Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/.
Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)
Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)
Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains
Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away
Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains
A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right
Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains
Life(?) of Trillian
Saturday, January 31, 2004
I want some answers. Not just for me, but on behalf of a lot of the Universe.
Just a few.
I'm not asking for much.
Just some answers.
We'll start with:
Why do people stand-up dates?
I have never, ever stood anyone up, and never will. No matter how boring, wretched, ugly, vile, homicidal the guy has been, I have always, and always will, show up. I made or agreed to the date and I will keep it. Someone is expecting me and so I'm there. I'm not holding myself up as an über human example, a model of stellar behavior. I'm far from perfect. A very long way from it. But. I am responsible enough to live up to obligations I SKANKING MADE FOR MYSELF!! It's called being responsible. It's called being a grown-up. It's called common courtesy. It's called being a member of the human race.
There are several possibilities for standing up a date, of course.
Let's explore, shall we?
Something Suddenly Came Up.
A big project at work. Aunt Bess died. You met a cuter girl/boy. You can't call? Even the lamest, most transparent excuse/lie in the world is better than leaving someone sitting, waiting for you to show up.
Car broke, train/bus wrecked, broke both legs and arms, plane was hijacked to Belgium.
Okay, these things happen. But unless both legs and arms are broken, there is no reason to not call. Even if it's the next day, you call and apologize, send an email, have a friend call or write. Something. Again, not that I'm perfect, but I once got stuck in an enormous traffic jam on the way to a date. It was summer, my car engine was on the verge of overheating. I didn't have a cell phone. Neither did he. At the first call box I saw (in a very gross and even dangerous part of town), I pulled out of the traffic jam (losing my place in line) and called the restaurant, explained the situation and described the guy to the woman on the phone, she found him, got him on the phone, I told him what happened and voila! he completely understood and couldn't believe I went to such trouble to find and call him. (Didn't work out in the long run, but I scored a ton of points for that.) I was really surprised he was so surprised by this. More proof that it's not just me who gets stood up. This guy had been stood up before. People are mean, irresponsible and cowardly when it comes to dating.
You saw him/her sitting there and thought: No.
Okay. It happens. You meet online, everything seems great, you exchange photos, s/he is acceptable and you agree to meet in a public place. And then you see him/her. The photos were out of date, taken by Richard Avedon, or were of someone else. S/he sort of resembles the person in the photo, but, well, not quite. A) Are you really that skanking shallow? and B) Okay, attraction is important, but come on, you can't spend an hour with them, one drink, and then blow them off with a polite excuse? (most cell phones have an emergency "bail out" function.) Believe me, better to show up, say hello, send "On second thought just not interested" signals than to leave her/him sitting there wondering if you're okay, if you were too nervous to show up or, more likely, if they were too horrible and this was all just a really cruel joke on them. That somewhere, in a loud raucous bar across town, you are drunkenly bragging to your friends that right now there is someone (insert whatever slang term for pathetic loser is "in" with your group) sitting there waiting for you to show up. Because no matter how confident, how together, how aloof, how whatever that person seems, that is EXACTLY what they're thinking when you don't show.
It's a mean, cruel, horrible, COWARDLY thing to do to another human being.
The fact is, no matter who you are, nothing makes you want your mum more than being stood up.
You leave, after 20 minutes, an hour, two hours, whatever your time limit is, go home, feel like crap and want your mum. You want to sit on her lap, knees drawn to chest, fetal, with her arms around you, rocking you, kissing your forehead, telling you how wonderful you are and how horrible they are and how much they will regret not showing up. That you are the best thing that ever could have happened to them and they blew it.
And that is no way for a grown human being to feel. If you want that on your conscience, fine, go ahead, stand up that date.
But just wait.
Someday someone is going to stand you up. And you're going to want your mum.
Then you'll believe me. Then you'll wish you would have just been responsible and called.
Ms. Norah Jones' answer: I don't know why.
I waited 'til I saw the sun
I don't know why I didn't come
I left you by the house of fun
I don't know why I didn't come
I don't know why I didn't come
When I saw the break of day
I wished that I could fly away
Instead of kneeling in the sand
Catching teardrops in my hand
My heart is drenched in wine
But you'll be on my mind
Out across the endless sea
I would die in ecstasy
But I'll be a bag of bones
Driving down the road along
My heart is drenched in wine
But you'll be on my mind
Something has to make you run
I don't know why I didn't come
I feel as empty as a drum
I don't know why I didn't come
I don't know why I didn't come
I don't know why I didn't come
Friday, January 30, 2004 Post Crap on Trillian Day Well, that was fun. One can only wait and wonder wide eyed at what today will bring.
I can’t get the hang of Thursdays because apparently they are Crap on Trillian Day. Perhaps now that I’ve figured that out I can face them forewarned and hence forearmed. The skanky thing was just the beginning.
Some of the highlights from yesterday: Wrecked a brand new pair of tights to the point I looked like a Goth Girl or the downtrodden boozing hooker cliché so oft portrayed in films. Had mucky sludge splashed on me while I waited to cross the street - all over me and my very expensive to dry clean coat. (And I know the guy in the Chrysler Crossfire meant to do it. I know he did. He was, after all driving a Chrysler. Chrysler drivers always mean to do it.) A “friend” said, “So, what are you planning to do about those roots?” Okay, I know, it’s a problem I anticipated, my honey blonde highlights are growing and I must figure out an action plan. I just didn’t think it would happen so soon. Six weeks? I only get six skanking weeks out of these?! The sandwich place loaded my French Twist with mushrooms, after I specifically (and always) requested NO MUSHROOMS! I’M ALLERGIC! No chance at removing them, they were melted into the brie like rocks in tar. Had to endure a meeting (yes another one) with a woman, a 45-year-old-ish woman who talks in a baby voice that rivals Kimmie’s. Very difficult to take account financial information seriously when delivered by a woman who tawks wike vis, tee hee, and punctuates her sentences with those long dragged out hushy complacent yeeeaaaaahhhhs. Got stuck on the elevator with Spanglish girl, who kept imploring me to “Do sumsing! You do sumsing!” I pushed the skanking alarm and called the security guy on the call button, what the skank more do you want me to do?! (This elevator has a history of “sticking” between floors, this is not an unusual situation and is generally fixed in a matter of minutes. But those minutes drag like hours when stuck with Spanglish Freaking Out Girl.) Had a run-in with The Law*, and lost a favorite (and warm) glove. A mailbox full of h8er mail. (So just don’t read my blog! No one’s forcing you to read FIVE POSTS. If you hate me so much why read past the first sentence? Everyone’s welcome and I really want (and like) input, ideas, comments and criticism, but if you can’t spell your criticism out in normally spelled words it’s rather difficult for me to consider your opinion. So: Just go away.) And then had a very rare Mac crash at home and lost a couple of really good blogs.
Hence you are reading this drivel instead of scintillating Booker Prize worthy prose.
Who can we pick on today?
White merlot drinkers? Nah. Too easy. Too obvious.
Mayor Daley? Ditto. And it’s difficult to hit a moving target. Even a slow moving, dim witted, pork chop eating one.
The Blackhawks? Ditto. (Why don’t sports teams suffering a bad season just quit playing? Take some time off for some much needed rest, regroup, strategize for next year and practice, practice, practice? Don’t tell me economics, contracts, fans or love of game. The only, and I mean the one and only exception are the Cubs. And only because they are a rare, unexplainable phenomenon. The Cubs are like that couple you know, the one where she’s really, really hot and rich and smart and nice, and he’s an ugly, broke dufus yet the two are very much in love and happy together. (The Cubs are the ugly, broke dufus))
Quick! Small crisis here! Someone explain American football to me! In language I can understand. Starting with why the scores are in sevens. (Seriously, why? It’s difficult math. Come on, really, how many people (other than American football fans) know their x 7’s?)
Pick on, pick on...Clint Eastwood? Hmmm. Tempting...very tempting...
If you're not in the John Depp camp, perhaps this will convince you once and for all:
Academy Award nominee Johnny Depp did a better job of acting in "Pirates of the Caribbean" than most viewers realize. "He's terribly afraid of heights," says a source familiar with film's production. "In some scenes he had to overcome it, some scenes they just had to shoot around it and accommodate his fear." Depp's rep didn't return calls for comment, but according to published reports, Depp also has a morbid fear of clowns.
Anyone afraid of clowns is okay in my book.
(And he's skanking talented, too. Let go of 21 Jump Street. I did, you can, too. Didn't you do anything stupid when you were 18?!)
