Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Please note....the second commercial is supposedly banned in the US>>> I don't know if that's an urban legend or not....but it's possible.
Warning....the third commercial has a catchy little show tune....do not...repeat.... do not watch this video twice (especially if you enjoy musicals) because the song will imprint itself on your brain.
Trust me...I watched it three times....in order to prepare it for the blog....and when I took a shower this evening....I caught myself singing the song...out loud...OMG!
Monday, October 29, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
In writing about Susan and Jack and the NY Times wedding stories last week....I couldn't help but reminiscence about my own stories.....I decided to write and share one.
Could there be a more perfect name for your first heart-crushing long distance love?
He was young and handsome and flipped burgers in a fast food restaurant in Italy.
Sally and I had spotted the Wimpy burger chain logo while walking down a quiet side street in the old section of Rome and suddenly needed a greasy American food fix. We sat down on the stools, grabbed the menu and studied it--like it had been years since we ate burgers instead of only a couple weeks.
We were in the Good Girl Group--the group allowed to explore the streets of Rome on our own for a couple hours without our chaperon, Sister Theresa. She was the lone guardian hovering over 10 girls from my all girl Catholic High School in suburban Chicago.
Sister had her hands full-- ten innocent sheltered girls drinking too much red wine and paying too much attention to dark sexy flirtatious men who swarmed around us like bees to fresh blossoms. By the time we hit the Eternal City at the end of our 18 day trip, her reserves had dwindled. On our first day in Rome, the quiet, proper bride of Christ hit two men over the head with her umbrella on a city bus for groping her (she wore civilian clothes.) Her strategy for these last few days was to divide us into The Good Girl Group and the Ones-Who-Needed-To-Be-Watched-Group so she could better protect the ones who needed it most.
“Heelllo, you are Amareecan?”
I looked up from the menu. A young man in his early twenties with large liquid brown eyes, long eyelashes, symmetrical dimples in his cheeks and thick black curls stared down at me. He guessed the answer.
“You want burrrrger?” He waved his spatula and cocked his eyebrow at me.
Until that moment, I didn’t know eyebrows could be suggestively cocked. The only male eyebrows that had previously cocked at me belonged to Mr. Mazda, my small rail-thin anemic-looking Algebra teacher. His eyebrows did not suggest attraction but rather continued disappointment at my failure to grasp math word problems.
Sally elbowed me. Apparently, I had gone mute but my flaming red cheeks advertised just how busy my feelings were working inside me. Another young Italian man burst into the room via a swinging door carrying a rack of glasses. Fair, more cute than handsome, he winked at Sally.
As our two in-the-flesh Italian gods flirted with us….we had our bat-mitzvah, our quinceanera, our coming out as women moment right there on the bar stools at Wimpy’s.
I don’t remember what happened after this. Did we eat? Did we slurp our chocolate milkshakes through straws? I know we buddied-up and combined our limited Italian, modest French and urgent hand signal to communicate with these bemused men. I know we gave them our hotel address and our names and they asked us to a soccer game the next afternoon. We had no clue how we would slip away from Sister and the rest of the Good Girl Group but we agreed to meet them.
We floated back to our hotel like Mary Poppins without umbrellas. We had finally discovered a place on earth where men (not boys) recognized our beauty and sensed our vibrant inner spirits.
All those pimple-faced suburban boys at home could go to hell. They were unworldly narrow-minded immature male specimens who fell over themselves running after The Suzies ….the tall thin blond girls with thick lip gloss…. who had no substance ….no souls.
That night, in the alley next to our hotel, our Italian studs called up to us and validated our dreams.
“Hey Blond…Hey Geeeeeena…..Hey Sallll leeee”
Although Sally and I were not roommates, we found each other in the darkened pension’s hallway and grabbed on to each other.
“Oh my god…..Sister will kill us.”
We rushed back into a room and ran to the window.
“Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Stop it….Stop it!”
Sister knocked on the door. Our hearts froze as she came into the room.
“Enough of that,” she said in stern nun-speak. “get away from the window.”
She mustn’t have deciphered the names. She thought the men were calling for girls, any girls and let’s face it…you can’t miss a gaggle of 10 American teenage girls in a small hotel.
The next day, Sally and I told Sister we were going to a museum. I have no idea why she believed us. We ran to Wimpy’s were Antonio and Ceseare drew a map on a white paper place mat. After changing into their soccer uniforms they would pick us up in their car at the X and we’d head off to the game.
Sally clutched the precious map. I watched the time. We ran down the street hunting for street signs and trying to figure out where the meeting spot was.
At the appointed corner, we climbed into a small, dirt brown, dented Italian car. Sally sat up front with Ceseare. She was so excited she must have been talking a hundred words a minute. He probably understood two or three words tops. I slid into the back with Antonio. Our conversation went like this:
We really didn’t need to say much more.
