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Archive for January, 2008

Janet’s Seven Signs of the Apocalypse

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

This will be appearing in my next collection of columns. It was printed recently by both CoastViews and Funny Times. Enjoy!

We have a neighbor who’s convinced that God is coming back (Which begs the question, where has He been?). That God is coming to punish the evil (which she believes is most of us). She believes the end of the world is in sight. While she is a devoted Catholic and goes to church everyday, the main reason she believes the world is coming to an end is because she watches daytime TV. If this was where I got all my information about the world around me, I’d be convinced, too. An afternoon spent watching “The View” and Judge Judy should convince anyone. However, I don’t watch daytime TV. I’ve had more ominous indicators of The End. The following are my own personal Seven Signs of the Apocalypse.

First Sign: A friend of mine who has been a lesbian for the past thirty years is getting married to a man. When I found this out, my mouth dropped open and stayed there. For real. Frank had to manually shut it for me. This woman loved women. Yet, recently, she met a “big dude named Dave” and suddenly, he became Mrs. Right. He calls her his “Has-Bian”. I call the whole thing SCARY.

Second Sign: The Education Center of St. Louis, Missouri is using one of my columns in a Bible lesson plan workbook. The Education Center combines Jungian psychology with religion and provides materials for pastors across the nation to help them prepare their sermons. They cull out newspaper and magazine articles and pair them up with bible passages to update old bible lessons. And they chose my piece Consumerism is the New Religion as one of their “bible lessons.” How these people managed to interpret one of my articles as fitting in with actual religion or Jungian psychology is beyond me. I can hear the pastor’s sermon now. “And now, we go to Mark 10:22 ‘And the young man went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.’ Writer Janet Periat has made the same point in this essay…” Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

However, this has inspired me to create a new religion. The Cult of Janet. All my followers will be expected to donate large sums of money so that I can afford my stupidly over-priced California rancher. My Holy Eucharist will consist of slamming some beers followed by chowing down on a can of Pringles. I mean, hey, what’s the difference between wine and beer? A couple percentage points of alcohol. What’s the difference between Pringles and those little strange Styrofoam-like wafers they feed you in church? Pringles taste better but are still chopped, pressed and formed wafers that bear little resemblance to actual food. I won’t have a church because they make me claustrophobic and my sermons… well, you’re reading one. And that’s it. That’s my religion. You send me money and drink some beer and eat some Pringles. Done. You are guaranteed a one-way ticket to Heaven. Money back, guaranteed! If you die and find you didn’t end up in Heaven, just send me a letter and I’ll gladly refund your money…

Third Sign: I just got a job offer of $ 85,000 for writing. This is an astounding amount of money for a normal writer. Journalists are hard-pressed to come up with that kind of cash. If you write literary fiction, you make about 10K for a book. First time romance novels pay between 3K and 10K and this is for a whole year of work. Only the big names in fiction and non-fiction make 85K and above. So what kind of writing pays this extraordinary amount of money? You guessed it. It’s for a porn website. I would be writing copy to entice horny men to contact surgically enhanced women. I would be writing as if I were the surgically enhanced woman. “Hi, my name is Angel and I love puppies, daffodils and fat, middle-aged bald guys with plenty of room on their credit cards. My breasts are so large, I can’t reach the keyboard, but I can reach the credit card machine. I’d love to meet a hormone-addled, empty-headed guy on Viagra with Barbie fantasies who actually thinks someone attractive would love them for their limited personalities, not their big-ass saving accounts. Please contact me now, I’m hot and (my bank account is) lonely and I’m waiting for you.” I would like to say that I was not tempted in any way by this offer. But my God, 85K??? For writing stupid crap??? Why? Why does any kind of respectable writing pay zilch and this porn stuff pay so goddamn much? I can’t believe I just asked that question.

Fourth Sign: Frito-Lay is working hard to make their junk food healthy. As in as healthy as a cup of carrots. This is their goal. To pack their chips with fiber and nutrients. I can’t imagine a more frightening scenario. Junk food is called junk food because it’s made of junk and trashes your body and makes you fat and has no nutritional value whatsoever. It’s actually anti-food; the complete opposite of what food is supposed to be. Which is the entire reason we eat it. If they take the junk out of junk food, then the stuff will just be food. Which we have plenty of already and ignore it so we can get to the junk. Think, if Frito-Lay has its way, there will be no more junk food. No. More. Junk. Food. Just the thought of that makes my palms sweat. This is so far my scariest sign of the end of the world.

Fifth Sign: My parents are moving to San Mateo. I live in San Mateo. Need I say more?

Sixth Sign: Thomas Kinkade: The Movie will be released this Christmas. As in Thomas Kinkade, “The Painter of Light”. Painter of Blight, more like. So those saccharine freakin’ trite nasty stupid little houses that adorn everything from manufactured canvasses to toilet brushes will star in their own feature-length film. For real. The movie is called The Christmas Cottage and stars Peter O’Toole and Richard Moll (Bull from Night Court). It’s the end of Art and Film as we know it.

Seventh Sign: I turn fifty in two years. This may not seem like the end of the world to you, but I’m pretty freaked out about it.

