Thursday, October 30, 2008

A No-Nazi Update

Hello, and welcome back to my rantlessness.

Every time I declare I'm going to start posting regularly, I seem to jinx myself. So I am not going to say that.

By the way? Everything is over. All the busy conference season stuff has finally concluded, and while I have a few battle wounds yet, I am finally breathing again. I'm taking time to think and to be calm and to nap, which I'm doing much of these days (don't ask, I don't know -- maybe my body thinks daylight savings is already over?). It's been very needed.

And I'm starting to emerge, starting to look at 2009 and beyond. I'm looking forward to the holiday season. And um, the wedding.

Ha! Yeah. Wedding. I'm gonna have to get on that.

But(t) also, I want to let you know that I have a post in the works about -- what else? -- my ass. My ass, and its unfortunate circumferencestance on what should have been a highly professional occasion.

With diagrams.

Stay tuned!

Friday, October 24, 2008

No On Prop 8. Just, No.

Are you fucking kidding me with this?

Yes, I used the word "fuck" in my first sentence. And now I'm going to go ahead and bring up another big word: Nazi. Oh-ho! Nazis and fuckall in my first few sentences! Yeah, this is a doozy.

It is 2008 and we shall NOT, canNOT be Citizens of this American Nation and write discrimination INTO an American Constitution.

Yesterday I walked past a car on my way into work with the bumper sticker that said "YES ON 8! RESTORE MARRIAGE!" and it had a stick-figure family on it. I was so mad I wanted to kick the car. I wanted to leave a note that said, "NO ON 8! RESTORE LOVE!" But I'm writing this instead.

Or rather, I'm posting what Beth wrote. With a bit of a preamble.

In case you do not know, on November 4, Californians will have the opportunity to vote on a measure that will change our state constitution to expressly state that marriage is only valid and recognized if it is between one man and one woman.

Meaning, Sorry, scary gay people. No marriage for you! But you can have those cute, meaningless "civil unions" and all the Bravo reality tv shows you want. They're fierce!

Except, OH THAT'S RIGHT. Where I come from, every citizen is entitled -- oh, yes, entitled -- to equal protection under law. Two consenting adults deserve to have the same rights and protection as any other two consenting adults. Period. If you think the scary gays should have one set of rules and the straight folks should have another, I will remind you that "separate but inherently unequal." Seriously. I am not even making that up.

If* your church or your God or your bible or your delicate, weirded-out sensibilities say that gay marriage is bad, well okay! Your church and God and bible and you don't have to perform or attend or take part in gay marriage. You can go on, just as you are. Tra la la. (Oh, but for the record? You are no longer welcome in my home**.)

*Update: This is an IF. I am not suggesting it is only the Church or that every church or every Christian (or other religious) group is opposed to gay marriage. I mean to say that if your religious views are at odds with same-sex marriage, well, okay. Prop 8 isn't asking your religious institution to sanction them. In fact, this is about taking the religiousness out of the law. Either marriage is a legal institution or it isn't. And if it is, then all citizens deserve the same protection.

**This is a weird thing for me to write, but really. I do not wish to break bread with someone who thinks that gay people should not have the same rights as other people. It's as absurd and hateful to me as saying, "Oh, I have no problem with black people. I just don't think they should be allowed to get married or raise kids."

Because when our government grants some people a right and then takes that right away from some other people just because of their race their religion their gender their genetic make-up, whoops! We've started sliding right back down that slippery slope -- no, not THAT slippery slope. NOT the one where if we let scary gays marry then the next thing you know people will be marrying dolphins, no. -- toward some four-legs-good-two-legs-bad, pink triangle, separate water-cooler precedent. A precedent I thought we kind of, you know, got over. (Uh, not that we're otherwise all discrimination-free here in the States, but we have kind of stopped making laws that guarantee and protect discrimination.)

Yet we're right back at the beginning. I'm not even being dramatic. Writing discrimination into law is exactly what Prop 8 does, and I do not understand how this is even something we're considering. How is such a ballot even legal in the first place?

But fine. Fine. You think I'm being ranty and loud and crazy with my talk about Nazis? Alrighty then.

Please read what Beth has to say. She is lovely, and smart, and articulate, and kind, and thoughtful, (and yes, Christian - gasp!) and she and her amazing wife are a shining example of what every -- EVERY -- marriage should aspire to be.

I implore you to read her post here. But I will cut and paste it in its entirety below as well, in the hopes that the words get picked up by more places, outlets, people who are not sure how they will vote (WHICH IS ALSO BAFFLING TO ME, BY THE WAY).

Because this is the best "plea" I've ever seen written on the subject. And there have been many.

So please. Read. Share. Comment. Donate.

And Vote No On Prop 8.

Click on the link below or scroll down to read. It's really that important.

Our plea.

I am asking every American who has a gay child, parent, sibling, cousin or friend to read this through to the end. It is my plea.

When Merideth and I exchanged vows seven years ago (on October 20), we asked Merideth’s sister to do a reading. She chose her text from various sources, all on the subject of “home.” She explained that that was what marriage meant to her, and what she hoped it would mean to us. She emphasized that that this one person, this one who loves and supports you and greets you in the morning and at the end of the day with a smile: This person is home.

In the past seven years, we’ve discovered just how true that is. We are each other’s home, and we work every day to make sure that is as true on the days when the most romantic thing we do is laundry as it was on the day that we promised to love one another forever.

We consider our wedding date to be that day: October 20, 2001. But the state of California thinks our wedding date is July 11, 2008, because that was the day that we promised we would love each other forever after the California Supreme Court declared marriage a legal option for ALL consenting, adult Californians on May 15, 2008. And to be honest, I didn’t think that second wedding date was going to be a big deal. We considered ourselves married already; this was just a formality. But when I heard the words, “By the power vested in me by the State of California…,” I knew there was a difference. There was a difference between a legal recognition of domestic partnership and a legal recognition of a marriage. In fact, there are over 1000 civil rights afforded by “marriage” that are not afforded by “domestic partnership.” The Supreme Court of California noted that this was a case of separate but (un)equal, and I agree. It felt different. (Please see Lesbian Dad’s similar post for what can happen when insurance companies will not recognize a designation.)

On the California ballot in the upcoming election, Proposition 8 proposes to reverse the California Supreme Court decision that allowed same-sex marriage to make marriage between “one man and one woman.” This proposition has extremely heavy funding from the Mormon Church and other religious organizations who are using scare tactics that include unabashed lies (not very Christian, that) in their advertisements, stating that churches will lose their tax-exempt status if gay people have the right to marry. I have also heard arguments that Proposition 8 should pass because marriage between a man and a woman is “traditional,” that heterosexual marriage needs to be protected, because the Bible says being gay is bad, or because it’s all a slippery slope into bigamy and (my personal favorite) bestiality. I truly believe that these arguments are all a smokescreen because people feel icky about gay marriage. And to be even more forthright: They feel icky about gay sex, but have too much difficulty enforcing anti-gay sex laws, so instead want to make sure that gay families aren’t allowed the same rights as heterosexual families.

But let’s look at the arguments anyway:

THE LIE: Churches Will Lose Their Tax-Exempt Status
The pro-Proposition 8 ads note that if Prop. 8 is defeated, churches COULD lose their tax-exempt status.

Well, you know what? The sky could fall in, too. However, if churches lost their tax-exempt status every time they did something that went against law, then the Catholic church would have lost their tax-exempt status when they refused to let women become priests. Any other business would be in huge trouble with labor attorneys over gender discriminatory practices, but the Catholic church continues on its merry way because of the separation of church and state (otherwise known as the First Amendment to the United States constitution). And that’s fine. I truly believe in all of the amendments of the Constitution, that one first and foremost. I have no interest in legislating churches with my “gay agenda,” and neither does the government.

And while I hate to accuse anyone of lying outright, the pro-Prop. 8 people are LYING. I cannot believe that they are so stupid that they think that this one tiny proposition allowing gay marriage to be recognized by the state will spell the doom of any church, be it founded by St. Paul or by Paul down the street. And the fact that the pro-Prop. 8 campaign is predominantly funded by churches and church organizations means that they are knowingly lying, or at the very least purposefully misleading others through fear. Which is not really something I should expect from my church.

Marriage Between a Man and a Woman is “Traditional.”
Merideth, Mandy and I have a tradition where we go shopping together on the day after Thanksgiving. I get an eggnog latte, and we stroll the Stanford Shopping Plaza, picking up Christmas gifts and enjoying the high school carolers. We’ve had this tradition for seven years, so I think it’s time to legislate it.

