Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Never Too Short To Be A Model

One of my writer friends is an all-around artist--she's one of the most creative people I know, and she's good at what she does. Every holiday, she sends hand-made cards, and everything down to the envelope is personalized and pretty. She hand-stitches books. She's also a photographer, and this is where I come in. She's sending in a slide show to an exhibition. The focus is women artists. She asked several women from the poetry group I run to pose, and I was one of those women.

The original plan was to shoot at my job since I work in an old building and there are a lot of breaking and broken places to use as background that would look really interesting. However, the deadline came up for the week I had no classes, so we met at a coffee shop where we reserved a table in the front window. I posed, she took pictures, and people passed by and stared. In our little alcove, she managed to come up with four completely different images that made me look like four different kinds of person, and then we headed outside where she found a door that she had to have me pose in front of. Photographers have the most interesting eye for what must be preserved in photographs. She sent me her final choice for what she would use in the slideshow, telling me she loved how I looked so desperate and older.

I showed the picture to Eddie. He said, Oh my God, you look like a crazy homeless person.

I asked, Don't you love it?

He said, You really are one of those artist people, aren't you?

That's when I asked my friend to send more pics. She did. I showed them to him, and he said, You look crazy.

I do. And I love it. Love it love it love it. Here's my favorite:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What The Back Row Knows

At exactly 7:55, line dancing, which starts at 8, was in full swing of course. S and I scurried to once side to take our jackets off and then scurried to the other side in the back corner of the room to take up our dancing places. I immediately noticed that instead of Other Mullet standing in the front, one of the women who I'd been talking to in the beginner class last week was standing there. I'd like to think I inspired her (see? see how the ego thing gets out of control from even one session with the beginners?)

We went over some dances from the first week like Ballando. S of course was the only person in the room to remember the ending, and so when she did it, Jean yelled out, Yes! Good! as if S had made it up all on her own, and S turned all red and was like, that was the ending you showed us! Yes, but she was the only one who did it, which made it that much better.

Then we did I'm A Good Girl during which I was always turned slightly towards a corner instead of facing a wall because I could not grasp one of the three-quarter turns and never was sure which way I should have been facing.

Next S and I learned Cha Cha Espana that the rest of them had learned the week before when we were not there. It is very similar to some of the other dances we know, so as we were learning, I kind of did some steps automatically, and S was like, Do you know this dance? I was like, I think we learned it before. But we hadn't because it ended abruptly when I thought there was more, so I figured it was a melding of some of the other dances we've done. It was pretty simple.

And then, we did Hello, Dolly, I shit you not. The kicker is that the woman in front of us who has learned it for several sessions still was having some issues with it. I wanted to be like, How can you not know this dance by now??!?!?!! Some of the newer dancers didn't know it the whole way through so, step-by-step, count-by-count we went over it again. For the 8 thousandth time.

When Jean was finished showing the steps, some of them were still hesitant. So Jean surveyed the room and said to them, The whole back row knows it so when you turn around, watch them.

The back row from window to the pool room was S, me, "April," and the two Irish-Catholic women, and all of us have danced Hello, Dolly for several years. However, when Jean told the new dancers to watch the back row, "April" simply took two steps forward so she was clearly no longer in the back row. That's when S and I started laughing really loudly as did "April," the Scottish Dancing Woman, and the two other women in front of her.

The louder woman from the clique was shouting out, Yes, watch the twelve year olds because they know it because their brain cells can remember the steps.

Um, so can yours and you're not twelve.

We're not twelve either. And that's not why we were laughing. You missed the funny part.

After Hello, Dolly, which btw, "April" knew and danced flawlessly, Jean took a break to make two announcements. The first was about a new venue for dancing, which is my old church. Yup, like I really want to go back there. The other was that for those of us who know a certain person who used to dance with us, Jean saw her in the craft store and she's doing better. Then, the louder clique member decided to give us more details--the kind of sickness she had, when she went back to work, when she planned to dance again. S told me that when she's not in class, I, too, should share all the personal information with everyone who doesn't necessarily need to know it or even really want to know it.

Then, to bring down the class, we learned a very stupid dance that S and I had already learned at St. Cath's. It involved pairing up. It involved dancing in a circle. Because we dance in a room that can be divided, there's a two or three foot wide wall from floor to ceiling in the middle of the room that has accordian doors that can stretch out from it. That was in the center of our large circle.

To "help" Jean, a tall woman who we'd recognized as a more advanced dancer from St. Cath's who was now in this class was standing in the front of the room, telling us this was the only dance she really did know, and she showed us some steps. She paired up with the woman from the beginner class at first and then after we'd done the step twice, she left her partner to come to the other side of the circle by herself to show us how to do it even though we all on this side of the circle knew how to do it.

The music came on and we began to move but somehow S and I managed to bunch up with the two couples in front of us, and we had no room to move. Then Jean and the tall dancer who was helping wanted us to make it fancy by turning and leaping during one of the eight counts. S decided to wave her arms around as if she were in a maraca parade. I did not make anything fancy.

To show us what fancy really means, tall helper woman danced with the wall. I shit you not, she got close to the wall and jumped and skipped around it in a shuffle-scuff move, and I did not see how that was fancy at all. It looked just weird and lonely; everyone had a partner except for the woman she'd abandoned, and she was now dancing with the wall. I turned to S and told her flat out: This is my nightmare.