Okay. Can’t pick on anyone and I’m managing to get through today, so, until next Thursday’s Crap on Trillian Day I’ll try not to piss and moan. Too much.
*The Law is the self check-out overseer at my grocery. She said I stoled two pouches of cat food. Two .39¢ pouches of cat food. Because, you know, after spending $83.42 on groceries, I would stoled two .39¢ pouches of cat food. I would pay for 18 OTHER pouches of cat food but not THOSE two. I would buy raw hide chewies for Ghost and Stay dog but not two .39¢ pouches of cat food. She clearly saw and counted as I scanned 18 pouches of cat food but stoled two .39¢ pouches of cat food. Even though she is overseeing four self-check registers. And, let’s just say I DID stoled two .39¢ pouches of cat food, or they didn’t get scanned by accident...over the years, how many times have I been overcharged at this store?! Certainly a lot more than .78¢. (No, that doesn’t justify or make stoled-ing right or acceptable societal behavior, just making a point here.) The manager had to be called, and what do you know? 20 pouches in the bag, 20 pouches on the receipt. But The Law, “she got her eyes on me, now. She watchin’ me.” Fine. Watch me pay for my groceries. While you’re doing that, be sure to watch the obviously underaged teen buying a case of Old Style at the self check out. Why don’t you and your skanking manager watch the panhandlers and drug dealers hovering outside the store, waiting to pounce on shoppers?
Thursday, January 29, 2004
I'm really more of a CmdZ or CmdOptionEsc kind of girl myself, but this is kind of funny. The CtrlAltDelete guy is CtrlAltDeleting his career.
I Never Could Get the Hang of Thursdays One minute you're up, the next you're down, then halfway up again, than further down...
You start down. It's cold here. I mean really cold. I'm not complaining. I'm not. I like cold. I thrive in cold. BUT. A bit of acknowledgement that I have to stand and wait for a train, outside, open air platform, air temp 0° F (-17.78° C, 255° K), wind chill -30° F (-34.4° C, 238 K) for a train, then walk and wait (outside) for a bus or walk to my office would be appreciated. (Even in my rehabilitating state I can usually walk to my office faster than I can wait for a bus and get there.) Just a little recognition that I do not have a spanking new, warm car to park in a $250/month parking place 20 feet from the office. And that some days, especially since the broken ankle, just getting to and from work is a major, major accomplishment and requires more effort than most people in my office will expend during the entire week.
But then you see a really gorgeous sunrise over the Lake. Or a tiny little snowman made on a pillar greeting you hello. And the ice on the river. And frosty windows. And the twinkly lights in the early morning crisp air. You're up again.
Then you get to work and an early morning meeting hurls you into such a bad, bitter and confused state you can't see straight.
My stupid job and my nincompoop boss. Who I can no longer refer to as nincompoop because, ever ironically, she is undergoing tests to confirm that she has colon cancer. That's not a joke and I'm not happy, or even nonplussed about the possibility of her having any form of cancer, poopwise or otherwise. That's not what I'm saying. I feel bad for her. I don't like her but I certainly don't want her (or anyone else) to have cancer. So I have to come up with a different name for her.
Apparently American Idol was in Hawaii last night. I don't know because, relieved of client obligations in that vein, I am not required to watch American Idol this season. And much as a certain someone's hands are very sexy, they in themselves are not enough to make me watch.
There's a long, cold, lonely Winter stretching out before me.
This matters because it was the topic of discussion pre-early morning client meeting. Client whom I know very well. Client who has on more than one occasion made very off color comments to me. Funny off color comments, but off color comments none the less.
And no. That doesn't mean I, or anyone else, has a right to lob anything remotely close to an off color comment, especially when a client is present. I know this.
I submit, to you the Universe, that I, Trillian, did not, and still do not, think the following is off color enough to warrant a public reprimand followed by a private berating.
Group is gathered in a conference room. Two representatives of the client company are present. All are laughing and talking. They gather round the conference table. A roll call of sorts is read. Two key people are missing. While phone calls summoning them to the meeting are being made, talk of American Idol and Hawaii is murmured around the table.
"I wonder if they'll have Don Ho as a special guest judge," yours truly sarcastically muttered to Off Color Comment making client, but also in a general tone so that any of the group not engrossed in private conversations could hear.
Ha Ha Ha's from a few people. A nudge from Off Color Comment making client.
"Isn't his daughter recording now?" someone asked.
Much speculation from around the table.
"Yes, I believe she has tried to be a Pop Tart, just another dumb blonde." I said, knowing full well her debut CD featuring Just Another Dumb Blonde tanked four years ago. Off Color Commenting client got that admittedly bad joke and chortled. He was the only one.
Much talk and speculation.
"What's her name?" someone asked.
Knowing full well her name is Hoku or Haiku or Hokey or KooKoo, I, quietly, out of the side of my mouth said to Off Color Comment client, "Skanky?" (Get it? Skanky Ho?)
I caught him off guard which made him spew freshly sipped coffee between a fit of laughter. "Skanky!!! HA HA HA!! GOOD ONE!!! SKANKY HO!!!!" slapping me on the shoulder conspiratorially.
Had I known he would react that way, that the whole room would hear him yell out SKANKY HO!!! I of course never would have made the bad pun.
But then, we're all adults, it was at worst a bad pun, nothing really awful. Right?
My (have to come up with new adjective) boss said, from the other end of the table, "Trillian!" much the way you might say, "Bad Dog!" to reprimand a canine smelly mess inside the house.
I sheepishly grinned and apologized for the bad pun. "Sorry. Bad pun. Won't happen again."
"That's not what I meant! It's more than a bad pun." (in a tone that would normally imply "Go To Your Room and Think About What You've Done") and then, by way of explaining to the clients and demoralizing me, continued, "We have very strict rules of behavior about this sort of thing. Which I am certain Ms. McMillian is very aware, since she is usually the first to cite the policies and procedures handbook at the slightest hint of infraction."
Wham! Blam! Zing! Whoa!
Yes. I have actually read our rules and policies and procedures handbook. And yes, when necessary because no one else seems to want to be boss around here, I will pull it out and quote it to an offending party. A lot lately because of a certain boob job and all the uproar it's caused. But somehow this got all twisted and hurled in my face because I said Skanky.
Note, technically, I did not even say ho. I said, "Skanky?" The ho was of course implied, but let the record state, no ho came out of my mouth. (I did not have sex with that woman.)
And even if a ho had come out of my mouth, is saying skanky ho really so awful? Do you know what I hear in the ladies room, break room and even in my office on a daily basis?! We've got an intern, a swutting intern, talking about banging this chick and humping that chick, not to mention the only adjective, noun, pronoun and modifier he seems to know begins with F and rhymes with duck. But apparently that's perfectly acceptable.
Perhaps if I'd said "Fucking Ho" it would have been okay. Or if I were the son of a very high ranking company official. Or if I weren't female. Of course this is all conjecture on my part.
Conjecture that I would have lobbed back at my (have to come up with new adjective) boss when, after the meeting, she slammed into my office and berated me for 15 solid minutes. Had I not been privy to the information that she is awaiting some potentially very bad news from her doctors it would have flown and may have led to me quitting this stupid job once and for all.
Trying to tell myself that's she's just really on edge (and probably not feeling too swell after all THOSE tests) and is taking it out on the one person she knows can handle it, I just gave in and said, "Yes. You're right. I shouldn't have said that. As you know I don't usually say that sort of thing. It just slipped out. I'm under a lot of stress, too, you know."
"See that it doesn't happen again." and with that she was gone in a huff.
"See that it doesn't happen again?" When in real life have you heard that? Maybe by your mother? MAYBE? I mean, who actually SAYS that? Who says that and expects to be taken seriously?
Apparently I must now strike skanky from my office vocabulary. What about skank? As in, "Tara's boob job makes her look like a skank."
What about the band Skank? Can I say "Hey, have you heard the new Skank CD?" or what about Fatboy Slim's Rockafeller Skank? Anyone remember Skanking Voodoo Dolls? Can I play them in my office?
I will never, ever get the hang of Thursdays. Ever.
But I do know some things for sure. Oh, this is truly NOT Oprah's list.
Eating a bowl of cereal in a meeting, or really, anywhere in an office, is one of the single most weird, rude and obnoxious things a person can do. Particularly if they clink clink clink scrap clink their spoon against the bowl and then slurp the leftover milk. If you can't get up early enough to eat breakfast at home and get to work on time, then have a breakfast bar, bagel, anything less intrusive to your co-workers and meeting compatriots.
