Judge Not

I just don’t get it. I mean, what part of, “I got drunk and hugged another co-worker tonight,” do you not understand?
I know I’m a hypocrite. I know it violates nearly everything I stand for. But what do you want me to say – that I didn’t do it? I’m not going to lie to you. I’m not ashamed. Well, yes, actually I am, but that’s not the point.
It’s only Wednesday, and this has been one of the most stressful weeks of my entire working life. So maybe I convinced my out-of-town co-worker to come out to dinner to my new favorite restaurant (Avec – which you must all go to, now. E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E. of you. Now!). And maybe we drank a bunch of carafinas of wine. And perhaps, just perhaps, one carafina of wine equates to half a bottle, and maybe I drank two and a half carafinas, which equates to… wait… let’s do the math… carry the one… I DRANK SEVEN BOTTLES OF WINE TONIGHT!
But why is that wrong? I don’t understand why everyone is judging me. Do you not recall that I was trapped in a fucking basement for 60 of the longest minutes of my life this past weekend? (And yes, I spelled out the whole swear… I’m that drunk.)
And here’s what else happened. My awesome and well-intentioned out-of-town co-worker expensed our expensive dinner, which means my company got me fat-bellied drunk tonight. And I noticed that my delightfully sweet but small-town co-worker left kind of a cheap tip, so I convinced him that he needed to go to the bathroom before getting on his plane, and while he was in the bathroom, I gave the waiter some more money, telling him that there was a mistake on the tip. He was confused at first, then smiled, and touched my arm in a way that told me that if his inclination didn’t lean in a different direction, he would most certainly have married me right there.
Since this is soon to become the only restaurant I ever eat at, I must treat the wait staff well, and they will return the favor in kind.
There was a moment tonight when I had the most perfect bite of pasta Bolognese, preceded by the most perfect forkful of artichoke and mushroom salad, followed by the most perfect sip of some Spanish red whose name I cannot recall, and at that exact moment, I felt jealous of myself. I wanted to be me so badly that I almost hated myself. Why did I deserve to be so happy when I was so very stressed? It just wasn’t fair.
And yet it was.
So now I am home, fat-bellied drunk on the company dime, and so green with envy that I can’t even look at myself. I hope you can all come with me next time. I promise to hug you.

The Kindness of Strangers

You really never know how you’re going to react in a life or death situation until you’re actually in one. Some people panic. Some people freeze. Some people become heroic. I mostly just kicked.

It was Saturday afternoon around 3:00pm, and I was doing my laundry. After pulling my clothes out of the dryer, I hugged them briefly for warmth, then folded them neatly in my basket. As I headed out of the basement and pulled on the door handle, it wouldn’t open. I yanked a few more times, rattling the door more violently. It then became all too apparent to me that the latch on the outside of the door must have slammed shut when I closed the door, locking me inside.

I was trapped.

In the basement.

In winter.

In a little red hooded sweatshirt.

My first thought, immediately after “Oh you have got to be f*cking kidding me,” was, “If I ever make it out of here alive, I’m so blogging this.”

I didn’t have my trusty notebook with me to record the experience, but I’ll try my best to recap my thought process as I endured what was both the longest and shortest hour of my life. Any bad swears are due to the post-traumatic stress disorder that I’m probably suffering from right this very moment.


Clean laundry – yay! Oh god, it’s so warm, and smells so good. I almost want to crawl inside the dryer. A lot of cats die by crawling into dryers. Didn’t Kerry’s cat die in the dryer? How do I have five unmatched socks? God, that drives me nuts.

[Balance laundry basket on hip, then pull on door, which doesn’t budge. Set laundry basket down to pull again with two hands. Still doesn’t budge. Think about it for a moment, then realize that the latch must have flipped shut when I closed the door.]

Oh f*ck.

You have got to be f*cking kidding me! Okay, just step back a second. This is so not a big deal. I’ll just kick the door really hard and someone will hear me. Yeah, right. Just like they heard my apartment door being kicked in when I was burglarized last year.

F*cking morons.

[Kick the door for about 10 minutes. Listen every few minutes for any signs of life outside. Hear nothing and resume kicking.]

Maybe I should try Morse code. Three fast, three slow, three fast is S.O.S. Who the hell knows Morse code? I mean, everyone knows Morse code for S.O.S. but who would actually pay attention to it?

[Look around basement. There are no windows, only storage lockers, benches, a broken stove, washers and dryers.]

A broken stove? What can I do with a broken stove? Coils, steel, metal racks… think, dammit, think!

Okay, maybe there are some tools down here. I’ll just have to break the door down. Crap, I’m totally gonna have to call my landlord to tell him I broke the door down because I was trapped in the basement. Godammit. I hate calling him. Then he’s gonna be all, “You did what? And hey, did you even pay your March rent yet?”

[Walk back up to door and slam shoulder into it, thinking this might jiggle the latch loose. This hurts a lot, and is nothing like when Bruce Willis does it in the movies. Return to girly kicking and door rattling.]

