Monday, December 13, 2010

I'll Be [expletive deleted] Home for Christmas

There was a girl on her cell phone the other morning as we waited for the bus, and it sounded like she was working through some pre-holiday stress. I'm sure many people can identify, though we probably use less profanity when discussing our family angst.  Maybe. 

Her end of the conversation went like this:

"I can't DO her for no three days. I can do her for 'bout half a day. WORD.  I mean, somethin's gotta give."

"Erry time I say no, she gotta call erry-muthafuckin'-body in Chicago!" 

"Sure, I could move to Atlanta. The rent's cheaper, but you make less, and errybody sound STUPID, can't put two and two together."

Oh, please don't go. Invite your mom for an extended stay. Then tell somebody all about it within earshot.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wherein I Make Santa's Naughty List

The other night I was on Amazon's website, looking for a Christmas gift for my dad. I swear, that's all I was doing. Where I might have gone wrong was typing "nonfiction for men" in the search bar.

Did you know that Amazon has a pretty extensive selection of books on sexuality? I do. Now. Because one of the search results was "The Ultimate Guide to Strap-On Sex."

So of course I clicked on it.

A short synopsis, and then (miracle of miracles) the always excellent "Look Inside!" feature. So of course I clicked on it.

I had to! You don't just throw a gem like that onto my screen and expect me to ignore it. That's like leaving your diary open on the kitchen table or creating a folder on your desktop labeled "Dirty Secrets."

Unfortunately, only the first ten pages or so were available, but let me tell you, I learned quite a bit. I'm not going to repeat any of it here, because I believe I've made it through 70 posts without using the word "dildo," and I don't intend to start now. Oops.

In the interest of full disclosure (but not TMI), I'm extremely liberal when it comes to views on human sexuality. I find it fascinating what people think up to do with each other, and as long as they do it in the privacy of their own homes, more power to 'em. And seriously, if you can't manage to find new ideas to spice up your sex life in this day and age, you're just short of retarded. Or you don't have the internet.

So I have absolutely no objection to books being written on every crazy sex-related subject imaginable. I think if you're curious about something, it might be helpful to read up on it before you give it a whirl. You might decide it's not for you. Alternatively, you might be inspired to do further research and end up at a website designed exclusively for the hundreds of other people who are also into that very same thing.

This did not happen to me. Not because I wasn't curious, but because it was late, and I didn't have time. Instead, I checked out the other related books, of which (you might not be surprised to know at this point) there were several. Perhaps the best part of this adventure was the consumer reviews, my favorite of which was titled "Nothing New."

My evening had taken an informative and hilarious turn, and I was thoroughly delighted. Until a terrible thought occurred to me: Oh, my god. I'm on

Why would this be a troubling realization? Because, thanks to the wonders of technology, there's a helpful little section called "Inspired by Your Browsing History." That's right -- those sneaky bastards keep track of what you look at and then suggest similar items. This is meant to be a personalized sales advantage, but as illustrated here, it can backfire.

I had a brief moment of panic, during which I imagined someone logging onto my computer and being shocked at my explicit recently viewed items (likely contained in my "Dirty Secrets" folder). Or, worse, checking my e-mail at work and finding advertisements for the latest and greatest strap-on harness. In this second scenario, I try to quickly close out of the window, but my stupid laptop freezes, and my boss walks in, and I lose my job and am penniless, and therefore can't afford to buy the nonfiction gift I was looking for in the first place. [fist shake] Amazon!!!

Naturally, both ideas are ridiculous. I click on nothing even remotely suspect at work, and I don't know who would be snooping around on my home computer. My panic was prompted by a small, repressed Midwestern voice in my head that sometimes warns me not to color outside the lines and projects unreasonable yet horrific consequences if I should dare to disobey.

It was this same voice (which I'm pretty sure is Lutheran) that guided me to find the "edit" function for my browsing history. It's comforting to know it's there, but I didn't actually delete anything. No, I'll stand by my healthy curiosity, and to hell with anyone who stumbles upon my liberal queries and can't handle it. If we've learned anything, it's that it's always the quiet ones.

Wait . . . oh my god. What if I accidentally put something on my Amazon Wish List?

Merry Christmas to me.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

As American as Apple

A few months ago, a woman sat down next to me on the bus and began a conversation. Not necessarily with me, because at the time I had my headphones in. But, because it's the polite thing to do, I removed the earbuds and replied, just in case she had a legitimate question.

Soon I was engaged in what can only be termed as intermittent chit-chat, as she wandered from one topic to another. That is, until she zeroed in on the fact that most of the people who ride the bus are attached to their MP3 players and don't talk to each other anymore.

I commented that it's sometimes nice to relax with music after a long, stressful day at work. (Hint, hint, lady.)  What I didn't say was that digital music is probably the single best thing to happen to public transportation since air conditioning. Few things make me happier than being in a moving vehicle that I don't have to steer with some tunes and plenty of time to just think. I'm content for hours doing this. It's like meditation.

I also didn't tell her that I rode the bus for two years before getting my iPod, and I had approximately four interesting conversations during that period, none of which resulted in a new BFF. I have a 30-minute ride each way. In the morning, I'm tired. In the afternoon, I'm more tired. I don't want to have a gab session with anyone, least of all a recent immigrant from an African nation who's a bit preachy about Apple's ill effects on the general populace.

The woman then launched into a mini-lecture about how small towns are superior because people actually talk to each other, and how American cities have no sense of community. At this point, my customary Zen-like state had been permanently shattered by her yapping, so I responded that I originally come from a small town, and having some anonymity in the city is actually a nice thing. I didn't remind her that people in tiny communities don't just know each other -- they know each other's business. And unless things are drastically different on the Dark Continent, everybody's always up in that business, whether you like it or not.

She disagreed, of course, and insisted on passive-aggressively scolding me for giving in to the temptation of anti-social technology. Ironically, all I wanted to do during her speech was stick my headphones back in my ears. I probably should have, just to prove a point.

Thankfully, I didn't see her again for several weeks. And, when I did, no further rebuttal was necessary ... for she had succumbed to the sweet siren song of an undisturbed commute and had in her possession an MP3 player.

Welcome to America.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Dirty Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Let's review a couple commercials currently running on cable TV, shall we?

