Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Runt turns 20...

Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday dear, Pee-Wee!
Happy 20th Birthday to you!

Friday, October 21, 2005


My aunt came to visit from California. She is nice enough, but is known around the family for do I put this...not the brightest crayon in the box.

For example, about five years ago, I was on a family vacation in Spain with my mother, grandmother and aunt. When we got to Barcelona, my mother decided that it would be nice for all of us to take a bus tour of the city. On this tour, we passed by a statue of Christopher Columbus. Columbus, in the statue, was pointing in the direction that he was going to sail in 1492 to find India and China.

My aunt, in all seriousness, raised her hand and asked the tour guide, "Well, was Columbus successful?"

The bus tour was filled with American tourists, and we all got really, really quiet. My grandmother finally leaned over and whispered in her ear, "He discovered America". To which my aunt replied, "Oh, really? I thought Washington did that."

So, yeah, she's kind of like that.

Anyway, Wednesday night at dinner we were all chatting away, and my aunt starts talking about Shaquille O'Neal. Apparently, Shaq stayed at Jenny Craig's beach house and his "posse" trashed the place (my aunt knows this because she plays tennis with Jenny Craig's daughter. She doesn't play tennis with Ms. So-and-So, who just happens to be the daughter of Jenny Craig. No, no. She plays tennis WITH Jenny Craig's daughter, who has no other identity outside of being the so-called daughter of Jenny Craig. But, I digress...).

Now, my aunt is also one of those almost-fifty-somethings that is quasi-obsessed with staying trendy and young. She prides herself on the fact that she's all hip-and-with-it and "down" with the teenage lingo. She was SO proud of herself for knowing:

    A) Who Shaq was (except she called him "Shaq O'Neal" instead of either "Shaq" or "Shaquille O'Neal", but whatever...)

    B) Knowing that Shaq takes an entourage with him when he travels

    C) That Shaq's entourage would qualify as a "posse"

My uncle - in an effort to prove that he too was familiar with teenage semantics - commented, "So, Shaq's 'peeps' trashed the joint, did they?"

My aunt quickly shot back, "No. His 'posse' trashed it. He didn't bring any chickens with him. At least none that I am aware of, anyway."

"No. Not 'peeps', like chickens. 'Peeps', like people," I tried to explain.

To which my aunt responded, "Oh, so you mean like black chickens, then?!"

So, yeah, it was a long night...

Monday, October 17, 2005

A story from a recent teachers' conference...

So, my museum partners every year with 8 other museums for an educators' conference, and this year was no different (well, other than the fact that I was able to somehow convince the representative from one of the science museums - who doesn't like to "share" - that we needed to split-up orientation at two museums (hers and mine)).

Anyway, on the day of the conference, everything was running surprisingly smoothly for the most part. We had over 700 teachers registered for the event, and half of them were starting out at my building. Therefore, the day had definite potential for...uh...not running smoothly.

At about 11 AM or so, the caterers stopped by to pick up the breakfast leftovers, so I accompanied them downstairs and helped them pack it all up. Then, I escorted them through one of our "secure" hallways to an employee entrance that was closer to their van.

All this, again, ran...smoothly.

And, then, things started to get, well, interesting...

After getting the caterers all squared away, I reentered the building. I was heading back upstairs, but stopped in the foyer of one of our downstairs exhibits to finish tiding up where the caterers left off. There seemed to be some sort of commotion over near the lecture hall (which was behind me), and when I turned around, I could see a large group of teachers huddled over near the stairs staring at something. Their backs were to me, so I couldn't see what they were looking at. However, I could hear it. Loud, hysterical wailing. Thinking that someone had fallen down the stairs, I immediately dropped everything and sprinted over to help (mistake number 1).

I pushed my way through the crowd to find a lady (teacher) on her cell phone. She was screaming at the top of her lungs and bawling (wailing). Everyone was staring at her.

It is important to note that the building I work in is made of marble. Hence, it echoes...badly (worst acoustics EVER). Therefore, this lady's hysterical screams were being broadcast all over the museum. Curious teachers were "rubbernecking" from everywhere - the stairs, the lecture hall, the downstairs exhibit. Everyone was just staring at her, which irritated me to no end. I mean, C'mon people, give her some room. She's upset, not a spectacle.

