Monday, February 23, 2009

I Never Have the Right Equipment

I watched as the newswoman on skis stood next to the young guy on a snowboard. I couldn’t help but admire her courage and skill in standing on a slippery slope with a cordless microphone instead of poles. I was eagerly watching, hoping that she’d loose all control and composure and let gravity take the reins, pulling her helplessly down the mountain as the news camera followed her and her mic would be capture every audible grunt and profanity. Her shiny future on YouTube would be locked in for eternity. Alas, she just stood there as she impressively interviewed the hunky guy on a board, his feet stuck in a permanent straddle stand. This is the preferred stance of all tough studs, as if to say “I need to stand with my legs far apart like this in order to accommodate my gigantic balls of steel and my larger-than-yours penis. Grrrr”

The news clip reminded me of the last time I went skiing. And when I say “the last time I went skiing” I should include the word “ever” and then you’ll understand where I am on this issue.

As a 24-year old single mother, I was cautiously and artificially enthusiastic about a day trip to the snow with some friends. There was to be a large group of us going which made it worse, as I’d surely be accumulating more witnesses to my snow retardation. Therefore, in order to prepare them for the encounter I forewarned them about my ski disability. I was assured, just as I always was, that I’d be fine and they would ski with me, help me on some slopes and we’d all have a good ole’ time. As my admissions were made, I was quickly demoting my carpool status from the “cool” group to the group with the old guy and the Jesus freak in a truck. It was too late to back out, so I traveled with the D-list to the snow.

It was a lengthy trip made longer by uncomfortable boredom. I was still a committed smoker; I couldn’t even make it through a movie without taking a cigarette break. Therefore, a four hour car ride listening to Christian rock was a suffering far greater than gum flap surgery without Novocain. The Jesus freak was sitting in the back seat of the little truck, her shiny manic face kept poking through the middle of the two front seats where I sat next to the old guy. He was probably 55 and that’s not old now, but it was ancient when I was 23. The Jesus freak had a whole box of music that she needed us to listen to. Her kinky permed hair with frosted tips shimmered from greasy hair products kept creeping into my peripheral vision. I’d see the perky ball of kink bouncing to the soft beat of songs like “You’re so Awesome, Jesus” and “Rock my Soul for Sinners” or something.

With each song, she’d say “Listen to this one! Doesn’t it put the joy of Jesus in your heart?” But all I wanted was the burn of nicotine in my lungs. I didn't want to hear the "message." I could have told the old guy that I needed to throw-up and he would have pulled over, then I could have yelled “Ha ha ha! Fooled you! I’m going to smoke a whole cigarette!” But I just sat there and let the needles of discomfort jab into my brain and lungs. Anxieties building until my shoulders were up to my ears with tension and I was hosting a permanent kegel party in my pants.

Once we arrived at the ski run, I was only comforted by my cigarette for a minute and then I remembered my next daunting task: Skiing. The old guy and the Jesus freak pulled out their equipment and put on their ski gear. I headed off to the rental desk where they provided me with a pair of navy blue boots that someone had sewn rocks into the ankle support. They were too small, but I was too humiliated to complain. Then they gave me a long thin pair of boards and some sticks to hold onto. I couldn’t afford to rent pants, so I wore my tight Bongo jeans and a short jacket so you could see my cute ass.

Once I dragged it all outside and managed to get my boots locked in my skis, I realized I had already been dumped. All my friends were off on the Black Diamond runs, completely forgetting the promises made to me. I eyed the T-bar run. A special lift for beginners and children. You see, there’s this cable that runs up the small slope with a giant aluminum upside-down “T”. Once the lift operator summons you, you have to quickly scurry yourself over to where he is, then the giant upside-down “T” gently pushes your bottom up the hill as you hold on to the center pole with one hand and your sticks with the other.

As with everything in life where I feel insecure, I overcompensate with body language. You know, like looking bored or sporty. Trying to avoid eye contact. Humming. All in a pathetic attempt to fool you into believing that I’m really an expert at this kind of thing. A T-bar expert. Once summoned by the operator I tried to skate over to the operator, but my feet just slid back and forth. I wasn’t going anywhere so I tried to use my sticks to propel me but that just made my legs stop moving. Finally, after what seemed like five minutes I found some kind of friction and started to move.

