WHAT NOT TO DO.

She’s Got Legs

A few weeks ago my boyfriend and I were wrapped around each other on his couch playing Mario Kart. After I wooped his ass in MooMoo Meadows, he paused the game and set his controller down. He placed his arms under my legs, casually draped over his, and said “Your legs are beautiful.”

“No they aren’t. You should’ve seen them 15 years ago. 10 years ago. Hell, even 5 years ago they were beautiful. But today? Today they’re on the verge of turning 35. They’re soft, fluffy, and not at all what they used to be. Look, I’ll show you a picture. Do you see this? This is what my legs used to look like, they’re awful now. Awful.”

For the last year or so I’ve been staring at my legs in the mirror in horror as I’ve watched them change. They’re droopier, mushier, lumpier than the legs they used to be. My legs are no longer the things that could inspire hit songs or draw comparisons to living legends. They’re just legs that are getting old. The rate at which they’re aging is astounding. I’ve been so convinced of the aesthetic demise of my lower limbs that when my boyfriend said they were beautiful, I just didn’t believe him.

He frowned like I’d just slapped him, then he stared in his lap and whispered, “But I like them now. They’ve carried you all this way. And the person I know now is beautiful.”

Well. He’s a keeper.

Also, he’s right.

From the moment they could toddle around, my legs have done some beautiful things. They’ve jumped off merry-go-rounds and powered hours and hours on playground swing sets. They’ve kicked soccer balls and glided through swim lanes and pushed my boat-mates – all leading to athletic triumph. They’ve walked hundreds of miles in the Southwestern wilderness.  One year they ran four marathons. They’ve carried me to cupcake stands and music stages and job interviews. My legs have helped me stand tall on stage and at work. They’ve broken when I pushed them too hard, but have never failed to bounce back. They have sat through so many meetings and lectures and plane rides. They are my favorite cradle for a laptop. A perfect napping spot for a dog or a man or a nephew. They’ve been bronzed by the sun and made pale again by winter. My legs have jumped off cliffs and powered bikes and climbed rocks. They’ve wrapped themselves around every boy I’ve ever loved. They’re the first to take a beating when I fall. And they pick me up every single time.

This morning I woke up and I was 35 years old.

While we were out celebrating the occasion, my boyfriend said it again, “you’re legs are so beautiful.”

This time, I knew exactly what to say. “Thanks!”

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  • 05
  • Jun
1
Article by cassdiddy
Posted in uncategorized

Improv & the Confidence Gap

I recently wrote an essay for the Austin Improv blog about the role of improv in my experiences as a feminist, in the professional world, and the creative realm. There’s still a lot for me to learn and there will always be room for improvement. But I’m really proud of the things I’ve accomplished since I started improv – that’s what this essay is about.

Improv & the Confidence Gap

I hope you’ll read it and let me know what you think!

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Surprise!

This is a piece I wrote for and read at the Listen To Your Mother show in Austin on May 8th and 10th. It was an amazing experience for me as a person. As a writer, it was a breakthrough.

In late December of 1978 while my mother was getting ready for a party to ring in the New Year, a hormone surge caused an egg to burst from her ovarian follicle. And as she turned in front of the mirror to see if her butt looked good (it did) the egg began its journey through her Fallopian tube – waiting to be fertilized.

At the party, as she welcomed 1979, she had no idea that in just a few months a doctor would announce, “Surprise, you’re going to be a Mom!”

How could she have known that in August of that year a little girl would arrive, and according to the doctor, way too soon? That despite what everyone seemed to think about a baby that weighed less than 5 pounds; this tiny little girl was going to be headstrong and tough and would never stand for being told she was fragile.

Why would my mom ever have reason to predict that ten years later, she’d get a call at work saying that tough little girl kept fainting at school? And then, later that day, have a doctor explain that he thought something was wrong with the little girl’s heart. How could she have prepared to respond when the girl stared straight at her and, with a piercing gaze she’d only ever seen in adults, asked “Mommy am I going to die?” She didn’t know that her eyes would be the ones filled with tears and, knowing she couldn’t lie, she’d respond, “I sure hope not, honey.”

