Monday, February 28, 2011

Oh, is this fitting room occupied?

Back in the day when I worked in corporate, I’d enjoy some downtime after work by shopping.  One of my favorite stores at the time was Ann Taylor.

I always got a snobby vibe from the salesgirls at Ann Taylor.  As soon as I walked in, I felt as though they were sizing me up as a big sale or not and I’d receive service accordingly.  They were the beautiful, popular crowd.  I felt like the shy girl who needed to win their approval….almost as though I was rushing for membership in their Ann Taylor sorority.  Bitchy staff, but I liked their clothing.

One day after a particularly exhausting day at work, I decided to pop in to check out Ann Taylor’s new spring line.  I was exhilarated at the prospect of shedding my heavy, dark colored winter clothing for something light and fresh to herald spring’s arrival. 

As I breezed through the doorway, I got the usual stares from the sales staff and a half hearted “Can I help you?” “No, just checking out your new spring clothes!” I replied. I was immediately drawn to a cute pair of white dress slacks… "Ooooh! I love!  Maybe with a nice colorful top…it’ll be a hit at the office” was my train of thought as I grabbed my size and headed to the fitting room. 

I yanked off what I now viewed as my drab, grey wool dress pants and proceeded to unclip the breezy white slacks from the wooden hanger.  I slipped in my left leg…"So far so good!" I thought to myself as I envisioned the top I’d buy.  I then grappled to keep my balance as I slid in my right leg…."I think we have a winner here folks!" I thought as I grinned…Then proceeded to pull the pants up….

Only they wouldn’t go 6 inches north of my knees.  I did a little jig by alternately bending my legs in my frail attempt will them on me.  “What?  What is this bullshit? How can this be?” went through my head.  The cut was completely awful…How bad?  I looked in the fitting room’s three way mirror for a nearly 3D view of  the train wreck. 

What did I see?  The two spheres of my ass were perched upon the waistband like two loafs of dough on a baker’s rack.  The pants puckered under the girth of my thighs.  Because I couldn't fit the pants over my hips, the bottoms of each pant leg puddled onto the floor, completely hiding my feet.  It was at this point of revelation that the dressing room door suddenly swung open. 

There stood a tall perfectly dressed blond who seemed as surprised to see me as I was her.  I was sure the pants that were now cutting off my blood supply would have hung off her like a potato sack.

As I stood there with pants strangulating my thighs and my ass hanging out, she didn’t apologize and offer to return.  She instead struggled to keep from laughing as she said, “Oh!  So sorry!  I didn't realize this fitting room was occupied!  I just need to clear these, do you mind?" She was smirking as she pointed to clothing left by the previous occupant.

I was a deer in the headlights.  All I could say was, "Uh, sure, ok.." as she fanned the louvered fitting room door during her three trips to gather all the garments. Me, standing there.  Stunned. My ass, in a three way mirror, for her and any other Ann Taylor clientele to see if they happened to walk by at the time.

She ended her trip by finally asking me how I was doing on sizing...Like she didn't fucking know...

I was so mad I peeled off the pants and walked out.  I'm sure they died laughing.  Given what I looked like in those pants, can't say I wouldn't have done the same.

No, I never went back to that store...

See ya...

Friday, February 25, 2011

How many in your party, sir?

Once a month, on Sunday after church, my family dined at an establishment called called Mr. Steak.  Ever heard of it?  It was high falutin for a family of eight.  Sure, I would have preferred Steak and Ale, but it was better than McDonald's.  It was a family tradition for years.

Initially I was taken with the special ecoutrements bestowed on Mr. Steak's valued kid patrons. Immediately upon walking in we'd gaze at the green plywood lollipop tree behind the cashier/hostess stand.  Mom and Dad would point to as though it was a historical landmark and say, "Whoa!  Check out that tree kids!  Finish your dinner and you can pick one out!"...We'd get all hyped up, excited at the prospect of the lollipop.  It was only later I realized they were chinzing out on dessert.  Free lollipop.  Can you imagine if that was shown on a dessert tray?  Please...I digress.

