Friday, October 26, 2012


It's been a long couple of weeks for the local meteorologists. Sunny skies, balmy temperatures, nary a cloud in sight. It might have rained one day, but just for a little while. In short, they are bored out of their ever-loving minds. This explains why this current storm, Hurricane Sandy, has their panties in such a bunch.

I understand the storm is historic in that it isn't following the normal epicenter of destruction, with outlying circles of mess and mayhem. Instead, this one is sort of cone-shaped, so it is going to hit everywhere all at once. The weathermen (yes, I know there are women in that profession but typing weather people is just ridiculous) are behaving as if this storm may just wind up being the End of Days. I understand that trees filled with leaves are bad news for storms. The heavy leaves clog storm drains, adding to flooding, which adds to the number of tree roots that become oversaturated and fall down. Plus, high winds cause lots of limbs to crash down on stuff like cars, roadways, people, and power lines. I understand all of this is a problem.

What I do not understand is why we are all acting as if losing power equates losing our lives. Surely we all have a few candles around? Even if they are banana bread scented, they still expel light. Everyone has batteries, even if you have to pry them out of remote controls? Our land lines may go out but I somehow doubt Facebook and Twitter will go silent being that we all have smart phones. We won't be able to play Words with Friends so we can save our charge, but we'll still be able to text friends and relatives to check on safety and ask for/offer help. Schools will find a way to tell us they are closed, even if they have to break out semaphore flags. In short of an actual generator, I'm pretty sure we all have enough of the basics to survive.

If you can read this blog, I will bet that you already have enough food in your pantry, fridge, and possibly second freezer/beer fridge to feed yourself and your family for a week. The meals may not be well-balanced, but everyone has enough cans of old soup, frozen food, and snacks to survive for a few days. This isn't a television show - if the power goes out, it will go back on! Long before we perish from rickets or stupidity, we can just drive to the local big box store, convenience store, chain restaurant, grocery store, or diner to eat a hot meal or buy a cold one. While it may take days for suburbia to get power, I've never yet heard of a situation where Fortune 500 companies let their stores languish in darkness. No power equals no money and how can you sell the necessities of life at twice their market value if you don't have operating cash registers? Even if it takes a few days, we all have enough friends, family, and gym memberships that we can get ourselves washed. The laundry may pile up, the dust bunnies may start to party plan, and you may go through enough paper plates and cups to start your own landfill, but you will survive.

And if the power fails and you have to go to bed early with your significant other, well, there are worse ways to spend a long night, ya know?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Party Like Its 1992

I went to my husband's 20 year high school reunion this past weekend. In preliminary discussions, it had been decided that I was not "worth" the cost of an extra ticket and a babysitter. Per our agreement on such matters, there were no hurt feelings because I heartily agreed. I'd much rather send him off to reminisce while I stayed home to watch movies. I'm still a season and a half behind on Doctor Who and two behind on Torchwood. I'd much rather spend the evening with Captain Harkness than Captain Morgan. But, in the end, my designated driver status got me elevated to "and guest."

At the hotel (where we picked up some out-of-town friends who rightly refused to ride the party bus), I could already tell that my choice of clothing was inappropriate. While I looked cute (for me), and had even managed to put on eye makeup and lipstick, I had apparently forgotten that I was in Jersey. While big hair and Aquanet are gone (but not forgotten), micro-minis, hooker heels, and cheap fabrics in bright colors never go out of style. These women needed puppy pads to sit down lest they catch a communicable disease before they stood back up. Before we had even left for the event, I was already shooting my husband the side-eye.

I think the first apology was given when we pulled up to the venue. While on paper, the E-Lounge sounded at least relatively benign, in reality, the E was for the name of the town and the lounge part was just a pseudonym for fire hall. The giveaway was the fire truck you had to walk past to get to the second floor. The space was decorated entirely in low, flat white couches, and cubed, light-up coffee tables. All of the tables were lit in different neon colors, the servers trays flashed and glowed, and there were strobe lights. It was an epileptics' nightmare. There were also photo booths that must have come equipped with wind machines because every woman came back out fixing their hair and tugging down their hems. I wasn't going in there without a set of Clorox wipes. And of course, there was the gallery of dead people. Or, in this case, a cheap poster board with five photos cut and pasted straight out of the high school yearbook. Didn't any of the senior class scrap book?

I headed for the dark recesses of the room while my husband headed straight for the bar. Smart man. When the server came around with the first tray of passed hors d'oeuvre, I asked if there was a buffet dinner as there didn't seem to be a separate dining area. Her reply? Nope. To be clear, this was a $65 per person event, not a basement kegger. Miniature food served on pointy sticks was dinner and a scant meal it was. In fairness, a crudités table did eventually make an appearance, but for some strange reason, all the food was served in tall vases. Have you ever tried to use a pair of tongs to get sliced cucumber out of a two-foot tall receptacle? It cannot be done without flinging vegetables hither and yon. The sum of food put out for the entire reunion could be purchased in two pre-made platters from the local warehouse club of choice. By the time the sheet cake came out, we practically mugged a server to get a slice. My friend and I (another abandoned wife of a graduate) each took one bite then put the plate down. How bad do you think the cake had to be for a hungry fat woman to refuse it? How bad did it have to be for a hungry drunk to almost spit it out? Very bad indeed.