First, there's the spot advertising the Trojan Vibrating Touch fingertip massager. It features a group of women at a bridal shower. The bride-to-be unwraps the gift and expresses her delight at receiving one of these lovely toys. She then finds out that she's received multiples (no pun intended) of them, because her friends think they're so fantastic. Cut to her at home with her man. She says something like, "Honey, remember that massager I wanted? Well, we got THREE of them!" And he replies, for no discernible reason, "Sweet!"  What's wrong here:

A.  Why is a woman getting married receiving sex toys? It seems a slightly outdated idea that, until those vows are said, there has been no action between the sheets ... so WOW, here's something that's going to really knock your socks off in this new world of experimentation. Or maybe the message is "Prepare yourself for a lifetime of sexual stagnation ... here's a weapon in defense of ho-hum monogamy." I don't know. What I do know is that perhaps it would be more appropriate to give sex toys to people who really need them. Like your single friends.

B.  Is it weird to have someone wrap up a sex toy and give it to you with their glowing (pun intended) recommendation? Can you help thinking about that person every time you take it out of that drawer, or box under your bed, or hidden panel in your wall? I don't know. I've never gotten one as a gift. True friends, see A. Or maybe not. I can't decide.

C.  Why does the husband-to-be seem thrilled at the vote of no confidence that his wife's friends have given him?  He might as well have said, "Sweet! Now that my inadequacy has been addressed, I can quit worrying about pleasing you. Obviously I've never been even remotely close to satisfying you, since you think you need several battery-powered devices to do the job."

Second, let's talk about the commercial for the men's Shake Weight. If you aren't familiar with this product, it's basically a dumbbell with a kind of piston action that shakes the weight in your hand and (ostensibly) tones your arms through the process of "dynamic inertia."

So the TV spot features several shirtless, oiled up, very muscular men gripping a pumping rod in their fists and wearing an expression of pain (because it's so HARD!) mixed with pleasure (but it hurts so GOOD!)

In short, this is the gayest commercial I've ever seen in my life. And I don't use the term in a derogatory way. I mean literally fodder for endless homoerotic fantasies. Really gay. Like "Top Gun" volleyball-on-the-beach gay.

But here's the kicker. Toward the end of the commercial, the ripped guy in the little shorts is really having quite the intense experience with his Shake Weight. He's sweating, he's got a death grip on this thing, and when he finally can't take it anymore, he groans and exhales, "Ahhh ... that's it!"

Maybe the girl excited about the massager should just light some candles and watch the Shake Weight ad. And, judging by her future husband's enthusiasm for being relieved of duty (so to speak), maybe he should, too.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chilled to the Bone

This morning I had to take a cold shower, and sadly, it wasn't because I needed to douse the flames of passion in order to get to work on time.  It was because, off and on for three days now, the new boiler in my apartment building has been malfunctioning.

It first happened on Sunday, when my parents were visiting. Of course. After a "reset," I had nice steamy water that evening and Monday ... until 7:30 this morning, when I nearly bruised my ribs gasping for air while enduring an icy deluge. 

On the plus side, it made for a VERY quick shower. And I was VERY awake when it was over. Pissed, and clean, but awake.

So I called the maintenance line to report the problem as I waited, still shivering somewhat, for my bus. I gave my information and explained the situation, and then the woman asked, "Is this an emergency?"

I wasn't entirely sure how to respond, because emergencies can be relative. Personally, I would categorize an emergency as a matter of life and death. Or, in the case of apartment problems, as something that would cause irreparable harm to either me or the property itself. 

For instance, if I woke to find my freezer leaking all over my kitchen (which has happened) that's an emergency. If my garbage disposal broke and backed up my sink and flooded all the cabinets (which has also happened) that's an emergency. If there's a large bubble of water building up beneath the ceiling in my bathroom and threatening to burst at any moment (been there, done that) that's an emergency.

All these things need to be dealt with ASAP. But no hot water? I wouldn't necessarily lump it into the same category as a burnt out light bulb or a drippy faucet, but it does seem essential. So, to be reasonable, I replied, "Well, if you could fix it sometime today, that would be good." Because I didn't need it immediately, although I worry that bathing will be a crapshoot for the next few days.

But really, should the lady on the other end of the phone have had to ASK whether this issue should be a priority? I would hope that anyone manning that maintenance line would have a list, or some kind of quick reference tool, that ranks problems in order of importance. A Cliffs Notes of Apartment Disasters, if you will. At the top would be "no heat or water," and at the bottom would be "freakishly large spider."

You know what wouldn't be on that list? Ghosts. There is just no readily available help for that, other than dialing your nearest old and young priests. This is bad news for a friend of mine who thinks she's being haunted. Nobody's going to come out to her place sometime between 9:00 and 3:00 to tinker around with the spiritual balance in her home. So until renter's insurance includes a clause for paranormal activity, she's stuck periodically waking to find ethereal amorphous blobs hovering over her bed.

Now THAT's an emergency.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Belated and Inebriated

So I'm a year older now, and I'm already much wiser. Here's what I've learned: sometimes, you get your birthday present a day late. And sometimes, that birthday present comes in the form of three very drunk people, all in their 50s (or wearing the equivalent amount of life on their faces) who get on your bus.

Not that there's necessarily an appropriate time to be in this condition when the sun's out, but keep in mind this is 8:30 a.m.

The woman boarded first and decided to sit in the very front because, as she was not shy of announcing, the bus driver was wearing a fantastic cologne.  "Ain't nothin' like a good-smellin' man, I don't care what you are!"

The two drunken men then got on. One of them seemed to be her boyfriend, so I'll refer to him as such, though "common-law idiot" might be more appropriate. I'll refer to the other man simply as "friend." They decided to sit in the very back. In case you're not following, we now have a hammered and amorous lady shamelessly hitting on the driver, while her two companions, about five sheets to the wind, have sprawled across the back seat.

You'd think that being separated by an entire bus-length of space would prevent these people from trying to have a "conversation" (in quotes, because I can only loosely define it as such) with each other. Doing so would require literally shouting everything just to be heard, with no regard for the rest of the passengers in between.

You'd think, but you'd be wrong. Here are the highlights.

BOYFRIEND (walking halfway up the aisle with a pack of cigarettes): "Six bucks for these damn things. Damn! I gotta quit smokin."

WOMAN: "You can't smoke those on the bus!"

BOYFRIEND: "I'd rather smoke marijuana. It's cheaper."

WOMAN: "Come over here and let me smell you!"

BOYFRIEND: "Devil woman!"

WOMAN (inexplicably): "Semper fi!"

BOYFRIEND (singing, because the Bee Gees seemed appropriate at this point): "Lonely days, lonely nights . . . where would I be without my woman . . ."

