Friday, December 30, 2005

Christmas Stockings Are Overrated Anyway

Truthfully, I am glad the weekend - the Christmas holiday - is over. As I mentioned, I stayed behind and spent the holiday with my boyfriend's family. I still feel like an outsider to the family which means I am very soft-spoken and shy around them. It is not that they aren't friendly, because they are. And they know how to have a good time. But we have only been dating three months - and there is nothing like Christmas - or a family holiday - to make you feel like the outsider you are. Sometimes I can sufficiently participate in the grown-up conversation but all the familial holiday hubbub just made me even more introverted than usual.

The weekend started off late afternoon Christmas eve at the sister's home. We all participated in a little family Cranium competition. And the family is pretty competitive. And - I don't know - it could be because there was no drinking involved - and this is a game that involves lots of drinking because you are going to be acting and whistling and humming and spelling backwards (which only a stiff drink can accomplish). So here is where my first bout of shyness surfaced. And it made me hesitant with all my responses for fear of sounding like an Educated Idiot. This backfired because I looked even more stupid for not getting The Obvious. Example: My boyfriend had to act out the famous person on the card only through verbal communication. I was the "guesser" because frankly he is good at impersonations. And he did nail this one. He started it off with the "politician-thumb-to-bent-forefinger-point" very accurately impersonating, "I. Did not. Have. Sexual relations. With...." I paused. I hemmed and hawed. Because Bill Clinton, right? But, I don't know, what if I was wrong and there was someone I was missing. Who else could it be?! (Kobe Bryant? Jude Law? But the voice!) So I doubted myself and thought carefully before I FINALLY answered. We ended up winning the game. Somehow. But this whole game-time wasn't relaxing for me.

Eventually they started pouring the champagne and wine. I managed to come out of my shell a little more. Then we dressed for dinner, which was a Black Tie affair. Look at me with the sparkles. Needless to say, I managed to be over-dressed. Who knew? Then we did a little Pollyanna gift exchange. And kept taking turns blowing into a breathalyzer. All in all Christmas Eve was fun. Who knew a breathalyzer could be such fun? [Only in these circumstances. Do not get in the car. --The Cops] I managed to muddle my way through conversation. Then the uncle's partner started in with how I looked like Tiffani Thiessen. Which, strangely, I have heard many times. I still never see it. So there was some analyzing of the merits of this resemblance. But drinks were poured and laughter was echoing through the house. And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care.

I kind of wish I could have ended the weekend right here. On what I felt was a good note.

Because what came first: the chicken or the egg? Or, what came first: my own Self-Imposed Bad Mood or a series of events to set off my Bad Mood?

It was agreed that we would stay over at the sister's house on Christmas Eve. The Breathalyzer was not letting us go anywhere anyway. Then - according to his plan - we would partake in the present opening the next morning, brunch, and then head out. Later that evening The Boyfriend (he'll get a name in the new year) would return to the parent's house for Christmas dinner. I was going to be given a "pass" on that. He was concerned that it would be a lot of family time for me. And I agree. However, dinner is easy. I knew the hard part was going to be the Present Opening that ALL the family was going to be doing. With nothing for me to do but sit there and watch. (I know, woe is The Lonely Soul.) In any case, this was the part I wanted out of. For my own reasons.

First, the family has a lot of money so very expensive presents were being opened all around me. They spend a couple thousand dollars a piece - easily. I could tell by the Louis Vuitton, Hermes, cashmere, and diamonds that was in abundance. Who needs - who gets! - two Louis? Therefore, I felt like his family's gifts trumped mine. Sure they were more expensive - mostly clothing from London and Paris. I know that Expensive doesn't make The Better. But they were things he specifically asked for. Things he wanted. Things I couldn't get for him because I didn't/couldn't jet to London to Christmas shop for him. Is there something wrong with wanting to buy him his favorite present?

The Ferragamo wallet I got for him - which is not shabby by any means - was something he desperately needed. On like our third date he mentioned that he needed a new wallet as he had just ran his through the wash. (I made a mental note of that at the time.) And it was falling apart. And it was a tri-fold. Nobody carries tri-folds anymore. Nobody even makes them anymore. So I thought I was gold with this gift. Because what guy goes out and buys and expensive wallet for himself? But then the sister got him a wallet too (as one of many gifts). Hers happened to be brown (and not as nice - or expensive - as she pointed out) so he was ever the diplomat and said that it was great that he had a black one and a brown one and he could interchange them. Who does that? So, my present seemed cliche and insignificant now.

Then I couldn't shake the feeling of Outsider - the outside-looking-in kind of thing. To nobody's fault. But I kept thinking this is not my family. Maybe this was too soon in the relationship to be a part of all this. Silly, maybe. Because they certainly made me a small part of it. After all, I am the girlfriend and who knows if it will amount to anything more. Why should they get attached to the Idea of Me? I don't want to be that girl they talk about next Christmas. "Remember that girl from last year - who was so quiet? We love your new girlfriend!" But they kept thanking me for being a part of their Christmas. And when the mother asked me about traditions and I told her about keilbasi on Christmas Eve, she replied that had she known she would have made sure we had some. How sweet is that? And the mother got me a beautiful sterling silver champagne icer with glasses that I love. Because she knows I like The Champagne. And the sister got me some beautiful earrings. From Neimans. So this was all very thoughtful. So you see, they tried to include me. Still did I mention there were lots and lots and lots of presents. And my boyfriend is Present Opening Upper Savorer. One by one - sloooooowly. One. By. One. The Grown-Up's Present Opening Extravanganza lasted a couple of hours easily.

And then they did the whole presentation of their stockings. Which, I don't know, I felt like they could have just thrown one in for me. I could have brought mine from home. A BYOS party! Because their stockings were a bottomless pit of toys and presents - not the Story Book Life Savers from my past. The mother gave me some Mardi Gras beads with pink duckies on them - again, to make me feel included. Again, sweet. But there is everybody - my boyfriend, his mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, and uncle and his "partner" - all carefully inspecting the huge array of gifts from their stocking. Even the dogs had stockings. Bottomless stockings. Since I was without, I tried to take an interest in my boyfriend's stocking - which he is sloooowly savoring. He practically read a whole book. I'm not kidding. It wasn't a novel - so, possible. He interpreted my interest - my need to Do Something besides sit there and ooh and aahh - as impatience.

"So do you just tear through your gifts?" (And I don't!) But I shut up and shut off. all around. He didn't mean anything by it, but at this point, it just rubbed me the wrong way.

Then he says to me - twisting the knife a little deeper - although not intending to, I'm sure, "Did your parents send you your presents?"

At that point, the insenstitivity of that "slip-up" almost sent me to tears. I curtly reply, "You mean my mom?" He knows my dad is dead. He shouldn't have to walk on eggshells but it kind of hit me...not in a good way. Not for the fact that my dad is no longer here but for the simple thoughtlessness with regard to Myself - who I am and where I come from. He caught the slip-up, he apologized, but I kept thinking, "Is he just making small talk with me?" Who am I?

Typically, he is a thoughtful and sweet guy, so am I being overly-sensitive? Perhaps. It has been known to happen on occassion. But that one little comment - or the culmination of the whole morning - or the fact that I missed being part of my own family - shut me up for the rest of the day. Literally. I didn't have the heart or strength to partake in conversation. I entered my shell. Which can only be broken open with alone time. But I still had to sit through a very long brunch and preparation of the brunch. I'm afraid I barely said a word. I drank my water with bottles of bottles of champagne surrounding me, taunting me, bubbling, "Drink me." So now I think that his family - who once liked me - probably now think that I am a Bore or a Bitch. I could also be putting way too much thought into this. Again, that has been known to happen on occassion.

But it is all over. I can't dwell on how charming I woulda, coulda, shoulda been. But, I'll tell you, I was finally thankful - and felt more like myself - once I got to my own home and called my family as I spent the rest of Christmas Day alone on the couch. Until I looked over at my own lonely little stocking hanging on my fireplace.

If you can't be with your own, someone else's family is not a bad place to be.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Fire, Baby, You're To Blame

I am pyrophobic. When I was younger I was always going behind my family and turning burners off. Now I have a gas stove and although I force myself to use it - it scares me every time. I watch my water boil. (Trust me, it eventually boils.) I won't turn my oven on over 375. I will never flambe or bombe anything. I always make sure my stove/oven is turned off every time I leave the house even if I hadn't used it in 2 days. (Although that may be a whole different set of quirk of the OCD kind.) I sit a good distance from fireplaces and each time it cackles and pops, I ask, "Is it supposed to do that?" Every time. I would NEVER work a grill. In fact, I do not "hang out" by a charcoal grill when it is being fired up. I do not light matches - that is why I could never be a smoker. I try it occassionally but it gets so frustating asking people to light it for me. From their own mouth. (Its been known to work as a pickup line.) If I light a candle I never leave it lit for more than an hour so I can cut the wick down. And I never have a candle burning in any room I am not in. Even for a minute. I hate the 4th of July. And I curl up in a ball during lightning storms.

I don't know where it comes from. But I will break out in sweats. Panic. Think horrible things if I feel "threatened" by a flame.

So when someone with this - admittedly - unnatural fear witnesses a car ablaze right outside her office window while at work - we are talking flames bursting in the air. She runs through the office yelling, "Fire! Fire! Fire!" Really. She did. Luckily, the fire brigade came in about 2 minutes and cute muscley firemen hosed it down - that was nice. The fire never jumped from the car and didn't have a chance to reach the back of the car, thus, the fuel tank which - and I'm no fire professional - but potentially explosive? Right? Oh, I thought about this. That is why I was huddled in a corner in the back of the building - away from the windows.

This may or may not be embarrassing.

