Monday, October 31, 2005
That’s fine with me. Come on in, new readers! But some of them aren’t so nice and they leave strange comments on my blog. Hi, crazies! And I really wouldn’t want Grandma Valerie reading those. So tomorrow, November 1st, I’ll be blocking comments again and I just wanted to warn you.
Now you must be wondering, who are these readers? And what types of emails do they send? Well, I’m glad you asked. Here are some samples of my faves:
On picking up women at shopping malls:
“I personally have picked up over 40 women in shopping malls and it was the most easy and natural thing in the world.”
On successful women:
“You can either have a job or a husband but it is not true you can have it all like those militant feminists say you can. Thank you and have a nice life.”
“Are you available?”
On picking up woman at funerals:
“My experience has been, that after being exposed to all that death, women look to sex after a funeral, as a way of feeling alive. Which is why I avoid them. At the end of the reception, women are ready to nail anything in pants to the floor.”
Hope he likes Subway:
“I don't make a habit of emailing every attractive blond writing gal I run across, but you and your sense of humor caught my eye and so I'll offer this invitation: Next time you're passing through Des Moines, let me know and I'll buy you lunch.”
“The supermarket I shop in seems to be understaffed. Maybe you’d like me to give you the address so you could apply for a job there? Perhaps cashier? Or bagger? Just when you come to your senses and realize what a failure you are, let me know and I’ll give you the address.”
Well, I appreciate his job offer but I’m not sure I could scan all those groceries as fast as they do at my Signature Kroger! I mean, I can’t even use the self-checkout. So that’s why I better stick to my Writinggal gig. Thanks anyway!
I’ve noticed that all emails fall into one of five categories:
Want to be a source for an article
Want writing advice
Want love/dating advice
Ah, my readers. Gotta love ‘em. Well, at least they pay the bills. Wait. They don’t pay any of my bills! In fact, I’ve got a pile of them sitting right here and not ONE reader has offered to take any of ‘em. Any takers? Angry supermarket guy? I mean, you WERE trying to help me get a new job.
So enjoy your free speech today, blog readers! Because tomorrow I could write something like “That Mother Theresa. What a bitch” and you can’t say anything! Or maybe I’ll write, “You know, that Saddam Hussein guy, he’s got some valid points.” Or I may not have time to even write a blog.
I may be cashing in on my free lunch in Des Moines.
Friday, October 28, 2005
So natch, we spent most of our time at camp making last-minute wedding plans—who’s going to print the programs? How many RSVPs do we have? Do we have to share the cake with our guests?
But when we weren’t finalizing the details we actually participated in the group activities which included drawing our family trees, creating a skit and excessive drinking. Wait. There actually wasn’t any booze there. Hello? I thought this was a Catholic Camp. I don’t see how this is any different from Baptist Camp. And at least those couples get a shorter ceremony.
Anyway, we soberly participated in another activity—the chore assigner. In this exercise we separately filled out a form about which spouse was to do each chore. So for each one, we were to put a “W, H or B (for both)” Then we got together and evaluated.
On mine I had assigned everything as either “Husband” or “Both.” Oops. So we did some shuffling and came out with a fair list—I would grocery shop. He would take out the trash. We would both do the dishes.
So now we try to stick with our assigned chores. Except there’s one problem—Frank doesn’t like to complete chores. He does half of them. It’s like a trademark of his. So when he takes out the trash (which he’s very good about), he doesn’t put a new bag in the trash can. Half a chore!
Big deal? Well, it wouldn’t be if I weren’t obsessed with the “Ah” factor. I like to look around a room and say, “Ah.” That means that nothing is out of place, nothing is left undone, everything is perfect. Yikes. Maybe I need to go back to Catholic Camp to talk about my analness. But we’re focusing on halfway Frank here.
When Frank does a chore, I don’t get the “Ah” factor. Like the other night he offered to do the dishes while I finished a Writinggal task. How sweet. But when I came downstairs I KNEW he was going to leave something. Sure, the dishes were all in the dishwasher.
Good boy. But there were two glasses on the table along with a crumpled up napkin. Who can “ah” over that? Not me, that’s for sure.
I like to say “Well, that chore is done” and wipe my hands of it. So if there’s anything left of it—anything at all—it’s like the whole chore is not done to me.
I have to say, while this half a chore thing is frustrating, we have made a lot of progress. For instance, Frank understands that we don’t put food garbage in the bedroom trashcan. He puts all his dirty clothes in the hamper (in the correct section, yay!) and he lets me buy catsup in the bottle rather than making me steal packets from Wendy’s.
And that’s the kind of stuff they just don't teach you at Baptist Camp.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Let’s review the highlights:
--Circa 1985: Dressed up like something that required a plastic costume. I have no idea what I was but I know we bought it at the grocery store and I wore it to my friend Misty’s Halloween party. I didn’t wear it long because it ripped. So instead I just wore shorts and a t-shirt and when people asked what I was, I said, “I’m a summer girl.” What?
--1988: A present. I took a box and wrapped it in Christmas wrapping paper and put a bow on my head. It was difficult to maneuver through the hallways at school but I got a lot of attention. Which I liked.
--1989: Present again. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t unwrap it.
--1990: Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks. I wore a friend’s sister’s prom dress and carried a book that I had wrapped with notebook paper and written “The Diary of Laura Palmer.” Just in case people still didn’t get it, I wore one of those name tags on my prom dress that said, “Hello, my name is Laura Palmer.” Yikes.
Costumes, the college years:
In college it’s all about showing skin. So once I was a gangsta—a gangsta who wore a midriff shirt and really low jeans. And then I was a hippie—a hippie who wore a really short skirt and go-go boots. Junior year I made a fatal mistake—I went for funny v. slutty.
I wanted to be a McDonald’s Drive-thru worker. I already had the headset from my job as a telemarketer for UT. I could wear my pleated khaki pants so all I needed was the authentic McDonald’s shirt. I walked into McDonald’s and said, “You know what I’m going to be for Halloween? I’m going to be you! Can I have a shirt?” He conferred with his manager before telling me no. I decided I was just going to have to go with the old “Hello, my name is McDonald’s Drive-thru Worker” name tag scam again.
