Thursday, June 29, 2006

My Momma Dearest

Switching gears for a Hallmark moment. It's got to be done.


This Friday, June 30th, will mark the fourth anniversary of my dad's death. I will spend that day(s) with my mom and we will do "dad" things. It's our little ritual and I couldn't imagine spending the day any other way. My dad was a dear, sweet - not to mention hilarious - father and I feel blessed for that. The memories of that weekend haunt me and I guess in a way I still struggle with the loss. But time does put distance and soften the blow.

So on this anniversary I want to pay tribute to my momma. I am blessed to have her in my life as my mom and as my friend. I feel like she sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of our own grief - our own lives. My mom as an independent woman, living her life on her own - while it is something my parents raised me to be, it is just not something she knew herself. I struggle with this too. The picture of my mom carrying all her suitcases and travelling alone or driving off all by herself is part of my grief.


As a child she was sheltered. Her parents sent her to an all girl Catholic school. Her mother made most of her decisions for her, up to and including what she would major in while attending college. It was a traditional household. Father worked hard and came home to awaiting slippers and a newspaper and Mother did the child rearing. It was a loving household, but not an expressive one.

She saw herself through her mom's eyes.

And then she met Val. The night she met him, she knew he was The One. There was something about him. And they couldn't be more opposite. He was wild. She was more reserved. He was a partier. She had the occassional party. He was the life of the party. She was the heart of the party.

Even though she was on a date with another, he confidently asked her out for a spin in his brand new 1967 Corvette. She gushed just a little. And they went out. You knew it was love when she insisted he put the top up because she just got her hair done and he obliged her - his first day in the car. His first day under her spell. They married eleven months later.

She saw herself through his eyes.

They had three children. The children grew up in the center of their world. Together they sacrificed so much so that their kids could have the best education, the best clothes, the best friends, and the best times. They provided a loving, supportive, and expressive home. The children always felt their love and lived by their example.

To raise her family, she gave up her dreams of becoming a nurse. But she has helped people heal throughout her life. She is warm and inviting and people are automatically drawn to her. She is interested in people as individuals. It is easy to see. And she has many friends because of this.

What she doesn't realize is how strong she is. She has always lived her life dependent on others. First, her parents, then her husband. She happily took on this role. But her years of dependency flipped suddenly - unexpectedly - in one fateful night when she lost Him - the love of her life - and had to make the phone calls to the children.

"He's gone. He's gone."

She says she doesn't know what to say in troubled times, she says that He was the one who knew what to say. But she said the only words she could.

Her children showed her how to pump gas and work the ATM machine and drive on the highway. Her brother helped her figure out her finances. And she put together funeral arrangements with poise and grace. She showed everybody how to heal by just being herself. Completely selfless.

Now she stands on her own two feet. She never had the confidence before. She was always grounded by love. Her children settled into their own lives with their own families and she set out on a new future for herself. Very different from what she imagined. Very different from what she wants. But she is finding a new way to live.

I know that she still cries herself to sleep many nights. I know that she keeps his slippers by the bed. I know that she wears his and her rings. I know that she talks to him. I know that she misses him every single day.

I want to punch the Well-Meaning People who insenstively speak, "I don't know how you do it. If [love of my life] died I just don't think I could go on." It's called Life people and it never goes the way you exactly want it to and you can rue the why all the live long day. But in the end, you are still here for a reason and so you live it the best way you know - the only way you know how. Even if you have to re-learn it.

I bet she would never think that she was strong and willful. But she is. She was the pillar that held up her family after this tragedy. Her selfless example inspires. And if you believe in the s
oul then I know that my daddy is proud of her too.

Maybe that is why he went first. Maybe he would not have been able to find a way.

So now she has entered the phase of Independent Linda. I hope that she will find peace with this.

I hope she will see herself through my eyes.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Gag Me With A Big Rock, Or, Some Notes For My Future Fiance, Also Al Roker Sucks

The other morning I had the Today show on in the background while I was getting ready for work. With the syrup of Katie gone they needed to fill in some sap. So some dude proposed to his lady love right there on NBC. It wasn't enough that she had to know how much he loved her, he wanted all of the American viewing public to witness this. Romantic moment gone public.

