Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's the Great Pumpkin, Boston

It started out as a bright, beautiful sun-shiney day. My friends and I headed out to breakfast at Moogie's, a local eatery, in shorts and t-shirts, as it was an unusually hot day in late September.

I had just enough time to scarf down a muffin with my friends before I had to drive down to the Cape for the weekend. I was just about to head out the door, when there was an unearthly crash of thunder, followed by a torrential downpour. I looked down at my little white t-shirt.

"Oh crap."

Much laughter ensued. All of it coming from my so-called friends.

"This isn't funny, guys! My car is parked three blocks away and I need to go now! What the hell am I going to do?"

"Why don't you see if they have a trash bag?" my friend Mel suggested.

"Great idea."

I walked back to the cashier and, after much smirking, the cashier went in back and returned carrying a humongous bright orange jack-o-lantern trash bag.

"It's all we have."

I returned to the table, carrying the trash bag like it actually had a load of trash in it.

"What the …"

"I know. It's all they have. Or say they say!" I turned to look at the cashier, who was still smirking at me.

"So what are you going to do?"

"What can I do? It's either this bag or being the only contestant in a wet t-shirt contest."

I ripped a hole in the bag, slipped it over my head gingerly--apparently forgetting I was putting on five feet of orange plastic and not, in fact, an expensive Christian Dior gown--and marched to the door.

"Remember to be back by midnight before the spell wears off!"

I banged the door closed to more sounds of my friends rolling on the floor with laughter. Outside, a complete storm was raging. To make matters worse, the wind was so strong, it was blowing up the trash bag so that I actually looked like the Great Pumpkin Linus has been looking for all his life.

I turned the corner and started walking down Commonwealth Avenue, a major Boston street, to the various sounds of car honks and screams of, "Look at that idiot!"

I was not more than five steps away from my car, which I had parked on a side street, when I heard a squealing of tires followed by a sickening crunch. I turned around to see the result of what could only have been a car, momentarily stupefied by the sight of a human pumpkin walking around in the light of day, crashing into the car ahead of him who was pulling out onto the street.

I hurriedly jumped in my car before I landed on the ten o'clock news.

The following Monday, I got an unexpected call from Mel at work.

"What's up?"

"So one of my co-workers came up to me today. She was like, 'My boyfriend saw the strangest thing this weekend …' "

"Oh no!"

"Oh yes. Apparently her boyfriend got in to a fender bender because of you. I'm not going to say anything to her, but if I were you, I'd destroy all evidence and never speak of this again."

When I got home, I ran to my car and grabbed from my glove compartment the monstrous neon orange bag that now seemed to be smiling evilly at me, not unlike the small bestial-looking stone that that archeologist finds in the beginning of The Exorcist, I was now starting to notice. I quickly ran to the nearest trash bin, not realizing that my shoelace had come undone. I tripped, releasing the trash bag into the windy night. And in the distance, a loud scream followed by the distinct sound of tires squealing in the night ...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Baby I (don't) Like It Raw

For my manager's birthday, on her request, our small department of four headed to Rawbert's, a cleverly named vegan raw food restaurant due to the owner's being named Robert, or "Rawbert," as the cafe's website says his equally-as-clever friends call him.

Upon stepping through the door, I crossed myself, said a little prayer, and figured at least I'd have something to cook the veggies with if I spontaneously burst into flames, having only hours earlier scarfed down an egg sandwich with about four slices of bacon and two sausage patties.

We were quickly greeted by a young orange waitress. If it hadn't been for everyone's height, I would've sworn we'd inadvertently stumbled upon Oompa Loompa land. All the waiters had bright orange faces, no doubt as a result from downing too many carrot juice shots. Say what you will about my rum swilling, at least I don't get mistaken for the Harvest Moon when I go out at night. A pirate, maybe, but I think we can all agree that getting mistaken for a drunken pirate is way cooler than getting mistaken for the moon, even a great big orangey one that happens once every four years during the fall equinox.

Upon receiving our menus, one thing that stood out was how every entree was wrapped in quotes. Diners had the option of choosing between such scrumptious delights as Guac and "Chips," Quesadillas with Jack "Cheese," Squash "Ravioli," and Spaghetti and "Meetballs." I appreciated how "meetballs" was written not only in quotes but incorrectly as well. Just in case an errant carnivore such as myself should happen to wander in and miss the quotes, the misspelling of meat would quickly confirm that what you were about to eat would taste terrible and nothing like an actual meatball and would, in all probability, cause you much digestive distress after eating such a monstrous aberration to the sanctity of cooked cow. Worse yet, every entree was accompanied by Buddhist-like deep thoughts, such as "How do I Awaken?" and "How am I Sensational?" I was tempted to write, "By eating slaughtered cows" in the margins.

I ordered the mocha "frappe" with cashew milk, which was a little concerning, as I hadn't known that cashews had teats. But it was the least intimidating item on the menu as far as I could tell--I mean, how badly could a bunch of orange vegans screw up a coffee drink?

Pretty badly, as it turned out. At first I thought I'd been served the runs in a cup. It was a gruesome brown color, the likes of which I hope to never see again. Froth bubbled up to the top, like some sort of witch's brew that might just turn me into a frog, or worse, a raw-food vegan. I held my nose and took a sip. Cashews, as it turns out, pump out really shitty milk.

Seeing as it was my manager's birthday, however, I had to be a good sport and down the foul concoction. I was nervous and uncomfortable, though, and to break the tension, I started babbling about the one comfort and light of my life, that which I can depend on even in my darkest of days to make me happy again ... yes, I started talking about bacon. I talked about the different varieties, how I needed it every day and how when I went to bed, I dreamed about it at night and counted the hours until I would see it again in the morning, how I yearned to smother it in chocolate ... I was talking about it so passionately it became borderline kinky. The lone vegan sitting to the right of us who was reading a book called--I kid you not--Green for Life, kept looking at me like I was talking about killing all the puppies and rainbows in the world.

As filling as my cup of fake coffee was, a fellow meat-loving coworker and I hightailed it out of lunch and hit up the Wendy's across the street, where we relished its ingenious new invention: the Baconator. As we exited the fast food chain--or, as I call it, church--I could've sworn I saw that lone vegan--eating his alfalfa sprouts and "nausage" patty--staring out the window at us enviously, salivating ever so slightly.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Some Like It Hot

Some people like it hot, and I happen to be one of those some people. So much so that I decided to enter a hot pepper eating contest during my second year at college. To prepare, I bought jars of habanero peppers and ate as many as I could without passing out. My best friend and roommate Mel was constantly awoken to loud moaning and feet pacing back and forth across our dorm suite at odd hours of the night.

“Amy, is that you?” Mel asked, peeking her head out of her room. “Why are you holding a gallon of milk and a box of Saltines?”

Rather than concoct an elaborate story to explain away my midnight madness, I decided to confess my aspirations of becoming Boston’s first hot pepper eating champion. Now, I didn’t have any career plans and must have changed my major at least a dozen times, in fact, on the first day of classes, I drove to campus only to turn right back around when I couldn’t find a parking space, but the idea of becoming a hot pepper eating champion put a fire under my ass like I’d never experience again.

“And what is the grand prize for winning this thing? Money? Jewels? Brad Pitt?”

“A bottle of tequila.”


“Cuervo Gold.”

“Oh, Amy.”

Of course, Mel had been with me the night of the appropriately named “tequila night” that occurred during our first week at Brandeis. Although we were mere freshmen, we boldly got behind the bar of our first frat house party and served upperclassmen drinks all night—for every one shot for them, we drank three. It seemed like a good ratio at the time, but then again, math was never my thing. During her first night on duty, our skittish RA was in a state of panic as she tried to take care of an entire hall of freshmen rolling on the floor in agony and puking in buckets. Worst of all, she was down a resident. They found me later that night in the infirmary, still holding a shot glass. I had registered a .1415 on the breathalyzer—and that was after I had stopped drinking for three hours. I wasn't able to eat so much as a margarita Jelly Belly without getting nauseous after that night.

Suffice to say, I was not in this thing for the bottle of tequila. I was in it for the glory. I couldn’t just eat the hot peppers in anonymous merriment; I had to be the best.

On the day of the contest, I was feeling confident. I walked into the taqueria with Mel and took a look around at my competition. My stomach dropped. It was me, a fat Jewish kid, and about 20 Hispanic men. I was in trouble.

“Do they have any parting gifts for the losers?” Mel whispered.

“Hey! I am in it to win it. Don’t be bringing me down.”

I took my seat next to the pasty white Jewish guy. In front of us was a plate and a giant glass of milk.

The Jewish kid perked up. “Hey! Washing down the peppers with milk will make this thing a lot easier!”

One down, 20 Hispanic men to go. “Uh … this is my first hot pepper eating contest, but I’m pretty sure you take a drink when you give up upon realizing the fire in your mouth is causing permanent damage.”

The kid looked at me with the fear of Moses in his eyes. Good. This wasn’t our Bubbe’s hot pepper eating contest.