How could she have planned that two years later, the girl would fall in love with playing sports? Athletics, it turned out, helped counter the damaging effects of the heart murmur she’d been diagnosed with, but they also helped temper the girl’s headstrong attitude. My mother had no way to prepare for one night when her daughter would ask for help because a soccer coach made her run extra laps for being scared of the ball. It was very important to the girl that the coach stop calling her delicate.

So, for hours, my mom launched a soccer ball at her daughter to practice letting it bounce off her head, her sides, her back, and her chest. The girl joked that every time the ball hit her in the chest; it felt like it was pushing her fledgling breasts backwards into her body. Then, without missing a beat the girl followed up that she knew the breasts in question weren’t really fledgling, but non-existent. My mom wasn’t prepared for this quip and fell over laughing, “You’re a pretty funny kid,” she said. In 1978 my mom didn’t know that compliments like this would be carried for years by her daughter, eventually fueling a lifelong dream the girl had to go on stage and make others laugh.

Exactly 18 years after giving birth to the girl, my mom dropped her kid off at college. I bet she had been dreading the thought of her daughter moving out ever since, at the age of 5, the little girl announced that she couldn’t wait to get out on her own and be an independent woman. But, she couldn’t have prepared for the relief she’d feel when she received a call from her daughter later that night, “Hey Mom, I’m happy here, but I still miss you. Because, it’s my birthday, and it feels weird not being with you right now.”

My mother could not have prepared for the moment, almost 34 years after giving birth, when she watched her kid go up on stage, standing only behind a microphone, to tell people jokes. How nervous she’d be. How hopeful. And then, how proud, when her kid pulled laughs from others by opening up herself. After the show, she’d whisper to the girl, “You were so funny.”

“Mom,” the girl whispered back, “you have to say that cause you’re my mother.”

“No,” she’d say, “I have to love you because I’m your mother, but I don’t have to love your jokes. I’m telling you that you’re funny because you are.”

In December of 1978, my mom did not know that she was on the verge of raising a stubborn, sassy, fun-loving, and tough woman. And that, almost 35 years later, that woman would send a text message to her mom saying “I know I keep telling you and Dad that everything is fine. I didn’t want you to worry. But I’m not fine.”

She didn’t know that she would get up and walk out of the meeting she was in to pick up the phone to call her little girl – who was suddenly acting smaller and more delicate than she ever had. “Hi Mom. I can’t figure out how to do this anymore.”

“What can’t you do anymore, honey?”

“Live. Mom, I don’t eat. I don’t sleep. I just can’t. My heart is too broken, and it’s not about the break up. It’s about trying figure out who I am now, but still knowing what I want. To be a mom, like you.”

Later that evening she sat in the girl’s home and, through all the tears, told her, “Cassidy, motherhood, like the rest of life, is a crapshoot. Everything we do is a gamble. And sometimes I worry that your father and I pushed you too hard. I don’t know if you’ll ever be a mom. But you are stronger, smarter, and tougher than anyone I know, and if you ever have children, those things are going to make you a great mother. But, no matter what happens, you should know that I’m so happy to be your mom, but I’m really honored to be your friend.”

My mom is right, life is a crapshoot. So, I often think about New Year’s Eve of 1978, how it was supposed to be just like any other night. Except that was the night my mom and I started our surprise journey together. If I ever have kids of my own, I hope they’ll think about me the way I think about my mother – like I hit the jackpot.

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Open Letter to My Montero Sport

July 14, 2013

Dear Monty,

I know this isn’t the best way to end things, and I know that you probably don’t want to break up at all. But this can’t be a surprise. When we got into this relationship 11 years ago you and I both knew it wasn’t going to last forever. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time.

Remember last summer when we were stranded on I-35 because your radiator cracked, the smoke rising and the fluids flying? It was the middle of the night, and while we waited on the side of the road for a tow truck to pick us up I had some time to think about our relationship. It was at that moment that I knew I wanted out.

