Tuesday, February 27, 2007

G'Out Sick

Almost as ridiculous as resigning via blackberry from a Barry Manilow show in Vegas, another friend of mine informed me today that he told his boss he couldn't make it into the office one day last week because he had "the gout." Unaware of the fact that gout patients suffer "sudden, severe attacks of pain and tenderness, redness, warmth, and swelling, usually in the big toe," he thought it sounded serious enough to warrant a day at home, but casual enough that he could blow it off and return to work the following day with some vague comments about feeling under the weather.

Apparently, news of his "illness" spread quickly around his DC firm and he was barraged with questions upon his return. "Are you OK?" "How odd for someone so young to be affected by gout!" "How are you treating it?" Luckily one of the major risk factors is "Excessive alcohol consumption" which bolsters his case.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Letters of Resignation Are So 1990

My friend, who I'll refer to as Whitney's Biggest Fan from here on in, just managed to top his previously untoppable dramatic encounters. In the world of ridiculous stories, he's like the rare Olympian who competes with himself alone to break the standing record--no other athlete stands a chance. So if anyone was going to top his antics, it would be have be my friend himself.

Whitney's biggest fan has been a very successful mortgage broker for the past couple of years. Throughout his short tenure at an unnamed big bank, he's been able to purchase two homes, a BMW and, I'm sure, a considerable amount of fabulous Whitney paraphernalia. However, his success came at the expense of his free time as he found himself working around the clock to keep up with growing client demands.

I hadn't heard from him for a little while and decided to give him a call to get his sought after impressions on Academy Award outfit selections--the boy doesn't miss a trick. Side note: I was once at a bachelorette party in Miami and we had him on speaker phone while we were drinking wine in front of the TV. Educational comments such as "That neckline is all wrong for her" and "What an improvement from last year's chinsy flop" and "Do you ladies see how she's coordinated that clutch so perfectly with those shoes? Simply stunning," brought our viewer experience to a whole new level.

Anyway, Whitney's Biggest Fan told me that he needed a break a couple weeks ago, so he decided to take his mom on a little trip to Vegas. One night they went to see Barry Manilow where my friend had a realization: he was tired of his job. So, he whipped out his blackberry and shot off a message to his boss, just like that--a resignation. Read 'Em and Weep, pal.

Who quits their job from a Barry Manilow show via handheld device? Apparently, the same person who wins dramatic chat room fights with other Whitney fans who don't have their facts straight in website posts, who insists on straightening my hair for me before a big night out, who came up with the idea of an underground office publication with a column devoted to the accounting assistant's most fashionable outfit of the week (he loved her style) and who taught himself HTML in record time so that he could update a former company's website himself rather than rely on a webmaster whose color scheming "didn't work for him."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Substitute Teacher Effect

A tremendous sociological phenomenon occurred today on the 8:30 AM Pittsburg/Bay Point BART train. Crowded and uncomfortable, we passengers were irritable and seemingly devoid of all sympathy for our fellow riders. People were pushing, no one was moving over so that the small people could hold on to the vertical bars (since they can't reach the ones on the ceiling, a hardship I know all too well) and the prevailing attitude was one of general disdain.

Suddenly, the BART conductor announced over the loud speaker in an angry female voice: "If you DON'T move away from the DOORS, this train is going out of SERVICE!" This conductor didn't care to warm us up with even one "Please stand clear of the doors, thank you"--she meant business. The train remained stopped at the Mission/16th station where I had boarded. About 30 seconds later another admonishing notice belted out from the load speakers dripping in venom, "If you want to be late for work, just keep standing near those doors." And another followed shortly after, even more furious than the others, "You know what doors look like, don't you? Well move away from them or we're not going anywhere."

Now sharing a common enemy, we passengers let go of our previous frustrations resulting from the crowded train conditions. After all, next to high volume fury forced upon you before 9 am, pushing and bad train etiquette seem like a walk in the park. We began to function as one group, giggling at the mockery these two guys had made of the conductor. In their best bitchzilla impression, they imitated her with perfect inflection and flawless recall. The icing on the cake was that they ad libbed bonus additions such as, "this train is going out of SERVICE...and I'll come in there and rip the head off of anyone within 5 feet of a door."

It was as if harps started playing and the sun came out from behind a cloud. Suddenly, the tall men stepped away from the vertical bars allowing the small women to hold on safely. Passengers, previously smashed up against someone else, moved over as best they could to give their neighbor a bit of breathing room. And then Tiny Tim limped down the center aisle and peeped "God bless us, every one." (OK that last part may not have happened exactly like that.) We had been united by our common hatred of the mean conductor.

And why do I call this phenomenon the Substitute Teacher Effect? Think of how all middle school and high school students, popular or not, drug pushing or weigh lifting, male or female would transcend social stratification, grudges and rivalries in order to outsmart and/or berate a substitute. It was considered a failed class period if a sub managed to hold onto power and force her students to carry on as though the "real" teacher were there. As if. Well, at least not at MY highschool.

The substitute teacher classroom was the one environment in which the social rules allowed for the jock to buddy up with the skater dude in order to take down the enemy. And then after the bell rang, everything returned to normal. The jock would dash over to his pals for some high fives all around and the skater dude would walk the other way, flipping his hair and smashing his skater babe up against a locker, planting a kiss on her mouth, defiantly outlined with thick, black lip liner.

And the February 21st, 8:30 am Pittsburg/Bay Point train was no different. For one morning, on one train car, coffee carrying commuters, bearded homeless men, and Asian grandmothers transporting large plastic bags full of fresh produce managed to come together and share a laugh. Before we knew it, the doors had closed and the train started moving toward downtown.

And then something shocking happened. When we got to Civic Center, the conductor announced the station with a trace of kindness in her voice. Could it be? Had she been moved by the heart-warming passenger bonding resulting from her abusive announcements? Had she been humbled by our response and was now seeking to change her villainous ways? Sure enough, at Powell, she was even NICER!

And what happened then...?
Well...in BART-ville they say
That the conductor's small heart
Grew three sizes that day!

Monday, February 19, 2007

TV Character You're Most Like?

Now I know how to answer that question next time it comes up as an icebreaker at a mandatory business retreat or in a time sucking online personality quiz that one of my friends sends me and I can't help but complete. After all, one might glean something important, a genuine breakthrough, from the results of "What Color Are You?" or "Are You in Love?"

I bet hundreds of people who thought they were in love, really in love, were shocked to discover the truth--they were actually involved in an "average" relationship which could very well be the result of them being Orange and their husband being Green. The news may have been hard to swallow at first, but the truth will set you free, right?

Well, I'm now going to get that much closer to finding out my real color and giving my professional colleagues an accurate picture of who I am now that I know which TV character I'm the most like. The news was delivered to me on Friday night at a bar by the 22 year old cousin of my friend Rob. The conversation went a little something like this:

Cousin: You know who you remind me of?

Me: Ben from Growing Pains?

Cousin: No, seriously. Have you ever seen Will and Grace?

Me: (Beaming) OMG! You think I look like Grace?! Did you guys hear that!

Cousin: No, not Grace. You REMIND me of Karen. You know, their friend.

Me: Are you kidding? She's completely nuts, surrounds herself with gay men and...oh wait. But Karen has a drinking problem and a slew of x-husbands.

Friend at the bar: (Returning with our next round of drinks) There's still time, girl.

Click here, honey, for some memorable Will & Grace quotes including:

"Finally. A man who can make a woman feel like a girl. And who can make that girl feel like a slut. And who can make that slut feel like a woman."
"Oh honey, I have a fake laugh with your name written all over it."

Friday, February 16, 2007

Some Reasons I Love San Francisco

1. While my east coast friends and family were forced to bundle up and endure the bitter cold this week, I’ve been running around in boots with bare legs and meeting up with friends at outdoor cafes. Meanwhile, my scarves, gloves and hats remain safely in my scarves/gloves/hats drawer.

2. On Valentine’s Day, I walked down the block to see an SF Indie Film Festival film about two men who steal and abuse a corpse. The theatre was packed.

3. One of my gay friends told a bunch of us over a dim sum brunch that he’s been dating an Episcopalian priest. The only response was “So what happened to the prison warden?”

4. I got an ice cream cone recently at the new Bi-Rite Creamery and a glamorous woman who appeared to be in her late 70’s stopped me on my walk home to find out what flavor it was. “Chai Spiced Chocolate” I told her. She responded, “Between Tartin’s addictive bread pudding and the killer flavors at this new ice cream shop, I’ll bust right out of my yoga pants.” With that, she tossed her pretty white hair over her shoulder, bid me farewell with the single word “peace” and entered a particularly colorful Victorian home. I imagined that she went inside and smoked some pot while seated on a swanky earth toned sofa, perhaps flipping through this week’s copy of the Guardian.

5. A not so uncommon “challenge” is to figure out the best date to start The Master Cleanse so as not to interfere with your mandatory art car planning meeting. After all, you don’t want your creativity to be compromised by decreased caloric intake.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Reality Laps/Lapse

Those of you who didn't know me back in the summer of 2006 missed my I'm-Still-An-Athlete-Damnit phase culminating in a 26 mile inline skate marathon up in Napa Valley. Sustaining more longevity than my Slow-Cooker-Creation-Every-Sunday phase and eliciting more wide spread disapproval than my Mandatory-Creamed-Sherry-For-All-House-Guests phase, my months of unwavering dedication to Inline Skating proved to be one of my more humbling phases in the past several years. And just when I had picked up the pieces of my shattered ego, I noticed a warning message on this year's marathon website, a direct reference to my team's dismal performance last summer.

Some background:

Beginning with a haphazard marathon registration, the I'm-Still-An-Athlete-Damnit Phase got off to a difficult start. Before I could effectively concentrate on training, I had to first put to rest the collective fear of countless friends that roller blading can only lead down one path: eventually dating a painfully enthusiastic (and potentially closeted) man who sports jean shorts and a fanny pack. I'm not exactly sure how this sport earned such a reputation, but I will attest to the fact that it's pretty much universal and deeply ingrained among most people I know.

Once the violent protests died down a bit, my two team mates and I found training to be an uphill battle too easily thrown off by last minute weekend trips and hangover interference. Despite our less than adequate preparation process, we arrived at the starting line ready to race since we were "athletes" and would be "just fine." In short, the 26 miles crusade didn't go exactly as planned. My two friends wound up ducking out of the marathon half way through with aching legs and blistered feet and sat around in the sun drinking beers while waiting for me to finish the remaining laps (see photo above). I crossed the finish line hours later, collapsing on the ground a in dramatic mix of exhaustion and despair.

At the awards ceremony, the race administrator tipped us off that it might have been a bit much to attempt a full marathon as first time skaters. Now this year's web site reads: "26 miles on the Silverado Trail is a lot to bite off for a first time inline skater. If this is your first time in a roadskate event, we invite you to come participate in the Half Marathon at the member rate." Not only are they suggesting that first time skaters avoid the full marathon, but they're giving them a discounted rate if they'll take the advice! Mortifying...

My team mates and I decided the other day that we're going to redeem ourselves and try again this June. Supposedly, the training will begin soon. Let this serve as the official announcement that team "Two Redheads and a Blond" is back with a vengeance--and we're not beginners anymore.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

A Golden Opportunity

While our overall happiness is clearly tied to big things like the status of our home, health, job and personal relationships, I find that the role of those smaller life components is not to be underestimated. I was pleasantly reminded of this today after purchasing a new shower curtain liner and also a watch battery. Suddenly, a relatively low key weekend became a marker of a new life chapter--the chapter where I take a shower without feeling like a failed homemaker while staring at an unforgiving patch of soap scum and where I no longer have to hunt down my cell phone in the huge bag I always carry in order to see what time it is. Why both of these tasks took me months to accomplish is beyond me.

Another key purchase that took place this weekend was a pair of gold, shiny heels, certain to make a BIG difference in my wardrobe. Suddenly, old outfits take on a whole new look--a look of glamor, a look of pizazz. Gone are the days when I'm the girl in jeans and a black sweater and black shoes. I'm now the girl in jeans and a black sweater and...GOLD! SHINY! HEELS!

Picture it: Yours truly walks into a fabulous bar in the Castro wearing her new shoes. Within seconds, the Scissor Sisters song playing on the sound system comes to a screeching halt as the well-dressed, perfectly sculpted men begin to whisper and point in my direction. One by one, they make their way over to me, asking me where I got the heels and if I'd like to come to a dinner party at their apartment next Friday and am I watching my carbs? "Haight Street, yes and yes!," I'd answer as they walked me home by way of Dolores Park, arm in arm....with the headlights of the oncoming #33 Stanyan bus glimmering off my new shoes.

After launching a whole new life chapter with the help of nothing more than a shower curtain liner, a watch battery and a pair of gold shoes, my latest idea for "an exciting new business" is an alternative therapy program wherein clients receive a package containing the three aforementioned items. Imagine all the time and money that could be saved by skipping hours and hours of professional therapy, not to mention the exhilarating rash of fashionable shoes on parade around the city? Clients will feel good about their homes (now that their showers are free of unsightly soap scum), decrease their stress levels (now that it's so easy to find out what time it is) and win new friends (with the help of their stylish shoes). Move over fancy psychoanalysts, here comes The New Chapter Program.