Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Is Wibbly an Action Verb?

                Recently The Dad had a doctor’s appointment and during the time he was there, the conversation turned to his exercise regimen, or lack thereof.  The doctor asked if he used the treadmill we have in the den.  The Dad has used it on occasion.  I have used it on a regular basis.  Well, not in the traditional definition of regular.  Let’s just say it’s more often than Halley’s Comet, but just barely.

                Quite naturally, the next question was, “How fast do you walk?”  The Dad replied, quite proudly, “Two miles an hour!”  When his doctor laughed, The Dad was somewhat embarrassed but mercifully didn’t say anything.  When he was telling me the story, he admitted, “I really only walk 1 mile an hour; I said 2 just trying to look better.”  I laughed but realized laziness must be genetic.

                It’s ironic that I moved to one of the most active, exercise-y locations in America and pretty much stopped exercising, other than walking and even then typically in conjunction with shopping; thrift, outlet or otherwise.  I don’t run, even when chased.   I have gained 10 pounds in the last year simply through being sedentary and I know it’s not healthy but for some reason it doesn’t seem to matter.  Did you know that all you have to do is eat 100 extra calories a day to gain 1 pound a month?  It’s true; rude, but true.  I could exercise, but that’s more mature than I care to be at this juncture.  And I’m not so much worried about a few pounds; it’s just that I am woefully out of shape.  Unless you count wibbly as a shape.  Although wibbly connotes movement.  It sounds as if it is a kinetic fat; a fat of motion.  My fat is inert.  I don’t mean that I don’t move.  I mean that my fat doesn’t move when I do.  I may be out of shape but this is the skinniest I have been since I was wrenched from my mother’s womb in the wilds of Northeast Louisiana.  I didn’t want to come out; I had felt the humidity and was having none of it.  But Christian folks just don’t talk about these things, so I’ll stop.

                As you know, by the 75% off candy at Walgreen’s, Valentine’s Day is in the very recent past.  Love was in the air and boy could you smell it.  That coupled with the plane tickets I have recently purchased for trips to Massachusetts and Scotland for the weddings of two close friends has me thinking about love and other four letter words.  If that tasted bitter, don’t blame me; that’s just your Starbucks Extra Dark Roast, salted with the tears of singles.  And I’m not talking about that terrible Matt Dillon movie.

                I’m kidding, of course, but just barely.  It’s not so much that I’m unhappy single.  I am very happy most of the time.  It’s just that I wonder if there really is someone out there for everybody and if so, why is my person ausente hoy (which is Spanish).  Is it because I’m bi-lingual? 

                And my reaction is usually one of awe that so many people have found their forever person.  Forever love requires a level of vulnerability that I’m unsure I can handle.  If you’re agreeing to be with someone for better or for worse, does that include them seeing you without your Spanx?  I don’t even want to see me without my Spanx.  I don’t think anyone’s preference is to be eternally saddled with a partner who, when undressed, looks like an uncooked turkey wrestling with a Shar Pei puppy.  I’m not being self-deprecating; I’m simply being more honest than I probably should considering at least 51 people are going to read this.  Smell that?  That is bitterness, y’all.  Share my blog for pity’s sake!

                Everyone, except The Dad, knows that Sunday night is the Academy Awards.  I serve on the Board of Directors for Academy of Friends (Academyoffriends.org) and we are hosting an Oscar-related Gala in San Francisco.  Our Gala theme is ‘Return to the Emerald City’, celebrating the 75th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz”.  Our Gala color is emerald green.  The fact that we have a designated color is proof positive that I have found the right place to volunteer.  Can I get a 90’s-era ‘what, what’?

                  Now, I have known about this Gala since I attended last year and I thought I might have a date for this year’s event.  And although I have had a couple of sorta-kinda-not-really-dates in 2014, I am currently bereft of escort.  However, there is an upside.  As Production Chair, I will spend much of the evening in my fabulous tux and a Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation headset zipping about ensuring nothing is awry.  And that suits me fine.  I have always been more comfortable in any given situation when I have a purpose.  And maybe, just maybe my forever love will be there.  But I’m not going to go looking; that would simply reek of desperation.  I’m going to stand near the entrance, in the spotlight, wearing my new silver reflective loafers from the clearance section of Cole Haan and let him find me.  I figure, if he can handle those silver shoes, he can handle the rest.

                And that is all I’m saying.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Why can't you just be funny, for pity's sake?

