Friday, August 29, 2008

An Open Letter to Our Moms.



Dear Mom:
For the love of God, it is time to clean out your kitchen pantry. I'm pretty sure you are never going to "dive in" to that can of minced clams that has been sitting there since 1978. When we come for a visit, please don't serve my kids the Frosted Flakes with the "Back to the Future" Michael J. Fox action figure inside. If you haven't heard, cereal can occasionally go stale and, after sitting on the shelf for 20 years, can possibly be deadly. 

While we're at it, let's talk about your refrigerator. When the ice cream starts to resemble the arctic shelf and, if you reach in for a scoop you are in danger of slicing your hand open on a sharp ice-rock, it's time to dump it. Perhaps it might also be a good idea to store your dog's suppositories someplace other than the butter compartment. And lastly, it's amazing those eggs haven't hatched into some mutant chicken-monster, considering they've been in there since the dawn of time.

Love you!

-Your Daughters.

I Hate Mondays



I had a tee shirt when I was nine that said "I hate Mondays" with a kitten on it, I literally had a epileptic  seizure in the store until my mom bought it for me. The tee shirt was somewhat of a foreshadowing for my future career of straight
commission sales.

I am fiercely
competitive, aggressive, and never satisfied. All good things in a sales job, but also qualities that will make you crazy. Despite being in sales for going on 14 years I am still constantly in a tizzy of stress. Honestly if ludes were still legally available I would probably try to score some. I live in my car going on calls and have more than a handful of times I have driven off from the bank drive thru with the plastic money container in my car or driven away from a drive thru after paying for my food but not actually getting it. My commute is an hour each way and sometimes I will drive in silence with my mouth open in catching flies mode dreaming of a much simpler time when Val and I would sing Prince's "Raspberry Beret" into a mic with a cassette recorder and then listen back to it and laugh hysterically at our tone deaf voices.  Of course we always had a little stolen gin from one of our parents liquor cabinets to get our Prince party started. In our defense we lived in Tucson, AZ and since we didn't golf or play bridge we were seriously hard up for entertainment.

I was thrown into the pitfalls of my career early on. Only 24 I was clueless and would wear mini skirts with giant safety pins on the side, tights and high heel loafers to work, my boss gave me a
Come to Jesus on my wardrobe and off to Ann Taylor I went. I was young but I was determined not to fail, I cold called a copier company (Xanadu) which would soon become my largest client.

My client at Xanadu was in her 50' s and I would soon learn she was also completely
psycho and jealous of my youth. She was also really into Jimmy Buffet (beware of the psycho Parrot Heads). Despite our close business relationship and my super service she would call my boss and complain about me and then call me the next day and insist that Daddy Warbucks and I come to their house that weekend for "Cheeseburgers In Paradise." She would tell me I was so green and that she wanted to meet me for coffee when I was 50. I wanted to say, "Bitch, when I'm 50 you will be crapping in your pants"

I sold her a sponsorship of a huge Olympic breakfast sponsored by our company where there would be an appearance by Michael Johnson the former "fastest man in the world" (and based on a previous meeting I had with him, quite possibly "prick" could be added to that title.)
30 minutes after he was supposed to be there, my manager grabbed himself a huge plate of pancakes, I was flop sweating and told him I
couldn't believe he was eating nor could Parrot Head who was giving me a huge "where the hell is Michael Johnson hairy eyeball."

The
fastest man in the world never did show to the ginormous breakfast in his honor. Luckily there were some other D-list Olympic athletes there to distract, although they were sitting in front of giant photo scrims of the worlds-fastest-prick's face. Two weeks post this disaster and continued abuse from my client she was transferred to Florida of all places and I never heard from her again. Perhaps she joined some David Koresh-like Jimmy buffet cult.

A year after the Xanadu incident I had hit my stride and bought myself a three series red BMW with a
spoiler, to this day that is my favorite car I have owned. Daddy W and I lived downtown in a loft so I was constantly lost trying to find appts on the other side of town. On one of the busiest highways I whipped out my mapsco, which I naturally tried to read while going about 30 mph on a 70mph highway. A silver much more expensive Beamer was as close to my tail as possible and soon honking at me over and over. We both exited and stopped at a red light - him behind me as I waited for the green light to turn yellow so that he would miss the light. Of course he honked like crazy and went completely ape shit when I did this, running the red light. At this point he was on the side of me yelling profanities, I pulled my window down called him, and I quote "A doucebag dickweed" followed by "fuckstick" all while giving the best finger I could arm fully extended out.

We both pulled into the same parking lot and parked in opposite directions I was getting a little worried he might confront me however he ended up  parking far away from where I was. I grabbed my media kit took a deep breath and asked for "Steve
Hancock." The assistant led me into his office and we locked eyes. Blood rushed to my head and I briefly threw up in my mouth. Steve Hancock, my new prospect major insurance company client, was indeed "fuckstick."
With a completely flushed face and no eye contact I tried to pitch my product and pretend our road rage exchange did not really happen. Steve just listened and stared at me, I thought he might possibly hit a button under his desk and have security remove me. He called in "John" to meet me saying he was also in marketing. I raced out of there when done and I think I may have momentarily blacked out, all the while knowing John was listening to the story of that crazy bitch on the road. Needless to say I didn't make the sale.

