Saturday, January 30, 2010

Looking Up

Wonderful Husband sometimes has a twisted view of things. Recently, we had a conversation about the Metro ride from Arlington into D.C. This is a route I used to take every day that entails crossing the Potomac. I was talking about looking down at the river, when WH says, "You shouldn't look down." I couldn't figure out why not, so I asked.

Wonderful Husband: You may see a body and then you're involved.

WashingTina: How am I involved?

WH: Well, if there's a body floating in the water, then you have to call the police and they want to know why, of all the people on the train, you were the only one who noticed the body. Then you have to go down to the station and tell them what you saw. And you can't ignore it, because your conscience is going to haunt you. So just don't look down because then you'll be involved.

WT: Oh, okay.

WH: It's the same reason why you don't look in a dark alley.

WT: Why not? I don't understand.

WH: Because you may see something you're not supposed to: there's a drug deal going down or somebody's getting whacked. Then you're collateral damage. You can beg and say, "I didn't see anything," and beg for your life, but it's too late. You're already involved. I thought everybody knew this. I don't make the rules, I just follow them.

It does make sense. There was a story a few years back where Lynda Carter (a transplanted Washingtonian, better known as Wonder Woman), rowing on the Potomac, and she discoved a body floating in the water. So, because of that haunting picture, and the fact that I don't really want to be involved or get whacked, from now on, if you see me on the train, I'll be looking up.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Beast is Back (And This Time It's Wearing a Hat)!

I don't know why I was surprised to see her, sitting like a giant fur-covered mountain on this evening's rush hour bus. I guess maybe I thought she ceased to exist after I escaped her fuzzy largeness the last time. (Do we all do this . . . live so in the moment that once someone is out of our sight, they leave our consciousness, ceasing to exist?) You know who I'm talking about . . . the mangy Fur Coat Lady.

It wasn't even her lumpen wooliness that first caught my attention. It was that smell. Have you ever been so moved by a familiar smell that you were transported back to the place and time where you first smelled it? That's what happened here (and yes, this was the most dominant smell on the already aromatic bus). The smell hit me and I raised my head from my magazine to see her, in all her mangy glory. I had a flashback to the first time I saw her, smashed between her and the end seat, her special smell filling my nostrils. There she was again. Only this time she had on a hat. Not any ordinary hat, either, but one of those big tube-shaped Russian hats covered in fur. And not just any old fur either, but the same roadkill German Shepherd fur that was on her coat. She matched! It was an ensemble!

FCL was sitting a seat away from me, with the seat between us empty. The bus was quickly filling up, and yet the seat between us remained empty (go figure). Finally, some woman made the tragic mistake of squeezing in the small area not taken up by the FCL's mountainous rear. This poor woman didn't know what she was getting into . . . but as soon as she sat down, she started to sniff and look around. You know how it is. You smell something bad, and you swing your head around, blame in your eyes, trying to find the culprit. I tried to catch her eye, let her know that I wasn't the offending odor, but I think she figured it out pretty quickly.

My stop arrived, and I got off, looking back at the poor woman wedged in next to FCL. And as I walked home, I couldn't help but wonder if perhaps this other woman walked home and regaled her friends with her own tale of the German Shepherd coat.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Feeling Exposed

Have you ever felt like your life is one big Saturday Night Live sketch? I have. Regularly. In case it hasn't been made clear in this space thus far, things seem to happen to me that just don't happen to anyone else. I mean, you can't make this stuff up. Tonight, my cosmic comedy writers were up to their usual tricks again.

As if it wasn't bad enough to share my underpants with all of Adams Morgan this summer, I took it to another delightful level this evening. But let's set the stage before I get to the punchline. I went to yoga after work today, so after class, on my way home, I had my giant pink handbag full of goodies: yoga mat, magazine (bus reading), Blackberry, work clothes, work shoes (ironically, no wallet -- I managed to leave that at work) . . . you get the picture. Just as I started my walk, the freezing rain we had been warned about all day began to fall. I dug deep in the bag for my umbrella as I continued to walk up 18th Street toward home.