But I think my office is grateful because for 5 minutes I acted as our office's Virtual Fire Alarm because our own fire alarms were out to lunch. It was 1 PM. Perhaps Sizzlin Express had a special going on.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Home For The Holidays

My Christmas present to myself this year is a Travel Free Holiday. I will not be stuffing US Air, Independence, or BP/Amoco's stocking this year with my annual Holiday Travel Dollars. Because I am kicking it back DC-style. With My Guy. Who specifically requested we spend Christmas together. Well, it turns out, with him and his family. At the House That Will Be Christmas This Year. A mini-Disney-style extravaganza with 4 professionally-decorated Christmas trees (or one that will have the "homemade" ornaments that will be hidden in an upstairs landing). A Bigger-Than-Life-Size snow globe in the yard and who knows what other "lawn ornaments". A house totally re-arranged for Christmas decorations. Furniture hauled out. Ivy and red velvet brought in. A decorated house to rival any Better Homes and Gardens centerfold. A Semi-formal sit-down dinner. And, well, lots of booze. Which you need at this point really, right?

But this "gift" I've bestowed upon myself (which last year, by the way, was a tiny sapphire band from Tiffany) does not come without some mixed emotion.

When he first asked me I thought that perhaps we would have our own Christmas on, say, Christmas Eve. A deux. I was going to spend the day cooking and baking. For My Guy. Which "Come One, Come All, The Freak Show is in the Big Top. Tickets are going fast. You have to see it to believe it!" But there is an interesting turn of events that my head is now privy to after I already concocted this Special Holiday for me and him in my own head. See, his family has "events" planned. Christmas is an Event. That consists of something like a Formal Dress Sit-Down Dinner on Christmas Eve at the parent's "rental home" on the Potomac, as in River. Gift Exchange at 9 AM Christmas morning, followed by Christmas Brunch. And another Dinner Extravangza. With happenings in between. Or something like this. I have yet to get the details and I am not sure all that I am going to be part of. Frankly, I don't want to partake in all these festivities. Give me a bucket of chicken and a six-pack and I'll curl up on my couch in my treeless home. Isn't it supposed to snow?

The Christmas I am used to is quite different. First of all, Christmas - for my family - has never been in the same spot and doesn't always include all of us. That is what happens when you grow up - move away - move around - and build your own families. Christmas is wherever we feel like it, whoever feels like having it, and whoever feels like going. Sometimes we are all together and sometimes we aren't. So with that, I hate the stress of picking whose house I stay at. Both my sister and brother have been married for years now so they have their own stress of where to spend the holidays. Home or in-laws? But I am the Spinster Sister. (Well, I know they don't think that but my dad's side of the family thinks that.. Questions have been asked like: "What is wrong with her?" What's her problem?" and "Why is she so selfish?" They don't send me Christmas cards because I do not have family. To which I reply, "Single People are People too.") So since my dad's passing I have the stress of staying with my mom, staying with my sister, or staying with my brother. In this situation I would pick my mother and everyone wants mom so this just means triple travel time for me - from my home to my mom's home to my sister's home to my brother's or any other direction. So I don't think my family blames me for having an option to spend the holidays travel-free, spinster that I am.

But this decision does not come without a degree of guilt. Quite simply, I'll miss my family and what I remember as Christmas. Which is different depending on whose house it is at but there are some things that warm my heart with Christmas cheer and what I remember from various Christmas Pasts: The dress code is Pajamas. All day long. The tree is never perfect but filled with sentimental ornaments - all handmade - in the second grade. Can you say green paper Christmas tree with a picture of my brother circa 2nd grade pasted on - off center? So, a tree with character, nonetheless. The garland is in pieces - a new beautiful 25 foot long strand is never bought. So there are sections of garland tucked into the tree. There is no train under the tree but there are a million old-looking Santa Clauses parked throughout the house. Just move the one off the toilet when nature calls. And the tree is always taken down the day after - if not the night of - Christmas. My mom wanted her house back in order. But there is always a big breakfast with nothing off the No-Fattening menu. Plenty to eat all day long. We drink lots of beer. We probably fight. And we never get to open anything on Christmas Eve. THIS is Christmas. THIS is what I know. THIS is what I am going to miss this year.

I won't get to eat keilbasi on Christmas Eve. I will miss seeing my nieces' and nephew's faces when they open their presents. I will miss tasting whatever new beer my brother-in-law has discovered. I will miss my momma. I will miss her talking about my daddy - she will want to share stories - to which my brother will leave the room because his eyes will well up. I will miss trying to make a joke about that. I won't get to see my mom's wrapping job this year which gets worse and worse every year. (She is the reason gift bags were invented.) I will miss this.

Instead I will be at the House That Will Be Christmas This Year which will be oozing a different kind of Christmas cheer. I will be a visitor to this Wonderland because it is not My Family. Decorating perfection is not comfortable to me. (Eclectic, imperfection, and kitsch is more my comfort zone and one could argue - lawn ornament - kitsch. I might not argue.) Yet I am excited to spend time - to spend the holiday - with my boyfriend - family and all. And they are fun in spite of their making Christmas an event where pajamas are prohibited. They pour plenty of booze which hopefully will stifle any insecurity or shyness I have. [Hmmm...Will she excuse herself to use the bathroom then reappear in her pajamas? --Inquiring Minds] Silly, drunk people make me feel s-m-r-t. Seriously, I am enjoying getting to know them better. I am flattered that after only three months of dating it was important to him for me to be there. He says that he enjoys family-time much better with me by his side. I think I know what he means.

So in preparation for the Christmas This Year I am practicing the following line, "I love the snow globe!" so it doesn't come out like, "What the #$%&*$# is that!? Your house has been hijacked by Blow-Up Lawn Ornaments R Us."

Peace on Earth
Goodwill to Men, Women, Some Children, Airplanes, and Holiday Lawn Ornaments
Happy Holidays to You and Yours and any In Between

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Princess Can Not Peel Oranges

He likes to cook for me. I like that he likes to cook for me. I think I am a terrible cook. (Except scones! I bake yummy scones!)

"What do you want for breakfast?"

"What are our options this morning?"

"There might be ingredients to make waffles. Eggs. Potatoes?"

"Potatoes! Yes, like hashbrowns or breakfast potatoes." My eyes were now glazing over with spuds dancing their little potato dance. Potatoes!

"Your favorite."

It's true. I love potatoes. Cooked any which way but loose and the french fry being my least favorite kind of potato and I love a french fry - so, you see, I have never met a potato I didn't like. Unless it has sour cream sitting on it. Then that just ruins it for me. The Love Affair will be OVER. Desert island food? Potatoes. Desert island drink? Champagne. Desert island dessert? Gummy bears. Desert island man? James Dean. He is alive during the time I am on the desert island. You didn't say when I was going to be on this desert island or that there is any time continuum so Alive James Dean will accompany me in this fantasy. So I am going to eat fried potatoes, drink champagne, pop gummy bears, and kiss James Dean until somebody gets me off this desert island. No rush.

So he shreds the potatoes. Shreds. With a little shredder tool that I know I have but never use. I think to myself, can we not afford the extra two bucks to buy the potatoes already shredded? (Perhaps that is 2 dollars towards a shiney Christmas present that I don't REALLY want (of course) so I should let it go.) But he likes to grate his own cheese too. Which, um, the store already does it for you too! Oh really, Grocery Store, you shouldn't have! His argument - and my sister's - and my father's - is that it is "fresher this way." How much fresher can it be? I certainly can't tell the difference. But Kitchen People, AKA People Who Can Cook, know better so I should just sit still and beam, "He is shredding a fucking potato for me! Be happy girl." So while he is frying those up he is preparing the eggs, cracking them one by one in the bowl. And whisking and whisking and whisking. And? (Whisking.) When I make eggs for myself I just crack them in the pan and run a wooden spoon through them? Is that OK?

So I am sitting there useless. I offer to help many times, but he saw me try to shred the cheese one time and he heard about my whisking and I chipped one of his very expensive plates (don't ask) and I made the most disgusting fajitas you would every encounter so, The Thinking Guy, he tells me to sit there and relax. He'll do "all the work."

I know what you are thinking. Or I don't. But Version Smart Me point 0 is thinking, "Great! I am princess. This is my castle. You are my servant. Shred my potatoes, pluck the egg from the chicken coop and prepare me a feast, young lad. I will repay you in butterfly kisses in my princess chambers. Then you will go back to your servant duties. I'll ring when I need you again." But Smart Me is nowhere to be found. In fact, I'm not sure she entirely exists. Instead there is just Little Ol' Me Who Will Always Find Trouble point 00002 and a half. I flip through the owner’s manual for the vintage car that he keeps laying around the kitchen. Feeling helpless. Until he asks me if I want a smoothie too.

Holy fruity concoction jackpot! Visions of oranges and bananas dance in my head. Or a carton of orange juice. But, this is My Guy, who shreds, peels, and cores for his meal. And so I grab the orange. To help.

Except. The no cooking thing? Kind of correlates to All Things Kitchen. (Except scones! I bake yummy scones!) Peeling oranges doesn't always come easy to a kid like me. And the Peeling Orange gene most definetely left the building this morning. I should have just said from my perch on high, very princess-like, "That is ok, I do not feel like doing anything for the breakfast preparation. I would like my servant to peel this orange."