Because it's a show after all. Giving the engagement ring is now a show and not a private pledge of everlasting love. It's I-want-my-fifteen-minutes-of-fame! Ooh! I hope Fox is picking up on this and that will be their next installment in bad (and by bad I mean good) reality TV. "How Public Is Your Love?" I hope they get Chuck Woolery to host it. Lingo isn't his best work.

Why do so many people feel it necessary to choose a public forum - like sky writing, the baseball stadium screen, the airplane? You want to know why? So Al Roker - or someone else - can go on and on about it. It's stroking the male ego. Ladies, your private moment has become a Monster Truck show and you are just the stick shift.

"Let me see that ring!"

"Would you look at that ring?!"

"That's such a big ring!"


"Really, would you look at that ring!?"

"Ah, the ring!"

Said Al over and over and over again. Never mind that that is what he does. He's the guy who laughs at his own jokes and then has to say it over and over again because he got chuckles from the crew. What he doesn't realize is the one clown in the crew (voted Class Clown of his 2005 graduating class) has created a laugh card FOR the crew - or they have some drinking game when Al gives "that doofus look" - drink. So they are all drunk. I just want to throw my flip-flop at the TV screen. I may have done this. (By the way, why is he not sticking to the weather and chasing diners across America? Who gave him his own segments with no babysitter?)

Anyway, my point: he kept making a big deal about the ring. But that is what we do.

"Let me see the ring!"

Honestly, I could care less what the ring looks like. (Believe it.) I am more interested in the romantic moment of when/how he asked. Because I am a cheesy romantic at heart. I love tearjerkers of The Way We Were proportions. (And yet, I haven't seen The Notebook. 99 Things To Do Before I Die.) So, I ask, "How did he propose?" or "Were you expecting it?" Dammit there better be a special moment - and it could take place over a carton of sechuan noodles for all I know - if that had some significance between the TWO OF YOU and not the TRILLION OF US.

Note to future fiance: Make sure Al Roker is not in the room.

Because not only is the way in which he gives you the rock a show a la The Today Show, but the size of the rock must be proportionate to the size of....his wallet...his love for you...or is it his cock? (Frankly, I think this would be a better gauge. Not to mention make for better TV. So Al Roker can wink,wink at the girl and just mouth the words, "Congratulations!" Oh, but it's Al so he will just scream it over and over again. And wink, wink then wink, wink, then wink, wink. Al really is a broken record, have you noticed? And my record is broken too. Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate. Scratch.)

Note to future fiance: Um, OK, I'll take the Big Ring if by the size you mean "size". Wink, wink.
And so with all this attention of how "well" this dude did with the Big Gesture and the Fancy Rock, he got to pull his britches up a notch. He knows he won't be seeing a "dog house" for a long time - until exactly one year from now when he forgets the anniversary of the day he proposed, not to be confused with the anniversary of when he said "I love you," the anniversary of their first kiss, the anniversary of when he thought about proposing....Remember it all dammit! Because then he is just a big idiot.

My mom has a modest-sized diamond that my dad bought when they were young. In fact, a lot of my friend's parents have just that - a modest-sized diamond. That was back when people got married before they made the "big bucks". In today's world, my dad would have bought my mom a football ball-sized ring and proposed on SportsCenter or something. I'll tell you the Chris Berman commentary would BLOW Al Roker away.

Note to future fiance: Let's talk. For Berman, I could reconsider this whole anti-TV proposal stance.

But the modest-sized ring was all he could afford at the time - you know, after he bought the Corvette. Seriously. But the point is, years later, they could have "upgraded." But she never wanted to. Even when they changed their settings to gold. She still kept her original rock. And one time, she lost it (only to be found a week later in the closet). My mom was so upset, she cried for days. My dad didn't understand, he tried to console her with, "No big deal. We will get a new one." I'm sure she gave him the look of daggers. The rock could have been an edible jelly bean but she was sentimental for that particular diamond - the one in which he pledged his undying love.

But see? The guy doesn't have the sentimental attachment. Giving it is the production and when the tape stops rolling, they bow. And then the show is over ladies. That ring is now your show. And don't expect your guy to tour Broadway with you. What do you care? It's you and your rock. I have friends who just got engaged and she told me that she just can't stop staring at the ring. See? It's her show now. He washes his hands of the spotlight and starts salivating for his bachelor party.