I moved over and pressed my body next to him. His silky soccer uniform showed off his hard trim body. He was short but had huge muscular legs probably from his life long addiction to the game. I touched his smooth firm thigh with a shaking hand… just below the cuff of his shorts…and held my breath …I realized in that moment….I was touching a man…an adult man…. and not a teenage boy.
His soft lips devoured mine….his hands were knowledgeable. His flimsy uniform accentuated his arousal. Suddenly, Ceseare tapped on the window and then pointed to the field. Antonio pushed me back and muttered something in Italian. He glanced down at his shorts, shook his head and grabbed some Kleenex out of flattened dirty half-torn box.
I found Sally on the sidelines…staring at the field. I’m not sure where she and Ceseare had gone after exiting the car…but her lips were puffy and the rings in her long black hair were frayed.
I pulled her aside. “I have to go to the bathroom and then I need to talk to you.”
I came back from the bathroom …scared….my heart racing.
“Sally…something’s wrong with me.”
“What’s the matter?”
“Sally, I’m all wet. My panties are drenched. It’s not pee; I’m not having my period but I’ve totally and completely wet.”
Tears welled up in my eyes. Sally was clueless too--neither of us understood how a woman’s body prepares for intercourse. I had a boyfriend at home, a sweet guy named Steve, but in our modest make out sessions…nothing ever happened like this to me. Sally hugged me. Perhaps I should use a tampon till it stopped she counseled. Wait and see what happens but she looked worried.
We had to leave at half time. We kissed the boys on the cheek and ran back to the hotel. We raved about the museum. I slipped a tampon in, crossed my fingers, and checked myself every hour.
The next day, we were scheduled to leave for home. Sally and I somehow managed to sneak away from the group so we could say good-bye to Antonio and Ceseare.
We met them at Wimpy’s and exchanged addresses….promised to write….promised to return next summer… “on our own.” …..hoping the men would understand the promise of intimacy inherent in those words.
My heart felt gashed open…I could hardly speak…I began sobbing. Antonio gallantly took off his cook’s hat and offered it to me so I could wipe my tears. Snot and mascara left stains and smudges on the soft cloth. I handed the hat back to him…..he folded my hand back around it. “Go home with me.”
When I returned to the hotel, I went through the motions of packing but I schemed how to ditch the group and run back to Antonio. He asked me if I could stay longer….didn’t that mean he wanted me? Perhaps forever? I visualized my idyllic life as his American wife in Rome. If only I could get my passport….I’m sure he’d let me stay with him. But Sister swept me and my passport off to the airport with the rest of the girls. She didn’t notice I was a woman in love and contemplating my eternal union with a man who could barely communicate with me.
I was herded into the middle section of the 747. I sat next to Sally and cried on and off for twelve hours…remembering his kisses …thinking of how cute our children would look.
At home, I penned long …probably incoherent…letters in Italian to Antonio. It took me hours to look up all the words in Italian but I knew if I just got the words to him he could piece my thoughts together. Isn’t that what lovers do…read each others minds? I’d stare at the clock at school….and tried to visualize the mailman putting his letter in our mailbox. The first thing I did when I hit home was to nonchalantly ask my parents, “Any mail for me?” and then hold my breath… waiting for an answer.
Love sick poems filled my journals and collages of airplanes and kissing couples and phrases like “he looked at me” were pasted in my scrapbook. My words, my pictures, my daydreams wanted to believe this man desired me and saw me as beautiful desirable young woman.
I found a “marriage manual” behind a stack of my mother’s cookbooks and figured out why my panties were wet. I took the manual’s advice and furiously put my body through it’s sexual paces so I could move from squeezy kissy sex to adult sex when we there “on our own.” I dumped Steve…I needed a real man….which I now defined as someone who could make my panties wet.
Over the next few months, three short letters on onion-skin paper arrived in white crinkly envelopes with beautiful Italian stamps. I’d retrieve them with a poker face from my parents then run to my room to absorb them. I’d call Sally and we would spend hours deciphering the significance of every comma, spot and stain on the paper. I couldn’t decipher his handwriting so usually the only words I could read were “Hello Geena” and “Amore, Antonio”…but somehow it seemed enough.
Before I headed off to college, I decided to permanently change my name from Jeannie to Gina to reflect my new desired woman status. Sally stayed behind in Chicago but we still plotted our return to Rome.
I never made it back to Italy the next summer.
My university was one of those places where every one was pre something…pre med, pre dentistry, pre law…and I began to wonder if Anotinio had a degree? Or even with to college. I also discovered a set of blue-green eyes which gradually trumped Antonio’s brown ones.
I wrote a few more letters because no one wants to lose their dream even though you know time is up. I saved the mascara-smudged hat and keep it in a music box which plays “Arriverderci Roma.” I lost his picture in the last few years…and it pains me…because looking at him….let me see myself at the tender age of 17.