Nevermind that I could argue that a marriage between one man and one woman is hardly “traditional” based upon historical documents and using the Bible as examples. Nevermind that we all have to give an offensive wink, wink, nudge about the Mormon religion’s idea of traditional marriage. You know what else is traditional? Slavery. Also? Subservient women, racial separatism, spousal abuse, peeing outdoors, and sitting in the dark once the sun goes down. Happily, along with tradition, there’s also progress, both in technical inventions and in societal understanding and conventions.

Heterosexual Marriage Needs to be Protected.
From whom? Me? Really? If anyone’s THAT intent on protecting marriage, I think all states should refuse to recognize marriages from Nevada unless all parties signed a sober affidavit. We should also maybe outlaw divorce. That’ll protect marriage.

The Bible Says Being Gay is Bad.
Merideth and I are both Christians, which might come as shocking news to other Christians who keep throwing their Bibles at us. (We have a few, and have actually read them, but thanks.) And while I would love to get into it about what the Bible says about homosexuality (this San Francisco Chronicle article did a good job, as did Jen Austin in her book, “Coming Out Christian,” a must-read for any Christian struggling with homosexuality) the Bible shouldn’t even be figuring into this. Once again, the separation of church and state must wield its ugly head and roar about how the Bible doesn’t get to dictate what happens in the law. And if the Bible DID get to dictate, I think we should probably be pointing fingers at the people who are trying to persecute gay people based upon outdated Old Testament laws when Jesus clearly said we had a new covenant. I’m pretty sure that if we all glanced at our bracelets and asked ourselves what Jesus would do in this circumstance, it would be to promote loving families, not stone a minority group.

Slippery Slope.
The slippery slope has always been my favorite. If we let the gays marry, the next thing you know, bigamy will be rampant and people will want to marry their dogs. This will, of course, be right after my head explodes because of how obtuse anyone who spouts this argument has to be. How hard is it to have a law that marriage can be between two consenting adults?

I’m much more scared of the other slippery slope: If we decide to take away the right of homosexuals to marry, what’s stopping us from letting them have jobs? And who said they had the right to be out after dark? At what point will they have to wear a symbol on their clothes so we can recognize them? Sound familiar? If not, Tivo the history channel for one day for a big fat refresher on what the “slippery slope” of letting the government revoke human rights looks like. Or better yet, ask your grandfather what it was like to liberate Germany.

I realize that I’ve treated this with a silly tone in some parts, but I am deadly serious about this Proposition. The venom and bigotry behind it make me dizzy because of the amount of effort being put forth to restrict my right to pursue happiness.

I wasn’t alive when the Nazi party came to power, but I know it didn’t happen in one day. Little laws and restrictions kept sneaking their way in until one day those who were considered unfit for civilization were all hauled away, many never to be seen or heard from again. Do not misunderstand: I do not think we are on the threshold of a Holocaust, nor do I want to minimize the amount of suffering of those who lived through it or died because of it. My point is that we are currently seeing a specific targeting of a minority class who has not done any harm other than make some people feel squeamish. And that is dangerous. As Americans — hell, as people — we have an obligation to protect the minority classes, because often the majority turns into mob rule.

Call me melodramatic, but I am honestly fearful that those who will not help protect me today would also turn their faces if I or someone else were made to wear a sleeve insignia or get taken away on a train in the night.

So please: Donate to Equality California. Even if you don’t live in California, do it for every person you love who is or might be gay. Do it for the children you have or might have. Do it for that uncle who’s been living with his male “friend” for the last fifty years. Do it because it’s the right thing to do. Do you have ten extra dollars? Donate ten dollars.

And if you do live in California? For heaven’s sake, vote No on 8.

P.S. Thanks to all our friends and family who have already donated. And thanks to Brit, who put out her own plea for us on her blog.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Who's going as Palin for Halloween?

I have a friend collecting photos of her look now (in case you need costuming help) and who will be collecting photos of all the Palin Impersonators, aka Palinpersonators, post-Halloween.

I hope you'll add yours and those of friends.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hope: 1 Experience: 0

Because my blog post title is a Tweet you thought of and haven't posted yet.

Because the first time you kissed me, my stomach flipped.

Because you drive a Subaru.

Because you know all the words to all the songs I grew up singing, even though they're the songs our grandparents grew up singing.

Because you sing with me, and harmonize beautifully.

Because you always jump to the same harmony I do.

Because we finish each other's...sandwiches.

Because the day we collaborated on that spec script was one of the most exciting of my life.

Because you took me to Paris.

Because you love that Charlie calls you Uncle Ish.

Because you buy too much wine, and make a killer martini.

Because you read more political blogs than I do.

Because you always beat me at trivia.

Because you have taken the time to try and figure out who you are and what you want, because "almost" wasn't good enough.

Because your bravery in pursuing stand-up awes me, has always awed me.

Because you and I are the worst negotiators ever, and have our collective four cats to prove it.

Because you are good and kind and handsome and smart and loving and caring and thoughtful and you make me laugh every day.

Because you are my part-mer.

And maybe because three times is the charm.

But mostly because this is how it should be, should feel. Because you make me so happy, because you make my life more fun and exciting than it's ever been. Because the thought of a life with you does not worry or frighten me, but fills me with joy and hope and outright glee. Because I know I am loved so very much in return.

Because of all of this,

because I want yours to be the face I see first thing each morning and last at night for as long as we have days,

because of so much more I cannot put into words,

I just answered Yes, I will marry you.

Because of course, yes, of course, I will.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Of" Is Not Spelled With A "V"

I return home tomorrow, after nearly a full week on the road with BlogHer. The two events went very well, and I'm as proud of the organization I represent as I am of my own efforts for making the event run as smoothly as any I've ever done.

For whatever reason, I wasn't covered in hives throughout the event, but today my forehead itched like crazy, which is very attractive.

None of these things are the point of this post.

I just want you to know that I will be flying home tomorrow and then drooling a little at my desk and then weekending and THEN? I will be able to say that the "BLOGHER EVENTS ARE MY LIFE" portion of this year will have concluded, and I will be home and blogging with regularity and fervor. Hoo. Rah.

But since there's another day and flying and drooling in my immediate future, I thought I'd put this fun post out there to get your feedback.

* * * * * * * * *

Language is fascinating. Spelling is very, very hard.

I am not a poor speller by any means, but also it has not been my forte. When I was young and first learning to alphabetize, I was not good at it. VERY not good at it. It is the first memory I have, in fact, of crying over homework.

This came back to haunt me, laughingly, bite-me-in-the-ass-ingly at the conferences for reasons I'll perhaps get into another time.

My point, though, is that sometimes when my brain is not working so well, I can lose the ability to spell. And I KNOW that I am not alone in this.

Exhibit A:

I remember coming home from school one day when I was about 10, and my mom asking me, "HOW DO YOU SPELL 'OF'?"

I was a bit concerned.

"OF? You mean, like as in Oh-Eff of?"

"F???" My mom replied.


"I HAD THAT! But then I started thinking too hard about it, and I could not figure out why there would be an F in the word OF. But I spelled it Oh-Vee, and that just didn't look right. Of COURSE it's Oh-Eff!"

I remember thinking that my mother was crazy, and also that even if I did grow older, I could never be THAT silly.

Yes, well, hello.

I actually found myself faltering over the word "of" a few days ago, and realized I was doomed. I mean, there are certain words and phrases that trip me up all the time, but "of" was not one of them until now.

It's just that I consider myself kind of good at this sort of thing, and yet I have issues with the following every single time:
  • I can NEVER spell gague gauge correctly on the first try.

  • Ocasion is a bitchass motherfucker. ONE of the consonants gets two and the other one does not. But WHICH IS WHICH?

  • In the same vain? In the same vein?

  • Guarentee is not right.

  • Neither is curriculum.

  • Lay? Lain? Lie? Lied? Laid? Layed? LAINED?

  • If I'm typing fast, I spell my first name wrong. Ksiryt, sometimes. Usually Krsity.
And probably there are 49 million other ones I am not thinking of right yet. But I'm sure you all have some, yeah?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Today Is The Day!

That I break out in hives for no reason! Perfect!

Also? Professional.

Dear My Body,



Monday, October 06, 2008

Let Me Wow You With My Weekend, Plus So Much Rambling

It's a toss-up. Either the most productive thing I did this weekend was come close to cracking 200 on Wii Bowling, or get the Facebook promotional widget in the sidebar of my blog. If I knew more about coding, I could probably make it not look so dumb. On the other hand, I kind of love that everything is in ALL CAPS and that my blog's self-selected descriptive tags are LIFE, HUMOR, BIG ASS.

Not inaccurate, but the ALL CAPS font kind of makes it seem like my topics should be more important or formal than they are. Then again, I could have added CAT PEE to the list. Meaning it could have been worse. Won't you join my blog network on Facebook? So that...uhm...

