Christmas in Peoria is a time-honored tradition in my family, one we continue to celebrate even though all of the members of our clan under the age of 33 now live elsewhere. We strap ourselves into airplanes and behind the wheels of cars and get there, one way or another. The journey is a great test of my patience, as the only airline to have ever flown directly to Peoria from NYC went bankrupt within six months of its inception. Now, because too few people wanted to fly from New York to Peoria (and vice versa) to sustain a profitable business, I have to take at least one (delayed) jet and one (delayed) propeller plane to get there. For my brother and sister-in-law, the trip entails twenty hours of driving across the plains states in their mega-truck with two dogs, a macaw, and dozens of presents in tow. Our journeys are frustrating and long, but we soon forget about them when we step into our childhood home.
Immediately upon arriving last week I began behaving like molecules moving into a big box, something that I saw demonstrated in a science video in elementary school. The molecules get excited and bounce around the larger space -- exactly as I do when I move from my cracker box apartment to my parents’ two-story home. I run up and down stairs, in and out of each room, leaving a trail of personal items in my wake. For some reason once I'm in the home I lived in as a messy teenager, I begin to act like one again. Every corner that wasn’t already hosting a smiling Santa figurine or holly wreath was soon a place of refuge for my hats, gloves, books, and shopping bags.
And then came the beasts.
My brother and sister-in-law love their pets as children and wouldn't consider spending the holidays without them. Their dogs, although accustomed to the great outdoors of Wyoming, quickly settled into their new environs, with help from the doggie beds and toys that Greg and Beau strategically placed about the house. Roscoe, their blue and yellow macaw, resided in a cage that occupied one third of our family room. This cage was a jungle gym in every sense of the term. Watching our long-tailed, large-beaked houseguest adeptly move from perch to perch, down to the floor and back up to the top of his birdy-condominium, is like watching a well-rehearsed gymnastics routine. I was awed by the range of motion possible for a creature with no hands. Not only is Roscoe a skilled acrobat, but he also has lungs of immeasurable capacity, and is quick to scream, “Greg! Beau! Roscoe!” when starving for attention. If no humans respond, he resorts to a piercing “AWWWWWKKKKKKKK!” Roscoe would not survive one week in a NYC apartment -- his neighbors would find him, and cook him.
As for the pooches, they are a fascinating study in the domestication of animals. Although both dogs are mutts, by look and attitude they gravitate towards the breed of each of their parents. Chikotee (pronounced "Che-KO-tee"), although she appears to be a small, long-eared Doberman, behaves like her black and tan coon hound father. She is a hunter to the core and immediately upon arriving at casa de Perino sat vigil at the sliding glass doors leading to the back yard. With her nose pressed against the glass she spent hours watching for squirrels and rabbits, her body stiffening and ears perking upon discovering one. I actually found her behavior to be a bit rude and anti-social, until I realized it is her nature. Beau says that during hunting season Chikotee won’t touch her chow because she’s too revved up to eat.
Cutter, on the other hand, is a large, sweet but bumbling canine who takes after his border collie mother. More of a herder than a hunter, he is constantly shooing Beau away from the rest of us. He then guards her patiently as she eats a sandwich. Even his name comes from a shepherding term – “cutting” is the act of moving one animal away from the herd. Although not as graceful as Chikotee, Cutter's herding qualities are endearing, even though we didn’t spend enough time together to warrant him “cutting” me. Still, I felt loved, and was constantly rewarded with hugs and kisses from the quadrupeds. Chikotee is particularly affectionate (when she's not nuzzled up to the glass door, that is.) Every time I entered the room I was greeted with a vigorous pink tongue to the face. I think she liked my lipstick.
