The Wages of Sin is Meat

J. Higgs this is for you because it’s a better way to tell this story than talking words.

I don’t know if you remember bombogenesis, which is a meteorologist’s word for a perfect storm. It generally happens when a cold land air mass crashes into a warmer ocean air mass creating very low barometric pressure, storms and precipitation. Like that time the guy on the Weather Channel said that; “places like Hamden, which is in one of the troughs, will get clobbered with nearly three feet of snow.” Even if you don’t- it doesn’t matter now, because out there you’ll never have bombogenesis in Paradise Valley with all its Happy Warriors.

But this is about a carnivore’s bombogenesis, not the weather.

You know how Chris eats a lot, but only a few things? Like burgers. This year he and Liza bought a grill. A cheap one, but they take good care of it. And it was a dazzlingly clear late September night here in Centerville, so the boys and Liza decided to grill burgers and dogs outside. They were the usual boys;

Marc, who had a job, got a better one, switched again and got fired after 90 days, Eric, who is now hairier than me and Beans combined, because he stopped shaving. The man was smooth, now he’s an ape. He even shaved his fingers and toes. Jayson, Pat, Tom and this girl Brandi, who’s a fine girl, what a good wife she would be, but her boyfriend’s wife, lover and lady is the sea.

So they’re grilling. And then the next door “NO Skipping” people fire up their grill.  I call them the “NO Skipping” people because they used to live across the street from me at my old house and now they live next door to  me at my  new house. And one day they all were walking the kids home from  school and the kids start skipping. Then the Virago grandma screams at the two kids; “I TOLD YOU NO SKIPPING!” Pitiful. Skipping, peanut butter, Halloween and twerking. All forbidden for today’s youth.

So the smell of meat is hanging in the cool, fall Centerville air. Multiple grills cooking, plus Eli’s, Mickey’s and this place called “The Smoke Box”: which does a very righteous brisket, complete with that red smoke ring the outside gets; were all cooking hard that night.

Just before Chris lit his grill, the cars and party guests began to arrive at the Monopoly Hotel looking Frat Houses across the street. It’s gonna be a Grinder tonight!

This year the frat boys have been rowdier. They congregate and get loaded and then around 2 a.m. they start to sing or yell. Quinnipiac even sent out letters with the contact info for the Frat president or some stuff, but it’s just more fun to go over and watch the antics than complain. And being on the back of the house, we’re buffered from the noise. At least until this year, because the two houses down from us, (north of No Skipping) are all occupied by Quinners.

So when it’s like Homecoming; the Q Shuttle Bus, cabs, people on foot and car drivers all circle the block. From campus to frat house to Eli’s, back to Campus then Side Street Grill. It’s a churning mobile party scene.

Just before dusk they started cooking their own burgers at the Frat. Chris could tell because a huge fireball of smoke and flame rose over their back yard fence, stunning the pledges into silence for a brief second, before a chorus of cheers and “Awesome”s erupted. Apparently they used gasoline in in place of charcoal lighter. At this point Jayson couldn’t stay away. He went over, walked by and saw the two huge grills, which were just the halves of a metal barrel with some grating on them.

The whole neighborhood became a shrine to chop meat. Smelled like a steer in a volcano. And the people kept coming. Parking in the medical building parking lot next door, which is quasi-forbidden.

That morning I had gone to a Walk a Thon and I was sore. Not from walking, but sitting under a tent in the rain with a dude who had thirty years on me, a perpetually aggravated woman selling Pampered Chef Cookware (oh how 80’s), a Shetland Collie named Bandit and three babies. It was on the Branford Green, disorganized, and pouring rain-but fun anyways. I hurt myself playing Jack in the Box with the babies, popping out of a Subway box, So on the Night of Burning Meat I was taking a bong hit in the kitchen and Chris comes in grabs a beer and pulls 5 lbs. of Bubba-like patties out of the freezer. He doesn’t eat them or buy them, he makes his own ground beef patties, but someone had given these to him.

“I just made $14 selling burgers!” He says.

The frat had run out of their meat snacks and No Skipping next door was selling his burgers or bartering them for beer,  and people asked Chris if they could buy one and he helped them out. I was tempted to call J. Roos and have them deliver a couple of pizza’s for profit, but I went with Jayson to the party because one of the brothers told him to “check it out”.

He was a little scared, not familiar with college stuff, but he walked right in. I followed just as three girls were coming out- and they laughed at me. I went a little further in and another girl, more drunky, looked at me and started to vomit. Some shirtless guy was showing off his industrial nipple piercing which he said he had just done with a staple gun.

The beer was horrible.  And running out quick. I warned Jayson about the red liquor juice, not in a trash can like a real frat would do, but in a plastic clothing bin. (they must’ve been container people too!)

We left shortly after and the red liquor juice punch wasn’t all that bad. It was Roofie strong though, and we felt a little vulnerable walking home. The Bro in Charge who invited Jayson over said it was called Love Potion #9. He would have needed it too, because of his Steven Segal Inca Top haircut.

The story would end here, except for that damn dog. Jayson and me came and home played a few hands of cards with the boys, and then they left. The dog started to  whine so I took him out. First thing I saw was  a member of the No Skipping household; Tattoo Boy,  come staggering out of the frat party. Drunk. Big Drunk.

He headed home. swaying like a sailor on deck in a storm. The party was dying down and the dog wanted to go up the street away from the party. All the people in my house were now asleep and I was watching Bored as Fuck Empire on DVR. You know how I always have the windows open? Well I hear a fire alarm.  Screech… Screech…Screech, like an amplified cricket.

I walk outside and look up at my building and down the row of townhouses. Nothing. no smoke, no fire, no strobe lights. Then I hear the yelling. I turn towards the Frat houses.

