Friday, August 29, 2008

Slacker Friday Happy Sinus Post

Hi! Anybody here? Just, me, then? Everyone else has already left for the weekend?

Good. Since nobody’s looking, I’m just going to babble on about nothing.

Why do all my sinus medications make me see little elves dancing across the ledge of the reception desk? Oh, is that because I’m not supposed to take them all at once? How dull. This is seriously the best high EVER.

Why do men do that weird leg-spreading thing on the Metro? Do they think I’m aroused by their knees? Do they really have the sort of junk that requires separate seating arrangements? Or do they just want me to believe that they do?

Why does the sight of a BlackBerry make me die inside?

What exactly does a drum cartridge do?

Why do dating and job rejection emails all look suspiciously alike? Do they all come from the same Form Letter Factory?

Why does my hair wait until a rainy day to develop any sort of personality?

And, lastly, why does the very existence of Vin Diesel offend me so grievously?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

So Long, Cupcake

Last night, I had a girl date on my roster.

Lemmonex and I made plans to check out the new cupcake joint in Dupont, so I could get my sugar on and she could post a review. And maybe afterwards we'd drink International Coffee while musing about that cute waiter, Jean-Luc. Or just have a pillow fight and giggle. What? We're all feminine and crap.

Or maybe we could have gone for cupcakes, followed by fancy burgers, Belgian food, upscale pizza, then small plates. It would have been like the last five years of the DC dining scene, Memento-style. But even that happy scenario was not to be.

I arrived at 6:30 to see a line spilling out of the store and down Connecticut Avenue. I joined the horde and waited for Lemmonex. The line inched forward. I was ever closer to trendy sweets and the anticipation was killing me.

At 6:45, Lemmonex arrived. Not two seconds later, they sold their last cupcake. The woman right in front of me snagged the very last one. Denied! Then the staff kicked everyone out of the store.

First off, let’s all stand in awe of the gross incompetence of Hello, Cupcake. Their first week in business, and they sold out of cupcakes fifteen minutes before closing. Get it together, people!

Second, let’s reflect upon the absurdity of it all. How do you run out of the very product you named your store after?

“Welcome to Staples, we’re fresh out of staples today.”

“Hi! Thanks for shopping at Toys R Us, unfortunately, we have no toys.”

“Due to rising gas prices, CarMax has decided to exclusively sell scooters and riding lawnmowers.”
It’s just too weird. At least the evening wasn’t a total loss: we consoled ourselves with pizza and beer. Just like the classy, upscale ladies we truly are. Then I broke a beer bottle and waved it at some guy's face, while Lemmonex hit another dude over the head with a chair. Really, that totally happened. It was awesome.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Swear This Isn't Turning Into a Dating Blog

I hadn’t had my ego crushed all to hell lately, so I decided to attempt online dating.

Plan A was Craigslist, which a friend of mine refers to as my “Boyfriend Netflix.” This is because I found two boyfriends in a row from that site. However, this time my options seemed to be limited to men who send me photos of themselves in their underpants. Or men who ordinarily live in Rome, but would love to mercilessly critique my writing and possibly buy me some lingerie.

So I tried OKCupid, which is also free. The good news stops there.

For starters, OKCupid has the annoying habit of trying to fix me up with my friends. It’s like an online version of my mother.

Also, the men of OKCupid have some of the worst reading comprehension skills of any men, anywhere, on the Internet. I live in DC. I say, in my profile, that I do not have a car. So, if you live in Leesburg, and somehow get through life in the exurbs without a car, how do you propose we date one another? Also, Exurb + No Car = DUI conviction. Or unemployed. Or, possibly, both.

The one guy I did meet and go out with from OKCupid sent me what amounts to a rejection form letter. “Thank you for your interest, however, we do not have any positions available at the Girlfriend Corporation.” This drab little punch in the gut was followed by half a dozen smiley face emoticons. Wow, rejection PLUS emoticons, it’s like my best day ever!

