Weekly Opinion Poll: Oh, Sexy Girlfriend…

I realized yesterday that I was so excited about all the new things I’ve been learning about you, that I completely forgot to post the results of our last two surveys. Forgive me for this egregious oversight, won’t you please? You’re a lamb!
On the topic of which pop singer you would bring with you to a deserted island, and then subsequently devour, the overwhelming favorites were: Phil Collins and Charlotte Church. Their publicists have ignored my every request for comments.
And now, I can share my selection: I would choose John Mayer because I would experience absolutely no remorse whatsoever over eating him. His music makes me want to stick hot forks in my ears, and it takes all my inner strength not to pluck out my own eyes whenever I see his mush-mouth face contort while he sings. In fact, I might eat him before the plane even crashed.
Moving on to another music-related topic, but a more sensitive one, I was so excited to read all your feedback about songs that make you cry. I must also give special thanks to all the men who responded, thereby dispelling the commonly held belief that men are made of stone and ash. Now we know – you’re all squishy inside, just like us!
Of the choices provided, the overwhelming winner was “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton. In hindsight, it was almost unfair to list that song as one of the choices, because it’s so over the top sad. I must admit, however, that I was a bit shocked and disappointed that no one – not a single person – voted for my favorite, “Boys of Summer.” I just don’t get it – it’s a sad song, people! Come on!
Week by week, I’m drawing a clearer and clearer picture of who you are, what makes you tick, what goes on inside that head of yours. So this week, it’s time to talk about sex, baby. That’s right, I said it. Don’t worry, it’s G-rated sex talk – my momma raised me right!
Earlier this week, as I was sitting on the train after work, looking around at all the weary 9-to-5’ers on the ride home, I discovered something about myself: I find it very sexy when men loosen their ties and unbutton the top button of their shirts after a long day. But I do not find it sexy if they take the tie all the way off. There’s just something about that moderately loose, slightly askew necktie that says, “I take my job seriously, but beware – the only thing restraining the passionate beast within me is my moderately loose, slightly askew necktie.”
So I started thinking – why do I find something so unsexy sexy? Am I a freak? Is this because I was home-schooled? Before I allow myself to dig any deeper into my inner psyche, I thought I should pose the question to the group. So please have your number two pencils ready… and BEGIN!
Question: what is the sexiest, non-traditionally sexy item of clothing/accessory someone can wear? (write-ins accepted)
A. Hooded sweatshirt
B. Plaid flannel pajamas
C. Chuck Taylor high tops
D. Argyle socks
E. Coveralls
F. Baseball cap
G. Heavy-framed eyeglasses
H. Clunky shoes

A Barbara Walters Exclusive

Last week, I had the privilege of being interviewed by one of the toughest blog correspondents this side of the Atlantic – Dean Abbott of Notes and Meditations. At times, I was flustered by his no-nonsense interview style, but with my publicist’s guidance, I think I came across as fairly sympathetic.
When you get a minute, check out his site to read the controversial conversation that will not be aired on any other blog. Thanks for the interview, Dean – it was a lot of fun!

O Jenny, We Hardly Knew Ye

It just struck me last week that I reached my one year blog anniversary this month. (I can’t bring myself to call it a blogiversary. Oh crap, I just did, didn’t I?) Like any important event that marks the passage of time, it is only natural that I would take this opportunity to reflect upon this past year:
What’s happened in this past year?
• Threw myself into the downward spiraling depression that is unemployment
• Launched myself into the self-esteem boosting thrill that is a new job
• Got burglarized and developed hatred for all mankind
• Fell in love, got married, and divorced to a stranger on a train
• Dropped out of tap dance due to creative differences
• Joined a jug band and experienced the highs and lows of life on stage
So all in all, this has been one unpredictable year, and the great thing is that it’s all documented right here in this public forum. Every last story. My whole life. All my quirks and neuroses on display. My successes and failures, here for your amusement. You know me better than I know myself. Why are you looking at me like that?
And the other nice thing about celebrating a one year blog anniversary is that it gives me a built-in reason to post an entry today. So in honor of this auspicious occasion, I am dusting off some of my personal favorites. Wait a minute – selecting my own personal favorites? Egotistical? Perhaps. Lazy? Most definitely. But if it counts for anything, it did take me a long time to put all these links in this post. That counts, doesn’t it?
More than anything, I want to thank you all for stopping by – it’s been a fun year!
Golden Oldies:
Working Hard, or Hardly Working?
Will Tap for Food
A Fowl First Day
On Being a Woman: Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny
Cupid Is as Cupid Does

