Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Are You a Carrie, a Samantha or a Tyler Durden?

They're dressed like boy versions of Samantha and Charlotte! Neat!
There is one kind of man that I love to mock. And that's the guy who will go on about how much he hated Sex and the City, and how it was the stupidest show ever, and women got way too into it. Then he'll say his favorite movie is Fight Club.

Guys, Fight Club is Sex and the City for boys.

SATC had Manolos. Fight Club had the Ikea catalog.

Both SATC and Fight Club were about single people who form their own little urban family. It's just that one family was a little more violence-prone than the other. Both had all sorts of deep thoughts about city life, jobs and relationships. Both were, essentially, trite and fluffy, with neo-feminist/neo-masculinist philosophies as a cover for all of that fluff.

However, fans everywhere were silly enough to take it seriously. Women picked up ugly fashions and debated whether they were Carries, Mirandas, Samanthas or Charlottes. Men tried pretending to be badasses who could hate their lives with the best of them. And I daresay a few tried to make their own soap.

So, everyone, next time you "couldn't help but wonder" about "single-serving people," remember, we're all more alike than we are different.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I Knew I'd Never Be Cool: The Famous Bird Poop Story

I've never been one of the cool kids. I tend to fall down, mistakenly curse people out in Bosnian, or do other ridiculous things. And I can tell you exactly when I knew I'd always be a hopeless dork.

The date? September, 1990. My parents, in a fit of misplaced ambition and suburban sadism, enrolled me in a fancy private school. I'm in the ninth grade, and I'm enduring my adolescent Ugly Year. The Ugly Year is that time nothing fits, nothing looks right, and various body parts are growing faster than others. I was all nose and no boobs.

But I'm doing OK. There's no worry about expensive clothes, I've got a uniform. I've also got the right spiral perm (poodleriffic!), some purple eyeshadow, and the braces really aren't as bad as I thought. So far no one had noticed my basic Hoodbridge-iness or that my mom drove the wrong kind of car. (True story: because all the moms drove identical Volvos, there was a problem with kids getting into the wrong cars at the end of the school day. And because of the uniforms, the moms would sometimes drive off with the wrong kid. The rich really are different. Except when they all look the same, apparently.)

So, back to the story. The new school is OK. I figure I can hack it. Until we take a class trip to a ropes course at the hoity-toity Madeira School. Yup, there's no better team-builder than encouraging 14-year-olds to hurl one another over logs or shove each other onto zipwires. It was like a coed Lord of the Flies.

But it's OK. I'm fitting in. That is, until it's time to get back on the bus. As we're assembling, I feel something. A LOT of something. That's because a passing bird decided to let out its stuff on my head. It was, like, a bucket's worth. I think there was more poop than there was bird. I was absolutely drenched.

A few of the nicer girls and one of the teachers tried to clean me off with napkins. Most everyone else stood there and gawped. Eventually a hose was procured, and I was forcibly de-pooped in front of the entire freshman class. And from that day forward, coolness was over. I was the Bird Poop Girl. Endlessly mocked, treated as outer-burb trash, target of bullies.

Overall, and I really mean this part, the Bird Poop Incident was a good thing. I spent the rest of the year openly disliking most of my classmates, which was much easier than playing along and being phony. I developed a lifelong aversion to bullies, snobs and jerks. And, thankfully, my parents let me switch back to public school the following year. And that's when I met some of the people who are still my dearest friends.

The only drawback I can still see is that birds hate me. It's partially due to some suicidal parakeets I kept as pets, and mostly due to the Bird Poop Incident. Pigeons follow me around and fly at my head. Seagulls strafe me. Parrots try to bite me. It's just all really, really weird.

Anybody else up for telling an embarrassing high school story? Come on, I want to see if you can top the Bird Poop Incident.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lazy Sundays

Did you know that it can be tiring to cook dinner for a dozen people? I sure didn't!

I have this slight tendency to overdo things. Did I really need to make fruit salsa AND cowboy caviar? Plus the cinnamon crisps and the pulled pork with the homemade slaw and vinegar sauce and...well, at least I punted on dessert, which was lovingly prepared by Shoppers Food Warehouse. After the famous Lemon Meringue Devils Tower incident of 2006, I avoid making desserts.

