i’ve got ninety-nine sense, but a food lion ain’t one.

12 February 2011

dear carol herndon, chief administrative officer of delhaize america,

i haven’t been to one of your food lion stores in perhaps a decade, even though there is a location, on the corner of fleming and inman roads, within five miles from my house. i recently broke that streak because the nearby lowes foods does not carry the welch’s fruit snacks that i was craving. you do. however, i imagine this will be the last time i enter a food lion.

first, i’ll explain why i’ve avoided your grocery for so long: the darkened interiors of your stores remind me too much of the movie the salton sea, specifically the big meth deal scene that ends in a gunfire massacre. it’s difficult to concentrate on shopping when you expect to bump your cart into a prosthetic-nosed vincent d’onofrio with homicidal tendencies as you round the cereal aisle.

obviously i was able to fight back these images on my latest trip, so you are probably wondering why i’m so adamant about never returning. well, your employees kind of treated me like i had been caught videotaping them bleaching expired pork with a camera hidden inside my wig. in the checkout line, with a single box of welch’s fruit snacks, berries ‘n cherries, i marveled at how the woman in front of me had the storage space at home for the nine two-liter bottles of soda, thirty hungry man dinners, and six bottles of salad dressing (mostly variations on ranch) she was buying. another lane opened and the cashier (sorry, i didn’t get his name but he looked like legoland’s redbeard the pirate without the extreme case of jaundice) glanced at me, as i lifted my box to signal him, before calling to the woman behind me to join his line. he then called the woman behind her.

i continued to wait, watching the two women and a man pay for their items, load them in their cars, and drive home, before it was my turn. the cashier, jody, failed to tell me about the mvp special, which would have brought the price from $2.79 to $2.50. this detail is important because i had three dollars in my hand and, after tax was charged, i was a penny short. when i told her that i didn’t have the extra cent, i waited for her to say, oh, honey, it’s fine, as she handed me my purchase, since that is what would happen at any other business. instead she held out her hand to receive another dollar.

please help me find something to do with ninety-nine cents,

scott lefaive

enjoy the go.

4 February 2011

dear charmin,

i want to say that i hate your commercials, but i will temper my words and instead tell you that i don’t understand your commercials. i’m at least partially to blame for this hatred, i mean misunderstanding, as i always replace the bears with humans. you are somewhat culpable however.

take, for instance, the football-playing bears commercial, where the coach stands in for the quarterback (due to honey poisoning probably). while i do somewhat admire coach bear’s restraint upon witnessing the infraction — i’m sure that ben roethlisberger would maul poor maurkice pouncey if something similar happened at the super bowl — i must know if leaving pieces of tissue behind was seriously a concern for people before charmin invented flex weave technology?

i cannot stress this enough, it’s extremely important that i find out the answer to that question, for those times when the nearest bathroom isn’t stocking charmin brand products, because i’ve been declining camping invitations, and coming up with increasingly less believable excuses, since viewing the aforementioned commercial. as a result, many of my relationships have ended because girls don’t want to be with a guy who is allergic to every type of woodland vegetation and suffers from tisantaphobia (fear of tents).

obviously being a lonely bachelor is better than facing the ultimate embarrassment when some mother bear lumbers through the forest to lecture me about poor wiping as she claws little white pieces of toilet paper from around my butthole, but i would very much appreciate it if we could clear this mess up for good, right now, as i would one day like to have cubs of my own and need to know if i should look more closely at adoption instead.

thank you,
scott “tissue” lefaive

bumper 2 bumper.