Weekly Opinion Poll: Crybaby

Normally, I arrive at our favorite karaoke joint well-prepared with notebook in hand featuring a carefully thought out set list that showcases my very limited vocal range. But this Wednesday, I was just a mess. I arrived late, forgot my special mini karaoke notebook, and neglected to hit the ATM in advance. I frantically flipped through the song books, desperately hoping something would inspire me. Fortunately, it didn’t take long:
I grabbed Natasha’s arm, and said, “Oooh, Boys of Summer! I just love that song!”
“Cool – you should sing it!”
My eyes widened. “NOOOOO! I can’t sing that!”
“Why not? Too high?”
“No – too sad. That song always makes me cry.”
Nat paused a moment, and then got a smirk on her face as she said, “Okay, Boys of Summer makes you cry? Which part – the convertible part or the wayfarer sunglasses part?”
“The whole thing! I mean come on – ‘I thought I knew what love was. What did I know? Those days are gone forever. I should just let them go…’ How can that not make you cry?”
Natasha stopped chewing on her straw, shook her head, and said, “You’re a freak.”
“Okay, ice queen. What song makes you cry?”
Nat averted her eyes, shrugged her shoulders a little, and muttered, “No songs.”
“Yeah, right. Give it up!”
“Okay, fine. So maybe [unintelligible] makes me cry a little.”
I leaned in closer, and said, “Wait – what did you say?”
“I said that maybe, Because You Loved Me makes me cry a little.”
“Oh, you have got to be kidding me! By Celine Dion? You were my strength when I was weak? My voice when I couldn’t speak? And you’re ripping into me for Don Henley?”
Natasha laughed, threw a crumpled up napkin at my head, and went back to compiling her karaoke set list. This just piqued my curiosity, though. I really wanted to know what songs would make people get choked up, so I decided to expand my survey a bit. I looked around the bar and said, “All right, let’s get a guy’s opinion here. Seamus! Seamus – c’mere. Hey – name a song that makes you cry.”
“Makes me cry? Ummm, probably Pachelbel’s Canon.”
Nat and I just looked at each other with eyebrows raised, and I said, “Huh? Taco Bell Cannon?”
Seamus got a disgusted look on his face, and said, “PACHelbel’s Canon. With a P. You know it – it’s always played right before weddings.”
“How’s it go?”
“Uh, kind of like, Hmm hmm dee dee dah dah dee dee… like that. I know you’d know it.”
“Hmmph. Well, I said Boys of Summer.”
“Oh yeah, that’s totally sad!”
“See, Nat! I told you it’s sad! Why is your heart made of wire and glass shards? Why are you all, ‘I am the Tin Man. This does not compute. Highly illogical. Hello, my name is H.A.L.’”
As if on cue, Seamus started walking back and forth behind me doing the Robot, to emphasize my point. Natasha was just about to throw another napkin at my head, when she was called up on stage to do a spot-on performance of Brandy.
But I left karaoke with more questions than answers, which leads me to today’s Opinion Poll:
Question: Which of the following songs makes you get a lump in your throat, causes your voice to crack, gets you teary-eyed? (Write ins will be accepted)
A. Boys of Summer by Don Henley
B. In My Life by The Beatles
C. Because You Loved Me by Celine Dion
D. Pachelbel’s Canon by… well, Pachelbel, I guess
E. The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel
F. Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton

Don’t Talk to Strangers

The funniest thing a complete stranger has said to me in a long time:
Friend: Hey Jenny, this is Stranger. He’s my evil co-worker.
Jenny: Hi Stranger. So, you’re evil?
Stranger: Yeah. I’m so evil that they killed me off two seasons ago.
Jenny: Wow. That is evil.
Stranger: But don’t worry. They’ll bring me back for mid-season sweeps.
Jenny: Will you be seeking revenge?
Stranger: Definitely.

