Occasionally, Working From Home Can Be Interesting

In Humor on June 27, 2014 at 12:04 am

My friends and family have (mostly) learned to leave me undisturbed when I’m working from home. It took a while, but if you were greeted with snarls and profanity whenever you spoke to me during working hours, you’d learn to leave me alone, too.

So, today, I was surprised when a friend called with an immediate request.

“Come outside right now,” she commanded.

“I’m still in my pajamas,” I said (it was 1:45 p.m.).

“That might be appropriate, considering what I want to give you,” she said,* before hanging up.

I snarled, uttered a few profane words, and then headed downstairs to the front door. She was parked at our curb, so I didn’t bother putting on shoes.

I leaned into her car window. “You could have put on pants,” she said.

“I thought you said my pajamas were fine? I wore a T-shirt to bed last night.”

Whatever,” she replied. She reached into a shopping bag and pulled out a medium-sized envelope.

 “I saw this at the grocery store and thought of you.” She handed it to me.


“Cock-flavored soup mix?” I shouted in surprise.

“Shhh,” she said. “Do you want people to hear you yelling that word when you’re not wearing pants?”

If my T-shirt had been a little longer, I would have leaned further into the car and given her a congratulatory hug. She’s now in the lead in our contest to embarrass each other with gifts of dirty-sounding food.

I’m in second (read: last) place. A while back, I left this in her mailbox:


Then again, maybe I’m the winner, because I can still get my mail without being afraid that I’ll run into the mailman. My friend still, after more than a year, has to check her mailbox after sunset (even later in the winter).

* In hindsight, I see that my friend is a lot more risqué than I had realized.

Aargh….Get Off Me Pole!

In Humor on June 20, 2014 at 2:49 am

Once a month, the St. Agatha Club, in Niantic, holds a dinner for its female members and their friends. For $20, you get a four-course meal, wine and soda, and each table is served by a male member of the club. Other male members do all of the cooking.

The hall is usually jam-packed with women, ranging in age from early forties to late nineties and beyond. Some of my friends go every month; others go once in awhile. I’m not a member, but I attend a few times a year.

Tonight was the last dinner until September, so I made a point to make it. This evening, at our table, there were seven of us (we all belong to the same church), and one sister-in-law of a member.

I got there a few minutes late and everyone was eating salad and ziti and talking about our table’s waiter, Mark. He was a handsome guy, about 30 years younger than our usual waiters. Five of us — Netta, Ginny, Marsha, Talia, and I — were married and three — Maddie, Karen, and Rosalyn — were single.

Maybe their wedding rings gave them the confidence to ask personal questions of Mark, because the married women were the ones who decided to grill the poor guy … all night. When Mark returned, the single women were noticeably silent. But that was because several of the married women had decided to find out if Mark was single — and available to date one of the unmarried women in our group.

Who we were going to offer up to Mark was determined by age. He appeared to be youngish, so Netta announced to the table, “Maddie and Karen, you’re both in your fifties, so you’re out. That leaves Rosalyn, who’s in her forties.” Everyone just stared at Netta, especially Maddie and Karen, who had just been summarily eliminated from the non-existent competition. Rosalyn looked shocked, and a little nauseous.

When Mark came back, he was all smiles and graciousness. He couldn’t do enough for us. While everyone complimented him on his service and friendliness, they all avoided asking him what they really wanted to know. Because I like the direct approach, I decided to get involved, but just once. When Mark had cleared the salad and pasta dishes and was on his way to get the main course (steak pizzaola, potatoes, and green beans), he turned and asked, “Does anyone need anything else?” I answered, “Just your number.”

He turned beet red and my friends all laughed nervously. One of them jumped in, “It’s just that you’re so nice and some of us have young daughters whom we’d like to fix you up with.” Rosalyn breathed an audible sigh of relief that she was no longer the sacrificial lamb (excuse the metaphor, but we were a church group, after all). Another one chimed in, “How old are you? Are you married?”

Mark, who was still bright red, and sweating a little, began to laugh. “Oh, sorry,” he said. “I’m 32, but I’m taken.” He then made a quick exit to the kitchen. “Well,” said Maddie, “we still don’t know if he’s married.” “True,” said Karen, “but he made it clear that he wasn’t available.” Rosalyn said nothing. She probably hoped that we had forgotten about her.