The “T” bar operator was gorgeous, of course. I could tell that working at this kiddie lift meant he was being punished for something. So I wasn’t exactly appealing to him which made me even more uncomfortable. I put my sticks in one hand, bent my knees, and turned around to grab the bar as it came up behind me. Unfortunately, my skis were pointed off to the side so once the bar pushed my butt, I jetted off to the right and crashed to the ground while the T-bar swung past my head.

The operator pressed a button that was probably labeled “Stop-O-Lame” that halted the entire lift so that everyone on the slope had to look back to see what the problem was and find me being lifted up by the arm pits and hoisted into a standing position. I laughed out loud, probably too loud, because it’s better to laugh at yourself and hear anyone else doing it.

I finally got the hang of the T-Bar after 4 or 5 times and felt pretty confident on the bunny slope. Yes, I was really getting it now. But not enough to graduate to anything bigger. The day wore on slowly and my ankle blisters grew to golfballs inside my rent-a-boots. I had fallen on every trip down the slope and my jeans were thoroughly drenched and frozen. I decided to thaw out in the café with some hot chocolate and hopefully meet up with my friends.

Taking off the skis made me feel so light and free, like anti-gravity shoes, until I tried to walk on the deck. Then I felt like Herman Munster with rickets. I was the anti-ski bunny and I hated them and their thousand dollar outfits and ski goggle tan lines. I just wanted to push the “disappear” button so a hole would open up in the floor and I could fall out of sight.

I found one of my friends and asked her when we’d be leaving. She said we would all meet for a late lunch over at the other café and then head home. Thank God, I heard the word “home” and that’s where I wanted to be. I would just do a few more runs, maybe try something a little bigger, and then go to the other café where I’d be delivered to the homeland.

It was almost time to meet everyone and I had gained a little more confidence on the skis, so I decided to take a “real” lift up to a slightly larger run which should let out right by the café where we’re meeting.

I was standing in a long line waiting for the lift. Since I didn’t have a partner, the operator paired me with another single and he was out of a ski magazine I tell you. So handsome and friendly, and luckily I managed to get onto the lift without falling this time, so my cover was not blown. On the way up the mountain, I found out he worked there as a ski instructor. That figures, he was too perfect to work the T-bar lift. I was so enchanted that I didn’t even notice how long I’d been riding up, until I saw the sun setting at the exact spot where our lift stopped … the top of the mountain!

I dropped the snow bunny act immediately and looked at him with sheer panic. “What lift am I on?” I found that I had inadvertently gotten on a intermediate run that started at the top of the mountain. “Oh my God! I can’t go down this run! I have rental equipment on!” He gave me a patronizing ski instructor smile and said “You’ll be just fine, just take it slow.” Christ, what a pathetic instructor. Was that really the best advice he had? The mountain was huge, steep, and there were moguls. Hundreds of skiers zipped back and forth with dynamic power. I was sure to be sliced in half by at least one of them.

So I panicked. “Listen, I’m a single mom. I can’t break anything … at all!” I’ve never skied down anything this big. I don’t know how to go over a mogul, and I’m going to die!” His token patience expired and he didn’t have time for my pedestrian anxieties. I started problem solving and negotiating. “What about the snowmobiles for the medical staff? Can’t they come and get me?” I pleaded, starting to cry. “No, they don’t go up this high.” He snubbed. Oh great, I’m so far up the mountain that the ski patrol can’t even help me. “Please, can’t I just ride the lift back down? I really cannot make this run!” I cried. “Whatever.” He mumbled, then he fished his walkie-talkie out of his parka and radioed a code or something inaudible to a man on the other end. “All right, when you get to the top you’ll have to get off and remove your skis, then you can ride back down.” Oh thank God. “Will you ride with me?”

I was ushered off the halted lift and asked to remove my [rental] skis. By now, Joe Ski Instructor was as far away from me as possible. I was put back on the lift headed in the opposite direction. My great feeling of relief almost made me cry, that is until I started passing by all the real skiers, then all the gratitude was squeezed out of my feelings tube and I was left with mind-numbing embarrassment. It’s like when someone is pulled over by a police officer and everybody passing by has no qualms about blatantly staring. They ask themselves “what kind of a criminal is that?” or “I’m glad I’m not riding with her.” But they don’t pretend to not stare because, fuck it, you’ll never see them again.