31 January 2011

it’s always exciting when, after over twenty years of living in the southern united states, i discover a new manifestation of that area’s culture. this past weekend i learned that adults race matchbox cars for cash prizes. i was not able to find anything about this league, even though it was founded some ten years ago, on the internet. this fact boggles my mind, though maybe it’s due to another aspect of southern culture: for example, no room for cable modems inside the trailer park. anyway, i’m again charged with the duty of explaining our entertainment choices to the rest of the world.

the event begins with participants throwing dice in order to get their car’s position in qualifying. then the cars are moved to a track painted on plywood and take turns throwing the dice again, one when they are in pit row (you were forced to make a pit stop once a race) and two at other times. after four laps, they write down the top five finishers because points are awarded throughout the season. there are races at least four times a week: fridays and mondays at bars, wednesdays and sundays at people’s houses. cars can blow up if their driver rolls snake eyes and then rolls a six or an eight (i saw it happen twice).

you may be inclined to think that the game is all luck but there is strategy involved as sometimes people have to decide if they want to simply follow another’s lead and draft behind them or roll the dice themselves and hope for a better result. at other times, you have to choose in which of the three lanes to place your car. this seemed like a really important decision to the veteran drivers, much less for us rookies, who nodded our heads saying, yeah, there, there, okay, there then, that’s fine, whatever, whenever the choice was ours.

still, it was really amusing when a woman straight out of winter’s bone pushed by me, looked for her husband, then stopped, muttering, i’m not going to bother him when he’s racing, as if the man with tattooed script across his neck was behind the wheel of a vehicle nearing two hundred miles per hour while jimmie johnson tailgated.

two years.

26 January 2011

sometimes i wonder if there was anything that could have been done to extend her life, or to save her completely. you see those commercials about an advanced cancer treatment center or a new scientific discovery, and you can’t help thinking about the possibility of a different outcome if only you had the right resources, if only you had followed a different path, if only you had located a researcher that was willing to take the chance.

in the advertisements, a woman — it’s always a woman — talks about how she was on her deathbed, given two months to live, but now, five years later, thanks to the diligent people at so-and-so clinic, not only is she still alive, she is thriving, with absolutely no signs of the cancer that previously ravaged her body.

you can’t help not blaming yourself, in some small way at least.

the state of my mental health.

21 January 2011

i grew up in a room with red curtains, the window overlooking a shed where we planned to jump in the event of a fire. my wallpaper featured futuristic space stations. i pretended the sliding doors of my closet led into an elevator where every visitor was asked to enter for a few minutes. my bed was covered in a thick olive blanket. as i grew i started sleeping diagonally or curled in a ball so that my feet didn’t hang over the edge or my toes didn’t become uncovered.

from that bed, beginning at an early age, i wondered what happened when we died, crying when i thought about going from looking at something to everything becoming black, no longer sensing anything. i didn’t know how that made sense, how you could go from being awake and alive, to being nothing at all. for a minute, i imagined the grave (this was before i learned about cremation), the dirt, the darkness; no conversations, no friends, no self. slowly i came to terms with death, i suppose, because i stopped tearing up every night, thinking about where i was going to go. i accepted the idea that i would one day disappear, though hopefully not while i was sleeping so i could challenge death to a game of chess. it was as simple as that: i would be gone and everything i was doing and everything i could do would cease.

i stopped taking my medication in early december because my frustrations about its lack of efficacy were exacerbating my depression. also, i didn’t want to listen to my psychiatrist talk about sleep patterns anymore, but she can’t be blamed for thinking every single person is the same, so, for the record, my only true battle is with pristiq. i realized that all the things wrong with me are not merely symptoms of depression. i can handle being sad. it’s not as if i’m thinking about suicide all the time. i mean, some days i don’t even mind being alive.

i avoid using anti-bacterial soap so convincing me to take a daily pill that is altering my brain is not going to be appealing for long. i guess i kind of see medicine and god in the same way: i understand their value for some people, but i’m okay on my own. obviously, though, i’m not going to turn down a life-saving medical procedure, whereas, conversely, it’ll take a pretty large miracle for me to start believing in the existence of a higher being.

so, anyway, i wanted to let you know that i’m fine and moderately happy. and all the things wrong with me are less of a concern than they were right before i started taking the medication and during, though there are extenuating factors involved in my current and previous happinesses that i don’t wish to discuss at this time.

how grown women conduct themselves.

