stupidityhole about my “networking.” Played on my iPad.

And then The Anklebiter texted (about two hours later). She had been updating me off and on throughout the evening, telling me that she would perhaps, maybe, eventually make her way to the pub. But she never did. She kept trying to get me to go to this big party. I refused.

And now she was texting.

“Where are youuuuuuuuuuuu?!???????? Are you in bed???????????????”

I replied, “How did you know?”

“LOLOLOLOL that’s where I’d be! Come back! We’re here! Pleeeeeease! It’s my biiiiiiiiiirthdaaaaaaaaaay!”

So you know what I did?

I went back out. Met up with The Anklebiter and her friends. Wished her a happy birthday. Had more drinks. Listened to the band. Had more laughs.

And had a fanfuckingtastic time.

Booyah. First Happy Hour a rousing success.

Ass Publicking Chapata Two

Chapata Two occurred this past Friday. And it was happening because of me. You see, I had asked a certain group of people to do Happy Hour with me before I ever tried to get the Geek Squad. But most of them had prior engagements and promised they could go out next week. But I couldn’t wait. I had to go that first night – it was a now or never kinda thing.

I no longer wanted to go, though. I knew it would be fun, but I had a raging day-after headache from the Modest Mouse concert I’d gone to the night before. I always have head-splitters on the day after a concert. (And I went to that fucker by myself, was the only one standing in my section, danced and sang and cheered and had a blast. An absolute blast.)

But I took care of my headache, drove home from out of town, gave myself a pep-talk and went to the pub.

And this time was soooo different.

It was me, Anklebiter and Her Little Dog Too, Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong, The Woman Formerly Known as Crankles, UberGeek McHottiepants, and even my supervisor, McFly, for a half hour or so. (Thanks a lot, Anklebiter.)

I drank.

A lot.

And I laughed so hard my stomach and chest hurt.

And then I drank some more.

A lot more.

And then I laughed so hard we became that table. We were outside, under the covered patio part, and we were the obnoxious ones.

And it was one of the most fun nights I’ve had in my adult life. Hands down.

I got there before anyone else – had to open the place to quell my anxiety. Got a cider or two in, and the old men from the first Happy Hour talked to me this time. Called me a snob for drinking cider. And I called them cheap old fucks with their PBR.

When the crew got there, UberGeek McHottiepants made me follow through on my promise to do an Irish Carbomb with him. HOLY. SHIT.

Everyone laughed and asked, “how was it?”

TERRIBLE!

AND AWESOME!

And the antics continued. There’s photographic evidence of me cringing as I slammed the carbomb with Uber. There’s photographic evidence of me sucking on a lime wedge after slamming Patron with Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong.

It was hilarious and vulgar and fucking fantastic. Uber and I made some of the dirtiest jokes…but we were at a separate table for a bit, so we had a blast making the others wonder what was so fucking funny.

Once the band started setting up, everyone wanted to leave and go to Anklebiter and Her Little Dog Too’s house. Everyone except Little Miss. She bailed. (And McFly had been long gone, though he did witness the carbomb.)

Ass Publicking Chapata Two, Part Two

I went because I didn’t have a choice. Uber and I couldn’t drive yet, so we rode with The Woman Formerly Known as Crankles over to Anklebiter’s place.

There was talk of Karaoke and mixed drinks.

But we mostly chilled and talked about the concert I’d gone to the night before, concerts, 90s bands, gardening.

We listened to music. They learned how vulgar I was (this group had no idea – well Uber did. And Little Miss did. But the rest had nooooo idea).

I only had one more drink once we got there, because I needed to sober up to drive.

It was nice. Chill. We played with the dogs and had a fuckton of laughs.

And it made me question my judgment of The Anklebiter. She’s not what I thought she was. She’s not what she presents as. Well she kind of is, but not in a malicious way.

Before we left, Anklebiter had us all take a group selfie. One of them has a dog licking my boob. And the other one has Her Little Dog Too’s bare abdomen in it.

Grandma’s eyebrows.

Not low enough for Grandma’s mustache.

Ass Publicking (Future) Chapata Three

And tomorrow night?

