@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
A Child With A Cool Pen
A. Child With A Cool Pen
In retrospect, my family went on and got out of a trip on a cruise ship just in time (in February). One evening, my sister, mom, and my sister’s two kids went to a Disney song trivia. Lisa, my sister, was pretty confident she would win. She’s a Disney fanatic who listens to Disney albums all the time.
Lisa did tie for the win at the Disney song trivia, winning my nephew a “Royal Caribbean” highlighter pen and a key chain.
“This is the prize?” I was disappointed for Anthony (5). “Seriously? They couldn’t chalk up something cool that costs more than ten cents?”
“It is cool!” Anthony exclaimed, with no sense of sarcasm in his voice. He had clipped the pen to his shirt. “See?”
He wore it with such pride. I tried to remember the last I was that proud of anything, and I’ve actually accomplished some things that are at least mildly impressive. Anthony grinned and patted the pen clipped to his shirt like an Olympic medal (even though technically, it was Lisa who had won). The next morning, it would be clipped to his shirt again, the stupid thing accompanied with his giant smile. He knows not what the actual prize is. His smile.
It was Christmas Day, and we had already opened our presents, spending the day in our pajamas, as per tradition— playing board games, watching holiday specials and eating cookies. Dad wasn’t his usual funny self that year. He was sick and was mostly sleeping and coughing. I came up the stairs to get something and he was sprawled out on the stairs.
“Dad, are you okay?” A stupid question, but I was a kid.
“Yeah,” he wheezed, “I’m okay. It’s just easier for me to breath laying this way.”
The day after Christmas my mom took him to the doctor where the doctor scolded them both for not acting sooner. He had pneumonia. The doctor said he could have died in his sleep. I was furiously pissed off at him. He didn’t want to ruin our Christmas, but by neglecting medical attention he could have ruined our lives by not being around anymore.
After my most lucrative gig of the year was canceled, comedian and friend Sean Donnelly called me up to see if I was around Friday and Saturday to open up for him at MGM Grand Hotel in Springfield, Massachusetts.
“I sure am,” I said, “but are they still having shows? Everything is getting canceled.”
“This is Massachusetts we’re talking about.”
We drove up and laughed most the way, albeit, also discussed what was going to happen in the near future. “This will probably be our last gig for a while. Mid-May, I’m thinking.”
“You think that long?”
“Yes,” in reality I’ve been saying this was going to happen since February. A friend of mine called me up, hating that I was accurate how this would unfold. He asked how I predicted it. I follow disease and outbreaks carefully, always, and am well read on infectious disease, as it’s my biggest fear. Though a new strain, it would follow the pattern of a regular flu, which people have always been too cavalier about in my opinion.
The casino was by no means “popping” but there were still a decent amount of people there. Most of them, old if not elderly.
“These are the people who should be home! Are they stupid or just don’t care if they die.”
“Probably both,” Sean says.
The Saturday show would inevitably be canceled. We’d find out in the morning that the whole casino was to close. But Friday night we did a show. The “club” (if you could call it that), is a 240 seat armory built in 1895. It’s protected by a historical society. It was beautiful. Like performing in a castle. There were about 40 people in the crowd (not elderly or really old at all) and it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had with a casino crowd. They were really on board for comedy, and unlike most casino crowds, very sharp. They got my subtle jokes. I’m not really the type of comic who riffs, but I was loose on stage and made fun of the circumstance, both the virus and the castle we were performing in. I knew this would be the last time I would be on stage for a while, so it was grand it was a gig that was such a blast.
I got a message on a dating app that said, “your ancestry.com results came back it is confirmed you are 100% beautiful.”
This pick up line made me not give a damn that I will die alone.
A woman asked me if I thought it was gross how much porn men watch. I shrugged my shoulders and told her I once spent hours watching footage of elephants giving birth on YouTube so I was in no position to judge.
In college I took an honors biology class. I did quite well until the final which I found exceedingly difficult, and as I recall, so did everyone else as no one did well and instead of curving the final, our professor made us all take it again the following week.
