Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Rain in Spain

I´m in Spain.  All by myself.  Long story.

I´ll be fine, if I don´t get sneezed on by an African street vendor.

And I´ll be back, so be patient with me.  Wait until you hear my rant about Madrid!

Much love,

Underemployed

Sunday, October 5, 2014

With This Bling...

I went to a wedding last night.

Weddings are not ordinarily my thing.  I like wedding receptions all right, but my conscience will not allow me to go to them without first attending the ceremony, so it's always a mixed bag.

Yesterday evening was more of a mix than usual, the wedding of the second daughter of one of my husband's cousins.  All the members of this particular branch of the family are born-again Christians, and fanatic ones at that.  This is not a common occurrence among Italian Catholics.  Most Italian Catholics have been effectively cured of any religious inclinations by the time they reach puberty, and they get married "in the church" only because "it would kill" crazy old Aunt Maryrose if they did not.

Here is my take on religion.  There are some good things:
  1. Laughing Buddhas;
  2. Loaves and fishes;
  3. Christmas.
And also some bad things:
  1. Joel Osteen;
  2. Inquisitions;
  3. Lent.
But after 11 years of Catholic school (I was asked to leave after that, and with good reason), I am over it.  As of this writing, my personal viewpoint is that religion is possibly the greatest con job in history, right up there with control-top pantyhose, though I make exceptions for the occasional petition to St. Anthony, and I allow that I probably wouldn't be an atheist in a foxhole.

Try as one may, one cannot ignore the revival of religious fervor these days.  Even here, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, Supreme Court Justice Scalia recently announced that the constitutional separation of church and state does NOT mean that “the government cannot favor religion over non-religion,” though what he says it DOES mean is so convoluted (he compares himself to Frodo Baggins) that I would order a psych eval, were it in my power to do so.
 
The last invitation I received  to a "Christian" wedding specified, "No alcohol, no children."  I could live through the reception without alcohol (albeit unwillingly), but no children?  Children are the only reason marriage - as a social institution - exists, aside from corporate subsidized medical benefits, in which case the invitation should read:  "Reception to Follow in the Human Resources Dept." 
 
I very much hoped that there would be both alcohol and children at last night's wedding.  I mean, even Jesus drank wine at weddings, though the word "Jesus" was noticeably avoided throughout the ceremony, carefully and pointedly replaced with "Christ", the significance of which I hope I never know.
 
And - thank you St. Anthony! - there was alcohol.
 
Lots of it.  In fact, there was a cash bar before the ceremony (one perk of the whole converting-to-evangelical-Christianity thing is that we didn't have to sit through a mass), a circumstance which my husband encouraged me to exploit.  I did, of course, order a drink.  Which came in an 8 oz. tumbler.
 
A few moments later, much to our surprise and dismay (it was 42 degrees and raining), we were herded outside, down two flights of stairs, across a sodden lawn, and into an unheated tent (no mean feat in heels).  It was going to be an outdoor ceremony, weather be damned, and apparently nobody had the perspicacity and/or wherewithal to move it inside.
 
Huddled in the back row, freezing my ass off, I realized that I still had my cocktail.  And unable to disguise the fact, due to the two jumbo olives protruding from the glass on a pink plastic toothpick.
 
Yes, that's right.  I was sitting in the congregation at a Christian wedding with a vodka rocks.  And thinking, "It is now official.  I am Lucille Bluth."
 
It soon proved to be an advantage.  Not only did the drink provide some welcome warmth, but also the necessary equipment for a little drinking game I devised to get through the mercilessly long, cold, and occasionally disturbing ceremony.
 
It went something like this:
 
"Jennifer and Marco, we are gathered here today in CHRIST (take a drink), CHRIST (take a drink) who gives us His love, CHRIST (take a drink) whose blessing we seek.  May you always remember that your love comes through CHRIST (take a drink), for you CHRIST (take a drink) died on the cross...May CHRIST (take a drink) come first in your marriage (roll eyes, take a drink), and blah blah blah CHRIST (take a drink) ..."

Even my husband, who is almost stone-deaf, looked at me and said:  "He's saying 'Christ' an awful lot, isn't he?"
 
"The bride just said that she wanted the wedding to be 'holy'."
 
"Well, Holy CHRIST, it's cold out here!"
 
There were also an alarming number of references to the biblical behest that wives should be obedient to their husbands.  I took the opportunity to modify the game word to "obedient" hoping to conserve alcohol.  With limited success.  And then:
 
"Jennifer, you tried to run away from us several times."
 