Upon getting seated, the hostess/cashier would hand us a coloring menu and a box of 4 mini crayons.  Really great entertainment.  If I remember correctly, it almost always had a picture of Mr. Steak, the loveable bull who was the namesake of the restaurant.  Didn't stop to think we were actually cannibalizing Mr. Steak..that he was slaughtered.  Dead.  Anyway, my brother and I enjoyed drawing boogers coming from his nose.  Or vapers coming out his ass...

I enjoyed the niceties of being a Mr. Steak kid patron until I reached the age of 11.  It was around that year that I realized my parents were passing me off as a 10 year old.  We'd walk in, the hostess would ask the standard, "How many in your party?"...Dad would turn his back and say quickly, "Uh, let's see, two adults, six kids...right?  Six kids." as though there was any question about the number in his party. He knew I had passed the 10 year old age qualification for the kid menu.  I'd stand there, stewing as I was seated and handed the kid menu and crayons.

This scam last until I turned 12.  It was that year I decided I had enough.  My dad had an extra year to enjoy his savings by my dining on kid meals.  Time for me to take a stand.  Put an end to Dad's money saving scheme.

The next time we went out to eat, I stood in the lobby and watched as Dad did his usual, "Two adults, six kids" spiel.  We walked to our table and sat down.  As the hostess came around with my usual coloring menu and crayons, I put on a look of complete surprise.  "Oh!  I'm sorry!  Didn't my dad tell you I was twelve?  Wait, I can still order off here, right?" as though I longed for the kid menu...didn't understand the age qualification.

The hostess yanked back the kid menu as though she was about to commit a felony and said, "No, little lady.  I believe you're right.  Let me get you the adult menu."  She shot a look over to my now red-faced Dad.  If looks could kill, my mother would have murdered the middle of Mr. Steak.

Did I catch hell?  No, not really.  My dad and I both understood his scam.  I actually think he was relieved.  Kind of like a criminal on the lam, finally caught by authorities, when they say as they're hauled into a police cruiser, "You have no idea how relieved I am this is finally over."

Outta here....

Thursday, February 24, 2011

These should do nicely...

Growing up, my sisters and I found ourselves envious of our friends' underwear.  Not in a weird way, mind you. We were just embarrassed by what we were confined to wear.  Granny pants.  My sisters and I  also affectionately referred to them as "Spank 'em pants", "Underbibs", ...Ugly and huge.

Even though we were young, I think my mother had it in her head that any underwear with a waistband lower than chest level led to a slippery slope of deviancy.  At least that's how I rationalized her forcing us to wear undergarments that looked as though they were purchased at a nunnery thrift shop.

We longed for the fancy stuff.  Maybe a Smurf or Garfield with colored elastic trim...A dancing Snoopy..or "Day of the Week" underwear where the day was embroidered on a cloud shaped patch on the hip....those were my personal favorite.  Would have killed for those actually.  My friend had them...I even remember thinking through a plan to keep her Friday underwear if they were forgotten after a sleepover.

New sets of underwear were generally allocated at the beginning of every school year.  After shopping for shoes and clothing, mom would stroll over to the yellowed bin where shrink wrapped 6-packs of comfy cottony goodness were displayed.  "Size 8 now are you?" she'd ask with a fixed stare without looking up.  Before I could reply, "Yes, but can I try those over there?" she'd grab the package and head to the register.  "These should last you" she'd say as though I should be happy my brand new underwear will last me through the harsh winter months....Fabulous....

The worst part about wearing these buzz kill garments was having to change in front of my friends.  I even remember in Junior High we had to wear gym uniforms for class.  We'd go into the locker room where I'd try to change as quickly as Clark Kent in a phone booth so none of the other girls would ask my why I wore my brother's underwear.