So I proceed to peel. Because who can't peel an orange, right? I think princesses do not. And that may or may not be Me. But I forget. So how does the peeling go? Well, you know how sometimes the peel comes off in nice big pieces and there is very little white left on the orange? It is the Perfect Orange Peel Job. Medals should be handed out when this kind of perfection happens. Well this wasn’t happening this morning as is usually the case with me and the kitchen and me. It was coming off in these tiny little pieces and what I ended up with were ends that were deeply embedded in that pesky orange. So in my hand was this mostly white round semblance of an orange with Jammed Ends. Princess be damned! I was going to be helpful at this here breakfast. So as I was mumbling about the Jammed Ends in my orange all crybaby (not really!) I thought of a brilliant idea. [Not so brilliant. --My Guy] I proceeded to open up the orange from the center. You know, just pick a random spot right in the center of the orange slices and pry that baby open. Orange juice was squirting everywhere. But not my eye! I was a Determined Orange Peeler that was not going to let the Jammed Ends get me down.

And so my Knight in Shining Armour comes over to save the damsel in distress, She of No Kitchen Skills, from the Land of I'll Just Bring Home the Bacon, But I Won't Fry It Up In the Pan. (Except scones! I bake yummy scones!) And this knight, with the best of intentions - I'm sure because he is nice, nice, nice - whisks the orange from my juicy, sticky, once-princess hands and says, “Wait. Is that how you open an orange?”

OK. I was prepared to have him muscle his way at that thing. To save a princess. A little he-man tug of those Damned Jammed Ends. But this kind of insulted me at this point. I may not be Chef Originale Moi. But intelligence insulted just a little here.

So I snap back in a very Lara The Brat kind of way (that mostly only my family knows), "Um. Excuse me? There is no right or wrong way to OPEN AN ORANGE! I was doing the best I could. Normally the ends come right out for me. But you buy all this food that you have to kill the goat and skin a hide for. I live in the 21st century where grocery stores do that for me!"

Well, I didn't really say all that exactly. But I did snap at him because I DO believe that there is no right or wrong way to peel a damn orange! Am I wrong on this? But I guess the whole point IS: To retain the juices because that is what will make a good smoothie. Again, I would just add more orange juice. But orange juice is different from orange juice. Apparently. One is fresher.

So I will not try to find something to do in the kitchen anymore. I wll sit on my perch, princess that I am, ordering My Guy as he muscles his way through the kitchen for me. You know, if that makes him happy.

But I have one question. Given that I can't peel an orange, should I not attempt to make Beef Bourgignone for Christmas Eve supper*? I can just follow directions, right? They don't look hard.

*I NEVER say supper but when I re-read my post I saw that I did in fact say "supper" so I left it in anyway because what does that mean? I was raised dinner-style.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Battle Of The Sexes

I love games. Board games. Card games. Trivia games. Drinking games. A combination thereof. You name it. But it is not the competitiveness aspect of games that I like. I could care less about winning. If the game is not neck and neck, I will probably give hints to help you along and I expect you to do the same. Admittedly, I sometimes suffer from Alex Trebekitis - Gatekeeper of Answers, All-Knowing Answer Card Holder. Like Epstein in Welcome Back Kotter - "Ew! Ew! Ew! Me! Me! I know this! I know this! Mr. Kott-ah! Mr. Kott-ah!" And so when you have the answer card it is power - you feel like you just might know everything in the world. See? We gave Alex Trebek too much power and he grew right out of those britches. Therefore, I hate when the Answer Keeper says, "Oh come on, you know this." And you don't so you feel like The Idiot because you don't know who was buried in Grant's tomb. I'm not Alex Trebek - I can't know everything! Help a player along.

So no, it is not about winning. Instead, what I really like about games is the social aspect. I like the friendly flexing of the mind - or liver. It's for the advancement of my intellect or tolerance - for better or for worse. Apparently. And, well, whenever I get together with my sister and brother-in-law – then the games and the drinking always transpire. Most recently, Thanksgiving. My sister doesn’t remember making the dinner. I don’t remember eating it. But I'm sure there was dinner. It was probably turkey. Just a hunch.

And so this past Saturday when My Guy asked me what I wanted to do I knew I had to let him into my life more. There was some talk about this. He is slowly dismantling that wall I put up to keep out Ghosts of Past Mistakes. My Knight. So I declared that we were having "game night." Ooooh fun!

So, kids, here is my recipe for a rip, roaring Game Night:

1. Start with a dinner of Negro Modelos and tacos that you prepare together. Most definitely do not make fajitas with some kit you buy from the Giant. Just so you know, the "chipotle" sauce tastes like lighter fluid sauce. Stick with the tacos and all will be well.

2. One roaring fire that your guy has to kindle because you are AFRAID of the fire. [People, I can not express the fear of fire enough! --Phobia Compartment in my Mind]. For a special twist, ask your guy to take off his shirt while he does this. Guys, if your girl does not have the fear of the fire, then ask her to kindle! Don't be surprised if he thinks you are joking. But don't get distracted anyway because you have a Game Night to partake in. The excitement builds...

3. One bottle of Knob Creek - or, as we determined, 3/4 will probably be enough. Feel free to substitute a liquor of your choice. Bottles of wine and/or cases of beer have been known to work in the past. But for this special Game Night we decided to class it up with the bourbon.

4. The XM "eclectic Christmas music" channel where you get to hear jems like Little Drummer Kid, about the kid with the drum that he "rum-pa-pum-pums" on all the live long day, driving his parent's crazy, and joining up with another kid with a guitar to form a garage band, or, my favorite, The 12 Drinks of Christmas which by the time the "singer" gets to the "twelfth drink" he can't remember the others. Sing along the rest of the night and into the morning. "Four black-what are those people?" "Russians." "And five Roy Robs?" all the way down to the "tree with the....bird" finale.

5. And the main incredient is a board game of your choosing. We happened to pick out a lovely one at the Target that day by the name of.....Battle of the Sexes. And, hell, invite Alex Trebek.

Have you seen this game? Better - have you played it? Gloria Steinem is disappointed. Rush Limbaugh wants to play. And John Gray is selling more books. "Mars and Venus Go Shopping!" "Mars and Venus Pick Out Paint Colors!" "Mars and Venus in the Kitchen!" Essentially, as one could surmise, the males have to answer the female cards which consist of “girly” questions that presumably only girls can answer. These fall into the general categories of sewing, cooking, and weddings. Because all girls want to fix a man, hence sewing buttons on their shirt, all girls like to cook for their man, and all girls just want to get married. And the male cards have questions for the women in the general categories of sports, fishing, and motorcycles. Because only men howl at the moon, sweat, wrestle, and get tattoos.

We had a friendly battle of sugar and spice vs. frogs, snails and puppy dog tails. Get your boxing gloves and aprons on! Because we are going to rumble and bake. Hot.

Actually the questions weren't so bad because really are we that divisive? My guy can sew a button himself, is better in the kitchen than me, and seems to have more interest in marriage than me. And I know what ball goes to what sport, can throw a football, and drink a beer. But the component of the game that one could find offensive - or amusing if you don't take it seriously - are the wild cards that you can not avoid. The wild cards will have things like, "You wash the car in your bikini, move forward 2 spaces." or "You used the wooden chair he made you into firewood, lose a turn." or for him: "You ask her to get you a beer during The Game, go back to start." or "You buy her diamonds, you win!"

Keep drinking the bourbon.

And this is kind of how the game went. Battle of the sexes? We did some total probing of Mars and Venus alright.

Me: What is the main ingredient in tequila?
Him: It's not the worm?
Me: It's liquor, honey, you know this answer.
Alex Trebek: All Knowing Card Holder? That is my job! Let me see it!
Him: Just because I drink it, doesn't mean that I know all the ingredients. And I don't really like tequilla.
Me: What!? No tequila? That is crazy. I hate when people say they don't like the tequila because of one bad experience with cheap tequila in college. We are in our 30s - buy the good stuff. Start again! Besides, my specialty is margaritas. I make the best margaritas! Now you won't drink my margaritas?
Him: Well, I wouldn't know that because you have never made them for me....
Me: Right. I'll get on that. But the game! I'm going to help you out here. Why don't you go pull the bottle and check it out. I'll let you look over the ingredient list.
Him: (running to the liquor cabinet, reading the ingredients which by the way, did not indicate the answer)
For those playing at home, the answer is....Agave. Who besides Alex Trebek knew?

Him: Oh! You know this one!
Alex Trebek: So do I! I know all the answers!
Him: What is the [something] that does [something] on a motorcycle called?
John Gray: Venus' eyes will glaze over when the parts of a car or motorcycle are uttered by a Martian. She will not remember the words she heard the next day.
Me: Hmm...Can I go out to the garage to look?
Him: What? At the ingredient list?
Me: There might be some clue. I'm sure if I just look around the bike.
Him: Honey, it's not a picturebook.

Him: What does trinitrotoluene stand for?
Me: Not a science question!
Him: Give up?
Me: Can I phone a friend?
Him: Who would you phone?
Me: You. You are the science guy.
Him: Give up?
Me: Yes.
Him: TNT
Him: I still can't believe you are afraid of fires. If you only knew the things I did building my airplane engines.
Me: Right. Don't tell me. And don't EVER show me.
Him: So you never even played with, say, sparklers as a kid?
Me: NO! I hated those too. All that fire sparkling all over your hand. Ow. And besides they can start fires you know. They are not as innocent as people presume. When my grandfather was a little boy he threw the sparkler up on the roof of the house and the roof caught fire.
Him: Well, you don't throw them.
Me: He was a kid. He was a little boy. Boys experiment. He was probably told that sparkler "can't hurt you." Therefore, my kids will NOT be allowed to play with them.
Him: Well, if this is OUR children, then yes they will. I'll teach them proper safety.
Me: Well...thennn...why don't you just let them ride the Harley to the fireworks store then?