Embarrassingly, this last incident happened recently. My manager and I went to see an existing client whom I really liked but talks incredibly slow and loves to tell stories. An hour into his story,  I had completely zoned out on his War and Peace story. He had been talking about the beauty of his hometown in Iowa and said how he loves the four seasons. I missed the entire first part and said, "Oh yes I love that hotel too." My boss said, " Umm Parker, he is talking about the actual four seasons like fall/summer. "

These are just a few perils and one of the more positive aspects of my job is that no day is ever the same and you never know what to expect. You might even get to release some stress and flip off a client.
-Parker



Thursday, August 28, 2008

What Happens in Vegas...




If you've ever seen the movie "Indecent Proposal" you'll recall a young, poor couple (Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson) who take their last few dollars and head to Vegas in hopes of hitting it big. Before we were married, Tom and I used to travel to Las Vegas a few times a year (with our hard earned cash - his from bartending and mine from cocktailing,) in order to hit the craps table. At this point in our lives, pretty much all of our money was discretionary -  no mortgage, property taxes, big car payments or kids. Tom used to spend most of his cash on heavy metal concert tickets and paying for rounds of drinks at the bar at T.G.I. Fridays. I had a wicked collection of lacy mini-dresses and L.A. Gear hightops. 

With no real responsibilities (aside from school and our jobs) we could up and take off for Vegas at a moments notice. It was on one of these jaunts that things went horribly wrong. We took off on a Friday morning, driving through the desert in his Honda CRX, with a reservation at the Mirage, which at the time was the nicest and newest hotel on the Vegas strip. We had planned to stay just one night and between the two of us had approx. $300 in cold hard cash to gamble with.

Despite our love for alcoholic beverages, we rarely drank while gambling - especially when playing craps. I have enough trouble adding without using my extremities to count, so adding alcohol to the picture would most certainly be a determent to my gambling expertise. In actuality, we were both novices, but Tom knew a lot more than me. We began gambling early in the evening and by 10:00 pm we were up $900. It might as well have been $600,000 for as excited as we were. $900 would pay for 5 months of Tom's share of the rent - or, better yet, approximately 17 new tight minis (plus a new pair of LA Gears) for me! 

Had we been smart, we would have stopped, had a steak and lobster dinner (which you could get for $12.95 back then) and called it a night. But we were blinded by our new-found wealth, and decided that our streak of luck was here to stay. I ordered a soda from the cocktail waitress as I watched my "high roller" boyfriend continue to win. When she came back with my drink, I generously handed her a $2 bill from our stash o' cash. Within minutes, Tom's luck began to change. By the end of the hour it was gone - all $900. Tom somehow discovered that I had given away the $2 bill and suddenly it was I  who was responsible for our twist of fate as, unbeknownst to me, that had been our "Lucky" $2 bill. Like an addict who is all out of his stash, Tom began to become irrational and angry, certain that if I hadn't given away the whopping and oh-so-rare $2 bill, we would be rolling in dough. I reacted accordingly, by crying hysterically and running dramatically through the casino -hightailing to the nearest bar.

Unfortunately, with no money to gamble, or even enough to purchase a Fuzzy Navel, I sat alone in one of the Mirage's bar, while a Japenese cover band did a hideous rendition to Sir Mix A-Lots "I Like Big Butts (and I Cannot Lie)." I am not kidding when I say that it came out sounding: "I Rike Rig Rutts and I Rannot Rie."  

Passerbyers most certainly would have thought I'd just lost my entire family in a plane crash as I sobbed in front of the cover band, tears falling on the massive shoulder pads of my red leather jacket. Unlike "Indecent Proposal" there was no handsome millionaire to save the day by offering Tom a million dollars to sleep with me. I eventually made my way back to the room, knowing that our gambling hey-day was over, but relieved that we had left a safety-net of $100 for gas money and our trip home. When I opened the door, I expected to see Tom, waiting with open arms, all apologies. I literally gasped when I saw that not only was Tom gone, but so was our "nest egg": He had left and taken with him the hundred dollar bill.

I turned in for the night - tossing and turning as the hours passed and Tom was still missing. He arrived at approximately 4 a.m. with a 5 o'clock shadow and exactly $0 to his name. No hugs were exchanged. 

Honestly I don't know how we made it home. I do remember reaching down into the seats and counting the pennies in the CRX's change bin in order for us to find enough to buy a Carl's Jr. egg sandwich on the long, silent drive home. 

Tom and I are still together, happily married, but have not gone on a trip to Vegas since. 

-Val

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"Reality Roundup"


I tried to watch the Democratic convention the other night, but was gagging through most of it (I am a staunch conservative while Val leans a little more to the left - we somehow remain best friends). I was especially disgusted when Hillary said that John McCain had claimed that "women shouldn't get equal pay for equal work." Umm, I am pretty sure he never said that Hillary.

What I did notice was that even in High Definition, Hillary looks so much better than she did in the 90's. Seriously, a stylist has for sure gotten a hold of her - perhaps Ken Paves? Some serious money has also been spent on Chelsea who had major Breck Girl locks. I think they may have even had her back lit. After zoning out on Chelsea's new highlights and wondering when in the hell her hair got better than mine, I decided to check out "Exiled" - the latest reality show on MTV.

