Archive | May, 2012

The Legend of Baggy Pants.

30 May

I’ll admit: I’ve never been a Fashionista. I come by it honestly.

When Jordache jeans (with their distinctive script label) were popular in the 80s, my mom found a batch of fabric labels that used the same font to spell, “Who Gives A Shit” and stitched them on her own pants. (Or actually, maybe my dad did that – since he’s the one who taught me to sew.)

The highlight of my middle school fashion was a t-shirt featuring a jogger running past a gas station with the caption, “Passing Gas.”

And as a young professional sporting what I thought was a very chic, all-brown suit, I had my confidence shaken when one of the guys on my team (now a good friend) casually remarked that he knew it was going to be a bad day for everyone when I showed up wearing, “The Turd Suit.”

Correct. Apparently all of my fashion influences come from Uranus.

So it should come as no surprise that I still rarely nail my wardrobe. This is fresh on my mind because every time I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror today, I would shake my head and think, “The Legend of Bagger Vance.” Or jump and think someone had let a man from the 1920’s into the bathroom.

If you’re not familiar with Bagger Vance, I’m talking about a golf movie set way back in the early 20th century. The people in it dressed like this:

Knickers and Cardigans. What’s not to love?

Yes. Something about my outfit – knickers and an Izod shirt – looked like I should be talking tee times with a bag slung over my shoulder. So I posted something to that effect on Facebook.

And almost immediately, people wanted photos. Partly because they’re bored with their jobs, but also because everyone loves witnessing a fashion disaster. And also because my friends are kind of assholes. In a good way.

I asked one of my co-workers to snap my photo. Since Los Angeles is super-fashionable, I thought I’d start by seeking out the harshest criticism first, so I sent the photo to my friend Sharon, who works in our LA office. But she politely pointed out that golfers do not wear high heels, that my pants were capris not knickers, and that I didn’t have a golf cap on, so I needed to stop beating myself up.

I felt good for a few minutes, glowing from her endorsement of my fashion, until I trekked to the bathroom. And almost screamed to find a man in there. Then realized it was me. And then I realized that the photo I sent Sharon was deceptive: it was dimly lit and framed by an office, so it might be hard to make the Bagger Vance connection.

About this time I remembered that my sister (who loves Photoshop) was stationed Up North (which means north of Ann Arbor, Michigan) for the week, probably relaxing since she left her kids at home bored out of her mind. So I sent her the photo and asked her if she could feel the Bagger Vance vibe I was rockin’.

This is what she sent back:

I am pretty sure I might have just started a fashion revolution. FORE! 

I seriously need a balcony.

27 May

Although we’re committed to each other for the long haul, Alan and I maintain separate homes. My place is smack in the heart of DC and surrounded by parks and restaurants and yoga studios and nightlife. His place is in a quiet, professional community in Arlington with a pool and balcony.

We tend to spend more time at my place in the winter (easy to walk to everything, cozy fireplace) and then log our hours at his place from Memorial Day to Labor Day so we can maximize the pool.

I LOVE being outside, so this morning I took a mug of tea and my laptop out on his balcony. And I realized: holy shit, I really need a balcony. It was more entertaining than a seal juggling screaming babies television.

First, at 9:30, I noticed a woman – wearing only a bathing suit – stomping determinedly down the foot path. Without the context of the pool nearby, that would seem totally bizarre. Even so, it still was a bit odd – because the pool doesn’t open until 11am. “Oh honey,” I thought to myself, “You are about to be soooo disappointed. Early bird gets the worm shaft.”

Sure enough. Her pace slowed as she approached the locked gate. She shook it, testing it. Then she shifted her focus to the rule board, where it’s clearly written that the pool opens at 11. Without turning to actually engage another human, I heard her yell, “What time is it??”

I’m not sure whom she expected to answer her, so I wasn’t surprised when she received Radio Silence as a response. I debated yelling back down to her, but I was half concealed by a tree and thought (for her sake) she might want to believe no one had actually noticed her strutting around in a bikini as if she were crazy.

About this time, a young couple appeared on the tennis court directly below me, toting racquets rackets rickets Rockettes? tennis gear. The guy clearly thought he was Hot Shit, as evidenced by his flowing mane of curls (pulled back in a girly-looking headband) and Ray Bans.

