Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Off the Top of My Head, I'd Say.....

I stink at word association games.

You know the kind:  Name the first thing that pops into your head when I say...
     Pancakes or Waffles:...Pancakes
     Chocolate or Vanilla:.....(Duh) Chocolate (Vanilla is only good if it is either mixed with chocolate or drowned in chocolate)

Oh. Oh.  Wait.  Wrong answer.  What was I thinking?   The correct answer is....Waffles with chocolate.  See.  I stink at this.

Many years ago, I worked at a place where people were really into music. Really into music.  Like, form your own band, name your firstborn Slash, stalk BonJovi into music.

And so, on my first day there, one of the guys wandered by and asked: What kind of music do you like?

My answer:  Rock? Nope.  Too cool for me.  Jazz?  Uh uh.  Way too normal.  Easy Listening?  (Sigh) I couldn't even come up with that.  Nope.  I said....Show tunes.

Show tunes.  I still can't believe I said Show tunes.

Oh. My. God.  I was the new kid in school who showed up wearing taped glasses and pigtails and asking where the Dungeons and Dragons club met.  Show tunes.  I should have just quit right then and there and gone back home to my Mr. Wizard set.

Of course, the guy who asked handled it really well.  He looked at me as though I had just announced that I enjoyed ritualistic killings, visiting graveyards every full moon, and sucking people's souls out through their eyeballs.

And then he ran like a jackrabbit at a convention of hunting dogs.

"But I actually like all kinds of music," I called lamely after him as he bolted from the room. 

Show tunes.

And it happened again recently.

I went to the doctor to have him check on my foot to make sure the break was healing as it should.

"Looks good," he told me, viewing the x-rays.

"So, I can get back to doing my normal activities?"  I asked.

He looked at me for a minute as though he was afraid that by normal activities, I meant base jumping and breakdancing. 

Seriously doc.  Look at me.  Do I seem like I'm just dying to get out there and challenge Venus Williams to a death match?

"Hmm.What one thing do you most want to do?" he finally asked.

"Wear sneakers," I blurted out.


I looked behind me to see what idiot had given that answer.  Sneakers.

How about, oh, I don't know.....go for a walk?  wear shoes? heels?  Go barefoot.  Even that would have been a better answer.   Sneakers.  Aside from my twice weekly torture sessions at the hands of my sadistic trainer, I wear sneakers, um, like, NEVER!  Sneakers.  I could sense my favorite black pumps back at home weeping at the bitter betrayal.

"I'm sorry, my darlings," I mentally apologized, 'You know I love you best.  I didn't mean it."

"Oh," he breathed out, relieved I hadn't said "salsa dancing", "of course you can wear sneakers."

No, no!  Wait!  I take it back!  I didn't mean it!  That was not my final answer!

As he stood up to leave, I practically broke my other foot leaping off the table.

"I meant, wear normal shoes," I gasped out.

"Yes, sneakers," he reiterated, as he breezed out of the room.


I only hope the next time I blurt out whatever comes to mind, someone is not asking what I want for dessert.  With my history, I'm liable to say, "Spinach".

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Somehow, We Never Saw Where It Was Going

So after a very pleasant few days in Montreal and then Quebec, it was time to go home.  Unfortunately, United Airlines had other plans.   They seemed to think we should apply for Canadian citizenship instead.

We arrived at the airport at zero-dark-thirty (with not even a sip of coffee to improve the mood since our beautifully renovated hotel (HA!) did not begin serving coffee till 6am.  Um, hellooooooo....no coffee??? Seriously?  So you want people to be surly and uncommunicative when they check out?  Job well done.) to stand in a moderately long line for check-in. (No coffee, no self-check-in.  We should have seen where this was going.)

There were two United flights leaving at approximately the same time, ours and one to Chicago. There were three people working at the counter: one for the Chicago flight, who seemed able to work a computer, deal with customers and chew gum at the same time; one for our flight, who seemed able to chew gum, and...nope, that's about it, she could chew gum; and one handling the "priority" customers, who seemed only slightly more talented than the woman taking care of our line.  Maybe.  Apparently, our need for coffee was even greater than we thought, because Helen Keller would have seen where this was going.

Now it just so happened that a fairly large group of people swarmed into the priority line at this point because they had "oversized" baggage (sports equipment) with them and claimed they had talked to some employee or other who gave them the go-ahead to get into the priority line (You can see where this is going, right?  Yeah.  We still didn't.)

Meanwhile, the woman working the "Chicago" line finished with her last customer and.....naturally....only to be expected.....started chatting with another employee. GRRRRRRR. But then, wonder of wonders, she logged on to another computer, put up a sign that listed our flight... and then shut everything down and took her break.   Double GRRRRRRRR. (Once again, we should have seen this coming a mile off.  Damn coffee withdrawl!)

Hey, don't mind us.  We've only been standing here for an hour and a half inching forward like constipated snails pulling a wheel of cheddar.  And we really appreciated the game of "got your nose" that you just played with us.  What a fun way to start off the day before being stripped searched, then herded into a metal tube with a hundred of our closest friends,  strapped into a seat designed for one of Santa's undersized elfs,  unloaded through a shoot narrower than a livestock pen to claw our way through a mob to reclaim our bags only to stand in another line.  (And we still didn't see where this was going.)

"I'm sorry,  we've overbooked the flight and there are no more seats available," the woman tried to fake sincerity for our plight.  "We can see if someone with a seat would be willing to give up their tickets for compensation."

