Archive | March, 2012

Nice to meet you. Where’s your bathroom?

31 Mar

Last post about my trip to Atlanta, I swear.

The weather was gorgeous while I was in Atlanta, so Liz and I took a few long (five mile?) walks. Liz is in fantastic shape, so I’ve always found it hard to keep up with her when we walk. She’s an arm-pumping kind of walker. I’m more of a stroller. As a result, I’m usually winded, so my strategy is to lob questions at her so she’ll do most of the talking.

This time, when I saw her loading up Jackson in his stroller, I was excited because I thought it meant we’d be going at a leisurely pace. Silly me! She walks just as fast with a stroller – even going up hills and across rocky paths. She’s like a human tank that only weighs 100 lbs. It’s truly impressive.

So we ventured out for a long hustle, and about halfway through my stomach seized up. “Liz,” I asked nervously. “Is there a bathroom anywhere around here?” (We were on a pretty busy road lined by office buildings, but I wasn’t seeing anything that would be open on a weekend.)

“There’s a Starbucks up ahead of us, maybe a half mile,” she said. Then she looked at my face and said, “Oh. Do you think you can make it?”

“I sure as hell hope so,” I told her. “Or else this visit is going to live in infamy.”

I won’t keep you in suspense: I made it to Starbucks just in the nick of time. And I’ll no longer complain about the cost of a cup of coffee there. I now understand their cost structure: that seemingly huge profit margin actually goes toward toilet paper and janitorial services for random people who stop in to use the facilities.

Because we were a good 2.5 miles away from home, I was nervous about the return walk, so I pulled off about two feet of toilet paper and carefully folded it around my hand. Then, because I didn’t have any pockets, I tucked it into my sports bra.

Feeling very much the Boy Scout for my worst-case planning efforts, I met back up with Liz outside and we continued our walk. When we were about a mile from her home, she saw some of her friends out on their deck, so we waved and walked over.

We chatted with them for ten minutes or so, politely establishing how we all knew each other, where we work, etc.

As we walked away, I told Liz, “They seem really nice.” Then I looked down because something caught my eye. I stopped. “Liz! Look at me.” She looked and started cracking up. “Was this hanging out the entire time we were talking with them?” About eight inches of toilet paper was hanging out of the neck of my shirt, as if I were a walking dispenser.

Liz nodded. “I even noticed it,” she said, “but I just thought, ‘Oh yeah – there’s Alison’s toilet paper,’ like it was a normal thing for you to have hanging out of your shirt.” Which, given the weekend we had, probably makes sense.

Let’s agree: I certainly know how to make an impression.

Apparently, I roll like a celebrity.

That’s ok – you guys can do the parenting.

30 Mar

Anyone who knows me, knows that kids are not part of my life plan. Friends used to doubt me, admonishing, “You’ll change your mind! Just wait…” as I shook my head with certainty.

In recent years, however, they’ve started hold back those comments. I would blame their shift on my nearing approach to 40, but I actually think it probably has more to do with Alan practically handing out business cards for the doctor who performed his vasectomy.

Whatever the case, I’m glad people no longer try to talk me into a baby. They’re just not my thing. (I know. This probably means I have no soul. But I do have grown-up meals, a clean house, a travel budget and the ability to soak in the bathtub with a good book whenever I want. I’ll take the trade-off.)

That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy other people’s kids – at least in small doses. Take last weekend…

In Atlanta, I got some quality bonding time with Liz’s son Jackson, who is two. He was friendly and snuggly and adorable. And also generally half-naked, wearing only a shirt, in a style known (for obvious reasons) as Porky Piggin’.

The naked bit is because he’s potty training and Liz is having to get creative about learning his signals. Apparently when he wears a diaper, he doesn’t think about what he’s doing and just fills it. But if he doesn’t have pants on, he has just enough awareness to shout “Go pee pee!” before running at full tilt toward the bathroom.

So I was sprawled on Liz’s couch Sunday morning, drinking my coffee, when all of a sudden we heard Jackson come tear-assing down the hallway toward us from the bathroom, clapping wildly and yelling, “Yay Jackson! Jackson go potty!”

Liz, eager to reward him for using the toilet, quickly grabbed a sticker for his chart and said, “Good job! Show me!” and started to follow him back down the hall. From the couch I heard her excitement quickly morph into horror.

“Oh no! Jackson! What happened?!” she implored. Then, “Alison! Do not come out here!”