Really, I have no idea what your joining my blog network on Facebook will do for you. I don't know what it will do for me, either. But it seems that joining things on Facebook is imperative, so let's all just keep doing it. Maybe someday we'll know why.

Anyway, the next two BlogHer events are coming up this week, on Saturday (Boston) and Monday (DC). This means one of two things: I will be too exhausted/harried/stressed/busy to post, or I'll post all the time because I will be spending a lot of time on planes and in my hotel rooms. I will make the effort to blog regularly, even if they're short entries.

(BTW, are any of you going to these events?)

Oh, so you know how you came up with all kinds of ideas for what I should blog about? I love you! You have very good ideas.

I agree that it's super dumb that I post so rarely about San Francisco, given that I live here and love it so much. I will definitely have to change this.

My biggest issue (related to blogging) (hi, so many other issues) is that I build these things up in my head and then think I have to write War And Peace about any given subject, which then gives me performance anxiety and then I get blocked.

And then I write another stream-of-conscious entry and AREN'T YOU SO LUCKY.

* * * * * * *
For what it's worth, I'm currently sitting at a restaurant in Fisherman's Wharf because it's Monday night and I had a doctor's appointment in the area-ish, and I have (a cappella) rehearsal tonight. So between one and the other, I decided to get a bite to eat here.

It's a weird, weird place.

First of all, if you are going to visit San Francisco and want to get a feel for the city, do not stay in Fisherman's Wharf. It's lovely, but it's like a plastic version of SF. Even if all you did while in San Francisco was peruse the aisles of a corner Walgreens, you'd get a more realistic idea of this place than by anything you can do at the Wharf. Locals never come to this area unless they are entertaining relatives from out of town.

But one of our group's members works down here, in practically the area's only office building, and her company graciously allow us to rehearse in their conference room on Monday nights, and so.

The place I'm currently sitting is called Tiernan's. It's an Irish pub, created for I'm-not-sure-who. I don't think the food is as authentically Irish as it is authentically what Americans want in an Irish pub. The food is fine, and I know I can get something low-carb-friendly, so it's a good stop for me under the circumstances. Circumstances being it's a few doors away from rehearsal and I can park here without issue.

But here's where I get confused: EVERY time I've ever been here, there is a table full of white-haired British tourists.

Why, if you're from Britain, would you come to a faux "authentic" Irish pub IN SAN FRANCISCO? There are approximately eighty million fantastic places to eat in this city. It's like going to Paris and stopping in the only "Authentic American" bistro in the area. Why? What kind of advice are these folks getting? I honestly don't understand. There are light-up Heineken signs in the window.

Anyway, let's consider this my Advice About Visiting San Francisco, The First Entry. It can be summed up by the very useful "Don't stay in the Fisherman's Wharf area," followed closely by "And if you do, don't go to Tiernan's because there is no reason to unless you're from England and want to run into other English people, and/or just want to hear British accents. Well, also unless you need to grab a bite to eat near my a cappella group's rehearsal spot and don't want to eat at In-And-Out Burger."

I should totally be a travel writer.

p.s. My a cappella group is called The Loose Interpretations. We've got a website (here) and an upcoming performance, which you're invited to (here).

Friday, October 03, 2008

Part The End Of "The Three-Day Diet"

Here it is! I'm sorry it's not done, but I appreciate your feedback and encouragement SO MUCH. Again, given that this was written over five years ago and in just a few sittings, I do know it's rough and a bit clunky at times. Nevertheless, it was fun to write and fun to share.


10:07 a.m.

Billy, Amy, and I are standing just outside the bridal suite. It seems eerily quiet. Amy smiles and looks at me briefly before putting her key in the electronic key slot.

“You ready?” she asks.

“As ever,” I say.

The lock clicks, the light turns green, and Amy opens the door.


10:08 a.m.

Billy inadvertently takes a step backwards as we’re hit with a rush of sound and fury. The enormous suite is buzzing with activity, and it’s a lot to take in. Like landing in Oz.

“I have no idea, no idea where she went. How could she do it? How could she do this to her mother?” A woman in a lilac pantsuit is standing in the center of the room, uttering nonstop to the bridesmaid next to her. “Poof! Just like that. Gone. What is she thinking? This is not a joke. We are having a crisis. A CRISIS. Those are lovely shoes, are those yours?” she points to a pair of fancy strappy sandals sitting atop a shoe box across from where she’s standing. “She’d better get back here in the next 5 minutes or I’m going to send the men out looking for her. Did you say they were yours?” she asks again. “Were they off the shelf or did you have them dyed?”

Two small children are go rushing past us, screeching. The girl is in curlers and a bathing suit, and the boy chasing her is wearing nothing but underwear and a black cape.

A girl of about 12 is sitting in front of a television playing a video game that’s emitting awful techno music and lots of loud grunting noises. An old lady in fancy clothes with flowers in her hair is sitting next to her, yelling at the screen. “Get him! GET HIM!”

Three women are standing in front of a tall mirror, each with their bridesmaid’s dresses still in plastic and on hangers stuck over their heads. They are pulling their hair into various styles and looking worried.

In another corner, two young women are arguing with each other while another older woman looks on. The young women start bouncing and shaking their shoulders in synch, but then step off in different directions and start arguing again.

“Girls, it’s really not that important,” says the woman.

“But you said you wanted to learn the Electric Slide, it’s tradition!”

Throughout the room there are bags and shoes and clothes and makeup and dresses on every available surface. It looks like the entire company of a Vegas show will be using the room to get ready. I had no idea so many people would be involved. No wonder Amy was wandering in the lobby.

“Hey! The weather report’s coming on!” someone cries from the bedroom, where there’s obviously more people and another TV.

Doors are opening and shutting everywhere, and the room phone keeps ringing.

A woman in her underwear covered only by a loosely tied robe is pacing around the room on a cell phone. Every few steps she shouts, “What? You’re breaking up again! What? What?”

A tiny woman in an expensive suit and humorless face suddenly scampers over to us. “Oh thank God you’re back. Your mother’s doing okay, but I had to give her half a Xanax. Part of the job, you know, come prepared,” she says, patting the official looking briefcase-folder thing under her arm. “Now, I’ve double-checked with the bus company and it’s leaving here at precisely 1:30 which is what we said originally but I heard guests saying 1:45 and I don’t know how that rumor got started. My assistant’s working on damage control. Gotta get everyone out of here on time. Did you eat? You have to eat. I don’t care what you think about your weight, you have to eat something because you don’t want to pass out and that happens all the time. The breakfast pastries were delivered and I’m going to watch you eat at least half a bagel.” The woman takes a breath and looks at me and frowns and goes back to speaking directly to Amy. “Your dress is airing out over there, I don’t think we’ll need to bring a steamer in but I can do that if we need to. Oh, and speaking of damage control, what’s the decision on the makeup thing? These ladies need to get started pronto.”

“I’ve got it covered,” Amy says.

The woman looks at Billy, “Amy, do you need Billy’s help for anything else?”

“Uh, I think we’re all set,” she replies.

“Okay, you can go now,” she says to Billy, who’s finished unloading the cart. I feel for him. Really, this is no place for a man.

“Alright, so the makeup thing—we need to form a plan of attack and communicate it to the troops ASAP, and I’m gonna need to check on the florist downstairs in a few—Oops, that’s me, hold on just a second,” she says, reaching for her cell phone that has “Here Comes the Bride” as its ring.

Amy looks at me and sighs. “Adele is the hotel drill sergeant. Also known as the wedding coordinator.”

“Yeah, I kinda figured.”

“So uh, what now? Any suggestions?” Amy asks, looking almost bemused.

“I dunno,” I say, sort of smirking back. “Maybe it’s time to communicate the battle plan to the troops,”

“Roger that,” Amy says, rolling her eyes before turning and heading into the thick of battle.

I remain standing in the doorway with all my bags. A very pretty blond woman with a tight ponytail approaches me with her arms crossed.

“Who are you?” she asks, as though my presence has greatly offended her. She is dressed in a very chic, all-black outfit, and looks like she stepped out of a Ralph Lauren catalog.

“I’m a friend of Amy’s, I came here to help her,” I say.

“You’re not a bridesmaid.”

“No,” I reply, though it wasn’t really a question.

“There are plenty of people here who are helping her already. I don’t know what you can do,” she says, seeming now both offended and annoyed.

“She told me about the trouble with the salon, so I offered to bring some stuff over.”

“She asked you to come?” she asks, looking me over slowly and deliberately and disapprovingly. “You don’t look very…” she pauses, looking for some way to finish the sentence without sounding like a complete bitch, but obviously can’t think of one. Then she makes a disgusted face and wrinkles her nose up.