I couldn’t make eye contact with any of them because my shame was too bloody and raw. I just stared straight ahead, sitting in my wet Bongo jeans, my navy blue rental boots, and my skis across my lap. Kids have no mouth filter. Whatever they’re thinking or feeling, it just pops right out like a Pez dispenser. “Hey lady! You’re going the wrong way!” and then there was the laughing. The downward trip took eight times longer than the upward trip, let me tell you. Half way down, I had flipped off a couple of kids.

When I finally started to approach the landing zone, I was horrified to see the swarm of skiers in the lift line. They looked like ants on a plate of syrup. The closer I got, little pink faces began to turn up in my direction. Soon, everyone was watching me come down on the lift. I was a sight to behold. I was compelled to develop a plan to protect what smidget of self-esteem I had left. My master plan included a profound limp and a look of pain on my face. I would limp off the bench, past all the real skiers, and disappear into oblivion. Once the lift stopped at the foot of the mountain, I offloaded and began my injured skier act past the crowd of people. I was almost believable as I’d look at some of them and give a shrug as if to say “Well, that’s what happens when you land a jump wrong.”

It was time to meet my friends at the lodge, but that was at the other end of the resort. I was supposed to ski there, but now I had to continue my performance of the injured skier with a limp just in case someone from the ant pile recognized me. I didn’t want anyone pointing and yelling at me “Hey, you’re not an injured skier! You’re just a big fake chicken!”

I got trudged down to the road with my skis, and my sticks, and my 25 pound rental boots and limped down the icy road and through the rootbeer slushy parking lots until I finally came to the lodge. I bought a cup of coffee and sat by myself outside and smoked my wet cigarettes. Nobody was there for 30 minutes. I finally had to go inside to warm up. It was then that one of the D-listers showed up. “Sharon! Where have you been? Everybody’s already left. We’ve been waiting down in the parking lot for you for hours!”

I limped to the truck, both physically and emotionally. I volunteered to sit in the back so I could seethe in private. Licking my broken pride wound and feeling sorry for myself for entire four hours. I listened to the Jesus freak and the old guy rejoice in the splendors of skiing while I rubbed my ankles and soaked his seat with my wet Bongos.

Well, at least I didn't have a shitty perm.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My Best Friend's Vagina

As you may or may not know, my best friend is Kathy and she has a vagina. This was just one of the criteria she met when she landed a part in a local production of the smash hit Vagina Monologues.

My best friend Kathy with a Vagina is almost my sister since we've been friends for over 25 years; However, we have very few outside things in common: She likes country, I like grunge and techno; she wears high heals and accessorizes, I wear Birkenstocks and a plain wedding ring; she's a brunette, I'm a blond. We're on opposite sides of the political parties most of the time, and while I'm extroverted and demonstrative, she's very private and doesn't like to hug.

We do have everything in common on the inside, though. We swim in the same river of spirituality; we have parallel lives; everything that happens to one of us will happen to the other in a matter of days. Its spooky. Lastly, we both have vaginas.

Kathy called me this morning and announced that her picture and name were in the local paper under the caption "Provocative Production returns to Local Theatre." I laughed really hard, the kind that makes my head fall back and my mouth open up like a trout on a hook, because I can just imagine how squirmy this must make my shy Kathy feel. Once I settled down, she said "I think this is the second time I've had my picture in the newspaper. The first time is when I was a *pregnant teenager and they were doing a story about the pregnant high school." I would love to get a copy of that article.

Then she said "Damn! My vagina keeps getting me in the newspaper." Congratulations Kathy, it looks like it got you on a blog too. What a talented vagina you have!

*Yes, that's right. Kathy was a teenage unwed mother. Absolutely the BEST teenage unwed mother that you've ever even heard of. Her daughter is the smartest, sweetest, kindest grown-up in the United States. We should all be so wonderful.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What to do About Tailgaters

My husband, the sane grown-up around here, has warned me about losing my temper with tailgaters. "Just let them go past you, babe" he says real calm-like. Oooh, its just infuriating to be married to the Voice of Reason sometimes!