Him: Oh you probably won't know this.
Him: What sport has facemasking as a penalty?
Me: Are you kidding?
Me: I won't know this?
Me: Are you kidding?
Me: You know I know sports don't you?
Him: Well, no, you have never shown that side of you to me.
Me: Honey, this game is teaching you so much about me.
Him: Or you have just been closed off to me and are now starting to open up.
Me: You are crushing me.
Alex Trebek: American football!
Alex Trebek: What? I thought you were giving up. I know the answer. I know all the answers. (fading out)

With that, I picked the card that would crush me. I forgot to buy beer at the store and the guys were coming over to watch the Big Game. Apparently a huge faux pas in the Battle of the Sexes. Because, girls, just so you know, the boys like to drink the beer.

The Little Woman is in the kitchen mixing up a batch of margaritas he tells me he wants to taste. Sigh. A woman's work is never done.

Friday, December 02, 2005

People To Hate: Metro Riders

This installment of People I Hate is brought to you by the HOV lane - the only time three is never a crowd - and inspired by Michael Stipe who reminds us that "...the train conducter says take a break. Driver 8 take a break..."

Today I am pointing my Hate Stick at.....Metro Riders. For the love of God, you Crazy People!

It is true. Just by virtue of being on the same over-crowded rush hour train, I am not going to like you for that short ride on the rails. It's nothing personal (I might like you again when we get off). But we are in competition for prime real estate. I mean, you can be the difference if I have a seat, if I have a pole to hold on to, or if I will be swinging from the overhead bar like a monkey. And we all want to be the first one off, the first one up the escalater, the first one at the turnstile. I will think you are the devil if you run off before me and stand on the escalater. Everybody knows the escalaters are for People Moving. Fast people moving.

Some of you are probably nice people. In fact, we may enjoy a beer together. Or a walk in the park. We could even exchange friendship bracelets. But just by being there - breathing my same air, riding the metro at the same time as me - well, you kind of suck at the moment. Unless you follow the rules and do not become any of the following Hated Riders.

There are the obvious Hated Riders who do not step off the train to let people off or the ones on the platform who barge the train before people can get off. There are the tourists who mostly have no clue - which I usually cut them some slack. But they should be banned from riding the hours of Rush Hour.

Then there are these characters:

You have your Mad Hatters. They only come out of the Rude Coccoon during the Rush Hour and when the trains are running on an abbreviated schedule, hence less trains equal more people. And I hate All Those People in All One Place. And apparently everyone else does too because it brings out the Mean. The Mad Hatters are the people who must be late for a very important date. They cram onto an already jammed train. And then choose to order the people that are already crammed in on where to stand. When they do this, this is what I hear, "There is room under the seats, people. Kindly crouch yourself down into a fetal position and stuff yourselves. Look you can fit two people under that one seat. That is how it works, people!" They are not happy unless you are pressed together - "skin on skin! hut, hut!" Like they read "Metro Rules of Order" - they know how to organize The People. Hey, I understand the hurry. I'm probably in one too. Nobody likes waiting more than 5 minutes for a train. But sometimes you need to. Deep breathing techniques help me.

Now I realize that there are the people that these Mad Hatters are yelling at that probably do deserve it. No, they DO deserve it. They are the other annoyance in an already Too Crammed train. They are the Spacesavers. These are the people who do not utilize the space efficiently and do leave empty space. Can't they see that it is a packed platform? Let the people on. Move in. Move around. Share. These people either have no clue or the world revolves around them. It can go either way with the Spacesavers. Oh, but if you are saving space for your "imaginary friend" well, then, me and the fellow travelers will give you that space. In that case.

Both of these breeds annoy each other the most and frankly, they both annoy me. Spacesaver wants to be by the door and Mad Hatter just wants to be on the train. But one time I got accused of being a Spacesaver. Me! A Mad Hatter got on board. Wait, no, he didn't "get on board." He pushed, squeezed, and shimmied his way onto that train and then chose to lecture me on where to stand because what he saw was a bunch of empty air between me and the million other people surrounding me. You know, we did not have skin-on-skin contact. But what Mad Hatter didn't see....was the seeing eye dog laying on the floor below my feet. It's like I was playing a game of Twister, contorting my body to fit the available space which was not in direct relation to the foot space - my right arm was on the silver pole behind me, left foot at dog's behind in front of me, right foot three feet to the left, left arm - well, I wasn't sure where my left arm was at that moment. It may have been on the that blue circle in the very corner under Joe's knee. I don't know. Needless to say, everybody in the vicinity put Mad Hatter in his place. "Atleast the girl is Twister-proficient!" and "Dogs are people too!"

But my least favorite Metro Commuters are the Sack Of Potatoes. There's one on every car. The train stops at a station. People get off. People get on. Sack of Potatoes sit contently in their seats and watch all the poor commuter peasants cramming into the train fighting for valuable pole space or that one seat that is vacant. That is their right. First come, first serve. Except! They wait until the train takes off and just as it does, they get up. First, don't they know that once the train moves - the people standing have to maintain their plant? When the train is in motion - it is crucial. Oh, I have tested this. AND, if you knew you were getting off at the next stop and you NEED to get in your Ready Set position, then get up when the train is in a station turning over more Hated Riders. It's win-win for everybody that way, Sack of Potatoes. I will not move for these people. Not even to get the seat which is second - at this point - to winning The Annoying Award.

Then, it is no wonder that Sack of Potatoes are also sometimes part of another group of Hated Rider. The Pushpins. These are the people who make their way to the doors while the train is moving all the while saying "excuse me, excuse me" all the way. Gunning for the doors. People, where are we going to move? I am already hanging from this pole like a chimpanzee, if I jump down now then I will lose my balance and fall. Besides I may be getting off too. In which case, you will get off behind me. It is the logical flow of the train - the people in front get off first to make it easier for the people in the back to follow suit. When they come near with their "excuse mes" I just put my fingers in my ear and "la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you!"

Finally, there is a group of people I like to call the Pole Dancers. Sounds....entertaining? Hardly. Pole Dancers are the people who lean against the pole with all their body like it is their business. Five people could hold onto that pole and not each other unless a Pole Dancer hugs it. Why don't you rub up and down it? Because I didn't get The Show. Or Pole Dancers can be the people who share the pole but whose hand keeps slipping....onto yours. Is it not obvious? Grab the pole and keep your grip people. It doesn't take much concentration. But usually these people are holding a newspaper with their other hand and ambidexterity does not come easy. So either way they are doing the "pole dance."

So Metro Commuters annoy me. I am sure you have encountered one of these or even a new breed before? If so, alert me so I can properly hate them too.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Going With The Flow? Shit, I'm Just Drunk

"Are you nervous to meet my parents?" he whispers in my ear, squeezing me tight.

{Gulp} on so many levels. Sometimes he can take my breath away.

"Let's have a cocktail first?" I half ask, half demand.

" are nervous!"

"Me? No. Of course not. But let's start with the martinis before the cab gets here."

So there you are a couple martinis and several Blue Drinks later - blue drinks that left its mark in a Very Blue Kind of Way - on your tongue...(you felt like the kid who got caught sneaking chocolate out of the candy cabinet evident by the Ring Around The Mouth. "What do you mean Grandma? I wasn't in the chocolate." Your chocolate-rimmed mouth says otherwise)....And so your blue tongue is your Mark of We Are All Drunk and the debate of what is in this blue drink. Vodka? Or tequila? You know, your typical First Conversation for Meeting The Parents. So the group of the Blue-Tinged Tongues dance. He twirls me around the dance floor. The family thinks you need saving from your little John Travolta but the Blue Drink masked the Dance Floor Timidness - you are doing your best Ginger to his Fred. And then when you are done at the fancy function the parents drop the kids off at an Irish bar because you need to chase down the blue drink with hops or something....which, you know, is always a good idea.

....Meeting Of The Parents #1: Drunk!

Then the next morning you are stuck in a car driving around DC - trying to get out of DC - but the damn Marine Corp marathon closed off all access to Northern Virginia. You spent the majority of the morning in that car. So the car sickness fueled by that damn Blue Drink. The blue tongue may be gone but the blue drink is in your blood now trying to escape. It's fighting for control of your stomach. It is pounding in your head. It's the midst of a Blue Drink Hangover. Come one, come all! But you finally get to Northern Virginia by way of Pennsylvania or something like that. And so where do you go? Mom and Dad's of course.

....Meeting Of The Parents #2: Hungover!

Then when you have recovered from this a few weeks later, and the two of you have been touring a couple vineyards in the country one beautiful fall Saturday, getting drunk on the road, it is always a good idea to stop by the parent's house and ask them if they want to help you drink all the bottles you picked up. To which they say, "Oh terrific, we have more bottles!" So hours and hours later you end up....crashing at the parent's house!

And so the parent's marched us around the house to show off the bedroom options. Very game show host-like..."and behind door number 1 is...." complete with cue cards telling me when to "ooh" "aahh" and applaud. And when you answer your bedroom choice please frame it as a question. "This one?" "" Because you wonder what is the right answer when you are sleeping over at your brand new boyfriend's parent's house with no overnight bag...

Option #1 is the bedroom with the twin beds and the window with the view of the Potomac. Let me tell you it is spectacular. The view. And apparently the wildlife like the view too. The Outside-Looking-In kind of view. Because that same window is their own personal viewing screen of your naked ass lying in bed. Or could be. So far, I wasn't keen on this option as it would freak me out to awake to a deer staring in the window at me. I mean, I got scared when I first slept over at his house and - not quite sure of my surroundings yet - opened the door in the middle of the night and shrieked at the bust of Augustus Caesar. Yeah, forgot about the life-like bust waiting outside the door. So the deer that wander to the windows...most certainly would Freak Me Out!

Option #2 is the guest suite with the bedroom with the queen bed, the master bath with the big soaking bathtub, the adjoining living area, and the kitchenette stocked with coffee maker, coffee, and two bottles of root beer. A home away from home. Oh, and there are His and Hers pajamas. Clearly set up for guests.

