Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Répondez S'il Vous Plaît

I'm thinking of opening my own RSVP business. The concept would be modeled after People's Revolution, Kelly Cutrone's "public relations, branding and marketing firm" (see Bravo reality series Kell on Earth), which appears to provide as its main service the frantic collection, logging, charting and checking of RSVPs.

Here's the thing: I'm totally qualified. During the early years of my career, I used to address envelopes and place postage on invitations of every description. I answered calls, listened to messages and received e-mails containing RSVPs. I made lists of RSVPs, and I confirmed RSVPs. I alphabetized RSVPs. At the entrances to parties from coast to coast, I consulted spreadsheets of RSVPs and matched them to actual party attendees.

Somewhere along the line, I learned to perform the RSVP. Invitations bearing my name arrived in the mail, complete with phone numbers and e-mail addresses to which I was expected to respond. I received Evites. I became the subject of follow-up RSVP-related phone calls. My name--and variations thereof--appeared on the list and was crossed off at the door. I began to read invites carefully for clues about the probability of complimentary valet parking. I mastered the art of the plus one, and occasionally, the plus six.

I am both mean and nice enough to make it in the RSVP industry. As part of my all-encompassing customer service package, I will scrupulously Google every party attendee. I will create seating charts and assign VIP status based on the number of each guest's Twitter followers. I will make easy-to-read notations on The List to specify which guests (determined by attractiveness level of Facebook profile photo) are worthy of appearing on the red carpet. And, most importantly, I shall employ a complicated ranking system to indicate who among the RSVPs is eligible to receive the most luxurious gift bag at the end of the night and a "thanks for coming!" e-mail the next day.

Meanwhile, I will continue to personally attend a wide variety of parties and balls, if only to ensure I remain in tune with the latest in RSVP protocol. If you are interested in becoming an investor in my new venture, please let me know. I'm still weighing my options, but as of right now it's between the RSVP thing and opening a Waffle House in Lincoln Park.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Aesthetically Pleased (Or Not)

It might be over between me and National City bank (now a part of PNC). I opened my first and only checking account with National City when I was 15. My mother cosigned, and I've never taken her name off the account. It's too much trouble. If my mom wants to review my online statement to see how many times I ate at Chipotle or the staggering number of $2.50 debits to LAZ Chicago Parking, fine by me.

National City kept me hanging on these many years for one reason and one reason only: aesthetics. I like the logo. The pleasing boldness of its letters; its rich bluish-greenness; the soothing arrangement of pale green bubbles on my debit card. Now that PNC is forcing its ho-hum signage upon every former National City location (and soon, I suspect, my new debit card), I may be forced to transfer my assets to an institution with more visual character. What does PNC even stand for? Who knows, and who cares. It's too boring to research. Not even my teller, Gloria, had an answer when I stood at her counter to make a deposit today:

Gloria: Let me see here. They may have already converted your account...
Me: Who's they? PNC? To tell you the truth, I don't like this PNC thing one bit.
Gloria: But you should give them a chance. They might be a good bank.
Me: I hate the colors. I mean, look at your new nametag.
Gloria: I know. And you have to pay extra for the prettiest debit card.
Me: I'll probably have to do that. What a scam. Do you know what PNC stands for?
Gloria: Would you like a heart-shaped Dove chocolate to go?
Me: I guess so. Thanks.

In other news, I took Black Beauty for a bath yesterday at the We'll Clean Auto Wash on Halsted. She's been feeling self-conscious and a little damaged ever since her December break-in. I could tell her confidence was flagging, especially when she could barely motivate herself to climb a parking ramp at Whole Foods last week. I gave her a pep talk as we pulled into the bay:

Me: This'll be nice. We'll get rid of some of this salt, and I'll even spring for the Armor All tire treatment. You know your wheels have always been your best asset.
Black Beauty: What's the point? Don't waste your money on me. I'm a mess. Did you see that new dent under my right headlight?
Me: Come on, now. You look great for your age.
Black Beauty (gasping as garage door opened to reveal an entire BMW dealership's worth of new cars in line for a rinse): Is this some kind of joke? You're replacing me with a younger model, I know it!
Me: Get a grip. Go show these kids what's up. They can count themselves lucky if they make it as long as you. Geez Louise.

