Monday, October 31, 2011

Jean Totally Reads My Blog

Last week, I complained that dancing had become less of a challenge. Apparently, Jean saw that and decided to challenge away. Not only did we do the alligator dance, but we did it to the fast song.

We went over Blue Night Cha Cha again which my feet do not like to do but I force them to dance anyway. There's a step that involves a rumba box and a shuffle and they shuffle when they should rumba and rumba when they should shuffle. I like that I have something to work on.

We then went onto a dance that once we started, I said to S, we did this one before. She was like, No. I was like, I think at the beach? She said, Nope. I was like, No, wait, we did it here. She said, Hmm, maybe. The music came on. It was not recognizeable. We did the dance. I was in lalaland, trying to figure out how I knew it. Then, Jean put on Rod Stewart's The Motown Song and we were like, ohhhhh, yeah, we know this one! I actually sing along.

See that arm roll thing? We don't do it, but I'm so gonna start.

Then Jean taught us how to fly. With quick feet and flailing arms, everyone in class flapped around, laughing hysterically. The step was not easy. The dance itself is easy (I can't remember the name though). Doing the particular step is difficult once you're in it. Arms go one way. Body goes another. Feet cross behind in one direction. Feet cross in front going the other way.

Fun Fact: Crossing behind with the feet allows the arms to move up and down diagnally. Crossing in front makes the arms flap out to the sides as if you're a chicken. A flying chicken.

I'd been staring at the clock between dances earlier on in the class because I was getting bored with relearning the easier dances.

Once I started flying, I stopped looking. There was no time to look. I had to work on not feeling like an ass. Then I had to work on not looking like an ass.

S and I did not pick up the dance right away. That made everyone in the room feel better. One of the clique women said that if we didn't get it, it was okay that she didn't have it yet. No one agreed out loud with her, but since everyone secretly hates us, I know they agreed in their hearts, especially when we started flying more easily by the end of class.

Not that it looked very pretty, but we did get the steps. Yeay for Jean for giving us a challenge.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Robot Line Dancing

Dance class was mostly repeats of every song we've learned so far this session as well as some standbys which include Hello, Dolly, which we went through step by step yet again.

Because I was on automatic for most of the class having already learned the dances, I was able to start a list--Things That Make Me Laugh, Realized At Line Dancing:

1. Hair clips that had no functional purpose.

2. People who pull on the wrong door to get into a room.

3. Stopping class to wait for someone who is walking down the hall.

My list was cut short when I interacted with the ladies from the clique. They kept saying to Jean that every song she taught was the one that she had to switch to a slower song. Finally, I looked over and said, That was the alligator dance. I'm still bitter about that. They were all like, Oh yeah that's right. Jean continued dancing.

Then we learned Blue Night Cha Cha. For some reason, I had some real trouble doing a rumba box chacha, which is not difficult. My feet simply did not want to go where I wanted them to. Aside from that, the dance was easy. Except....

The woman who was late last time decided to dance behind us again. It's very difficult to dance the right steps when someone has them so wrong. I know that class is for learning, so I don't mind when we are all learning a new dance when Jean stops over and over to teach it. But simple steps like the cha cha should be second nature. The late woman looked like she was doing the robot the whole time.

Maybe that's a good idea for next time. We can do the robot in a line.

Bang Bang Again

The last annual health and beauty expo happened earlier this year. The first thing the organizers need to work on is their understanding of annual. The second thing is advertisement. The third thing is timing. An under advertised expo should not be seven hours long. By the time S and I got there, it was emptyish. Not only was it lacking patrons, it was lacking presenters. When we'd gone a few months ago, the rooms were filled with tables offering interesting and odd products and services. This time, there were some of the same presenters that I was not interested in last time and then maybe five new ones.

We lapped around the first room. Then we headed down the hall and lapped around the second room. The most interesting table was the one that was selling crystals. They were very pretty. We looped around, where the woman at the natural products table said, Hi girls, We have more than just baby products--we have cleaning products, too.

Translation: You girls are obviously not old enough to have children but you are old enough to clean.