"Exiled" is a show where they take the bratty kids from "Sweet Sixteen" (you know, the ones who always got a BMW and a visit from Jay Z at their over-the-top obnoxious birthday parties) and send them off to a third-world country to experience how the "other half" lives. Val told me that she had watched it with her kids and was totally hooked. Within minutes of watching I began to get angry with MTV because I knew this show, just like “The Hills” is completely staged, but still I proceeded.

Once the girl arrived in Africa, she had to help the tribe make a make a hut out of cow dung and walk 13 miles to get some cows water, (
she passed on the dung building). She also watched a woman kill a goat and eat its fresh kidney. I couldn't’t help but think,  someone get that woman a ticket to Fear Factor - she could kiss her dung hut goodbye.

I am pretty sure even in my adult life where I have to work really hard for all I have (although a bit spoiled by Daddy Warbucks) I would not in million years touch a steaming pile of dung and I would have hurled having to watch someone eat a raw goat kidney. And, while I would attempt the 13 mile walk, I would have started hallucinating after five miles while talking to myself and wearing my pants on my head.

I also noticed there is new show on MTV called Paris’ BFF because I am sure the winner of this show is going to be Paris’ BFF forever, uggh.

Next on to Bravo (the home of all good things) for “Million Dollar Listing.” All I can say is I can only hope and pray the housing market has sent these douche bags into a tail spin. The guy with the Liza Minnelli hair kills me. His hair gets flatter to his head every episode as if a bucket of water was just dumped on it. I keep hoping a hurricane like gust of wind will occur sending his hair and all its product in the other direction, making him run in horror and hide his face. I am also pretty sure his vapid girlfriend thinks she is on  “The Hills” and does not yet realize she is on a different show. One of the “realtors” sold a home and made a $300k commission and said “whoa that was stressful” to which I yelled at the TV “because making $300k shouldn't’t make you stressed.”  I guess after making $300k he figured he could spring for a shiteous red bow that he placed around the new owners home.


Mmm I wonder what goodness is on tonight?

Best of First Class to Hell: Waiting Tables on X......not recommended



In college I had the thrill of working at a restaurant we'll call Hennigan's in Lafayette, Louisiana. Sounds harmless enough and like your typical, 'I'm a kid in college job.' Waiting tables at Hennigan's in the Bayou, however was like being thrown into the firery pits of hell.

First, the bloody restaurant (no, I'm not English I just like to imitate Madonna sometimes) was open until 2 am and all of the toothless Freaks and Geeks came out to eat their Brownie Bottom Pie at ten till two.

Perhaps the worst part was that at the time (very early 90's) there were only Cajun restaurants in Lafayette, including one across the street called "Possums" where people actually dined on possum and nutria (swamp rat). So if you had your fill of swamp rat and just wanted some Bottomless Nachos, you came to Hennigan's and boy did those Cajuns ever come. Don't get me wrong, I love my Cajuns but Hennigan's attracted the "my sister is a real good kisser" Cajuns.

On Friday and Saturday nights they lined up around the restaurant and would wait an hour for fried cheese with "that red sauce" (marinara), Beef Fa-Ji-Tas (fajitas), Kiss-Ka-Dillas (quesadillas), and I almost peed myself when one bright lady ordered the "Seafood Quikie" (quiche - and I'll bring that right out ma'am.) 

I waited on all types (chew and screw), a couple of a**holes that wrote "Don't Eat Yellow Snow" on a napkin next to the word "Tip", and I  became particularly fond of a couple who came in every Friday night and once heard me mutter something when I left their tables (I believe it was "Douches") and took the time to write a 2-page letter to management about what a horrible person I was. Yes, waiting tables was the pefect training for my lifelong career in outside sales.

The pinnacle of my waiting tables career happened one annoyningly sunny Sunday morning during the church rush. Like all good kids my age I had been taking Ecstasy five hours before my shift and dancing the night away in my Daisy Dukes and Zodiac boots at "King Fish" an X bar in the depths of the bayou. One time I got lost leaving the place and thought I would be found the next day slashed by the fisherman in "I Know What You Did Last Summer." Literally green in the gills, I thought I  might faint as I served people their breakfast feeling much like Tommy Lee after a Crue concert. Hennigan's had just come up with the genius idea to give each table a little green stop watch and if you didn't get your food in 15 minutes it was free. Hence the flop sweat dripping from my caterpillar eyebrows.

I knew with three minutes to spare if I could just get one table of 8 their food, I would survive the day (the a-holes had all ordered steaks as they happily clicked their stop watches). As I headed out with every plate hoisted on a tray above my head (ears still ringing from Frankie Goes To Hollywood), the tip of my tennis shoe got caught on the top step which led to my section. My knees hit the floor, elbows hit the ground, ass in the air, suspenders fallen and a sea of steaks, fried cheese and that damn red sauce lay before me. Manager not happy and the guests got their free meal (click!)

It was at that point that I had decided 'lesson learned' (no more X before Sunday Brunch service.) A few weeks later the manager posted an article in the kitchen about X, including that one of its ingredients included rat poison (who knew?). I ditched X for good that day however I did go out and party the same night as the ill-fated Sunday X Brunch. It was college afterall.