And the parade of the ring begins. Your left-handed now! What better way to see the rock. You shake hands with your left hand and, ouch, did that rock get in your way. Oh, yeah, I'm engaged! "This 'ole thing just gets in the way of living, y'all!" And now your friends want to try the damn thing on all the time. When do you get to wear it?

I joke, of course. I'm happy for my Friends With Rock. I get the sentimental attachment to the ring. I do. It embodies something a camera can't capture.

So, for the love of God, leave Al Roker at home.

The author really just wants Al Roker to go back to reading weather charts because that is "his neck of the woods." Besides she is really getting drunk off that drinking game.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

On Love, Religion, And Water Bottles

I am pretty sure you never discuss religion on a first date. And I am pretty sure you never discuss religion after twenty-some beers. I'm also pretty sure you never discuss religion at 4 AM. As my dad used to say, "Nothing good happens at 4 AM. " So I am pretty sure if all of these scenarios coincide, nothing good can come of it. In fact, all hell might break loose. You know, if you believe in heaven and hell.

Now I'm not religous so this isn't a diatribe on religion. This is nothing more than a silly love story, with a little bit of violence - of the Pulp Fiction kind, not the gratuitious Terminator kind, mind you. So girls can bring their guys to watch this chick flick!

Mav and I went to the beach house last weekend and took along Dear Prudence - of plumber fame. (I'm sure she loves that endorsement!) The weekend was off to a great start Friday as we lunched on Nico Bolis and a couple pitchers. We also got some beach time where we got to watch Napolean and Pedro build a sand castle. Such love the kids gave each other. But that's another story. Oh, and the fact that they were "affiliated" with our house is a whole other story that can not be squeezed into my love story.

On Friday night we put our jeans and flip flops on and hit the bar. As I was doing my tour of all the bars (within the larger bar) looking for a coosie (how do you spell that by the way?), I had a moment. Aren't "they" always saying, "There she goes again. Boa falls in and out of love every weekend at the beach." And they would be right. But as I was standing shoulder to shoulder with a guy on my right, we both turned at the same time. Locked eyes. And of course I did my standard smooth move, I ran away. But I still recognize that as a "moment."

A couple minutes later Mav is informing me that "love of my life" is here. Here! I got excited for like 10 seconds until I remembered how that played out. What do they say? The opposite of love is indifference? Yeah, well I was indifferent.

"I don't care about him. But let's go say hi."

So we went over and said "hi." He and I exchanged a few pleasantries, "Do you still work at XYZ?" "You haven't moved back to CA yet?" "Did you lose my number?" ....And then I looked over to the person next to him and there He was. My first crush of the summer, "Love of my life's" best friend (hereinafter called BF), the guy I just had the moment with! Eek. I remember him from last year now. But why did I not see him until just now?

So we had another moment right there. It is like nobody else is around and you don't need to say anything and we probably stood like that for like 30 minutes. Or it could have been.

So I had to get away from them because the love was no longer there for "love of my life" but I couldn't go with the best friend? Or could I? He kept following me around. Everytime I turned he was handing me a beer. He pulls me in to dance with him. And that look in his eyes suckered me in. The moment.

So Friday night Mav, me, and Dear Prudence split up. We all had our romance to chase. Mav with the smallest "chip" of the bunch. Dear Prudence with her myriad of men, I seriously lost track which one she was with.

Needless to say, we met up with the boys Saturday afternoon for a little Jam. I was so over being uncomfortable with the dynamic. I purred as I talked to the BF that afternoon and listened to the band. Yep. 100% smitten. It's been awhile. I deserve it.

Now fast forward to Saturday night after a long day. It's just me, the BF, love of my life, Dear Prudence, Mav, and The Sleeper sitting around the patio table. Oh, and Lex Luther. Who nobody knew. He was just some guy walking by who joined the party. We are appraching 4 AM.

What do grown-up professionals who had been drinking all day at the beach do at 4 AM? Pop open their lap top? Take an Advil? GO TO SLEEP? No, they play Spin the Bottle and I Never. And drink more beer. After a few hours of this (which is actually now 4 AM) we carry the conversation to more lofty things like....religion.

