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Posts Tagged ‘people are strange characters’

When I was younger – think, about 7 years old or so – I remember taking an acting workshop. Nothing fancy, just a short class one summer at the local community center, most likely. (Mama can fill in the details.)

The point is, I remember one exercise where we had to come up with a character. We had to decide the age, sex, career, mannerisms, etc. of this persona that we were going to portray. When the teachers (who were probably in their early 20s) came around and asked me about my character, I told them, “I’m a middle-aged woman.

So about how old do you think that is?” one of them asked me.

Oh, you know, 30,” I responded, nonchalantly.

I don’t remember the teachers’ reactions, but I have to imagine that it was either a laugh, a groan, or somewhere in between.

I’ve thought about that character exercise a lot in the past few months, for one very specific reason. And that’s because today, according to my younger self, I have officially become middle-aged.

And I’m surprisingly okay with that.

I loved my 20s – a lot of good things happened. But, as with any decade, there were also a number of shitty things, too – things that I’m not sad to leave behind.

I’ve never really been one for dwelling on the past. I do love old stories, and can get nostalgic with the best of them, but more often than not, I focus on what’s ahead.

So in that spirit, I decided it was time for the birthday list to make a comeback – a little 30 for 30 of the non-ESPN variety.

It’s an ambitious list, but it’s worth a shot. I just hope my newly middle-aged body is able to keep up.

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Taking public transportation while pregnant has often felt like one giant social experiment.

The biggest observation, of course, is that people rarely look up while riding the bus or metro when others are boarding. It’s a head-down mentality, and the cynic in me has interpreted it as: if I don’t look, then I won’t see someone who needs my seat, and then I won’t have to get up.

It’s not personal, it just is.

Of course, there are the rare gems who either a) offer seats immediately or b) (and even more rare) make eye contact from across the car to give up their seat. (To the woman who did that, you might actually be one in a million.)

Overall, though, women have offered more seats than men have, and older women have offered more often than younger women.

But, naturally, I’d still rather go for an already empty seat, rather than take one from someone else. Which is what I tried to do yesterday on the commute home.

The train is always so crowded in the evening, that I was thrilled when I peered through the metro doors and saw one front seat open and available. As I moved toward it, the 40-something-year-old man sitting in the adjacent seat stood up, and I assumed that he just didn’t want to move over to the window, that he preferred the aisle. No big deal.

I made a move to slide into the window seat, perfectly happy to accommodate, and he blocked me.

He physically stood in my way, arms spread wide, and prevented me from sitting down – so that his buddy could step around me (no easy feat) and take the seat.

I looked at both of them in disbelief, said something eloquent along the lines of, “Seriously?” and proceeded halfway down the car where I managed to find the only other seat still available.

I’d like to think that if there hadn’t been one seat left, the men may have reacted differently. But, given the blocking, I doubt it.

I wish I could say I’d been the bigger person (aside from just my current roundness), but when we ended up all getting off at the same stop and they tried to cut in front of me, I may have thrown my elbows out wide and done some blocking of my own.

And honestly? I don’t feel too bad about that.

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At my five year high school reunion I got sloppy drunk and ended up making out with a guy PiC was trying to set me up with. I’m not proud of it, but I was 23 years old and acting like it.

Half a decade later I showed up to my ten year reunion, Husband in tow, Baby on board, and stone cold sober (obviously). And I have to say, this time around was much more enjoyable.

hsgirls

I saw the usual suspects (minus PiC, sadly, who got sick at the last minute), but I also chatted with some friends that I really haven’t kept in touch with at all.

One girl was also pregnant, so we swapped stories and watched the (slight) reunion debauchery while sipping our ginger ale.

Another girl is moving to Abu Dhabi soon for her husband’s job, so we all shared travel tales.

Guy friends that I thought would never grow up or settle down have done both, and are a good reminder that none of us are exactly the same people we were ten years ago.

The strangest surprise of the night, though, was entirely unexpected.

It wasn’t the girl who came up, hugged me, kissed my cheek, and loudly professed how happy she was to see me (even though we probably haven’t spoken since 1997).

It wasn’t JB who would randomly come up behind me and put her hands on my belly throughout the night.

It was, surprisingly enough, a work-related rumor. As I was chatting with N, one of those guys who I thought would never grow up, he mentioned it.

“So, you’re still in DC, right? And you work at The Heritage Foundation?”

“Yes, I’m still in DC, but, no, I work at The Office. But it’s strange – you’re the second person tonight who’s asked me about Heritage specifically.”

“Yeah, there’s a rumor going around that you work there, and I was surprised you worked at a conservative think tank. I’m glad to hear it’s not true!”

Maybe this doesn’t seem so odd, but it struck me for a few reasons:

1) Growing up (i.e. when most of these people knew me) I wasn’t especially political. And I definitely never talked politics enough to be labeled one way or the other.

2) Outside of DC and holiday dinners with family, I still rarely talk politics. And it’s not exactly a topic I anticipated at the reunion – however peripheral it may have been to the conversation.

3) It’s such an oddly specific rumor, and so easy to dispel via social networks. I always thought rumors should be vague if you want them to catch on – hard to verify, but easy to believe. (Not that I’ve thought about this before.)

In any case, I laughed about it with N and realized that if this is what’s going around, then even the rumor mill has matured over the past five years.

And that’s not a bad thing at all.

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You know how when you call the credit card company or your insurance agency, the automated system usually tells you, this call may be monitored or recorded for quality purposes?

I always assumed those purposes were quality service.

Yesterday I called my insurance company to find out their policy on covering vaccinations (for Nepal). I knew it was highly unlikely, but wanted to cover all my bases. So I asked.

Insurance rep: “No, we don’t usually cover vaccines. Which ones are you looking for?

