If I Drop Dead, My Obituary Will Be Terrible

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of true crime. I’m currently watching the premiere episode of a 6-part miniseries on ID called “The Vanishing Women.” It’s about how six women all disappeared from the same small town in Ohio between 2014 and 2015. Four have been found dead, two are still missing, and the investigation into their disappearances is still ongoing.

As is the case with many of the true crime shows I love, this first episode begins with a scene in which three family members of Tiffany Sayres, one of the murdered women, fondly reminisce about her with tears in their eyes. They talk about how hard-working she was, how kind to animals. They all agree that she was never without her purse, which always contained a bottle of soda and a spare t-shirt. And while watching this depressing, exploitative, ghoulish conversation, all I could think was, “If I were to drop dead tonight, my obituary would be terrible.” I’ve been thinking about what it would say, and so far I’ve got this:

Caroline Nierman, a native New Yorker best known for her resemblance to John Goodman in photographs, died June 9, 2016, according to her family. She was 29. Nierman was born Caroline Nierman in May of 1987, and she aspired to use the stage name Saucy Goblin if she ever performed on stage. When she was 14, Nierman fell on a treadmill while paying rapt attention to an episode of ‘Say What Karaoke,’ and her right knee was never the same. 

Nierman attended a university in Scotland for three years. She spent the vast majority of her time in the United Kingdom outside of the classroom, either enjoying a local restaurant’s signature pancakes or sleeping. In 2008, she returned to New York City and took her first administrative job, which barely covered the rent on an unnecessarily expensive studio apartment that she insisted on moving to. While living alone, Nierman managed to rack up an impressive $4,000 of debt by using her credit card to pimp out an Ikea bed, which she loved like a child, and then ignoring the bills. 

While Nierman worked at a number of different companies over the course of her career, her proudest professional moment was when she was accused of locking a disturbed four year old into a room that had no lock on its door while she was working as a summer camp counselor in high school. Nierman could always be counted on to laugh at YouTube videos of people falling down, and she loved nothing more than catching up on The Daily Mail while curled up into the fetal position with earplugs in. 

Despite her shortcomings, Nierman spent her life loving and being loved by her endlessly supportive and hilarious family, who she was so attached to that she insisted on being picked up from 98% of the sleepovers she went on in her lifetime. She also miraculously managed to reel in the very definition of a catch when it came to her adored fiancé, who is now the sole parent of their delicious dog, Jack (Instagram: @JackieTheBean). 

There will be no funeral, as Nierman found funerals to be unbearably depressing. In lieu of gifts, please donate money to every single animal shelter and rescue organization in the world – seriously, all of them – or else Nierman will, in her own words, “haunt your sorry, callous ass until you’re withered and gray.” RIP. 

Phew. Glad that’s over with! Now back to my program.

 

PSA: Don’t You Dare Drink Hot Coffee on the Train

The other morning on my way to work, I witnessed an interaction that forced me to have a horrifying moment of honest introspection about myself. Picture the scene: I’d managed to snag a seat tucked into the corner on a packed, local subway. As straphangers flooded the train at 96th street, a middle-aged woman staggered onto the car and rushed over to stand right in front of me. She kind of reminded me of Gilda Radner in the face, was wearing what can only be described as zany purple tights, and she had, like, 15 clips of life-sized butterflies distributed throughout her scraggly salt and pepper hair.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good butterfly myself, but butterfly clips in the hair past a certain age give off a real whacko, ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane’ vibe, so I was paying close attention to Madame Butterfly when a very WASPy woman in her forties got on the train with a hot cup of coffee in her hand and stood right next to her. The minute she stopped moving, M.B. immediately recoiled in disgust, threw her hands up in the air theatrically and loudly shouted, “Well, DON’T do THAT!” as she hurried to another spot near the door.

Caroline Nierman
Don’t even THINK about bringing that hot coffee on the subway.

The woman with the coffee looked mildly perplexed and a bit insulted until M.B. gestured to her from her new station across the aisle and said, “You have a hot cup of COFFEE in your hand, and I KNEW you were going to spill it all over me!” Obviously, I was loving this exchange; it was super weird for M.B. to scold a stranger for bringing coffee on the train, but it was extremely enjoyable to watch the one who was being scolded as she silently stewed about it.

Then, in a very That’s So Raven moment, I had a premonition of my future, a future in which I, too, become so neurotic that it seems reasonable to accost strangers on the train about their own life choices because I need to assuage my own irrational anxieties. I never want to be that woman, but I can imagine a Sliding Doors version of my life in which I become her. So promise me this: if I ever try to leave the house with an abundance of insect hair clips in my hair and a Metrocard in my hand, please sit me down and make me re-read this blog post.

Great, Now I Might Be Living Over a Portal to Hell

You can imagine how pleased I was when I stepped into my building’s lobby the other day and was greeted by what appeared to be The Book of Shadows sitting on the communal table by my elevator. It’s kind of a thing in this building – people leave their old crap on the table downstairs in the hope that their 1970’s guide to parenting or half-consumed jar of Nutella will go to good use, insead of where it belongs (in the trash).