Later that night Thea, Leigh Ann and I just happened to hit the drive-thru at McDonald’s. Not really a big coincidence since we did this a lot.
When we drove up to the pick-up window, the guy at the drive thru recognized me—he was my buddy from before! He handed us our food and then threw a bigger bag at us and said, “Take it. Just go, go!” Thea said, “What is this? An extra side salad?” I said, “No! It’s my Halloween Costume!”
So on Halloween we hit a frat foam party—me in my unflattering, pleated khaki pants, long purple McDonald’s shirt and of course, my trusty head set. Here’s a little quiz: Do you think the guy I had my eye on liked me or the girl in the naked-fairy costume? Yep, you all got it right. Except my mom—who thinks the answer is always me.
After the foam party fiasco of 1996, I haven’t been too into Halloween. I’m too old to go slutty, too clumsy to go crafty and still too poor to purchase!
So this year I’m going to be a door-answerer, making comments like, “And what are you supposed to be?” and “Isn’t it a little cold to be wearing that, young lady?” and “Aren’t you a bit old to be trick-or-treating?” and “Hey, don’t litter in my mulch, you punk kid!”
And just in case they don’t know who I am, I’ll wear a name tag that says, “Hello, my name is dorky suburban lady” but I refuse to wear those pleated khaki pants.
Baby Charlie (the lobster) and friends dressed up for Halloween. Ah, to be six months old and have no clue what you're wearing. They all look a little suspicious though, don't ya think?
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
So now I’m realizing that Frank and I make a lot of TV references—a lot. Like when it’s the end of a TV show and they’re about to give a preview of what happens next week, we both say, “Scenes from the next 90210!” and get really excited.
I’m wondering what our kids will think: “This isn’t 9034—whatever. It’s a reality show where babies are switched at birth and then you have to figure out which one is really yours. Duh.”
Also, when we’re doing laundry we say, “Uh-oh, the laundry’s done” which is an obscure reference to Friends. But our kids will think it’s a bad thing that the laundry’s done. Which, if you think about it, it is because then you have to fold the clothes or worse, put the sheets on the bed—my most hated chore. I need to get some kids so they can do that for me.
And what about all the Seinfeld references? Our kids can forget about communicating with their Grandpa since my dad makes a Seinfeld reference every other sentence. At least if our kid turns out gay, he’ll be comforted by my dad saying, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
Will it be okay to use my reality TV references on my kids in their daily activities? Like if they do something bad like, I don’t know, fail to put the sheets on the bed, could I say, “You’re fired!” And if I think a kid needs a bath because he’s really stinky and he argues with me, I won’t use the old “Because I’m the mommy that’s why.” Instead I’ll say, “The tribe has spoken.”
What about references to my fave TV characters? Like if I end up having a ditzy blonde girl I’ll say, “You are so Phoebe!” and if we have a son who’s a big nerd could we call him Alex P. Keaton? Natch, when he’s a teenager and he grows sideburns we’ll call him Brandon Walsh. And if the girl gets psycho and whiny (probably because we called her a ditz all her life) we’ll call her Brenda Walsh.
Yes, they’ll just have to get used to all of our TV talk. And if they want to learn more, then can rent the DVDs of all our old shows. That is, after they’ve finished folding the clothes and putting the sheets on the bed. Uh-oh.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
How do I know? Well because I, myself, utilize a personal trainer. What’s his name? I dunno. How much does it cost? Nothing. Instead of actually hiring a personal trainer, I just listen in while they’re training other people.
It started about three years ago when I was trying to get in shape for my wedding (now there’s motivation). I was at the gym and I was just flailing about on one of those giant stability balls. I had no idea what to do with it. Right next to me a trainer was helping another bride-to-be. He showed her exactly how to sit on the ball and how she should do her sit-ups slowly. I flailed a littler closer to them and listened. Now it’s my fave ab exercise.
EXPERTS PLAY BALL
If you listen to enough personal trainers, you’ll realize that the key to getting good abs is to use some sort of ball—either that stability ball (not for flailing) or the medicine ball. The personal trainer will have the bride-to-be or divorcee or new mom do crunches on an incline and when she comes up, throw the ball to him and he throws it back. This looks like it works really well. However, when I throw the ball, nobody’s there. It just falls on the floor. And I’m not sure that’s such a great ab workout. But, hey, I just saved $50.
THE PROS LOVE LUNGING
If you go to any gym you’ll see a personal trainer walking backwards while one or two members lunge towards him. This goes on for at least an hour. They lunge and they lunge and then they lunge some more. So I’m thinking lunging is really crucial. Sometimes they hold weights while they lunge. But that’s probably like $60. If you want, you can lunge right behind them. That’s what I do. When they say, “Hey, you’re not paying for this session,” I just say, “What? A girl can’t lunge around her own gym? I love to lunge. It’s good for the hamstringus maximus, right?”
TRAINERS TAKE IT SLOW
Overall, they seem to want you to do exercises a lot slower. Now, this could be so that they can tack on another half-hour to their fee but I gotta say, this seems to be working. I just learned this from an eavesdropping session I had the other day. Let’s say you’re on the “Yes/No” thigh machines. You know the ones. So not only should you push slowly when the weight is on but you should also push slowly when you’re pushing away from the weight. Another example: If you’re lifting weights, you naturally lift them up slowly but you should also bring them down slowly. How do I know this is a great PT tip?
It hurts. It hurts a lot.
I’ve got tons more tips but that’s all I’m gonna share with you for now. Otherwise I’ll have to charge you $50 per hour. If you want to try this yourself, just join a gym and be sure to ask if the trainers have loud voices.
That reminds me, I have to go to the gym now. I have to meet my trainer.
Monday, October 24, 2005
That Jessica Simpson—she’s not so dumb. In fact, I think she’s smarter than me, Writinggal. And you all know I was the spelling bee champ of Landolt Elementary.