This is where our love story reaches a crescendo. In hindsight, I should have interrupted the discourse with my lovely joke about the pizza.

But then we wouldn't have had this:

Mav: I am going to raise my kids Catholic because that is how I was raised and that is what I identify with.
The BF: Why do you identify with it?
Mav: I believe in the 10 Commandments.
Boa: [Quiety thinking of all the ways Mav has broken the 10 commandments over and over. But think better about calling hypocrite because I see her point.]
The BF: That's a civil code.
Boa: Ahh, he is cute and smart too!
Mav: That is what Christianity is based on!
[Voices are getting much louder. Much.]
The BF: Oh and I guess you are going to say that you believe the world was created in 10 days too!

From here on out the yelling is quite blurry. But it could have gone something like this:

Mav: I didn't say that.
BF: Yes you did.
Mav: Shut up.
BF: No you.
Mav: You're a poopeyhead.
The BF: Welll your a doo-doo.
Boa: [giggle, giggle]

And here is where Mav decides that actions will speak much larger than words. I like to call it performance art. Mav was acting out. Because she dramatically jumped on top of the table and whacked the BF upside the head with an empty water bottle. Just like that. Some people might sit in a tree for 10 days to GET THEIR POINT ACROSS. As if to say, "listen to me." But Mav dialed into the Bronx and raged.

And if the water bottle action wasn't enough, she came back to backhand all of the 40 beer cans sitting on the picnic table - backhanded them with one swoosh - right into the corner that the BF was now cowered in. And kicked him out of the house.

Mind you I am silent through all this. Frankly, didn't know what to do and seriously I am the daisy in the barrel of the gun. Can't we all just get along?

But The BF turned to me and wistfully said, "I'm so sorry Lara." I'd like to think there was a tear shed. And just like that I knew this was the end of this love story. We weren't going to make it after all. That water bottle would have always been in the way. In the name of God.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Plumber's Crack

Home ownership equals plumber's crack.

Apparently things break. Murphy's Law says it will happen right when you buy a house or right when you pay your car off. Luckily Mr. Murphy started "lite" my first month into the new place. "He" cracked his whip at me as if to say, "Don't get too smug little girl. You are responsible now. There is no Handy Man at your beck and call." And ironically, when I rented and did have a handy man at my beck and call nothing ever broke - in 6 years.

However, Week #2 in my new place, the toilet went kerplunk. Well it didn't shut down completely. On Sunday afternoon it started "running." That is the short version that apparently the masses understand for what I was calling, "After-I-flush-the-toilet-it-flushes-properly-but-then-it-starts-dripping-not-literally-but-you-can-hear-it-and-when-you-look-in-the-tank-the-water-goes-down-and-when-it-reaches-a-certain-point-it-automatically-flushes-and-the-whole-process-starts-again-so-my-toilet-is-constantly-flushing-and-um-that-means-it's-not-working-right?"

And that is when I learned my first home improvement word of the day. Say it with me: F-L-A-P-P-E-R. Flapper.

My runny toilet was in need of a new flapper.

I learned this by calling my friend who lives in my building who has owned her place for probably about 3 years so I guess you learn a thing or two about home repairs as you go along. I called her to get the name of a handy man I could call and when I explained my drawn-out winded description of my runny toilet she cut me off immediately because she knew what my problem was and - best of all - she knew how to fix it!

Minutes later (this is Sunday evening) she was down at my door with her Home Depot book. Not for her. For me. And there is where I saw the interworkings of my toilet tank. Not much to it. Some chains. That ball-cock thing. And the flapper! Y'all? Chains? Ball cocks? Flappers? Is there a hose in there? This give new meaning to "plumber's crack" indeed. But I digress as usual.

So the flapper replacement. You might be thinking, "Silly girl, flapper replacement is so kindergarten. I can change that with my eyes closed."

