Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Gone (Crazy) Girl

Saturday was not exactly a banner day for me. I have a feeling that, had I bothered to read my horoscope, it would have simply said, "Bless your heart. Just stay in bed." It was time, once again, for our house divided college football rivalry. Alma mater versus alma mater. I absolutely hate when Clemson and Georgia Tech play each other. It's usually a very close game, and often it comes down to the very last nail-biting seconds of the game to know who has gained bragging rights for the year. Well, usually that's the way it goes.

The game started at noon (I am resisting the urge to say high noon and insert the theme song from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly). Clint and I, per our usual, were keeping to ourselves and watching the game from different rooms. Other friends were either tailgating in Atlanta or watching from various sports bars and imbibing in adult beverages and fried, delicious, football-worthy food. But due to the fact that even my underwear is too tight right now, I feasted on a "rich & satisfying" (according to the box, anyway) chocolate protein shake as part of my game time festivities. Oh yes, the good times were certainly rolling.

For the sake of my still wounded pride, let's not rehash the gory details of the game. I will tell you that our star quarterback seemingly tripped over his own two feet during the first quarter and was out for the rest of the game. Rumors circulated that he had torn his ACL and would be out for the remainder of the season. Enter our second string quarterback, aptly nicknamed "three-and-out Stoudt." Poor Stoudt managed to throw not one, but two pick-sixes (if you have been lucky enough to remain unfamiliar with that term, a pick-six is an interception returned for a touchdown), and effectively seal our fate as completely and utterly doomed. We even sent in our third string quarterback and let him have a shot--I'm pretty sure we were recruiting guys in line at the concession stands to help us out at that pitiful point in the game--but the Yellow Jackets swarmed us 28-6, prompting headlines such as, "Tigers Wrecked at Georgia Tech" and "Confidence Lost: #Clemson."

The game was so ugly, I think Clint was actually afraid to brag. I was teetering on the edge of insanity once you factored in my starvation, my frustration, my disappointment, and my raging PMS. My hubby wisely suggested we see a movie, and I eagerly agreed. At this point in the day, sitting in a dark room without talking for a couple of hours seemed like the best possible option, and so we headed to the movie theater.

After I read Gone Girl, I convinced Clint to give it a read, too, and we were both looking forward to seeing the movie since it has gotten so much buzz. Even though I was reasonably sure my stomach was chewing on my backbone, we stayed strong and resisted the lure of popcorn and candy, and settled for two Diet Cokes (I refuse to sit in a movie theater drinking water...it's just too depraved). I threw a wistful goodbye in the direction of the Raisinets and soldiered on.

I should go ahead and tell you at this point in the story that I have an uncanny superpower--not the ability to fly, not x-ray vision or superhuman strength; I am an idiot magnet. If there is a buffoon, a dunce, or an imbecile anywhere in the vicinity, they will be immediately attracted to me like a moth to a flame. Coincidentally, Clint has the ultra powerful allure to the annoying, so when the two of us are together, we are almost guaranteed to encounter idiots. Any dimwit within a 10-mile radius is irresistibly pulled into our orbit.

We found a spot in a short little five seat row on the side of the crowded theater, which left three seats to my right. Because there was still a line of people coming in, I held my coat in my lap so I wouldn't occupy a seat that someone might need. And then, my idiot magnetism must have kicked in, because two simpletons women made a beeline for our row and sat down in the seats right next to me. This left them one lone seat all to themselves that they happily used to hold their coats and purses,  leaving me to hold mine in my lap the entire movie. Really, people? Why can't we all just get along, and leave a seat in between us for a community coat rack? Are we savages, or civilized movie goers?

