Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Metro-types

We commuters are a diverse bunch.  Most of us are completely benign and totally boring.  But, there are those select few who stand out.  Anyone who rides Metro or the bus knows what I'm talking about.  I've already discussed the famous Seat Hog, the Loud Cellphone Talker, the Sick Passenger, the Transit Groomers, and the Aisle Surfer, to name a few.  A quick survey of my fellow travelers (via Twitter*) and a pretty good list of Metro-types came about.  Please allow me to expand on these below.

The Snoozer: fairly self-explanatory, this is the passenger who sleeps as if they're at home cuddled up on their memory foam mattress rather than jammed into a slow-moving commuter train.  I always marvel at these people and their peaceful slumber.  Sleep on the train? I'd be afraid of what might happen to me . . . my luck and I'd end up in Rockville wearing nothing but my sneakers.  A special subset of this group are those that have their mouths wide open and snore.  That's a special kind of magic.  These passengers have also been known to be Seat Hogs from time to time.

The "Like" Girls:  I ran into these delightful sweeties this morning, actually.  They are friends.  Some might even say BFF.  They are so excited to be together that they don't know or care that the entire bus is listening to their conversation about who they were with last night, how many beers they had, or how boring their job is.  They punctuate every third word with "like."  As in, "Oh my god, like, I seriously was, like, so drunk.  Like, for real."  On the off chance that these BFF aren't together, one of them is inevitably talking to the other on the phone (see also Loud Cellphone Talker).

The Bouncer: this is the (usually burly) individual who has staked out his real estate at the door of the train.  He has designated himself the guardian of the door, guarding it with his imaginary velvet rope.  If he's not looking around disinterestedly pretending he doesn't see the hoards of people trying to get into the train, he's probably reading his Wall Street Journal or playing with his iPad.  He will not move.  You could shout "FIRE!" and he will remain rooted to the spot right at the door like a sequoia, because he is better than you.  He's already gained entry into the elite club known as the center car -- you know, the one with working air conditioning.  A subset of this group is the aisle bouncer.  On the off chance that you've gained entry, this delightful fellow is blocking the aisle so you can't get to the one open seat next to the Snoozer.

The Faregate Moron: you know this one.  This is the person who can't read arrows.  Or goes to the gate with the red circle.  They gum up the works for those of us who want nothing more to escape the bowels of the station.  A subset is the person who doesn't realize until they've tried 14 times that they lack sufficient funds to exit.  She is also the same person who pays her bus fare in all nickels. 

The Pole Dancer (also Pole Hugger/Leaner/Clencher): the pole belongs to this person. I mean they own it like a stripper on a Saturday night.   The best part, you don't have to tip them.  They swing, sway, lean on, hug, and, in some unfortunate circumstances, even clench the pole between their buttcheeks.  It doesn't matter if it's packed like a sardine can in there and you need the pole to keep yourself from careening into the 80-year-old woman with the walker for whom nobody would move (see Seat Hog), the pole belongs to the dancer.  A special subset are children (usually of tourists) who squeakily whiz themselves around the pole as fast as they can, until they land on the floor.  One particular young man of about eight once did the whiz-spin and on his way back up, licked the length of the pole (I know, because I was there).  I didn't see any news stories about a kid whose tongue turned black and fell off, so he probably just died before that happened. 

The Ding Dong:  mouth open, eyes up to the sky.  The Ding Dong is completely clueless.  This is the passenger who gets on the bus during rush hour and doesn't know where they're going, rides the escalator to its conclusion and just stands there oblivious to the increasing number of commuters backing up behind them, and (my personal favorite) stands on the left of the escalator.  Everyone hates the Ding Dong.  A lot.  I bet they have no friends. (See also the Faregate Moron.)

The 100-Yard Dasher: get out of the way. No, I mean it, get out of the way.  It's urgent that I make the train.  My grandmother is dying.  My wife's having a baby. I'm going to pee in my pants.  I think I just saw David Hasselhoff.  I'm going to miss the train . . . and I'm way more important than you, person who is walking at a normal (maybe even brisk) clip.  This passenger sprints, trenchcoat flying with belt trailing, knees high, long strides, to catch the train . . . that hasn't even arrived yet.  Don't be this person.

