Kids Incarcerated, that is. My son and I saw this chain gang of preschoolers at the park. I explained to him that they were very naughty children. Their main crime was not listening to their parents. I’m not sure what work detail they had been on that day, perhaps digging ditches or picking up litter. They were singing “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” as they passed by, which I thought was a little cliché. I wonder how much the parents have to pay for this wonderful disciplinary service? It sure beats shipping the problem four-year old off to military school. It also made me realize there really is a market for my Toddler Straight Jacket line of products. I will be offering them in an array of fashion colors and textures. I’m starting product development, and will be looking for investors soon.
I was a child of the suburbs outside of Portland, where everything was shiny and new. But for as long as I can remember, I have loved older homes. I suppose it’s the character and aesthetic I find so appealing. But purchasing a pre-depression era home typically involves renovating the kitchen, and a complete build-out to achieve the elusive master bedroom inclusive of bathroom and closets. We were on our final renovation about eight years ago to gain a master bedroom.
Our painter was a born again Christian, which I suspect was due, in part, to his A.A. affiliation. He was certainly a nice guy, and the most reliable painter we’ve ever hired. Dennis was a talker, and he talked a lot about Jesus. Not in a proselytizing manner, but in a “The big J.C. is my B.F.F.,” sort of way. He knew Jesus on a very personal level. He might off-handedly remark, “I prayed to the good Lord Jesus today to ensure I could get the right paint color for you, and there wouldn’t be a big line at Daily’s Paint Store.” I was initially taken aback by all his Jesus talk. As anyone raised Catholic knows, we would much rather talk to his Mother, Mary. After all, she birthed him in a stable (yikes!) and raised the little tike. Raising the Christ Child could not have been easy. Who do you give the time out to – Father, Son or Holy Ghost? When you are the mother of God, you are certainly never allowed to take the Lord’s name in vain. That would have been really damaging to his self-esteem. As parents, most of us constantly second guess ourselves. Did I overreact? Did I underreact? What is the best way to address this issue? Imagine if you are raising the Christ child with his stepfather? The pressure to be a good parent must have been immense, two millennia before PEPs or parenting books could offer any guidance!
I was also a little confounded by the thought that Jesus had the time or the inclination to be concerned about my renovation. I figured he had more important things to be concerned about. But I must be honest, eventually I warmed to the idea. I started to believe that Jesus was playing a very personal role in our project. He not only cared, but had a divine opinion on whether I chose “Dessert Sonata Ombre” or “Late Tuscan Summer Corn Harvest” for my walls. By the time I had to choose bathroom tile, I was entirely convinced he wanted me to put the intricate mosaic tile behind my bath that would harken back to the holy lands he walked 2000 years ago. Replicating the marble tile from a villa in Rome for the floors became a forgone conclusion. Eventually my husband pointed out that Jesus was NOT paying for our renovation. I reminded him that I had passed on recreating the Sistine Chapel on the ceiling.
As we were winding down the project, Dennis showed up on a late fall day that was threatening rain. He insisted on painting the outside, which on a traditional Spanish style home consists of light colored stucco and very dark trim on the windows. I questioned the wisdom of such an action, on a day there would surely be rain. Dennis assured me that he had prayed to the Good Lord Jesus that it wouldn’t rain, so he could get our exterior window trim and walls painted, and move on to his next project. He felt certain the Good Lord Jesus would answer his prayer. “Very well”, I sighed. It was simply too difficult to argue against such ardent faith, and the Lord had done such a nice job guiding my renovation thus far. So paint he did; cream stucco, dark trim. He was efficient, and after a couple of hours he headed out. Suddenly, the skys opened up, and a torrential down pour made a chocolate ripple tie-dyed mess of the freshly painted exterior wall. I grabbed my phone and called Dennis. “Are you are aware that it’s raining cats and dogs right now?” Silence on the other end. “Dennis, what in the world was Jesus thinking?”
It is always a little intimidating walking into a new workout facility. It’s as if you have “newbie” tattooed on your forehead. And right out of the gates, I committed several faux pas. I was cheerfully greeted by Felicity, who would be my instructor that day. The studio was impeccable and shiny. In my earnestness I marched on in, only to be scolded immediately. “No, no, no, we don’t wear our shoes past this line.” I looked down to see a white line painted on the floor, which I had crossed. “Please take your shoes off, and deposit your neatly folded clothing in one of the cubicles, provided at no extra charge.” I was relieved to have the authorized equipment; no-slip socks and logoed leak-proof water bottle. Mercifully, they were included in the auction package.
I filled out the necessary paperwork. In case of emergency contact my beloved husband. Yes, I have insurance. Yes, I have a medical directive authored by a reputable attorney, signed by me, and notarized. No, please don’t let my beloved husband pull the plug. No I don’t carry my own defibrillator. With that taken care of, I entered the studio.
