Thursday, December 31, 2009

Excuse forgot to rinse

We just returned from a European vacation. The trip provided many potential blog topics including:
• European bathrooms... or 'toilets' as they are called and my adventures in figuring out how to flush the endless of varieties of toilets. (The only version missing was the stick shift.)
• Driving a U.K. car, with the steering wheel on the right (aka wrong) side of the car and all the associated challenges of driving in England and France. In England they drive on left (aka wrong) side of the road, while in France they drive on the right side. But aside from the numerous F-bombs flung from my husband - the driver- and the many near death experiences, the driving experience was as you would have expected... horrific.

What WAS totally unexpected was the man on the train to Paris. I've ridden subways and trains in many cities and have seen a lot of strange people doing very unusual things: bums talking to themselves...bad singers crooning loudly to their I-Pods...drug dealing...children eating spaghetti... men reading porn. You name it. I've seen it. Mass transit mayhem had ceased to shock me.

Until that train ride.

I was sitting on the train to Paris on Christmas Day. A 20-something man stepped into my car and sat two seats up, across the aisle from me. He was typical looking in nearly every way... blue jeans, denim jacket, back-pack on the seat next to him. Typical in nearly every way.
Except for his head.
For, you see, he had shampoo in his hair. On the train.

Now reader, I don't mean that he hadn't rinsed completely and had shampoo flakes on his shoulder. He had shampoo lather throughout his hair. It reminded me somewhat of Lumiere's wig in Beauty and the Beast (except, of course, Lumiere's wig was dry).

I could not take my eye off this sight. Suddenly the man (let's call him "Pierre") glanced over his shoulder and caught me staring at him. I quickly looked away, but was pleased to notice that I could watch his reflection in the window without getting caught. I sat up straighter and watched in wonder.
I had so many questions. Did he know that he had shampoo in his hair? Had he forgotten to rinse? That question was soon answered, as Pierre purposefully moved his hands up to his head and began to massage his head and lather up the shampoo.

Was he running so late that he didn't have time to rinse?

Maybe he just got caught up in the endless "lather, rinse, repeat" loop.

After several stops, when Pierre was looking more like Harpo Marx than Lumiere, he pulled off a wad of lather from his head and applied it to his mustache. He then began to lather his lip.

At this point I shifted from being shocked to being completely entertained. "Hey Dave... pass the popcorn", I said to my husband (who was sitting across from me and missing the entire show.) I mean, what is next? The eyebrows? Could he be heading south? Is this G rated or R rated?

And then it all ended. The train stopped. The man stood, picked up his backpack, and took his lathery head and lip off the train.
I felt cheated. My questions were left unanswered.

The only thing I knew for sure is that Pierre's hair would be very clean if he ever got to the rinse step.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Early Dismissal

My family is going to Europe next week. Our flight leaves from Charlotte late Friday afternoon, requiring us to take our daughter out of school 2 hours early. No big deal, right? 2 hours early on the last day before Christmas vacation? I mean, when I was a kid, we'd be having Christmas parties during the last 2 hours of the day Christmas vacation began. We'd be hanging from the ceilings. Half the teachers would be working on their Christmas cards; the other half would be drinking spiked egg nog from the Teachers' Lounge.

Well, apparently it is a big deal. The same school that cancels school THE NIGHT BEFORE a dusting of snow is forecast, has scheduled midterm exams on the last day of school before Christmas vacation.

Of all exams, Linda has her Science midterm at 1:00 that day. And Mrs. Tyrannosaurus, the science teacher, takes the exam schedule quite seriously. It is apparently quite uncommon for her to release her prey from an exam.

I decided to send Mrs.
Tyrannosaurus an e-mail, explaining our predicament and asking permission for Linda to take the exam at another time, AT HER CONVENIENCE. I was as polite as I could possibly be.

And here is the response I got back:

Dear Mr. Clyde,
You must have approval from Miss Illaneous, our Instructional Principal, in order to be excused from taking an exam at the designated time. You may call her at 555-5555. Once you have spoken with her, she will inform me of the outcome and arrangements will be made accordingly.

Mr. Clyde? Mr. Clyde was my father!! And Miss Illaneous will inform Mrs. Tyrannosaurus and arrangements will be made accordingly? Am I applying for an FHA loan? I called Miss Illaneous and left her a voice mail message with the request, mentioning the fact that Linda has not missed one day of school so far this year. Low and behold if I didn't get the following e-mail from her:

Good Morning.
I have copied Mr. Imincharge, since the principal makes the decision about a student taking an exam at a different time.

The principal? What next, the superintendent? Perhaps the school board? Governor Sanford has been in a bad mood lately, with Jenny appearing on that Barbara Walters show, so I hope he's not the one who decides.