Well good. I'm apparently passing Home Improvement Kindergarten because that is exactly how I - we - had to do it. You see - my tank is located directly underneath a vanity ledge so you can't see into the tank. In fact, you can barely fit your arm into the tank. I just measured my forearm and it is a little over 3 inches at the fatest part so that means that the opening is only 3 inches wide - barely. So I squeezed my arm in and now my arm has this big bruise right at the inside of my elbow. It looks like I have done a sufficient amount of shooting up.

Plumber's crack? Plumber's elbow.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. My friend, S (she is getting a name this weekend as she accompanies Mav and I at the beach - you can't escape the nickname), diagnosed the problem and put her arm in to feel around the flapper. She pushed it down to temporarily stop the leaking and came up with black goo all over her hand. And this is where I learned that black goo means one too many Chlorox bleach tablets dropped into the tank (which ironically I had just dropped one in that morning) which leads to corroded flappers.

And that corrosion of black gooey tar DOES NOT LEAVE. It is now imbedded in my nail beds. It is in every crevice and pore of my fingers now.

Plumber's crack? Plumber's dirty dirty hands. Hmm. My black hands reminds me of this post. (Digressions...)

So I spent the rest of the night trying to replicate her "fix" and the damn broken flapper would not seal for me.

Horse whispering? Flapper cursing!

So I had to get creative unless I wanted to listen to:

Flush - on repeat - ALL NIGHT LONG. I opened up my drawers of kitchen gadgets that are never used and settled on the knife sharpener as Band-Aid. And she worked! I was able to wedge it down onto the flapper and it fit flush right up against the vanity top.

The phantom flushing was not going to be going on all night long.

12:30 in bed and asleep.

The next morning I started to doubt my plumbing attempt. I stopped by to talk to our building manager and he gave me a flapper and assured me it was easy to replace. Another vote of confidence! This plumbing thing is a whole world I never knew anything about. Because apparently everyone knows about the flapper. I talked to Mav that morning and relayed the problems with "my can" and she too said, "Oh yeah, that's your flapper." The world is opening up.

That night, after I got home from speaking on tax resources at a conference in Baltimore, I went to work on the toilet. Public speaking? Plumber's crack? I'm not sure which I feared most at that point. But I wanted to be able to do this myself.

I put on my Magic Numbers CD (loooove) and, even though I was wearing a little sundress, I said, to no one in particular (because there is not even a cat to talk to now), "Don't mind my plumber's crack." It somehow seemed called-for. Or, rather, I'm that corny. I turned the water supply off. Took out the old flapper in its black gooey splendor and swapped in the new. With my eyes closed. The thing was easily snapped into place. Ta fucking da. I was proud of myself!

Until the flush. It won't flush. Damn. I took my plumber's crack self off the floor and rang up S. I needed the reinforcments after all. Thankfully she was to be home in an hour and would swing by my place to check out my handiwork. My apprenticeship was in question.

But not for long! Again, S knew the problem immediately. I just needed to adjust the chain length. The new flapper chain was too long and just like can was fixed!

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Best Is Yet To Come

The Move She is OVER. Hip hip fucking hooray.

Don't get me wrong. I would say it went rather swimmingly as moves can go. (But who wants to that again any time soon?) They showed up ten minutes early and moved my stuff in a little over 3 hours. And they gave me four guys! And only one of them was a prison escapee. And I got an imaginary boyfriend for the day. Money well spent.

My bonus dollars were for the fact that I - correction: we - were Making House. It could have been the lack of sleep, a week in Miami without seeing one remotely non-gangsta being, and operating on very little sustenance in the belly over the past few days. The caustic combo may have contributed to the thoughts of a make-believe boyfriend. In any case, he was the good-boyfriend variety because he catered to my every whim. Our conversations went like this:

"Where should I put this?"

"Should I move it over an inch?"

"Let me do that for you."

"How is this for you?"

Sexually-charged is right. All that we were missing was a nice pat on the ass and a term of endearment. OK. I called him Muscles. I don't think he minded.

I also tried to get him to drink a beer with me - just to firm up calling it a "date." I think he turned me down because he didn't want me buying. And then just like that he left. I guess it was time to be somebody else's boyfriend.

Boyfriend-for-hire: And he'll move your shit!

She won't love him like I did.