Black Beauty's not the only one with body image issues these days. Like seemingly all of Chicago, I've been spending an increased amount time at the gym over the past few weeks, trying to fight what my friend Tim refers to as Christmas Chub. He and our other friend, Jenny, have compiled an entire list of names for occasion-specific weight gain: Holiday Heft. January Jiggle. Recession Rumble. Thanksgiving Thunder. Flat-broke Flubber. They are ultra-creative, those two.

The locker room at Equinox is one of the most pleasant places one could hope not to be spotted by an acquaintance while in one's underwear or less (especially since Equinox introduced Kiehl's products in the showers), and I do my best to avoid conversations in this setting. But sure enough, there's always someone who ignores my lack of eye contact:

Woman in Red Granny Panties: Nice place to take a break from the cold, huh? I'm not sure if I can stand January anymore.
Me (frantically stuffing gym bag in locker): Mmm hmm.
WIRGP: I'm about to get out of here for a week or two at least. Going to visit my grandmother in Phoenix.
Me: Sounds good.
WIRGP: She's not doing so great. She's old. I might just stay to help her get her affairs in order. Or longer.
Me: That's nice of you.
WIRGP: Ever been to Phoenix?
Me: Nope, but I hear it's something. Well, have a good workout!

I suwannee.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Yikes (An Easy Scare)

When my sister Claire and I were roughly 3 and 5 years old, our parents took us on a one-day excursion to Disney World. It was our first and only visit to the park, and I have just one memory of the event: being escorted out of the Haunted Mansion via emergency exit. As I recall, we were still waiting in line for the ride itself--but when the rising ceiling trick started, I just couldn't take it anymore. It was too scary. 

In honor of my almost-favorite holiday, behold: my fourth annual list of Terrifying Things:

1. Space heaters. The next five months will be spent shivering/anxiously monitoring three plug-in devices for signs of smoke, sizzle or impending flames. 
2. The new digital price tags under every item at Whole Foods. I suspect this system makes it even easier for them to sneakily raise prices day by day--and beware, I'm watching. I know those Omega-3-enhanced eggs weren't $3.39 last week. 
3. Potholes. At 270k miles, Black Beauty is rattlier than ever. Yesterday, outside Jimmy John's, a piece of door handle fell off in my hand. Is total implosion imminent?
4. Halloween costume stores and all items for sale within. Only crazies think 100% polyester "Dominatrix Unicorn" getups are hot. Or figure-flattering, for that matter.  
5. A realization: my homemade Pocahontas outfit might resemble something off the sale rack at Chico's.
6. Chico's
7. Porch collapses (standing on porches at parties).
8. Pressing the "purchase" button after selecting an itinerary on an airline website, then frantically second-guessing whether I entered the correct dates for several chilling moments while the confirmation page loads. 
9. Getting laid off. It's been almost a year, and my feet still sweat when I think about it. 
10. This conversation: 

Me: Where's my black jean skirt?
Claire: You don't need to put on that black jean skirt. 
Me: But it's my thing, that skirt. I'm wearing it. 
Claire: You're no teenybopper. It's time to retire the skirt. Promise me you'll never wear it again. 
Me 2 Me: I love that skirt. I'll wear it until it disintegrates! Until the day I die! They can bury me in that skirt!