As it turns out, I got a call back from Miss Illaneous, saying that Mr. Imincharge made the determination that Linda could take the exam when she returns to school in January.

I decided to suck it up and sent her this e-mail:

Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. You mentioned in your voice mail that Linda could take the exam after the holidays. She's able to take the test early, as well, if that would be more convenient for Mrs. Tyrannosaurus.

It makes sense to stay on the good side of these administrators, right?


Here's the response I got back:

You are welcome. Mr. Imincharge made the decision for her to take the exam after the holidays. If you would like to appeal to him you may do so.

I decided to cut my losses and stop there. Besides, Mr. Imincharge has more important issues to deal with. There may be snow in the forecast next week.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Mall Hair Girl

I survived my first Improv class. I (barely) maintained my dignity. We played some Improv games that pushed me well out of my comfort zone. At the end of the class, our teacher Vicky gave us a homework assignment. We were to keep our eyes open for interesting characters and observe them.

I found my interesting character. Mall Hair Girl Receptionist. She works (and I use that term loosely) at my doctor's office. I love my doctor. He's the nicest, most down-to-earth doctor I've ever met. In fact, everyone in his office is very nice...even the phelbotomist. Everyone, that is, except Mall Hair Girl.

I had to pick up a prescription today. I walked into the doctor's office and there she was.

I approached the counter with a smile, determined that I would not let her spoil my mood. Mall Hair Girl was staring at a computer screen, type-type-typing away. I said hi and gave her a friendly smile - a wasted friendly smile, since she didn't even glance my way.

"Yes, maaaaaaaaaaaaam", she sneered, as she continued to look at the computer screen (type-type-typing away).

"I'm here to pick up a prescription", I said.

"When did you call it in?" she grumbled,
as she continued to look at the computer screen (type-type-typing away).

"My husband just called me and told me it was ready", I responded.

"When did you call it in?" she repeated, clearly annoyed that I hadn't answered her question the first time,
as she continued to look at the computer screen (type-type-typing away).

"This morning."

She looked at me, snarled and huffed, as she got to her feet, probably for the first time that day.

I couldn't take my eyes off her bangs. They went straight up, defying gravity. In fact, she was three inches taller with those bangs than without them. I wondered how long it took her to get ready for "work" (again, I use that term loosely).

Then I remembered my Improv homework assignment and my entire attitude change. I'd found my subject! And it was like I was watching an amoeba under a microscope...well, make that a hairy rat in a maze. My imagination took over. I visualized her spraying the lacquer in her hair that morning.

I imagined Mall Hair Girl stopping at Food Lion to pick up some donuts, hair spray, and chewing tobacco, which made her late for "work". She made the first patient of the day, an 87-year old woman, wait for five minutes while she finished up her game of solitaire (which she lost). She was looking forward to her big date with her boyfriend Woody. She's hoping he invites her to go hunting with him in the morning.

"Maaaaaam!" What? Mall Hair Girl was talking to me.

Back to reality.

Mall Hair Girl handed me the prescription and said, "There. Get lost, now."

I gave her my sweetest smile and a sincere "Thank you very much!".

I can't wait for my next Improv class!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Improv Anxiety

What was I thinking? I can't blame this on anyone. It was my idea.

An Imrpov class?


I'm the one who is ready DAYS in advance of a presentation. I run through the slides until I lose my voice. By the time I have an audience it's like I'm performing in a play.

The closest I've gotten to Improv was when my projector froze in a presentation and I had to tap dance while someone fixed it. I told my one and only joke. It's a good one. It's a nerdy one.

Q. What did the zero say to the eight?
A. Nice belt!


Most of the audience stared blankly at me. Of course, the nerds in the crowd chuckled admiringly.

I'm not good at spontaneous public speaking. In fact I would be the world's worst public relations spokesman.

I can see it now:

Reporter: "Miss Company Spokesperson, can you tell me why your company is raising fees?"
Me: "Um...what was the question again?"
Reporter: "Your fees are going up by 15% this month. Can you tell me how senior citizens will be able to pay their bills?"
Me: "Um...well...I think the school district is looking for bus drivers."
Reporter: "Are you suggesting that senior citizens should drive school buses in order to afford your service?!!!!"
Me: "Oh, NO! That would not be safe!"
Reporter: "Can you tell my readers how senior citizens will be able to pay your inflated fees?"
Me: "Um...well...Walmart is always looking for greeters"....downward spiral continues....

Anyhow, I have MAJOR IMPROV ANXIETY about my class that STARTS TOMORROW NIGHT. Will the teacher toss me an object, such as a squash racquet, and expect me to say something funny about it?

I can just imagine it:

Me: "Um... look at grown ping pong a long handle....what did the zero say to the eight?"

I need a dose of Improv Viagra. Or at least a detailed syllabus and study guide.