Saturday, April 24, 2010

Happy Hands Club

Let's discuss my seemingly endless talent some more.

You probably already know that I'm an expert at The Sprinkler. However, you probably don't know the story of how I honed those mad skills.

Like most little girls, I took dance lessons. I started with ballet, then added tap classes, and eventually I progressed to...jazz. We spent a couple of hours in a second-floor mirrored studio with no air conditioning, practicing to craptastic 70s piano tunes on Mrs. Klagges' busted old record player.

I would typically be wearing something very similar to exactly like this, stirrups and all:

I can assure you, however, that I never did a standing split inside a tree trunk while I was wearing said get-up.

The shoes weren't much better. These are jazz shoes:

And these are tap shoes:

But around age 10, we graduated to high-heeled tap shoes. Which was soooo bad ass. Also, that's the reason I can totally walk so sexy-like in heels now.

Really the best thing about dance class was the location of the dance studio. It was right next door to an old-school candy store. Because I was blessed with my darling little sister, I would "get" to wait around for an hour before my class. Which basically meant that I spent an hour stuffing my face with Sour Patch Kids, Fireballs, Tootsie Rolls, Candy Cigarettes, and anything else that cost less than a dime.

All this tough practice led up to the annual recital, which was, of course, a major deal in Culpeper. It was always held in the high school auditorium (no need to specify, just one in the entire county at the time), which was super exciting for a fifth grader in a unitard and braces.

We wore makeup and itchy sparkly outfits with tutus and chokers:

Mrs. Klagges picked all the music. And let me tell you, it was almost never fair. For example, in 1989, my sister's class danced to this:

We danced to this:

But even though we got screwed with such a lame song, I got a solo. I got to arabesque (or something) myself all over the center stage. I was such a total prima ballerina, bitches.

After the show, my entire family informed me that I had some weird epileptic flutter-finger hands thing going on. Sure enough, upon inspection of the video footage, I took Mrs. Klagges' "soft ballet hands" instructions about 17 steps too far. I don't know what was going on, but those things were twirling and whirling like they were about to detach and take off. It was like I had a baton...but not.

So I quit dance classes after that. Stupid uncontrollably flailing hands.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Take Your Kids to Earth Day: The Musical

Today was both Earth Day and Take Your Kids to Work Day. A friend of mine had the idea that there simply must be a blog topic here.

There is. Kind of. Stay with me.

Back in the late '80s, I was a student at St. Luke's Lutheran School. I think I "graduated" from sixth grade with nine other kids, we wore knee-length dresses and attended chapel every Friday, and when I got busted for cheating on one little spelling quiz during the last week of my last year there, I truly thought (and kind of hoped) I was going to be brutally beaten and then assassinated by a firing squad. When I finally set foot in the public school cafeteria wearing red hairbows in my pigtails in seventh grade, "You down with O.P.P?" being shouted by some 13-year-old was truly music to my ears.

Anyway, back at St. Luke's, we were really into musicals. Not just any musicals, of course. One particular musical that comes to mind was called, "It's Cool in the Furnace."

Here's a sample. (This isn't my school, by the way, but this is pretty much identical to us 20-some years ago.)

Now, I don't know why, but I somehow ended up with solos or lead parts in most of these things. Maybe it was because I ooze natural talent. Maybe it was because my mom was a kindergarten teacher at the school. Whatever. In the above musical, I sang a nasally solo about a drop-waist diagonal-striped dress with Keds, of course.

In one production, "Androcles and the Lion," I was the rhyme-dropping lion.

One of the productions was some kind of Earth Day thing. We were actually pretty ahead of the times, us St. Luke's Crusaders (uh-huh), considering the holiday has only been around for 40 years now. I won't even go into the countless hours I spent outside with my classmates in the cold, crushing aluminum cans into little discs.

The part I landed in the Earth Day musical was Susie Soda Pop Bottle. Out of curiosity, I looked it up. It seems that "Susie Soda Pop Bottle is a 1950s rock 'n roll girl who loves to dance. She has a very bubbly personality." Well see, here was the thing about that.

Here was what I was wearing:

(Except I said "Soda Pop," of course.) a dash of...

Yes, I was a giant 10-year-old cheerleading, singing plastic bottle. I didn't want to come out of the bathroom. Once I was coaxed out of hiding, I was far from "bubbly."

So there you go, Grant, that's the best I can do tying kids and Earth Day.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Don't Do It: Babies, Bananas and Bachelorettes

I like Target. I don't own a lot of household items, clothing or accessories from Target, as their cheap (not-made-in-the-USA) crap tends to fall apart just as quickly as anything you'd buy from a cart in Times Square. But they tend to have a lot of polka dot items. And I like polka dots. Because I'm five.

