Tales From the Tundra: Another Nail In the Coffin

In my pre-tundra New York days, visiting one of the city’s bazillion manicure and pedicure providers was a long-standing weekend tradition for my friends and me.  First, we’d meet at the diner on Saturday or Sunday. Then, we’d head to Zen or Pinky or Cindy’s or Trevi or Lincoln Nails, choose from a rainbow array of sheer pink nail polishes with asinine names, make snide comments about the other girls there, and enjoy some hand grooming.  

Please note: regular ‘curing may sound extravagant to those in more remote parts, but in New York, there are nail salons on every corner, and the average manicure costs less than $10.  As it happens, I have extremely dry skin and cuticles, so I view manicuring as a health-related expense. But mostly, it’s a nice way to spend time with my friends and engage in some catty commentary.  

In Michigan, there were no diners and my only friends were Sloth (ex-husband) and Ollie (dognapped Wheaten terrier — see “Meet Ollie” page), neither of whom could be counted on for manicure companionship.  Furthermore, nail care providers in Michigan were much fewer and farther between, more expensive, not as clean, poorer quality, and overall just sucky.  I had to take matters into my own unmanicured hands. 

Unfortunately, the aforementioned unmanicured hands are less than steady, and eventually I had to give up on polished fingernails.  Toes were do-able providing no one looked too closely, but the colors I had with me on the tundra weren’t really foot-appropriate.  There happened to be a respectable-looking beauty supply store in the Colonnade, the “ultra-posh” strip mall across the street from our apartment in the equally “ultra-posh” Briar Cove complex.  Desperate for something to do, I made nail polish selection my official Wednesday errand and looked forward to this important task.

When I hit the beauty supply store, I spent half an hour poring over various shades and brands of wine-colored nail polish before settling on a delightful, deep burgundy hue called “Berry Hard.”

Eagerly, I headed to the cashier and waited for at least 10 minutes while a mohawked hairdresser paid, in pennies, for approximately 40 bottles of shampoo. Just as the transaction seemed to be wrapping up, the hairdresser noticed a mysterious ingredient in the shampoo he was purchasing: placenta. This fascinated him.  He launched into a series of questions about the origins, purpose and effect of “play-say-nta,” as if his upscale clientele in YPSILANTI really gave a shit.

At last it was my turn to pay, and I placed the bottle of “Berry Hard” on the counter with the pride and anticipation of a child who had saved all her life for one toy. 

“Cane I see your lay-cense?,” asked the stylish cashier who had obviously bought her outfit at Forever 21 but told herself she was clad in Prada.
 
“My license? You need my driver’s license for a $3-bottle of nail polish?”
 
“No,” replied the cashier. “Don’t you hay-ve your byew-uh-tician lay-cense?”
 
It was hard to refrain from uttering my Michigan mantra — ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? — but I have to admit, I also felt like a dejected moron. I felt like the whole state had broken me.

 “No ma’am, no I do not. I am not a licensed beautician.” I could barely speak above a whisper. My shame was evident.

“Well then Aim sorry, you cane not shapp in this store. It’s just for the industry.”

Miserable, I walked home and went online to see if there were any other places I might be able to purchase one little bottle of nail polish.  (Keep in mind that while I did have access to a decent CVS, said store did not carry products by Essie, the company that made “Berry Hard.”) It turned out there was another beauty supply store just a short drive away, and they sold “Berry Hard.” Again I found the bottle, caressed it longingly and waited on line to pay. Again I received the news that only lay-censed byew-uh-ticians could dispense cash there. To make matters worse, a lard-ass manicurist at the register next to me was buying several bottles of THE VERY SAME SHADE. It was a cruel trick of the pedicure gods.

There was one more option: a place on the other side of town. 

This time, I didn’t get my hopes up.  Before heading down Nail Polish Row and checking to see if “Berry Hard” was an option, I asked if one had to be a licensed beautician to shop there. It was a question I never in a million years imagined I’d have to utter.

A kindly salesperson replied that the store was open to shoppers of all professions.

“Even out-of-work publicity writers?!”

“Even out-of-work publicity writers.”

 She was like Glynda the Good Witch.  I wanted to hug her. 

At last, “Berry Hard” would be mine.  If only that store SOLD “Berry Hard.”

That night, I relayed the story to Sloth. I hoped he’d be so upset about my trauma that he’d offer to quit his job the next day and move back to civilization pronto.  But he found it rioutously funny.

He was still chuckling a few hours later when I came out of the bathroom sporting two coats of “God Save the Queen’s Nails.”

Tales From the Tundra: Another Nail In the Coffin

Tales From the Tundra: Can’t Get There From Here

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You may or may not have picked up on the fact that the six months I spent in Michigan with my ex-husband were not exactly the happiest chunk of my life.  Allow me to put it this way: one year for a human is seven years for a dog.  Similarly, one month in Michigan was an eternity for me.  So as far as I’m concerned, I spent six eternities in that craphole.