I mean, really. They were so fucking huge...I could have volunteered to carry books in them.  Or maybe cover an injury victim to keep warm...prevent them from going into shock....hero for a day. Then maybe I'd have more fond memories...No, probably not.

Just awful.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

He seems like a nice boy, honey....

I never remember my mother having particularly refined taste.  Often we butted heads over our idea of what constituted a catch.  A nice guy to date....

I liked boys but wouldn't say I was 'boy crazy'.  In fact, my mom didn't understand why I was most often just one of the guys.  Why?  Because I hated most girls.  Too much drama, cattiness, competition.  I wasn't like that.  If you were a friend of mine and were female?  Cut the crap or I'm dropping you like a hat.

Maybe my lack of dates concerned her because she always tried to push guys on me. To this day my skin crawls when I think of this certain look in her eye that immediately told me she thought a guy in the room was date material...usually the most revolting individual in the joint.

Take for example, Josh.  He was the oldest of three boys from a family we'd get together with for picnics, Saturday dinner...His hair always seemed to have an oily sheen to it and appeared to be very wirey in texture.  Scads of pimples with white heads covered his face.  Some nearly volcanic in size.  I was often surprised the bridge of his nose could support the weight of his oversized coke bottle glasses.

Beyond his physical appearance though he was just a creep.  Right after we'd walk into his parents' house he'd give me a full body scan with his eyes.  I'd stand there, uncomfortable, skeeved out as he'd say with a pastey grin displaying ragged teeth, "Hey, wanna listen to some Pink Floyd?" My mother would smile approvingly and say, "Why that sounds like fun Josh!"...I'd turn and shoot her a look of disbelief. Most surprising was my mother seemingly had no problem with me going up to his room.  Boys in my room were completely forbidden.  Awesome.

Then there was David.  He was part of the familial Saturday dinner crowd too.  He had skin the color of Elmer's glue.  I remember thinking he could be an understudy for Mr. Goodbody.  Remember him?  The guy whose body parts were all exposed?  Did you think that show was as fucked up as I did?  Anyway,  David's skin was so translucent that I could make out nearly every vein as it coursed through his body not unlike a map of the U.S. highway system.  I was convinced if his shirt was off I could make out the outline of his kidneys and liver...No, I didn't try too hard to envision him shirtless...

My only nice thing to say about David is that he was as uninterested in me as I was in him.  Still, my mother seemed to think she could will us together by subtleties like, "David, Trina likes Atari too!" as though we were the only two teens who enjoyed video games.  "How about you two play Asteroids while we get dinner together?"...We'd then sit in his family room shooting meteors, crashing spaceships, getting thumb cramps from hitting the orange button on the chemistry.  Zip.  Nice call mom.

In the car ride home after these little escapades, mom would want a run down of what I thought of the latest reject.  As visions of a Lutheran wedding and a reception at the local VFW danced in her head, I took great pleasure in letting her know how repulsed I was.  "Mom, a blind person could read braille on his face.  He's gross.  Stop."  "Trina stop making fun of blind people."  "No one's making fun of blind people mom.  Just him...His face could butter a skillet, didn't you notice?"

And so for the remainder of the ride home, quiet would ensue.  Mom, annoyed with me.  Me disgusted by her antics...

Anyone else's mom or dad like that?  Please tell me yes...See ya'

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Brother, can you spare a bar?

My siblings and I were pretty competitive with one another.  It didn’t have to be centered around sports or music either.  Take for example our candy competition. 

The race usually began around Halloween when we received our first windfall of candy, and usually lasted through Easter.  The period between Easter and the following Halloween was a kind of candy prohibition type period in our house.  I mean, we got some sweets, but usually strings were attached.  "Finish your boiled previously frozen tough as nails broccoli spear and you'll get dessert"..."Dad spent a lot of time making that cow tongue, try it, or no dessert"...That kind of thing.  As such, it was essential to hoard your candy to make it last through the candy Weimar. 