Our first pepper was the rather tame jalapeno. I swallowed it easily and looked over to my Jewish friend. His eyes were bulging; he clutched his throat with one hand and took in huge gulps of milk with the other. I quickly covered my mouth, pretending to be in pain from the jalapeno to cover my smirk.

The peppers got increasingly hotter. We went through Scottish Bonnets, Hungarian Hots, Taiwanese Tongue Numbers (OK that last one I made up, but come on, how cool a name is that?) all the way until we reached the grand daddy of them all: the deadly habanero.
At this point, the contestants had dwindled down to seven, but I was no longer feeling confident. My head was pounding, the peppers were becoming blurry, and I could no longer feel my tongue or left pinkie. I ate one habanero, and then another, then another. Everyone kept pace with me. Finally, on my seventh habanero, I had to admit that I was beat.

“Hunh!” I grunted, lunging for my glass of milk. It toppled over.

“Hunh!” I looked at Mel in pure panic. She immediately ran over to me and whisked me out the door, like some kind of hot pepper EMT who had been helping people out of hot pepper eating contest situations all her life. We ran over to the nearest corner store and I made a beeline for the dairy aisle. After the cashier rang up the quart of milk, I grabbed it out of her hands, ripped the sucker open, and started chugging. The cashier put up her hands and started slowly backing away.

“I wath juth in a peppah eathin contheth,” I explained. She widened her eyes in horror.

Mel just shrugged her shoulders and aided me back home before the locals could grab their pitchforks and run me out of town.

I have never experienced such pain as I did that night. I paced around the suite until the next morning, going through an entire box of Saltines and two gallons of milk in the process. My mouth was still numb the next day, so I was unable to participate in class; instead I had to hand in an embarrassing note to all my professors explaining my situation.

“I am unable to answer questions in class today because of … does this say a, um, hot pepper eating contest?” My astronomy professor actually had to adjust her glasses.

I nodded my head in response.

She, in turn, shook her head in wonder. “Do you mind if I keep this note, dear? I’d like to use this in my upcoming salary negotiations.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Give me the Loop, Give me the Loop!

This Memorial Day weekend I flew down to Virginia to see my family. Because of my experience on the flight down, I can come to no other conclusion than I must have done something terrible to upset the airplane g-ds, something so horrendous as to leave me sentenced to a lifetime of crazy plane stories. As if my continuing to get on planes weren't crazy enough.

I had a connecting flight in NY that would have put me in Virginia at around 9:30 p.m. Thursday night. The time between flights was so tight that I was a little nervous I wouldn't make the connection. My nerves were temporarily calmed when we touched down in NY with an hour to spare, but I quickly became anxious again when half an hour passed and we were still lolling about on the runway. By the time we finally exited the plane, I had 20 minutes to get to my next flight.

Of course, the gate I needed to get to was on the opposite end of the airport and it was so big that one could possibly have taken a flight to the other end. I ran so fast I defied the laws of physics; sparks flew from my rubber flip-flops as I checked the boards to see if my flight had left without me (as they so often do). The first board I whizzed past read: Departure time 10 p.m. Even though my flight was supposed to leave at 8, I did not slow down my gait, thinking it a clever ruse by US Airways to lull me into a false sense of security, thereby keeping me off the flight and saving themselves the cost of free soda and pretzels. (This actually does make sense when you're in a panic.) The second board I whizzed past read: Departure time 11 p.m. The third read 11:20 p.m. It was like US Airways thought that by pushing back our departure time in 20 minute increments, nobody would notice that we wouldn't make it to Virginia until the following day.

We screamed, we cried--some of the angrier ones got vouchers--but in the end, we ate our stale Cinnabuns and read our crappy celebrity magazines (thank you, Lindsay Lohan for making up for Britney's upsetting lack of antics), and waited. There was nothing more we could do.

By the time we boarded at 11:30, we were the only flight left.

"Woohoo! Let's hope we're first in line for take off!" a guy in front joked. The plane started to move and we slowly, ever so slowly, did an entire loop around the aiport.

"Uh, folks, this is Captain Smith from the cockpit. Uh ... traffic control asked us to loop around the airport. We're not really sure why, but we're now first in line for take-off and should be departing shortly."

As if I weren't nervous enough that our flight was delayed due to plane maintenance, now I had the added stress of worrying about why we needed to do a lap around the runway (a last check to see if any parts would fall off?) and why on earth the pilots would admit that they had no idea why we would do such a thing. Lie to us! Tell us we have too much fuel and needed to burn some off! Tell us our pilot lost a contact and wanted to circle around to look for it! But for the love of all that's good and light, do not tell us you have no friggin' clue why our plane had to do an entire lap around a deserted airport. Freaks us the fuck out.

Lucky for me, though, the kid next to me threw up on himself just moments before take-off.
The proximity to the noxious fumes knocked me out for the duration of the flight.

When I came to, we had mercifully landed. It was 12:30 a.m. Since our plane was a small prop plane, we had to wait outside on the runway for them to bring us our carry-ons that had been stored below deck. Of course, mine was the last one off the belt. As I grabbed my bag and made a mad dash for freedom, I heard the pilots and flight attendant scream, "Have a good night!" behind me. They actually had the nerve to be upset with me for not kissing and hugging them goodbye and trying to make it to my family before Memorial Day had actually passed.

I turned around just long enough to scream back, "Good morning!" and vowed never again to travel on US Airways ... starting right after I've used that free voucher.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Time to Get Chill

I recently watched an episode of The Real Housewives of New York, in which Kelly, some sort of cracked out socialite, schedules an appointment with someone and arrives 30 minutes late. In another, she arrives more than an hour late to her own party. Her own party! If anything, I'm around simply so no one walks off with a bottle of wine.

I've never understood people who are consistently late, as I go into a state of panic if I'm so much as one minute late to any type of event, be it a work meeting or my eleven-year-old nephew's birthday party. A couple of weekends ago, I had a flight to Virginia scheduled to depart at 7. I left work at 4, a good three hours before my departure, just so I wouldn't stress over the time.

Of course, the 4:00 bus turned into the 4:30 bus. I stepped on, and instead of seeing an ocean of empty seats, like I typically do being one of the first stops on the line, I saw no less than 10 old people with a various assortment of walking aids all scattered about in the back of bus, just to piss me off, I had no doubt.

I still had an hour and a half to get to the airport, though, so I tried to relax. The bus rolled to a stop at the next stop and the next ... and the next. And all the people getting on looked like they'd been AARP eligible for 20 years. I was confused. Where were they all going? Had I inadvertently stumbled onto the Wide World of Sports Bingo Tour bus?

I was getting nervous--and annoyed. My leg starting bouncing up and down at a faster rate than the bus was moving, and I was starting to sweat. If any of my fellow passengers hadn't needed bottle-thick eyeglasses, they might've thought I was on my way to the methadone clinic--a popular stop on my line.

To make matters worse, when one old person would get on, another would have to get off at the very next stop, a process that seemed to take a year to complete, due to all the walkers and canes in the way of the door. A sweet-looking old lady--she might've been 90--looked at me and remarked, "Wow, this bus is really full!" I was in no mood for chit chat, especially with a retired Capitain Obvious. I looked at her like she had just told me she wanted to take me out with her cane and returned to staring out the window, sighing, and tapping my foot violently. I felt like a complete jackass.

"I'm sorry," I said. "It's just that I'm trying to make a flight and I'm really nervous I'm not going to make it."

"Oh, well what time is your flight?"


I looked down at my cell phone. It was 5 o'clock.

"Well," she said, patting my arm, "I'm sure you'll be okay."

Great. I thought. Grandma thinks I'm Looney Toons. But I had enough to worry about. When the bus finally rolled into the T station, where I would then have to jump on the train and then wait for a shuttle to take me to the airport, it was 5:30. I ran to an open cab.

"How much is it to the airport?" I screamed.

"Thirty bucks."

"I have a 20."

"Get in," the cabbie said. And we were off.

"Can you get me to the airport in half an hour?" I asked in a panic.

The cabbie took a look at the gridlock we were facing.

"I'll do my best. I know a shortcut!"

He slammed his foot on the accelerator and swerved violently to the right, riding the shoulder at 90 miles an hour before turning onto a residential street. I felt like I was in a scene right out of The Fast and the Furious, except for the fact I wasn't drag racing ... and I was in a smelly cab with a guy who looked like Rob Schneider on a bad day and not a Ferrari F355 next to a really hot Paul Walker ... okay, so it was nothing like the movie, but I felt like a bad ass just the same.

"Are you okay?!" the cabbie screamed to me behind his shoulder.

"Yes! Yes!" I screamed back as we came dangerously close to taking out a squirrel. "Do what you need to do!"

Ten minutes later, we came to a stop outside the United terminal.

The cabbie handed me a fistful of business cards, which I gladly took. This guy was so good I could probably call him to take me to DC and he'll make it in an hour, for fifty bucks.

