ASK MJ: YOU HAVE GOOD REASON TO WORRY
Katie asks: Maureen, Any ideas on how to convince my mother that I, at 18 years old, can go camping in the world’s most controlled environment (Disney World) without dying or injuring myself?
Camping? Are you out of your MIND??? Have you learned NOTHING from me?
Listen to a story.
Last night, I was out with Justine Larbalestier and Scott Westerfeld. I am often out with Justine and Scott, because we, for lack of a better term for it, work together. Last night, we went to see an excellent New York Liberty game, and then we all went for dinner at a fancy restaurant, because that is the way we roll. (Or, that is the way they roll, and I just like following people whenever I think there might be food in it for me, because otherwise, I might end up as I did today—slicing my finger open while cutting the head of Swiss chard I had for lunch, and then just forgetting to make dinner and eating crackers and a smoothie. I am still enjoying the smoothie as I type this with one finger wrapped up in a big band aid, so I keep hitting all the wrong keys.)
Anyway, we rocked up to the restaurant, all smiles and city manners, and took our seats next to some large, open French doors that lead to the outside patio, letting in the lovely night breeze. We ordered a five course tasting menu and proceeded to enjoy five (sadly tiny) courses. (Everyone got a different thing, and I swear to god, I kept getting the smallest ones, which was sad because I was so hungry I could have eaten my napkin.) Scott was telling us all about the conversation he had had with the producers of the still-hypothetical but nonetheless awesome in concept Uglies movie just that afternoon.
Anyway, I hope I am conveying the ambiance of class and style—writers sitting around, drinking wine and having very tiny plates of fancy food, talking about movie deals—when all of a sudden my brain started feeding me information. I was sitting directly across from Scott, and I noticed there was a huge black stripe on his white shirt that I was sure had not been there before, and that the stripe was moving, and then finally my brain concluded that it was not a stripe at all but a THREE INCH COCKROACH climbing down from his shoulder and down the front of his shirt.
Now, as it happens, I have quite a high voice. Maybe not my speaking voice, which is a medium girly-high. But my singing/screaming voice is quite high in pitch. I have a bit of a natural whistle register. This is why I can do such a good impression of a seagull and such a very bad version of this song. And when I scream when I, say, see a three inch cockroach climbing down someone’s shoulder, it is both VERY HIGH and VERY LOUD—enough to cause everyone at the table to leap out of their chairs and ALSO start screaming and to bring all activity in the restaurant to a temporary halt.
Scott, of course, has a deep man-scream and was mostly just screaming because we were all screaming at him and staring in HORROR, and mostly everyone was screaming because I was screaming, and he was looking around for whatever it was that was about to DEVOUR him (as he later explained, “I thought it had to be some kind of a rat, a dog, a rat-dog, something about to, you know, eat me in one bite”). Justine flicked bravely at the roach and it went away, and Scott was still looking for the source of the screaming when I saw it had merely flown around and on to HIS BACK, which made me scream AGAIN.
So, Katie, what I am saying is if this kind of thing can take place AT THE VERY HEIGHT OF CIVILIZATION, just IMAGINE what horrors await you at a campsite. Even at Disney World, which IS the world’s most controlled environment, camping is guaranteed death. The Disney corporation wants you to think they can control the environment through their ridiculously clean and manicured parks where music comes out of rocks and nothing ever rusts or even loses its shine, but they are lying to themselves and to you.
I mean, when the snake armies come and the ground goes soft and swallows your tent, do you think MICKEY MOUSE is going to come running out of the bushes to save you? Do you even WANT that to happen if that’s an option? Because I wouldn’t. Can you imagine it, Katie? There you are, insects swarming, rain pouring down on you, beating your pathetic excuse for a shelter into a new and sinister form . . . because that tent of yours will be about as useful as a paper boat when the Rains come, and come they will, Katie, because Florida is hurricane country . . . and then, as you sink into the fecund earth, crashing out of some freaky bushes manicured in the shape of giant mice comes a REAL, MASSIVE, HUMANOID MOUSE with ears the size of dinner plates, screaming in a keening voice that is neither male nor female but distinctly toonish, “I’ll save you!” And then, it will be reaching for you with those big, white, mitted hands, which are the last thing many children see before they descend into the Caves of Madness. Because nothing can hold back the forces of chaos, Katie. Nothing at all. Except, perhaps, the walls of a hotel.
