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Sal Story: Texas CHRISTIAN University

We can all remember that in my interview, I had, for the first time, been called out for my faith {God Bless the USA that I made it so far}.

The “C” in my degree from Texas Christian University was a red flag to him, and he wasn’t sure if my presence there was going to be a bad omen. But looking back, that place was never going to be a temple of the Lord, no matter how hard I may have tried. I now have no judgement for Jonah refusing to go to Nineveh. Ascending the 9 flights of stairs to my office was like entering Dante’s 9 circles of hell.

I’m not sure if it was that I chose not to curse, that I didn’t have any vile or crass input into anything that was said, porn wasn’t scannable on my computer, I didn’t want to booze at noon, I wasn’t living a silent life as a prostitute…the list could go on. Whatever it was, he had me branded from the get go.

On occasion, I would respond professionally to a very unprofessional comment he would make.

You know like, “do you really need to wear a shirt under that dress?”

“That dress” was a fashionable item that would have left anyone on the front page of the La Perla site in time for Christmas. It was slinky, beaded, and the back draped open nearly to the top of the buttocks.

My apparently Christian response was, “yes, yes I do.”

Several times, he would mutter that I should stop acting like I was from f****** Texas Christian University. If only my faith enabled curses.

One day, I had been summoned into a board meeting. A large shoe company, based out of St. Louis, owned nearly half the company at the time, and was in town to conduct business. About 25 people flanked a long table. As I always was when summoned by Sal himself, I entered confident on the outside with a giant wtf on the inside.

“Ah, Katelin,” he announced to the room. They all stared at me while I clutched my notepad, ready to make a presentation at a moment’s notice or leave with a long list of tasks (oh the trials of working for a megalomaniac).

“Katelin is the one who was retarded by her education, she went to Texas Christian University.”

And there you have it, folks. A board room full of intellectual people, shocked but silent, who observed me for a moment, and then went back to business. To this day I can’t remember exactly what I was summoned to do, but maybe it’s because I was affected by my handicap.

"Holy" Ham

I feel heat that radiates from beneath my chest and causes shame and confusion at the exact same time, which causes more confusion. I have been vicariously embarrassed, and I am not yet used to this feeling.

We are at Mass. We have chosen the casual early evening college service, as it was predetermined that college kids judge wayward toddlers less than other mom’s do. We sit in the back, a few rows up, on the end. We aren’t disengaged, but we are as close to darting out of there as possible, faster than you can yell stop, drop, and roll, should things go south. Midway through the sermon-homily, the Veggie Straws no longer hold the delight that they held just moments ago. The book has already been silently read, with silent cues being toddler-nunciated in the form of Mooooing or fish-noising at the appropriate times. Augs has already waved at each individual behind us, and then collectively to the whole bunch. He has high-fived them, played with their jewelry, and worn out his welcome. He wants down.

When he indicates that he wants down, which I liken more to how a dolphin would swim when roped  belly first to a steel rod, we know that this is the beginning of the end. The same way people say they cannot un-hear or un-know something is the same way Augie cannot be un-put-down. When his feet hit the ground, the look he gives me is blissful mischief. He heads for the aisle.

We spend the next five or so minutes wandering around the back of the service, behind all the people, but in front of the exit doors. I take pride in the fact that he’s not crying, or screaming, or tantrumming. I am a hippie mom, and he is free to roam, and people love him, and I love him, and he will grow up to be balanced and not oppressed, when….

I see it but I cannot stop it. He has harnessed the entire bowl of Holy Water in his little iron grip, and with one flick of the wrist, has dumped it all over the knee-high table (? why oh church why on such a perfectly short table?)

The father of another small wandering-but-well-controlled-girl next to me makes a small gasp noise. I freeze, and then I feel hot. There is a fight or flight response in me that for a brief second, considers leaving Augie and bailing on the situation. This is HOLY WATER. Sometimes they collect this from the River Jordan. It could have even rained off of the outside of the Vatican. I don’t know, but all I know is that there was a service of anointing this before we ever got to this service, and something sacred, meant for each set of hands to pass through on their way out of the service, is leaking into the carpet fibers.

My audience consists of other-father and a few typical angry church ladies who were standing in the corner. They don’t look at me or offer to help. They are already scheming how they will tell the Priest who is on the naughty list and make sure Augie never gets into a private Catholic school.  The rest of the congregation has overall remained oblivious, save for a couple of people right in front of the water. Finding no sympathizers except for the other-father, I beg of him to tell me what to do in this moment.

“Do you think….paper towels?” I ask. He nods that that would be the best recourse.