9 January 2011

i don’t often receive comments on this blog, so it’s a very exciting moment when i do. recently someone who identified herself as grown woman sent me a message, voicing concerns about previous entries, especially in regards to tone and my inability to understand the values of true feminists.

i find it ironic that in your november 23rd posting, you comment on eve ensler turning over in her grave in response to oprah’s using slang terms for genitalia, yet in your very next post, you recap your interaction with the girl who gave you directions in costa rica. unless she was seventeen years old or younger, you didn’t get directions from a girl; you got directions from a woman. in all of your righteous feminist indignation, you can’t even get the most basic of sex-oriented terminology right. you can talk about my va-jay-jay all you want, if you’re also referring to your penis as a cock, dick, etc. the reality is slang terms for genitalia are equally represented regardless of sex: very few people actually articulate penis or vagina. as opposed to the open-minded progressive stance you were attempting to achieve, you instead made a pretentious observation that is more related to america’s reserved standing on sexuality and its expression than to feminism and the oppression of women. if you want to keep eve ensler from turning over in her grave, stop calling grown women girls and start addressing them properly as women. note, you didn’t talk about the boy on the bicycle.

i support feminist ideals and a more open-minded viewpoint on sexuality, but don’t confuse a feminist (i.e. gender-related) issue with a cultural one (i.e. america’s uptight attitude towards sex). there are certainly areas in which they intertwine but saying va-jay-jay in the same breath as cock isn’t one of them.

you wanted to make an in-depth observation of how slang terms marginalize women, then try to evolve it into a saccharine reflection of i hope my daughters don’t grow up in this kind of society. yet all you accomplished was reinforcing the problematic mindset of males growing up to be men, whereas females are destined to be girls — indicative of a lack of maturity, knowledge and experience — forever.

there was so much i wanted to say to her, but figured most of my words would be lost on someone who read a tongue-in-cheek entry about hoping my future daughters didn’t grow up to use the word va-jay-jay and took it as righteous feminist indignation, so my response was considerably pared down.

grown woman,

first, i appreciate you reading two of my posts. there are too few people that are driven to write a vitriolic response. i applaud your passion, regardless of its being misguided and misdirected.

the girl that i mentioned in the above post was between the ages of 15 and 19, but, due to the imprecision of carbon dating, i was not able to correctly judge if she was indeed still a girl or if she were a woman. the man on the bicycle was most definitely a man, unless he was suffering from the same disease as benjamin button. if that were the case, i would judge he was around twelve, and i will update my post accordingly.

a few days after reading your reply, i was talking to a bartender in alajuela about laura chinchilla. he was extolling her virtues, telling me she was cleaning up san jose and the corruption of the police department; that she was making the country better, emphasizing education and bringing forth improvements throughout the country. at some point he said proudly, she is our first president who is a girl.

i would have missed a lot if i had allowed my righteous feminist indignation to take over, concentrating on that one word, pretentiously ignoring everything else that was said. i would have missed the fact that he was depicting someone who did not lack maturity, knowledge, and experience.

in the same way, you’ve missed the point. it’s too bad in a post where i’m celebrating people and writing about how communication exists beyond mere words because we’re all intertwined by being human, you’ve only noticed that i may or may not have used the word girl incorrectly.

the girl i’ve described, as you would have noticed if you had bothered to read the entire paragraph, was wonderfully helpful and knowledgeable. she just happened to be young.

i hope my daughters don’t grow up in the kind of society you inhabit. it seems like a pretty miserable place, where one is so focused on criticizing everything that they miss the beauty.

rapid cycling of thoughts.

30 December 2010

after we reached the end of our trip down the rio toro, the rafting guide told us that we had a situation. he explained how people abandon their pets when they no longer want them, before leading us up an embankment where there was a cat with its head sticking out of a bag of rice. another cat — emaciated, fur matted with rain and dirt — lay dead in the grass beside it.

we gathered around an overturned kayak, eating pieces of pineapple and yucca chips, while someone cut the cat free and washed it in the river as it shook and whined. wrapped in a towel, we fed it crumbled bits of coconut cookies. it couldn’t support its own weight.

we drove to town for lunch, the cat in the front seat of the van, nestled in the floorboards. we drove to town to put the cat down as humanely as possible.