(Red flag, Jennifer.)
 
"But because CHRIST loves you, He welcomed you back every time."
 
(Honey, if you ever need help with that, I'm here.)
 
"Let us bow our heads and pray."
 
(Must I obey?  I'm not marrying the guy.)
 
"Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you for the very first time:  Mr. and Mrs. Marco Peccorini!"
 
(Bartender!)
 
Fortunately, the reception was  wisely held indoors.  My husband and I were seated at the table with crazy old Aunt Maryrose and the rest of the family geriatrics.  Who ate heartily, drank liberally, sang along lustily with Frank Sinatra on the playlist, and ignored cheerfully any and all attempts by the bridal party to further christianize the occasion.  So, after all was said and done and much to my surprise, I had a great time and came away a happy camper.
 
Okay, Jennifer, you can start obeying now.  Have fun with that. 
 
But I'll give you some advice:  Tell Mr. He-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed that your relatives are a bunch of cheap bastards, and stash away some of those fat envelopes where he will never find them. 
 
Just saying.  Might come in handy someday.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Girlz in the MuthaHood

Men are from Mars.  Women are from another solar system altogether.

Which is why mutual understanding, even in this enlightened age, continues to elude us.  At least, that is as good an explanation as I can come up with, since 160,000 years of intimate cohabitation seems to have produced zip.

This topic has been much on my mind as of late, as the majority of my co-workers are females in various stages of breeding.  A lot of the conversation in my office centers around the subtle and not-so-subtle pressure and discrimination each of them are feeling, brought down upon their heads by the inevitable "Boy's Club" of upper-management and directly related to their reproductive circumstances.  (Yes, upper-management can - and does - include the occasional female.  But I would bet the farm that few upper-management teams have many more than one.)
 
It is sad to see a woman struggling with her role as a mother.  One lady in my office was reprimanded for taking a few days off after suffering some complications in her first trimester.  My supervisor needs to pump her new-mom breasts in a private corner of the office several times a day (her "milking shed" as I have come to think of it), and she's miserable.  It would make oodles more sense if the baby were there to do it for her, but since babies are not allowed in workplaces, there are few alternatives.
 
"Stay home with your baby?"  I asked her.
 
"Joe says we can't afford it."
 
"Formula?"
 
"OMG, no!  That is SO bad for babies!"
 
"Methinks you need to tell one or the other side of this issue to fuck off."
 
But she won't.  She will endure the madness, like so many of her sisters.  It is the new normal.  And like most normals, it is suited to male preferences and values.
 
Twelve weeks unpaid maternity leave, and then back to the can factory.  God forbid that your husband (if you have one) should get a second job.  And do not dare take a personal day because your baby is sick.  You will be branded "unreliable" and refused promotions until the kid is in college.
 
This is not the way civilized people should treat the teachers and guardians of their future.
 
Gentlemen, let us accept the plain facts.  Ladies have babies.  And you need to get over it.
 
A little more accommodation would be nice.  I am sure that if we can send space probes to Jupiter then we, as a society, can figure out how to allow women to bear children in peace without sacrificing much overall productivity.  But I somehow get the feeling that the male concept of Utopia is still a "Guy-World" where men make all the decisions, everyone lives in basements and wears flannel, money is spent only on beer and cars, and women are brought in - during halftime - to do the cooking.  Children, of course, should be presented fully-formed and gainfully employed.
 
But that is not the way it is, women are not Men Lite, and men need to get a handle on the following:
  1. Women menstruate;
  2. For this alone, men should buy us jewelry;
  3. Growing an 8 lb. person in your belly is a bit tricky;
  4. Getting it out is even trickier;
  5. And, let me tell you, it is no trip to the beach.
I'm not holding my breath.
 
Speaking of women, a few words about some women in the news.
 
Hillary Clinton is just freaking everywhere these days, each time with a new haircut.  I think she realizes, though, that the haircuts are not doing much to erase 40 years of hard-living with Bill and bad fashion sense.  Which explains the Hillary Clinton infomercial, "Madam Secretary", which is taking the airwaves by storm.  In this new Sunday-night dramatic series, a lovely 40-something Tea Leoni wrestles with the responsibilities and complexities of being U.S. Secretary of State.  Tea has the same haircut/color as Hillary did when she was Secretary of State.  She wears the same glasses.  She has a handsome devil of a husband.  And she looks a thousand times better.  My theory is that the Clintons are attempting to produce a mass hysteria among the American public, and Tea will become Hillary in the mind's eye of a majority of voting Americans.  When we look at Hillary Clinton, we will see Tea Leoni.
 
