Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dinner And A Movie.

Lena Dunham was on The Tonight Show and she and Jimmy Fallon talked about how they both used to work in video stores. I loved this because I too, once worked in a video store. 
It's a shame that future generations of kids won't have the chance to work in video stores. 
It's good for you. 

My Aunt and Uncle used to own a video store on this little island on Florida's Gulf Coast. There was actually another video store on the island as well, but that one was run by a guy who left the store locked with a sign on the door that said, "I'm at the bar. If you want to rent something, come get me." 
So my family's store was pretty busy all the time.

When my uncle had a heart attack, I went down to help out for a few months. I probably learned more about movies working there than I did in film school. I watched a LOT of movies. I watched three a shift on the big screen at the front of the store, and then brought home a stack of foreign and independent films at night. I watched so many movies I started to want to rearrange the store by different categories, like:
"Movies with good soundtracks" 
"Movies about food"

I really wanted to categorize movies by what kind of food you might be eating before, after, or during the film. When I'd watch movies at night by myself I'd point to the screen and say, "Now, see?! This would be perfect for Sauce/Italian/Pizza!" "Remember this for "Holiday/Celebratory Meals." (Horror movies were under "Halloween Candy." Most films with violence filed under "Fasting.")

My Aunt is super organized, so that idea never flew, but we did have an employee recommendation shelf that became ridiculously important to me. I picked my selections so carefully and wrote what I thought were the most compelling reasons to watch, and then waited while no one rented my picks. Sometimes I would switch them out mid-week, or add other ones. 
I worked with one kid who just put Bad Santa on the shelf every week with the explanation, "It's good."-Robbie

Being a tiny island on Florida's Gulf Coast, most of the customers were old people and beach bums. I worked there when Lost in Translation was released and I cannot tell you how many times people screamed at me for recommending it to them. A lot of refunds. A lot of exchanges for Bad Santa.

But every so often, someone would come in and ask about an obscure movie, or mention a scene they'd once seen, and we'd start to talk. Talking about a good movie with a stranger is like meeting someone and realizing you share a mutual friend. That same nodding, smiling, familiarity. It's nice and it makes you appreciate the movies more. 
And every so often after one of those talks, a person would ask for a recommendation. 
And I'd ask them what they were having for dinner. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014


My mom's side of the family loves casinos. When my great-grandmother was alive, you could mention the word casino and literally watch three generations of women turn to face you, their heightened interest showing in their eyes with a look that said, "Go on..."

I strongly dislike casinos. The noises bother me and as a people-watcher, it's pretty much the saddest kind of place to observe humanity. But collectively, my mom and grandma ask for almost nothing, so the very least I can do is listen when they talk about slot machines.

Is it possible to overstate how little I care about slot machines?
Not really.
I truly do not care about slot machines.
I don't think there's a technique to using them, or a strategy for winning, or that a "good one" is something that exists within the universe. My mom and grandma talk about some slot machines like they're people I should know. 
"Have you ever seen the Hoot Loot machine? That's a good one. A really good one. It's funny and kind of cute. You'd like it. Green Machine's a good one too. You'd like it."

And then I feel myself getting sucked into this slowed down version of life where I'm not allowed to roll my eyes, but where the only thing I want to do is roll my eyes. 

If you know someone who likes slots, you've probably heard them tell you how to play. Look, we all get it. Put some money in, press a button, lose the money. It's like paying to take an elevator. Or not even because you don't actually get anywhere. It's like paying to ring a doorbell. Anyway, the point is, I understand how they work. But my grandma and my mom both think I don't, and explain in painfully specific detail the combinations I should be trying to get despite the fact that I will never ever be playing these games. 

I once wrote a stand-up act about a conversation I had with my grandma concerning a Chinese food slot machine. I've only performed it for my mom but it killed. The real-life conversation was 20 minutes. A TWENTY MINUTE lecture about the best combinations to get on the Chinese food slot machine. It was my grandmother's TED Talk. Yelling out menu items, how to bet the max, 5 rows, diagonal on the bonus, absolutely none of it making sense to me. "You just press the button, right?"

"If you get 2 moo shu porks with an egg roll and a chopstick, that's good if you have a star. But if you you have THREE moo shu porks, you want two egg rolls. Or noodles are always good. With or without a star, get noodles on the max bet with chopsticks and chicken..." 