The last year has been very difficult on both of us. You’ve required thousands of dollars of repairs, guzzled gas at an alarming rate, and the quiet, peaceful demeanor you’re known for has all but disappeared. Relationships take two, and I’ll carry my share of responsibility for the disintegration of ours. You need new tires and I haven’t provided them, and we both know you can’t just fix your struts yourself. In my defense, I didn’t even know struts were a thing until we went and saw that mechanic. But ask yourself, if you were in my shoes, would you have continued to pour your money, time and energy into a relationship that is clearly over?

I know it feels like you were just traded in for something newer and shinier. To some extent this is true, but you can take me at my word when I say that I am truly going to miss you. Think of this as an opportunity for you. You deserve to be with someone who has a better understanding of how vehicles work, someone who has the time and money to give you what you need.

I’m going to walk away from this with memories of the good times. Like the time I finally kissed that guy I liked in your front seat. And then again in your back seat. Actually, I kissed a lot of guys in your seats.  One of my favorite memories will be singing along together, you playing the songs and me butchering the lyrics. No matter how off key I was, or how loud I sang, you always just kept playing. I will cherish those moments forever. Remember when we hit 100,000 miles on our way home from Big Bend? I’d never gone that far with a car before, you were my first. They say you never forget your first and I think it’s true. Those nights sleeping together under the stars of the big west Texas sky were some of the best nights of my life and I will carry them in my soul forever. Honestly.

You probably overheard my conversation with that guy at the dealership. I’m sure listening to him say that you’re not fit for the retail lot, and are going straight to auction, was difficult. I never meant for you to hear that and I’m truly sorry if it hurt you.

It’s so much harder to walk away from you than I thought it would be. For the last 116,000 miles you’ve carried me everywhere I needed  to go. But now it’s time for us to end our journey together and each take our own path in life. Monty, thank you for being such a great car. I hope you find a road that will take you where your heart wants to go.

All my love,

Cassidy

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  • 28
  • Mar
0

Crushin’ It

In the 3rd grade I got my first crush. He was gorgeous, with amazing hair and a bone structure even a 3rd grader could appreciate. And he was in a band. Of course I’m talking about Jon Bon Jovi, and I had it bad for him.

Despite my crush, at the start of 4th grade I agreed to let a boy in my class, Matt Lozano, be my boyfriend. It was great – Matt was attentive and caring and let me have his Ecto Cooler Hi-C every day at lunch. Every relationship should be that healthy.

But then, something happened that changed everything. My best friend, Karis, had purchased a cassette tape by a cool band: Poison. After school we’d run up the big hill to Karis’ house, press play on her boombox, and listen to Every Rose Has It’s Thorn. Then we’d hold down the rewind button for the 18 seconds it took to get back to the start of the song and play it all over again.

After a couple weeks of this, I knew that things were never going to work between Matt Lozano and me, because I was in love with someone else. Bret Michaels.

Bret not only had amazing hair and musical talent – he also had amazing eyes. He was so much dreamier than any 4th grade boy name Matt.

Our breakup crushed Matt more than I expected. On Valentine’s Day of that year he walked up to the heart envelope made from red and pink construction paper that was dangling from my desk and slipped a Snoopy-themed valentine into it. Inside the valentine he’d drawn a bunch of black hearts and written out lyrics from my favorite Poison song:

 

 Now I hear you found somebody new
And that I never meant that much to you
To hear that tears me up inside
And to see you cuts me like a knife

 

Wow. What a gesture. Matt Lozano totally got me. He and I had a long talk and decided to get back together.

Things were going great until that summer when my next door neighbor, Julian, played a tape for me one day while we were hanging out on his front porch. It was Appetite for Destruction by Guns ‘n Roses.

Hearing that first riff of Welcome to the Jungle followed by Axl Rose whispering “oh my god” was the first time I experienced the outright sexual magnetism of the bad boy. Yes, Axl, I will feel your serpentine. I didn’t even know what that meant, but I really wanted to do it.

