Lynnette: So, when are you gonna get here?
Kelly: I’m 20 miles out. Where are you?
Lynnette: I’m here. Don’t break any major laws, but I’ll be glad to see you!!!!!!
Kelly: I’m already breaking the law. What’s the matter?
Lynnette: Uhhh…nothing. Much. I’m a little weirded out.
Kelly: Weirded out? Why? Are you the only one in the house?
Lynnette: As a matter of fact, yes. The B&B is empty, and dark, and all the rooms are messed up, and there’s a pair of shoes by the back door, but nobody answers when I call.
Kelly: What?!?! Hang on – I’m almost there. Is it the house with the iron fence? I’m in front right now.
Lynnette: (yelps) What? I don’t see you! Tell me I’m not in the wrong house!!!
Kelly: Wait, what’s the house number? No, I’m on the wrong block. Damn it! Just a minute.
(After turning the wrong direction – I’m geographically challenged, don’t judge me – and pulling up in front of a house that looks almost identical – OK, not really – to the bed and breakfast where we are having our two-day writer’s retreat, I finally get turned in the right direction and park behind Lynnette’s car. All house lights are blazing and Lynnette meets me on the wraparound front porch.)
Lynnette: Hey, do you need any help getting your stuff in (translation: get your ass in here, you are not going to believe this…)
Kelly: Nope, I’ve got it. (Lynnette laughs nervously. I respond in kind, although I’m not sure exactly why). What’s going on?
Lynnette: Seriously, get in here. You are going to love the pictures in your room.
(I’m slightly creeped out as soon as I walk in. Sure, I knew the house was old – it was built in 1888 – but I wasn’t prepared for the whole FEEL of the place. Lynnette had already had a nerve-wracking hour and a half to cautiously peruse our surroundings. She gave me the tour.)
Lynnette: By the way, that front door swung open by itself when you drove up. (I close the doors and pull them open again to show her. She looks at me, aghast.) Now, look at these dogs (points at a painting of five dogs on the dining room wall) – doesn’t it look like this one is just about to turn and snarl at you? Think about having that looking over your shoulder for an hour and a half.
Kelly: Oh, come on, it doesn’t…huh. Well, I guess if that little one on the bottom turned his head. Did you check out our rooms already?
Lynnette: Oh yeah, checked out most of the house. It looks like somebody started cleaning after the last guests left, but it isn’t done, and there are shoes by the back door like someone is supposed to be here. I went looking around for the body.
Kelly: The body?
Lynnette: The body of the cleaning person who had a stroke, or slipped and hit her head or was eaten by a ghost.
Kelly: Really? Body-eating ghosts? I’m no paranormal physicist, but if the ghost is made up of energy and isn’t a solid entity, they probably couldn’t digest a human body anyway and…holy shit, there are pictures of dead people on the walls of my room. (I begin turning pictures over and laying down picture frames). OK, this is a little disconcerting.
Lynnette: I think you are going to have problems flipping those over, (points at the photographs attached to the walls in the dressing room.)
Kelly: Ah, crap. What does YOUR room look like?
Lynnette: Like a scene from The Shining. (Drags Kelly to the room across the hall–blood red walls, covers jumbled over the bed, used martini glasses with one tipped over, wet towels on the floor.)
Kelly: (checking the shower area) Your shower curtain is still wet. (We look at each other, then peer back at the disheveled bed). You’re not going to sleep in there NOW, are you?
Lynnette: No. No, I’m not. Down here (leads Kelly down the hall and flicks aside a floor length curtain covering a doorway) we have a storage closet. I checked that out all alone. Aren’t I brave?
Kelly: Yes, you are.
Lynnette: Thank you. There is also a bathroom and a little bedroom and a laundry room.
Kelly: (Noting that night is quickly falling, the darkened doorways around us are gaping like open mouths) You know, I’m thinking we should start closing some doors and turning some lights on, what do you think? (We start flipping light switches and pulling doors shut. I reach into the dark in the room at the end of the hallway for the door and my hand brushes…nothing).
Lynnette: Yeah, that one doesn’t HAVE a door. Neat, huh? (we both giggle nervously) Sooooo, I suppose we should check out the third floor.
