by Slo Mo
Here's the story of how I came to be lying unconscious on my lawn, in my pajamas, in front of a parade float, while wearing rollerblades and a tiara:
It all started when Karl and I were eating breakfast the other day and I asked him if I was getting a bit, well, a bit FAT. Unlike every other (sane) male on the planet, Karl didn't tell me that I look fine. Nooo. Karl stopped chewing his Rice Krispies, looked me up and down, and then said, "Yeah, you are putting on some pudge. Mainly around your middle. And your ass. And your chin. And your arms. And your ankles are a bit bloated, too. Are you getting your period or something?"
I just sat there and stared, with my jaw in my lap, trying to think of what to say, and I guess he took that as a sign of keen interest because he didn't stop there. "And your dogs are getting fat, too."
I looked down at my stomach and then over at Dog and Star, who were curled up on the sofa. I had to admit there was a strong family resemblance taking shape... literally.
"But it's no big deal, Mo. You just need to exercise. Put on your blades and we'll go for a skate."
And okay, first of all when he said "we" I thought he meant just me and him. And when he said "put on your blades" I assumed he meant "put on your blades AND SOME CLOTHES." But apparently not. Five minutes later I was standing in the garage with my skates on, using the hood of my cousin's car to hold my wobbly self vertical, while Karl assured me that my pajamas looked just fine so long as I rolled up the legs a bit.
"Who cares what you're wearing, man? We're just going around the block."
Then he poked his head back into the house and yelled, "Dog! Star! Come on! Time for a skate!"
"Ummm, Karl, I can barely stand on rollerblades. There's no way I can skate and hold a leash at the same time."
"Don't worry, Mo, I'll take the dogs and you just follow along. DOG! STAR! TIME FOR A SKATE!"
"And also, Karl? They don't know what skate means. You have to use the words they know. Like cookie, or squirrel."
Karl bribed their chubby little butts off the sofa with the promise of a Milkbone, and next thing I knew they were standing there beside me in the garage, wearing their leashes and looking at us suspiciously. Especially Star. The squeaky sound of our wheels on the garage floor caused her to freeze in place and she refused to budge. Dog wasn't much better. He tried to head back to the sofa.
Karl handed me Star's leash and said, "You wait here. I'll take Dog for a spin, then maybe she'll see us having fun and she'll want to join in."
And with that, Karl and Dog were off to a shaky start. I watched them turn the corner - Karl in the lead, Dog dragging reluctantly behind - and then I leaned down and apologized to Star for all the fat comments. No girl should have to listen to that crap.
Suddenly, Karl and Dog came whizzing past the driveway. Unlike before, Dog was now racing ahead of Karl, with his tongue flapping in the wind and an excited expression on his face, while Karl cheered and showed off a bunch of fancy hockey moves. They flew past again in the other direction, then circled around and slowed a bit, just long enough for Karl to do a reverse figure-eight and give me the thumbs up signal and yell, "I told him we're chasing A SQUIRREL!"
Star was out of that garage faster than a racehorse out of the starting gate. I don't even remember leaving the driveway. One minute I was standing beside the car holding her leash, the next minute I was still holding her leash but barreling down the street as houses and palm trees and parked cars flew past me in a blur.
I tried yelling at Star to stop, but it was no use. She saw Karl and Dog up ahead, and she was determined to get to that squirrel before they did. The amazing part is that she only weighs about thirty pounds, and yet she was able to pull my huge tub-o-lard ass like a mack truck towing a tonka toy.
I tried calling to Karl, but he mistook my screams for enthusiasm and just flashed some more thumbs up. I considered dropping the leash, but we were going so fast I was afraid I'd fly off the road and sail right through someone's front window. At least with Star pulling me I didn't have to steer. Or brake. And I thought Karl would eventually circle us back to the house and I could just aim my body for the front lawn.
But then it happened: a REAL squirrel crossed our path and headed down a side street... and suddenly, we weren't following Karl anymore.
As a matter of fact, we were heading for the one and only hill in all of Florida: the intra-coastal bridge. A steep incline on a narrow sidewalk, followed by a steep decline, followed by a busy intersection, and cars surrounding us the whole way. The only way to avoid the cars would be to plunge thirty feet over the side of the bridge...
"STAR! Stop! For god's sake STOP!!!"
Still no use. We hit the incline so fast that the gravity didn't even slow her down. There wasn't a squirrel anywhere near us at this point - she was running on blind instinct, and for the sheer hell of it.