“What’s that smell?” she asks.

I instinctively pull my shirt up to my nose. Oh eww. On top of everything, I smell like the cab driver’s cologne.

“I’m sorry, who are you?” I ask. I may look and smell unappealing, but who is she to judge. I want to punch her.

“I’m Kat, Joe’s sister,” she says, with a smug look. “And I don’t mean to be rude, but you do not look like someone who’s going to a wedding. Plus, I personally think having more people in this room is a mistake, but you girls do what you want,” she says with condescension, as though she were infinitely older and wiser. She even walks off snottily.

10:11 a.m.

Amy is standing on a coffee table in the middle of the room. I watch the blushing bride as she puts her fingers in her mouth and produces an ear-splitting whistle. Everyone stops in their tracks and turns to look at her.

She speaks so as to be heard above the radio and TV. “THIS IS WHAT WE’RE GOING TO DO! WE ARE PUTTING ALL THE HAIR AND MAKEUP PRODUCTS WE CAN GET OUR HANDS ON RIGHT HERE, ON THIS TABLE.” When she says the words, “this table” she picks up her feet and stomps down on the table for emphasis.


The room resumes buzzing with activity. The children take off on another sprint around the suite, and the women start swarming to collect their beauty products. I haul my duffle over to the coffee table, and dump all the contents out on top of it.

“At least you came prepared,” Amy says, staring at the almost embarrassingly large pile.

10:45 a.m.

The lounge area is lovely and ample and has great big windows overlooking the entire city, which provides great natural light. A now-giggly group of bridesmaids and moms is sitting in something of a circle, chattering excitedly and doing each other’s makeup and hair as though this were a pre-teen slumber party. In the center of the group is a truly massive mound of beauty products.

Amy and I have set ourselves up near the window, away from the group at large. I’m trying to keep a low profile, as Amy never officially introduced me, and I’d like to avoid any more unpleasant conversations like the one I had with Kat. No one seems to care that they don’t know who I am.

“You know, I want to do something with my hair that’s pretty and interesting, but not too weird or unlike me,” Amy says, as we both look into a handheld mirror, trying to figure out what to do. We have curling irons and hot rollers and clips and bobby pins at our disposal, but no real sense of what to do.

“We’ll figure something out. We have time to try some things,” I say, believing myself. “Let’s get some of these warmed up.” I grab a curling iron and set of hot rollers and plug them in them to heat.

“Do you mind if I go try and find a cup of coffee from downstairs,” I ask, desperate for caffeine. I’ve calmed down from the rush of the morning, and I’m positively aching for the coffee that the manager never sent up.

“Of course! Just don’t be too long—we have to figure out what we’re gonna do!” Amy says.

“Oh, and, can I borrow your room key? I don’t want to be held hostage in the lobby again.”

10:56 a.m.

I’ve found a little cafĂ© off the lobby, and have purchased a huge cup of black coffee. I’m happily waiting for the elevator when a rather noticeable couple joins me. The man is wearing a cowboy hat and boots, and is drinking something brown from a rocks glass. The woman is tall, blond, tan, and looks like Porn Star Barbie. She’s wearing tight jeans and spiked heels and a halter top. She is also rubbing her arms up and down and her teeth are chattering.

The man looks at me, “It always this cold in ‘Frisco?” he asks with a slight twang.

“A lot of the time, yeah,” I reply, cringing at the use of the word ‘Frisco.

“I thought it would be more like L.A.” says the woman, in a sultry voice. “I don’t think I even packed a coat.”

“We’ll get you warmed up back in the room, sweetheart. Don’t you worry. Weddin’s not for a couple hours yet.”

“Oh? You’re here for a wedding?” I ask, thinking back to the conversation I had with Amy at Mac’s.

“Yeah, well, thought it’d be nice to come out, see family again. And Amber here’s never been to ‘Frisco, so we decided to make a trip of it.”

“Are you by any chance related to Amy Grace?” I ask, wondering if this is in fact the infamous cousin Earl and date, Ambrosia.

“We sure are. You a friend o’ hers?” Earl asks.

“I am, yeah. I know I must look a mess, I sort of came in a rush—we had something of a hair salon crisis this morning. Long story. But yes, I’m here for the wedding.”

“Hey now, Ambrosia here used to be a professional hair stylist ‘fore I got my hands on her. Ain’t that right, honey? She’s a dang beauty queen herself, I’d say, but she got a real talent for that shit.”

“Do you need any help?” she asks, as the elevator arrives.

Hmm. Don’t know if accepting Ambrosia’s help is a great idea, but then, what have we got to lose?

“We’d love extra help,” I say. I bet Kat will be especially pleased.

11:00 a.m.

“Hey Amy, look who I ran into in the elevator,” I say, looking at Amy who’s looking at Ambrosia rather quizzically.

“Amber!” Amy says. Guess they’ve met.

“Yes, this friend of yours said you might need help here. You know, I was a hairstylist before I met Earl.”

“Oh, no, I didn’t know,” Amy says, a little flushed. I watch her process this and suppose she’s thinking what I did—that we have nothing to lose.

The ladies in the room are taking a lot more notice of Amber than they did of me. Hard not to stare.

“Have you ever done weddings?” Amy asks.

“Oh, plenty! You should see some of the do’s I’ve done! But I suppose you’ll be wanting something simple and, like, elegant, huh? None of that big hair stuff, right?”

Amy and I are both visibly relieved by this statement.

“Yes. Simple and classic would be great.”

12:08 p.m.

“EEEEEEEEEEEK!” There is a sudden shriek from the bedroom which immediately shuts everyone up.

“I’m Santa Clause! I’m Santa Clause” is shouted back, and out from the bedroom bursts the ring bearer being chased by Kat.

“Alistair, you get back here THIS INSTANT” Kat is shouting as she chases him into the center of the room, toilet paper trailing from her hand.

“I’m Santa, Mommy!” he yells, laughing and running at the same time. He is in his tuxedo shirt and jacket but still not wearing pants. His face, jacket, and sleeves are covered in white foam.

A group of bridesmaids who are now in their dresses start screaming and running to get out of the foamy boy’s path.

Kat grabs hold of Alistair just as he knocks into a small table and tips it and a lamp over. With her free hand she swiftly wipes as much foam from his face as possible. She looks furious. Alistair is startled at the lamp falling over and starts crying.

“What have you DONE? What did you DO? The whole jacket is RUINED!” Kat’s yelling as the boy cries. Rather than say anything reassuring to Alistair, Kat looks around the room accusingly.

“Who gave him foam?!?! Where did he GET it? What IS it???”

The maid of honor ventures a guess. “It looks like shaving cream.”

“I think it might be this,” says the twelve-year-old junior bridesmaid, picking up something from the ground near the bedroom.

“Well, what IS it?” asks Kat, as though the answer would somehow result in her boy not being covered in it.

“It says sper-m-i-ci-dal foam? Huh? What’s that?”

Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. I should have checked my cabinet. I can’t believe I never threw that crap out. Oh my god. I brought spermicidal foam. To a wedding.

“Mom-my” Alistair starts through his sobs, “it doesn’t smell good.”

Everyone in the room is stunned. The junior bridesmaid asks again, “What’s spermicidal foam? Does it have to do with…oh! Sperm!” she announces, and then starts blushing and giggling.

“Who would bring…where did…what am I going to do about…” Kat stutters. She looks like she’s going to cry.

I’m standing next to Amy, who’s holding still while Amber prods her head. I say quietly, “I think I may have brought it, by mistake.”

Amy bursts out laughing. Everyone starts laughing. Alistair even starts laughing again, but Kat still looks horror-stricken.

“This isn’t a joke! His jacket’s covered, and it looks like it’s staining. What are we going to do? Someone has to help me clean this up,” Kat says.

“I’ll help,” I say, since Amy’s pretty well taken care of.

“How considerate,” Kat sneers. She drags Alistair in the direction of the bathroom, and I, ever the responsible one, follow her.

12:59 p.m.

Amy looks stunning. Ambrosia may look cheap, but she did one hell of a job. Not only did she get Amy’s hair into a beautifully simple up-do, she instructed the others on some simple techniques, and everyone looked beautiful, just as Amy promised.

Alistair’s jacket, however, was not as lucky. Apparently, spermicidal foam is not easy to get out of a tuxedo. I tried to pat his clothes clean with a damp towel while Kat cleaned up Alistair, but my efforts were all but useless. “It won’t show up in the pictures” was the best I could muster.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Part Four of "The Three-Day Diet"

Continued from below. This is part four of five. Please note that part five (appearing tomorrow) is not actually the end of the story, it's just where I stopped writing. I say this only to manage your expectations.



