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Archive for February, 2018

Can you hear me now? Oh yes.

Dear George Clinton,

Thank you for a great show Sunday night at the Buckhead Theatre. While I was giving up the funk, some questions came up:

  1. Where does one find the sparkly mother-of-the-bride tunic you were wearing?
  2. Is this tunic available at the same place where this accountant-by-day found these pants?
  3. Does your concert rider specifically request a swivel desk chair for your onstage breaks? (Note that I do not begrudge you your breaks. I know you are 76. I’m just asking about the chair. I think you need something more befitting a legend such as yourself, Dr. Funkenstein. A throne, maybe.)
  4. Why do you need 55 people on stage? Only 16 were singing or playing an instrument. The others were taking selfies and videos.
  5. How many songs did you actually play? I know that you started around 9 and by 9:25 you had only played two. I do love that you give the audience their money’s worth. And I can’t say that I wasn’t warned.
  6. Why was Santa in this South Town audience? Don’t you perform any farther north (or any closer to Christmas)? Shine the spotlight on him to help him find the funk. (Or am I missing something?)
  7. Why can’t music be the conduit to end racism and other social ills? Your audience was made up of black, white, old, young, straight, gay, North Pole residents, Atlanta residents  — all smooshed butt to back. We were having a party, y’all.

Still feeling supergroovalistic, thanks!
Beth

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Dear Patrons of the Bar I Visited Friday Night:

You are the reason I don’t go out much (though there are other reasons too). I needed to do reconnaissance for a PR project, so I willed myself to exit my home, collect my friend René, and head to Metalsome Karaoke: karaoke backed by a live band.

René and I get ready to rock.

 

This was our view during the karaoke extravaganza.

The night started out great, but quickly went downhill. Why?

The Drunk Girl
I’m sorry (not sorry) I had to hip check you. René nicely asked you to stop flinging yourself against me. You would not stop. And then you took the stage, and we saw that you were way past the point of reason.

The Bouncer
This guy took himself very seriously. It was like he was guarding U2. “Come on, dude,” I thought. That is, until the above tried to rape the guitarist onstage. And then I understood why the bouncer was on high alert.

The Predator
The girl in front of you clearly wanted to watch the band and “singers.” She did not want you humping her. I promise.

After a badly botched rendition of “Bitch,” by a friend of Drunk Girl, René and I decided to leave the comfort of our Stage Left perch and explore the rest of the bar.

That was a mistake.

We waded through the beer soup on the ground floor up the stairs to find two more floors of sweaty bodies. All the guys were short, aging, puffy frat boys. Exhibit A:

Yet the women were Size Zero model wannabes. Exhibit B:

The men outnumbered the women three to one. And there were so many people! There had to have been fire code violations.

Me trying to get out of the bar

When we finally made it through the press of bodies and landed outside on the sidewalk, I apologized to René. He looked over his glasses at me and said:

And that’s why I don’t go to straight bars.

Got it.

Still drying out my shoes,
Beth

* Reference for title

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Dear 1980s,

I’ve been thinking about you lately. It should be no surprise as I just wrote a post about growing up as your child. For those who did not experience you (or don’t remember because of all the crack cocaine), let me walk through your decade via all five senses.*

SMELL: Love’s Baby Soft and Polo by Ralph Lauren

Love's Baby Barf

Love’s Baby Soft, made of the tears of girls who realized they could never be real princesses, smelled like baby powder and desperation, roses and acne medicine. Every female wore it. How could our teachers stand it?

 

 

 

Polo by Ralph Lauren, made of the seeping testosterone of pubescent boys, smelled like cat piss in pine straw. Every boy wore it except my friend Rob. He wore Lagerfeld, I think. At any rate, it was something different, and I loved him.

 

 

 

SIGHT: Jessica McClintock and Bugle Boy

Little House on Central DriveFor any event — school dance, church, confirmation, scheduled pining for John Taylor, etc. — you were not a real girl unless you had a Jessica McClintock for Gunne Sax dress. Every dress had lace or florals — often both. I don’t know what kind of fever dream we all were having, but we looked like we were trying to channel Laura Ingalls Wilder. These concoctions went well with the Love’s Baby Soft, and the hope by our parents that our vaginas would stay hidden forever. I think I had the dress to the left. I remember it itched.