I manage to reach the umbrella and make my way up the street, when I hear, "Excuse me, excuse me," and someone running up behind me. "I think you dropped this," a tall, skinny guy said, as he handed over my bra. My bra. On the sidewalk in Adams Morgan. In the hand of strange man. I barely eked out a "Thanks," before heading quickly on my way. I have convinced myself that my underwear retriever was gay to save myself a tiny bit of humiliation, but really, it doesn't change much.

When I told WH this story, he asked me the following questions, while I alternated between giving him an openmouthed stare and stink eye: "Did he smile when he gave it to you? Did he pick it up with a pencil and give it to you, or did he use his hands? Did he feel the material between his fingers? Was it at least clean, or was it too dark to tell?" Isn't it nice that I have such a sympathetic spouse?

I think this is karmic retribution for my almost laughing at that lady falling up the steps on the bus yesterday and vowing to do it again next time. Fine . . . I get it, the universe is having a great big "LOL" at my expense. I often wonder if one might eventually reach the point where, having been made a fool of so many times, they become immune to humiliation. I have not yet reached this point, but I'm certain I must be close. But how much further can it go? Short of running through the Dupont Circle fountain naked, I'm not sure what further level of embarassment I can reach next. Wait, strike that, let's not tempt the universe into showing me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Face of a City

Just one year ago, D.C. was flooded by eager and excited Americans (and others, too, I suppose) ready to witness the inauguration of Barack Obama. It was certainly an exciting time, but it was also one that many of us approached with great trepidation. Our city is not known for being well run (Marion Barry, anyone?), so as we prepared for the onslaught of the millions predicted, there was definitely a potentail disaster brewing.

For those of us who live here, it's hard enough to navigate the city during crowded summer months full of tourists, especially on narrow city sidewalks and Metro escalators during rush hour. What would happen when the eyes of the nation, maybe the world, were upon us? Could we handle the onslaught of millions of people? Would we perform, or end up with egg on our faces?

The weekend approached and the city filled, hotels full to capacity. What I remember from that weekend, and inauguration day in particular, was an electric excitement in the city. People were nicer to each other. They waited in long lines. They smiled. They talked to strangers. It wasn't out of the ordinary to sit in a bar or restaurant and strike up a conversation with the people sitting next to you. Civility reigned. It was a feeling that, if bottled, could solve some of the most contentious crises in the world.

And that potential nightmare? The D.C. police, the Feds, National Guard, and all the visiting police forces who lent a hand ran a well oiled machine (aside from a few glitches -- I have not forgotten tunnel where ticket holders were stuck). Not one person (out of more than a million)was arrested as they waited (many overnight) and watched the President get sworn in. When I heard that news, I remember being so proud of my city, my neighbors, my fellow Americans.

So as the rest of the country reflects on our President's first year in office, what I'm reflecting upon is how when it really mattered, when the world was watching, my fair city rose to the occasion and impressed us all. And maybe, just maybe, we can get that feeling back again sometime.

Moon Over Washington

This evening while I was on the bus home, this lady tripped up the stairs, nearly taking out her front teeth (no blood, thankfully), eliciting a laugh from one not-so-subtle rider. I'll admit it, I felt a little conflicted about whether to laugh or cringe. I mean, she did look really ridiculous, bags splayed out up the steps, feet sticking out the door. But then I remembered the myriad embarassments I've suffered in public. I mean, who hasn't been splayed out on the bus steps (or other steps, or a sidewalk, or subway grate, or cobblestoned street) at least once in their life?

One of my worst happened last summer. I was wearing one of my favorite suits, a cute black and white polka dot skirt with a short swingy jacket. Eight in the morning is not my magic hour . . . in fact I'm not a morning person at all . . . so I wasn't really all there. I had been standing on the bus stop for at least ten minutes, engrossed in my Blackberry, when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I looked up confused. Anyone who knows bus stop etiquette knows you don't talk to (let alone touch) another rider. A young blond woman was looking at me a little embarassed. I raised my eyebrows, and she said, in accented English, "Uh, excuse me . . . uh, I think your . . . butt is out," and then pointed toward my rear.

I put my hand on my butt, and guess what, it was out. I had fastened and buttoned the skirt, but neglected to zip the zipper. To make matters worse, the jacket of my suit didn't cover anything. I was standing on the bus stop with easily 20 people lined up behind me bare-assed to the world. I mean, I did have on underwear, so I wasn't exactly bare-assed, but it really wasn't how I envisioned starting my day; mooning my fellow bus passengers.