Finally, after we sat on a couch and read through the two free magazines, S got the idea that she could get a henna tattoo. We walked over to the table and the women were very excited about it all. She chose a pattern to go on her finger and up the back of her hand. I watched. As the woman free-handed the tattoo, a very tall, very inquisitive woman asked one of the other women a bunch of questions, rapid-fire. Then the tall woman bent over and began asking questions of the woman tattooing S. The tattoo woman had to stop to answer because there were so many questions. Then the tall woman squatted down to ask more questions at the tattoo lady went back to S's hand. This woman really enjoyed asking questions. She went away just as S's tattoo was finished. S had to let it dry and then put a sock on it. The other woman handed me a henna kit to use at home and told me to come back later so I could get a small one.

I gave the kit to S since she'd paid for the tattoo. I didn't get one mostly because I didn't feel like having to protect it for the rest of the night, which was a problem for most women who got one and then went on to the drumming session.

That's why we were there. The drumming. S's sister was leading a drum circle exercise as the last activity of the night. We had thought that because the day was so long and most of the presenters had packed up and left, the circle might be empty. However, people gathered around. The circle grew. We had to add chairs.

The woman who wound up sitting next to me was basically a drumming expert. As we passed the shaky apples, she told me my hand was in the wrong place. Then she slammed the apple into my palm. Then she started picked up the dropped ones and slamming two in my hand at once even though S's sister had said to not pick up the dropped apples. She seemed very annoyed that my name was very similar to her name, mine having one more syllable. She played the drums frantically and switched the instrument she used no less than three times.

With all that chaos, it was still a great time. I mean, who can have a bad time while banging on a drum? Everyone in the circle was smiling. Everyone enjoyed it, even S who had pulled herself out of the circle as to not ruin her henna. The woman who had gotten tattoos that night previously were left with scraped off paste on their arms in some places. Also, the very tall inquisitive woman seemed to enjoy the drumming. She didn't join the circle. She stood outside of it and held up her camera high to snap a few shots of people she did not know doing something she was not doing. That sounds about right.

By the time we got out of there, S's henna was mostly in tact. I'm looking forward to eventually getting one when I don't have to worry about taking my long sleeves off over the paste without ruining it.


There's a spider living in my Yaris. I find web strands across the dash. I find strands from the seat to the front of the car on the passenger's side.

Once, I found a spider. It was white. I was driving. Eddie was in the passenger side. I was like, It's a spider! Get it! Get it! He took off his shoe and whacked it against the dash in the middle, in front of where the gauges are. Usually, I bring bugs outside of the house instead of killing them. While I'm driving, that's not an option. If anything crawls on me while I'm at the wheel, that car is going to wind up through a wall.

The next day, a spider web, bigger than ever, was in the corner of the dash and the windshield. We may have angered the spider that lives hidden by killing the one that was not hidden.

It's still lurking. I haven't found a large web since the weather has cooled, but I know it's there, waiting, watching, ready to crawl across when I least expect it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I'm Not A 70 Year Old Man

In the past two weeks, I got two more emails from Toyota.

The first wished me a Happy Birthday. It started, Dear Joseph, Happy Birthday! That's my dad.

The second was about the lease on my Yaris. It began, Dear Joseph, The lease on your 2011 Yaris will be ending in just one month.

Joseph? Still my dad. The Yaris? Is mine. The lease? Began over this past summer.

Now, not only do they have me and my dad confused, they have my car's lease confused with another one.

I did, however, enjoy the birthday email. I simply pretended it was my birthday all over again and ate a cookie.

Netflix Has Become That Pathetic Ex Who Will Not Go Away

Seriously, who is running this business?

Dear Christina,

It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs.

This means no change: one website, one account, one password…in other words, no Qwikster.

While the July price change was necessary, we are now done with price changes.

We're constantly improving our streaming selection. We've recently added hundreds of movies from Paramount, Sony, Universal, Fox, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, MGM and Miramax. Plus, in the last couple of weeks alone, we've added over 3,500 TV episodes from ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, USA, E!, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Discovery Channel, TLC, SyFy, A&E, History, and PBS.