We ended the class with Something In The Water. Not only do I like the dance, but I like the song. It's a feel good number all around. It completely washed away the ick of the stupid circle dance.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Kind Of Bribery

AEF and I went to Panera for lunch. We wanted to catch up after not hanging out for over a month. There was a lot to catch up on. So we ordered, we sat, and we dished. She'd never been to Panera and she was liking it. Then someone who worked there came over with a tray of cookies. She asked if we wanted to try one. It was FREE! They had three flavors. AEF took the chocolate chip. I took the toffee. The girl asked that we take the survey listed at the bottom of the receipt to let the company know how they were doing. Ahhh, so that's why we were getting free sweets. AEF was like, I like this place. I was like, This is the first time this has happened to me here, so you must be good luck. A few minutes later, another girl came around offering mango smoothies for free. FREE! Seriously, I'm never going to Panera again without AEF. It was a good lunch turned fan-damn-tastic!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Back To Beginner Lessons

Because Valentine's Day fell on a Tuesday and Eddie and I were continuing our new tradition of makin' waffles (wherein makin' waffles is not a euphemism for anything and means literally the act of making waffles on the waffle iron), I could not go to regular dance class. That means I was on my own as a visitor to Wednesday night's class, the beginner class.

I arrived a few minutes before 8 and already they were dancing and Holy Friggin Moly, the class was huge. HUUUUGE! I found a place in the back corner on the side of the room where I haven't been dancing and jumped into the steps. Jean teaches steps first before teaching whole dances in the beginners class, so I grapevined and stepped-and-pointed a whole bunch of times, gearing up for the night's dances.

Guess who was at the class--Can't Dance Man and his wife who couldn't make it on Wednesdays! I guess they decided they should make time to make it. I stayed away from them so I could avoid her perfume and watchful eye. After noticing them, Jean caught my eye and we smiled at each other before she went on to teach how to walk forward and back four times each way. Oooooh, Jean and I had a moment!

As she taught the steps, the room got even more crowded. Two women showed up and went to where S and I danced last week in the back corner and were greeted by four other women very loudly with a lot of laughter. The nice thing about a big class is the cameraderie. The two women had rhythm and when they danced, they seemed to be having fun, something also missing from our intermediate class. The women who greeted them were okay dancers who were kind of having fun.

I was having a blast, having a party all on my own in the back when Jean announced we'd be dancing Ah Si. Ah Si! I remembered it as if I'd danced it every day since I'd learned it. I missed Ah Si! It's a simple dance but it got me breathless because it's a lot of movement. That's the thing about beginner dances--they have only a few steps so you move constantly and quickly. The intermediate dances have more steps before you begin again.

Next we did a dance that has the word swing in the title but I like to call it the Lay an Egg dance because for one of the steps, Jean instructs, Now lay an egg! S and I learned it at St. Cath's and hadn't done it since. It's a one-wall dance, very simple. The oldish man who'd moved in front of me to see was complaining to himself, Now what does she mean by a one wall dance? I thought about answering him, but decided, no--he must be new to Jean's style of teaching and he has to get used to it on his own if he's ever going to succeed. Jean's style of teaching includes telling you information on a need-to-know basis, and even if you think you need to know something, you probably don't.

After that, Jean said we were going to learn September. I was over the moon thrilled! First of all, that song is one of the best songs in the world. Second of all, S and I love love love that dance. So Jean taught the pieces of it and everyone followed with intensity. Two parts include a hitch and backwards walk, and that's what separates the good dancers from the dancers-who-need-work. The woman who had come in late and stood next to me stopped to grab a pen and paper to write down what was happening and she was getting pretty lost so as she wrote and look confused I said to her, Walk three and hitch--it's easier if you jump a little to turn. Then I demonstrated.

She said, You're good. I said, I know this dance, so it's not like I just learned it. She said, Oh okay, and gave me a genuine smile, part relief part thanks. I said, it gets easier with the music. She said, The music messes me up. I thought to myself, but dancing without music is weird, but I did not say that out loud. Instead I said, you'll get it after a few times.

Jean put the music on and everyone went crazy, especially the two women with rhythm, because they love the song. See? It's a good song. It all fell into place for a lot of people. It all fell apart for a lot of others. It was fun, none the less.

When Jean went to put it on a second time, the other song you can dance it to--Love Master of The World (not the right title but what I like to call it)--came on and I got very excited, thinking we were gonna dance to it, but we didn't. She went back to September, I think because she thought everyone would get confused. With a class that size, you have to keep it simple. Safety first!

During the break, three women were chatting about possibly going into the intermediate class. I said to them, I'm actually in that class and it's fun. They asked a bunch of questions--how is it different? what's the size? did I like it? I told them that we learn dances with more counts and it's much smaller than this colossal class. They told me that I was a good dancer and they were happy I was in the back because when they turned, they watched me to know what they were doing. I'm thinking of going to the beginner class every week to get an ego boost. One of them asked if I was coming back next week. I said no, that I was there only because I couldn't make Tuesday's class. One of the women said she wanted me to come back so she could stand next to me next week. Awww, ego on overdrive.

We moved onto Moves Like Jagger. I remembered doing it at Jones Beach, but the moves Jean was teaching were different from the ones at the beach. They were a little less complicated than the version from the summer, and I found myself attempting to move one way when my legs and arms were attempting something else. Muscle memory can be an asset as well as a curse sometimes.

The same goes for what Jean called Lazy Day, which is what the woman from the beach called The Lazy Dance, which is to The Lazy Song, so I guess it's all correct. The beach included some quick cross steps and a walk around yourself. Here we did step to the side and a box step, both easier.