Let’s see, what else is down here that I can use? Here’s a wooden table leg. No, probably not. Bed frame? It’s heavy enough, and if I got a running start, it just might work. But as a last resort only. I could always just wait for someone to come down and do their laundry. But no one does laundry on Saturday night. I’ll be here until Sunday afternoon.

Oh god, I’m so thirsty.

There’s got to be something here that I can use to get out.

[Open random unlocked storage lockers, looking through neighbors’ crap. Broken lamp, ceramic plant pots, Christmas lights, game of horseshoes…]

Horseshoes! I could use those for something, definitely. Like a hammer. What am I hammering? Something. The broken stove maybe? What does that even mean?

Hey, that’s kind of a cool antique dresser! I sure wouldn’t keep it down here, though. It’s covered in cobwebs. Is that a dead cockroach? F*ck.

[Scan the basement walls. Look to see if windows have suddenly appeared. Notice a little crack in the third panel of the door. Did I do that? Look at the fuse boxes on the west wall.]

Fuse boxes! I could cut the electricity, then surely someone would come down here to check the fuses. Or are they all so stupid they would just assume it was a blackout, and light some candles? Yes, these people are all that stupid. I hate these people. I should smash all their stuff. Except that antique dresser – I’m just taking that if I ever get out of here alive.

[Kick door really hard, thankful I wore heavy shoes today.]

Oh, god. I’m dying of thirst. I’m really glad I went to the bathroom before coming down here, though. What if I had to pee on the floor, or worse? Oh, I don’t even want to think about that. Is there any food down here? My mouth is really dry.

[Hear car going through alley. Run to door and resume kicking.]

I think I hear a car slowing down. Oh, I can kind of see something through the crack. Hello?! Hello?! Oh crap – it’s pulling away. They’re pulling away! Damn you!

[Kick really, really hard. Alternate patterns of kicking. Kick to the beat of Push It. What seems like an eternity passes until I hear signs of life outside.]


I hear someone! Someone’s walking this way!

Hello?! Can you open this door please?

[Door opens, and I see my neighbors from two houses down. I don’t know them, but always wave to the man when he’s walking his fat-bellied dogs.]

Oh my god, thank you! The latch shut when I closed the door! I’ve been trying to MacGyver my way out of here for the past hour!


We shook hands and laughed, and I decided to never to do laundry again. I thought about how important it is to be nice to neighbors and wave to them when they are walking their fat dogs. And then I immediately called Natasha to tell her my tale. We spent the next 20 minutes playing through various fantasy sequences where my lack of human contact turned me into a savage:

“I love how you started going through everyone’s stuff after only being locked in for like five minutes.”

“I had to! I could’ve been down there for days! I was trying to figure out how I could short-circuit the whole building. Or carve a hole in the door, push a metal rod through, and wiggle the latch until it flipped open.”

“What if you went all Rip Van Winkle, and when they found you, your hair was really long, and your nails were like claws?”

“Totally! Or I would’ve turned all Lord of the Flies, and as soon as someone came through the door, I would have killed them with all the booby traps I had created from two bicycle tires and a milk crate.”

“And then you’d be eating bugs and catching rats to survive. Why did you just turn into Gollum?”

“I almost did! And I was so thirsty down there!”

“Aren’t there wash basins in your laundry room?”

“Uh… oh yeah, I guess there are. So I wouldn’t have died of dehydration, that much we’ve learned. But I almost forgot how to talk, I was down there so long. I was like Nell… tay ina winnnn…”

“Did you find a beachball and draw a bloody smiley face on it like Tom Hanks in Castaway?”

“Yes. Yes, I did. I was all, WILSON!!!

“Well, I’m glad you survived. You should always bring your cell phone with you to the laundry room from now on.”

“No doubt. All right, I need to go get some food. It’s like, you don’t even know how good food tastes until you’ve been deprived of it for so long. See you later!”

I just hope someday someone finds the self-portrait I drew on the wall using laundry detergent and spider legs. Otherwise it’ll be like I was never really there.

Opinion Poll: The Entry In Which I Become Your Sworn Enemy

I didn’t set out to become your sworn enemy. I mean, does anyone, really? I can’t imagine anyone wakes up and says, “Today I want to make at least one person hate me. Hopefully more.”
It’s not like that. It’s just that sometimes we have to do things that we know might hurt other people, but our reasons for doing that thing are really valid and outweigh the risk of making you hate us. And also, maybe I am still harboring a bit of resentment over the whole Turkish Delights thing, but that’s really not the point.
Perhaps it will help you appreciate where I’m coming from if I provide a bit of background. For the past three days, about every hour or so, I have caught myself humming a little tune. A musical interlude to break up the monotony of my day. Just a simple refrain that swirls around in my head. Over. And over. And over. And over.
And then I’ll be pulled into an important business meeting, and I’ll start thinking about deliverables and action items and takeaways, and I’ll get back to my desk, and then it will start all over again.
You’re beautiful.
You’re beautiful.
You’re beautiful, it’s true.