Agh! I’m shocked awake by my treacherous alarm, which I shouldn’t have set because I was supposed to let myself sleep in. Where is it? WHERE IS IT?? OFF! GO OFF! SNOOZE! YOU DAMN TERRIFYING MACHINE, STOP RING--

I’m still in a fit of heart-pounding shock and rage over the alarm blaring when I realize it’s not the alarm ringing, it’s the phone.

Nowhere near awake but still terrified, I leap from my bed and pick up the phone on my desk in one fell swoop, taking most of the bedcovers with me. I’m in a nightshirt and no underwear, standing half-naked in the middle of my room. Again. I’m so sick of this happening. Whoever’s on the other end of the phone is going to get an earful, especially since it’s probably one of my relations. Not one single member of my family, perhaps due to some genetic defect, can manage to remember that I live on the west coast and am therefore three hours behind them. How many times do I have to explain that it’s 7 a.m. and no, I wasn’t awake yet? “But it’s 10 in the mor—oh right, I forgot.” For six years it’s been like this. And they have a special knack for calling me on the worst mornings possible, mornings after particularly late, drunken, and/or debauched nights out.

I should learn to just turn my ringer off.

“‘Lo!?!?!?” I grunt into the receiver, hoping to make clear to whoever it is that I am not amused by this call at...what the hell time is it anyway?

“Uh....Ev?? Is that you?” asks a quiet voice coming from what sounds like a restaurant. There are dozens of voices in the background and the clinking of silverware.

“Hunh?” I grunt again, unable to make out who it is. Obviously not a telemarketer, because they never call me Ev. They can barely pronounce Evelyn as it is. Also they don’t tend to clink. It’s not my mother or either of my sisters. And no friend of mine would dare call’s 9:15 already?

“Evie, I’m sorry, I know I must have woken you...but I was hoping...hoping...” and the sad, quiet voice trails into hiccups for air and I realize it’s Amy. Calling me on the morning of her wedding. Crying.

I take a deep breath and open and shut my eyes a few times. It occurs to me that I have about 5 seconds to wake up, become coherent, shift from angry to sympathetic, and help Amy with whatever she needs.

I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be a very good morning.

“Amy, oh my god, what’s going on? Are you alright? What do you need?”

“Evie, I didn’t know who else to call. It’s crazy here. Crazy. We’re already at the hotel, everyone, everyone, and there’s been a slight mix-up. I don’t know if I’m gonna make it.”

My body stiffens. “What do you mean, not going to make it? I’m sure whatever it is—”

“It’s the salon, of course.” She stops crying and instead spits the word salon like a viper. “You know how I said my mom would cancel my makeup appointment after seeing what they did to me? Well she did. She called them first thing Thursday morning and canceled my appointment. Except...the stupid, inept, ditzy salon person mom talked to accidentally canceled every appointment in my name. Meaning everybody! The moms, the bridesmaids, the flower girl—everyone was supposed to get their hair and makeup done, and now no one has an appointment.”


“Yeah! And now everyone’s here in the bridal suite with me, and they’re all freaking out.” Amy sounds like she’s going to start crying again.

“It’s only 9 in the morning, what are they all doing there? Don’t...can’t...isn’t there still a lot of time before the wedding?” My just-awake morning brain is having trouble grasping the gravity of the situation.

“We all agreed to meet in the bridal suite first for breakfast, then go to the salon together. But now it’s just that...Evie, my family…these—” she lowers her voice to barely audible. “These women are not the functioning-well-under-pressure types.”

“But um, hair and makeup—that’s not really pressure, is it? Don’t they do it every day? I don’t quite under—”

“Evie, remember Brit’s bridesmaids?”

“Ack!” I gasp. Brit was a co-worker of ours who got married for the first time at age 41. Her five bridesmaids had been sorority sisters of hers, and despite also being in their forties, appeared to be the quintessential bridesmaid nightmares. They each wore, with Brit’s full approval, slightly different versions of the same poofy pink taffeta gowns fit for no girl over the age of 13. They spent the whole affair in one tizzy or another, collectively crying at every toast, the cake-cutting, the first dance, the last dance, the signing of the marriage certificate, and through half the pictures. In between the bouts of tears, they made snide comments about how people were dressed, talked about how much money was being spent on the wedding, directed people about—particularly the children—and flew into an absolute rage when the caterers ran out of dessert forks.

“Right, they’re that bad, except younger.” Amy let out a long sigh. “I’m just not thinking straight. I know things will be fine. Could you help, though? I hate to bother you, but I would really love to have someone here who isn’t crazy or related to me or both. The only other partially sane person here is my maid of honor, but she’s got her hands full trying to keep my mom away from me.”

“Oh, ouch. I’m sorry it’s come to that so early in the day.” Mothers of the bride can get a bit emotional. “But of course I can help you,” I say, hoping it to be true. “Do you have a plan?”

“My plan was to call for reinforcements. That’s as far as I got.”

I laughed. “Okay then. What are our options?”

“I suppose we could try and call around and find salons willing to take us. Otherwise we’ll have to do it all ourselves.”

“What time do you have to get to the church?”

“We’re not leaving the hotel till after one, we’re getting dressed here.”

“So there’s plenty of time. I think having everyone do it themselves is the best option. If everyone’s together, there’ll be plenty of help for those in need. How hard can it be?”

“What about those formal hairstyles? How can we do them ourselves?”

“Um, well, we’ve seen them done a million times. We must have been in a dozen weddings between us, right? We’ll just…wing it. It’ll be fine. Besides, crazy or not, no bridesmaid shows up for a wedding without a suitcase of makeup and hair products in tow.”

“No, you’re right, I’m sure they have plenty of stuff.”

“Of course they do. So just get them to get their stuff together, and I’ll bring whatever I have around here, and we’ll make our own Bridal Suite Salon. Who knows, maybe it’ll even be fun.”

Amy laughed at this. “I can’t wait to see you.”

“I’ll get there as soon as possible. Hopefully by 10, okay?”


Sure, 10 a.m. That gives me half-an-hour to get my ass ready, which is at least three hours less than I need. No, not a good morning at all.

9:51 a.m.

I’m running down my block towards Market, desperately looking for a cab. Running, that is, as only one can under the circumstances. I’ve an enormous duffle bag slung around my upper body that’s had every beauty product I own dumped into it. Over my shoulder is an industrial-sized garment bag carrying my wedding ensemble, which at this point includes two pairs of heels because I did not have time to decide which pair worked better. As for now, I’m wearing flip-flops. But wearing flip-flops means I’m not so much running as I am awkwardly lunging along the sidewalk, and every time I lunge the garment bag gains momentum and bounces off my ass, poking me with one of the heels each time it rebounds. To make matters worse, I decided to bring Amy and Joe’s wedding gift, so I’m also lugging a large Williams-Sonoma bag with an increasingly heavy bread maker wrapped inside. And dangling off one of my appendages, somewhere, is my handy-but-oversized purse.

There are no cabs in sight, and I’m in a flip-lunge-bounce-poke-flop, flip-lunge-bounce-poke-flop groove by the time I pass Tulah. I have no time to stop and explain myself, so I just flip-lunge-bounce-poke-flop past her as quickly as possible and hope she doesn’t recognize me. Naturally, she does.

“Huh-uh, honey! Don’t you try to sneak past me! Just where do you think you’re going like that?” she asks. Tulah’s full name is Tulah Lurid Lurah, and she is a six-foot-three drag queen with very broad shoulders and enormous breasts. She frequently stands on the corner of my block with a bucket collecting donations for her one-queen show. This morning she’s wearing a blue sequined gown with a big white boa and donning a Marilyn Monroe wig. Questioning my appearance.

“I’m going to a wedding,” I answer, without turning back to look at her.

“Girl, you gonna need some serious help!”

Thankfully, I see a cab and manage to wave it down before I’m forced to listen to exactly how much help I need. Tulah is never short on advice.

I mean, sure, I’m disheveled, but I only had a half-hour to shower, eat, dress, pack all my own wedding stuff, and hunt down enough supplies to plaster up a gaggle of overwrought bridesmaids. That’s a challenge no woman should ever have to assume. To do it without looking a little disheveled would be nigh impossible.

9:53 a.m.

“Where you goin’?” asks the cabbie, eyeing me suspiciously and not offering to put my bags in the trunk.

“Sir Francis Drake, please,” I say, trying to get all my stuff to fit comfortably in the back seat with me.

“You got money?”

“Excuse me?”

“It’ll probably be about ten bucks. You can pay me?”

“Yeah,” I say, confused. I’ve never been asked this by a cab driver before. “I just need to get to the hotel as soon as possible. It’s sort of an emergency.”

“Oh, okay. It’s just that you look…well, you know. I get all kinds.”

