Sunday, July 25, 2010

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Gentlemen, I want to use this opportunity to commend you on being the gender charged with the task of initiating conversation with the opposite sex. Seriously, I know it takes a lot of courage to approach a woman and try to impress her in one foul swoop, that being said, just because a lady just happens to be present in the same location you are does not mean that she wants to be hit on. There are several times when a woman may be receptive to your advances like at a party or another social gathering, however, a woman may just want to go about her day and not be looking for love, for example, when buying produce or baked goods, at the gas station, in the emergency room, or when trying to check out a Banana Republic and the cashier. . . well, that's another story for another time. This story is one of the latter occasions.

When I received my bridesmaid dress in the mail for my friend Angela's wedding, I was excited to see that it fit everywhere except for the length. Being a towering 5'0", I'm used to having to hem most of my pants, jeans, etc. myself, but when I realized that I needed to take the dress up 6 inches, I decided this was a job for a professional. After a getting a few referrals, I took the little black dress to a tailor down the street. My first visit to his shop was normal, and when he asked for my phone number I didn't think twice as he said he would call me when my dress was finished.

Two weeks passed and no word about my dress, so I decided to drop in when I was running errands in town one day. I walked in the door and was greeted with, "Oh, I remember you. Black cocktail dress, right?" He grabbed the garment and asked me to try it on. I slipped on the dress and coordinating shoes and stepped out of the dressing room hoping that I would be pleasantly surprised when I looked in the mirror. The reflection was perfect. "That dress fits you in all the right places," he said as he walked up behind me. He began to take his hands and smooth out all of the wrinkles on my gown, and then his hands began to roam to places where there were none. I began to get concerned. "Surely, this guy isn't doing what I think he is doing," I thought to myself, "he's old enough to be my father, or even my grandfather." Nevertheless, I was dutiful and polite (good manners are always in good taste), and complimented him on his work. "Turn around, I need to see you from the front." He grabbed my hand and spun me around on the platform. "This is a great dress for dancing. Do you dance?" He forcefully grabbed my other hand and began to move me about into a little shimmy. "I do go out dancing with my friends from time to time," I replied, wanting to be honest but vague. "You must come out dancing with me. I would love to have you on my arm." "Well, thank you for the invitation, but this dress is for a wedding, not for dancing," I said, hoping he would get the hint. "When the wedding is over, come dancing with me." And then it happened. . . he kissed me. His iron grip on my hands grew even stronger and the old man pulled me into his chest, and as if it happened in slow motion, I turned my head so that his lips landed on my cheek. I squished my fingers through his fists and dashed back into the dressing room.

I changed into my street clothes and regrettably walked over to the counter to pay. I handed him the dress to hang and put in a garment bag. He began asking me a barrage of questions: "Do you live close buy? Do you live alone or with friends? Do you work in the area? Do you model?" "Yes, alone, yes, wait. . . model? You've got to be joking. Okay, this is just plain creepy," I said in my head. I simply responded, "I would like to pay now." "Not until you answer my questions," he said tauntingly holding my dress captive just out of arms reach. "Would you model for me? I will make you clothes and and you can put them on and I will take pictures of you." The dialogue in my mind continued, "This just went from plain creepy to holy crap this guy is going to kill me creepy. Angela better know how much I love her to risk my life for her wedding." I pulled out a card from my wallet and slid the piece of plastic to his side of the counter. "I am not model, but that's very kind of you to say. May I please have my dress?" He picked up the card and said, "Oooh, I like your style." "Please just give me my dress," I desperately said, "I have a lot of errands to run." Finally he surrendered my gown and my credit card and wished me on my way. As I practically sprinted out the door, he called out to me, "Don't forget about the dancing, I've got your phone number."

Immediately I called my one of my friends to relay the bizarre encounter. "It happened again!" I exclaimed, "some creepy old guy hit on me." She simply replied, "Wait, were you at the grocery store again?"

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Craig's List: Buyer Beware

Finding a deal on Craig's List may be quite an arduous yet fulfilling, so when Sarah requested that I accompany her into the greater Los Angeles area to buy a couch she came across on the site, I willingly agreed. She picked me up straight from work and off we went, fighting our way through rush hour traffic to a place in which she would not tell me where we were going. Three highways and a dead-end later, we rolled into a neighborhood with more billboards in unknown languages than English. I had no idea where I was and no idea what I would find when we got to where we were going.