Amidst the chaos of black fur and blue feathers, the matriarchal Perino pet lingered behind the scenes. Gigi, my parents' ten year old African Grey parrot, perched on a large cage in the corner of the kitchen, from which she could watch us all. Parrots are notorious for bonding with one human for life, and I’ve heard sad tales of parrots who have outlived their human mates and fallen into a deep depression after their passing. Gigi has chosen my father as her favorite, and nestles on his shoulder while he watches television on the couch. African Greys are the smartest members of the parrot family, credited with having the intelligence of a five-year old child. This was proven by Gigi's Houdini-like skill in escaping her cage – even when it was closed – and shimmying down to the floor to stroll the house and nip at toes. The most remarkable quality of the African Grey, however, is its ability to perfectly mimic human voices. Unlike Roscoe’s mechanical monosyllabic attempts at English, Gigi speaks with perfect diction, in the voice of my mother. Many a Christmas past my brother has been summoned from his bedroom to the kitchen, thinking my mother was calling him, to find that it was only Gigi. There is nothing more surreal than watching Gigi as she preens my father during their siestas, whispering in his ear, in the voice of his wife of thirty-six years, “C’mere. Good girl. Ohhh.”
So this Christmas, a house that never hosted more than two hamsters became a location shoot for Wild Kingdom. Fur, feather, and human flesh mingled in blissful cohabitation. Occasionally we were treated to a surprise on the carpet or a parrot taking flight during dinner, but for the most part we got along well. Although I ventured out to meet friends, deliver holiday goodies, and enjoy a spell of people-watching (in the land of big hair, young moms, and cover bands the opportunities are endless), it was just as entertaining to stay home with the pets. When I woke up today in my tiny Manhattan apartment, with no dogs to lick me and no birds to request, “Want out?”, I not only missed my family, but also the animals who love them.
Posted by GxxP at 12:41 PM
You're dating my husband.
About two weeks ago I met a nice young man at a cute little bar in West Hollywood. He stood out amongst an otherwise rowdy and obnoxious group of boys, largely due to the fact that he, unlike his cohorts, was polite, well-behaved, and quite good looking. His consistent admiration of my recently purchased Coach stillettos, combined with the fact that he kept insisting I was classy, was charming and I gave in and gave him my phone number. Since I never expect anyone to actually call when they say they are going to, I was incredibly surprised when I recieved a voicemail from him immediately following the obligatory 5 day waiting period. He left a sweet message about how he'd really like to take me out for dinner, and supplied me with a phone number where I could reach him.
I called him back. What did I have to lose? I was new in town, and hey...a girl has to eat right? We arranged to meet for sushi at a little lounge in Hermosa Beach. The date was awkward at first, a situation remedied quickly by a large amount of saki. We had a perfectly nice dinner, paid for by him, and afterwards he accompanied me to my front door to make sure I got home okay. He was quite the gentleman. We agreed to talk that weekend, and meet again next week for a date.
On Saturday evening I was out with some friends. Fueled by way too many afternoon Bloody Marys consumed at Sharkeez on the Hermosa Beach pier, I placed a call and left him a message asking if he'd like to meet me out that night. I regretted my hasty call the next morning, but was pleased when he called me back on Sunday night. He thanked me for calling him, we chatted amicably and we tentatively set a date to meet on Wednesday evening.
While sitting at my desk on Wednesday morning, my cell phone rang and his number popped up. I answered:
Jen: (Cheerily) Hey...what's up.
Female Voice: (Icily)Who is this?
Jen: (Skeptically) Who is THIS?
Female Voice: (Even more Icily) You left a message on a shared cell phone that I have with my husband. You were asking him to meet you out on Saturday.
Female Voice: Hello?
Jen: (Confused, bewildered, slightly frightened) Um...yeah. I'm here. Who is this again?
Female Voice: I'm Xxx's wife.
Xxx's Wife: Yeah, and I have been for eight years. I take it he didn't mention me?
Jen: Um..God no. Wait. You are Xxx Xxxxx's wife? This MUST be some sort of mistake.
xxx's Wife of Eight Years: You're telling me.
Jen: (Matter-of-Factly) Wait just one minute. This must be some sort of mix up. This can't be true. Xxx Xxxxx? 6'4'', dark hair, tattoo on his arm?
