Sunday, January 25, 2009

embarrassing your kids, part 57

My kids are officially at the point now in their development that they're embarrassed by me even if I do something as simple as look in their direction.

Of course, part of the problem lies with me.

I happen to talk to people in stores. Salespeople, the old lady in the supermarket aisle, the pimply cashier in the Heritages, the kids playing hide and seek around a carousel of women's bras. Not just hi, but, "hi, hey, you look familiar." "Where'd you get that nose ring?" "You smell good." "Did your mom say you could do that?" "I'm sorry; I took your cart by mistake." I genuinely enjoy these brief interactions.

So if the boys are with me when I launch into some inane conversation with total strangers, they cringe and look at me as if to say, oh GOD, no, not AGAIN, she's talking to the cashier, god, we'll never get out of here, why does she have to do that, can't she just buy her shit and go? Why does she have to turn a simple transaction into a tea party?

I don't know if they really think that, but they look it.

But the latest thing, this little...thing I do now that I don't recall doing before, is dancing in public. In stores. While shopping.

It goes something like this: so we're in PetSmart, Jeremy and I...I'm lamenting--out loud, to no one in particular--that they are out of Kitty Wonder Boxes. In between whines, I notice that the Police are on the speaker: Every Little Thing She Does is Magic. Well, that's a happy little tune. And if you remember the video, toward the end, the guys are at the control panel in the studio, and they start to dance, and you see Stewart Copeland, in his tennies, dancing in the background (yum, Steward Copeland.) He's tall and blonde and cute and doing this funny dancing thing in the background, this kind of loosey-goosey jumping that passed for dancing back in the day.

So when they get into the chorus, I mildly start doing the Steward Copeland dance. There's plenty of room in the aisle, so I dance a little more animatedly.

There's nobody around, but Jeremy's horrified nonetheless.

"MOM. Stop dancing! What are you doing?!" he hisses.

"It's the Stewart Copeland dance. You wouldn't know it," I say.

"But MOM. Stop!"

"What? What? Am I embarrassing you?"


"Oh, c'mon. Where's your sense of humor? C'mon, lighten up!"

He walks off.

Another time we're in the Hot Topic store, and Jeremy is with me; he's looking for some stupid punk thing. There's a song that comes soon as it starts, I start nodding my head, you know, in that way people do. I've never heard the song before, but I really like the beat. In moments, I'm shaking my shoulders a little, then there go the hips and the feet and I've got the hands going around in front of me and I'm doing this little shimmy in a very small space between carousels.

Jeremy, of course, is mortified; this time there are people nearby, who seem oblivious to my ugly and perverse gyrations. Then it hits him how ridiculous I look and he starts to smile.

"You like that song?" He's amazed I might like a song playing in Hot Topic.

"Yeah. I like the beat. In fact, I'm going to ask a salesperson who does it."

"Oh, no, Mom, don't do that..."

Too late.

He slinks off to look at hats while I ask the pimply sales dude with the nose ring to find out what song it is. I'm pretty certain he doesn't get requests like this often.

He politely takes me to an album in their selection: It's NERD. The song is Laugh About It. Never heard of them, never heard of the song.

Jeremy and I return home. I immediately download the song before I forget it. I start to play it.

"Hey, is this that song you were dancing to in the store?" Jeremy asks.

"Yeah. It's ok, isn't it?"

"Yeah. I like it." He smiles, and considers his mother. She might be nuts, but maybe nuts in a good way.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

So long 2008, you worthless piece of shit

Hah! Ok, THAT was a little harsh, but seriously, 2008 was absolutely THE worst year of my life. Ever. I mean, there's a backhistory to all of this that I'm not laying out here, but truth to tell, the tumor didn't help. It completely changed the family dynamic. This is the "new normal" as they like to say, but I'll just add that the new normal sucks. But it's probably no suckier than the old normal, which sucked too.

Anyway, I do get out from time to time, and recently I attended an art opening at this...well, for lack of a better word, in Philly. A coworker was showing some pieces, so I wanted to show my support for his pieces.

It was a First Friday, kind of an art crawl through the city, and stuff is free. So the place was mobbed with snotty art students and posers and actual artists and me, this middle age freak from NJ. I was pretty clearly out of place, but it didn't matter, really: I was completely invisible.

(Used to be I would walk into a bar or somewhere, and I'd turn a head or two. Now, I'm just a cypher. I walk into a place and the sea doesn't part, the talking doesn't stop, the earth doesn't shake anymore. Nothing. Nada.)

But acompanying this middle age anonymity is the knowledge that a growing part of me just doesn't give a shit what people think. So that's kind of cool. I left the show and headed over to National Mechanics, a bar that Mr. Master told me about. He was going there later with his friends, and I wanted to hang out in the city for awhile.

I haven't gone to a bar with the knowledge that I may actually end up sitting there alone for...well, decades. But I walked in, noboy noticed, and I sat at the bar and ordered something girly.

Pretty soon the guy next to me started making conversation. His name was Steve and he was some kind of accountant. He looked eerily similar to Dane Cook. He was chatty enough, so what the hell, I talked to him, right? I don't care. I'm always very civil to men in bars.

Well, first he pegged me for 32--at which I laughed uproariously-- and explained his choice of age: he always figures a woman's age and then subtracts 10 in the hope of getting lucky. Steve, for the record, was 24. Technically old enough to be my son.

But something told me Steve just wanted someone to talk to, not a romp in the hay. So I continued to talk to him. Then Mr. Master came in with his friends. Yay, Mr. Master. He bought me a shot, and I went and talked to him.

Then, Steve came over with a shot...for Mr. Master. And I could now see that Steve is really short. Mr. Master was puzzled by this. I don't know what bar protocol is about buying shots, but this smelled sinister to me. Was it poisoned? Was Steve feeling jealous? Mr. Master thanked Steve, and Steve returned to his seat. I asked Mr. Master what THAT was about.

"He's trying to impress you."

"You're kidding, right?"

"No. I bought you a shot, and he's trying to impress you by buying me a shot."

"But...maybe if he wanted to impress me, he should buy ME a shot." Clearly, I don't know protocol.

This went on for a while: I would get up and talk to Mr. Master, and go back to my seat at the bar next to Steve, who henceforth will be called Dane Cook. I did this several times and the last time I returned to my seat, my leather jacket--and Dane Cook--were gone.

I looked around the immediate area--it was jam-packed by now--and didn't see it. I stood on my tiptoes, making me, essentially, taller than most everyone in the bar--and didn't see it. Several minutes went by, and I determined that Dane Cook must've made off with my jacket, that fucking weirdo.

"Sonofabitch made off with my jacket!" I exclaimed to Mr. Master.

"What? Really?"

"Well, I don't know. It's gone. He's gone. Somebody took my jacket."

And then...through the crowd, little Dane Cook pushed through, looked up at me like a puppy and with a hopeful grin, held my jacket up for me.

"I went to the bathroom and took it with me, because I didn't want you to lose it."

Now, I couldn't decide which was the icky part: him taking my jacket into the bathroom with him, and if so, where did he put it and what did he do with it in there? Or him taking my jacket into the bathroom and then bringing it back to me in, perhaps, the hope that this little ploy might get him laid by someone old enough to be his mother?

Could it be that he was just...being nice? This gave me pause. I considered him and those hopeful doggie eyes. I just wanted to pat him on the head. But instead, I said thank you, very politely, and ignored the urge to crack wise about it and instead, forced myself to view Dane Cook's motivation as pure and his action as genuine, if icky. I then headed out, well into the next morning, to catch the train back to NJ.

I liked that bar.