When Mark came back with the main course, he announced that he was really enjoying serving us. Throughout the meal, he returned again and again to see if we needed anything and to accept compliments on whatever we could think of complimenting him on. It was right about this time that the dues-paying members in our group decided to use him as their messenger to the kitchen. “Please tell the cook that the string beans and potatoes had too much pepper.  Oh, and while the gravy was very tasty, the meat was tough in places.” He accepted all of the criticism with humor and promised to tell the kitchen staff.

As he left to relay the messages, Rosalyn announced that she was sick and had to leave. We were so surprised at her sudden illness and felt terribly for her. She seemed fine at the beginning of the night.

After Rosalyn left, while we were awaiting dessert, several members at our table started advance-complaining. “If we get that plain vanilla ice cream again, I’m refusing it,” said one. “Yeah. We had that same dessert the last three times we came. I hope they get more creative this time,” said another. “I’m sure we won’t get that boring ice cream on the last dinner until the fall,” said another.

Soon after, Mark returned with a large tray filled with individual servings of … vanilla ice cream. Only three of us accepted it. The rest of the group very nicely told Mark to please take the rest of the servings back to the kitchen and let them know that serving vanilla ice cream four times in a row is not acceptable. Everybody assured Mark that they weren’t holding any of the kitchen’s faults against him. He just laughed and said that the kitchen staff was very busy, but he would pass on their comments.  Then he walked off with the mostly filled tray.

“Oh my God,” I said. “You are all such complainers! ‘The meat’s tough, the potatoes and beans have too much pepper! The ice cream is boring.’ I’m going to blog about this dinner,” I said. “Maybe I’ll call the post, ‘The Complainers of the Round Table.’ ” Karen piped up, “Don’t forget to mention the person who complained about her friends’ complaining!” “Fair enough,” I said.

Just then, the president of the St. Agatha Club asked everyone to please stop talking so that she could make a few announcements and then draw raffle tickets for prizes. She doesn’t like this part of the night, because silencing 200 women is no easy task. She usually makes three or four calm attempts to quiet the room before she raises her voice and tells us how rude we are and that she needs a few minutes of silence. Then she says it again, and again.

While the president called for quiet, Ginny whispered, “What names are you going to use for us in your blog post?”

The noise level around us was still high, so I answered, “Why don’t you all pick the names you want to be called?”

The room suddenly quieted down at the exact minute that Ginny said, “Let’s use our stripper names!”

We all sat stock-still to see if anyone had heard her. The noise level rose again, so we relaxed and started figuring out our stripper names by using the name of our first pet and the first street we lived on. Marsha couldn’t remember her first pet’s name, so she opted out. Rosalyn had already left, so that left six of us. Our names were Chico Walnut (Talia), Stanley 135th (Maddie), Toby Kettle (Karen), Scratchy Roman (Ginny), Trixie Highview (Netta), and Pegleg Angus (me).

“Some of these names sound like stripper names, and some sound like pirate names!” Talia announced. But the die was cast. And, the noise had finally died down, so we turned our attention to the president, who had begun her announcements.

After the raffle tickets were pulled, the president announced that most of the winners came from the table that didn’t complain. Either she had overheard our conversations, or we were in similar company.

As the evening wore down, Mark reappeared. He gushed all over us and said that we were the most fun group he had ever served. He promised to arrive early at the first dinner in September so that he could wait on our table. He was probably telling the truth, because we weren’t allowed to tip him.

“Maybe he’ll be available in September,” someone said, after he had gone.

I’m sure that he’ll be just as available then, as he is now.






Dreams (Badly) Imitating Art

In Dreams, Humor, Movies on April 26, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Last night, my husband and I saw Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, and we really enjoyed it. Anyone who has seen this movie, or The Royal Tenenbaums or Moonrise Kingdom, will know that Anderson’s movies do not follow any accepted Hollywood comedy format, and are funny (when they’re not disturbing) in totally unexpected ways.

I thought about the movie long after we left the theater, and I’m certain that it influenced the dream I had last night. My dream was so odd that I wrote a transcript, which I’m thinking of sending to Anderson. I doubt he’ll read it but, because I went to the trouble of writing it, I’m sharing it here. Dreams are usually boring to hear about, but I’m betting that some of you might find this strange enough to enjoy.

My Wes-Anderson-Inspired Dream

Act One:

On a visit to Ohio, I learned that my high-school boyfriend, Reggie Moore*, had died. I had been engaged for several years to Reggie  (in my dream, not in real life) until the relationship ended when I eventually noticed that he wasn’t calling or seeing me anymore, so I returned the solitare diamond ring he gave me.