Lastly, I'm just not feeling any of the guys on there. Could it just be that I’m finally jaded, more than sixteen years after my first date? Or could it be the sinus infection that is gradually devouring my eyeballs from the inside? Most likely, I’m just not in “Date Mode” these days. If every email feels like a chore to respond to, it's time to take a break.

Who’s up for a girls’ night out?

PS - Yes, I’m aware this post outs me as single. I have been since July, I just thought an announcement post would be a bit self-pitying and ridiculous. Self-pitying and ridiculous are both par for the course around here, I know, but I tend to stay away from really personal stuff.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Petty Complaints About Petty Theft

I think we need a new category of crime. There’s grand larceny. Cars, banks, taxes. There’s petty larceny. Wallets, phones, a lipstick from Macy’s. Then there’s a whole other category of thief: the guy who swipes my morning paper.

What should that even be called? Nitpick larceny? Micro-larceny, sort of a sticky-fingered counterpoint to microfinance? Or just, dorky, lame and pathetic? Why does anyone bother to steal something so cheap? The Washington Post costs less per day than one of those Sally Struthers kids. And I bet those Struthers kids don’t come with two crosswords and a Sudoku, and their commercials aren’t half as hearwarmingly schmaltzy as the Metro Section’s Page 3.

Newspaper theft has become part of my morning routine. If I open my door, and there’s nothing there, Something Important Has Happened. Obama has a running mate, rivers are flowing backwards, or the Nationals finally won a game. All I know is that an empty doorway is a sign of Armageddon.

So I’ve been thinking about solutions. I suppose I could get up early, and retrieve my paper before the Artful Dodger of Newsprint has done his dirty work. (Yeah, right.) Or I could leave a passive aggressive note on my door.

Or, perhaps, I could set up an elaborate trap. The moment my Sunday paper is shaken loose from its moorings, a complex systems of levers, pulleys, hamsters and spikes will scoop up the thief, and suspend him from the ceiling in a web of ropes.

All I need is an engineering degree, a few friends, and some rope. Who’s in?
PS - It's Monday. Blech. Bah. Bleah. Were you expecting something profound?

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Street Value of My Karma

There are few things more boring, exhausting, or lame than living by one’s principles.

I try (very, very hard) to be a good person. It's a struggle. As in, I struggled with situational narcolepsy in my college philosophy classes. And my attention span is notoriously short. So, in a shortcut born of necessity, I distilled my entire moral self into a basic code: “Which is worth more, [blank] or my karma?”

This rule has served me well over the years:

“Which is worth more, that high-paying but morally bankrupt job, or my karma?”

“I don’t want a higher divorce settlement, I’d rather get out with my karma intact.”

“I’d like to own that blouse manufactured by disadvantaged Malaysian children, but my karma is telling me to pay extra to buy the blouse manufactured by disadvantaged Malaysian adults. Sure, they’re blind Malaysians, but I’m paying retail!”

Sigh. Over the years, being a good person has forced me to leave a lot of cash on the table.

At the same time, I’m worried about the economy. My morning paper has become a Dickensian tale of woe: bank collapses, soup kitchens, empty food banks, financier hobo camps, suburbia as modern Dust Bowl, food shortages (where’s Soylent Green when you need it?), gas shortages, old people surpluses (about that Soylent Green...), etc. Even my beloved fashion magazines have become hysterical in their approach, begging me to save money by spending $250, instead of $2,500, on my shoes. (Er, I normally spend $25.)

Add it all up: It’s time to cash in my karma. I doubt this is the true meaning of the word "redemption," but it'll do. It's a brave new frontier in the land of "selling out."

By my calculations, my karma has a street value somewhere in the low six figures. I’d say, as a lowball, about $110,000.

So, can I cash in my karma, like casino chips? Auction it off on EBay? Sue my karma for damages, lost income, and pain and suffering? Go back to each of my non-lucrative choices, High Fidelity-style, and demand a reckoning?

