Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Code Words

Once when I was a kid, a neighbor used a code word with her kids to tell them to shape up without causing a big scene. This is subtle and classy. I prefer screaming or the evil eye, but I dabble in subtle.

The evil eye is a successful behavior management tool but it works mainly with children and spouses. Coworkers tend to think you have a bug in your eye or that you're hitting on them because you're winking or otherwise contorting your face. Regardless, the eye is a unique opportunity to practice telepathy. This is not working out well for me at all. I postulate people are saying in their heads...
Hey! Let's get 4 pounds of chocolate and speed eat it before noon!
She's really thinking: This is the dumbest looking spreadsheet I've ever seen.
Or with my kids: Wow, we have the best Mom ever!
The kid is really thinking: Wow, my Mom is the meanest Mom ever because I am the only kid in 6th grade without an unlimited text messaging plan.

Back to the code words, the neighbor's word was banana. Subtle? Yes. Odd enough that the kid will figure it out and get his feet off of Aunt Mildred's coffee table? Certainly. So if it works with a kid, why not adults?
For a special highly confidential project, I came up with a code word for referencing it. (I'll tell you the code, but I may have to kill you.) It was Medicare. Odd, but workable. We used the code without incident for several months until one day, it completely left my head. Vamoose. Asta la vista, Baby...
Cohort: Hey, how's the Medicare project coming?
Me: What on Earth are you talking about?
Cohort: (Nudging me, and winking emphatically) You know MEDICARE. What's the latest?
Me: Are you insane? I have no project for this. My Grandma is on Medicare, does that count?
Cohort: (Slapping head, repeatedly) No, MEDICARE. Come one, MEDICARE!
Me: (Getting really annoyed) No really, nothing.
Cohort: (Shocked, dismayed, likewise annoyed, in a whisper says) You know... (The Project)
It was my own word and I completely spaced it out. Easy come, easy go.
Case in point, I tried a code word in a meeting with another cohort who does not often attend meetings. He has strong opinions (a strength) but sometimes lacks the appropriate filter (an opportunity for skill enhancement). So before the meeting I said "Hey, our code word is EGGPLANT. If I mention EGGPLANT, you need to put a sock in your kisser."
Off we went with our Eggplant in tow. As expected, my cohort was voraciously expressing his opinions so I say under my breath "Hey, Eggplant." He looked at me like I was an organic vegetarian produce farmer holding a plateful of cheeseburgers and continued his discussion. I tried again "Eggplant" and I kind of kicked his chair.
Nothing. No reaction.
"BANANA!" I exclaim in the middle of this meeting. He was so shocked that he stopped talking. Of course, everyone was now staring at me. Using my telepathic powers I know exactly what they were thinking "She is AWESOME!"

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Trying On Short Pants

Overheard at JCPenney...

Me: You need shorts for Spring Break.

Kid: OK. (Rustling through display table) These are fine. (picking up acceptable shorts, but 8 sizes too small.)

Me: Let's try them on. I have no idea what size you are. (Because you're as tall as me and have a 28 inch waist and your pants fall down all the time.)

Kid: No. I don't try things on. These are fine.

Me: (More Emphatically) No. You need to try them on.

Kid: (Indignantly)No. I won't try them on. If they don't fit, you can just return them.

Me: (Turning red, escalating blood pressure, pounding temples.) I don't have time to return things. We are standing in a store, with a dressing room and you will try these on NOW.

Kid: (Grumble, complain, spitting while talking). Fine, give it. (Stomps into dressing room, slams door.)

Me: Hey, I need to see them after you get them on.

Kid: Whatever.

Time passes..... More time passes....

Me: What are you doing?

Kid: Nothing (throws open door). They fit.

Me: How do you know?

Kid: They just do. Let's go.

Me: No way. I want to see them on. (Extending arm and pointy index finger in general direction of dressing room.)

Kid: You are impossible!! I tried them on over my jeans and I didn't even have to button them to know that they fit.

Me: What? Are you insane? You can't try them on over your clothes? (Getting shrill!) I bet you didn't even take your shoes off! What did you do? GO in there, count to 500 and come back out?!?!?

Kid: Whatever! I'll show you that they fit. (Grabs shorts and stomps into dressing room with me in hot pursuit.) Um, oh, ya, they don't fit do they? Can you get me another size?