Within two minutes of hitting the court, he devised some sort of calisthenics routine for them, which involved running in forward/backward zigzags the entire length of the court.

He demonstrated it for his girlfriend. “Like this,” he called to her, as he ran in a way that looked like he was avoiding sniper fire.

She mirrored his motions and together they covered the length of the court.

“No,” he called again. “Like this.”

And started another demo for her benefit. She gamely joined in, following after him.

After two more rounds – during which he continued to correct her and shout out tips about her form – she finally cried Uncle. “Dude! Are we here to run around or play tennis?”

Good question. He looked startled but nodded and ran to the tube of balls he’d left at one end of the court.

And then I realized why he’d been stalling: Dude could not play tennis. He’d been trying to wear her down with ridiculous drills beforehand. So of course I pulled my chair closer to the railing and began clapping as if I were at Wimbledon any time she scored on him.

Interestingly, they both pretended I wasn’t there. I assume he did it from a sense of shame and she did it to help save her relationship, so I decided not to press it overtly. But I did kept cheering and shouting the score. It gave me a sweet sense of pride to loudly declare, “Love – Love!”

But then I realized I didn’t actually know how to score tennis, so I found myself yelling, “One – Love!” as if I were a stoner worshipping Bob Marley. And at that point I decided just to take a stance on their relationship, so I stopped even trying.

“Douche – Love.”

“Love – Nothing.”

“Loser – Love.”

About this time, Alan (who was inside making coffee) cracked his window and started listening to me.

WHAT, exactly, are you doing?” he asked, seconds later, as he came charging out on the balcony.

I shrugged. “Nothing. Just keeping score.”

And that’s why I might have a career at Wimbledon. Or need my own balcony. Because apparently Alan won’t let me use his any more. Where I come from, we call that Selfish.

Rub, rub, barf. This one’s all over the place.

23 May

There was a moment during my most recent massage (the one following the fire-alarm facial) when I’m pretty sure I heard my masseuse gag. She was pregnant, in her first trimester, and – as I lay face-down on the table – I heard her swallow a wave of nausea.

It got me wondering how many people have ever been barfed on in the middle of a professional massage.

I mean, surely it’s happened to someone. I want to interview that person.

Suddenly, my massage was mentally hijacked… in my best Barbara Walters’ voice, I imagined myself prompting, “So Donna. You were face-down, expecting a relaxing massage. Take us back to that moment. When did you realize you were bathed in vomit rather than massage oil?”

At some point, I realized that it was probably not natural to spend a portion of one’s massage contemplating a half-digested shower, so I tried to push the thought from my mind and relax. But then another – equally horrifying – thought occurred to me. What if it wasn’t her pregnancy that made her gag? What if it was ME?

I started a paranoid accounting of myself. Toe nails… trimmed and painted… No flabbier than the average client. No warts on my feet… Legs shaved… I’d showered right before my massage so no chance of my feet smelling funky.

And then it occurred to me: SPIDER BITES.

I’d woken up the night before with itchy legs and found two huge welts (dare I say HIVES) on my leg, each with a perfect dot in the center. They were bigger than mosquito bites, so – even though it was 3 am – I woke Alan up, turned on the light, and tossed the bed looking for whatever bit me.

I didn’t find it, but I figured I’d probably either killed or displaced it with my flurry of activity, so I was able to go back to sleep.

But lying on the massage table with two huge welts on my legs that looked like botfly larvae might burst forth at any moment? A person wouldn’t need to be pregnant to want to puke.

Speaking of – I actually don’t think I can finish this post. I just bounced over to Google images to see if I could find a “funny botfly larvae” photo to illustrate this story. That was a HORRIBLE idea. Those words should never be in the same search string. Take my word for this.

And so it is… only in my world can a massage lead to a fantasy that ultimately tracks to parasitic worms. No wonder I never seem relaxed.

The Way My Brain Works

21 May

Alan says I’m a pessimist. I’d like to believe I’m just well prepared. On the whole I believe things will turn out just right – I just find it comforting to have Plan B in my back pocket. Even when there’s almost no chance it will be needed.