I spent all day Sunday in bed. The morning was spent recovering from the beer. The afternoon was spent recovering from cooking all day Saturday, and the evening was spent recovering from a late-night emotional sucker punch (what's a party without drama?).

And, really, Sunday was a great day. I hate dreariness, so I stay inside when the weather's bad. Multiple naps, sticking to the fun parts of the Sunday paper, and the bare minimum of housework required to keep my apartment from being smelly. I enjoyed the endlessly entertaining sexual double standards of 90210: Brenda loses her virginity, is happy about it, and is thereby rewarded with a pregnancy scare. That shameless hussy! Meanwhile, Brandon loses the big V and all he gets is a quick condom talk from Dad.

I didn't clean my apartment, I didn't clean myself, I didn't even change clothes. I wallowed, I napped, I dozed. It ruled.

Friday, April 25, 2008

What Shannon Did on Her Spring Blog-cation

Sorry for the unannounced hiatus. Instead of making a big deal over the fact that I was taking time off, I decided to just go away and see if anyone missed me. You didn't miss me at all, did you? Not even a bit? Thanks, guys. Nice to know I'm such an essential part of your daily existence.

As punishment for not missing me, I'm going to tell you a bunch of really boring stuff about my life. Things are amazingly awesome and busy right now. I started a new job Wednesday.

I took Monday and Tuesday off to clean my apartment and redo the bathroom. Two straight days of cleaning? Whee! And, after a year of not being able to buy stuff, go anywhere, or do anything, I've been indulging in a few lifestyle upgrades. My new cellphone, which in no way resembles a brick, log, or outhouse. A shelf system. My classy new penguins-in-sunglasses bathroom scheme. Buying out West Elm's stock of my (discontinued!) stemwear. A happy little journey to the Clinique counter (it's free bonus time at Macy's).

And, best of all, my bangs have finally grown back!

I've also been filling in various forms for my new job, most of which involve the pull-the-plug, slice-the-pie aspect of Death. This has created some heartfelt discussions with my sister:

Me: So, you're the beneficiary on my life insurance.

Skye: Cool, how much do I get?

Me: 15 grand.

Skye: That's it? You're worth more alive than dead? I can't even bury you for that.

Me: I know! Just get some Hefty bags and dump me in a river.

Skye: Then I can use the rest of the money for a party.

Me: Or you can give me a Viking funeral. Put me in a boat, set me on fire.

Skye: I can't buy a boat for $15K!

Me: Just a little dinghy, for, like 500 bucks.

Skye: Are dinghies flammable? They're metal. I bet it would cost me a fortune in lighter fluid.

Me: Fine, we'll go back to the original plan: Hefty bags and a swift-flowing river.

Skye: Cool.

Note: Skye's life insurance is way better than mine, and I get double the money if she bites it on the job. So is anybody up for some office booby-trapping?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Profiles in Occupational Hotness: Retail Edition

I’ve had some odd jobs. Night receptionist in a dorm, where mostly I was there to call the police every time spoiled residents chucked lounge furniture off the balconies. Reader/guide for a legally blind lawyer. Diplomat’s wife.

None, though, will ever compare to my tenure as a Hot Sauce Salesgirl. Like many of my high school classmates, I had a part-time job at Potomac Mills Mall (“Come for the Bargains, Stay for the Tacky”). Most of my friends slung popcorn at the AMC, a few worked in the nicer shops or the Silver Diner, the saddest souls gave out quarters at the Planet Fun arcade.

Meanwhile, I worked at a hot sauce cart. It was this little kiosk that sold hot sauce, salsa, barbecue sauce, jerk sauce, sauces and rubs aplenty. Plus a few badly-squashed fancy chips and some t-shirts bearing the shop logo (more on the logo later).

Not impressed yet? I haven’t gotten to the best part: the cart was called “Burning Desires.” Level One of Wrong: I was 17 at the time. Level Two of Wrong: I was about a ten-minute drive from Quantico Marine Base. Level Three of Wrong: I had to wear an apron and a polo shirt bearing our logo. Level Four of Wrong: The logo was two peppers dancing, but they, uh, didn’t look like peppers. Defcon Level Five of Wrong: I had no customers, so I spent most of my shifts fielding prank calls.