There were, of course, a few good things that came from my midwestern experience.  One was Ollie, the ginormous-headed Wheaten terrier we got from a breeder at the cutely named Raisin Tree Farms. Two was the availability of chipatis (pictured above) from Pizza House (conveniently located in both Ann Arbor and East Lansing).  Chipatis are really just shredded salad ingredients in giant pitas, but the accompanying condiment — a mysterious elixir of what I suspect to be salsa and ranch dressing — is dee-licious.  Three was the scrawny and kindly college student at Bed, Bath & Beyond on Washtenaw who suggested I watch a new show called “Family Guy.” But honestly, that’s about all I can say without cursing.

My geographic frustration began right away. I arrived in Michigan from New York at the end of July, and it was already cold.  I felt like a member of the Donner party, realizing too late I wasn’t going to make it — the elements, circumstance and a series of poor decisions would triumph over my will.  On the second day of my creepy new life, I took the Jeep — which, by the way, isn’t the easiest car to drive when you’re five feet, no inches — and decided to seek solace in the extra-wide aisles of the local Meijer (pronounced like “Myer”) superstore. 

I had no idea where anything was, of course, so very logically, I called Meijer to ask for directions.  The conversation went like this.

Hi, I’m coming from the depressing apartment complex on Eisenhower Boulevard.  Can you tell me how to get to your store?

Five-second pause.

WHOO! WHOOOOO BOY. I sher doon’t think I cane. I am so say-ree hon.  I just doon’t noo what to tale you.

Five-second pause on my end due to horrible realization that I now live in Michigan.

Oh. Okay. Well, how did you get to work today? Maybe that will help.

Five-second pause.

WHOO.  Ache-tually, may husbay-nd draped me off on his way to work.

Five-second pause as I see if there’s anything in the car I can use to hang myself at the next light.

Maybe there’s someone else there I could ask for directions?

Five-second pause, then significant volume increase.

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAANK! HANK! HANK! Theers a young lady on the phoon who needs day-rections. Cane you peak up?

Audible clip-clopping.

OOHkay hon. Thay-ts Hank, may husbay-nd. Hay-ng on.

 

Five-second pause as I process the fact that “Hank” didn’t merely deposit his wife at Meijer and continue on in his American car to another place of employment, but actually works there as well.

 

Whoo boy! I sher hope Hank cane tell me where the fuck May-er is, or I’m giving up and going to Tear-get.

Tales From the Tundra: Can’t Get There From Here

A Moment of Silence

It is a sad day here at my office.  Katy, Marketing Manager extraordinaire, has officially left for greener pastures.  Even the lavish array of Blue Dog brownies, lemon squares and pecan thingies at her going-away bash were no comfort. They were, however, damn good.  I shan’t reveal Katy’s age, but suffice it to say, I am an old geezer next to her.  Despite my alleged professional experience and her youth, she often acted as my mentor, teaching me all there is to know about the company, supporting me through various personal and professional crises, explaining new-fangled technology to me, sharing her excellent vegetarian culinary ideas, acting as my biggest fan, and faithfully reading this blog (from home, of course — NEVER at work).  Wise beyond her years, witty, worldly and kind, she is bound for success. And yes, I have put this all in a LinkedIn reference.  Now, I will conduct my own personal moment of silence in honor of Katy. Sniff sniff. I am faklempt!

A Moment of Silence

Have You Seen This Man?

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 Note — Frick on a stick.  This template is REALLY limiting in terms of image placement options! I can’t even illustrate my punchline properly! But I digress.  

When HBO first came to Central New Jersey — back in the early 80s — I became permanently obsessed with a program called Missing Persons: Dead or Alive? It relayed the eerie stories of infamous disappearances, from Amelia Earhart and Jimmy Hoffa to Judge Crater and THIS MAN — D. B. Cooper.  For the last 20+ years, I have thought of good old D.B. often, wondering if ever we’d learn his fate. What happened to him on that November night back in 1971, when he hijacked and then jumped out of a commercial airplane somewhere between Seattle and Portland?

I Googled him every now and then, but failed to realize the awful truth until today, when the media announced that his parachute may or may not have been found near Amboy, WA.  What happened to D.B. Cooper? It’s so obvious! He underwent plastic surgery and became ROSS PEROT.

Have You Seen This Man?

Escape From 313

I mean no disrespect to those of you from the Great Lakes State, but I really do not care for the Motor City or its outlying areas. I have my reasons. You’ll probably read about some of them here! You’d have your reasons too if ever you’d spent more than a week there when you weren’t cheering for the Wolverines.

As such, I wanted to highlight a line I just heard Jay Leno utter during a monologue reference to the city’s fallen mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick:

Any chance you have to get out of Detroit, TAKE IT.