We value you as a member, and we are committed to making Netflix the best place to get your movies & TV shows.


The Netflix Team

To sum up, price change but not going with the new name change. So we're back to where we were before the previous email that confused the crap out of everyone.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I'm A Fat Fat Fatty Fat

Jean pounced immediately as we were coming up the stairs to dance class. We're best friends now. She said hi. S and I said hi. Besties!

When everyone was in the dance room, Jean had us introduce ourselves. She said since it's a small class, we should know each other's names. The class is about the same size as it always has been, but now, we need to get to know each other more. She turned towards us, of course, and said, let's start with the girls.

S began with a wave and a hi and her name. Then everyone said their own name. Then S said she was the only one who said Hi. I was like, you were first, so you had to. I don't remember anyone's name. Jean never introduced herself.

An Asian lady came late and decided the best place to stand was slightly behind and between S and me. She was having trouble catching on in the middle of the dance we'd begun. Jean stopped teaching, turned around, pointed to the woman, and then made her introduce herself so we all knew her name and she still didn't know ours.

We relearned something in the water which was easy enough for most people.

Then we learned Mojo Mambo. I had realized, by almost falling on my ass, that the floor was very slippery in one spot near the front. I went over it several times. Each time, I said loudly, Wow that's slippery!

As we put on the music for the mambo, Jean, I, and S wound up dancing in one line together in the front, and as Jean called out the steps, she also called out a Whooop!! She explained, I almost fell. I turned my head and said, Slippery, right? She was like, You could have warned me. What was my repeating Wow that's slippery! called? But, yes, my fault.

I wish we'd learned the intro!

Once that was over, Jean decided to teach us a dance to See You Later Alligator. We learned the first few steps, and a lot of dancers were already out of breath. Jean walked towards our end of the room for the next few steps and said, we'll lose calories with this one. Then she looked at S and said, you don't need to.

Meaning, everyone else does. Meaning im a fat fat fatty fat.

The dance was very fast. I loved the song! Jean, S, and I and maybe one more woman in the back danced the first wall and a half. Then Jean turned off the song because no one else could keep up. So Jean put on a slower song. I hate that. The class is intermediate, so if people can't keep up, that's all them. I really don't like when Jean slows it down for everyone. I mess up, sure, but at least when I mess up, it's because I'm challenged.

I especially love the woman singing along off-camera.

At the end, Jean taught us Sucky Slow Song upon request. It looked like I requested it because I knew all the moves and was overexaggerating them. One gal's mockery can obviously be misconstrued as very passionate dancing.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Much More Amaizing Time

Last year, a very tricky maze won. Eddie and I found the end of the maze at Queens County Farm, but did not find all the mailboxes and clues for the crossword puzzle. You see, the object of the maze is not only to finish, but also to find the clues and the checkpoints. So this year when we saw it was a baseball theme, Eddie said we had to go there. I think baseball was only one reason; the other was that he's competitive and needed to beat the maze. I actually wanted to beat it, too.

We got there and saw the same crazy woman in the parking lot who hit the car last year. She waved us in as we followed a car with a driver who had no clue how to drive. I'd let him turn in front of me to go into the lot as to avoid his hitting my car. Then I got stuck behind him as he ambled in and did not know how to park. A few too many minutes of waiting and shaking our heads as the two parking attendants told him to back up and try again so he didn't take up three spaces with his little car. We got out of the car and walked away quickly to avoid being near them.

We went directly to the maze. We got our flag. We listened to the directions. We punched in and we were off! We found a lot of the mailboxes quickly. Really quickly. We kept commenting on how this maze was much easier than last year's. We sang along to Michael Jackson and Wham being pumped through the sound system. Every crossword clue was something about the history of baseball. The maze was shaped like a stadium with a batter and a bat and a dugout, so each section was colored and called something like outfield or infield or stadium. We found seven of nine sections.

And then we hit a wall. We walked in circles. We passed by the same sections over and over. We saw some of the same people over and over. We heard the guy on the mic at the end of the maze announce groups who were finishing and how quickly they finished. The sun came out. It got really hot. Once again, it was an October day and I was in a corn maze wearing a tank top and sweating my ass off.

