Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jack The Stripper

My mom is getting married in October. She found a guy who has many qualities she admires: intelligence, honesty, a sense of humor...and most importantly (as her romantic history indicates) a compulsion to take his clothes off in public.

Last fall, she and Jack went to an afternoon party and they each had approximately seventeen pomegranate margaritas. After making their way back to Jack's house at the beach (walking distance...fortunately), they sat in the Adirondack chairs out front (and set back from the road) to enjoy the sunset. Jack went into the house to get a couple of (necessary) glasses of wine for them and (inexplicably) came back out totally naked. My mom claims she had a non-reaction to this development -- she simply accepted it and began drinking her wine as Jack sat back down in his chair. (I'm hoping against hope in the name of the sweet baby Jesus and all that is right and holy guessing that this had something to do with the seventeen pomegranate margaritas.)

As it grew darker, a car pulled up at the curb in front of the house. It was the young kid who rents an apartment from Jack (the apartment is on the lot next to Jack's house). Because he is friendly with Jack and my mom, he started walking up the sidewalk to say hello. And as he got closer and his eyes began to focus in the dusky light, the expression on his face showed that he was beginning to register what he was walking toward. Jack knew that if he got up to go inside it would only make things worse...so he simply lowered his glass of wine to cover up as much as he could, while the kid stammered something about needing to get to his apartment and fled next door (likely to begin downing seventeen pomegranate margaritas himself).

For Christmas a couple of months later, I gave Jack a very practical gift: a bottle of pinot noir (purposely not a much more transparent chardonnay or chablis) and a large wine glass with a pair of boxer shorts constructed out of cardboard affixed to the stem. Therefore, if he ever found himself in that (highly probable, let's be honest) situation again he could simply lower the glass with the underpants attached, cover his stuff and fool passersby into thinking he was dressed, while still enjoying all the benefits of front yard nudity. (I should really look into a patent.)

A few days after Christmas, I was checking e-mail when I opened one from my mom. It had an attachment. A photo of Jack putting the boxer shorts wine glass to use.

I suppose the upside is that he doesn't have to rent a tux for the wedding...

Friday, June 26, 2009


Oh, for chrissakes...I take one week off from blogging to go on a quiet family vacation and look what happens:

- Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson die
- Gene Weingarten takes the Post buyout
- Governor Sanford joins the growing ranks of those espousing family values while simultaneously getting a little Argentinian sumpin sumpin on the side

I shall never desert you again, gentle readers.

Mamma say Mamma sah Mamma koo sah,

Thursday, June 18, 2009

That's Easy For You To Say

When I was in my early twenties, I was fortunate enough to have a job that kept me out of the office, traveling the country and meeting a lot of interesting people. (If by traveling the country, you mean to towns with populations of fewer than 26 people, and if by interesting, you mean terrifying...)

(Aside: Once, I called my dad from a trade show I was doing in Mississippi. He asked, "what's the time difference?" and I said, "two hours and about 40 years.")

One of the trips I took was to the Soldier of Fortune convention in Las Vegas. (You may remember Soldier of Fortune from their earlier work in "Oopsie -- we let a hit man advertise in our classifieds."). As you may imagine, the attendees at this convention fit a very specific demographic (see "terrifying" above).

On the first day of the convention, I had just finished setting up my booth with the ORGANIZATION THAT DOES NOT HATE FREEDOM materials, when I heard a weird noise at the end of the aisle. I couldn't see anything, but kept hearing an odd sort of hooting sound. As the noise got closer, I realized that the source was a massive human being -- he was about six feet of solid muscle. Also, he had a long ponytail, was albino, and had Tourette's Syndrome (I could not make this up on my best day, but thank you for thinking that I could).

As he made his way down the aisle closer to me, I silently willed him to keep walking and not stop at my booth. But of course he did. And of course he was a member. And of course he had a question about his membership that he needed to ask me. After a bit of a struggle, he managed to get the question out. I took a piece of paper, wrote a phone number on it and said, "You'll need to call this number and ask for Lance (our member specialist back at HQ) and he'll be able to help you." To which he replied, "Okay, thanks. I'll be sure to call llllAAAAAAAAnnnnncCCCEEEEEEE."

I could never refer to Lance as just "Lance" again after that. From that day forward, he was llllAAAAAAAAnnnnncCCCEEEEEEE. (I'm pretty sure that's also the day I began applying to graduate schools.)