Big Junk: this is always a man.  And he has big junk.  It's the only explanation for why he must sit, legs splayed in a near-split, airing it out for all the world to see.  If you are sitting next to him, you better squeeze your knees as close together as they can get, because you have no other choice.  His junk is big.

The Ear-Splitter: is that Kanye I hear?  Oh, now I can sing along with Metallica! Katy Perry, is that you serenading all of us passengers?  Wait, no, it's just someone else's headphones . . . five rows away.  It's okay, they're annoying now, but in ten years they're going to have to have an ear transplant.  Just sit back and gloat.

The Line Leader: no matter how long everyone else has been waiting for the bus or train, this person is going to get on first.  Not second, not third, not after the man with the prosthetic leg. First. You can usually spot this person when they arrive on the scene.  They sidle up to the group already waiting.  They crane their neck as if they're looking for someone they might know (or possibly the bus or train that hasn't arrived yet).  Then they move up near the front into the remaining six square inches of free space and manage to elbow their way to the front of the line. They are more important than you (see also the Bouncer, the Pole Dancer, and the 100-Yard Dasher).  Did you notice, I mentioned them last?

Public transit is a slice of life.  You can bet Big Junk sits like that at home.  I'm certain that the Snoozer is the first one to fall asleep on the plane, the park bench, at happy hour.  The Ding Dong's mouth never closes and the mindless wandering is how they do it at the mall, the Smithsonian, the emergency room.  And the Line Leader has been at the front of the line since second grade.  But if you ever see me on the train, you'll easily be able to pick me out.  I'm perfect.  It's hard work, but I've gotten pretty good at it.

Who's your favorite Metro-type?  Who did we miss?

*Special thanks to FixWMATAchrispulaski, schwars1, ScarlettL, chocolategirl1, aka_tk, theitgirl, and _jpscott for their invaluable input on this story.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Do You *Believe* in Life After Cher?

Today I got some sad news.  Now, it might not be sad to anyone else, but it's sad to me.  Turns out Cher is ending her Las Vegas show on Feb. 5.  And I have not been to see it yet.  You see, I love Cher.  A lot.  Sure, I realize there are much cooler stars to be in love with.  I could swoon over that Bieber kid, but he doesn't have quite the way with wigs that Cher does.  Yeah, I could worship Lady Gaga, but Cher's got bodysuits older than her.  And say what you will about her, but Cher is a survivor.  I've been known to watch the full two-hour long Biography on her and get misty throughout.  One of the first records (yeah, a record) I had was "I Got You Babe," from my dad's collection of discarded 45s.  She is a force to be reckoned with and is constantly reinventing herself. I could wax poetic about her for paragraph upon paragraph, but that's not really the purpose of this story. 

Back in 2003, before I really knew WH (we had met, but he wasn't Wonderful anything to me at that point), when Cher was on her marathon Farewell Tour, three friends and I managed to get tickets to see her at the Verizon Center (then MCI Center).  We planned for weeks about it and fantasized about getting called up on stage during her finale.  We even had "What Would Cher Do?" t-shirts made, with a top ten list on the back*.  We made sailor hats to throw onstage during "If I Could Turn Back Time" (a Cher concert tradition).  And we spent evenings at Timberlake's listening to Cher on the jukebox over and over again, annoying the other patrons to no end.  In truth, we may have gone a wee bit overboard, but Cher's worth it. 

The night of the concert, we decked ourselves out in our WWCD t-shirts, feather boas, and sailor hats (because what else would you wear to a Cher concert -- besides maybe a buttless bodysuit).  We found our seats, on the side about 15 rows up and three sections back, middle of our row.  Not too bad.  The crappy comedian who opened for her was inconsequential to us, and we waited, somewhat impatiently for the real show to begin. The lights were up and people were milling about while the roadies put the finishing touches on the stage.  My friends were chatting and I was stretching a stiff neck and looking around when I spotted a guy who kept staring at us.  He'd look at us, then look around our section, then land back on us again -- I can't imagine why, unless it was the sailor hats and the rainbow feather boas.