For one of the labs, we dissected fetal pigs. I’m honestly not sure if I’d be able to do this now, as I’ve gotten softer in my old age. What bothered me most then was the smell of formaldehyde. Repugnant to the senses, it made me want to throw up. And I don’t even have a great sense of smell due to sinus issues. I rather liked poking around the insides of a mammal. It was interesting. It’s interesting we have all the same parts, working all the same way, but we’re completely different animals. At the time, I was so addicted and in love with bacon, this did nothing to pull on my heartstrings to discontinue eating pork.
Not too long ago, I stopped into McGuire’s Comedy Club on Long Island for a guest spot, a favorite place of mine to both perform and shoot the shit with the staff. It was a good pop in, because not only did I kill but I needed to kill after being in a slump. When I got off stage, I heard a woman call my name. It was my biology professor who I haven’t seen in years. She gave me a big hug and with a giant smile exclaimed how proud she was of me, how I talented and hard working I’d always been and how I made her belly laugh. These little moments are tremendous.
Still, I was taken back to a memory of poking around the belly of a pig fetus, moving it’s intestines around with a scalpel. And the smell of formaldehyde, which I wished everyone would experience just so they’d opt for cremation when they die over getting pumped with that shit for an open casket.
William Vanderbilt II hired artist William Belanske to join him on a quest to the Galapagos Islands on his yacht. This was back in 1926, when the Galapagos was more or less unexplored.
Fish scales don’t retain their color when the fish dies. This is why Belanske was important to the expedition. Belanske would make detailed and accurate paintings of all the different types of fish they’d come across, some of which were being documented for the very first time. These paintings can be seen at the Vanderbilt museum in Ceterport, Long Island, a visit I highly recommend (not exclusively for the fish—there’s a planetarium and all sorts of preserved life forms).
After seeing all the painted fish models, I thought frequently of being not Vanderbilt, but of Belanske. To have such a masterful skill. And beyond that, to have one of the world’s richest men recruit you to an epic journey half way across the world. What an adventurous life.
On more than one occasion, I woke up with some black translucent cloud hovering just above me.
In sixth grade I returned to school from summer vacation with a rash on my torso. It was not a contagious rash. It was from sea lice, which is basically as gross as it sounds.
Sea lice are tiny water parasites that feast on blood. You don’t really have to worry about sea lice. Unless, of course, there’s a tide pool where their larvae is growing, unseen to the naked eye, and you wash your sand filled wetsuit in said tide pool, thus trapping bunch of blood thirsty almost invisible creatures tightly to your body.
Yes. This is what happened to me and my siblings. A harsh lesson learned. I remember squirming in my desk, wanting to itch myself so bad, but also not wanting to tell people I had a rash from sea lice. I couldn’t pay attention in class, I was so itchy. I got a 73 on my first history test in 6th grade and cried because I thought that meant I wouldn’t get into a good college and would never have a good job. Oh boy, did I worry about the dumbest shit.
Why in the world do people go to comedy clubs and not understand that we are joking. Why would you take my twitter jokes seriously. Why don’t you understand that the whole fucking world is a joke to me.
A “k-hole” is a slang term for when you’re really high on ketamine and have a total out of body experience. The general public’s knowledge about ketamine is sorely off. It is a legal anesthetic that is actually so safe, it is used on children during surgery. It is also used for treatment of depression.
But like many drugs, there is a recreational scene. In a k-hole, you might be yourself but in another dimension, you might be someone else entirely, you might not even be a person anymore. It’s borderline religious experience that gives you some certainty that there is an “other” and we are all connected to it somehow.
It’s my name, the one I’ve been given at birth, the name I identify with, answer to and have heard a million times. But sometimes someone special says it and it feels completely new.
I’m freaking out about money. Half of my fiscal dependence gone over night due to COVID-19 lockdown. I hate complaining, because I know a lot of people have it a lot worse. I hate complaining because when you’re an artist, you always know you don’t have safety. And when you’re money is gone, suddenly, your loved ones become your safety because they’re not going to let you starve. But they didn’t sign up for that. It doesn’t feel fair to lean on them when they are working hard for what they have too. I hate myself for it.
