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Nov 28

On The Auction Block:

Posted on Friday, November 28, 2008 in dogma of a dumbass

It all started with James Brown and a little peer pressure.

As part of a fundraiser, my friend was preparing a choreographed dance to a James Brown song and she wanted me to be one of the dancers.

She goaded and urged, but I just couldn’t do it.

I felt bad. I felt like I was letting her down. I searched my mind for some way that I could contribute. There would be live music, juggling belly dancers and a silent auction.

Jokingly I said, “Hey, you could auction me off.”

“Hey! – Yeah!” she replied.

Oh dear. That was really kind of a joke. I tried to redirect the situation.

“Um….how ‘bout I auction off a beginning knitting lesson? Someone out there would like that one.”

In the end, we ended up having both opportunities be part of the silent auction.

Bidding for a Night Out On The Town with me started at a modest $3.75. And it was a friend who had signed up.

Later on it bumped up to an impressive $4.75, also from someone I know.

Some people underestimate the value of humility but I really don’t. This was a great moment to revel in it.

I don’t know when it happened but at some point the bidding went up to $15. From someone whose name I did not recognize.

A wave of panic filled my heart. A couple people came up to me and confessed that they were going to bid on me but the stakes had been raised too high and I was now out of their price range. This is a moment when you realize what it really means to have most of your friends fall within the income range of pretty poor to crazy broke.

Turns out the winning bidder was a guy well known around town for being a wild dancer. To the point where the only time I have heard mention of him, he was referred to as “Crazy Legs.”

Yes. Wish me luck.

Apr 29

Putting The “Un” In Unsanitary:

Posted on Tuesday, April 29, 2008 in dogma of a dumbass

It was supposed to be a relatively painless flight down to Tampa. A straight shot out of New York with no layovers. I could relax, maybe get in a nap.

And then I realized things were going to be a little different as I boarded the plane and approached my seat.

My boarding pass showed that I had the aisle seat. Sitting in the window seat next to my seat was a woman. On her lap was an (admittedly) cute little girl.

I eased down carefully into my seat since, between mother and daughter, the space was quite cramped.

Within moments I was introduced to 15-month-old Brianna who kept trying to give me the pink hat she was wearing.

‘Oh, that’s sweet,’ I thought. ‘She is just about the same age as my ridiculously adorable niece.’

As we taxied down the runway, however, overhearing the following comment made me a wee bit uneasy:

“Oh, you smell poopy,” the mom said. “I guess I should have checked and changed you before we boarded.”

My eyes widened in alarm.

Yes, that would have been good.

“Well, I guess we’ll just go and get you changed in the bathroom after they turn off the seatbelt sign.”

I exhaled slowly, relieved.
That sounded like a good plan.

We climbed into the air and I pulled out a magazine.

And then I heard:

“Aw man! This is one of those nasty ones,” the mom said, peering into the backside of Brianna’s pants. “It went all the way up your back. This is gonna be a messy one.”

Ten minutes later the “seatbelt fastened” light went off.

I waited for her to ask me to let them out to go to the bathroom.

And I waited.

All the while, the air around us was thick with eau d’full diaper.

I could feel other nearby passengers casting sideways glances in our direction.

Hopefully they didn’t think that smell was being generated by me.

I saw a flurry of movements out of the corner of my eye, and I figured that finally, I would be asked to let them pass by.

But no.

I look on, astonished, as the woman pulled down the tray table from the seat in front of her and proceeded to change her daughter’s diaper on the tray table beside me.

Passengers surrounding us stared openly in horror as the woman went through wipe after wipe on her daughter’s backside.

Across the aisle and from the row in front of us, eyes kept switching back and forth from the diaper change tray table (aghast) to me (sympathetic).

I sat in shock for the rest of the flight, unable to accept what had just happened.

Sometimes it really feels like this kind of thing only happens to me.

Oct 30

Fleeting Brilliance:

Posted on Tuesday, October 30, 2007 in dogma of a dumbass

One of the night classes I am currently taking for my masters degree is titled: “Language, Meaning and the Development of Global Perspectives in Diverse Schools”.

Yes, that is quite a mouthful.

Basically, the class is devoted to learning how to incorporate a multiculturalist approach to your teaching style, with a focus on language.

Tonight, our professor had just given us a brief description of what he wanted for our final project. He told us to turn to a partner and share ideas.

After a few moments, he brought the group back together to have a “share-out”. A couple people raised their hands and mentioned their ideas.

I raised my hand. He called on me and I shared my idea.

His eyes lit up. He said it was a very fascinating method to get my students to look at language in a new way.

“I like that very much,” he said, nodding encouragingly. “Brilliant.”

Needless to say, I felt pretty pleased with myself. Working with high school students all day, I don’t seem to receive very much positive feedback.

I had all of 45 seconds to bask in the glow of his praise.

Another student shared their idea. And he deemed it “brilliant” also.

Well, I thought, that was just a fluke. He had been incredibly inspired when he used that word in reaction to my idea, and he was still rolling my brilliant idea around in his head, so the only word he could think of after the next person shared was “brilliant”.

Surely.

Then one more person shared. And he called their idea “brilliant” as well.

And that deflated my balloon completely.

So much for my brilliance.

Jun 11

My Greyhound,: Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?

Posted on Monday, June 11, 2007 in dogma of a dumbass

I sat towards the back of the bus and waited patiently as other passengers came aboard.

I was optimistic. I was calm. I had my Ipod fully charged and had packed some trail mix just in case I got hungry.

Little did I know it would take us approximately two hours just to leave the island of Manhattan.

Or that we would get stuck in traffic again somewhere near Hartford, Connecticut for another forty-five minutes.

All I knew was that I had a nice chunk of time to sit, relax and listen to my favorite music.

Just as I was cuing up a playlist, I saw an older man climb aboard. He had an uneven hobble, a cane gripped in his right hand and big, glassy eyes, both of which seemed to be focused on the outer edges of his peripheral view in some sort of bizarre cockeyed combination.

As he made his way down the aisle, I noticed people turn and stare at him as he passed their row of seats.

Incredulity and panic flashed in their eyes.

When he got about halfway down the bus, I realized why they seemed so concerned.

In one fell swoop all of the stale, artificial air I had been inhaling got sucked deep into this man’s vortex of the rankest body odor my nostrils had ever witnessed.

As he passed my seat I turned my face away and closed my eyes.

Maybe this wasn’t real. Maybe this man was just a figment of my nasal passages’ imagination.

But as my nostril hairs wilted from the onslaught of ripe, acrid fumes, I realized that this was indeed happening.

The old man went to the very back of the bus and lowered himself into the middle of three seats with a raspy groan.

The bus was almost full. A couple of college-age girls came down the aisle, their eyes searching out any open seats. They saw the two vacant seats in the back row and made their way towards them.

The rest of the passengers on the bus cranked their necks around anxiously to see what would happen when the girls caught wind (literally) of their would-be seat neighbor.

“Oh wow!” one of the girls proclaimed.

“Sorry about that ladies,” the old man replied with a chuckle. “I’ve been on the road for a while now and I plan on coming into contact with some fresh water soon.”

The girls did an abrupt about face and headed back down the aisle, opting instead to wait for the next bus rather than suffer the man’s stench.

At this point, I was surprised that nobody followed the girls’ lead, because every time this man switched positions, his potent funk washed over the back half of the bus like a tsunami of curdled milk.

Eventually we got on the road. The driver made his announcements about no smoking and no excessive use of cell phones, etc.

Twenty minutes into the ride, Old Man Stench began a loud and inane conversation on his cell phone. The other passengers took turns giving him scolding glares but to no avail. He talked on and on. After about ten minutes, one man from the middle of the bus got up and made his way toward the back of the bus.

“You are being really rude and making this ride unpleasant for everybody!” he barked.

“Oh, I didn’t know. Am I bothering anyone?” Old Man Stench called out to the bus.

“Yes!” a few people cried out angrily.

“Oh, well, I didn’t know I was bothering anybody.”

Old Man Stench ended his phone call and for a while, it seemed as though things were going to calm down.

I repositioned my legs and used the recline lever to lower my seat to a nice nap-friendly angle.

All of a sudden, my nose started to twitch. But this time, it was not that pungent finely aged B.O. aroma. It was cigarette smoke. This time I fell into sincere denial. We had all just listened to the bus driver tell us what is common knowledge for all public transportation participants: No smoking on board.

But the smell came and came and came so strong that it was as if it was being piped in through the air conditioning vents. All of the passengers looked around in confusion. Everyone, that is, except for Old Man Stench, who was mysteriously missing from his three-seat throne in the rear.

Five minutes passed. I turned just in time to see Old Man Stench lurch back to his seat. The set of his shoulders told me that he thought he had gotten away with it.

Then about forty minutes later, I noticed people beginning to exchange exasperated looks and gesture towards the rear of the bus.

I lowered the volume on my Ipod to see what Old Man Stench could possibly still have up his sleeve for us.

In a scratchy bass voice, Old Man Stench was singing “Ninety-nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall.”

Are you serious?

Luckily, I think around bottle 82, he got bored and stopped.

Two hours later, he took Smoke Break #2 in the bathroom.

The passengers were seething.

Another man made his way down the aisle to wait for the bathroom to open up. He stopped right next to my seat.

The man was nicely dressed and thoroughly doused in cologne. Normally that would be too much for me, but I leaned towards him and inhaled deeply, grateful for the chance to momentarily escape the B.O. and cigarette smoke.

I had to fight the urge to not just lean all the way over and bury my face in his blazer.

Seriously.

As soon as he moved away, Old Man Stench’s odor dominance returned – with a vengeance.

In my mind, I tried to funnel my anger in a productive direction. But all I could think about was snatching his cane, running to the front of the bus and hucking it out the door into the menacing Connecticut wilderness. Yes.

Or maybe I will just take his cane and slide it underneath some seats up toward the front of the bus. He has no allies on the bus who would tell him where I hid it, so that might work.

No, no, no. I would grab his cane and just beat him with it. Beat his unwashed idiocy. Beat his smugly inconsiderate cigarette smoke.

I would like to say that this ended well.

That Old Man Stench was promptly ejected from the bus after Smoke Break #2 and left to fend for his stankyass self in the middle of New England Nowhere.

Unfortunately, Old Man Stench met no such justice.

Leaving the bus after a punishing six and a half hours aboard that Torture Chamber On Wheels, I turned back toward Old Man Stench and thanked him for smoking, as it gave us a break from the death bouquet of rot that was his body odor.

He focused one glassy eye on my face, grinned and wheezed out a raspy chuckle,

“Aw, humor me.”

And you can imagine the look on my face.

Jan 26

Warm Fuzzies: Navigating the Soggy Respite

Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 in dogma of a dumbass

It is so cold in Manhattan right now. About 20 degrees plus some hellacious windchill factor that brings the actual temperature down to around 9 degrees.

As I was walking to and from the subway (wearing both my high fashion earmuffs and my black leather gloves that make me feel a little O.J.ish) I seriously contemplated peeing my pants just a little bit.

Surely that brief moment of soggy warmth would outweigh the awkwardly moist aftermath.