Behind the Jug – Part 1

How does one begin the story of a shattered dream?

Where do I start the tale of innocence lost?

Like all sad stories, at the beginning, I suppose.

It seems like it all began two months ago, but it’s actually only been eight weeks. Natasha and I walked into that first jug band class full of excitement and a bit of trepidation, and came out changed women. For the first time in my life, I knew what it meant to truly be alive. To be conscious of the rhythm of my beating heart. To experience unbridled joy.

So this is what unconditional love feels like, I thought. This is what it means to belong. As the weeks went by, Natasha and I threw ourselves into becoming the best jug band members this band had ever seen. We spent days researching traditional jug band instruments, scoured local Salvation Army stores for the best spoons, trekked through the hills of Wisconsin to find antique washboards, and drank untold quantities of sugary soda pop to construct our glass bottle xylophone.

The fervor and commitment with which I approached my music could be described by one word, and one word alone: love. I had fallen in love, not with the individual, but with the collective. With the idea of jug band, and everything that came with it. I couldn’t stop thinking about the jug band. I wanted to impress the jug band. I wondered what the jug band was doing when they weren’t in class. I wore my contacts and put my hair down for the jug band.

But as is my history with love, I fell too hard, too fast. If it hadn’t been for Natasha, I probably wouldn’t have seen it coming at all.

It all started in Week Four:

Jug band class ran later than normal because we began practicing our songs for an upcoming performance. This would be our biggest and most prestigious gig to date, so everyone was a bit on edge. After class ended and we packed up our jugs and dried off our kazoos, Natasha and I decided to grab a drink and some quesadillas before heading home.

As we waited for our late night snacks, Natasha squeezed more lime into her vodka and tonic, and said, “Jen, I’m not so sure about this jug band anymore.”

Taken aback, I said, “What? What do you mean?”

“I mean, I just don’t know if I’m into it like I was on the first day. Something has changed.”

“Well, everyone’s really focused on this upcoming performance, if that’s what you mean.”

Nat glanced up at me with a look I hadn’t seen since we dropped out of tap dance class, and asked, “What instruments did you play today?”

I had to think for a minute, but then said, “Well, I played woodblocks on the first song. And egg shaker on the second one. Then on Broke Down Jug Band Blues I played the woodblocks again. Oh, and then I went back to the egg shaker on Whiskey Tells No Lies. Why?”

She took a gulp of her drink, wiped her lips, and continued, “Now let me tell you what I played on those four songs: egg shaker, Fanta bottle and chopstick, Fanta bottle and chopstick, and then Fanta bottle and chopstick.”

“Huh. I wasn’t really paying attention. I mean, I kind of wanted to play washboard on Bottle O’ Corn, but someone was already playing it.”

Nat nodded, “Exactly. And I wanted to play washtub bass on Boxcar Baby, but that really wasn’t an option, now was it? And I wanted to play kazoo or spoons on Tobaccy Road but it seems that someone else had already claimed those instruments as well.”

“So what’s your point, Nat?”

”What’s my point?! What’s my point?! My point is that this utopian jug band society we thought we stumbled upon is really nothing more than a fascist regime in sheep’s clothing! This is no democracy! What happened to that welcoming, ‘Oh here try my washboard’ attitude they used to sucker us in on the first day? That went away pretty quickly when you actually wanted to play washboard on a real song, didn’t it?”

My mind started racing. Could Natasha be right about this? Was jug band really a tyranny? I began to play back the events of the previous four weeks, and suddenly felt a metallic burning in the back of my throat as I realized that everything Natasha had said was true.

We were extra pieces. Spare buttons. Wisdom teeth. This band didn’t need us. They never needed us. They were fully formed before we even joined the class. That’s why we always got stuck playing the leftover instruments that barely made a sound.

But why? Why did they encourage us to join the band?

We later learned that the answer to that question came in the form of the $150 check we each wrote out to join the band. As it turned out, funding for class materials had been cut, so in order to keep everyone in shiny new jugs and taut new washtub bass ropes, the school had to increase the class size.