“Do you sell edible underwear?”
“Can I sample your hot sauce?” (accompanied by heavy breathing)
“So, do you have barbecue rub? And I apply it directly on myself?”
“I’d like to slather YOU in hot sauce!” (accompanied by a call to the police)

The store went out of business within six months. This was Woodbridge in 1994, when "adventurous ethnic food" was a TGIFriday's fajita and spicy food was too big of a dream.

Nowadays, it all seems so tame. I was such a prude! Teens today would gleefully get a job at Burning Desires, take cameraphone pictures of their underpants surrounded by jars of Dave's Insanity Sauce, and broadcast it on their Facebook pages.

In the comments section, tell me about the most inappropriately suggestive job you've ever had.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Well, you're not going to adopt a hag, so much as marry one. Before you panic, we’re not talking about an actual hag, just a semi-hag. A hag-to-be. A bridesmaid to hagitude.

That's right, we're marrying off all the single 29-year-old women in America!

Bear with me. The media cycle is a predictable thing. As regular as old Aunt Flo, the media/cultural debate/Internet decides to put out a new op-ed designed to make women feel like crap about themselves.

Usually, it's because we're all supposed to be married by 30, and done with birthin’ by 35. In trailervilles/the pickup artist scene (they’re remarkably similar), you can round those ages down to 25 and 30. Women's failure in this regard is a national catastrophe. After 30, our looks diminish with each passing microsecond. And as we all know, our looks are all we really have to offer. It’s tragic.

Meanwhile, our society gives men a free pass. Thanks to biology, cultural norms, yesterday's breakfast, whatever, men don't face the same scrutiny/guilt tripping/societal hand-wringing. There are men who string their girlfriends along for years and years, shack up with them to no ultimate purpose, dump them, trade them in, cheat, or are just plain not suitable for the occasion. But women are still supposed to marry the first clod who comes along. Nobody ever tells these Xbox freak bachelor babies to man up and marry. The deck is stacked, so we’re reshuffling it.

Onward to my brilliant social engineering experiment.

I've made a list of people who lay on the marital/hagitude guilt trip. Most are articulate, some are successful, any and all can provide for their very own hag. Here we go:

Lori Gottlieb

Roissy and about 80% of his male commenters (sorry Roissy, couldn’t resist)

Bob Allen

Rachel Greenwald

Other nominees welcome!

If your name is on the above list, you're a mandatory participant in Adopt-a-Hag. We're taking you at your word. No longer will you badger women about marriage/looming hideousness before an arbitrary deadline without taking the plunge yourself. No further action is necessary on your part – your state-issued pre-hag will arrive via registered mail in the next 7-10 days. And, if you're a woman (aka, a traitor), you get a sex change and TWO pre-hags. If you’re not on the list, you can volunteer by adding your name to the comments.

As for me? I don't have a dog in the fight. This is my spectacularly selfless contribution to humanity. I'm 31, and I've had my turn on the marriage-go-round. I've resigned myself to a life of Botox oblivion and cruising the clubs at 40, like those sitcom girls with the funny clothes who talk dirty all the time. But don't cry for me, I live on through Adopt-a-Hag.

PS – this post inspired by the randoms on KassyK’s blog, who hassled her about marrying “before it’s too late” because she’s all old and used-up at 29 and her biological clock should be pounding in her ears and controlling her every action. Lordy lordy, people.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Monday, April 14, 2008

Crazy Sex-Starved Women!!!!

If that headline doesn't goose my site stats, nothing will.

A lot of people waste a lot of time complaining about dating in DC. The bar scene is lame, everyone's snotty or dorky or a headcase, or just plain not good enough. Well, all of you, shut up. Your bluff has been called.

Because the most bizarre, awful, soul-killing date I have ever heard of happened nowhere near here. Tale courtesy of a newly single friend who joined

So, we met at this [redacted] for appetizers and drinks.

She started telling me about how she separated 6 months ago and wasn't being satisfied enough but joined some adult website and had met and slept with about 10 guys in the past 3 months. (Editor's note: SCORE! Also, I'll take Craigslist Casual Encounters for $400, Alex.)