Great. Now I’m “all kinds.”

“It’s not been a good morning,” I say.

“No, it doesn’t look it.”

Okay, now he’s just being mean. So what if my hair is wet and my eyes are blotchy and I’m carrying four human-sized bags and wearing sweats and plastic sandals. At least I smell good, which is more than I can say for the cabbie, who is thoroughly doused in some god-awful cologne that reminds me of bug spray.

I let out an audible sigh, and opt to remain silent for the rest of the cab ride. I spend the time catching my breath and making sure I had managed to do, get, and bring everything I needed. Perform mental review of morning’s activities.

The second I got off the phone with Amy I immediately jumped in the shower and then realized I had a problem. I could spend time shaving my legs, or I could spend time blow drying my hair, but I wouldn’t have time to do both. I hastily determined that, although wet hair isn’t pretty and isn’t the preferred look for meeting a bridal party, unshaven legs are just gross with a knee-length dress, regardless of pantyhose status. So I spent a full eight minutes in the shower, and completely skipped the blow dry. I instead stuck my damp hair on top of my head in an assortment of bands and clips and briefly entertained the notion that I looked kinda funky and hip.

But then I had to dress myself, and all my illusions of hip-ness were rightly dispelled. I haven’t done laundry in at least three weeks, and would have needed more than a few minutes to find something reasonably cute and/or clean to wear. Given my time constraints, however, I ended up wearing a pair of tattered sweatpants, old ugly underwear, and a button-down shirt in blue-and-green flannel that is amazingly unflattering and something I can’t even believe I own, let alone something I’m wearing outside my apartment. I also could not find two matching clean socks, thus the 99 cent drugstore flip-flops.

Following speedy showering and dressing, I had about three minutes to collect all the potentially helpful hair and makeup products I own. I grabbed my all-purpose duffle bag and ran to my “beauty” cabinet. I took a brief look at the cabinet’s contents—a multi-shelf unit harboring everything from old lipsticks and face masks to hot rollers and curling irons, various menstrual relief items and who-knows-what else—and, realizing it would take the better part of this decade to sort through it, swept everything into the bag.

I then had another three minutes to pack my own wedding ensemble. I ransacked my closet searching for the ultra-super-deluxe garment bag Mom had given to me for Christmas when I first moved out here, insisting I had become a “corporate jetsetter” despite the fact that I don’t travel for work, the only place I ever fly is home, and never have I visited with garments that needed a special bag. Figures the first time I’d use it would be to take a ten-minute trip downtown.

I eventually found the thing in the back of my closet, where it had been smooshed between a small collection of Gap overalls and babydoll dresses. Why I still owned these clothes was less a mystery than why I had ever owned them, but I didn’t have time to reflect on personal fashion tragedies of the 90s.

I hurled the bag on my bed, grabbed the enemy dress from the closet door and attached it to the inside, and looked around the room for the other items on last night’s mental checklist.

Both pairs of nylons: yep, in the bag.

Little black purse: yes in the bag but also empty—did not have time to take important stuff from everyday purse and add it to small purse, so would have to bring both and sort them out later.

Shoes: yep, two pairs—could not decide if standard black heels were too boring or if strappy cranberry shoes were too slutty, so brought both and would have to decide that later, too. Wonder which pair was kicking me in the butt.

9:55 a.m.

Still reflecting on morning and resulting state of dishevelment.

Hair would obviously have to be worked on.

Nails would just have to stay in “as is” condition.

But makeup? Oh God. I know I can do it later, but Tulah was right—I do need serious help. My eyes are extremely puffy because I went to sleep right after crying over the stupid movie. The only thing that can fix morning eye puffiness, however, is holding a cold compress over the entire eye area for at least twenty minutes, and that just wasn’t a possibility. As it is, I can barely blink. I am also out of eye makeup remover, so the 45 seconds I spent in the shower trying to remove my waterproof mascara was pretty unsuccessful. The faint-but-present residual black streaks are really just icing on the cake.


Here I am fantasizing over cake again. Mmm, wedding cake. I can’t wait. Breakfast was not quiet the joyous occasion I had hoped it would be. I’d envisioned spending the morning luxuriating over coffee and bagels and cereal and whatever else I could find to celebrate my successful completion of the three-day diet. Instead, I managed only to scarf down two pieces of heavily buttered lukewarm toast in the course of running around my apartment like a madwoman. Only after the second piece did I remember I had peanut butter in the apartment, but it was too late to enjoy any on the toast, so I just consumed a large spoonful of it on the way out.

Stomach’s not feeling so settled now. Eating toast and peanut butter quickly must have been a real shock to my fruit-centric system. Ugh, and the cologne-infused cab air isn’t helping. I’m sure I’ll be fine, I just need some air. Can’t roll down the windows, though, because of my wet hair. Have learned the hard way that wet hair should not be dried via open car window—the result is not the windswept look one might imagine, but has instead a rather greasy, grimy, straggly effect. We’re almost there anyway.

9:57 a.m.

We’re almost at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel and I realize that I am a wonderful person. All in all, it took me 18 minutes to go from hanging up the phone to racing out of my building, and here I am, right on time, ready to help a bride in need, with no consideration as to my needs. So what if I look like a puffy-eyed bag lady, I am a reliable friend. Yes, girlfriends the world over would be proud. I’m considerate and reliable and gracef—well, okay, maybe not exactly graceful under pressure—but speedy, which has to count for something. Oh, and I’m thorough. I mean, I remembered everything, right?

We pull up to the main entrance of the hotel and the red uniformed greeters race to the cab to assist me with my bags. As I hand a ten-dollar bill over to the cabbie, who grunts, I feel a pang in my stomach. I know I’ve forgotten something.

I’m the last thing out of the cab. I stand up, thrilled to be smelling fresh air, but realize the greeter men have gone from looking helpful to looking disdainful.

“Ma’am, are you a guest here?” one of them asks me, obviously expecting the answer to be no.

“I’m a guest of a guest, actually. I’m here with the Grace-Patrelli party,” I say, gathering up my bags myself, quickly adding, “The Grace-Patrelli wedding party. I’m a friend of the bride.”

I think mentioning the words “wedding party” or “bride” to anyone can get you in just about anywhere. Wedding party sounds important, and no one wants to mess with a bride.

The uniformed guys give a little shrug, move to the doors, and open both so that I can hobble in without help, without a bellman, without a cart. I suspect they only half-believe my story.

I manage up the entrance stairs to the lobby, where I try and blend in. Where the hell is the bridal suite, anyway? I’m standing alone for about 15 seconds before some hotel manager type rushes over to me in a near panic.

“Can I help you?”

“I’m looking for the bridal suite.”

He looks at me and forces a smile. He might not believe me, but he’s going to be polite. “And which bridal suite is that, miss?”

There’s more than one?

“The one with Amy Grace, of the Grace-Patrelli wedding party? Their reception is here this evening.”

“And you are...?”

“I’m a friend of the bride’s.”

“Of course. But you don’t know where she’s staying?”

“She just said ‘the bridal suite.’ I figured someone here might know.”

“Hmm. This is a dilemma. You see, we are not permitted to give out the room numbers of guests staying here, for security purposes, of course. So I’m afraid you’ll have to—”

“No,” I begin, in a low, serious tone behind clenched teeth, “I know what I look like right now, and I know what you must be thinking. But the bride is my friend, she called me this morning, and she needs some help. So I rushed over here—looking like this—because I am a wonderful person.” I start waving my bags at the man. “See? Here is her wedding gift—a very expensive bread maker from Williams-Sonoma. It’s a good gift. It’s a heavy gift. And here is a bag full of things for the bridesmaids, who are crazy. And in this bag, there is a dress. That I will be putting on. Because I can assure you that I enjoy standing in your hotel looking like this even less than you do.”

“Right, well, if you can just…if you’ll be…why don’t we try this. Come with me.”

The man rolls his eyes before turning and walking toward the front desk. He moves rather briskly, so, given how heavy the bags are and how slippery my shoes are on carpeting, I am forced to perform a sort of sashay to keep up. I am not pleased.

When we reach the front desk, he says to the clerk, “Grace-Patrelli bridal suite please,” and the clerk dials something and hands him the phone. He looks over the receiver at me.

“What did you say your name was?”

“Evelyn Parker.”

He looks back at the phone. “Yes? Yes, hello, this is the front desk calling. I have a Miss” he looks at me again “Evelyn Parker here to see the bride? Yes.” Pause. “I see. Thank you.”

He puts the phone down.

“I’m sorry Miss Parker, but she said she has no idea who you are.”

“Who doesn’t? With whom were you just speaking?” I ask, in the vain hope that my correct grammar will prove to the snooty hotel man that I am not homeless. 

