September 23, 2011
This is a little true-to-life anecdote I wrote up last year for another writer's blog. Since that site has gone off-line, I'm re-posting it here, where it can live forever in infamy. Or something.Ode to the Hand Dryers of LaGuardia
I was on the shuttle to New York to meet my spouse for an Important Work Event (IWE). Most IWE’s involve dressing up. This one did not. At least for dressy events it was easy to figure out what to wear. Something dressy, which I had maybe two of, since most IWE’s in my own job are BYOC (bring your own coffee) and require a special dress code of sweatpants. My spouse, however, lives in the Real World of Real Work where appropriate dress means dressing to appear in public places and not looking like a mug shot. This is, I’ve decided, also the secret to Real Pay. So I’ve begun to dress up for work in the hopes that the mailman will notice and bring me a paycheck.
But this event was a cookout, and as such, the dress code was disconcertingly open to interpretation, with options ranging from frilly sundresses to madras shorts. And, it would take place at the boss’s house, which really changed the equation to, which outfit is least likely to show perspiration? I finally settled on off-white cropped pants and a cute blouse. I’m telling you this because it will be important later. I don’t remember if I had a sweater, but I should have, and if I didn’t it’s because I was too busy making sure I had all 48 pieces of reading material stuffed in my carry-on, just in case we were stuck on the runway for 2 hours on a brilliant sunny day, which was what had happened the last time I boarded the shuttle for an IWE.
I was of course the only person on the shuttle wearing cropped pants, because everyone else, men and women alike, had dressed to look important, in tailored suits. And they probably were important. I, on the other hand, was a spouse.
I sat next to a man who, until the flight took off, talked on his cell phone (“Tell him we’re there. At least we can get dinner out of this fiasco”), and in front of a woman who talked on her cell phone (“The cat? But how much blood??”). I tried not to listen, really… I stared at one of my five issues of the NYT Book Review, which I save because I’m sure I’ll get to them someday, certainly by the time the books are out in paperback. And then, an event that now seems mythical, old fashioned, and quaint: A flight attendant gave me a package of shortbread cookies and asked me what I wanted to drink. When I think of it now, my vision gets a little blurred with tears of nostalgia for the travel customs of yesteryear. Or at least, last year.
I asked for apple juice, with no ice, to ensure the greatest quantity of actual beverage in the cup. Why I did not just ask for water, I will never know. But then I would not have this story to tell. Wherein there was turbulence uncharacteristic for a shuttle flight on a brilliant sunny day. Wherein there was no little cup-size indentation on my pull-down tray to safely hold my apple juice cup. Wherein the turbulence came on so suddenly and was so concentrated and jolting that I had no opportunity to grab the cup of apple juice before it slid forward and spilled directly in my lap. And when I say “lap” I mean “crotch.” Just so there’s no misunderstanding.
And now is the time to remember that I’m wearing off-white pants; pants of a thin, summer-weight fabric which, according to REI, is “wicking.” And so it did.
The liquid, which expanded in quantity as only spilled liquids can, soaked through my (light-colored! wicking fabric!) pants so that I was effectively sitting in apple juice, marinating like a really great recipe I have for Belgian chicken. Except I think that uses cider. So I should be grateful for small things. Cider would’ve been worse. I will spare you some of the rest---the biodegradable napkins I was offered that left little napkin spitballs on my pants, the sopping blanket I put between myself and the seat to raise myself out of the puddle that my pants (wicking!) had not yet absorbed, the flight attendant’s helpful reminder to buckle up and remain seated during turbulence.
I had no change of clothing with me. This was a day trip. I seriously considered wrapping myself in back-issues of the book review. I thought, well, they’re finance people, they’ll just think I’m one of those eccentric artist types making a statement. A saturated statement that smells suspiciously like my son’s lunchbox.
When we landed at LaGuardia, I tried not to panic. I went to the public restroom. I don’t know if it has ever been said before or will ever be said again, but that morning, there was nothing I wanted to see more than the public restroom at LaGuardia Airport. And there I found the thing that saved me. Someday there will be a poetic tribute to the Hand Dryers of LaGuardia. The hard part was how to position myself in order for the airflow to reach the key saturated areas. I had two options: I could disrobe in LaGuardia’s restroom and climb onto the counter by the sink with no pants on. That seemed unwise for reasons I don’t think I need to list. Or, what I chose to do, which was to practice for my next career as circus contortionist and simply adjust my still-clothed body to the proper angle. And the less said of that, the better. Except I will tell you that it worked. Within a few minutes, I was dry. And the pants were close enough in color to the apple juice (off white! And did I mention wicking…?), that the mishap left no stains discernible by anyone who wasn’t looking more closely than would be polite.
In case there’s any doubt, I’m looking forward to my next shuttle flight. In fact, I’ve already picked out my clothes.
November 21, 2010
has just moved their website to a new platform, which is primarily important in that it means the address has changed for my suburban dysfunction humor column, Semi-Charmed Life: Surviving at the Center of the Universe.
Click away for the new locality. And have a heapin' helpin' of our...ah, whatever it is...
This week's column is called In Which I Give Instructions That Are Likely to Be Ignored
, and attempts to address, in absentia, burning questions like, "Honey, where are my keys?"
October 29, 2010
Some of you may already know about the online parody newspaper I created, Bethesda World News
. We got a nice write-up today from Whitman High School's award-winning newspaper, Black & White
, where, in the great tradition of high school papers, they quoted me as saying things that sounded sort of like what I might have said if someone else was trying to remember what I actually said (a practice I'm familiar with, having written for my high school paper back in the day--at Kennedy HS in Wheaton, MD). No, seriously, this is part of my humor, where I even make fun of my own misquotes! In the article, reader Mandy Katz, who is NOT misquoted, I'm absolutely certain, calls me "the funniest mom in the PTA."
