Thursday, September 26, 2013

Karma Comedian

Robert is a loveable guy. If you’ve met him, you know that. But this Buddha has got a temper. Viz.:

Once upon a time, we were waiting for some take out food to be ready. Another customer (snotty stockbroker type, though he could have been anything) was particularly venally rude to us. Robert lost it. I barely managed to rein him in, but got him to promise to “be nice”, which, in the end, he was.

As we walked out past the asshole, Robert grinned at him and said, “I hope you don’t choke on your food.” Trust me, for him in a snit, that was jovial.

I’ll spare you the second example. It’s longer. He wasn’t “nice” that time. Ask me and I’ll tell you, though. It’s a good story.

Fast forward, past a full year of him performing at Danger Room, and even more comedy, and we end up in the Costco parking lot, this morning.

A brand new Escalade had exited one of the coveted spots near the entrance. Robert pointed and I turned accordingly.

Unfortunately, the guy driving the Escalade didn’t know how.

He was on the left side of the lane, nose to nose with me.

Oh, I probably would have backed up -- even though he was in the wrong -- except that he made a rude hand gesture at me. So I sat back to wait him out.

Never bet against your old Auntie in a macho showdown.

But I didn’t factor in Buddha Bob the Improv God. (Hyperbolic, but I like it. It stays in, dammit.)

Guess who popped out of the car and began to “reason” with the macho idiot?

I’m kicking myself that I didn’t take pix. The more red and puffy the guy got, the happier Robert danced. Oh yeah, he was dancing. In the parking lot. AT COSTCO! I chose not to listen, only to watch it as a Buster Keaton romp.

But what happened, you ask?

Eventually the Escalade got out of our way. The Costco security guy came over, introduced himself, shook Robert’s hand and thanked him profusely. A good laugh was had by all.

And I got an even better parking space than the one the Escalade had vacated.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why People Hate L.A.

I get it. I really do.

It’s not the superficiality, the expense or the general ridiculousness.

It’s the parking.

Rather, it’s the increasing choice between either a beleaguered valet or snaking for a mile up and down the grid before going back to the beleaguered valet.

And that’s at lunchtime.

Stipulated, parking is the reason why we locals hate L.A. Let’s talk about the rest of you.

This morning I skipped the gym again. (Stop nagging! I’ll go back eventually.) We went into West Hollywood to hang out til lunchtime. It’s okay, we got there just after 10:00 a.m. so there was plenty of parking. People are still doing their hair at that hour.

So we’re sitting at the coffee-and-yummy place, at a cute little table in the cute little window. Two customers came to the door. That’s what actually happened. What I saw was a set of exposed and stunningly perfect (female) abs just below my eye level, ironically just above my plate of croissant and pie.

You know when you see Los Angeles on TV, how all the women in the background are in their 20s and gorgeous? That part is true.


Now for the rest of the stereotype: Behind me were two girls speaking in the squealy cadences first made famous by Moon Zappa back in the 70s. One of them was complaining that she couldn’t go to the thing this weekend because she has to babysit. I didn’t think twice about them not being in school because frankly, at what I assumed their age to be, I spent my share of school mornings having coffee elsewhere.

Then I saw them. They were in their 30s… at the very least.


For your amusement, the face on top of the aforementioned perfect abs was also stunningly perfect and as devoid of makeup as it was of expression. She kept stroking her male companion’s face, which was actually pretty funny because this was a terrific bakery (see previous re pie and croissant) and he was trying to eat his treat.

This just goes to show the truth of the old quote, “No matter how beautiful, rich or famous a person is, there’s somebody out there who is sick of taking their shit.”

As much as I love it here, that sums up the City of Angels nicely.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Serendipity Doo Dah

They say things come in threes. Granted, they don’t say that about ordinary things. You don’t take out the trash three times in a row.

Speaking of which, I should get to that. Nah, it can wait. I’m typing right now.

Where was I? Right. “Three” is for weirdness, or extremity, otherwise we wouldn’t notice, let alone start counting.

No, celebrities aren’t dying. This is about Facebook.

Twice in the last week, I’ve been contacted by someone I haven’t seen for decades. Both times it was the daughter of a friend of my mother’s. These are women with whom I hung out when we were kidlings and pretty much haven’t seen since the 1970s. The early 1970s.

Oh, I’m not complaining in the least. What I am doing is waiting. That doesn’t scan, but you know what I mean.

It’s about the threes.

I live by the Comedic Law Of Three. I only put one example in the opening to this post, and that’s making my brain itch, but I forgot to post last week and morning coffee only goes so far. Apparently, this morning’s coffee will only extend as far as a kicky title.

Where was I again? Oh yeah. Weirdness.

Think about it. Having one person pop up out of the past isn’t weird. That’s what Facebook is for. But when two people pop up in such chronological proximity, and with such a bizarrely specific similarity, I find myself holding my metaphoric breath.



and… who’s next?

Where are you, the girl who invited everyone else in the class to her birthday party? (True story) It won’t be my sadistic orthodontist or sleazy first gynecologist. Uh oh, what if it’s someone from… (horrific gasp) summer camp?!

Just because these two went well doesn't mean the next one will. Fingers crossed while I knock on wood.

With all due respect to every English teacher I ever had who went on about Latin roots and vocabulary, there is nothing serene about serendipity.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

... And Stuff It!

Halloween decorations are going up in my neighborhood. You know what that means, right?