i don’t know why i’m telling you this. i don’t know what motivated me to continue through this story, rather than talking about the whitewater rafting experience itself. i could have written about how the guide initially told me my strokes were lazy, and the irony of that statement when, upon viewing the pictures taken while we paddled, we noticed the girl behind me staring directly at the camera in each photograph and even flashing the peace sign in one. i could have told you that i became completely soaked, my shoes, formerly caked with mud from a hike on a muddy trail near an active volcano, now pristine. i could have just said that it wasn’t worth the money and left it at that (though then everyone would think of me as a curmudgeon that cannot be satisfied, instead of someone whose idea of adventure is skewed).

i’m sorry that my thoughts tend to go in these directions and that i become fixated on the details of an event outside the event, that i remember the way a dying cat was carefully bathed along the banks of a raging river rather than presenting a travel guide so that you know what places to visit and what tour companies to use. again, i am seeing how strangers come together to support each other at times of crisis, but, yeah, i could have achieved those ends by detailing how we synchronized our oars to navigate without capsizing.

renting a car in costa rica.

28 December 2010

before i came here i did a lot of research on driving conditions and crime. i’ve found that the warnings should be taken with a grain of salt (the pessimist in me feels the need to point out that i’m here for another week). while it’s certainly a challenge to drive on narrow roads that wind through mountains, avoiding potholes while buses and trucks speed toward you in the opposite direction, it’s not as if this is a constant concern. for the most part, the roads are in fairly good shape, the drivers are courteous, and the 4wd takes care of the rest.

my only problem has been the inadequate signage, especially in the cities, which lack street signs (except for the main road in liberia). when i arrived in alajuela i missed the turn for my hostel and circled the city for two hours trying to find the statue that was my only point of reference. later, i drove around for another two hours trying to find a secure parking lot that would allow my car to remain overnight.

a lot is written about petty theft, going so far as to recommend keeping one’s windows rolled up because thieves will reach into your car to steal the earrings out of your ears or the necklaces off your neck. it’s just like any other large city throughout the world, one needs to remain vigilant, be aware of their surroundings, and not be flashy with their wealth. i mean, even the people trying to sell me drugs are very nice.

driving on the highways, it’s as if they decided on sign placement by having a government official sit in the passenger seat while someone unfamiliar with the area drove: the inexperienced driver would indicate whenever he thought he might be lost, then the road supervisor would post a sign 5km further down the road. perseverance pays off, but, inevitably, you will get lost.

i want to single out a few people, in reverse order, who assisted me when i was lost, traveling from manuel antonio to liberia, about a six-hour drive north along the pacific coast.

1. the security guard at a plaza in playa del coco. after telling me his english was so-so he motioned for a pen and drew me the simplest map, a straight line with sardinal written at one end and coco at the other. between them were two short perpendicular lines meant to represent my destination.

2. the girl at the reception desk at the hilton garden inn across from the liberia airport. she indicated my route on a map, telling me it was easy. for some reason, whenever anybody gives directions here they use that word, exciting you at first, but then, after you find yourself lost again, making you feel even more incompetent. she chased after me, handing me the map (it’s for you). this time two-thirds of the trip was in fact easy. the last road i needed was new and not on the map.

3. the man on the bicycle in orotina. he took the map from me when i pointed to liberia so he could hold it in my headlights. he returned, sticking his arm out straight before turning his hand slightly to the right, simulating an on-ramp. he said, caldera, puntarenas then his fist went skyward as he shouted, liberia. he directed me to follow him as he jumped back on his bicycle and pedaled across a busy street, wobbling a little, as i trained my eyes on his fat little body wearing a polo shirt with stripes in muted colors. a few blocks away he pulled off the road so i could continue alone.

at times i’ve cursed the rav 4 that i rented last week as traffic sped around me on both sides, but every time i’m about to ditch it and take the bus, something wonderful happens. i stumble upon an old yellow church on the side of a hill. fifteen or so coatimundis play in the jungle foliage roadside. or i’m forced to talk to strangers and realize they’re not the people i’ve been repeatedly advised to avoid.

it’s a jungle out there.