My Russian friend stood behind me, feeling sheepish (I think). She whispered to me, "I just thought you would want to know." I did want to know. I also wanted to crawl into a hole and die. And I could hear the snickers coming from the line of rush hour travelers behind me.

I guess the next time I see someone take a tumble, leave their fly open, bump their head, or some other embarassing gaffe, I reserve the right to laugh. Don't worry, I won't be offended if, the next time I moon all of Adams Morgan, you laugh at me.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Good Trumpets Make Good Neighbors

My neighbor is learning to play the trumpet. And I use the word "learning" loosely. After having listened to him play for the past three days, it's quite clear that he hasn't quite learned it -- though he does play with gusto.

Living in a communal setting (as most city dwellers do), such as a condo or apartment, affords all kinds of opportunities to get to know your neighbors that you just don't get in a detached suburban house. For instance, I know that my next door neighbor (the same trumpet playing one) snores . . . a lot. WH has thus dubbed him the Grizzly Bear. On top of that, from time to time, usually on Sundays, he plays soft rock hits from the 70s and 80s and sings loudly. Journey is one of his favorites. When it gets to a particularly rockin' part of the song, GB yells, "Whooo!" repeatedly. It's incredibly entertaining. The trumpet playing is not. It sounds like someone's killing a flock of Canada geese.

But Grizzly Bear is not the worst neighbor I've ever had (actually, aside from the trumpet and thin walls, he's a really good neigbhor). In the building where I used to live, I had two neighbors that were particularly . . . interesting. Neighbor #1 was a young woman who . . . how shall I say . . . liked to get . . . frisky. A lot. Loudly. At least three times a week, I'd be awakened at 3 a.m. by noises. It was like living in the Real World House.

But neighbor #2 was probably even more startling. My apartment faced out onto a courtyard and into another building's windows. My bedroom window looked directly into the kitchen and dining room windows of a man across the way. He was a pretty nondescript 30-something white guy who appeared to live alone. Until one summer night. I was in the front of the apartment and had to go to the back and get something out of my bedroom. The windows (and thus, the blinds) were open and the lights were out. I walked into the bedroom, and before turning on the lights, I noticed Neighbor #1 in the kitchen doing dishes. Nothing out of the ordinary, until I noticed a "guest" of his in the dining room clearning the table in nothing but a black leather thong.

Thong Man visited several more times that summer, and by August I had had just about all I could take of his skinny little leather not-quite-clad butt. So, I made an offer on a condo and became neighbors with GB. So the next time I hear the trumpet, I'll say a little prayer for that dying goose, and thank my lucky stars that I don't have any leather thong-wearing neighbors . . . that I know of.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cheers

D.C. is a small town. Sure, we're the capital city, but with a population of just about 600,000 in the district proper, it's not such a big pond. And with all small towns, you run into the people you know at every turn. It's practically impossible to remain anonymous -- just ask any scandalized politician. Nothing's a secret in this town.

But aside from politicians, who can't hide anywhere, us regular folk can't either -- and that's not such a bad thing. Yesterday morning, on my way to work, I was crossing the street and ran into my friend Kevin, who works a couple of blocks away. In fact, I've run into him several times near the office. Another morning, a couple of months ago, I got on a crowded morning bus only to see Andy, with whom I went to high school. In fact, I often run into people on the bus. At least twice, I've gotten on the bus, practically oblivious, only to walk right past my sister sitting in the front section.

This is the beauty and the curse of the small town, actually. It makes it a lot harder to run out in your pajamas to get a carton of orange juice on Sunday morning. And you can forget about having an anonymous date. One time, WH and I were at Acadiana when we ran into another of my friends on a date with someone she clearly was not proud to be out with. You just can't get lost in our fair city.

Take for instance our former watering hole, Timberlake's -- D.C.'s version of Cheers -- which used to be on Connecticut Avenue, just below Florida (it closed last summer, much to the dismay of many). It's where WH and I first met . . . in fact, it's where I've met a number of friends for the first time. You could be assured that any time day or night, if Timberlake's was open, upon walking in, you'd know at least one person sitting at the bar (and definitely the bartender standing behind it). And while I'd like to think that "The Lake" as we referred to it, was unique, there are other bars all over town just like it (although, tragically fewer than there used to be -- the wine bar, martini bar, and variety of other upscale options have all but killed the dive bar) where everybody knows your name.

