by Joe Procopio
I Am Not A Role Model
I rarely go the grocery store. I really don't see any need for keeping or preparing food in my own household. As far as I'm concerned, cooking is an antiquated notion that went out with hanging the laundry. When I do foray into a supermarket, I'm in and I'm out. No time for bargain shopping, stocking-up, or small talk.
Which is why I probably never saw them coming.
As I was walking through the parking lot with my bags full of beer and Slim-Jims, I found my path blocked by a smallish woman, maybe forty, with her arms crossed and a Pollyanna smile across her face.
She said: "Get in the minivan, please."
I said: "Huh?"
And then I felt a dull thud at the back of my neck.
I woke up some hours later, tied to a chair in someone's rumpus room. I could hear a number of women arguing behind the west wall. I surveyed my surroundings and spied trophies, ribbons, and countless photos of freckle-faced children on shelves on the east wall. There was a television with a lock-box on the cable hookup and a comfortable looking couch with a nice blanket folded and draped across one arm. Directly to my right was a TV table on which sat a plate of cookies and a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
All in all, it was very, well, cozy.
Before long the arguing stopped and four middle-aged women entered the room. The one that had stopped me in the parking lot still wore that creepy smile as she bent over and felt the lump on the back of my head.
"We're sorry about that dear," she said in a voice I instantly found soothing, "Sometimes you need tough love. Are you feeling better?"
"Who are you?" I asked.
"My name is Lillian," she said, "And this is Hillary, Dorothy, and Meredith."
The rest of the women smiled and said hello. Lillian continued:
"Now, if you promise to be good, I'll untie you and you can help yourself to cookies and cocoa."
"Okay," I said, and found myself smiling as well.
The cookies were, needless to say, homemade. And the cocoa had those little marshmallows in it.
"I bet you're wondering why you're here," Lillian said.
"Oh," I answered, "Yes. I am, actually."
"Well," she sat on the couch and leaned forward slightly. Her tone became a bit hushed, "The girls and I have been keeping an eye on you. And we've come to the conclusion that we need to have a little talk about that column you write."
Just then four beepers, one per woman, went off in unison.
"Shoot. Jason needs to be picked up from little league."
Lillian was disgusted. "This," she hissed as she pointed at her own beeper, "Is what separates us from the NRA. Complete lack of organization."
The others nodded in unison. Lillian continued, "We don't want a repeat of last week, do we?"
The others now shook their heads and stared at the floor. Lillian turned to me, "Sweetie, we have to leave for just a smidge. Help yourself to anything in the kitchen."
They all filed out and Lillian turned to me again as she left. "Don't you go anywhere," she smiled and winked.
"Okay," I winked back and held aloft my mug of cocoa.
Of course, I place the blame for everything wrong with this world on this recently demographed gaggle known as Soccer-Moms. Let me explain how I came to that conclusion.
I find myself constantly being asked, "Hey Joe, you're such an angry young fellow. Who exactly are you railing against?" Usually, I simply return a hearty, "Who do you got?" But recently, I started thinking about it. There have been suggestions. The establishment? The man? Whitey? Well, sure. But that's so cliché. Married folk? No, I have nothing against marriage. Young punks? With their endless whining and their plastic-fantastic "Look-at-me-I'm-a-big-ol'-junkie-wannabe" ethos? That'll get your blood up. However, I can only fault them to a point. For every screwed-up kid, there's a screwed-up adult who made him or her that way.
And that screwed up adult is usually a Soccer Mom. They delight in trying to homogenize everyone and, in turn, I vilify them. However, I always assumed it was a sort of antagonistic rhetoric between us, a war waged within the media, if you will. I never figured they would retaliate so forcefully.
I mean, the cocoa rocked and all, but they kidnapped me.
I got up and walked around. The house was really nice, and the fridge was stocked with those microwave snacks for mom-on-the-go to feed the kids. I heated a hot pocket and wandered upstairs where I found a room with the door shut and a sign reading, "Please keep closed - Mom."
Yeah right, Mom. I went in.
The room was packed with books, magazines, CDs, videos, all of it stickered indicating this material was for adult consumption only. There were charts on the wall. Timelines. I read one:
Jason makes honor roll.
I read another.
Brittany earns honor badge for girl scouts.
I'll spare Brittany's mother the rest of that chart.
There was also a list, a huge posterboard full of names. Marilyn Manson, Jerry Springer, Snoopy (sic) Doggy Dog, Chris Rock, Tori Amos, Trey Parker, Ad-Rock, Jim Carrey, Latrell Sprewell, Ani DiFranco, and on and on. At the bottom of the list were two names under the words "Test Run." The first name was Dennis Rodman and it had a red slash through it.
The second name was mine.
Well, that creeped me out a little and I decided it was time to leave. I walked out of the room and back down the stairs. The front door and back door were both dead-bolted with no key in sight. I considered breaking a window before I realized they must have a garage with an automatic door opener. I was right. I looked around the garage for the switch, scanning the walls and tables and what not. And that's when I found the bag.
In the recycle bin, right on top of the aluminum cans, was a ziploc bag containing three bloodstained Chicago Bulls NBA Champion rings.
I freaked. At that moment, the garage door began to open, so I made a break for it just as Lillian was pulling the Caravan into the driveway. I ran and ran and never looked back.
Now I'm a bit more careful when I go to the grocery store. I watch my back at Wal-Mart. I try to avoid the mall. They got Rodman. They almost got me. And I know it won't be long before they regroup and try again.
Man, I hate those Soccer Moms.
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