Austria is not Mexico. That's the slogan Ron and I devised after our third day in Vienna. The whole slogan goes, "Hey, settle down, man. This isn't Mexico," which means: There are rules you aren't following and I am going to bitch you out for it because we are a stern people. This is not a loose country where you can run wild and naked in the streets. You will behave while staying in Austria! Half of Austria had bitched us out a hot minute after we'd stumbled from the cabin of our plane. "This is not where you wait in line for the bankomat!" a woman barked at me. I'd been in Vienna half the time it takes to boil an egg and already somebody had gone berserk on my ass.
"Vy are you stop pink here!?" a man in a striped sweater and argyle socks screamed, shaking and spitting, at Ron. "Zis is the bike path. You cannot stop your bike here!" And the perturbed gentleman rang his little bell to punctuate his smug statement with a bbring, bbring .
Polizei pulled us over for running a red light on bikes. A woman barked at us for sitting in the wrong spot and eating ice cream. I'm not making that up. "You cannot eat that here!" she hollered in my face, her bulbous nose and jawline flexed with every angry syllable. We were in a park. Apparently, the rule is no ice cream in Viennese parks. I had no idea.
Across that whole city I overstepped yellow lines, broke invisible barriers, and fled wailing from authorities because of a law that I wasn't aware of.
Part of me wanted to quit, pack it in, spend the rest of my European vacation in a hotel room watching German game shows and drinking mai tais from room service. The other half of my struggling psyche appreciated the input; I was not behaving properly and someone was letting me know instead of letting me run rampant like a fraternity teenager through the streets. (And, in Vienna, "run rampant" meant "touch the glass of a department-store window, leaving a smudge," thus necessitating a holy, righteous, ass-chewing.)
By my fifth day in Vienna, I was Viennese. I wore my scarf tight against my stiff collar and walked a rigid line. On our last night there, in the hotel lobby, a British man got bombed watching a rugby match and pawed a waitress. I grabbed him by the shoulder and hollered, "Hey, settle down, man! This isn't Mexico!"
Thursday, October 11
ABC 9:00 a.m.
Congratulations, Rachel. You've won the prestigious Biggest Eyebrow award. That thing on your forehead climbs around like an angry orangutan in a cluttered rumpus room. Your prize is a dead frog and a pinch on the butt.
ABC 8:00 p.m.
The far better show is Amish Zombie on Channel KZBXTVQ. He has no buttons or snaps, only a thirst for brains that cannot be slaked. The only thing capable of stopping him is being run over by a car. Not because he disagrees with the technology of it, but because you run just about anything over with a car and that'll get the job done.
Friday, October 12
CNN 7:00 p.m.
I have an investigation ripe for Anderson Cooper to crack wide open. Here's the thing: if we take cows' milk and put it in cartons and stick in fluorescent-shelved grocery stores, what do baby cows eat? It makes you think, doesn't it? No, it doesn't. Because you don't care about this nation's baby bovine crisis -- you're kind of a jerk.
Saturday, October 13
CBS 8:00 a.m.
Cake does not require ketchup. Trust me. I learned that one the hard way and so did the fine residents of that retirement home. You try to do something nice for somebody and it comes out all barbed wire and handcuffs. Police involvement and a stun gun shouldn't be the first thing a person goes for, but the elderly are twitchy.
USA 6:00 p.m.
Welcome to marriage. Now, all the world is your nightstand, but there's a fly in your water. It's the middle of the night, your throat is dry like the floor of an autobody shop, and you reach for it. You don't need to turn on the lamp. Open your mouth; pay no attention to the tiny flapping wings. Till death, buddy. Till DEATH!
Sunday, October 14
Life is Wild
CW 8:00 p.m.
This one time in Hungary, I got a little blitzed on Slovakian beer and stumbled out onto the moonlit cobblestone. On a bridge, I passed a man; he sat on the thick, rough concrete ledge and looked into the flowing Danube River, the color of strong tea. I knew he would jump if I didn't do something, so I pulled him by his shoulders and pinned him to a street lamp and shouted at him. He didn't speak English and my Hungarian stops at "Thank you," which sounds like " kosonome ." An hour of holding him there and he said it -- " kosonome " -- and we separated and walked away from each other.
Monday, October 15
FSN 8:00 p.m.
Once I get funding, my chihuahua rodeo will be bigger than McDonald's. Think about it. Everyone loves tiny dogs and the rodeo. What could be better than to combine the two? Now, I only need to find something that will ride a Chihuahua. Perhaps a lemur or a wind-up robot. Go, Pepe! Buck, Pepe! Buck!
Tuesday, October 16
The Salt-n-Pepa Show
VH1 8:00 p.m.
Holy fancy Christmas. I mean, I've hoped, but I never thought it would really happen. Every night I don my long black wig, grip my black microphone, and belt out about eight different renditions of "What a Man." Sometimes I slow it down. Other times I'm feeling spunky and I really swing my hips and shake my stuffed bra. I never expected this, though. I don't know if "thank you" is enough, VH1.
Wednesday, October 17
I Want to Look Like a High School Cheerleader Again
CMT 5:30 p.m.
Oh, honey, you really can't live your life like this. Sure, it would've been nice to marry Biff Banhoff, captain of the football team, but that's over now. Your streaky dye job and those pleated jeans aren't winning any contests, but the kid who sold you printer cartridges yesterday looked down your blouse. It's the little victories we grasp to get us by now, sweetheart. The little victories.
Thursday, October 18
Repo Men: Stealing for a Living
Discovery Times 8:00 p.m.
I figure becoming a repo man is my last legal chance to pistol-whip somebody. It looks so cool in the movies. You bust out a revolver and powder somebody right in the beak. Although, maybe this is too ambitious a leap from my current station in life. Perhaps I should start to toughen up by brushing the Cheerios out of my teeth and removing my Spider Man watch.