I had hoped that my deep sighs, shifting of my coat, and glares in their direction would have hammered my point home, but these two were clueless. If looks could kill, I would be wearing an orange jumpsuit right now. They were so enamored with their jumbo bucket of popcorn--you know, the ones that come in a tub the size of a laundry basket, that they were completely consumed with crunching and oblivious to anything else going on around them. Misophonia is a condition where people become angered or disgusted by certain sounds, such as chewing, slurping, or smacking. Go ahead and label me a misophoniac because I cannot stand the sound of someone slurping coffee or soup, and hard candy dragging across someone's teeth is worse than nails on a chalkboard in my book. The noise coming from those two dingbats scavenging for popcorn was giving me serious heart palpitations.

It's even worse to be hungry and not only surrounded by a crowd of people all noshing on buttery goodness, but having to endure it in surround sound right next to me should be considered cruel and unusual punishment. Don't get me wrong, folks: I am a glutton and I have helped eat that giant bushel basket of popcorn in its entirety before. I've even gone back for the free refill, but I have never in my overeating life managed to finish two of those behemoth sized tubs o' corn. Clearly, these were exceptional doofuses (or is it doofi? I've never considered the plural of the word doofus until this particular experience) I had attracted.

I should have been happy with the popcorn smack soundtrack, because in between fistfuls, I also got to enjoy a highly insightful running commentary throughout the entire movie. Really clever and helpful things like, "Is that his sister?" or "She's going to kill him isn't she?" It's a good thing I had my poor pea coat in a wad in my lap, because I needed something to clutch to keep me from going for someone's jugular.

As we were finally, mercifully leaving the theater, I notice the two dunces who sat next to me were leaving the concession stand...with a third laundry basket of popcorn to go! You have got to be kidding me. These folks are high on the dumb-o-meter, even for this idiot magnet. Clint wouldn't let me "pretend" to bump into them and dump their ill-gotten popcorn all over the sidewalk, so I threw them some side eye for the 3,789th time that day and walked off to the car. But it does beg the question: does it count as saving someone's life if you just refrain from killing them?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Confessions of a Junior League Dropout

Contrary to what some of you may think, I am not a rebel without a cause. I'm a staunch rule-follower. A people pleaser. At times, a downright goody two-shoes. Growing up, the mere thought of the principal's office would give me an ulcer. I was such an overachiever that on the "activities" section of my college application, I had to write "see attached page(s)." Breaking the rules is so against my nature that, to this day, I refuse to enter a store with food or drink. Even if there isn't a sign posted specifically telling me I can't, I still fear a disapproving look from a store clerk and I can't cross that line. Needless to say, I keep off the grass, I don't loiter, and I most certainly do not wear white after Labor Day. Whoever said rules are meant to be broken is living an existence that is way too haphazard for my liking.

All that being said, you may find it out of character that I am a Junior League dropout. A debutante delinquent. As much as I wanted to please the prepsters, the well-to-dos, and the dozens of fine, fresh yuppies I encountered, I just could not commit. I had put this little part of history completely out of my mind until a few weeks ago, when a friend's fiance triggered my Junior League flashbacks. Just like a girl I met during my provisional (read: newbie) days in the League, this fiance was covered in so many designer labels she looked like an ultra-posh race car driver sponsored solely by luxury brands. There wasn't a spot on this girl or on that Junior Leaguer that wasn't covered in something high-end. But before we get to tales of the Neiman Marcus 500, let me start at the beginning.

Just days after our honeymoon, I found myself in Charlotte; new to not only the city, but the state of North Carolina as well. This bright-eyed newlywed thought the Junior League of Charlotte (JLC, if you want to sound like an insider) was a no-brainer. What a great way to meet people, be involved in my freshly adopted community, and socialize with like-minded Southern women such as myself? Well, not so much.

To help new members get to know each other better, you are assigned to a small group of other provisionals who live in close proximity to you. The downside to being grouped that way is that at that time, we lived in a beautiful apartment complex in a neighborhood touted for being affluent (SouthPark, dah-ling). I went to my first small group meeting at a home in a nouveau riche neighborhood where each house was made from so much stacked stone it looked like a collection of medieval castles. Throw down the drawbridge, then, because Susie from Toccoa has arrived! I felt a little self-conscious parking my Jeep Grand Cherokee beside the Audis, BMWs, and Mercedes already in the driveway--except when you consider that my Jeep had a real leather interior and power windows. Get a load of that, castle dwellers.