What is the street value of your karma? And how would you redeem it?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Amazing Interchangeable Me

When the universe is trying to tell me something, it prefers shouting, waving of arms, semaphore, smoke signals, and perhaps a few neon signs. This is good, as I am dense. How dense? I had to be told Spinal Tap wasn't a real band.

Yesterday, I ran into a former temp job colleague on the Metro. The subtext of the conversation was that I was replaced within five minutes, and nobody ever missed me at all. This was the culmination of a week in which the universe walloped me in the head with lessons of irrelevance and interchangeability.

This should feel horrible, after all, who wants to be told they aren’t the super special child of a glorious and just universe? Why wouldn't I want to picture the people of my previous lives, weeping and clutching photographs of me? Why wouldn't I want to imagine life grinding to a halt without my amazing presence?

Clearly, I need a lesson in humility. And perhaps I could have some fun with how easy it is to swap myself out.

Secretary Shannon could be swapped out for a recording which says, “Thank you for your call. We are happy with all of our current vendors, and please do add us to your Do Not Call list.”

Friend Shannon could be replaced with a lever device that repeatedly picks up a glass of beer, and an intermittent recording which says, “Hey! Dude! Y’all! The hell? Indeed!”

Home Chef Shannon could be replaced by a gallon of melted cheddar cheese and first aid instructions on what to do in the event of a heart attack.

And Blogger Shannon could be replaced with Ikea furniture assembly instructions. “Insert stupid action by self/others into Slot A, place screw in pithy observation Slot B, attach pathetic/sarcastic bid for attention Slot C. Congratulations! You have built a Disaffected Scanner EXPEDIT.”

Really, I should set all of these up and just take the rest of August off. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be German.

In the comments, embrace your irrelevance and tell me how you could be replaced.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

No Stroller Left Behind

One of my favorite Metro announcements is the one that goes, “Train doors are not like elevator doors.” Usually, I wonder if it’s some sort of riddle, and from there I’m figuring out how a raven is like a writing desk. The vagaries of my brain can really make a commute fly by.

Of course, what they’re really saying is, “Hey! Dumbass! When the doors are closing, don’t jam your briefcase in there! The doors won’t spring back open!” People being people, and stupidity being tragically intractable, folks routinely jam their briefcases, purses, arms and legs into the closing doors. Usually, the train operator re-opens the doors and the offender bullies his way onboard. Less often, the doors surround a backpack in a loving embrace and the train lurches out of the station, leaving behind a confused and angry passenger on the platform.

This sort of thing bugs me to no end. Jamming the doors is rude. It delays the hundreds of people already on the train, all of whom are just trying to get to their pathetic little cubicle jobs. It damages the train doors, leading to further delays (…so thousands of people can’t get home from their pathetic little cubicle jobs). And it’s ridiculously pointless. Another train will be along in a minute or two.

But I’ll live. Part of living in a city is learning how to deal with people. Even the dimmest bulbs on God’s own Christmas tree deserve a little bit of my love. But some people create the sort of situation that makes me wish I carried a baseball bat and kept Child Services on speed dial. This morning, at L’Enfant Plaza, a woman ignored the “Doors Closing” chime, and decided to jam open the doors.

With a stroller. A stroller containing a small child. People, I am not making this up.

This woman used her baby as a doorstop. Now, I am all for finding useful tasks for children. My own (imaginary) children will have their names licensed to major corporations, and work in a Nike factory by age five. But endangering your kid so you can get somewhere two minutes faster is just...I don't know. I lack the words for it.

The doors began squashing the stroller, and everyone on the train gasped. Luckily, the Metro operator saw the situation and popped the doors back open, and nearby passengers were able to drag the stroller onboard. I spent the rest of the ride wondering if I should tell that woman off or not. She was pretty far away, so I couldn’t see her reaction to the drama. Was she relieved? Ashamed? Or was she stupid enough to be glad she got on the train, her child’s safety be damned?