Then we did a few of the dances one more time and ended at a little before 9:30 but Jean stretched out talking a little so that we made it to exactly 9:30. So we all packed up into our coats and the class started to empty out. I went over to Jean, waited for her to end her conversation, and thanked her for letting me come. I was like, You have such a big class. She was like, See what did I tell you? I was like, I enjoyed it, though, because I miss some of those dances. She told me that my class learned ChaCha Espanola or something like that, and I assured her that whatever it was, I'd have to learn it next week. She said she was sure I'd pick it up.

Moral of the story: If you don't challenge yourself and you do things that already come easy to you, you get compliments. Yeay!

Monday, February 20, 2012

BINGO Injury

"Do things that make you feel awkward and uncomfortable." That's a good motto for everyone. It forces you to have experiences that you might not, and you get to find out about yourself as well as the world around you that you might not have otherwise.

That's how I found myself in the basement of a Catholic school in Staten Island, terrified that an old person was going to yell at me. Eddie and his mom assured me they would help me out, but also agreed there was a chance that someone would yell at me.

We were playing BINGO. When we walked in, the two of them got sheets and markers and I had no idea what was going on. There were also side bets and all kinds of other wagers that could be taken, and I was completely lost. They were like, don't worry. Ok, I didn't worry, but I was still confused.

BINGO seems like a very simple game. Get five across, down, or diagonally, and you win. Nope, that's not all. There's also four corners, round robin, and full board. You can also win a line. The number comes up on a screen and then gets called out loud afterwards.

When the caller is too slow, someone will help her or him to speed up by yelling things like, Shake a leg!

When the caller is too fast, well, the caller is never to fast. Only for me. I kept my mouth shut and let Eddie and his mom review my sheet. One game was going so fast that I didn't even realize I had only one number left to win. Actually, no matter what speed, I didn't know if I was near winning. I was too focused on getting all the numbers right. I didn't want to yell out BINGO and be wrong and have everyone yell at me.

When the air conditioning goes on, everyone gets loud. It's not a pleasant loud. It's a complaining loud. The a/c makes noise. The a/c is too cold.

I need a troll. Remember those troll dolls with the colorful wild hair? Some woman had one. She rubbed it before winning a big round.

I need photos and stuffed animals. The first winner of the night had a bunch of frames and dolls set up all around her board.

Someone needed a money sandwich. They called out that they had extra sandwiches and that's the response they got and everyone laughed.

Old people are funny.

FYI: we were the youngest people there. We here includes Eddie's mom. She was at least a decade younger than the youngest of the other people.

Not one of the three of us won any money. I didn't have to yell out BINGO and risk being yelled at. Phew!

Fast forward to five o'clock in the morning after BINGO. I'm awakened by a shooting pain in my left arm. It's all achy. I can't seem to shake it off. I'm twisting it and turning it and nothing seems to alleviate the pains. I'm all discombobulated. I'm thinking about the workout I'd done the day before and what I could have possibly done to my arm. Then it clicks. BINGO! Three hours of stamping and my arm goes south. How do these old people do it?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Is This Really Happening? Part 2

After winding down from the impromptu production of Theatre of the Absurd, we went on a shopping spree, using lots of gift cards we've had hanging around. We found a new bedset. We bought a basketball and I overcame my fear of random my-size mannequins.

Things were going swimmingly. We stopped off at Best Buy to check out laptops, finding ones that I could later look up and research before buying. Then we went home to do just that.

Instead of heading all the way back towards the Best Buy we'd browsed in, we headed over to the newer one by our house. And now for Act II of Theatre of the Absurd:

It was evening, and the store was not wall to wall people but simply buzzing with a fair amount of browsers. We headed straight back to the laptop section. We zoned in on the exact laptop we wanted. We checked it out by pressing a few buttons and reading the tag. Then we stood there and waited for help.

In the previous store, three different people had come up to us to ask what we were looking for and to offer information about anything we may have walked by.

Here, we stood and waited and waited. Next to us were two employees, one with a clipboard, putting stuff on shelves and moving stuff to other shelves. I figured maybe they didn't know the department well and were stock people, but that didn't mean they couldn't find someone to help us. Instead, they ignored us.

Meanwhile, over behind the registers four feet away, four employees were play-fighting, shooting rubber bands at each other, and maybe ringing up one customer.

When someone in a Best Buy shirt walked by, Eddie asked, Hey I'm interested in this so can I get some help? The guy didn't stop and called over his shoulder, yeah I'll get someone. Then he proceeded to join in the horseplay behind the register. This was his idea of helping us.

A guy in a black shirt walked by us and asked if we were waiting for help. We said, yes. He shook his head and said, Okay let me get someone. From the way he said it, this lack of help happens more often than not.

Finally, after about standing there for fifteen minutes, a kid came over and was like, you want that? It's a good thing we'd done the research and asked the guy in the other store about the laptop because he was not really into the whole part of salesmanship that includes "the selling of the product." He did say he wasn't sure if it was in stock. Then we watched him go over to a ladder and climb up to a high shelf where at least twenty of them were in stock. Maybe he'd thought we wanted 21 of them and they all wouldn't be in stock.

The only information I'd gotten from him was that we would have to buy the MS Office package, but it came at a discount if we bought it with the computer. That was fine.