Monday, October 19, 2009

Hope There's An App for That

My BFF Jeff moved to New York over the summer, and since his iPhone is his sole mode of communication, most of our conversations now go something like this (ahem, AT&T): 

Ring, ring.
Me: Hey Jeff! What's crackin'?
Jeff: Oh, I'm just walking to work. Man, my feet hurt. CLICK.
Ring, ring. 
Me: Jeff? We got cut off.
Jeff: I know, sorry. This stupid phone. Anyway, what are you up to? 
Me: Well, yesterday, Kate and I went to a Big Buck Hunter tournament at a bar for five hours. Straight men from Texas everywhere. It was wild. CLICK.
Ring, ring. 
Jeff: Sorry. I hate this thing. 
Me: Geeeeez. That freaking phone. 
Jeff: So, what do you think about... SIRENS. HORNS. ENGINE NOISE. 
Me (to me): My God, is he hit?
Ring, ring. 
Me: Jeff? What in the world? 
Jeff: Oh my gosh, it's so loud here. Well, I'm at the office now. Guess I have to go. Talk to you later. 
Me: OK, bye. 

iPhones do not function well in New York. But they seem to work fine in most other places, and since close to 1 billion users have personally told me their iPhone changed their life for the better, I'm still considering getting one. It's not, however, a popular debate among my exclusively Sprint-bound family members. A frequent exchange with my brother unfolds as follows: 

Lee: Yo Emma. What's up? 
Me: I'm thinking of retiring the old flip phone. 
Lee: Come on. Not the iPhone talk again. We've been over this. If you give up Sprint to Sprint minutes, all the phone bills in the family will skyrocket. 
Me: But Lee! I'm a Mac user! I need an iPhone! 
Lee: Just hang on for, like, another 64 months. Then my Sprint contract will be up, and we can all switch at the same time. 

I might be forced to enter BlackBerry territory to appease the extended family, but I'm still developing an iPhone app from which I anticipate millions in profits. It's called "The Complainer." Day-to-day life provides so many opportunities to voice one's opinion, and this app would deposit recorded voicemails and texts directly into the phones of CEOs and elected officials across the country. No research, dialing, or holding necessary. For example: 

To CEO of Chipotle: I just passed a Chipotle billboard which reads: "Not drugs. But just as addicting." Sir, the word is "addictive," not "addicting." It's incorrect to use a transitive verb without a direct object. While this won't result in my reduced consumption of your delectable burritos, your company is now a little dumber in my eyes.

To Vi Daley, 43rd Ward Alderman: Hi, Vi. This is my third call about the 'no parking' signs in front of my building on Mohawk Street. The work on the house next door is complete. I even talked to the stucco guys about it face to face. So let's get these signs taken down now, OK? It's a waste of valuable parking spots. Oh, and holler me back when you get a chance. I have a few other things to discuss.

To president of Checker Cab: Greetings, King of Cabs. One of your drivers just schooled me yet again for using a credit card to pay the fare. He made me late to the opera with his intentionally prolonged swiping process, then advised me to go to an ATM next time. But I don't have an ATM at my apartment. That's where I catch cabs. So please, no more of this argument. Get with the times. Let's have those passenger-operated CC swipers installed STAT. 

Speaking of cabs, I hopped in one last Wednesday night only for the driver to ask: "So, when did you join the ranks of the upper class?" 

Here we go again, I thought. My posture--which I refined as a child in order to appear taller, and continued to hone during four years of perfectly perpendicular piccolo-holding while trilling off Sousa tunes as an Eastern High School Marching Eagle--often leads people to label me a supersnob (a debatable point). But my attempt to convince the driver of my down-to-earthiness led to a heated discussion about health care reform that left me completely overwrought for my press dinner. (Driver: The public option will never work! Never! Work! Me: Oh yeah? What's YOUR coverage like? Driver: Eh. Lost it when my wife divorced me.)

For heaven's sake. One minute you're watching MTV and still really, really wishing you could do Beyonce's "Single Ladies" dance, and the next minute you're on heart-attack alert over a public policy argument with a stranger. Oh, the stress of city living.    