The next thing I know, the guy is at the end of our row and pointing to us, "Hey, you, do you guys want to move up?"  Did we ever!  I poked my friends, getting their attention and gathering my coat to get up.  My friends and I scooted out of the row, spilling beer down the necks of the people sitting in front of us.  We followed the guy down the steps of our section, down, down, down until we reached the floor area.  That's right, the floor.  At this point, we giggled like little kids, clapping our hands together and wondering where we were going.  The guy kept going down the middle aisle, until he stopped . . . at the four seats front and center, within sweating distance of where Cher would be performing.  It is at this moment when I nearly passed out. My one friend, the Cher Fan, and I couldn't stop shaking and staring at each other open mouthed.  In fact, since then, I've never seen him so excited. 

So there we were, shaking and sweating and gawping like maniacs waiting for the show to begin.  We couldn't sit down, this was Cher, after all.  But much to our surprise, the people seated around us, the ones who actually paid the big bucks to be up close and personal remained subdued and seated throughout.  It was weird.  At last the show started and we jumped up and down, we sang along, and we made a spectacle of ourselves.  But we didn't care.  As the finale approached, we got our sailor hats ready.  When the moment came, we zinged them onto the stage . . . and if memory serves, CF nearly took Cher out with his. 

And then, as quickly as it began, it was over. Cher was taking her final bow.  We reached out to her, clapping and waving our hands as she ran across the stage slapping hands with everyone she could reach.  Then it happened.  Cher. Touched. Me.  I immediately flashed back to that old Brady Bunch episode when Marcia got kissed by Desi Arnaz, Jr. and delcared, "I'll never wash my face again!"  I could imagine it, preserving my hand in a plastic bag, declining to shake hands with people and feigning injury for the rest of my life.  Then I remembered, I'm not crazy. 

Still flying high, we all returned to Timberlake's and regaled our friends there with stories of the night.  It was the best night of my life up to that point.  In fact, it was the night when WH and I first kissed.  One of his favorite stories to tell is, "The first time I kissed her, she told me it was the best night of her life." He conveniently leaves Cher out of the equation in the telling. 

I've seen Cher in concert twice since then, including the time I dragged WH to L.A. to see her at the Hollywood Bowl for what she swore was her last concert, but nothing compares with that first time.  The time she touched me.  In fact, I "Believe" that if "I Could Turn Back Time" and relive that night exactly as it happened, I would, because that was the night "I Found Someone."  WH has indulged my Cher obsession for the past seven years (don't worry, I undulge his love of UFC, because all's fair in a good relationship).  We even danced to "After All" as the first dance out our wedding -- the other "best day of my life."






*From our What Would Cher Do t-shirts.  Die hard Cher fans will recognize some of these.
10. Wait four hours for a table in the back, so she wouldn't be gawked at.
9. Win an Oscar.
8. Hang from a chandelier like a transvestite pinata.
7. Believe in life after love.
6. Cher, Cher, and Cher alike.
5. Choose Equal.
4. Be an evil frickin' diva for 40 frickin' years.
3. Singlehandedly support Bob Mackie's career.
2. Turn back time.
1. Hwahwao!

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Strange Bedfellow

This weekend while WH and I were out, we met some strangers (as we are oft to do--though not as frequently since Timberlake's closed).  Turns out the couple was on a blind date and, while they were both nice people, not particularly into each other.  This isn't really a particularly interesting point of fact, other than that it serves as a segue to something greater.  The guy introduced himself as "Vic," which is what leads me to the other story. 

Years ago, in the sweet bloom of youth, I lived in New York for a year with a girl who quite possibly amounted to the biggest nutbag on the planet.  (Yes, I realize this is a D.C.-centric blog, but the story begins here and, frankly, it's just too good not to tell.)  We met in D.C. when we were both taking improv acting classes and cultivating dreams (delusions) of fame and fortune.  We had a friendship of sorts, which included our mutual love of going dancing.  There were red flags all along, warning me that living with this person wasn't a good idea, but I was desperate to get to the Big Apple at all costs.  One such warning sign I really should've paid attention to: while we were out at a club one night, she insisted that I leave her (I was ready to go home and she wasn't) with two guys she was dancing with.  I refused (and this was in the days before Natalee Holloway), which resulted in me following her to her house in my car while she rode with the guys.  It was bizarre and showing a great lack of good judgement. 

