by RIP RENSE
Call them Less Than Satisfying
Encounters With Humanity, or LTSEWH, just to create a ridiculously
unpronouncable acronym. All names have been included whenever possible in
order to ensure fullest humiliation, though in some cases the more hapless
have been spared out of compassion.
LTSEWH # 1:
My cat, Winky, has a
criminal brain. No, really. It wasn’t Dr. Frankenstein’s fault. He was given
a criminal brain without his knowledge before he put the cat together.
Winky’s first act as a
kitten was to bite me. He asks for food no more than 23 hours per day, wakes
me out of any sleep that is particularly pleasurable, beats up his sister
all the time, and enjoys throwing up on the white carpet whenever possible.
He also use it as toilet paper, but that’s another story.
This is about the carpet,
though, not Winky, or really, it is about the arguably sentient creature I
attempted to employ to clean the carpet.
There I was. . .
Thumbing through the
yellow pages, which was color-appropriate considering the various stains and
blotches I was seeking to remove. I quickly came upon a place called “Green
Carpet Cleaning.” For a moment I wondered why they only cleaned green
carpets, then got the “enviro” angle. Al Gore would be proud! I would have
gone with our last company, Bobcat Carpet Cleaning, but my female
accomplice’s parents’ wedding rings disappeared from our locked home around
the time of their last visit.
called “Jonathan” sort of half-heartedly told me over the phone that he
could not guarantee stain removal, and furnished a half-assed
description of the chemicals he uses (whoops---I guess “Green” was just a
nice name), adding that he charged $35 a room. Hey, that was half-cheap! I
At about 7 a.m. on the
morning Green Carpet was supposed to turn mine white again, the phone rang
with “Jonathan,” who informed me with a half-sincere apology that he was um,
cancelling. Being insane, and a glutton for punishment, and not
wishing to pay $350 (as another fine rug-washer quoted me), I rescheduled.
“But you’re not going to
cancel on me again, are you?”
“No!” said Jonathan
If you, the
ever-perceptive reader, somehow suspects that he did not keep our new date,
well, you are a very, very shrewd and canny person, indeed!
“Uh. . .” said Jonathan,
on the next scheduled appointment a week later, “I’m sorry, but I didn’t
realize when I scheduled this that it was Presidents’ Day.”
There is outrageousness,
and there is absurdity. I filed this in the latter category. We were talking
about cat puke stains, after all, not open-heart surgery. Besides, I'm a
patriot, and I joined him in saluting our greatest leaders.
“Yeah, yeah, that’s
all right,” I lied. “Let’s set it up for tomorrow morning at 9, then,
“Okay. Thank you for your
My patience? I was
touched. So civil of him to acknowledge such a thing! Sigh. Gee, everybody’s
allowed to screw up once, right? Or twice.
Or. . .three times?
On the following Tuesday
morning at 9, which I don't believe was Presidents' Day or Groundhog Day or
National Gorilla Suit Day, no one named Jonathan came to clean my
carpet. At 9:05, no one with any name at all came to clean my carpet. At
9:15, 9:20, 9:30, many more people did not come to clean my carpet. No one
even called to explain why no one came to clean my carpet. At 9:45, I phoned
the no one named Jonathan. It went just like this:
“Hello, this is
“This is Rense.”
“Uh. . .Are you on uh. .
“We’re running a little
bit late. We’ll be there later.”
“I need an exact time.”
“You need an exact
“Is that unreasonable?”
“Well, no. . .it isn’t. .
.unreasonable. . .”
Apparently, my request had offended him!
“Look,” I said. “Just
forget it. Cancel.”
This is what eons of
evolution have produced, ladies and gentlemen. A specimen of man who
does not, will not, cannot keep his word---even when an outsized monetary
reward awaits for easy menial labor---and what’s more, who does not care
about or recognize his own irresponsibility, or the inconvenience he has
caused people who own cats with criminal brains. Jonathans, of course, are
everywhere in this, the alleged 21st century. The apparent mutant legacy, I
suspect, of "everyone is special" education curricula of the '70's and 80's.