Then, I saw the music video for Welcome to the Jungle on MTV. Holy shit – that man was hot.

Poor Matt Lozano never stood a chance.

It’s been twenty-five years since my first foray into love, but there are still some lessons to learn. First, always trust your first instinct. Look at where Jon, Bret, and Axl are today – I think it’s clear who’s winning the rock star life. Second, Matt Lozano is the only one of these guys that I still think about with real fondness and nostalgia. I know now what I didn’t know in fourth grade: choosing a crush on a celebrity over a real, genuine connection is What Not To Do.

 

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  • 17
  • Mar
0
Article by cassdiddy
Posted in well-oiled athletic machine

Life as an 8th Grade Cheerleader

Do you guys remember that movie Bring It On? Oh, I do. I loved that movie. In fact, I love all movies that involve a strong cheerleader character.

Those movies make a promise to all of us about what life is like as a cheerleader: amazing. And even though I was 21 yrs old when Bring It On came out, I still cling to the myth of having a cheerleader’s perfect life. And let me tell you, it is a myth.

See, when I was in middle school I was a total nerd girl. I was a math whiz – so good that I was on Math Club’s competition team. Yeah, I was a mathlete. But I was also in band. And I had terrible acne and really thick glasses and I was so scrawny that my PE coach called me Chicken Legs.

All of that alone was enough to deal with. But I also went to a pretty rough school in El Paso, TX. Like, we were the school that made the news because there were drive by shootings and knife fights on campus.  And I got bullied by the same group of little gangsters almost every day. These kids ruled the school. For example, there was this ramp we had to walk up to get to the cafeteria and every day at lunch they’d line the ramp so you’d have to walk through them if you wanted to eat. Every time I walked up that ramp I got scratched or punched or kicked. It was terrible.

But at the end of my 7th grade year I decided to try out to be a cheerleader for 8th grade. The promise of a perfect, bully-free, popular existence was impossible to resist. Much to my relief, I discovered that only six 8th grade girls had signed up for 5 spots on the team. You didn’t have to be a mathlete like me to appreciate that the numbers were in my favor. I didn’t have to be the best, I didn’t even have to be good. I just had be slightly better than one other awkward middle-school girl.

But I couldn’t take any chances, and the week leading up to tryouts I worked my ass off to learn the routines, perfect the kicks, and try to polish all the awful acne off my face.

And what do you know, I made the team!

Finally, I would get to live the dream all the movies promised. I was a cheerleader. It was amazing how confident I felt. It took some persuasion, but I convinced my parents to let me get contacts, wear make-up, and start shaving my legs. The world was mine, and I felt like popularity was just around the corner.

Wrong. Just around the corner was the harsh reality that becoming a cheerleader doesn’t magically solve all your problems.

One Saturday morning I was assigned to cheer at the boys basketball game for my school. I woke up early and spent over an hour curling my hair, doing my make-up, and trying to look the part of the peppy girl. I arrived at the game in amazing spirits. I had friends! I was happy! I was a cheerleader!

Then, at some point during the game, some of the kids in the stands started stomping the bleachers and clapping their hands in the style of “We Will Rock You.” Then the kids started chanting something. I couldn’t really hear it at first so I strained my ears in to listen.

Then, the words washed over me like a dark cloud. “Cass-idy Sucks. Cass-idy Sucks. Cass-idy Sucks.”

I ran out of the gym and into the bathroom.

God, middle-schoolers are assholes.

Turns out, being a cheerleader kinda sucked. At least for me. But I’d committed to it, and I had the uniform, and I knew the cheers. I didn’t quit – even though I really really wanted to.

Later that spring, when it was time to try out for the high school squad, I didn’t sign up. Cause, here’s the thing, it didn’t really matter what I was, I would always be who I was. And, I’m just not a cheerleader.

Which is totally cool. My wildest dreams are still filled with pom poms and perfect hair and back flips and flawless skin – but my actual life is filled with laughter and jokes and a pretty amazing career because I’m dorky, and awkward, and sorta good at math, and I know I don’t suck.