These colors don't bleed,

Friday, June 12, 2009

Objet D'Isturbing

Avery was busy in the office tonight. I heard her playing in there and after a while went in to investigate. This is what I found: On one hand, pretty artistic. On the other hand, I'm sleeping with the bedroom door locked.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Holy Crap

On a conference call with (undisclosed government client) today, we were discussing epidemics when one participant noted that the right people have to be asking questions of those affected in order to determine if there is a trend. She then went on to say, "Team Diarrhea of Minnesota, for instance, would be able to identify a trend based on their expertise in questioning."

Which, of course, raised several questions in my mind:

1) Do the members of Team Diarrhea find that no one wants to shake their hands at networking events?
2) Is becoming a member of Team Diarrhea a promotion from another position? If so, do I want to know what it is? Worse yet...has anyone ever been demoted from Team Diarrhea?
3) How many times do you say the words Team Diarrhea before you can do it without giggling like a school girl?
4) Is it unprofessional to put the phone on mute so that I can giggle like a school girl?

People think it's pretty funny,

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New York Part I -- Meredith

On Friday, I rode the bus to New York, armed with a jumbo bottle of hand sanitizer and many preconceived notions about bus travel. However, the bus was new and clean and the other riders seemed much less under the influence and much less aromatic than fellow riders on the last (and I thought, final) bus trip I took many years ago.

The sanitizer was a good call, however, because bus bathrooms do not have sinks. What they do have is a sign on the wall above the toilet that shows an outline of a man in a suit and fedora sitting on the toilet. Right next to that is a picture of a man in a suit and fedora standing up -- with a huge red X through him. I took this to mean that if you are dressed identically to another passenger who is using the restroom, please do not stand right next to him as he is doing so. (Frankly, even when I am not dressed the same as someone else, I tend to employ this personal space courtesy. But I suppose it is nice to provide a reminder for those who don't.)

I arrived in New York in four hours and my friend, Meredith, had taken the day off work to meet me at Penn Station. It was pouring rain, so we hopped into a cab to go to lunch. During the ride, Mer began telling me a story about her next-door neighbor and how she can hear him having (interesting) sex with his (very vocal) girlfriend at all hours of the night. (Well, until recently, when she heard a lot of banging on the wall and a plea for help and then no noises since.) We arrived at our destination about midway through her story and as we were getting out of the cab and paying the fare, the cabbie said to me, "I really wanted to hear the end of that story." She finished the story about the murderer/sex fiend over lunch, then we talked about her upcoming vacation to the Turks and Caicos, dramaturgs (look it up) and our crazy parents.

After lunch, I went with her to an audition, and we met up with her husband, John, who was also auditioning (not for the same role). (He is an Emmy-nominated writer for the Chris Rock show and a comedian and pretty much hilarious 24 hours a day.) You may understand (as I do) that probably what drew him to Meredith initially is the almost-constant comedic fodder she provides -- just by being her. (Case in point: just before her audition she walked down the hall to use the restroom and walked right into the men's room by mistake where she saw a half-naked gentleman applying deodorant. To his nether regions.)

After the auditions, we headed to their apartment on the Upper East Side. As we got into the cab, Mer noticed a sign in the cab that said, "This is a Happy Cab." Because she is Mer, she said loudly, "Hey, we're in a Happy Cab." When we arrived at our destination, the cabbie asked, "Which one of you said this was a Happy Cab?" and Mer said, "Me," so he handed her a coupon for a free cab ride and a new Dooney & Bourke wallet. (Closer investigation revealed that this was actually a Booney & Dourke wallet, but that didn't make it any less exciting.)

We freshened up, then headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a Friday night thing they have where they stay open late, play music and serve wine. Or as we like to call it, "Friday Night Pretension." Because it was still pouring, the rooftop wine/music party was postponed, but we did get to tour the museum, which was amazing. We got to see the new "Model as Muse" exhibit that just opened and also spent a lot of time looking at the Impressionists and the Egyptian stuff because we know so much about art the Temple of Dendur in the Egyptian exhibit is where one of our favorite scenes in When Harry Met Sally was filmed.

John met us at Brother Jimmy's BBQ later that night, where we had a great dinner, then we went back to their apartment. The neighbor kept it down that night (double entendre intended) so it was a very restful sleep.