Me: ARGH. (Sweetly) Sure.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Career Calamities Part Deux

Unlike the businessman in the picture, I do not think I own the stars or that I have any responsibility to count them. This does not mean, however, that I am without folly. Like the Dancing with the CEO, I have had my share of idiocy.

One of my favorite stories about myself does involve a business man or two, or twelve and an airport lounge in some city that I can't remember. Maybe it was Chicago. The location isn't really important although the farther away from anyone who might know me, the better.

Traveling can be a real pain. I got stranded in far away cities and couldn't be home to put my kids to bed. I also had a pain in the neck employer that wouldn't spring for things like airport lounges, but I had somehow scored free passes. On a weather delay, stranded in whatever city this was along with the population of Martha's Vineyard in summer, I fumbled my way into the Northwest Sky Lounge for free cookies and wine by the glass.

It was packed to the gills with men.

I like men, but not when they're in my way and impeding my path to cookies and wine.

Their feet were flopping around at odd angles, their bags were askew, their briefcases, askance.

I spotted a seat by the window and plotted my trail through the professional carnage. My shoes were tall, my skirt was short and I shoved my way as graciously as possible while hauling my rolling briefcase to the haven by the window. Until...

I fell.

I did not just fall, I cascaded. I whooped. I flopped. I probably exposed myself.

Time stood still as I careened over baggage and feet and empty beer bottles. And then I landed...

Face first. In the lap of a sleeping man.

Of course, he woke up.

Someone had tried to catch me. Unsuccessfully. It was the crotch of the salesman from Dubuque that caught my fall.

Pleasant words were exchanged. The lounge was in a ruckus. I stood up.

"Wow!" he said. "It's not very often I wake up with a woman in my lap!"

Mortified, I said, "I do expect to be paid."

The weather delay went on for another five or six hours so no one left the lounge. Every time I stood up, people winced and ducked. Someone offered to bring out orange cones so I wouldn't hurt myself or anyone else. The bartender pre-emptively cut off my liquor.

When my flight was finally called, I slinked to the gate hoping to leave the lap dance behind and was pleased to see the entire first class cabin filled with men from the lounge- laughing at me. I found my seat and hoped my next job would have no travel expense account to count stars.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Career Calamities Part 1

Career Mismanagement is my theme for this week.
After my weekend adventures, I thought I might have to resign from my position. Alas, I'll probably survive but this calamity got me to thinking about all the dumb things that I've ever said or done while at work or while performing my various duties. Let's just say that I could write a book. I have some flaws, er, gifts:
  • I have a big mouth.
  • I swear.
  • I occasionally take prisoners.
  • I eat all the office candy, usually before 9am.
  • I run into things and trip on the stairs.
  • I tell lots of Knock Knock jokes.
  • I wear high heels to intimidate my foes until I trip and fall.

To protect my employer, my co-workers and any other innocent parties, let's pretend I work for a not for profit "pet food manufacturer". This organization has taken me in and taught me everything there is to know about pet food. I'm not allowed around pets because I'm allergic and I might do the wrong thing- like step on someones tail. Instead, I get to do all the pet food sales negotiations.

This fabulous victuals purveyor had a fund raising event this past weekend. Many of my cohorts were in attendance including but not limited to the CEO and others from that particular wing of the building so it's time to pull out the best behavior and supportive undergarments. Me and the spouse got all dressed up and headed for the festivities. I had a nice new dress with a modest neck line. (This is an important feature.)

All in all, I was very well behaved. I didn't drink too much. I didn't fall out of my shoes. I didn't say anything off-color about pets or pet food or pet food purveyors.

Everything was proceeding swimmingly. Peachy, in fact, until I spotted my boss. She is fabulous. She's beautiful and smart and always wears very nice shoes. We have had many a conversation about shoes instead of pet food. I saddled on up to her and had a nice chat about shoes.

How nice and innocent- A chat about shoes at a nice pet food fundraising event. Until the CEO approached us to say hello. In the background the music was blasting and a few folks were bouncing around on the dance floor. (NOTE: I cannot dance. I am a pale skinned Protestant from Wisconsin. )

CEO: Hello!

CFO: Hey! You know Jennifer, right!?

CEO: Sure! Hello!