We stood at the register where the play-fighting employees were. They were in the middle of a very profound conversation that included all the words salespeople should use around customers and little children: mother fucker, shit, fuck. You know, nice words. They were also still shooting rubber bands and throwing things over my head and towards their manager.

A doofus kid asked Eddie for his information and then rang up the computer and gave us a total. We looked at him. Eddie was like, Can you tell me what you just rang up please? The guy was like, Oh, okay it's this laptop and the MS Office and you get anti-virus for free. Eddie okayed it and then went to pay when the doofus kid was like, oh wait a second and walked away. We looked at each other and shrugged. He came back with a mouse saying, You get this for free. That was nice of him to remember. Of course, he didn't offer us the payment plan or the warranty service that I know the store offers. We weren't going to choose either of those options anyway, but it would have been nice to be asked. Still, beggars can't be choosers and he did manage to remember our free mouse.

Eddie paid. Then the doofus slid the laptop box at us and then said, here, and handed Eddie a pile of stuff--the anti-virus box, the mouse, and the receipt on top. I said loudly, No bag for that I guess, and we walked away. I'm surprised they didn't try to take us for a penny. By the time we got to the car, we were laughing because anger was not going to make this any better. I mean, really? Who hands someone a pile of stuff and is like, Here you spent a large amount of money for shitty service so why should we add a bag for your convenience? Had it been earlier in the day, we would have gone back to the other store, but we settled for the poor service and getting home quickly.

We began setting it up as soon as we got home. We plugged in the mouse. We set a password. We clicked the icon for MS Office. And then we realized, hey! where's the software? We went through the box. Eddie checked his car thinking that maybe it had fallen on the floor out of the pile of stuff we had with no bag. I tried some of the serial numbers on the bottom of the computer. Nope, we had no software. Eddie started freaking out, thinking we'd been taken for not a penny this time, but for over a hundred bucks. I was like, if we don't have it, we'll just get it even though it's an inconvenience.

So I called the store. I waited for ten minutes on hold. Finally, someone picked up. And then hung up on me.

And that's the flip of the switch when I went from calm and comical to raging lunatic. I called right back. Someone picked up. I explained how we'd been in the store twenty minutes ago and how we did not receive the software we'd paid for. She said, Let me transfer you to computers.

The phone rang eight times. Someone came back on and said, Hello? I said, Hello I was waiting to be transferred. The woman said, Oh no one is picking up? I was like, No. She said, okay hold on. She did not put me on hold but she put the phone down and I heard her telling someone what I'd told her. Someone else got on the phone and was like, Can I help you? I told him the story again even though she'd just told him the story, and then he said, Hold on a minute.

There was a lot of scuffling and shuffling. Then someone else picked up and I related the story again. They said to hang on and then put me on with the cashier who'd rang us up. He asked what had happened.


So I told the doofus, My husband and I were just in there buying a laptop and you didn't give us the software. He answered, I don't remember ringing up a husband and wife.


So then I found myself describing to him: Well I was wearing a big red coat and he was in a puffy black jacket and you didn't give us a bag.

Yes, I said, You didn't give us a bag.

But then I realized, I am describing what I was wearing. This is ridiculous.

So I stopped myself and said, I need to speak to your manager right now. He said, My manager is the one who gave me the phone. I said, I need to speak to him again then. He asked me to hold on and didn't put me on hold but put the phone down. I heard him asking where the manager was. In about five minutes, he came back on and said that he couldn't find the manager but was working on it. I thanked him. Three more minutes and I hung up. Eddie and I were out the door with the laptop back in its box and the mouse and anti-virus and receipt in a Staples bag. Because we didn't have a Best Buy bag.

We headed directly to the back of the store to the computer section. All our friends were there--the two who had been loading the shelf, the guy who said he was going to find help and then joined in the fighting, the kid who'd checked the inventory, and the doofus who'd rung us up. When they finished ringing up someone, we told the kid who'd gotten the computer from the shelf for us that we'd just called and no one was helping us and so we came back because we'd never gotten the software.

This time, the kid was actually helpful. He grabbed a new key card from the rack and said that he'd ring it up but wanted to make sure he could do it. They had to find the manager. The girl who'd been working on the shelf had a headset so she called the manager. The doofus remained far away from us, not making eye contact.

The manager came over and then walked right by when the kid tried to ask him for help. The kid had to follow him and call his name right into his ear to get him to come back. The guy stood there with a doofy smile on his face as the kid told him the story. The manager then said, Okay so that means the card is near the registers or on the floor but we can get you a new one!

He didn't apologize for us having to come back to the store. He also didn't look through our stuff to see whether or not we were lying. That tells me that (A) he's dumb, (B) he can't be bothered, or (C) this happens all the time.

The kid brought us up to Customer Service where they had to do an exchange for the non-existent key card and the new key card. He went up to someone behind the counter to get help and she told him, Oh I'm working on something else right now, and walked away. He stood next to us and leaned over the counter, trying to find someone else, mumbling about how no one around here wants to work. We stood there another ten minutes waiting.

Finally, another woman came over and said she would do it. She attempted to complete the exchange and it wouldn't work. She tried to get help but no one was around. She started complaining about how no one in Computers does anything right and she's stuck cleaning up their mess.

Eddie said that if he managed the store, he'd fire everyone. I would shut it down.

Someone else came over and finally helped her complete the transaction. That took another ten minutes. Then she actually helped us, telling us we needed to keep both receipts in case of anything, and then she actually said, Sorry about that. Thank you, girl behind the Customer Service counter, thank you for apologizing for something that was not your fault.