From the first time I heard her say, “Is this chicken or tuna?” I was intrigued. I have been buying Chicken of the Sea tuna for years and never even thought about why it was called this. So when Jessica asked the question, I perked up. Her trusty husband Nick explained the name and she came off looking stupid while I silently was just as puzzled. The difference is she’s actually curious. I had never even stopped to ponder it. Score on the smart meter? Jessica-1, Writinggal-0. Oh, and I guess Nick gets two points for actually knowing the reason for the name.
And Buffalo Wings? I guess if someone had asked me what they were made from I would have guessed buffalo too. Yes, I know they don’t have wings but chickens don’t exactly fly south for the winter either. I mean, why can’t we eat buffalo? We eat everything else. Why just last weekend our friends Courtney and John caught a giant shark and are now making preparations to eat it. I’ve never seen shark on a menu but I have seen buffalo. But again, I never even wondered why it was called that. I just accept things. But not Jessica. She proudly says, “I don’t eat buffalo.”
I’ve decided that if I want to be as bright as Jess I need to be more curious about things, ask more questions. So last night when we were watching the baseball game I asked Frank, “Why are they called the White Sox? What kind of mascot is a pair of socks? And even stranger that TWO teams adopted this mascot but with different colored socks. Hey, why are there no Blue Sox? That would be a good team name.” He didn’t know. But he did know that Houston had “No Socks” day in which nobody could wear socks. He’s no Nick Lachey but he does have access to interesting trivia.
In fact, I think Nick, Jessica, Frank and I should engage in a game of trivial pursuit. But I want Jess on my team. I'll take spelling and she can take everything else. Except history. Or science and nature. Or art and literature.
Better yet, maybe we'll just have them over for a nice shark dinner.
Friday, October 21, 2005
Let’s take freeways. If someone came to me with that idea, here’s how the pitch would go:
Inventor: “So instead of having stop signs and stop lights, the cars will just keep going until they have to exit.”
Elsa, Ruler of the World: “But how will the cars get on this ‘freeway’ thing?”
Inventor: “Oh, we’ll have entrances for that. A car will speed up on the entrance ramp and merge into traffic.”
Elsa, RotW: “What if a car gets on the entrance ramp at the same time another car on the freeway thing is zooming by? They’ll hit each other.”
Inventor: “No, the car on the entrance ramp will slow down.”
Elsa: “And what if he doesn’t?”
Inventor: “Then the car on the freeway will slow down.”
Elsa: “What?? People aren’t smart enough to do that. NEXT!”
And we’d still be commuting through four-way stops every day.
What about that whole mail system? I get the Pony Express but when it came to the point of “Do we continue this service now that we have modern transportation or just accept the fact that it’s an old-school system?”
At that meeting I would say, “There’s no way the Post Office can delivery millions of pieces of mail in just a matter of a couple of days. Like if I write you a letter, it’ll take two weeks to arrive. And what are people mailing anyway? What’s so important? I say let’s just keep it open for the month of December for letters to Santa (hey, I’m not a tyrant) and then close it down the rest of the year. And we’ll just tell everybody to stop mailing stuff.”
Here’s another pitch that would go sour:
Elsa: “So you just do your business in this ‘bowl’ and push this handle and your gross stuff magically disappears?”
Inventor: “Basically. You don’t have to deal with it.”
Elsa: “Well, I love the idea and I’d like to go ahead and have one for my palace but I don’t think everybody else is ready for it. I mean, it’s gotta go somewhere. And I don’t want to be the ruler who approved having human waste pile up on our streets. I mean, what if it covered our beautiful four-way stops? Hey, did I tell you about that idiot who wanted to get rid of four-way stops and do this thing called the ‘free-for-all-way?’ It was almost as ridiculous as your poop disappearing machine!!”
So just be glad I don’t rule the world (for a lot of reasons) or your mornings would start with you using an outhouse, making a long commute to work and then later coming home to no mail. How sad.
Oh, and you would only travel by car because that whole ‘airplane’ idea would never fly with me.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Sure, even as adults we’re gonna blurt out some things that we should have kept to ourselves—blame impulsive behavior or my favorite, alcohol. But just to keep it to a minimum, why don’t we make a list of topics we should ALWAYS avoid?
This is #1. Never talk to someone you don’t know about their pregnancy. Why? Because they might not be pregnant! They could either be plump around the middle, wearing an empire waist shirt (which is very popular right now) or just had the baby. Or worse—they had the baby six months ago and can’t get the weight off in record Hollywood time.
I don’t care how obvious it is that they’re pregnant, you don’t say anything. Let them bring it up. I’m telling you, even if they have a shirt on that says “Baby” with an arrow pointing towards the belly, still refrain. Maybe that’s the only shirt that still fits!
Here’s another chance for you to learn from my mistakes. On the first day of 7th grade I walked into the girls’ restroom and saw a boy. I knew junior high was more progressive than elementary but this was crazy. I immediately squealed, “They let boys in the girls’ bathroom in junior high!?” The “boy” who was apparently named Lisa said, “I’m a girl.”
Now to be fair, this person looked NOTHING like a girl. But anyhow, now I just don’t address gender. Even with babies. If I don’t know what somebody is, I simply avoid them. Yes, avoidance is better than embarrassment.
Now if you know someone has been dieting, it’s okay to say “You look like you’ve lost weight.” But if you take it too far, they’ll start to say “What? Was I really fat before?” and you just don’t want to go there. So restrict your weight comments to the aforementioned and “You look skinny.” No girl minds hearing that. Oh, and I should say I’m speaking just about girls here. And I was also only referring to girls in the pregnancy section, but you knew that, right?
Also, girls who were skinny but have since put on weight more than likely didn’t do it on purpose. I had a relative come up to me at a wedding and say, “You look so much healthier than you did at your wedding. How did you put on the weight?” As if I was on an intense diet of Death by Chocolate and Krispy Kremes. “Oh, funny you should ask. I’m thinking of writing a book on the topic! I want to help millions of women put on weight and look more ‘healthy.’” Good rule of thumb: We don’t want to look healthy. Hello? Why do you think we have this meth craze going on?