N.o, Nay, Never
My best friend, Jimmy, and I were both drunk and underage at the Montauk St. Patrick’s day parade. We had strayed from our group of friends to get pizza (classic move). After, we were supposed to head to the train, but our inebriated dumb asses walked in the wrong direction.
And so, we were stumbling down the road wondering just where we had wandered to.
A fire truck was coming down the road. It was about to pass us and then it stopped. One of the fireman stuck his head out the window, “hey, where you kids going?”
“Um… the train station?”
“You know you’re going the wrong way.”
“Um… which way?”
“Get in, we’ll take you there!”
We then boarded the fire truck which was filled with several other fireman who burst into song, “The Wild Rover” (No, nay, never; no, nay never no more!). We joined in the jubilee and sang with them until we were dropped off at the train station by our personal chauffeur, a big red fire truck.
O.n The Hazy Beach
My heart sank when we first got to the beach, sometime between ten and eleven on a humid August night in 2019. Every year in the middle of August, you can see the perseids meteor shower, one of the best meteor showers for viewing. My two best friends, Jimmy and Katrina, and I walked up Gilgo beach with blankets. My brother and his friend were soon to arrive.
It was hazy, and the moon was glaring. I wasn’t sure we’d see any meteors. Still, we parked our butts in the sand and looked to the heavens. Katrina saw the first one. And then, there was one with a giant blue tail that we all saw. Every ten minutes or so we’d see another one. We’d yell “whoa” and point at every one like it was the first time we saw a meteor, or the first time we saw anything at all.
That’s the street I grew up on. “Pease Lane.” Whenever you told someone, they’d make a face, “really? Pees lane?” “Yes, but with an “a.” I don’t know that whoever named that street really thought it through.
Pease lane was about a mile long. From Union Blvd (which paralleled the rail road tracks) to Montauk Highway, which parallels the shore near the Great South Bay. If you lived “south of Montauk” that generally meant you were rich. We did not live south of Montauk. We lived North of Montauk, near the rail road tracks. When my Uncle would visit, or when I had sleep overs, people would comment on how you could hear the train. I never noticed it. I lived there since birth. So I was used to it.
But such as it goes, I’ve so many fond memories of playing manhunt, kick the can, bike riding up and down Pease Lane, that I think, to this day, the sound of a train passing offers me a pang of comfort.
That isolated, trapped feeling? Yeah. Welcome to my life.
One of the cons of having a big backyard growing up was raking leaves. My Dad, being anal retentive as hell, would obsess over the leaves getting raked as they fell (he was worse when it came to shoveling show).
I resented that in cartoons they made jumping in piles of leaves look fun. In my experience, jumping into a pile of leaves wasn’t fun at all. The leaves were damp, and often there were bugs on them, and then you had to fix your pile. It also meant winter was coming and I hated winter. In fact, I don’t have a single good memory raking leaves. Dad would turn into militant mode and yell at us the whole time, though I’m sure we were a pain in the ass too. Raking leaves sucked.
We were raking leaves when I accidentally spoiled the myth of Santa for my brother. My sister had spoiled it for me, but she did so purposefully (if not somewhat insidiously, mocking me for believing in such fairy tales).
Mitch was being a little prick and crawling into the garbage bags for the leaves (which also… probably kind of dangerous?). I was poking him with the rake telling him to cut it out. I just wanted to finish raking the stupid leaves and go inside to watch cartoons. When he wouldn’t oblige, I said something to the effect of, “I know what mom and dad got you for Christmas and you won’t get it if you’re bad.” It was like a light bulb clicked in his head. “Mom and Dad are Santa?” I tried backpedaling, “that’s not what I said. Mom and Dad have gifts for you and so does Santa.” Cut to his tears and running away from me that I spoiled Christmas. I felt awful.
It’s well known that my nature documentary watching borders mental illness. I spend hours watching and re-watching them like an autistic child.
Once, I was at a gym and they were playing a nature documentary on the tv screens. I had already seen it but I was happy to watch it again while I was on the elliptical. It was a part about seals.