When we arrive home with our Staples bag full of Best Buy products and our hastily repacked laptop, we immediately set it up to make sure we had everything we needed. We did. It worked.

Close curtain.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Is This Really Happening? Part I

The coming attractions for Safe House made it look like a fast-paced, energetic, suspensful action thriller with Denzel Washington sporting a goatee. Who could resist? So Eddie and I headed over to the theatre that does not allow guns for a matinee. It was such an easy plan.

When we got into the theatre, we were the only people there. A constant, quite loud thump thump thump thump thump was coming from the projector. We sat down, thinking it would stop now that we were there. Nope. Some theatres show quizzes. Some show commercials. This theatre offers thumping. We thought, hey maybe something is wrong. We would give it until 11 and then go check it out.

Some guy walked in and immediately said, Wow that's annoying. I told him our plan to give it to 11.

At 11, Eddie walked down to the concession stand where only two people were working. He stood behind two women who were going on and on about ordering popcorn with lots of butter. Finally, he told someone about the thumping and they said, yeah we know it's doing that. Okay then.

When he returned, two more people had entered the theatre. We were five in total. The two guys who were not together sat in the back corners. Then the popcorn women came in with one other woman in tow. They were loud. They started to enter our row and then they sat at the end in the row in front of us. Then the crazier louder one of the bunch sat in front of Eddie. The mid-crazy one sat two seat away from her with her coat in front of me.

I looked at Eddie. He shook his head and was like, I can still see but this is nuts.

By the way, still THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP.

Then the mid-crazy got up and plopped herself down right in front of me. I sat forward in my chair. I looked around to make sure that everyone in the theatre was seeing this. No one else seemed to care.


Seriously, the entire theatre was empty except for three other seats and they decide the best place for them to sit is DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF US. I asked Eddie, Is this really happening? He asked if we should move and I was like, We were here first. I could see fine, anyway, but the principle was the reason I was staying. Not that these women had any clue as to what they were doing or what principles are.


Meanwhile, their friend sat in the end seat of our row and a guy came in and sat down next to her. The two women in front of us cackled, It's like you're on a date!!! What the?

Then, the THUMP THUMP THUMP stopped. The lights started to dim. This action usually signals people to quiet down. Not for the crazies! This action meant, Let's play with each other's phones because we don't know how to shut them off. Let's laugh as loudly as possible at the Lorax who is telling us to be quiet. Let's practically roll onto the floor and wave at our friend in the row behind us while we laugh even more loudly.

And then, the movie began. They shut up for a while. Then the fight scenes started and I'm not quite sure why they seemed so shocked that fighting was an integral part of an action movie, but shocked they were.

I wanted to lean forward to tell them that this movie was not the audience participation kind, but the main crazy was getting louder and crazier, so I thought it best to sit back and make it amuse me more than annoy me, as difficult as that was. If the movie were easier to follow in the beginning, I wouldn't have minded the distraction, but there was some figuring out to do, which I enjoy doing, and this woman was clearly not trying to figure anything out about the plot. She was instead fearing for Ryan Reynolds's life complete with Ooooh!!! NOOOOOO!!!! ACKKK!!!! No no no no no!!!! Watch it! Oof! Ungh!!! moving all around in her seat, ducking out of the way as if her movements would control his, though she really wasn't as stealthy and nimble as she may have thought and totally would have been busted up if it were a real fight.

Between fight scenes, we watched in peace until she got the idea that her friend might be hungry. She got up, took the tray of popcorn, and walked over to her friend at the end of our row, offering up the goodies. That woman, in the meantime, had been leaving the theatre every ten minutes. I don't know why, and I really don't care, but why would anyone pay for a movie she was not going to see much of? Plus, the last time she left was at the end of the movie when all the suspenseful guessing gets resolved. She said no to the popcorn so the crazy came over and made a big production of sitting back down.

As soon as the credits came on and the lights came up, Eddie said, Let's get out of here right now. Sometimes I like to watch the credits, but this time, I was practically out the door by the time he finished his sentence.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Still The Girls

Without thinking, S and I were doing terpicio or whatever the hell it's called. We arrived at exactly 8 to dance class, seeing some new faces as well as the regulars, and they were already dancing. Unlike any other time we've gone, a man was sitting outside the room. He asked us for our names to make sure we were on the list of paying dancers. That's smart. It's a good thing we didn't go with our original idea of simply showing up since Jean would probably just let us dance. What does she care about registration? She's there to dance, dangit! After giving our names, we jumped right in, standing in the back corner since our spot in the front was not taken over completely, but I felt bad standing in front of someone.

That didn't matter really since as soon as we took up a spot in the back, the class turned to do the back wall. Jean looked at us and said, You remember this. And then, we were dancing some sort of mambo chacha that we learned last session. She was calling on different people by name, asking them if they had the step and how they were doing. I said to S, they must have done names. S was like, You're so right--I'm going to be Christina if she asks. Heh heh.

Jean did not ask.

Instead, she pointed to the man in the middle of the room who could literally not dance one step correctly and said, You should come on Wednesdays for the beginner class. He said, I want to dance with her, and hugged his wife (or girlfriend? but most likely wife) around her shoulders. Jean was halfway through saying that they should both come to the beginner class when the woman said, I can't come on Wednesdays.

She should make time to come on Wednesdays.

