Monday, February 25, 2013

Sometimes, You Just Know

My ex-fiance and his new bride engaged in a public brawl via Facebook the other night. Two things leaped readily to mind when I read it: that I was glad I hadn't married him and also that he has not changed a bit. Flaming infantile tantrums were his wheelhouse back when we were together, which, after fighting back briefly with equal vigor in my early twenties, I eventually reached a sort of zen state in which I'd just shoot him a disdainful look and turn away until he shut up and calmed down.

It was tiresome with a capital "t".

Every once in a very great while, we are treated to a window on a situation that proves no matter how painful something was at the time, it was really, truly for the best. Reading the two-sided tantrum between married "adults" taking place in a public online forum made my stomach churn. It also screamed at me in bold, red, foot-high letters, "AREN'T YOU GLAD IT'S NOT YOU?!!?"

It's not 'quitting' to walk away; it's mature and sane. Drama like that is tacky, cheap, and juvenile. Really, if you must throw a hissy fit, do it where no one can see you...because if you're older than four, you'll only look like a fool.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Prom: It's a Gay Old Time

I've blogged previously about my various prom experiences. My senior prom was probably the least torturous of all three that I attended; my date was fine until he lowered the boom and broke up with me at the breakfast (which I found out later in college from his best friend was because he wanted to take someone else to their prom). The worst is a toss-up between my then-ex picking a fight my sophomore year and the date rapist who hit on all my friends my junior year. I wanted to dump the would-be rapist in favor of Hopkins, but my parents objected stridently when I announced my intentions right after Christmas.

In short, prom was okay, I guess, but in certain respects it was a disaster. It's all about perspective. My gay friends couldn't go together, let alone ask anyone from another school, which they reminded me of when I whined too much. They brought me down to Earth when I spun out over the various prom disasters. They dragged me around to the movies, to the mall (in another town, since we are from Podunk), their basements to watch TV, and the various hills and cliffs where we all went to hide from our parents and BS. They didn't let me sit and feel sorry for myself, even though they were forced to engage in a huge amount of diversion and chicanery to be able to enjoy the prom.

There have been plenty of LGBTQ prom 'flaps' over the last few years. This time, it's in Indiana. There's a group that wants to ban openly homosexual couples from the prom, especially from the "grand march" processional into the dance. Really? How are same-sex teenage couples that much different from the others in high school? I once chaperoned many dances at an evangelical Christian college where I spent more time reminding couples to "leave a little room for the Holy Spirit" between them than was necessary at my very public high school. Hormones are hormones, no matter the denomination! You get that with heteronormative couples, so yeah, you should expect it with ALL couples between the ages of say, twelve and twenty-two.

Is it really that scary that two dresses are swishing against one another? Or that two tuxes are locked in that bad teenage slow-dance embrace? What really bugs people about it? If the chaperons are doing their jobs, nobody's going to be off in a dark corner necking, whether they're gay or straight or pink-and-purple-polka-dotted. Isn't that a little more important than whether it's boy/girl, boy/girl, or are we less concerned that boy/girl could turn into shotgun wedding over the summer? At least that's NOT going to happen with the lesbian and gay couples...

Prom isn't always the fairytale that it's cranked up to be, but everybody should have a chance to go to theirs, particularly in a public school. If you have that big of a problem with your children being exposed to openly gay and lesbian students, folks, perhaps you should put them in an evangelical Christian school where the gay and lesbian kids are closeted. (Yes, you read that correctly. They're therrrrre, no matter how much you pay in tuition or enforce school rules against it. It's a very big closet and they're in excellent company.)

Your kids aren't going to get 'gay cooties' any more than they're going to catch 'fat cooties'. If they're straight, they're straight, if they're LGBTQ, deal with it. And while you're at it, better check your eye. There's probably a big old beam in there somewhere.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Hunting We Will Go

So, I'm in the market for a house. This is quite possibly the scariest purchase I've ever made. I'm one of those people who hates buying a car, and although my most recent car was in the range of $30K, that's a far cry from $100K+ for a house.