And if you ever, ever say Target with a soft "g" and a French accent, I will slap you in the face. Two slaps for letting it slip out without any hint of irony.

So I went to Target last week to purchase a couple of necessities: a gift bag and post-Easter-sale Cadbury eggs.

When I got to the checkout line, the lady in front of me frantically swirled around and held up a pink baby outfit. "This is supposed to be for a 12-month-old, but doesn't it look like it's more for an 18-month-old?"

I don't think she caught the utter blankness of my stare.

"Is this more for a 12-month-old or an 18-month-old?" she asked, clearly in a hurry at the cash register.

"Uh, I uh, I don't know anything about that."

She held the outfit up a little higher, looked at it, looked at me, clearly expecting an answer.

"I'm really sorry, I don't know babies."

The woman was looking at me like I had three heads and flames shooting out of my butt.

The chick behind me came to the rescue. "Oh, that'll be fine for a 12-month-old," she assured the visibly irritated (at me) woman. And then she gave me an all-knowing-that's-OK-sweetie-I've-seen-those-shows-about-those-weird-still-single-in-their-thirties-women-that's-some-funny-shit-and-I-sympathize look.

Um, since when was every woman expected to have a Baby PhD? I missed that memo. I didn't even know how to change my (totally more adorable than yours, btw) niece and nephew's diapers when they were, last year. Why would I know these things?

So I paid for my sundries, and Little Miss Know-It-All behind me proceeded to the front.

"Excuse me, ma'am," she said to Large Marge at the register, "but I ate one of the bananas in that bunch. I was just going to pass out if I didn't. The man over there in the grocery area said I could."

I could instantly tell just from the expression on Marge's face that her opinion of Know-It-All was right in line with mine. Know-It-All - all 105 pounds of her - was decked out in her cute exercise outfit, with her hair and makeup just so. Her groceries consisted of bananas (minus one), bottled water, and two bottles of wine.

"Was the banana meant to be complimentary?" inquired Marge.

I slowly gathered my things.

"Um, no? But that man. He said I could. Can't you just ring up an extra banana or something? I was just starving."

"No. I can't just ring up a banana. You ate it, so it's gone. You took the banana."

I could just feel Know-It-All shrinking in her tights.

"Don't worry about it, ma'am. From now on, please be sure you pay for your groceries before consuming them."

The gift bag I purchased was for my baby sister's bachelorette party. (The other, ahemalsoyounger, sister is already married.) Being the, um, least conservative of the three, I was in charge of providing the penis straws. Which I did.

My sister aced the scavenger hunt I created for her, which included such items as, "Get a group of guys to sing You've Lost that Loving Feeling to you," and "Tell someone how great your ass is, and make him believe it." Kudos.

The most-heard advice of the night? "Don't do it." Agreed.

But, since my sister insists, I wish her and Matthew all the happiness in the world.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What Kind of Superhero I'd Be

There's a new movie coming out called "Kick-Ass." I kind of want to see it, but I avoid movie theaters and their $10 popcorn like I avoid Herpes, so fat chance until it hits Netflix. Anyhooo...

Now I'm not a comic book nerd or anything, but I got to thinking, if I had a superpower, what would it be? Ideally, of course, invisibility would take the cake. But that is cliché and defies the laws of physics. And pshaw, lame!

SO. Here are the things I'm good at:

Swimming. This one only counts if there's a time machine involved, which of course, there is. (OK, screw physics.) I mentioned before that I used to be a bad-ass swimmer, which is pretty much like being a superhero in and of itself.

Check this out.

Once you find my name (Hint: I was 17, still a female and did the breaststroke...yeah), look up a bit and you'll see the name Kristy Kowal, the silver medalist from the 2000 Olympics. Uh-huh. Of course, right below me you'll notice Misty Hyman, a gold medalist, but almost not worthy of a mention simply due to the fact that she has the worst. name. ever.

Yeah, the list is like some national age group top 16 list or something. And yeah, I was on it.

Punching. And not just for a girl, shut up, for real!! This is, by the way, a very marketable skill for a fledgling superhero.

Knowing stuff. I mean, yeah, I know a lot of dumb stuff, but it could come in really handy should I decide to become Trivia Woman or Quiz-illa. Maybe I just hang out with a lot of dummies. No, I know stuff.

Being cheap frugal. OK, cheap. I'm good at being cheap. This list sucks.

The Sprinkler. OK, this list totally just redeemed itself.

Pool. This would make a pretty super superhero, Pool Shark. And I could incorporate my swimming skills, with the help of my trusty time machine. I might be onto something here.

This, however, is what I wish I could do:

Pool Shark it is.