Natasha had already figured out what took me three beers to deduce, “Exactly, Jenny! So they increased the class size, without giving a second thought to the severe shortage of viable instruments that would leave everyone. I mean, seriously! At what point was someone going to notice the fact that I had been playing a piece of garbage and a chopstick for the past ten songs?!”

I felt like Dorothy, when the curtain was pulled back, revealing a weak little man hiding behind a booming voice. My head was spinning from the combination of betrayal and Boddington’s. I looked up at Nat and asked, “So… what are you going to do?”

She just grinned, and said, “Revolt.”

I Hardly Know This Beauty By My Side

Well, if my last opinion poll taught me anything, it’s that I don’t know you at all. I thought you felt like you could say anything to me, but clearly that’s not the case. Obviously it took a random opinion poll for you to be comfortable enough with me to let me know that you liked beef Stroganoff. I’m not mad at you; I just wish you had told me sooner.
All I can say is that I am truly, truly astounded by the results of our last poll. On the controversial topic of “foods we would eat until the end of eternity,” the results came in as:
36% Leftover beef Stroganoff
29% Hamburger flavored pizza puffs
14% Sardines packed in mustard
14% Circus peanuts
7% Chicken and rice cat food with hairball remedy
0% Egg beater omelettes with no salt or butter
There are so many observations that can be made about these results that it’s hard to even comment. The only thing I can say, however, is that the next time I have a potluck dinner, 36% of you will be asked to bring beverages and/or fruit salad.
As excited as I was with the results of this initial poll, it did reveal to me that I need to spend more time getting inside your heads. If we’re ever going to bring our relationship to the next level, we need to focus on sharing our feelings, which is why I’ve decided to sponsor a weekly opinion poll, covering the most pressing topics of our time. The polls will continue until I feel we’ve become closer, until you stop answering, or until I run out of survey ideas, whichever comes first.
So with that, I launch my next opinion poll:
Question: If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one singer, and he/she could only sing one of his/her hit songs for eternity, but then ultimately you would have to eat that singer to survive, who would it be?

    A: Rod Stewart – Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?
    B: Richard Marx – Don’t Mean Nothing
    C: Phil Collins – Sussudio
    D: Kenny G. – theme from Dying Young
    E. Charlotte Church – any song from Voice of an Angel album
    G: John Mayer – No Such Thing

I look forward to getting to know you all even just a little bit more than I did a few days ago!

Wish I Hadn’t Witnessed: Who Wears Short Shorts?

