Lyrical Laughs

Friday, May 18, 2018

How hard is it to ride in an elevator? You'd be surprised

Few things are more likely to make someone overreact than an irrational fear. That is why, during a work-related visit to a hotel and casino (seriously - work related), one of my most prominent irrational fears got the better of me.

My plan upon checking into the hotel before our company meeting was to drop my belongings off in my room and bring some lunch back to relax for a bit. Once I figured out which set of elevators went to my floor, I pressed the Up button and waited for one of six to show up. A set of doors opened and I entered, pressing the button for the 31stfloor. The doors closed and I thought I was on my way, but the elevator didn’t move.

Now there are two things I know about elevators. First - on that rare occasion, they can malfunction. Second – though for the most part I am a rational person, getting stuck on an elevator is high on the Richter scale of my irrational fears.

I pressed Open Door and stepped back into the lobby. No motorized casket wannabe was going to encase me for hours, especially with no ladies’ room accessible. Pressing the Up button again, I took a chance on another elevator. Same thing. No movement.

The second time I hit Open Door and skittishly abandoned ship, but this time I followed someone onto another elevator. Once the door closed, the other hotel guest casually waved his room key in front of a magic box on the wall and pressed the button for his floor. Being a failure at reading directions but quite accomplished at riding on others’ coattails, I hit number 31 for my floor - it didn’t stay lit. My co-passenger told me to wave my room key in front of the magic box so it could verify that someone had a key for that floor. Ohhh, so that’s how it works, I was thinking while simultaneously praying I never ran into this person again.

By that time, I was really hungry. Taking the elevator down to the lobby was much easier, so I made my way to the food court for a sandwich. On my way back to my room I boldly flashed my room key across the magic elevator box and pressed my floor number. My sandwich and I made it unscathed to the 31stfloor.

If you’re wondering where my fear originated from, I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know it was already going strong when Spouse was just Boyfriend. One day during our courtship, we had ventured downtown and parked in the upper floor of a ramp garage. We were on the elevator heading back to the car, when, for some unknown reason, Boyfriend thought it would be super cool to force the elevator to stop between floors by pushing the inner door open. Mind you, it was one hundred percent NOT because he thought it would result in a romantic scenario. Nothing was going to happen on that rancid, urine-stained, blackened ashtray of an elevator. This was just some spur of the moment, testosterone-filled, stupid-boy idea that seemed funny at the time – until he turned and saw my face turning gray.

The thing is, Boyfriend had injured his shoulder just a few weeks before and was supposed to be taking it easy. I didn’t care if he pulled that flipping door closed with his teeth – he was going to get us out of there if he died trying. I’d still remember him… as that stupid boy who made the elevator stop.

Fortunately for Boyfriend, he managed to persuade the doors to close and the elevator to move again. I wouldn’t say he saved my life, but he may have saved his own.

A couple of weeks ago, Spouse and I celebrated our 34thwedding anniversary. Yup, I kept him around even after the elevator debacle. He’s just never been allowed near an elevator door for 34 years.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Ten minutes ago, we weren't digitally enhanced

Back in February, before it hit 45 degrees (and then 65, and then 45 again), our youngest and her best friend (aka Second Born and BFF) went with a few others to see the Rogers & Hammerstein play “Cinderella” in Portland. Our daughters had been smitten with the music from this production ever since the television remake in 1997 with pop singer Brandy in the lead role. My initial love of the story stemmed from a version that most of you will not know. Back in the mid 60s a young actress by the name of Leslie Anne Warren played the gentle yet spirited girl who dreamed of someday going further than her own little corner in her own little chair. Am I sparking any memories?

Before Second Born left for the play, I looked up a few videos on YouTube from Cinderella circa 1965 just to set the musical mood. Spouse happened to wander in while we were chiming in on “Impossible” when he noticed something I hadn’t really paid attention to. The video was in color, which was odd to us because we remembered it as being in black and white when it first aired. Of course, neither of us had color televisions at that time. Hard to believe that we actually survived and became responsible adults when we weren’t exposed to color television until we were at least ten years old. Believe it or not, kids, we watched I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith Show in black and white, and we didn’t grow up believing there was no color in Hollywood.

On their way home from the performance, Second Born and BFF stopped at a book store – my child’s personal weakness – where she couldn’t help but purchase the DVD of Cinderella from 20 years ago. Do you know what happened in the last 20 years? Anything and everything that could possibly make me feel old. Televisions are bigger, pictures are sharper, and special effects are a whole lot more special.

The two 20-something-year-olds watching the movie began their commentary by pointing out that the recording looked more like a copy of a VCR cassette. Remember video cassette recorders? We still have one, along with two drawers of VCR cassettes, even though the VCR isn’t hooked up to the television. It does hold a couple of extra remotes, however… sort of our version of a treadmill with laundry hanging all over it.