Ditto eating any item of food which produces an aroma throughout the entire office. Those sausage breakfast burritos? They're disgusting, but if you choose to ingest one that's your business. But making the rest of us the office suffer by smell for an hour while the stench of grease and whatever else is in that vile thing is wrong and probably in violation of the Geneva Convention.
The following food items are also in violation of acceptable office food (especially when warmed and burned in the microwave):
Fish (thanks to Ferro Lad for this smelly reminder)
A Fish AND Popcorn Combo (Ooooh, Mr. Lad, that's just, well, horrible.)
Tuna (so vile it has to be set apart from other fish in its own classification)
Powdered hot apple cider
Last night's garlic and onion supreme
Banana nut muffin bread nuked to a crisp
Wahine ho'okamakama means prostitute in Hawaiian. Hoku means star.
Don Ho was the voice of Alberto Bianco in Joe's Apartment. Jerry O'Connell was Joe.
Jerry O'Connell was in Kangaroo Jack with Christopher Walken.
Christopher Walken danced his way through Fatboy Slim's Weapon of Choice video.
Wednesday, January 28, 2004 Reality Wednesday
Animal Planet Style
Contestants: Stray Dog, Concerned Citizen and Animal Lover, Concerned Citizen and Dog Owner, Ghost: A Dog.
Object: To find the owner of a stray dog and unite the two in a jubilant reunion.
This week's episode is set in large metropolitan area in a very cold part of the world, in January.
Concerned Citizen and Animal Lover (CCAL) returns home on a late Saturday afternoon. As she's walking down her street, trying to not slip and fall on the ice and freshly fallen snow, she notices a dog across the street.
"At first I didn't think there was anything unusual about it. The park across the street has a dog area down at the other end, there are lots of dogs who live and play around here. I noticed him because he was a larger dog, a cute mutt mix of lab and who knows what else. It was really cold, though, and that's probably why I took more interest than usual, thinking, 'poor dog, has to go out in this weather to do his business...where is his owner, anyway?' What is unusual is to see an unaccompanied dog around here. There is a strict lead law in the city, but around here, the dogs are pretty well behaved and as long as they are accompanied by a human and don't bother anyone or run in the street, I personally don't mind if they're not on a lead."
Cut to the park, where we see dogs romping and playing Frisbee and chase with their owners. It's a crisp, cold morning with a few inches of freshly fallen snow. We see the fenced in dog run where a dog play group is in session, owners drinking warm Starbucks drinks (product placement sitting on park benches while their dogs form canine societal hierarchy and play fetch and roll. We see SUV's pull up, park and owners unload their excited and raptly anticipating play group dogs.
Walking toward the dog park is a mid-thirties man with a large mixed breed dog. This is Concerned Citizen and Dog Owner (CCDO) and his dog Ghost.
Ghost is on a lead, and walking beside CCDO. Ghost seems shy and a bit apprehensive about the dogs already at play group.
Upon closer observation, we see Ghost's unmistakable eyes and paws of a puppy. He is at the same time shy and cowering yet just dying to burst out in full romp and pounce of a puppy his age.
CCDO explains, "I found him at the local shelter. I decided I wanted a dog, I'd been grieving the loss of a long time animal companion. I went to the local city shelter, knowing full well they put the animals to sleep within one week of arrival, if not sooner, depending on how crowded it is. I was determined to bring home whatever dog was next up on The List. They told me I didn't want Ghost, he was an abused puppy, he was the only one of the litter they couldn't adopt out because he was too shy. He wouldn't go near anyone who was interested in him. Untrainable. They told me he had a mean streak in him, too. They tried to give me the second and third dogs on The List. But I was determined. I said, 'No. I want the dog who is due to be put down today.' And that was Ghost. Ghost wouldn't come out of his cage. I had to pick him and carry him out of the pound. He wasn't small or light, by the way. I've spent a lot of time with him, socializing him with people and other dogs. He's come a long way. He's still really shy, he's got a long way to go, but he's doing a lot better. And that mean streak business was a lie. He's the most gentle natured dog I've ever seen. He never barks, he loves to cuddle and even behaves at bath time at Scrub Your Pup." (formerly Dog and Suds) Cut to a shot of Ghost standing on an aluminum table, smiling, covered in a rich coat of lather and bubbles.
CCDO continues, "One day last fall, we were coming home from a particularly difficult play group session. We had just joined, and Ghost was too shy to join in any of the fun. He spent most of the session under the bench, too afraid to go near any of the other dogs or people. I could tell he really wanted to play, but he was just too afraid to join the hierarchy of the pack. Didn't know what his place was. It's hard for the new dog, under normal circumstances, but given Ghost's background, well, you can imagine how difficult it was for him to socialize." Cut to close up shot of Ghost looking shy, forlorn and apologetic.
"Anyway, we were walking home, and there was this woman on crutches standing under the trees up there." pointing up the street to a cute vintage building fronted by large trees, "Once we crossed the street, Ghost tore off running so fast the lead jerked out of my hand. He'd never done anything like that before, I'd always had to coax him to run or even walk anywhere but next to me. I took off running after him, but could catch him in time. I was really worried, he was heading straight for the woman on crutches." Cut to a reenactment scene of a Ghostlike dog running toward an attractive actress playing a woman on crutches. It's a warm Fall day with the trees dappled with color and the sky azure blue. We see a slow motion Ghostlike dog race up the woman and stop just short of playing pouncing up on her. He sits at command attention in front of her. She reaches down, balancing on one crutch, and scratches his ears. He makes those happy dog noises. The actor portraying CCDO jog trots up, apologizing for Ghost.
"I'm so sorry, he's never done anything like this. He's very shy, I can't get him to go near anyone, even other dogs."
"Really? He seems so friendly and outgoing. Do you read Get Fuzzy? He reminds me of Satchel." Now stooping down as best as she is able in her broken ankled condition and nuzzling Ghostlike dog's snout and petting him. Ghostlike dog is licking her face and trying to put his front paws on her shoulders as if to give her a hug. "Oh yeah, he's real shy. What's his name?"
"Ghost Dog, I get it." Slight convivial roll of eyes.
Sound fades out as a voice-over of CCAL fades in. "I really wasn't sure what to think - I love animals and trust them, which can be a bad thing, I mean, not all animals are friendly, not all dogs bounding up to you are just big playful lumps of fur. But Ghost was so cute and so friendly, you know, he had those big puppy eyes. Fortunately he turned out to be friendly. When CCDO told me Ghost never went near people, that I was the first person he'd come near, well, I mean, I didn't know if it was just a line he was using or some weird animal connection. CCDO seemed nice, too, but I mean, I didn't fancy him THAT way or anything." Scene fades as CCDO and CCAL exchange awkward good-byes and Ghostlike dog reluctantly walks way, looking over his shoulder with sad puppy eyes at CCAL.
Cut to present day, back on the street in front of the dog park.
CCDO continues the story. "After that day I saw CCAL a few times. Ghost always spots her first. Once we were in the fence and he saw her walking with groceries on the other side of the street. She was off crutches, but in another cast and limping. Ghost ran straight over to the fence, jumped up, looked over at me as if beckoning. I went over to see what he was trying to show me, and there was CCAL. I put Ghost on his lead and we went over to her. Helped her carry home her groceries. I mean, she seems really nice and everything, but I don't fancy her THAT way. Ghost, on the other hand, seems to have a major crush on her. Doncha boy? You like CCAL, doncha?"
Cut to CCAL in front of her building (now off crutches) in bitter cold Winter, the trees now bare and the sky steel gray. "I was right here when I first noticed Stray Dog. He was over there," Pointing across to the park. "I didn't see another person anywhere near, I had a bad feeling the dog was lost. He was sniffing the snow covered sidewalk and was wearing one of those horrible choke chain collars."
I went upstairs to my apartment and looked out the window. (pointing up to a fourth floor set of windows) Sure enough, he was still down there, on his own, sniffing some scent trail or trying to find a scent.
"I went back down to get the mail, and of course, he was still there, still personless, still looking really pathetic."
Reenactment of a Stray Doglike dog sniffing and whimpering.
"Well, stupid me, again, too trusting of animals, I went over to the Stray Dog. I mean, he had a collar, I knew he was someone's pet. And it was so cold, just brutal. Once I was within 6 feet of him he timidly came up to me, I swear he raised his eyebrows, imploring me to help him." Cut to reenactment scene and close-up shot of Stray Doglike dog raising imploring dog eyebrows to the home viewing audience.