Then she started talking about a foot fetish. I felt pain when she stuck her high heel in my crotch in under the table. I told her that I had to go home and she started asking me if the seats folded down in the back of the van? Another plus for the company minivan- Crazy sex starved women!!!!

I mean I am adventurous and have done some messed up things but not with a total stranger I just met. Luckily I got a phone call from my mom and was able to get away. So I have decided to cancel my account. Everyone has gotten a big kick out of the story though.

Add me to that list - this story is a whole soccer team of a big kick. It's a dozen angry fetuses of kick. It's a Rockettes line of crazy kick. Really, this friend of mine has achieved everything he needs to do in life, merely by going on this fantastic date so I can blog about it.

So, thank you, Newly Single Friend! And to all you whiny Washingtonians who claim there are no good men/women/blowup dolls left:

Until you take a stiletto to the junk, what you say ain't nothing but bunk.

Looking at the People Who Are Looking at the Stuff

I'm an old hand at street festivals. Folklife Festival? Standing in line to look at an old dude whittling or demonstrating bird calls. All you have to do is avoid wandering into the Faux Folklife Cult Corral. Adams Morgan Day? Drunk people singing karaoke and buying crafts at two in the afternoon. Crafty Bastards? Just, no.

Saturday, I went to the Cherry Blossom Festival with a group of friends. Cherry Blossom is the end-all-be-all of the DC pseudocultural experience. You can spend a whole day standing around with your friends, making fun of passersby, and then call it an intellectual pursuit. Sign me up!

Like many festivals, you spend most of your time looking at the people who are looking at the stuff, because you're not going to get to the stuff. It's so crowded you could be just about anywhere. So we gawked at all the kids dressed as anime characters, including more dirty schoolgirls than you could shake a frat house Halloween party at. All of the women had gaunt expressions, clompy shoes and high pigtails. Most of the boys were dressed in bathrobes and nattily accessorized with nunchucks.

We began our journey with free Starbucks coffee. Note: nothing to do with Japan. Then we ran into a Southwest employee dressed as an airplane. Note: also nothing to do with Japan. She looked sort of like an aerodynamic kangaroo, with a pouch of freebies. Now, you might feel weird about having a strange woman dig around in her crotch to find coupons, hats and peanuts, but, really, that's about the most normal Saturday I've had in this town.

Then we wandered off to the live performances. I am not a cultured woman. I grew up in Woodbridge. Generally, I am not impressed by anything artistic that I could probably do myself (see: modern art with one big paint splotch, Yoko Ono's music). So I don't really get Japanese dancing. It just sort of looks like very creaky old women, slowly easing themselves across the stage to the sound of mating cats. At least, afterwards, the drum guys came out, and they were awesome. Boom! Boom! Smash! Yell! Awesome. What? Again, I'm from Woodbridge.

Afterwards we went for beer and a late lunch at Gordon Biersch (not Japanese), where I railed against Fuddruckers (Note: also not Japanese.) What? After a big beer, I ALWAYS rail against Fudd's. After two, I profess my love to the waiter, and after three, I get engaged (though not normally to the waiter).

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Why I Can't Buy Underpants

I blame 90210. What? Exactly. The other night, I went to Urban Outfitters. I stopped in to pick up some underwear (oh, hi Dad!) and I got stuck within ten feet of the door.

It was like the poltergeist of Kelly Taylor's wardrobe, haunting us with bad fashion. Floral babydoll dresses, meant to be worn with clompy boots. Ankle-length leggings. Neon. High-waisted jeans. Vests. Vests all over the place. All that was missing from the hellish tableau was a floppy hat with a big flower on it.

My fight-or-flight response to bad clothes kicked in. I could either torch the place, or run. I left with my wallet no lighter and my arms free of cute boyshorts. Even merely being in the presence of these monstrosities violated Shannon's Law of Fashion:

Shannon's Law of Fashion: If you wore it the first time it was in style, you're too old to wear it the second time.

So I did what any sane person would do: I went straight home and added a bunch of 90210 episodes to my Netflix queue. I needed to spend some quality time with Brenda, Brandon, Oooooohndrea, Kelly, Dylan, David, Steve and Donna.