Yep, you guessed it! It’s time for Auntie to finish planning the Thanksgiving menu. I say “finish” because I begin to build it around May or June. At the moment, it begins with wild mushroom soup and ends with pecan pie, or maybe cherry. Unless I attempt a meringue. I’m not trying to make a perfect meal, I just want to make the best meal of the year.

Besides, I always identify with the mastermind. It’s a control freak thing.

All of which reminds me of a funny honest-to-real story about the very first Thanksgiving dinner I ever cooked.

This was in another century, in another town, in what amounts to another life.

Once upon a time, Auntie was very new to the whole cooking thing. Moreover, it was my first time feeding my extended family. I wanted to do it right. I baked the cornbread for the cornbread & sausage stuffing and went to the best French bakery I knew to get sourdough for the oyster stuffing. I studied how to cook turkeys. I made delicious hors d’oeuvres. I did end up buying the pies, though I make my own now.

You get the idea.

Of course the garbage disposal broke when I began to cook at 6:00 a.m., but that’s not the funny part. Okay, it’s kinda funny. I invited the plumber to dinner but he declined.

I’ll spare you embarrassing family-member stories. You have your own and they’re probably about the same.

In the end, dinner went about as well as can be expected. (See above about embarrassing family members.) The food came out fine. Everyone ate a lot and seemed to like it.

I really should have left it at that. Of course I didn’t. Remember, I was a typically needy 20-something at the time.

So the next day I asked my father what he thought of the meal. He’d eaten so much he couldn’t sit up and had to sack out on the couch. I thought priming him for a compliment wasn’t that much of a gamble.

I thought wrong.

He told me if I ever tried it again, I should get my grandmother’s recipe for stuffing.

That was all he said on the subject.

Years went by. Eventually, when I did decide to try it all again, I dutifully asked my grandmother for her stuffing recipe. I’ll give it to you right now, in its entirety:

Mrs. Cubbison’s. Sometimes with a bit of chopped carrot.

FYI, that’s the funny part.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Your Bad

Sorry, what? Oh, sorry. Sorry about that. I said I was sorry! I’m apologizing too much? Sorry for that too.

Hee hee. Want to guess what I’m going to talk about today, my honeys?

Surprise! I want to talk about how little apologies really accomplish.

Personally, I hate apologies. Not because they’re fatuous, which they usually are, but because once I get one, I’m supposed to forget that I was ever inconvenienced, offended, hurt and/or all of the above.

Yeah, good luck with that.

I recently had a very dear friend completely & royally screw me over through no fault of his own. (Okay, he could have avoided it and spared my feelings, but he either wasn’t smart enough or brave enough.) Shit happens. He’s still my friend.

Here’s the thing, I got a perfunctory and obligatory “Sorry” in the moment and not one word since.

See what I mean about apologies? I think I’m not supposed to be hurt anymore.

See above, re: good luck with that.

Today’s lesson, my darlings, is how to avoid making people feel the way I feel right now. Sit up, lean forward and pay attention. Auntie’s gonna tell you how to make an otherwise fatuous apology stick.

Put down your hand, you in the front. Of course you have to mean it. You get no points for that.

Maybe the only thing you regret is that things got out of hand. That's fine. You’re honestly sorry you have to deal with a mess. Minimal requirement met.

You still have to make it right.

If you want things to get better, you have to do something about it. The apology just acknowledges that something went wrong on your watch. Big whup. Heroics start when you change your behavior to fix it, or at least to prevent it from happening again.

Yes, you have to get off your ass. Yes, even if you think it wasn’t your fault or if there wasn’t anything else you could have done. Guess what! Almost always, there really was something you could have done.

If you ended up feeling sorry or guilty, just bite down and accept the fact that had you been paying better attention, things wouldn't have gotten so bad.

Then put on your grown-up pants and deal with it.

Exemptions include, amongst others: The neurotic arrogance that makes everything everywhere about you even when it wasn’t, and the corollary, when you’re dealing with an arrogant neurotic who makes everything about them even when it isn’t.

Have I gone on too long? Oops, my bad. Sorry.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"A" Is For Satisfactory

Let’s talk about satisfaction.

Being satisfied is good. (Get your mind out of the gutter, you naughty-pants!) If you’re a Nero Wolfe fan, you know that “satisfactory” is his highest praise.

If you’re not a Nero Wolfe fan, get on Amazon for the Rex Stout books and whatever you use for television for the excellent Tim Hutton TV version. If you’re not a Nero Wolfe fan after that, well, then you probably shouldn’t be reading this blog.

Mr. Wolfe may consider “satisfactory” valuable enough, but thanks to our public school system the rest of us now equate satisfaction with mediocrity.

“Mediocre” is okay, if that’s the best you can hope for. For which you can hope. You know. Sorry, ghost of Mrs. Jorgensen, but AP English was a looong time ago.

Anyhow, mediocrity is rarely satisfying.

Satisfaction is an end in itself. It’s contentment-making. It is a happy, restful thing.

Again with the naughty? Stop that.

Satisfaction is a worthy goal. It goes beyond mere adequacy. We shouldn’t be afraid to use the word, and we shouldn’t feel disrespected when it’s used on us. So often we do, though.

No one hopes to get a C.

Unless you expected a D, in which case see above about reading blogs.

We satisfy curiosity. We satisfy hunger. We satisfy a need. Okay, yeah, all of which can take us back to nasty-ville, but Auntie won’t let it.

In fact, I won’t let it take us anywhere. I’m satisfied that I made my point.