Xxx's Wife of Eight Years: Yeah. That's my husband. Do you mind me asking what you were doing calling.
Jen: Um...I don't mind..no. He..uh...he told me to call him. I mean, uh, we actually...uh...we went on a date on Wednesday night. (Ashamed) He took me out for...
Xxx's Wife of Eight Years: He took you out for what?
Jen: (Gulp) Sushi. He took me out for Sushi
Xxx's Wife of Eight Years: You mean to tell me that you went on a date with my Husband?
Jen: (Frantically) I am so sorry. I had absolutely no idea. I would have NEVER ever gone out with him had I known he was married. God! This is insane. I'm so sorry. I feel horrible. I am so sorry. So very, very sorry.
Xxx's Wife of Eight Years: Horrible? You feel horrible. I'm clearly getting a divorce now...I'm the one that feels horrible.
Xxx's Wife of Eight Years: If you don't mind...If he calls again I'd appreciate it if you could tell him that you know that he's married. I'd also really appreciate it if you stopped seeing him.
Jen: Done, and done. Of course. I'll gladly never speak to him again. Gladly. Oh my god. I'm SO sorry. (Quietly) I'm so sorry that this has happened to you.
Xxx's Wife of Eight Years: (Sobbing) Me too. (Click)
Hello!!??!! What the hell is going on?
Let me just point out a couple of things. This guy pursued me. He wore no wedding ring. The friends that he was with when I met him failed to mention ANYTHING about a wife of eight years. He took me on a date, and very nonchalantly went on and on how wonderful of a first date it was. He then proceeded to give me the phone number of a cell phone that he shares with his WIFE? Yes... I failed to actually ask him..."Hey, by the way, have you been married to someone for eight years and if so, do you share a cell phone with her?" What the... I was utterly perplexed and once again, incredibly disappointed in the heterosexual male race. Thankfully, I got out relatively unscathed, but the wife of eight years...I can't even imagine. That poor woman.
Of course, I immediately called Gina, Stevie, and Jerry with the story, interrupting them at yet another one of thier company Christmas parties. Sadly, their surprise was only minimal, as Gina remarked, "And here we'd thought you'd turned over a new (and more normal) leaf with this one." They'd thought I'd left my bad luck with men behind in New York. (Note: If you take a gander at the Man Meter, my bad luck is clearly on display.) Unfortunately it was quite obvious that I had brought the string of bad luck with me to Los Angeles, only now it was inflamed, and it was leaving divorcee's behind in its wake.
I'm sorry, but I must ask the question. Where are all the normal men? I think that they exist. My father is one. I have male friends that are normal. I hate to spend any more on this well worn topic, but some of these people are purely bizarre, and now in addition to being simply bizarre, they are also, lying, cheating, adulterous bastards. I honestly feel the need to warn others that they are out there running around amongst the gerneral population. BEWARE! At this point I may as well stand next to Lady Liberty in New York harbor, one hand in the air, one hand clutching a tablet. ....
Give me your tired, your poor, your cheating husbands yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of the dating world. Send these, the assholes, the freaks... to me....
I'm like friggin Ellis Island for all the crazies in the dating community.
Posted by Jen at 04:24 PM
Yesterday we had our office holiday luncheon in the suburbs. Expecting the worst, Jerry, Stevie, and I began drinking red wine immediately upon our arrival at 12:01 pm and stopped only to eat, smoke, and visit the bathroom. By mealtime we were amusing ourselves and our fun lovin’ co-workers with a little game. You may have played it before – basically you take the name of your first pet, the name of the first street you lived on, put them together, and voila! You now have a porn star name.
Here is a sampling of the results:
Jerry is Trevor Jackson.
Stevie is Niki Grove.
Charlene is Snippy Woodcrest.
Tamara is Tootsie Shore.
I am Stockings Rochelle.
It should be noted that I was the only person at the table whose first pet was a hamster and not a dog, although later in the night we met up with my friend John, whose porn star name is Benjamin Princeton, in honor of his very first guinea pig.