Maybe it's cliche, but just like Timberlake's, D.C. is the city where everybody knows your name. And, I, for one, wouldn't have it any other way.

UPDATE: After I posted this last night, WH and I went to dinner and then for a drink at the restaurant where WH's brother works. Sitting at the bar, I saw a former coworker and friend walk by. We caught up for ten minutes or saw, and promised to get together on purpose soon. Just one more wonderful small-town run in, in our fair city, and the reason why I love it here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiku for Haiti

I'm going to veer a little off topic (Washington) for a bit tonight. Like much of the world, I've been so moved by the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti that I want to do something to help. The images are gut wrenching, the devastation debilitating.

Today on my Facebook page, I asked all my friends to post a Haiku for Haiti . . . and for every haiku posted, I'd donate $1 to the relief efforts. They responded with gusto -- at last count there were 50 haiku (and a total raised of $400) -- and several friends even said they'd match whatever the final number was. Not only was it something kind of fun, but also made me feel like I was at least doing something. My friends rose to the occasion with generosity that wasn't necessarily unexpected, but heartwarming never the less.

I want to share some of the haiku here in the hopes that maybe it will inspire others to give.

Obama now speaks:
"losses are nothing less than
devastating." sad.
-Francisco

Haiti needs our help
Hispanola cries in pain
Will the world respond?
-Brian

Haiti, oh Haiti
The land of my forefathers
Help the people live
-Ann

Losses are too great
Despair prevails all around
Haiti's in our hearts
-Cheryl

It makes me wonder
If we can all be helpful
More often than now...
-Kevin

Our Haitian neighbors
don't need devil-doom preachers
they need our support!
-Dottie

Earthquake Tragedy
Helps bring mankind together
Praying for Haiti.
-Peter

Haiti in my prayers
Together we all can help
All our love and peace
-Molly

I was not the first
but even if I am last
still obliged to help
-Kanisha


Thank you my wonderful friends! What can YOU do to help? A list of charities below are already on the ground in Haiti, providing resources directly to the people in need.

Save the Children
http://www.savethechildren.org/

Doctors Without Borders
http://doctorswithoutborders.org/

United Methodist Committee on Relief
http://secure.gbgm-umc.org/donations/umcor/donate.cfm?code=418325&id=3018760

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Strange Bedfellows

D.C. has had several instances of "cuddlers" recently. These creepy souls break into women's homes, get into bed with them, and "cuddle" with them. Scary! Perhaps the worst part is that the media has dubbed this misguided fellow the "Georgetown Cuddler." Isn't that cute?

Can't you just imagine some sweet, chubby toddler in a bunny costume snuggling up to you as you browse the racks of Intermix? Or maybe one of those giant-headed Presidents that run around at the Nationals games -- Teddy Roosevelt, most likely -- sidling up to you while waiting on the bus stop and giving you a little, nonthreatening, patriotic squeeze? Certainly not a raving lunatic who crawls into your bed at night after having broken into your house.

I lamented this name on my Facebook page earlier this week, to which a number of male friends volunteered alternative monikers. Chris offered "something Germanic," and came up with "SleazeballGroper." While Darren, who actually lives in Germany offered the alternative, "Nacht schleichende Intimit├Ąt Verletzer," which translates to "night creeping intimacy violator," because as he put it, they don't have Sleezeball Groper in their vernacular. And my lawyer friend, Bill, in his infinite snarkdom proposed "Felony Snuggler," and thought he should be charged with Breaking and Entering and Spooning.

The one female who weighed in agreed that a) "cuddler" was too sweet a name, and b) the whole thing was scary. It's easy to make light of the night creeping intimacy violator, because it's a such an unusual crime. But just imagine waking up to a stranger in your bed. Makes me want to change my name to Gun-toting Sheets Defender.

*On a side note this evening, please remember our brothers and sisters in Haiti who have lost so much. If you can spare a few extra dollars, please give. CNN listed charities that are providing aid, and ABCNews noted that scammers are already springing up.