Now this tour is being conducted by his mom and dad, pointing out all the perks of the bedrooms. Whether it is the view or the amenities. I was seriously worried that I might get, "...and then when you turn this switch here, the bed starts a-rocking." Or, "The condoms are in the nightstand, cover up, son." In any case, the parents wouldn't leave until we decided on our resting spot. He wouldn't stand for the "honey you sleep here, I'll sleep in the other room" routine that I was trying to rationalize for the parent's show. In the end, all the wine told me it was OK to sleep in the queen bed of course. I made sure we at least made it look like we slept in the His and Her pajamas the next morning. "Wear this for five minutes and roll around in the bed or something."

....Meeting Of The Parents #3: Drunk! And slutty!

And then one Saturday night his sister has a wine party in which you "taste" 12 glasses of wine by the end of the night and your mission is to match the wine to their appropriate descriptions, thus naming the wine. A drinking game! And we think alike because we matched 8 out of the 12 wines identically. So when we are being all schmoopy about how cute and freaky that is, they announce that I am the actual winner for the evening. And so they gift me with a big fancy bottle of champagne. As if to say, "Girl, you just go get drunk again, okay?" And well, when you have 12 glass of wine plus pre-cocktails and some hard cider to chase some of the wine down well you....crash at the sister's place too! But there were various bodies passed out throughout the house so nobody gives you the Sleeping Arrangement tour. You can duck into your bedroom unnoticed. This time you brought an overnight bag.

....(is it any wonder?) Meeting Of The Parents #4: Drunk!

Until the next morning and you face the music again. Oh, it's not over. The next morning over a breakfast of eggs and Canadian bacon and mimosas - you end up skipping the orange juice at some point in the afternoon and drinking champagne ALL DAY LONG with the mom and sister. Next thing you know it is dinnertime five bottles of champagne later. So you share another meal with them.

....Thus, Meeting Of The Parents #5: Drunk again!

I ask you, will this ever end? With this crowd - no. This is a retired couple who bought a house in New Orleans specifically because they like the atmosphere of Bourbon Street. They are not the usual Traditional Parents of Boys I Usually Date. I am told they like me...they think I am easy-going and they are impressed at how adaptable and flexible I am in all these situations.

"She just goes with the flow."

I am just doing my best to make Mom and Dad like me. One might think that this should be a piece of cake given their Love Of The Party. But I am probably even more nervous around them because it's such a fine line. They still are The Parents! I think I will just keep on sipping that drink that they keep pouring.

Monday, November 14, 2005

My Own Private Turret's, Idaho

I have this little problem. It’s my own little "Private Turrets, Idaho." Population: Me. I don’t have the physical problems that go along with Turret's. I don't have uncontrollable appendages or involuntary spasmatic limbs. So you don't have to worry about me socking you in the face or convulsing into an epileptic scene. My "turret's problem" is more mouth-related because I am prone to blurt out things involuntarily.

Like, I could be walking down the street replaying or planning a conversation in my head. Over and over. I'm a ruer. As I think of new ways to express myself in this conversation in my head (woulda, coulda, shoulda), I get lost in this world. Next thing you know, I may start mouthing the words. Some people call this Talking Out Loud. Whatever - this isn't a real concern for me. Don't we all talk to ourselves occassionally? If you don't, try it. And tell yourself I said "hi."

Or, my problem surfaces while I am sleeping. Some may call this "talking in your sleep." But I think it is related to my sickness of Blurting Out Loud. It's just another degree. But this has gotten me in trouble in the past because one time in college I awoke in the middle of the night and shouted out, “Dave!” Now, I had a serious boyfriend at the time....sleeping right next to me. Oh, and, yeah, his name most certainly was not even remotely anything like Dave. So this screaming-out-loud-of-guy's-name-who-wasn't-my-serious-boyfriend-of-a-year awoke Serious Boyfriend Of A Year too.

"Who is Dave?!?"


"You just blurted out 'Dave'!"

"I did?"

"Yes! Who is Dave?!"

"I don't know."

And then there was an emphatic tug of the covers as he turned his back to me. It took him about a week to get over it (really) and accept that I really didn't know where the Dave reference came from. Seriously, who the fuck was Dave? [Dave was that lead singer of the hardcore band you lusted after. --Devil on my shoulder] Oh.

So people tell me all the time that I talk in my sleep. Mostly it is non-sensical rumblings with the occassional Dave sprinkled in, I'm sure. But herein lies my problem and the root of my fear: Now that I am sharing a bed with My Favorite Guy Ever, I have these fears of my own Private Turret's, Idaho rearing its ugly head. Manifesting in one of three ways.

First, Blurting Out In My Sleep. Especially as he shows up in some of my dreams. In my case, when does the dream become reality and I start talking it out loud?

A few weekends ago I had a series of weird dreams that all took place in his house. There was a dog that opened the front door and let himself in. I am sure it was a Family Guy reference. (Although he would love it if Brian came to dinner and made himself a martini.) Then there was the dream of him sitting on the floor by the foot of the bed while I am laying on my stomach on the bed facing down at him. He reaches up to me and says, “I am falling in love with you.” I say, “What did you say?” He says it again. “I am falling in love with you.” Then I woke up.

Surely I didn't yell out, "I'm falling in love with you." Because how do I explain that? No, honey, really, in my dream you were falling in love with me. Why was I dreaming that? Well, it's not "falling in love" in the literal sense, don't you see? But rather losing control, blah-di-blah...

It gets better. I could start acting it out loud.

This past weekend I had a dream I farted - in front of him. But there was some other noise simultaneous to the fart so - in the dream - I was able to disguise it. I awoke soon thereafter and then got scared that perhaps I acted that part out in real life. Because I heard it. And we all know that there will have to come a time when I fart in front of him.

And fear treads on.

Second, Blurting Out In A Moment Of Passion. This is a true story that happened to a friend of mine. So, not my story. But it could very well happen to me given my neurosis. They were laying in bed, and had been dating only a few months (about the same time we have). He is kissing her and says, “God, you are so beautiful…..all of you.” See where this is going...“all of you”...“olive you”....or, “I love you”. So she blurts out, “I love you too!” Only he confessed that that was not what he said at all. She was mortified but there is a happy ending as they are getting married next October.

What is to stop me from blurting my feelings out during fireworks - or even more tender moments? Because there are plenty of both.

Thirdly, Blurting Out Drunk Thoughts. Lord knows I can get myself into trouble this way.

Last Friday night, we tied one on. Eight cosmopolitans later and who knows how many hours later until I actually came to and I awoke alone in his spare bedroom. I used the bathroom then proceeded to follow the trail of clothes upstairs to his bed where he is sprawled out. As I crawled into his bed, he turned away from me.

He turned away from me?! (He's mad at me? I have no recollection of some of the night.) "Why are you here and I am down there?"

Silence. "Uggh...Don't you remember?"

Panic sets in. (Did I become mean?) "No! What did I say?"

"Uggh..." Then the rest of the sentence is jumbled.

"What?! You've got to tell me. Because I really like you and if I did something while I was drunk well that just doesn't count. Tell me, please!"

"The Germans invaded Poland in 1939. 1939 to be exact." And he passed out.

"Oh, I get it now." Alas, My Guy was still adorably drunk.

As far as I can tell, in recent history, I have not blurted out any of these:

I am falling in love with you.
All of you.
I love you.

Yet. Thank god David is his middle name!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Who Is Afraid Of The Boogeyman?

Once a week I read to a little girl in a reading program at an elementary school in D.C. Today the book she chose to read had a title something like, "The little old lady who was not afraid of anything." The story is about this little old lady who is walking back to her house through the woods after a day of berry-picking. As it gets darker and darker, she keeps encountering articles of clothing that are trying to scare her. It starts with a pair of shoes that "clomped, clomped" behind her and continue all the way up to a pumpkin head that would go "boo boo." They all followed her home. And still, she stoically maintained her I'm-Not-Scared stance. They even knocked on her door late at night, floating as a person, begging to scare her. Alas, she was not to be scared even then. I'm not sure what the moral of the story was - or atleast I did until the ending when all the articles of clothing fashioned themselves into a person and ended up working as a scarecrow. All at the lady's suggestion.

Perhaps face your fears? Or crows will ALWAYS be scared.

I thought, "That is some tough cookie. If only I could be that unphased by Those Things That Scare You." I mean, these pieces of clothing were the spitting image of the....Boogeyman. Yes, that one who hid under your bed or in your closet as a child. For that, I slept with the closet opened. This is the same boogeyman that was in my parent's bathroom as a child - he was always hiding in that bathroom. My sister taught me how to karate chop the shower curtain everytime you entered the bathroom in order to kill said boogeyman.

Is the little old lady telling me I need to look him in the eye and say, "I'm not scared of you."? Is the boogeyman nothing more than a bully? Easier said than done, Old Lady!

Rewind to yesterday. I was walking to my metro station at the end of the work day. Well, it was 4:30 which is a little earlier than I usually end my day - with the exception of Fridays (you know, happy hour) and when there is something better to do - two to three times per week. (I'm working for my weekends and my weeknights!) So, I guess not so early. So I did the DC Urban Yuppie March, which is IPod socked into ears - tuning out the stodgy political climate and Cheney's motorcade which roars, bangs, and whistles up 20th Street when he is in town (and it is not only his Pacemaker) - and instead tuning into hipster cool. Because, yeah, it is not Cheney. It's about the guitar, man. I don't see you, or hear you, and I will cross the street without looking because pedestrians rule (unless I am driving and then I have to remember that I am not playing Grand Theft Auto and can't actually run you over). When you are walking this cool you tend to ignore your surroundings. All your senses are impaired for that awesome song that accompanies your Commutter Strut to the Metro.