Which is really nice of her, considering we haven't even met, and she doesn't owe me money or anything, I swear.
I am glad that my jokes are seen as they are intended, as supportive of local civic and educational goals. It's clear that an important part of my work includes not going to PTA meetings, and, instead of volunteering for school projects--like the extremely diligent and irreplaceable parents who do the thankless work of creating phone trees, selling gift wrap, and organizing book fairs--I helpfully crack jokes about it.
I am grateful that my contribution to local culture and quality of life has been recognized.
Thank you. My work is done here.
October 6, 2010
I realize I'm a little late on this, but I just found out last week that M*A*S*H was off the air, so...in case you're still living in the past like me, the past in this case being last fall, you also might not know that a novel-length parody of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight
series is out in paperback: Nightlight
is Harvard Lampoon's
first full-length parody in 40 years. I can barely contain myself...
When I was in school, in the "olden days," many an amused hour was spent in the back of Crown Books reading aloud from the well-thumbed copy of Harvard Lampoon's last parody novel, Bored of the Rings
(yes it's a Tolkein parody). Now I can't figure out why we didn't just buy the book. Maybe it was more fun to read it out loud in public. To wit, an excerpt from one of the Hobbit "songs":
I sit on the floor and pick my nose and think of dirty things
Of deviant dwarves who suck their toes
And elves who drub their dings.
I sit on the floor and pick my nose and dream exotic dreams
Of dragons who dress in rubber clothes
And trolls who do it in teams.
You can see how this would have appealed to your average 7th-grader. (And is it at all surprising that I called this little rhyme up from memory, after not having thought about it in years...?)
Of course you don't have to read the Twilight series in order to get the humor in the Lampoon's parody. Here's a sample:
It was then that I saw him. He was sitting at a table all by himself, not even eating. He had an entire tray of baked potatoes in front of him and still, he did not touch a single one. How could a human have his pick of baked potatoes and resist them all? Even odder, he hadn't noticed me, Belle Goose, future Academy Award winner.
A computer sat before him on the table. He stared intently at the screen, narrowing his eyes into slits and concentrating those slits on the screen as if the only thing that mattered to him was physically dominating that screen. He was muscular, like a man who could pin you up against the wall as easily as a poster, yet lean, like a man who would rather cradle you in his arms. He had reddish, blonde-brown hair that was groomed heterosexually. He looked older than the other boys in the room--maybe not as old as God or my father, but certainly a viable replacement. Imagine if you took every woman's idea of a hot guy and averaged it out into one man. This was that man.
"What is that?" I asked, knowing that whatever it was it wasn't avian.
"That's Edwart Mullen," Lucy said.
Edwart. I had never met a boy named Edwart before. Actually, I had never met any human named Edwart before. It was a funny sounding name. Much funnier than Edward.
As we sat there, gazing at him for what seemed like hours but couldn't have been more than the entire lunch period, his eyes suddenly flicked toward me, slithering over my face and boring into my heart like fangs. Then in a flash they went back to glowering at that screen.
"He moved here two years ago from Alaska," she said.
So not only was he pale like me, but he was also an outsider from a state that begins with an "A." I felt a surge of empathy. I had never felt a connection like this before.
"That boy's not worth your time," she said wrongly. "Edwart doesn't date."
I smirked inwardly and snorted outwardly. So, I would be his first girlfriend.
Look for a well-thumbed copy in the back of a bookstore near you.
October 1, 2010
I seem to be specializing in interviews this week...or maybe I just feel like letting someone else do the talking for a change. (Someone tell my husband to stop applauding...!)
Over at The Rumpus
, I talk with performer SM Shrake
about his penchant for dressing as a witch every Halloween.
Outtake: Shrake: I wish Margaret Hamilton would come back and destroy all the people associated with [the musical] Wicked.
If you didn't catch it the first time, you can also read my Rumpus mini-interview with visual artist Tim Guthrie
, in which he explains a very special anti-war installation.
And, in my Semi-Charmed Life
column at Bethesda Magazine
, I interview novelist and blogger Leslie Pietrzyk
about her clearly misinformed decision to live in Northern Virginia.
Sample: If you grow up in the Maryland suburbs, there is an unwritten rule: You do not go to Virginia. There are any number of legitimate reasons for this, whether you prefer to cite Civil War history, or merely the stark incompatibility of state mottos: Virginia is for lovers; Maryland, as we know, is for crabs. We like it that way.
But, primarily, we do not go to Virginia because we don’t know how to get there.
Also up this week, two new items of note at Bethesda's ONLY online parody newspaper Bethesda World News:
Stinkbug Surge Cheered by Landlords, Local Business Owners
Local Schools Decide to Just Give Annoying Parents Whatever the Hell They Want
I promise, you won't see this stuff anywhere else...
August 9, 2010
Beginning today, I'm writing a weekly humor blog for Bethesda Magazine's
all-new destination website. My column, The Semi-Charmed Life: Surviving at the Center of the Universe
will focus on the absurdities of life in the suburbs, especially in Bethesda and the DC area. Which basically means, a blog about anything.
The first installment is called, "In Which I Carry an Illegal Substance onto School Grounds."
If you click on the "about" link on that blog page, in addition to a picture of me sitting on a lawn mower that doesn't belong to me (thank you, Tim and Diana), you'll find a link to Bethesda World News
. Bethesda World News
is the new online parody newspaper I created, which I'm editing along with a band of rebel writers whose names have been changed to put all the blame on me. More on that another time.
So, stop in, take your shoes off, set a spell. But first make sure you've had a recent pedicure.