Reliving 1990 did nothing to calm my troubled mind. How did beach bunny Kelly spend every weekend laying out, but stay as pale as ever? Why were Brandon and Brenda so creepily obsessed with one another's virginity? Why did such supposedly cool kids do such lame stuff on the weekends, like pal around the Walsh house or participate in mother-daughter fashion shows? What happened to all the Issue of the Week women, like the straight-A teen mom, the runaway ex-girlfriend, the rape victim cheerleader, the alcoholic surfer babe, or the psychowench who got cured of her diet pill addiction in the last five minutes of the slumber party episode? All of them disappear. Did they transfer to some alternate universe West Beverly where they got their own series? If so, that would be the best TV show ever, and I am furious that I don't live in that alternate universe.

And, most importantly, why didn't he bring a blanket? *Sob*!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

My Opinion on Perfection

When you ask a man to describe his “perfect woman,” you usually wind up with a glorified golden retriever, or Mother Teresa in a thong. Women don’t fare much better, as they usually talk about a square-jawed plastic action figure who loves to do the dishes. As with anything romantic, the clich├ęs are pervasive and suffocating. There is too little room for quirks, flaws, or surprises.

Nobody will ever be perfect, which is a blessing. We can’t heap all of our love, needs, and passion onto one person. Soulmates are for suckers. Life is about building many, many connections, until they add up to something perfect.

But we all have times when we’re our best selves. And I'm on the record as saying that men are pretty cool. So here are a few of the “perfect” men I’ve known (mostly friends, as that’s where I’ve been the luckiest):

The man who remembered how much I love Gerber daisies, researched them on Wikipedia, and brought them to me for Valentine’s Day.

The man who talked me into bagging work for the afternoon to go play on some waterslides.

The man who could derail any staff meeting by weighing in on Asian hookers, or by washing down PopRocks with Dr. Pepper.

The man who walked around DC with me until seven in the morning, just because I was at loose ends and had worn flats that night.

The man who, despite the tough-guy sarcasm and home tattoo, sent me soup when I was sick and will always have the bail money ready.

The man who kept a SuperSoaker in the gun rack of his truck.

The man who decided to join the girls’ team, because life is just more fun that way.

The man who has spent eight years of his life listening to the same stupid story about bartering for hamburgers at Tysons Corner.

The man who flunked me for misspelling Albuquerque, because that’s where I learned that details matter.

The man whose album collection could eat Texas, and still have room for dessert.

The man who showed up at the airport with a cooler of root beer.

The man who knows everything, from GPS autodrives to why I decided to climb a tree in a dominatrix outfit, but isn't afraid to admit when he’s wrong.

All the men who have let me take care of them when they’re sick, lonely, or afraid.

The men who were everything I didn’t need: the players, the providers, the psychos, the stalkers. And the men who were exactly what I needed at the time: fun, encouraging, solid, brave, rebellious or silly.

I could go on forever, because I’ve met so many amazing men. All of my “perfect” guys are flawed, none of them will grace the cover of Vanity Fair, and I bet none of them dream of washing the dishes while massaging my feet.

Perfection has nothing to do with arbitrary ideals or conventional romance. Instead, the “Perfect Man” is one who inspires you. He makes you want to be your best self. You want to be kinder, sweeter, smarter, wiser and braver. The “perfect man” makes you wish that you could be perfect yourself.

"Perfection” comes from within. Seek out the people who turn you into your best self, and the rest will work itself out.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Hey Mom, Can I Have Some Beer Money/Capital Improvement Funds?

A little maturity might be in order here. Namely, I should probably be figuring out who I am, what I want, and most particularly whether or not I want children. So I’ve been coming up with all sorts of test drives. Can I deal with the screeching toddlers at the Museum of Natural History? Does hanging out with my pregnant girlfriend give me pangs of envy, or am I grateful to not have to carry a carbonated bowling ball around in my stomach?

But I’ve been focusing too much on the early stages of parenthood. I think a full life-cycle experience is in order here. That's why I joined my alma mater’s alumni association.