23 November 2010

the surreptitious nature of the above picture is intentional as it emphasizes something i want to write about. i’m not going to beat around the bush waste time, so i’ll just come out and say it: why are we women still so uncomfortable with our bodies that we have to make up silly words to hide our embarrassment? have we really come so far, advancing out of the kitchen where we were barely more than birthing machines to our present lofty position where we earn about seventy cents for every dollar that a man makes, to now sit idly, watching it all crumble like so many cookies we eat when our cheating boyfriends break up with us? did we learn nothing from rosie the riveter?

are we really content becoming carrie bradshaw, waiting for charlotte york to sell her ring so we can pay off our massive shoe debt? are we going to run towards big every time our situation becomes particularly hairy challenging?

i for one think we’re better than that. i don’t think a utopian society is required before we can snatch reclaim our genitalia. we need to be able to stand up to oprah when she insists on using slang to describe something that is intimately ours. right now eve ensler is turning in her grave. well, she would be if she were dead; believe me, though, she’s definitely spinning in her desk chair, in a very angry and perplexed way, due to this injustice.

i don’t want to live in a world where my daughters have to hear adult women use terminology that even their young innocent minds know is damaging and pathetic. i don’t want to spend another day at the breakfast table where they ask me why their heroes are always failing them. i just want to eat my bacon strips pancakes and talk about the things they want to achieve. i don’t want them to have to worry about obstacles placed by other women’s insecurities.

as women, we know we are smarter than men, we know we are more patient, our dual role in and out of the house is proof that we are better multi-taskers, and we are more in touch with our feelings. it’s about time we took a stand and said, fuck you, cosmo magazine, this is my vagina and i am proud of it.

if anything, lattes should be more expensive.

18 November 2010

a representative from the record label asthmatic kitty responded to the email i recently sent them about the music industry, particularly the prices of albums.

hi scott,

thank you for your thoughtful message and your support for sufjan’s music. i am glad you saw the show in asheville despite ticketmaster’s ‘convenience’ charge. the percentile of the low price sufjan keeps his tickets at, is huge. if you come up with a system to get around using them, please let us know.

the price of asthmatic kitty records’ merchandise has not changed in ten years. however we have no control over the prices charged by the tour. there is no shipping to pay when you buy from the table. thus, on tour, the cd is $3 more.

despite the ambiguous message conveyed in the “latte” letter, asthmatic kitty records did willingly participate in the program that made amazon’s price available.

we sincerely appreciate you taking the time to write.

please forgive us our shortcomings. it must be those lattes.
________________________________________________

dear asthmatic kitty,

allow me to begin by saying that i feel awkward replying to your last message — for even writing to you in the first place — as i take no pleasure in pointing out the faults of entities i respect, but perhaps i have to keep in mind that i can enjoy sufjan’s music and whatever else and still dislike a silly email sent by the music label he founded, without either stance being problematic, in the same way i can list knut hamsun among my favorite writers without feeling his work is maligned or can be overshadowed by his personal life, i.e. his vehement support of nazi germany. sorry, it sounds like i’m comparing you to the extermination of jewish people. i can assure you that’s not my intention.

while i do forgive you for your shortcomings, i am confused by something you wrote in the latest email. you write that on tour, the cd is $3 more than if purchased from your website because fans do not have to pay for shipping to pick it up at the table. on the surface, such a markup makes no sense (and that is before i think about the fact that you do not have to pay for postage to ship it to the fan). it’s possible that i’m missing something here — perhaps the additional charge is justified because of the cost to ship all of this merchandise to each venue on the tour. i would think there is ample room on the van to store this stuff though, unless sufjan’s friends took up all the extra space. if that’s the case, i’d suggest this is one of the many mistakes alluded to in the song i’m referencing, and one that can be easily remedied.

you know as well as i do that the problems with ticketmaster are unsolvable. we are teacups in their ocean, pawns on their chessboard, forgotten vegetables in the crisper of their refrigerator (i’m not still referencing sufjan lyrics, by the way; i made these up on my own).

lastly, don’t beat yourself up over your penchant for overpriced lattes. we all have our vices, and, in the grand scheme of things, that’s probably one of the least damaging ones.

all the best,
asthmatic scotty


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