We reached the "this isn't fun anymore" point. We weren't bickering with each other. We were both kind of yelling at the maze. It was the maze's fault we couldn't find our way to the other checkpoints. This year, we couldn't even find our way out--the check points and the out were in the same place this time since we'd found most of the other sections in order. So finding out would include finding the checkpoints.

I was entertaining people along the way as we passed by and I grumpily mumbled This is just impossible and There's simply no exit to this thing. Eddie kept saying things like No, we went that way and No, we went that way and No, we went that way.

Then we bumped into a large crowd of people going in all different directions in the middle of the maze. Two of those people were women who worked there who we'd passed by no less than eight times. She asked, So you guys need some help finding 5 and 7? I was like, Five, yes, just five and we'd be happy.

Basically, she was saying, You guys are totally missing where you need to go and you're never getting out of here if we don't help you and we don't want to see you pass by us again and even children are finishing this thing faster than you are so let me just tell you where to go.

She pointed and said, You might want to go through that way.

I really think the maze was rigged. We went into the place she told us to go and we were like, We've never been here! How did we miss this? With all of our twisting and turning, we'd managed to miss one path, the path that would get us out. I don't think it was there when we started. I think it closes and then opens up when you get to the point of feeling like an idiot.

We found checkpoints 5 and 7 very quickly and then found the end. We talked to the guy on the microphone who asked us how long we'd taken and we didn't want to tell him because we were simply ashamed. He said it was a respectable time since we'd found all the clues and checkpoints. We were average. Hooray for average.

He was wearing those shoes that have little slots for each toe individually. They freak me out. We left quickly. When we handed back our flag, the flag taker reassured us that our time was respectable for finding all the checkpoints and clues.

Aww, the staff has obviously been trained to treat everyone as if they are in kindergarten. Everyone is a winner! Everyone gets a prize!

We picked a pumpkin and checked out the animals after we rubbed off the shame. Then we headed home to carve a pumpkin and bake up some seeds to complete a fall-filled day.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Blaming The Victim

Here is the letter I received from the LIRR today along with some of my as-I'm-reading reactions.

The MTA Long Island Railroad's Ticket Refunds Department has forwarded your request for a refund for the four remaining trips from your original Ten Trip Webticket, two of which were incorrectly punched by a crewmember.

[no--they were not incorrectly punched. He wrote over them in big angry handwriting EXPIRED when they were not expired.]

I regret the added expense this matter has caused for you. While we are unable to offer you monetary reimubursement

[why the hell not?]

based on circumstances and the documentation provided

[which included my receipt of when I bought the ticket which matches the date of purchase on the ticket which the ticket puncher man thought was the expiration date]

as a one-time exception

[oh. wow. really. we're going there. let me get my kneepads so I can fall on my knees in appreciation]

I have enclosed four complimentary One-Way tickets for your future use.

(Long list of rules and regulations on how and when to use the tickets. I can't sell them. I can't get a refund for them, which is not surprising considering I couldn't get a refund for the tickets I actually paid for either).

In the future, if you beliefe an error was made in servicing your ticket, please alert the conductor immediately and ask him/her to provide you with a note and their badge number to verify an error was made.

[What the? I went back and forth with ticket puncher man about how he was wrong and I was right and I was supposed to then ask him for a note? You want me to ask him to write a note that verifies he made an error? If he knows he's making an error, we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place. So it's my fault for not getting a note? A fucking NOTE? Seriously? A NOTE?????]

[oh, and by the way, I gave you the train line and time of the ride--you know who was working on that train. you could ferret him out. here's a description: he is an asshole. Go!]

The LIRR is a state agency, funded in part through tax subsidies

[and funded in the other part through attempting to rip off ticket holders by writing EXPIRED across valid tickets and then blaming them for not getting a NOTE and not giving them money back for tickets they paid for]

and subject to audit by state authorities. As such, we must adhere to the policies set in place for us regarding the issuance of refunds.