I chalk it up to having a fantastic imagination.

Take today. Walking home from work this afternoon, I saw a folded dollar bill on the sidewalk. Of course I bent to grab it. Only, once I was holding it, I saw that it was only part of a dollar. It represented maybe 20% of a full bill, but had been folded in a way that it looked like more.

Since it was useless, I pitched it in the next trashcan I saw.

And then… five steps later… the gears in my brain started to spin.

It was like someone had folded the dollar to trick people into believing it was whole. 

What if that had been a trap? 

I mean, if I were a terrorist, trying to randomly start an untraceable plague, that would be a great first step…

Step 1: Taint money with incurable virus.

Step 2: Cut money into bits and fold using clever origami technique to make each bit look whole.

Step 3: Scatter on well-traveled sidewalks, right before rush hour, near trash cans. 

Pretty clever, you must admit. While some people may walk past a coin, who isn’t going to stop to pick up a dollar? And by only placing *partial* bits, you ensure people won’t want to keep them after they examine them. And by scattering them near trashcans on busy streets, you’ve ensured the evidence will get incinerated relatively quickly.

Brilliant, no?

In fact, it was so brilliant that my first thought was: I need to write this down when I get home. If I ever write an espionage thriller, I’m totally going to use this technique.

And then my second thought was: Must. Wash. Hands. Immediately.

And my third thought was: Don’t. Touch. Face.

And my fourth thought was: Alan might have a point.

Proof that men are born that way.

15 May

Last week Alan almost kicked a ten year old’s ass.

We were checking out a beer garden with live Irish music in Arlington. Sitting on bench with our backs to the building, we toasted each other and began scanning the crowd. A woman sat eating dinner with her two sons at a nearby table. She had her nose in her iPhone, and one of the boys stared at us.

I don’t mean our eyes occasionally met and we both awkwardly looked away. He STARED at us. Constantly. And they didn’t appear to be sweet little boys… we’d seen them before they were seated, raising holy hell with their soccer ball and climbing all over every available bench. They ran the joint like spoiled rich kids – which – given where we were – they probably were.

I noticed  him staring and continued scanning the rest of the crowd. When my eyes got back to Alan, I saw that he was fully engaged with the kid, having a stare-down.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“That kid won’t stop staring,” he said.

“I know,” I responded. “But do you have to stare back at him?”

“Actually,” he explained, “I do. It’s not just a staring contest, it’s a male dominance thing.”

“Really? Because it LOOKS like a staring contest,” I challenged.

“No,” he informed me, “That little shit knows exactly what he’s doing.”

I looked back at the kid and – sure enough – he was brazenly staring at Alan, not blinking, not  flinching, with a bored/cocky look of entitlement on his face, shoving french fries into his mouth without even glancing at his plate. I could kind of see Alan’s point.

Alan continued to stare at him and I could tell he was actually getting irritated.

“This is ridiculous,” I said. “I’m not buying the dominance thing. Besides – he’s a kid. You’re an adult. Why are you even engaging him?”

“Because it is RUDE. Someone needs to set him straight – he’s way too cocky. I’m tempted to walk over there and ask the mom if they know me, then – when she says no – then ask why her kid has been staring at me non-stop. At least she’ll understand he’s being rude.”

We then spent a few minutes laughing as we imagined how that conversation would go:

“Your kid has been staring at me.”

She ignores us.

“Lady, get your nose out of that phone and look at your rude kid!” 

When we finished laughing, we looked back over and the kid was STILL boring holes into us. Alan, frustrated, ran his hand through his hair. And in turning his head ever so slightly, he happened to notice the flatscreen television screwed to the wall behind him, broadcasting a hockey game.

As it turned out, I saw it at the same time. We both looked at each other with sudden awareness, eyebrows lifted.

Mystery solved.

“So,” I asked him. “When I write this for my blog, should I title it, ‘Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of Mistaken Dominance?’ Or should it be ‘The Case of the Rude Child?’

Apparently he thought BOTH were fantastic ideas, because he didn’t respond. Or maybe we’re having a Silence Contest. I’m really not clear on these things. Must be a guy thing.