I feel sure you know that I enjoy writing.  I think I have something to say and I work under the assumption that people respond to my voice.  My life has been filled with moments, both mundane and monumental.  Some have been literally, life-altering and those I have shared with certain confidantes, including my church in Massachusetts.  And even though I feel that I could use some of the lessons I’ve learned to help others either not make the same mistakes or help them recover as well as I have, fear keeps me silent.  I have tried to figure out a way to put my life’s story to metaphorical paper, but am unsure of the voice that would be most enjoyable.  I would appreciate input from those of you who support me, even though most of you don’t share my blog with your friends.  Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Here is a smattering of memoir starters that I have kept in my journal.  For some reason I sound like different people and I can’t decide if they are all me.  Theoretically they are all me, as I wrote them, but are they all someone from whom you would like to hear more?   I would love it if you would (1) let me know which ones you prefer and (2) share my blog with all your friends.  I need more than 500 people to buy my next book. 

So, here you go:

1. Unlike Diana Vreeland, I was unable to arrange to be born in Paris.  I was born in a small town in Louisiana; a fitting beginning to a life lived on the periphery.

2.Rock Hudson died the day I turned fifteen.  You would think this wouldn’t have been that great a moment in my life, but you would be wrong.  Don’t worry, though, I was wrong, too.

3.It never really dawned on me that I was the oldest son of an oldest son until, at age 17, I was asked to take the lead in carrying my paternal grandfather’s casket into his funeral.  It was heavier than I thought it would be although I had no frame of reference for the weight of a dead body encased in what I assume was the least expensive model, considering the limited resources of my extended family.   I guess it might have been different had I a connection to the occupant, which I most assuredly did not.

4. I used to be angry that I wasn’t selected to be on MTV’s “The Real World” when I tried out in 1992.  I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why they didn’t see my potential especially since my “Dusty:  the Boxed Set” simply reeked of creativity and desperation.  Never has a disappointment turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  At least the most horrifying moments of my early twenties are lost to the ages and the hopefully foggy memories of my friends and fraternity brothers.

5. I don’t fear anonymity as much as I fear success.  I don’t think I’m deserving of the latter, and I don't appreciate the former.

6. If God has a last nerve, I am definitely on it.

7. Have you ever told a story so often that you honestly can’t remember if it’s the truth?

8. Being a boy, even if you’re not very good at it, is preferable to being a girl. I would imagine.

9. If I truly cared what people thought of me, I wouldn’t dress the way I do.  But I do care; if I’m being honest.  I just hope they agree with me.

10. It requires significant focus, but you can become exactly who you want to be.  Shared delusion is easier than you think.

11. It’s not overly difficult to convince people you are someone you’re not.  Most people never scratch your surface, lest you return the favor.  Those who do scratch have one of two motives; it’s your job to decipher these motives, hopefully in a timely manner.

12. If someone is bold enough to question my sexual orientation, I always respond, "Southern Baptist.”  Most people laugh.  Well, most people don't ask, but that's doesn't give me a entrance point to this story, does it?

13. People who say they don’t care what others think of them are lying; either to themselves or to everyone else.  Aren’t we?

14. Can you keep a secret?  I don’t think I’m as smart as I pretend to be. 

15. Using proper grammar in prison will not give you street cred, to be sure.  It will, however, get you the nicknames “Teacher” and /or “Punk”.  One of those is preferable to the other. 

As an aside, have you noticed that most of my lists have15 entries?  Isn't that odd?  And that is all I'm saying.

Monday, February 3, 2014

What's Spanish for Annoying Loud Boy?

               As we have previously discussed, I have a passing familiarity with a number of languages, including French, Redneck, Spanish and Sign.  You name a language and odds are I can say ‘chicken’ and ‘bathroom’ with relative ease and accuracy.

                If you didn’t know, my first two years of high school my mother managed a motel called the Nicholson House in Paris, TX.  While it had a storied past, we were told, by 1984 it was a jewel past its prime, like Meg Ryan or a '78 Chrysler Cordoba. 

                Although I was embarrassed to admit we lived there, it was often fun.  We had a pool, Centipede in the game room, a Chinese Buffet in the lobby and I got to work the switchboard, which was something like Lily Tomlin one-ringy-dingying; there were cords that you plugged into the board and then dialed the number for the people.  You could even eavesdrop.  Not that I would ever do that.  I have no interest in secrets, dear reader.  The fact that the Rivercrest High newspaper staff named me “Most Likely to Tell a Secret” is coincidental at best.