Sure, the cover of the book says that it’s something benign, pleasant, even: The Standard Treasury of the World’s Greatest Music. With that being said, I’m pretty sure that given its faded, burgundy cover and spooky vibes that this book contains all of the secrets to the world’s evil and should never be opened by the weak, fleshy hand of a mortal.

We’ll put it like this: I just hope that B and I are out for a walk with Jack when some idiot finally comes along, cracks open the cover and turns my building into a portal to hell.

What I’ve Learned from Compulsively Watching True Crime for 20 Years

1. If you absolutely have to go to Washington state, do everything in your power to avoid going to Snohomish County. Nothing good happens in Snohomish County, Washington. Just look at Ann Rule’s body of work – she made an entire career out of writing books about horrific crimes that have been committed in this one small region of the country. (Seriously, she wrote, like, 50 books about terrible, random murders that have all taken place in Snohomish County.) Judging from the Ann Rule canon, which I am deeply familiar with, if you spend enough time in Snohomish County, there’s an extremely good chance that you will be viciously attacked close to your bus stop and battered about the face and head by the light of the Washington moon.

If you’re a sportier type and prone to hiking, you could also get killed on Snoqualmie Pass. Snoqualmie Pass seems to be a mountain that is extremely dangerous not because of its treacherous terrain, but because it attracts psychopaths like moths to a scenic flame. If you absolutely have to go to Washington state and you absolutely have to go hiking, do everything in your power to avoid hiking Snoqualmie Pass – that is, unless you’re in the mood to grapple with a knife-wielding, AWOL soldier who thinks he’s still in Vietnam.

2. If someone seems like a pervert or a killer, he might very well be a pervert or a killer. Humans have a sixth sense for a reason – that little voice in your head is millions of years of evolution telling you that it’s probably a good idea to quicken your pace when passing that gentleman who’s dressed in a soiled trenchcoat and scratched aviators and screaming expletives at no one. Is there a weird dude driving your cab? It’s okay to get out of the cab if you feel like you’re about to get Bone Collectored in it.

3. If you discover that the lock on the window of your ground-floor bedroom is broken and you’re missing a few pairs of underpants and your hairbrush, leave the apartment immediately. There’s clearly a creepy teenager loose in your neighborhood who may very well have masturbated into your sock drawer while wearing one of your hats. Go stay with a friend or a relative until that lock gets fixed and call ADT.

4. Always be extremely punctual when going anywhere and never miss or cancel any plans with anyone. Also, pick up your cell phone every time someone calls you. That way, people will realize pretty quickly if you go missing. They’ll say things like, “Well, I knew that Sarah must have been in the trunk of a sadomasochist’s Kia when she didn’t text me exactly at 11pm like she always does.” What I’m trying to say is, don’t be a fucking flake like me, or else if you do get kidnapped and call someone for help, your lifeline will just be like, “Yeah, sure, Sarah, you’re in the trunk of a sadomasochist’s Kia. It’s always something with you. I’m just going to order without you,” and hang up.

On The Indignity of Spray Tanning

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I was born with a pale yellow complexion akin to a discolored tooth. I have dark hair and dark eyebrows; I just look better with a tan. So today I went to the Beach Bum Tanning Salon on 86th Street to get a spray tan. 

First of all, you have to be buzzed into Beach Bum, an establishment that sits under a massive awning announcing the fact that it caters to the lily white and vain among us. This means that I stood waiting outside for a good three minutes, which doesn’t seem like that long a time when you’re not waiting to be let inside a tanning salon but really does when you are. After climbing the flight of stairs to the salon, I was rung up by a freckled girl who was animatedly grooving to the City High song, “Caramel,” while she was charging my credit card. Then I was led into the Mystic Tanning both and given a set of complicated instructions. 

“Here,” said the employee tasked with explaining how to use the machine to me as she handed me two plastic bags. In one were sticky foot shaped pads that I was instructed to affix to the soles of my feet so I didn’t end up with leathery-looking feet like a Hobbit. In the other was a shower cap. “Get undressed, wait until the machine is ready, then put barrier cream all over your hands and go into the booth. Wave your hand in front of the sensor and the spray tanning will begin.” 

When she left, I quickly disrobed, trying to minimize the amount of time I stood in the room in just my underwear. The Mystic booth is a closed chamber, but you have to do all the preparing outside of the booth, in a closet-like space that looked like there might be a hidden camera in the vent. I quickly stuck the foot pads onto the soles of my feet, then applied the barrier cream to my hands like I’d be told to. When the machine announced that the ‘warming-up period’ was complete and it was okay for me to get in the booth, I gingerly opened the door and took my position. 

Inside the booth, there were four numbered foot-shaped tiles on the floor. A robotic voice instructed me to place my left foot on Number 1 and my right foot on Number 3, and when I’d done so, the voice piped in and told me that “the spray tan [was] commencing.” 

Let me tell you – there’s nothing quite like standing half-naked in a weird booth in a weird tanning salon while a machine sprays an ice-cold mist all over your body and face. I felt kind of like I was being waterboarded, and I was concerned that I was standing incorrectly and setting myself up to be half orange, like a Bridge and Tunnel version of Two Face. Luckily, I seem to have succeeded in getting a pretty good tan, except for one thing: my hands are a different color than the rest of my body and look like I just got a hand transplant.