After Muscles was gone and no Puss'n'Boots to talk to (wah), I was alone amidst the boxes of my Material World. And the reality of all this hit me. Y'all I have this huge mortgage tied to my name. What if I lose my job? What if the hot water heater breaks? How will I afford that? How do I change the air filter? What if my plumbing gets clogged? How do I change those damn lightbulbs in that funky track lighting in the kitchen? Should I just not use the kitchen lights?

Who will help me when something breaks? Muscles took off in a dusty path!

Then I let those worries go (for now because this is what I do - worry) when Mav came over to break in the place with a bottle of champagne and the discovery of my new neighborhood bar across the street with "kitty" - appropriately - in the title. Now endearingly called, "Sophie O'Shea's."

At the end of the night, I was inviting the whole bar over to my new house. There were only about six people - one of which may or may not have been Tom Arnold. Luckily for me, Mav had the sense to nix that idea. "You have boxes everywhere! Where are people going to sit? You can't have people over, Boa."

But you see, I am in a happy place right now. I want to have YOU over. I want to talk about my house. I went to lunch with the Flirt the other day and I was rambling on and on about my color schemes and decor, etc and his eyes may have been glazing over - but I DIDN'T CARE. Aside from the fact that he lost favor with me big time circa my birthday, but I simply want to talk house with everyone.

I ordered new checks at the bank with my new address and I made them change it. I wanted it to say "Unit" instead of "Apt." and I explained to the bank teller why it was important that it say unit since I am "owner" now and I want my damn checks to reveal this. To everyone.

I had to tell all the Goodwill employees, that I have been donating many very nice miscellaney to over the years, that I will now be taking receipts because "I'm a howeowner and I can itemize now!"

I found a way to tie my "condo talk" into a conversation with one of my account reps who lives in Boston - because, y'all - that is where the lady I bought the house is moving to! Coincidence?

My mom has gotten the play-by-play of the whole house. Square foot by square foot - where I am putting everything - what color everything is. By the time she visits me in a few weeks she will have a good mental image before even seeing the place. My momma lets me ramble. I love her so.

I know, you want me to shut up already. I want me to shut up.

But, you see, I am just happy about this decision to plunge the DC market - insane as it is. Finally, I am happy with where I am at my age. Good job. Great friends. Supportive family. No boyfriend? For now? So.....My Own Home.

There is something so fresh about moving too. Routines are changed. My medicine chest is on the left hand side now. The shower head is on the other side of the shower. I enter my bed from the left. My pots and pans and dishes and silverware are all in different spots. In the new place, as you go to each of these new spots your movement is more deliberate because you have to THINK about what exactly you are doing, where you are going, and where That is. As opposed to Old Hat. An old hippy art teacher I once had would say that I am being Mindful.

I opened up my medicine chest today - a medicine chest I have been opening a couple times a day for the last week - and only this morning did I see this little note taped in the corner in very small lettering,

"Don't give up. The best is yet to come."

I think about the person who had to post this affirmation in a place they were going to go to everyday. What were they going through? Or did they leave it for me in some kind of karmic sharing?

Or did Muscles leave it for me to remind me that it's not make believe....The Best might just be right around the corner from My New Home.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

We Were Not In On The Joke

Where did I leave things? Oh yeesss....the vacation.

Do you think I was:

A) Lying in the sun
B) Being served drinks poolside
C) Falling in love every single day
D) None of the above

The correct answer would be "D." And if you answered this correctly, you were in on the joke.

And if I were to start at the beginning of the story....

I awoke on the early side of Wednesday morning to catch a 7 AM flight. I groggily pulled my shit together and got on an airline that I had never been on before. And admitedly never heard of. I relied on Mav's mad booking skills to get us a dealio.

Once I am on the plane and look around I half expected Spike Lee to jump out of the director's chair and yell, "Cut!" It was a scene of the pants belted down below the ass. The baseball caps on crooked. The swagger. The girls squeezing into too-tight, too-small, too-short clothing encased like sausages. I was the token white chick in this Spike Lee cinematic feature. So I brought out my iPod and put on my white girl music.

Once I arrived at the Fort Lauderdale airport where Mav and I were meeting up I had to ask her, half-jokingly, "What kind of ghetto airline did you book me on?" She didn't understand because she flew out earlier in the week for business. Apparently everyone on her flight had their pants pulled up and their baseball caps on straight.