The man proclaimed he was a total klutz with no rhythm at all. He is very self-aware. I like that. S also said he got points for the "I'm doing this for her" comment. Awww, we like Can't Dance Man. Except for when we're dancing because that really messes me up. The guy left class to go into the hall often because there were several points when he almost fell over himself. Safety first!

The woman was dancing somewhat but had a hard time picking up a lot of it. I never realized how intermediate the class was until I saw them. I think Jean simply did not go over basic steps because it is intermediate and she's not wasting her time on stuff we should know.

We learned I Am A Good Girl from Burlesque. Jean does not like "bad" words and would not teach any songs from Pink and closes her ears when the guy who sings "Toes" says the word "ass," yet she continues to teach dances from Burlesque. Oh, Jean. I love her logic.

As we learned the dance, we realized that one of the mullets was back! Yeay! We got a little turned around with some of it at first since it contains a walk around yourself and after walking, everyone was facing in different directions, but we caught on.

We did not wear belts like these. Safety first!

A woman we recognized from a different dance venue came out dancing all dance-like. We agreed she must have been a professional at some point. Even so, she messed up. The problem with professionals who mess up is that they remain confident in their mistakes so everything they do has purpose and is distracting and hard not to follow. So I watched the floor whenever we faced her so I wouldn't mess up more.

To slow it down a bit since some people were getting tense about not being able to pick it up, we did French Toast. S hated even the mention of French Toast, which made me love it more. As we learned "bread," which is a step also called the "night-club step" when we're not dancing French Toast, S proclaimed that it wasn't so much the dance she dislikes; it's the song. That made me love the song even more!

Jean moved onto some other dances we all already knew. Everyone except for Can't Dance Man and his wife. She asked us how long we'd been dancing. S said a few years. I explained we'd taken her beginner class FIRST and then came into this class in addition to dancing at the beach and St. Catherine's in the summer.

Wow, we dance a lot.

We moved onto Ballando. Jean said maybe ten times, We're going to do Ballando. Then she spelled it loudly: B-A-L-L-A-N-D-O. When she went to teach the first step, no joke, someone asked, What's this dance called? Seriously.

As we learned a few counts and turned to the next wall, Jean told the wife of Can't Dance Man, "Stand in front of the girls--they'll help."

And there it is.

Then she emphasized by pointing at a specific tile on the floor, Here, here. "Between April and the girls." April was the woman in front of us from last session. We are still The Girls.

The woman stood close and then I realized, Wow she's wearing a lot of perfume. I usually don't mind scents, but this was overwhelming. Plus, we're in a situation where breathing is more required than not. Wearing perfume should not be allowed in dance class. Ever.

Still, since Jean instructed she stand there, she stuck there, and I continued to dance while becoming lightheaded either from the scent clouding up my lungs or from my attempt to not breath as much as necessary so I wouldn't take in the perfume cloud.

We got through the dance. We did I Am A Bad Girl again. Then we did Love Letter Waltz. Jean taught it pretty quickly because most of us knew it. I don't agree that she should do that, but then again, if we had only intermediate dancers, everyone should be able to pick it up.

At this point, S noticed a big puddle on the floor. She disappeared during a quick break and when she came back, she was holding a roll of toilet paper. I was like, What are you, mainenance? She was like, they aren't gonna clean it.

Good thing she cleaned it because the waltz requires a lot of space. Perfume Lady needs to take self-awareness lessons from her husband because she was all up in my space. I know Jean told her to dance there, but Jean did not say, Get in the way. She had a really hard time picking up the dance. She did say to me, I am not getting any of this. I said, You will once you get the basic steps--that's all you need and then you'll get the dances.

I was being nice. Can't Dance Man returned to do the waltz, at which point S said to me, Don't you think he should have been in the room during the teaching part? Yes, but then again, even when he was there for the teaching for the other dances, it didn't make a difference. And so we were off to do the waltz. The two of them did not do one step right. It was so off that it got me confused and I messed up about 16 counts. I can get myself back to where I need to be by watching S. As I did so, Perfume Lady said quite loudly, Come on! You're supposed to be teaching me!

Um, no. Jean's supposed to be teaching you. I? Am supposed to be enjoying my dance space. Really, I don't mind when people watch us dance. I honestly make my steps exaggerated sometimes so they can see what my feet are doing. I understand that this lady was overwhelmed and that she was joking, but at that point, she'd been in my way, messing me up, and smelling up my personal air for way too long, and I wasn't having it. I gave a fake laugh and then ignored her the rest of the time, getting into HER dance space to recoop what I'd lost, but I don't think that made a difference.

At 9:30, Jean called it quits. The couple was like, It's over? We were like, Yup. She was like, I didn't get any of that.

Yeah, I'm aware of that.

Because of Valentine's day conflicting with dance class, I asked Jean if I could come on Wednesday. She was like, It doesn't matter; just wait til you see what I'm working with in that class.

This is gonna be good. At least then I expect the slow pick up and lack of dance skills. Perfume should really look into the Wednesday class.

Monday, February 13, 2012

More Decadence For Two Birthdays

Here are the bags we had for a one-night stay in Atlantic City:

I do not look forward to packing for a longer vacaction. Anyway, the bags are a minor detail. The big deal here is that I now want to be a gambler when I grow up. I don't like the idea of putting money into a machine and getting nothing back. I DO, however, like the idea of putting down a random chip on a number and watching a marble fall into a slot on the wheel with the same number and winning enough money to cover the day and a half of blurry fun times I just lived. Oh, yes, it was that kind of weekend.