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  • 02
  • Dec
0
Article by cassdiddy
Posted in introspection

Starting Over

Sometimes you’re sitting on a beach drinking a Chi Chi (That’s a pina colada with vodka instead of rum. You might’ve had an awful experience with rum in college.). You’re listening to the waves crash against the rocks and the laughter of kids running through the water, trying to figure out how you’re going to start over and begin putting your life back together.

You’re not finding the answer in your Chi Chi.

So, you look up for a second.

The sun has set the surface of the water on fire. A lone surfer commands your gaze. You watch him catch and ride a wave; the crest breaks and you watch his board float on the surface as the water becomes a white foam. You can hear the fizzling of the wave just before the ride is over. He hops off, but your eyes still follow his board.

Then, further out, but in line with him something else catches your eye.

A humpback whale or, as the Hawaiians call them, kohola, breaches the surface. She puts on a quick acrobatic display and disappears into the water.

The whole scene lasted just a moment so you look around to other beach goers to confirm what you just witnessed.

“Holy Fuck,” you whisper.

But no one hears you. No one else even saw the whale. These people are too busy putting on sunscreen, building castles out of sand that was shipped in for the resorts, looking for the bag of cookies they’re certain is at the bottom of their beach tote, staring into the iPads they couldn’t bear to leave back in the room.

Maybe, you think, the Chi Chi is stronger than you realized. And that special moment was something created by your imagination.

Deep down, though, you can feel that isn’t true.

In that moment, you had your head up and your eyes open. So, you saw something all the others didn’t.

And now you have your answer. Head up. Eyes open. Yup, that feels like the right place to start from.

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Karate Cass – Part 2

I previously shared a story from my childhood about a character I created to scare my little brother, little b. The character was named Karate Cass and the ratio of her personality was one part crazy to two parts destructive. We don’t need to get into the specifics, but if you knew how annoying little b was you would totally understand how this character came into existence.

Special note for little b: please don’t get mad at me again for saying you were annoying. You’re not annoying now, you’re an amazing and charismatic adult. And I couldn’t be more proud to be your big sister. I love you. Seriously.

Anyway, I learned a lot from my brief time as Karate Cass, and the most important thing I learned is that Karate Cass should never ever come out again. Because the destruction she brought to this world had the potential to cause serious injury to others. So I squashed her down into the back of my psyche and swore to myself that I wouldn’t allow her to bubble up ever again.

Fast forward 17 years. It was the summer of 2007 and I’d just spent a few days in Chicago with my family to celebrate little b’s graduation from law school (See, little b turned out okay after all). It was a wonderful trip full of family time and celebration, so when I returned home I wasn’t really expecting the weekend to take a dive right into the shitter.

I had just reconnected with and started dating a guy that I knew from college; things were going pretty well. That weekend he invited me out to a birthday party one of his friend’s was having. The plan was to have a dinner feast with a big group of people and then go bar-hopping. I was pretty excited about the evening because I hadn’t met many of the dude’s friends and I was hoping to make a good impression.

As expected, we had a lovely dinner with several other couples and then hit the bars downtown. I don’t usually fit in with large groups of girls because I’m a huge tomboy and I have an inappropriate mouth and I never know how to be all cute and trendy, so I was trying extra hard that evening to be one of the girls. I thought if I played nice with the ladies I’d get invited to more fun social events and have excuses to wear pretty dresses.

A few drinks into the evening the group of giggling girls decided that we all needed to go to the bathroom. I’ve never really understood this ritual. Usually if I drag a girl to the bathroom with me it’s because I want to gossip about a guy or I need to borrow a tampon, and I typically don’t end up going to the bathroom with like seven girls at once. From the get go I wasn’t really comfortable with this whole bathroom trip thing.

Then, once we got to the bathroom there were already seven other girls in the bathroom. Fourteen is a lot of girls in one bathroom. That’s a lot of giggling. I started to feel really panicky about my girl skillz because they were all talking about lip gloss and clothing designers and nail salons. I am not even joking, that’s really what there were talking about. At least we could have talked about hot guys or something.