This should have been Clue #1.

We grab a shuttle to our hotel. We even chat up with some nice local girl who gave us tips on what bars to go to. Thanks nice girl! And we are two giddy girls thinking, "This trip is going to be fun! Wee!"

We walk into our hotel and it is - again - a ghetto scene. Spike Lee is following me?

This should have been Clue #2.

We settle the room debacle at the front desk because the clerk only reads what's in her computer and when there are two identical reservations she goes on the blink. We rebooted her and all worked perfectly. We get to our hotel room and The Count has sent us a bottle of Cristal to partake on Mav's birthday. This bottle will - appropriately - loom large over the weekend as "the Cris."

This should have been Clue #3.

Since the sun is not out we head out to "sight see" but not before we make ourselves a big helping of Sapphire and Soda in a to-go cup. Waiting for the elevator we chat up a fellow hotel guest. A Spike Lee extra. He had a grill* with his name inscribed in each tooth. t-y-r-o-n-e.

We asked him where he was from? And he slanged out, "Na-uhsh-villlle." Followed up with, "It's great down here and I didn't even know there was no beach here!"

The way he said it was like he was just given a buy-one-get-one-free deal. BOGO. It is catchy.

Yet we thought nothing of this urban denizen holding his pants up but not too much so you could get a nice helping of the boxers in view. These crazy kid's style! Spike Lee, where is Wardrobe?

This should have been Clue #4.

We ventured out down the pier to walk into South Beach. At every pier corner there were hip hoppers staking out their corners. It was a friendly pier-corner-type loitering. Spike Lee left the violence at the door.

This should have been Clue #5.

So that night we feasted on the best steak of my life at a gentlemen's steak house. Dark paneling. Cigars. Men with credit. Surprisingly no hip hoppers. Spike let us out of character for the night.

And so for that night we forgot about the weird Twilight Zone we had passed through over the course of the day. The crowd here looked respectable so we sat at the bar, of course, so we could meet and chat up our neighbors. And that we did. Some nice CIA and/or FBI gentlemen. Locals. One happend to be a hotty and when he asked for my phone number, I gave him my work phone number. Who does that? Stupid Me does. But Mav is savvy enough and passed out her cell to one of the gentlemen.

When they called the next night to ask us over for a barbecue I mouthed to Mav, "Say no." See, what I was thinking was that we don't want to tie ourselves down to the first guys we meet here. No on our first night. We still have 4 more days! Let's go out tonight and meet some others!

It's that always-looking-for-something-better deal or let-me-just-see-what-else-is-around-the-corner - that the guys do anyway.

This is when Karma bit us in the ass big-time. Because there was not going to be anything remotely akin to meeting anybody "better." Because this is when we learned the big secret.

To my dismay we were not in a Spike Lee movie. We were in the midst of "Hip Hop Weekend." Every Memorial Day - apparently - South Beach shuts down. The locals leave and Lindsey Lohan certainly doesn't show up. Have you seen how pasty that girl is?

The hot spots that are usually The Place To Be, were dead to all in the world but two silly little girls looking for a good time. We stayed away from the clubs. Not into that scene. We dined rather well. Reservations weren't really necesarry. The bartenders and waiters and waitresses chatted us up usually starting the conversation with, "What are you girls doing in town?"

My best response for this?

"We were not in on the joke."

I failed to mention throughout this timeline that it is STILL RAINING! So sunbathing was out of the question DURING THE WHOLE FIVE DAYS too. (Well, there was one window of opportunity on Saturday.) And our hotel - in character - was ghetto as we had no hotel bar so each day was an adventure. The challenge of finding a bar to saddle up to. We met a bunch of interesting characters. The Judge and his mistress. Even the one 22-year old puppy dog who wanted to ditch her friends - who were down for Hip Hop Weekend - and hang with us because, "..ohmygod, I can't believe you guys are in your 30's - you are so cool [we were walking around with our gin flasks] - and you guys look so great too [like you let yourself go in your 30's]."

In the end, I needed the proverbial 'vacation from my vacation.' But, oh yeah, I still had to move.....

*Spike Lee says your teeth are called grills.