The office party degenerated as the day wore on. Around 4 pm Jen called from LA to tell us she’d just learned that the guy she went on a date with last week was married. By 5 pm those of us left standing after the lunch found our way to Lace, a strip club located off a busy highway. Stevie was surprisingly skilled at the bill-between-the-breasts method of tipping. By 7 pm, Stevie, Jerry and I were in a Queens bodega buying Smirnoff Ice for the cab ride to Manhattan. By 11 pm Stevie was asking if he could sleep at my straight friend John’s house (John declined.) This morning I received word that my ex, who I had put in touch with a friend in Chicago last night, invited her back to his hotel at the evening's end. He has a girlfriend.
Moral of the story is – once you give yourself a porn star name, you (and those around you) better be ready to live up to it. I think we were off to a smashing start last night. Play the game, but be prepared for the consequences.
Posted by GxxP at 11:58 AM
Cars, Bars, and Stars: A Tale of Two Cities
I just returned from a weekend in Chicago, my third trip back to my old home since the summer. In the 6 ½ years that I’ve lived in New York, my sojourns to the Windy City have evoked a range of emotions. For years my attitude towards Chicago was a bit condescending – I felt that I had moved on to bigger and better things, and every time I visited Chicago I was quick to notice all that was inferior to NYC. (What! The bars don’t close at 2 in NEW YORK! What! The delis in NEW YORK are open 24 hours! WHAT! In NEW YORK you get your pot delivered right to your door! You call this a city?)
In time, that attitude has changed. Not because I’ve changed, or even because Chicago has changed. What’s changed is that I experience Chicago in a completely different way than I did when I was fresh out of college. Thanks to my friends who have shown me the lesser-known nuances of Chicago living, I enjoy the city more and more each time I’m there. Some of my friends have even launched a grass-roots campaign to get me to move back, which involves constantly reminding me that I’m from the midwest and HOWMUCHFUNWOULDITBEIFYOUMOVEDBACKHEREOHMYGOD.
Truth be told, I love Chicago. But I love New York more. Here are the main issues on which I base my opinion.
I moved to New York after five years of moving violations and fender benders I suffered in a car that I can only describe as evil. Immediately upon leaving Chicago I sold the death trap and found that living a car-free lifestyle was a refreshing change. You can get anywhere in New York via public transportation or cab, or better yet by foot. Chicago, on the contrary, is a massive, sprawling city. Like every other city in America, its neighborhoods are divided by major streets and highways. Manhattan could have been like this too, but when Robert Moses tried to slap a highway in the center of the West Village in 1961, the neighborhood’s inhabitants protested. Jane Jacobs, a local resident and New Yorker for 30 years, wrote “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”, in which she argued that highways separate neighborhoods instead of connect them and that in order for a city to work, the car should not overpower the pedestrian. Thanks in great part to her book and activism, the neighborhood won the battle against the car, and the highway was never built. The lack of highways makes Manhattan the great walking city that it is. People are on the sidewalk, not in their cars.
As a sidewalk person, I must side with NYC on the car issue.
In 1995 when I first moved to Chicago I spent my time in an edgy neighborhood called Wicker Park where drinks were $2 and bar floors were covered in a fine layer of filth. It was a wonderful time. Since then, MTV stuck a bunch of Real World shitheads in a house on the corner of Milwaukee, North, and Damen, which only spawned more shitheads moving to the neighborhood. Now Wicker Park is a delicate mix of hipster posers and displaced Lincoln Park yuppies. A few trips ago I was shocked to see that North Avenue was home to trendy clothing stores and Wicker Dog had become a wine store (I think it’s a hot dog joint again, or maybe I was hallucinating when I saw that.) Now that my favorite neighborhood in Chicago repulses me, where, praytell, is there to go?