I was seated next to a girl who introduced herself as Katherine. High fashion Katherine was wearing a Lilly Pulitzer floral dress, carrying a Coach bag, wearing a stack of David Yurman bracelets, and then began writing with a Mont Blanc pen. My fake Chanel bag I bought so proudly at the straw market in the Bahamas seemed a tad out of place, and let's not even discuss the fact that I was more than likely wearing some career clothes scored on a clearance rack somewhere.

Katherine and I discovered that we worked in the same building and dutifully met for lunch one day. This was the day that dear Junior League Katherine took me to Dean and Deluca and gave me my introduction to the what might possibly be the world's most expensive sandwich. Yes, I am a self-confessed cheapskate, but this was 2003 and my sandwich cost somewhere in the ballpark of $14. (We have joked in the years since that the thing that makes D&D sandwiches tasty is your own $20 in between those two slices of bread). Couple the cost of that sandwich with the paltry salary my job in the bank's cubicle farm paid and you will quickly see that it negated any profit from my working that day.

All provisional members are required to work a certain number of hours at the Junior League "WearHouse"--a consignment store where the downtrodden can find relief from their troubles in the form of last season's Ann Taylor or some gently used Brooks Brothers cast-offs. The majority of the other members seemed to have very flexible work schedules (or work was completely optional for them, to be used only in cases of extreme boredom), but I was only free to work on the weekends. If you think working 8:00-5:00 five days a week at an abysmal job making abysmal pay sounds amazing, try spending all your free time in a store room, price tagging cardigans with pearl buttons and barely worn ballet flats.

Inevitably, I would wind up working a few hours of my precious Saturdays in that dank little room with people named things like Buffy, Mitzy, Breezy and of course Mary Pat/Mary Kate/Mary Frances/Mary Helen/Mary Catherine/Mary Elizabeth. Mary, mother of God, get me out of here! I suppressed an infinite number of eye rolls listening to these women chatter about their mutual friends from high school and college ("Oh my gosh! Remember junior year when she acted super crazy that night!? Shut up!"), the needlepoint belts and driving moccasins they were going to buy for their hubbies and boyfriends, and the wine bars they couldn't wait to try after we were through. I am sad to say that--and I really did try--I did not meet one person I would ever care to have a conversation with ever again. Not even about wine bars.

After more than enough unhappy Saturdays and several months of those wonderful small group/Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous meetings, I reached the breaking point. Desperate for some sort of loophole, I scoured the JLC website and found that you may defer your membership for one calendar year. At the time, one glorious year sounded like an incredible amount of breathing room, and I eagerly drafted my letter stating that due to "extenuating personal and family circumstances" I was not able to give the League the attention it so deserved. I am quite certain I left the board members tsk, tsking and wondering about the status of my marriage, my grandmother's health, and whether or not we had been victims of a Ponzi scheme or some other terrible fate. Hey, Mom always told me to leave 'em wanting more.

About a year after my deferral, I stepped into the elevator at work and came to face-to-face with Katherine. I watched her eyes widen in horror and she quickly looked away and pretended not to recognize me. Obviously, deferment was a no-no in Katherine's book, and so that promising friendship had run its course. It was a long ride down to the lobby, and I can't even say I was wistful when I watched Katherine stroll away in her Kate Spade pumps.

Sadly, my deferral deadline came and went, and I never went back. I have friends who enjoy the Junior League (or so they say), and they even claim to have never met a Muffy or a Bitsy or a Mary Anyone. That's great for them, I just know from cashmere-clad experience that it's not for me. When it comes right down to it, I guess those women are just out of my league.