Vol XLI, The Gingerbread Gang
The Gingerbread Gang
Ginger John jumped gingerly over a puddle on his way home one afternoon. In his left hand he held an umbrella; in his right, a delicious bottle of Schweppes ginger ale. It was his favorite beverage, and he was rarely seen drinking anything else, unless it was Valvoline and unicorn's blood. But he loved Schweppes' "Schweppervesence," as the commercials used to say. "Schweppervesent" was easily his favorite adjective. Perhaps the only things John enjoyed more than ginger ale were ginger snaps, gingerbread and gingerbread cookies. In fact, he was on his way home right now, hoping his mother was preparing a pan of gingerbread cookies just for him.
When John arrived home he entered through the kitchen, where he saw his mother on her knees with her entire upper body in the oven.
"Mom," John said. "Are you making cookies?"
"Oh, Jesus," his mother said, slowly getting herself out of the oven. "Again? Let me guess. Gingerbread cookies? You want those, do you?"
"Yes, mom!" John replied. "That would be awesome!"
"Awesome? Let me tell you something…"
But John didn’t stay to listen. He was already skipping upstairs to his bedroom.
By now you may be asking, "What is it with this kid and ginger?" The answer, reader, is – I don’t know. He just loved it. So much so that when John entered his room, the first things he saw were the ginger-themed posters on his wall. First, there was a lovely poster of Tina Louise, Ginger from Gilligan’s Island. Next to her was Geri Halliwell, AKA Ginger Spice from the Spice Girls. Oh, how John did naughty things whilst viewing these pictures at night! On the other side of the room, placed so that he wouldn’t see it whilst doing the naughty things, was John’s Ginger Baker poster. John loved that there was a man named Ginger. Not just a man, but the drummer for Cream, one of the greatest rock and roll bands ever. Next to his Ginger Baker poster was John’s secret project. He was building a gingerbread house, one so big it would take up a whole corner of his room.
John sat at the diner with his friend Sal, who John liked because he looked amazingly like Scooter from The Muppets. Sal enjoyed this particular diner too, but, whereas John ate gingerbread, Sal always ordered provolone cheese. He ate slice after slice of provolone.
"Anyway," Sal said, "My dad is running around the neighborhood in his bathrobe and nothing on underneath, yelling, ‘The gooks are after me! The gooks are after me!’"
"He was in the war?" John said.
"No," said Sal.
It was then that John’s mother walked into the diner carrying a sheet of freshly baked gingerbread cookies and the angriest look Sal had ever seen.
"Here are your cookies, John," she said, throwing the sheet onto the table. "You know, the doctor said I should stop baking these for you, get you off ginger altogether."
"Regnig," John said.
"But I cook them and you just leave."
"Regnig," John repeated.
"Do you know how long it took me to crochet ‘I’m injured without ginger’ on your pillow?"
"Regnig!" John shouted, and, just then, John’s cookies became one in the form of a giant gingerbread Genghis Khan. The Mongol cookie grabbed a fork and slew Sal with it as John screamed, "Khan!" and he and his mother ran out of the diner.
John and his mom ran all the way home with Ginger Genghis following them.
"What is happening, John?" his mom said.
"Don’t worry," John said. "I have it covered."
When they arrived home, John rushed to his bedroom and opened the front door of his gingerbread house.
"It’s time," he said.
Suddenly, out of the gingerbread house, came The Gingerbread Gang.
They was Muta, the Ginger Ninja; Chief Wahoo, the Ginger Injun (a side effect of being a ginger addict is extreme racial insensitivity); actress Virginia Mayo; and Djinn-Dijnn, the little cocker spaniel who warns humans and canines alike about gingivitis. When Khan entered the bedroom he was attacked viciously by The Gingerbread Gang. Muta nailed him in the face with his nunchucks, Chief Wahoo scalped him and Djinn-Dijnn mauled him like an attack dog. Soon, all was well.
"See, mom," John said, "Everything’s all right."
"Oh, John," she said. "Have a cookie."
Margaret sat at her mother’s desk, rifled through a stack of letters, and then exploded all over her mother’s newly decorated bedroom. Investigators wondered, and even debated amongst themselves, if this was merely a case of spontaneous human combustion, or if Margaret had read something in one of those letters that upset her so greatly that her waifish body could not handle it. This seemed the case, considering that her mother’s desk contained legal documents from her father’s divorce attorneys, Margaret’s unmailed letters to Santa Claus, and a recipe for Jambalaya. Finally, when the investigators’ debates ended up in fistfights, Margaret’s mother just sent the home.