Can you hear me now?

Today's bus ride home was one of those particularly grating ones. I was lucky enough to find myself seated next to and in front of the most annoying breed of bus passenger: The Loud Cell Phone Talker. LCPT has no sense of personal space, audio or otherwise. They share all manner of life details with anyone and everyone lucky enough to be seated in their vicinity.

LCPT#1 was having a conversation that started with using miles to book a flight ("I'm totally not willing to pay more than $40 to get to Charlotte"), and went on to discuss her sister's dead iPhone ("Apple can't even help her. It just DIED!") and wound up with her friend, Derrick, who is "on the front lines and sh*t, in Kabul or something." I know that LCPT#1's sister's phone is still under warranty with Best Buy, so there is some hope. I know that American Airlines and its partner carriers are very strict about how they redeem miles. And I know that Derrick is a prolific emailer and whomever LCPT#1 was talking to was going to get a forwarded string of emails detailing how "bad guys are climbing up the walls of the basecamp or where ever he's staying."

LCPT#2 chose her bus commute to call her Grampa and wish him happy birthday. It was unclear if she had to speak so loudly because Grampa was a little hard of hearing, or what, but I got an earful regardless. I learned that "Grampa" lives somewhere that's four hours behind D.C. and it sure is cold up there ("I think it's a lot warmer here than whatcha got up there."). Grampa still hasn't smoked the cigars LCPT#2 sent him. She also shared that Mikey is doing really well in school, majoring in International Business and minoring in Public Policy (he's studying at Georgetown, just in case you were curious). He even made the Dean's List last semester (kudos!).

Now, imagine you were on that bus with me, seated near me and got to hear a mashup of these two super-interesting conversations. It would sound something like this:

"No way, I'm not flying to . . . Grampa! I mean, who would pay more than $40 for . . . those cigars I got ya? My sister's iPhone had this . . . really cold weather. I know it's a lot warmer at . . . Best Buy, but there's no hope. Mikey's doing well . . . in Kabul or some sh*t. He sent me this email, I'll forward it to . . . the Dean's List. There were, like bad guys . . . at Georgetown. They were climbing up the wall of . . . International Business."

I wanted to stand up and scream (and from the waning looks of my fellow passengers, they did too). Although, I am kind of wondering what front lines Derrick is on and where on earth Grampa lives. But alas, my stop arrived, so I guess we'll never know . . .

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bagging it

D.C. recently enacted a law that says if you get a plastic grocery bag with your purchase, you have to pay a $.05 bag tax for it. It's not a debilitating charge, and it's supposed to help keep the Anacostia River clean (for anyone who's ever seen the Anacostia, there are bigger problems than plastic bags, but that's apparently not the point). The Mayor and City Council, in their infinite wisdom, think this five-cent fix will solve the myriad problems in the river.

But what will it do for (or to) the rest of us? As a city dweller, I've long carried the recyclable bags that are sold just about everywhere (they're easier to carry when walking several blocks with groceries). This has, of course, resulted in occasional ribbing from my friendly checkout worker, when using a Whole Foods bag at Safeway, "What, our bags aren't good enough?" But a bigger issue is what on earth WH and I are going to use to line our bathroom trashcan with from now on? And what if you happen to run into CVS for toothpaste, toilet paper, and a Twix, sans recycled bag? That five cents could add up quick!

WH had some musings on this subject in his usual way: "How come going green always means something is going to cost me more money? What about if I choose to go green by not working more than four hours a day and keeping the lights off?" Hardly realistic, but I do wonder where these schemes come from. A hundred years ago, all food was organic and it certainly cost a lot less than organic food does now. Nearly everything was "local, sustainable," because people had little choice. Without running the risk of sounding like a grandma, it was a simpler time. But we know that organic, green, whatever you want to call it can be costly, and not always comfortable. Take for instance turning down the thermostat (nevermind that we don't have a thermostat, because we live in a 100-year old radiator-heated building) or using flourescent bulbs. Use a low-flow showerhead (did you ever see that episode of Seinfeld?). Mmmkay, so we put on a sweater and sit in the dark, which is a good thing, because there's nothing but bad hair days ahead. But the world will be a better place.

I don't mean to sound flip about it, but what is the balance between comfort and convenience that we must strike? WH and I don't own cars, so we're already ahead of the game. I'm not sure I'm the one who needs the lesson on greening my life, saving the river, and keeping waste out of landfills, but I'll take it. Because what other choice to I have but to bag it and give in?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Little Nut?

The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

The best part of getting Chinese food is, undoubtedly, the fortune cookie. A little nugget of wisdom to close out your meal -- a mental digestif (not to mention the lottery numbers and the "learn Chinese" word). After a delivery meal from one of our favorite places, Meiwah, Wonderful Husband and I opened our fortune cookies. And mine called me a nut.

I'll admit it, I can be a little nuts from time to time. Who isn't? Once, I refused to go out on a second date with a guy because of the way he drank out of a glass (Of course, I didn't tell him that. That would've just been cruel). Another time, when visiting New York and meeting a friend in front of Radio City Music Hall, I told my cab driver I was auditioning to be a Rockette. It didn't hurt anyone and probably made his day. Besides, he didn't know that I can barely tell my right from my left and am several inches shy of the required height. But perhaps the best evidence of my nuttiness is the time my sister and I, while trapped in my bedroom due to a bat incident (more on that in a minute) made up an older sister with a full personality, job, and boyfriend, who, for the last ten years, has given us Christmas presents that neither of us would ever want.

Here's how it happened. It was a weekday, middle of the summer, 1999. My Little Sister (LS) was home from college and I had just moved back home from New York, and was between jobs. I was sitting in my bedroom watching TV, and LS was in the adjoining room playing on the computer. Earlier that summer, we'd had a bat in the house, but my father had successfully removed it. Anyhow, I happened to look up and see something out of the corner of my eye. Further inspection elicited a shriek and call of, "Bat! It's a BAT!" LS ran in my bedroom, we closed the door, and were effectively trapped in the only bat-free room in the house. No food, only afternoon TV to sustain us. We got bored but quick. It was early afternoon and my father was still at work and my mother was visiting my grandparents two hours away in Rehoboth, so there was nobody to save us.

Since we were trapped, we had to find some way to entertain ourselves. LS said, "What if we had an older sister?" To which I replied, "I bet her name would be Paula." And thus, Paula was born. Over the course of the next few hours, we spun an entire life for Paula. She is a Time Life operator, a youth pastor, wears socks with her sandals (Birkenstocks), and generally looks down upon LS and me. Paula lives in Beltsville and drives a Honda. She's rather religious, but loves science. She wears long skirts (usually floral print) and has a chubby boyfriend. She loves holiday sweaters -- every holiday. In short, our Paula would never have fit in with our family for one minute . . . and yet we decided she was our parents' favorite.

Paula has survived for the past ten years, and despite the fact that we refuse to invite her to birthday and anniversary celebrations with the rest of the family, she always gives us Christmas gifts. One year, I received a crocheted olive green poncho with fringe and size 14 petite jeans with an elastic waistband and pleats. LS once got the Bob Ryan Almanac. Another year, LS got a birthday cake for Jesus, complete with candles, while I got a 15-pound stone angel statute. Without a doubt, Paula's gifts are the worst gifts ever, and we relish them.

I guess my fortune cookie was right . . . I am a nut. And the ground that I have held onto all these years is that of my imaginary sister. And I'm just waiting to become that mighty oak . . . if only I weren't weighed down by this damn stone angel.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Marshal Plan

Life in my house tends to be pretty hilarious. This is due to the fact that my Wonderful Husband (WH) is a laugh riot. Take for instance a conversation we had last night. He came home and asked me, deadpan, what I would think of a career as an Air Marshal. WH has never expressed any interest in Homeland Security (other than speaking with general derision when going through airport screening), so this struck me as amusing. Turns out CNN had run a story about the need for Air Marshals in the D.C. area, and WH was wondering what that might entail.