FRIEND: "I gotta take a piss!"

BOYFRIEND: "We'll pull over at the next stop with a shelter."

Author's note: I'm not sure what disturbs me more ... that he considered a bus shelter to be the equivalent of a bathroom, or that he assumed an enormous vehicle designed exclusively for public transportation would veer off-schedule and pull in for a quick pit stop at the urging of his friend's bladder.

FRIEND: (mumbles something unintelligible)

BOYFRIEND: "Hey. Hey! Does a bear shit in the woods? . . . . . . (wait for it, because this revelation is genius) . . . . . . Well, that's what we gotta do."

And that, my friends, is how you get an enormous vehicle designed exclusively for public transportation to screech immediately to a random curb along your bus route just to let you stumble off.

Take that little piece of useful information and wrap it in a bow, why don't you? Happy birthday to me.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Last week this very elderly woman sat next to me on the bus. I have a soft spot for the oldies, probably because I have no grandparents left and my mom has worked in a nursing home for the past 20 years.

So I spent the greater part of my ride wondering two things:

1.  Should I offer to pull the stop cord for her as a courtesy?
2.  Does she think my iPod is a magical piece of moden witchcraft?

The second thought is obviously cruel, since it assumes this woman is not only helplessly out of touch but also incapable of embracing technology. Then again, I remember trying to teach my grandmother to play Super Mario Bros. once.  It did not go well.

But back to the first thought.  I went back and forth on this one.  Would offering to perform such a basic task make me seem like a respectful young lady, or would it imply that I feared that the simple act of reaching up would snap her brittle bones? 

Before I could make up my mind on this contentious issue, the woman stretched her arm behind me, yanked that cord like a mofo, and then managed to accidentally whap me upside the back of the head on the return trip.

At least I think it was accidental.  Maybe she was a mind reader.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pulling My Hair Out

Let me begin by saying that this blog in no way intends to target specific people and make fun of them, at least by name. Most subjects are (and thankfully remain) anonymous. However, in this particular case, I can't help it.

Every day, my bus passes a house with a large canvas flag out front advertising an at-home beauty shop. In itself, this is a fine idea. What has bothered me for the last three years, and what continues to bother me (to the point that I feel the irrepressible need to rant about it) is the name of the business. The sign reads: "What The Hair Is Going On With Deana?"

This isn't a cute tagline. It's the actual name of the shop. There are so many things wrong with this, I don't even know where to begin, but here are the two biggest problems.

First, the length. How many people find it necessary to use an entire sentence, complete with punctuation, to describe their trade? I'm a small business owner. I didn't name my company "Courtney and Jen Make the Best Greeting Cards Ever!" No, my good readers, I did not. I named it Green Couch Cards. It's simple, it has personal meaning, and it lends itself to a charming graphic.

Second, the "play on words." I have to put this in quotes, because I don't think it can accurately be described as such. Presumably, "hair" is standing in for "heck," or for those of us with potty mouths, "hell." Nowhere in the English language does "hair" even remotely sound like "hell." I've tried it in several different accents. Now, if she had gone with "What the gel?" we're getting closer to clever. How about "I Don't Give a Snip" or "Tress to Kill" or "Comb Sweet Comb?"

Now, I checked out the website, and the woman actually seems pretty cool, despite her lack of marketing technique. She mentions she's a huge movie fan. So how about "Curl, Interrupted" or "Eyes Wide Cut" or "My Hair Lady?" Even "Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby Pin" would be an improvement at this point.

Of course, some names could be taken the wrong way. "Dirty Hairy" might not work, nor would "Scissor Me." And you'd want to steer clear of anything with the word "blow" in it, unless your goal is to receive numerous phone calls with nothing but heavy breathing on the other end.

The bottom line is this: I'm not saying it's not a good place to get your hair done. I'm just saying a little more thought could have been put into it. I spent ten minutes on it, and (copyright limitations aside) I came up with several options. I can think of three actual salons with great names, if you're into legitimate wordplay: "Shape, Wrap & Roll," "Curl Up & Dye" and another one on the same street, "Foiled Again."

Deana, it's not too late. I have faith in you. Your business is dyeing for a name change. 'Do it now. Make it permanent.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hey, You Kids! Get Off My Lawn!

Last weekend I helped my sister celebrate her (first annual) 29th birthday. It was a tasteful affair, about 30 people lounging in the reserved section of a restaurant, munching on appetizers, indulging in cake, drinking moderately, and chatting for about four hours. 

Afterward, I went out with my sister and four of her friends to a local downtown bar. It was packed to the brim with hordes of drunken twenty-somethings gyrating to conversation-drowning club music. Oh, and smoking. Did I mention I was in South Dakota?
Long story short . . . I have never felt older in my life.

There is a very limited window in which a person can happily stand (because there is no place to sit) in a crowd of scantily-clad girls selling suckers and draped in penis paraphernalia (because that bachelorette is getting MARRIED, bitches, so whooooo-hooooo let's get a few more shots in before we have to help her paint her new house and throw a baby shower and then support her through the divorce). 

This is the window in which young men, in varying states of boredom and over-zealousness, either brood or swagger their way between potential conquests while shouting about sports stats and calling each other gay.

This window has firmly shut for me. Not that I ever stared through it for too long -- I may have peeked over the sill once or twice, but I can't remember the last time I "partied" that wasn't beers at happy hour or cocktails after the theater.

I know what you're thinking ... "What is she, 80?" No, but the careless expenditure of energy I witnessed last Saturday just exhausted me entirely. My first thought: "I want to give every girl in here a jacket and a ride home." My second thought: "The only guy who's going to hit on me will probably be picking up his daughter."

I think it was about the time when I looked out on the dance floor and saw the blow-up doll hoisted in the air and bobbing to the techno beat that I realized I was officially done. My inner 80-year-old was yelling, "Close that window, you're letting in a draft!" 

Indeed, grandma. Indeed.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Coo Coo Ca Choo

So tonight I saw a production of Sweeney Todd performed by high school students. In itself, that's pretty cool, not to mention that it was fantastic. But what I really want to tell you about is my close encounter with one of the actors.

And by "close encounter" I mean "intimate moment." And by "intimate moment" I mean "I almost went to jail."  Let me explain.