Of course most of you guessed how this story would end….the story arc is familiar only the characters are unique. But there is another reason I didn’t return to Italy.... Sally died.
A broken ankle that didn’t heal, a diagnosis of cancer, a sudden fatal reaction to her first bout of chemo a few short months before our “next summer.”
Like a vine that wraps around a tree, her death wraps around this story for me. I can tell my Antonio story, it’s one of my favorite life stories, and leave Sally’s death out…but if I include her death in it….the story changes shape… when death wraps around love…it’s not such a silly story anymore…...time ….or the lack of time….always reminds us…to kiss with gusto...now...
Sally ....on the train towards Rome.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
For those of you wanting to get anxious....holy shit....here's a short fictional video....about how someone could misuse Google satellite maps.
After this you may want to think twice before giving out your home address to anyone.....click here to get nervous. (note: there's a 10 second ad that comes up first before the clip)
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I took Susan and Jack's story from the Times and shared how I might read it....and what funny comments I might make about their relationship and the course of their courtship.
Hours later....it came to me........that is was disrespectful ...to joke about the trials and tribulations of their love......in a public forum....heck if the story of some of my relationships were printed in the newspaper....I wouldn't want some blogger having fun with what may have been painful times for me.
Susan and Jack.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Hey...get out of there...you're going to get your eyes pecked out.
The frog ignored me.
Around sundown, I was watering the plants around my front door when I noticed the frog was still there.
Hey....what's the matter with you.....that's not a pond...that's a birdbath.
The frog jumped out of the birdbath and into a nearby bush. He reappeared in a few seconds with a guitar in hand.
I was so stunned I didn't even think about running into the house and grabbing my camera again....so here's a little drawing of what the frog looked like with his tiny little guitar in his hand.
Without a video camera.....I can only provide you with a clip that approximates his strutting and tune.
(Are you visualizing the frog strutting like Mick and playing like Keith?)
I was so amazed.....I ran into the house and grabbed my son's guitar......and joined him.
And I try and I try and I try and I try....I can't get no.....I can't no......no satisfaction.
So frog and I rocked on....till a neighbor called the police.
I told the officers it was just harmless frogging (what else would you call it?)......and then they asked to see my husband......who gave the guitar back to my son......and the men folks all agreed I should stick to chainsaws.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Here's how my first week went:
Officially survived being a Chigger appetizer. Painted myself with nail polish (and resisted the urge to buff)....took baths with my rubber ducky (that lucky guy) in silky oatmeal water......expect to be sweet and tasty again in a couple of days.
Discovered there's free money in doing housework! Here's today's loot.....there's a bounty of coins waiting to be discovered in drawers, under couches and in seat cushions. Can you imagine the tidy sum I'll have in two months ? I can hardly wait for tomorrow's ca-ching in the coin jar.
And here's my exciting week ahead. I begin to call contractors to work on the dry rot, start the backyard....clean the pantry.....and paint part of the laundry.
I know you're jealous.....how could anyone have so much fun!
Monday, October 15, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
If I stripped.....you could try and guess....how many chigger bites I have.
Honestly, I don't know....parts of me look like I have the measles. Twice today....I had to run into the house, tear off my clothes...and spray Benedryl on my body.......so I wouldn't lose my mind......cause if you scratch a chigger bite.....that's it....your toast......you might as well tear your skin off....because that's what you'll end up doing in the next few days anyways.
I should call a landscape company and ask them to send over men to trim and clean my front and back yard. Unfortunately, I have a soft spot for wild flowers and native plants. I placed many of them in between the regular shrubs and bushes .... so if the beefy boys tried to work in the yard.....I would have to play plant cop......"don't touch that"...." don't pull that"....."don't mow over that" ....because at this time of year its hard to tell the natives from the weeds.
So I'm tackling the whole dang thing by myself (note the men folks are NOT suffering because they're not out there.)
I really never heard of chiggers till I moved to the South.
Red devil no See-Ums....might be a great alternative name. If they would just bite your legs or arms and stay put......they could be tolerated. But these evil wanderers.....crawl up your legs.... and attack your butt, tummy and back as if they were gourmet treats.
They also love breasts (are they all male?)..... even if I wear a tight sports bra....these guys go up and under and snack on the softest most sensitive parts of my womanly orbs.
Honestly, it's so painful ....I need to repeat that.
Why are these Red Devil bites so bad? I googled and discovered the reason. ( Avoid the next section in bold type if you're squeamish or faint easily.)
Chigger larvae pierce the skin and inject into the host a salivary secretion containing powerful, digestive enzymes that break down skin cells which are then ingested (tissues become liquefied and sucked up). Also, this digestive fluid causes surrounding tissues to harden, forming a straw-like feeding tube of hardened flesh from which further, partially-digested skin cells may be sucked out.