-parker

Monday, August 25, 2008

Oh Crap! I Did It Again










I've never been a good judge when it comes to appropriate movies for my kids. Sure, I took them to all the animated Disney flicks when they were young, but there is only so much animation one can handle. My first "no no" was when, in 2001 I took my kids (then aged 6 and 4) to see "Joe Dirt". David Spade as a redneck orphan with a mullet? Sounds kid friendly enough.  Not quite: I was totally mortified when Joe Dirt had a one-nighter with a slutty girl (played perfectly by Jamie Pressly) who he later thought might be his sister. Yikers

Last year we took the kids to see Cloverfield. When I told Parker about out movie adventure, she said, "Sheesh why don't you just take them to see Saw IV?" Cloverfield actually wasn't that bad except for when one of the main characters exploded behind a sheet leaving a ginormous bloody clump. Daniel was fine, Ellie began chanting "I wanna go home, I wanna go home". Damn. I'd definitely scarred my kid for life.  

You'd think I'd have learned my lesson. And I did, for a while. In all fairness, I consider my kids to have a very mature sense of humor and I'm a pretty laid back mom (sometimes too laid back). Naturally we love Will Ferrell and after seeing the trailer for Step Brothers, there was no stopping us (not even the "R" rating). When I bought the tickets "One adult and two children for Step Brothers please", the teen behind the ticket counter looked at me like I was insane. "You know there are about 300 F-bombs in the movie?" He asked. I took heed of his warning and proceeded with caution. I warned Ellie (who is 10) that there would be some bad language (nothing she hasn't heard me mutter once or twice over the years). I was completely unprepared for the scene when Will Ferrell pulls out his testicles and proceeds to rub them all over his step-brother's drum set. Daniel was in hysterics, while I had to cover Ellie's 10-year old eyes. I may be laid back, but I think 10 might be too young to see her first pair of testes. 

Of course you can't always protect your kids from unsuitable content. It never fails that my son or daughter always shuffled downstairs during the Sopranos right as Tony was about to blow somebody's brains out or have sweaty grotesque sex from behind with Carmella. And the other night my son and his best friend were watching "The Shining" (a movie, incidentally that my mom took me to see when I was in 4th grade). I had forgotten about the full frontal nudity during the scene when Jack Nicholson makes out with the dead lady in the tub. In a panic, I immediately did the "remote control shuffle" (where you grab the remote control and try to change it within the span of half a second). 

Finally, this weekend I rented a documentary "Surfwise,about a family of surfers (11 in all) who traveled throughout the 70's in a ratty old camper, surfing every day. Since we live near the beach, I thought it would be interesting. And it was until the 84 year old patriarch started doing lunges in the nude (his daily morning exercise) and discussing in depth his sex life throughout the years. Mind you, there's nothing wrong with sex, but it's never fun to watch it discussed in detail by a liver-spotted aging hippie in front of your kids.
-val

Friday, August 22, 2008

The "Fun" in Dysfunctional REDUX: with bonus material!

Note: This story was originally posted August 22. After a sleepless night of insomnia (while the Red Hot Chili Pepper's song ""Dani California" played on a constant loop in my head), I decided to add a few more juicy details.  Enjoy!

Everyone has dysfunctional family members (except for my husband Tom, whose family is a kind of Brady Bunch hybrid -  a kindred of happy, stable folk with good jobs and no tendencies toward alcoholism), but if there was some way to measure dysfunction, my clan would rank in the 97th percentile. 

While Parker was telling her friends that she was the cousin of 70's heartthrob "Shaun Cassidy", I had lowered expectations. I told all my classmates that Paul Lynde was my uncle. Paul Lynde? For those of you who don't know, Paul Lynde was a comedian in the 70's and a staple on the original Hollywood Squares. To say he was gay would be to putting it mildly (not that there's anything wrong with that), but as a child I was oblivious to his sexuality. Why I had selected him to be my 'pretend-celebrity-uncle', I'll never know. Perhaps it was that contagious chuckle and those amazing multi-colored ascots he always wore. Needless to say, my friends were not impressed.

I stepped it up a notch when John Belushi died in the early 80's and I also adopted him as my "uncle" as well. Clearly, this was more impressive, and with his scandalous drug overdose at the Chateau Marmont, I knew I'd be admired for being related to a celebrity icon. Now that's messed up.

Perhaps it was my constant need for attention that caused me to brag about uncles that didn't exist. Either way I can always place the blame on my mom, who has a flair for drama. Mom came from a long line of dysfunctionals - an alcoholic dad who was rumored to once be engaged to Lana Turner and was good buddies with John Wayne (Mom used to sometimes hang with John Wayne's kids growing up). While I could write for days about Mom's shenanigans, some of her highlights include getting angry with my dad at an upscale wedding reception and throwing her shoe at him from across the room, hitting him in the head. Did I forget to mention the time she had my dad served with a subpoena at my own wedding reception? I guess you could say my Mom has flair for wedding etiquette. 