What would you have done?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Newsflash: Adams Morgan Is Still Grody

Anyone can tell you that the Adams Morgan strip is disgusting. It’s vile, gruesome, grotesque, and horrible. It’s the worst bars, worst food, and worst people in the Washington metro region, all concentrated into a few blocks of extraordinary suck.

In fact, Adams Morgan almost elicits pity, as all anyone ever really does is make fun of it. But, sometimes a cliché is simply the truth in its most banal form. Adams Morgan deserves its reputation. It really is just as bad as everyone says. It's the Howard the Duck of nightlife districts.

Saturday, I was roped into a visit to the Icky Strip for a friend’s birthday. He likes Adams Morgan, as it offers the best eavesdropping in the city (a personal fave of ours, "I didn't want to make out with that guy, but there was nothing else to do!"). He wanted to drink, he wanted to dance, he wanted me to curl up into a ball of pain and weep. Lucky for him, we achieved all three missions. Happy birthday, dude.

The men were mostly 'burban meatheads, circling and gaming their prey. The women were all meticulously dolled up, wearing their finest low-cut dresses, and rounding out their Big Night ensembles with the loveliest accessory of all…cheap plastic flip-flops.

Side rant: Why flip-flops? Aside from taking even an ounce of pride in your appearance, why would anyone want any part of their skin within close range of any surface of Adams Morgan? And why would you wear something that exposes you to serious injury when that drunk chick in the stilettos lurches your way? Shoes, people. That's what separates us from the animals.

Really, forget shoes. An evening in Adams Morgan requires a full body condom or Hazmat suit, followed by a hot bath, delousing, and a tetanus booster.

So, we drank, we danced, the birthday boy and another friend performed Michael Jackson dance moves to the giggly enjoyment of the entire bar. It was sort of fun, even. I forgot about being at the pub equivalent of a bunny slope or kiddie pool, drank a Stella (which I checked for roofies), and rocked out.

Once the party had broken up, I headed down the Hill of Despair to catch the Metro. I wove through bachelorette parties. (If I ever marry again, and someone tries to get me to run around Adams Morgan in a veil and penis stickers, I will hurt them. Severely. Yuck!) I wove through daisy chains of drunk chicks, holding hands and guiding each other through the throngs on the narrow sidewalks. I elbowed my way through a group of popped-collar meatheads, walking four abreast and jabbering loudly about who had packed the condoms.

But I survived. I made it home, and the contents of my mailbox gave the best proof that I had outgrown the likes of Adams Morgan: an issue of Elle Décor and a baby announcement. I showed off the baby photo to some neighbors, we squealed with glee and swapped recipes.

Adulthood is a beautiful thing.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Crashing Back Down to Earth

Sometimes, I get a bit full of myself. I think I’m the smartest, funniest, coolest, most stylish woman in Washington. My head swells to a dozen times its usual size, like the day after a bourbon binge.

I post all about me, my feelings, my place in the Universe. I imagine there are legions of strangers enthralled by whatever’s rattling around in my brain. In short, I buy into my own goofball mythology.

I need a cure. And the best cure for an inflated ego is perspective.

Luckily, I will always have this photo. This was taken in 1991 or so, back when I was in private school and on my way to a Sweet Sixteen party. Yes, I briefly attended the sort of school where people had fancy Sweet Sixteens with boats and buffets and DJs. We also had ropes courses and bird poop.

I count on this photo to crash me right back down to Earth. Starting at the top, we have the poodle perm with engorged bangs. The chandelier earrings are totally inappropriate for a ninth-grader. It’s really obvious that I’ve borrowed my mom’s handbag. I’m off-kilter, grimacing, and over-posed.

Then there’s the dress. If I had a million years, I could not begin to list all the things wrong with it. The tiered skirt. The cheap taffeta, which felt like burnt toast against my skin. The bizarre way the top half ends in an arrow formation, pointing the way to that which no man saw until (many) years later. And the jacket. Oh, that jacket with the Stay-Puft sleeves and its amazingly flattering way of ending just below my nonexistent breasts.