Of course, due to United's evil and confusing ways, although my boarding pass said my flight was with United, it was operated by US Air, my arch nemesis, so I needed to get to the US Air terminal. Which was all the way on the other side of the building. Damn it! I yelled as I broke into a run that would've put Forrest to shame. What seemed like days later, I was finally sitting at my gate, still huffing and puffing from my one-woman race through the airport. I looked down at my cell phone. It was 6 o'clock.

Seeing as I had so much time to kill, I took out my laptop and started Googling rehab centers for people with serious time management problems.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Seeing Spots

A few days ago, I went to my doctor because I've had a red spot on my eye for a couple of weeks that I thought was due to allergies.

My doctor took one look at my eye and asked, "Do you wear sunglasses?"

"No--never. I hate carrying them around, how they slide down a sweaty nose, how I always seem to lose them..."

But before I could make my case against the typically unchallenged protective and stylish eye gear, she cut me short and said, "Well you need to start. That red spot is due to sun damage."

Unfortunately, the damage doesn't usually go away, but fortunately, it's only cosmetic (I'll just look like I have a perpetual case of dry eye I guess.) If I had known wearing sunglasses could prevent my eye from looking like the "before shot" of the beachball in the Ben Stein Murine Clear Eyes commercials, I would've worn two, maybe three pairs at a time.

So my first day out wearing sunglasses did not go as smoothly as hoped. During my lunch break yesterday, I went in and out of a lot of stores, and by the time I got to the CVS, my last stop, I was so agitated at having to keep taking off and putting on my glasses, that I decided to just leave the damn things on while I browsed through the store.

When I got back to the office, I rummaged through my bag, and noticed I had unintentionally bought a $17 tube of foot fungus cream. In a rush, I ran back out of the office, yelling to my boss and a random visitor that I had to go back to the store to return a box of Lamisil. The random visitor yelled out to go with Tinactin instead. I stopped in my tracks, confused as to who should be more embarrassed at that point.

When I got home that night, I still had my glasses on when I walked into my condo. My roommate took one look at me and started laughing. Apparently, the Rayban sunglasses I had bought in the mid-nineties no longer cut it in the cutting-edge, high fashion city in which I live. (Yes, the same city in which "Yankees Suck" t-shirts are the fastest-selling clothing item.)

When my roommate was able to collect herself, she informed me that, "Mickey Mouse called. He wants his sunglasses back."

So my mission today is to find a pair of glasses that less resemble ones that a loveable but fictional cartoon mouse might be styling. This time I think I'll keep my sunglasses off, lest I end up leaving the store with a bottle of Ex-Lax and a tube of hemroid cream. At least I'd be well protected.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My First Passover, or the Reason my Family is Now in AA

In honor of the start of Passover, I thought I'd share my own experience of my first Seder dinner with my family. For those of you who don't know, Seder dinner happens on the first two nights of Passover, which lasts for eight days. Everyone at the table reads from a book called a haggadah, which tells the story of when the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians under the rule of the Pharaoh Ramses II.

During the Seder, four glasses of wine are served (grape juice for the kids--unless they're the sneaky type) to represent the four stages of the flight from Egypt. Now, in most Jewish households, the four glasses are reduced to four sips, because it's only symbolic anyway and well, four glasses is a hell of a lot of alcohol--even for religious purposes.

My mother has always been somewhat of a teetotaler, has always been greatly affected by liquor, even in small amounts, so it was with great surprise when, after taking the obligatory sip of wine, a familiar motherly voice shouted, "Damn it, if we're going to do this thing, we're going to do it right! Now everyone start chugging!"

Passover just got a lot more interesting.

A fifth glass of wine is poured for the prophet Elijah, in anticipation of his return, upon which the Messianic age will begin. The Messianic age is the time when the messiah returns to earth and restores peace and prosperity to earth. This sounds great in theory, but for those who aren't pure Jewish (such as myself), the whole peace and prosperity to the earth thing gets a bit overshadowed by the fact that we won't be here to enjoy it. Bummer.

Near the end of Seder dinner, the head of the household ceremoniously opens the front door to invite Elijah in so he can enjoy that glass of wine set out for him on the table. As tradition dictated, my father got up from the table and opened the front door, just out of eyesight from the dinner table. No sooner did he crack open the door, when we heard a loud "Whoosh!" blow past and hurried steps racing through the door.

"It's Elijah! It's Elijah! Oh man, why did he choose us? Only one of us is even Jewish!" my mom screamed. My six-year-old nephew dived for cover under the table and cried.

"Everyone settle down!" my dad bellowed, "It was the cat. I can't believe we left her outside this entire time. She's a wreck!"

Upon hearing the happy news, my mom said, "Well then, I guess Elijah won't be needing this!" and downed the fifth glass of wine.

After peace had been restored and more glasses of wine poured, my nephew set out in search of the afikomen--a piece of matzoh that is hidden at the start of the meal. When the afikomen is found, the "finder" (usually a kid) receives money from whoever at the table has a ten.

Of course, the adults at the table use afikomen time to kick back and relax--usually not with Elijah's cup of wine, but we were new to the whole Seder scene. After an hour had gone by, however, we began to get a little worried. "Hon, where the heck is the matzoh?" my mom asked my dad.

"I wish I could remember."

"Oh, you're useless!"

"Well, I'm not the one who insisted on drinking a bottle of wine! Excuse me if my afikomen-remembering-skills are down."

"Would someone please go help the poor boy," my mom sighed.

The hunt was on as me and my semi-drunk sisters searched every nook and cranny of my parent's mammoth 21 acre spread. Two hours and a hangover later, we still hadn't found the afikomen. We slowly, painfully, walked back to the table in defeat.

My sister slumped down in her chair. "Man we are so bad at Seder."

The cat jumped in her lap. "How's it goin', Elijah?" she joked. "Hey... what have you got in your mouth, cat?"

Seeing as she had found the elusive matzoh, my dad had no choice but to award the cat the prize money. She gladly accepted in catnip.

Pesach shalom!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Realization of the Greatness

Last weekend, my friends and I went to a bar called the Market, which, in retrospect, should have been an indication of the guys that we'd meet there. There was a dance floor, much to my relief, which we quickly made good use of. We were having a great time, just us girls, when I looked over my shoulder and saw that one of us was airborne. A guy had my friend high over his head, swinging her above the crowd.

"Put her down!" I yelled. "I saw you with that Long Island Iced Tea. You are way to intoxicated to be throwing people in the air like that!" Of course, he was also too drunk to hear a word I was saying, so I said a little prayer for my friend and went back to dancing. I had no choice! "Just Dance" was playing and I had to abide. Don't judge me.

No sooner had I just sung "what's goin' on on the floor?" along with the genius that is Lady Gaga, when a guy started dancing with me. He was cute, but short. He kind of reminded me of Little Mac, the boxer from that old Nintendo game, Punch Out:

In any case, I didn't have much of a choice but to dance with him--the guy was super strong (obviously all those matches with King Hippo had paid off for the little guy) and had a good grip around my waist. I shrugged and went with it for a while. He was actually a good dancer. He dipped and twirled me around like a pro. I was just about to tell him I needed to take a break and get a drink, when I felt myself being lifted off my feet and suddenly rocketed up over the masses.

"Shitballs!" I screamed. No, I am not making this up. Apparently, under extreme duress, I take to screaming like a ten-year-old playing dodge ball at recess.

No sooner had the strange choice of swear word left my lips, when I was thrown back down, so that my head was inches from the floor, and then violently lifted upright again, feet finally back on the floor where they belonged. Obviously these guys had been watching way too much Dirty Dancing.

"What the hell was that?" I yelled.

"My signature move."

"Yeah? Well, this is mine," I said as I started to walk away. I'd gotten maybe a step away when I felt myself being lifted off the ground again. Son of a ...

"Aah! Put me down! Put me down!" But it was too late. I was airborne once again. And I hate flying. Despite being scared out of my mind, I was pretty impressed that he could lift me so high. I'm not exactly the 100-pound lightweight I used to be--in fact, I'm not sure I ever was. I think I must've been born with a slice of birthday cake already in hand.

Despite my protests, I ended up dancing with this guy for a good hour or so, getting lifted off my feet no less than six times throughout. Afterward, he got my number and I went home, thankful to be off the Market.

I had just settled in for the night when my phone buzzed. It was Little Mac. "Come out to Marlborough St. There's an after hours going on and I want to see you," he'd texted.

It was 2 am and I was on the couch watching Zoolander with a huge bacon and pineapple pizza, some of which had landed on my nightie. There was a less-than-zero chance I'd be making it out for a party in my condition, so I ignored him.

Now what happened next I can only describe as pure booty call desperation, a move so strange I couldn't make it up if I tried. I received a text that I will never erase, for on my darkest of days, I will be able to look at this text ... and laugh my ass off:

"Every once in a while you run into the potential for greatness. Tonight is the realization of the greatness. You should be a part of it."