The front door of one of the Frat House flies open. All the earlier activity had happened in the back yard, so this was unexpected. There’s fences out back to keep them away from regular people. The door bursts open and 5 or 6 frat dudes come out with a flaming Lay Z Boy. Not smoldering but combusted in a conflagration way. The chair hits the ground and the fire gets bigger as they watch,  momentarily stunned. Another dude and a girl come out with a 2 quart sauce pot with a handle and throw some liquid on the burning chair. The fire is like four feet high, like the beginning or the end of the bonfires in Vermont.

Now people are coming out to see the flaming chair. All have cups but only one medium sauce pan has been doused on the fire. No one is going to waste beer.

They’re screaming stuff like; “ Oh fuck the chair’s on fire!, it musta been a cigarette! and Holy Shit!

Then a guy yells:

“Hurry up, Piss on it”

And then like five guys unzip and were pissing on a Barco Lounger or some shit, right on Washington Avenue. And it worked.

Then they zipped up, high fived each other with piss hands, and the saucepan couple came back out with more water and drowned it pretty much out. They all went inside and on Monday the custodian dumped the chair on the curb and added eight more, as it was bulk pick up month. But only one was burned.


Two weeks later I’m in the kitchen and it was “closing time” at the frat. The front door bangs opens again and two guys and a girl fly out and hightail it across the street towards the medical building parking lot. (The front door brings no good.) The Brothers had been quiet that night until now. Four angry  fratters come out after the two guys and a girl yelling;

“Get the fuck out you faggot~You’re an asshole,~We’ll fuck you up you fucking thief, and “Y’all don’t never ever come back here no more again, ya hear!”; from the guy who drives a white Mercedes with Virginia plates.

At 3:23am I get waked up by screaming from the No Skipping house. Tattoo Boy is  doing the Streetcar Named Desire “STELLA” yell,  only it’s some white meth name like Kimberly or Denise he’s yelling.

I wish I could remember that name, it’s going to bother me like Michael Normandy did until I remembered his name. And I am STILL getting texts and calls for DANIELLE. Apparently she knows this guy named Alex who can get people “stuff”. But we can always smoke and drink at Amy’s-

No Skipping Tattoo Boy , is fucked up. Screaming. Then he starts to beat up plastic patio furniture. Glass breaks. He’s going nuts on his property. He kicks a trash can. The rest of the family flees in the minivan. He tries to run after them. Then he beats the shit out of the Now Leasing sign on our front lawn! Leaving it a twisted snakey mess.

I don’t see him or hear the kids for three weeks. Then one night at dusk I see the family in the medical building parking lot riding bikes. And his arm is in a cast, a splint cast from shoulder to elbow and then a 45 degree angle for the forearm. A painful awkward cast. Good I think. Hope it was my sign that did him in.

Around Columbus Day I’m with Nora and we’re coming down Washington Ave heading towards Ray & Mikes for lunch. I showed them the bald eagles that nest on State Street. As we make the turn I see No Skipping in his yard. And he’s got the whole family out in front. Nora, her kid, who’s like 20 and her nephew who’s like 32 are in the car. I ask a favor. They say sure. We roll down the windows and as we pass my old and new neighbors’ new house we scream;



We are just beginning to measure, quantify and  describe the impact of technology on our socialization patterns and collective traits and habits.  I think about when Edison lit up the world, the impact. Then air travel and television. TV changed the family, they say, but what about the printing press? Books have just the same ability to individualize and isolate?  Perhaps the phone and the world wide web are most impactful in my life.

The Weather Channel mentions Guam. Technology informs me of a typhoon heading that way. I’m worried about Guam Baby.

Late one night a baby from Guam left me a message on my answering machine. I knew they were a baby, about two or three from their voice, and from Guam by the area code. Now with mobiles you can call a number from anywhere and it will show the Guam area code, or New Jersey or whatever. I can call my friend in Haddam and be in Paris and it still shows Connecticut.

But I like to think that because of the Area Code and the fact that it was at least 11pm on the West Coast that the baby was probably on Guam. and it was the next day even so they were living in the future.

I couldn’t understand a word which I assumed to be Chamorro, but it could have been an Indian dialect or Finnish or Aleut. We assume if a person is in Colorado, they’re Coloradoan. Maybe their German and just visiting.  Once in Manhattan I stopped at a Duane Reade on 34th and Fifth avenue right next to the Empire State Building. I was going to Shea Stadium and had two friends with me dressed in full Mets regalia.  I come out and a whole bunch of Japanese tourists are photographing my friends as the perfect juxtaposition of New York elements. I didn’t have the heart to tell them my splendidly attired sports friends were from Connecticut. Baseball is huge in Japan, but who knows, they could have been Canadian.

The point is the Guam Baby call was a wrong number, but the baby made a lasting impression. I hope that now Guam Child was safe.

I get wrong texts all the time. But the best was when my neighbors gave me a used answering machine. Remember those? And everyone had cutesy messages.

Please leave a number, we’ll return you’re call. And; I’m not home right now so if you’re planning on robbing my house, this would be a good time.

Well used answering machine had the purest corniest version of phone sex I ever heard. Nothing dirty but while he was out, she left a message;

Hey you, my big strong man of mine. Big muscle man. Teddie booboo. They were stoopid in love.  I was nauseous.

The Bald Eagles are back.

On State Street near the Quinnipiac Marshes. The eagles are there. Maybe they never left. Two weeks ago I saw what I thought was a vulture sitting on a dead branch. It was a eagle. Yesterday, five, one mature, with the white head, the rest a deep brown bordering on black. They could migrate and be in the middle of a journey south or just hanging around for winter until the ice closes their fishing holes.

They are not the big attraction they once were because, we did a good job bringing them back from endangerment. I think I’ll follow seals this winter too.