In High School when my parents weren't going through one of their many "Trial Separations," they were out of town every other weekend on business. I responded by having small get-togethers for 250 at their house. Not to worry, if things got out of control, as they often did, my best friend Parker was always on hand to play the bad cop. During one over-the-top party, Parker stood on the kitchen counter in her Zodiac boots, with a turkey leg in one hand and brandishing a butcher knife in the other screaming at the crowd to "GET OUT" (I know I've told this one before, but it bears repeating). My parents would inevitably return the following Monday, and never seemed to notice the smell of Teen Spirit and stale beer - they had their own issues.

My sister avoided the drama altogether by taking to her room during her junior year and staying there, bedridden with migraines for an entire year. I have little memories of her during that time except for occasionally opening her door, seeing a tuft of black hair under the covers and hearing her yell "GET OUT".

I can't forget my dear brother who, when I was 10 years old, brought me in his room to tell me in great detail that he was a regular pot smoker and then proceeded to show me how to load and use his 4 foot bong. I stood there with a look of horror and nodded incessantly as he showed me the difference between a bud and stem. He stopped just short of asking me if I wanted a "hit". Once again - so messed up. 

In order to list all of my dysfunctional "life-moments" I'd probably be better off writing a memoir. For the time being, I'll have to just be content that against all odds, I turned out somewhat normal. 
val

Email of the day: Porky Parents of the Olympic Athletes



To: Val@takinganap.com
From: Parker@WhateverCutie.com
Re: Those Fat Parents in the stands

Val:
What's the dealio with all the Olympic athletes' mothers being obese? WTF are they standing over the pool eating a Chulupa, fried cheesecake, or perhaps a Denny's skillet while saying, "Great dive son!"  (crunch, gulp, throw wrapper in pool). The only thin mom belongs to that gymnast Nastasia Liukin. Daddy Warbucks calls her "Nasty-ah". That skinny bitch and her mom live like 10 minutes from us. My guess is she hasn't tried the queso flameda from a popular nearby restaurant (high fat cheese with chorizo mixed in and broiled.)

Shawn Johnson and her perfect skin, cute freckles and slight overbite adorable smile had me rooting for her all the way instead of "Nasty-ah". Of course Shawn's mom is totally overweight. 

We just saw two little piggy moms of divers (the divers, needless to say don't have an ounce of fat) who are completely obese. One was waving a stuffed animal, making her appear even fatter. 

I'm nice and for sure these thoughts will make me contract some horrendous thyroid problem that will make me 400 lbs. I will be on Jerry Springer being craned out of my house for all to see, but whatever for now. 

All I know is if (and I stress "if") my kid was as fit and focused as an Olympic athlete, it would definitely inspire me to put down the McRib and super sized fries.

To: Parker@WhateverCutie.com
From: Val@takinganap.com
Re: Those Fat Parents in the stands

Oh my god, so funny (and true). Sadly, if my kids were ever in the Olympics (not likely) NBC would undoubtedly cut to a shot of me and Micheal Phelps mom eating Churros with beer chasers in the stands.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Faux Blond Moments


The other day while taking Sam to the vet, I managed to back into our garage door - which I naturally assumed was up at the time. My car was fine, Sam continued to lick my face, the garage door did not fair so well. This genius move reminded me of some of my past doozies:

College Wisdom:
In college I had bleach blond hair down to my ass and way too much confidence to go along  with it. Whatever happened to the confidence that I had when, at the age of 19, I could put on a tight midriff top (usually a sleeveless turtleneck) with Daisy Dukes and Zodiac boots and think I was the hottest girl in the bar? My  look back then could best be described as a Whitesnake video meets Less Than Zero with a little bit of the movie Heathers thrown in for good measure. 

I was also very into crystals, wore them around my neck and actually thought they had "mystical powers" (have another drag of Cajun weed, Parker). When I had to give a persuasive speech for my speech class, in typical fashion I waited till the night before and decided to talk about "The Powers of Crystals". I even passed around crystals in order for my classmates to feel their powers, and told them if they couldn't feel the power, it was because other people had touched them. When finished, I remember everyone in the room staring at me with mouths open wide and you could have heard a pin  drop. Of course I thought "Sweet! I nailed it."

Another speech that semester was about skin cancer, which I gave a week after coming back from the Caymans with my parents (with a tan that rivaled George Hamilton). Way too much confidence. I at least had the excuse of being in college as later in life when I was back to my original dark brunette color I couldn't use the "faux blond" excuse.


The Young Executive:
After college I started to look for a job right away and knew in my heart that Oprah would surely love a gal like me on her staff and I would work like crazy for her. I called her studio in Chicago to get the address and was excited to hear her recorded voice on the answering machine: I was already taking orders from her. Oprah gave the address and said "Mail your resumes to my attention." That's exactly what I did. I LITERALLY wrote the address and "MY ATTENTION" on the envelope. A month after I sent the letter, it dawned on me what I had done. A visual of my envelope hung in the Oprah break room for everyone to laugh at. I might have been a little overly anxious to follow Oprah's directions.

I finally landed a job that didn't include wearing an apron with a company in a department called "Program Implementation" (i.e. customer service). Much to my dismay, the company paid so poorly I had to leave every day at 5:30 and wait tables at Chili's at night. 