Not only is this text remarkable for what it's saying--whatever the hell that is; I still haven't cracked the code--but it was also perfectly spelled and punctuated. None of this "2nite is the reelzashen of gr8nes" crap--at two in the morning! And after who-knows-how-many Red Bulls and vodkas. What can I say? The copy editor in me was astounded.

Needless to say, I ignored the text, but I have to say--I appreciated the effort. I mean, how many girls can honestly say they had once run into the potential for greatness? Sure, I didn't realize the greatness, nor was I a part of it, but I'd had the chance, damn it, I'd had the chance.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Porno Turrets: The New Epidemic

Last week, I went out with a guy who I can only assume had a hopefully rare case of porno Turrets. I think my first mistake was meeting him online. But when he called to ask me out, he seemed so charming I couldn't resist. He even told me about a couple of his own online dating disasters, one involving a girl who got so wasted she fell on the street and chipped a tooth. I told him about the guy whose nose started bleeding onto his dinner and didn't realize it until he bit into a fry--which he remarked tasted oddly like a nickel. We both had online dating battle scars and had our bars set prettay, prettay low--I might have my quirks but I am a girl who can handle her rum and keep all of her teeth intact.

We met at a favorite bar of mine in town--a bar I seem to take all my first dates to. It's gotten so bad in the past month with my flurry of dates that I'm starting to worry the waiter thinks I'm charging for them. When my date showed up, I breathed a sigh of relief. He was as cute as his picture and had a great smile. Our conversation started normally enough--the usual getting-to-know you stuff. We ordered some food and the talk turned toward favorite cuisines, and he mentioned how he hates brussel sprouts.

"Well, I have a recipe for brussel sprouts with bacon," I said. "I could definitely get you to start liking your veggies. Everything tastes better with bacon."

"Wow. My dad hates brussel sprouts too. If you could get me to like brussel sprouts, I'd do things to you," he said, staring me down. "My dad and I would both do things to you."

I looked at him blankly, not quite reconciling the meek, unassuming mini cabbage with the prospect of a threeway involving someone twice my age. Did he really just suggest a threesome with his dad?

"That was weird. I apologize."

"No worries," I replied, taking a huge swig of my rum and Coke. Okay, I thought to myself, he's nervous. He was trying to be funny and it just didn't work. I'll let that one slide.

I quickly turned the conversation to a more safe and, I hoped, less sexy subject than green leafy vegetables, asking him about his work and where he had gone to school.

"I went to school in Florida. Did you look at any other colleges before you decided on Brandeis?"

"Well, I looked at the University of Richmond, but got turned off by the campus. There was a girl's dorm on one end and a guy's dorm on the other, separated by a huge lake. It was too summer camp for me. I could just picture myself canoeing in the middle of the night trying to get to a frat party."

"Yeah," he replied. "Like, my vagina is throbbing. I need to get to the other side!"

Obviously I was going to need more rum to get me through this date. Did he really just say throbbing vagina? I looked around the room, now convinced I was being punked. Throwing out the v-word on a first date is bad enough, but putting the word throbbing before it is borderline criminal. I would have left right then and there, but we had just gotten the food and the calamari there is fabulous. A girl's gotta eat, right?

The rest of the conversation was peppered with other odd sexual innuendoes--masturbation somehow got thrown around during a conversation about an episode of Lost--and I was thankful when the check finally arrived. My date grabbed the check and threw down some cash.

"Well, the waiter was good, but he didn't give me a blowjob or anything."

Oh for the love of ... "Does the waitstaff usually give you a happy ending after a meal? What? You eat a lot of Thai?"

I was surprised when he laughed and didn't actually nod his head in agreement. He suddenly grabbed my hand.

"Hey, I had a lot of fun tonight. I want to see you again. What are you up to next week?"

His grip was so firm I couldn't make a dash for it. For a brief second, I contemplated hitting my head against the table in the hopes of chipping a tooth. In the end, I decided to give it to him straight in language he could understand.

"Well," I said. "I'm free, but my throbbing hooha is completely booked. Sorry."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How I Managed to Miss my Flight While Seated at my Gate

I am the first to admit that I'm not a morning person. Otherwise stationary objects are magnetically attracted to me before noon: tables skid across floors into my knees, wall corners appear out of thin air to smack me in the shoulder, cupboard doors fly open and hit me in the face. It's like the laws of physics cease to apply before I've had my cup of coffee. I've also been known to make appearances at the breakfast table with my pajamas turned inside out and backwards, the hood of a sweatshirt like a make-shift bib around my neck.

So why I scheduled a 6 a.m. flight to Virginia to see my dear, sweet parents, I don't know. I can only assume that it was done BC (Before Coffee), and that my vision was too blurry at the time to make out the little "a" in "a.m." All I know is that no one should ever have to be up at 4 in the morning. If you're at all curious as to what it looks like, I'll save you some time: It looks incredibly dark and out-of-focus.

At first, I was excited: The airport is eerily quiet in the wee hours. I floated through security and got to my gate with tons of time to spare. I pulled out a magazine to pass the time. It was only when they called us to board half an hour later that I discovered I was in trouble--I had read only one sentence—on the front cover. Clearly, I had not gotten enough sleep. I drank another cup of coffee on the plane and prayed for the best.

When I arrived at Dulles for the last leg of my trip, I was over-tired and jittery. The coffee had only succeeded in accelerating my heart rate to a level where even cokeheads fear to tread. I looked around the chaotic room. For those who don't know, there are about 15 gates all lined up in a row in one gigantic room at Dulles Airport for shuttle service. There are constantly flights coming in and out at 15 minute intervals of each other, and attendants make minute-by-minute announcements and wave their hands wildly for late passengers like stock traders on Wall Street.

Since I had arrived more than an hour early, I decided to inspect the magazine stand, thinking I had tons of time to kill. When I exited the kiosque, still a good twenty minutes before my departure, the room had turned into a complete ghost town. I plopped down in front of my gate and watched some tumbleweed blow by. I figured, in my semiconscious state, that the twenty people still left scattered around the room were the rest of my flight and waited for the boarding announcement.

My eyes were so heavy, I had to hold them up with my fingers, watching as the hands on the clock kept getting closer and closer to my departure time. I was getting a little nervous, but apparently not nervous enough to exert the tremendous amount of effort it would've taken to get out of my seat and walk the two steps to ask an attendant about the status of my flight.

Even as the clock showed 10 a.m., the time of my take-off, I was confident that my flight was merely delayed, so I waited. I turned my gaze to the gate. To my relief, the flight still appeared on the screen, status unchanged. I blew out some air and continued to watch as the clock changed to 10:05, then 10:10. I turned again to the board and watched, horrified, as the flight status slowly clicked to "Departed" before my very tired eyes.

What? How could this be? I didn't even get a "last call to board" announcement! In a trance, I finally walked up to the counter.

"Um, has flight 203 really departed?"

The attendant looked at me like I had two heads growing out of my neck, each with only one eye and crazy purple hair.

"Are you AC? We've been calling your name on the loudspeaker! We even had someone going through all the rows looking for you!"

She turned to her computer screen and violently tapped away at the board. "I show that your flight from Boston got in early! I don't understand …"

"I don't know! Well, you see, I had to wake up really early, and I didn't get much sleep and I'm really, really tired … Can I just schedule another flight?"

"Yeah, honey, I'm putting you on the next one out. Leaves in three hours. Maybe we can get you a special name tag so that we don't miss you this time around."

Oh no. Now I was "special." I thought if I were I'd at least have an excuse. As it was, I had managed to miss my flight while sitting not three feet from my gate all because I'd chosen to stay up until midnight to watch a special edition of Most Outrageous TV Moments. I swear they put crack in those shows.

The thought of spending the entire day in the airport was draining to say the least. I dialed my dad, who had graciously offered to pick me up from the airport … in Virginia.

"Hi, Dad! How are you? Hey, listen, I uh, I kind of missed my flight."

"Oh no! Did your flight from Boston get delayed?"

"No, no, uh, we actually got in an hour early."

Silence. "OK, dear, I'll pick you up at Dulles."

I hung up the phone, suddenly realizing the immensity of what had happened: I'd finally lost the ability to shock my parents. This was not good.

As I was relating my tragic traveler's tale to my dad in the car, I suddenly remembered I had booked another flight.

"Hold on, Dad, I just need to call to let them know I won't be on this next one either, lest my name make it on some United black list."

"Hello, this is customer service, how can I help you?"

"Yes, this is AC. I wanted to let you know that I won't be needing the 1:00 flight out of Dulles after all."

Sound of furious typing. There must have been smoke coming out of that keyboard I tell you. "I don't understand, so how are you getting to Virginia?"

Oh, for the love of ... "I have a ride! I just wanted to let you know so you weren't expecting
me …"

"But I see that you arrived at Dulles an hour early? Why did you need to reschedule?"

"Well, see, I'm really just not a morning person, and last night I stayed up waaay too late because I'm addicted to this show, Most Outrageous … Wait, why am I explaining this to you? Can I please just cancel my reservation?"