Voice-over continues as reenactment plays in the background, "I petted his ears and he flopped down on the snowy and cold sidewalk and rolled onto his back, flip flopping his stomach back and forth playfully for me to scratch. Which I did. I also tried to get a good look at his collar. He had a regular collar as well as that horrible choke chain. But no tag. I looked all around for his owner but saw no one. Anywhere. Except for a few people down the road at the dog park. I thought maybe someone there might recognize the dog, know his owner, something."
Reenactment scene of the attractive actress portraying CCAL walking through the snow and cold weather with Stray Doglike dog following along behind her as if for all the world he was her dog.
"I saw Ghost run up to the fence, and then saw CCDO. I nuzzled hello to Ghost. Stray Dog sat at my feet. CCDO came over and said, 'So you got a dog! Good for you!' No, I said, this guy appears to have been separated from his owner. Have you seen him before?"
CCDO now picks up the narration.
"Stray Dog looked healthy and was certainly well behaved, clearly someone's pet. Frankly, he looked perfectly content with CCAL. Dogs seem to really like her. The thing is, Stray Dog approached Ghost, through the fence, and Ghost didn't cower or run or flinch. Ghost trusted Stray Dog right away. In hind site, I think it's because Stray Dog with CCAL. Trust by association. I asked the others in the dog park if they recognized the dog. None did. It was getting colder, Ghost and I needed to get home. Stray Dog looked to be shivering, too. I knew CCAL wasn't set up for taking care of a dog. She's got a cat. I put Ghost on his lead and went out of the dog park. Stray Dog came right up to Ghost, RIGHT UP TO HIM, AND LICKED HIS SNOUT!!" Close up shot of Ghostlike dog and Stray Doglike dog licking facing and sniffing behinds.
CCAL continues the narration.
"The two dogs acted like old best friends. I was really pleased to see Ghost taking to another dog. Ghost is so shy and has such a difficult time socializing with all the other outgoing dogs in the dog park. But I was really getting worried about Stray Dog. It was getting colder by the minute, I mean, subzero cold. And the snow was picking up, and there he was. I just could not stand to think of him outside. I was trying to figure out how I was going to care for a dog. I'm not really set up for a dog. I have a cat, he's pretty easy going and this was an emergency. Still. No dog food, no whatever else it is dogs need. But there was no way I would subject any animal to the city pound. The mayor pays a lot of lip service to making this a No Kill city, but that's all it is, lip service. A homeless or lost animal has next to zero chance of survival at any of the city run animal welfare, rescue or pound organizations. CCDO sensed my concern, I think, and offered to take Stray Dog home since he and Ghost were getting along so well." Cut to a close up of Stray Doglike dog and Ghostlike dog walking side by side.
"I said I'd go home, make signs to put up in the dog park and around the rest of the park and neighborhood. CCDO very generously offered to let me use his cell phone number as a contact on the signs. They went home to CCDO's place, and I went home to make the signs."
"An hour and a half later I had 50 signs of various technicolors ready to post. I called CCDO and told him I was going to post them around the neighborhood. He agreed to take some and canvas one section while I did the other."
Meanwhile, Ghost and Stray Dog became fast friends.
"The minute I opened the front door, Stray Dog came in and made himself at home. Ghost showed him around, even showed him where the food is and brought him a toy. Ghost was already attached to Stray Dog. And the thing is, so was I. The sooner we found his owner the better for both of us."
Days pass. No calls. Not one.
"I can't believe his owner isn't missing him. He's such a great dog!" CCDO exclaims.
"I feel really bad for Stray Dog's owner, but on the other hand, he did have that horrible choke chain, and he does seem very happy and content with CCDO and Ghost. Ghost, by the way, at Stray Dog's coaxing, has now joined in the pack hierarchy at play group. Ghost will be devastated when Stray Dog's owner shows up. I know it's wrong of me to think this, I mean, the poor owner missing him, but I sort of hope Stray Dog becomes Stay Dog."
Show closes with a shot of real Ghost and real Stray Dog romping with the other dogs at play group in the dog park.
Tuesday, January 27, 2004 On My Honor I Will Try You know you're getting older when...
Instead of asking you to pose as a former employer or fill the remaining empty spot on the personal references space on job applications, your friends ask you to write a recommendation for their Girl Scout leader worthiness.
When did come to this? How did I fall from being the fake former boss, keeper of the keys and the "in an emergency contact" to a Girl Scout Leader Worthiness reference?
Further, how soon we forget.
Or something like that.
In my mail was a very official looking envelope. Return receipt, even. Hands trembling, thinking "oh no. All these years later it's caught up to me" I gingerly opened the envelope. Inside I found a form requesting a character reference for a friend to be a Girl Scout troop leader.
Whew. I was worried it was something else. Something I've been keeping secret all these years.
But...should I mention it in the reference letter?
Girl Scouts. Girl Guides...you make that promise, obey that law...live and/or die by the Promise and the Law. time to do a little re-evaluating of my life and promises I have made - and can I keep them?
The Girl Scout Promise ON MY HONOR, I WILL TRY:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.
The Girl Scout Law I will do my best to be:
Honest and fair,
Friendly and helpful, Considerate and caring,
Courageous and strong, and
Responsible for what
I say and do,
respect myself and others,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every
Honest and fair. Oh boy. Off to a tumultuous start.
Do I mention the time, while this exact friend and I, were young Girl Scouts, away at camp for the first time, 9-years-old and out on our first big adventure on our own together (courageous! strong!), we somehow, innocently, didn't get the message to head for the mess hall/storm/fallout shelter because of the killer tornado in the area and waited the storm out in our tent?
I mean, we were a little scared, and it did seem like a bad storm, but we didn't know what else to do. No one was around. We thought surely the counselors would be around to check tents and tell us what to do. We were still young and naive enough to trust adults. (respecting authority!) (I can trace the beginning of my cynicism to this exact day.) We were certain other girls were in their tents, waiting for further instruction as well. We were being good - we weren't risking going out to other tents. (being responsible for what we did!) We sang songs, giggled at stupid jokes, compared notes on which counselors we liked and which we did not. (Sneetch - yes. Tigger - no.) We made plans for canoeing the next day (should we purposely tip the boat when that mean senior girl and snob Kirsty was in the boat with us or not? (two votes yes. Okay, so we needed work on the considerate and caring part, but really, Kirsty was a self motivated power hungry Veruca Salt of a bitch)) talked about our projects in craft shop and what merit badges we might take home (Dabbler, Swimming Hiking and Trekker).
When the thunder and lightening grew worse, we unzipped my sleeping bag, and huddled together under it on my cot. Both of us knowing exactly how worried and scared the other was, but knowing we both knew and didn't need to mention it. (Sisters!) Shivering in our dorky regulation Girl Scout shorts and shirts (a lot of the other girls brought and wore only "regular civilian" clothes. We took our oath seriously. Way too seriously.) We kept away from our new that Summer (due to a fascination with all things Nancy Drew) game of outdoing each other in the scary story department. Instead we stuck to our ongoing comedic soap opera and advert script. (very responsible for what we said!)
When a sudden gust of wind ripped the back tent flap open, we shot into action. I held the flap down and in place while she tied it down. (Courageous! Strong! Helpful!) We righted all the knocked over items in the tent. (Considerate!) We were soaked. We re-huddled. On the floor. When a tree outside our tent was hit by lightening in an earbursting crack of simultaneous thunder and lightening, we dove under her cot. And when another tree, seconds later, was hit and felled, we moved under another cot, further away from the tree hitting area. (Used resources wisely!) In short, to this day we contend, we were good Girl Scouts. Brave, noble and true.
The counselors, however, held a different idea.
Little did we know (but later found out) we were "missing." There was a county-wide search on for us. The local law officials had even been called to aid in the search.
"Hold on a minute," you're thinking, "why didn't they just check the most natural place in the world, your tent?"
B-I-N-G-O and Bingo was his name-o. To this day we staunchly defend ourselve with that very question.
When Tigger (damn Tigger of all people) whipped open our flap, green rain poncho flapping in the wind, mud up to her knees and saw us huddled under the cot, she picked up the cot threw it aside a la The Hulk (not wisely using resources if you ask me), and screamed, above the roar of the storm, "Do you two have any idea how much trouble you're in? What is the meaning of this?"(Not very respectful or sisterly, says me)
"Um. Trouble? Meaning of what? And maybe this isn't the best time or place to have this discussion?" the looks on our faces said as we sat, huddled together under my unzipped sleeping bag, exposed in all our Girl Scout shorts and shirts wearing, storm surviving skill splendor looking up at Tigger. (damn Tigger)
Tigger grabbed us, one by each arm nearly pulled out of their sockets, yelling at us all the while, sort of shoving/pulling us over the fallen trees. Thunder pounding accentuating her shouting.