[I need to write to the state to get them to set up a policy that states: If the ticket puncher man is an asshole who doesn't know what a web ticket looks like and writes EXPIRED across a valid ticket, GIVE THE CUSTOMERS BACK THEIR MONEY!]

[Ooh, here's my favorite part coming up]

Thank you for choosing to ride the LIRR.

Kevin Davitt
Director--Corporate Communications

Thanks, Kev. What a guy!

A more serious thanks to Danielle who kept on top of this from the day I called and asked for a refund and kept saying, Unbelievable!, every time I relayed the story.

Friday, October 14, 2011

How To Get Lost On A Paved Path

This very rainy Fall season has forced my brother and I to keep postponing plans for hiking. We don't do rain. With yet another chance of rain, we debated heading upstate. He suggested that we instead head to the more local Alley Pond Park. I'd never been and had wanted to go, so I drove into Queens and he took the reins from there to the park's path entrance, which was a secluded dead-ended street off a highway. How he knew about this entrance, I don't know. I gathered my mini-backpack and snack, doused myself in bug spray, and we headed into the woods.

It was buggy and muggy, but not raining. We went up and down hills. When we came to a more intense slope, he went down first and I followed but stopped upon seeing a worm. It was the longest worm I'd ever seen ever. I let out a very loud, very appalled, EEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. He was like, what? it's just wet dirt. I was like, noooooooooo, there's a woooooooorrrrrrrmmmmmmmmmm. Ah, yes, this is how close I am with nature.

After passing by the worm that miraculously did not attack me, I found that he'd led us to a clearing under a tree canopy that was absolutely gorgeous. I was like, Why aren't you taking pictures? He's an amateur photographer and his thing is landscapes. He responded, I already have pictures here. Of course he does. But after I took out my camera, he had his out and was snapping away.

He led us up some hills and then we came to a paved path. He explained that the hiking and biking paths started here, near a stone wall. That's when we started seeing other people. The park is really huge, so not seeing people is typical. Once you get into the more civilized part--the part with the pavement--you see more people.

When we got to the obstacle course and ball fields, we found the kind of people I least like to see: children. He was off from work for the day, so his plan wasn't to hang with children either (he teaches high school). Counselors and children were at different ropes and logs. One counselor was holding what I at first thought was a rubber chicken but turned out to be a rubber pig.

We found stone steps. We climbed up and then down. We found more paths. We wound around and around. The rain started coming down lightly, but then stopped only a few minutes later. We saw more children. Oh, wait, these were the same children. We passed the Science Discovery Center. We rounded around a path. We found a soccer field. We passed the Science Adventure and Discovery Center. Oh, wait, it's the same center.

Basically, after passing the same children over and over, after passing the same building, same stone steps, and same ball fields, we realized, hey, we're walking in circles. I said, you know, we have to actually get off of the pavement because we came in through the woods. Yes, true. After passing the obstacle course twice more, we took a sharp right off the path and into the trees.

Luckily, we were exactly where we needed to be. Phew! That was close! We could've gotten stuck in the middle of the very natural habitat of asphalt and camp counselors. Next time, I bring a compass.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Really, Where's My Refund

After phone calls and transactions at ticket windows, I patiently waited for my refund to come in from LIRR. I'd been in touch with the woman from the department after she received the paperwork on the triplicate official form. She sent my stuff over to Public Affairs because all she could offer me was like half the price of half a fare (even though I was completely right and the ticket puncher man was completely wrong. and an ass.) Public Affairs would be able to offer me tickets worth the same as the tickets the ticket puncher man robbed me of when he wrote expired across my unused unexpired ticket.

Sometimes I think about that man. I hope he learns how to read a web ticket so he can do his job and not put other honest customers through unnecessary aggravation like this. Oh, and I hope he gets a papercut daily.

I waited about two weeks before I called again. I got through to an automated system that would direct my call based on my voice prompts. I repeated all the words it told me to say, going through several steps, until I got to a message that said call volume was high and I might have a long wait. So I waited. That's what I've been doing anyway. Then after about a total of five minutes in voice prompts and holding, a message came on and shouted at me, The mailbox you are trying to reach is full--Goodbye!

And it hung up.