Escape From 313

A Nostalgic Moment

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I’d like to take this opportunity to honor a product that has a very special place in my heart: the vintage TrapperKeeper by Mead.  Pictured above is an image of said product in its 1980s heyday.  Just a few minutes ago, Mead’s Marketing Director rang me at work to discuss a possible partnership with my company.  She spent a few minutes sharing the details of her plans, explaining the mutual benefits, telling me how wonderful our content is, and providing me with her schedule for the next few weeks so that we could set up a meeting. She was professional, courteous and pleasant. But what she was saying went in one ear and out the other.  From the moment she identified herself and her place of employment, I was lost in reverie, transported back to 1984.  I smelled the stiff plastic that served as the TrapperKeeper’s DNA. I felt the crisp, empty pages of the lined pad that waited inside, and the plastic zipper-type device that sealed the frosted baggie/pencil holder. I remembered the sensation of writing — usually about Simon LeBon and John Taylor — in pen on the vinyl of the inside cover. And then of pulling the plastic rings open and snapping them closed. 

Really, the TrapperKeeper was the Blackberry of its day — a portable, all-in-one office with velcro closure.  I decided to find out what the product looked like today, if it even existed.  And it does! But it’s much slicker and less appealing than the classic model you see here.  It’s shiny and Jetson-esque.  It probably talks.  Your TrapperKeeper is ajar.  Are you SURE you want to rip that page off the pad?  Approaching locker; please slow down.  Your folders are about to expire.  Would you like to choose some new folders? It was nice to see, though, that Mead has included, on the product web site, side by side photos of today’s TrapperKeeper and the one of yore, which they refer to as the “Old School” model.   You can visit www.trapperkeeper.com to see for yourself.

Immediately after hanging up with the Mead chick, I passed along her contact information to our “Biz Dev” team, explaining that even if this was the worst proposal in the history of mankind, we simply HAD to team up with Mead soley because we’d all get free TrapperKeepers.  Mmmm, TrapperKeepers.

A Nostalgic Moment

Childhood Traumas: The Mozzarella Incident

Note: I have decided to trash the “Childhood Traumas” page and move its contents here. So, you can look forward to intermittent posts about some of the memorable things that befell me as a youngster.  Below, the first “Childhood Trauma.”

Picture, if you will, an innocent three-year-old girl with bouncy brunette pigtails, sporting a snazzy floral bikini and even snazzier white leather Buster Brown sandals with crepe soles. It is 1975 in New Jersey, and while my parents (Jan and Lew) are sunning themselves by the swim club pool, I am sitting down to a tasty lunch with my fellow day campers.

The counselors — a bunch of stoners in cut-off Levi’s shorts and halter tops — pull our small brown paper bags out of a giant plastic garbage bag and toss them to the appropriate camper. 

Stacey Cohen is already digging in to her PB & J on Wonder Bread, while Kenny Stein pulls out his turkey sandwich, which features a perfect lettuce ruffle.

I can barely contain my excitement! What did my future hold — what had Jan packed for me this morning?! MMMMM … maybe some egg salad? OOOH. Maybe some of that plastic yellow cheese?

I giggle, thinking of the thrilling little sandwich bags that await me — one containing my delicious main course, one containing a fistful of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish or maybe some Berry-Lu cookies …

My brown bag comes flying at me, hitting my forehead.

After nursing my injury for a few minutes, I reach inside the bag and pull out a rather heavy item wrapped in tin foil.

It’s so heavy! What could it be?!

Eagerly, I tear open the foil. It’s … it’s … it’s … A BIG CHUNK OF SOMETHING WHITE.

I am quite confused, as anyone expected to ingest a big chunk of something white would be.  My confusion turns to embarrassment, and I look around to see if anyone notices what’s sitting in front of me.

Sadly, someone does:  Cindi, one of the stoner counselors. 

“What the hell is that?,” she asks as I try not to cry.

I have no answer for her.

She calls the other counselors over and they take turns speculating about the nature of the big white chunk as all 20 of the other nursery school-age “Lenape Lizards” listen.

“Is it cream cheese?”

“It looks more like butter.”

“It actually looks like SOAP.”

SOAP?! Why would Jan give me soap?! Was she mad at me?!

I can’t help but be moved to tears by my own plight.

Then Cindi asks, “What kind of mother gives her kid SOAP for lunch?”

Wait, are they insulting my mom?! That’s so mean! My mom is nice! My mom must have made a mistake! Take that back, evil stoner counselor!!!!

I am afraid to taste the mystery chunk, so Cindi has to page my parents by the pool.  I only hear part of the conversation, but it seems Jan mistakenly grabbed the wrong tin-foiled item that morning. My real lunch was still at home, and what I had with me was mozzarella cheese.

Cindi and the other stoners, as well as the Lenape Lizards, all find this rioutously funny. 

Chuckle away, I think. YOU had leftover macaroni and cheese.

I can’t recall what I ended up eating for lunch that day, but I do know that the whole thing scarred me for many, many years.  I referred to the trauma constantly, eventually dubbing it “The Mozzarella Incident.”

At first, Jan was apologetic and expressed sincere remorse for her error.  But as time went on and she realized I wasn’t going to get over it, she changed her story.

“Look, for the LAST TIME, I thought you LIKED mozzarella! I was trying to do something NICE,” she repeated in self-defense, adding an unintelligble Yiddish phrase that I assume meant “You’re driving me crazy, shut the fuck up.”

To this day, I can only buy string mozzarella cheese, as the sight of the chunks bring tears to my eyes.

Childhood Traumas: The Mozzarella Incident