I explained to Zaps the purpose of my many-pronged plan: to discredit my ex-family as members of the human race and expose them as members of their true race—rodentia. They were slopping up the world in general—America in particular—and me specifically. But first I had to explain a little about myself.
It went more or less like this:
As a child of the sixties, I was exposed to the bravura of the counterculture movement—rejecting conventional societal norms and replacing them with something better.
Although my parental units disdained social change with the same fervor that they endorsed Tricky Dick Nixon, I embraced it wholeheartedly. As we said back then, “I dug it.”
(Note: I never found anything groovy—a word I couldn’t use without feeling like a dope.)
Anti-establishment thinking is part of my essence. A big part you might say. As a kid, the Movements—anti-war, women’s rights, freedom of speech, civil rights, and rock-n-roll—shaped my personhood—my sense of equality, fairness, freedom, individuality—and what’s best for America. And since I’m an American, what’s best for me, too.
(The “flower power” saying left a lasting impression on my sense of style as well. One can never have too many flowers in one’s life!)
I told Zaps I bought into the 60s notion that one person can make a difference; one person can change the world. I said I was inspired by Martin Luther’s actions. He debunked the notion that people could buy their way into heaven (a memo my ex-family obviously never received). “Martin Luther said, ‘If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.’ And that’s what I’m doing.”
“By writing your memoir,” Zaps said.
“Yes, that’s part of my long range-plan. My short range plan—I’m following the Martin Luther playbook. I’m writing my own manifesto—in the form of letters—and instead of anti-Catholic rules, an anti-family statement.”
“Wow, Twonkette. That’s a tall order,” Zaps said.
“I’m up to it.” I had thought about the daunting task ahead—all the way home on the 101. It was a good thing I was highly motivated—kinda amazing how anger, disgust, and a righteous quest can fuel one’s crusade—but a not-fun and highly stressful state to be ensconced in on a daily basis.
(Note to self: Learn to write faster. Keep an eye on cortisol levels.)
Zaps and I sat quietly. All ice-tea’d out; all talked out—for the time being. Zaps rocked the porch swing. The quietude and dusky sky settling over the Pacific lent an air of peacefulness. I smiled to myself. When writing about this episode in my memoir, I could finally use one of the words I had always wanted to use but hadn’t the opportunity: gloaming.
Zaps and I were gleaning in the gloaming. Cool.
(Maybe in the diminishing light he would finally take off his sunglasses? Très cool.)
Zaps wanted to know the topics of my writing campaign. I said, “Rodentia!” Joking, of course. Or I should say, half joking. I told Zaps rodents comprise forty percent of the mammalian population. Americans need to know that—as they could be lurking where you least suspect them—like in your own family.
“As an officer of the law, I’m well aware that rodentia masquerade as people—and vice versa—especially the rat variety. I could run a DNA test on your ex-family to determine which is the case. If they’re rodentia by biology—or choice.”
“I already know. Wish I would have figured it out sooner. Would have saved a ton of time and trouble.”
I reached around to my back and touched my wound. Was it shrinking? Maybe taking action against perpetrators was helping me heal?
“By the way,” Zaps said, “Your DNA test showed no trace of rodentia genes.”
“When it comes to my ex-family, I’m a genetic mutation. That’s why I related to Alice in Wonderland at an early age. Always felt alienated—like I didn’t belong. I thought it was me. Now I know it wasn’t me.”
I think I started to sound whiny—like in a poor-poor-pitiful-me way. So I sat up straight and tried to sound perky. I said, “But that doesn’t matter anymore.” (Probably made a fake smile to boot—ugh.)
I knew I wasn’t fooling Zaps. He was a sharp. Sharper than the dagger he yanked out of my back.
(Figures dullards would use a dull blade. Ha — I survived to tell the tale!)
Behind the sunglasses I felt Zaps’ eyeballs looking at me so I added a point of clarification. “I can forget about my ordeal as soon as I’ve had my say.”
“So let’s hear what you’re saying.”
Before I read any manifesto letters, I needed to describe to Zaps the two factions of my ex-family—the BuckWeasels and the DoucheBucks. I explained that both groups worshiped money. One because of insecurity. The other due to greed. The greedy ones—the DoucheBucks—were the more desperate of the two. For them there is no such thing as too much money. And no such thing as the wrong way to get it.