20 minutes this went on. 
You learn after five minutes that there is no possible way to respond.

Anyway, Nessa and I were recently listening to my mom talk about casinos, and I sat in the slowed down version of my life as she discussed various prize nights. 

Mom: Monday night is Ladies Night and Men's Night.
Ness: Both?
Mom: Yes.
Ness: So it's just night. Monday nights are just "Night."
Mom: Well, technically no. Because of the prizes.

I felt my head tilt a little, wondering if I should weigh in at all. Time stood completely still as I heard Vanessa laughing at my mother's explanation. 
Finally I asked, "Have you been to Ladies Night and Men's Night, mom?"
"Yeah," she replied. "It's a good one." 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Drop It Like It's Dots.

There are so many great songs about candy that explicitly tell you what to do and how to dance. As someone who looks for instruction on the dance floor, I appreciate the direction.

-I think he wants to see your Tootsie Roll.
-Shake that Laffy Taffy you brought.
-Well, get another one and count how many licks this time.

It's all very helpful but sort of imperative that you show up to the club with a lot of different snacks.

Pretty much any candy can sound like a hit song or a dance move. These are a few I'm waiting for:

Chocolate Bitcoin
Little Dots on Paper (I'm just eatin' paper)
Rolo, Yolo
Smarties, Nerds, and Dum Dums.
Drop 100 Grand
Raisin' Roofs and Raisinets
Twizzler as a Straw
Pez Dispenser
Can I Eat The Bottle? (Wax Bottle Face)
You Say Reese's Pieces, I Say Reese's Peese's
Peanut Butter Cup, Butterfinger, Butterface

Also, semi-related, do you think by this time next year Candy e-cigarettes will be a thing?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

I Bet That's Justin Bieber!

The Biebs was staying where I work and I guess he tweeted something about where he was and last night 500 girls showed up to the hotel lobby. This afternoon when leaving work, there were close to 1,000 tweens outside the employee exit and across the street from the main entrance. The police, most of hotel security, and a lot of managers from different departments were standing guard so no one could try to sneak in.

When I was leaving work ready to head to the gym, I was wearing my standard cut-off shirt, flat brim, and gym shorts. There's a ramp in the garage down to the street level in the employee exit and I stood with a coworker laughing at the crowd of kids for a minute. Throwing on my sunglasses and starting to head down the ramp, two girls at the front of the line screamed, "Is that Justin Bieber?!"

I stopped walking for a second.

Besides my height, my most defining physical characteristic is that I look like a prepubescent boy. I smiled to myself wondering if they thought I was Bieb. And with the ramp, I don't think they realized that I'm actually nine feet taller than him. Turing my backwards SIN cap around to the front with the flat brim as low as it could go on a tilt, I started walking again. Slowly.

-Is that Justin?! (5 girls yelled)
-It's Justin!! (10 girls yelled)
-It's Justin Bieber!!!!! (50 girls yelled)

People, I'm not joking.

I debated stopping, popping, and locking, but I saw one of my managers at the end of the ramp and just kept walking down.

By the time I reached the street level, the screaming group of people stopped screaming and said to each other, "That's not Justin Biiber!!!!!!!!"

I grabbed the shoulders of the manager standing in his suit and said, "But this is his tour manager!" and they all started screaming again.

I don't think I've stopped smiling once since this happened. Whenever I need a pick me up I'm just going to replay, "That's not Justin Bieber!" in my head.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Where Are My Keys?

When I saw my Grandma over Mother's Day Weekend I asked about how she and my Grandfather had met. My Grandpa passed away when my mom was just a teenager so he just exists in my mind from the million love stories my Gram tells and the small-moment stories my mom shares that seem so big. But I realized riding home with her one night that I had never actually heard how they met, so I asked.

My Grandma was so in love with my Grandpa. It's obvious in the smallest details she chose to include in her retelling of how they met. I'm such a sucker for the tiniest parts of a story and she filled me up by not forgetting a single one. When something feels important, I try to remember little details. What I had in my pockets, the feel of what I was wearing, what the people around me were reading or looking at, the smell of anything. My Gram didn't disappoint by sharing layered details of the party they had both attended at social club for the boys who served in the war-- a club that was looked over and maintained by their girlfriends while they were gone. My Great-Aunt Sophie (the biggest badass and greatest person I've ever known) was dating a guy from that club at the time and invited my Grandma to attend. Everyone was assigned a specific task at the beginning of the party and my Grandma, not knowing anyone, was told to hold all the car keys.