As part of the opening number, the chorus lined up at the feet of the audience members in the front row (which is where I was sitting, courtesy of the restaurant serving me super slow prior to the show and a little hiccup in finding the address of the theater ... which led to the only available seats being literally ON the stage). I should have known I was in for an interesting production when the announcer said, "Please remember to turn off your phones, there will be gunshots during the show, and for those of you sitting in the front row ... good luck."

Anyway, the cast started singing at our feet and then slowly worked their way closer and closer, while trying to be dramatic and creepy, until they were practically in our laps. This would have made me only slightly uncomfortable, if it weren't for the fact that the guy who'd singled me out was probably the cutest thing this side of the Mississip who probably still has a learner's permit.

By the time the song is almost finished, this guy ... strike that, kid, he's just a kid, a lovely lovely kid ... is inches from my face. My first thought was "Oh my god, he's going to kiss me."  My second?  "Oh my god, I could be his mother."

Luckily (or perhaps unluckily, depending on how you feel about Mrs. Robinson) the singing ended before what appeared to be an increasingly inevitable underage lip-lock. But this beautiful boy evidently got such a kick out of the encounter that he found me AGAIN later in the show and sang directly to me. In my head, I'm thinking, "He's sixteen, he's sixteen, he's sixteen ..." and in my heart I'm thinking, "Dammit, dammit, dammit!"

Don't think I didn't appreciate the irony of having a mini-crush on someone in a play about a demon barber who may or may not have actually been shaving yet. And don't think for a minute that I'd ever be a Statutory Sally. 

I'm just saying that, if I had to choose between being repeatedly spit on by a recklessly emphatic lead actor (which the lead actress did and took it like a trooper) or being lovingly gazed upon and serenaded by someone who doesn't remember typewriters or cassette tapes ... I'll choose the latter any day.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Rap It Up

So I was riding home tonight, and this thought crossed my mind: What if this bus crashes, and by some miracle my iPod survives but I don't, and what if some police detective happens to turn it on (because that's what good detectives do, work all the angles), and what if he sees that the very last thing I was listening to, the voice that was in my head at the exact moment that my life ended, was Lionel Richie? And worse ... what if this detective then looks down at my body and says, "It figures."  

I realize those are a lot of what if's, but still ... horrifying. Not the fact that "Do It To Me One More Time" came up on shuffle, but the idea that someone would probably look at me and assume that, yes, she seems like the kind of person who enjoys easy listening. This would be my luck. That bus wouldn't crash when I was grooving to my customary gangsta rap. No. We would careen off an overpass when Linda Ronstadt or Carly Simon were wailing into my ear.

Listen up, people. I am the whitest-looking white girl on the planet. I probably seem super straight-laced to anyone who doesn't know me. On the outside, I appear boring, serious, humorless. And yes, I possess an eclectic array of music. But I hate being a foregone conclusion. I'd hate to live up to my own stereotype.

I got weirded out enough last week when the dude at Zen Box started making my order before I asked for the C2 with white rice.

Does everyone fancy themselves a mystery? Or are we really more predictable than we could ever imagine?

I recently asked a friend of mine what he would buy me if he won the lottery. It was an intriguing question, since I so rarely mention wanting anything that people complain they never know what to get me for birthdays and Christmases. I usually end up just telling them what they can buy me, and it's usually pretty boring (example: an Amazon or eBay gift card tickles me pink), but at least it's something that I really need.

Good gift-giving is an art. A fantastic gift should be unexpected, but something that the person has previously talked about. It doesn't need to be extravagant or even overly sentimental, but it should be something they probably wouldn't purchase themselves. It should be personal and creative, and not simply a gift for gift's sake. It should say, "I know you, and I thought about what you would enjoy, and here it is." I'm not saying it's easy, I'm just saying you have to listen.

So I was curious to know what this friend thought I would like ... a big-screen TV? An iPhone? I tend to lust after gadgets, though I can never justify buying them. He didn't even think about it. He said, "I'd buy you one of those little houses you're always looking at."

Note to self: Keep this friend. Not only is he unbelievably generous with imaginary money, but he pays attention. In cases like this, I wouldn't mind being predictable one bit.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Choose Your Weapon. Carefully.

Last night I entered my bedroom to find an enormous, hairy centipede hanging on the wall next to my bed.  

It's amazing how you notice these things, even though it's 1 a.m. and you're absolutely fuzzy with the desire to fall between your cool sheets and bid adieu to the world for at least six hours .... but you do. You walk in and stop so short in your tracks that, in an appropriately sound-mixed world, there would be a record scratch to accompany it.

So I did what any normal person would.  I thought, "Guess I'm not sleeping in here tonight!"

Then I re-grouped, because I'm 31 and have lived alone long enough to know that nobody's coming to my rescue for anything, least of all bugs. And I'm not about to give up my pillow-top queen to anything that's not making me breakfast in the morning.

The plan of attack was this: spray it, but have a shoe in hand just in case. What I always forget is to also have a wad of toilet paper handy (or a whole roll, depending on the size and general ickyness of the bug). Because you shouldn't take your eyes off the thing, even for an instant, even if it appears to be dying or dead. They're like killers in slasher movies, coming to life as soon as your back is turned and crawling off to nurse their wounds before the next sneak attack.

Let me say this, though. I hate picking up dead centipedes. Why? Because they've usually kicked off a leg or two or fifty, and I just can't handle it. Tonight I killed a smaller one, and on the way to flush it, I just kept shouting, "WHY!? Oh, really, WHY?!"

As soon as I sprayed the one in my bedroom, it promptly jumped off the wall, landed with a soft thunk on my nightstand, and disappeared. It was like a gross David Blaine. Strike that -- it was like David Blaine.

I dropped a couple effen-heimers and began spraying the nightstand liberally, trying to flush it out or finish it off, whatever meant I could sleep soundly. That's when I realized that the whole endeavor would probably be going better if I'd actually grabbed the insecticide and not the foaming bathroom cleanser.

Back to the drawing board, jackass. I did kill a cockroach once with shoe spray in Japan, but in my defense, I had no way of reading what was on the can in that situation. No such excuses here. It's these kind of tactical errors that can make or break a wartime campaign, and I wasn't sure I'd get a second shot.

After a quick switcheroo I returned, this time brandishing something that would destroy the bug rather than leave it squeaky clean. The damn thing was clinging to the wall again, which I was surprisingly happy about. If there's one thing I don't need, it's a lurker.

Long story short, I finished the dirty deed, put on my pajamas, and slept like a baby. I actually dropped off amazingly fast. But I'm thinking the fumes might have had something to do with that.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

But Do You Do Drywall?