I told the story about the time I popped into their obtained-through-a-scam house. I found them all in a room, on their knees, kissing the floor boards. They crossed themselves, then solemnly bowed to the wall and kissed it. The drapes, too. Gave new meaning to House of Worship.
When they had finished with the ritual I asked them what they were doing. They said they were giving thanks for their great gifts—that to express gratitude for them ensured they would get even more.
I asked them if they kissed nice people—hoping that more nice people would abound in their lives. No one answered me. Was that a dumb question? Then I realized that I kissed them but they never kissed me back. Maybe if I had worn velvet curtains?
(Just another red flag waving in my face that I missed.)
“The Heebie D.B.s—another pet name for them—covet houses in the worst way—and have no scruples when it comes to how to procure them. They could go the honest route and earn them. Which to that I say, ‘more power to you.’ But more often than not they engage in unethical tactics—like the poisoning of already-demented minds. And criminal methods—like coercion and fraud. Originally I wanted to call this cabal the Stuccos because of their obsession with accumulating wood and plaster. And the fact that their real last name is Stuckey. But later I changed it to DoucheBucks because it was more descriptive of their overall persona—in my opinion. Plus I didn’t want a name that was too close to the real one—for legal reasons.”
“Opinions are protected by the First Amendment and truth is the ultimate defense against accusations of libel,” Zaps said.
“Right on, Zaps! Don’t you just love the truth?” I gushed.
“I dig it,” he replied.
By now it was dark outside. I could barely see Zaps’ cop cruiser at the end of my driveway. Another nosey neighbor—an IRS agent in Silicon Valley—had sauntered by under the pretense of dragging his trash bins to the pick up location—even though he was two days early. I felt like yelling at him that the CHP and the IRS were not related agencies—so mind your own business. But you never know when you might need a tax narc to do a little investigating for you. I waved hello at him.
Ol’ Zaps was really endearing himself to me. So much in fact that I was starting to feel the need to feed him again. CocoRoons did not a dinner make. Food or read my writing? Hmmm…a tough choice.
“I need to turn on the porch light to read one of my letters,” I said. “But the lamp will attract moths. Big ones. Hope you don’t have moth phobia.” (I do, big time.)
“I have a better idea.” Zaps ran to his cop car and grabbed a flashlight as big as a Louisville slugger. He planted it in a terracotta pot of geraniums next to the swing.
The LED light beam provided the perfect illumination—without the flying pests. I smoothed a piece of paper.
“This letter was written to libraries, book clubs, and bookstores across the U.S. It’s about members of the D.B. faction—who pretend to be bibliophiles. It drives me berserk when people purport to love books and then turn around and advocate censorship. That makes them pseudobibliophiles—and in my humble opinion (again) they should be outed for the phonies that they are.”
“Sounds like the D.B.s don’t pass the Holden Caufield smell test.”
“They don’t even know who Holden Caufield is.” Disgust bubbled in my gut. I continued to rant. “They say they value the written word. But they hire lawyers to restrict an author’s first amendment rights. That is so wrong! You said don’t mess with Jesus. I say don’t mess with books!” I punched the air with my pointer finger. “Libraries and bookstores and reading clubs need to know about these rapscallions!”
(Another word I’ve always wanted to use. Or maybe in this case I should change it to ‘ratscallion’?)
Then I heard my tummy grumble. It sounded like a muted garbage disposal.
“What was that?” Zaps asked.
“Frankie. He’s hungry.”
“A noisy little bugger, isn’t he?”
“You have no idea. Frankie runs the show. He’s another long story.”
“I have time,” Zaps said.
Once again I wondered what the heck I was doing (and about to ask)—when I don’t cook and have nothing in my kitchen to serve company—and was silently cursing myself for not taking Home Economics in high school or at least had watched a few Rachel Ray shows.
[Note to Girls: Being a good hostess is not anti-feminism. However, personality is more important than presentation and conversation is more important than canapés.]
“Are you hungry? Hope you don’t mind left-overs. Or TV trays.”