CFO: Hey! You two should dance!

CEO: Good idea! C'mon, let's go!

Me inside my head: NOOOOOOOOOOOO! This is very, very, very bad.

Before I knew it, this rhythmically challenged dork from Wisconsin is being dragged to the dance floor by the CEO to dance to "Boogie Shoes." Miraculously, it is over in 2 minutes or less and I have not fallen out of my dress or off of my shoes. I have not stepped on him nor have I performed any Jr High dance moves that I learned from MTV. Heavens to Mercitroid, I'm saved...

CEO: Hey! That was short, let's dance another one!

Me inside my head: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! This is very, very, very bad!

Mortified, I smile my biggest toothy grin and flutter my eyelashes as the music changes to (horrors) "Love Shack" by the B52's.

I was stranded with the CEO on the nearly empty dance floor in front of a room with 500 people in it, dancing to "Love Shack."

CEO: Hey! You're a little stiff! Loosen Up!

Unbeknownst to me, all of the executives saw this foot challenged, odd presentation.

On Monday morning, I was doing my best to hide under my desk and plan my exit when two of my male colleagues stormed my office singing "I've got me a car! It's as big as a Whale and it's about to set sail!"

Today it continued at our management meeting. I got a variety of high fives, notes passed to me about having the next dance and folks whispering in my ear "Love Shack Baby!"

The CEO walked by once and I dove into a rubbish receptacle.

Next Calamity???

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Random Happy Hour Pairings

I love Happy Hour. And, I love sugary snacks. My dentist adores me. Here are some favorite drinks and snacks for any occasion (I am so like Martha Stewart but with a bottle.)

1. Feeling blue? Make a gin and tonic with Bombay Gin in the blue bottle. Grab a handful of blueberry jelly beans.

2. Angry? Have a Bloody Mary with extra Tabasco and some fireballs.

3. Happy? Cosmos and marshmallow Peeps. Need I say more?

4. Sun Shining? Dirty Martini with blue cheese olives. The olives do double duty as your dinner.

5. Vernal Equinox? Make a gin and tonic with Tanqueray in the green bottle. Grab a handful of apple jelly beans.

6. Summer Solstice? Chilled Sauvignon Blanc and carrots.

7. Sad? Chocolate martini and a Godiva chocolate bunny. Mmmmm, bunny. (Think Homer Simpson and donuts.)

8. Insecure? Cosmos and cheese, no, carrots, no pretzels. Whatever.

9. Celebratory? Cosmo topped with champagne, box of Godiva chocolate.

10. Saturday Afternoon? Cosmo and cold pizza.

Don't you wish you lived next door? I'll be right over to borrow a cup of vodka- I'm almost out.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Proposition from Luxemermany

Today I got the email letter that I have been waiting for my entire life. I always dreamed that a very handsome prince from a faraway land, (we'll call it Luxemermany) would send his messenger on a noble steed to present me with a letter, a proposal. This Crown Prince of the Principality of Luxemermany knew I had been waiting and he did not disappoint although the steed didn't make it nor did the 27 dozen roses. Instead, he sent me a message that said:

Dear Jennyfur, I am in a faraway land called Luxemermany. I am an exile in my own country. My countrymen have betrayed me and only you can save me. How can you, Jennyfur, save me all the way, far away in Perrysburg Ohio? It's not a kingdom to be sure, but you can help me and I have many riches. I've heard all the rumors that you're mean and that you spit when you get really mad, but I don't believe any of it. You are my one true love and only you can save me. You can save me by sending me all of your personal information before midnight tonight! Can you do that darling? Best, Your Prince, His Royal Highness of Luxemermany, Roscoe.

My heart, it flutters! I respond:

Dear Prince Roscoe of the Principality of Luxemermany,

How on earth did you find me? I will do anything if you'll save me from this rainy weather and the trendy cheap stuff I buy at Target. I am so over Michael Graves. Do you have department stores in Luxemermany? What about martini bars? Do you have vodka taps filled to the brim with Ketel One? Will your servants bring me Cosmos for breakfast? If you are for real, please tell me so I can send you everything about me. Do you need my birth certificate?
All my love, your darling Jennifer. (P.S. Not sure why you're spelling my name Jennyfur.)