Kelly: (We brush past the curtain hanging down over the stairway and head upstairs to what used to be the caretaker’s apartment but is now unoccupied). OK, so this is a bathroom and we have a bedroom, bedroom, living room, little kitchen. What’s this door go to?
Lynnette: Hell if I know.
Kelly: You wanna open it?
Lynnette: I opened enough in the ninety minutes I was here BY MYSELF. You open it.
Kelly: OK, are you ready? (I grasp the knob firmly and whip the door open to find an odd little multi-colored storage room). Oh look, it’s the closet where they kept the bad little children!
Lynnette: That’s fuckin’ great. Thank you for that.
Kelly: (snickering) Well, let’s just close that one, shall we? (I hook the little latch on the outside of the door).
(We head back down to the second floor, trying to decide what the hell is going on and what we should do about it. We knew we may be the ONLY tenants in the B&B for our two-night stay but were assured everything would be cleaned up and ready to go for our visit. Lynnette had already left two messages for the proprietor with no response and we’re debating the merits of sharing a room for safety – and sanity’s – sake when the owner calls back.)
Lynnette: She says she lost the reservation book and forgot we were coming, and apologizes for not having the house cleaned after the wedding party that left this morning. She also says not to worry, the house is “happy” so we don’t have to worry about sleeping here.
Kelly: That’s comforting. Although, if the house were “unhappy” or “pissed off” or “hungry” or something, she probably wouldn’t tell us that, now would she? So, sharing a room or do we want to try it in our own rooms with the doors open so we can hear each other scream?
Lynnette: It’ll be fine. Let’s take the two clean rooms, and leave the doors open.
Kelly: Deal. (We get ready for bed, calling to each other over the six foot distance between our open doors). Holler if you need to. See you in the morning…I hope…(thinking, and if the doors slam shut on us and the horror begins–well, I guess there’s no point in freaking her out with that.)
Lynnette: G’night. (Gets ready for bed, checks her travel alarm and sets it on the nightstand. She realizes it is sitting in a small pile of fine human hair. Taking a deep breath, she sweeps the hair into her hand and into the garbage can across the room. Thinks, there is no point in freaking her out with that–pulls the covers up to her chin, listens to the toilet breathing in the bathroom, and stares up through the darkness.)
It’s not entirely Noah Webster’s fault although with a little effort, he could have avoided the mistake. There were bound to be inaccuracies when he wrote his first dictionary but for them to exist more than 225 years later is pretty amazing, really, and I’m sure the one you’ll find a third of the way through the letter “F” is not the only one. But it’s a biggie.
It’s fine. Literally. The definition of the word “fine”. We women use that word all the time in ways that hardly ever mean what Mr. Webster says it means. According to Webster, “fine” as an adjective means “very good, excellent, with no impurities”. I don’t know about you, but when I say I’m fine, that’s not what I’m saying at all. Food for thought…
Question: I heard about the break-up. How are you doing? Answer: I’m fine. Real Answer: I’ve had nothing but Ben and Jerry’s Half-Baked Frozen Yogurt for the past 10 days but until Kmart has a sale on Joe Boxer sweats, I’ll just wear this caftan. And all these stray cats in my apartment are giving me a rash.
Question: Honey, I invited Bart and his new wife, Bitsy, to dinner tonight. But no fats, carbs, grains, dairy or meat because she’s got a photo shoot tomorrow. Can you whip something up? Answer: That’s fine. Real Answer: Unfortunately, since I’m not possessed by Martha Stewart and the only things in the fridge not on that “no can eat” list are lettuce, baking soda, and Fresca, I hope a plate of foaming greens will be fine with her. Pick up a bottle of wine on your way home, please; I’ll need it.
Question: I told the client you’d have that manual written by Monday. Don’t forget it needs to be translated into Portugese, Mandarin, Swahili and Braille. Is that a problem? Answer: It’s fine. Real Answer: What manual?
I suspect that Noah wasn’t the only dictionary author in the Webster household and some day another version will turn up, written by his wife or maybe one of his six daughters. And under the heading for the word “fine”, all it will say is “use as needed.” Because that’s how we chicks roll.
