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.