Never again will I partake in the DC Urban Yuppie March. It's simple. There is a reason you pay attention to your surroundings. It's the boogeyman. I learned yesterday that he is still out there and it is always YOU he wants.

I know that - not only, but especially - in the city, you need to PAY ATTENTION. Who is around you. Who is passing you by. Who is following you. You make eye contact with the people - and those Big Mean People, especially - you pass by to show that you are AWARE. So yesterday? I may have been neglecting my Big Brave Girl Don’t Fuck With Me Bravado because I was being followed. Apparently. I ignored the signs at first. At 19th and L I was aware of someone behind me - but there were people all around so I dismissed it. Then as we walked toward K Street I noticed a person walking the same speed behind me. Again, I dismissed this as That Annoying Person Who Walks The Same Pace As You or That Annoying Person Who Drives The Same Speed In The Next Lane Over. But at the red light at the intersection of K and 19th my music changed songs and I heard him.

“I am following you. I have been, pretty girl. You can’t run from me. Pretty Girl. You’re mine.”

That was not a joke. [This author is FOR REAL! --Reality Police] I quick shut the music off and turned around and stared the Boogeyman in the eyes but not long enough to actually See Them. I didn't want to See Those Eyes. They were supposed to be behind the shower curtain. He flashed me the creepiest smile and whisperered, “I’m talking to you, pretty girl. You won't get away.”

(What I should have said? "Oh honey, you must be joking. I didn't wash my hair this morning and it is all windblown and snarly from flapping in convertible wind that my Jackie O headband could not control. That is why it is greasy and pulled back in a very messy ponytail. I slept late this morning. And no makeup and I am well aware that these pants make me look fat. So I know you aren't talking to me. Talk to me like that when I actually do look pretty. Which is only Some Days even.")

But those thoughts don't come to you quite at This Moment. Would the Boogeyman even laugh?

All joking aside, I am kind of creeped out. In fact, I am very creeped out. I looked around to see if anyone standing around noticed this Lunatic. I couldn't tell if people were just kind of, "Sorry Charlie, he's YOUR boogeyman not mine" or if they really had NO IDEA. It's the city, people keep to themselves - minding their p's and q's and their own damn self. No, Toto, we are not in the South or the Midwest. This was Rush Hour - similar to "this is your brain on drugs", "this is your brain on rush hour." Yeah, they had their iPods plugged in too. Or the cell phone. And is that Cheney and Posse that just passed me by? Oh, I'm not a business interest.

So finally the light changed and I took off. So did the boogeyman just a pace behind me. I was in Panic Mode. I threw the iPod in the purse to show this guy that I WAS AWARE NOW. (If I had read the book a day earlier I would have confronted him with, "I'm not scared of you!" but I didn't know the little old lady's advice just yet. Remember, this is the past. Circa yesterday.)

I contemplated my choices. Do I cut through the International Square building like I always do? No. In hindsight, there is "security" in there but not the gun-toting kind and frankly I wanted Rambo just about now. Uzis. [The author is all talk, she most certainly would have stuck a flower down the barrell. --Reality Police] I opted to truck up K Street, thinking there would be more people around. I weaved through people with the Boogeyman still in hot pursuit. And I can still hear him laughing and rambling that "...I can’t get away from him. I'm right behind you. Pretty girl. You will never escape me." So I started a really fast walk, almost a jog and so did he. Dignity and Image is out the door at this point. I turn into a full-on run, shouting out, "Help me!" (Caw! Caw!) And I didn't look back until I reached 18th Street and I turned around and saw that he gave up the run for a walk. So he is old. I found the Achilles' heel - he can't keep up. So I continue running down the one block to the metro. And I continued running into and through the station until I safely made it on my train without the Boogeyman. I made sure.

There were no karate chops. No stomping of my foot and an "I'm not scared" declaration. Just fear. Pure fear! I'd like to be brave-hearted. But for now, I will just run as fast as I can. Because, who am I kidding? I'm like those crows who flap away from the the "scarecrow" - I will ALWAYS be afraid of the Boogeyman.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Match Game Isn't So Bad Afterall

This summer my 3 year old niece put on her Dora swimsuit for some fun in the sun, admired herself in the mirror, and then proclaimed to her mommy that she "MUST get a bathing suit just like me. With Dora." Being 3 years old, she was dead serious - they don't know how to be ironic.

I told my sister-in-law, "Honey, please promise you won't be one of Those Mothers." Those Mothers who dress their kids like themselves or vice versa. You know in Laura Ashely or Lily Pullitzer. No worries there, she has no intention of wearing the Dora-kini. But might consider an Ariel suit - va-va-voom!

I've never supported Matching Outfits. Even at the cost of relationships.

I remember my summer in between high school and college. I started dating this boy. I knew him for a very long time - since grade school, but in high school he went away and then he came back. It just so happened that he came beating down my door and he was hot so I answered. He was a sponsored surfer with a very sun-kissed chiseled body. Hot hot hot. Girls went crazy for him. And he liked me. I think it was because of some childhood crush he had on me in the 4th grade when he tried to look down my pink too low-cut Lightning Bolt t-shirt and I would never give him the time of day. You know, he had a callick or something in the hairline that I just couldn't ignore in my 4th Grade naivete. Or his Trapper Keeper wasn't cool enough or something. So I was always the girl he couldn't have. Or the first girl who flashed him a boob. But that summer I buckled.

After going out for a few months, he took me to DisneyWorld for a day trip. In hindsight, I should have known he was turning into a cheeseball when he popped in the Air Supply in the tape deck on the way. When you are 18 A.S. is NOT the music to make me "all out of love" without him. But believe it or not, he sincerely liked A.S. It really wasn't some cheesy move to impress upon the ladies ("Am sensitive man. Momma raised me to 'preciate the ladies with the Ballads."). I am fairly tolerable - but an 18 year old listening to Air Supply AND Richard Marx in the 1980's when we had all the best college radio to listen to (R.I.P. WFIT 89.5). Are you kidding me? All signs are there to step away from the Cheese and The Ball but would you look at that body?! So I was willing to overlook his music selection. So we get to the park, and do you think you would run right to Space Mountain, or maybe you want to go to the Pirates of the Caribbean or the Haunted, my hot boyfriend wants to go to the souvenier shop to buy MATCHING Mickey Mouse sweatshirts. No! Him, "I'm buying!". Me, "No!" Him, "Please!" Still, "No!" So Mr. Air Supply solemnly brought it up ALL DAY LONG. He simply could not believe my aversion to the idea of us walking around this park looking like every other Bobsey with our matching Mickey Mouse sweatshirts. But I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

(I know what you are thinking.) I should have ended the relationship on the music technicality but instead I waned in his eye because I would never be the girl who would wear Matching Mickey Mouse Sweatshirts. We ended shortly thereafter.

So I suprised myself this weekend when I went to some fancy function with My Favorite Guy Ever. Which ended up being a Meet The Parents event and Meet The Rest Of The Family while we are at it. Wearing that Mickey Mouse sweatshirt at DisneyWorld didn't seem all that bad anymore. But I had to find a frock that would fit the attire of "creative cocktail" and Sensible, Classy to Meet The Parents. It's a fine line. So the stress of How To Dress. Luckily My Favorite Guy Ever takes an interest in my likes and fears and was more than willing to help me choose. So I brought every fancy cocktail dress and accessories in my closet over to his house. In the end he liked them all but we based the final call on what he was wearing. Since he had his outfit planned already - yes, I'm dating a guy who likes his clothes almost as much me - we worked off of that and settled on a simple classy black dress that is flattering yet not too sexy. My creative flair - which, by the way, was his fabulous idea when it should have been mine was....drum roll, accessory of choice.....a feather BOA! And we looked so great we got our picture taken for some DC magazine.

For this guy I would wear the matching Mickey Mouse sweatshirt.

Well, in theory.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Teach Your Children Well

I don't have to tell you that kids are impressionable and that you have to be careful with what you say around them. Because they will pick it up and make it their own. I’m not talking about the curse word they are going to hear at some point in their life. Hell, I grew up with a dad who bandied curse words around like they were a prayer. My house sounded like this: #%*^!!@#$%!!!!! Amen. And I am still pretty clean-mouthed. But what you have to be mindful of in the presence of children are what you project about your own body and self-image.

Goose, Mav, and I have this retort when one of us asks, “How do I look?”

“You don’t look ugly.”

This year – more than any other year in my life - I have been panicking. I know that I am 5 pounds – 10 pounds? – heavier than I have ever been. Chalk it up to the Summer That Could, boredom, or metabolism, or just plum eating like a pig. Because I did that. I used to be really good about saving Pig Outs for only one day of the week – usually Saturday or Sunday. But over the summer it was a vicous never-ending cycle. Must. Put. Food. In. Mouth. Or will die, probably. Because I acted like food was going out of style.

Over the summer, my mom and my 6 (now 7!) year old niece came up for a visit over “summer break.” (Wait unil she gets older and going to Aunt Ya Ya’s place is not so cool anymore and she begs to go to Aruba.) Anyway, she likes to come visit me – and she loves her Grammy. So we spent a week together and I guess I made a few comments probably while getting dressed. “I’m fat. My clothes are tight." "No more food for me today, I’m fat.” "Can't eat that. I'm fat." And so on and so on. Which is just absurd because I don't want to be one of *those girls* who lament every bite as a calorie that sticks. I hate those girls. And I am only fat by Hollywood standards which, come on! Let's be real here. I don't look ugly!

And so, what does Stella do when she gets home? She starts repeating some of my laments. Six-year old skin-and-bones saying *that* has too many calories, "I don't want to get fat", yada yada.

She got that from me!

But she heard postitive reinforcement too. During her visit, we ate at a Mexican restaurant and our waiter talked with a sexy accent, “How can I, uh……..hellllp yuh?” Everything rolled off his tongue. We will call him Don Juancito. And Stella, who is already taking after me (and her mom) with the picky-ordering-off-the-menu kind of thing, wanted her chicken prepared a certain way and Don Juancito says, “For the-uh pretty ladeee, uh……..anything, uh…..muh dear.” To which I respond, "Work it, Stella." That is what she should remember every day. So I remind her.

"Stella, what did Don Juancito say to you?"

"He called me 'pretty lady'."

"Yes, my sweet little niece, you are not ugly. Now own it!"

Friday, October 28, 2005

Blame It On Mav

So my friend, Mav, recently had a stressful time what with being a partner in a law firm and having to file her taxes by the 15th and accounting for all her receipts and bank statements and such. And, simply put, well the girl is no Organizational Dream. So she was frantically trying to get the bank to cooperate and find receipts from - oh, yesterday. She finally comes to the conclusion that she has to get her shit together. But not before she places blame. Because, of course, someone is at fault.

She calls her mother.

"Mom, the fact that I am in this mess is all your fault."

"Why is it my fault?"

"For never making me clean my room as a child."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

People To Hate: Please Advisees

This so begins my series of People I Hate. Or a nicer way to put it, Pet Peeves. But I prefer to hate. This installment is brought to you by The Flip Chart, "All your ideas magnified."

Me: "For the record, I am not taking this discussion "offline" and I am not going to "put it to bed" until we "face the issues at hand" and come up with a "gameplan" to dismantle "said" phrase."
Population-at-large, which at the moment is really just You: "What phrase, pray tell, would that be?"
Me: shudders...."Please advise."

No offense, but if you use it: Please stop. In fact, I ADVISE you to stop. Isn't that what you want to hear?

By itself, it appears innocent enough. "Please advise." I mean someone is imploring your Great Wisdom. Seemingly, they can not get through this task - this problem - this request - without an almighty edict from you, All Knowing Adviser. You might be saying, "Gallop that high horse, Tonto! Run with it!" But there are some people abusing this phrase - and that is what I want to stop right now. The tone is usually bossy and condescending when this irksome little phrase is preceded by an order like, "Do this! Please advise!"

Let's look at an example of when this phrase is misused and break it down on all levels of wrong.

Outlook Inbox: Remove Joe from the Very Important Tax Daily. Please advise.

First, what does "please advise" have to do with an order? Don't you see that it is just extraneous verbiage disguised as fancy email-speak? What are The Please Advisees thinking? That if you don't tag on the "please advise" at the end of your email, it nulls your request? That I might ignore your plea altogether and you will be stuck in corporate limbo - somewhere between passive and aggressive? In person, you wouldn't tag on the "please advise" and tap, tap, tap your foot. Or would you?

Or do you just think that you sound more authoritative and professional and therefore the exclamation of "please advise" at the end will surely "get things done?"

"I will not be ignored!" the Please Advisee triumphantly shouts from his/her mount - the plastic ergonomically-impaired chair that is held together by rubberbands. I'm pretty sure they have mumbled, "Or be damned!" at the end -0nce or twice.

It is this kind of bossy tone that I absolutely can not stand. As such, I hate emails that begin with a verb. "Send..." "Get me..." "Do...." I have never responded well to bossy types. When I was very little and the television spoke to me and told me to "don't go anywhere, we will be back after this short commercial break!" I spoke back and said, "I'll go away if I want to."

Or am I reading it all wrong and the "please advise" is intended to tone down the bossiness - you know, the professional symbol for the always-friendly smiley face ":)". If that is the case, then I prefer the smiley face with the nose ":-)".

In my experience, it is always the administrative assistants who use the "please advise" phrase - and use it like it is going out of style. I think that they must have all taken some kind of office lingo seminar that teaches them the language that gets-things-done. You don't have to be all business talky with me. See? I use phrases like "business talky." We are all peers here. Like sometimes my black bra strap shows and you tell me. I hate that too but you are not below me to point out my office fashion misstep. Because I can't advise you then, I'll be too busy fixing my black bra straps.

Let me re-write the email.

Hi! I love your black bra - you are starting a new fashion statement there, girl! In the 60's they burned bras, in the 00's they show their bras - black ones at that! So Joe does not want to get the Very Important News Daily anymore. He says that his carpal tunnell has healed and he can click the mouse away and read it online now. Got to love therapy - it clears the mind, if you know what I mean. Heh heh. But if his hand buckles up again, you will be the first to know! Oh, and I went to this office seminar last week and they told us that we should end our email always with "please advise." That seems silly, don't you think? But here goes...Where can I get a black bra just like yours? Please advise. :-)

Edited to add: OK...this whole rant is really just directed to one or two people I come in contact with who seriously use the phrase as in the example above. Of course, there is an appropriate context for the phrase and I salute the people who use it accordingly!! See, I love too! And obviously by throwing in black bras in this rant, I am completely in my own head. Crazy like that.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Color Red

Where the hell have I been? Well busy. And not here mostly. But I am finally settling into fall and bought a few sweaters to get me started. And this has nothing to do with my post. And then none of these paragraphs are related to the other but I am tieing them all together by the color RED! Because it is fun to do. So what has happened in the last few weeks brought to you by the color red.

Red started here....

The color red is the color I choose to wear.
A few weeks ago I accompanied Mav on a blind-ish date (a boy she met online). I was the tag-along and he was bringing his own tag-alongs. First, I had to convince crazy Mav that Date was hott. In his red shirt. The red shirt became my focus for the night. He ended up taking his red shirt off - crazy kids with the layering these days. But when he lost the red shirt he lost his edge on the pool table. So Mav tied the red shirt around his shoulders a la Preppy Skippy. But we got the red shirt back and sniffed it. You would have sniffed it too. Nobody saw us. We made sure. Mav ended up wearing the red shirt that night and is on to Date #3 with the Red Barron. [Aside to Mav: I didn't tell you this, but when you were doing your little strut with the pool cue, he turned to me with a chuckle and said, "She's a piece of work, isn't she?" And I replied, "Only the best."]

The color red is the color of my eyes from The Crying.
I may have experienced the most touching father-daughter moment outside of movie-watching. It started with my flight down to Charlotte last weekend and this sweet 16-year old girl, on the same flight, for some reason befriended me. I learned that this was her first time on a plane and at the end of that plane ride she was being reunited with her father who she hadn't seen in 5 years and was going to live with because apparently she is really smart and they (divorced parents) want her to go to Duke. Anyway she was nervous. She tried to disguise it as fear of flying but the more we talked the more I learned that she was nervous about seeing "dad." So when we finally arrived her dad was waiting at the gate with flowers, a teddy bear, and open arms. They recognized each other immediately and embraced with that do-not-ever-let-me-go-again-oh-I'm-not-letting-you-go embrace. There was not a dry eye in the terminal. I didn't know what to do. I wanted to hug this man too. I wanted this girl to keep in touch with me so I could be sure she was doing fine. But I had to move on. I think she is going to be fine. But this moment really touched me in a way that I need to explore more...

The color red is the color of Lisa's jacket.
I just spent five days staying with my sister-in-law while my brother was whooping it up on the client's dime. We had our own fun with our new favorite pasttime. You too can enjoy the fun! All you need is a couple bottles of wine (then Coronas when that runs out) and QVC. First make sure the kids are in bed and asleep. Then drink your bottles and turn on Lisa, ubiquitous host extraordinaire (seriously, that girl is always on QVC). Drink every time she says one of her exclamatory words like "that's fatulous!" or something like "holy cow!" Crack up when her sales pitch for some $12 metal hooks is, "This would be a great gift for someone in a nursing home," or for the olive handbag which looks more like evergreen (or pinetree the drunker you get), "It is soo roomy you could fit four wallets in here!" Seriously contemplate one's need for four wallets and the problems that would occur. Then kick up the excitement a notch and call QVC to have the cameraman pan in on the red jacket Lisa is wearing because you really can't see the stitching as good but what we really want to see is crazy Lisa's hair.

The color red is the color of my lipstick now.
Hold it! I have, um, uh.......a boyfriend? How on earth did I get a guy who is not playing any games and seems to be making his number one priority me and my happiness. Is it freaking me out? A little but not as much as I thought is would. I mean he is sweet and kind of exciting. Because soon I will be able to talk about a ride in an open cock-pit airplane, a ride on the back of a Harley, and the drive in the country in his vintage car. Oh, and there is a house in New Orleans. And he is building me a fire tonight and giving me bottles of wine and everyone who knows me knows that I am AFRAID of fires but love bottles of wine. But he is a guy and he likes to build and fix things and I find it terribly sexy. He is a science geek and he is creative. To quote Lisa, "That's fatulous!" So he is taking me to black tie events, concerts, nice dinners, and comedians. I will have to repay him by taking him to Jay's. Thought I was going to say the color red is the color of love or my heart or some sappy metaphor? Nope, I've got Chanel Portofino plumping up my pout because I am doing a lot of kissing these days..........sigh, I just love the color red!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Second Date

The guy called like he said he would. This is the guy who didn't flinch when I ran up to one of his WWI model planes that he built from scratch shouting, “Oh, a toy!” The guy who watched me curl into a ball on his bathroom floor – the guy who I kicked out of the bathroom so I could be "left alone." The guy who still draped a comforter over my sorry self. The guy who stayed up for 2 hours watching TV while I slumbered in his bathroom. The guy who still checked on me every so often.

And he still called me enchanting.