I had really hoped that my first installment of “Wish I Hadn’t Witnessed” would be my last, but sadly, the universe clearly needs me to shine a spotlight on the atrocities I witness on a regular basis. In addition, the universe also seems to want me to continue writing about underwear. And so, my cherished friends, I am compelled to shock and disturb you with another tale of unmentionables. Consider yourselves warned.
This weekend, while enjoying a tasty meal of tapas at a new neighborhood restaurant, I excused myself to visit the ladies’ room, as I am known to do on occasion. While I was washing my hands, which I am also known to do on occasion, two women – one about 25 and one about 40 years old – stormed into the bathroom in a bit of a panic. Within seconds, the younger woman tossed something out of the bathroom stall, which the older woman quickly grabbed. This woman then shoved me out of the way and started rinsing what appeared to be white shorts in the bathroom sink.
Since there was only one sink, and I’m not into the “doing laundry in a public bathroom” kink scene, I quickly moved aside. After grabbing a handful of paper towels, I turned around, only to see the younger woman standing next to me in her underwear as she waited for her friend to finish rinsing her shorts. In a voice that was far too loud for a public restroom, she said, “Oh my god! I don’t even have anything! This just sucks so bad!”
Now, first of all, let me point out that I was not eating tapas at a roadside way station. Not that I think it’s appropriate to stand in your underwear in any type of public restroom, but I imagine that running into partially clothed strangers in the bathroom is a bit more commonplace in way stations than in upscale Spanish restaurants. In fact, that’s usually the only reason I ever stop at roadside way stations.
Secondly, this bathroom was very tiny, making it utterly impossible to pretend that I didn’t notice these women, which was my initial instinct.
Thricely, there was no air dryer in the bathroom – only paper towels. So I couldn’t help but wonder – once this woman was done rinsing out what I could only assume to be the stains of womanhood from her shorts, how exactly did she intend to dry them off?
As much as I wanted to run from this scene, a tiny voice called to me in my head. It was the voice of a twelve year old Jenny, so sweet and innocent, and still not fully in tune with her lunar cycles. The voice reminded me that I, too, had been in this situation before. Well, not exactly this situation, but a similar one:
Summer of ’83. County fair. White shorts. That carnival ride that spins you around until you stick to the wall. Centrifugal force and unexpected period do not a pretty combination make. Nothing but occupied Port-o-Potties as far as the eye could see.
To this day, I refuse to go to traveling carnivals and let mentally ill carnies strap me into giant spinning wheels until the floor drops out. Do you even understand how this experience crippled me emotionally? Why do you think I’m still single? I’m like a shut-in!
The pain of that memory still stinging in my brain, I stopped myself from leaving, and without really making eye contact with the semi-nude woman, I just said, “Uh, do you, uh, need anything?” Because in woman speak, “need anything” is the universal code for: I’m carrying Tampax products and am willing to share, because I’m just always that prepared, which is why I never find myself in your situation, i.e. standing in a public bathroom half naked in front of a complete stranger while waiting for my shorts to dry.
The semi-nude woman seemed completely oblivious to my presence, even after I spoke directly to her. Her friend just kept rinsing and shrieked, “No, she doesn’t need anything. She needs to have her head checked, that’s all!” She then let out a husky, bitter laugh that made me think they might both be a bit drunk.
She continued, “I swear, sometimes I feel like I’m your mother!”
I shrugged my shoulders, tossed my paper towels away, and returned to my grilled lamb chops. As I recounted this recent adventure to my dining companion, Lazlo, he asked innocently, “Does that happen a lot to women?”
I shook my head and said, “Not unless you hang out at Six Flags all the time.”
He gave me a puzzled look, “Huh?”
“Uh… never mind.”

Getting to Know You

It struck me today that I have been selfish. Insanely, ridiculously, horribly selfish. All I do on this site is talk about me, me, me. What tap class is Jenny dropping out of now? Which stranger on a train has she divorced this week? What homemade instrument is she, or is she not, currently playing in a hit jug band?
I just haven’t taken the time to get to know you. Your likes, dislikes, hopes, dreams. So I’m dedicating an entire feature to getting to know you better. Your opinions are important to me. In fact, maybe they’re better than my own opinions. Maybe my opinions are the wrong opinions. Maybe I should check to see what you think first. Do these shoes go with these pants?
To remedy this egregious oversight, I’m launching the first step in my quest to strengthen our bond. It’s called: The Opinion Poll.
Question: If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would you choose? Wait a minute! You can’t just make up any answer at all. This isn’t some sort of anarchy. You’re not in Canada, you know. There’s got to be some structure to this if it is to be an accurate poll. So your choices are as follows:

    A. Sardines packed in mustard
    B. Leftover beef Stroganoff
    C. Hamburger-flavored microwaveable pizza puffs
    D. Egg-beater omelettes with no salt or butter
    E. Chicken & rice cat food (with hairball remedy)
    F. Circus peanuts

Since I run a highly scientific research shop here, I won’t tell you my opinion. Okay, but maybe I’ll just tell you one of the things I didn’t choose. I didn’t choose B, because that is the most repugnant food known to man and should only be fed to prisoners of war when we’re trying to get them to talk. But please don’t let that influence your opinion. Thank you!

Run Katie Run

So – I realize this isn’t my usual type of entry, but I am in need of a release because I have become mildly obsessed with figuring out Tom Cruise’s relationship with Katie Holmes. What the hell is going on? He has gone insane, and he’s taking a 25 year old girl with him. Was he always this crazy, and we just didn’t know it? What’s wrong with her? She’s dating a lunatic, and he already has her going to Scientology centers. Won’t someone intervene? Why is Oprah condoning this lunacy? Has the whole world gone mad? Nicole Kidman and Penelope Cruz must be breathing great sighs of relief right now. I want Brooke Shields to punch him in his face.
Run, Katie! Run!