Over the course of four hours, my husband got increasingly drunk and I got increasingly snarky. The bartenders, when they could manage to make a drink without looking at the Bartender's Bible, had a very generous pour. (Hell, I would too since all the money for the tickets was obviously spent on alcohol.) I didn't have to ask if my husband was drinking Captain and Cokes, I could smell them before he sat down. The combination of no food and plenty of liquor meant that I had a front row view to the depravity that is a gaggle 38-yr olds gone wild. I rolled my eyes so often and so far back that I thought I was going to lose a contact lens. The DJ must have only brought four CDs with him because he played in order: an hour of 80's, an hour of Glee soundtracks, an hour of wedding music, and an hour of dance music. He also played Piano Man in the beginning of the night, when everyone knows you play it at the end so everyone can howl along. There were group dance numbers. (To the left, to the left.) There was grinding. There were bitchy speeches. There were downward dog positions that should never be seen out of a yoga room being performed, with reckless abandon, by drunk women wearing sensible shoes. It was a bloody nightmare. At one point, I thought I was about to witness a first lesbian experience, right there on the dance floor. People sang along to Journey without a hint of irony. When Vanessa William's Save the Best For Last came on as the final song, I might have accidentally screamed "Oh My Fucking God" at the top of my lungs while making violent knife motions with my fist.

My husband, luckily, was well aware that the entire event was a bust and when we weren't making each other laugh out loud with rude comments, he was coming up with increasingly extravagant ways to pay me back for sitting through it all. Sadly, none of the suggestions of tickets to Wicked, a ring, a car, or even the purchase of my own Barnes & Noble store were remembered the next morning. Since he spent the entire evening double fisting, most people with his blood alcohol content would not have remembered the night at all. However, my husband has a superpower. He can metabolize alcohol at four times the human rate. Once, at a friend's wedding, I witnessed him drink for 12 straight hours only to wake up cheerful and well-rested meanwhile I, who had two glasses of wine at the cocktail hour, needed to be helped into the shower. After the reunion, I did help him out a bit by making a run to Mickey D's after dropping off the sitter. I think the late-night meal of salted cardboard made the crucial difference between suffering through my daughter's investiture ceremony at church the next morning and enjoying it.

Obviously, I will be holding this evening against him for the rest of his natural born life. Like a Christian who converts to Judaism for love, "I went to your reunion" is going to be my version of "I gave up Jesus." The knowledge will always be there.

Friday, October 12, 2012

American Girl aka Marketing Madness

Can someone please explain to me the allure of the American Girl dolls?
This will be the third year that my daughter asked for one. When she was six, she was interested, but it wasn't the highest priority item on her list. That spot was reserved for an iPod. When she was seven, it was much higher up the list, but still right under the iPod. Now going on eight, the number one spot, finally bumping the iPod down a peg, is Caroline, the newest historical American Girl doll.

Why haven't I bought my daughter the doll yet (especially when her birthday is also in December)? Simple. The damn thing is wicked expensive and she already two dolls complete with multiple outfits, to dress at will. Why am I going to buy her a taller one with clothes pricier than her own?

Obviously, I understand that kids want what other kids have. I remember getting a Darcy doll when everyone else had a Barbie. Darcy was just bigger and taller than Barbie so none of the Mattel clothes fit. Damn, did I hate that doll. When my parents finally did give in and buy me a Barbie, it was a Business Barbie, complete with briefcase. I get that my parents were trying to offer a solid role model and all, but the whole point of Barbie is her lavish lifestyle. The Dream House, the mall, the bus, etc. I wanted a Barbie who lived a life of leisure, not one who was a corporate shill.

However, I refuse to pay for something that we essentially already own. Call me cheap, call me practical, call me, maybe, but that was my stance. So my kid did a runaround and decided to hold lemonade stands in order to earn the money for the doll herself. As we live down the block from a high school and it is football season, she already had a prime location. I made the lemonade and bought cookies, her father set up the table and bench under a shady tree, and her brother would yell at everyone who passed by, "LEMONADE AND COOKIES!!!". In three games, and with a minor nest egg already accumulated, she earned enough for the doll ($105) and an outfit ($28). How? By cutting her brother almost entirely out of her profits, by stiffing her supplier on start-up costs, and by cleverly asking everyone who bought a 50 cent item, "Do you want your change?" By the time I caught on to this little game and started insisting she automatically give people their change, it was already the third game. Plus, she would smile so sweetly at people that many simply handed her a dollar as they passed by, without even taking a drink or a snack. Honestly, if I ever can't pay a bill, I'm just going to send her out to run another stand.

Of course, it won't end with one doll and one outfit. She already has her eye on the bed, the nightgown (for her and the doll), etc., etc., etc. This merchandising for the dolls is wide and varied. Oh, and did I mention expensive? I bought my son's actual bed for less than the price of Caroline's doll bed. Sure, I'm already trolling eBay, and etsy, and all the local craft festivals for off-brand items I can get for cheap, but I'm still paying more for a doll dress than I am for a human one. That's just wrong.

Right now, we are still trying to work out a date to get to the store. Internet shopping has been ruled out for fear the doll won't arrive or will arrive broken. (Her fear, not mine.) She wants to walk into the store, eat at the cafe (with her doll, of course) and bask in the insanity that is the American Girl brand. I'm sure we will visit the doll hair salon and doll hospital and I'll find myself at the sale rack (if it even exists) so that I can be a nice mommy and buy her a little something extra.

Will she still ask for an iPod, an iPad, and Taylor Swift tickets this year for her birthday/Christmas? Probably. But I'm leaving that to Santa.