Happy Hour at a Mexican restaurant for three dollar margaritas with The Anklebiter and The Woman Formerly Known as Crankles.

I don’t want to go. It’s going to be extremely crowded. But The Woman Formerly Known as is like me in the sense that she’s trying to put herself out there for the first time. I never knew that. But she shared it with me, because I told them it’s what I was doing. They knew, anyway. I’ve rejected everything I’ve ever been invited to – granted, it has never been much. But I’ve never participated.

So. Even though I hadn’t gotten along so well with The Woman Formerly Known As back when I first started working here (she reminded me of my mother – and that’s a bad thing), she’s working on herself just like I am. And she asked me to go, so I’m gonna go.

And you know what?

I already know I’m gonna have fun.

Pom Poko: Review(ish) of a Fucked Up Animovie

The Geek Squad

I’ve recently been welcomed into the geek fold at work. They don’t know it (yet), but I refer to them as the Geek Squad (shut up, BestBuy, this isn’t about you). I’ve always known they were geeks – I mean, come on. Boys are usually pretty obvious about such things. But they (well, most of them) didn’t know it about me.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had to work closely with a couple of them on a new project. The geekiness seeped out, and I found my people. Half a dozen or so dudes who say “fuck” a lot, trade anime and books and play video games together. Some of them are married, while others still live at home. I’m totally picturing a basement full of gadgets, anime and porn, maybe a D&D table, with mom or grandma scornfully delivering PB&J, laundry and classifieds every few hours.

Anatomy of a (Stephanie) Geek

For the record, I’m only about half-geek. Something like: Half anime/comics/gamer geek. Three-quarters introverted, dark corner dwelling book nerd. Four-fifths anti-establishment, pot-smoking smartass. (Just trust my math on this, okay? I’m smart.) Some of the guys are more overtly geeky, while some of them look like total heads but talk a very geeky game.

Herman the Hipster Slings Porn in the Parking Lot

A week or so ago, Herman the Hipster (seriously, no idea that one was a geek) received a boon. One of his recently married friends was ordered by his not-so-geeky wife to get rid of his anime collection. My argument, upon hearing this, was how in the fuck did she not know she was marrying a geek? Didn’t she know what she was getting? Didn’t he take her for a test drive in his replica batmobile? And how in the fuck did he not know he was marrying a controlling bitch? If he’s as geeky as his (formerly) outlandishly massive collection of anime indicates, then he was probably grateful to be getting any booty at all. (I somehow doubt he’ll remain grateful for long.)

So that was how Herman the Hipster happened upon three trunkfuls of anime. And I don’t mean a pocket-sized Prius trunk. I mean the back of a Toyota Forerunner. We’re talking individual films, box sets of entire anime seasons, leather-bound collector’s editions of super rare ones, and one super secret super pervy porny hentai box set at the bottom of a big bin.

Herman the Hipster decided to sell off his friend’s (former) collection at cut rates to any interested coworkers, then sell the rest on ebay at the going prices. So cigarillo-smoking, assumed-to-be-pothead Pookie informed me of the deals goin’ down in the parking lot. (Doesn’t everyone know a Pothead Pookie? This is at least the second one I’ve known.)

Apparently, like three of the lonelier geeks got into a serious bid-war for the hentai box set. I suppose they found the artwork enticing: picture a naked anime chick with a rack the size of the wheels on a monster truck. She’s floating in space – hovering, I imagine, directly over the bed of a sexually frustrated geekboy – covered in what I can only hope is icing. All of the icing in the world, after the cupcake factory exploded. On her tits.

Pookie Prophesies in the Parking Lot

But that all happened once I was out of the way…they couldn’t exactly let the chick see them locked in a bid-war for porntoons. While I was out there with Herman the Hipster, Pookie the Pothead and Manbun Merv, Herman shows us the ones he’s set aside for himself. One of which was Pom Poko.

Heisei.Tanuki.Gassen.Pom.Poko.full.69629
Looks like a harmless little anime, doesn’t it? Looks can be deceiving, my friends.
Pookie looked to be in the throes of traumatic flashbacks.