"Do you still need your return flight back?"

"Yes! Yes! Don't cancel that! I'll be on that flight! I'm just really tired today..."

Click. Dial tone.

I stared at the phone in disbelief. My dad looked at me nervously. "I think we should call to confirm your flight before we head out next week What do you think?"

"I think I need to start taking the train."

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Good Guy Syndrome

I have a huge problem: I'm dating a really nice guy.
It's terrible. He opens doors for me, shows affection, and always remembers my name.

On our first date, he reached for my hand while we were walking. I shook it.

"No, no. I want to hold your hand."

The words sounded funny coming from neither John nor Paul and without the back-up of George Harrison's hand clapping. Nevertheless, I obliged, offering up my right hand as a sacrifice to the dating gods.

It wasn't too long into the hand holding that I began to get antsy: How long do we have to do this? Should I be moving it around--massaging, caressing? My hand is getting really sweaty--is it OK to break away? Damn it, I must! My hand feels like it's covered in vegetable oil! And it's just sitting there, defenseless, in the dark, unable to move or cry out for help. I just ... need ... to...

"Give me my hand back!"

Well, at least it wasn't awkward. My date looked at me like he wanted to give the whole night back. But, like I said, he is such a nice guy, and seems to really like me, so he let it go--literally. The poor fool.

I've always had a thing for the "bad boys" and musicians, although I guess that's rather redundant. Maybe it's the thrill of the chase more than the badness factor, though. The guys who don't care are harder to catch, but once caught, the interest level plummets.

My mind keeps telling me I'm getting too old to keep going after just-for-fun and dead-end relationships and any relationships that involve hyphenations, but my emotions sometimes shout over these thoughts, and before I know it, I am back to my old ways, smiling at the guy on lead guitar with the cigarette dangling out of his mouth and the dangerous glint in his eyes.

Which brings me back to my nice guy situation. He neither plays an instrument (I will restrain myself from making a joke here), nor has a body-piercing of any kind, and always buckles his seatbelt for safety. He laughs when I tease him, but never teases me, and as much as I'd like to think there's nothing to tease me about, I know that's just not the case. I have an unfortunate Most Outrageous TV Moments addiction, and a tendency to wiggle my fingers a la Homer Simpson whenever I see pastries. But that is neither here nor there.

The point is, nice guys can sometimes be too nice--it lends itself to blandness. I mean, never cracking a joke at someone else's expense, or indulging in some gossip, or laughing at the people who make a mad dash for the T only to wipe-out in a humongous puddle--how fun is that? Even the Beatles, with all their "I Wanna Hold Your Hands" and "Michelle," my belles got crazy with a "Revolution" once in awhile.

Despite my hesitations, I'm not going to give up on our new relationship just yet, because, well, good guys are really hard to find and I'd be the fool not to give it a chance. And who knows? He might dump me when he finds out I canceled a date to watch a new episode of Most Outrageous TV Moments. Whatever the outcome, though, I know it's gonna be alright, alright.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Insane in the Plane

As a little girl, I loved to fly. Hell, I even liked airports: the anticipation of going on vacation, the people-watching (and I'm from Jersey so you know there was plenty of opportunity there), and of course, the glorious fast-food stands that were your only chance at escaping United Airlines mystery meat of the night (they once served us chicken so small I started crying because I thought they'd killed Tweety Bird).

But actually boarding a plane was a magical experience for me. The beautiful people who would come and give me any kind of soda I asked for, the never-ending flow of peanuts, the thrill of takeoff, leaving all earthly frustrations 30,000 feet below for a suspended moment of time. Of course, that's all in the past now, the good old days when I believed in magic. Now the only thing I believe in when I fly is that there's not enough alcohol aboard to stop me from flipping out a la Twilight Zone man when we hit a little turbulence.

I'm not sure when the exact moment was that I began to fear flying, all I know is that it came about soon after I graduated from college, and that it came with a vengeance.

Unfortunately for my nerves, I love my family a great deal. Otherwise, I wouldn't do half the flying that I do today. It's almost as if my parents are testing my loyalty down there in Virginia, the ultimate measurement of love.

Of course I always get a ton of suggestions on how best to curb this fear from friends and random nosey strangers who feel more than educated on the subject, even as we fight for possession of the armrest of life, which everyone knows if squeezed really tightly while chanting, "Fuck, fuck, fuck," will prevent a plane from nose diving into the Atlantic Ocean. I've also averted almost certain crash landings by wearing my lucky opal earrings and counting backwards from 30 right after takeoff. And me, being the truly altruistic person that I am, I need no recognition for my heroism from others. Knowing I've saved hundreds, possibly thousands of lives is thanks enough for me.

The first suggestion I get to assuage my fear is to always to make full use of the cocktail cart, no matter if it's coming from my all-knowing Mom or the fat, balding lady who's taking up more than her fair share of the armrest. I did try this on a couple of occasions, but both turned out to be utter failures:

The first was on my way from Boston to Washington, D.C. to visit my family. I filled an empty Nantucket Nectars bottle with Absolut and added a splash of OJ to make it look authentic, seeing as my flight was at 8 in the morning and all.

My friend, Mel, had dropped me off at Logan, and, seeing how nervous I was getting out of the car, thought she would calm my fear by kindly informing me she was under no circumstances going to tell me what the airline I was flying used to be called. I should've just left it at that, but I figured if I was going to be sent off to certain death, I at least wanted to know who the executor was going to be. So as I'm closing the door and turning towards the airport of doom, I hear my wonderful, wonderful best of friends shout, "You're flying on the old Value Jet! Have a safe trip!" and I swear to you I heard the word "sucker" come out of that car before she zoomed off to the safety of I-93 during rush hour traffic.

I hadn't even hit the security check-point before I took out that bottle and downed it like I was actually drinking a bottle of Nantucket Nectars and not 7 ounces of vodka with a splash of juice for camouflage.

Afterwards, when I reached the security check-point, I had a little trouble understanding and communicating with the security guard who was trying to smoothly get me to take off my flip-flops before stepping through the metal-detector, because, as you well know, it is so very easy to smuggle a make-shift bomb in between the little piggy who went to market and the little piggy who stayed home.

"Miss, it would be very nice if you could take off your sandals."

I looked at the guard blankly, smiled, and proceeded on my way through the metal detector before I was stopped by the guard in a gruffer voice, "Miss, it would be REALLY nice of you if you would take off your shoes."

My flip-flops had quickly moved up the security-risk ranks of mere sandals to full-fledged shoes. This was serious. It suddenly occurred to me, even in my Nantucket Nectars induced state, that these were no polite requests to remove my flip-flops/sandals/shoes/heat-packing metal-toed military boots, but hidden threats to make it seem as if I had a choice in the matter. I may have been wearing flip-flops in Newark airport, but I was no beach bum fool.

I slowly took off one sandal, then the other, and rationally explained to the guard, "I am very thorry offither, I'm a little drunk tho I didn't underthtand you at first. I'll be on my way now." I then waltzed through the metal screener, retrieved my flip-flops, and proceeded to walk to my gate to the sounds of, "Was that English?" and "She must be a foreigner," floating behind me.

When I found my gate, I crashed down hard on an empty seat and slept off most of my morning pick-me-up. About an hour later, I woke up to the sound of a screeching mike and an over-the-top friendly Air Tran worker chirping, "Ladies and gentlemen, do we have a present for you! Your airplane has just rolled in, hot off the assembly line, and woo-hoo! I can still see the tags on the tires! Your plane is just a few days old, how about that? We will now be boarding all first-class passengers and people with disabilities."

If the nap hadn't sobered me up, then the announcement that we were all about to become involuntary guinea pigs for Air Tran Airlines certainly did the trick. When it was my time to board the plane, the ticket collector looked up at my panicked face and mumbled, "Good luck," while tearing my ticket and sending me off to almost certain death.

Before I even fully sat down, I pulled out a ten dollar bill from my wallet and gripped it in anticipation of yet another early morning cocktail, "Maybe a Bloody Mary," I thought, "That seems almost breakfast-y."

After take-off, the pilot made his usual announcements, and informed us we could now use our electronic devices. I pulled out my disc man and stared, horrified, as I watched the already-powered instrument of death spin around and around, mocking my increasing panic. I looked around to see if anyone else had noticed we were all about to fly tragically off-course, crashing into another plane as a result of a tiny blue Panasonic portable disc man and my little morning cocktail. Death by disc man. What a way to go.

I barely had time to absorb the immensity of the situation before the plane swung violently down, then up again. Holy crap! Damn my obsession with Dave Matthews and his catchy tunes!

