Sunday, December 29, 2013

December. Free. Go.

I will never drink this because I don't want to be awake forever.  Call it and it's yours.

Already gone.

Thank you, Twinings.

A free bracelet from the tampon company
Two from Twinings.  Still have two of these.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A History Of The Mud Flap Girl, or What Kitsch Means To Me

Kitschy means something that is retro-cultish-trinket-like. According to a simple Bing search, it's low-brow art that appeals to the masses. I like my definition better, but I have no qualms with being called low-brow. It's also a German derivative, and so am I, so it works. I love many things kitsch.

My jewelry style is mostly kitsch. I have a necklace that has an oval two-sided piece; one side has a drawing of a girl's head with a crown and says Fun Queen, and the other side says, Drinking and laughing...that was all they did. A different necklace is a silver version of a 45 adapter. You know, those yellow plastic thingies that you use to play a 45 on a record player when you don't have the large circle plastic thingie to put on the player. Usually, people ask me if I'm old enough to know what it is. If I didn't know what it was, why would I be wearing it? Still, it's nice to be mistaken for young. One of my prized possessions is a pin-up girl ring that I got in Hawaii. I wanted to buy the whole box of them, but I bought just the one.

My other prized piece of kitsch is my mudflap girl necklace. It looks like this:

Most times I wear it, I get a reaction. I like the necklace more than I like the reaction, but I don't mind the reaction. Obviously, if you wear something like that, you're going to get one. It's a conversation starter. I wore it to a bridal shower once, and one of the girls leaned over during the meal and said, I love your necklace!, and then all the other girls at the table were like, I was thinking the same thing! So it gets me into conversation in places where I'm socially awkward.

Sometimes women think it's a girl in a yoga pose. These are women who know I do yoga, so they just assume that's what's going on. I guess she could be doing yoga if she were in a studio that had one of those large fans they use in music videos to blow her hair back. 

Once, during my stupid single life, I was going out with friends to meet up with some guy who had asked me to visit while he was guest bartending.  I suppose this was his way of having a pre-date.  Or his way of having a date without having to pay, and in fact, having me pay him in tips.  Oh, and his parents were there.  Which I found out when I walked in with my group of friends and he said, my parents are at the other end of the bar.  If my memory serves correctly, they were here from Canada.  Why do I remember these things?

Anyway, we were all hanging out with him occasionally coming over to talk to us.  He indicated my necklace and was like, Who's she?  I was like, she's a mudflap girl--she's kind of iconic.  He'd never heard of one.  Maybe that's because he was Canadian.  Holy Shit.  If his parents were from Canada, he probably was Canadian.  I have nothing against Canadians; I just never realized I knew one.

Anyway again, he said I should ask other people to see if it's really something people would know.  All of my friends, of course, immediately said, Yes that's a mudflap girl. Sure, everyone knows that.  Then he nudged the guy sitting next to me and asked him.  I turned so he could see it, and then he answered loud enough for the entire Nautical Mile of bars to hear, That there is a sign of white trash!

Canada's face dropped and turned red.  I laughed hysterically and then mocked that I was offended.  The guy who said it was a sign of white trash seemed to be missing teeth.

Yes, that's irony.  English Professor Moment.  Take it in.

Canada then skittered down to talk to his parents and then came back and apologized.  I really wasn't offended.  Because she's kitschy.  Which means low-brow.  Which means me.

And that was the last time I saw that guy anyway.  Because he was a loser.

I guess that since kitschy isn't for everyone, not everyone knows what a mudflap girl is.  Well, she's called a mudflap girl because she appears on the mudflaps of big-rig trucks.  It started as a trucker thing, but then expanded to be one of those iconic kitchsy ideas that showed up on t-shirts, hats, and other things you can buy for five bucks at a souvenir store.

I recently wore my mudflap girl to work.  I’ve worn it to work a few times since I’ve owned it.  It’s not something I wear a lot because I don’t want to be that woman who wears the girl around her neck.  It can easily become a negative, so I know to pick and choose my moments.  

I was sitting in a meeting in a cramped up room, listening to people talk about books and writing and testing.  Then from next to me, I heard a short gasp.  It’s not the first time I’ve heard that gasp. I knew my colleague had noticed my necklace. 

So while this testing discussion is going on, he leaned over and whispered, I love that necklace! 

I answered in a hush, thank you! So do I!

Then he stage-whispered, Are you gay?

I hush-answered, No.

He responded that it would be a great necklace for a gay woman, so I said, Yes, it definitely would.
Then we went back to listening to the discussion about the testing.