In my panic I began to think of ways that I could fit in, show that I was girly too, and basically make sure my dude’s circle of girl friends all knew that I was awesome. I was carefully listening to the conversation to find a topic that I could work with. Finally, one of the girls mentioned that she hated bar bathrooms because they were so messy and unsanitary. This was definitely something I could work with. I confessed that I never actually sit when I pee in a bar bathroom, instead I use my leg muscles to hover over the seat thus avoiding contact with any potential cooties.

I was proud of myself for mentioning this because the 13 other girls all nodded their heads in agreement. Yippy, I was one of them now! Then one of the girls, an obvious leader in the group, piped up and said “Oh I also never touch the door to the stall. Instead I just kick the door open, that way I don’t have to touch anything at all except the toilet paper.” Bingo! Here’s something I could totally work with! I really needed to pee so it was the perfect opportunity to impress the ladies. My plan was to stealthily kick open the door. Quick, easy, impressive.

Then I started to get this really weird feeling. I could tell Karate Cass was itching to get out and karate kick something. I didn’t really suppress any of my excitement, it was just a door I wasn’t going to hurt anything. I started to get REALLY excited about kicking the bathroom door. Like, I wanted to karate kick that fucking door so bad. I was gonna kick the shit out of that door and impress all those fucking girlie girls. I didn’t need lip gloss stories to impress anyone, I had the strength of my karate kick to really knock their socks off.

I walked up to that bathroom stall and paused to look over my shoulder to make sure my audience was watching. “Kicking the door is such a good idea! Watch this!!!” And then I did it, I karate kicked the shit out of that fucking door. It was so awesome, Karate Cass was back and, for a split second, I was such an impressive badass.

Then, the bathroom stall door ricocheted off the face of the girl that was in the stall peeing.

I thought, “What? There’s someone in there?! Oops.”

Naturally, she screamed. Loudly. Can you blame her? If I was in a bar bathroom hovering over a toilet and someone karate-kicked the door into my face while I was mid-stream I’d scream too.

It got worse.

I had karate kicked that door so hard that it bounced back and forth between the door frame and the girl’s face at least five times. Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!

All of the lip gloss and nail salon chatter came to a screeching halt as all fourteen girls in that bathroom stared at me in disbelief. Had I really just karate kicked that door into some innocent bystander’s face? Yep. You bet your ass I had. I now knew that my attempt to impress all the girls was ruined. I could see future invitations to pretty-dress parties slipping through my fingers. I had destroyed my chance to be “one of the girls.”

Not to mention, I was pretty sure I was about to get my ass kicked by this chick. So I waited politely for my beating on the other end of the door while she finished up her business. She came out of the stall with a huge bump on her forehead, a few tears in her eyes, and a look of murderous rampage. I have to admit that I have never been so glad to be a tall, athletic woman in all of my life. This girl was about 5’2″ and weighed no more than 110 pounds. When she saw my 5’9″ athletic frame she backed off and decided kicking my ass wasn’t worth pursuing. Phew!

Once the injured girl left the restroom everyone that was left started gossiping about what I’d just done. It was terrible to have listen to all the gabbing about what an asshole I was.

Finally, we all left the restroom and returned to the men at the bar. I hadn’t even picked up my drink before all of the girls started talking at once about how I had kicked the bathroom door into this girl’s face for absolutely no reason. Oddly enough, the dudes were really impressed with my karate skillz. Well, all of them except the guy I was dating. He was pretty pissed. We left shortly after that and I never got invited to any other nice social functions. Things obviously didn’t work out with that guy, and sometimes I think that incident was the beginning of the end of that relationship. Thanks a lot, Karate Cass.

I’ve shared this story with a lot of people and it’s received some great laughs, but I still feel terrible about injuring that girl in the bar just because I was trying to fit in. That night, for the second time in my life, I learned that Karate Cass is dangerous. Like, she creates actual, physical danger. I should never ever going around karate kicking anything. Ever. It’s not worth it. And, more importantly, I learned that losing yourself in order to impress others is What Not To Do.