Uber-smooth move and I, for one, think they can pull it off.
 
And how 'bout them Palin girls?   Who knew that birthday parties in Anchorage, Alaska could be so dangerous that it required the combined efforts of five adult members of the Palin family to defend themselves?
 
"Do you know who I am?" Sarah was said to have shrieked in the heat of battle.
 
From the Heartland of America, I would like to answer that:
  1. Yes, unfortunately;
  2. Yes, but I never knew you wore a wig;
  3. I think so, but say something stupid so I can be sure;
  4. No, I'm still trying to figure it out;
  5. Maybe, but I'll wait for the reveal.
Finally, let us mourn the passing of the great Joan Rivers.  Can it be a just God that takes away Joan Rivers and leaves us with Miley Cyrus?
 
No.  It cannot.  I believe Stephen Hawking is right.
 








Saturday, September 13, 2014

Who Knew?

Why do I write about fashion when I don't even know how to comb my hair?
 
I am - and always have been - "fashion-impaired".  This is not false modesty, nor is it just my opinion, since - on more than one occasion in my life - a kindly friend has gently prompted me to update my wardrobe or do something with my hair.  Usually my efforts produce acceptable, though lackluster, results.
 
My fashion impairment doesn't stem from a deficit of awareness or inspiration.  I enjoy following fashion and appreciate its importance to the human community.  It provides a visual medium of proof as to where one falls between the ever-shifting dividing lines of society.
 
For example, one's chosen attire can help identify one as:
  1. Classic or Trendy;
  2. Deep or Superficial;
  3. Wealthy, poor, or middle/working class;
  4. Socially conscious, or Republican;
  5. Sighted or blind.
Without a word spoken.
 
I am writing about fashion today because I am about to embark on an extended journey, and am doing some research on what clothes I should bring.  Being that I only travel with a 20" suitcase, it is - necessarily - a short list.
 
Fortunately my friend, Chris, regularly sends me printed evidence about what is going on - fashionwise - in New York, because I refuse to accept what I see on the streets of Chicago.  And, bless her heart, she has just sent me a well-annotated copy of the September issue of the Wall Street Journal's Women's Style magazine, knowing all-too-well that I would be way over-stimulated by a copy of September Vogue.
 
This is what I learned:
  1. Dior is coming out with some very silly shoes;
  2. Patti Smith lives.  In a good way;
  3. The ad campaign, "Enduring style 10 years with Kate Moss" should have been read out loud (by Kate Moss) before being adopted;
  4. Classic Coach is back, which is encouraging because I've managed to score some second-hand;
  5. People without eyebrows are disturbing;
  6. Pastels frighten me;
  7. Shoes now come in two styles:  "Sister Mary Arnoldine" and "Criminal Conversation";
  8. Interior design is every bit as terrifying as fashion;
  9. There must be a link between Photoshop and depression;
  10. Grey cats are the latest thing in accessories.  I'm putting mine up for sale.
Oh, and one more thing:  the latest rage in denim is "mom jeans".
 
Yes, you read that right.  The single-most-reviled style in denim history has become de rigueur for anyone who doesn't want to look like they're shopping Norm Thompson mail order.
 
Who knew?
 
What could account for this stunning reversal?  For years - if not decades - the words "mom jeans" were synonymous with "antediluvian", only to emerge this season as the hottest ticket in town.  The Internet and fashion magazines are bombarding us with sylph-like creatures looking downright fierce in their mom jeans.
 
Of course, this has inspired millions of us moms to head straight to our closets and pull out the precious pair of mom jeans that we have hoarded for years and kept out of sight, except on days when we are inspired to clean out our basements.  Splashed by paint, clawed by cats, baggy and faded at the knees, we are now in possession of one truly fashionable item.
 
And do they make us look fierce?  No.  They make us look like moms.  At least moms without gym memberships, hair colorists, and Botox providers.  Because the secret, which we already know, is that sylph-like creatures look fierce no matter what they wear.  Hell, I could sew together some pillowcases and put them on a sylph-like creature and come up with "fierce".
 