My closet was Ann Taylor and aprons. After a year they offered me a thousand dollar raise. My boss who always had dried boogers hanging from his nose, looked at me like they had just told me I'd won the lottery. I looked at him and said, "Seriously, this won't even pay for the yearly cost of my manicures." The room  I worked in had no windows and was the size of a basic walk-in closet. I shared it with 5 other people, including one with serious halitosis with the last name Pope, who I would soon call "No Scope Pope." I wore a Janet Jackson-phone headset, but "no Scope Pope" never  got  it when I looked at him and sang, "My name's Janet if you wanna get nasty". 

During one particular call, a customer was majorly BullShi**ing me and in my frustration I hit the red mute button and yelled, "CUT TO THE CHASE YOU LOSER!" to which he responded, "I AM!" Holy Shit, mute button broken, I almost fell out of my chair and nearly knocked the stank out of No Scope Pope.  A week later a good friend of mine had a cake brought in for my birthday that read, "Cut the Cake You Loser."

Mature and Wise:
Much later in life (ok, 6 months ago) I leased a very cute and actually quite practical for me, red Lexus IS 250. I had the car for a week and was really loving it. On the way to my nephew's football game I stopped for gas on the service road of a busy highway at rush hour and became really irritated when the gas nozzle wouldn't fit correctly in my gas tank. I shoved it in anyhow and cursed the Shell station for being so old that their gas hoses didn't fit inside new car gas tanks. After managing to filler up, I turned to put the nozzle back in its holster where the word "Diesel" stared me in the face. 

What followed was heart-stopping, blood-rushing-to-my-face and a hysterical call to Daddy Warbucks while 5 Indian gas station attendants yelled at me to move my car. A subsequent call to the Lexus dealer informed me that my car couldn't be moved and had to be towed from its spot. Had I started it, it would have blown the engine. $800 and 7 days later, my car was almost as good as new. Daddy Warbucks told me jokingly to see if I could get "Dipshit Coverage" from my insurance company.

For a second I thought, "Do they have that?"
Parker

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Jennifer Love Fat Ass: Thanks for Making me feel like Crap


Last Friday my pop-culture bible (also known as US Weekly) came in the mail and once again, it featured another truly amazing weight loss story. I can now sleep at night knowing that Jennifer Love Hewitt has lost that extra 18 lbs she's been carrying around for so long. Sheesh, I'm surprised the Beverly Hills Fire Department didn't have to perform a life-saving rescue by tearing down her bedroom wall and hauling her fat ass out with a fork lift before she was finally able to overcome her obesity. 

As someone who has a body type very similar to J-Love's "before" picture, I have a bone to pick with the tabloids. A few months ago, she got a lot of heat for donning a bikini and (gasp!) revealing some unsightly cellulite. Even with the cellulite, she clearly couldn't have weighed more than 120 lbs. Today at 18 lbs lighter, she is newest weight loss "success story". In a world where a 120 lb Jennifer Love Hewitt is considered a fat ass and a 97 lb Nicole Richie, anorexic, there isn't a lot of wiggle room in terms of "The Perfect Weight". 

At 5'2" and 117 (with a butt-load of cellulite and a smidgen of back fat), I would currently be categorized as overweight in the tabloid world. If I got rid of my orange-rind thighs and lost 10 lbs and I might be considered "just right". Lose another 10 and I become Mary Kate and Ashley's long lost tiny triplet.  One would think that at the age of almost 40, I'd finally be comfortable with myself and stop comparing myself to Hollywood starlets whose diets consist of Adderall and Salem Lights. Sadly, like most women in America, I will probably always have issues with my self-esteem. Even more sadly, I will also be the first to purchase the Star Magazine quarterly issue of the "Best and Worst Beach Bodies", and gobble up every detail of Life & Style's expose on the diet secrets of Blake Lively.
-Val

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Olympics: If Loathing You is Wrong, I Don't Want to Be Right


From the looks of this picture, it seems as if President Bush is having a pretty good time enjoying the Olympics. Me? Not so much. I tried, I really tried hard to dedicate myself to all things Olympiad. I sat through the amazing Milli-Vanilli lip synching Chinese girl and the acrobatic Wunderkinds at the opening ceremonies. I have to admit it was a feast for the eyes. But then the athletics started and it went downhill from there. 

Every four years I get psyched for the women's gymnastics. This year was no exception, until I realized that if I actually wanted to see the Gymnastics competition, I would need a week's supply of "pep pills" in order to stay awake past midnight to catch the action. Evidently, when it comes to the Olympics, Gymnastics is like the "yummy dessert" at the end of the night, but first you must sit through a grueling 3-hour meal of liver and onions (men's indoor volleyball and the never-ending swimming competitions). I was able to make it through the first night of Synchronized Diving, but by 9:00 p.m. after seeing countless 18 year old girls with non-pocked asses facing the camera in preparation for their dive, my body self-image plummeted to a staggering new low. And don't get me started on the women's beach volleyball. That emaciated Kerri Walsh really needs to put down the ball and eat a Double Whopper with Cheese. 