“I’m afraid I don’t know, but without authorization, you’re just going to have to—”

Suddenly I hear a relieved “EVIE!!!” resounding through the lobby, and see Amy rushing toward me. Much to my surprise, she is glowing. She has the air of a bride.

“Oh Ev, I’m so happy you’re here. Thank you thank you thank you!” she gushes as she throws her arms around me in a huge hug that I cannot return because I am still balancing all my baggage. Then she takes a step back.

“Is everything okay?” she asks, finally taking a good look at me and the manager facing off. “Oh my God, Evie, are you sick?”

“No no, it’s nothing, I’m fine, I just…need a little makeup.”

The manager smiles at this and, without apology, calls for a bellhop. “Please, allow me to have Billy escort you to the suite,” he coos, as though this were his plan all along. I shoot him my vilest glare, but he’s no longer paying any attention to me. I give up and turn back to Amy.

“What are you doing down here?” I ask.

“Oh, I just slipped out for a little walk,” Amy says, smiling.

“Amy, I have to say, you look fabulous. I’d never have guessed that, as we speak, you are escaping from the clutches of freaked-out bridesmaids.”

“Crazy, isn’t it? Being out of the room helps. And seeing you, of course. I think I finally just snapped, you know? All this wedding madness…it’s just stupid. I’m going to be married in a few hours, I think it’s time to just let things go. I haven’t felt this great since…well, I guess since my mom arrived.”

The manager interrupts our conversation. “If that will be all, Billy’s just going to—”

“Actually,” Amy says turning to me, “you look like you could use some coffee. Yes?”

“Coffee would be great!” Coffee! I am going to have coffee! For the first time in four days! Maybe the morning won’t end up so bad after all.

“Certainly, Miss Grace, I’ll send some up. Or…should I start calling you, Mrs. Patrelli?” he asks in a syrupy voice.

Amy’s eyes grow wide as her expression goes from carefree and glowing to politely indignant. “Ms. Grace will be just fine, thank you.” I am pleased to see the put-together Amy reappearing.

“Ah, yes,” smiles the manager, who then scurries away.

“Guess we’re all set,” Amy says, and, looking from Billy and the luggage cart to me, puffs up her chest, takes a deep breath, and says, “Let’s get Ms. Grace married then, shall we?”

And off we go.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Part Three of "The Three-Day Diet"

This is the third installment of five in a shortish fiction thing I drafted five years ago.
Parts One and Two are below.


For the Third Day of the Diet, You Eat Only Fruits and Vegetables.

6:07 a.m.

I get out of bed after only hitting alarm once because I remember that today is a solid food day! I’m overjoyed. Rush to kitchen and gobble three bananas. I’m convinced bananas are the most glorious food on the planet…until I see an apple in the fruit bowl and eat it immediately. Perhaps apples are just as good as bananas. Hmm. Engage in deep, pre-coffee musings on the comparative gloriousness of apples versus bananas until my evil mind reminds self of gloriousness of pancakes. Not that I’ve the time or ingredients or energy to actually make pancakes.

Spend morning shower wondering if I need to enhance my culinary skills.

8:52 a.m.

Look over day’s agenda and remember with some dismay that today is the Christmas catalog marketing meeting. It starts at 10 and will be endless.

First of all, there’s no reason for me, the HR director, to be involved in actual catalog sales or production at all. But Jerry likes all director-level people to be present at these things so we are familiar with what the company does. As if we otherwise aren’t.

Our catalog, Grandma Goodson’s Goodie Bag, has been around for over fifty years, steadfastly delivering novelty gifts to American families. Our best-selling summer items are our custom-designed floral-print, one-size-fits-most house dresses (this year to be offered with matching floral flip-flops). Other best-sellers include decorative light-switch plates, the barking frog motion detector, the “I’d Rather Be…” t-shirt series, and anything NASCAR. But Christmas is when we really make a killing. Nothing says Goodson’s like festive ornaments, decorative plaques, and things that light up and play songs (think Incredible Singing Wreath). Thus, planning must begin early, despite the company’s obvious lack of holiday spirit in May.

Problem is, Jerry has no sense of humor. Goodson’s may be a household name, but one can only take selling revving NASCAR clocks so seriously. Essentially, the entire company is one big joke, and Jerry doesn’t get it. Neither do some of my colleagues, but that’s because they have far less transferable skills. Most of us take our jobs with a grain of salt—because we’re good at what we do, and could be doing it anywhere, but we’re here… essentially working for the whoopee cushion of Corporate America.

Anyway, the meeting today is where buyers show us, item by item, what will be offered in the Christmas catalog. So not only is there little point in my being there, but the Christmas catalog is huge, which means the meeting will go on and on and on and on. Plus Amy won’t be there, so there’ll be no one to make faces at when humorless buyers drag out this year’s versions of blinking-light nativity scenes.

10:33 p.m.

The conference room is exceptionally large and comfortable, and has great big windows overlooking the Bay. So the windows are pleasant, but also a glaring reminder that it’s definitely not Christmastime. The room is also equipped with many necessary outlets, and Gail has provided dozens of extension cords.

The meeting’s starting with the basics. The first buyer is Paul, who’s been around forever and dresses like a tired high school history teacher. Paul does all the standard, bread-and-butter items year-round, and is responsible for our Christmas staples.

Paul is standing in the front of the room beside a table a huge, red cardboard box. He pulls the first item out of the box, places it on the table, and plugs it in. Item number one is a polyresin tabletop mini-tree with multi-colored lights.

“See, here, it’s different from last year’s trees—a big improvement. Last year the music was activated by a button on the electrical cord. We have learned that customers don’t like this feature. Many people try and hide cords behind tables or under table runners. Ooh and I have a terrific table runner coming up. Anyway, this year we’ve spoken to our supplier and you can now activate the music—” Paul pauses for effect and demonstration. He pushes down on the yellow star atop the tree and, naturally, Oh Christmas Tree starts playing. “By pressing on the tree itself. The best part is—” Paul pushes down on an ornament that isn’t lit, and Oh Christmas Tree stops and Deck the Halls starts. “We have more songs to choose from, all over the tree.” Paul is visibly pleased.

Anna, a copywriter, stops scribbling madly to ask, “How many songs in all? Which ones?”

Paul smiles. “Five in all. The two you’ve heard plus Jingle Bells, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, and…” Paul turns the tree upside down to look at the label that has all the song titles. “And Sleigh Bells Ring.”

The room “ahhs” a collective approval.

“I don’t think it’s called Sleigh Bells Ring” says Anna.

Everyone looks at her. I catch Reed rolling his eyes.

“I mean, isn’t it called Winter Wonderland?”

Paul looks concerned. “I…I don’t know…are there two songs with sleigh bells ringing?”

Valerie from customer service starts singing, “Sleigh bells ring, are ya’ listenin? In the lane, snow is glistenin. Da da da da daaa, da da da da daaa, walking in a winter wonderland.”

Heated discussion ensues.

“Yeah, see? It’s Winter Wonderland,” says Anna.

“Definitely,” says Valerie.

“Then what’s Sleigh Bells Ring?” asks Paul.

“Those are words from the song,” says Anna.

“Which song?” asks Jerry, obviously trying to take the lead and solve the problem.

Winter Wonderland,” say Anna and Valerie in unison.

“But isn’t there a sleigh bells song?” asks Jerry.

“There is a sleigh bells song, but I don’t think it’s this one, and I don’t think it’s called Sleigh Bells Ring,” says Anna.

“Then what is the sleigh bells song called?” asks Paul.

“I’m not sure,” says Anna.

“I think you mean Sleigh Bells,” pipes in Josh, our newest buyer. “We used to play it in band.”

“I’ve never heard of Sleigh Bells,” says Anna.

“Yes you have, you know, the Sleigh Bells song,” says Joe.

“Wait, you had a band that played Sleigh Bells?” asks Joe, the other copywriter, incredulously. “What kind of band plays Sleigh Bells?”

“My high school concert band. We played it every year,” Josh said, perhaps a little sheepishly.

“You were in a concert band? What instrument did you play?” asks Joe.

“Tenor sax.”

“I was in the band, I played flute,” adds Valerie.

There is a round of “me too”s, and the meeting is officially off-track, as there is murmured talk of who played what and for how many years and in what chair. I realize that we’re still on the first product and that the meeting is quite possibly going to last until actual Christmas arrives.

10:39 p.m.

“Okay everybody, we need to really focus. Tell you what, though. We’ll have lunch in today, and you can all pick up this discussion then. Now, let’s get some clarity around this issue,” says Jerry, very seriously. “What song does our tree play?”

Winter Wonderland,” answer Anna, Valerie, and Joe.