Angry toddler on my hip, I return with shockingly fewer towels than I thought I collected, and am able to clean off about 2/3, leaving the table soppy and the bowl completely empty.

Once again I turn to my other-father mentor. “I mean {long pause} can I even…throw this away?”

We look at each other for a moment as the internal debate rages on. He insists that it is fine, but I worry that church ladies will follow me into the bathroom and insist I had them back the Holy Water in whatever form it took. I feel like I am doing something wrong, but I throw it away anyways.

My husband is still a few rows up and has no idea the trouble we’ve caused.

When the service is finally over, I remembered nothing of it. Embarrassment, not grace, had wiped my slate clean.  Everyone filed out, and like a train wreck, I kept my eyes fixated on the vapid Holy Water bowl, where each person would attempt to dip, and then finally swipe, for a spot of moisture.

On the way home, I told Augustine that he need not take a bath tonight, he had been washed pure.

The Pink Toilet

First it was installed in our home.

I thought I could work around it while we scrapped together what we were going to do with the bathroom design-wise. Then it got a crack in the seat. Then I sat on the cracked seat one unsuspecting day a little too gravitational. As I went to stand up, the seat crack that had partially separated under duress cinched back together so quickly around my tender skin, I let out a yelp of agony.

It had to go.

The contractor insisted that it was valuable, so we placed it behind the house. Over a three year period of time, it would occasionally peek out at me and beg to be Craigslisted to someone who would sit on it and somehow not lose their own flesh in the process.

But this week I had enough of its bad energy, and insisted two grown men haul it to the curb for big trash pickup. With a 7 day pickup window, I could feel the eyes of my neighbors. Don’t judge lest you be judged beoches, I recited each time I pulled out of the drive.

But the toilet was still there after six days. And then it was Saturday. Game Day. TCU fans from near and far began lining our street, a walking tailgate. Panic set in. No, shame. Hurt, bewilderment. Why was it still there? Didn’t the city care about my dignity? 

But no sooner had I begun down the path of the lost and desolate when I saw something askew outside of my window. Opening the door, I verified my observation: the toilet seat and lid were up. I began walking briskly towards the toilet, now feeling betrayed by some stranger…now feeling some strange sense of ownership and territorial loyalty to this object that I wanted to get rid of, but yet was still somehow mine. Someone had stepped on our grass. Someone had touched my commode.

And like a bad scene from JackA**, I discovered that some wetting willy had peed into the toilet. Two-thirty in the afternoon, broad daylight, heavy crowds, nice neighborhood, pink toilet, rogue pee-er. To clarify further, someone showed their private parts on my front lawn. The audacity!

Today is day 10. It’s regular trash day tomorrow, so I ever-so-carefully tipped our trash bin onto its side, and pushed the toilet towards the open vessel with all my might. I pushed it in myself, pee running down and out the sides. I coached myself as if laboring a child. I am strong, that’s pushing like a girl (cue Mo’ne Davis ad), it’s only disgusting if you let it be.

I try to pretend that the City of Fort Worth won’t even notice the Bertha of a toilet amidst all of the regular black garbage bags, not to mention the limb crushing weight of the bin. I also try to pretend that none of my neighbors witnessed the pee and porcelain fireworks involved in getting that thing into the receptacle.

I wash my hands. I set my alarm. I have no plan b. Some are shouting “take the crown!” tonight for the Royals. I am shouting, “take the commode!”

Update: To my delight, the toilet was gone when I arrived home from work. I shared a good chuckle trying to visualize the two trash guys in the front seat, catching a bit of air when the toilet catapulted into the bed of the truck. “Ain’t my problem now.”

A Day at Central Market

“Ma’am, Ma’am!” she shouted after me. “You didn’t pay!”

I was already out of the store across the street, and well on my merry way, one finger poised on the automatic trunk opener on my key fob.

I had just cleaned off about 1.5 hours worth of time meandering through the high society aisles of organic blueberries, herbs that were still planted, and meat butchered from a cow about 20 miles west of here (probably). My almost-toddler in the cart had enjoyed some good old-fashioned fun himself, tossing nearly every (expensive-a**) thing out of the cart. I had tried to pacify him with water, but when I wasn’t looking, he dumped it into the produce aisle, where I pretended that I was going to clean it up with some baby wipes until the real professional showed up and took charge. I had tried to distract him with the convenient kids play area and slide, but some upstager had peed down it, and now our only toys were $9 heads of endives and 12 perfectly-shaped organic fresh farm eggs.