The youngest three kids fell out of the race pretty early.  They didn’t yet understand the strategy needed to ensure a bumpercrop of sugar through the dry months of May through September.  They’d pig out on their treats…gluttonous…needlessly squandering their sugar reserves without thinking about monthly allocations.

The oldest three of us understood the dry spell that was to follow Easter and planned accordingly.  Halloween night we would literally sprint from house to house to accumulate as much candy as possible.  Houses we knew threw out softball sized popcorn balls, balloons, pennies, and pencils were avoided at all cost..Shaved too much time off our trick or treat clock. 

Upon returning home, we sit around, do trades on candy bars we preferred.  Then we'd proceed to watch each other count their own inventory.  It was our way of keeping things honest.  My brother and sister knew how many candy items in my reserve, and I knew theirs.  This also let all participants know we had an exact count…any sneaking of each other’s candy and hell's fury would ensue. 

We’d then hide our candy somewhere in the house.  I remember hiding mine in an old Barbie clothing case.  It was actually handy as it had partitions to categorically organize my treats.  Chocolate items in this cubby.  Sweetarts, and misc. sour candies there.  Pixie sticks in the long cubby where Barbie once slept.  And Tootsie rolls, less desirable items in the bottom.  Very strategic...Hiding in plain sight if you will.  No one played with it and would think to look there. 

Keeping track of inventory was pretty intense.  Most days after school I'd sneak upstairs, and look around to ensure the coast was clear.  After carefully sliding my Barbie case from the corner of my closet, I'd crack it open, partake in a piece of candy then take a quick count to ensure I hadn't become a victim of a sugar shim sham.  It usually went as follows: “1, 2, 3….wait, I thought I had an extra Snickers…I’m gonna kill him!…No wait, I ate that Monday…OK…4, 5…”  You get the picture.

This practice would continue through Christmas and Easter.  It was after Easter things tended to get ugly.  We used to suspect the other had run out of candy and was jonesing for ours.  Dirty looks, fights over nothing because of something someone implied.  Taunting, threats...I was usually targeted because I had the most will power...and thus, the most candy.

Except one year.  I remember telling my sister I had finally run out of candy and she kind of smirked.  "You didn't win Trina," she said with a certain arrogant smugness to her tone.  She opened her top drawer and pulled out a handful of Sweetarts.  "See?  I've saved these just so you wouldn't win." She laughed...obviously pleased with herself.  "Hey," I said, "I don't believe you.  Show me again so I know those are real." She proceeded to flatten her hand, displaying the 6 round candies.  Her elation was short lived as I smacked the bottom of her hand sending the candy flying.  She was so stunned she could only watch as I gathered the sad remnants of her inventory.

Yes, I ate them as I picked them up...times were getting tough.  Sugar was no longer plentiful...

Anyone else do this?  Alternately, do you have a good shrink?....Later...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Holly Hobbie Horror

"Why do you mind if I'm sitting here?" was a question I often posed to my sister as I casually sprawled out on her bed.  I knew full well, after sharing a room with her for as long as I could remember, touching her bed was completely off limits and a rallying cry for sibling war.  "Just get off my bed, Trina.  You know why you can't sit there", she would reply with an increasing tenseness to her tone,  fists clenched as though they were warming up for the first punch.

The sadistic side of me reveled in watching her fair skin transform itself to the color of her firey red hair.  Undeterred, I actually did want to know why, exactly, her bed was the only place in my house I couldn't sit.  The answer usually came in the form a a hand finding its way to the most sensitive hairs on my head and grasping them until I finally decided I had the response I needed;  for now anyway.

My younger sister and I grew up sharing a room with matching twin beds,  complete with matching dustry rose ruffled comforters. a trailer park kind of way.  At the time we picked out our sheet sets, we were very enamored with Holly Hobbie.  You may remember that Hallmark honey...She was the sweet country girl with a blue bonnet and pinafore...usually smelled flowers or came up with some grotesquely sweet saying to brighten your day.  In the 1970's she was the poster child for innocence and wholesome living for young suburban girls with aspirations of becoming a pioneer.

Included in the 200 thread count sheet set was a pillowcase with Holly Hobbie's famous profile.

One night while getting ready for bed, I decided once again to pursue my quest to enable my sister to see the ridiculousness of her ways and finally allow me to relax in the comfort of her bed.

As she went to brush her teeth before bed, I casually sat on her bed as though it was an everyday, agreeable occurrence.  I grabbed a book I was moderately interested in, fluffed her pillow and sat myself down.  I knew full well the wrath that was to come, but for some reason I decided to push the envelope. She strolled into the room and immediately glared at me.  I glared back...

Sister: "Get off my bed."

Me:  "No. You're being ridiculous.  I'm just reading."

Sister:  "I'm going to hit you"

Me:  "So?  I'm not scared...'Ostrich'." (this was a name I called her.  She hated it because she was tall and lanky.  Being the nice sister I was, I often reminded her she looked like an ostrich when she ran.  It was effective.)

My sister went ballistic...I mean a hailstorm of fists and fury.  The hits came so fast I could have sworn she grew 3 extra arms.  I was lousy fighter...I needed to defend myself...end the onslaught of fists.  So I sat my ass down on Holly Hobbie's face and ripped one.*

Suddenly the room grew silent...She stood there.  Mouth gaping, wide-eyed...incredulous...but defeated.  I had just parted Holly Hobbie's hair and there wasn't a damn thing she could do.  I was rather surprised too.  I mean, I was pissed she was hitting me, but impressed by my ad hoc defense technique...Genius, really.

I removed myself from the Holly Hobbie pillow and proceeded to climb into my own bed...grinning....pleased with myself for having the final 'say', so to speak....I don't need to elaborate.  You get that, right?

My sister climbed into bed layed on the pillow and sat back up..astonished.  "This still smells Trina."  I just rolled my eyes as I layed on my side turned away from her and said, "Aw, shut up.  It does not."

Without saying a word, she proceeded to roll out of bed and head downstairs.  "What is she doing?" I thought to myself.  As I turned and looked at her empty bed, I noticed the pillow was missing.  Just as I made this observation, I heard my mother downstairs begin to yell because my sister wasn't in bed.  "What?  WHAT?!" I could hear mom say in an annoyed tone...then, "HUH?"...A quiet pause... (I later learned she smelled the pillow), and then "Jesus Christ!  TRINA!  Trade pillows with your sister for the night!!!"

Yes, I guess I won the battle but lost the that the saying?  I don't know.  I'm still worried about telling you guys I farted.  Ok, outta here...

(*Disclaimer:  Please remember I was 10 years old.  I no longer practice this defense mechanism.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mail call!

My siblings and I used to do weird stuff to entertain ourselves.  One game I remember in particular was Mailbox.  Yes, you read correctly.  We'd be sitting around, bored, turn to one another, raise an eyebrow and say, "Mailbox?"...Yep, it was something we rather enjoyed.

Our cookie cutter suburban bedrooms were outfitted with louvered metal sliding doors.  Pretty high end stuff.  My dad usually spent weekends spraying WD-40 on the wheels to keep them from making an obnoxious metal on metal noise.  You also had to take care when closing them so they didn't fall off their flimsy track.  I never really understood the point of louvers either....Were they a design of genius so as to allow air if someone didn't know how to leave the closet?  Perhaps slits were strategically provided so food could be slid to a prisoner tied up in there.  Or maybe it was just artistic interpretation.

Whatever the reason, we liked them.  You know those annoying cardboard inserts inside magazines?  We'd collect those.  My mom liked to read all the good housewife garbage like, "Good Housekeeping" and "Family Circle"...She sit on the couch, read her articles, and tear out the inserts.

We'd take our 'mail' up to one of the bedrooms...Each of us would take a turn to volunteer sitting on the floor inside the closet.  Then the closet doors were closed.  The other participant, either myself or my brother, would proceed to slip cards randomly into the louvers.  There was really no objective to the game other than how many pieces you could catch.