Pookie the Parking Lot Prophet: Dude, what the fuck are you keeping that for? Burn it!
Herman the Hipster: What? It sounds cute. I’m gonna show it to my daughter.

Pookie the Parking Lot Prophet: What the fuck is the matter with you?! You can’t show that to your kid!
Herman the Hipster: Haha what? Why not?

Pookie the Parking Lot Prophet: Dude. You show that shit to your kid, and she’ll be traumatized for life. I’m telling you. It’s about these…these…these fucking fucked up fucking squirrels, man!

Manbun Merv: *chuckles* What’s wrong with squirrels?

Pookie the Parking Lot Prophet: OH MY GOD. DO NOT SHOW THIS SHIT TO YOUR KIDS. It’s…it’s about these squirrels, man…

Stephanie the Smartass She-Geek: Those look like raccoons to me, Pookie.
Pookie the Parking Lot Prophet: Oh my god, woman! That’s not the point! These fucked up little animals..they try to save their homeland, right? And they use their motherfucking nutsacks to do it!

Everyone dissolves into laughter. Pretty sure I snorted and doubled over.

Stephanie the She-Geek: That sounds like the best thing ever!
Pookie the Parking Lot Prophet: That’s because you don’t understand! Herman, you can not show this shit to your kid. I’m telling you, they use their nutsacks to fight the humans.

At this point, we all take turns quizzing him about the nature of these nutsacks. We’re all under the impression that he means…like a sack of nuts. Peanuts or something that they’ve gathered. Cuz Pookie keeps referring to them as squirrels.

Stephanie the She-Geek: But it’s Studio Ghibli!
Pookie the Parking Lot Prophet: It’s Studio FUCKED UP is what it is!
Stephanie the She-Geek: You’re just being a perv!
Manbun Merv: Pookie man, that’s kinda fucked up.

Herman the Hipster: Okay, okay, how about this. Stephanie, you take it home and watch it. Then bring it back to me and let me know if you think Pookie is just retarded. I really think my kids would like it.

Pookie the Parking Lot Prophet: I see how y’all are, man. Fine! That’s fine! All I can say is good luck, Stephanie. You’re gonna regret watching that fucked up shit.

Stephanie Regrets Watching that Fucked Up Shit

Dudes, Pookie was totally right. I was absolutely convinced that he was reading into it with a dirty mind. I do it, too. I mean, hell, a bunch of animals using their sacks of nuts to fight? I’d have had dirty thoughts about it, too. So I was totally convinced that Pookie was just being a perv, and the movie would be completely innocent.

But Pookie was right. Those little raccoons. They weren’t using sacks of peanuts. They were using their fucking testicles!

The basic premise of the movie is that humans have encroached upon the raccoons’ territory, to the point where they’re running out of places to live. So the raccoons devise a scheme to push the humans back and make them stop development. A pretty common theme for kid flicks. But these raccoons’ scheme involved teaching the youth the ancient skill of shape-shifting.

That’s right. And do you know one of the things that the little male raccoons liked to shapeshift?

Their nutsacks.

Pom Poko Nads
Just look at their little nuts! All up in your face!
Umbrellas, parachutes, carpets. Or murdering humans by stretching their nuts out over big chasms then pulling back when a vehicle drives upon it. I shit you not, y’all. Take a look:

pompoko

pompoko2

pompoko 8

Pookie was right. I couldn’t even finish it. Not because of the nuts. That was super fucking bizarre and funny in a fucked up kinda way. But because it was boring. I just couldn’t get into the story at all.

I returned the DVD to Herman with a sticky that said, “2 out of 2 geeks agree: do NOT show this to your kids!” Unless he wants his daughter asking Santa for a pair of nuts so she can fight the man, too!

I did some digging afterward, wondering what was up with these testicularly gifted critters and found out that they’re modeled after the Tanuki: a Japanese raccoon-dog of lore, with pendulous nads and shape-shifting abilities.

tanuki

I love learning about different cultures, but this was quite a surprise. I believe I could have gone my whole life without knowing about the…gifted tanuki.

So uhm. Yeah. Note to self: Listen to Pookie.