There's a humongous, professionally printed banner hanging on the side of a construction/design business on my bus ride home. It lists the "handyman services" that the business provides, and the list goes as follows (with one task they seem particularly emphatic about including): Carpentry, painting, drywall, framing, fences, tile, decks, and drywall.

Maybe they put it on there twice because they're REALLY good at it, but it has taken nearly every ounce of restraint in my body NOT to call them up and ask if they do drywall.

It reminds me of the "5 D's" of dodgeball: Dodge, dip, duck, dive, and ... dodge. 

Once again, a big thank you to the lazy editors of the world. You do amuse me so!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Can I Get a What What?

Last week, my afternoon bus failed to show up. At all. Not just late, just ... non-existent. While this circumstance is one of the few things in life that get me worked up enough to be super pissed off, my transportation abandonment did leave me stranded on Hennepin and 7th with the hands-down craziest man I've ever had the pleasure (or displeasure, depending on if you're a glass half empty person) to meet.

If you can call it "meet."

I call it "bombardment," since he joined me in the bus shelter and simply began spewing forth a stream of words that lasted the next ten minutes, without any reply from me. I don't know how to fully convey how weird it was to have someone talking AT me that long WITHOUT PAUSE and not have uttered a single word in response.

His rant was largely unintelligible, mainly due to poor enunciation but also (and I think I'm probably correct in this assumption, though it does seem to be wearing thin) a result of some form of mental illness. He didn't appear to be "on" anything, but then again, I'm not familiar with all the different types of drugs whose side effect is logorrhea. 

From what I could gather, he was (or used to be) a musician of some sort, who used to (or still does, in his head) live down South, and who was 50 years old (although, according to him, nobody ever believes that.)

My problem was twofold. First, nobody else was around, either to rescue me from the situation or to witness the one-sided conversation.  

Second, I didn't have a tape recorder. I have never wished so hard in my life that I had a discreet recording device stashed somewhere on my person. Because as soon as he said something completely awesome and hilarious, and I would think, "I'm going to remember that!" ... he would continue on to say something even more fantastical and splendiferous, and I would immediately forget what he just uttered.  

But two phrases in particular stuck, and I'm going to write them now, without explanation (because I'm still not totally sure what the context was) for your eternal enjoyment.

1.  "I'm bout to lay down something so cold, they ain't even put it on the market yet!"
2.  (while pointing at his eyeball) "They ain't invented anyone blacker than me!"

In the end, though he wasn't threatening in any way, he had been invading my personal space for far too long. I hopped on the next bus that happened by, but not before he asked me for my number.

At least that's what I think he said. I can't be sure.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Shut Up, Fran!

So the other day, I found myself trash-talking my GPS unit.

Well, not trash-talking exactly, but at least being unnecessarily belligerent. 

I call her Fran, largely because I think this is a pretty good name for the British voice that I chose to say, more than any other word in her vocabulary, "Recalculating." She tells me where to turn, of course, and where to exit, and tells me when we've reached the destination that I punched in earlier. But because I'm stubborn, and because I've already spent several years navigating on my own, thank you, with the help of Google Maps and an almost desperate exercise of my memorization skills, Fran spends most of her time alerting me to the fact that I have NOT taken the route she recommended.

For some reason, I'm unable to rebel politely. When she tells me to drive in a direction that I know is just a little bit longer or could potentially be more difficult than my tried-and-true alternate route, I typically respond with "Make me!" When she continues to calmly repeat her troubleshooting phrase "Recalculating," I bite back with "Go to hell, Fran!"

The thing is, I love Fran. I've only had her for about two months, and I deeply regret not buying her years ago. I feel about her the same way I do about my insulated snow pants: if only we'd met each other earlier, life would have been so much more delightful. I don't want to overstate the significance of the confidence that comes with this tiny device, but let's just say if I'd had one when I first moved here, I might be running this city by now.

I have noticed, however, that I'm becoming lazier. Mentally, I mean. I no longer have to pore over and print out maps online, rehearsing the route and return route in my head, before leaving the house. I don't even have to remember street names or addresses, or guess what time I'll be arriving, or run internet searches for the nearest Chinese buffet to whatever road I'm currently on.  

Fran tells me all this, sometimes on the fly. It's her job. It's what I pay her for. And my anxiety at finding new places has nose-dived to the point where I don't really need the details of the trip until just moments before I step into my car. Yet I feel a little less sharp and capable because of it.

Maybe that's why I'm occasionally annoyed with Fran. I don't want to depend on her. But am I willing to be a bit less self-sufficient in exchange for the freedom of driving into Uptown, a place which (for no discernible reason) has previously been my own personal Bermuda Triangle of navigational screwups, with reckless abandon? Yes, I am. 

Thank you, Fran. It's a good trade. When I think about snapping at you in the future, perhaps I'll recalculate.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

WTF, Tuesday?

So I had a bit of a weird day yesterday, as in, I saw some pretty weird things.

First, there was a young man on my bus in the morning who had just gotten his heart stomped on by some girl. He was so broken up about it that he was relating his tale to the bus driver. I wasn't paying too much attention until this older lady piped up and started basically witnessing to him, telling him never to give up his faith and to keep praying, and that God would send him a soul mate, because that's what happened to her.

While I'm not sure the whole prayer thing works as easily as she made it sound (one lifelong companion .... order up!), I was sad that she got off the bus only a few blocks into her sermon. I haven't been so disappointed to see someone leave since this guy started telling me about how he got robbed at knifepoint just before my stop.

Second, there was a lady at a stoplight who had all four windows of her car rolled down. She had her head sticking out one, and hanging out the others were three enormous dogs, each with their own private porthole to the highway. The weird part was that while they waited, she apparently dipped her hand into a bucket of ice water and rubbed it all over the dogs' faces, which made them go wild with joy. It looked like they were attacking her in the front seat amid a spray of saliva.

Third, there was a guy doing jumping jacks outside a pub in NE. He wasn't just doing a few for fun -- he was committed and appeared to be in pain.

Fourth, there was a guy in the elevator at work with an old-fashioned Walkman. He had the volume turned up so loud that it sounded like legitimate Muzak. It was literally everything I could do not to sing along with "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough," since I could hear every word.

Fifth, somebody sent me a message on my phone that was simply a picture of a wall-mounted air conditioning unit. I don't know why, and I don't recognize the number. Is it a sign of some sort? A warning? A threat? A taunt?