The viewing went downhill from there. The vision of Brandy as the poor, soot-faced waif suddenly spinning around in princess garb was definitely not a smooth transition. I’ve barely begun to understand what CGI means (computer generated image – I had to look it up) and this movie was anything but technologically up-to-date. Images that were deemed “special effects” appeared and disappeared in what is now antiquated fashion, causing the girls to burst out laughing and roll their eyes. I came close to saying, “I don’t think it’s that bad,” further reinforcing my lack of awareness and the fact that I’m over the hill, through the forest, and heading toward the state line.

On Super Bowl Sunday (which goes to show you how long ago I planned on posting this), our eyes were glued to the television for the commercials just as much as the game. There were plenty of special effects going on, which is to be expected, considering these advertisers paid over five million bucks for a 30-second spot.  The ads that caught my attention tended to be on the emotional side - or they featured Chris Pratt or Chris Hemsworth, which is just as good as an emotional message. I’m all about a good cry as well as a good Chris.

It doesn’t do much good to fight progress when it comes to entertainment. Imagine what our future grandchildren will be using twenty years from now. Maybe then our own kids will be embarrassed to admit they still have a DVD player - buried under laundry right next to the treadmill.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Maine winters are medal worthy

The Winter Olympics have been the highlight of our television time for the past two weeks. With closing ceremonies taking place this Sunday, we can once again look forward to not feeling guilty for ordering take-out while witnessing the training regimens of various competitors.

Did you happen to catch the aerial skiing competition? I was dizzy just trying to keep up with the names of their insane moves. The only full, double full, full moves going on in this house are related to not stepping on a cat during meal time. Spouse and I used to ski back in the stone age, i.e., when we were dating. I wasn’t very good at it but you had to give me an A for effort - and for being able to walk the next day.

There were so many incredible moments and jaw-dropping feats over the past two weeks… and then there was curling, which I swear was created specifically for parents of toddlers and/or teenagers who desperately need a safe space to vent. Is there any other reason to scream at a giant 44-pound stone while balancing on ice with a broom?

I’m curious… tell me how you feel about these phrases describing Olympic events: Plummeting head-first down a steep and treacherous ice track on a tiny sled; timed runs down narrow, twisted, banked, iced tracks in a gravity powered sled; no protection should they make an error.

These statements would cause fear in the average person – but not in a Mainer. We deal with such terrifying circumstances from November through March at the very least with our own Olympics to contend with.

First, there’s the Mom at the Mall Biathlon. This entails attempting to use your one-day-only Macy’s 20 percent off coupon before bringing three kids to Supercuts without calling ahead… during February school break.

One of my (least) favorite events is the Brick Sidewalk Luge. It doesn’t involve an actual luge, but walking through Portland’s Old Port after the sidewalks are plowed and not sanded can have the same effect as hurtling down a slippery ice track at great speed. For extra points, use the arms-grasping-at-air method of balancing. It won’t work but it’s very dramatic.

Spouse’s strength is the Freestyle Driveway Skiing, best executed after a snowstorm when he’s moving our cars around and cleaning them off. Because our garage is his third “territory” (the other two are his half of the living room sofa and the whole basement) and a car will never fit in there, his rule is that we park our vehicles on the grass when a storm is expected, so our plow guy can clean the whole driveway. Then we have to trudge through the snow to our cars, clean them off and park them in the neatly plowed driveway. Technically, that should qualify for the cross-country (fine, cross-driveway) event.

Finally, there is that Maine specialty – the roof raking event. Come on, you know you want a medal for having to rake your roof.

There were a few wardrobe malfunctions during the Olympics this year. Mainers can relate, what with boots getting caught in deep snow drifts, scarves flying off during high winds and gloves mysteriously disappearing on the coldest day of the year. Wait – that would be one glove, never both.

It’s been an entertaining Olympic season, but we only get to see it every four years. Good thing Maine winters provide us with plenty of opportunity to practice our techniques. Maybe roof raking will make it to Beijing in 2022.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The GOAT's deep, dark secret

It is almost impossible to live in New England and not have some interaction with a rabid fan of the New England Patriots. From the beginning of football season in September until the playoffs, their stats tend to be water cooler fodder, Uber analysis, and occasionally a softly spoken prayer uttered during church. I think it must be a law that true fans have to use the phrase “we” any time they are discussing their favorite team.

We really wiped the floor with those guys.
We’re in the lead.
We’re going to the Super Bowl.

Really? This “we” stuff is beyond me. I didn’t see you in the team line-up or on the field – not even on the side with a striped shirt and a whistle. Nope, you were home on your sofa or at your local watering hole yelling at the television screen, and the closest you got to investing in the team’s welfare was your Patriots t-shirt, and guess what? Dick’s Sporting Goods reaped the majority of that profit.

My teasing is all in good fun and fandom. I am particularly sensitive to the Patriots’ enthusiastic admirers. The team is, after all, heading to the Super Bowl for the tenth time, which is a phenomenal feat. But... well, nobody’s perfect.