"The whole county is out looking for you two! Where have you been? Can't you see how bad the weather is? Why didn't you go to the mess hall?!"
Friend, the more outspoken of the two of us (believe it or not) yelled back at her, "Because we didn't know! We thought you should be gathering us! We didn't dare leave our tent!" (Courageous! Strong! Respectful of herself!)
This really made Tigger (damn Tigger) angry. She yanked on us even harder. In the distance we saw two men in orange rain gear and those sheriff hats with the rain bonnet over it. Tigger (damn Tigger) yelled out, "I found them! This is them!"
The sheriff guys were yelling something we couldn't hear and pointing at the sky behind us. We looked back.
And saw one enormous funnel cloud and with a smaller one to it's left.
Friend and I exchanged looks. Tigger (damn Tigger) dropped her hold on us and began running through the vast open field between the woods and the mess hall. Friend and I ran behind her. The two sheriff guys were calling and running behind us. We had a good lead on them.
In the years since we've often discussed our feelings at that point. Both of us are not sure if we were running from the tornadoes or the law. We both thought we were going to be arrested for not following camp rules we didn't even knew existed.
Not far from the lower entry of the mess hall, friend slipped on the grass and fell. Splayed on the ground, tornadoes and the law chasing us, I did what any other 9-year-old Nancy Drew aficionado would do. I pulled a slip-turn-shush move while deftly bending and grabbing Friend's hands, pulled her up in one swift move, and didn't let go until I dragged her past the lower entry where Tigger (damn Tigger) had entered and around the corner, hiding in a place I knew from a previous game of hide and seek.
Friend had the wind knocked out of her and scraped her knees and hands badly. She crouched down by the brick barbecue and I stood guard in front of her, hands on hips, braced and ready to face The Law. (Courageous! Strong! Helpful! Considerate! Caring! Responsible! Sister! oh wait, I?m not the one petitioning for a Girl Scout leadership role.)
The sheriff guys were quick to find us.
We could hear them now.
"You girls scared the entire county! Are you all right?" (Finally! An adult actually concerned about our safety.) But me, broody and untrusting, said nothing and stood braced for a fight.
"Come on, you've got to get inside! There are two tornadoes headed right for us!"
Me, in a precursor to a Thelma and Louise moment (one of many to happen in the course of our friendship), me, a bit stubborn (I like to think of it as determined), pumped up on adrenaline and one too many After School Specials and Disney Drama in Real Life shows, said, all importantly, "My friend is hurt."
The lead sheriff guy picked me up and hoisted me over his shoulder. Still in Danger Grrrrrl mode, I kicked and screamed, horrified that not only were we going to be taken to jail, but that we'd be separated and tortured, put in a room with a single light bulb and questioned over and over, looking for differences in our stories. (WAY too much Nancy Drew and Sunday Night Mysteries, at WAY too early of an age. I told you, a precursor to all that is Thelma and Louise.) I saw the second sheriff guy gingerly pick up my friend and carry her (she now gone limp). My guy knocked for entry on the lower entry door by way of kicking it with his foot.
The door swung open, got caught by the wind and ripped off it's hinges by a sudden gust of wind. (yes, just like in the Wizard of Oz) The camp director was just inside the door and had to grab hold of the door casing to keep from blowing over. My sheriff guy threw, yes threw me into the mess hall. The next thing I remember friend was hurling through the air at me. I tried to brace myself and catch her but ended up basically breaking her fall.
The sheriff guys and the camp director came over, grabbed us up again, and led us in eerie silence into the swimming pool locker room.
Where the entire camp population, including Tigger (damn Tigger) was sitting on the floor in crash position.
The camp director announced (rather obviously) "We found them! They're okay!"
You might think cries of relieved and exalted jubilation would ring out.
Instead complete silence remained. At best we got a few dirty looks from the bravest of the girls who dared look up from crash position.
Friend, now feeling better, announced as sarcastically as an 9-year-old is able, "Happy to see you, too. Glad you're all okay." (lapsing on the Girl Scout Law a bit)
Which made most of the older girls burst out laughing.
And sealed our fate on Latrine Duty for the duration of our stay at camp.
Years later, this friend is now applying to be a Girl Scout troop leader. And gave the district, the big girls at Girl Scout Central, my name as a character reference. I was relieved this was all it was, and not, as I initially suspected, a bill for damages caused by our lack of "following the rules" all those years ago.
Do I tell them about this? That we were Girl Scouts Gone Bad with the best of intentions? That we, on the one hand, toughed out two tornadoes on our own yet on the other hand caused the entire camp and indeed entire county to go on high alert for two missing campers?
What about all the other infractions of the Girl Scout Law I know her to have, well, twisted to suit her purposes?
Do I tell them about the time, fresh out of driver's ed, permits in hand, she took her mother's car, picked me up, drove to the library unaccompanied by the prescribed adult? (we were dorks, okay? This was as bad is it got for us back then. And it was a very small town. This was bad. Really bad. Thelma and Louise bad.) And then, too afraid to drive home, and too afraid to call her mother or her older brothers, I had to call my brother who happened to be home visiting to come with a friend to pick us up and drive her mother's car home.
Do I tell them about the time, as 17-year-olds we spent a hot summer afternoon floating around the pool and nearly drowned because we unknowingly sucked down a gallon of slo-gin, mistaken for that off brand gallon jug of red punch mums always have on hand, too dumb to realize we were drunk, thinking it was the heat and laziness of the day that got the best of us?? (Totally not our fault, how could we possibly know her brother had whipped up a batch of home made slo-gin and used the punch gallon jug? Sheesh. We didn't even know what slo-gin was. And we'd certainly never been drunk like that.)
Do I tell them about the time, in college, she did a stint as a private airline "hostess" ferrying businessmen across Europe? At first completely naive to the fact that the job entailed certain mile high activities, then shooing off the in air advances long enough to see most of Europe in first class style and accommodation, and even managed to include me in on a few of those trips? (That sweet jig was finally up when her boss questioned just how many times a month she had "cramps.")
Do I tell them about how bad her sense of direction is? That she is completely inept both naturally and with a compass? That so bad is she that she ended up in Geneva, a six hour Southeasterly train ride from Paris, when she was meant to be heading to Calais, an hour and a half Northwesterly train ride? That she got lost driving up Pike's Peak (there's one road up and down. really. there's no way you can "get lost" but she did, insisting all the while she was right and I (and the map and the compass and the road) were wrong.) Three words: Angry Park Rangers. Seven more words: Remember the end of Thelma and Louise?
Do I tell them she organized a trip to see Puppetry of the Penis?
Does it matter that she, caught up in the fervor and excitement that is Las Vegas, stayed up all night because she was on a "hot streak" with a particular slot machine, taking a break only once to buy and change into an insanely expensive sequined (and very revealing, okay, sleazy) dress, only to then lose all her winnings when the hot streak ended? That on this same trip one of her all time classic quotes of the day was:(to a shopkeeper) "Where do the showgirls shop? I want a great pair of pasties to take home for my husband."
Is topless sunbathing a non-negotiable issue with the Girl Scouts? There's nothing in the Promise or Law about it...
Do I tell them she does indeed like Girl Scout cookies, but finds them best when put in a blender with ice cream and peppermint schnapps?
It's a dilemma, really because if it were my daughter, this is exactly the type of woman I would want as her troop leader. But I don't have a daughter and if I did, I certainly would not be like the mothers I know.
Posing as a former boss was much easier than this.
Let's break it down:
I will do my best to be:
Honest and fair, (She's very honest, no question about that, unless they mean Honest in the Biblical sense. And fair? Well, I mean, so she doesn't suffer certain fools lightly? It's for their own good.)
Friendly and helpful, (Very friendly. Extremely friendly. Just ask any European businessman. Helpful? Yes. Very helpful, she always has useful ideas...)
Considerate and caring, (Oh heck yeah she's considerate, she shared her Vegas winnings with me and always buys drinks for everyone. Caring, well, goes without saying, really.)
and Responsible for what she says and does, (yes, always takes responsibility for any lapse in judgement)
And to respect myself and others, (She always respects herself and others, even the next morning)
Respect authority (oh dear. This could be a problem. Authority...authority...Does her mother count as authority? Because she's scared into respectful submission in that case!)
