How is it July already? I feel like Mercury has been retrograding all over my face. ACK! Just as I typed that, I spilled coffee all over my arm to illustrate my point. Gah. Hold on, let me get some napkins… By the way, if you have read my previous blog posts, you will no doubt take heart in the fact that Billy Joel just came on the radio in this coffee shop. Just sayin’. He is like my spirit animal.
We had some stunning thunderstorms today which left us without electricity. For a brief second I was like, Woo-hoo! Snow day! I don’t have to work!! And then I considered that my laptop battery is fully charged, and it really is high time that I check back in with all you nice people. (Hi! How is your summer going so far?) There is something new in my life that I keep wanting to tell you about. So, settle in, because I am about to ramble…
I have been riding my bike a lot. This is a passion I rediscovered last summer after a 25-year break. Due to the flamboyant nature of my personal fashion, bikes and I were somewhat incompatible for a couple of decades. Platform shoes, excessive petticoats, dangley bobbles and my general absent-mindedness always seemed like a dangerous combination for bike riding. For years I just walked everywhere.
Then last summer it occurred to me that I am a hermit and I just wear yoga pants most of the time these days, so I might try biking again. Holy cow. Why did it take me so long? Biking is great! It is like gaining the ability to fly or breath under water. Seriously, I hope you are a big bike rider already, but if you are not, then do yourself the favor and stop denying yourself this simple pleasure. Ride your bike!!
I live in a biker’s paradise. My property borders a 26-mile rail trail, so I can pedal along in a huge daze and not have to worry about doing stupid things in traffic. After a while I started venturing off the trail and having a bit of a love affair with the Hudson Valley. Someone should tell these picturesque farms to stop being so damn cliché. Acres of waving corn against a backdrop of mountains with speckles of red barns in the distance? Bah, so unoriginal. It’s so lovely.
I also got excited to find that something so fun was actually great exercise. I could suddenly envision myself getting kind of buff. One day last summer I coaxed Mason into coming with me on an extended ride. As we rounded the corner by another absurdly lovely farm (where they filmed that movie Tootsie, actually) we wiped the sweat from our brows and concurred that being healthy was awesome. Then we saw the Stewart’s up ahead and decided to stop in to rehydrate.
I’m not sure what it says about me that this is the third time I have blogged about Stewart’s gas station. I saw one of those Facebook posts that was like “23 Reasons that You Know You Are From Upstate New York” and it was like: #21: You love Stewart’s ice cream. #22: You Love talking about Stewarts ice cream. #23: You love talking about Stewarts ice cream while sitting in a Stewarts eating Stewarts ice cream… It’s like they can peer into my inner soul.
But ice cream is for the doughy middle class on the fast track to adult onset diabetes. Mason and I were now aerodynamic biking machines, straight from the Triplets of Bellville. Ice cream played no role in our superior fitness. We sauntered into Stewarts in search of electrolytes to fuel more biking.
As we caught our breath, the teenaged cashier followed our gaze to the ice cream counter. “You guys should really try the new flavor.” He said.
“It’s really good.”
“Thanks. Maybe later.”
“Maybe. But once this carton is done, we are discontinuing it. This is probably your last chance to get this flavor.”
What is with the hard sell, dude?
He scooped up a sample and offered it to us.
“It’s called No Regretzels”
That is all he had to say. I am such a sucker for ice cream combined with salty snack food. The day someone makes an ice cream cone out of Fritos I will die happy. My resolve dissolved. Mason and I exchanged a look to confirm that we were powerless.
“No Regretzels!” we proclaimed, and dove into a pile of ice cream that we would have to pedal 90 miles to burn off.
And I truly have had no regretzels about it. As it turns out, “No Regretzels” is a very empowering mantra. I have since used it just prior to binge eating all sorts of delicious things. It became our motto for a while. It was the equal and opposite companion of another of my mantras (usually uttered while deciding how much butter to put on my popcorn): If you don’t regret it, it wasn’t worth it.
Just about exactly one year ago today I was biking down my very favorite road in town. I noticed a little For Sale sign next to an overgrown driveway. There was also a No Trespassing sign, which I interpreted as being meant for someone else. I am obsessed with real estate. I am an encyclopedia of every speck of property for sale in a 10-mile radius. I had to check this out.
Down the rocky driveway I pedaled until it got too bumpy for me to manage. I ditched my bike and started running down the path. As I fought through the underbrush I felt the land wrap its tendrils around me. I could feel myself falling in love. The overgrown path led me eventually to the edge of the Esopus Creek. As I stood on the sunny riverbank catching my breath, I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. I was hopelessly enchanted.
It was a swimming hole! I could tell that lots of people had been there long ago, but it had been taken back by nature. There were fallen trees, tangled logjams and crazy erosion. Still, the site had this pulsating undercurrent of life to it. Actually, my very first coherent thought when I looked around the beach was, “This is where teenagers come to get pregnant!” It was like discovering a secret garden.