When I arrived at my Creative Writing class a few hours later, they were all on their phones ignoring each other.  They rarely do that.  Usually, they are talking to each other about their day, their other classes, an assignment, something going on in their lives.  So I said, guys, put your phones down and interact.  They put their phones down but did not interact.  Figuring it was a slow day for coming up with something to say, I sat down and said, So today someone asked me if I was gay.  There were eight of them in the room, and all eight burst out laughing, two of them practically in tears.  They were all shouting things at once: Who? How? Don’t they know you have a husband?

Apparently not.  I gave them one guess.  One guy finally realized, Oh it’s your necklace.  I asked them, do you know who she is?  

This class never gets any of my references.  They have not seen any movie I’ve mentioned.  They don’t know any television shows.  They don’t know songs.  They don’t know books.  They don’t know current events.  They don’t know history.  They don’t know recent history.  I’m not saying they aren’t intelligent or talented or well-rounded.  I’m just saying they run their lives in bubbles different from mine.  So this question was a shot in the dark.  They answered with a kind of, well, I think I might have seen it before but I don’t really know…. And this answer is better than the normal, No I’ve never heard of it.

I began to explain by telling them that I like kitsch.  

“What’s that?”

And so the definition unraveled.  One girl suggested that kitsch is like tchotchke, and that was not helpful considering the rest of them were not up on their Yiddish.

So I called it retro-cultish-iconic.  That?  They understood.  They liked my mudflap girl.  And so do I.  It’s the best little piece of kitsch I have.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Little Village Letdown

As winter approaches, Eddie and I like to zig zag across New York City to see all the glittery sparkly things.  I make a plan and Eddie says, Okay.  These endeavors involved lots of walking, and somehow over the past three years, we've been SantaCon adjacent, going to the city and saying, Hey there are a lot of people dressed up like Santa today only to find out that it was indeed SantaCon.

This year was a little different.  We did not go during SantaCon, mostly because it's unplanned and we just happened to choose the weekend before it.  Also, the goal was only one place: the holiday shops at Union Square. 

Because the night was not very wintery weather-wise, we decided to walk down to Union Square.  We did so without incident.  That rarely  happens.  Eddie found the shops because he's tall and was able to see the booths from about a block away.  The first booth was for wine.  I waited.  Then I waited.  Oh, then there was more waiting.  There weren't a lot of people tasting, but for some reason, it was taking a very very long time.  So I decided not to wait anymore and we went off to see what the other booths had to offer.  Besides, the only drink I really wanted was cider.  Hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick.  That would make me happy.

We saw booths that had all kinds of trinkets and knick-knacks, all over-priced.  Lots of hand-made blankets and ornaments.  Several Eastern inspired Zen shops.  A lot of gourmet food booths.  Lots of pretty little things to look at overall.  After "window" shopping, I found a booth that had cider.  Oooh, exciting.  We waited on a long line in a very crowded area on a set of stairs.  Then they said, We don't have cider right now.  Umm, okay.  They said they would have it in twenty minutes.  We were not going to wait on the crowded stairs for twenty minutes, so we went to see more booths and more trinkets.

Oooh, a second booth with cider.  We walked up and stood on a short line. The cider was warming up.  We would have to wait.  Um, no.

One booth caught my eye.  They were selling lockets with these really pretty pictures of the city and also some rustic ones--a chair in a forest, a bike on the side of a road.  The lockets were in different sizes and they also had them on coasters and other items.  I oohed and ahhed over the lockets, but knew that I wasn't planning to spend that much money on something I knew wouldn't look quite right on me.  I needed something in between the sizes they had.  Eddie was like, You should just get it--it's probably only like 17 - 18 dollars.  I laughed at him and was like, No they're going to be a lot more than that.  He was like, No way.  I was like, Ask.  So he did.  "75 for the larger ones.  45 for the smaller ones."  He said, Okay thank you.  Then he looked at me and said, Those aren't Brooklyn prices.  No, no they are not.

So we continued on the quest for cider.  Two more booths claimed to have cider.  Neither one delivered.  So we wound up taking the subway back uptown because we were both starving by then.  We got our meals at Penn Station.  I got a chocolate-vanilla swirled frozen yogurt.  He got a personal Pizza Hut pizza, for which he had to wait seven minutes because apparently, no one wanted to give us what we ordered right away.

We also caught some great entertainment in the form of Kahn The Sugarbear Hightower, who not only sings, but dances.  Dude's got moves.  We stuck around for three songs.  I friended him on Facebook because he told everyone to. 