Which is just as well, because last summer I finally laid out a substantial amount of cash for some quality skinny jeans.  Which are cute, comfortable, and perfect for travel.  So that's what I'm packing.
 
The other news in fashion is that people are dressing "up" again.  The word on the street is "ladylike", a word of which I have always been fond because it implies that the state of being a lady can be emulated without going the whole nine yards.
 
How lovely would it be if - in keeping with dressing up and being ladylike - good manners came back into vogue?  I offer the following scenario, played out the other day at my place of underemployment, with myself the victim of a spectacular display of bad manners by some Euro-trash son-of-a-bitch determined to impress me with a demonstration of his superior sophistication.
 
Some background:  my workplace is dominated overwhelmingly by persons of the male variety and, as a consequence, there exists a wall-size flat screen television that stares at my desk from across the hall because modern men cannot survive without this touchstone of the outside world.  I am treated to its offerings all day long, which means that I know more than I want to about:
  1. The stock market;
  2. World news;
  3. Cars;
  4. Hunting and fishing (seriously, these guys dress up like they're doing ground duty in Afghanistan just to shoot a poor, dumb turkey);
  5. Cialis.
Anyway.  This guy comes up to my desk and says, "You have the best seat in the house."
 
To which I reply, "Yeah, I'm a lucky girl."
 
Silence.  Then:
 
"Well...if that's what you want to call yourself..."
 
Or what, you bovine-brained bastard?  Maybe I should have said:
  1. "Yeah, I'm a lucky fossil";
  2. "Yeah, I'm a lucky old heifer";
  3. "Yeah, I'm a lucky femme d'un certain age".
Or maybe I should have slapped him.
 
Or, maybe, and more in keeping with the "mom" theme, I should have hit him with my classic Coach purse.
 
Now there's a trend I'd like to start.




Saturday, August 30, 2014

Your Attention, Please

Bad things can happen when you don't pay attention.
 
Which is not a bad thing in and of itself.
 
I am not referring to tragedies and catastrophes, though a lack of attention can certainly lead to these, too.  I am referring those events, born of our own stupidity, just annoying enough to take the wind out of our sails, and occurring with sufficient frequency to make us aware that we fucking don't know everything.  I am talking about the sort of event that hits the reset button on our carefully nurtured sense of self-regard, which can all-too-easily morph into pain-in-the-ass pomposity, a condition which should be treated forcefully and in a timely manner, like a Whack-A-Mole.  A little hubris goes a long way, as evidenced by any number of corpulent white men in America who draw our reluctant attention.  Chris Christie comes to mind, as does Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump.  I'd throw Ann Coulter into the bunch, too, if she were corpulent and male.  Which she may well be, given the powers of Photoshop.
 
Paying attention doesn't just mean looking both ways when crossing a street.  I believe in portents and omens, much to the exasperation and disdain of my children. 
 
But they'll find out.  The events of last Thursday prove my point.
 
If I were a religious person, I could say, "Oh, God did that," which would relieve me from the necessity for further inquiry.  But I'm not, so I don't, though I make an exception for that one time in Boston when I was suddenly visitated by the Feast of St. Anthony Procession & Marching Band.  To this day there is no doubt in my mind that it was a harbinger of things-to-come, and that St. Anthony personally interceded to find my son his fancy-ass job.
 
I prefer to keep an open mind.
 
But I never thought I would be receiving messages-from-beyond via a purse.  This is true, as you shall see, and definitely tips the scale in favor of idolatry, would I need to choose.
 
Here is what happened:
  1. Last Thursday, I took the train to go have dinner with my aunt and our friend Babs;
  2. She picked me up - in her car - at the Walgreens by the train station, having come from a doctor's appointment;
  3. I needed to stop at the bank, which we did;
  4. Then my aunt wanted to stop at a store, which we also did;
  5. And when we came out...
  6. ...the front of her car was gone.
Not the whole front.  Just the part below the hood and above the tires.  Nowhere to be found.  Gone.
 
What does one do when the front of one's car disappears?
 
Call the police?  Why?  This was a new one on me, as I would imagine it would be for most of the human race, a realization which made me feel singled out and targeted by some great power capable of inflicting bizarre circumstances on the innocent and unsuspecting.  It lent a note of paranoia to a bemusement so profound that I was rendered speechless.
 
Fortunately, the arrival of Babs brought me slowly back to myself.  She assured us that it was perfectly legal to drive the car in its present state, and the fact that she somehow knew this jump-started my breathing.  We encouraged my aunt to go investigate the parking lots at the doctor's office and the Walgreens, and we would meet her shortly at the restaurant.
 