Of course those are just the words to make me scramble to my feet with curiosity, so I trotted through the kitchen in a flash. And found myself staring down a long hallway dotted with turds.

Apparently Jackson had been so excited to have used the toilet that as soon as he finished peeing, he jumped up and ran to tell us about it – forgetting that he had more business to attend to – and took a running dump the entire length of the 20′ long hallway.

Liz looked at me and shook her head, starting to laugh. “I don’t even know where to begin!”

When we had the situation under control, I sent Alan a text. “Never a dull moment. My Sunday morning started by helping Liz clean up poop in the the hallway. How’s YOUR day going?”

His response?  “My day is great – I almost never poop in the hallway!” Amen.

Exactly how old am I? Twenty?

26 Mar

I’ve long suspected I’m not Junior League material, but this past weekend, I confirmed it.  I was in Atlanta, visiting my friend Liz. Friday we went out for dinner, hit an art opening, then people watched at the bar of the St. Regis. It was a nice, chill evening, with only one problem: the drinks.

We had a mojito with dinner, then wine at the art opening. Then, at the St. Regis, we ordered a glass of wine and the bartender presented us with some kind of coffee drink with whipped cream vodka. It’s been a long time since I’ve had an evening that involves anything more than splitting a bottle of wine, and I can’t remember when I last drank liquor, so this definitely constituted a wild night.

And man was I feeling it the next morning when we pulled out of Liz’s driveway, heading out on a home tour organized by the Junior League of Atlanta. I slumped in the passenger seat, wearing sunglasses and pounding water. On our way to pick up her friend Erin, who was joining us for the tour, Liz pointed to a garbage can on the sidewalk in Buckhead and said, “See that? That’s where Erin threw up last year before the house tour.”

I sized it up. “Maybe I should do the same thing,” I told her. “Then when we grab her, you can introduce me as someone who has something unique in common with her.” I was only half-joking.

But then as we drove the tour route, the roads turned twisty and hilly, a combination that would induce car-sickness on a good day. Definitely not what you want to combine with a hangover.

Outside each home, perfectly made-up southern girls sat at a table, smiling as they checked our tickets and gave us blue booties to slip over our shoes so we wouldn’t scuff the floor. “Y’all enjoy yourselves,” they’d urge and I’d wince.

Inside the second house, staring at the kitchen’s flawless marble counters and admiring its chilled under-counter beverage drawer, I felt a wave of nausea wash over me. I looked around in a slight panic, wondering if anyone had ever soiled a home on the tour.

It has been years since I’ve thrown up for any reason, but when my mouth started salivating as I left the home, I knew what was coming. Without missing a beat, I walked down the driveway, crossed the street into a small park next to a set of occupied tennis courts, and knelt – Tebow-style – before silently barfing in a cluster of liriope.

To anyone watching, it would’ve looked like I was simply tying my shoe. Until you noticed I was wearing flipflops.

Liz and Erin had wisely hung back on the sidewalk, and questioningly flashed me thumbs-ups as I walked back to them. I simply nodded, trying to be discreet as I passed a woman walking two small white dogs past me into the park.

As we climbed into the car, Erin piped up from the backseat. “Gee Liz – we’re going 2/2 on this home tour. Guess next year it will be your turn!”  We both shuddered; Liz, undoubtedly at the thought of being the one to toss her cookies in public.

And me? Well, I’d just seen the two white dogs discover their next meal.

But I just wanted to borrow a book…

23 Mar

Yesterday I walked to the library to pick up my book club’s next selection (In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O’Brien). When I got there, the sole librarian behind the counter was the woman I mentally refer to as Rita the Regulator.

Rita is not the librarian of your childhood who warmly comments on your selections or makes customized recommendations. She has no social skills and her job seems to bring her nothing but annoyance. If she had a visible thought bubble over her head, I’m pretty sure it would say, “Everyone is an idiot.”

Yesterday I had a chance to study her because she was on the phone with her back to me as I approached the desk. It sounded like she was having an argument with a patron. “I told you,” she said. “I looked. There’s not a book back there for you… No… I checked… spell your name again for me… yes… that’s the name I looked for, and I can tell you – there is NOT a book with that name on it… you will need to call back in a few hours… a few hours… because maybe then there will be a book back there with your name on it!”

Rita: Hates people, Loves Buffet?