I ran back to my bike and headed furiously home to research the property. I couldn’t pedal fast enough. I was already panicking that something would happen and this magic property would fall out of my grasp. I ran inside and looked it up online. My jaw dropped when I found the listing. It. Was. So. Cheap. Like, SO cheap! I could have written a check from my checking account right then and there.
Whenever I want to justify a reckless purchase, I calculate how many arm warmers it would take me to pay for it. When I start doing Sweater Math, that should probably be a sign to me that I am no longer being rational. This was a completely manageable number of arm warmers. I was willing to sew without sleeping in order to pay for the swimming hole.
I called my realtor, George. I felt so impatient! George said that he would call the selling agent in the morning. ACK! I have to wait until morning???? “Don’t worry Kat. There is not much demand for property like this. It’s floodplain. You could probably offer them half the asking price and they would be happy.” I was like a possessed demon. I didn’t care about the price, I just wanted someone to shake my hand and take my money while I was still drunk on impulsiveness.
It was hard to sleep that night. As soon as I woke up I stared at my phone again for my realtor to call me back. When the phone finally vibrated across the table I dove for it and practically couldn’t even accept the call because my fingers were so nervous.
“You are not going to believe this Kat.” said George. “They accepted another offer this morning”.
I was crestfallen. Riddled with regretzels. I texted my friend Denisa and lamented. I couldn’t believe I lost it. It was just in my grasp, and it slipped away. You know what Denisa said to me?
“Well, now you know how you make people feel with your sweater sales every month.”
Oh my god! Is that true? Is that how I make you feel. Gulp. I AM SO SORRY. I see what she is saying. This is my karmic smack down. This is how I torture people every month. I am horrible. I don’t mean it. You know I don’t want you to feel this way, right?
Maybe this was just all a lesson to me.
I thought about the magic feeling I got at the swimming hole, and I felt nostalgia for all the good times I never had there. I was feeling major Regretzels.
I thought more about what Denisa said, and then I was like, wait a minute! After every sweater sale each month I get a deluge of emails full of begging, emotional blackmail, sob stories, flattery and bribes. There are plenty of people who are willing to wrap their hands around my throat and shake a sweater out of me. (Please, don’t be one of them! Please!) This has taught me that there is a determined percentage of the population who will not accept No for an answer. So why can’t I be one of them? Freaking, NO REGRETZELS, right??
I called up George the Realtor. “Can we offer them more money?” I said.
I offered full price and accompanied my offer with a syrupy letter that laid it on thick. The owner was happy with that. George assured me that the swimming hole would almost certainly be mine. Oh rapturous swimming hole! I dreamed of sugarplums and soothing waters and became giddy with excitement.
I talked to a few locals about it, and learned to my delight that this swimming hole was the legendary Basshole. I had heard so many stories about it since moving to town. Apparently the Basshole was the site of quite a few ragers back in its heyday in the 80’s. Its denizens were known as the Basshole Assholes. Many a wasted youth was spent there. I heard about the rope swing that was the stuff of legends. The locals used to mark a tree each time they bought a new keg in. One summer they drank 72 kegs at the Basshole! I don’t even drink beer, but somehow that validated my suspicion that this place had a magical allure to it. And here I was, poised to become Queen Asshole!
The next time George the Realtor called, he said what would become a familiar refrain. “Kat, you are not going to believe this….”.
My heart sank as he told me that the seller got a better offer.
Even though at the time I had never seen Game of Thrones, in retrospect I can see within me the spirit of Daenerys Targaeryan, determined to claim her throne. Although I never stood before a large crowd proclaiming, “I AM YOUR KHALEESI!” that is basically how I acted. I may not have had dragons on my shoulder, but I had a fire breathing serger in my attic, and I would keep spitting out arm warmers until the Basshole was mine.
2013 was the Summer of the Bidding War. I’m pretty sure my realtor thought I was being unreasonably foolish. I could tell from my boyfriend Mason’s worried looks that he thought I should accept the “There is a reason for everything” path and give up.
Not me. I am stubborn and scrappy. No fucking regretzels, man. Through the magic of sweater math, I kept justifying more and more money. About 6 weeks into the bidding war I decided that it was just going to be my dirty secret. I just let people assume that I had lost the property, because I didn’t want them looking at me with confusion and pity. I kept it a secret from Mason. When I would see that George the realtor was calling, I would scurry outside behind a tree to take the call out of earshot.
“You are not going to believe this…” he would say.
“Offer them more!!” I would retort. No Regretzels!
It was pretty out of control. I couldn’t keep it up. I looked at my savings account. I did some sweater math. I weighed my priorities. I knew I must give up. I mean really, why did I want a swimming hole anyway?