Umm, no. So now, I'm pissed. All the rage at all this ridiculous runaround bullshit through no fault of my own had reached its breaking point when the computer hung up on me.

I called right back and, no joke, started to yell at the voice prompt system. I was yelling words that it was not asking for. It kept telling me it didn't understand. Finally, it gave up and just transferred me to a person. I would take a person over a computer that would hang up on me any time.

A woman answered. I didn't understand what department she said she was in. All I said was, I'm trying to get to Refunds!!!! She was like, okay I can put you right though. Oh, okay. I sang-songed, Thank you! She sang back, You're welcome.

The phone rang several times. I looked at the time. I knew they left at 3. It was before that. Another ring and then, Hello? A woman's voice snapped out of nowhere. So I answered, Helllllo??? Then she said, This is refunds;how can I help you?

I told her who I was trying to reach and she said I would have to call back because she was on vacation that day.

I don't know where this came from but I was like, No, I have to leave a message; I will not call back again. I didn't yell it, but I was the most assertive I've ever been in my non professional life.

Maybe it was the again that made her voice sweeter as she said, Oh sure, and took down my name and number and short message about following up with a refund I'd put in almost a month earlier. She even shuffled through some papers to check to see if it was on top. It wasn't. She said the woman would call me back.

The next day, someone else from the department of refunds called back. She left a message saying that she tracked my situation and saw it went through to Public Affairs. She explained that the department deals with all issues, internally and externally, so it may sound unbelievable, but they can take up to five or six weeks to remedy the situation.

Okay, I can deal with a few more weeks. As ridiculous as all of this has been, I have to say that the people who work in the refund department have been really great. Now all I need is either some money back or a ticket or two. Then I'll be satisfied.

Cutting Edge Of Dance

S and I had just turned into the hallway as I went on with my saga of the MTA and Bad Ticket Puncher Man (still) when Jean approached and asked S if she was still speaking to her after the double no at the end of last class. At which, I started laughing and S said it was okay and I enjoyed it. Then S brought up Cassanova Cowboy and I said it was a Carrie Underwood song and Jean, totally not planning on ever teaching that, explained that at the beach, the instructor kept doing all the dances her own class knew and wasn't doing any of the new stuff and she again said that she did not want to teach old stuff. I said that I kinda wished the woman at the beach had actually taught those dances, and Jean agreed, and said again, We do the new stuff here.

So, pumped from the pep talk and knowing that we are on the cutting edge of dance, we took our new place at the front of the class. One woman who has a problem catching onto dances came up behind us and told us we dance well. Neither one of us really knows how to respond to that. S said, it's fun. I nodded. Then tall lady with the clip in the middle of her head came in with a clip in the middle of her head. This time, it was holding a nubbin of a ponytail. God, I love this class.

Three of the Clique members were there. One of them, the outspoken one, kept messing up the dance we were learning. I really liked the dance until S pointed out that it was long. We have been doing some pretty long dances. Still, it was fun. There was kicking and swaying and a whole lot of turning while stepping, so it was intricate in some places. Because we no longer stand in the back, the Clique has no one to look at when they turn. The outspoken one first said that they could leave that to the kids, meaning us. Then she said the little ones or the young ones need to be in the back. S asked if next week we would be fetuses. I think so. Really, we are not that much younger than them, but every year we get younger. It's like a Benjamin Button loophole.

We relearned Burlesque, which is a tango. S and I swear that Jean took something out of it because something just seemed missing. We remembered it all, though. And that's when I heard the jingling. S had change in her pocket so I was like, What's going on, Jingles? At the same time, I was getting hot so I took off my sweater and she saw I was wearing a white shirt with red stripes. So she kept calling me Waldo. To be clear, Waldo wears a red and white striped shirt. My shirt was white with a few red stripes across it, clearly not a Waldo shirt. To be clear, the change kept jingling in Granny Jingle's pocket.

We learned a dance that involved a charleston and I loved it. Of course I don't remember its name. I think, however, it's a classic. Aside from the cutting edge top of the chart dances, we do the classic dances.