I observed that she was wearing a brightly colored short sleeve button-up shirt featuring large parrots, and it made me imagine her at the store, picking it out. Had she liked the colors? The birds? Or was it a pragmatic decision made simply because of the shirt’s fit and weight, with no thought of the parrots on it? In any case, she looked like a Hawaiian tourist, which was an interesting look for the DC library in March.

The thing that makes Rita interesting (aside from everything else that fascinates me about her) is the fact that she can only perform one task at a time. Whatever she is doing has her full attention, and if you try to interrupt her you will receive a very terse reprimand. Knowing this, I patiently waited for her to complete the phone call while a line of slightly more restless patrons formed behind me.

When she hung up the phone, she turned and assessed the line, and her face seemed to read, “Great. Even MORE idiots to deal with.” In any case, she completed my transaction (which included updating my phone number in the system because there was a message on the computer prompting her to do so, which she was unwilling to override even with a line of people bearing down on her).

Book in hand, I exited. Or rather – I tried to exit. The library has two sets of automatic glass doors you pass through. I made it out the first set without issue, but then found the next set locked. I should’ve been clued in by the fact that a woman with a stroller was standing there, just hanging out between the doors, when I entered.

“It’s locked,” she said. I tried to muscle my way out, but it wasn’t happening. I turned around to re-enter the library, but the doors wouldn’t open because they’re triggered only by the pad inside the library. I was able to wrestle one open just enough to squeeze through so I could tap the pad and let the woman out.

I approached the desk to tell Rita that something was wrong with the doors, but she wouldn’t interrupt her transaction to look at me. “There’s a line,” she informed me without making eye contact.

I leaned toward the next person in the line, “You might want to let her know that the doors are locked and people can’t get out.”

Duty done, I returned to the entrance and reversed my way out, prying the doors open with some effort as I realized that the library was something of a fire trap. I held the door open for the baby stroller lady as I went, and we both laughed with relief when we finally made it to the sidewalk.

Like this, but not Spiderman, and not in a glass. So actually, not really like this.

The way the library is laid out, the entrance and exit face each other because it’s a bit like a horseshoe. While we were rejoicing in our newly found freedom, I looked up to see a guy – the guy who Rita had been helping when I tried to inform her about the doors – stuck in the exit foyer, grabbing the door handles and shaking them with a slight look of panic in his eye.

He was so absorbed in his task, he didn’t even notice me, sitting there staring at him, and it made me wonder if someone had watched me do the exact thing. It was not unlike watching an orangutan behind glass at the zoo.

And suddenly I understood why Rita shook her head and thought we were idiots.

I hope you have a hangover.

18 Mar

Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day. I probably didn’t need to tell you that, did I? (I can picture you, still lying in bed, reading this with a mild hangover, disgusted that there is a green stain on your pillow from where you drooled green beer in your sleep. Sound about right?)

Well, as it turns out: I’m old, and St. Patty’s Day only served to underline how old.

Here is a list of random observations that tell me I’m starting to resemble that lady (Edna?) on the Shoebox greeting cards.

  • I went to yoga in the morning. On my way, every person I passed was either toting a six-pack of beer or wearing a bar-crawl wristband. Did I mention I was going to yoga?
  • The only green I wore was an MSU hoodie, because the Spartans are playing this weekend.
  • I got so immersed reading a book in Dupont Circle that when I heard bagpipes I thought it was a funeral procession.
  • People-watching led me to tweet: “If you can’t walk in those shoes when you’re sober, then they were probably an especially poor pick for a pub crawl.”
  • I saw a few dogs wearing shamrock bandanas around their necks and thought it was cute. But I’m so practical, I sent Alan a text saying, “I really want to adopt a cat today – who’s with me?” Because old people know they don’t have the energy for a dog.
  • I googled “Irish Step Dancers” because I actually wanted to see some Riverdance action.
  • I prepared and filed my taxes. With my window open. While watching my neighbors play beer pong on their deck.
  • Four young-looking people showed up in Dupont Circle and did and awkward clap-dance to promote some show they’re putting on. I assumed they were just four drunk kids who lost a bet until I googled the name on their t-shirts. Turns out they’re Georgetown students. Here is their group’s logo, which I think looks like either a stylized animal face or some kind of vagina-labyrinth:

The kicker? Even Obama (O’Bama?) hit a local Irish bar to have a Guinness. I’m getting out-paced – both in my bracket picks AND the St. Patrick’s Day scene by someone 13 years older than me. At least I can find solace in knowing that I have a better job.