Let’s see, did I cover it all? You’ll notice all these taboo topics have to do with a person’s appearance. So basically, if you just stay away from looks, you should be safe. Then you can avoid the mother of all awkward situations. A reenactment:
(You, to stranger in Arby’s): “Oh, when’s your baby due?”
(Stranger in Arby’s): “What? No, I just carry my weight in the middle.”
(You): “Sorry. I just thought since you had that shirt on that says ‘I have the golden ticket’ with an arrow pointing towards your belly…
(Stranger): “Hey, I bought this on Ebay. It belonged to Britney Spears and I thought it was cool.”
(You): “Oh, It is very cool. Sorry, Ma’am.”
(Stranger): “Ma’am? I’m a man! I just grow my hair out for religious purposes!”
See? You managed to pack in all three forbidden areas in one conversation. Not good. If you have trouble with this, you should probably just avoid places like Arby’s.
Oh, and also junior high restrooms.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
I don’t mean to scare third grade teachers everywhere but I remember tons of things my teacher, Mrs. Agruso, said. I’ll tell you about two of them:
One day Mrs. Agruso wrote across the black board: “Patti Mudd.” We all looked up from our Trapper Keepers and were like, “Huh?
She said, “That’s my maiden name.”
She then asked if we had ever heard the saying “Your name will be Mud.”
We shook our heads. We’re a bunch of stupid third graders who don’t even know why leaves fall of trees. (Wait. I still don’t know that.)
She then told us the story of Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth. Just to recap: After JWB shot AL, he fled to the home of Dr. Samuel Mudd where he received medical aid. JWB was eventually shot and killed but Mudd served four years in prison for conspiracy before he was released. But the conviction was never overturned nor was his reputation restored.
So the phrase “Your name will be Mud” didn’t technically start with Dr. Mudd (it’s been around since the early 1800’s) but that’s how it came to be common.
Anyway, Mrs. Agruso is his descendent. I think he was her Great Great Grandfather. She ended her little lesson with, “So if someone were to tell me that my name will be mud, I’d have to say, ‘It already is!’”
I mean, I’ve met my share of famous people but Mrs. Agruso is the only historical figure I know.
Mrs. Agruso told us to stop using the word “pee” or “piss” or any other vulgar terms that refer to bodily fluids. (This comes up a lot in third grade, remember?)
“But what should we say instead?” (Because, duh, we have to talk about going #1!)
“You should use the word ‘urine’ or ‘urination’ or ‘urinate,’” she told us.
I, myself, decided to just not bring up the subject. However, Tasos Karamitsos—it’s a Greek thing. Yes, we called him Taco—found himself in a situation where he HAD to use the word:
One day Tasos came running into the classroom, frantic and breathless, “Mrs. Agruso! Mrs. Agruso!”
“What’s the matter, Tasos?” (She didn’t call him Taco. No fun.)
“There’s pee all over the bathroom floor!” he screamed and then quickly put his hand over his mouth in shame.
He turned around, ran out of the room and immediately returned, yelling, “I mean, Mrs. Agruso! Mrs. Agruso!! There’s URINE all over the bathroom floor.” He then smiled proudly. Oh, that Taco.
So thanks, Mrs. Agruso, for not telling us any BS, because we never forget it. And Mrs. Korfhage and other third grade teachers of the world, keep that in mind when you’re explaining why the sky is blue (not that I know) or your name could be mud.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Last night I watched the show “How I Met your Mother” because Thea had recommended it. It was hilarious. But I wasn’t surprised. Thea gives the best tips.
This is why I think she should be a concierge (side note: I just checked my spelling of concierge by looking at the synonyms and one of them was “janitor.” I don’t think Thea should be a janitor. Although she did recommend a great cleaning product which I’ll list later.) See, she really thinks about the recipient of the tip. She doesn’t just run around telling everyone to watch “How I Met your Mother.” These are personalized tips.
--Control F: Now this was a long time ago but I don’t know what I’d do without it. When I go to a website and I’m looking for a particular word, I now just hit “Control F” (as in “find”) and I get there faster. Sometimes I’ll be in the grocery store, looking for something like Shake 'N Bake (don't ask) and I want to just “Control F” and find it.
--Kashi Cereal: Now I was devoted to my Special K but Thea kept telling me how great Kashi Cereal was. She eats it for like every meal. So I tried it. It made me nauseous because I ate too much. She said I needed to decrease my portion size. But finally, a cereal that makes me full! I’m now a fellow addict.
--Easy Off BAM: Like a fool, I was scrubbing my shower with 409 with no hope of ridding my life of soap scum. And Frank is wrong; the shower is not “clean by definition.” Now I BAM it. I BAM the toilet, the kitchen, the floors. As Thea says, “I can’t wait for my house to get dirty again so I can BAM!”
--Ti-Faux: I have a DVR. Thea has Tivo. She says I don’t need to make my DVR into a verb by saying “I DVRed it.” Instead I can say, “I Ti-fauxed” it. See? We learn new words.
--Listening to your iPod while having dental work done: This is great even if your hygienist doesn’t know what an iPod is.
--Websites: Thea doesn’t send random chain letter emails like, “If you forward this email to 10 friends, Microsoft will send you $4,000.” (Well, unless she thinks you’re into that.) She sends sites she thinks would interest you. My faves: www.gawker.com, www.tvgasm.com and www.veganlunchbox.blogspot.com
I’m sure I will continue to accumulate more tips from Thea and perhaps I could make it a regular segment here at Writinggal. But this will have to hold you for now. I’ve gotta go Ti-faux “How I met your Mother.”
Monday, October 17, 2005
Frank and I went to see him on Friday. Since I still haven’t told Neil that he’s my Uncle I didn’t want to scare him and try to get free tix. But don’t you think it’s odd that we just happened to get free tickets through Frank’s work? Not a coincidence.
I learned a few things about Uncle Neil that night:
--I don’t actually like the majority of his songs. In fact, I don’t like any of the slow ones.
--Seeing him sing the songs I DO like made it totally worth it. Well, the tickets were free so I guess even watching Marilyn Manson would be “worth it.” No, I take that back.
--What I’m trying to say is I would have paid $42.50 just to see him sing my fave songs.