I looked behind me and saw the flight attendants pulling out the drink cart, and breathed a sigh of relief. At least if we were going down, we were going down drunk. But just as a flight attendant made his way to our row, the pilot clicked on again, "I'm sorry folks, but because of severe turbulence on our route, I'm going to have to ask passengers and crew to remain seated for THE DURATION OF THE FLIGHT." I turned around to look at the flight attendant, ready to make my plea for just one drink, but they were all gone. They had packed up and shipped out before the pilot even finished talking. Damn bastards took the booze and ran. Looking back on it, I can plainly see that I should've shoved a couple of nips in my pocket for emergency use, but I was drunk so I hadn't thought of it.

Panicked, I reached for the sick bag in the seat in front of me. I figured I could put it over my head thereby decreasing my oxygen intake and creating a nice alcohol-free buzz. I also figured that by doing this, I risked looking like a complete jack-ass. I then made the kind of quick-second, life or death decision that only people in similar urgent situations can make: I decided to look like a jack-ass. I had just fit the bag nicely over my head, when I felt a sharp jab in my side. "Hey! What do you think you're doing? Get that bag off your head—you'll suffocate!"

I peeked my head out of the bag. It was the fat, balding woman who had shoveled a good dozen or so Oreo cookies in her mouth before takeoff. I wished I'd had some at that moment to shut her mouth, "Hey, mind your business. It's either this bag on my head or this head in your lap, puking up the scrambled eggs, bacon, and banana- strawberry smoothie I had for breakfast at 4 a.m. this morning. Now what's it gonna be?" I bluffed. I never had the smoothie.

The fat, balding woman made a "harumph" sound (if she had been from Jersey it would've sounded more like "fuck off"), opened a bag of Chips Ahoy and went back to eating. There were probably some really pissed off Jersians that day in Newark Airport, angrily buying beef jerky and Nutri-Grain bars due to the fat lady cleaning out the cookies.

I was just about to continue with my self-abuse when the seat belt sign flashed on and the pilots informed us that we were making our descent. I did a little dance in my seat, and guessed at our increased chances of surviving a crash as we cruised lower and lower to the ground. This also makes a great game to play with the kids for some family fun in the air.

When we finally landed, I jumped up, hit my head on the over-head and crashed back down into my seat. I then got up slowly, watching my head, and before exiting the plane, thanked the pilots for saving my life and bear-hugged the flight attendants until they told me I had to clear the aisle for the other passengers. They looked surprised but I could tell they were secretly happy I hadn't used the barf bag.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Scrabble is a Blood Sport

My family banned the game of Parcheesi from our household when I was ten years old.
Now I can't tell you who won that last game we ever played, but I can tell you it was neither me nor my older sister, as she was blocking my game piece with two of her own. When I pointed out that by not moving her pieces she had no way of winning herself, she replied, "I don't care. I just don't want you to win."

I don't remember much after that, some harsh words were likely exchanged, zingers along the lines of "retard" and "poopeyface," possibly I put the smackdown on her, I don't know, but I do know that after that ill-fated game, my parents banished Parcheesi to the bowels of our basement, never to be played again. That game followed us around the country, bouncing around from house to house, most likely hoping that once enough time had elapsed, the incident we now refer to as "the Parcheesi block" would be forgiven and forgotten. It has been seventeen years since that day, my sister is now married with two beautiful children, and even mention the word "Parcheesi" in my family and the "poopeyfaces" and "boogerbutts" go flying.

I also don't remember winning so much as a game of Candyland against my father growing up--he'd laugh and point at me, (as I'd predictably be stuck in some gooey gumdrops) while skipping his piece merrily on to the glory that is Candy Castle. Come to think of it, gumdrops aren't even gooey--how lame. Not that I'm bitter or anything. My dad also used to take my younger sister and I to the putt-putt course whenever he was in the mood to kick some ass. Being five years old, not even having the walking thing down all that well, we'd inevitably hit the ball into a bunker.

"Oh! What a shame! Put the ball back on the tee, sweetheart, that's a two stroke penalty!"

"But Dad! That's not fair!"

"Those are the rules, kid! Hey! Stop your crying! There's no crying in putt-putt! Damn it, that's another one stroke penalty."

And my mom was no better. A game of Pictionary once brought my little sister to tears after teaming up with my mother:

"You call that a cherry?! That looks like a lemon with hair!"

"I'm sorry! I'm not an artist, OK?"

"Damn you! Now they're going to win because you can't draw a cherry! It's just a circle and a line for Christ's sake!"

My sister, who could draw neither a circle nor a line, flew from the table in tears, and we slowly packed up Pictionary and sent it off to live with Parcheesi in the basement, where its foster games Yahtzee and Life were already keeping it company.

When I was away at college, my little sister called me with some more bad news.

"Scrabble's out, dude."

"What? You mean it's banned?" It is a testament to my family's competitive nature that I could make sense out of those three words without any other background information.

"Yeah. I don't know what happened, dude. I think Dad and I were taking too long or something putting down the tiles. All I know is that one second, we were all waiting for Dad to put down his letters, and the next second, the game is in the air, tiles are flying everywhere--one fucking hit me in the eye--they're like fucking wood, man! And Mom didn't say a word--just stormed off to her room! It was ugly."

"Damn! Well what the hell is left?"

"Memory and Hi-Ho Cherry-O."

"Yikes--we might as well start doing shadow puppets on the wall."

"Uh ... actually, that was banned back in '88. Remember? Mom got pissed at Dad for not being able to put his hands together for a butterfly."

I sometimes wish my family would be able to play a friendly game of pool or Yahtzee or even Go Fish without it turning into a Dr. Phil special, but then I wonder how much fun would that be? A game of ping-pong with no profanity? Scrabble without a scuffle? We might as well just hold hands and sing "Kumbaya" until someone is impelled to shove a pencil in their ear. Scrabble just wouldn't be the same without a little blood on the board.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

This Love Boat Don't Dock Here

In honor of Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share one from my past. A couple of years ago, I was "treated" to a Valentine's Day surprise: a three-hour tour around the Boston Harbor, complete with dinner, dancing, and loving couples gazing into each other's eyes as they rocked and swayed to "My Girl" while the only thing This Girl wanted to do was grab a life preserver and hurl herself off the boat.

I tried my best to look excited and even forced a smile when the crew took our picture before boarding. It reminded me of the snapshots amusement parks take of roller coaster riders right before they take the plunge. We didn't end up purchasing our photo at the end of the night, but I can only imagine the look of fear the camera caught in my eyes as the strains of "Mandy" wafted from the cabin.

We sat down at our table and helped ourselves to the cold, damp bread awaiting us, for what was probably a good day or so judging from its springing action as I chewed until my jaw ached. Our server came over to take our drink order. My date ordered the water.

"I'll have whatever's in a martini glass!" This was an emergency situation.

My date fiddled with his napkin, "So I wanted to get tickets for this other cruise, but it was too expensive. I hope this is OK?"
Huh? Was he really telling me I was getting the second-rate version of his dream Valentine's Day gift? I was on the Ponderosa of cruises, was sitting behind Door Number 3, smelly donkey braying into my ear, "Swim! Swim for your life! Please take me with you."

"Uh, yeah, this is great!"

The DJ told all us "crazy kids" to get out onto the dance floor and surprisingly his choice of "Venus," which I'm pretty sure Adam and Eve danced to on their first Valentine's Day, did not deter anyone from taking him up on his request. The dance floor was instantly flooded with giddy couples. I looked around for the ballot box to put in my vote for Prom Queen.

"Do you want to dance?"

I cringed. I just couldn't force myself to do it. I could not! It was not in my being. Oh why couldn't I at least pretend to be having a good time? Dear Lord, is this Michael Bolton?

"I'll take that as a 'No.' "

I felt like a complete jerk. And perhaps I am. When my date got up to use the restroom, I grabbed my cell phone and text messaged, "Shoot me now" to my best girl friend.

All around us, couples were holding hands and making lovey dovey faces at each other. They ate up the limp spinach and over-cooked salmon, drank up the cheap, bitter champagne (free with the package!), and closed their eyes as they danced to painfully bad music (I will grant that the pain was due mostly to my shoving a pencil up my ear when a Backstreet Boys ballad blasted from the speakers).

The server approached us again with the dessert list: cheesecake or chocolate cake. I ordered the cheesecake.

"Does this come with the package?"

I groaned audibly.

"Yes, sir, this is included."

"OK, then, I'll have the chocolate cake."

It was becoming obvious to me that my date was El Capitain Cheapo of this Love Boat Lite. I wanted off. Badly. So badly I asked a crew member exactly how cold the water would be this time of year.

My date I know had put a lot of thought into the idea and just wanted to make me happy. He figured I like boats, I like dancing, and by Golly, I like food, so what could be better than a combination of the three all condensed into one cookie-cutter romantic night?

It broke my heart when he asked me what would've made me happy, and I thought, anything, anything but this! If you didn't have much money to spend, then why did you take me out? A home-cooked dinner and a bottle of wine would've been much preferred, and cheaper for that matter. I was conscious of every cash bar drink I ordered. I was tempted to write a check for my portion of the package, but instead wound up writing him off.