The Borgata is very pretty. On the way in, I was excited not only by its beauty but also by the sign that clearly showed No Babies Allowed. I was let down by the amount of strollers and children I bumped into while going through the casinos, though. Seriously? Didn't they see that Full House episode? The girls don't get to keep the money they win because they're not adults!

When SMM and AF arrived, we headed over to the Taj to meet up with AF's friends to gamble. We all stopped at the roulette table. After SMM jokingly referred to Eddie as his dad, the dealer started calling him dad, too. Dad, place your bet. Dad, what's your bet? Dad. Dad. Dad. Pretty funny. Also funny? When Eddie walked away from the table after losing and the dealer holding up his fingers in an L in front of his forehead. Really. We liked the dealer, anyway, because he was helpful, didn't get into a huff when someone did something wrong like touching the chips before he moved the marker, and he gave me and Eddie a lucky 50 cent coin for no reason. How it was lucky, I didn't know since we didn't win one number (though AF's friend did).

While we waited for the roulette excitement to wear off, a scrappy bald gamblin' man with a slight limp who was about my height came scuffling by, dragging his jacket, eyeing me and Eddie up and down. When he got past us, he turned around, pointed, and shouted, You are a beautiful couple! Beautiful couple! Bless you! Ahh, crazy casino man gave us his blessing!!!! It felt as if we'd renewed our vows.

Eddie found a blackjack table and we played a while there. "We" here means Eddie played and I stood behind him, trying to understand what was going on. I know how to play the basic blackjack game, but the counting is really fast and some of the betting confuses me. I also don't know the "rules" of when you should hit and when you should stay. The good thing about the game is that the dealers and the pit boss all help you. They tell you what the "rules" are. I continued to watch, though, because I didn't want old people yelling at me for screwing up the table. In poker, I don't care if players get mad--you are allowed to take risks because they can pay off in your favor and the other players are your opponent. In blackjack, all the players are on the same side against the dealer and I like that we all cheer for each other, so I don't want to screw other people over with silly, risky moves that I don't quite understand.

To take a break from the tables, Eddie and I played a penny slot (and THIS is why pennies are important!). I put in ten dollars. I pushed a button. I won somehow. I was up 40 cents! That's 40 pennies! Then I pushed buttons. I pushed more buttons. A lot of lights flashed. A lot of noises erupted. Eddie kept saying he didn't understand what was going on. I didn't either. A fish kept appearing whenever I won. A cartoon blonde woman with big boobies popped up whenever I lost. The cartoon man in swim trunks riding an inner tube popped up randomly.

I pressed the screen to read the rules. I am a geek. After reading the rules, we still had no idea what the hell was going on. It went this way until I ran out of ten dollars in pennies. So that was fun.

We went back to the room at the Borgata with SMM and AF to get ready for dinner. And this is where things get fuzzy because I was having pre-dinner drinks with myself because no one else was having pre-dinner drinks. I figured we weren't driving anywhere so we could get a little loose. However, I'd forgotten that I have no tolerance left at all, so a drink and a half and I was taking pictures of the view from our room that turned out like this:

And so, we went to dinner. Which is a blur. Apparently, I ate something and so did everyone else. That's what dinner is.

Then we went to the club MurMur. Eddie's request was that I wear a dress. So I wore a dress. Of course, all of my dresses, like most of my club shirts, are boob dresses, so much like the cartoon blonde boobie woman, I had a fair amount of cleavage (come to think of it, I also had a fair amount of cleavage showing in the shirt I was wearing in the casino, so maybe that's just how all my tops are). So we played the game How Many People Are Looking At My Boobs When They Pass By While Pretending Not To Look. It's a fun game. Or it was until we got on the line for the club. We were standing on a line like one in an amusement park; it wound around so that we were next to the people ahead of us. I noticed to guys looking at me and clearly talking about me. Eddie did not notice this. I decided the best route to take would be to ignore them so as the guy turned directly at me to stay something, I turned directly to the right and walked off into a corner and at that exact moment the line moved, but not before I heard Eddie say, What the hell?

I turned around as the guys vanished and pulled on Eddie and was like, That was fun! He was like, That guy tried to grab you. I was like, no he didn't. Now, I of course couldn't see what was happening, so this could have been the case, but I was adamant that it didn't happen. I answered instead, Yeah, he was looking at me before. Eddie was like, I'm WITH you like right HERE. I was like, I know but that's what happens when I wear dresses! He was like, I know you get hit on but it shouldn't happen when I'm WITH you. Really, I don't think the guy was going to hit on me. In retrospect, I remembered I was wearing a necklace that has a charm that looks like a spacer for a 45 record, and I get comments about it from time to time. That means that the guy was probably looking at my chest and then saw my necklace and was going to ask about it, but still, it was all about the necklace, and that's why he was probably trying to get my attention.

Anyway, we got into the club without further incident and that's when I saw something I've never seen before. I've seen a lot of clubs and a lot of dance floors. Never have I seen a group of guys standing in a circle dancing. I've seen hip hop circles and I know that battles on the dance floor happen, but this was different. This was a circle of guys dancing the way a circle of girls dances around their purses. It was quite amusing.

The night continued to get amusing with a packed dance floor that Eddie and I lasted on for about twenty minutes. We then went up to the side as AF and her friends danced and fought off weird pushy people. At about 2:30, we decided to ditch the club and gamble. First, we went in search of a bottle of water. That took about half an hour as we walked in circles around the casino, attempting to find the cafeteria. I could barely walk by the time we found it, but I was happy that we found a Ben and Jerry's and I was able to try Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream and then settled for Lemonade Sorbet. Mmmmmmm.