I’m even wearing shimmery nude pantyhose. Fortunately, the picture doesn’t let you see the shoes. I think the reason I partied so much in college was to seek and destroy the portion of my mind that remembered the shoes.

I look ridiculous. I’m awkward, squawky, goofy and overdone. But at the time, I was very cool. I got loads of compliments on that dress. Everyone loved the hair and asked me how to use AquaNet to get that perfect cascade effect.

Within a few years, the dress was dreadful and the photo was embarrassing. But seventeen years later, I look at it with affection. I realize that anything that seems important, special or cool now will be absurd soon enough. Life moves in circles, and everyone has their moment of being an overdressed nerd in front of an ugly plaid chair. My mythology is a lie. I'm just as screwed up as everyone else.

If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing. Except perhaps the jacket.

PS – I’m violating my “no photos of me” rule, I know, but as an entire person who can see R-rated movies separates me from that girl in the photo, I don’t think it counts.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Get Out of My Dreams...

...and get into my grocery cart. I received the following message from a college friend:
You were in this weird dream I had last night. For some reason, a few of us were hanging out at the grocery store. Then, I won a $100 shopping spree somehow. I went to the bathroom and you did the shopping spree in my place and didn't even
buy me anything. Anyhow, just thought I'd let you in on it.

Wow. When men dream of me, they imagine me as a greedy little grocery-stealer. Other women cavort naked across the subconscious worlds of men, or sometimes they’ll wear naughty nurse uniforms or leather getups. I, however, have a dream-self who is not only not hot, she’s fundamentally unreliable and selfish. This is awesome.

The only way this dream could have been better is if I’d spent the entire $100 on feminine hygiene products.

So, boys, look for me in your fertile imaginations and nighttime wanderings. I won’t be the one draping myself across a conference table in a sexy secretary outfit. I’ll be the one stealing your cars, eating your sandwiches, breaking your TVs, raping your goats and de-alphabetizing your record collections.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sometimes, a Bad Date Can Pay Off

Sure, I’ve got the badass attitude and a habit of kicking strangers in the shins. But, really, I'm a fluffy little kitten with a huge sensitive streak. I’m known for welling up at the littlest thing, goofy enthusiasm, crying jags and happy dances. You might call it tempestuous or nutty, I call it cute.

When I saw that my classy-but-wacky friend Restaurant Refugee had been inspired by my evening with the Jew of Doom to hold a Worst Date Ever contest, I welled up a little. How sweet! But when I saw I was ineligible to compete, I sobbed a river of broken dreams. Then I remembered that I’d get to read funny tales of dates gone awry, and I perked up a little. Then I remembered that being an FOR (Friend of Refugee) was the best prize of all, and I returned to the giggly happy dances.

So, while I’m doing a gringo jig around the reception desk, y’all ought to head over to Refugee’s blog and read all about the contest. Because if you’ve dated someone worse than the Jew of Doom, then you’ve got a fair shot at winning.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Disowned Doucheboys Say the Darndest Things

If something is truly terrible, I will stick around in hopes that it gets even worse. This has left me with some good stories and a wholly undeserved reputation as a traveling freakshow. Really, my life is very dull. Except when I go on dates.

Back when I was still acquainted with my natural hair color, I met up with a boy for a drink. The bar was the sort where you catch tropical diseases from the furniture and stumble upon preppies groping in the water closet. But there was beer, a jukebox, and a cute boy, so I was very happy. Until, that is, he started talking.

His sexy opener was about his entire family disowning him. After an hour, I could sort of see their point. Then he talked about rediscovering Judaism. I have no idea how he lost it, world religions are much easier than housekeys to keep track of. Then he asked me about my religion (vaguely Methodist, but mostly Catholic by Association). Then, finally, the zinger:

“You’re attractive and all, but you’d be cuter if you were Jewish. Your looks make no sense otherwise.”