That’s it. That’s all I know of the song. And that’s all I know of the song because that’s all they play on the ad for this mofo’s new CD, now on sale at Wal-Mart. And in the ad, which I assume is a clip from his video, he sings in this whiney sensitive boy slow-mo look at me singing in the rain crap while he slowly unzips his little hoodie. If I hadn’t made a resolution that 2006 would be all about more love, I would kill this man and mount his head on a pole for all future whiney boy singers to behold. Like John Mayer and his mush mouth.
So anyway, this got me thinking. Barring a frontal lobotomy, how could I get this song out of my head? I emailed my friend Natasha for advice:
>>>You have to sing the whole song all the way through.
>>>But I don’t know the whole song. I don’t want to know the whole song!
>>>It’s the only way.
>>>Well, what if you just gave me another song? Like, what’s a song that gets stuck in your head all the time? Maybe I can just take that one instead.
>>>DAMN YOU!! Now you made me think of the songs I’ve been trying to get out of my head!
>>>Look, Nat. The damage is done, so just give me some ideas.
>>>Fine. Push It by Salt n Pepa, but mostly just the intro “doo doo doo / doo doo / doo / doo doo doo doo doo.” And also the “yo yo yo yo baby pop yeah you, come here give me a kiss.”
>>>Good one! That’s way better than “You’re beautiful…” DAMN IT! Now that’s back in my head! Yo yo yo yo baby pop. I’m gonna ask Dee-Dee, too. Later!

>>>Hey Dee. What are some songs that get stuck in your head and you can’t get them out?
>>>Pretty much every song Nat sings when I ride to work with her.
>>>Such as…?
>>>”Turn around, every now and then I get a little bit terrified and then I see the look in your eyes. Turn around. Every now and then I fall apart! And I need you now tonight! And I need you more than ever!” You know the rest. Oh yeah, and Black Cat by Janet Jackson.
>>>Bonnie Tyler’s a genius. But what the hell is Black Cat? I don’t think I know that one.
>>>You know it. You’ll know it when I hum it for you and it gets stuck in your head for three days…
After chatting with Nat and Dee-Dee, I decided that I should adopt the same attitude about annoying songs that I have about syphilis: if I’m going crazy, I’m taking someone with me.
Which is where you come in. I now firmly believe that the only way to remove an insanely irritating song from your brain is to put it into someone else’s, and perhaps replace it with another, hopefully slightly less irritating song. Behold – this week’s OPINION POLL! I’m actually going to offer fewer choices than normal because I think the most important part of this poll is for you to exorcise your own personal song loop demons.
So please don’t hate me if, later today, you catch yourself humming “You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful, it’s true,” over and over again like a crazy person. I had to save myself.
Question: Which annoying-as-all-get-out song gets stuck in your head and plays over and over and over again until you want to stab forks in your ears, but that wouldn’t even help because they’ve traced the song and it’s coming from inside your brain?
1. You’re Beautiful, by that mofo
2. Total Eclipse of the Heart, by Bonnie Tyler
3. Push It, by Salt n Pepa
4. It’s a Small World, by Walt Disney
5. Theme song from the Menard’s commercial (“You save big money, you save big money, when you shop Menard’s!”)
6. Other (please explain)

Mind Dump

1. Turkish Delights
Why, oh why, dear Internet, hast thou forsaken me? Why did no one tell me how disgusting Turkish Delights would be? Why did you all tell me that they would be every bit as delectable as they appeared to be in Narnia? Why did you promise me that my life would feel complete with Turkish Delights?
Okay, actually, they weren’t totally disgusting, but I think the texture got to me after a while.
My brain was like:
“Hmm. That first bite was firm, but chewy. Good. Okay. I can do this. Oh! And there’s a pistachio – how unexpected! [swallow] Oh, now the second bite tastes sweeter for some reason. Did I get more of a hint of honey with this one? Yes, maybe that’s it. [swallow] Well this third bite is… is this even the same candy? What does it feel like… a rubber eraser? Head cheese? Oh, oh gross. That coconut feels like fur! [throat closing]

2. Fat Tuesday
Co-worker #1: “Hey everyone! I brought in paczkis for our department! I had to wait in line at 5:30 this morning to get them.”
Co-workers #2-15: “Ooooh! Aaaaah! Yayyy!”
Me: “What’s a paczki? Is that like a tchotchke
Co-workers #1-15 and the elevator repairman: “WHAT?!?!? You don’t know what paczkis are? Only the most traditional Polish Fat Tuesday jelly filled treat! What’s wrong with you?”
Me: “Uh, well… I… my mother was a heathen gypsy?”

3. Dr. Travis
Why do I care about The Bachelor: Paris so? I told my friend Natasha that I couldn’t join her at her apartment for a Bachelor finale party because I had to work on an important presentation for work. But then I ended up watching it anyway and calling her during every commercial break.
Best line ever [spoken through intermittent sobs]: “When you look at someone, and realize that you’re staring back at your soul… aboo hoo hoo!”
I am convinced that this bachelor is the spawn of Maria Shriver and a pit bull. Just look at the jaw on that kid! If he latches onto you, he’ll crack your skull.
Based on the natural physical evolution of previous Bachelors, I predict that next season we will see RoboBachelor: Silicon Valley – which woman can jumpstart his heart?