Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Timing Is Everything

My dad, Bruce Steenberg, was easily the funniest guy on the planet. He had a sense of timing that was unbeatable and a very quick wit. At our dinner table growing up, the importance of comic timing and being funny were stressed more than anything else (well, other than good grades -- so I was on restriction for most of my teen years).

After I had grown up and left home, I went with my parents to a birthday party for an older friend of theirs. The woman received a lot of what I would consider "old lady" gifts -- including a music box. It was loud in the party room and my dad had opened the music box and asked, "what song does it play?" (not able to hear over the party noise).

To which I replied, (pregnant pause for effect)...."I think it's Cop Killa by Ice-T"

Have you ever had one of those moments where your parents look at you as though all their years of sacrifice were sooooo worth it? That was mine.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

In 1999, I was hired as the Marketing Director for a network security company, managing a huge department of one (two, if you include me!)

The guy I managed was not a marketing guy and had apparently been bounced around to several different departments before landing in marketing. He wanted to be there about as much as I saw the benefit of him being there. I asked the CEO of the company if he could be placed in another department that more suited his skills. The CEO told me that I needed to fire the guy. Yes, fire him.

Now, to set this up properly, please let me tell you what I was dealing with:

a) being new to the company, trying to establish myself and develop some good working relationships
b) having to fire a very nice guy who was the sole wage-earner in his family, whose wife was expecting their second child any day, who was building a brand-new house, and it was two weeks before Christmas

Oh, I also had to fire our PR firm that same week -- apparently all of this stuff had been building up and needed ot be taken care of.

He was such a nice guy, he was a true gentleman when we let him go. He also had about four job offers within weeks that much better suited his skill set.

Bonus: Making many new friends at my job who then referred to me as "Kick 'em to the curb Canedo"

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Twist And Shout

When working for the network security company, a couple co-workers and I decided to take an ice cream cone break to McDonald's across the street from our office.

Now, this was a particularly stressful time at work and this ice cream break was truly the highlight of our day, natch -- our week. We all were so looking forward to getting out of the office for a few minutes and having the McCone.

While in line at the drive through, one of the co-workers insisted that this particular McDonald's had the chocolate and vanilla twist cone. As something of an expert in the McDonald's cone arena, I was stunned! Hadn't they discontinued this cone years ago? Was this bizarro McDonald's? Was life and I had known it with no twist cone coming to an end?

When it was our turn to order, a primarily Spanish-speaking employee took our order. I asked, "is it true that you have the chocolate and vanilla twist cone?" and the employee said, "yes", so I gleefully said, "Great! We'll have three twist cones, please" and the McDonald's employee replied:

"em....we have jees banilla, ma'am"

Friday, December 17, 2004

The Curse Of The Minibar

Have I mentioned that I worked for the NRA for more than five years? One of the best jobs I ever had (and I've had a bunch of 'em). I worked with some of the most fun people during those five years, and I'm sure it had very little to do with the fact that I was single, in my 20s and drinking heavily.

I did a lot of things for NRA and one year I got put on a special project -- the Charlton Heston Celebrity Shoot out in Dana Point, California. Glamour! Excitement! "Celebrities!"

While there, I had a bet with a consultant as to which of us could get our picture taken with the funniest celebrity (funny in a B-list way, not in a "ha ha" way). I ended up winning -- finding and taking a picture with Jerry Mathers. The photo became my Christmas card that year with the greeting, "Merry Christmas. Love, Kathleen and the Beav." I gave one to a friend of mine in grad school who later became my husband. He still likes to joke that the reason he fell for me was that I so freely gave out my "beaver shot."

Earlier in the evening, I was hanging out with Nat from the Peach Pit on Beverly Hills 90210. Seriously, at that time, he was my Brad Pitt -- I so loved 90210. I talked to Nat (still cannot remember his real name) in the bar for an hour or so -- don't remember a lot of it. About a week after I got back from the shoot, however, my sister (who lives in Florida) and I each received autographed head shots of Nat. Apparently, at some point in the evening, I wrote down both addresses and gushed enough to prompt the head shot sending.

But the best story......

One night, I stayed out til four in the morning, partying with some of the celebs at a party that only the cool kids were invited to. Now, because I worked for a non-profit, I was sharing a room with a co-worker on this particular trip. She had gone to bed around 10:00 that night and was fast asleep by the time I found my way back to the room. At this point, the minibar was just screaming to me, so I opened it, found a huge Hershey's chocolate bar and that's the last I remember -- about 6:00am, I woke up to my roommate standing over my bed and yelling like a maniac. She was practically hysterical...pointing at me and screaming. I jumped up and also started screaming and ran to the bathroom to see what she was pointing at.

Apparently, in the dim light of the hotel room that morning, the choclate bar that I had fallen asleep with had smeared all over my face and bed, looking a lot like blood. She thought someone had come into the room and blugeoned me to death while she slept.

I was still clutching what remained of the chocolate bar -- apparently only willing to give it up once it was pried from my cold, dead hands.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Thoughts For The Day...