To date, on this round, I have looked at the following:

The 1970s ranch with treacherous basement stairs, and, you guessed it, a BASEMENT LAUNDRY ROOM! The big killers on this house were the aforementioned basement stairs, the craptastic upstairs bathroom that will have to be completely gutted and redone (the basement shower, however, is all Italian tile, so go figure), and there is no space for a dinette, let alone the massive Century dining room suite I have that seats six with the two leaves out of it. It's semi-secluded and backs up onto a farm, which I love, but those basement stairs are a deal-breaker, along with the fact that the windows are bolted shut with about thirty screws each through the sashes, which I was told by the agent is a standard preventative measure in foreclosures. There's no way to "fix" it, despite what she says, and that means that I'd have to replace every window in the house right out of the gate. No thanks. PS, one can also achieve the same effect by drilling through the sash at an angle near the lock, and dropping a ten-penny nail into the hole. It was a standard safety measure in most of my exterior-entry apartments in Lexington.

Our second candidate: the 1998 patio home with no dining area whatsoever. It has a great fenced yard, but the neighbors have horses. The agent seemed mystified by this, until I said, "I can smell them. Horses smell different from cattle," not to mention that I'm violently allergic to horse dander, much to the disappointment of my godparents who'd sincerely hoped I would take over showing their Tennessee Walking Horses when they got too old to do it themselves. Other problems: the master shower is teeny-weeny, the siding is melted in two places on the back of the house (gas grill too close to the walls), there are two propane tanks propped up out back for the vent-free fireplace, the 'garden spa tub' has a serious leak, the cooktop is only two burners and in an island in the middle of the kitchen, and, well, folks, if you're selling a house and you've moved out, TAKE ALL OF YOUR STUFF. There were dishes in the dishwasher, picture books piled in the daughter's former bedroom, and a closet FULL of board games. I shudder to think what's in the storage garage out back.

House number 3: Dollhouse of Claustrophobia, with panoramic views of a brand new...CEMETERY...from the back porch. The hall was 3/4 width, and the doors were all 28" wide. I'm used to 36" doors, and doors that narrow are not going to work because I'm a large person (plus I truly am claustrophobic and this house triggered an attack). The house was in good shape overall, and I wish joy to whoever buys it. Just remember, that cemetery's not going anywhere, and good luck when you're ready to sell. I received a lecture from the agent on the fact that in my price point, I can either buy something like that "excellent property I showed you the other night" (the Seventies ranch) or I'm going to have to settle for an itsy-bitsy house like this one. I know that she's not really interested in me as a client because I'm a low-dollar sale prospect, but come on. She's selling houses in a depressed economy, and I am trying to buy one. Sure, it's not a kit mansion on a postage stamp that's going for high six figures, but my money is as green as the next guy's.

So I haven't seen anything that I love. I wish I had the money to buy whatever flies my kite, but that's not the case. Maybe I haven't been clear enough about what it is that I'm looking for, or maybe my ideal house is not on the market at the moment. It's been a negative enough experience that I'm really thinking about postponing looking again for a while. I'm not ready to sink my entire life into a house that I hate or in which I'm profoundly uncomfortable.

Friday, February 8, 2013

(Not So) Broadway Baby

I recently volunteered for (and thankfully, was cast in) a staged reading of excerpts from The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I hadn't read any of Doug Adams' stuff before I got to college, but among my peer group once I got there, it was a required text. Since I'd grown accustomed to this "reading for social acceptance" thing in high school, it wasn't that big of a deal. I located a copy and set to work indoctrinating myself into the mysteries of science fiction satire, having previously read the entire corpus of Frank Herbert and two different complete Asimov series to keep up with the boys. It was a little different and, well, Adams was ever-so-slightly shocking to my "good girl" brain.