When I use “fine,” for example when I am slamming stuff around in the kitchen while my husband asks from the couch how I am doing, what I usually mean is “don’t push me, bub, I can barely control the urge to hurl this frying pan into your HDTV as it is.” Other times, when acquaintances greet me (usually at the grocery store where I am shopping for food I will be slamming around later) with “How are you?” I might use the word “fine” to stand in for “I really don’t have time to go into it right now.” Normally I give honest replies to that question, which can take awhile, but hey, they asked, right? Webster’s definition now seems only to apply when “fine” is used to describe things like china–which, by the way, doesn’t slam well AT ALL.
What I have noticed is how differently men use the word. I gave up asking the question, “How do I look?” long ago, because that way lies madness, but when a guy answers “fine,” he either means 1) on an academic scale, B+ or above; really much closer to Webster than you’d think, or 2) “Woman, we are late, and there isn’t anything we can do about it now, so let’s go.” When women hear the word “fine” as an assessment of their appearance or, for instance, cooking, she hears 1) well, it isn’t a total failure–but that could mean anything from a D- up, or 2) I can’t be bothered to give you a thoughtful answer because I am not really interested. It is not surprising that she’s slamming things around and he has taken refuge on the couch. We don’t need a dictionary, we need a translator.
My friend Kari and I were having a girl’s night at her cabin recently and she suggested that we watch “My Fair Lady,” which she had picked up somewhere. I clutched my hair in both hands (as I am wont to do when imparting deadly serious information,) and said, “Worst. Closing. Words. Ever!” We talked a bit about how famous that movie is and how wonderful it is supposed to be and although neither of us had ever seen the whole thing all the way through, I told her I thought it was a horrible movie with all kinds of bizarre misogynistic material in it, but very nice costumes. We decided to watch it. That sucker is three hours long, and indeed full of bizarre and unsatisfactory messages, side plots and outcomes. My favorite line was spoken by the mother of Professor Higgins when she meets him unexpectedly at Ascot and says, “Henry, what a disagreeable surprise!” followed by “Whatever are you doing here?” and “Go home at once!” Quite. She was the only character that made any sense at all. I was slightly off about the final line, I remembered it as “Eliza, fetch me my slippers!” which says everything you need to know about how that film ends, even if it isn’t accurate. The costuming was fabulous, the songs were classics, and we laughed throughout the movie, although sometimes with disbelief. Maybe it just doesn’t translate well to modern times? It was filmed in 1964. All I know is that I am sticking with “horrible.” What great classic or well-reviewed modern film have you seen that makes you want to tear your hair?
They’re blue, they live in a fantasy world, and they’re threatened with extermination. No, they’re not Smurfs; they’re the characters of James Cameron’s “Avatar”, my “movie most likely to make me tear my hair out and run screaming from the room.” I didn’t see it in the theater, mostly because what I saw on the trailer didn’t interest me enough to make me spend $15 to go, even if the popcorn is extra buttery and the soda icy cold. When I finally did see it, it was a borrowed DVD which we watched in the privacy of our living room so I could roll my eyes and say “Seriously?” without the person in the next seat elbowing me and telling me to shut up.
So what bugged me about this movie? It was torturously long, which a lot of James Cameron’s movies are. The characters were interesting only because of what they were not who they were. Despite some really fine actors in the group, some of the acting, well, stunk. And there was so much going on with the story that midway through the movie, I thought to myself, “You know, I don’t really care if they make it or not”. And that’s where they totally lost me.
Is James Cameron a genius when it comes to making movies? Well, really, he’s got a pretty impressive resume. And he made millions of people sit through a film that was over three hours long, all the while knowing that at the end the ship was going to sink and most of the people onboard were going to die. Will he get a Lifetime Achievement Award from the film industry someday? Probably, although I hope he has to wait until he’s 80 until he gets it. He’ll appreciate it more then.
Six early mornings a week, I go walking. Two to four miles depending on how late I get started, what the weather’s doing and how much whichever dog I’m walking is annoying me. I leave the house anywhere from 4:00 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. which means it’s always dark and quiet and that’s the way I like it.
I’m not the only one who exercises by the light of the moon. There’s a small number of us – walkers, runners, bicyclists – who frequent the Nightstalkers Gym. Our reasons are as varied as we are. I go early for the aforementioned quiet because I like to think while I walk and that’s easier to do without lawn mowers and children and traffic. Work schedules, insomnia, body clocks, vampires – those are my guesses for the other Nightstalkers.