I’ll tell you where. Lots of places. For every once-edgy-bar-turned-yuppie-hangout there are plenty of laid back neighborhood haunts in which you can keep it real. Lakeview Lounge, Simon’s, Tuman’s Alcohol Abuse Center, The Hideout -- all of these bars offer the type of kitsch that New York money just can’t buy. New York is constantly reinventing itself, and this applies its nightlife as much as anything. One minute a bar is a loungey local watering hole, the next minute it's selling $12 guava martinis to suits. If you’ve seen one red-lighted couch-filled one-word-named bar, you’ve seen them all. In a city where the people are so diverse I sometimes wonder why we don’t have bars to match them.
The truth is that we do – they’re just a little harder to find. Whereas every other street corner in Chicago sports a local pub with wood paneling on the walls and an Old Style sign in the window, you have to try a little harder in Manhattan to find such places. Then once you find one, everyone else finds it too, and it becomes so popular the entire mood of the place changes.
On this point, I award the prize to Chicago.
I’m not impressed by stars. Sure I think it’s cool when I eat lunch next to Sarah Jessica Parker, but it is by no means my raison d’etre. New York is riddled with famous faces, but they seem to be living a life not unlike the rest of us. A friend from work has regular morning conversations with Michael Caine; Beth grabbed a beer with Jimmy Fallon in a westside tavern; I saw Mo Rocca from the Daily Show taking the subway. While I’m sure they are plenty of celebs that call Chicago their home, do you see them in line at the deli or rushing to make their morning train? There is something about life in New York City that levels the playing field for everyone here – while tinted-windowed limos deliver silver-slippered divas to black tie events in LA, Danny Pintauro is grabbing a slice in NYC.
But this isn't about LA. Like I said, it’s not the stars that interest me. There’s just a certain star quality to the city of New York that you don’t find in other places. From the street vendors peddling their hand-made jewelry to the punk bands playing on the Lower East Side, everywhere you turn in New York someone is creating something. And there’s something about that that makes me feel like we’re all stars here. Many times I’ve been in Chicago, watching a band play or enjoying a street fair, when suddenly some jackass in a baseball cap jumps on the mike to chant “Chicago! Chicago!” I don’t know how to explain the contrast other than by saying we don’t really do that here (with the exception of post-September 11-rallying, which bothered me a little too.) As much as I appreciate hometown pride, I don’t need to be assaulted by it. I’m more of a proponent for the show-me-don’t-tell-me style. That is the star quality I’m talking about.
With that, I must cast my vote for New York.
So that's New York 2, Chicago 1. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going back to the midwestern city I once called home. Flights to Chicago are cheaper than they've ever been and I have a welcoming network of friends who like houseguests (or at least that’s what they tell me!) This trip was definitely not my last. After all, the votes are close. You never know when I might swing in the other direction.
Posted by GxxP at 01:02 AM
“It’s MINE. And You’ve Ruined It!”
These are the words that were uttered to me by one god-like model boy at the Gotham Magazine holiday party last night. In accordance with my new rule that I will no longer run away from attractive men and will look them in the eye, speak to them, and (if I’m lucky) touch them, I engaged in a dance with a beautifully-toothed, silky-maned hottie. He, picture-perfect; and I, five drinks into the night, made a curious pair on the dance floor. He was a rather uninspiring dancer, so I spiced things up by running my hands all over his waistline and twisting his white Polo turtleneck sweater into knots. “Interesting choice, your white sweater,” I said to him. No stranger to compliments, he smiled sexily, with perfect white teeth to match his perfect white sweater, and said, “Do you like it?”
Ever the temptress, I replied with, “No. I’m actually surprised no one has spilled anything on it yet.” Speaking from experience, I had earlier spilled a martini down my shirt while attempting a back bend.
Still, my remark did not drive my young Adonis away. I did however see my friend Manny trying to make an escape, so I screamed across the dance floor for him to return. The last words he had spoken to me were, “You’re getting a bit aggressive with that boy. You might want to back off a bit.”