So the glitter pretty sparkly search in the city wasn't the greatest experience, but at least we saw pretty lights, some solid standbys.

Empire State Building

Tree near Amtrak in Penn Station

The moral of this story: You don't need to leave Penn Station to have a good time in Manhattan.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Lightshow: It's Amazing

Upon hearing about the Holiday Light Show out in Bellport, I had to go. I miss the one Jones Beach used to host. So Eddie and I got in the car and drove about an hour, listening to Christmas music all the way. Fun Fact: Eddie does not know a lot of Christmas song lyrics. So I used the time to belt out the songs along with the radio in an effort to have him learn the lyrics, though I don't think my belting them out at the top of my lung capacity really counts as "teaching."

When we finally got into the region, Judy (the GPS) took us through a bunch of backstreets as usual, causing us to go into our usual "We Are Going To Get Murdered" script. I am happy to report that neither one of us got murdered, though it was kind of iffy, even when we got back on the main road. The part we got back on was also deserted. Eerily so. But we quickly drove off onto some streets where we saw bigass signs that touted LIGHT SHOW in shining lights, so we knew we were in the right place. In hindsight, I'm not sure why Christmas light signs settle us, knowing that we'd be seeing a light show in the woods, where murderers could hang out.
This way to not getting murdered.

So we found the entrance and really, there were no signs there to say what we were supposed to do. Eddie saw some guy waving us in with a wand, kind of like he was landing an airplane. Then there was a second man with a wand. Then a third who didn't like that I was driving slowly because his waving got faster and faster. I'm not sure how I know he was perturbed, but he was. The waving was annoyed waving. Then we pulled up to some young kid who didn't have a wand. I rolled down my window and he asked, How many?

Confused. Numbers confuse me in general, so the how many question threw me off because I'd read the fee was per car. Why did it matter how many of us there were? So I answered his question by asking, There's two of us???? He counted two and handed me two sets of glasses, like those old paper 3D glasses. All right! This was gonna be interesting. Who knew we'd get free glasses???

We pulled up to the booth where two women were standing and they asked for twelve dollars. I handed it over. They said, Enjoy. I pulled up a bit further and stopped. We were the only ones there. Eddie and I looked at each other and asked the same question: We drive through it, right? The pumpkin thing during Halloween had been a walking thing, but there was nothing here that said one way or the other. So I figured, I'll just drive into the entrance and if they start running after the car and yelling, I'll simply back up and park it.

Ahead we went, and no one ran after the car. Driving it is! We drove into the first part, which featured a miniature town all lit up. Then we put on our glasses. First off, because I have an oddly shaped head, mine would not stay on.

Secondly, I couldn't see a thing. Eddie was cheering and shouting about how amazing this was. I was like, I cannot drive with these on. Eddie shouted, I CAN! I CAN! So we switched.

Now, I've never taken a hallucigenic, but I have had a very high fever during which I saw these black tentacle-like snakey things spiralling out of nowhere into all directions towards oblivion, which I'm guessing is kind of like having a bad trip, so I'm going to safely guess that the effects of these glasses are kind of like hallucinating, but on a good trip. It's psychdelically wonderful.

After driving maybe two feet, he decided that he couldn't drive with them on either, stating sadly, "I'm going to ram into a tree if I keep these on." He makes good choices.

We are children, so I was screeching at how cute everything was, getting excited at seeing Santa, some nutcracker mice, and the camel from the Geico commercials, and he was taking 87,000 pictures. It was quite the scene.

Probably my favorite
Hump Daaayyyyyy
No idea what this was but I want them on my lawn

I wonder who the sponsor is.
Western Christmas
Again, no idea
Maracas make me happy.
U S A! U S A!

Behind us were annoying people who seemed to not want to stop and enjoy the lights but wanted to, for some reason, drive through the path as if they were racing in NASCAR. They didn't honk, but they did continue creeping up behind us way too closely. People? Are stupid. Not to be rushed, we ignored the creeping and focused on the oohing and ahhing straight through the movie tribute and the holiday signs.

I'm converting.
We both started laughing because we thought the yeti looks like he has boobs. Because we're 12.
And really, is there anything kitschier than Christmas in Hawaii?

When we were driving out, Eddie said, Hmm, I guess we were supposed to shut off our headlights. When I asked why, he pointed to a sign that said: Turn Your Lights Back On. Safety first! But we'd kept ours on since we never saw a sign that said we should shut them off. Which would have been helpful in letting us know also that we were indeed supposed to drive through instead of testing the waters by slow-rolling up to the path.