For about a week I slept restlessly with the knowledge that I had lost my battle for the Basshole. It was more disappointing than I could have anticipated. Then, one morning, without my permission, my fingers started calling George. A demon took control of my voice and told him to offer them such a ridiculous amount of money. It was my entire savings account. It was nearly three times the asking price. It was far more that the property was worth. It was my Hail Mary as the buzzer went off. If they rejected it, I would be relieved because it was so financially reckless.
A few moments later, George called back and said, “Kat, you are not going to believe this. “ I prepared myself for the familiar disappointment.
“It’s yours.” He said.
I got it? I GOT IT!! I got the frigging Basshole! I drained my entire stupid savings account and sold my soul to the arm warmer devil. But so what, ‘cuz if you don’t regret it, it wasn’t worth it, right?
We got the Basshole. I say WE, because I really didn’t get it for myself. I got it for everybody. I hate No Trespassing signs. I hate the way beautiful places get fences around them to keep people out because everyone is paranoid about getting sued. I want to preserve a swimming hole where everyone feels welcome. I am determined to be a benevolent Queen Asshole and invite everyone to swim forever. Let the Kegs flow! No Regretzels!!!!
I am so in love with the Basshole. We inaugurated it last summer at my friends’ Kevin and Mark’s wedding. Several dozen of us bush-wacked the overgrown thicket and dove into the water. It was the first Basshole Party in years, and it made my heart sing. I paddled around the crystalline water and looked back at the beach, which was strewn with lovely gay men, all rubbing clay on each other’s naked bodies. Hooray for Gay Marriage! Hooray for Swimming holes!
It was precisely at this moment that an angry Rottweiler burst through the woods across the river and a very concerned looking farmer emerged with an expression that clearly said, “WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE?”
There were so many gay dudes sitting in the rapids upriver that they decided to christen them “Balls Falls”. Logic would then dictate that the stretch of river between the Basshole and Balls Falls ought to be called The Taint. I tell you, having a swimming hole with a marginally obscene name leads to all sorts of naughty wordplay.
Hands down the coolest part about owning the Basshole is all the people I have met who grew up there. For most part these are shirtless middle-aged men who love beer and park far too many pieces of large machinery in their front yards. They lend me their strength and their machines to clear out the flood ravages, restore the driveway, and reawaken the lovely swimming hole. It has been amazing to watch the place come back to life.
I hear so many stories about the Basshole’s glory days, before a massive flood tore down the rope swing tree. I hear about all the broken collarbones, and fist fights and times that people needed emergency tracheotomies. Then there is the time that That Girl set What’s His Name on fire. Or when You Know Who slept with What’s His Face’s wife’s mother. Stuff like that.
Hardly any of the Assholes have normal names. There’s Johnboy, Boss Hog, Gerbil, Rabbit… I was like, What is with all the animal names? But then I realized, Oh wait, my name is Kat.
The Assholes boast many achievements. We have got a narcoleptic and a hyperkinetic. There is the guy who managed to parlay a seatbelt ticket into a seven-year prison sentence. And the other guy who drank too much and ended up eating a sizable slice of his own arm. The anthropologist in me is enchanted. Not a single regretzel!
Basically you can do everything at the Basshole, except for make arm warmers, which I have been meaning to get back to.
I go there every day. I am so tan. It’s like the 80’s. No regretzels man. I am ensuring job security for my future dermatologist with this reckless suntan I am now sporting . My skin is becoming bacon thanks to my new obsession with tubing. I am getting in touch with my inner tube. I just realized why people call things “totally tubular”.
When I got an email from Kara Blossom in San Francisco saying that her boyfriend’s 26 person marching band was doing a little East Coast tour, naturally I was like, “They should play at the Basshole!” Thus we concocted an event, a Gemini Birthday Weekend. It isn’t hard to celebrate Geminis, because every-other awesome person I know is born in June, including sweet Mason.
Before we knew it, we had about 50 people camping out at our house. The Extra Action Marching band is amazing. I was so proud to host them. We spent two days lounging at the Basshole. The weekend was crowned by a marvelous performance in nearby Kingston. I swelled with pride to watch the crazy band round the corner of Wall Street just before midnight, waving flags and being all sorts of obscene. Among the crowd of giddy spectators were even a couple of the old school Basshole Assholes. It was a terrific clash of worlds.
Tomorrow is the Fourth of July. Guess where I will be? Last time I was at the Basshole one of the large-bellied Assholes with a demeanor nearly identical to Barney from the Simpson’s was wildly gesticulating about illegal fireworks and the goat he was going to roast. I can’t wait.
So, yeah, No Regretzels, folks. It is a dangerous but worthwhile refrain. Feel free to borrow it. Look at all it has done for me! Thanks to No Regretzels, I was able to expand my real estate empire by paying triple price for a piece of unbuildable floodplain, which doubles as both a tax burden and an insurance liability! Hooray!
I think I might go there now and jump in the water. You should come too. Give me a holler if you are around. I will be there. Probably I’ll be eating ice cream infused with salty snack food, listening to the Billy Joel song that coincidentally just comes on the radio right as you show up. See ya!
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