                One of the unique traits of this particular establishment was that half of the rooms were kitchenettes that you could rent by the week or month.  This was particularly popular with construction crews that were attempting to gentrify the less fabulous parts of Paris proper.

                My sophomore year at Rivercrest High, I was taking beginner’s Spanish, but due to a car wreck or something our new teacher, Senora Franklin, had been unavailable and for the first couple of months of school we had a substitute teacher.  I got more useable Spanish from Morgan Freeman on The Electric Company, people.  Numbers and colors were mastered, do you hear me?  Verb tenses, not so much.  However, by Homecoming or so, Senora Franklin was no longer ausente (which is Spanish for absent).  Upon her arrival, in gauchos, knee boots and a side ponytail, we dove head first into conjugation which sounded dirty but wasn’t.  The first phrase I learned, unsurprisingly, was ‘calle te!  That means ‘shut up’ in Spanish.  I learned this the second day of class.  Verbosity is my middle name; my last name is control.

                One evening, my mother and I were sitting in our apartment either reading or watching Knight Rider, when we heard a commotion in the parking lot.  My father had redesigned 6 motel rooms into a semblance of an apartment.  The best part was 5 bathrooms; the worst was my parent’s closet as well as mine, were turned into a hallway to access the other bedrooms.  Off the living room, there was a large balcony that overlooked the property, so my mother and I decided to investigate.  My Uncle Bill (my father’s sister’s husband) was the night watchman but he was hard of hearing and usually asleep. 

                The sight that greeted us was a large tenant of Hispanic origin who was being accosted by one of our more senior residents, Miss Lucille.  Her 92 ½ year-old, bottle-of-wine-a-day vision had led her to believe her fellow resident, wearing only khaki shorts and himself inebriated, was nude and she felt compelled to use her umbrella as the device to drive home her stance that this was, in fact, unacceptable.

                My mother, ever the problem solver, decided to intervene and I wanted to watch, but like Bette Midler, only from a distance.  My siblings were more entranced by David Hasslehoff.  In retrospect anything was better than Knight Rider.  In context, most things paled in comparison.  And don’t act like you didn’t watch, too.  My family did not singlehandedly keep that show in the Top 10.

                My mother, upon rebuffing Miss Lucille and redirecting her to her room with the promise of a free egg roll the next day at lunch, attempted to ask the gentleman if he was part of the road crew, managed by a man named Juan. 

                My mother said, “Do you work with Juan?”

                The Man said , “Que?”

                I interrupted “Moootherrrrr.  He is oooobviously Hispanic and of course I will have to interpret.”

                My mother, “I need someone who knows more than colors and numbers, sweetie, but thank you.”

                Me, “Mooootherrrr.  You know I am almost semi-fluent, right?  Riiiight?”

                My mother, “Okay, honey.  How do I ask him if he works for Juan?”

                Me (out loud), “Hmmm.  Well trabajar means ‘ to work’ so yo trabajo would be I work so tu trabaja would be you work so it’s a question so say (suddenly very loudly) TU TRABAJA CON JUAN.” Which if shown phonetically and I was being honest probably sounded more like TEW TRAYBAHO COWAN WAWUN. 

                She looks at me with that look (you know that look) but turns to him and attempts to repeat the phrase and I interrupt her to remind her to trill her Rs, so it’s more authentic.  Then I try to demonstrate how to trill one’s Rs.  From the balcony.  At top volume.  It’s a testament to her good nature that I was allowed to reach puberty.

                Of course, the entire time The Man was swaying gently and repeating “Que?  Que?”

                Realizing that neither of us had a knack for languages, my mother decided to mime “work”.  All the while I am screaming TEW TRAYBAHO COWAN WAWUN.  My mother starts to mime a shoveling motion and he stops swaying to watch her.  She keeps repeating, very loudly (it must be genetic) DO YOU WORK WITH JUAN followed by air-shoveling.  At one point she pats the ground and, misunderstanding, the man lay down in the parking lot and smiled a triumphant smile.

                Fortunately my screaming quasi-Spanish phrases had roused the aforementioned Juan who came out to collect his employee.  Feeling quite proud of my bilinguality, I said, “See?  I toooold you I could speak Spanish, moootherrrrr.”  She replied, “Yes you did, sweetie.  Good job.”

                And I always blamed my father for her looking tired all the time.