Anyway, upon seeing all of this, my first reaction was to get the poor woman into my office where she would be spared being the object of such intense curiosity. So, I began to try to "sign" to her with my hands in an effort to ask her if she would like to come with me to somewhere a little more...well...private. Great plan, right? In theory, maybe. Unfortunately, I forgot that not everyone KNOWS American Sign Language, so my effort was in vein. The Hysterical Teacher probably thought that I was just another (more energetic) rubbernecker.

About thirty seconds went by (yes, I was STILL signing at this point - I mean, what else was I going to do?) before The Hysterical Teacher abruptly got off the phone and (oh-so dramatically) threw herself down on a wood bench and burst into tears (we are talking whole-body-sobs here). Since this woman was essentially in a fishbowl, all the other teachers froze briefly before shifting slightly to accommodate The Hysterical Teacher's new location in the room. Heaven forbid any of them ACTUALLY comfort the hysterical woman or escort her to the bathroom. No, no...let's all do nothing and wait for her to do something "interesting" again (like call someone else and scream at them). Had none of these people ever had a problem in public before? Did they miss "how to be empathetic day" at school or something?

So, I did what I HOPE someone would have done for me (if I had been hysterically bawling in a public building somewhere): I took her somewhere private - my office. I swear I heard a disappointed *sigh* from the foyer "audience" when I did this. After all, I was essentially taking away their late-morning entertainment (as Not Peaches would say, "Asshats!").

Anyway, The Hysterical Teacher was about to hyperventilate, so I get her some water, tissues and ask if she would like to use the staff bathroom (which is not accessible to the public). I also inquired whether or not she was at the teachers' conference with anyone or if there was anyone that she would like me to find or contact for her.

However, I didn't get a response. Just more crying. I looked around the office and wondered what I would do if I run out of tissues (she was one of those 10-tissues-at-a-time people).

About seven minutes went by. I was doing my best to be supportive, which is always hard when the supportee is a complete stranger. So, I sat down next to her and just...well...waited for her to calm down.

A few more minutes went by before The Hysterical Teacher turned to me, and - with weapy eyes - thanked me for helping her.

"Sure. Anytime," I said.

(Mistake number 2)

Who knew that this simple sentence would open the flood gates of conversation (because I didn't)? Oh, if I could only go back and act more...more...unsupportive or something!

Anyway, it was at this point that the Hysterical Teacher decided to disclose to me why she was, in fact, hysterical.

Are you ready for this (because I wasn't)?

Apparently, the Hysterical Teacher's niece was just arrested for not one...

...not two...

...BUT - oh, yes - THREE counts of MURDER in the FIRST DEGREE!

I'm sorry...what?!

I remember swallowing really, really hard and wondering what I should do. Or say, for that matter.

This is how the conversation went:

ME: "Oh, my! Really?"

THE HYSTERICAL TEACHER (THT): [Screaming] "I know! Murder! Three counts of murder! Can you believe that?!"

ME: ", actually, I cannot."

THT: "Me neither. It just doesn't make sense to me. She's a good girl and she's only 21 years old. Murderers aren't 21 year-old girls! They are poor people. Poor people from lower socio-economic levels. They aren't white, 21 year old girls from suburbia!"

ME: "Uh-huh." (The last thing I was going to do was DISAGREE with the woman. Especially now that she was getting all agitated!)

THT: "And you know what else?"

ME: "Uh...what?"

THT: "She was only trying to SURVIVE!"

ME: "Oh? Like self-defense?"

THT: "Yeah. Self-defense. She was only trying to protect herself and her stuff! After all, she lives only about two hours from New Orleans. I mean, what do you expect?!"

ME: "What?" (I was confused by her comment. I really didn't know where she was going with the whole "New Orleans" thing)

THT: "She HAD to go to New Orleans. She stole all that stuff after the hurricane so she could support herself! Jewelry buys a lot of stuff, you know. And it wasn't like anyone in New Orleans was using it!"