It was challenging, mind you...The closet was dark and you had no idea which slot the mail would come from...High, low, middle...left?  Wait, the slot to my right?...Damn!  Missed that one!  Yeah!  Caught that piece!  You get the picture...unfortunately.

Sometimes we would switch the game up a notch by telling the person sitting in the closet to stay as still as possible.  After dropping the cards into the louvers, we'd open the doors and laugh at how the cards landed on my sister's head.  Or we'd keep score on how many pieces actually 'touched' the the game really became how well you could aim the mail through the louvers...My brother ruled on that one.

Is there really anything else to add here?  Any questions?  Perhaps you can play this game on your next family game night.  It really is a hoot...

No, it's just fucking weird...I know...Later....

Monday, February 14, 2011

Let your love shine...

Ok ok, so it's Valentine's Day...Yippee do.  Maybe we get a little more cynical about it as adults, but as a kid I loved the holiday.  I loved decorating the brown lunch bag with red heart shaped doilies and candy hearts.  The anticipation of opening a 'special' valentine I just knew was meant just for me.

Which brings me to third grade...I had a crush on a kid named Jeff.  He was this blond kid with blue eyes.  VERY athletic...Could play dodgeball like none other.  Good at kickball too.  I'd try to walk home from school with him, find any excuse to talk to him.

Anyway, imagine my surprise when on Valentine's Day that year, I opened one of the flimsy paper envelopes to reveal a bigger than expected Valentine card. As I opened it, two little faux gem hearts fell out.  The card showed two cartoony smiling heart people wearing sneakers and dancing.  I mean really stupid, but I was taken with what it read, "I think you're sweet....Love, Jeff"....

"Love, Jeff"?  Could have knocked me over with a feather.  My face turned red and I carefully placed the fake gems back into the envelope.  It was official.  I had a boyfriend.

Our romance was really meaningful.  I mean, in a third grade kind of way.  No, we didn't hold hands or kiss, but we do go down the slide after each other at recess.  We sat next to each other at lunch.  I smiled as he picked me for his kickball team.

Did we talk much? No, but our hearts were already intertwined, so we didn't need that open communication nonsense.  In fact, we barely looked at each other.  We already knew what the other looked like.  I mean, c'mon!  Let's not get too clingy!

Then one day at recess my future with Jeff came crashing down.  A bunch of us were tossing a football around.  I wanted to try to show off.  As I ran to catch the ball, it nailed me in my right eye...I saw stars it hit me so hard.  One trip to the school nurse later, I had a black eye.

It was during my recovery from this injury that Jeff's unconditional love was tested and he failed. Miserably.  The next day at school he made it clear he had moved on with Evelyn.  She was this big sweaty girl with giant buggy eyes.  She kind of scared me.   I didn't see the attraction...literally.  My eye was swollen shut.

I think our romance lasted about 4 school days.  Not too shabby...

Dumping me over a shiner.  What a prick.

I'm going to go eat some chocolate now...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Have a nice day, please try again, OK?

You'll be amazed to know I worked in a medical testing facility....for humans.  That's right.  Homo Sapiens...people like you and me...kind of...

You know those little advils or aspirin you take?  The medical companies have to know absorption rates so they can tell patients how often to take their meds...At least, that what we were told and chose to believe.  I mean, would they really get volunteers if anything bad were to happen?  Don't answer that...People got paid big bucks to do this stuff...Of course they'd still want to participate.

My job entailed answering the phone to screen potential candidates for our studies.  People had to meet certain weight and medical history requirements.  Unfortunately, most of the individuals who wanted to participate really had manure in the cavern between their ears.

Here was a typical conversation:

Me:  "Medical Studies!  This is Trina...How may I help you?"