What? Six years later, I still don't know what that means. The closest I ever got to being Jewish was playing Laurie in a community theater production of Brighton Beach Memoirs. I felt terrible for disappointing him.

In fact, I felt so terrible that I excused myself to go to the ladies’ room, but instead sidled up to the bar.

“Sir, I think this should cover my portion of the check. And if the gentleman in the booth asks, I’m still in the restroom.”

The bartender, who I am sure had witnessed his share of bad dates, said, “Oh, honey, I don’t blame you.”

I ducked out of the bar, ran the four blocks to the Metro, and never looked back.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Self-Cannibalization: The Other White Meat

One of my favorite party tricks is to say things that make absolutely no sense to anyone.

Saturday, at a vegetarian crab feast (don’t ask), I mentioned how much I enjoy Old Bay seasoning. Except it came out as, “I would eat my own foot if it was slathered in Old Bay!”

This made me contemplate the circumstances under which I would eat my own foot. I would definitely have to detach it first. I haven’t done enough yoga to allow me to eat my foot while it was still attached to my body.

I would eat my foot if it were slathered in Old Bay, queso dip, North Carolina vinegar sauce, spicy mustard, my mom’s spaghetti sauce, or dark chocolate. I would seriously consider eating my foot if it had Cajun seasoning on it, but would most likely demur.

I bet feet aren’t so bad. Bony, and probably hard to pick apart, but I had some great training at the crab feast. (There’s nothing more fun than dissecting your own dinner.) I bet it would even be rather tasty, in fact, people taste like… sweet beef. Though I've also heard we taste like pork or Spam.

Lastly, I would eat my own foot to get out of finishing this post, because, wow, how do you wrap up a post about self-cannibalization? With footnotes? I'm stumped. You really put your foot in your mouth, didn't you? Don't be such a heel! Toe the line.

So, I’ll throw it out to the commentariat. Tell me the when, whys and hows of the circumstances that would lead you to eat your own foot. Bonus points if you would eat your foot while it's still attached to your body.

Friday, August 08, 2008

I Can't Stand Up (for Falling Down)

I fall down a lot. In fact, just yesterday, I busted ass in front of a Popeye’s.

I’d just finished my two-piece chicken dinner (what? Hangover food, people), and was walking back to the office with a spring in my step and a sloshy cup of empty calories in my hand. The ground gave way. As in, I tumbled to Earth and skinned my elbows, my knees, and my butt in the process. Also, somehow, I scraped off my toenail polish.

How I managed to dent both the front and backside of me is a total mystery. I imagine the arc of my fall was downright beautiful, and passersby thought they were experiencing Cirque du Soleil. Well, Cirque du Soleil as performed by a woman holding a soda from Popeye’s and dressed like a pregnant hippie.

It hurt. But it was also pretty funny. And I believe when life hands you a choice between laughing and crying, you should opt for laughter. So I sat on the ground, soda rolling across the sidewalk, legs akimbo, cackling at my own dumbassery.

I looked up and down the block, and noticed that nobody else was laughing. In fact, two young women had stopped dead in their tracks, and were headed my way. They both asked if I was OK.

I asked, “Say, has anybody seen my dignity? I’m sure it was around here someplace,” and went back to laughing hysterically. Then I noticed that my soda had come through the ordeal just fine, and felt a whole lot better. Woo, caffeine and empty calories! Two of my favorite things.

A random young man trotted up, helped me to my feet, dusted me off, asked if I was hurt, and went on his way. The two young women kept asking if I’d broken or sprained anything (wow, that fall must have looked like a doozy). They also examined the sidewalk to see what I had slipped on and asked if I was going to be able to get back to my office. After a few moments, I was able to gingerly head back to work. I'm still a little sore, but nothing a couple of beers can't fix.