During middle school Second Born participated in cheerleading – the most unlikely activity for her to choose – for one season. She confesses now to not being the coach’s favorite, since she tended to be “too busy” to attend practice half the time, but she did get to board a bus with her team mates for a day at Gillette Stadium. Her dad, being the kind and generous soul that he is, volunteered to chaperone. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.

The afternoon was crammed with activity, including an inflatable obstacle course for the visiting cheerleaders and an autograph session with the Patriots, but Second Born only has one clear memory of the day.
Anybody got a pen?

Tom Brady stole someone’s pen.

Yup, everyone has a dark side. All right, maybe not a dark side exactly.

The story goes like this. The New England Patriots appeared during that afternoon to visit with fans who stood least six deep in anticipation of gleaning a treasured autograph. Second Born tried to shove her tiny body through the wall of adults who had somehow forgotten this was for the kids that they had chaperoned, but it was fairly futile. She was, however, able to witness The Moment. Brady had accepted a pen from an excited fan hoping for an autograph, signed one or two footballs that were shoved in his direction – neither of them belonging to the pen owner – and turned and walked off with pen in hand.

“Did he just –?”
“Yeah, he did.”

That’s right, you heard it here first. Tom Brady took possession. Of a pen. You think you know a guy.

What might have prompted this misdemeanor? Did the GOAT simply forget that he hadn’t been holding a pen when he first appeared? Or was he given a directive? Perhaps Belichick gave his team a pep talk ahead of time, much like he does before each game.

“Hey guys, we’re having a great year but you know, this fancy stadium isn’t cheap to maintain. We’ve had to cut back on a few things, like office supplies… see what you can do.”

We’ll never know, I suppose.

This Sunday there will be a whole lot of well-deserved cheering going on for the Patriots. Maybe one of you has a connection to the team – excuse me, I mean our team - and can share my thoughts with them. If you’re reading this, Tom (Brady, that is), I wish you the best of luck Sunday.

Now, about that pen.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Even Mainers have their limits - don't they?

I have a confession. I miss seeing the UPS delivery guys wearing shorts. It’s not because they have great legs, though it’s a bit frustrating that they all have better legs than me. It’s really because that means it’s too cold for them to challenge each other by seeing who can stand the cold the longest. They’ve given up, every one of them. I even saw one wearing a winter cap last week. What’s that all about?

This is the first time during our 20 years living in Maine that a cold snap is so long it should be called a cold snap, crackle, pop. Three of my Christmas presents had to do with staying warm: socks, gloves and a blanket scarf. I’ve been wearing pajama pants under my office slacks for the past week. Walking two blocks from the parking garage to my office each day, I’m so encased in winter garb that I would probably fall straight back if someone bumped into me.

Every Christmas morning for the past nine years, we have gone to the beach for the sunrise. The weather has not been cooperative every time, and this year was no exception. Because of the clouds and beginning of a snowy day, Spouse suggested we put our sunrise visit off until January 1. Sure, I thought, that sounds like a good idea.

On the first day of 2018, I woke up around 6:15 a.m., checked my cell phone to see what the temperature was, flipped over my pillow and went back to sleep. I’m one of those people that loves traditions. However, I also believe that getting out of a perfectly comfortable, warm bed and putting on several layers to see the sunrise when the thermometer reads negative 16 degrees should simply not be an option.

First Born came into our world on a late September day, so she was just a tiny thing that first winter. I remember dressing her up in her fuzzy purple snow suit. With her arms and legs sticking straight out, she looked like an adorable star fish. Adults, don’t try to pull this look off – it’s not half as cute.

Smoke on the water
Now that we’re ensconced in what I’m hoping is the worst of winter temps, how many of you see a warmer climate – which, at this point, is anything above 20 degrees - in your immediate future? I have some advice for you. Don’t go to Kansas. I know what you’re thinking. Who would go to Kansas by choice anyway, right? I'm teasing, Sis. Mostly.

You may recall that my mom, sister and extended family live in Kansas. Normally my sister spends the winter commenting about how much she doesn’t miss New England weather. She woke up to negative 12 degrees recently. Noooo, that wasn't me snickering. And I shouldn't anyway - we have one car that has not yet been unleashed from the snow and we can't see out of our driveway.

If you have decided enough is enough and you’re tired of hearing the furnace kick on, before you book that flight to a tropical paradise, make sure your passport is up-to-date. As of January 22, Maine residents will no longer be able to use their license for identification on flights. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how it works for a return trip. Does that mean if you fly out on January 21, you can’t fly back until your passport is updated? Is it possible to get “stuck” in a tropical paradise? I’m going to bet the answer is no, but hey, I can dream.

My passport is updated because I’ll be doing some traveling this spring to exciting places like Ohio and, of course, Kansas. They had better warm up before then. Otherwise, I could just stay home and dream about the UPS driver’s legs.