It had already been a rough year for the Griffin family, what with the divorce and what happened to Margaret’s brother Jeremy. The previous summer, at the age of seventeen, Jeremy began to metamorphose. It was something that had been happening all too frequently within the neighborhood due to Mrs. Simmons using her swimming pool for local waste disposal. Jeremy was different from the others. While many of the kids were stricken with cancer, Jeremy was perfectly healthy except for being the spitting, cartoon image of Top Cat. It was a weird phenomenon, but children loved him. Sure, Jeremy wished he looked like Bugs Bunny, Fred Flintstone, or some other, more popular, cartoon character. But, like the troopers the Griffins were, Jeremy learned to live with it.
Margaret’s mother assumed it was the waste disposal that did her daughter in because of what happened to Jeremy. As she stood above the remnants of Margaret, she thought of her daughter rifling through those letters, and how it all ended as tragically as when Uncle Murray rifled through his office at the industrial park days after he was fired. Perhaps it was the grief over her favorite uncle, who shot himself while hiding from police in the refrigerator in the break room, that triggered Margaret’s untimely death. Perhaps it was the embarrassment of having a brother who hung out at the garbage dump with the other neighborhood cats. Then again, perhaps it was the divorce. Margaret’s parents were married for twenty-two years. Two years before Margaret’s passing, Mrs. Griffin started having an affair with the hot dog vendor who worked in front of the bank downtown. It had been a very public divorce, Mrs. Griffin being one of the country’s top female wrestlers, and Mr. Griffin being a giant squid.
There were nothing but questions, and, seemingly, no easy answers. Mrs. Griffin knew that her daughter was in a better place, that her son was doing Jerry Springer the next week, and that her own life was beginning a whole new chapter. She was wrong about that last one. For as she stood up from the chair at her desk in the bedroom, the room in which her daughter passed away, Mrs. Griffin burst into flames.
Those Who Can’t
It was never clear why the school fired Mr. Hatfield. Nor was it clear why he showed up to his last day of work wearing his wife's old wedding gown. Some said his termination was based on the rumors that surfaced after he asked a student to use the phrase "in lieu of" in a sentence. The student said "In lieu of an apple, Jimmy gave Mr. Hatfield herpes." This went from harmless joke to assumed fact by the end of the week. Within a month everyone believed Mr. Hatfield had given half the boys in the school an STD.
Others said it started with his ill-advised assignment to write an essay on the past tense of the word "shit." The ensuing argument over whether it was "shitted," "shat," or just "shit" left some whispering that Mr. Hatfield was a fecalphiliac, if that was even a word. This may not have been so bad if high school students could keep their "philes" straight. When fecalphilia became hemophilia Mr. Hatfield breathed a sigh of relief. Soon, however, it became necrophilia, and then pedophilia, and he was gone. There was never any evidence against Mr. Hatfield, but when he was arrested a year later at a Red Lobster for diving naked into the lobster tank, everyone thought the school did the right thing. His trial was a circus. His legal team consisted of a bearded lady, a contortionist, and a performing monkey. He was later sentenced to be burned at the stake.
It was the following semester that I quit teaching after I made the mistake of telling my class to come up with three symbols of empowerment. Actually, in a time when schools around the country have metal detectors, the mistake was telling them to bring in a symbol of empowerment. I was annoyed when Sean Scott brought in a pair of cymbals and marched around the classroom banging them together like a five-year old. When Rudolph, our foreign exchange student, showed up in his grandfather’s Nazi regalia, I ran from the room in tears. Still, Rudolph’s contribution was marvelous compared to when I asked Brian Wells what his symbol was and he punched me in the face. My happiness that the rest of the class didn’t bring in firearms was only surpassed by my dismay over what some of them did bring: a bottle of Viagra, a fake I.D., a blanket with teddy bears on it. Finally, I asked Jeff Murphy what his symbol was.
“Oh, you’ll find out,” he said. Next thing I knew the principal and two police officers were entering to inform me that I was fired and to place me under arrest for possession of cocaine. I told them that I was innocent as Jeff looked on and laughed maniacally. The bastard had planted drugs on me. As they strip-searched me at the station, I thought again about how teaching may not be for me.