Anyway, one of the components of my staggeringly hideous stage fright is that even if I can get off-book, I still blow my lines. At the first rehearsal, I did manage to get through most of my lines as Eddie the (overly-cheerful, then overly bitchy) Ship's Computer. I had also failed to realize that I have to sing a little- so I took a page from Rosemary Ashe, the wonderfully demented original Carlotta from "Phantom of the Opera" and belted my way through it.

There's a reason I have a hangup about the singing part. I don't do 'pretty', but I can, when I try, do 'loud'. This is best suited to jazz torching, Broadway belting, and comic turns. It's been over a decade since my last show, which profoundly scarred me about this. My vocal feature in the second act was brief, but it required me to forcefully address the male lead's character. The actor in question had a serious hatred of fat people, so whenever it came time for me to sing, he'd give me this searing look of disgust. I'd miss my cue, come in resoundingly flat, and then practically run offstage in tears.

Thanks to my friends Stefan and David, and a long, long night of running and re-running the scene with them calling out different characterizations for me to try, we finally hit on a winner: Ursula the Sea Witch from Disney's The Little Mermaid. The next day in rehearsals, the time came, Stephen assumed his air of general contempt believing that he was going to scare me yet again. Not so. I marched out, dragged him up to the apron, belted out my lines, and upstaged the crap out of him into the process. The director yelled, "STOP! You must do that again!" Stephen, who had nearly peed in his pants from shock, got dragged around again...and again...and again...until the director was certain that it wasn't an anomaly. From there on out, I owned my little piece of stage real estate and had a great time doing it.

Still, the residual effect lingers. I was a bit surprised at myself when I grabbed this latest part and ran with it. It's not very large but the point is not so much how many lines one has as the impression one makes with them. It's also shown me how much I miss performing; I just hope that when the time comes for the performance that I'm a credit to myself, our director, and my castmates. This time, at least there's no Stephen treating me like he's going to catch 'fat cooties' from sharing the stage. I think that will help a lot, or at least I hope so.

Monday, February 4, 2013

When the Bed Bites the Dust

My erstwhile classmate Michelle over at It's a Small Town Life (I say "erstwhile" because she was with us off and on when her father deployed overseas as an Air Force pilot when we were growing up- she actually graduated elsewhere) recently blogged the unexpected midnight collapse of her bed, which elicited the comment, "Well, that was exhilarating," from her husband. Trust me, I expect no less from him, and I'm sure he delivered that line perfectly deadpan.

Which brought back another random memory, of the Evening My Bed Collapsed.

I was living ten miles up the road from Smalltownland in a tiny rental house belonging to my favorite teacher's niece. My friend Matt lived about a block away in an apartment, and he was frequently at my house when he wasn't working because a) I had dogs and b) there was free food most of the time.

Matt worked nights on the psychiatric ward in the Smalltownland hospital as an orderly, and he was already a little petrified of my father, who is to this day is one of the staff physicians. Matt had a key to my front door and would often go straight to my house after work to walk the dogs and crash on my sofa.

One afternoon I came home from work to find Matt racing madly through the house behind my two Smooth Fox Terriers, Ozzie and Jane. They'd run from the living room at the front of the house to my bedroom at the back, at which point Matt would fling himself on the bed and let the dogs wool him around. That was sort of cute until the worst possible thing happened: Matt, who is a large dude, flopped down on the bed and the retaining piece holding the rails to the headboard gave way. Matt, the bed, and both dogs crashed unceremoniously to the floor.

Fortunately, no one was hurt, but equally unfortunately, as I was bereft of power tools and/or friends to help me in that crisis, I had to call my father to come over and fix the bed.

If I'd given it more thought, I should probably have sent Matt home before Daddy got there with the drill, because we had a decidedly Uncle Buck moment when he powered that thing up. I'm also not quite sure if my father believed the story about how the bed got broken (which was the truth), since when he got it put back together both dogs raced into the room and began cheerfully bouncing around on the mattress.

So let this be a lesson unto you, single ladies: you might want to invest in your own power tools in case you're ever faced with anything similar. Your daddy may not really believe you, either.