We moved up to New York in August, into what they call a "railroad" apartment (in the basement of a row house).  This meant that you entered the apartment in the kitchen, with the bathroom immediately to the right as you come in the door.  To the left, through the kitchen was the living room, and through that one bedroom.  And here's the kicker . . . through the first bedroom was the second.  As in, one must walk through the first bedroom to get to the second.  I'm not sure how I managed to finagle it, other than by sheer luck, but I got bedroom number two, which existed behind a plywood door, but didn't require foot traffic to get anywhere else (this will be important later).  It may sound awful, but we had a washer and dryer and each had our own rooms for a mere $1,000/month.  It was practically a luxury apartment. 

My roommate quickly revealed herself to be a nutbag (yes, I realize I already mentioned this, but I can't stress it enough).  For instance, she only flushed the toilet once a day, whether it needed it or not.  She also had what I like to call "selective bulimia."  It consisted of her eating all of my Ben & Jerry's, but leaving her own generic brand ice cream in the freezer untouched, and then claiming she threw it all up and refusing to replace it.  I know eating disorders are serious business, and I don't mean to malign them here, but I never actually heard or saw her throw up (even though she repeatedly confessed to/bragged about having an eating disorder), so the bulimia was dubious.  Also, she smelled bad.  She didn't shower much and she worked in this greasy diner so she alternately smelled of sweat or grease, and sometimes both.  On top of her own personal aroma, she would often hang her uniform from the pipe that ran the length of the apartment to "air it out" (why she couldn't wash it in our washing machine was beyond me), so it contributed it's greasy stench to our apartment. But all of this was nothing really, compared to her ill-advised coupling practices. 

She would often go out on Friday and Saturday nights to various clubs around town.  Alone.  She almost never returned alone.  Fortunately, I was usually asleep by the time she and her "gentlemen callers" had arrived.  But on the off chance that I was still up, she did at least extend me the courtesy of warning me so I wouldn't leave my room.  And this is where our story gets juicy. 

One Saturday night, I was home reading when there was a knock at my bedroom door.  It was McSmelly (as I had taken to calling her).  "Hey, Vic is going to stay the night tonight," she informed me.  I indicated that I was heading for the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face before they did whatever it was they were going to do.  She disappeared out the door while I gathered my stuff.  It could not have taken more than two minutes. I walked out of my room to see her sitting at her dressing table putting lotion on her face.  "Vic" was nowhere to be found . . . until I went into the living room.  There was Vic, 98 pounds soaking wet, doing lunges in nothing but a baby tee.  Yeah, lunges.  In a baby tee, his man-berries free in the wind.  I gasped, at which point Vic grabbed two pillows from the sofa, using one to cover the front and the other to cover the back.  "Uh, those are my pillows," I stammered as I walked to the bathroom. 

I fumed while I brushed my teeth, wondering why in the hell he was doing lunges half-naked.  What kind of sexual acrobatics could he have possibly had in mind?  And were they going to echo through our thin drywall walls?  I found myself wishing for earplugs (and new pillows) as I finished up my bathroom routine and prepared to head back to my room, unware of what might await me.  Perhaps Vic was now doing naked push-ups.  Or maybe he was sitting bareback on the sofa doing yoga moves.  I didn't know. 

I stormed back through the living room (no Vic) and into McSmelly's room.  She still sat lotioning up, and there, in bed under covers up to his chin, was Vic.  I looked directly at her and said, "Tomorrow, we need to talk!" and headed to bed.  I still don't know what he was warming up for, because (quite thankfully!) I didn't hear any addtional mayhem that evening.  The next day, Vic was gone before I got up and when I forcefully informed my roommate to perform naked calisthenics at his house next time, she agreed that it probably wasn't the best idea.  "And besides, I didn't really like him anyway.  I should've brought his friend home instead."