 

Every boy in my school, fat or thin, tall or short, wore black parachute pants. No one looked good in them. No one. So many pockets. Yet you couldn’t put anything in those pockets because the pants were so freakin’ tight. I think the boys had to tuck to get them on.

 

 

 

SOUND: Pac-Man and Rush

There is no sound as distinctive as the sound of the game in action. That and, of course, the sound of the meet-cute cut scene with Ms. Pac-Man on her version. It was what was playing in the background of every attempted hookup in the arcade when we girls had shed our Gunne Sax dresses and slid into high-waisted acid-wash jeans. The boys remained encased in their parachute pants, probably until they could be cut out of them at night by their parents (who likely were thrilled that the sperm count had to be way down).

 

Every boy in my social circle went apeshit over Rush. “Moving Pictures,” “Signals,” “Grace Under Pressure” — they dissected each album like an archaeologist examines microscopic fossil fragments. Granted, I hung out with band geeks. In this dark period, we girls were left to our own devices, mooning over Rick Springfield, Duran Duran and George Michael (we didn’t know) until the boys started paying attention to us again in 10th grade.

 

TASTE: Jell-o Pudding Pops and Cool Ranch Doritos

At this point in time, the world loved Bill Cosby, and he loved to shill Jell-o Pudding Pops. We just added it to the rest of the sugar we were inhaling every day, all day. We started off with Smurf Berry Crunch cereal, gnawed on jawbreakers, Twizzlers and Nerds all day, then ended with Jell-o Pudding Pops. No wonder we loved neon. Our mood matched.

 

When Cool Ranch Doritos came out, our collective heads exploded. We had no idea such flavors existed in the world. And God help you if you had a party and did not provide the Cool Ranch Doritos. You would feel a cool breeze from former friends come Monday. (And yes, boys and girls, that is Jay Leno hawking them.)

 

TOUCH: Aqua Net and private parts

For our hair to reach such death-defying heights as expected, we needed Aqua Net. It would coat our hair with a layer of lacquer that repelled rain, hands, sonic blasts, etc. Pity the fool who would try to touch our perms crowned by sky-high bangs.

Here’s a wee little photo of me during the Aqua Net era (because any larger would make your eyes bleed). I think I’m wearing a half a can of Aqua Net. I could have fallen on my head from a great height and been totally fine.

 

 

In addition to getting to know our own parts, we also were getting to know the parts of others — at the arcade, on bleachers, in the back of movie theaters, in cars, in AP History class. (What’s that you say? Just me? Well then.) What a wonderful time to be alive! All the bits a tingling.

 

Some say there is a sixth sense. I can assure you that we did not have it then. For example, I thought I might have a chance with Mike M. When my friend Kari asked him, though, she was told to bring me back the news that I was a “dog.” Oh. OK. Back to Andrew McCarthy for me.

Anyway, I miss you sometimes, but I don’t miss the angst associated with growing up.

Thanks for the memories.

Love,
Beth

 

*I apologize that these reflections are gender- and heteronormative. These are my personal recollections as a cisgendered straight person.

 

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Dear People of a Certain Age,

My dad used to say, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” Later I found out he pinched* that from Bette Davis.

Anyway, I’d reply, “Yeah, yeah,” and go on about my business.

So now I’m old(ish), and I see.

Except sometimes I can’t see without my glasses.

And that’s new.

Eddie calls this my sexy librarian look. What does he know? He’s old(ish) too.

Let me hear an “Amen” on these other surefire signs of aging:

  • The mind says, “Yes!,” but the body says, “Not so fast.”
  • You agree to events in the moment, and then are thrilled when there is a reason you can’t go:

Yes, I’d love to go to your cousin’s friend’s yard party, but (insert name of first family member you see) just isn’t feeling well.

  • What used to be a punishment as a kid — “Go straight to your room, young lady; you’ll be going to bed early!” — sounds like a perfect night.
  • When you do go out, you lose your mind. It’s like you have to make up for months of the above. At least you get to talk about “that time when … ” After all:

Bad decisions make good stories.