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.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Hot Timez in the City

You know those girls who're always like, "Ooh, it's freezing in here!"? (See left: Keira Knightley, a master of the art of appearing chilled.) Then, their teeth chatter delicately as they display goose bumps and pull cashmere wraps around their non-insulated shoulders in 82-degree environs? Well, that's not me. All my life (well, at least since I was 13), I have been known in certain circles (i.e., the circles frequented by all people with whom I've ever associated) as a particularly hot-natured person. When it's -5 degrees with a windchill of -20, then yes, I'll shiver with the best of them. But otherwise, I may be observed frantically ponytailing my hair off my neck, disappearing to run cold water over my pulse points and fanning myself with any card, envelope, folder or notebook to be found in the depths of my handbag.

I'm relieved to live in the age of air conditioning, and on occasions when this invention fails, I become something between melty and incensed. The backs of Chicago cabs are a true-life nightmare, ventilated as they are by makeshift accordion hoses squeezed through crudely sliced holes in the bulletproof partitions that separate passenger from driver. I do plan to bring this public discomfort issue to Mayor Daley's attention the next time I encounter him in a social situation, but meanwhile, I rely on fainting motions and heavy sighs to convey my angst to cab drivers. Recently, this method led to an inappropriate line of questioning:

Me: Siiiiiiggggghhhh. Fan, fan, fan. Fiddle with window control. Inspect makeup meltage in compact mirror. Siiiiiggggghhhh. Moan lightly as if delirious with fever.
Driver: "You OK, miss?"
Me: "It's just sooo hot back here. Is your air conditioning broken?" [A frequent inquiry; see post dated 7/22/08]
Driver: "No, it's on. Can you feel it coming out?"
Me: "I feel nothing but heat. I'm dying."
Driver: "Yes, eet is very hot."
Me: "I'm sweating."
Driver (arching eyebrow in rearview mirror): "Sweating, you say?"
Me: "Yes, I'm always sweating in this heat."
Driver: "Where you sweat, miss?"
Me: "All over."
Driver (knowingly): "Ah, I see. All over."

P.S. More glamorously, last week, in a temperature-controlled setting (the penthouse of the Park Hyatt on Michigan Avenue), I received a haircut (retail value: $1,400) at the hands of celebrity stylist and John Lennon-slash-Jesus lookalike John Nollet. Two semesters of college French have all but escaped me; still, I did manage to translate a thing or two whispered by Nollet as he tornadoed about my head, snipping passionately. Les cheveux magnifique!, he breathed. And this from the man who coiffs Johnny Depp's pirate 'do! Nollet's young assistant was visiting the U.S. for the first time (I was pleased to advise him on a Chicago sightseeing itinerary for the rest of his stay), and he may have found the situation slightly less enthralling. "So many hairs," he muttered ruefully amid the masque-ing, shampooing, scalp-oiling, conditioning, and endless blow-drying of my locks. "So many longs hairs."

But they did shape up nice, those hairs (see partial evidence above). Afterwards, for lunch, I had a celebratory quiche.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I'll Give It Some Thought

"I'll give it some thought." That's one of my favorite expressions. It's nothing original, nothing new, just a vague proclamation I've recently pushed to the limits of usefulness. Like making stacks of "open later" mail and coding e-mails in "respond later" colors, "I'll give it some thought" is a well-intentioned procrastination tool which--when paired with a slight chin-tilt and brooding nod--provides a polite delay:

Mom: "How are you keeping track of your taxes for next year? Don't you think you should get an accountant?"
Me: "Hmm. That might be wise. I'll give it some thought."

Bob the Landlord: "Are you still planning to move that old mattress out of the basement? It's a fire hazard. Do you want me to hire someone to carry it away for a small fee?"
Me: "Yes, that mattress has seen better days. It's no doubt blocking the walkway. I'll give it some thought."

Me: "Why don't you spend the entire day arranging every item of clothing you own into three piles: Love It, Hate It, and Haven't Worn It in Three Years? Then dispose of all but the first pile."
Me2Me: "How industrious of you to think of such a plan! I'll certainly give it some thought."