Now, sometimes I overlook
things in the interests of forgiveness---really. More often, I overlook
things in the interests of not upsetting myself. But as I said, three times?
I mean---four? And without so much as a grunted half-apology? And
getting testy about being asked for the dreadful imposition of giving me an
exact time when he might show up?
I frequently hear the
voice of my good friend, Paul Corkery, in my head. Says Paul, “Sometimes all
you can do is give somebody a bad afternoon.” Or in this case, morning. I
phoned Green Carpet back. I was feeling a little green, myself.
“This is Jonathan.”
“Hello. I’m just
wondering what goes through your head that you so inconvenience people,
“YOU WANT TO BEAT UP ON
ME? GO AHEAD AND BEAT UP ON ME! I GOT A LOT OF PROBLEMS IN MY LIFE!”
I’m not pulling your leg,
pulling a fast one, pulling a rabbit out of a hat. This is what the boy
said, just about word-for-word.
“Huh? I’m beating up on
YOU? You know, I’m a journalist, Jonathan, and I’m going to write about your
company and how you do business.”
“GO AHEAD. GO AHEAD. I
DON’T CARE. NOW WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT? YOU JUST WANT TO BEAT UP ON ME AND
At this point, there
was nothing left to do but call on the powers of evil, summon the forces
of darkness, tap the demon wrath that lives in all of us, especially
Republicans. I easily channeled the voice of Beelzebub.
I will here spare the
reader---and my reputation---the exact nature of my pronouncement, which was
of such volume as to probably be unrecordable without distortion, even by
digital equipment. I will admit that I explained how I had been sick in bed
with a very bad cold---true---and had gotten up just to wait for Jonathan. I
further admit likening Jonathan to the unwanted processed results of last
night’s dinner (several times), then invited him to leave this earth at his
earliest convenience and shoot pool with Satan.
I capped it off by
lowering my voice to normal levels and adopting the genial tone of, oh,
“Did you enjoy that,
Johnny boy? Now you get out and clean them carpets good, now! Bye!”
I heard him saying
“You’re the sick one,” as I hung up.
Never should have gotten
LTSEWH # 2: Alley
“Can we take a short-cut
up this alley?” asked my redoubtable female advisor, as we walked.
My instincts said no, as
it is an alley behind a medical building (where she as headed for an
appointment), with lots of patients and delivery vans in and out. But it was
completely empty, it was early morning, and it would save time, so. . .
How could I have known
that the alley was actually a portal to another dimension, a channel to
Purgatory, a wormhole regularly traversed by demons, trogladytes,
Half-way down, two white
vans exploded out of nowhere---like something out of Harry Potter---at high
speed, oblivious to the fact that our 170 and 120 pounds of flesh and bone,
respectively, might not benefit from contact with their thousands of pounds
of steel and sheet metal.
The first one buzzed us
and missed by two feet, despite there being plenty of room. My jaw dropped
“Hey,” I yelled. “Watch
The shaved headed driver,
a young fellow of Neanderthal bulk, responded not unexpectedly with a
shouted invitation for me to have intimate carnal knowledge of myself.
Then I saw my
redoubtable female advisor (RFA) trip over a speed bump, which would
have put her squarely in the path of exploding van number two had she
not righted herself. Zoom-zoom, went the van, zipping by again no
more than two feet away, paying no attention to pedestrians. I commented:
Eloquent? Admittedly, no.
Accurate? Admirable for its understatement!
It was at that point that
the Mini-Cooper backed out of a parking space directly at RFA.
“Hey, man! Watch it!”
I know, such a
pronouncement had proved so effective the first time. . .Luckily, the
Mini-Cooper driver’s mini-brain reacted just in mini-time to avoid bumping
Three near collisions in
about twenty seconds. I’d had enough.