I don't really have explanations for any of this stuff. I just thought it was odd that I'd encounter Park n' Preach, The Human Fire Hydrant, The Oddest Loser, Deafy McMJ, and Chilly Stalker all on the same day. I just had to tell somebody.

I feel better now.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Rumination with a View

There are certain things in life that I just love, and I really should keep a running list, but here's one: the view from my office building in downtown Minneapolis. 

From the 48th floor, you can look either directly north or south from enormous windows in the lunchroom and lobby. Although the southern view presents you with several lakes, the Art Institute, the Walker, and the cathedral, I prefer gazing north over the river, the bridges, the library, the Mill City Museum, the Guthrie, and the Grain Belt Beer sign, all the way into NE Minneapolis, where I live.

The other day I was hurrying down the stairs on some errand, but I just couldn't help but stop and stare awhile. It never gets old. (And I'm not just saying that because if you lean around the corner a bit, you can see directly into the new Twins stadium). I had to pause for a moment because, if you'd told me seven years ago that I'd one day be working smack-dab in the heart of downtown, I would have called you a liar to your face.

But seven years ago I left South Dakota and came to "the Cities," as we in the rural tri-state area call them (duh, what other cities could we possibly be referring to?) I came with no job and knowing only about three people, one of whom was a high school acquaintance who needed a roommate. I had no idea where anything was or, if I did, how to get there.  

My early navigation attempts consisted of simply driving around aimlessly until something looked vaguely familiar. I distinctly remember once being so lost that I pulled into a McDonald's and bought a shake and french fries so I would have something to munch on as I consistently took exits I didn't mean to take. To this day, I'll occasionally pass a landmark and think, "Hmmm, I know this place ... I think I was lost here once ..."

I still take the periodic wrong turn, but I now have the ability to troubleshoot. And, three jobs later, I have much more than a handful of excellent friends. They are people I can't imagine not meeting, and I love them more for their quirks than in spite of them.

I realize that I've probably experienced only about 20% of what the TC has to offer, yet it's still been a wild, lovely ride. Whenever I visit my hometown, people ask me whether I like it here. When I reply that of course I do, they always seem a little shocked. But truthfully, I frickin' love Minneapolis. I love Minneapolis the same way I love my apartment, which goes like this: Whenever I pass by, I wish I lived there. And thankfully I do.

So I was reflecting on all this the other day in my brief pause before the window, feeling pretty proud of myself for having the guts to strike out alone somewhere new and generally pleased with all my small accomplishments since then. It was at this point that I turned, still gazing wistfully northward, and nearly Dick Van Dyked over a low oval coffee table in the lobby.

I get it, Minneapolis. Just keeping me in my place. Thanks for tripping me and not punching me in the face.  That's right, you heard me, St. Paul.

Friday, April 30, 2010

I've Got a Monkey on My Back and His Name is Juan Valdez

Today I saw a van stopped behind a car at an intersection. When the light turned green, the car hestitated to immediately move forward, and the driver of the van went ballistic, honking and gesturing, finally swerving around the car and speeding off like a maniac.

The car in front: "Student driver."
The writing on the van: "Espresso Machines."

Things in life are labeled, people. All you have to do, really, is read.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Escape from the Man-Eating Balcony

I would just like to say, as a follow-up to my very first posting, that I am now not the only person to ever lock myself out on my balcony. A good friend of mine (who shall remain nameless, unless he chooses to comment and reveal his identity) managed to do so recently, in much the same way as I did.

However, there were three major differences in this instance:
1. There was no spider involved.
2. He was not scantily clad.
3. Unlike me, he did not need rescuing, since he somehow channeled his inner Houdini and freed himself with the help of some clever machinations and dextrous arms.

Here's the thing, though. Since I wasn't around to witness this event, he wouldn't have had to tell me about it. He could have kept his mouth shut, but he didn't. He admitted it, which I think speaks a lot to his general character, in addition to his general resourcefulness. And now we share a bond that cannot be broken by space or time. Or sliding patio door bars.

Looking back, I probably should have reacted with more empathy and appreciation for his situation when he told me. Instead, I shouted with glee (and may have even done a fist pump) at the sudden validation that I might not be quite as big a moron as previously thought. 20/20 hindsight. 

Of course, this could also mean that we're both morons, but I doubt it. With his nimble critical-thinking skills and my ability to yell for help, I firmly believe there is no problem we cannot handle together.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Use Your INSIDE Tape

Today I saw a car for sale. How did I know this? The owner had written the price and details on a sheet of paper and taped it to the outside of the back window. Consequently, it was wrinkled and battered, and the ink had begun to run.

I think I should call this person up and negotiate. If his math skills are anything like his advertising skills, I believe I could wrangle a pretty awesome deal.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Am Not Your Boo

Wow, I have neglected this blog for nearly a month. Should I start by sending flowers, or do you think candy will melt its heart faster?  Speaking of melting hearts ....

I had one of my weirdest bus stop encounters yet this afternoon. Keep in mind that this comes on the heels of last week's fiasco, when an older gentleman asked me whether the Twins won and then watched me walk away, yelling, "You're lookin' good! I'm in love with you!" 

As I stood waiting, I was approached by a man in a hooded sweatshirt who was either slurring or just enunciating very poorly. He started the conversation like this:

HIM: "Hey, mommy."
ME: (not sure he was actually addressing me, as I am not a mommy.)
HIM: "Hey, boo."
ME: (so taken aback that I was incapable of uttering a response.)
HIM: "What's your name?"
ME: (reluctant to respond, hoping he will simply go away.)
HIM:  "Hold on, girl. Quit bein' so nervous! I ain't gonna do nothin'. I'm Mark."
ME: (finally telling him my name, because it's clear he will not simply go away.)
HIM: "You down here for the game, or what?"
ME: "Just waiting for my bus."
HIM: "You got nice dimples. (going in for the kill) How 'bout you call me later?"
ME:  "I don't think so."
HIM: "Now, just wait a minute, just think about this. You call me when you get home, tell me how your day was."
ME:  "I don't think so, sorry."

At this point, he wandered away, yet another man irresistibly and inexplicably attracted by my crazy magnet. But I was left with this thought:  If I did call him up and tell him about my day, he would probably actually listen. And, substance abuse problems aside, that would be really nice. In the same way it's nice to hear "You're lookin' good!" from inebriated strangers, but nice nonetheless.