--When Neil started singing “Red Red Wine” I asked Frank, “Why is he covering a UB40 Song?” Frank said, “You know what? I think he wrote that song…” and then Neil did a little rap segment that went something like, “…I don’t care cause UB40’s singing my song!” Uncle Neil, I had no idea! Next you’re gonna tell me that UB40 wasn’t the first to perform “The way you do the things you do.”
Frank went to the Uncle Neil concert with the attitude, “I don’t really like this guy or his music. I’m just going cause Elsa likes him and the tickets are free.” But he came out of it saying, “That guy is pretty cool. I like the way he dances.” In fact, Frank can’t stop talking about Uncle Neil and I fear he not only will take on his dance moves, but his wardrobe, too.
Best part of Uncle Neil’s show? When he would start to talk about the next song and the crowd would figure out what it was right away:
Uncle Neil: “You know, since the last time we were in Dallas, my band and I have traveled around the world. And that reminds me of how my grandparents traveled as immigrants…”
Me: (on my feet) “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
America is my fave song by Uncle Neil so I clapped, sang along and saluted like a good secret niece. When it was over, I had a little tear in my eye.
After the show I went to the women’s restroom (and by the way, we were on the fancy Platinum level which doesn’t mean you get free alcohol like I originally thought but it does mean that the bathrooms are posh and the stall doors go all the way down to the floor! Now that’s V.I.P.)
So anyway, I’m in the line and these 50-year-old ladies behind me are gushing about the concert and talking about what he sang and didn’t sing and then one of them taps me on the shoulder and says jokingly, “And what is she doing here? She’s twelve years old!”
I told her, “Um, Neil and I have the same birthday. And my mother’s maiden name is Diamond.”
Some people are so slow. “So I’m his niece,” I told her.
If she thinks I’m gonna get Uncle Neil to autograph her breasts, she can think again.
Friday, October 14, 2005
What? Was this some sort of message from beyond? Or scarier, a little kid ghost?
Then it all came back to me:
When I was a kid at Landolt Elementary school I really liked Fridays. But not for obvious reasons. I remember sitting at my desk in Mrs. Melton’s 2nd grade class, feeling really anxious about the last bell ringing. What would happen after Ms. Gravy Train picked us up from school?Well natch, we would go to Wendy's(where I wouldn't eat pickles or pudding),go home and watch The Dukes of Hazzard and then…no bath!
I hated taking baths. I’m not sure why but I don’t think I was the only kid. Anyone know why we hated them so much? I mean, I remember I had pretty cool bath toys like “the little people” and some kind of mermaids that lived on lily pads. Sometimes there were even bubbles. What’s not to like?
But I bitched and moaned so much that my parents decided six days a week was plenty. And thus the rule—no baths on Fridays! I have to wonder, on Saturday was I that stinky kid who hadn’t taken a bath since Thursday night?
I do remember bath time always being an ordeal. I would turn on the water myself and then forget about it. My mom would say, “Elsa, are you watching your water?” Ugh. And then once I would get in the bath I never wanted to get out. That I understand—it’s too cold! “Elsa, isn’t it time for you to get out of the tub and go to bed?” But I had all those cool little people in there. And they floated! So I bitched and moaned some more.
But Friday nights we had none of that. I was as dirty as those Duke boys I watched on TV. Nobody had to remind me to watch my water, nobody had to make sure I got out of the bath tub.
Hmmm…maybe it was my parents who got hold of a green crayon and enthusiastically vandalized the bookshelf with the message “No Baths on Fridays!” Yep. That's the only explanation.
P.S. I do bathe on Fridays now. Well, most of the time--if I don't stay out too late at Wendy's.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
In fact, when Frank asks his dad why he isn’t as handy or mechanical as he or his brother, his dad answers, “When David and I were working on cars, you were upstairs playing your guitar.” In other words, “You’re not an idiot. You have a talent too, son.”
So Frank was in a band in high school called “Stain” (not to be confused with the current band “Stained”). They had some success—a tape, some shows with decent crowds and some home videos his parents shot.
Then he was in a no-name band in college that played cover songs at parties. I suggested they call themselves “Nudist Camp Rejects” which they quickly rejected.
But my favorite band that Frank has been in is Strictly Business. They rock. Oh, and if you couldn’t guess, this was Frank’s band during business school. I did not come up with this name.
Before I saw them play I dismissed them as just another cover band. Their first show was at La Zona Rosa in front of about 500 current b-school students, prospective students and alums. I was worried that nobody would listen to them so I stood right in front, cheering really loud. But then as they played, more and more people started gathering around. I started to get pushed—got a little scared there for a minute!
I left to go to the bathroom during one song and when I returned, I couldn’t even get back to my place in the front row. I decided to stand on a chair and realized I wasn’t the only one. I had a good view of the crowd and everyone in the joint was dancing to the tunes of Strictly Business.
So why do they rock? They play crowd pleasers but they “make it their own” as Paula Abdul would say. Some highlights:
--A rousing rendition of “Proud Mary” that goes into Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name of…”
--The Devil went down to Georgia featuring their talented violin player
--An encore--since the crowd ALWAYS asked for it: “It’s Tricky”
Strictly Business got so big that they even had band drama: One of the members quit and went to a rival business school band. They had to replace him in true Van Halen fashion (or Destiny’s Child, whichever one you can relate to).
And beyond that they even had groupies—they were business school girls but still…One of them made t-shirts for their “Farewell Tour” and I believe there may have been some panties tossed up on the stage. I even had to fight off a few at one show. They pushed me out of the way and said, “Oh, sorry. We’re groupies, hee hee hee.” I yelled back, “Oh, yeah? I’m a wife!”
So now Strictly Business is no more. That’s what happens when you’ve got a band made up of business school students. They sell out for corporate jobs. You know, working for the man.
But now when Frank asks, “Hey, why didn’t I learn anything in business school?” I just say, “You were too busy playing your guitar, son.”
See? The Groupies even come up on stage!
The boys of Strictly Business--their final show. Did I hear somebody say reunion?