Hungover/Borderline drunk person:  "I wanna apply fer a study"

Me (rolls eyes because I know person is calling from bed at noon):  "That is great!  Thank you for your call!  Let's see what study you qualify for...Now let's start with your weight..Can you tell me your weight?"

Hungover/Borderline drunk person: "I dunno....been years since I weighed myself...let's say 250 lbs..."

Me (now completely grossed out by fat drunk dude calling me from bed):  "Oh!  I'm so sorry!  The requirements for our study stipulate that your weight must be between 175-195 pounds.  Please feel free to call back for another study" (Me thinking: "Like when we start checking absorption rates of Big Macs you fat lazy fuck).

Hungover/Borderline drunk person: "Oh, uhhh, did I say 250 lbs?  I meant 195 pounds."

Me:  "Sir, you just told me you weighed 250 pounds.  You don't qualify for our study.  Pleeee.."

Hungover/Borderline drunk person (interrupting): "Nah, nah....I wuz jist guessin'!  I think I'm closer to 195..."

Me (now annoyed):  "They will weigh you first thing upon arrival sir.  Did I mention you have to be here at 7 a.m.?"

Hungover/Borderline drunk person: (I hear the bed squeak as he finally sits up) "Goddammit, that's bullshit!  Can't I come in later? That's so early!"

What I'm thinking now: "You lazy disgusting hillbilly.  You have no job and you want to sit your ass in our facility so you can get more beer money and you're complaining about the time being too early?!  Kiss my butt asshole!  Do you think I enjoy even chatting with you? Do you even comprehend how repulsed I am just by your voice?  You're probably wearing a dirty wife beater tank, aren't you?  You want to come participate? Well, have I ever got a news flash for you...Try getting your ass out of your mobile home once and awhile and exercise so you lose weight and qualify for our study you worthless bag of balls!"

What I actually say: "I'm sorry sir, I have another call coming in...Please call again when you hear of a study you think you qualify for...Have a nice day."

Then I take the next call...and it all starts again...and again after that....

Sounds like fun, doesn't it?  Later...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Maaaaay beeeee!

Recognize that title?  For you Broadway novices it's the title from a song in a little musical called "Annie". My mother and her friend took me to see a show for my 10th birthday.

Annie was the first musical I ever saw.  I watched in amazement as these girls the same age as me danced and sang on stage....I was fascinated....

It goes without saying that I wasn't terribly interested in Duffy or Pepper...Annie's friends from the orphanage...I mean, yes, they could sing, but there was a reason they had to keep scrubbing floors while Annie got a little child labor work stay.  Annie was "It"...the star...She certainly sang and danced the best and well, let's be honest...she was the prettiest rag tag orphan I had ever seen.

I'd be lying if I said I also didn't like how she hit paydirt with Daddy Warbucks.  That end of show 'makeover' with her newly coiffed hair, high kicking down his massive staircase donning that bright red dress.

Get me Annie.  I wanted to be her....I meant it.

My quest to morph into Annie began with my begging my mother to buy a vinyl record soundtrack of the entire production.  Amazingly, she agreed.  On the ride home, I sat in the back seat holding that shrink wrapped album and daydreamed about becoming my newly discovered idol....

My parents' basement provided the perfect locale to perfect my craft.  My dad had spent months finishing it himself.  All of the walls were covered in dark wood paneling.  To break up the dark decor afforded by the paneled walls and lack of natural light, my mother chose a fecal brown carpet.  The main feature I liked about this particular basement, however, was the sound provided by giant speakers nailed on the walls near the speckled drop ceiling.  They were wired to our main living room stereo.  I'd run up the stairs, place my vinyl record on the turn table and sprint back to the basement before the first song began.

As I stood in my brown cavern, I'd belt out the songs with Andrea McArdle (the original Annie...Her voice kicked ass) and envisioned myself on stage.  I'd exhaust myself as I rehearsed what dance moves I could remember from the show.  And after a couple of weeks of self imposed vocal training, I felt I was ready for a debut.