I did not heed Manny’s advice. Instead I plucked the champagne glass out of Adonis’s right hand (his left hand clutched a martini) and drew it to his lips, although not in the manner of one who is looking to seduce, but rather in the manner of one who is putting out a small grease fire. I poured the remaining bubbly down his throat, and was surprised when he scampered off to the nearby bar to replenish it. I thought I was doing him a favor, as he had been double-fisting throughout the duration of our dance and I was hoping to free up a hand, should he choose to reciprocate the manhandling. In response to his abrupt exodus from the dance floor, I followed him to the bar and apologized for the champagne incident, asking if it had belonged to someone else.
With a pouty, petulant, perfect-periodontic face, he whined, “It’s MINE. And you've ruined it!”
There wasn’t much I could do at that point. So I grabbed Manny, who had loyally stayed close by, and we laughed about the incident while we danced for the next couple of songs. Manny was a much more interesting dance partner anyway – on the two occasions that he fell down, he played it off as if it were part of the performance.
For the remainder of the night, whenever there was a lull in conversation I would explode with, “It’s MINE. And you've ruined it!” We didn't see Adonis again, but he nevertheless kept us entertained.
Models can be such babies sometimes. Sheesh.
Posted by GxxP at 12:00 PM
Become an Office Holiday Party Statistic!
Every year around this time someone sends me an email with office party statistics, touting such findings as "30% of all employees have sex in a car after their holiday party!" I tried to locate such an email or website, yet most of my search results led to HR sites suggesting how much (or rather how little) alcohol to serve, what a company is liable for, etc. A few others give advice to new recruits on how to be on their best behavior at the festive shindig. Now, come on, what's up with that? Contrary to the HR websites, I think these sort of antics make holiday parties what they are truly meant to be -- an opportunity to have a rip-roaring good time at the expense of Corporate America. So for those of you who are fortunate enough to have an office holiday party this year, make us proud! Drink that nog, gloss those lips, and contribute to the greasy wheels of capitalism with your own sordid behavior at the office party. (For those of you who are a little on the shy side, much pleasure can be derived from convincing your co-workers to make asses of themselves instead of doing it yourself. Try it, satisfaction guaranteed!)
And now, without further ado, the office party statistics:*
-30% of office party attendees make out with a co-worker
-10% make out with the DJ, bartender, or Santa Claus
-20% of office party attendees use the occasion to tell their boss how they “really feel”
(10% of those people lose their jobs within 30 days of the party)
-5% of office holiday party attendees resign at the party (see Wurd of the Day rezagnation)
-20% of office holiday party attendees are offered drugs by a co-worker
(50% of them accept the offer, and 50% of those who accept do not make it to work the next day)
-21% of office party attendees call someone by the wrong name throughout the duration of the party
-30% of female asses, and 20% of male asses, are grabbed or “casually brushed” during the office holiday party
-15% of straight men consider “experimenting with men” at the office holiday party
(1% percent of them actually do)
-10% of office holiday party attendees complain of the drinks being too weak, despite the fact that they’ve just slaughtered the lyrics to "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" and are wearing their necktie around their head
-15% of office holiday party attendees get the hiccups at some point of the night
-10% leave without saying goodbye
(25% of those who do not say goodbye also do not show up for work the next day)
-5% of office holiday party attendees cry
-10% do not know how they got home
-25% dance in a manner that will be ruthlessly mocked in the office for months, if not years, to follow
-33% of office holiday party attendees have “someone to avoid” in the office the next day… if they make it in.
*statistics completely made up, but based on actual office parties past
Have you or someone you love become an office holiday party statistic? If so, tell all! Our statisticians are standing by.
Posted by GxxP at 12:35 PM
It's a sign, I just know it is
Three days before my departure from New York City, I received a sign from the heavens that my move to Los Angeles was the right thing to do. The sign wasn't a traditional one. It didn't come in the form of a blinding light or a loud thunderclap, but instead in the form of a former child television star. Pretty much everyone I know is familiar with the odd and ever-continuing connection that I have to one Mr. Danny Pintauro , former star of one of the finest television programs ever to grace the small screen...Who's the Boss? Well folks, you'll all be happy to know that this connection is ever present, as was witnessed in an absolutely extraordinary event that occurred on Nov 21, 2002.