We work out alone together. I know a handful of the other members by name and some of them by house (entering and exiting). But we’re there for each other when we need to be. A couple of us pushed out a stuck motorist on a frosty morning last winter. Warnings are called across street corners: “The drunk guy’s in the park this morning – take the back way!”. And when one runner was felled recently by a seizure, another club member stopped to call 911. (Turned out the runner had a brain tumor and is currently recovering from surgery).
Our gym has no set hours, no t-shirts, no building, no showers and no membership dues. But it has loyal members and we’re all in it together. How bout you, writing partner? Care to share on your workout preferences?
Not being a vampire, insomniac, dog-owner, or bound to a cruelly rigid work schedule, I prefer to work out in the daylight, without pets. I depend on my workouts for good physical and mental well-being, as well as to offset my occasional and irresistible urges to pig out. But that doesn’t mean I always feel like doing them. I go to classes at BRX fitness (a small studio here in town,) because I enjoy getting a sense of the folks with whom I am working out. There is a whole range of ages, fitness levels, but they are almost all women. We get to know each other bit by bit. I am known to be a complainer, groaning after ab work, asking “Seriously?” when the instructor chirps “Twenty more push ups, girls!” I call it “Keeping it real.” I love Kettlebell and Pilates and Zumba. I’ll occasionally walk to get to the grocery store or post office, or to celebrate a good dinner. I ride bike if I have an event coming up or the weather is exceptional and I have an hour or two to spare. I couldn’t handle my week if I didn’t do a cardio/strength blowout at least a couple of times a week. When my clothes are sweat-soaked and my breathing is ragged and my endorphin rush is pumping full-strength, then I know I am on the right track.
So, I was just checking my site stats on Wordtabulous and saw that my second Unmentionables Post was referred by en.wordpress.com/tag/underwear. I clicked on the link and was routed to a page of posts that were tagged “underwear” and I happened to be on the first page because my post was one of the twenty-five most recently posted. I found a mom blog post (10 Things I Said This Week) and looked at that, which was cute. I found out that in the UK today (or maybe yesterday) was National Underwear Day. And then I clicked on the Featured Blog (Derek Atlas) thinking it must be special if it was featured, and well–it was–but not the kind of special I go looking for, especially with my family roaming about behind me. It wasn’t graphic but somewhat excessively informative.
I realized last night as I was riding motorcycles with my husband and a biker friend that as much as I want to revive the biker I was in my youth, I’ve become more chicken as the years go on. Out on the highway, I was in the middle of the pack and as the needle on the speedometer rose, so did my stress level. I wobbled a bit a time or two and though it was windy, I can’t blame it all on that. And when we were in town and they were racing from stoplight to stoplight, I couldn’t seem to crank the throttle far enough to roar down the street behind them. They have Shovelheads, I have a Sportster so I guess I could blame my lack of horsepower for not keeping up. That’s what I’ll go with because it sounds better than saying I was just too chicken.
I don’t know what the problem is. The first time I had my motorcycle license, I was in my mid-20’s. I rode a chopper with a six-foot front end and that baby could GO. It would scream down the road like a banshee, me clinging to it with my hands gripping the drag bars and my ass glued to the seat, head thrown back, hair whipping in the wind. Me like go fast. That was my mantra. And I lived it.
Am I just too cautious now? I don’t know why I should be. I own the bike I have these days (the bank doesn’t), I actually have insurance in case, oh God, there’s an accident, and if I get a speeding ticket, I have the funds to pay it. So come on internal biker bitch, get out here already, could you? Soul sister, you need to get your scooter so I have someone to putt with…
Dear friend, you are not chicken, you are coming to clarity about the fragility of the human body and the resplendence of life’s potential (overlooking the daily crap, I mean.) You have also had at least one friend die on a motorcycle in the past year, correct? Your internal biker bitch is older and wiser and would shake her head wryly at her younger reckless counterpart. You survived your banshee days; embrace them forever, but ride smart and sane, and get your thrills by kicking anyone’s ass that gives you a hard time about it.
I feel energy building toward my scooter purchase. Thank you for the recent email suggestion! I like the Yamaha C3’s gas mileage and storage, but am not crazy about the styling, and need to be able to hit 50mph if I don’t want to get killed going to Target. I suppose I could ride on the shoulder, but that might be illegal. I am continuing my research… and will be glad to play the role of poodle next to your (Greyhound? Doberman?) when we someday ride together!