Which is why we wound up dancing Hello, Dolly for the 45 thousandth time at the end of class with not much time to teach the people who did not know it. I'm not sure if it's a classic dance or if it's still at the top of the charts. Maybe it's been on the charts for so long that now it is classic. In either case, we danced it. I could do that dance with my eyes closed and my ears plugged. Just a poke is all I need to go straight through without thinking.

Because she felt Jean now felt guilty, S decided to request one more song. The one song we did last semester that I hated the most was Long Slow Stupid Dance. That might not be the official name of it, but that's how I remember it. S liked it to begin with and every time she did it, she liked it even more because I hate it. So she went right up to Jean and was demanded, Long Slow Stupid Dance! And Jean was like, Yes! That one we'll definitely do! Let me write it down! And then, in an unprecedented move, Jean went and wrote it down. Which means, come Tuesday, I'll be doing pirouettes in my head to distract myself from Long Slow Stupid Dance until we move onto Cabalero once more.

Hurricanes Make For Belated Birthday Parties

Thanks to Hurricane Power Outage, S's birthday party was postponed over a month later. Instead of cooking out with a summer theme, we grilled, ate inside, and rocked the PS3.

The game of Life is very similar to life itself. It is very long. I involves highs like graduating and lows like being forced to go to a wedding and chip in for an expensive gift. It allows you to buy a house, but you can choose only from those you match up in a game of memory. It encourages you to have children--actually, it forces you--so that you can cash them in at the end of the game when you retire. Mr. Potato Head runs a dance contest and acts as the judge any time someone sues someone else. You can make long term investments that grow when other players land on your number when they spin. You can take a gamble on short term investments that don't pan out. You can go to college or go straight to work. It allows you to choose from a bunch of jobs based on how many pieces of real mail you click on instead of the junk mail that floods the mailbox. Sometimes you can buy a boat. You have to pay back your loans.

Really, life gives you more leeway, more flexibility, and more choices than the game of Life. That's why the game of Life was fun--it was really entertaining to watch everyone get forced into paying five grand for someone else having a baby. It was fun to choose two people to sue each other and get to sit back and stay out of it, them having no recourse.

And by the end of the game--that came much later, after a grilled dinner made by flashlight and a few glasses of Arnold Palmer, both spiked and not--we each tallied up our lives to see who was worth what at the very end.

Eddie finished first and lost much of his earnings having never paid back his loan. He had escaped to the countryside where no one could steal his life points, but there, he could not gain any more either.
S, R, and I all finished pretty quickly after that, none of us going out into the fields. Rather, we stayed in civilization and stole each other's life points as we could.

In the end, Eddie came in dead last. I was second to that. R won with S behind by a very slim margin. That of course leads me to wonder why the hell Mike is still smiling in very last place. Maybe that's what life is about. Since you can't take it with you, you can retire out in the middle of nowhere, broke but happy.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

International Dance Fest

At exactly 7:57, dance class began "on time." Here, "on time" is the old standby of "early" and starting class when it actually is supposed to begin is called "late." S and I had entered the room slightly before that, arriving earlier than we usually have, so we staked our claim to the front of the room, opposite from where we stood last session. We saw only one familiar face from The Clique, two familiar women from St. Catherine's who look like they are sisters, and two or three other familiars from previous sessions. Sprinkled in were some new people. Oh, and the woman who once wrapped her jacket around her head to avoid a stank coming from the pool was there too.

Cabalero was the first dance, and Jean went right into slide stepping to the side. At first, I thought she was mispronouncing Caballero, what I thought was the Spanish word for "cowboy." When the song came on, I heard it was Italian, so she was not mispronouncing it. Also, cabalero means gentleman. I should probably brush up on my bilinguality.

See those arms? We didn't do any of that.

This dance included the famous dance club step. Come on, everyone knows the dance club step! It looks exactly like a lindy step, but this session, we're calling it the dance club step. Jean comes up with some interesting dance step names occasionally and acts as if everyone calls them that and everyone will recognize what she's talking about (as in when she changed the name of a coaster step to a sailor step and then began using them interchangeably).