Gina and I had attended a karaoke birthday party for a mutual friend of ours that evening. After a night of singing and drinking (more drinking than singing), we stumbled out into the wee hours of the morn on the streets of the Lower East Side. We needed food, badly, and Gina happened to remember that there was a late night pizza place right down the block. We headed out with the hopes that it was still open, and were both thrilled to see the neon lights still flashing. As we walked into the pizza parlor, I found myself being pushed out by Gina, who was so excited about something she could barely speak.
"DANNY PINTAURO IS IN THE PIZZA PLACE!!!" she yelled.
I could barely breathe. I mean REALLY. What are the chances? The odds that I would keep running into the same child star over and over and over again are slim to none. Gina calmed me down (sort of), and we forged ahead into the pizza place. It was clear that we HAD to talk to him, but since I was rendered speechless by Danny's presence, I forced Gina do my dirty work once again. She sat herself right down next to Danny and his friend, and explained the situation. It's possible that he had a vague recollection of us, but he couldn't recall anything concrete about me, our mall date, or anything else regarding our former run-ins. I fear that he might have thought were were slightly crazy, or at the very least, stalking him. The fact that his director in A Queer Carol had emailed me after seeing the last Danny-related Bitch Sessions entry luckily seemed to validate our story at least a little bit. He was very gracious, chatted with us for a while, and shouted a "Good luck in LA!!" in my direction as he headed off to an after hours club.
That was it. All doubts about my decision to move were erased. I just kept repeating, "WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?" "Good luck in LA," he said. What more could I need? It was perfect. Gina likened the experience to a religious one, stating that she might now belive in god due to what happened that night. She informed me that I might as well leave the next morning, as anything further that would go on during my goodbye weekend would just be anti-climactic.
It turned out that the rest of the weekend wasn't anti-climactic, it was wonderful. I enjoyed a great night out with my friends on Saturday, followed by a tearful goodbye on Sunday night. I headed off on Monday, sad to leave my friends, but knowing full well that I was making the right decision.
Thank you Danny. Thank you.
I arrived in LA four days ago, and have spent the majority of my time thus far either at work or driving around marveling at the fact that I own an automobile for the first time in many years. My LA experience up until last night was limited to time spent in Hermosa and Manhattan Beach, my office building on Wilshire Blvd., and the area in between Hermosa and Manhatten Beach and my office builiding on Wilshire Blvd. I ventured out last night for the first time to meet a friend in Hollywood. I made it to the Cat and Fiddle without incident, and proceeded to have a lovely dinner in an adorable Melrose Place-ish courtyard. (There's nothing like eating outdoors in 70 degree weather in December. ) Our peaceful meal was interrupted suddenly by a small commotion in the restaurant, and I realized that an entire area of the outdoor courtyard had been entirely cleared of people. We were then informed by a fellow restuarant-goer that Tori Spelling had arrived. Sure enough, I looked over into the empty area and saw a tiny waif-like girl placing what appeared to be small party favors at all the tables. We guessed that she was having a party of some sort, a fact confirmed about 10 minutes later with the arrival of a large group of beautiful people, all who appeared to be talking on cell phones and kissing each other on the cheek. Could it have BEEN any more LA?
Now mind you, I am in no way putting the Tori sighting on the same level as the "sign" I received from Danny. Really though, what better way to kick off my LA experience than to eat dinner a mere 10 feet from Donna Martin from 90210? (Another one of the best shows ever to grace the small screen.) I took it as another celebrity sign. Someone is trying to send me the message that I am supposed to live in Los Angeles. That someone is sending me the message through former celebrities who made their names known with their performances in now-defunct television programs. It appears that these signs will come only from celebrities who fell off the radar immediately following the cancellation of the very shows that made them famous. Who's next? Kirk Cameron? Gary Coleman? It could be anyone. I'll be keeping my eyes open.