I'm not saying I've reached the level of desperation where I would take any of these guys up on their offers.  But when it comes to the compliment? I'll take it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pickup Lines 101

So here's the rule, crazy men on the street. If you want to charm strange women, keep your comments specific.

Example #1:  A man once approached me and told me I had nice teeth. He then asked whether I was married. When I said no, he replied, "That's a SHAME!" Survey says? Compliment.

Example #2:  A man once approached me and told me I had nice dimples. He then told me I had a nice mouth. Survey says? Creepy! Having "a nice mouth" is much too vague a statement. (Nice why? And for what?) Comments like these make people hear banjo music and run in the opposite direction.

Do you see the fundamental difference between complimentary and creepy, crazy men on the street? No, I didn't think you would.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Shoe Fly, Don't Bother Me

Last week I was (as always) waiting patiently for my bus, when a man approached me with the following offer: "I'd sure like to shine up your shoes."

The fact that he was indeed carrying a shoe-shine kit assured me that this was not a pick-up line, although I can think of several appropriately dirty responses that I won't repeat here.

As it was raining and I was a bit pressed for time, I responded with, "No thanks."  His reply?

"So you're okay with them lookin' all messed up like that?"

To be fair, I was wearing my 9-year-old Eastlands, which have traveled with me worldwide and been the victim of numerous slips on the ice here at home. So, needless to say, they are rather scuffed and beginning to leak in wet weather. (Now that I'm actually typing this out, I begin to realize it might be time to buy some new footwear.)  But that's why I was wearing them ... they're great for kicking around in and shuffling to and from work. I leave them with their scars intact, because A. I just don't care,  B. They aren't Jimmy Choos, and C. They still feel like slippers. So suck it, Shoe-Shine Man!

I did have to admire his sales tactics, however. He offered a service nicely, was turned down, and resorted to insulting his potential customer, presumably with the goal of shaming me in public into accepting the aforementioned service. 

It reminded me of the time I foolishly answered my apartment door to find a man asking me to buy magazines. When I politely declined, he proceeded to stand there and angrily demand to know why I didn't want to support his continuing education, while I gripped the spatula I'd carried to the door (mid-dinner preparation) ever tighter. Maybe you catch more flies with confrontation than honey. I've never tried.

But what if other businesses took this approach?

"I'd sure like to put braces on your kid ....  No?  So you're okay with those jacked-up teeth?"
"I'd sure like to be your personal trainer ... No?  So you're okay with being a fat-ass then?"
"I'd sure like to cut your hair ... No?  So you're okay with that outdated rat's nest on your head?

Just think of the possibilities! Would we be more inclined to accept services if we knew an insult (and most likely a terrible truth) were to follow, loudly and publicly? I don't know. What I do know is this: rather than inciting the mob around me to urge me to take care of my battered shoes, Shoe-Shine Man merely drew a few incredulous and annoyed tsks and laughs as he moved on down the street ... with no takers.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Be My Baby Tonight

My sister is flying to St. Louis this week to visit a friend who recently had a baby, and she came up with the following list.  I had to share because it's hilarious.


10. I cry when I want something.
9. I feed every two hours.
8. Filling my pants is cause for me to rejoice.
7. If I'm up at 2 a.m. I'll make sure you are too.
6. I smile when I'm gassy.
5. I grow out of clothes before I can even wear them.
4. I'm fascinated with your breasts.
3. If I drink too much I might spit up on you.
2. When I wake up my bed is covered in drool.
1. NAPS!!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

All Is Vanity

Today I saw perhaps the most intriguing license plate yet.  It read as follows:  OUT NOW.  I was immediately struck by the possibilities for interpretation on this one, so here are six hidden messages I think might be lurking beneath those six letters.

The person driving . . .

1.  Really wants us to bring the troops home.
2.  Is no longer in the closet.
3.  Was recently released from prison.
4.  Is no longer popular.
5.  Would like to announce that they're not cooped up with the kids.
6.  Wants to car-jack you.

Any other suggestions are welcome.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Just Say Neigh

I was just reading through an old journal, and I came across an entry that simply listed a headline I'd seen that day on Yahoo News.  It may only have appeared briefly, but I was lucky enough to catch it:

"Girl Kicked By Horse in Stable Condition"

Thank you, lazy editors of the world.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Swifter, Higher, More Nerve-Wracking

So I'm pretty sure I should never be allowed to watch the Olympics.

I don't mean that I should only be granted access to the highlights to prevent me from wasting entire days and nights watching the full coverage (which I do). I mean there should be a media blackout every two years, and only in my apartment. You may be thinking, "Why would Courtney need a Costas-free zone?  She's not athletic in the least!" Well, here it is: When it comes to the Olympics, I just get too invested.

It's those damn inspirational featurettes on all the athletes that does me in. Really, in the end, I'd rather not know what hardship or disease or injury or tragedy that ski jumper overcame to get to this point ... this twenty seconds that cost him the last twenty years of his life ... this split second that will define his entire career. It's too much pressure, for him and for me. But now I'm in it with him. Curse you, NBC!  You made me care.

Figure skating and gymnastics are almost unbearable for me, although of course I watch them, sometimes through my fingers. It's just too much heartbreak, people. Too much drama. Last night I heard myself say on more than one occasion, "I think I'm gonna throw up." This is a phrase that should never be associated with something as innocuous as a triple salchow.

These are the two things that come out of my mouth most often while watching Olympic coverage (other than outrageous bursts of profanity; much like when I play video games, I simply cannot be held responsible for my language during sporting events):

1.  "GO-GO-GO-GO-GO!"  I shout this without even knowing it, at an insane volume, and it apparently applies to all situations in all sports.
2.  "Oh, look how happy they are!" Invariably I find myself weeping along with the competitors and their families, even if I'd previously been rooting against them.

And I do root against them, because for some reason, I'm all about that effing medal count. I'm not proud of it, and I'm not typically uber-nationalistic, but I watch that tally like a hawk ... or an eagle, as the case may be.

I don't know where this competitive streak comes from, because I don't rabidly follow sports on a regular basis (with the exception of World Cup Soccer, but that's only every four years, so some spectacular enthusiasm is practically mandated). I loves me some Roger Federer, and I'm a fair-weather Twins fan, but you won't find me painted up in the stands somewhere, waving a flag like a crazy person.

Here's the thing about me, though. Maybe it's because I'm a bit ambivalent, but I can really get invested in any sport. Even if I have no idea what's going on, I just have to pick a side and go with it. When I was in Ireland, I was enthralled with cricket. In Japan, I was glued to those sumo tournaments. I can even sit with my dad and watch NASCAR for an afternoon. So maybe my mania is purely situational.

