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.)
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!
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.
I admit it. I’ve always had a secret desire to be a supermodel. Well, come on – who doesn’t? They get to travel all over the world and make scads of money to stand around and look bored while wearing fantastic clothes. And then when they’re not working, they pal around with rock stars and actors and go on talk shows to let us ordinary women know that the reason they look that way is due to good genes and they really can eat whatever they want and hate to exercise. If that’s not a charmed life, I don’t know what is.
Yesterday the women of “So then SHE said…” had our first photo shoot. And it was hard. We found some great locations and while our “vision” for the end result was spot on, the execution was a little tougher than expected. To smile or not to smile? (You look a little evil. OK, now too sad. Are you pissed? You look pissed.) What do I do with my hands? (Well, not THAT because now it looks like it’s growing out of your chin.) Standing? Sitting? (God, am I really that much shorter than you?) The lighting’s all wrong. (I agree. You can actually SEE us.) But on the upside, we got through it and even ended up with some pictures that while they may not grace the cover of “Cosmopolitan”, can be posted on our blog without causing us too much embarassment. After all, we think it’s important that you know who really writes this stuff…
One of my favorite characters from “The Incredibles” (yes, I know it’s a kids’ movie and I don’t CARE – it’s funny), Edna, has a great line about supermodels: “Nothing super about them… spoiled, stupid little stick figures with poofy lips who think only about themselves.” With respect to Edna, I now have to disagree. We’re not spoiled (we hauled our own equipment), don’t have poofy lips (Angelina Jolie has poofy lips and we don’t look like her) and don’t think just about ourselves (we even changed some locations to avoid bothering others with our supreme coolness). So what say you, modeling compadre? Next shoot in the Bahamas?
Even if people wanted to look at us, we’d never make it in the modeling world because of how truly painful the act of being photographed was. I don’t understand how so many people can be relaxed and happy in front of a camera. I don’t know why I personally CAN’T be. (Try to look natural. No, not like that. Try looking up. No, that doesn’t help. Really, can’t you just look natural?) Models enjoy the camera’s attention and seeing images of themselves. We are self-conscious but would much rather get attention for our message or literary delivery, or other creative expression. That being said, I can’t keep using a photo of my cat as my image. A cat avatar says something about me–maybe something true, but not the message I want to send to the world.
I love Edna Mole. I quote her frequently.
We are super (in our own special way,) we are models (in the sense that there are pictures of us available for use in media.) Let’s leave it at that. Except that I want to share one shot of us that we captured as we explored the webcam possibility that I think really captured the essence of our striving...
I have to warn you, friend: 45 is turning out to be kind of a tricky age. I didn’t think it would be when I hit it a couple of weeks ago, but it is. When it’s your turn the end of this month, beware of people who feel the need to constantly remind you that you’re only “five years away from 50”. Oh, the horror of it all! That only leads me to wonder what’s supposed to happen when I turn 50? I envision it to be something fantastic like I win the lottery, move to Europe, become a world-famous author and discover that you really can lose 50 pounds on the Chocolate-and-Wine diet. So if it turns out to be something less than that, I may be disappointed.
Forty-five? Hah! I laugh at forty-five. And fifty. Generally speaking, aging is better than the alternative, right? I have a friend who just turned fifty this week, and as I told her, she makes fifty look like the new thirty-five. I could just admire her beauty and energy but there is a bit of aggravation that she sets the bar so darn high. My thirties were WAY better than I expected, and the forties started out rough but my youngest graduated middle school this week ending five years of hell (counting both boys’ time there,) and I am really looking forward to the next stage. I don’t know about you, but I’m smarter, more confident, further on my writing, and less apt to take crap than I was five years ago. I might be a bit more delicate in the joints and digestion and daily grow closer to death, but before we completely fall apart I like to think there might be grand adventure and published books with our names on them in our futures. The Chocolate-and-Wine Diet? I’m already on that, I didn’t know it had a name.
Oh, you won’t see it called that on an infomercial but that’s what the clerk at the Quik Shop says it is. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any documentation on how much of which you should have when so you have to figure out the portion sizes on your own. I’m up for adventure if you are – I’ve got both annual leave and gas money to burn.