Posted by Jen at 12:38 PM
An American Idiot In Paris
I had the good fortune of spending Thanksgiving in Paris for the wedding of my dear friends Shevaun and Mark. In preparation for my second trip to the cultural mecca of France, I did very little beyond packing a bag and locating my passport (I even had to borrow a wedding hat from the bride herself – thanks, Shev!) The only other time I’d been to Paris was last September for my friend John’s wedding (if it weren’t for my friends getting hitched I’d never leave the country), and that was an even shorter stay than this one. So needless to say I had very little Parisian experience to draw from this time around… and it showed.
For starters my French is absolute crap. I haven’t spoken it since high school, and since then I’ve taken Spanish lessons, which has rendered me a piss-poor speaker of not just one foreign language but two. Everything I say comes out in a bizarre blend of SpanFranglish. Nevertheless, in keeping with my belief that when traveling abroad one should avoid English if at all possible (I think it’s rude not to at least try to speak the native tongue), I spent my first few days in gay Paris trying out the French equivalents of the necessary phrases:
-Do you speak English?
-I would like cheese.
-How much does this cost?
-Marlboro Lights, please.
Of course even if I got the words right, which I’m pretty sure I didn’t, my accent was unrecognizable. Every French person I attempted to speak to responded in nearly perfect English, making me feel like a complete nincompoop. This carried on for days until I was at a café with one of the wedding guests, who didn’t know a word of French and was, sadly, relying on my expertise to get us through lunch. Strangely, I remembered the food words quite well, proving once again that when you learn something in school that you actually care about you’re much more inclined to retain it. Suddenly I was reading the entire menu to my friend – everything from buttered green beans to ham was rolling off my tongue as if I was channeling Julia Child. It gave me the confidence I needed to speak French for the rest of the week, such that by the last day (was that only today?) people started approaching me on the streets asking for help. Of course I only responded with “Je ne parle pas Francais”, but I confidently looked the poor bastards in the eye when I said it.
Paris is an absolutely gorgeous city. The streets, people, and landmarks are all formidable eye candy. Even though the weather was gray and rainy for most of the trip, the city still sparkled with beauty. The afternoon before the wedding I visited the Musee D’Orsay with friends and marveled at the works of Renoir, Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Seurat, and many other legendary artists. I was face to face with Starry Night and Whistler’s Mother, but got too close for comfort when, while trying to avoid a large pack of school children, I tripped and nearly fell into a Manet. Judging by my friend Tim’s expression I was theeeeees close to sending my head through a priceless work of art. Those who weren’t stunned into silence laughed at me while I limped away in shame, and the multi-colored bruise that the guardrail left on my thigh is now the size of a human fist.
That night the wedding guests met on Rue de Montmartre for dinner and drinks and I got a leeetle bit, how you say?, wasted. The possibility that I had traveled 3000 miles to nearly fall into a painting and miss my friend’s wedding crossed my mind as I clutched the toilet bowl in my hotel room an hour before the exchanging of the vows. Luckily Tim is a doctor and gave me a super strength anti-hangover pill, and I made it to the wedding sans incident. That night however I was the only guest present who spent most of the evening shoeless, as I had left my stilettos on the side of the dance floor and subsequently had them lifted by another drunken merrymaker. The shoes were finally retrieved, but not until after I had donned the only replacement footwear I had -- knee high black leather boots. They didn't really match my outfit, but fortunately it was late enough in the party that no one seemed to care.
All in all my trip to Paris was splendid, and for every near-debacle I had ten precious moments in which I didn't make an ass out of myself. I highly recommend to anyone who hasn't visited Paris yet to do so as soon as you are able. I just hope I didn't make things difficult by paving the way for any stupide American remarks when you visit. If I did, je suis desolee, mon ami. Forgive moi, s'il vous plait.
Posted by GxxP at 11:59 PM