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Sure, my rate was only three dollars per hour, effectively one whole US dollar per child, but I offered as much protection as a parakeet (my voice was shrill enough to alarm other humans of Intruder! Danger! Polly wants a cracker!)
I attempted to apply free association techniques like “Guy with bloodshot eyes wants Diet Coke-aine refills” or “woman with chunky earrings wants chunky minestrone.” These memorization techniques were always botched in some spectacular way. I’d put down a Coke for a different roughed up guy and say, “here’s your cocaine, sir!”
When I went for my interview, I learned that “Mountain Subscription Services” was a fancy title given to a not-so-fancy telemarketing company. I was surprised to see that the manager of the call center looked as if Tom Petty had intercourse with a female snake and she laid a bunch of snake-Petty eggs, and the ugliest hatched and was making his way in the telemarketing sales world in Seattle, of all places. This fact made it extremely difficult to take him seriously (and not zone out with a vivid visualization of Tom Petty fucking a snake. By the way, RIP, Tom Petty.)
If my dad’s side of the family had a family crest, it would be a lightbulb, a middle finger, and an Entenmann’s Danish. As my grandmother so eloquently put it: “The Nittrouer family? We’re assholes. Brilliant assholes.”
Even as the child of an oceanographer, I’m still not sure I believe in the vastness of oceans. What if the Atlantic Ocean was actually a sea of seahorses—not those gross tiny aquatic creatures, but ponies who swam, spoke English, and adored little girls?
We were just seven (me) and eight years old (Beluga), and we were to spend a summer dangling on flimsy hammocks, inches from a dense soup of Amazonian critters. Were we concerned? Nope. Why? Because Casa de Bischoff had an un-chlorinated pool, an ample assortment of tarantulas to tango with, and a transnational German shepherd who went by the name of Ferdinand.