Sometimes, though, it is necessary to maintain an appropriately cheerful flow of chatter rather than putting the lid on a conversation with a handy five-word catchall. This can occur when on a semi-blind date, for instance, or when dining with one's grandparents at a Chinese restaurant. On the dates, I tend to revert to three topics:

1. My job, the related anecdotes of which I suspect make me sound like A. a brat, B. a priss, or C. I'm making shit up off the top of my head.
2. How, when I worked there in college, I used to love to try on bridal veils in the dressing room at Jacboson's department store when there were no customers around (alarming for obvious reasons).
3. The true story of how I once aspired to be a professional flute player (men of a certain age enjoy inserting vulgar American Pie reference here).

Or, I let the dates themselves get a few words in. If they tell me something along the lines of, "So, I'm carrying a laminated list of all my food allergies in my wallet. Here, wanna see?" And the list includes chicken, black pepper, spinach, wine, chocolate, and virtually every other item I regularly place in my grocery cart, I revert to, "Wow. I'll give that some thought."

With my grandparents and other family members, I cover work, their travel plans, the most recent mini-scandals involving each of my three siblings, my relationship with Black Beauty (my car), the state of the economy etc. Luckily, if there's another sibling present, we have double the material. My sister Claire, for instance, can always be counted on to relay the details of her most recent dry-cleaning fiasco (See previous post. Claire has sparred with hundreds of dry cleaners from Chicago to Louisville, for offenses ranging from unremoved wine stains to lost satin belts, too-short hems, unexplained discolorations, favorite-shirt disappearances, and much, much more):

Claire (during lull): "Oh! Did I tell you what happened at the dry cleaner last week?!"
Me (to grandparents): "Claire had another fight with the dry cleaner."
Claire (in affronted tones): "You WOULD NOT believe it. I had this shirt from the store [her store, the Peacock Boutique] that was ivory silk with brown leather straps." (See left, and black version below.)
Me (to grandparents): "They melted the straps."
Claire: "I was SHOCKED. I specifically told them when I dropped it off: 'BE CAREFUL. Those are leather straps.'"
Me (to grandparents): "But in all fairness, how many shirts have leather straps?"
Claire: "Emma! Are you kidding me? Dry cleaning is their JOB. They should know what to do with leather straps."
Me: "Well..."
Claire: "Anyway, you will not believe what happened next. They tried to CHARGE me for it! I said, 'You melted my shirt!' and they said, 'That'll be $15.'"
Gram (mildy): "Then what?"
Claire: "Well, what do you think? I said there was no way I was paying, and they owed me $250 for the shirt, and I would NEVER. RETURN!"
Gram: "Did you get the money back?"
Claire: "Of course I did. And it's too bad since they're so conveniently located. In fact, they're only moments from where we're sitting right now."
Me (sensing drama overload): "So. Pot stickers, anyone?"

P.S. I'm conflicted on the punctuation of the term "dry cleaner's" (or "dry cleaners," or "dry cleaner"). If you have interest or input on the subject of whether or not to use the apostrophe "s" when referring to the specific establishment in question, please weigh in.

P.P.S. Thank you, anonymous commenter. Your logic is sound and I've made the suggested revisions. My initial inclination to use the apostrophe "s" is likely due to the longstanding Louisville tradition of conferring the possessive upon all establishments in existence: "Let's eat at Outback's tonight." "I need to pick up a few things at Kroger's." "I'm craving that burrito from El Mundo's." Outback. Kroger. El Mundo.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Confrontations in Innumerable Locations

As seasoned readers may have noticed, I rarely resist action whenever I encounter a situation, person, product or service that proves deeply disappointing. And since I'm your basic non-violent citizen who's never thrown a punch (and since utter silence is the most physically and emotionally draining option imaginable), my conflict-resolution strategies are usually written or verbal. For instance, as a child, I once formulated the ultimate insult: Brokenpiggyskunkcowrotteneggydorkbraingrimyboogerfartfacecrustymoldybuttsucker. It breaks down like this: Broken. Piggy. Skunk. Cow. Rotten. Eggy. Dork. Brain. Grimy. Booger. Fart. Face. Crusty. Moldy. Butt. Sucker. My sister Claire and I used it most often on our younger brother Lee:

Claire: Oh my gosh, Lee, you're such a brokenpiggyskunkcowrotteneggydorkbraingrimyboogerfartfacecrustymoldybuttsucker.
Lee: Mom! She called me a brokenpiggyskunkcowrotteneggydorkbraingrimyboogerfartfacecrustymoldybuttsucker!
Mom: Okay guys. That's enough.

These days, I try to address conflict in more adult terms. Remember my open letter to the Farley's & Sathers candy company about their sickening new formula for Brach's malted milk balls? Well, soon after I posted the letter on this blog, I printed it out and packaged it in an envelope with the uneaten portion of malt balls. Then, my intern Courtney placed it in an outgoing mail bin. Two weeks later, the following reply arrived:

Please note that no chocolate items were included in the enclosed Brach's Sampler (Lemon Drops, Circus Peanuts, Candy Corn, etc.). That's because they know and I know that the chocolate sucks now.

So, that was the somewhat dissatisfying resolution to one recent conflict. Let's move on to the next, an e-mail communiqué I initiated between myself and a 31-year-old Match.com member whose toolbag tendencies I couldn't resist pointing out after reading this sentence on his profile page (a direct cut-and-paste): In all honesty, I prefer to date women who are younger than me. I've found that many single women in their 30's are a bit obsessed with Facebook and text messaging. I'm sorry but it's just not worth the hassle.

Me to Match a-hole: Hi there. Your generalization about women in their 30s being "obsessed with Facebook and texting" is ridiculous. Isn't it kind of the other way around? I mean, I'm 30, and yes, I'm on Facebook, but until recently I always considered it the stomping ground of a younger crowd. Meanwhile, my friends in their 30s are mostly concerned with careers and families. I'm surprised to see a guy who's 31 so easily writing off people your own age with a flip little line like that. -A

Match a-hole responds: Hello "A", There's good news and bad news. The bad news is I feel bad for you. Your're critiquing online dating profiles. What could be more pathetic? The good news is I will never meet or talk to you. Thanks for saving me the hassle. [LOVES the word "hassle."] FYI- Enjoying hayrides and champagne does not make a person versatile. Well, maybe it does in Kentucky?

Me (after arriving home from vodka tasting at midnight and becoming incensed upon reading derogatory reference to home state): I'm a professional writer, so the critiquing comes naturally. Takes no time at all. You could have answered in a less defensive manner, but clearly, "professional douchebag" comes just as naturally to you. Good luck with the ladies, bud. Your profile is just the kind of place where I find some of my best material. Readers really get a kick out of that shit. Adios.

Who won that round? Who knows. But I did have the last word, since I subsequently blocked him from further communication.

One more:

Me (to Jimmy John's cashier): I'll have the number two, no mayo, no cheese, add avocado and sprouts. And a bag of Skinny Chips.
JJ cashier: You want a drink with that?
Me: No, because you don't have any good low-cal options that aren't loaded with sugar.
JJ cashier: That's because Jimmy doesn't really care about that stuff.
Me: Well, you could at least offer un-sweet tea.
JJ cashier: Yeeeeah...here's your sandwich.
Me: Thanks. Do you have any low-fat mayonnaise packets?
JJ cashier: No, we just have regular.
Me (rolling eyes): Great.

Well, that's about all the discord I can handle for today. Stay tuned for a script from my sister's most recent "Claire vs. The Dry Cleaners" encounter, an epic battle which occurred after a silk top with leather straps was irrevocably destroyed.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sweet Treats

Today I'm listing my favorite sweet Chicago treats on my friend Liz's food blog, Elizabites. Mosey on over there for your chocolate fix.