“Why don’t you look
behind you when you are backing out! Jesus!”
Because I know that Jesus
really wasn't driving, and really doesn’t pay attention, I opted instead to
lecture the general vicinity, the walls, the white line, the sky, birdies
making nests in soot-choked parking structure gaps. What else could I do?
“What in hell is wrong
with everybody! F--- all humans! F--- them all!”
Wait a second---I take it
back. Jesus---or perhaps some other Divine Controller, seeing as the
Galilee's bones have just been discovered---was listening, for
he/she/it promptly dispatched a lovely blonde woman in a Volvo to stop her
car, stick her head out the window, turn it around like Linda Blair, and
respond to my pronouncement:
“I HOPE YOU DIE!” she
This is Santa Monica,
people. Only the finest in entertainment, at all times.
Now, I had done
nothing to this woman. I had not forgotten her birthday, neglected her
sexual needs, divorced her, seen or even noticed her presence. My
denunciation of humanity was generalized, but apparently, not generalized
enough for her taste. Or perhaps she was actually, unbeknownst to me,
Ambassador of All People. I mean, I could understand her attack had she
been, say, one of my old editors or a former girlfriend, or any combination
But no, this was a
stranger---a person who merely disapproved of my disapproval of my
RFA having nearly being run down three times in a row by uncaring,
unthinking, bipeds with as much respect for others as Rottweilers. Maybe, I
thought, I had intruded on Volvo Blonde’s morning New Age post-yoga
epiphany, or had interrupted her concentration during a
Sandra Tsing Loh commentary on KPPC. Sandra talks awfully fast, after
“Rest assured,” I yelled
back, “that I will someday.”
“I KNOW YOU WILL!” she
“Yes, and so will you,
madam, and in your case, I hope it happens today."
Hey, probably saved two
minutes by cutting down that alley.
LTSEWH # 3:
Sore at Pharmacy
Connie Chung. Which is to say, I do not have it written into my contract
that if I have a cold sore on my lip, I don’t have to go to work. (She did,
while “working” as a TeeVee Newsmannequin in L.A.) No, I have to face the
world, write and edit The Rip Post, complete with hideous bubbly
bloody eruption taking up about a square half-inch below my lip.
And I had the Krakatoa of
cold sores. Krakatoa, south of java-hole. I mean, this was such an outbreak,
you were waiting for lava. Steam hiss, at least. Tens of thousands of trees
would be flattened if this thing blew. All I could think of was Kramer’s
line from Seinfeld after he smokes too many cigars: “Look away---I’m
hideous!” I would have scared the blind hermit in "Bride of Frankenstein."
Herpes. . .no goooooood.
So I asked my eye doctor
for some prescription medication to kill the thing before somebody got hurt.
Over-the-counter remedies were like throwing eggs at a tank. Oh, eye doctor?
Yes, I had gone to see him about a sty (breaking out all over, am I!), and
asked if he could prescribe Zovirax for cold sores. No problem!
Love that phrase. Nothing
more foretells doom.
Went to a CVS Pharmacy,
formerly Sav-On (who ever would have thought one could be nostalgic for the
stupid name of a chain drug store?) I'm pretty sure that CVS stands for
“Chicken---t Vacuous Suckheads," but don't hold me to it.
There I was. . .
Standing at the
appointed waiting spot (I could recognize it by the painted footprints
on the floor), and watching some ditzy blonde rifling repeatedly through her
purse, talking loudly to anyone who would listen about: her friend’s baby,
her car accident, her lost keys, her lost credit card, you name it. I
steadfastly avoided eye-contact with the poor woman, who seemed to be
awaiting a prescription.
After about ten minutes,
she happened to mention to me that she had already been helped. Uhhhh-yup!
I forced a smile and hailed a young pharmacist assistant, gave my
prescription, and was told it would be “about a half-hour.”
Just enough time to edify
myself with the Enquirer, the Star, and the Weekly World News at the front
counter. Jesus Found in Oprah’s Ear!