It wasn't just because of this one night, but rather a culmination of things that unfortunately came to a head on what was supposed to be the most romantic of days. I didn't have it in me to break things off that night; I figured the day after Valentine's would be much better. It's possible though that the feeling iwas mutual. I sincerely hope this was the case, that we both sailed off into the sunset with no regrets, me with a very strong cocktail in hand.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Caviar Emptor

It was so cold in Boston this week, people stopped abusing each other on the street and turned it on the weather.

"F%$* this weather!" a guy with salt-and-pepper hair wearing head-to-toe Bill Blass screamed as he passed me on the sidewalk.

Negative 20 degree temps have a way of turning the most courteous of people into drunken sailors like that. As for me, I was in my own hell, having switched out my warm toasty mittens for my flimsier gloves due to the influx of asshole drivers on the road recently. Sure enough, as we stepped onto the crosswalk, albeit not on a Walk sign--but screw that, walkers should get a free pass on days you can't feel your ass--a car honked loudly at us, upon which my middle finger shot up defiantly in the air. It's been on auto-pilot ever since the holidays, when a mom running a red--most likely to make it to the Christmas tree lighting festival going on that day--almost mowed me down. The soft glow of the tree lights illuminated my finger quite nicely, I must say.

Partly to get warm and partly because I'd been existing off of vending machine animal crackers for the past week, I ducked into Whole Foods. I love the free samples at Whole Foods, and that night, I hit the jackpot: a special Valentine's Day sampling throughout the whole store. I quickly forgot about the bread and milk I needed--whatever, rum was serving me just fine in my Cocoa Krispies--and started sniffing out the free food.

There was ice cream and cake and chocolate and cheese--all my favorite food groups. I took a cup of ice cream and stood there patiently as the guy serving it to me waxed poetic about the bold flavors of chocolate and coffee all merging into one beautiful creamy concoction of ... whatever, dude! Just give me the damn ice cream and no one gets hurt. It was like being on one of those "free" vacations you see advertised sometimes, where you have to sit through hours and hours of salespeople going on about timeshares before you're allowed to go into a sugar coma from too many pina coladas and burn yourself to a crisp in the sun.

Despite my tendency to swear like a sailor, I am too f#$ing polite. I also feel tremendous pressure to buy whatever it is I'm sampling as well. I was obviously Whole Foods' dream customer that day. I thought I could put one over on the woman serving caviar, casually asking where I could pick up a jar, making like I was a big caviar spender and not just a big mooch, thinking they must be over on the other side of the store with all the fish.

"Oh, they're right over there," she said, pointing to a shelf right behind me.

"Uh ... oh, uh ... great! Thanks." Damn. Foiled again. I couldn't even abandon the jars on another shelf further down the road as they had to be refrigerated.

I left the store with two pints of ice cream, hot pepper jelly, dark chocolate malt balls with raspberry filling, and two jars of caviar. No bread, no milk, yet not one, but two jars of caviar came home with me that night. Caviar! There's no buying caviar in a recession! Oh, these people are good. Thank goodness they weren't giving away any filet mignon or beluga caviar or I would've had to have taken out a loan to pay for my groceries. All this free food is hurting my wallet. Next time I'll play it safe and go to Stop & Shop, where the only temptation for me are the Cookie Monster cupcakes in the bakery section. Better a fat ass than a skinny wallet.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Way of the Walk

The woman walking in front of me has the polished, metropolitan look down: the well-tailored suit, all-purpose black handbag, her Jimmy Choo heels pound the pavement with an authoritative click and clack. She looks like any other young Boston professional on her way to work: stern and determined, looking ahead, but careful not to make eye contact with any passers-by because, as we Bostonians know, you just don't know who has the ability to turn you into stone nowadays.

We both stop at the intersection between Charles St. and Boylston—a particularly tricky one since there is no less than three lanes of traffic all trying to merge onto one and take out as many stragglers as possible. Ten points for getting anyone carrying Luis Vuitton luggage.
True Bostonians are undeterred by this. In fact, crossing the street is a finely-honed skill in the city, a sport unlike any other, a sort of Frogger for the sophisticate if you will.

We both look at the fiery red, blinking hand that's supposed to scare us into submission—a little hand I like to call "the tourist's bitch slap," as tourists are the only ones who seem to actually fear the hand. I look to my left at the approaching traffic. The two lanes closest to me are clear, the farthest is not. I quickly cross to the median, a city walker's version of a kid's "safe" in tag. Seconds later, the third lane is clear, and I dart across, stepping safely onto the sidewalk.

I look back to see what I once thought was a native Bostonian fearfully clutching her handbag for dear life every time she dared inch one of her Jimmy Choos on to the road. I almost want to run back to aid her across the street, like a seeing eye dog guiding the blind, but alas, I need to make good time.

My Charles/Boylston St. victory was short-lived, as I approach the Boylston/Arlington intersection. I stop at a blinking red hand, no doubt in a moment of guilt out of not helping the hapless woman still stuck on Charles and Boylston. Nevertheless, I stop at the light as about ten people whiz by me, one with a walker, one with a seeing eye dog, and all looking at me with disdain, like I'm a hick from Kansas, or worse, Canada.

I feel guilty, like I let the team down somehow. To add to my embarassment, the Jimmy Choo woman walks up next to me, gives me a snide look as if to say, "You risked your life to get across the street in good time and now look at you! You're at the same point that I am, wimpy country bumpkin that I am--eh?"

Desperately, in an attempt to redeem myself, I fling myself in to oncoming traffic, relying on my 6 years of Boston city-walking skills to guide me safely to the other side. I look to my right: a truck is barreling toward me, honking loudly, but not braking. I dart out of its way, feeling a whoosh behind me as the truck, making good time, rolls on its way. I seem to have drawn a crowd. No matter that they are simply waiting for the light to change. Ha! Amateurs. I'll show them who's a Bostonian.

My next challenge is a motorcycle--no wait, it's a motorcycle with a side-car! Dear Lord, do they still make those? I quickly take a step backward into the now truck-free lane; the motorcycle zips past me, the guy in the side-car gives me the thumbs up sign with his middle finger.

I take a step forward, only one lane to go! The people at the other end of the street are cheering me on, in their own way, meaning they aren't throwing things at me or yelling, "Loser!" really loudly.

The last lane is the trickiest of all. An elderly person is behind the wheel of a huge blue Buick. This could be rough--there's about zero chance the old man's going to see me with his bottle-thick glasses that barely reach the dashboard. It's like Mr. Magoo on wheels--he swerves to the left, swerves to the right; I am bobbing from one foot to the other, in an odd I'm-about-to-be-crushed-by-an-old-geezer dance, not knowing where the car's going to end up. Hopefully not over me.

I make a blind dash for it. Thank goodness I put on my sneakers this morning, or there definitely would be some high heel road kill left behind. Wheels screech. I smell burning rubber--I look down and realize it's from my sneakers hitting the pavement at an absurd speed. I lunge for the sidewalk and mercifully make contact without losing my balance. Victory is mine! I pump my fist in the air in triumph, then quickly lower it as I remember I'm in Boston and we don't show emotions here.

I look behind me--the woman with the Jimmy Choos is staring (glaring?) at me. It was all worth it. I wave at the woman with my middle finger. It's the Boston way.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Brief History of Time ... in the Parking Garage

The night started out well enough, as I'd gotten two free tickets to watch three mute blue men eat Captain Crunch and throw marshmallows at each other. Of course, some might argue you can do that for free anytime at the mental hospital down by Brigham Circle, but I'm a sucker for stadium seating.

My date had been bragging that he'd found garage parking for only $10 a few blocks away from the theatre. Not only that, but the garage was real classy: There were cards by each elevator indicating what level you were on.

"How cool is that? I don't even have to remember where I parked! The card does it for me." My date beamed, waving the card around like it could also turn his car into a Rolls and chauffer us around.

After the show, my date couldn't wait to return to the garage, where apparently the real performance was about to begin. The only problem was, he'd forgotten where the garage was.

"Well why don't you just look at the damn card? Doesn't it say what the address is?"

My date pulled out his "magical" card and shook his head. "Uh, no."

"Are you kidding me? I thought this card was the answer to world hunger, and it doesn't even tell you where you parked the damn car?" I was furious—and freezing. He'd chosen the coldest day of the year to lose the car.

"Maybe I can hitch a ride with one of the blue men. You think their car's blue, too?"

"Wait! This street looks familiar. Yes! This is it. Woohoo! What a perfect end to a perfect night."

My date gazed lovingly into my eyes as I fought off hypothermia. "Whatever, dude! Let's just get inside—I'm fucking freezing!"

We tried to open the lobby door, but it wouldn't budge. Neither would the one next to it. Even the revolving door wouldn't revolve. I looked inside the lobby, where a concierge was making a hand gesture at me.

"Hey! I think that man's giving us the finger! So much for your classy garage."

I gave the guy my own one-fingered salute and looked at my date, "What now?"

"I guess we'll have to go up where the cars come in."