No luck, and a pall of unreality and discouragement permeated the rest of our dinner together.  Some things are even beyond Stoli.
 
After dinner, my aunt drove me to the train station.  I had a 20-minute wait until the next train and a vague recollection of an excellent second-hand store about a half-a-block away.  It was still there, and it was open.  I walked in.
 
And someone handed me a large glass of champagne.  Happily, I have long been of the opinion that drinking and shopping are not mutually exclusive.
 
Now, had I been paying attention, I would have realized that the unexpected arrival of a substantial glass of champagne in my hand was a sign, my first Cosmic Clue that everything was all right.  Better than all right.  Everything was glorious.
 
But then I looked up.  And there it was:  The Most. Perfect. Purse. In The World.  I am not lying.  I will never have to buy another one.
 
Emboldened by the champagne, I snatched the purse off the shelf and raced for the register.
 
"I have ten minutes until my train."
 
Whereupon which the register line melted away.  
 
And I was informed that the purse was 50% off.
 
I made the train with five minutes to spare.  On the train I noticed that the purse was brand new, tags still attached, dust cover included.  Cosmic Clue #2.  And yet I went home and spent the rest of the evening with my spirits considerably dampened by my aunt's misfortune.  My husband regretted that he hadn't joined us for the evening, since - if he had been driving - my aunt probably wouldn't have lost (stolen?  kidnapped by aliens?) a large piece of her car.
 
"On the other hand," he added, "you wouldn't have found your purse."
 
My aunt called me the next morning to tell me she had made out a police report.
 
And then she called me a half-hour later, laughing.  She had gone to the bank to cash a check.  "Guess what?" 
 
We had forgotten that we had stopped at the bank.
 
That's where she found the front of her car, lying patiently in wait.  It had just spontaneously fallen off.  Better in a bank parking lot, I say, than barrelling down a highway at 60 mph.  She managed to get it into her trunk, and drove to a mechanic.  Who reattached it free of charge, because everybody loves a good story.
 
This has left me pondering:
  1. Is shopping, for me, like the slaughtering of a chicken in a sacrificial ritual designed to curry the favor of the gods? or
  2. Was the purse an omen?
Either way, the answer is:  I hope so.
 
And I have started paying better attention.  For instance, what could be the meaning behind "...an aggregation of anchovies amassed near Scripps Pier..." (for no apparent reason), in La Jolla, California, looking like a giant, writhing leviathan from the aerial photographs?  They have to be trying to tell us something, though what a multitude of like-minded anchovies could have been trying to communicate to homo sapiens last week is a little beyond the limits of my imagination.
 
Maybe I'm just reading too much into it.





Monday, August 18, 2014

Three for the Road

Every so often, I think about buying a car.
 
More precisely, I think about encouraging my husband to buy a car, since I don't drive.  I used to drive but was very, very bad at it.  I accepted the fact, quite early in the game, that behind a wheel I was definitely a menace to society.  And though it has been inconvenient at times, both for myself and for the kind souls that have had to ferry me about on occasion, better some inconvenience - I daresay -  than a body count.
 
In truth, we do have a car - one car, second-hand, held in common with our children on their occasional visits, and unworthy of any insurance beyond the requisite collision  - that has managed to function quite nicely as our mode of conveyance in this ill-conceived, God-forsaken confluence of habitation known in the United States as a "suburb".  But our car is old and ratchet and may be ready to retire and sit in our backyard for four years (like our last one).  Until some gypsies come by and offer to buy it  (also like our last one).  My husband, though possessed of many fine qualities, has difficulty parting with material possessions, a trait that is nicely balanced by my own tendency to throw everything away, often to my later chagrin ("I'm sorry, were those your baby teeth?") and regret.    
 
Thus, I have recently given some consideration to the acquisition of a (real) car and a driver's license.  I am thinking that, just maybe, I now have the emotional maturity to maneuver a vehicle as far as the train station, the library, and a grocery store. I would trust myself to drive no further and, even then, would confine myself to days when I was in a good mood.  True, I would be giving up the smug feeling of moral superiority that I so enjoy over those who lose thousands of hours of their lives half-listening to books-on-tape and despairing at the realization that the moron who just cut them off might possibly go on to spawn offspring and/or be the deciding vote in the next presidential election. 
 