Atonement, Billy Elliott, Bomber, Commitments, Death at a Funeral, Full Monty, Hot Fuzz, Kelly Thompson, Love Actually, Lynnette Dobberpuhl, Monty Python Holy Grail, Monty Python Meaning of Life, Pirate Radio, River Kwai, Run Fat Boy Run, Shane Taylor, Son of Rambow, The Flying Scotsman
- Death at a Funeral
- Hot Fuzz
- Love, Actually
- Run, Fat Boy, Run
- Pirate Radio
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail
- Monty Python Meaning of Life
- Son of Rambow
- The Flying Scotsman
- Billy Elliott
- Still Crazy
- Shaun of the Dead
- Pirate Radio (gotta go with you on that one – LOVE that movie – killer soundtrack – and it’s about radio, so what can I say there?)
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail
- The Full Monty
- To Sir, With Love
- The Commitments
- Bridge on the River Kwai
And there you have it – not a single Harry Potter movie in the bunch!
Aaagh! How did I miss The Full Monty and The Commitments? And of course Shaun of the Dead. I remembered that one, but let you have it since you were the one to tell me about it. ‘Cause I’m generous like that. Still haven’t seen Bomber and you’ve told me about that three times. Love!
I was surprised no Shaun of the Dead on your list because you have a lot of Simon Pegg on there. Bomber is a great movie – excellent story, shot on a shoestring budget, and stars Shane Taylor who’s an amazing actor AND a pretty nice guy all-around. I’ll loan it to you sometime. KT
A few of my neighbor lady friends and I have been kicking around the idea of taking a “girl’s” weekend somewhere, anywhere away from home. When I say “girl’s” I am not referring to actual girls, we are all well past all the points where we might question if we had hit full womanhood status. We’ve been discussing the possibility on and off for nearly a year. The men say it is never going to happen, that we will never agree on a weekend or a destination. It is a bizarre six-sided conversation (give or take, depends on who is in at any given time) with issues of expense, duration, distance, and itinerary to consider. New York is too expensive, New Orleans too wild, the desert is blah, the beach might be ok, but no one can agree on which beach. Chicago seems likely, but then someone has to go make dinner and the discussion is tabled. A paranoid person could believe that there are saboteurs in the mix, deliberately shooting down ideas just to keep the whole prospect safely out in limbo. A trip that is never scheduled never triggers guilt, or leaves the children in inept paternal hands, or evens out the one-up in mom’s favor for dad’s weekend or weekends off. I consider myself extremely flexible, and harbor no guilt, concerns about my children’s well-being with their dad, or worry about the one-up. The only thing that is a no-go for me is when the men get frustrated and decide to be “helpful” and want to plan the whole thing for us. “Think about it,” they say. “We can take the worry out of the cost and take the blame if you don’t have fun. You won’t have to do all the research or talk about it. You just pack and go!” Damnit, no. I am a grown woman, and I will plan my own vacation. I might have to go by myself, but the idea of the husbands in the ‘hood sitting around congratulating themselves on planning their idea of a perfect ladies weekend for their indecisive women makes me gag a little bit. There is a danger that all the other wives might decide that this is a good idea, but I consider it a small one. We aren’t going anywhere.
“Chick trips” are common among my circle of friends. Usually annual events, they range from a girls-only camp-out at an area state park to a spring tour of beaches around the world. In my experience, the secret to planning these things is to keep it simple. Consider the basics:
How long can you stand each other? If it only takes a day or two before you get on each other’s nerves, you’re talking overnight trip not a week in the Bahamas.
What’s the point? Looking for relaxation? Try a spa. Adventure? Canoe trip. Retail therapy? Metropolis with good shopping opportunities.
Show me the money. Pick a trip everyone can comfortably afford. If it’s a hardship, you won’t enjoy yourself.
Let it go! Everyone has responsibilities at home, at work, in their community. But you also deserve a break once in awhile. Be willing to take one.
Work it out, ladies! It can be done. And for God’s sake, don’t let your husbands plan your trip for you. Unless they’re suggesting you go someplace absolutely fantastic and they’re offering to foot the bill. And if that’s the case, you should invite me to come along.