After that, my relationship with McSmelly pretty much deteriorated into oblivion and we barely spoke.  Her mother and aunt coming from Iowa to stay for two weeks in our tiny apartment (another story for another day) made me realize that I had pretty much had my fill of her.  But on the up side, after that she never did bring home another guest and I learned the importance of warming up before physical activity. To this day, I can't hear the name Vic without picturing that poor strange guy doing lunges in my living room.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Zombie Apocalypse

Last night WH and I went to happy hour with another couple, our friends the Foodies.  I was invited, along with Foodie Girl and Foodie Boy, for free food and drinks, and WH was along for the ride.  The night started off normal enough, but devolved when, somehow, the conversation turned to the apocalypse (which may or may not include zombies).  While FB and I sat there listening (and I took notes), WH and FG discussed their survival plans.  It started like this*:

Wonderful Husband: The way I see it, the earth is a living thing.

Foodie Girl: Yeah, and it's pissed.

WH:  Exactly, and it cleans itself.

FG: It's douching!

Yes, this really happened.  I kind of wonder what the people at other tables were thinking (if they were listening . . . and I would've been listening, because it was good free entertainment).  And on it went:

FG: You know those flashlights that you wind up?  I have three of them.

WH: Yeah, we gotta get some of those.

FG:  The first thing I'm gonna get when the apocalypse happens is swords.  Because swords don't jam.

WH: Yeah, and you need one of those shark suits made of metal. 

FG: I'm gonna get swords and then I'm going to go to Costco and clean it out of zombies. 

WH:  We need to get Spam and pineapple.

FG: And Twinkies.

WH:  And that canned chicken.  My mom comes from Costco and she has six cans of chicken because they served her some on a cracker and she thought it was good.

FG:  My mom does that too! And it's not good! 

After a quick sidebar about the miracle of Costco, they were back on track. 

WH:  The first thing I'm getting is booze, because I'm going to need to be drunk. 

FG:  Yeah, but not only to be drunk, but also because it's good for cleaning wounds.

At least they're practical.

FG: You know, sometimes when I'm on the subway and I look at my fellow travelers and I realize this is who I'm going to be stuck with when the apocalypse hits. 

WH: I think that too, but mostly I think, "Who am I going to punch?"  I've already decided on my weapon.

FG: I'm totally getting a samurai sword.

WH:  Oh yes, in a home invasion situation you don't to worry about getting your gun out of  a box.  You need golf balls.  Because nobody is expecting you to throw golf balls at them.

Foodie Boy: I agree with that.

FG:  And a baseball bat. And a katana

WH:  You have no idea how many anchors I want to go after.

WashingTina: Anchors?

WH:  Anchors.  On the news.  You know, Pat Collins. 

FG:  That's true. 
So apparently, not only are they going to prepare for doomsday, but they're also going to go after newspeople. 

WH:  Everybody knows doomsday is coming.
FG:  Even if you just joke about it, you really need a plan.

WT:  Well, just leave me behind to get eaten by zombies, because you already know I'm not good in a crisis.  And I don't want to be that girl in the movie that everybody keeps wishing would just die already. 

FG:  How do you feel about this, WH?

WH:  She's too cute to die.  But I really hate it when people go into shock..

WT:  That's me.

WH:  Then leave your shock away from me.

WT:  Yeah, just leave me behind and let the zombies eat me.

FG:  This isn't zombies, this is real people.

WH: Maybe even Teabaggers.

WT:  Fine, then let Sarah Palin eat me.

This went on for some time.  This is exactly how the conversation went, too.  I know because, like a freak, I was sitting at happy hour taking notes.

I guess the good news is that, since WH has already come up with a plan, I can sit back and relax knowing that our (possible zombie) apocalypse contingency is already covered.  I can worry about things like living wills and life insurance.  The only thing that troubles me a little is how we're going to get to Costco.  We don't have a car.  But I'm sure WH already has that covered.