So take cover, fellow Apocalypse believers. I will be in my bunker with fifty cases of Heineken and fifty cases of Pringles. It may be the end of the world, but it’s no reason to stop the party.

©2007, Janet Periat

What Would Janet Do? 2/08

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Here is my advice column for the month of February. If you want to ask me a question, just go to my WWJD webpage. There’s a form there so you can submit a question to me.

Dear Janet:

I am a widow with five grown children and they never come and see me. When I talk to them on the phone, I ask them to come see me, but they say they are busy. When I do see them, they stay about an hour but can’t wait to get away it seems. I tell them I need them, that I worked hard my whole life for them, I cooked and cleaned for them, I took care of their father until he died (God rest his soul) and now I’m all alone and that is wrong. I offered my daughter five thousand dollars a month to come live with me and she said she had a job with the FBI and that it was important. I said the FBI is more important than your mother? She hung up on me. What is wrong with children taking care of their mother? I think they owe me at least that! Now all I have is the church and my dog. How do I get them to come see me and take care of me?

Abandoned Mother

Dear Abandoned Mother:

Your children didn’t abandon you. You pushed them out of your life. Your kids don’t care about you because you don’t care about them. You treat them like they are possessions, instead of people. I didn’t read anywhere in your letter where you were interested in your kids’ lives, their goals, their dreams. You aren’t proud your daughter works for the FBI, you wanted her to quit so she could come listen to you bitch about the other four kids. Nowhere in the letter did you talk about anything good about your kids. You only wrote about yourself.

Not only are you unrealistic about what your children owe you, you have invested no time putting yourself in their shoes. You have no idea how difficult it is to make it in the world these days. The pressure on working adults is insane. Houses in our area cost 800 grand for a fixer-upper, a million for decent lodgings. Your children are working sixty to seventy hours a week, have children to feed, baseball games to attend, dishes to do, bills to pay, repairs on the house, oil changes on the cars, people today have no spare time. And in your kids’ precious spare moments, they finally carve out some time for you and what do you do? You tell them they aren’t measuring up. They aren’t making you happy. All you do is complain. I don’t blame them for avoiding you, I would, too. Life is too short to spend in the company of people who treat you like crap. If I were you, I’d pray to God to give you compassion for your children. If you start respecting them, maybe they’ll come around more often.

Dear Janet:

My neighbor is driving me crazy. I’ve done some favors for her from time to time, but now she treats me like her personal slave. Every week she has some chore she wants me to do. She is in her eighties and can’t get around well, has plenty of money to hire someone to do her repairs, but all she does is complain when she has to hire someone. When I can’t do something or refuse or am busy, she clucks and pouts and then works on my wife, who then works on me. I worked hard my whole life to afford my retirement and I didn’t envision spending all my time helping some burdensome neighbor. How do I get her to leave me alone without causing a huge fuss?

Tired and Retired
Half Moon Bay

Dear Tired and Retired:

First of all, I commend you on your kindness. There aren’t enough people in the world like you. Secondly, I am firing you from your job of personal slave. You are free. You are no longer obligated to take care of anyone but you and your wife. And you are only allowed to help your wife directly, not her friends. Refuse to do anything for the neighbor again. Nothing. Ever. She doesn’t appreciate you. She expects someone to take care of her. Kind of like the woman in the previous letter. You aren’t helping her by helping her. All you’re doing is making yourself miserable and reinforcing the neighbor’s belief that she deserves people taking care of her for free. This woman doesn’t care about you. Once you stop, she’ll bitch for about a half a day and then move on to using someone else. Users are users. They don’t care who they use, they just want to use someone. And right now, that someone is you. You are retired. So retire. Stay strong. Fight for your time. And don’t feel guilty. You don’t owe that woman anything.

Dear Janet:

I know etiquette is not your forte, but I thought I’d ask you this question, anyway. When one is at a dinner party and the hostess starts playing footsie with you, what is the polite way to let her know that you’re not interested? I moved my foot away and she placed her hand on my knee. I moved my knee and she got angry and made some rather disparaging remarks, not directly at me, but it was clear to my wife and I that the comments were directed my way. By the way, the hostess was the spouse of my wife’s boss.
How could I have handled the situation differently?

Monogamous Male
Letter by email

You handled it perfectly. That was a no-win situation. At first, I was going to tell you to dump these “friends” but then you revealed that the Hostess Masher was Mrs. Boss. Sticky, sticky, sticky. But you handled it admirably. But I do think it’s time your wife found a new job.

Of Antique Lasagnas and Turkey Bombs

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Since this is my most requested humor column, I have decided to start my blog with it. I wrote this several years ago and since I’m middle-aged, I really have no idea when I wrote the damn thing. But I’ve heard it’s funny. So check it out. If you like it, you can read it along with many more like it in my book: Confessions of a Pink-Haired Lunatic.