Our conversation went something like this:

Wonderful Husband : Do you think they get to sit on the aisle? Or maybe they get to sit in first class.
WashingTina: I don't know.
WH: I think they probably get to sit on the aisle. The airlines are too cheap to let them fly first class. But I bet they used to get to fly first class.
WT: Hmm, I don't know.
WH: I think with the size of the "new Americans," they have to put them in the aisle. Can you imagine if there was an emergency and the Marshal was trapped between two people in the middle seat? How would you get your gun out?
WT: (openmouthed stare)
WH: It would make me feel totally safer if they're sitting on the aisle, because if they're sitting in the window, god help us all.
WT: Uh. . .
WH: And do you think they have to pay for the snacks on the plane or do they get them for free? I think if they get them for free, people would be suspicious, so they probably have to pay, but maybe when they get off the plane at the end of the flight the flight attendents give their $5 back. Or maybe they just bring their own snacks . . . because you don't want eat McDonald's in the airport all the time, so next time we fly we should look for the person with the Tupperware.
WT: (more gawping, laughing)
WH: I wonder if they get free flights for vacation. And where do they meet girls -- the airport giftshop? And what if they accidentally fall alseep during the flight? Do the flight attendants have to wake them up? These are the things that I wonder.


And so it went all evening. Never a dull moment.

In fact, just tonight, he asked me if my blog was PG-13, R rated, or TV-MA, and informed that what has been proven in show business is that a successful program has some comedy, some gossip, and some nudity. While I can't promise nudity, there will definitely be comedy, and maybe a little gossip from time to time.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Party Bus?

The bus fun continued this morning. An extra crowded rush hour bus boasted a special passenger -- the drunken bus rider. Let me just pause here to say that the bus often boasts a wide variety of characters, each more special than the next. But honestly, the rush hour bus is generally full of the working wounded, commuting to work. So the drunken passenger, while not an oddity on the urban bus, is like a white tiger on a rush hour ride.

Anyway, this morning's drunkard was basically harmless, save for his loudly slurred phone conversation, "Ah shaid I'm gonna be there shoon. I'm jusht riding thish bush. I'm gonna be there shoon." But it reminded me of another harmless (seemingly) drunkard I saw on the Metro one morning. For the uninitiated, it's unlawful to eat or drink on Metro . . . this includes bottled water. A few years back, some kid was actually arrested for eating a Snickers (or something) on an escalator going into the station. But I digress . . . One morning I was riding to my former office in Old Town Alexandria, when I looked up to see the man across the aisle calm as anything sitting and drinking a Yuengling out of a can. No paper bag. No attempt at concealment.

I know what you're picturing -- rumpled clothes, bloodshot and glassy eyes, greasy hair, maybe a hat or pair of sunglasses. Nope. He was wearing freshly ironed khakis, a pink short-sleeved polo shirt, and loafers. His hair was freshly washed and he was rosy-cheeked. And he got off at . . . wait for it . . . The Pentagon. And we wonder why national security is the way it is.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Beasts on the Bus

Rode the bus to work today. Nothing unusual about that. I ride the bus every day. At least once a week I have some sort of adventure on the bus. I suspect I'm not alone . . . there are always other people on the bus with me when these "adventures" happen, and yet somehow the stuff actually only happens TO me. For instance, yesterday, on my way home a "full figured gal" in a rather mangy fur coat sat next to me. The coat (or the woman, I'm not really sure) smelled. Bad. I felt a little like Daddy Warbucks in Annie -- my fellow 80s girls will remember this -- when Annie and Sandy are first at his mansion and he arrives, booming at his assistant, "Why do I smell a wet dog?!" Only it wasn't quite a wet dog. It was more like a wet dog, rolled in tobacco, bathed in mothballs, spritzed with a cologne of National Zoo Elephant House.

Of course, Mothball Annie sits down next to me, and by next to me, I mean 43 percent on my seat and 100 percent on her seat. That's 143 percent of seat space to my 57 percent. Fine. Not only did the coat have a distinct aroma, but it also appeared as if it had begun to molt. It had bald spots on the arms, tufts of darker fur sticking out in places, and was generally misshapen. And it was full length. In short, it looked like a Snuggie made out of a German Shepherd. It was not good. And it was touching me.

Sure, this is public transportation, and that implies a certain sort of peril to include, but not limited to: looney riders, screaming babies, oblivious yuppies with ipods, excrement from a variety of sources, and the usual challenges of driving on D.C.'s streets. But this was the first time I had to share a bus with roadkill rather than bumping along on top of it. Fortunately, my stop came up quickly and I was able to escape virtually unscathed. As far as I can tell , I don't have fleas.