*This may or may not be original material by the artists currently known as Wonderful Husband and Foodie Girl.  All I know is I reported exactly as I heard it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Tortured Artist

Wonderful Husband and I celebrated our second anniversary yesterday, which got me thinking about all the details of our wedding and the planning that went into it.  I know some brides who've had some real ups and downs when it's come to wedding planning, and I'm sure we had our fair share, but those aren't particularly interesting (at least not for comedic purposes).  What was interesting about our pre-wedding activities was the quest for my wedding band.  If it hadn't happened to me, I would never have believed it. 

It all started with my brilliant idea to use my great-grandmother's and grandmother's diamonds to have my ring made rather than going with a ready-made ring. I had inherited the diamonds from my grandmother years ago and really wanted the sentimental aspect for my ring.  I had a design in mind, and set about finding a reasonably priced jeweler who could do what I needed.  A good friend of mine, the Other Bride, who was also getting married around the same time recommended her jeweler, with one caveat:  "I have to warn you before you go there, if you decide to use her." An eyebrow was raised, but as a harried bride-to-be, I didn't feel like doing any additional research.

OB went on to say that the jeweler's shop, located in Old Town, Alexandria, was messy and that she's (as OB's now-husband put it), "a tortured artist." So I played phone tag with the Ring Lady and eventually set up an appointment to drop off my diamonds and talk about design.  I had no idea what was waiting for me on the other end of that phone. No warning OB issued could have possibly prepared me for anything to come.  One day after work, I headed over to the shop.  The door was locked, so I felt a little confused. I had confirmed the appointment with RL twice.  I knocked and waited.  Then I called, and she informed me she'd be right there.  A rustle, shuffle, and bang later and the door opened about 12 inches and Ring Lady's face peered out.  "Come on in, it's a little messy because I'm having my office remodeled."  Cue the understatement of the year.

I turned sideways and sidled into the "store." What met my eyes next was unlike anything I've ever seen before or since.  To my left, just inside the door was a row of glass cases full of jewelry.  The first case was shattered, the jagged edge covered with duct tape, all the jewelry still intact inside with shards of glass at the bottom of the case.  To my right was a small space, just large enough for one person to stand and a small ottoman where I was told to sit while she looked at my ring.  Surrounding me, were more cases, several armoires, piles of papers, a broken chair, and trays and trays of jewelry.  Real jewelry.  Diamonds, and rubies, and emeralds, oh my!  (I'd like to pause here to mention that I live in great fear of becoming a hoarder.  As I've mentioned before, I'm quite the packrat, and were it not for WH, I could easily descend into madness.  So there was just a small part of me that got Ring Lady.) 

While RL whipped out her loup and looked at my ring and diamonds, I picked pieces of jewelry up from the trays around the ottoman where I was sitting.  I started to twitch.  And itch.  And worry that I had made a grave mistake giving this woman a tiny family heirloom, and I had yet to let her out of my sight.  I reminded myself of OB's endorsement (and the endorsement of the friend who had referred OB to the RL).  And to be fair, the jewelry strewn about the shop haphazardly was really beautifully done.  So, I ignored the voice in my head and left the jewelry with RL.  She assured me that it would be completed at least two weeks before the wedding.  When she handed me the estimate, I nearly fainted.  It was extremely reasonable.  Way less expensive than anything else I'd seen, and being a budget-minded gal, I was all in.  Off I went, wary, but able to check one more thing off my wedding checklist. 

The real fun began when my mother offered up her original wedding band, from which I chose to use the white gold and diamond baguettes.  I called RL about a month after the first visit to check on the progress and see if it would be possible to incorporate the elements from my mother's ring as well.  "What a nice idea," she agreed. "I haven't started yet, so why don't you come by on the weekend and drop it off."  This time, so as not to have this simply be a figment of my imagination, I recruited my friend the Policy Lawyer to join me, with the promise of lunch in Old Town afterwards. 