I returned to the
pharmacy. Apparently, all my fears about inspiring fear and revulsion were
unfounded. Here at the "pick up prescription" counter, I inspired nothing
whatsoever. I stood, and stood, and stood, and also did a little standing,
and occasionally, I stood. The pharmacist yacked with his two assistants,
and yucked it up, and swapped fun stories, and they occasionally glanced
over at me, but did not respond. Was I so disgusting, so festering in
appearance that they feared coming near me? After fully five minutes, I
“Did you need some help,
sir?” said one of the assistants.
LTSEWH # 4: Sore at
Pharmacy, part two
My cold sore and I
watched the assistant stare at the Baghdad blast below my lip as I explained
that my prescription was supposed to be ready.
“Oh,” she said, sounding
as if she had just learned the word, "prescription," and hailing the
Brought me a bottle of
“Uh, excuse me,” I said.
“I wanted the ointment. Can you give me the ointment, please?"
“No. That would be
against the law,” said the pharmacist, a middle-aged fellow named Alan Wong.
“Mm-hm. Well, I’ll tell
you what. You give me the ointment and I’ll go home and phone the police and
have you arrested. How’s that?”
uncomprehending, perhaps suspecting an imminent need to notify Homeland
“Just kidding!" I said.
"Why is it against the law?”
“I’d have to call your
doctor to get the prescription changed.”
“Jesus Christ! Okay,
would you be kind enough to phone the doctor?”
He was. He asked me to
come back in the morning. I gritted my teeth, which caused my cold sore to
crack and fizz and leak noxious gases, and said I would.
The next day. . .
I stood in the CVS
Pharmacy footprints once more, this time for ten---I counted ‘em---ten
minutes. There was no one else in line, no one else awaiting service.
Periodically, Pharmacist Wong and his various assistants glanced at me, but
said nothing. Not so much as a “Hi, your cold sore is even more
At last, Wong approached.
Not so much as a “good morning,” “how are you,” “what’s happenin’, baby?” or
“Here you are,” he said
pleasantly, handing me a box containing a tube of Zovirax ointment.
“Thank you," I said. "By
the way, how much is it?”
Hey, I have $150 to throw
around on winos, tennis shoes, DVD's I never watch, cat food, but I don’t
have it for a tube of goo that I know for a fact costs the equivalent of
seven bucks in France.
“A hundred and fifty
dollars? Damn---no wonder people can’t afford to see doctors. Don’t you have
Yes, fans, I am among
the millions of U.S. citizens who do not have health insurance. I don’t
have $8000 a year to throw around, except on such medical necessities as um,
food. (Please donate to The Rip Post at earliest convenience.)
Pharmacist Wong allowed
that there is indeed a smaller tube---why didn’t he get me that in the
first place?---then he set about looking for one. There followed a
discussion with other pharmacists on hand as to the whereabouts of said
smaller tube of Zovirax. After another ten minutes, Wong informed me that
they didn’t have one, but one could be had at “another one of our
stores”---and then he asked if I could return the next day.
Hell, by then the cold sore
would be gone. Or it might have leveled most of West L.A..
“Listen,” I said. “I
shouldn’t have to go through this. This is ridiculous. I shouldn’t have to
come back tomorrow. I shouldn’t have had to come back today. Now tell me
what you are going to do to help me."
To his credit, Wong
promptly phoned a couple of other stores and located a “small” tube of
Zovirax at a CVS (Chunky Vomit Sputum) in Brentwood, home of the O.J.
murders. I thanked him, and asked the price.
“One hundred twenty-five
dollars,” he said.
“What? You know
what? Forget it. Just forget it.”
Hell, I rather like
frightening people, anyway.
For more LTSEWH's,
watch this space.
COMING SOON! THE BIG LTSEWH BOOK, FULLY ILLUSTRATED! WATCH THIS BAT-SITE!
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