Have a good trip!
Starlysh asks: I’m a paranoid person. I think people talk about me. How do I become less crazy?
It’s difficult for me to say for sure, Starlysh, because I don’t know for a fact that people AREN’T talking about you. But there are ways to find out. Have you witnessed any of the following behaviors?
When you enter a room, do people stop talking?
Do they start talking?
Do they continue talking as if your entrance didn’t change the way they talked at all?
Do people look at you?
Do they sometimes not look at you?
Do people sometimes take phone calls around you and then go outside or a few feet away to talk?
Do you sometimes hear your name mentioned?
Do you sometimes notice that your name has NOT been mentioned?
If you have seen any or all of the above, then I think it is pretty safe to say that all your worries are valid. I don’t know what they’re planning, but whatever it is, you need to get out of there before they hatch that plan. They will probably strike when you are least expecting it, using some innocent ruse. For example, they may all gather together by a phone and call you, trying to lure you out. One person will be assigned the task of making the call, and they’ll say something like, “Hey, Katie, want to go on an awesome camping trip to Disneyworld?”
Now, if you’re smart and you’ve read the above, you’ll know to turn that down. You’ll use some clever excuse, like, “Sorry. I’m taking place in a highly experimental treatment for my compulsive homicide disorder. I just can’t seem to fight the urge to chop everyone into TINY, TINY PIECES with a GIANT AX and I am running out of places to put the bodies. But thank you for asking!”
In some cases, they won’t be this obvious. They will never call and make their demands known. They’ll just lurk . . . talking, not talking, looking, not looking, saying your name, not saying your name. They are doing this to test you, to try to weaken you. Don’t give in. You have to throw them off guard.
For instance, you could make up 200 fake Facebook profiles, using stock photographs of people. Make all these people friend you AND each other. Create a group called “The Army of Sekrits.” Spend several days having your new, fake friends write on your wall, leaving messages like, “Last night was best one EVER. I can’t WAIT until the BIG EVENT!” Or, “Yeah, it got out and bit three people but that won’t be a problem for long, lol!” Or, “The injection stings but you know, it is SO MUCH BETTER than YOU KNOW WHAT! CHOMP, CHOMP, CHOMP! <3 YOU!”
When your “real” friends ask you who all these people are and why they keep leaving these creepy messages on your wall, just smile enigmatically. At this point, your phone will ring, because it goes without saying that you’ve gotten a second phone that you have programmed with your number, which you keep in your pocket at all times so you can just hit a button and dial yourself whenever anyone comes near you, and then go off and have mysterious conversations with yourself during which you laugh a lot and look over at your “friends” sadly, like you know about some terrible fate that is about to befall them and there is simply nothing you can do about it.
Or it could be nothing.
Cortney asks: As a very soon to be college graduate, what do you suggest I do to get myself ready to live in the big, scary, real world?
There is no way of avoiding the real world, Cortney. Sure, the collapse of the world economy might make it a hair tricky to do things like eat food that is not from a trash can and live in an apartment, instead of an old refrigerator box or in a van down by the river, but where is your spirit of adventure, anyway? We Americans are a plucky people. We made our country based on nothing! Nothing! Why, when the American Revolution started, we were a simple tree-dwelling people with nothing but a dream. Our forefathers hired someone to make a piece of paper, and on that single piece of paper, they wrote the Declaration of Independence. Then we fought off the evil British (sorry, British people) by throwing anything we had at them! Sticks, bricks, tea, cats, pineapples . . . we gave all we had. And look at us now!
So think of that and be INSPIRED! And then lie on your resume! Tell them you went to Harvard AND Yale AT THE SAME TIME where you majored in EVERYTHING! Tell them you’ll do anything! Wait for your competition to turn their back and then shove him/her into the nearest closet/stairwell/tar pit and GET THAT JOB! It’s what George Washington would do.
I hope this has been helpful. I look forward to answering more of your questions.
Posted: Sunday, June 21st, 2009 @ 3:20 am
Categories: Justine Larbalestier, Scott Westerfeld, ask mj, scary things.
Subscribe to the comments feed if you like. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.