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
I require food about every three hours, if not more. No, I’m not pulling an Eva Longoria “I eat pizza all day long and then for dinner I stuff my face with hot dogs but I’m still so skinny.” It’s not like that. I can’t eat crap every three hours. I just need to eat something.
What happens if I don’t eat? Oh, it’s not pretty. Let me take you back to sometime in the year 2000. It was a weeknight. (Let’s say Wednesday. I always hate Wednesdays. Oh, great. Today is Wednesday.) Frank and I went to Grapevine Mills mall to look for some shoes for him. I was hungry so I kept asking when we could eat. I could feel my blood sugar lowering and I started to become irritable: “Those shoes are ugly!” I snapped.
Finally, we decide to go to the Rainforest Café which is in the mall. We have to wait for a table which I’m not pleased about. On a Wednesday night? It’s a school night!
Have you been to this place, the Rainforest Café? It’s dreadful. And I told Frank this that very night after we finally got a table around 9pm. “Look at these prices!” I exclaimed, “Ten dollars for a chicken sandwich which doesn’t include fries! All for this great atmosphere, which means a monkey screams at me through my meal!”
By the time they brought out our food I was so hungry that the elephant sounds and constant rain were pounding into my head and making me dizzy. All I wanted to do was take a bite of that $10 chicken sandwich. But when I try to pick it up, there are all these burnt chips in front of me. I hate those burnt chips! That’s what they give you when they want to make a point that you should have paid the extra $4 for fries. They’re not even edible!
Let me preface my next action by saying at this point I had lost my mind. I’m having an out-of-body experience. I just want those chips out of my way so I can take a bite of my chicken sandwich. So I start to brush them off the plate with my hand. But they don’t just land on the table; some of them start to fall on the floor. But I don’t care. I keep brushing them away, pushing them harder and harder until they’re all on the floor. I hate those chips! I hate the Rainforest Café! And will those monkeys please shut up? I don’t look up at Frank. I just start digging into my chicken sandwich.
When I finally look up at him he says, “Can I ask you a question and you won’t get mad?” I say, “No.” He asks anyway, “HOW OLD ARE YOU?”
Since I had some food in me, the anger had subsided and the guilt set in. I leaned down to start picking up my mess but I noticed something. My purse was on the floor and it was open. I think you see where I’m going with this. Frank didn’t suppress his urge to laugh.
So now I’ve decided I’m in charge of my own blood sugar. If that means carrying granola bars in my purse (not the chip-filled purse) or eating a snack before going out to dinner (in case of the long wait) then I do it.
All I know is that I don’t want to have anymore restaurants where my picture is up as “crazy chip throwing lady.” One is enough. And as a crazy screaming monkey is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
But Luis wasn’t a typical Jack. He was even less gay than Will. He drove a motorcycle. He liked sports. In some ways he was straighter than Frank! But we had a blast my senior year of college. Back then I had to share Luis with a flurry of gay-friend-wanting-gals.
So when I went off to work in Dallas, I invited Luis to come along and work at the ad agency with me. Well, we also got $1,000 for recruiting someone. Everybody won. When Luis moved here he got all into the gay scene. Have you seen the gay scene? It’s awesome. In fact, one day Frank and I were driving down Oak Lawn in the middle of the afternoon and when he saw all of the activity, Frank asked with extreme curiosity, “Hey! What’s this part of town?”
Luis took me to the gay bars where everyone is friendly and inviting. And they play the BEST songs! It’s like I gave them a mixed tape of all my fave tunes—Madonna, Destiny’s Child, Britney. And the ultimate: Cher, If I could Turn Back Time. When that song played I did my famous counterclockwise dance which the gay men love.
Like me, Luis wasn’t that into shopping but we knew that’s what gay guys and their gal pals did together so we complied. When we were first decorating our apartments we went to Garden Ridge Pottery. I know, it’s so not gay chic but remember, we worked in advertising. We each picked themes for our décor. He went for an art motif and I nautical. Together we helped each other decorate our homes with plastic busts of David and cheap sail boat paintings.
I liked hanging out with his new group of gay pals too. If we were in the car and one would say, “Keep going straight,” they would all erupt in giggles. And because Luis was so not flamboyant even Frank was comfortable around him. Frank once said, “Oh, good. Luis joined my gym. He can spot me.” Oh, I’m sure he will, Frank!
Naturally I could only keep my best gay pal to myself temporarily. All the girls at the agency befriended him and wanted his attention. So much so that when I got laid off Luis didn’t even call me to see how I was doing. I was so mad and I played the game of “I’m not calling him. Let his gay Brazilian butt call me.” Later I found out that with all the layoffs at our agency he was worried because his Visa had expired. He knew if he came forward he would surely be let go.
So about a month later a mutual friend called me and asked if I had talked to Luis. “No, he didn’t even call me after I was laid off…” I started to rant. “Well,” my friend said, “At the advice of a lawyer he told the agency about his Visa and they fired him on the spot. Now he’s being deported.”
Not only was Luis my first gay friend, he was my first illegal immigrant friend! I never spoke to him again and it’s been over four years. I don’t know where he’s living. What he’s doing. Which gay bars he’s frequenting. I’m sure wherever he is, he has plenty of lady friends to take dancing and shopping.
But if anyone wants to hit the gay clubs with me in search of a new gay friend, I’m always up for a little Cher.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Perhaps he thought I was a P.E. coach. I’m okay with that. I always thought that looked like a pretty good gig. And the wardrobe is only the beginning.
Just like teachers, they get summers off, spring break and two weeks at Christmas. But unlike teachers they don’t have to grade papers, deal with the same kids all day or even teach, really. Yes, they probably have to make lesson plans but how hard is that? Look. I just did a P.E. coach’s lesson plans for the week:
Monday: Dodge Ball
Tuesday: Open the doors, let the kids run around outside for 45 minutes
Wednesday: Jumping Jacks
Thursday: Dodge Ball
Friday: Teacher In-service Day—do lesson plans for next week.
At lunchtime they get to eat in the school cafeteria which is as delicious as it is affordable. And they get to cut in front of the kids. They do all this while wearing a comfy plastic workout ensemble. I think they can even wear visors.