I called Information to get his mother’s phone number, to offer my condolences. The operator said, “Oh, that’s so sad about Reggie’s dying, but his mother was actually happy that he died because she had learned to not like him; she only pretended to, for appearances. He turned into a long-haired, blond slacker who gave organic food to drug addicts.” (I had a vision of a white-blond, long-curly-haired Reggie [looking like Peter Frampton in the 1970s], standing over a pie chart that had been painted on the sidewalk. On each section of the chart was a colorful triangle that indicated an organic food.) I told the operator that Reggie had two other brothers and asked if she was sure that Reggie’s mother didn’t like him. She said that there was no doubt that it was Reggie who was disliked.

I decided to drive to Reggie’s mother’s house, but I couldn’t remember how to get there; I hadn’t been there in more than 35 years. Somehow, I got there, but first it involved finding the rental car that I had parked in a location that I had forgotten. When I finally saw Reggie’s mother, I told her that the telephone operator was giving out too much personal information about her, like the telephone operator in “The Andy Griffith Show.” I added that I thought the operator’s name in the show was Sarah.

Act Two:

I was on a crowded bus with people I knew, including my best friend, Kelly English*. She was several seats ahead of me. I went up to talk to her and she said, “Larry* [her husband] is sleeping on the couch now.” “Why?” I asked. She shook her head, indicating that she wasn’t going to say anything else.

Later, she came to sit next to me. She said that she was the cause of Larry’s sleeping on the couch. When I asked why, she said, “Why else?” I said, “You had an affair?” She said that she had, with her boss, Russell. She was his secretary (which bothered me because, even in my dream-state, I knew that she was a physical therapist and not a secretary).

Act Three:

That evening, at home (which wasn’t actually Frank’s** and my home, but my parents’ home in Ohio), I baked a lot of flat yellow cakes with cream between the layers and fruit on top, and coconut macaroons. Frank and our son, Luke**, were in the family room downstairs watching a game.

The doorbell rang. I opened the door to see a seven-foot (at least), handsome (part Caucasian, part Hawaiian, with jet-black hair), basketball player wearing a white, sleeveless team jersey (I think it was a Knicks jersey), standing on our doorstep. He announced, in a booming voice, “Hello, I’m Russell, and at 7 p.m., on April 23, 2014, I slept with Kelly English.” (I can’t remember the exact time or date [which is unfortunate, because they probably held the key to today’s lottery numbers], so I substituted another time and date.)  I told him to come in and explain himself.

Here it becomes a little vague. I remember that he started out by saying that it was Kelly’s fault that his marriage was in trouble, but by the end of the conversation, he was willing to continue the affair. Then Frank came up from the family room and invited Russell to watch the game with him and Luke, and talk about the affair. When I asked Frank how he knew about Russell and Kelly, he said that he had heard Russell’s loud announcement when he arrived.

So, Russell went downstairs with Frank, and Frank told me to put on a shirt. It appeared that I was only wearing blue silk pajama bottoms and nothing on top, which had escaped my notice when I was talking to Russell. As I turned to go upstairs, a female voice behind me said, “You could have made these bigger, but they’re very good.” Without turning around, I knew instinctively that she was talking about the coconut macaroons.

When I did turn around, Kelly was standing there, eating a macaroon and holding a plate filled with slices of flat yellow cakes. By this time I was magically wearing a top, so we sat down at the counter. I asked her why she had jeopardized her marriage by sleeping with Russell. She admitted that she was ashamed of herself. I asked her if she was going to apologize to Larry and try to make it up to him. She said that, while she hated to end her marriage after 25 years, and while Larry was a wonderful husband, she had to continue the affair. “Why?” I asked. “Did you see Russell?” she answered. “Vroom, vroom!”

After she and Russell left, I watched them through the window at the top of the front door. Whenever they looked at the door to see if I was spying, I quickly dropped the curtain on the window so that they couldn’t see me.

Act Something or Other (I’m not sure when this occurred in my dream):

I stayed up all night reading The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt,  on my Kindle. While I was reading, my heart raced when I remembered that I had a paper due that day, on Mexicans and pineapples, and I had barely started it.

* Name changed to avoid prosecution.

** Name not changed because even if I am prosecuted, the money I will have to pay to the injured parties will come from our household budget, so it will all even out in the end.

Here my dream ends. No matter your thoughts, you must agree that Wes Anderson movies are movies that keep on giving. Now, please take my poll:


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