We ran around the corner to the garage entrance and walked up the ramp, clinging to the walls like Spider Man as cars whizzed by, dangerously close to clipping us.

"Thank G-d I didn't have that extra donut for breakfast!" I screamed as the sideview mirror of a Land Rover grazed my arm.

Amazingly, we made it back up to the lobby unscratched, and as my date went to the machine to pay for the parking, I walked up to the concierge who had been so rude to us.

"Excuse me, but did you see us at the door a few minutes ago?"

"Well, I certainly saw one of your fingers quite clearly. I was waving at you to press the button so the doors would open."

"Button? But I thought that was for the handicapped!"

"We don't discriminate here. Everyone gets to push the button—well, everyone clever enough to crack the code, apparently."

"Well, there should be a sign or something! It was very confusing! We almost got killed going up the car entrance!"

"Isn't that a shame."

I glared at the concierge and returned to my date.

"What was that all about?"

"We were exchanging cake recipes. Let's get out of here. What's the card say?"

"Level 5!"

We walked the entirety of Level 5. Then we did another lap. In desperation, I even looked under a Hummer. My date looked at me like I really was handicapped. "Well, you have a VW Bug!"

"Ames, this isn't funny. Where the hell is my car?"

"Are you sure you're on this level?"

"Yes! Look at the card! That's what it says!"

Sure enough, I looked at a big blazing red 5 marked clearly on the card.

"Well, you can't argue with that. So where's the car?"

"I don't know!"

I frowned. "Have you considered the possibility that maybe your car doesn't want to be found?"



And then, in the distance, I spotted who is possibly the most under-rated worker in America: the parking lot attendant.

"Lost your car?"

"No sir, we just like to roam around parking garages with blank looks on our faces."

My date elbowed me hard.

"I can't find my Bug—the card here says it's on 5, but ..."

The attendant was already on his way. "I'll look around for it."

So we sat in the cold, dank dimly lit garage and waited for what seemed like hours. The only way time could've moved any slower was if we had been smoking joints while watching a pot of water boil.

I sidled up to my date, trying to keep warm. "Have a joint?"

"Ames, you don't smoke."


Finally, the attendant pulled up to us again.

"Your car is on 3."

"Looks like someone put the card in the wrong damn box. Maybe next time we can just do it the old-fashioned way and actually look to see where we've parked, hmm?"

"Maybe next time someone can walk home!"


We were finally on our way home. My date stuck the already paid for time card in the machine so the gates would open. The machine promptly spit the card out.

"What the hell?"

He tried again to no avail. It was as if we had driven into a black hole, devoid of all that was goodness and light in the world. There seemed to be no escaping this parking garage.

The gate attendant came over and looked at the card.

"These things expire after 15 minutes."

"But we lost our car! We've been looking for it for hours! Can we please just get the hell out of here?"


We sighed with relief.

"For twenty dollars."

My date took one look at my face and quickly coughed up the money. As soon as we exited the building, we heard the sound of an alarm and flashing lights.

"Drive! Just drive!" I yelled. There are probably still skid marks from where we had made our daring escape.

"So much for classy parking garages, huh?"

I looked back at the garage where the alarm lights were still flashing. I closed my eyes and leaned back against the car seat. It had been a good show—and the blue men were pretty entertaining, too.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Wrestler? Fuggedaboudit

On the last-minute advice of my younger sister to abort my mission to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button--a movie, she said, that is a glorified, depressing version of Forrest Gump--I instead went to see The Wrestler, a movie very much unlike Forrest Gump but most likely equally as depressing as that Button movie.

Well, depressing and really hard to look at. Not only was the movie shot in Keansburg, NJ, a town that puts the "ew" in New Jersey, but the wrestling scenes included everything from a staple gun to various oiled sterioid-filled bodies to a fork taking a chunk out of the wrestler's forehead. But nothing compared to the horror show that is Mickey Rourke's face. There's more leather on his mug than an entire fleet of Hell's Angels and dominatrixes combined. It was hard to reconcile with the memory of a sexy Mickey in 9 1/2 Weeks, but you could still see the remnants of that old sex symbol in his eyes, not unlike the performance of the Beast in Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

Marisa Tomei as an ageing pole dancer was pretty good, except she obviously didn't do her research on the pole. There wasn't a fairy spin, carousel, or butterfly spin in sight. Bitch has an Oscar nomination for that performance and hasn't paid her dues--I'm sitting here after a particularly grueling 2-hour pole dancing class with bruises up and down my legs and even, yes, even my toes, and I'm not even playing a stripper in a major motion picture. Shit ain't right.

To make matters worse, the writers pulled a Sopranos on us at the end of the movie. In the last scene, Mickey as Randy the Ram struggles to finish the match. At this point, he's already had a bypass and stumbles around the ring looking like he's about to keel over of a heart attack at any second. He climbs on top of the ropes and stretches his arms out like a diver to signal the start of his signature move, a giant leap onto his victim, who's inevitably lying in wait below to meet his end by human lycan, which I just discovered is a sort of werebeast, if you will.

Mickey/Randy the Ram/Werebeast takes a breath, jumps high into the air, and then, and then ... blackness falls over the screen. Like the Sopranos finale, I thought for a split second that the projector had malfunctioned right at the most pivotal scene. I turned back to shoot the stink eye at the teen working the projector, a rather ineffective move from the front-row of a pitch black theatre. But when I whipped my head back around, the credits were rolling down the screen, leaving me to wonder for the rest of my days what the hell happened to the Ram. As if I don't have enough on my mind wondering what became of Tony Soprano--maybe he got jumped by Randy? It's becoming something of a Jersey cliche to end shows in complete blackness, leaving the audience to make up their own ending. That's not creative--that's just a lot of fricking work. What the f#@ people? Must be something in the water.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pole Position

I was watching the Rock of Love Bus Tour the other day and feeling prettay, prettay good about myself, I must say. Unlike the hot messes fighting to add yet another STD to their medical history by becoming the next Mrs. Brett Michaels (who's missing the top half of his head as far as I can tell), I have never stripped on national television, inflated my boobs to surpass the size of my head, or stuck a shot glass anywhere other than my mouth. Not too shabby. Afterwards, as I headed out for my first pole dancing class, the irony was not lost on me.

I'm always up to try something new, especially when it comes fitness, as during the winter in Boston, my only form of exercise comes from hopping from one foot to another trying to keep warm while waiting for some form of transportation to get me to wherever it is I'm trying to go. Usually to the bar across the street, but every once in a while, I make an appearance at work.

I'd convinced a good friend of mine to join me, mostly so no one would think I was considering it as a career choice, although I'm guessing there probably aren't too many 30-year-olds just starting out in the biz. Although with the way this recession is going, you never know. It may only be a matter of time before we see "girls" greasing up the pole with Tiger Balm.

Understandably, some of my friends were a bit confused when I told them what I was up to. One even wrote, "What is pole dancing? Is that like some European traditional dance or something?" Of course, I'm guessing this was simply a ruse to get me to demonstrate my new moves, but I'm not falling for it. There's an old saying in Tennessee – I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – you can't get fooled again, as George W would say.

I picked the worst pole in the bunch--the one front and center that I had to keep jumping off of to share with the instructor. I'm hoping to claim another pole for next class, which will probably be considered bad pseudo stripper form. I might actually get into the first fake stripper catfight ever to go down to my knowledge. Watch out Brett Michaels, you sexy bandanna-wearing, guy-liner loving mimbo, I am hopping off the 441 and on to your bus of love that I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to get all my shots to ride. Rock on.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Chick Flicks

It was with great dismay that I found myself--for the second time in as many weeks--crying on my couch with a pint of ice cream watching the chick flick to trump all chick flicks: The Notebook. Except this time, I was drinking a glass of eggnog spiked with my dear friend, Sailor Jerry's. There must be some sort of rehab center I can check myself into for this--not for the rum swilling but The Notebook viewing. I can just see myself--flanked by Amy Winehouse and Courtney Love-- weeping over my chick-flick watching ways, while Amy and Courtney hand me tissues and secretly think how glad they are not to have to go through such a tough, demoralizing addiction such as mine.

I remember the good old days, when chick flicks used to be about friends and disease and dying--movies like Steel Magnolias, Beaches, and My Weekend at Bernie's. Now we have real tear-jerkers like Love, Actually and Something's Gotta Give to contend with. Give me a cancer-stricken Barbara Hershey caked with pounds of white powder over a woman finding love with her soulmate in Paris on her birthday any day of the week. There are just not enough Kleenex tissues in the box for that kind of romantic shit, damn it. I can't handle it.

Hopefully the new year will bring back the chick flicks of old, although the upcoming Bridal Wars does not look promising. Perhaps I'll just have to write my own--Beaches II--with an aging diabetes-stricken Bette Midler who befriends a party-going bachelor only to find out he's been dead for days ... Hey, at least I'll no longer have to explain away my puffy eyes at work the next morning by claiming to have imbibed too much rum.