Archive | May, 2014

Who says aging is a bad thing?

18 May
Image Source: PithyPants 2014

With Karen, left, and Rosaura, right – my college roommates!

I just returned home from a whirlwind visit to Chicago to surprise my college roommate for her 40th birthday.

Alan and I flew out Thursday afternoon and had to keep reminding each other NOT to post anything to Facebook that would accidentally reveal that we were in the Windy City prior to Saturday evening’s party. It was surprisingly difficult, which probably means I can skip any “How Narcissistic Are You?” quizzes that appear on Buzzfeed this year. (But then, isn’t that true of anyone with their own domain name?)

It started when our flight was two hours late departing. The plane’s door closed at 2:30, which was 15 minutes behind schedule. Not a big deal, until the pilot crackled over the PA system, “Well folks, the tower just informed us that we aren’t going to be able to take off for another hour or so due to some severe storms in Chicago. We’re going to have to push back because another flight needs this gate, but we’ll keep you posted.”

We ended up sitting on the tarmac at DCA for close to two hours before leaving. Passengers were remarkably calm, considering there was no beverage service offered and the air conditioning was off. Alan took a nap and had sweat running down his temples. I refrained from posting about our predicament on Facebook. It was unsatisfying.

Image Source: Terese 2014

With Terese, at Pop’s Champagne, after dinner.

We arrived in Chicago just in time to meet our friends Brian and Terese for dinner at Eataly. (We all lived in the same dorm in college 20 years ago, yet whenever we reconnect, we don’t spend much time traversing memory lane. I love friendships that evolve with time – and I love seeing a couple whose relationship has weathered the years gracefully.)

The next day, as planned, I worked from our Chicago office while Alan ventured out to explore. When we awoke to SNOW that morning, I was actually glad to know that my day would be spent at a desk/on a phone/in meetings – doing anything but being outside. (Hello, Mother Nature – it’s mid-May. Don’t you think it’s time to cut these people some slack?)

After work, we took the train to Southport, where our friends Dan and Molly live with their son Eddie. We haven’t visited them since they relocated there last July, so it was great to catch up and re-imagine them as midwesterners. Also? Eddie is now 18 months old, has a contagious grin and an awesome arm on him. He pulled out an assortment of balls shortly after we arrived and demonstrated more strength and accuracy  when throwing than I did when I played softball in seventh grade.

The next morning (Saturday, if you’re keeping track!) we met up with Alan’s mom and aunt for brunch just down the street from Dan and Molly’s house. This is VERY random, since Alan’s mom lives in Virginia. She’s driving cross country by herself to deliver a car to Alan’s brother in San Diego, and managed to time things so that she’d be passing through Chicago while we were there so we could pre-celebrate Alan’s 40th birthday together. Pretty cool, right?

After brunch, we walked to Wrigley Field, where Terese (of earlier Brian and Terese fame) had hooked us up with amazing tickets to watch the Cubs completely shut-out the Milwaukee Brewers. The weather had miraculously recovered from the day before, so we had blue skies and 60 degrees. It was a perfect day for a ballgame, and Alan’s first visit to Wrigley Field. Overall, a win. Thank you, Terese!

The Birthday Girl!

The Birthday Girl!

Finally… with these fantastic few days serving as a warm-up, we arrived at The Featured Event: Karen’s birthday party. It was great to see such a dear friend surrounded by so many people who adore her. She was absolutely glowing. It’s a good reminder for anyone who is upset about aging: The beauty that comes from decades of friendship, from knowing who you are and being confident about your place in this world trumps the effortless beauty of youth.

Or will I? Alan just told me I look old.

Or will I? Alan just told me I look old.

As I close in on my 40th birthday later this year, I’m grateful to Karen for leading the way.

I booked my ticket to Chicago simply hoping to help a friend ring in a milestone. I returned feeling overwhelmingly fortunate for all the people who make my life so much richer than it was when I was half this age.

I’ll gladly trade wrinkles for them all.

(As long as I can post about it on Facebook along the way.)

Am I paranoid, or are you a creeper?

14 May

Image Source: http://neoexperiences.blogspot.com/2011/01/attack-of-creepers.html

Last week I stopped by Whole Foods on my way home from work to pick up dinner supplies. As is often the case, someone was conducting a wine tasting to promote a distributor’s offerings. Which explains how I found myself sipping a Spanish Tempranillo and chatting with the sales rep.

After telling me about the region in Spain where the wine came from, the rep changed gears. “I love your haircut,” she said. “Did you just come from the salon?”

Well, no. I’d actually just come from the gym. When I say I wasn’t having a good hair day, I mean it was kind of plastered to my head with sweat. Instead of insulting her taste, I simply said “thanks” and continued with the tasting. The cynic in me wondered if they’d found that flattery led to better sales.

While I sipped, she pulled out a brochure for the distributor. “I took these photos,” she told me. She then proceeded to flip through the brochure so quickly that I couldn’t actually SEE the photos that well, though  she did pause long enough to show me an unremarkable shot of a man standing in front of a group of people. “That’s the owner,” she said proudly.

I nodded with fake enthusiasm, then selected two bottles from her stash, thanked her, and moved on. A few aisles later, I had pre-buyer’s remorse and decided to only get one of the two bottles. Rather than walk back and interact with her again, I found the Spanish section of the wine shelf and set the bottle back with its peers.

Later, standing in the express checkout line that snakes its way back through the food bar and baked goods, I felt a tug on my sleeve. It was the woman from the tasting table. Apparently she’d abandoned her post. “Can I get a photo of you with the wine?” she asked. A weird request, but my first reaction was, “Crap. She’s going to bust me for putting the bottle back!”

Instead, I said, “Sure,” and picked up the bottle from my basket.

“No,” she said. “The other one.”

DAYUM. It seemed like a lot of effort to shame a customer for returning a bottle of wine, but I couldn’t imagine any other motive. “Sorry,” I offered. “I actually changed my mind on that bottle. I decided to just get the other one you offered.”

Without missing a beat, she said, “Oh, well, then… let’s do a photo with that one, I guess.”

Gamely, I lifted it clear of my basket and smiled.

“Can you hold it up next to your face?” she prodded.

So I did, trading looks with the people around me in line, as we all established that this lady was nuts.

I figured there was some other reason she actually wanted a photo of me. I don’t think it was because she liked my hair or wanted to show her boss that she’d sold a bottle of wine. My theory is that I look like someone she knows and she wanted proof to share with them – so she tried to construct  a plausible explanation for taking my photo.

But then I started to get paranoid that she was going to use it for some form of identity theft, though I couldn’t figure what good a snapshot of a face next to a wine bottle would do. By the time she’d gotten the photo, I was full on suspicious, so when she asked if I’d like her to send me a copy, I just looked at her, dumbfounded.

Um, no. Not giving you my email address, creeper.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is NOT how you hit your sales goals.