So, anybody who says DC is cold and unfriendly, the people are lame, and nobody has any manners: bust ass in front of a chicken joint, and see your faith in humanity restored. It was really very lovely.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Real Mystery of Captain Underpants

Yesterday, a man emailed me a photo of himself in a wife beater and tighty-whities, with his face blurred out. This sort of thing happens to me a lot.

I’m used to receiving the arty shirtless pics, and weenie-cam, and plenty of other forms of Internet skeeviness. But this particular photo freaked me out completely.
Here’s why: I couldn’t figure out who took the picture.

Did Captain Underpants ask his roommate to take it? “Dude, I need you to take a photo of me. Hold on a sec, I've gotta sprawl seductively on this bed in my briefs.” Or he had a friend come over to help him out. Maybe they made a man-date of it, taking turns lounging about in their underwear and snapping photos. Then, to counteract the potential gayness of the whole enterprise, they went out to a strip club or to beat up some nerds.

Or, more likely, he used a tripod and a timer. Fiddle, fiddle, punch some buttons, dash over to the bed, and get into a supine position before the timer goes off. I bet he had a whole photo shoot, and got in an awesome workout from all the dashing about.

Aw, hell, I just figured out the most likely photographer of all: his wife.

Any man who tells you he can “host,” at a hotel, in Reston, and sends out a blurry-faced photo of himself is most assuredly married.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Rebuilding the Real America, One Tampon at a Time

We sprawled across our Screen on the Green camp of blankets, McDonald’s bags and Twizzlers, as well as the newspapers, bags, and shoes used as placeholders until more blankets arrived. At one point, we debated jamming tampon flags into the ground to claim our space.

I realized we had rebuilt Woodbridge, the epicenter of trashy Americana. All we needed was a spare tire, a camper top (used as a playhouse), and some poorly trained dogs, and we’d be my childhood neighbor’s front yard. Our little group even looked like a vignette from Cops. One of the girls was wearing a wife-beater, and we drank wine out of cheap plastic keg party cups.

Our neighbors were Fairfax. They had bags from Whole Paycheck, fancy blankets, wine in special plastic wine glasses placed in artfully designed wine glass holsters, and so-precious-you-could-die retro picnic baskets. They occasionally glanced in our direction, wondering why we had forgotten our fancy cheeses and custom tarpaulins. Much like our beloved Woodbridge, we were an oasis of redneck in a desert of yuppie hell.

OK, I admit it. Sometimes, I’m kind of a yuppie. And so are most of my friends. We like tapas, movies on E Street, and independent record stores.

But I don’t think I’ll ever stop being a girl from the WB. Give me burgers, breakfast all day, modular homes, outlet shopping, and cars with abnormally large tires. While you’re at it, throw in some guys in trucker caps and man-pris (how Kevin Federline can NOT be from the ‘Bridge is completely beyond me).

I like simplicity. I like foods I can pronounce, utensils that I can recognize, and junk food. If Slim Jims with mustard are wrong, then I don’t wanna be right. Because there's nothing more American than carcinogens with condiments. Bless you, America.

Blogroll Update
I can never make up my mind which depresses me more about the blogosphere: the number of people who believe they can write, or the number of people who believe they have something to say. Fortunately, my dear friend Kevin can write - he's a former journalist, even. So let’s check him out, and find out whether he has something to say (signs point to yes!).

Monday, August 04, 2008

I Am Karma's Little Spartan Boy

A few weekends ago, I was out feeding the homeless. Um, I was painting an inspirational mural while doing calisthenics and rehabilitating a spotted owl with a broken wing. I also helped a couple of old ladies across the street.

FINE, you got me. I was sitting on a stool, drinking beer, in a bar of questionable repute. Same thing I do every weekend (when I'm not running my black market baby business).

As D.C. is a small world after all, the bartender was an old friend I’d lost track of a few (OK, many) years ago. I’d turned 24 and realized Adams Morgan was the grossest place in the whole entire known Universe, so I stopped seeing him at work. Meanwhile, he’d lost my phone number. And then I ran off to South America and the Balkans for a while, so I could learn about bulletproof commuter vans, landmines and meat pies. As you do.