When we had finally approached the conveyor belt of almost-freedom, Augs pushed his hand as far back in his mouth as he could (new trick), and barfed his gag-reflexed food onto the tile floor and cart. “How silly!” I exclaimed, so that all the other mom’s around would know I was “cool mom.” Inside, I was holding back urching while I wiped up his mess. And there I was, tending to his nastiness while he peers over the cart and watches, when he nonchalantly kicks me in the face…hard. I gently chuckle but don’t look around. If I don’t see anyone watching me, they can’t see me.

We get close enough to the pay pod, and Augs decides he wants to use the fake pen to complete the transaction. Ha ha isn’t this fun until I actually complete the transaction myself, and we are not going to use faux pen anymore. Angered, he pinches me. I grab his little fat hand and say, “we don’t pinch mom.” I dare you to go against a command so authoritative and in charge, America. He looks at me with testing eyes, and leans his little red head towards my hand around his hand, and bares his 8 teeth as he opens wide and debates a miniature bite. He rests his teeth on my arm while I stare at him in disbelief. Meanwhile, impatient lady behind me is unloading groceries at rapid fire speed. I used to be impatient lady, but now I just laugh at her efficiency and assume she has no love in her life.

When I am finally given the receipt, you can imagine my mom joy in exiting the place. I have killed over $200, smell like barf and berries, and have lost my dignity. My mom told me that disciplining rules consist of three things: Control, Consistency, and one other C that she couldn’t remember. I sure hope it wasn’t calm, or courages, or caring, comforting, or classy because so far I’m 0/3.

So as I’m nearly to my car, I hear the sales clerk yell loudly that I have not paid. I have a new audience, an outdoors one, that all peer from behind their carts, car doors, and lunch tables to see what delinquency has taken place.

I yell back, “I did pay!” A notable defense.

I had gone through the whole transaction, and as I tried to explain to her that my son had tried to sign for me with the pen but I took it and did it, and that’s what had upset him so obviously I remember, it didn’t do any good. I approached the store, and she assured me I could leave my cart on the sidewalk and just take care of it “real quick.”

I pull Augie- the rock of 25+ pounds- out of the cart and head indoors, where impatient lady is looking like herself on steroids. I get to the machine, stammer to explain again, and am shown that I still owe money.

But I don’t have my wallet. It’s in the diaper bag, in the cart, which is now rolling backwards to the street. Cue panic! I briskly walk towards the sliding doors, kid on hip, when for the first time in the history of Central Market, the door stops dead at 12 inches open. A malfunction that caused me to cruise my left eyebrow into its metal frame, welt forming immediately. “Ohhhhh,” I can hear from several elderly ladies behind me. Instead of acknowledging the embarrassment, I slide sideways through the vengeful door in time to collect my cart and diaper bag. I pay. I re-leave.

On our second trip back to the car, we run into one of Augie’s friends/mom from music class. She tries to chat, but I let her know we have had a rough patch. She kindly says, “we all have those days!” I smile even though it pains my forehead to do so.

Sal Story: HSN + Silicone

The most infamous of the anti-HR experiences I had while working for Sal is what I like to chronicle as the “HSN Nightmares.” Here is one particular gem.

“They are so Tampa,” he said. It was my first gig at actually profiling and booking models for Sal’s upcoming HSN (Home Shopping Network) debut. I was a little surprised we were going through with the transaction, as he’s always talked about his brand as being so over and above all the other lowlife brands, and HSN didn’t exactly scream haute couture. 

Seeing as I had become the office’s shiny object right about the time the HSN partnership was built, I was handed the reigns on model casting, styling, escorting Sal to St. Petersberg, FL, maintaining the agenda, shoe samples in correct sizes, and basically helping to facilitate any and all needs between Sal and the production teams at HSN.

We had looked at model head shots a week prior, and Sal was ultimately disgusted with most of them, which only made me paranoid that I also could have a “but her face” issue. And when we met the models to pick in person (talk about pressure), he let me take the lead. 

But he couldn’t stop his own commentary later on how trashy and gross they were collectively. He was ranting to me (backseat) and a colleague (passenger seat) about how he hated Florida models, how they weren’t nearly the caliber of NYC models. He spoke of how ugly they were, but that was all we had access to in a place like this. How tragic.

And then he noted how some of them had gone overboard on the silicone implants. {insert awkward moment when two girls in their early twenties are trapped in the car with a male boss discussing female anatomy.}

That moment would have been awkward enough if he let it lie, but he didn’t. He turned to the busty passenger seat employee and stated, “C, you don’t need any of that, but Katelin could use some {silicone}.”

Then he chuckled to himself and we drove silently back to the hotel, where me and my smaller parts washed up and went to bed.