I should probably mention that PL is probably one of the most well put-together people I know.  She's always imaculately dressed, and her home is beautifully appointed.  I had no idea how she might react to the hoarder's paradise I was about to subject her to.  The routine was the same . . . RL didn't answer when I knocked.  She let the phone ring and ring.  Just as PL and I were about to leave, RL shuffled, rustled, and banged her way to the door.  The twelve inches opened and I squeezed in first, as PL shimmied in behind me.  The door barely shut, but as it did, a dictionary fell out of nowhere on PL's ankle, causing her to gasp.  Ring Lady was absolutely unphased, "Oh, just kick that aside. I'm redoing my office and it's been a real nightmare." It was at this point when I heard a rustle from deep within.  I peered around RL and saw a small Scottie dog nosing around the rubbish.  (This has become a bone of contention between Policy Lawyer and myself, as she insists I was making up the dog, but I have witnesses . . . there was a dog in there somewhere.)

Ring Lady went "into the back" to get my other ring out of the safe while PL and I stood there.  I almost didn't dare to look at my friend, for fear that a) she would pick up the dictionary that had fallen on her and beat me to death with it or b) a simple glance between us would result in near pee-in-your-pants giggles (as has been known to happen when the two of us are together).  I could, however, hear her snorting behind me.  "What is this place?" she whispered to me.  I ignored her for the aforementioned reasons.  Just then, RL shuffled back with a large envelope into which she dropped the second family heirloom.  Again she assured me that the ring would be ready "about two weeks before the wedding," and sent me on my way. 

We were no sooner out the door and back in the car than my friend shrieked, "Oh . . . my . . . god . . ." between gasps for air.  She had dissolved into hysteria, laughing and (I think, maybe) crying a little as she marveled at what we had seen.  ". . . and that dictionary just fell on me, but she didn't even care.  What the hell!" It went on like that for some time -- until I mentioned the dog.  This fact was met with a declaration of, "You are lying!  A dog?  A dog?  There was no dog.  A parrot, maybe, but a dog?  No way!"  And on we went.  This occupied our conversation for the rest of the day --especially the possibility of the parrot.  We really got some mileage out of that one.  If there had been a parrot, it would surely have squawked, "Aaawk! Watch your step!" in a parrot voice.  "I tried to tell you.  I tried to warn you," I kept saying to her.  But how, exactly, do you warn someone of a hoarder's jewelry store with falling dictionaries, Scottish terriers, and shattered display cases? You can't. 

Flash forward to two weeks before the wedding.  I'll bet you'll never guess what happened?  The ring wasn't ready.  I should've known when Ring Lady neglected to return my calls.  Not the best time to ignore a bride-to-be.  Up to this point, I had been a pretty good bride, but a bride who reserved the right to go "Bridezilla" if necessary.  At last RL called me back, informing me that her "diamond setter" had been sick, but that the ring would absolutely be ready within a week.  I tried to remain calm, after all, this woman did have family heirlooms (not to mention the fate of my wedding band) in her hands (or her safe, or under a stack of newspapers, or in her terrier's stomach . . . you get the drift).  The ensuing week flew by with appointments for dress fittings, pedicures, and visiting family.  Still no word from Ring Lady.  But did I panic? Did I storm her mounds of mess? Nope. I remained calm, calling to check in.  She informed me that the ring would be ready Thursday.  Evening. As in two days before the wedding.  One small hiccup and I would be buying my ring out of a gumball machine (reminiscent of the lucite sparkler they used in Four Weddings and a Funeral). 

Fortunately, WH, his father, brother, and my father had to go to Old Town Thursday evening to pick up their tuxedos, so I implored my father to pick up the ring for me.  After all, I had paid for it in advance (yeah, I know).  When he called me to say that he'd gotten the ring, and that it was "really nice" he seemed strangely unphased.  "That was one weird woman," he said.  Of course, after having been called a liar, I asked him if he had seen a dog.  "Yeah, a little Scottie." Vindication! 

My wedding band
(apologies for the bad cellphone-photo quality*)
So, if you ever need a recommendation for a jeweler, I know a really good one that's definitely worth the price of admission just to see the place . . . but I can't promise she hasn't been institutionalized or, better yet, featured on a recent episode of Hoarders.  Or maybe, just maybe, that "office renovation" has finally been finished and she's simply put all of her stuff away at last. 