Dear Jennyfur of Perrysburg Ohio:

I spell your name this way because my computer told me to. Do not take it personally, you are my light, my love, my bank account, er, my saving grace. I will promise you Cosmos for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Did you include your Social Security number, I didn't see it. Can you resend.

Your loving Roscoe.

Dear Roscoe, No I did not send you my Social Security number. What kind of creep are you? No one promises me Cosmos at breakfast, not even my husband or my boss. Do you have some kind of screw loose? What kind of backwards principality is Luxemermany? I do apologize for sounding so short with you Darling Roscoe. Do you care if I have kids? Do you know Dr. Drew? Do you have any pink tank tops? Where's the noble steed?

With anticipation, Jennifer

Dear Jennyfur, Listen, you sound like you need rehab and you are kind of mean. That stuff I read online was true apparently. Anyway, we have rehab in our land and its conducted by that Super Hotty Dr Dru that you love so much. I can get you here if you send me your checking account information, your Social Security number and the three digit code off the back of each of your Visa cards. You have several of these so make sure you send each code. I can hardly wait to see you and share my riches. Dr Dru sends his love and he's wearing a pink tank top. The steed is in the shop.

Your one true love, Roscoe

Dear Roscoe, My mom always said if something was too good to be true, it would sound like it. Well, you and your misspelling computer program can't have anything. But, Thanks for asking and yes I do spit when I'm mad. I knew you were a fraud when you said the steed was in the shop and that Dr Drew was wearing a pink tank top. Consider yourself busted.

Not a sucker, Jennifer

I am so disappointed. SIGH

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Menace:The Conversation

Several days ago, the doorbell rang.


Opening the door, I found no one there. Though, I felt something underfoot. Something was amiss. A light breeze twisted the ends of my wet hair. Andrew called from the house, "Close the door! It's cold."

We didn't know it at the time, but a day or two later we met our Invader, the Marauder, the Illness Packed Microbe that would wreck schedules, blow through 4 boxes of Kleenex and no one remembers how much 7Up, Jello or toast. The Menace, as I'd like to call it, has been here for a week and it's high time The Menace took off.

Me: Get Out.
Menace: (Evil Laughter)
Me: No really, get out. I'm out of Lysol. I give up. Get Out.
Menace: (More Evil Laughter)
Me: Listen, you've wiped out three of us. I don't think the big guy is going to fall. Didn't you notice he came home with a surgical mask and gloves? Besides, the neighbors have like 9 kids, try them instead. Wouldn't that be more fun?
Menace: I'm thinking. Do you have any dirty Kleenex left? You picked everything up.
Me: (Evil Laughter)
Menace: No really, what's with the bucket of soapy water? And the laundry? You never voluntarily strip beds.
Me: Who said it was voluntary. Are you interested in my bucket? It's warm. Don't microbes like warm, wet places?
Menace: That does sound nice. Your family runs around in their underwear. That's not very warm, but that bucket looks like a spa.
Me: It is nice.
Me: It's Bleach! Die you rotten thing! Die!

In my brain, this is how to conquer the flu. Perhaps I'm still feverish.

The End.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Problematic Dinner Companions

The New York Times has a short article today about dining with Hitler. Truly awful and detestable at best, but I guess one has to eat to have the energy to commit crimes against humanity.

The Fuhrer aside, this article got me to thinking about dinner guests that would pose a multitude of problems for a host. We all have vegetarian friends and friends for whom nuts would be disastrous. Some don't like fish- others no asparagus. Alas, these are not problems for a host- not really. I'll eat nearly anything so I like to think of myself as an easy dinner companion. I'll even share a chocolate dessert with you, if you please, and I'll only complain a teeny, tiny bit.

How about dinner with a thawed out caveman? What would you serve the poor fellow and should you worry that he'll conk you on the head with a lamp or your meat cleaver when you turn your back to stir the French Onion Soup? The smell of the caveman could be a bit strong as well, depending on the amount of time that he's been reanimated. I would suggest, if consulted as an authority on such things and surely I must be because I can't think of any other person anywhere writing about something so ridiculous, the following Caveman protocol:

  • Schedule your dinner at least 6 months after his reanimation to avoid exposure to ancient odors and germs for which you and your other guests have no immunity.