Then we changed and went to gamble again. More blackjack. We sat next to a very young engaged couple. The guy told me I should gamble the way his fiancee was, but I said I was fine watching and learning and not losing money. Eddie did pretty well and we headed to sleep at around 3 something.

The next day, Eddie, AF, and I were up at like 7:30 and SMM was dying to sleep more. The three of us headed to breakfast and then to blackjack. SMM met up with us about an hour later. That's when I noticed the cocktail waitress still walking around, and I thought, Huh, it's way to early for that amount of cleavage. Her boobs were up to her chin. It was amazing.

One of the lessons I learned is that Atlantic City has a lot of cleavage, and it's very easy to fall into the pattern of showing it off among other things:

We, meaning Eddie, did okay with the table again, and then it was already time to check out. We gathered our stuff and headed to the roulette tables on the way out. We wanted to play one more number before we left. So Eddie took his small winnings and chose a few numbers. I stood by the side with the bags. Then SMM said something like WOW and then we realized that Eddie's number hit. I kept asking what happened what happened because I couldn't see the table. In the frenzy, the dealer carded me--heeheeheeeee----me, AF, and SMM got carded and when Eddie gave her his, she didn't even look at it and was like, you're good. So then I asked again, Did he win? And they were like, Oh yes he did.

And that's how we wound up having a practically free weekend in AC. And you know what was in my pocket? The lucky 50 cent piece. So there! It does work!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Penny Principle

Contrary to apparent-public-opinion, pennies are still official U. S. currency. They are worth one cent. One hundred pennies is worth one dollar (feel free to check my math; more often than not, I'm wrong--just ask T and how she could have had a free trip to Germany). Anyway, pennies are important. If you save them up, they are worth a whole lot.

However, a trend seems to be growing. First, it happened at the movie theatre. Then, it happened at Dunkin Donuts.

Eddie and I took a quick trip to the local DD to buy some K-cups for my mom's birthday. They cost 11.99 a box. We put the box on the counter. The guy asked, What can I get you?

Eddie pointed to the box and said, Just this.

The guy said, 11.99. Eddie handed him a ten dollar bill and two singles.

The guy took the ten dollar bill and two singles and put them in the register and closed the register. Then he looked at us. He nudged the box towards us.

Then he got a look on his face like, oh, I've forgotten something! He handed us the receipt with a complete and definitive nod, as if to say, and here now ends our transaction.

We left with Eddie laughing and me gnawing at the inside of my lip as to not start in with the cashier so that I wouldn't get Eddie into a fight over nothing, only the fight would have been over more than nothing. It would have been over a penny.

When we were outside, I was like, Why didn't you say anything?

He was like, yeah, I was wondering why he was just standing there.

I was like, I know it's a penny and you were gonna put it in the tip jar anyway....

He finished, I know but he didn't even ask if I wanted the penny back.

I was like, I know! He's a thief! He just stole your money. I'm going back in to get it.

Okay, I did not go back in to get it, but as we passed by the big window into the parking lot, I gave him a very mean stare. In my head, I was screaming, Penny Thief! Penny Thief! I! Am! The 99%! I! Am! The 99%! Out loud, I was simply mumbling about how the next time something like this happens, I'm saying something so Eddie had better be prepared to walk away while I cause a scene.

And now for something similar:

The more pennies I lose, the more I like them.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

We're In Charge Of Registration

Classes offered through the Parks Department are supposed to be affordable altertnatives for community members who have interests but not large wallets for classes at schools. Unfortunately, the price of dancing keeps climbing by session. Still, it's cheaper than the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, so S and I decided that at least one more session would be good for the soul.

This time, no one was standing in the doorway to ask what class we planned to sign up for. I think the girl is still missing.

Instead, we made our way to the table in the hall and said we were there for dancing and they gave us numbers and sign up sheets. I don't know why the numbers are necessary because as soon as we fill out the registration forms, we hand them in. We don't wait for them to call out numbers. Basically, it's a waste of paper and a waste of time for whoever is cutting the paper into squares.

I chose to lean against a ledge that was on the hallside of a sliding glass window. On the other side was an empty office. Apparently, even though we weren't in the office, standing here made us in charge. People walked in. They looked around. They saw us. They came over and inquired, Is this where you sign up? Where do you go to sign up? How do you sign up?

And so, instead of shrugging, we answered: What class are you signing up for? Dancing? That table right there. Aerobics? Through those doors. Zubma? In the other room. And then we would whisper to each other, I hear the Zumba sucks.

We are pretty sure we have enough people for the class to run. We saw the nice woman from the clique in the parking lot on the way in. We saw the rather pushy woman from the clique on our way out. Then as we got into the car, we saw the woman who is trying to get us to join the Scottish cult. The cult must really be pushing her to get more members because the first thing she said was, You guys never came to the Scottish dance class!

S told her that the dancing involves too much touching for our taste. I offered a very empty, Maybe we'll come to watch. That means, we're so not coming to watch.

Who has time to watch, anyway? We've got enough on our plate in the coming weeks of new dances. Or dances we've done before and are relearning because that's what we do in dance class. Ah, another era of Jean.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cheers One Year!

Happy 1 Year, new blog! How many more years until the new blog becomes simply the blog?