  • You wake up at 3 a.m. No reason. And that’s your ass, because you can’t go back to sleep.
  • Your friends text at 6:30 and 7 in the morning, and you’re not even mad. You’re up. You get mad at the ones who text at 10 p.m.
  • You have (or have thought about) beginning a sentence with the words, “Kids today … ” I swear to God I called some student a crazy whippersnapper Friday when he nearly hit me in his Mustang. (In my head, I called him this. I’m not quite into audible “Get off my lawn!” territory.)
  • Songs suddenly hit a nerve. Take, for example, the lyrics from “Live Tomorrow” by my new favorite band, Jesse’s Divide.

    Work today, work tomorrow.
    Before you know it, you’re 83
    Living life inside a memory.

    Work today, live tomorrow.
    Before you know it, you’re 63
    And living life was just a memory.

    That’s not depressing at all. I’m not crying. You’re crying.

  • No more catcalls on the street. That could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your ego/past/tolerance level.
  • The top thatch is thinning a tick (or a ton maybe). This is not my problem, though. Mine has gotten thicker. Downside: shedding (i.e., clogged drains, hairballs in corners, strands all over everyone’s clothing all the time). Gideon reports:

Somehow I found one of your hairs in my notebook!

  • Waistline creep. Large fries from McDonald’s now cut down to just one you steal from your kid and eat like a squirrel with an acorn. (Or is this just me?)
  • You may think you are young and hip but your pop culture references say old and outdated. Actual conversation from mere days ago:

Me, opening the classroom door: I have so many keys, I feel like Schneider from ‘One Day at a Time.’ (looking at student next to me) Uh oh. I guess that doesn’t mean anything to you.
Student: Oh I get most of your references. I watch Nick at Nite and other throwback channels.
Me, aging 10 more years instantly: Ouch (said internally where it’s dark and sad).

  • All of a sudden, parts of your body start speaking to you in an unpleasant tone of voice. I woke up the other morning, and my hip was barking at me. Why? I don’t know.
  • You see someone old and unattractive in a window and realize it’s your reflection. Rude.
  • Gray hairs appear in new places seemingly overnight.
  • If you have dry skin, like I do, then you suddenly are spending your retirement savings on various potions to beat the lines and crepiness into submission. If you have oily skin, you are good to glow (literally and figuratively).

  • For women: There’s a vast wasteland between Forever 21 and Coldwater Creek.
  • For men: Don’t complain to me. You age and get “distinguished.” Never a shortage of women of all ages who are interested. (Two old ladies felt up Eddie in the grocery store this week. He now has a #metoo story.) Women? Sorry. You’re just old. Suck it up, Buttercup. (Yet it still beats the alternative of NOT getting to age.)

In just a few short years, I think I’ll be the living version of Maxine. Horrifying.

Send a cryo pod, STAT.

Laughing to keep from crying,
Beth the Aged

 

* Yep. I’m still British.

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Dear Helicopter Parents:

I’m going to have to ask you to stand down. Before you get your knickers in a twist*, know that I know you: I too am a member of Gen X. Like you, I was raised by Baby Boomers who never knew where I was until the streetlights came on.

(Or when Chris Marosy’s dad rang the dinner bell in the Marosys’ front yard, whichever came first.)

Stop checking your child’s calendar, Snap and Insta for a hot second and listen to me.

What happened to you?

You know good and well that we didn’t have play dates or Pinterest-inspired birthday parties or gender-reveal parties or baby wipe warmers or organic food. (We ate Chef Boyardee ravioli out of the can, FFS!)

You know what else we didn’t have?

  • Car seats or (many times) seat belts. We just rolled around in the back of cars, putting on shows with our feet in the back window.
  • Hand sanitizer. We barely washed our hands.
  • Awards unless we came in first place. Not first? Loser.
  • Remote controls. We got up to change the channel on the TV. Only four channels; not much of a workout.
  • Cable, Netflix, Hulu, etc. See above.
  • A ride to the corner store. We walked our asses there to get our fix of Bubble Yum, Atomic Fire Balls, Bottle Caps and candy cigarettes.
  • A choice when it came to chores, the food on our plates, sitting quietly at events (no tablets or smartphones to keep us occupied).
  • Parental supervision. We were latchkey kids. We were babysitting by age 10 (sometimes earlier). The only goal was to keep the kids alive until their parents came home.
  • Words of encouragement. “Good job” not typically in a Boomer’s vocabulary.
  • Attention. Not even for injuries. That is, unless a bone was sticking out of the skin. Then we might get a Band-Aid.
  • Timeouts. We got the belt if we were acting up. Or, in my case, a whack with a flyswatter.

I’m not saying all this was great, but I am saying that we all turned out fine. We are suspicious of authority, skeptical of everything, but fine.

Our kids will be fine too. You DO NOT need to hover — I promise. We made mistakes, and we learned from them. You are making it harder for them to be adults by doing everything for them.

These are things you’ve said to me or around me (names changed to protect them like you want):

  • “Kyle is having trouble making his morning class. Can you go to his room in the mornings and wake him up?”
  • “Madison needs to learn to advocate for herself.” (Yet you come to every meeting and interrupt her when she tries to speak up.)
  • “Who will be doing Dylan’s laundry in the dorms?”

I heard a story about a dad who came to his son’s job interview. The kid did not get the job. Of course.

Poor kids.

It’s not their fault. You made them this way.

I would have DIED if my parents had talked to any of my professors or college staff. You would have too.

My parents showed up at college twice:

  • To move me in.
  • To see me graduate.

That’s it.

Times have changed. I get it. And I know there are positives to being more involved in your child’s life (like maybe fewer snatchings, less drug use, a feeling of being more connected — loved even).

I’m just asking you to back off — just a bit — when little Connor goes to college.

All of us who work at universities will thank you.

And that means you will have more free time to take up new hobbies like:

  • Finally watching “Game of Thrones.”
  • Exercising (that stomach isn’t going to flatten itself).
  • Day drinking.
  • Napping.
  • Both of the above in that order.

Thank you, from the bottom of my after-school-special-loving heart.
Beth

* I’m British now. Didn’t I tell you?

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Dear Brits,

I love you. You know I do. As I recently found out thanks to the results from the Ancestry DNA kit, I have at least 18 percent of you in my system (the geography nerd in me is a little confused by how Scotland and Wales are somehow marked separately from Great Britain, though). Look here:

Anyway, I’ve always been an anglophile, thanks to my burning desire for Adam Ant.

So when I needed time away to complete a project I’ve been procrastinating on for a year and a half, I chose your chilly, tea-soaked environs. Thankfully, I had a Delta voucher, vacation time available, and two long-time friends who live within 20 minutes of each other.

These are a few of my favorite things:

1. The pubs. Within a one-block radius in Uttoxeter, for example, I worked on my project at The Black Swan, The Old Swan, The Old Star, Ye Olde Talbot and The Vault. The Guinness was spectacular at all.

2. Coffee. I have no shits to give about tea (sorry), but you have proper coffee. I love that you feel free to order cappuccino at all times of the day.

3. Friendliness. You love Americans like mothers love their weird, wayward sons. I was a source of curiosity in every pub I visited to write. Many of you wanted to know what I thought about Donald Trump. (I try not to think about him.) Many of you were pleased at my beer of choice. Every pub played American music, which amused the crap out of me as I am the biggest fan of the Second British Invasion.

4. The TV. No one does television better than you. There is no way anyone else (except maybe the Dutch) would have given the world “Naked Attraction.” The promo line? “A daring dating series that starts where some good dates might end — naked.”

It’s not pixelated at 10 p.m. on a weeknight. I’m shocked. And hooked.

5. The language. I’m tickled at your phrases. The terms of endearment alone sold me (“Duck,” “Shug,” “Love”). I’m definitely “sorted” at the moment. I’m using “straightaway” instead of “now.” I’m in love with “posh” (the word, not the Spice Girl).

I could listen to you all day. And did:

“She wants a wee!” — said by Man One to Man Two as I was trying to slide past Man Two to get to the ladies room.

“We’ve replaced you with someone far more attractive. You weren’t doing your job, so we’ve sacked you.” — Man Three to Man Four as I was sitting in his seat at the pub.

6. Your bluntness. Take this sign, for example.

Harsh. I feel sorry for the Simon Howie haggis. They can dream, I guess.

Anyway, thank you for being you. I hope to see you again soon.

Tra!
Beth

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