Sure, they're stolen -- from a great comedian:
  • nothing funny ever comes out of moderate drinking
  • I hate to stereotype....but it does save time

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

This Isn't Heaven....This Sucks

A few years ago, Canetto and I were in the market for a new bed. We had just gotten married, bought a house and needed a bed. Because I am married to Mister we-cannot-make-a-decision-on-any-purchase-without-the-benefit-of-extensive-market-analysis-and-at-least-fourteen-spreadsheets, this became quite a project.

Though I had not stayed at a Westin recently, I did remember that they were marketing their "Heavenly Bed" and friends I polled told me that this was a GREAT BED. So, I called the nearest Westin (Dupont Circle Westin in DC) and asked if they had a showroom where we could look at this bed. Apparently, there are no showrooms, and the only way to test out the bed is to stay at a Westin. Not to be deterred (and to prevent the inevitable "spreadsheet to determine if paying to stay at a Westin for one night is a solid investment") I asked if my husband and I could come to the hotel and try out the bed in a vacant room.

What follows may be the most uncomfortable few minutes of my life (well, other than completely blanking on my cousin's name at a family wedding, but that's a story for another day). At the Westin, the kind gentleman I had spoken to earlier in the day was no longer on duty, so I had to explain again to the new concierge that my husband and I were interested in just lying down on a heavenly bed for a few minutes to see if we wanted to buy one.

We were escorted upstairs by a bellhop who let us in the room and then stood right at the foot of the bed as Canetto and I tried to make ourselves comfortable and test out the bed. (NOTE: having a perfect stranger staring at you while you're trying to get comfortable on a bed is not for the weak, or really anyone other than Paris Hilton).

Some People Just Don't Get Me

Recently, I was in Winnipeg for a film shoot. While there, I went out to a great sushi place with the film crew, and we had a great waitress named Brie, like the cheese. She was a blast and made the whole experience tons of fun. She was also very pretty, so the guys on the crew talked about Brie ad nauseum for the next few days. I had reverted to my default fingers in the ears singing "la la la" as the jokes about "Brie" got more and more disgusting. (Although the "fromage a trois" reference was funny, I'll admit it).

When I got back to Northern Virginia, I decided to send the film director a fake brie cheese, because I knew he'd open it and laugh out loud. So, I tracked down a fake brie cheese on a theatrical prop website (only $6) and brought it into the office with me to mail out (along with some work was legit). Anyway, the brie was sitting on my desk when my boss walked in. Our interchange went as follows:

(Boss, quizzically, looking at open package on my desk): "Is that a package from the printer?"
(Me): "No, it's a fake brie cheese"
(Boss, choosing to ignore my comment): "How did the film shoot in Winnipeg go?"

I'm sorry....what kind of person DOES.NOT.ASK.ABOUT.A.FAKE.BRIE.CHEESE?????

Take a chance, take a chance, take-a take-a chance chance

On the way to meet some friends out in Arlington the other night, I was blasting "Mamma Mia" in the car. (I know...for someone whose favorite band of all time is the Ramones and I DO NOT MEAN THE "I WANNA BE SEDATED" RAMONES....I MEAN THE "I SAW THEM TWELVE TIMES IN CONCERT AND HAVE ALL OF THEIR ALBUMS AND HAVE BEEN LISTENING TO THEM SINCE I WAS 14" RAMONES...I do have a fondness for the show tunes.)

Canetto was in the car with me and thanks to my genetic pre-disposition to OCD, I have to listen to the songs I like most about 47 times in a row. As we all know, show tunes are only fun when:
a) everyone sings them and b) they are sung as Ethel Merman, in an operatic falsetto and in monotone, preferably all within the same song.

I handled the b) portion of the rules. Canetto was slacking in the a) portion, so I made it my goal to teach him the Abba "take a chance, take a chance, take-a, take-a chance chance" part while I sang the lead in "take a chance on me."

Ladies and gentlemen...based on his complete and utter massacre of this important part of the show tune, I can defnitively state that my husband is 100% heterosexual (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Bertok Symmetric

Back in my single, carefree days I lived in a townhouse with two guys, Doug and Rick. Rick was notoriously bad at taking phone messages, and Doug and I used to laugh at the garbled messages we received from him. Once, when my friend Simon called, it was translated in a message as "your friend Diamond called." As I did not have any stripper friends (at the time), I was able to figure out who he meant.

One day, roommate Doug received a phone message that said, "Bertok Symmetric called with the contact information." Doug had just begun working for the CIA and was certain that this had something to do with work, but Rick was out of town on vacation and could not confirm. For three days, Doug made himself crazy trying to figure out who Bertok Symmetric was and what contact information he was supposed to receive, thinking he had missed an important segment of training at the CIA, and not wanting to admit ignorance to his new employer.

On the third night of angst, while having dinner with Doug and looking across the table at him in his eyeglasses, it hit me. I said, "Doug, your parents live in Burke, Virginia, right?" and he said, "yes". I said, "Do you think it was Burke Optometric calling with your contact lens information?"

They call me Encyclopedia Brown,