Of Antique Lasagnas and Turkey Bombs

As you age, your memory becomes elastic. It stretches and distorts, making things that happened years before seem like they happened yesterday. And yesterday, well, you usually can’t remember that at all. Or if you do, it seems like it happened years ago. It all kind of blends into a confusing mixture we define as “our past”. This is why old people have twenty-year-old food in their cupboards. It seems like just yesterday they purchased that Chef Boyardee Pizza Mix. Except for the fact that Chef Boyardee discontinued making pizza mixes in the late seventies. I realized the other day that the same kind of phenomenon was happening to me. I took a bottle of steak sauce out of the fridge and went to use it when I happened to check the date on the side of the bottle. Expires 01/92. 1992? I remembered buying that particular bottle of specialty steak sauce and it couldn’t have been nine years before. But there was the proof. Scary. Then just a week after that, my brother, Dan, approached me with an equally frightening tale about my grandparents and aunt. It seems as if the Periat family, in particular, has a genetic predisposition for archiving food.

My grandparents had two freezers they kept stocked out in their garage in San Mateo. My grandfather died in 1979, my grandmother in 1994. It was at that time that my aunt inherited the two freezers. Just recently, my aunt decided to get rid of them. While Dan was visiting one day, she had him unplug the two antiques with the intention of having her housekeeper clean them out.

Fast forward three months. Dan gets a call from my aunt. “Could you come over here soon? The garage is starting to smell from all the rotten food in those freezers.”

Dan asked the next logical set of questions. “What happened to your helper? Why didn’t she clean them out?” “Oh, the doors were stuck, she couldn’t get them open.”
Upon receiving the unpleasant and annoying news, Dan wisely avoided asking the next obvious question: “Why did you wait three months to call me?” No, instead, my valiant brother agreed to drive over and help her out. The only poor planning on his part was drinking two bottles of red wine with me the night before.

As we drank the wine in preparation for his unpleasant endeavor of the next day, Dan revealed his plan of attack. He was going to plug in the freezers, wait for the contents to freeze and then dispose of them. I congratulated him on his brilliance.
However, even the best laid plans can go awry.

The next day I saw him and asked him how things went. Well, despite the fact that he was hungover at the time, he said at first sniff around the outside of the freezers, the stench didn’t seem that bad. Fairly awful, but not horrible enough to cause immediate vomiting. So he decided to clean them out without freezing the contents first.
How brave he was, I told him.

He took twelve garbage bags and made four triple-thick bags out of them. Then he dared to open the freezers. And, oh, what he found there.

The first things he saw were ten boneless Butterball turkey rolls. The kind of turkey rolls that are encased in plastic with metal staples at each end that close off the packaging. Each turkey was so inflated from the gases of decomposition, my brother said “…each one was about at 50 PSI. Tight, really tight, like an overfilled water balloon.” He quickly and carefully loaded them into the garbage bags and moved on to the other contents. Berries in Ziploc bags. Vegetables that had been parboiled then frozen.

As Dan unloaded the decomposing time capsules, he tried to ascertain when the food had initially been stored in the freezers. Soon, he had an answer. At the bottom of one of the freezers he discovered the piéce de résistance, the signature piece of frozen artwork, the Woolly Mammoth in Glacial Ice of my grandparents’ freezer. He found a lasagna marked August 1978. A lasagna made while Jimmy Carter was in the White House. A lasagna assembled before home computers, before satellite TV, before Britney Spears was born. A lasagna created at a time when first class stamps cost fifteen cents, disco music was all the rage, everyone watched M*A*S*H* on television and the first arcade video game was created, Space Invaders. The lasagna was old enough to vote, to drink and own property. It outlived both its maker and its intended recipient. Until it finally met its end, just this year, at twenty-three years old. I feel like we should have had a funeral for it.

Instead of burying it in the family plot, Dan dutifully bagged up the lasagna plus the rest of the contents of the freezers. Then he loaded up the bags into his truck. The only problem was that San Mateo was having a heat wave that day. So by the time he headed back over the hill to take his putrid load to the dumps, he started hearing noises coming from the back of his truck. First he heard a loud hissing. Then hissss-BANG! When he looked back, the entire bed of his truck was covered in red berry juice. Fearing for his life, my brother pulled up to the nearest dumpster and off loaded the volatile cargo. And just in the nick of time. As he jumped back into his truck, he heard one of the turkeys explode. At least he thinks it was one of the turkeys. It was either that or Ted Kaczynski had just escaped from jail.

Relieved he had avoided certain death, Dan headed back home. As he drove along, he finally relaxed, confident that he was done with all unpleasantness for the day. He stuck out his hand to feel the warmth of the spring air, to embrace the beauty of the day. Then, SPLAT! One of the biggest and juiciest bugs alive exploded full force into the palm of his hand. The unsung hero’s reward for all his courageous efforts.

We are planning an awards ceremony for my brother. We’re buying him a trophy that says: To Dan Periat: For Bravery and Heroism In The Face Of Exploding Turkeys, Bug Attacks and Ancient Lasagnas. My brother, a family hero.

©2008 Janet Periat

Welcome To My Blog!

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Hey there!

You have reached my blog. How exciting for you! Since this is my first post, I will make it short. You have arrived. And now, following this little bit of nonsense, I will post an actual humor column. Wow! Already? You bet! Since I have virtually no audience for this yet, I will certainly enjoy reading my own work…

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