Me: “Well, one is rabies…

Insurance rep: “Oh, you were bitten?

Me: “No, it’s preventative.

IR: “They don’t do preventative.

Me: “Oh, well, I actually just talked to my doctor, and he said that they do.

IR: “No. They don’t do preventative rabies shots around here.

Me: “It’s for international travel.

IR: “Ha!* Well now this call is recorded as you saying it’s for travel and we definitely don’t cover shots for international travel.

*It might have been more “ah!” than “ha!” but there was no mistaking the excitement in her voice. 

At this point, I knew it was a done deal, but I was curious about one more thing.

Me: “Oh, okay. So…you don’t even cover polio boosters? I thought I read something about getting a booster every 10 years.

IR: “Ma’am, I’ve already recorded you saying it’s for international travel, so, no.

Me: “Listen, I’m not trying to be sneaky. I was just looking for information. But thanks for your help.

And I hung up.

Perhaps that wasn’t the mature way to handle it.

But at that point I was done being recorded.

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If you’re looking for a way to break into someone’s conversation, might I suggest this technique, used by a random gentleman in Chinatown last night.

MJ and I had finished our dinner date and were getting ready to head home, when all of a sudden we were approached and heard…

I’m the black rain man!

And then: “Come on, baby dolls, pick a country. Any country in the world!

My gut instinct was to avoid, and just say we had to go.

But then MJ responded: “Japan,” and the self-described black rain man burst out into a rap.

I didn’t catch it all. A lot of it was mumbled. But I did hear the words Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Tokyo, and Okinawa.

BRM: “That’s some educated shit right there! Your turn, baby doll! Pick a country!

And so, being the international nerds we are (phrasing courtesy of MJ) we went a few countries more, with BRM rapping about our choices, and MJ and me trying to understand what he was saying.

When we finally stopped him, being clear that we had to go, he said goodbye and put his hand on my shoulder to impart some final words of wisdom.

Baby doll, listen up. Don’t let him touch you. I don’t care if you have one kid off him or 10,000. Don’t let him touch your *mumble mumble*

And as he walked over to another group, I turned to MJ.

Don’t let him touch my what?

Your vines? I think he said your vines.

Don’t let him touch your vines.

Huh.

I’m sure that’s good advice, but I think I still preferred the country raps.

At least, what I understood.

*That line is original BRM – one of the few parts we understood and remembered.

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Not for you. Don’t worry.

For me. Or rather, I am the spoiler.*

To say that I am impatient is an understatement. I like to think that it’s part of my charm, but I don’t ask just in case that’s not the case.

The thing is, I don’t think of it as “spoiling.” I think of it as enjoying the journey once I know the destination. I might already know the outcome, but I love finding out how we get there.

I do it with books, movies, TV shows – not all of them, but a lot. And occasionally I’ve even played Nancy Drew (can “detective” be another word for spoiler?) when I know BNF has a surprise up his sleeve. Which I suppose would only count as spoiling if I were ever able to figure out the surprise ahead of time.

But in preparing for this coming weekend I gave my inner Nancy Drew time off.

This weekend is my bridal shower and bachelorette party up in Philly, and I know next to nothing about what’s involved. Cla, the bridesmaids, and my mom have skillfully kept all details to themselves.

At one point, early on, I was talking to my mom, trying to weasel out some information.

Oh, do you want me to pass anything on to Cla? Any details or thoughts?

(I don’t remember my exact wording. I like to think I was sneakier than that. I probably wasn’t.)

No. I’ll call her myself.

Well played, Mama.

The thing I’m realizing, though, as I go into this, is that I’m SO excited to be surprised!

I mean, of course the control freak in me is dying to know every last detail, but the bigger part of me is as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning. (A normal kid, who didn’t sneak downstairs in the middle of the night to dig through her stocking and try to peek at presents, and thus know what to expect.)

Now, does recognition of this feeling mean that I’m a reformed spoiler, and that I’m not going to look up the episodes of Game of Thrones anymore before I watch them?

Don’t be ridiculous.

But maybe I’ll resist the urge to guess the next time BNF mentions a surprise.

Maybe.

*For the record, I only ever spoil myself. I fully realize that not everyone shares my “must know now!” attitude.

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Back in September, BNF joined a baseball league and last night I finally got the chance to go to one of his games. One of the first things he told me about when he started was the coach. “He’s really anti-marriage,” he told me. “He actually sent me an article about how marriage is bad for you after I told him I was engaged.

So, naturally, I couldn’t wait to meet this guy, and I was certain that I’d be welcome at the game.

Coach did not disappoint.

I introduced myself when we got to the field, before the guys started warming up.

So you’re going to try that marriage thing?” he asked me. “It’s a mistake. You’ll be so bored. Can you really imagine spending the rest of your life with the same person? God, that’s awful.

When I told him that not only was I excited about my upcoming marriage, but that I was inspired by my parents (who will be celebrating 35 years in November!), it prompted him to ask me how old I was.

You’re only 26? And you can really imagine spending the next 20 to 30 years with the same person?

I’m not really sure how we got from “the rest of your life” to “20 to 30 years,” unless he thinks that everyone dies before 60. What an optimist.

After Coach left the bleachers to go warm up with the team, another guy who had been sitting there the entire time, unassociated with the team, turned to me.

That guy is a piece of work! He’s really something else.

I assured him that I’d been warned and we laughed and chatted a bit. And when he stood up to leave he joked, “Well, I guess I’ll just go back to my “boring” wife of 21 years. I’ll tell her, ‘you know, honey, I thought things were great until I heard this unsolicited advice from a guy at the field – guess we’ll have to change things up.‘”

The real kicker, though, aside from the reaction of complete strangers, came at the end of the game, when Coach started a sentence with, “My girlfriend…

Well, now. I definitely did not see that one coming.

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