Therefore, I've developed other methods:

1. Call Them In. One day I was driving along, minding my own business and doing the speed limit when along came this chick in a BMW zooming right up on my ass. I mean seriously five inches off my bumper. We were on a street where the cops just love to snack on little speeders, so I'm not about to speed up for her. I tried to ignore her but it was way too serious. Then I remembered that I had my husband's police/fire radio on the seat next to me. So I picked it up and held it to my face like I was calling her in. I did this a couple of times so that she would definitely see me having a conversation. It worked! She backed off and took the next turn. I could just picture her hiding in a cul de sac and waiting for the coast to clear.

You may be saying to yourself "Oh ya Blogger Queen, that's fine for you and your husband, but what am I supposed to do? I don't have a police/fire portable scanner radio?" Don't be discouraged. Get an empty butter box and wrap it in black paper. Then tape a black pipe cleaner to the side Voila! You can call in all the speeders and tailgaters and drunk drivers you want! You can even make two and have a conversation with your son in the back seat. "Roger that. 10-4"

2. Drive Like You're Drunk. Slow down a little, then speed up for no reason. Then gently let your car move to the right and then jerk back to the center. Let your head nod a bit, like you're falling asleep. Put on your blinker and leave it going. I guarantee that the one-time asshole will immediately turn into a very alert and concerned citizen. He'll pass by you real fast and have a terrified look on his face. He'll probably call you in with a wrapped up butter box with a pipe cleaner taped to the side. Its important to NOT BREAK ANY LAWS OR DRIVE UNSAFELY. DON'T GO OVER THE LINE. Just be a little weird.

3. Be a Grown-Up. You could follow my husband's advice to me: "Just let them pass you, Sharon." Hmmph that's too predictable.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Attention All Idiots

Stop walking in front of me in the grocery store. I will not tolerate your inconsiderate aisle blocking any longer. Don't act pissed off just because you have to move your cart full of Hamburger Helper, Doritos, and box wine. If you want an intimate shopping experience, either shop at 2:00am like all the other weirdos or talk to the manager about renting out the entire store so that you don't have to share.

Stop parking in spaces you have to back out of. Listen up, if you cannot rotate your head far enough to look behind you, or check your rear view mirrors, then you should take a little bus like all your other special friends, instead of running over people like me or my kids.

Stop tailgating me. I can't move faster than the car in front of me. Do you think I have helicopter blades hidden in my sunroof or something? You know when I see you at the next red light you're just going to feel like a fucker ... and you are, Fucker!

This is my final warning, Idiots. I'm carrying a squirt gun full of Kim Chee juice, the worst smell in the world. Its like rotten foot juice mixed with old man farts. I am going to track you down and squirt it inside your car, or your purse, or the back of your pants and you won't even know what hit you until it's too late.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Honeymoon is Over

The only meaningful thing I've heard Mr. Doctor Phil say is [insert southern drawl] "Marriage is not a long date."

Dating is easy. Anyone can hold their shit together for four hours at a restaurant. If they cannot, then they're cast aside. "Next!" You'll say, and in comes the next applicant. Well, when you're married, you have to hold your shit together every day and every night. You can yell "Next!" all you want but the same person keeps coming back to the table.

My husband and I have been married for twelve years. That's a record for me and a first for him. During our honeymoon in Hawaii, we signed up for a kayak tour with a side of snorkel. Our guide was a young, presumably single, slacker who was probably wearing everything he owned. There was another couple with us who were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.

The guide, let's call him The Big Cooter, told me to sit in the front and Kent to sit in the back. I decided The Big Cooter was a egocentric male chauvinist pig because he unceremoniously puts the "husband" in the steering seat on the sheer presumption that since he has a penis, he'll steer the boat better. But sure, I totally understand that. I mean, what if I'm menstruating or PMSing and I just flip out and stand-up in the boat shouting "Fuck you all!" and I jump in. This, of course, will cause all the man eating sharks to circle our party and then men will have to come to our rescues by slinging their giant dicks over the side of the kayak so I can grab on and pull myself to safety. I had, in fact, been boating throughout my life, and Kent had not. I was also a firefighter and did not lack upper body strength. So, I was pissed.

As we tried to follow the guide in his kayak, we fell farther and farther behind. The old couple was keeping up just fine, but we could not coordinate our stroking and steering. We were talking "pissy" to each other and not being very supportive, to say the least.

By the time we got to the diving spot, I never wanted to get in another boat with THAT MAN again. I chatted with the other woman for a while before I had the courage to ask her "How long does it take before you can kayak together" and she smiled very knowingly and said "Years."