“Are you sure? Then what does Sleigh Bells sound like?” asks Paul, obviously confused and defensive. Paul does not handle anything that resembles criticism well.

“There is no song called Sleigh Bells, I’m sure of it,” says Anna.

Joe fields this. “Okay, well, we know for sure there is no song called Sleigh Bells Ring. The song that the tree plays is definitely called Winter Wonderland. There is a song called something like Sleigh Bells, but that isn’t what the tree plays. Right?” Joe is asking Anna, having given up on Paul as the authority.

“Right,” says Anna. “But how does the sleigh bells song go then?”

Joe hesitates only briefly before starting in, “Doot do do doot doot dooooo, doot do do doot doot doooo…”

There is a collective “ohhhh” as everyone recognizes it.

“Yeah, and the horse neighs in it,” adds Joe.

A look of understanding comes across Anna’s face. “Sleigh RIDE! It’s called Sleigh Ride,” she says, triumphantly.

“I thought we agreed that the tree plays Winter Wonderland?” asks Paul.

“It does. The song Joe was singing is called Sleigh Ride.”

Paul looks at Anna with great concern.

“Don’t worry, I’m all set with a write-up,” says Anna.

“Great. I’ll let the manufacturer know and they can change the label on the bottom of the tree. Okay then, moving on,” Paul says, and reaches into the box, trying to regain composure.

“Great. Okay then,” Paul repeats, as “great, okay then” is his usual filler phrase. “This year we have a really superb light-up baby Jesus that is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. As you’ll note, it’s much brighter than older models, and can conveniently be used in place of overhead lighting.” He pauses to plug it in, and we are all nearly blinded.

“Whoa! Now, isn’t that something!?!?” exclaims Jerry.

Yes. It’s something alright.

11:30 a.m.

By the time Paul is finished, the conference table is aglow with various bright and blinking baubles. Paul’s display gets a round of applause, and everyone helps Paul unplug and re-box.

Cynthia takes the floor next, and seems overly eager to do so, even for her. Cynthia and Paul have been at Goodson’s for about the same amount of time, and if Paul plays the part of a tired high school history teacher, Cynthia runs the high school glee club. She’s ruddy faced and jovial, and actually wears bows in her hair.

“Hi everyone, glad you’re all here. Of course, I have to say for you newcomers, this is just my favorite meeting all year. Really festive, really fun, and also really very important. Now, I’m sure that rumor mill must have been turning, and it’s true—”

For a funny little office, Goodson’s has a fair amount of good gossip. Sadly, the rumor mill rarely concerns itself with Cynthia, much less with the Christmas catalog.

“—I do have a stunning announcement to make. So why don’t I get right to it? Okay! As you know, we’ve had great success with our America the Beautiful products and layout that we’ve been running since…well, since…” and Cynthia’s voice gets very quiet. She whispers, “since 9-11.” Then perks right up again. “Anyway! I am so excited to announce, this year, Goodson’s will be providing—some might even say rewarding—our customers with the total. American. Christmas. Experience!”

Following the stunning news, Cynthia looked beside herself. Jerry looked equally pleased. Reed looked nauseous.

I personally tend to think theming an already themed holiday is a bit over-the-top, even for us. But I’m just in HR, what do I know.

3:38 p.m.

I’m going to shoot myself. The half-hour lunch break seems like three American Christmas catalogs ago. I didn’t even get to leave the building because of Jerry springing for a catered lunch. Figures—free lunch and all I could eat was wilty salad with no dressing.

How am I supposed to manage all this American Christmas with nothing but salad? I’m cranky and tired, and really getting sick of red, white, and blue ribbon. Going on four hours now of patriotic tree skirts, patriotic cookie tins, patriotic Christmas sweaters, patriotic snow globes.

3:42 p.m.

Patriotic Christmas tree toilet paper.

4:01 p.m.

Cynthia has finally finished, and frankly, looks exhausted. As does everyone else.

There’s one buyer still to go, but I expect this part of the meeting will be brief since it always is. Goodson’s does not tend to devote much of its Christmas catalog to Hanukkah, probably because there are too few popularized Hanukkah songs to go around. Really, how many products can play the dreidel song?

4:02 p.m.

Josh is bringing a box about twice the size as last year’s to the front of the room. I have a bad feeling about this. I’m hoping against hope and common decency that Hanukkah products have not gone the way of our American Christmas Experience.

4: 49 p.m.

At least red, white, and blue go nicely with blue and silver.

8:12 p.m.

Ahhh. Happy to be home and not in a meeting, even if my dinner of fruits is lacking compared to the prospect of cereal and milk and coffee in the morning.

Wonder if the diet has been a success. Sitting on my bed, staring at my nemesis-dress hanging from my closet door, I’m not sure if I should try it on now, or just leave it for tomorrow. If the diet has been successful, the dress will fit better than ever and I’ll be ecstatic, and that will make my night. If the diet has failed, I’ll spend the entire night cursing and kicking things and dreading tomorrow.

Maybe the diet needs a full three days and nights to work anyway. Obviously the diet was developed by peoples who have a better understanding of nutrition and digestion than I do, so it’s probably best not to meddle. Yes, I’ll wait till tomorrow to see the results.

I suppose I could just weigh myself, but I’ve not owned a scale since the grapefruit diet.

While I’m in my bedroom, I decide I should probably go through a mental wedding checklist. Little black purse? Check. Pair of black nylons? Check. Back-up pair of black nylons? Check—though I know that my pantyhose will only run if I’m not carrying a back-up pair.

Hmm. Not sure about shoes yet. Or underwear. Or hairstyle. But I have plenty of time to work everything out tomorrow. First I’ll sleep in, which I know my body needs. Then I’ll enjoy a real breakfast. Then I’ll have my manicure fixed properly at non-scary salon across the street. Thankfully, the wedding’s not till two. That gives me plenty of time to pamper myself.

8:27 p.m.

Go online. I’ve received 32 new messages on my personal, home e-mail account since yesterday (I didn’t have time to check at the office). Once I get through deleting myriad offers of penis enlargements, instant credit approvals, home loans, and mysterious winnings from my "dearest friend" in Nairobi, my inbox is empty.

I check the digital cable movie listings and am happy to see that Dead Poets Society is on at 10:30 p.m. May as well stay up to watch it. Suppose I’ll stay online and surf till then as I’ve nothing better to do. God, I have no social life whatsoever.

8:34 p.m.

Really getting tired of the damn pop-up ads for online personals accusing me of having no social life whatsoever.

8:35 p.m.

Fine. I’ll place a personal ad online. Will show them.

9:01 p.m.

I know I’m an interesting person—despite my own mother’s opinions—so how am I supposed to fill this out and not sound like a complete loser?

Do people even have hobbies anymore? What, like stamp collecting? I don’t collect anything. I don’t do anything. Maybe should take up rock climbing. Or scuba diving. No, I’m not taking something up just to fill out a damn personal ad.

Let’s try and be serious.

Hobbies: reading, watching movies, having drinks with friends.

Hmm, wonder if that’s refreshingly honest or if it says, “My hobbies are anything that lets me escape from the sad reality that is my life.”

Hobbies is a dumb category.

9:14 p.m.

Upload photo? My my, the moment of truth. Filling out a dumb form is one thing. Putting a whole picture of myself up, that’s another. But I suppose it’s a good idea, and only fair. I certainly wouldn’t go out with a guy without seeing his photo first.

Not that I have photos of myself on my computer. Maybe I could use the company picnic photos that Joe put up on his website…

9:19 p.m.

How do you get a photo from a website? Is there a rule about what kind of picture to use? The one good shot of my face doesn’t show my body, but the one that shows my body is unflattering.

Maybe I should get a digital camera.

9:23 p.m.

Photo file too large? It’s just my head! How do you make it smaller? Do I have photo editing software on my computer? Christ, this is complicated. There can’t actually be millions of people out there who’ve done this. Pop-up ads probably lie a lot.

9:46 p.m.

Thank god, my ad is done. That was certainly a humbling and excruciating process. I did manage to fix the photo file size, but now the photo is very fuzzy and sort of makes my hair look detached from my head. Wonder if that matters.

So I guess I just relax now and wait for the love of my life to find me. Or at least a date for next weekend. Or even just for pop-up ads to stop badgering me into submission.

As for tonight, I have my cats, Dead Poets Society, and an orange.

12:04 a.m.

I was definitely in the mood for sappy movie. I cried even harder than usual. Maybe it was just a weird diet-induced hormonal imbalance. Suppose I could also be a bit sad about the ex. Or about going to another formal event alone. Or about spending an hour writing an Internet personal ad.

Or maybe it was just simply about the patriotic Christmas tree toilet paper. We all have our limits.