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  • 02
  • Oct
0
Article by cassdiddy
Posted in workplace blunders

Cracking Up

Last week I was walking down a busy hallway at work with a coworker. I slipped, twisted my ankle and foot, and landed on the marble floor. This caused a crack in the base of my 5th metatarsal. So now I get to wear a hideous walking boot for at least the next 2 weeks.

Oh yeah, I was wearing a skirt when this happened so everyone saw my underwear. Awesome.

Anyway.

I decided to decorate my boot with some amazing Lisa Frank stickers I found at Urban Outfitters:

boot3

 

 

 

 

I did some stand up about my injury at the ColdTowne Theater Open Mic on 9/30/2013:

 

This is what the Gypsy Pig sticker looks like:

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  • 21
  • Sep
1
Article by cassdiddy
Posted in adventures with little b

Karate Cass – Part 1

When I was growing up my little brother was annoying. Not in the typical he’s-my-brother-so-he’s-annoying way. Like, everyone else thought he was annoying, too. But in this super, charismatic, endearing way (love you, little b!). Anyway, one of little b’s most annoying habits was that he wanted to be in my stuff. All the time. If I were playing in my room he’d want to be there bothering me while sitting in or on or under something that was mine. If I were in the living room playing Duck Hunt he’d want to sit in my chair or finish my game or eat my snacks. It was so annoying.

Rather than be mad with him all the time I thought that it was better for me to let all the little annoyances build up inside me until I exploded into crazy-big-sister mode. For those of you that don’t have a big sister, allow me to explain crazy-big-sister mode. It involves a very red-faced, very loud, very irrational, and very destructive big sister. That’s pretty much all you can count on, crazy-big-sister mode is highly unpredictable.

So one normal day I was sitting in my freshly cleaned room (it had taken me hours) playing Barbie and GI Joe Get Married in Vegas for the 7 millionth time, and in strolls little b with his smelly, sticky hands and freshly dirty sneakers. He saunters right over to my bed and gets right in, stinky sneakers and all.

Cassidy: Get out of my bed!

little b: No.

Cassidy: Yes! You smell like pee. Get OUT!

little b: No.

Cassidy: Get OUT or I’m telling Mom. This is MY room and MY bed, you have to stay out of MY stuff.

little b: No.

So I stomped off and ran to my Mom to tell her that, once again, little b was ruining my life. My Mom responded with her usual line of “You’re going to have to learn to be independent and solve these problems yourself, Cass. I’m not getting involved.”

Fine. So I marched back into my room.

Cassidy: “GET OUTTA MY BED OR YOU’LL BE SORRY!”

little b: No.

Oh, crazy-big-sister mode is on. I was fuming and irrational and in search of something I could do to get my smelly, gross little brother out of my bed. I just couldn’t stand one more second of him in my bed. What could I do? What would scare a little boy so much that he would jump straight out of my bed and scamper out of sight?

Hmmm.

Karate.

If I used karate on my brother he would totally be scared enough to leave me alone. I didn’t actually know what karate was, but a lot of my friends were in karate and were always talking about how menacing they were with their fighting skillz. Just say the word and it sounds menacing. Karate.

So I became Karate Cass. I had never done karate before but I knew if I were going to really scare little b I’d need a costume. So I grabbed my paint-splattered bike shorts from the laundry hamper and chose to wear them on my head. I did try pulling them over my pants, but that just looked ridiculous.

Next, I selected my weapon from the vast array of sports equipment on our patio, the plastic yellow tee ball bat. Perfect.

Now I needed to plan out my stealthy approach. I would sneak down the hallway toward my room, quiet as a mouse, turn the corner into my room and run in screaming with the bat positioned over my head. I was pretty sure the costume/weapon/screaming combination I’d cooked up would be scary enough to make little b get out of my bed and never come back.

I snuck down the hallway slowly. Carefully. I didn’t even breathe. Damn, I was such a great ninja. I could hear little b talking to himself in my bed. Little did he know in just moments he’d be so frightened that he’d never bother me again. When the time was right, I pounced!