When I ran into him, I gave him a cheerful round of hell for losing my number. How do you lose track of a very loud person with an uncommon last name? Who, at the time, had a listed number, and the only other person with that last name in town was her sister?

So he scribbled his number on a slip of paper, I tucked the paper into my purse, and we made plans to hang out and catch up.

Three guesses what I did with the number.

No, I didn’t use it to call him so we could hang out. I didn’t passive-aggressively put up any sort of “for a good time call” writing on any bathroom walls. Either of those, especially the first, would have been way cooler than what I actually did.

The problem is a friend of much longer standing. Her name is Karma. She likes to play merry hell with me. And Karma is at her wittiest when I make fun of people. If I mock someone, she has me make a spectacular fool of myself in one way or another.

Just this morning, I was laughing at anyone dumb enough to be caught looking at porn at work. Then I Googled a local hauling service, amusingly named “Junk in the Trunk,” and wound up with page after page of naked and be-thonged booty, on my work computer. And did I mention I sit in the reception area? Where everyone can see me? Lesson learned, dude. I won’t be making fun of on-the-job porn freaks any more, as I am apparently their queen.

But let's go back to the phone number. Karma clearly had no choice: not one hour after I got the number, she tucked it into the wrong part of my wallet, and my cab driver got a generous tip (including one free phone number!).

Yeah, I’m that cool. And if you’re the friend I was supposed to call, sorry. I’m sending a search party your way.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Friday's Story: Fourth Grade Firebrand

Did you think the trash-talk, self-righteousness, and argumentative streak were personality traits of a recent vintage? Indeed, no, they are not. Which is why today I’m telling three tales of preteen protest. (I blame the Potato of Injustice.)

It all began in fourth grade, when my political consciousness was awakened by the gifted program’s annual Thanksgiving sock puppet play. The teacher asked us to decorate our socks as Pilgrims and Indians. Only, she designated the brand new socks as Pilgrims, and the older, grayer socks as Indians. Nobody gets away with calling my daddy a dirty sock! So I calmly expressed my displeasure at the obvious racist qualities of using her husband’s gross old socks to represent an entire segment of humanity. Or, really, I shrieked my disapproval and boycotted the play.

The political situation at Casita Elementary settled down. The Holiday Spectacular was a huge success, as we performed both “Silent Night” and “The Dreidel Song.” (I’m not sure Kwanzaa had been invented yet, or if they just didn’t know any Kwanzaa carols. I bet “Have Yourself a Merry Little Day of Collective Work and Responsibility” would be pretty catchy.)

And then it was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We drew peace symbols, talked about the civil rights movement, and learned all about the life of the Reverend King. At the end of the day, the teacher asked us to stand up one by one and explain what we’d learned. My turn:

“Martin Luther King was a black man who thought everyone should be equal. So they shot him.”

The teacher flipped. The principal flipped. My parents were called, and my mom flipped. Well, she kind of flipped, but mostly she tried not to laugh. My dad pointed out that what I said was factually true. Then he proceeded to tell this story at every gathering for the next 24 years. I wound up not having to go to detention.

After the fourth grade, the Stameys moved from California to Virginia, and things stayed quiet until I entered the sixth grade. Our school, Parkside Middle, decided to institute a bunch of insanely picky disciplinary rules (like, “No Fun, Ever”). So the Famous Skye and I decided to do something about it.

We took white t-shirts, puffy fabric paints, markers, and a genius slogan of Skye’s invention. We snuck the shirts into our bags, rode the bus to school, and changed into them in the girls’ washroom.

The teachers shrieked, and I found myself in a bit of hot water. That “hot water” being, of course, detention. This time, there was no parental rescue, and precious little parental amusement. Why? Well, it just might have been the slogan:

“Parkside Prison: Don’t Touch Me, the Guards Will Shoot.”

Sure, it's no "Donna Martin Graduates," but it IS pretty darn catchy.