I don't want to hate the Olympics. Believe me, if it was one of my kids participating in the 100 meter dash (which is about as likely as me being featured on the cover of Playboy), I'd be front and center wearing an American flag halter dress and an Uncle Sam hat. Perhaps if I had been more athletic as a child, the Olympics might be more gratifying. But with a week and 1/2 left to go, I find myself missing some of the more classic American competitions: like "The Apprentice" or "Fear Factor". I know its wrong of me to prefer watching Omarosa getting her ass kicked in the Pizza Hut marketing competition, or a grown man dry-heaving over a plate of Yak penis, but what can I say? I'm an American.
Val
P.S. Go Michael Phelps!

 


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Nice Job! A**hole(s) of the week



I know I am a little late on this subject, but I just had to say: Nice Job John Edwards. What a guy! Having an affair while your wife is home supporting your bid for the presidency while simultaneously suffering from breast cancer makes you my a**hole of the week. You'd think someone with aspirations of political grandeur might be able to keep it in their pants and make a concerted effort to stay faithful - at least while you are in the public eye. You have done nothing if not instilled my belief that politicians are the biggest  hypocrites on the planet and we are all fools for believing anything that they say. 

While we're on the subject of a**holes, I'd be amiss if I didn't mention the world-class megalomaniacs featured on Bravo's newest reality show, "Million Dollar Listing". Holy mackerel, I didn't know it was possible to group together so many douchebags (a word I reserve only for the worst of the worst) into a one-hour television show. These guys make the 'Real Housewives' look like humble tree fairies. Not one of them has a likable characteristic . And what is the deal with "Chad's" hair? It should be a crime for anyone over the age of 9 to have that haircut. He looks like the love child of  Liza Minnelli's character in "Cabaret" and Anton Chigurh from "No Country For Old Men".

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Best of First Class to Hell: "Wedding "Whoas"



When I got married at the ripe old age of 24, I invited Parker to be one of my bridesmaids. We had been friends since High School, but over the last several years had lost touch. She was living in Texas and I in Arizona. I hadn't seen in her in 4 years, and her last visit had ended with her vomiting approximately 6 gallons of chunky rigatoni into my bathtub, which my dad had discovered the next morning. When confronted with the rigatoni barf, a hungover Parker tried to blame it on my dog.

A few days before my wedding, my mom picked up Parker at the airport. On the way home, they stopped at a Cantina for a few drinks. Four margaritas (each) later, Parker ended up confessing to losing her virginity her senior year in High School on our living room floor (amongst the dog hair and dander) right outside my parents' bedroom while they slept. As you can imagine, I was thrilled to see my drunk mother and even drunker friend arrive home and equally as ecstatic to hear that Parker had discussed all of our High School indiscretions with my mom over margaritas and a cheese crisp. Parker however had changed. Gone were the long thick caramel brown wavy locks. Her hair was now a deep chestnut brown, straightened with bangs. I couldn't pin it down, but with her new hairstyle she resembled someone famous and it was driving me crazy.

The next day was the rehearsal dinner. For most brides this is an exciting and carefree time. My situation was slightly different. Months before (on the day Tom and I got engaged to be exact) my parents decided that they would divorce after 30 years of marriage. This was not one of those Bruce and Demi "let's-still-be-friends" divorces either. It was bitter and ugly. Accusations of murder plots, hiding money and who would get the house were being thrown back and forth. Obviously the thought of having both my parents in the same room was uncomfortable to put it mildly. I went to great pains to make sure that they would be seated at tables across the ballroom and facing in opposite directions during the wedding reception. The photographer was specifically told ahead of time NOT to request a group picture from my side of the family. The genius-photographer forgot, resulting in a family photo that looks like we are all getting ready to head to the gas chamber.

The Rehearsal Dinner was "tense" (a fucking nightmare) to say the least. There were no assigned seats and my mom proclaimed (loudly) that she would not be treated like a "Second Class Citizen" after I sat at an open table next to the buffet with my dad. Not wanting to cause a scene, Dad stormed out while I sat there, silent tears rolling down my face. Meanwhile, Tom's 400 relatives made their way through the buffet line looking at me with pitying glances as they loaded their plates with chicken and mango chutney. 

The night of the wedding was even more action packed with family drama. My dad removed his mirrored ray bans only long enough to walk me down the aisle, where (in order to avoid sitting next to mom) he then made a military-style right hand turn, marched to the back of the church and watched the ceremony, standing with his arms crossed. 

The reception was going swimmingly until Dad was served with a subpoena during dinner. Nothing says "classy wedding" like having the father of the bride served with papers during a country club reception in front of 175 guests. Not to mention, it doesn't exactly instill confidence in the institution of marriage when your dad gets an ugly divorce subpoena during the salad course at your reception. Dad also later pulled Tom aside and told him that he'd kill him if he ever hurt me. Thanks dad.

Despite the drama, I was determined to have a good time. I ordered a stiff Tanqueray and tonic and tried to be positive. The subpoena disaster was finally behind us, when Parker abruptly took it upon herself to grab the D.J.'s microphone and make a "Toast to the Bride." I don't remember much of the toast, but it involved her saying a high-pitched "Whoa" approximately 23 times. No, this wasn't the stoner "whoa" like Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Parker was doing her best rendition of the "Whoa" that had been made famous by Joey Lawrence's annoying character on the 90"s sitcom "Blossom." This reference basically made sense to only about 4 people in the audience considering about half the guests were over 50 and the other half were clearly much too cool to have ever seen an episode of "Blossom".