I turned the corner into my room so fast screaming “NEVER MESS WITH KARATE CASS!!!!!!!!!!!” while running in with the bat over my head.

little b was so scared that he was paralyzed. The fear in is eyes was real. But he wouldn’t move. I was going to have to do something to make him move. So I swung the bat down from over my head. (I promise, I wasn’t trying to actually hit little b, just scare him into action.)

The next thing I knew there was a shower of broken glass raining down on my frightened little brother. His eyes were the size of dinner plates by now and his paralysis was only worsening. And I couldn’t figure out where all the glass came from, all I knew is that the poor kid was covered in sharp, pointy shards.

I immediately dropped the bat and ran over to little b who was starting to squirm a little after the initial shock of the glass shower. “little b, are you okay? Where did all this glass come from?”

“You hit the light on the ceiling fan with the bat. You broke the light Mom and Dad just bought!!! We are going to get in so much trouble! Why did you do that?!?! Why are you wearing bike shorts on your head?”

Suddenly, little b didn’t smell like pee anymore. He smelled like an ally. I removed my costume and we put our heads together and whispered out a plan. We would go and tell Mom how much we loved her and how pretty she was, then we would tell her that the ceiling fan blades hit the light while we were playing with Barbie and it just shattered. Airtight, foolproof story.

So we dusted the glass off ourselves, walked slowly into the living room where Mom was reading, and holding hands with each other said in unison, “Mom, we love you. You are so pretty.”

“Oh shit, what did you two do now?”

I squeezed my brother’s hand tight. I could feel him weakening under the interrogation and I couldn’t afford to lose my only ally in this situation. I couldn’t face punishment alone. I needed to do all the talking here. “Oh Mom, well you know little b was in my bed and he wouldn’t get out. At first I was annoyed but then I realized how much I love him and so we were just playing and the light on the new ceiling fan just got smashed is all. And, I love you.”

This is the face my Mom made:

-.-

Except like a billion times more scary. Her eyes literally disappeared when she heard the word “smashed”.

The Face broke little b. He knew that our plan had failed and he completely threw me under the bus. “Cassidy came in screaming and red and crazy and she had a bat! And shorts on her head! And she was yelling about Karate Cass. And she tried to hit me with the bat! Except she hit the light and then glass got all over me!!!”

I knew I shouldn’t have trusted him. He was useless to me now.

Mom: You did what to your little brother???

Cassidy: He wouldn’t get out of my bed and he smells. I was just trying to solve the problem myself. You said I need to learn to solve problems independently. I tried to get your help, you refused.

Not smart, Cassidy, not a smart response at all. My Mom almost went into crazy-mad-mommy mode on that one. And little b hid behind her and stuck his tongue out at me. I told you he was pretty annoying.

“You march your little ass right back into that room, Karate Cass, and you pick up ALL the broken glass. And if you cut yourself doing it you’ll be in even more trouble, I do not have the time or money to take you to the emergency room to get stitches. Your father and I spent our hard-earned money to buy you a nice ceiling fan. When he gets home we’re going to draw up a contract and you are going to pay back every single cent. You will do extra chores, you will miss allowance until you’re debt is paid off, and you will help your father install the new ceiling fan. And if you ever threaten your little brother like that again, you will be punished.”

Yeah, I was fucked (my parents were pretty big on responsibility; I totally had to sign a contract). And I had no idea what “punished” meant in this particular case, but I wasn’t going to find out. So I marched my little ass back to my room, neatly folded the bike shorts and put them away, and began cleaning up the mess Karate Cass had made. A few hours later my dad came home, and I got a stern lecture from him, too. Mostly he was pissed about having to buy another ceiling fan. At some point, though, he did mention that letting little b get you so mad that you become destructive is not only not worth it, it’s What Not To Do.

P.S. I spent the next several weeks doing double chores to pay off my debt. During my endentured servitude I vowed to never, ever let Karate Cass come back. If she ever showed her face again someone might get hurt…

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