Two seals were going at it, fighting over who was going to mate with the female. A real hot piece of ass (haha) in seal terms. When I say going at it, I mean literally biting each other’s faces off. It was bloody and horrific, as nature so often is.
Because it was being broadcasted at the gym, the closed captions were on. One of the best parts of closed captions is the descriptions of sound effects or anything that isn’t just words. So, when the alpha male wins the fight he hobbles over to his new mate, and she’s all like, “mmmhhmm don’t think this means I love you, I just want to fuck the strongest male for his genetics.” [That part isn’t actually stated, sometimes I like to make up dialogue for the animals. You guys should really watch nature documentaries with me. You will either think it’s hilarious or you’ll hate my guts.]
Anyways, the losing male’s face is bleeding and he looks like a goddamn wreck as he hobbles away, defeated. The closed caption says “[whimpering].” They cut back to the dominant male and female who are going to get it on. This might also explain why humans find violence sexy. And don’t argue that we don’t. The evidence is all around us. The camera cuts back to the losing seal and the closed caption says, “[still whimpering.]”
I laughed so hard I almost fell off the elliptical. Give the poor seal a break! His eye is near gauged out. Christ.
Sometimes having a certain amount of talent, but not quite just enough, is a real curse. One of the people who was a brief passing player in my life but of great importance was my guidance counselor at Suffolk Community College (he was also my psychology professor) and I’ll admit to have had somewhat of a school girl crush on him.
He taught and preached of ‘self actualization.’ Definition: “the realization or fulfillment of one’s talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone.”
In order to achieve self actualization, you need the building blocks of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to achieve the next step. The bottom two have always been a given for me. The middle one is there, though I lose sight of it. I struggle most with esteem.
Once, Professor Tom told me, “I don’t doubt that you are capable of anything you put your mind and heart into, Lori. Even if it’s very difficult. Which I imagine it will be. Because that’s what you’re drawn to.”
You probably never will.
The second planet from the sun shines bright in the night sky, looking like a star to most who walk on the third planet. Named after the goddess of love and beauty.
It’s no wonder why women are the gods of love and men the gods of war.
When I worked in the nursing home, as men start to lose it, they regress to animal like stages. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are mean (though sometimes, very much so) but they are known to try to grab at women, inappropriately so.
Women can be just as nasty as men as their minds start to go. Trust me on that. But their maternal instincts kick in as well. It’s not uncommon to see a nursing home resident (female) carrying a baby doll around, caring for it. One time, I tried to move a resident’s baby doll for dinner and she practically hissed at me, being overprotecting of the doll. It was a sad moment for her sanity, but also to some effect, rather sweet.
My best friend and I were supposed to go to the Philippines at the end of April. She has family there, so we had made plans to visit them and then go explore the stunning islands. Back in February, when COVID-19 starting spreading, I said we shouldn’t go, even if we were able (turns out, we wouldn’t even be able).
Topping my bucket list is swimming with whale sharks. The Philippines is one of the best places to do so. These gentle giants can be as large as 30 feet. I’ve been so fortunate in my life to have had numerous ocean animal encounters. I must do this before I leave this world.
Marks the spot.
“YOLO!,” is how I answered to phone to my best friend who is sick and quarantined at the moment. It made her belly laugh. It’s a great sound. Her laughter.
Sometimes when bantering with comedian friends, whoever reaches the punchline first might tag it with, “zing!” as an extra way to throw it in your face that they were quicker than you.
There are times I rue the day I decided to become a comedian. Other days, where I see no other way.
For Christmas, my nephew gave me a “#1 Aunt” pen (technically, I’m his only Aunt). It’s a cheap pen that writes for shit. I love a good pen. Certain gel pens write better than others. They just… flow.
Most of the time, I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m making it up as I go along. Just as I might when writing a treatment for a screenplay. Often, it is terribly frustrating and I have so much self doubt.
Why did I want to do this? Why did I choose this?
And then, sometimes, I just start writing and I remember I like this. This is something I enjoy and it makes me happy. When I was a kid, I loved writing stories. I didn’t think of making money or if people would like it, I was just a child with a cool pen that gave my imagination the means to fly.