As we learned the first few steps, a second woman from the Clique was coming in. Jean peered out the door and said, Oh, here she comes. Then she started to teach a step and stopped herself saying, Let's wait for her. So we all waited for one person before we kept going. The woman asked if she was late and Jean said, no you're on time, but we all know by now that on time IS late.

In our newer spot that is closer to the piano that no one is allowed to play because it is old (it is old, yet it always makes it to class--that's for S), I could see myself and the people behind me in the reflection of the glass doors in the front of the room. That's when I noticed what I became fixated on for the rest of the class. I couldn't help it. I turned to S, patted the top of my head, and asked her, What's going on up here?

I'm not the only one who was distracted because S knew exactly what I was talking about. A very tall woman with short white hair had a black hair clip directly in the middle of her head. It wasn't holding any hair up or back. It was just kind of attached. S wondered, maybe she forgot it was there. I was like, no it's definitely a choice and I'm not sure the reasoning behind it.

As we danced, I couldn't keep my eyes off of it. I had a lot of free time to ponder it since we kept doing the same steps over and over and over and over when some of the newer people--and some of the older ones--couldn't get the dance. This was not a difficult dance. Plus, if you mess up, which I did several times, it is easy to get right back into it. It got to the point where every time we turned and I could see it in the reflection or in front of me, I was laughing. S kept telling me to watch myself, but I couldn't shake the giggles.

The first woman from the Clique pointed at S and I across the room after the first time we did the dance to music and told us that we were in the wrong spot. She said she's used to the young ones being in the back so she knew what she was doing when she turned around. Somehow, everyone knew who she meant when she said, the young ones.

The woman with the hair clip went to the bathroom during a break in music. S was like, she's going to see it in the mirror and take it out. I was like, No she's going to see it in the mirror and think it looks good. Sure enough, she came back out with it in tact, exactly where she'd had it. And that made me laugh even harder. I might be going to Hell.

The next dance was French Toast. The first step was, as Jean described, like a slice of bread, flat to the side, because that's what you make French Toast out of. So the step is bread. Then she did a dance club step. She said, It's really the dance club step, but it's also like bread. Okay then. It was a very short dance to a longish song, but cute enough and everyone got it. The only time I got confused was when Jean was calling out the steps and started shouted, Bread! every time we did the dance club step.

Man, I wish I had a green screen and those glasses.

To break up several people's despair at not being able to catch on to either dance, Jean chose to do a song that she thought most people would know. It's a fun dance that I don't remember the name of even though we've done it a lot. Everyone pretty much caught on and spirits lifted a whole lot. I don't like spending a lot of time on dances I already know because it's a class and I like to learn in class, but a quick break into something familiar is nice.

Then we went back to Cabalero and Jean retaught the dance club step. She said, everytime you do this, it's a dance club step. And then S mumbled behind me, Except for when you call it "BREAD." And then I completely lost it, between that comment and the prominent hair clip, I lost it. Then during the dance, I got lost a little because I was figuring out what the singer was saying. I came up with: you have to wait for the cowboy to come home to the house. That's the gist of it anyway.

Towards the end of class, Jean decided to teach us a quick dance with a Latin flair. This dance contained a lot of steps and was in some ways more difficult than Cabalero and definitely harder than French Toast. Why she chose to teach it only one time through and quickly put the music on with not much time left, I have no idea other than she's Jean and that's what she does. After confusing everyone, she asked what song she should do last because we had a few minutes left, and someone in the back asked to do the song that everyone already knows. We did that so everyone left with smiles.

On our way out, S got the idea to ask Jean to teach us two songs that people did at the beach that we didn't know. I wasn't asking because anything I suggest goes onto the list of Stuff We'll Never Do Again. So S asked, Do you know Jessie's Boys? Jean said, No, no one is doing that dance so I'm not going to learn it to teach something no one does. Heh heh. But wait, it gets better. S asked, How about Raise Your Glass? Jean gives her an automatic flat out, No. Then S goes, Awwww, and Jean goes, I don't like the words in that song. Heeeeheeeeheeeeeeeee. And THAT'S how to end class on a high note!

For S to learn: