Saturday, May 5, 2012

Fine and Dandy means something else, doesn't it?

                I’ve come to find that it’s fairly difficult to take over the world without either start-up capital or a doomsday device.  Seeing as how I have neither in any capacity (my Dad’s flatulence being dangerous but not life-threatening…yet) I am at a crossroads, dear readers.  And I’m not referencing fellow Southern icon, Ms. Spears’, movie debut.  While it was actually not so horrible as to give rise to thoughts of gouging one’s eyes out it was also not so great as to admit having seen it without the relative anonymity of great distance twixt you and me.  Sometimes Netflix runs out of options, people.  Stop judging me.  Or at least just judge me for the faux hipster outfit I’m wearing today, only 5 or so (?) years late to that particular party.  While I am not wearing intentionally nerdy glasses, I am wearing a teal cardigan, teal, navy and silver striped skinny tie, navy chinos that are almost too short and grey suede wingtips.  I thought I looked ever so cute, but when I presented myself after breakfast, my Daddy paused for moment before he continued clippity-clopping toward the door in his house shoes, his eyes awash with the possibility of gain as we were Wal-Mart bound.  That was quite the feat for someone who is more vocal with his opinions than I. 

                We were on yet another yarn run to the part of town where I’d prefer never to sojourn. My inner-Dandy is appalled I admit traveling to this mart of walls.  My inner-Redneck reminds me of the great value and mocks the Dandy’s outfit.  This is what takes place in my head. No devil and angel in me.  How pedestrian, the Dandy might say.  The Redneck would then make a joke about me never walking.  Is it any wonder I can’t concentrate on what others are saying most of the time?  I’m not self-involved, I’m merely distracted.  I accept your apology.

                Now, you know that I am not above sinking to a level of mundane from time to time, but today has taken its toll on me both psychologically and gastronomically.  After fighting the 67% of the citizenry of Guatemala that inhabit the geography around this particular shopping center who were also, apparently, needing a 6-pack of Lunchables for $5, my Dad suggested a stop at Taco Bell for an early lunch.  I assume this was his way of celebrating Cinco de Mayo.  Considering it was 10:00 AM, I thought it should have been considered a poorly chosen brunch, but since he had consumed his breakfast at 5 AM prior to taking the first of his many pre-noon naps, I figured he was probably hungry.  Having learned to chaperone him lest he feloniously consume grapes from the produce department, he had actually not eaten anything in the store other than the oxygen needed for him to punctuate his every step between the sad little greeter and the extravaganza of color and foliage that is the crafts section; the yarn sharing aisle space with the fake flowers.

                As the Dandy prepared his witty quip, he is oft much slower than I, the Redneck reminded me that I had toyed with the idea that I wanted, nay needed, to try a Dorito Loco Taco Supreme.  A taco with the shell made of Nacho Cheese Doritos.  A dish that will be served in heaven along with iced tea, fried pickles, pecan tassies and chicken minis from Chik-Fil-A.  Of course, the Redneck won, although the Dandy refused to allow me to purchase anything else off the menu.  My father chose a #11 (two bean burritos, two tacos, drink).  He can’t remember his ATM PIN or that he should change underwear  more than once a week but he can recount the Taco Bell menu, a place he has frequented exactly zero times in the last 8 months.  I just adore selective memory loss.  Don’t let him fool you; nothing gets past that man, especially sardines and pork skins.

                However, I return you to my plight, as it were. I haven’t blogged much in the past few weeks as I have been traveling the highways and byways of this fair land completing many projects for our esteemed federal government all on your tax dollar.  And I thank you.  The fried pickles and queso (not in the same meal) that I had the luxury of imbibing during my most recent visit to DC helped bookend a delightful week with my group of management trainees.  One of the duties I retained from my previous position is National Program Manager for my division’s management trainees.  There are, at present, 27 scattered across the VA system; VA being Veterans Affairs, not Virginia.  They were presenting their research projects and did a marvelous job, as they had been subjected to a patented Dustin-critique on several occasions throughout their year of data collection and analysis.   I spent the first day of the conference, where they would present to the national leadership, micro-judging everything from their jokes and wardrobe choices to their speaking skills and eye contact.  It’s almost like preparing someone for Miss America. Hyper-scrutiny is par for the course these days.  Once they make it past my micro-judgment, they are ready for anything, do you hear me?

                When they finished their presentations, they surprised me with a tribute for all my hard work and support with a thank you and listing of what they called Dustin-isms, like my brutal honesty which they described as “[he] isn’t afraid to call an ugly baby, an ugly baby.”  They also liked some frequent phrases like, “Just saying”, “I’m Awesome!” and “Nobody’s Perfect, but Jesus”.  They presented me with engraved cuff links and a business card holder that was engraved with my name and their favorite Dustin-ism, “Own It and Move On”.  This has become my career mantra because owning it and moving on is something that you just have to do when you don’t understand why something has to be done but it’s mandated and you can’t change it.  Welcome to public service, y’all. 

                Full disclosure:  I didn’t realize I used that particular phrase so much until the participants at my Procurement Training Conference in San Antonio last year created a dance move using the hand gestures I apparently use whilst repeating the phrase.  The motions are somewhat like pulling fruit off a limb above your head and then brushing it to the side. 

                I can tell you that the presentation from the trainees left me overwhelmed and, in a rare occurrence, speechless.  I admit that I teared up just a bit and had to just hug some people and have a seat.  I felt like Sally Field in the graveyard in Steel Magnolias, without the convenience of Shirley Maclaine to slap in order to laugh through the tears. 

                I said all that to say this:  I may have found a way to dominate the world after all.  I am making the world, if not better, at least a better dressed place, one management trainee class at a time.  I am helping make the federal government more efficient, friendlier and more attractive as well.  You are most assuredly welcome.  Trust me, it was more selfish than altruistic; I have to work with these people.  Cute, smart and fun trumps apathetic, double-knit swaddled and angry any day.

And nothing gives me a greater feeling than taking my “life as an art project” approach and, if not actually grooming any followers, at least making unique individuals like my inner (and outer) Dandies more acceptable through a stealth campaign with a touch more awe than actual shock.  Although most passersby, my Daddy included, don’t quite know how to react to my fuchsia chinos. I just tell myself that look is one of envy and carry on with my head held high, Diet Snapple Peach Iced Tea attached to my lips, eyebrow arched just so.

 In other words, I have owned it and moved on. 

My Daddy seems to have simply rented his delightful lunch.  That bald dude from Midnight Oil was right; sometimes the sins of the father are visited upon the son.  I hope you’ll pardon me but I have to go; my eyes are burning and I have lost the ability to structure a sentence.

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