Use resources wisely, (Oh heck yeah! Never one to let a bottle of wine go to waste, can always be counted on to use a credit card for purchases that really matter like sequined dresses cut down to there)
Make the world a better place, (You should have seen her in that dress.)
and be a sister to every Girl Scout. (Very much a sister. A Puppetry of the Penis ticket procuring sister.)
Right then. With clean conscious I submit her recommendation for Girl Scout Troop Leader.
Monday, January 26, 2004 Pyramids: Not Just for Egyptians Anymore If you live long enough, work, and have friends, sooner or later it's going to happen.
A friend or co-worker will join some pyramid sales enterprise.
And you will be socially obligated to attend a "party."
Evading the party issue with a "just give me the catalog" will work with co-workers only. Friends will not let you off that easily. And even co-workers, in their newfound pumped up from a motivational seminar (Free! to sales associates!) will one day book a conference room, bring in donuts and muffins, set up their wares, and host a product demonstration. Don't think you can avoid the conference room that day. You can't. You won't. No one can. You will go if for no other reason than to fulfill the perceived obligation "to see the stuff" once and for all, hoping against hope this will be the end of it.
If the words Pampered Chef, Slumber Party, Creative Memories, or Party Lite mean anything to you beyond an uptight French cook, kids having a sleepover, summer camp craft time, or little oriental cabana lights twinkling on the patio, you know exactly what I'm talking about. You have felt my pain. I can see the knowing nods of recognition and hear the screams of terror.
I recently endured the trauma that is Mary Kay.
The Mother of All Pyramids.
I have a friend who has been laid off from three jobs in 16 months. In August she got roped into Mary Kay. I was more than a little surprised, because this woman is more of a make-up snob than I am. (And you know what a make-up snob I am.)
This proves the power of the pyramid. If this woman could be brainwashed, erm, inducted into the ways of Mary Kay, no one is safe. No one. Desperation is a trap. I know. But still...Mary Kay?!
I put on my best, supportive, try to be optimistic face and voice. After all, she's a friend and a very down on her luck friend at that.
I lucked out of her first "party" because I was barely mobile at the time. (That broken ankle is not without it's benefits...)
She brought the party to me.
Well. She brought the entire collection to my living room, where I sat, barely able to move due to my freshly broken ankle and whiplashed neck, trapped like an animal in my own home.
Again, the power of the Pyramid. That they will all swear up and down is not a Pyramid.
I've been through this so many times I know the conversation by rote. When they first tell of their new venture, the conversation will go like this:
Sales Gimmick Sucker Friend: "I went to this seminar last night, it was really interesting."
Skeptical Cynic Friend (You): Mildly disinterested because you can smell the motivational fervor "Huh. So I guess you missed Frasier. Too bad, it was a good one."
Sales Gimmick Sucker Friend: Undaunted by your disinterest, armed with tips for dealing with this from the motivational seminar "In just three months I'm going to be able to quit this job. Get out of the rat race, be my own boss. You can, too."
Skeptical Cynic Friend (You): Even more disinterested "Good for you. You know I'm just not a salesperson. Good luck with that."
Sales Gimmick Sucker Friend: Undaunted by your disinterest, armed with tips for dealing with this from the motivational seminar "It's NOT a Pyramid!" (they all say this, but be warned, they are in fact, all Pyramids)
Skeptical Cynic Friend (You): Annoyed "I didn't say it was. Did I say Pyramid? No. You did."
Sales Gimmick Sucker Friend: Undaunted by your disinterest, armed with tips for dealing with this from the motivational seminar "No, but I can tell by your tone you think it is. And it's not. It is definitely not a Pyramid. And I'm offering you a chance to get in on it."
Skeptical Cynic Friend (You): Really annoyed that a friend would do this to you, also doubting your judgement of character abilities because none of your friends would be dumb enough to join a Pyramid or rude enough to impose upon your friendship "I'm sure I'll regret this, but no thanks."
Sales Gimmick Sucker Friend: Undaunted by your disinterest, armed with tips for dealing with this from the motivational seminar "You don't even know what it is! It's a quality line, something people like us can really be proud of and stand behind."
Skeptical Cynic Friend (You): Really annoyed that a friend would do this to you, also doubting your judgement of character abilities because none of your friends would be dumb enough to join a Pyramid and impose upon your friendship "Give me the catalog, I'll see if I want anything." Doing the math in your head, subtracting the sum from your paycheck you are willing to part with for The Product in the name of friendship.
Sales Gimmick Sucker Friend: Undaunted by your disinterest, armed with tips for dealing with this from the motivational seminar "Great! Once you see how great the Products are you are going to want in on this. There's another seminar in two weeks, you can come with me!"
Skeptical Cynic Friend (You): Extremely annoyed that a friend would do this to you, also doubting your judgement of character abilities because none of your friends would be dumb enough to join a Pyramid and impose upon your friendship "I don't think so." (then feeling really guilty) "What is it your selling, anyway?"
Sales Gimmick Sucker Friend: Jubilant, produces at least three catalogs for what appear to be the same sort of products (why not just one?), none of which have prices in them. "Now, this is the regular product line, good stuff, real quality. Look at the (pizza stone/teddy/candle/handcream). It's great. They showed us how (terrific/unique/well made) it is last night. And THIS, (producing the next catalog) is the real quality range. This is what you'll really want to see."
Skeptical Cynic Friend (You): Looking at watch, trying to rack your brain for a good excuse get out of here "I'll take a look, (flipping through the catalog in mock interest) I've really got to run, feed the cat, you know."
Skeptical Cynic Friend (You): "Right, yeah, okay, take a look, I'll give you a call later." And this is true. They will call. Even friends who are usually not the most communicative will ring your phone off the hook. And since they're your friends, they have your cell and work numbers, as well as your email. Shy of a government sponsored witness protection program, there is no escape.
I once had an ex guy I dated, not even an official boyfriend, I mean a way ex guy I dated, a years past and long forgotten guy I dated, get in touch with me. The guy hunted me down through three countries, two continents, five apartments and three jobs. The power of love?
Guess again: The power of Amway?.
So now you've got the catalog. You drop it with all the other crap, that place where all the crap that will eventually end up in the garbage without a second glance but sits for a few weeks goes.
The next day, your friend calls. "So did you take a look at the Product?" (They all call it, whatever it is, amorphously: Product. From cosmetics to power tools to bakeware, they all call it: Product.)
"No, I haven't really had a chance." (because, since I know I am going to be fleeced by you and this Pyramid crap, I am prolonging the pain and trying to figure out what I can sell on eBay to pay for one of the Products.)
"I'm going to be in your neighborhood, I'll drop by and show you a few samples." (undaunted, pumped up high from a motivational recharge in the form of a cassette tape (provided free) wherein the founder of the company tells their rags to riches story.)
"No, that's okay. Really. I don't want to waste your time. I'll take a look at the catalog and give you a call."
20 minutes later an email will arrive. The email will extol the virtues of the Product.
And how you, too, can be a distributor of the Product. In mere months you could quit your job and own three homes and have your children's college educations paid.
But they will not tell you what the Product is going to set you back financially. All you really want to know is what it is going to cost you. How little can you spend in the name of friendship and support? But you won't get the answer. That's part of the scheme. Never, ever discuss pricing. Never.
And one other aside point on money: "Bait and switch" advertising to the public is illegal. But among "friends" and Pyramid schemes, it is a founding principle.
To wit: You finally cave in and go to the damn, I mean, fun party. Your friend's home (or Conference Room 3 East) is transformed into a showroom. Lights are dimmed, candles burn, new age music plays, a wine and cheese and fruit table is set up, and your jeans and t-shirt friend is wearing a Power Suit.
Save yourself while you still can.
While you are still sober.
Beware Friends Offering Wine and Selling Crap.
Women have it a bit rougher on this score. We are subjected to not only the relentless sales schpeels, but the parties. Oh. The in-home parties. Where do I begin?
I know people, women, who enjoy these things.
I know. It came as a huge shock to me, too. I, and presumably the people I choose to call friends, are not exactly the Pyramid and home sales and demo party types. Or that was, until a few of them moved to the suburbs. That vast land of Pyramid possibilities.
I have a dear friend who has been on the Pampered Chef circuit for a few years solely because she loves the parties. At first I questioned her sensibilities, thinking suburban life had already grabbed her and was holding on with a death grip. I tried to save her.