Star had enough momentum to get us up to the top of the bridge, and then there was nothing else for us to do but go all the way down the other side toward the intersection. Waaaay down. Waaaay too fast.
What happened next was nothing short of a miracle: Star somehow knew to stay on the narrow sidewalk (which might have less to do with a miracle than the fact that she learned about cars when she was a stray), and even though the lights had changed when we blew through that intersection, we still managed to run the red without getting creamed.
And then I saw my salvation: a huge pile of tires stacked at the edge of a parking lot. Not the softest landing, but as soft as I was going to get. I let go of the leash, prayed that Star would come back to me, took aim, steeled myself for impact, and plowed straight through the bank of tires...
And straight into the Phi Beta Kappa Ramma Lamma Ding Dong Sorority Car Wash.
Apparently, sorority girls need to raise money every now and then for important stuff, like Beanie Babies and new cars and boob jobs. So they do what any intelligent, respectable girl would do: they stand by the road in skimpy bikinis offering to get all wet and then give you a hand wax and hoover you clean for ten bucks a pop.
I skidded across the parking lot on my stomach and landed in a pile of dirty rags and soap suds. When I opened my eyes, I was staring into the faces of Muffy and Duffy, the buffy-wuffy car wash queens.
"Excuse me! Like, we're trying to work here!"
"Yeah, this nice man needs us to rub his big huge trunk real nice and slow and- Oh. My. God. Are you, like, wearing pajamas?!"
And then I felt something lick my cheek.
"Look Muffy! Look at that cute little dog! She's all panting and thirsty! Isn't she, like, the cutest little thing you ever saw?"
That cute little dog saved my porky butt, because while the sorority wasn't too interested in helping a "gross" person like me who was all sweaty and had suds in her hair and asphalt marks on her pajamas, they were ga-ga for Star. And they decided that she looked far too tired to walk all the way back home.
So Muffy and Duffy called someone to come and give Star a lift, and then they begrudgingly agreed to let me ride along with Star, even though they refused to even look at me except to inform me that I was bad for business. But I didn't have enough pride left to turn them down, considering that my feet were covered in blisters from where my skates had chafed, and my legs were giving in.
On the other hand, no one mentioned what KIND of ride they were offering.
So when a pick-up truck pulled into the parking lot towing a Phi Beta Kappa Ramma Lamma Ding Dong Campus Pride parade float, it didn't immediately dawn on me to climb aboard... until the driver pointed at Star and me and yelled, "Hurry up and hop on, I need to get this float back to campus!"
Which is how I ended up sitting on the throne of Miss Campus Pride, wearing her tiara, in my pajamas and rollerblades, as the float pulled onto the main road while sorority girls in bikinis stopped traffic for us and blew kisses at Star. Thus causing all the tourists to think we were something special, so that they all started honking and waving and blowing kisses, too, as we made our way back over the bridge.
Dog and Karl were waiting for us on the front lawn when we finally cruised into the neighborhood on our royal chariot, looking like something out of a Miss America pageant that had gone horribly, horribly wrong. A few tourists were still following us and snapping photos and we drifted along at 5 mph, slow enough for all my neighbors to get a good look.
As we reached the house and Star and I disembarked from our chariot, Dog ran up to greet us and get himself in on the photo op, but Karl hung back to assess the tiara and the parade float and the procession of cars.
And then do you know what that jerk said to me?
He said, "The idea was to get some exercise, Mo, not ride around on your butt. No wonder you're getting fat."
I tried to kick him, I really did, but my legs were sooo sore, and I was feeling dizzy from dehydration, seeing as Star had been given a drink at the car wash but those bitches had left me to parch...
And so I'll bet this is the part where you expect me to collapse on the lawn, right?
I'm made of far stronger stuff than that, my friends.
I remained standing during the whole time that Karl shook his head at me and the float did a three-point turn all over our garden and I told some of the tourists that NO they couldn't use my bathroom and NO we weren't selling any souvenirs, and also during the sorry moment when I realized I'd forgotten to give back the tiara and I'd now be hunted down and buffed to death by a posse of mad sorority girls. And even during the part where I realized my pajama top had been unbuttoned the whole time I was on that dumb float - I stood up for all of that.
But as the mayhem cleared and we turned to head inside, Karl put his arm around me and said, "Oh yeah! By the way, your cousin called? And she said she's coming home from Europe and she doesn't need you to house sit anymore and so you need to move out and go back to Canada or wherever. Isn't that great? Your whole life just turned upside-down, man! Cool."
And that's when I fainted.