There is too much pepper in my paprikash,

(Stay tuned for New York Part II -- Dori and Jen)

Monday, June 08, 2009

50 Hours Of Mayhem

I'm back at work this morning after a long weekend in New York City. I took the bus both ways, thinking it would provide great blog fodder. What a disappointment. It was a great way to travel -- and probably the only way I will travel to NYC in the future. (And leave my fodder out of this...)

Saw about a million people from my past, went to great restaurants, did some touristy stuff, shopped, laughed, won prizes from cab drivers and yelled at my friend when I didn't want to eat a taco.

Detailed posts to come.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


Yes -- that's my brand spanking-new domain name right there in the title. Now you can type that instead of that cumbersome blogspot address when you want to find me.

Yesterday, I set this up with Paul, a wonderful customer service representative at GoDaddy.com. (Free advice: Focus when typing the GoDaddy URL. I was distracted and ended up at DoDaddy.com, which led to an interesting discussion with my company's IT department. Again.)

Paul was helping me re-route the blogspot traffic to the new domain name. When he asked me the new domain I had registered and I said, "Brutalism", there was a bit of an uncomfortable silence on the other end of the phone. I immediately blabbered, "um...it's an architectural style." He began laughing and said, "I was wondering because you don't sound like that kind of person."

I said, "I'm not. But I've got some good friends at DoDaddy that might be."

Bring out the gimp,

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

You Big Dummy

When I was about seven years old, my sister and I spent hours poring over the Sears catalog looking for things we wanted for Christmas. The research paid off when we happened upon ventriloquist puppets and subsequently determined that we must have these in order to live productive lives of fulfillment.

She wanted WASPy Charlie McCarthy with his monocle and top hat -- fitting for a child whose lunch box in elementary school was Jonathan Livingston Seagull. (She's a lawyer now. I know you may find that shocking, Internet.) I, on the other hand, wanted Lester -- the hip, African American ventriloquist puppet. (I had a Waltons lunch box as a kid, so I'm not necessarily making the argument that there's a coolness correlation here. But Jonathan Livingston Seagull?...really...?)

My parents totally indulged us and ordered the puppets for us that Christmas. However, Sears was out of stock (some of you may remember the great ventriloquist puppet famine of the 70s), so under the tree that year my sister and I each received an envelope with an original poem on the outside and the catalog picture of the puppet we wanted on the inside. Mine read as follows (and was written in my father's distinctive all caps, slanted handwriting):

There's a picture of someone you know inside
To be here in person, he really tried
But here's a promise, he'll be here quick
Just put your faith in good ol' Saint Nick

When we received the puppets a few weeks later, we had a lot of fun practicing ventriloquism and making up short plays. I think Charlie even made an appearance in a junior high production of Godspell. (Sure...pick the WHITE puppet for the junior high play...)

I still have Lester (I've seen enough horror movies to know that I could never truly get rid of him). He's made appearances at parties we've had and has become a bit of a running joke with my friends. Once, when my friend, Meredith, was visiting shortly after Avery was born, she moved the baby out of her crib and replaced her with Lester, so that when I came in to check on my newborn in the middle of the night, I almost had a heart attack. (I have great friends.)

Another friend, Amy, went on a cruise a few years back and the original Lester (and his puppet master, Willie Tyler) were performing on the ship. She pulled some strings (pun obviously intended) and got me an autographed photo.

A childhood defined by ventriloquist puppets, nudist parents, and mocking religious figures...I'm surprised Norman Rockwell never painted that scene.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Shill Game

You know how when there's a very important cause people come together and support one another and achieve greater things than they ever could individually? That's nice, but this really has nothing at all to do with that...

You may remember my need for validation that I discussed here. My self-worth is now completely partially determined by the number of people who visit my blog every day. Yes, this is very healthy.

Brutalism was nominated for a couple of awards and you, the reader, can vote for Brutalism (and keep me away from Promises...) by clicking on a Blogger's Choice icon on the right side of this page. This will take you to the Blogger's Choice web page, where you will need to register to vote (it only takes a minute). Then, you can cast away...

I promise that if Brutalism wins, I will reference swinging and meth addicts in my acceptance speech. There are only about twenty or so no other bloggers who can make that promise.

(Dilettante Club has been nominated, too -- so after you've registered to vote, just type "dilettante" in the search box on the Blogger's Choice web site and cast a vote for that while you're there.)

Rock the vote,