“When we come back,” the news anchor said, “a story about a British soldier of a different kind: one with four legs.”
“Oh, my God,” Angela said, in a sudden state of bizarre squeamishness. “That’s so freaky.”
“Ang,” Bob said. “The story is obviously about a dog.”
“Ohhh,” she replied. “Maybe Jessie could be a soldier in the doggie army.”
Just then, Jessie, Angela’s corgi, came swinging through the wall on a rope, like a destructive, canine Tarzan. Dressed in the typical superhero outfit, cape and all, she demanded to know who summoned Super Jessie.
“Jessie!” Angela said, “Bad dog! What did I say about crashing through the walls like the Kool-Aid Man?”
“Not to do it,” Jessie replied.
“And what did you just do?”
“Why do you have to be such a hard ass?” Jessie asked. “I’m a superhero.”
Bob sat quietly, still holding his cup of coffee and covered in wall remnants, wondering what was going on.
“All right, that’s it,” he said. “I want out of this story.” He tried to leave until Super Jessie stopped him.
“You think you can leave?” she said. “Think you can resist my super licking?” Jessie licked Bob’s face relentlessly, pushing him toward the open third story window until he fell out.
“Super Jessie!” Angela said. “Bad girl! Bad girl!”
Jessie cowered in a corner, scratched herself, and went to sleep. Another wall, another boyfriend. Angela learned this to be the downside of having a superhero for a dog.
Chloe is Truly Outrageous
Suzie and I had been watching the first two seasons of Jem and the Holograms on DVD. By now we were nearing the end of Season Two, both of us wondering when Jem was going to tell Rio that she and Jerrica are one and the same already. Finding ourselves denied once again, we finished our cartoon marathon and settled into bed for some of that "cuddling" of which Suzie is so fond. Getting a little frisky (Hologram keyboardist Kimber always gets me hot), I slowly slipped Suzie's panties off. Of her. I wasn't wearing them. Let me make that clear. Suzie made it known she found this creepy a long time ago.
I ran my hand down Suzie's chest and stomach, and then began to gently caress her intimate area. Her snatch. After a good thirty seconds of this I finally decided to make Suzie's vagina talk. For three years she had been performing a veritable puppet show with my penis. I thought it was high time we gave the ole girl a voice.
She did not like this. Not one bit. I don't know if it was the voice I gave her, which was part Mae West, part Kim Cattrall's character on Sex and the City, or the feeble dialogue with which I started:
Hey, there, sexy! Let's get drunk and fuck!
But she flipped out. This was some kind of double standard, I thought.
"What?" I said.
"Stop it," she spat. "That's weird."
"Why won't you let Chloe talk?"
"I'm going for alliteration."
"No, you're not. You know I hate that word."
"You and every other woman. Get a new bit, for fuck‘s sake."
"I don't want you making my vagina talk."
"Oh, but it's okay for you to make Johnny Fontaine speak and dance and sing Sinatra songs."
"But you like that. You laugh all the time. I'd rather not have it done with my parts.”
With that I stood up and wrote an idea I’d suddenly had down on a piece of paper.
"What are you writing?" Suzie asked.
"I just thought of a funny bit," I said. "Jem and the Holocaust Survivors. Sexy Jem with three elderly Jewish women."
"What about M?"
"Yeah," I said. "Peter Lorre as M, a child molester who creates holograms to capture little boys and girls. And he sings. M is truly outrageous!"
Suzie just stood up and went into the bathroom, as I silently wept because my creativity was not being nurtured.
It was a bright, sunny day. I was in the park walking Max when a woman and a little girl came toward me.
"What an adorable little girl," I said. "How old is she?"
"Thirty-five dog years," she replied. I was more than a little taken aback by this. Not only was it odd that a mother would refer to her child's age in dog years, but it was apparent that her math was off. The girl could not have been older than two.
"Excuse me," I had to say. "Could I ask why you gave your child's age in dog years?"
"That's a rather personal question." I didn't think so, but she was clearly upset. "But let me ask you. Why are you walking around with a grown man on a leash?"
"This is Max," I said. "How dare you question me! I am his master!"
We walked away from each other. I was a little shaken, but after we arrived home, I fed Max and put him in his cage, and everything was all right.