*My camera was recently ruined at a friend's wedding in a wine-in-the-purse related mishap.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Seven CVS of the Apocalypse

Have you ever gotten a wild hair and refused to let up? I had an experience like this a couple of weeks ago.  I had run out of  my makeup and needed to replenish it.  Since I work right next to a CVS, the replishment should've been easy (yeah, I wear drug store makeup, what of it?). Only that CVS no longer carries Almay. Half a block later, I was at the other CVS near my office, only to learn that they were out of the makeup in question. That was in the morning. I went to my office, naked faced and on a mission.  At lunch you will be mine, I vowed to the makeup.

After looking up the other CVS locations within several blocks of my office, it was discovered that there were four more besides the two I had already checked.  Phew! We wouldn't want the people of downtown D.C. go without their prescriptions, haircare products, and pantyhose.  My goal in sight, I set out for the first of the CVS Stores in question.  I headed down K Street to what I hoped would be the best bet (as it was the closest), 15th and K.  Even though it was a smaller store, I was hopeful, as they had appeared to have just gotten a shipment of various and sundry items.  But no Almay. I wasn't worried.  I still had three other stores to visit, and one was bound to have what I needed. 

Heading in the opposite direction, I set out for 19th and K.  Bigger than the previous store, but still lacking, I turned around and headed for the store that was at 20th and L.  It was getting hot, and I was getting frustrated, but I had my goal in mind and refused to entertain ideas that my face would remain unpainted indefinitely. I soldiered on. The store at 20th and L was huge -- and yet still sadly did not have what I needed.  They carried Almay, but were again sold out. With one more location to check and hope fading, I started to think maybe I'd alter my plan, spend my money on lunch at Chipotle instead, and become the kind of woman who doesn't wear makeup.  As I hoofed the additional block and a half to the final CVS, I imagined myself as A Woman Who Doesn't Wear Makeup. It would shave valuable minutes off of my morning, allowing for extra sleep or a healthy breakfast. Without makeup, I'd be appreciated for my inner beauty.  Yes, and I'd save money! This was starting to sound like a good plan . . . until I arrived at 20th and M and caught a glimpse of my un-made face in the window on the door. It wasn't pretty.  It was haggard and desperately in need of bronzer.

Too bad the 20th and M CVS also did not have the product I needed.  I stumbled back out into the midday heat, practically delirious from all the walking and the thought of remaining a plain Jane indefinitely.  I walked back toward 19th and L, determined to find some kind of product that would suit my needs.  I couldn't let it end this way. I wasn't going to go out this way. I altered my expectations (isn't that a metaphor for life?), and picked another product (and a lipgloss for good measure) and went to the checkout armed with a $5 coupon (because at least I was going to save some money on the deal).  Lo and behold, the universe was smiling (or at least smirking) on me that day . . . and with the coupon and another discount, the lipgloss was free!  Whatever, it sounds good, but the universe owed me that lipgloss after the Great Bronzer Relay of 2010. I grudgingly took my wares and headed back to the office.

Later that day, WH and I met up with the Gay Lawyer and his partner, the Gay Historian, for happy hour drinks at Ceiba (I highly recommend the empanadas and samosas).  I was regaling the group with my tale of woe, only to have WH inform me that, "there's a CVS right next door, you know." What? Could it be? Was there another chance to get what I really needed?  Was the universe going to provide after all?  GL and I got the same twinkle in our eye and sprinted for the door. We giggled like children as we speed walked to the final CVS of the journey -- only to be let down again.

See those blank spots?
That's where the makeup would be, if they had it in stock.
Photo courtesy of Gay Lawyer
Defeated, we returned to Ceiba to finish our cocktails. Lamenting the missing makeup, I drowned my poorly made face in a Dark and Stormy.  Fortunately, if you can't have a perfectly made face, you can instead find good friends with whom to share a cocktail (or few).  And besides, let's face it, after a few cocktails nobody looks like they've got any make up on anyway, so it all evens out in the end. Or at least that's what I keep telling myself.