She said that at the end of the night, a tall good looking man started asking, "Who has the keys to my heart?" In her retelling of the story, she must have said the word jalopy 35 times. Apparently my grandpa drove quite the junker of a car that he absolutely loved and he called it his heart. So he went around after people started leaving asking, "Who has the keys to my heart?"

My Gram was holding them.
How perfect.

A night later, she and my great-grandmother grabbed throw pillows to sit by the window after dinner to people-watch.  This is what they did. It was pretty much like Facebook but with live status updates. They just watched their neighbors from their apartment in Brooklyn. At this point in the retelling of the story, I should say, I could not have been grinning any more widely. In terms of storytelling, my Gram was KILLING it. But I guess that's what happens when you retell a love story. Anyway, they were sitting at the window and my grandma saw the guy from the party walking down her sidewalk. She knew he didn't live in her neighborhood and that he could only be there for her so she ran to get changed and met him.

They went to the movies.

They ended up dating. After each date he took one of the fake flowers she wore in her hair (apparently a fashion of the time) and pinned it to the inside roof of his jalopy. When they broke up for a minute, she received a call at work one day. This was very rare. They didn't even have a phone in their house. How it worked in their neighborhood was if someone wanted to talk to you they would call the candy shop. Then one of the kids at the candy shop would run to get you and you'd give them a penny for delivering the message. Apparently there was a woman in their neighborhood who always gave a nickel and all the kids would race to get to her house first to deliver a message because they could actually get a lot of candy for a nickel.
But I digress.

She got a call at work from my grandpa and he must have been quite charming because they started dating again and got married. And something like 65 years later, we were siting in a parked car outside of her house and she was recounting the whole thing like it had literally just happened.

It made me so freaking happy.
Love you, Gram.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Belated OES Review.

It'd be hard to beat the initial reviews, but I just received this message and laughed out loud.

Monday, June 17, 2013

My Engagement Story. (And So Lovingly Told.)

I'm not engaged. I should open with that. I thought that was clear, but apparently my mother called my sister and then Bri called me just to double check. Why my mother didn't call me directly is still a little strange. And if there was any doubt in her mind that I wasn't joking, I'm actually pretty offended that she didn't call to congratulate me. It's kind of big fake news.

Anyway, enjoying yet another incredible night out in LA thanks to these amazing  people, a generous friend bought roses for all of us at a gay club (as you do). I thought it was so charming but everyone else quickly asked me to hold theirs. My new favorite person immediately said upon being handed the rose, "Love it, not gonna hold it."

So as we left that club and walked to another, I commented on the fact that I now looked like the lady who sells roses at clubs. I can never have just one night of chill. It always has to be something. And that night it was moonlighting as a rose seller.

So as we walked around West Hollywood, all the roses in tow, my friend starting shouting, "She said yes! She said yes!"to which supportive gay strangers smiled and congratulated. It was a nice little moment. When we popped into Norm's for late night bites, the "She said yes!" line followed us to our table. Our waiter congratulated us. The man sleeping in the seat next to me stayed asleep. The older couple next to us mentioned that they were getting married too!  They were in their late 60's and happy as clams. "He gave me his mother's ring." she said, before looking down to her hand and smiling. Filled my whole freaking heart up. And because my fake fiancee is a self-proclaimed old man at heart--and let's be honest, I'm often confused for old men-- I felt so happy for all of us. Just a bunch of happily engaged old people out for sandwiches and pancakes at 3AM.

I should be so lucky for a story like that.

Anyway, the "She said yes!!" line made me smile for the whole next day and the getting engaged part of the weekend started to make its way into recaps of the trip because it was better than saying, "Trainer Megan smoked me in every competition." I posted this on FB:
Lots of important stuff happened this weekend, including being so happy, getting engaged, working out and working it out, laughing the best laughs, and loving LA-- but nothing is more memorable than meeting a little Australian kid and having her ask where in Australia I'm from. My accent is OFFICIALLY legit. #nailedit

I should say that roughly 9 people congratulated me (again, if this was real, I might be hurt) and NO ONE mentioned the accent. People, it's getting really good. I don't think you understand how big this is for me.

Anyway, this post was mostly for my mom. Call and ask about my accent, please.