In sixth grade I had this mean P.E. coach—Coach McMillan. Whenever a kid would approach him and complain of feeling sick, he would say, “What are you sick of? Sick of ice cream?” I hated it then but I have to say I use it on Frank and I’m pretty sure our kids can expect it too.
One day Coach McMillan made us run the mile (eight laps around the Landolt track) in the rain. How cruel! We were all “sick of ice cream” that day. So later some of the kids in my class approached me with a proposition:
“Elsa, we need you to write up a petition about why Coach McMillan should be fired for making us run in the rain. Then we’ll get everyone to sign it and we’ll take it to the principal.”
Natch, I was chosen because of my kick ass spelling skills (see blog from Thursday). So I wrote it up and tried to make it sound really legal-like with big words like “appalling” and “pneumonia” and “constricting” (to describe his ill-fitting coach’s shorts). Everyone signed it. And then I think I chickened out and didn’t turn it in. I’m glad I didn’t go through with it. I would feel awful if my persuasive legal jargon was the reason someone had to leave such a cool job.
Back at the VW dealership they interrupted my P.E. coach daydream to tell me my car was ready. “Are you off to work now, Mrs. Simcik?” they asked me. I told them, “Oh, no. We’re off for Columbus day. But I need to rest up because tomorrow is non-stop Dodge Ball. And by the way, the name's COACH Simcik.”
Friday, October 07, 2005
In college we had to go to the UT health center and inevitably, no matter what was wrong with you, you’d leave with a sling. Once I had a stomach ache and the doctor actually got out a book and started looking up my condition. Either I was a medical marvel or she got her degree from Medical Community College. Her diagnosis? Tummy ache. Remedy? Sling.
So the next time I got sick in college I went to a real doctor. Or as real as my health insurance would allow. I went through the whole appointment and when I was at the counter, waiting to check out, I noticed that their giant wall calendar said “AUGUST.” That would be great except it was NOVEMBER. What kind of people fail to flip their calendar THREE times? The kind of people who fail to sterilize needles? The kind of people who fail to throw the biohazard materials in the correct bin? The kind of people who actually mistake a urine sample for lemonade? I never returned.
Yesterday I went to a dentist to get a crown. (No, not the kind of crown I really want.) I had just been once before and I was already uneasy because he’s in a shopping center and there’s a sign over his office that says “DENTIST.” In fact whenever his hygienist/assistant/receptionist calls to remind me of an appointment she says, “This is Rebecca from the dentist’s office…” What? Like he’s the only dentist in Dallas? Don’t they usually say “…from Dr. Ramos’ office?”
Anyway I had let all that slide because they had very current and interesting magazines.
So I’m sitting in the waiting room yesterday and I notice this fake plant. That’s cool but what’s hanging from the plant? Are those CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS?! I start to get up to run out of the office (which again, is really a shopping center) but then I calm myself by rationalizing that they’re probably just Chinese symbols or something. Just as I was realizing that Dr. Ramos is actually Hispanic, Rebecca (the hygienist/assistant/receptionist) calls me back.
I explain to her that I had brought my iPod because my friend told me it’s very soothing to listen to during a procedure. She gives me a puzzled look and asks, “What’s an iPod?”
What?! I mean, Grandma Valerie probably knows what an iPod is! Rebecca’s like 25! She asks, “Is it like a walkman?” I was shaking with fear. What kind of cave men was I dealing with? Were they gonna use rocks and two sticks to give me my crown?
The not-Chinese dentist came in and I thought I’d test him before I ran out screaming. “I’m going to listen to my iPod if that’s okay with you,” I said slowly, watching his reaction. “Sure, no problem,” he answered. Shwoo…what a relief.
As I sat in the chair I kept saying to myself, “It’s okay…He’s got current magazines, he knows what an iPod is…No! Don’t think about the Christmas decorations. That’s probably all Rebecca. She still thinks it's Christmas 2001 before iPods were invented…But what about the shopping center? No! Stop it! It’s a very nice shopping center. Very close to my house…within running distance…”
The whole crown procedure went fine. I packed up my hip new walkman gadget, paid my bill and sprinted out the door…just in case they were gonna try and fit me for a sling.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
My first bee (that’s what we champs call ‘em) was in third grade. And I wasn’t just competing against other eight and nine-year-olds. This was third-fifth grades. And I did okay. Definitely made the top ten.
Then in fourth grade I placed fifth. But still first of the fourth graders. I remember my friend A.J. was so mad when he was eliminated. He stormed off the Cafeteria-Gymnasium-Auditorium stage and ran out of the building. They had to chase after him.
So everyone in the fourth grade knew I was like the spelling queen (hmmm…starting to see why I couldn’t be considered for homecoming queen now.) We would play this game called “Sparkle” where we’d all stand in a circle and go around spelling our spelling words for that week. The deal was that if the person next to you spelled it right, you were out. What’s with these military tactics in fourth grade?
Anyway, when we would go to form the circle, everyone would run away from me. Naturally, at first I thought there was an odor or something. But then I realized that nobody wanted to stand next to me because they KNEW I would spell the word right and they would be out! That was a cool feeling--in a leperish sort of way.
Okay, so that brings us to the fifth grade bee. This was my chance, right? I was like the returning fourth grade champion. So it got down to three of us (A.J. had already been eliminated. Pretty sure he ran out and never returned.)
I got up there and they asked me to spell “Error.” I said, “Um, E…” and then for some reason I made the most critical bee mistake…a rookie mistake, really. I repeated the letter E. So that meant that technically, I spelled the word “E-E-R-R-O-R.” But the worst part is that right after I said the second E, the audience went crazy. I thought they were really rooting for those other two. But more likely they were just glad it was almost over.
That was the year of my big bee ERROR.
But don’t worry, in sixth grade I made my comeback and won the whole thing. You might be thinking, “Yeah, but that’s only against other sixth graders.” True. But we’re dealing with intermediate level words here! We’ve got words like…woah, I just checked the official intermediate spelling bee list for some examples and these words are crazy hard! I’m talking Algorithm, Bourgeois and Extemporaneous.