In other words ....you're a human Margarita being sucked up through a straw....complete with a sweaty salty tang.
I have at least two more days of work in chiggerland.... then I can start on the backyard.
Fortunately, chiggers don't like the back yard.
But we do have ticks.
Big brown ugly blood sucking ticks.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
We were walking down this gorgeous beach in the Hamptons and I found a couple of them lying on the beach. I called out to hub as soon as I saw them, "Hey come back and look at these bearded clams." He came quickly.......he said he hadn't seen a bearded clam in a long time.
For some reason, I never expected to find bearded clams on such a fancy smanchy beach......always associated them with more rough and tumble places.....like along piers or places with lots of rocks or marinas....but imagine...here they were on the fine pristine beaches of the Hamptons.
Guess you never know when a clam can come up bearded....
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
I missed previous get together because I was either popping out babies, moving around the country or involved in some intense family/work situation.
I went to an all girl Catholic High School in the suburbs of Chicago. It was a radical choice....since I lived in the City and needed to hop on a commuter train every day..... plus it was run by "radical nuns"--spiritual women who didn't wear habits, lived in apartments and expected their young charges to head off to college. In contrast, the all girl Catholic high school closest to my neighborhood was considered a four year pause before marriage and babies.
Saturday was the main event day for the reunion. I spent the morning pointing at women (with a tinge of embarrassment) and saying, "Oh my god I recognize your face but can't think of you're name." I also spent a fair amount of time nudging my friend Sue or someone else I had comfortably identified and whispering...."Who is SHE?"....when core face recognition failed.
Of course after you identify everyone.....it's time to play ....let's reminisce. I would have earned a D.....if it was a graded exam. In fact, I was so bad at remembering my high school days....I considered asking people ( who seemed to remember a lot about me) to write their recollections about my high school life and email it to me.
"You were always writing. Don't you remember you were the copy editor for yearbook and the feature editor for the newspaper?"
I was ?
"We all thought you were going to run off to Italy after graduation. I remember you sitting down on the floor in one of the classrooms and sobbing over that Italian guy you met on the school trip."
"If anyone was going to travel the world, I'd figure it would be you.....you always seemed like the type."
I felt like an amnesia victim being counseled by people in her past. Was it normal to forget so much? Some women remembered everything--the elastic on the pant legs of their gym suits, the lunch menu in the cafeteria, where their locker was located....even the combination to their locks!
But I had selective memory....recalling only bits and pieces.....like my high school gym teacher, Mrs. Reynolds, who looked, talked and acted like a female marine. She was a no no sense woman with a rectangular body (curves were not allowed). She wore stark white anklets and white Ked tennis shoes and modest Bermuda shorts. A big silver whistle hung round her neck and she stood akimbo....hands on her hips.... for most of the day....barking orders at her "soft" girlie girls.
She taught me how to shoot free throws....how to move my body--bending those knees, pushing the basketball up and out with my hand and fingertips... focusing on the rim....so the ball dropped effortlessly into the net. Every time I stood in the driveway with my sons and sunk a shot ...I thought of Mrs. Reynolds...and her quick nod of approval when someone actually did something right.
The memory of the dark haired voluptuous speech teacher who threw chalk at me from the back of the room...also returned.
It's the.....t ...h...t....h....the...not dah!
She shouted at me after the chalk pinged the blackboard.
I stood at the podium, red-faced with a nuclear bomb of shame mushrooming inside me .....facing suburban girls with perfect articulation. I never knew until I was in her class that I had a Chicago accent....or even that such an accent existed. Every time I have a public speaking engagement, I highlight the th words in my notes and the words ending in s.......so the chalk doesn't fly again.
Saturday evening was the grand dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant. I found my senior yearbook on a table. I stood in a corner, pink Cosmo in hand, reading prose I had written when I was 17 years old. I was genuinely surprised by it....it was thoughtful....it had "slant"...a creative bent to it....but mostly it had feeling.
Since I've returned to writing, emotions are the hardest thing for me to capture. I can be logical, I can be descriptive.....I can be funny.....but I dodge my feelings. I have become a master of avoidance. But this young me wore her heart on her sleeve....blatantly trying to connect to her readers. I felt sad. The passage of time on the faces of my classmates and on their bodies didn't effect me as much as seeing my own words...so unprotected and brave.
By the time dinner arrived, I felt I needed Ginko supplements and a referral to a psychologist.
But perhaps in the long run this is the beauty of a reunion.....to see how much we remain the same.....and to see how much we have changed. If most of my classmates thought I would end up a writer.....that's hopeful....I've returned to the original path....if I could write on a slant and with feelings then.....perhaps with work....that too can return.