She was right. It did take years and I'm still not perfect and neither is he, I guess. We have not gotten back into a kayak together, but we've done other things that require cooperation: Family vacations, dinner, raising children, dishes, sharing a bathroom, deciding on cars, choosing a movie. All these moments of partnership and I've learned something about myself: I'm imperfect. I sometimes have to spend days of arguing in my head with a voice that nobody else can hear, I have to call other women I respect and beg for wisdom, before I can say something that's helpful instead of hurtful. I've learned that sometimes it's better to give in and go with the flow. I've learned that nobody wins an argument, but everyone grows.

If I were to go on that vacation again, I'd take one look at the kayak and say "The Honeymoon is over, Pal. Let's just go lay on the beach."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What's Your Name?

I think every women has a little Roller Derby Queen in her. I know I do. There are plenty of times at the grocery store that I fantasize about body slamming into someone whose parked their cart in the middle of the isle and just stands there contemplating which Rice-A-Roni would go best with frozen chicken nuggets.

Also, I would love to follow the assholes who zoom in front of my daughter's elementary school with all the kids trying to cross the street. I wouldn't let them see that I was following them. I'd just hang back far enough to see where they're going. Then, as their car door openend, I'd pull them out of the car by their hair and give 'em a knee to the nose.

I have anger issues. Who doesn't? So wouldn't it be great to have a job where you could unleash the inner bitch? YOU KNOW YOU WANT IT! But first, we need to have Roller Derby Queen names. These are some of the Bay City Bombers ...

Roller Biotch
Ruby Rox
Corporal Punishment
Becky Bash

What's your Roller Derby Queen name? Take part in this scientific poll, or just post your own ideas in the comments section.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Queen for a Day

This morning when my 8-year old woke up she said "There's something I'm excited about today but I can't remember what it is?" and then she remembered her ears.

Yesterday, at approximately 16:55 PST, at the mall, Giselle became a girl with her ears pierced. It's like a Bat Mitzvah or something for shiksas, a true threshold into Big Girl World. Now she has little pink daisies on her soft little lobes where yesterday there were just felt tip pen marks. Oh, and the psychological marks will probably last a few years.

I don't remember when I walked through the threshold into Big Girl World. It might have been my first pair of platform shoes when I was eleven, which I wore with my rainbow toe socks and bell bottom jeans. This, after just one year previous, I was wearing homemade jeans. That's right, homemade. They had an elastic waist, no zipper, and patches of cartoon monsters on the knees. That was a humiliating time in my elementary school career, and also not coincidentally, my last year at that public elementary school.

One afternoon in third grade, Mrs. Gonzales asked all the kids "What are you going to be when you grow up?" A question I'm frequently asking people (young and old) because it reveals so much about their inner secret self and that's the thing I'm always trying to reveal. At age nine, I was so shy that I had no friends, didn't play at recess, and if you were to ask anyone in the classroom what my name was they wouldn't know. There were the popular kids, and the despised kids, but I fell into my own category ... invisible.

Mrs. Gonzales went around the room and extracted an answer from each student. They gave the same predictable answers over and over again: Fireman, nurse, teacher, mommy, veterinarian, blah, blah, blah. But I had a secret life that I led in television land. That little 24" box with antenna on top held all my dreams in it. I wanted to be a Brady. I wanted to live in the Addams Family house. And I loved watching roller derby, the Bay City Bombers to be exact.

I was in the last row (that's where the quiet kids are positioned because the teachers don't have to tell them to shut-up all the time) so I was one of the last kids to be called on. My hair was long, straight, and dirty. It it hung in my face as a shield against the harsh earthlings who were able to destroy me with a single word "hi." I had never raised my hand in my life, even if I was about to pee my pants. When Mrs. Gonzales called on me I was not as terrified as usual because I had already given this question great consideration and knew my answer was right and perfect.

I quietly said "I want to be a roller derby queen." A hush fell over the classroom and then hands started shooting up like a Courtney Love. "Me too!!" "Me too!!" "I want to change mine, I want to be a roller derby queen too!!" And for the first time and the only time at Fairmede Elementary School, I was cool.

Sadly, I did not pursue this dream and, in fact, now I'm scared to death of skating because I'll surely break both my wrists like a lady I used to work with, and that's all I need. But look, I did finally become a queen... the Blogger Queen.