And, also true, I would be missing out on a considerable amount of fun.
 
A train trip into the city last weekend is just one example of how much fun it is, sometimes, to transport with the public. 
 
My husband and I had found the last two adjacent open seats.  "Lucky us!"  I thought, before realizing that there was, indeed, a very good reason for those two seats to be open.  Kitty-corner from us was a person - male, plethora of tattoos, legs splayed in the air, shoeless feet hooked over the seat in front of him - speaking in angry, ear-rending tones on his cell phone.  I often marvel that people who speak loudly on cell phones while on public transportation can have people in their lives who actually want to talk to them, but then I recall myself and acknowledge that I, too, have been guilty of this same crime on a few occasions and am overwhelmed with guilt and feel contritely grateful to those in my life who actually want to talk to me.  However, the effects of this soul-searching do not extend to charitable thoughts toward other offenders, and I can happily say that I have not splayed any part of my body in public since 1976.
 
My husband is perilously close to being stone-deaf and refuses to get a hearing aid, citing that the condition holds distinct advantages, and had to wait for the re-telling of the following conversation:
 
"Fuckin'-A.  And you know what she said to me, man?"
 
(No.  Do tell.)
 
"She said, 'No job, no date.'   Can you fuckin' believe that?  Fuck!"
 
(I can believe it.  But I think what she probably meant was, "No meds, no date.")
 
This went on for several minutes, and at an objectionable volume, until:
 
"Okay.  Okay.  I gotta go."
 
(So soon?)
 
"Bye, Mom."
 
(!)
 
At about the same time, I had taken notice of a young man sitting across from us, behind the gentleman with the tattoos who was now singing and swinging his feet.  I took notice because the young man was in the circumstance of being approached by an attractive and stylishly attired (designer sports bra, designer bike shorts, designer bike bag, and super-cute helmet) stranger, a "bicycle" person of the female persuasion.
 
"Hey, I locked my bike to yours back there."
 
The young man immediately straightened up (from his own splayed position), pulled the earphones out of his head (cue: powerful sucking noise), and said:
 
"Go for it."
 
Now, "back there" meant the three seats in the back of the train car usually occupied by mothers with babies and buggies, pre-empted today by the young man's bicycle.  If my calculations are correct, he now occupied four seats on an overcrowded train but only paid for one, which never ceases to amaze me and is somehow deemed reasonable by lesser intellects.
 
"Can I sit here?"
 
(Oh, goody.)
 
"Yeah!"
 
The next fifteen minutes were occupied by an intense discussion of where they respectively resided, which - after much sparring and convoluted explanation - turned out to be, predictably, in the suburbs and with their parents, though "just until I decide what I want to do" and "only during the week, because I spend most of my time in the city."  (Anthropologically speaking, it would seem that in present-day American culture one's degree of attractiveness corresponds directly to one's tenure within the official limits of a metropolitan area.  And rightfully so.)  Hence, it became vital that each conversant carefully establish a level of metro-sophistication consistent with the other's need for such in an acceptable mate.
 
"Yeah, I was in the 'burbs this weekend because my friend had her wedding at The Arboretum."
 
(Of course she did.)
 
"Nice."
 
(This could be love.)
 
"Where do you work?"
 
(No job, ...)
 
"Oh, here and there.  I'm in construction."
 
(Translation:  I work with my dad.  Sometimes.  Loser.)
 
There was an ominous moment of hesitation.
 
"Well, I'm, like, in finance."
 
(Like in finance?)
 
"That's cool."
 
(Ya think?)
 
"Like, I'm in investment banking."
 
(Like, I am so, so glad you're not investing my money.  Can I get an "OMG"?)
 
"Do you bike a lot?"
 
(Well, given her elaborate and costly accoutrement, I sure hope so.)
 
"Not really.  Did you forget your helmet?"
 
(This could be a deal breaker.)
 
"Nah, I don't use one.  I hate 'em."
 
(You should have said you forgot it at home.)
 
"Yeah, my boyfriend won't wear one either."
 
(See?  I told you.)
 
"Yeah, like, this old dude came up to me the other day and really went off on me about the whole helmet thing."
 
This last statement got the enthusiastic attention of the gentleman with the tattoos, who had stopped singing and was listening intently - as was I - to their conversation.  He turned around suddenly, and shouted:
 
"Be a rebel, dude!"
 