Google maps directed us to an unmarked street with a row of apartments. Getting out of the car Sarah led me to the door and timidly reached her hand up to knock. "You do it," she said pulling back her hand and stepping behind me. Laughing, I knocked on the door and was less than greeted by an elderly, non-English speaking woman who promptly shut the door in my face. I knocked again, and explained myself to which she replied by pointing her gnarled finger behind her and again closing the door. Sarah looked at me and I looked at Sarah, puzzled yet intrigued by what was going on. "I'm going to go around the back of the apartment, you can stay here," I told Sarah; she quickly followed behind me. The woman opened the back door and pointed the same finger down the alley. "Thank you," I said, hoping that these would not be the last words I spoke.

As Sarah and I headed down the narrow walkway, I pretended to be self-assured when in my mind I imagined headlines of "Two stupid girls die in Craig's List Couch Caper." We kept walking. And walking. To my left, a tattoo parlor enshrouded in barbed wire, to my right a caged pit bull so large I could put a saddle on it and use it as an alternate form of transportation. And walking. Finally, I hear a language that I recognize and turn to see a woman standing in front of a open garage storage unit. "You're here for the couch?"

Fumbling through a 12x12 space crammed full of unmarked boxes, the woman and her two helpers retrieve a rather less than promising container. As they uncover the plastic wrapped sofa, the woman reassures us that the furniture "came from [her] store that closed down. Bad economy." Unfortunately our timidness continued to grow as she explained that the faux-leather couch could be paid for in cash and delivered the next day. Graciously I tell the woman and her two men that we would think about it and call her back. I grab Sarah by the arm and escorted back to the car. "What do you think," she whispered. "I'll tell you when we get in the car," I replied through the side of my mouth.

We make it back to the car unscathed and I erupt in laughter. "Well, how do you feel about buying stolen furniture," I ask. "If by her store closing down she means it fell off the truck between here and Tijuana, then, yes, I think you should buy it." Sarah smiled and laughed, and then we drove off into the sunset to Ikea (and eventually In-N-Out).

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lesson learned for an aunt to be

So under the advisement of several of my friends, I decided to start blogging back in January, however since then have failed to be inspired to share my life's lessons with the rest of the world. . . until today. Who knew that my inspiration, nay my muse, would come in the form of a four year-old girl?

In an effort to win over my new staff group in our first meeting this evening, I decided to dazzle my RAs with my culinary skills through the making of double chocolate brownies. However, looking at the dismal state of my just relocated pantry, I realized that a box-of-brownies mix would have to do.

With ease I navigated the grocery store and in a self-congratulatory fashion strolled up to the check-out (I never make it out of the grocery store in less than thirty minutes, even for milk). While pulling the items out of my basket I feel a little tug on my pant leg and look down to see a dark-haired little girl with big brown eyes looking up a me with wonderment. "You're buying chocolate, aren't you," she graciously but cautiously squeaked out. "Yes," I replied with a smile.
"You shouldn't buy chocolate, it's not nutritious," the little lady stated confidently, but a bit judgmentally.

My mind started to reel. Thousands of responses flooded my head, some proud of the 4 year-old for being so acutely aware of her surroundings, other horrified that she knows the word and understands the concept of nutritional value before she can successfully tie her shoes. Mostly, I was impressed that she possessed enough gumption at such a tender age to eloquently express herself. She reminded me of myself this way.

As I begin to form the words in my mouth, "You know, you are right," I see the girl open her mouth and take a huge bite out of a chocolate doughnut. What? How dare she parlay her cuteness into a means by which to judge people when she herself is a hypocrite. "Wait," I tell myself, "she's only a child, and kids just repeat what they are told." Calmly I look down into her delicate brown eyes and through my toothy grin say, "Well, sweetheart, you're the one eating a chocolate doughnut."

Her mother grabbed her glaze encrusted hand and walked away. I continued to check-out my groceries and proceed to my car. As I start the engine I reflect upon what just happened and think to myself, "Michelle, you're going to be an amazing aunt."