But she didn't want to be saved.
Like a Stepford Wife, once a month she gets a sitter for the kids, packs up her wares, puts on the good make-up and new shoes, and heads off to one of the Pampered Chef? cultmember's homes for an afternoon of cooking, drinking and husband/mother/kid's teacher bashing. Oh. And they sell and buy stuff. Expensive stuff. The funny thing about this group is they are all repping the line. They are all in each other's Pyramid. It's a little coven of Pampered Chefs?. Systematically buying and selling from each other with a system not even the 2000 Florida elections officials could figure out. They think they've got the system beat, "We beat the Pyramid!" is an exact quote.
No one beats a Pyramid ladies. No one.
This friend lives quite a distance from me - a 6 hour flight, to be more to the point. She also happens to be my oldest and best girlfriend, and the mother of my adorable godchildren. So when I visit her, I want to see her. And my adorable godchildren. And her husband.
A few years ago, shortly after she joined the cult of Pampered Chef?, I visited her.
I was there exactly two hours when she sprang it on me.
What she said: "So, some of my friends are having a get together tomorrow afternoon. They invited you, you're welcome to come, meet some of the girls I've met since we moved here. They're a lot of fun. And I've got a sitter lined up."
At this juncture my friend was a new first time mother, the first of my friends to have a child, and most of her friends (or so I assumed) were not yet married much less mothers. What I heard: "Go into town, have a lazy afternoon at some swank restaurant, drink fuu fuu cocktails, talk about shoes and boys and bosses we hate and what is that nail polish, it's divine! and do some shopping."
Of course I said, "That would be great! A girl's day out!"
My suspicions were aroused later that evening when several phone calls of arrangements for the following afternoon were made.
Seemed a bit overplanned to me, but my friend can be a bit plan happy, so I didn't really catch on to what was happening.
I caught on when we arrived at the home of one of her friends. The (C)oven Leader for the day.
We entered her home around 12:30 PM. It was mood lit. Lights dimmed. A fire in the fire place. Vivaldi playing. And complete formal place settings at the dining room table. Women were dressed casually, except the hostess, who was dressed for work but with a Pampered Chef? apron, chef hat and oven mitt. Yes. The uniform of the (C)oven Leader of the Month.
The food was good. To that I will admit. But for three hours, these women did nothing but complain about their husbands, bitch about their mothers, and form an alliance against a particular kindergarten teacher. Oh. And they had a field day with me. Me the unmarried. Me the childless. Me the one who cannot possibly afford to buy any of their wares, and even if I could, wouldn't.
I pulled my friend aside and asked her what a particular item of potential interest cost. A staggering amount. For something I did not need or really want.
To her credit, she didn't say another word, didn't pressure me and certainly understood, on some level, the stupidity of the price of the goods. She does admit to that, but will defend the quality.
She also did not come to my defense when the women seized every opportunity to make digs at me. "Well of course, you, being single, probably don't have to worry about getting meals ready." or "I was so desperate to have children when I was your age, I can't even imagine how I would have coped if I wasn't married." or "I never liked working. Never. That MBA was well worth it's cost, though, because if I hadn't been at Price Waterhouse I never would have met (my wonderful husband)." (Yeah, I had to scrape my jaw off the floor, too.)
These comments were all made in syrupy, sing songy voices, passive aggression at it's best. An artform refined and perfected by women in suburbs the world over.
I was scared and angry.
How could my friend, my sane, funny, extremely well educated and sarcastic friend who should be mocking and laughing at these women be part of this group? I was more than a little hurt, and a lot angry that my friend would ?waste? this, one of our few afternoons together, at this conspiracy of doom under the Pyramid. To say nothing of the issue of my unmarried, childless working stiff status being attacked.
Those were early days of sales parties for me.
A few years, a few Product demo parties, and a lot of money later, what I have learned is that all successful Product parties require one woman, a newbie, a friend of one of the inner circle, to act as whipping girl. This woman should be single, childless and employed. It helps if she's well educated, well traveled and well heeled. (They are sweetly loathe to her, but they want her money.)
Why, you ask?
Because it makes the women who do not work, who gave up careers (or never had one) education and a life of their own for a husband, children a house in the suburbs and monthly Product parties a glimpse at how their lives could be. It makes them feel smug, secure and superior. They will sing songily hurl and lob passive aggressive missives at the token single childless employed newbie like scuds.
They will drink and the scuds will become less passive and more aggressive. In defending by insulting, they will whip themselves up into a frenzy of happy suburban passion and they will buy! buy! buy! They will prove to themselves and the token single childless employed woman that their lives are so good they can spend insane amounts of money for bakeware, lingerie, scrapbooks and candles (all of which could be procured more cheaply at Target, by the way) JUST BECAUSE THEY WANT TO! In fact, in some cases THEY NEED TO! THEY HAVE SO MANY CHERISHED MEMORIES THAT THEY SIMPLY CANNOT TRUST THEIR PRECIOUS PHOTOS TO ANYTHING LESS THAN CREATIVE MEMORIES? PRODUCTS! (And you, pathetic single childless woman have no memories worth cherishing. Your vacation photos from Michu Pichu? Come on, it?s not the stuff of grandparent brag books, now is it? And without children, who will look at them after you?re dead?) LISA, ORDER ME TWO OF THOSE SENTIMENTS ALBUMS! STAT!
And that is the Circle of Life within the pyramid sales party circuit.
And there are other angles. Oh, there are angles to get you in there.
Let me tell you about the time I was shunned (yet again) and heavily suggested that I leave a Pyramid party. I tell this tale so that others may learn and successfully be removed from the Pyramid circuit.
A few years ago, a new girl came to work in my office. I didn?t work with her directly and consequently did not know her very well. A casual good morning or rare work related issue and that?s it. About three months after she started, she sent an email to every woman, yes WOMAN on staff on our floor inviting us to a scrapbooking party. No boys allowed - a big Pyramid rule unless it?s tools or Amway or selling vacation property or life insurance. All but a few women declined. I smelled a Creative Memories? rat before I even opened the email. Uh uh. No way. Not me. A ?Sorry, no thanks? was sent in hasty reply. I felt no guilt because I barely knew this girl.
As the date of the scrapbooking party drew near, New Girl sent more emails saying she had this big fun afternoon lined up, come on over, it?ll be a blast. (note she never, ever actually mentioned Creative Memories?, another big Pyramid rule. Do not mention the name of the company - word hits the streets and people know to avoid anything to do with Pyramid companies. Best to make it sound like a fun girls night doing something fun - cooking, scrapbooking, drinking...and "fun" will be used over and over again to describe anything and everything to do with the Product. "Fun" is the angle they are trained to push. Because after all, fleecing your friends, neighbors and co-workers out of their hard earned cash for crap products is "fun.") No response from anyone.
Four days prior to the big event, New Girl appeared in my office.
?Trillian, I know you said No Thanks, but you?re so creative and such a great artist, it would mean a lot to me if you could come to my scrapbook party for even an hour or so. I just know you?ve got a lot of really great ideas for us non creative types. Please?? (When your job title is Creative Driving Force of the Company it?s difficult and awkward to deny you have any talent or skill whatsoever.)
I did stand firm, even with her ?flattery.? ?No, really, I can?t. Sorry.?
?Trillian, please. I?m so afraid no one is going to show up and I?m so uncreative, if anyone does show up it?s going to be a huge failure.?
?Okay. Fine I?ll be there for an hour or so. That?s it.?
?Yippeee!!!! Trillian?s coming to my party!!!!! Yippeeeeee!!!!! This is going to be sooooo cool!!!!!! Bring some of your work!!!!!! Pleeeeeease????!!!!! Yipppppeeeee!!!!!!? She then attempted to hug me.
I said, ?Hug me and the deal is off.?
I?ve often contemplated a career in art therapy, working with handicapped children and adults, using art as a medium for mental and physical stimulation and healing. So I looked upon this as a way to see if I could handle even functioning adults in a teaching situation. I still smelled the Creative Memories? rat, but thought, ?Maybe they?re more low key.?
I showed up with some of the travel albums I?ve done. (on my own, without any help or products from Creative Memories?, if you can imagine) some of my art, and loads of art supplies and spare stuff I was graciously offering to let them use and/or have. (I know, I thought that was really nice of me, too. Especially since I had to schlepp it to the nether regions of the city via two trains.) New Girl?s entire apartment had been turned into a Creative Memories? show room. It might have been a nice place. It might not have been. No way of knowing under the crates and crates of crap for sale.