How did I do it? My dad had started coaching me the summer before sixth grade. We practiced so much that when I won, my dad wasn’t surprised. He gave me a high five and said, “Well, I figured. We practiced enough.”
I did go on to represent my school in the district bee but let’s just say it started at 11am and my mom and I left early enough to make it for lunch at the food court in the mall.
So I’d rather remember the day that I was the spelling queen of Landolt Elementary school. My subjects respected me, admired me, even feared me. Can you believe they don’t give out crowns for this?
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Frank first got the idea to photograph us on a 2002 trip to Barbados. Incidentally, Frank had just proposed to the beautiful Elsa the night before. We were pleased when that happened because that meant someone would be around to encourage Frank to trim our toenails and maybe even let us get in on some of that soap action. Anyway, the next day Frank started this whole feet photography obsession. It seems Frank was full of great ideas on this trip.
What happened is that Frank took a picture of the pool and we sort of just got in the way. He reviewed the pic on his digital camera and admired his keen eye for photography. And thus, we became stars of all of their trips.
The first (we're wearing "mandals" as Thea calls them)
At the Leaning Tower of Pisa—we climbed it even though it’s about to fall over. We didn’t think it was such a great idea but Elsa did it and she’s the smart one.
Aw, on their first anniversary in Gruene, TX. Elsa was sick in the hotel with a tummy ache so we hung out with Frank. So romantic.
At the Colleseum in Rome! We were too late for the tour so all we know is that Gladiator was filmed here.
Los pies en México. Tráiganos otra cerveza.
Snowshoeing in Colorado. This was a lot of work for us. But Elsa's feet fell into a frozen lake--losers! They're always sort of bitchy to us anyway.
On the beach in the Cinque Terre, Italy. They sunbathe topless there, ya know.
Our farthest trip--the Great Wall of China!
So basically we're international celebrities. We're the subject of this amazing photography and we've pretty much been around the world. And now we've even written a blog.
Would it be too much to ask for some traveling, literate feet to get some socks without holes in them?
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
The first time I realized his rockiness was in 4th grade. My elementary school choir performed a rousing rendition of his hit, “Dancing on the Ceiling.” We clapped, we swayed, I think I might have even yelled out a “Sing it, sistah!” Or maybe that wasn’t me.
Sure, he rocked long before that with the Commodores (She’s a Brick…House. You MUST pause appropriately between those words. Another pet peeve. Another blog.) And then there was the recognition he received from his “Endless Love” duet with Diana Ross (Mariah Carey and Luther Vandross tried to cover it in ’94 but they didn’t quite have the sexual chemistry of Ross and Richie.)
My faves? Well I must divide them into categories. I’ll also note some sample lyrics but this time I’m not going to consult a lyrics website. This is all from memory, baby. Ambitious? Maybe. Lazy? Definitely.
Best Party Song: All Night Long
“Kobonista say you say, Oh, jumbo jumbo.” He speaks many languages!
Best Love Song: Stuck on You
“Needin’ a friend? Cause the way I’m feeling now I guess I’ll be with you till the end. Guess I’m on my way. I’m mighty glad you stayed.”
Best Chill Song: Easy Like Sunday Morning
“Cause I’m Eeee-asy. Easy Like Sunday Morning…” A girl couldn’t have pulled this off.
Best Semi-Perv song: Ballerina Girl
“Ballerina Girl, you are so lovely. Every day and night, you know it’s right…don’t you ever go away.”
In fact, Nicole Richie’s daddy has so many songs, there’s bound to be a few I don’t like. So I’ll briefly mention them—“Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?” Creepy. Then there’s “Three Times a Lady” which I know is a classic but I gotta say, I would probably change the station before he even got to “twice.”
But hey, this blog isn’t titled “Why Nicole Richie’s Daddy doesn’t Rock” so let’s just focus on the good things: He’s successful, I wouldn’t change the station for about 83% of his songs and he never seems to age. That means if you run into him he’ll want to party all night long. You'll probably end up dancing on the ceiling. But no matter how excited you get, don't yell out, "Sing it, Nicole Richie's Daddy!"
Monday, October 03, 2005
Try it. It’s quite comfortable, right? But because the experts mentioned above have decided it makes people look stand-offish, unapproachable and downright bitchy, I can’t do it in public. I find myself doing this variation of it where I cross my arms but hold my elbows. I guess that seems better because my hands are still visible…like I’m ready for a hug at any minute?
I also like to stand with my hands on my hips. The fellas even gave this one a fancy name—arms akimbo. But when I do this it doesn’t mean I have a naughty four-year-old child who I’m about to address by his first and middle name. It’s just a place to put my hands so they’re not dangling by my side or flailing about like a Cirque du Soleil dancer.
And what’s with the whole eye contact thing? Way overrated in my opinion. Why do I have to look into your eyes? Maybe I’m noticing your neglected roots or your unkempt nose hairs. I mean, eyes? They all look the same. And if I’m looking into yours, you can be sure you’ve got an unsightly clump of mascara.
Yawning has to be the most unfair of all body language theories. I mean, I bet you yawned just now when you read the word “yawning.” Ah, got ya again. So if you’re in a meeting and the lazy, hung-over co-worker next to you happens to yawn, you’re doomed. The boss thinks you hate his speech (which you do) and that you’re thinking about how you’d rather be sitting at home in your underwear watching Lifetime movies (which you are). But still, you didn’t initiate the yawn—the official sign of boredom according to the body language experts.
I say we ban this language—kinda like we did with Latin. Then we could live in a world where girls could cross their arms and guys would still hit on them, people could put their hands on their hips without making young children run and we could look each other up and down without feeling like pervs. I’m so excited about this. Makes me wanna yawn.
I'm spending the morning at the VW dealership. My car is sick. I'm going to hang out in the waiting room, eating a Nutri-Grain bar from the vending machine--except it will probably be the two-pack yellow cupcakes--reading the April 2002 issue of Car and Driver and writing today's blog. So please check back this afternoon for the real deal.
Until then, I'll leave you with a picture of my bug and me--in happier times.