Parker's attempt to ease the tension by saying "Whoa" 400 times wasn't exactly successful. No worries, she would throw out some more of that crazy dry humor but fondling the videographer's boom microphone and proclaim (loudly and on camera), "Is this a microphone or my Dildo?" I know this only because I watched the "uncut version" of my wedding video a few days later along with my in-laws and new husband. Oh the horror! 

The wedding night eventually ended. All in all I'd say it was memorable for all. The next day Parker hitched a ride to the airport as Tom and I eagerly opened our wedding loot. A few weeks later we got our wedding pictures. As I perused through the photos it finally clicked whom Parker and her new glorious hairstyle resembled. Although much more attractive, younger and without the facial hair, Parker was a dead ringer for Derek Smalls, guitarist for Spinal Tap. After the Joey Lawrence "Whoa" speech and on-camera "Dildo" comment, I felt no guilt when I called her to tell her the good news about her celebrity twin.
-val














Note: Parker later told me that she had taken a picture of model Helena Christensen to  her hairdresser Rene and the above  cut was the result. Parker went back several days later to tell Rene that her hair was, "Really fu*ked up" only to discover that Rene wasn't there -but had actually killed herself by leaving her  car running in the garage. A horrible story and desperately sad, but one can't help  but wonder if before she met her maker, Rene didn't take out one last act of aggression...on Parker's hair. 

2100 Hot Dogs


Daddy Warbucks and I love to eat at the country's best restaurants whether it be in Dallas or when we travel. We are big "foodies" and have the red "loss of circulation" marks from our clothes to prove it.

Knowing this, a few years ago Daddy Warbuck's brother and sister-in-law generously gave us a Christmas gift of a $500 gift certificate to Thomas Keller's highly touted New York restaurant, Per Se.

We go to NY twice a year however getting reservations at Per Se is like getting backstage passes at a Miley Cyrus concert, competing in and winning "The Amazing Race" or getting a seat in the audience for Oprah's "Favorite Things" show. You need to call two months in advance during a window that they are actually taking reservations (like between 1:00 and 1:08). Ok, maybe not the last part but even so it still sent my dyslexia and annoyance level into overdrive so D.W. had to handle it. Being the Daddy Warbucks that he is, he called the Platinum American Express services and they got us in.

We met our very close and ultra-cool friends Evan and Jade who live in TriBeCa at the Stone Rose bar for a drink beforehand. It was extremely fabulous and made us further excited for our dinner later that evening. As expected, the menu at Per Se is a Chef's Tasting with wine pairings. I noticed our sommelier was not wearing a stitch of makeup - perhaps some Chanel lip gloss would get in the way of her sense of smell? They first offered us a piece of bread but I took just a tiny amount as I had done many tastings before and it is always a rookie mistake to eat too much bread. 

Next was the "Peach Melba" including foie gras. For a $30 per person up charge I figured it would be sublime and worth it - I also thought the foie gras would be seared since Peach Melba is a piping hot dish. Instead it was a rather large slab of a room-temperature terrine, a quarter of the way through it I became somewhat sick at the sheer thought that I was eating a thick portion of pure duck fat. This portion size would unfortunately not be the continuing trend of the meal. 

I have never had a Chef's Tasting where by the 7th course I haven't wanted to take my pants off at the table, so the tiny portions were somewhat shocking. Daddy Warbucks opted for the pasta dish instead of beef - which turned out to be 4 tiny Gnocchi pieces of pasta with a drizzle of sauce. Looking at my 'powerfully built' sexy husband, I thought they must be kidding - even doubling it they would have to be kidding. Evan and I momentarily lost our common sense and ordered the beef for a measly $75 upcharge each (on top of our $275 per person for food and $160 per person for wine). Granted, I wasn't expecting the "eat this steak and get it free" size of beef, however nor was I expecting a paltry 2 ounces of beef either. Many things were truly delicious such as the oysters and pearls (oysters, tapioca and caviar), macaroni and cheese (butter poached lobster with a cheese risotto) - I would have easily traded my duck fat slab for another spoonful of that risotto. Sadly, the portions were like a tease and could be eaten in literally two bites.

The $2100 (!) check came and plopping down our $500 gift certificate felt like a "Get One Appetizer Free" coupon. We actually asked them to wrap up all the after dinner chocolates to go, not wanting to leave a crumb behind at this point. I couldn't help but think, "Do I at least get a free tee shirt?" I also thought, "Did I go to the Bahamas for a weekend getaway or eat at Per Se for 3 hours?

We then tried to go to the Mandarin hotel for a drink and despite 40 open bar tables they told us we would need to wait 20 minutes. They officially take the cake for the "asshole award" (suck it Mandarin Oriental). 

We ended up at Donald Trump's hotel where, amazingly, everyone was very pleasant and more than happy to over-serve us. We said goodnight to Evan and Jade and as we headed back to the Waldorf Astoria (where the lobby was unexpectedly full of tourists in fanny packs and "I Love NY" tee-shirts) I made Daddy Warbucks walk with me an extra block as a NY street hot dog was calling my name. As I shoveled the nitrate-filled wiener with extra relish down my throat, Daddy Warbucks looked at me in amazement and lovingly said, "You know honey, you could have had 2100 of those."

-Parker