  • Serve all meats with the bones so as to avoid embarrassing your new prehistoric friend.

  • Avoid all flambes or any other flaming foods or drinks.

  • Do not schedule your party on any solstice or equinox in an effort to reduce the probability that one of your other guests, or even you, could become a sacrifice to the sun or moon, or both.

How about dinner with Typhoid Mary? Here was a lady without many friends so perhaps you take pity upon her and invite her over for some fondue? Not only would this result in swift and certain death for you and your other guests, but if you did survive, you might be offering an invitation that is not likely to be accepted by anyone, ever. I have no list of suggestions for Mary so avoid it like the plague.

How about dinner with President Andrew Jackson? He had an interesting Indian removal policy that would be entertaining to discuss. He also had a penchant for dueling so I would recommend:

  • All guests must leave their firearms at the door.
  • Do not allow Mr. Jackson to engage other guests in spirited discussions that could lead to arguments spilling over onto your front yard in reach of firearms.
  • If you see Mr. Jackson counting of 20 paces or some such thing, ask every one to leave and hide under your bed.
  • Some sources attribute the founding of the "Democratic Party" to Mr. Jackson. Knowing this, choose your other companions carefully so as to avoid the ruckus described above.

How about dinner with Marie Antoinette? She had a penchant for masked, formal balls. So if you happen to have a ballroom and 400 other friends, you could consider inviting her to your soiree. I think she might complain a lot and bring servants with her that would have to be fed as well. Make sure you have plenty of extra champagne. Don't be surprised if she hovers around your dessert table and claims all the chocolate mousse for herself while shrilly announcing, regarding the other guests, "Let them eat cake!" If her behavior continues, you may find your other guests chanting her ill-will while whisking Marie into a waiting car with a paper bag over her head. I'm not sure where your liability, as the party thrower stops or starts, but a zealous prosecutor could find you responsible if her head somehow gets separated from her body while on your property. Unless everyone signs a release, it's not worth the hassle.

Dear Reader, what are you doing for dinner?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

For Me? An Award

I found a surprise earlier this week from The Pink Cowboy.

"This award acknowledges the values that every Blogger displays in their effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values with each message they write. Awards like this have been created with the intention of promoting community among Bloggers. It’s a way to show appreciation and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.”

I am surprised and humbled and offer my thanks- Thanks Mucho!
As a recipient I must pass it along to others. I've polished my wand, fixed a round of martinis and ....drumroll...

The Cowboy Chronicles Cowgirl Shonda cracks me up. I appreciate her ability to cram conversation and cussing into effervescent posts that make me wonder what she does out on the range when those kids are otherwise occupied.

Mewsings, Feline & Other Terri supports my vodka swilling by posting drink recipes and she rolled over and went back to bed on her birthday. She's my favorite online cat person. I'm glad she's online because the kitties would make me sneeze. A-Choo!

My Thoughts Exactly Sparky always has an opinion. I like opinions and I like to argue. Are you objecting to that? Do you want to come a little closer and fight about it? Hmm, I thought not. I could totally take you and so can Sparky. She's got a bike and I bet she's got a knife in her sock and there's not a thing wrong with that.

So thank you very much Mr. Pink Cowboy. I drank your martini, shall I make you another?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sun Come Out!

When I was little, I would sit in my sandbox and scream at the sun.

Yes, I was bossy and probably somewhat annoying. I've heard I was kind of cute, so this mitigating factor excuses my erratic behavior. My six year old brain had delusions of grandeur that included control over celestial bodies.

The sun would dart behind a cloud, or two or three and I objected to this. Actually, I was offended. Didn't the sun know that I was sitting in my sandbox with my front-end loader, a shovel and my pail? My brother was taking a nap and the entire expanse of warm sand was all mine. So I would bellow:


Invariably the wind would blow, this way or that, and sure enough, that sun would obey and come out.

Until the wind would blow again, this way or that, and sure enough, it went away again.
Was my work ever finished? Criminey! Dagnabit! If you can't count on the sun, what can you count on? It was my six year old self's job to keep that sun out so that I didn't freeze in the shade. (Even then, it was all about me.)
As a big person with kids and no sandbox I don't have occasion to scream at the sun. I might get locked up. Every time it darts behind a cloud, the six year old self hollers silently to no one in particular: