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.