An unexpected turn of events.  The suburban bicyclists gave him their polite and undivided attention, probably for the following reasons:
  1. After the mention of the "boyfriend", there was nothing left to talk about;
  2. They suspected that the gentleman with the tattoos lived in "the city", and it was therefore important to demonstrate how well they could deal with "city" people in order to maintain their credibility;
  3. They were scared shitless of this guy.
"Dude, I didn't used to wear a helmet either, dude, but then I, like, - you know - fell off and knocked myself in the head."
 
(You don't say.)
 
"Whataya guys up to in the city?"
 
(Watch out, he smells fresh meat.)
 
At which point the conversation was promptly and deftly turned to protracted whining about the abuse and mistreatment of bicyclists in an ignorant and uncaring world:
 
"Chicago cabdrivers are such assholes!"
 
"Dude, I barely clipped her and she kept crying!  Yeah, okay, she was eight-years-old, but, dude."
 
In all of Hollywood, there is no one who could write better dialogue.
 
We pulled into the station.  The gentleman with the tattoos put on his shoes and went to get his girlfriend out of jail.  The construction worker and the investment banker studiously and meticulously spent a minimum of ten minutes unlocking their bicycles.  Until they were sure Elvis had left the building.
 
This was some quality entertainment, and my husband agreed after I filled him in on what he had missed (using semaphore flags).  Screw cars.  The closest one comes to any significant human interaction while driving a car is road rage, which is unpleasant and usually not at all entertaining.  For my money, I'll take a comfortable seat on a train - after 5, with a cocktail - and let the games begin.  Where else could one witness life's unfolding drama between a part-time construction worker, an investment banker, and a lunatic with potential brain damage?  I particularly enjoyed the bit about the eight-year-old girl. 
 
And I would love to hear her side of the story. 





Sunday, August 3, 2014

Post Script

It was too good to last.
 
Not ONE HOUR after publishing my thoughts on catastrophe-free living and its negative influence on the writer's muse (at least this writer, whose sense of self-esteem and source of inspiration relies heavily on frequent interactions with comparatively inferior beings), I received a telephone call from a pre-recorded voice identifying itself as a representative of the wholesale warehouse club where I occasionally shop.  It informed me that the case of peaches my husband and I had been gorging ourselves on over the previous week had been recalled due to a risk of Listeria.  Which is actually a very unpleasant sort of infection, mind you, in spite of the fact that it has a name reminiscent of air fresheners and the daughters of long-time Kentucky residents.
 
My first thought was, "How can one recall peaches?"  My husband's first thought was, "Damn!  These are good peaches!  Maybe if we wash them with soap...?" 
 
Just like a man. 
 
In this case, my natural tendency to anticipate being hit by lightening at any given moment prevailed, and the few remaining peaches went into the trash.  However, in retrospect, I think we should have taken the peaches back to the seller - audibly retching - and demanded a case of imported vodka in compensation.
 
The relevant fact about Listeria, which I found out upon a hurried investigation, is that it has an incubation period from one to 90 days.
 
One to 90 days.  That means, for the next three months, one or both of us could be suddenly struck down by a potentially deadly disease with highly disgusting symptoms.  Of course, this is true of just about everyone and almost any disease.  But still.  I had only lately achieved a tentative sense of being at home in my own private Sea of Tranquility, to be wrenched away by a cruel fate. 
 
Particularly disturbing, because, finally:
  1. My job had settled into a pleasant, stress-free groove;
  2. I had acquired hardwood floors;
  3. A tornado hadn't decimated my neighborhood in ages;
  4. My bangs had grown out; 
  5. My house had recently celebrated seven whole months of not being on fire.
(Is that too much to ask?  Really?  Maybe a BMI within normal range, too?  Oh, and eyebrows.  Of the two, let's go with eyebrows.)
 
And now I may - or may not - be incubating Listeria.  Which definitely does not appear on my wish list of situations I would welcome to add a little dramatic tension to my life.
 
Here is what I would find acceptable:
  1. A kale shortage
  2. An argument with Justin Bierber (in Ibiza) over Miranda Kerr;
  3. Homeless suburban tortoises;
  4. Anatomically correct boy dolls;
  5. The Washington Redskins (who, BTW, could easily change their names from the "Redskins" to the "Fedskins" with very little cost in alterations to their wardrobe and/or decor, and having the added bonus of insulting people who are truly deserving).
But I'm stuck with Listeria.  A three-month grace period.
 
It will have to do.  For now.