My favorite dates are always the "flawed" kind. Seemingly flawed, that is. But in their imperfection or mishap, they are memorable. Most people will look at their significant other and boil it down to one endearing moment. Maybe it is on the first date or maybe it comes later. I remember one particular first date where I ended up getting "locked" out of my house. It was February and the door lock was frozen shut and we had to scale a back deck in order to climb through a second-story kitchen window. It was my Spiderman date and we laughed about it for three years. There was the other date who let my cat out the balcony and she had her own Spiderman adventure and she traversed the edge of an 11th story balcony to find her way down two apartment balconies. It took me a half a day to find her. It was everything to get her to come back once she found a balcony with furniture. We still laugh about the Lost Kitty Episode. And I have had those dates where the guy just didn't GET IT - the moment was only in my head. Like
this date. Or this guy from the beach. To them I say, "Lighten up!" And then there are many dates I simply can't remember at all. I think we went to dinner and, oh yeah, we ate dinner. I think we met for coffee and, oh yeah, we drank coffee (which I don't even drink!). But I want to create a story - a backstory - and when you meet someone online it doesn't happen by just meeting for dinner or coffee or small-talk.

I have always wanted a guy who GETS IT. And so he did. In fact, I think my "charming" drunk ass is what did him in. Heh heh. If we had a boring vanilla let's-talk-about-what-you-like-to-do-for-fun-rather-than-show-you-what-I-like-to-do-for-fun kind of date - well, he and I would be bored out of our mind. And I am not sure there would be any attraction on my part.

So we talked about our first date on our second date. He wanted to know how I felt about it. I was honest.

“Heh. I’m surprised you called me.”

“You kidding? There was no question in my mind that I wanted to see you again.”

So we had a very nice dinner at a very nice Georgetown restaurant.

He wanted to know why we have never run into each other before. We live about a mile from one another. We frequent the same bars. We both did a beach house this summer. But I am a fatalist and I don't think we would would have connected this way had we met, say, over the summer even though I was "charming" drunk all the time and he was
in character. But I was doing my own thing and my attractions this summer were of the purely physical kind. My attraction to him is very different. The physical is underneath - and after - everything else.

So the second date has since turned into a third date – lunch. A fourth date – dinner, a hockey game, and a Mav double date (!). And a fifth date – dinner at his place and a movie. So for those keeping score, that is five dates in two weeks with the SAME GUY. A guy who seemingly GETS ME. So I am starting to do the Freak Out Thing. Over-analyzing because past history dictates that One Should Not Get Carried Away. One Should Not Get Too Far Ahead. One Should Look In His Closet AND Under His Bed for His Skeletons. Because they are there. They have to be. Because, y’all? Quite simply put, I am being courted.

And how do I - the Cursed Dater - respond to this little development - of A Guy Who Does Everything Right? First, I get so excited I go out and spend $300 on lingerie. It's been a while. But now panic sets in because the credit card bill AND the fact that, of course, this will jinx it. Remember, I am superstitious (i.e., I never read my horoscope ahead of time). And then I call my girlfriends to analyze every excruciating detail of our last date to understand why it took him three days to call and not the usual two and when he doesn't make a plan for our next date I start to question whether he really likes me and when he put his hand on my leg he stroked it in a counter-clockwise motion instead of the usual clockwise and he didn't end our kiss with a soft one on the left cheek - or is the right cheek that he ends on....and -- my gosh, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?! Then I go eat a whole meatloaf and a cheesecake and THEN I am looking at my new lingerie and thinking "my thigh goes in there?" and "I thought this was more flowy in the store" and "boy, that thong DOES really go up the crack." [Men, you really have no idea what goes on behind the scenes!]

So Mr. Second Date, calm a girl down and, um, keep doing everything right. What - you don't know what "right" is? Well, I can't tell you that - that is what my girlfriends are for.

Monday, October 03, 2005

N.O., I Never Got To Go

I have this fascination with the South. Southern accents. Southern food. Southern men. Southern comfort. In my eyes, New Orleans was quintessential South. The food, the revelry, the architecture, the music, the culture.

The ex, who I mean-spiritedly refer to as Yukkell™, was from the South. Louisana to be exact. He spoke with a slight southern twang. It was distinctive and was only apparent with certain words. Like he pronounced, McDonald’s, as MacDonald’s. I liked his pronunciation - or enunciations. For years I heard him talk about his ex-girlfriend by the name “Till.” Only when she came back into the picture and trumped me as Girl Who Has His Heart, I learned that her name is actually pronounced as “teal.” Yeah, like the fucking color. What I once thought was his charming accent, I now think of as his hillbilly accent. Yet it was his best friend, in an attempt to cheer me up one night, refer to Yukkell as the Bayou Boob. Heh.

But he embodied part of that Southern Myth that I was (am?) so attracted to for years.

The night my father died, Yukkell and I were in one of our Off Moments. We were either On or Off and it was ALWAYS based on HIS mood, which side of Gemini I got to deal with. Jekyll or Hyde. Let’s just say he was being a jerk. Until he got the frantic call from me telling him my dad was in the hospital, hooked up to a ventilator. I think he really thought it was going to be alright when he told me so.

Well, you know how the story ends. It wasn’t alright. When I called him the next morning to tell him so, he cried. In the days following, he was There for me. I guess. He came to the funeral. He spent the next day – the 4th of July - with what was left of my family. I mean, Mom without Dad was weird. The next week I spent with my mother in Philadelphia trying to take care of her – my sister and I did. I certainly could not have done it without my sister. And Yukkell insisted on talking to me everyday. We would stay up late talking on the phone. The Sadness that was surrounding us all in that house I tried to escape from with those nightly phone calls. He said that it pained him to see me hurt so badly. And he wanted to do something for me. So – knowing my fascination for The South - he promised to take me to New Orleans. As some kind of consolation. This did cheer me up. But I told him I wasn’t ready to enjoy it just yet but maybe in a few months. A trip to New Orleans became my light at the end of the tunnel. My beacon of hope that one day I would be ready to release the pain of grief - strong enough to do so. My goal was to take that trip to New Orleans when I was ready. And he was always reminding me of the Trip We Were Going To Take.

Except, we never took the trip. For whatever reason. As time went on, he talked about it less. And since I built the trip up as some kind of prize for overcoming Grief, was it guilt that disallowed my accepting it? My holding on to the grief, as my way of holding on to Daddy? Yet I know that you have to let go of the pain and just let Love resonate.

So I remember one night, we were at the computer poised to book the flights and the computer…CRASHED. Me and my superstitions and conspiracy theories - I took this as a sign. Doom. Deep down, I knew all along We were doomed. But I didn’t know that this beloved City I Had Never Been To But Loved Anyway, this City in which I held such romantic notions of Southerness, was doomed too.

There are some who think the city will never recover. I hope not. I’d like to think that not all my loves are the Doomed Kind.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Meeting Celebrity After The Fact

Once upon a time in a land we will call The Beach in a time circa the Not-So-Distant Past, three girls tore up that shoreline with their own agenda (“Is that part of the program?" or "Let's add this to the program!"), their own jokes (“Sweet. To the left. You know who is going to love this?”), and their own posse (“The circle of trust. You in or out?”). We walked to the beat of our own drummer – one who played bagpipes.

Enough with the inside jokes, right? Well, let me just say we weren’t the only Self-Indulgent Humor Whores this summer. Other people had their own gimmick going too. There was the Guy who looked like Brad Pitt In Disguise, who later became Porn Star Joe, who wore a certain necklace that I am not giving name to. He worked it. There was Doogie, or NPH. He stayed at our house! Poor Doogster had no choice - we gave him his gimmick. We gave him celebrity. Otherwise, he was just some guy with a really bad underbite. And on any given weekend, it was not abnormal to see people in full costume either. You know, like it was Halloween. There was the guy in the Bunny Rabbit costume offering his carrot up. ("I'm not bitin'.") Or those whose costume was really the lack of costume, like the guy with the British Flag bikini bottoms. ("Let's keep it clean.")

And so, Mav and I had a term for this phenomena: The Freak Show. With each new oddity, one of us would just look at the other and laugh. Our code for, “Yep, a freak show.” And we meant this in the most fun-loving way. Our own little Cast of Freaks was any person with the balls and comic instinct to pull off a costume and who works and dies by the motto, "The joke is on me." So each new oddity became a new character in our Cast of Freaks. And we could pull mention of one at any point during the summer and anybody in the House could get it. To this day, you may hear one of us ponder, "Is Joel the Grillmaster?" The Grillmaster being one such Character. They became part of Our Joke. (And just so you know, one time Mav wore her Foxy Cleapatra wig. So Mav as Foxy Clea became one such character. As an example. See? The joke is on us too.)

OK. All that to get to the Meat of this post. One such character we threw into the Cast of Freaks was the Guy in the Cougar costume who drank his beer through a straw because, you know with that cougar head the law of physics state that, "Costume Heads will Get in the Way of Drinking." And Home Ec taught him that, "Straws aren't just for the Kool-Aid!" This Cougar was a Problem Solver. So this costumed character crawled the bars for the weekend dressed like that. Do you stop for a second to wonder Who would wear such a costume? Is it the guy who sat in the back of class cracking jokes, disrupting class - the guy who spent his afternoons in detention and now does the open mic comedy circuit in hopes of getting discovered? Or is it some shy introverted type who needs to be in character to emote? Is this the guy who thinks he is funny and who his housemates egged on to ridicule him behind his back? Or some damn goofy guy who is all about having a good time and making laughing - at yourself - the main goal? Or maybe you don’t even give person to this Character. He is just that – a character in the Joke Book. Another character gone on record. So if I say to Mav one day, "Let's drink like the Cougar would." She knows to drink with a straw.

And she also Gets It when I call her and leave this message circa sometime late Saturday Night: "Guess what? The Cougar? I'm drinking with him. That's my date. He has been unmasked. Ha ha ha. Bye."

And I thought this stuff only happened in the movies.

Damn. A Character has now been given Person.