New Girl announced my arrival with zeal. ?It?s Trillian! It?s Trillian! That girl from work I told you about! Yippppeeeee!!! Yipppeeee!!!!! We?re gonna get creative now!!!!?
?Hi everyone. Hi New Girl. I brought some supplies and a few books I?ve put together, where should I put them?? I asked, as low key as possible.
The Creative Memories? ringleader, brought in by special appointment for the afternoon, and clearly straight from the suburbs, was clearly not happy about my arrival. More to the point, not happy with my unCreative Memories? samples and supplies.
She immediately interrupted and rebuffed me with, ?You?re late. I?ve got everything set up. I don?t think there?s space or time for your work.? (I arrived 10 minutes prior to my appointed time, for the record)
New Girl was slightly downcast, but again, as always happens in these things, gave way to Creative Memories? Commando and did not come to my defense or aid.
I slouched off to a corner.
I listened, quietly and patiently to the drone of sales pitch. ?Archival quality! One of it?s kind!? and fear of God and guilt: ?You simply cannot trust your memories, your precious photos and mementoes to anything else. Your children and grandchildren and great grandchildren will thank you so many times over for being so discriminating and wise in your choice of products.?
Blah blah blah. Lies, lies, lies.
As a side note, I was cracking up over the fact that as she was going on and on about the archival quality and pristine products, she was munching down potato chips (as was everyone else) and drinking red wine (others: beer) as she showed off the products. Apparently the products are so good they are impervious to greasy fingerprints and stains. NOT!
But I kept my mouth shut.
Finally, the fun began. Each of us was given a scrapbook page. I declined the offer, saying, ?no, really, I?m set, and this won?t fit in any of my books.?
Insert hard sell on albums and products here.
?No. Really. No. Look what I?ve done on my own. I don?t need or want any new stuff.? And I then produced my secret weapon of mass destruction.
A stunning, if I do say so myself, album of HWNMNBS and I in Scotland. Fabulously breathtaking photos, fun and interesting mementoes, creative use of mixed media, all tied in with page layouts worthy of awards, a very handsome man in many of the photos. ...how could they not drool and salivate?
And not one Creative Memories? product.
Creative Memories? Commando was very, very, very angry.
She pulled New Girl aside and lashed her in an angry whisper, ?I spent a lot of time and energy organizing this. How dare you invite HER!? pointing at me. I gave my best ?who me?? look their way.
And showed some of my supplies and other books to the ?gals.?
I also suggested they not eat or drink anything around their work area, that nothing kills photos faster than greasy fingers. Shocks of ooohs and oh I didn?t think of thats! Chips and beers were quickly cast aside and put away in the kitchen, out of harm?s way.
I heard one woman say, ?See, this is why you always get professional help. You always get the best advice and ideas that way. Did you see that album? My gawd. A work of art.?
In response I swear I heard Creative Memories? Commando say, ?Curses! Foiled again!?
And then she rebounded. And began the sales pitch anew. Good thing she was fresh off the District Leader Motivational Sales Convention. She began making offers of reduced pricing. (Though never mentioned the actual price.) And started giving away some of her product samples. (A Pyramid rule for when things are not going well. "Pull out the heavy artillery! Give them FREE! samples!")
The gals were taken in by the free samples. I was shunned to my corner.
And then it happened.
As the gals were working on their pages, and I was offering some basic art skill advice, Creative Memories? commando pulled me aside and gave me a whispered lashing, ?If you?re not here to buy anything or even try Creative Memories? product, why are you here?!?
?Um, because New Girl begged me to come and offer creative ideas and help.?
?New Girl shouldn?t have done that. You shouldn?t be here.? (That is an exact quote)
?Gee, will you look at the time. New Girl, I?ve got to go.?
The door nearly hit me on the way out.
I successfully attended a Creative Memories? party and did not buy a thing, was pretty much asked to leave AND annoyed a Creative Memories? Commando all in the course of two hours. My work there was done.
The following week I began receiving emails from some of the gals who were at the party. New Girl gave out my work email address for creative consulting.
I was furious.
I told her off.
She quit her job two months later. (She recently returned, however...)
I came out of my Mary Kay? experience relatively unscathed. Shocked and slightly disappointed in my friend?s enthusiastic zeal for clearly inferior lipstick (so much wax you could stick a wick in it and call it a candle), clumpy mascara (did you say Mary Kay or Tammy Faye?), and the smelliest lotions this side of Coty, but that aside, relatively unscathed. One Satin Hands system later, I'm none worse for the wear.
But it won't end there.
She'll be back. There will be other parties. She will need moral support. I will feel obligated and duty bound to buy something. She will pressure me to become a sales associate. I will resist. Then I will feel guilty and buy more Mary Kay? crap in nauseating pink containers I will never use. It will sit in my bathroom, apart from my real cosmetics (so as to avoid contamination by association) until an appropriate amount of time has passed (three visits to my home by the selling friend or 6 months, whichever comes first) and I can either throw it away or give it to my young and less discriminating nieces.
And there will be Slumber Parties?, and more Creative Memories? parties, and Pampered Chef? demos.
And if you think you are safe, that your friends won't do this, that you will live your life sheltered from all that is Pyramid, guess again.
And if you want to read something truly scary, read this and remind yourself that these are suburban housewives were talking about here. Conjure whatever image comes naturally. I've got a story about this, too, but that's another blog.
Sunday, January 25, 2004 Big, Soft but Firm, Ripe and Juicy When I first saw Cleavage Creek, my thoughts naturally turned feminist.
"Oh for the love of St. Pauli." and "What the...?" and "Beer, yes. Whatever. But wine?! Never!"
Angered and thinking I truly had lived too long, I did a little investigative research.
And regained my sense of humor.
Turns out, 10% of all sales go to breast cancer research.
Red wine may have an effect on the slowing (and maybe prevention) of breast cancer.
And if one beer drinking guy who would otherwise never even look at a bottle of wine buys it and drinks it (even if his motivations are not breast cancer research or palate enlightenment) so much the better.
Armed with this information, a dauntless sense of humor, my investigative journalistic streak, and the thirst for wine knowledge, I decided to buy and try Cleavage Creek.
I opted for the Merlot and Cabernet, the most expensive in their line (Zinf is the most economical at $9.99/bottle). I shamelessly, proudly, even, handed the bottles to the guy behind the counter.
He said, "You're the first woman I've sold any of this to."
"Really? That's odd. 10% of sales go to breast cancer research. I would think women would snatch this up by the case!"
"Have you tasted it?"
"No. That's why I'm buying it. I want to try it and support breast cancer research."
Dismissing the breast cancer research comment, he sarcastically said, "Let me know how you like it."
Investigative report: Both are good. Not great, drink of the Gods great, but good. Very serviceable. Enjoyable, even.
There are better Merlots and Cabernets in that price range ($20.99 and $21.99 respectively) but, these are good. It's not swill. And the added "I've done something good, I've given back to the community, I'm helping a good cause" bonus makes up for anything lacking in taste.
I also took a really good look at the bedheaded buxom blonde on the bottle. Beneath the cleavage, beneath the tousled locks, beneath the pearls (yes! pearls!) She looks intelligent. She looks nice.
She looks like my best friend.
Ah. Smart, smart marketing. I can get on board with this. They found the perfect balance. Men love to look at her and yet women are not threatened by her. Genius. I respect this.
One of my more militant feminist friends argued, "If they really wanted to support breast cancer, why didn't they put a woman post mastectomy on the label?"
Point duly noted and recorded. But let's face it, the point here is to sell wine, turn a profit and raise as much money as possible for breast cancer research. Sorry, Militant Feminazi, healthy boobs sell. Removed boobs do not. Yes, that speaks to big societal issues and problems, I agree. But until we're all (and I truly mean men and women here) enlightened to the point that sex does not sell, we might as well capitalize on the knowledge that it does, beat it at it's own game and raise some much needed cash for breast cancer research. I for one do not feel subjectified or held down by Cleavage Creek, their labels or their label model.
I went back and told the wine merchant my findings. He was surprised. I told him he should make a sign with the breast cancer contribution angle. He agreed and mumbled something about getting something from the distributor.
You will also note, the closest to pink they have is Zinfandel. No white merlots. None.
Pink Stinks, but in this case, the pink ribbon endorsement means good things for wine drinkers.
Ladies, don't be angered or fooled by the bountiful blonde on the label. Maintain perspective and a sense of humor.