Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Casting Couch

Somebody needs to sit me down and read me The Berenstein Bears and Too Much TV. You know, shame me into putting down the remote. The batteries are dying as it is. Then again, I've learned (or at least reinforced) some valuable lessons under the tutelage of my favorite shows. In the past year alone, I've learned how to chop fennel (Barefoot Contessa). I've learned that sometimes, the less you say, the more you get (Mad Men). I've learned that bad boys can be good (Gossip Girl) and good boys can be boring (Gossip Girl). I've learned that you will most definitely cry when you try on the wedding dress you were born to wear (Say Yes to the Dress). And, if your boss hires a fun gay assistant, he will soon be the favorite and you will be either bitter or fired (Rachael Zoe Project).

I forge strong emotional ties with the faces on TV, and while I'm fast-forwarding through the commercials, I like to imagine which characters would make the best contributions to my own reality (should they suddenly step out of the screen and into, say, Black Beauty). A few years ago on this very blog I made a list of potential stand-ins, and it needs an update. Herewith, my life as populated by the realest of the reality stars (version 2009):

Dad: Tim Gunn, Project Runway. It's not easy, being endearing and all-knowing at the same time. Tim pulls it off. Plus, he could teach me how to do a perfect hem, a useful skill to have when every pair of pants in the world is six inches too long and every skirt fits you like a nun's habit.

Mom: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa. This is a no-brainer. I could sit in that cedar-shingled barn/kitchen pouring out my heart all day while she whipped up hearty sausage-lentil soup and lobster mac 'n cheese. Duh.

Big Sister: Patti Stanger, Millionaire Matchmaker. Like lots of big sisters, Patti loves to give advice. She's also brilliant at destroying people's self-esteem one aching fiber at a time (which I've heard is a popular activity in many families) with relentless jabs at other women's hairstyles, clothing, weight and makeup application techniques. Anyway, I'm sure she'd have me looking good and scared to speak in no time flat.

Little Sister: Khloe Kardashian, Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami. Khloe's a good little sister because she's fun but surprisingly take-charge, much like my real little sister. If you're into drawing parallels between the Kardashian sisters and the Drury sisters, here's how it lines up: Kourtney = Emma (oldest, shortest); Kim = Claire (glam middle child); Khloe = Liv (youngest & tallest; expert eye-roller). We are just like them. We even hang out in family-owned boutiques drinking champagne and everything! OK, back to the list. 

Brother(s): Michael and Bryan Voltaggio, Top Chef: Las Vegas. Competing chefs in the family? Thanksgiving would be aMAZing.

Best Friend: Jeff Lewis, Flipping Out. Jeff is mean, self-centered, has impossible standards, is a neat freak, and is unsuitable for romantic involvements. Oh, and also handsome, funny and good at hanging curtains. He would be a great best friend.

Boyfriend: Hmm. This is the hardest, since there are almost zero straight men on my reality TV schedule. OK, it's a little out of left field, but how about: Joey Rozmus, Real World: Cancun? You know, the skinny one with the tats and the drinking problem? He's a little young (or is he? At 22, he's within my 10-year radius), but he's an instigator and he's in a band. That's hot.

P.S. Last night, I ventured out on a dusky stroll and passed a woman on the sidewalk carrying a mostly white rabbit wearing a neon green leash. I openly stared for about 40 feet of approach time, hoping to make eye contact with the woman so we could both acknowledge it:

"You're carrying a rabbit. That's weird."
"I know! A city rabbit, on a leash! I'm a kook."

But she refused to see me, keeping her eyes trained on the stoplight ahead as the rabbit morosely twitched his ears in my direction. What does it take to get a little human interaction around here, people? Geez Louise.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Identified Flying Objects

Have you ever found yourself driving down the highway next to an unfathomable object? Something so surreal that you risk your life digging in your purse for your camera so you can document and research the item when you get home?

I have, about two months ago. It was on I-65 in northern Indiana, about 90 miles outside Indianapolis. There I encountered several slow-moving semi trucks, each carrying one smooth, white, gently sculpted, extraordinarily graceful, shockingly large thing. I had no idea what the things could be. Propeller parts for the world's largest helicopter? The hulls of super-swift submarines? Rockets being developed for use by the general public? BOMBS? Good Lord, I was mystified.

The answer came last week, when I was again driving the same route and came upon this glorious sight (see right). These towering beasts (please note size of trees for sense of scale), as I later learned via extensive Googling, are GE 1.5MW Wind Turbines at the Benton County Wind Farm, providing carbon-free energy to hundreds of thousands. Perhaps you have seen something similar on your own journeys, but I had not, and was moved to exit the expressway for closer inspection.

A few days after the windmill encounter, my sister Claire and I flew to Florida to visit our brother Lee on the occasion of his 24th birthday. Our visit was a mix of incidents both successful and mildly disastrous, our favorite combination. On our first afternoon in residence at the Vero Beach Hotel and Spa, we began with an hour of poolside lounging, followed by a stroll on the beach. A group decision to fully immerse ourselves in the Atlantic Ocean led to the following mini-emergency: 

Claire: Should we get in?
Lee: Yeah, the water’s warm!
Me: I hope our sunglasses stay on.
Claire: We’ll just leave our drinks right here in the sand.

Soon, the conversation turned to body-surfing:

Lee: Here, wait for the next big wave, and I’ll tell you when to start swimming.
Me: This one?
Lee: Nope. Not good enough. Hold on.
Claire: This one?
Lee: Yeah, get ready. OK, paddle! Go!
Claire (shrieking as two-ton crush of saltwater sweeps us helplessly to shore): My sunglasses! They’re gone!
Me: Stop! Everyone! Find them!
Claire (flailing in wave suds, panicked by accessory loss to churning sea): It’s over. Done! We'll never see them again.
Lee: Yeah, I'm pretty sure those suckers are gone.
Me: Weren’t they, like, $600?
Claire: Yeah. Retail. But not wholesale.
Me: Well I’m just sick over it. We’re not leaving until we find them. I’ll drown looking for them.
Lee: Forget it, Emma. Those sunglasses are on the bottom.
Claire: A mermaid’s wearing them.
Me: She must be one cool mermaid.

The emergency trend continued later that night when Lee slipped on some wet marble stairs in the hotel and required three stitches, some x-rays and a tetnus shot, an activity that kept us entertained at the urgent care center for the better part of our brother's actual birthday. It was fun, but not as fun as this nighttime landing in a single-engine Piper (Lee's been living in Vero Beach for flight school, and he flies like a pro). The video cracks me up every time, see, because the screaming stall horn followed by the sudden camera drop makes it seem like we really crashed. Luckily for you, we didn't:

This video of a daytime landing features better lighting, but beware, Claire's deeply ingrained fear of flying occasionally prompts her to cuss:

P.S. Today, I saw a bee buzzing along the sidewalk and thought: I wonder if I'll ever get stung by a bee again for the rest of my life? I wonder.