I wanted to test drive the experience of having a college kid call and hit me up for money. Sure, they say they’re from a phone bank, and they need donations, but a broke college kid is a broke college kid. First they ask me to update my information for a mythical “alumni directory.” Then, once I've been buttered up a little, they want my money.

I’ve been trying out that whole world-weary, sitcom parent vibe for every call. I especially enjoy pointing out that they never call, they never write, and I only hear from them when they’re low on cash. It’s really fun, and so far the college students haven’t minded. Usually they just start cackling about halfway through, hush abruptly whenever their supervisor is nearby, and then try to convince me to contribute to a “capital campaign.” I ask if they think I’m made of money, or if money grows on trees, and the cackling starts all over again. Then I suggest they fund their library improvements with a paper route or some babysitting.

At this point, the student is usually just grateful that they’re paid by the hour (yes, I confirm that first) and willingly puts me on a list to receive a follow-up call in three months so I can get in some more parental practice.

Now, if I could just get one of these kids to show up at my home with a mountain of laundry, a cheesy tribal tattoo, and goofy political beliefs, I’ll be all set.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Guest Blogging for Godot, Volume 2

Reader 1: Here we are again.
Reader 2: Yup, here we are.
Reader 1: Dude, Shannon ditched us.
Reader 2: Bloody typical, that.
Reader 1: Are you English now?
Reader 2: Sometimes. Shannon likes to pretend she's got an international audience.
Reader 1: Well, there's that Berlin guy. And somebody in Sarajevo.
Reader 2: The Berlin guy knows her from Chapel Hill, and she used to live in Sarajevo. So it's not as cool as it sounds. So where's Shannon?
Reader 1: No clue. Why aren't we named Vladimir and Estragon?
Reader 2: Because then Shannon would think we were "Bladderman and Estrogen."
Reader 1: Is she mentally deficient?
Reader 2: No, just a little hard of hearing.
Reader 1: Bladderman and Estrogen! We sound like superheroes! Really anatomical superheroes. Gross.
Reader 2: (rummages through Shannon's blogroll) Found her! She's guest blogging for Marissa at The Anti DC.
Reader 1: But I thought Shannon liked DC!
Reader 2: She does.
Reader 1: So why not call herself The Pro DC?
Reader 2: Because then she'd sound like a hooker? Just a thought.
Reader 1: Who's Marissa? And what does she have so many pants-related issues? It's kind of mental. Wow, she really, really likes tight pants.
Reader 2: Tight pants? I'm sick of Shannon and her bootcut cords. Let's go check this Marissa chick out. (both readers exit stage right)

Editorial note: I'm guest blogging for my online BFF/frenemy/nemesis Marissa today. Check it out.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Metro Opens...Makeup Kits?

I love it when my morning commute writes my blog for me.

The scene: train delay, up and down the Blue and Orange Lines. Squashed commuters, doofy tourists, garbled announcements, and a train lurching its way to Metro Center. I’m standing in the aisle, near one of the precious seat-back-to-ceiling poles (indispensable for short people).

The woman in the seat underneath me is wearing a floral trenchcoat in an arresting shade of post-nuclear green. She overslept and is running late. How do I know this? Because she’s digging through her makeup kit and putting her face on. We’ve all touched up our lipstick or fluffed our hair on the Metro. But, in the course of five stops, I saw her:

  1. Apply concealer to her under-eye circles and zits
  2. Sweep highlighter across her forehead and cheekbones
  3. Dab on a bit of peachy blush
  4. Yank her eyelids out of the way to scribble on some eyeliner
  5. Sweep on some Clinique eyeshadow and Great Lash mascara

We came to her stop before she had a chance to put on some lipstick or do up her hair. I hope she was transferring, so she’d have a little more time to finish her toilette.

I left the train feeling skeeved out. She wasn’t clipping her toenails or anything, but I just really didn’t need any insight into her beauty regimen. Some things are better done at home, or in the ladies’ room at your office.

Which brings us to today’s PSA: Women, nobody needs to know how you got to be so pretty. The results should speak for themselves. Nobody needs to see the mascara wand, the blush brush, or the tweezers. A little bit of lipstick or a swoop of powder across the nose? Fine. But if it involves both hands and touching up your eyeliner by the fluorescent light of your BlackBerry? No. Just, no.