part 7 : homicidal ketchup, and that’s a wrap.

We got back on the road around 8 am, and low and behold, we arrived safely at out little pink house in Florida at 10:30am, Friday morning, flat broke and ravenously hungry.

Thank God we had gone grocery shopping and had food to make!

But no, that would be too easy.  As luck would have it, the power must have gone out, and anything in the fridge or freezer was furry.  I just cried and walked back out to the truck.

We began the arduous task of unpacking all of our valuable pvc and wicker furniture and other miscellaneous crap in attempts to find stuff to actually cook with.

The house we rented was mostly furnished, albeit “Florida Style.”

The look was completed by a King Size water bed in the master bedroom.  We rolled around on it and laughed, then got seasick and nauseous and quickly realized that we would choke on our own vomit in our sleep if we did not put more water in it in hopes of rectifying the sensation of being lost at sea.

Paul ran the garden hose inside and attached it to the bed, turned it on, and began to let it fill.

Meanwhile, we started unpacking boxes and finding homes for everything.  We had a little bit of shake left so we decided to indulge.  We turned up the music and got to work.

I was happily putting all of my art books on shelves and setting up my studio.  It was an awesome little room with sliding glass doors and nice natural light with built-in bookcases and enough space to fit my drawing table and easel.

Paul was busy unpacking his immense music collection and stacking stereo equipment in the living room.  He pulled out his guitar and began making up songs about our trip.  We were cracking up; it was ridiculous, both taking turns chiming in with another verse, tears of laughter rolling from our eyes.

When we quieted down for a minute, we heard a strange sound coming from the bedroom.  Hmmm, that was weird, it sounded like a tub overflowing or something?

We looked at each other and scratched our idiotic heads.  Then, in a moment of clarity, we both shot up and ran towards the bedroom.  Our feet squished in the carpet on the way, and when we turned into the bedroom, all we saw was water shooting from the water bed like Old Faithful.

Whoopsies.  Buzz kill number 87.

We get the hose turned off and capped off the water-bed.  We stood in the middle of the room on the saturated carpet, dumbstruck.  This was bad.

With no other option, we found our boxes of towels and sheets and basically anything that would absorb water and started sucking it up, and then ringing it out the front door.  We did this for hours.  We would throw stuff in the dryer and just kept a moving rotation until we had soaked up the majority of the water.

Normal people with actual money probably would’ve rented a wet-vac.

Well, no worries of getting sea-sick on that bed anymore.  If one person were to lay down, and the other got on, the person laying down was catapulted off the bed across the room, like one of the obstacles on Wipeout.

We still hadn’t eaten, and again, we were majorly stressed out.

Paul scavenged through our kitchen to find something to make for us.  Fortunately we had a big bag of egg noodles, plenty of tuna fish, and cream of mushroom soup.  That was about all we had, and again, we were flat broke.

Paul decided that he would make a gigantic tuna casserole and we would just eat that around the clock until I got my monthly stipend in a few days.  It certainly wasn’t ideal, but it would have to do.

Paul went to work on the dinner/lunch/breakfast tuna casserole and I continued to unpack.  I just about had my little studio all put together, my sanctuary.

I finished up 400 loads of wet water-bed laundry and got the trampoline made.

I was starving and just wanted this day to be over.  This whole fiasco had taken its toll and our nerves were shot.  Fortunately we had a big bottle of Sutter Home White Zinfandel, so we partook in a few glasses of that classyness and enjoyed a tiny bit of shake.  It was critical to ration this, because it would be days until I could afford more.  Tracy without herb was a big no-no.

The tuna casserole came out of the oven; I was so hungry at this point I would have eaten marginally furry food from the fridge.  We cut the casserole into squares so we knew how much we could eat in order to make it last 3 days.

We scooped our rations into bowls, sat down and dug in.

My mouth vengefully rejected the first bite moments after it went in.  Paul’s did the same.


Paul had decided that he needed to grease and flour the pan first, but instead of using flour, he had used powdered sugar.  It was the most obtrusive and disgusting combination of flavors I have ever tasted.  Tuna, and powdered sugar, and cream of mushroom soup.

Did I mention that we were broke for another 3 days?  Did I mention that I had already had about 6 nervous breakdowns over the past week?  Did I mention that we were at our breaking points?

All hell broke loose.  We now had to either starve or eat sweet tuna for 3 days and I was pissed.  The accusations started flying, this was a full-fledged back and forth battle to the death right here, and the shit was about to hit the fan.

I can do a lot of damage with my mouth, and apparently I did, because Paul grabbed a bottle of ketchup from the fridge and threw it at me full force.  I ducked, and the bottle hit the wall, exploded, and it looked like Charles Manson had a play date in the breakfast nook.

With that, I stormed off into my studio and grabbed an exacto knife.  I picked up his guitar and said, “oh yeah?” and proceeded to slice through all of the strings.

This went over beautifully.

He then took the exacto from me, went into my studio, and started slashing through my art books.

Hooray!  What a great time we were having!

These were my schoolbooks that I had recently purchased; some of them close to $200 a pop.  I went back into the living room and began throwing all of his shit around.

Then the really bad thing happened.

As if in slow motion, Paul picked up the dish that contained the remainder of my shake.  He held it to his mouth, took a big breath, and with the force that would be required to blow out candles on his 80th birthday cake, blew my shake off the dish, and into the carpet.

In our anger and sheer exhaustion, we looked around.  There were sliced art book pages all over the still soggy ground.  His guitar strings dangled uselessly from the tuners.  The breakfast nook, curtains, windows and all were covered in homicidal ketchup.

As we looked around, we wondered if all of this was an omen.  Were we not meant to be here?  Was Paul not meant to be here?  Certainly all of this misfortune could not be a good indicator of things to come.

Paul lasted about 6 months in the sunshine state.  I couldn’t blame him.

But to this day, he is one of my best friends, and knows me better than most people on this planet.

We lived through this story, and share a bond because of it.  We laugh hysterically about it to this day.

I guess it’s true what they say, one day you do look back and laugh.

6 replies

  1. I am sitting at a bar in JFK reading this and laughing out loud, people around me must think I am drunk or crazy, oh wait…

  2. Besides the fact that you are both drunk and crazy, I’m delighted that I could actually make you LOL (because LOL usually means “I have nothing left to say”)

  3. HOLY. SHIT. I just started reading this series today (I missed it the first time around), and couldn’t stop. I’ve wasted quite a bit of time here at work…worth it. This is a top notch story, and made me cringe, cover my mouth in horror, laugh out loud, and generally wonder how I’ve never heard it before. Great stuff, Tracy!

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