I'll end with Exhibit A for why my Olympic viewing privileges should be revoked, and I hate to admit it, but this is true. In 2004, I was watching the Athens games, and the US men's relay swimming team was battling Australia for the gold. (This was the precursor to the Phelps fever that hit Beijing in 2008, during which my friends and I cheered so loudly that we blatantly woke up a baby.)

I'm standing in my living room, crouched slightly, very intent on the action unfolding on the TV, and suddenly the US wins, and I, in some random burst of childlike joy, decide that an appropriate spontaneous celebration would be to yelp and leap into the air. With my fists stretched straight up in victory. Which, combined with my freakishly long monkey arms and my jump, made me roughly 8' 3".  I had 8' ceilings. Covered in popcorn finish.

Here's what happened: I managed not only to take a chunk out of the ceiling, but also to take most of the skin off all my knuckles. So as Michael Phelps was climbing out of the pool, I was standing amid a shower of bloody plaster. But you know what? I was still happy.

Plus, in the days that followed, when people asked me what the hell happened to my hands, I could shrug and say matter-of-factly, "Bar room brawl." And that, my friends, was as good as gold.

Monday, February 15, 2010

eM hsaW

I saw a car the other day with a fresh coating of snow on its back window (not a shocker in MN). What was interesting is that someone had taken time out of their day to carefully scrawl "Fuck Dave" in the pristine white powder. 

This wasn't a hasty scribble.  It was printed in all caps, thoughtful and neat and deliberate.

I was immediately intrigued by this for several reasons. First, who's Dave?  Is he the driver of the car?  If so, the epithet must be quite personal. Whoever wrote it has to either know which car Dave drives (a disgruntled neighbor or coworker perhaps) or, in an even better scenario, ride in that car with him often enough to think he's an asshole (a carpool buddy, perhaps a girlfriend).

Then again, the message wasn't "Fuck you, Dave," so maybe that car is just an unwitting bearer of a larger message, much as a graffitied bus bench can be.  *See my posting from September 2, 2008, titled "Dylan, What Did You Do?"

Next question: How long do you think Dave drove around that day before noticing that he was viewing all the vehicles behind him through a smear on his good name? If the message's author had really been thinking, and if the sentiment was indeed personal, it should have been written backward, so that it was clearly readable in the rear view. It's not like the rest of us wouldn't have figured it out. Plus, it really would have packed a wallop as soon as Dave threw that car in reverse.

My point is this: If you're going to use nature as a dry erase board of profanity, make it count. Be inventive. Have a sense of humor, like the person who wrote "SLUR" on the back of a bus seat. 

I'll give this particulr vandal props, though. Because we use snow for many things ... we make angels with it, we build men out of it, but I've never before seen the F-bomb rendered so perfectly in it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

When Too Much Information Happens to Good People

Today's word: overshare. We all know what this means -- someone tells us more than we ever wanted to know, and it's usually embarrassing for both us and them. Typically during an overshare, though you may be uncomfortable, you should probably keep nodding and smiling to avoid being impolite. But this requires ignoring the voice in your head that is just screaming, screaming, screaming, "Please, God, make it stop!"

I had the distinct displeasure of working with an oversharer when I lived in Japan. One of my fellow teachers, who was about my age (early 20s at the time) used to give me detailed updates about her "lady days." I don't know why.  I never asked or ventured to discuss my own. Maybe she was showing off her English skills.  Maybe she thought it would bring us closer. Maybe she'd been watching too much Sex and the City and assumed that's how all liberated American women talked to each other. 

Whatever her reasons, she decided early on that we would be gyno-buddies, and I never figured out how to dissuade her. And I couldn't really afford to offend her and lose someone who could converse in my language, even if those exchanges invariably included more information than I wanted about her womanly cycles.

But an overshare doesn't have to be verbal. Sometimes it's just visual. There are few things more entertaining or uncomfortable than people who read self-help books in public. A lady on my bus the other morning was earnestly devouring something like "When Things Fall Apart," and I simultaneously wanted to look hurriedly away and hug her. Because isn't reading that stuff openly just a big cry for help? Isn't it putting all your secret insecurities on display?

I guess what worries me is the regular riders on my route. There are several people I see every day (and have seen every day for the past three years) whose names I don't know. I might have an idea where they work and can guess at where they live judging by their stop, but otherwise, if I'm going to refer to them, I have to make something up. Usually my names are attached to something they always wear, or some celebrity they resemble, or a defining characteristic. Here are a few of my favorites:

Blue Hat Guy (self-explanatory), Land's End Guy (because he looks like a silver fox catalog model), Drunk Girl (not because she actually is drunk, but because that's how she sounds), Bad Mom (because she's consistently mean to her kids), Ewan McGregor (again, self-explanatory), Mini McDreamy (because he looks like Patrick Dempsey but about 3/4 his size).

So, if I'm in the habit of boiling people down to highly superficial caricatures, I can only imagine that others do this to me. Perhaps Yellow Coat Girl, or Sleepy McSleeperton. If I'm sitting there reading "I'm Okay, You're Okay," how long will it be before I'm Crazy Chick or Desperate Housewife or Fragile McGee?

Incidentally, here's a great game to play on the bus when you're bored.  It's called "If I Had To." Here's how it works. You wait until the bus is packed, and then you make note of all the men on board, and you decide who you would sleep with if you had to. If the person you picked exits, you have to have a backup. (Of course, you can never tell him he's your second choice, but a girl's gotta be prepared). Let me tell you, the pickins are slim some days. Land's End Guy starts to look pretty good after Mini McDreamy pulls that stop cord.

In any case, the visual overshare was painfully obvious to me last week, when I happened to look forward and there, over the shoulder of the girl in front of me, was an open spiral notebook with what appeared to be a heartfelt but anguished letter. To whom? I have no idea. Why you would write something like that on public transportation, I don't know either. But my eyes traveled over the phrase, "I don't claim to be a saint or even a good person. I don't feel like I've ever belonged anywhere or with anyone . . ."

Normally I'm not above surreptitious sneak-reading, but that little snippet was just too personal to invade. The devil on my shoulder whispered, "Go ahead, this is going to be juicy!" but the angel on my other shoulder stole his pitchfork and stabbed me in the neck with it till I turned my head in the opposite direction. Which is what effective angels need to do, sometimes, in the interest of avoiding the overshare.