I'd sing for anyone who wanted to listen.  I started with my siblings.  They were impressed.  After getting their approval I continued my ascent to stardom by performing for my parents, grandparents, neighbors and friends.

I even remember going to camp that year.  I'd take song requests from my cabin roommates.  "Sing us that song from 'Annie', Trina!" Although I was dying to show off my talent, I'd pretend to act reluctant..for about 2 seconds then begin to belt out "Tomorrow" or "Maybe" before anyone could change their mind and say, "Oh, nevermind!  We'll ask again later."

As they sat and listened, I envisioned myself as bunkmates as the forlorn orphans whose lack of looks and talent led to them having to endure another hour and a half of Miss Hannigan.  Perfect.

I still love that musical.  Just wish my voice didn't get lower.  Maybe I'll try Phantom of the Opera next...I'll let you know when I'm ready to perform...

Outta here....

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Let's Make a (Chocolate) Deal...

Did you ever participate in candy fundraisers when you were in school?  I did.  Lots of them.  I used to sell shit for French club, Beta Club, name it.  The experience was rather enjoyable.  Somehow, selling candy gave me delusions of grandeur.

You see, I had a big box loaded with chocolate bars known as "World's Finest".  Perhaps you've heard of them...I mean, they were the world's finest...They looked liked a segmented turd loaded with nuts...all packaged neatly in foil.  Oh, and the white paper wrapping usually had a coupon for Burger King or McDonalds...You know,  in case you didn't get a case of the shits from eating a pound of chocolate at one sitting.  All yours for a buck.  Cash only please.

In any case, I'd walk around with my box of chocolate bars all day, every day for 2 weeks or so.  I acted as though carrying a motherload of chocolate wasn't really a big deal, but it was.  Back in the day, there weren't candy vending machines in school.  And by the time 2 o'clock rolled around, the waft of sweet smelling goodness eminating from my box of World's Finest began to get the best of my fellow classmates' self control.

I became a confection dealer.  Wadded up dollar bills were passed under desks with notes that read, "Pass the bar when you think it's safe.." Meaning, while the teacher's back was to the class.  Given that I was pretty shy, this act of chocolate dealing deception also made me feel pretty rad.  I think we said that in the 80's.  In modern lexicon..."Gangsta" if you will.

I was pretty business savvy too.  Some of my fellow chocolate dealing friends were tight asses on their payment policy.  Chocolate was doled out once they received cold hard cash.  I offered financing options.  Chocolate today for a percentage of lunch money tomorrow.  Only have 50 cents on you?  Let's talk.  Maybe we can strike a deal.  I mean, not everyone can plan for these things, right?

Selling chocolate also gave me some leverage on the home front.  I had five younger brothers and sisters all of whose eyes lit up when I came marching through the front door with a ton of chocolate.  I wasn't as interested in whether they had cash as much as wanting them to do stuff for me.  I'd say to my sister as she sat salivating, staring, "Sorry you don't have money...How about you make my bed for a week?"  She'd agree.  Or to my brother, "I'll give you a bar, but you're on dish duty.  And don't even try to fake needing to use the bathroom during kitchen clean up...I'll tell mom about our deal."  And so I lived on Easy chores, threats to air their dirty laundry.  For two weeks, life was good.

The only time I was hard nosed about payment was with my parents.  My mom would ask for a chocolate loan floater, and I'd refuse citing fundraising rules requiring payment at the time of sale.  She never bent the rules for me.  It was fun returning the favor.

Let's not forget I enjoyed chocolately goodness too.  I'd snack on a bar...Stash one away.  Yeah, good stuff...

And somehow, after all this transaction activity, I managed to come up short on cash.  Not a problem.  I'd go tell my mom I needed the difference due to a younger sibling sneaking into my inventory.  She'd grumble about what a pain in the ass fundraisers were, but would dig in her purse for a 5 spot.

Boy, was I a dumbass.  Feeling like "hot stuff" from selling crappy candy....I'm done here.