ME: "Uh...Right...Sure." (Again, I wasn't going to DISAGREE with her. I'm locked in the staff offices ALONE with this woman. She's hysterical and increasingly angry. The last thing I want to do is NOT agree with her. After all, murder runs in her family...!)

THT: "I mean, what would YOU do? What would you do if all these people showed up and tried to take it all back? You'd defend yourself and your stuff - wouldn't you?!"

ME: "Uh-huh."

THT: "I mean, she HAD to do it! Those three people were going to take it all away. She had to protect it! She had to protect herself!"

ME: "Uh-huh."

THT: "And now she is going to go to jail! And she's only 21! It just isn't fair!"

ME: "Uh-huh."

THT: "You understand, don't you?!"

ME: "Uh-huh."

THT: "She's a good girl. You believe me, right?"

ME: "Uh-huh. Of course."

[Long pause. The Hysterical Teacher bursts back into dramatic sobs.]

ME: ", is there anyone I can go and find for you? Did you come with a friend? Or can I call someone for you?"

[In my head I was chanting, "Please, God. Please let this woman know someone that I can go and GET for her!" THT was seriously starting to scare me.]

THT: "[Sobbing] Dorothy. Please find my good friend, Dorothy. I need Dorothy. Dorothy will understand!"

[In my head, "THANK GOD!"]

ME: "Right. Dorothy. Got it. I'll go find her right now. Was she in your group?"

THT: [Nods forcibly and starts sobbing even louder.]

ME: "I'll be right back."

I ran from the office and out into the downstairs exhibit. There were at least 50 teachers in the gallery, and - not wanting to waste anytime (THT was ALONE in my office, after all) - I start calling out, "Dorothy! Dorothy! Is anyone here named, Dorothy?"

Finally, a woman stepped forward and identified herself as "Dorothy" (I almost fainted, I was SO relieved!).

"Can you please come with me," I ask?

"Sure. Is anything wrong," Dorothy inquired?

"Well, I think that your friend needs you. She seems pretty upset."

"My friend? I'm here alone."

" are here alone," I ask (trying to disguise my near panic)?

"Well, not alone exactly. I'm here with some of the other teachers from my school, but no one I'm really close with. No one I really consider a 'friend' anyway."

"How about (I describe The Hysterical Teacher)?"

"Oh, HER?! We're NOT friends. She's a new teacher at my school, and I introduced her around a bit. But we're NOT friends. Not even close! I think she's a, if you ask me."

"Uhmmm...well, she is asking for you. I think that she thinks that you two are friends."

"Lord, no! She is crazy."

"Right. Well, crazy or not, she wants to see you and she is really upset."

"About what?"

"I think that she'd better tell you."

"[Sighing loudly] Fine. Take me to her."

"Okay. Follow me."

I ushered Dorothy into the staff offices and lead her to mine. The Hysterical Teacher was still...well...hysterical.

THT: "[Looking up and seeing Dorothy] Oh, Dorothy! Thank God!"

[The Hysterical Teacher jumps up and violently embraces Dorothy. Dorothy looks a little more than "mildly uncomfortable". THT proceeds to tell Dorothy everything that she had just - minutes before - told me. Dorothy shot a look at me that read, "What have you gotten me into, here?!" Poor Dorothy.]

Dorothy: [In a voice that can only be described as deadpan] Well, what do you want me to do about it?"

THT: "Tell me what to do!"

Dorothy: "Okay. Go home."

THT: "[Tearing up again] I cannot! I need the CPE credits!"

Dorothy: "What is more important to you? CPE credits or your family?"

THT: "Oh, Dorothy! Don't ask me that! I need the credits..."

Dorothy: [Interrupting] "...and your niece needs you, doesn't she?"

THT: "Yes, but I need my credits!"

Dorothy: "Get them later on."

THT: "But I need them NOW! [Turning to me] Do you offer half day credit?"

ME: "No, ma'am. We don't."

THT: "Well, why not? Am I supposed to simply forfeit the three credit hours that I've earned this morning?"

ME: "I'm sorry, ma'am. We only offer all-day credit."

THT: "Well, can you just comp me the extra three hours?"

ME: "No, ma'am. I'm sorry."

