February 19, 2007

If You Say Klatu Barata Nicto, I Will Ninja Kick You in The Nads.

I am standing in the street, the side street next to my mother’s house. This is actually a popular setting for many of my dreams, most notably the one where I strap a thing that looks like an iron onto my belt and I can jump really high, breeze whipping my face and jeans, and floating effortlessy back down to the pavement. This is not that dream, because in those dreams I am usually not engaged in hand-to-hand combat with two skinny, clean-cut teenage guys. It’s not a typical fight, either—because, as you might not have surmised from our mid-90’s attire and suburban backdrop, we all have ninja skills. And by that I mean, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle skills: heavy on the backflips and spin kicks, but no stabbings, gouging or actual death. I remember how fun it was being able to backflip twenty feet in the air and—as I land on the hood of a car and plant a surprise kick in the shorter assailant’s face—thinking that whoever these two guys are, they are not a serious threat. I soundly kick their asses.

As I stand over the unconscious mound of flannel and denim, two of my friends show up and congratulate me on my rather easily-won victory. The boys got in a few hits, though, so my leg is a little (bloodlessly) busted. My girlfriends help me home—which is, like, a block—and one of them offers what a shame it was that I had to drench the boys in foamy whoop-ass like that, because one of them was really cute. Yes, not only are my friends and I all teenagers, but they are part of my Ninjateens team, and I get the feeling I’m the leader. Awesome, and yet with great potential to be lame, like mixing She-Ra with the Ghost Writer team. I stop to yell at her for her foolish “liking him, liking him” of the enemy, but I notice there’s something going down at my house.

We limp over to the backyard and peer around the side of the house, where there seems to be a barbecue going on that I knew nothing about. I’m prepared to roll with it, though, since it’s a nice sunny day and I’m a badass ninja—until I see that one of my ex-boyfriends is there. He’s gotten fat and has really thick Clark-Kent frames, which is weird because he never even wore glasses. I approach him and ask him why the flaming hell he’s on my property, as you do. We get into some bicker-bantering (which I win, because in addition to being Chun-Li come to life, I also have the wit and timing of a Moliere folio) when the front door opens and a bunch of my relatives spill out. A few of the more tolerant ones stop to hug my ex and tell them how nice it is to see him. I roll my eyes and pretend to hork into a bush. My friends think I’m awesome.

Then my Uncle Louis walks up to me and gives me a hug. I say it’s nice to see him, and as he pulls away I feel him put something in my hand. I look down; I have a handful of silver change. I laugh, because my grandmother always used to do this when we visited her as kids—we all got even amounts of nickels and dimes, quarters if we were old enough. Everyone else has gone home, but Uncle Louis is staying—Mom has apparently put him up in the basement; where, I swear, the ugliest dog humanity has ever seen is lying on a pillow. It’s a lapdog, like a shih-tzu, but it has a squashy human face—like one of those rubber old-man hand puppets that looks angry when you smash your fingertips together.

Uncle Louis asks if anyone will pet the dog. My mom and sisters back off, because humanfaceonadog, but I feel bad for her so I go over to pet her—and it is a ‘her,’ since her fur is in pigatails. After she sniffs me, I pet her; she has soft thin hair like an old woman. I am really hoping she doesn’t bite me. I coo and make ‘nice dog’ generalizations at her… then the dog looks up into my eyes and says “Tay ee, tay arte.” I straighten up, look around the room to see if anyone else heard it. “What?” I address the dog. She repeats, very solemnly “Tay ee, tay arte.” I don't know what it means, but I can feel how important it is. I ask her, clearly at a loss, “…really?”

The dog nods. Freaking nods.

I stand there a minute. I breathe, say “Okay,” to the dog, and immediately head upstairs to write this shit down. My little sister follows me into the loft, where I am scribbling the strange message on a piece of paper, complete with drawings, anagrams, numbers—anything that will help me figure this message out. Suddenly, two members of the rival gang, a boy and a girl, show up behind me. They’re pissed about my trouncing of their friends and, judging by their leather fingerless gloves and Nintendo-esque fist-punching-into-hand gestures, they want to fight. I say fine, but hang on—I need to figure this out first. I don’t even look up, just tell them that it’s important. They look confused. I keep working; I know my sister has my back if they try anything.

The boy leans over and asks, ”What is it, just a rebus puzzle?”
I sigh, and turn my head toward him. “If it were, it wouldn’t be important.”

The girl hilariously looks at him all, ‘she’s got you there, dude.’ So they back off, watching me, everything is still and quiet, and it’s just me and the words given to me by the world’s ugliest man-dog and I have to find out what they mean.

So… anybody?

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