I was instructed to grab a small mat and towel (this equipment was also complimentary). The towel was to be placed upon the mat, so that no part of my skin or clothing came into contact with the mat at any time during the workout. As the studio began to fill, I wished the auction package had included a gift certificate for Lululemon. I hadn’t realized how much workout clothing had changed in the ten years since I had last purchased eight pairs of yoga pants, jog bras and tank tops at Target. Unlike my workout bras and tops designed specifically to smash everything down with force, the new tops, pushed everything up, and in, and included varying degrees of padding. I had to be careful not to stare in bright-eyed admiration. Not only were these women stylishly outfitted, but they all looked like they had come straight from the salon. Everyone’s hair was down, highlighted, and cascading in beautiful long curls and waves that appeared to be straight off the red carpet. I marveled at the Coppertone tans they all sported during the dregs of winter in Seattle. And as they blinked, I felt the air begin to move, generated by the fans attached to their eyelids, giving them all a decidedly “My Little Pony” look. I wondered if their makeup was going to run once we all began to sweat.
I needn’t worry. This workout was designed to lift your bum and tone every inch of your body without ever breaking a sweat. It consisted of really tight jerking movements and gesticulations. For the entire hour we were yelled at to squeeze our nether regions. I had a hard time figuring out how to breathe without relaxing my lungs and nasal passages, which was strictly forbidden.
I felt horribly guilty that the instructor had to spend an inordinate amount of time continuously adjusting and readjusting my posture, pulling my shoulders back, and then punching me in the belly to get me to “suck it in”. I wondered if I had internal bleeding, and I tried to explain to her that “I was sucking it in. That was as far as my belly could suck, and that Spanks were invented for a reason”. Talking back was a really poor decision, as her wrath reigned down upon me. I felt like I was Richard Gere in “An Officer and a Gentleman”, being berated and humiliated by Louis Gossett, Jr. I wondered if my instructor was trying to win an Academy Award, as I began looking for the hidden cameras. Luckily she did find time to pile on some lavish praise to her star students. A few were in training to become instructors, so they too could join the “Cult of Perfection”. If I wanted to continue coming to this class, it was going to take a substantial investment in hair, makeup, workout gear, and plastic surgery.
I admit, the workout was fatiguing, but being of the old school, it’s just not a workout unless I sweat profusely. I was curious what these women did to supplement this workout, so at the end of class, I asked Felicity, “What do you gals do for cardio?” Felicity looked at me with a mixture of sympathy and disdain, and like a trained flamenco dancer, made a sweeping gesture with her arm from the top of her perfectly coiffed head to her tiny waist. “Oh no! Only barre! Absolutely only barre! How do you think we get these bodies?”
Bumper stickers have long been a way to tell the world how smart you are, how subversive, or just a great way to brag a little. In a city like Seattle, bumper stickers offer a diversion from the ennui of traffic. I love playing the bumper sticker game in my own head; I brainstorm ideas that could really capture the imagination of our nation’s commuters. It’s not complicated like haiku. Keep it short and snappy, yet thought-provoking. Here are a few ideas I believe to be bumper sticker worthy:
1) My Kids Are Highly Average
2) Bad Driver On Board
3) Sorry, I Didn’t Mean To Cut You Off
4) IT’s Not Coffee In My Starbucks Mug
5) I ♥ Traffic
6) Global Warming, Not My Problem – This one I would affix to the bumper of my SUV and I would distribute to all my SUV driving pals. Of course, this is meant to be cheeky.
7) My Other Car Is A Prius – Again for the large SUV, or other fossil fuel guzzling automobiles out there. This is meant to be taken literally.
8) My Other Car Is A Hummer – For the Prius driver with a kooky sense of humor.
9) Jesus Saves! He Must Be A Billionaire By Now – This is simply a lesson in compound interest.
10) Honk If You Love Jesus – An old classic that really deserves a “revival”. I’ve noticed a lot of drivers in Manhattan really love Jesus. In Seattle, not so much…why am I the only one honking?
Once Halloween hits, the official holiday party season ramps up, and is in full swing by Thanksgiving. And where there are parties, there are hangovers. I think Dan Brown had it all wrong. The true Holy Grail, protected by the knights of Templar and pursued by heads of state, is the cure to the hangover. Think about it; the symbol is a chalice, and the world’s longest running conspiracy began over wine, at the Last Supper. Would not the knowledge to cure hangovers make someone all powerful?
As a participant-observing, cultural anthropologist, I’ve done some research on this subject over the years. Sure, one could always abstain from alcohol or limit intake, but let’s be real here. Quite frankly, I’m surprised that modern science has not devoted more time and energy to this malaise. Think about the loss of productivity each and every day, all over the world, due to the “Jack Daniels Flu”. Surely if someone cured the common hangover, they would find themselves accepting the Nobel Prize for Medicine. Until that day, we are forced to craft our home remedies, and hide in the shadows devouring hamburgers, and French fries, accompanied by an ice cold Coca-Cola.