THT: "[Screaming] WELL, I'LL BE! THIS is just GREAT! I have a mind to..."

Dorothy: [interrupting] "...Calm down! Why don't you just go home? Why are you insisting on making a scene?"


Dorothy: "Yeah, I know. You already told me. Listen, I don't care what you do. Leave. Stay. No matter. It is all the same to me. [Dorothy starts to walk out of my office. I start to panic a little bit and almost scream out, "Dorothy, don't leave me alone with her again!"]"

THT: "Dorothy, I'm sorry. Please don't leave me!"

[Dorothy keeps walking.]

[THT starts to tear-up again.]

ME: "Hey...uh...Dorothy. Wait a second. Why don't you take her with you to lunch? It is next on your schedule, and that way she can calm down a bit more and decide whether or not she wants to stay for the rest of the day."

[Dorothy's eyes narrow at me as if to say, "I cannot believe you just said that!"]

Dorothy: "[Looking directly at me with a cold, cold look on her face.] Fine. Let's go to lunch, then. That sounds great. Just great."

[Dorothy turns and continues toward the door.]

THT: "Okay. Sounds great! Just let me get my bag..."

So, yeah. That was...uh...Awkward...Uncomfortable...Nerve-racking...Craziness!

For the rest of the day, I kind of kept waiting for Dorothy to appear out of nowhere and beat the crap out of me for pawning The Hysterical Teacher off on her (but she didn't, thank goodness).

Dorothy - if you're out there - thank you so much for taking that crazy woman away from me! I owe you one!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Yey! I get to play with the big kids!

I. GOT. TAGGED. Tagged! I know! Can you believe it?! No one has ever tagged me before (thank you, Syd). I feel so special! So honored!

Anyway, here it goes (don't mess up, don't mess up, don't mess up...):

The instructions are as follows:
1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence or closest to it.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag 5 other people.

"You look like a "Who-ville Who" with
that funny, pixie-like hairdo."

And I chose to tag...hmmm...(so much pressure):
1. The Runt
2. Peaches
3. Not Peaches
4. Gabe
5. Lia

Wow! That was SO much fun! I feel like bursting into song!

Thank you, Syd! You totally made my day!

"Mommy! Wow! I'm a big kid now!"

Monday, October 10, 2005

Dear Constant Reader...

Hello, all!

I would like to apologize for my current lack of new postings. I am working on two rather large entries (because, you know, I'm kind of wordy) right now, and I hope to have them both up by week's end.

In the meantime, I would like to pose a question to all of you "People 'o' BLOGLAND":

One night in college, a bunch of my friends and I were sitting around watching our school's Homecoming football game AND the Miss America pageant (yes, they always came on at the same time every year, so we made an event of it. We ordered pizza, drank beer and made fun of the various (and very vacuous) Miss America contestants, while simultaneously watching our college football team lose to Temple. Again. Ah, yes, you gotta' love the Big East...).

Anyway, during this annual event, a friend of mine oh-so RANDOMLY announced that she thought that the song, HERE COMES THE SUN (by the Beatles), ran through a person's mind while committing the act of homicide (don't you love that a night of football, pizza and Miss America bimbos can lead to a discussion of murder? Because THAT'S morbid...and, yet, strangely logical (I so LOATHE beauty pageants of any kind)).

Now, whenever I hear that song (which is A LOT lately because of the whole State Fair Exhibit theme), I always picture a scene out of some really bad 1970's murder-mystery movie. There is a guy and he is heading up the stairs - weapon in hand - supposedly on his way to "off" someone. The whole thing is in slow-motion, and the only noise that can heard is THAT stupid Beatles's song ("do-di-do-do")!

I always start to giggle at this point, because WHY would THAT song go through a killer's head in the first place?! "Here comes the". I mean, it is kind of ridiculous if you stop and think about it...

...Yet, I have a friend who DID (and now I KEEP thinking about it, too)!

Which leads me to my question (in a desperate attempt to think of something else the next time I have to listen to THAT song!):

What do YOU think about when you hear the song, HERE COMES THE SUN, by the Beatles?

P.S. If you say "murder" we are SOOOOOO in a fight!!