Oh.  Yeah. Right.  Labor Day weekend, and you think that three  people are going to give up their seats.  What drugs did you put in your coffee this morning? 

"What's the next flight you can get us out on?"  I asked, trying to hold Tim back from hurdling the counter and making her one with her computer.  How could she not see where this was going?

Rose just pretended she didn't know us.

"Well..." Tap, tap, tap.  "I see a flight to Montreal with a five hour layover and then a late afternoon flight to DC."

So, let me get this straight.  Montreal has hotels where you can actually fit into the bathrooms, cab drivers who don't mess with your heads, and now the only flights home?  If only we had seen where this was going three days ago.

"Fine, we'll take it."

Twenty minutes later, she was still tapping on her computer with not a ticket in sight. 

Um, I hate to interrupt the copy of War and Peace that you are clearly typing out, but any chance we are going to get our tickets before we miss the flight?

"Oh.  You have to go to the window down there," gesturing the counter furthest away in the airport, "for the tickets.  I am working on compensation for you."

Now Tim was holding me back.

"Give us our passports NOW." I channelled the Great and Powerful Oz. This was going to a very bad place, very quickly.

"Here are the passports for Tim and Rose," she offered.

Yup.  She could just about manage to chew gum on a good day.

They took off for the other counter, while the tapping continued.  After another eternity, she upped the degree of difficulty and got on the phone as well.  

Oh, goody.  Now it can take you eight times as long. Going downhill on skates.

Rose came rushing back.

"They are closing the window now," she panted.  "If you don't get down there, you'll miss the flight."

The girl behind the counter still tapped and whispered into the phone, unperturbed.

"I need my passport.  Now." I snapped.

"But I'm still working on your compensation.  Don't you want your $100 coupon toward another flight?"

She should have seen where that was going before she even opened her mouth.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Speak Up!!!

Upon arrival in Quebec, we arranged to do a tour of the city with a guide.  Too bad we didn't bring an interpreter.  One who knew sign language.

At first, everything seemed okay.  Our guide was a nice, older gentleman who pointed out all the historic sights as we passed them.

"And there is Joan of Arc gardens......Here is the the Cathedral......This is the American Consulate."

All very interesting, but then we started to ask questions and things got really interesting.

"Are those the remains of the original fort down there, under the boardwalk?"

"What's that?   You want to walk?"

"No" (louder).  "Remains of the fort?" (pointing to the area in question)

"Names of sports?  Well...let's see."

"The original fort.  FORT!!!  REMAINS!!!  RUINS!!! YOU KNOW, MILITARY.  BANG BANG!...Oh, never mind." I finished lamely as he walked away, probably trying to figure out why I wanted to play sports with a broken foot.

"And here is the first school for girls, started by the Urselines in the 1600's...." And then proceeded to give us a fifteen minute history lesson while trying to open the door of the chapel which was locked and labeled as closed till the afternoon.

Hoping to distract him, I foolishly asked a seemingly innocuous question: "Has school started here yet for the year?

"The start of school?  Well, it was in the 1600's that the Urselines opened the first school........"

Dreading a repeat of the same lecture, I tried to head him off at the pass. "NO.  SCHOOL  THIS YEAR.  AUGUST?  SEPTEMBER?"

  I started pantomiming reading a book and writing, like that was actually going to help. (It reminded me of the time in Italy where they turned the air conditioning off for the night and expected you  to open your windows.  BUG SPRAY! I remember my mother shouting at the desk clerk, because speaking really loudly always makes you instantly understandable to someone speaking another language.  YOU KNOW, PSSSSSSSST! (using an imaginary aerosol can) AAAARGH! (Grabbing her throat to mimic a mosquito choking on fumes), CLECH ( tongue out, eyes rolled back in head, head flopping to one side).  Not only did we not get bug spray, I think they slipped some Prozac into our morning coffee, and dear God, I really have become my mother!)

"Today is August 29.  You think it's cool?  Probably a lot hotter where you are from, eh?"

I bowed my head in defeat.

Tim and Rose fared no better.  They asked about the average price for a condo unit he pointed out and he told them about the exchange rate of the Canadian dollar.  Tim asked something about the government, and he responded by showing him the gardens outside the parlaiment and asking him to translate the names of the herbs from French into English.

"OREGANO! BASIL! PARSLEY!" Tim was shouting out names like he was Mr. Greenjeans making a salad.

Mercifully, the tour ended, and we were left to our own devices and the guidebook.  But the fun was not over yet.

The next night, we went out for dinner to a restaurant that was too far to walk to with my boot.  Upon leaving the restaurant, we hailed a cab and climbed in.

"The Frontenac," Tim said, shutting the door.

The driver bent his head toward us, cupping a hand to his ear.

Tim repeated the name of the hotel, a bit louder.

The driver leaned closer, a puzzled look on his face. Rose and I exchanged glances.

"FRONTENAC!"  Tim bellowed, pointing up the hill.

Once again, the driver gestured for him to be louder.

"FRON-TEN-AC!" Rose and I joined in this time, doing our best to be heard...in Miami.

Visions of ending up in Vancouver drifted through my mind, or worse yet, an hour-long disemenation on the difference between the FRONT and the BACK.  Our hands were on the door handles, ready to abandon Tim to his fate when the driver burst out laughing.

"I'm only kidding," he chortled.  I heard you the first time."