Saturday, July 30, 2005

Vroom

I was cruising down 35 in my mom's SUV, sipping a Jamba Juice and absentmindedly flipping through my iPod playlist when I realized why I haven't been writing well since I moved back to Dallas. Holy shit! I've turned into a yuppie! An SUV-driving, smoothie-chugging, iPod-sporting yuppie! All I need for the transformation to be complete is a pair of freaking topsiders! I'm becoming my mother.

Have no fear, though: It is only a matter of weeks before I trade in the SUV for grimy-but-great-for-people-watching public transportation, before I can't charge my iPod because I'm trying to save on the electric bill, before I can't afford Jamba Juice, even if I vow to make it last for three days. I can't wait!

And now, in honor of my impending graduation from yuppiehood, a story about why there will always be a little Highland Park in me:


The highlight of my 12-year-old life was picking out the color of my dad’s new company car. “This’ll be your first car,” he told me, “so you’d better like what you choose.”

I sat with the glossy Buick LeSabre catalog in my lap, mentally ticking off each color swatch’s pros and cons, trying to distinguish minute differences between colors like Desert Fire and Maroon Sunset.* I was so stoked about choosing a color that the red flag never went up. Never once did my 12-year-old self stop to think: Hello! LeSabre!

I ended up going with Regal Champagne, a sickly metallic-y sand color that I came to associate with public golf courses and retirement villas. The Band-Aid colored interior (and there was a lot of it – if you didn’t know, the interior of a LeSabre can fit about two of those stainless steel sub-zero refrigerators you see at Best Buy or on the Food Network) looked dirty from day one, and the exterior always appeared to have a light coating of sawdust stuck to it.

I thought my future wheels were cool for about three days.

Three years rolled by. An accumulation of golf tees, wadded-up gas receipts, half-discarded rolls of peppermint Life Savers and dozens of sticky nickels and pennies wedged themselves into the LeSabre’s myriad crevices. With the advent of mobile communication, we had discontinued service on the car phone, initially a source of much oohing and ahhing, and it was relegated to nothing more than a black plastic nuisance with which the front seat passenger was forced to share knee room. The trunk was big enough (or would have been, if it hadn’t been crammed full of loose sheets of paper, golf cleats, leaves – leaves!!) to fit two of the zippy little coupes my older classmates were jangling keys to.

And that freaking Regal Champagne.

The day I got my drivers’ permit was the day I began my campaign against the LeSabre. “It’s just too big.” (True.) “I feel like I’m trying to steer a boat!” (True.) “I can’t get a feel for how much car I’m really dealing with.” (True, but also kind of a setup for the next stage of the campaign.)

My complaints fell on deaf ears… or, rather, on ears that could hear, but that were attached to people who could only respond with “Well, you picked it out.” All I picked out was the color! And I was 12! I highly doubted – and highly doubt to this day – that if my 12-year-old self had said, however diplomatically, “You know, Father, I do believe this LeSabre is a mite too large for my tastes,” anything would have changed.

So I did what I had to do.

About a month before my sixteenth birthday, I told my dad I wanted to drive the LeSabre out to the golf course (that should have tipped him off right there.) Getting the behemoth out of our driveway and onto the street required some skillful reverse-action maneuvering, including some strategic sliding between two six-foot-tall brick pillars that supported our security gate. I’d done the move a couple of times before, and was getting adept at calculating the angle of the LeSabre to ensure there were a few inches of breathing room on each side. But – oops – I must not have been concentrating this time.

If you haven’t heard it before, the prolonged crunch of fiberglass grinding heartily against brick is pretty darn satisfying. I was straining my ears so I could actually hear the Regal Champagne paint being stripped, granule for granule, from the car’s shell, and I think I succeeded. I had to keep my smirk of delight to myself, though, as we got out to examine the damage.

All said, it wasn’t that terrible: a football-sized dent behind the drivers’ side back door. It was a quick fix – a dent-popping and a spot repainting – and just enough for the folks to reconsider putting me behind the wheel of a car of the LeSabre’s magnitude.

“It’s just too big.” (Still true.) “She can’t handle that much car.” (Proven fact.) “It’s like trying to steer a boat!” (Shut it, you made your point.)

On my sixteenth birthday, we picked up my two-door convertible in Magenta Gray Pearl.** I guess a part of me does belong here in Highland Park. Yikes.


* The difference? One red was metallic, the other matte.
** This sounds like it should be pink, but it’s not, thank God. The name of the post’s not “They should have named me Barbie.” It’s gunmetal gray. You know, sleek, sophisticated, a little tough.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Dropouts

Jane quit her job, too!

Here's my favorite quote: "Jane was the one women's magazine that didn't consistently inspire self-loathing." Heh. I was so busy loathing Jane, and her freaking "I was sooooo young and awesome when I started Sassy, and I'm still awesome. What have you done, Erin, HUH? WHAT?!" attitude that I didn't have enough time for self-loathing.

Like, in the most recent issue, she's all, "When I was in Vanilla Sky with Tom Cruise, blah blah blah, and everyone wanted to set me up with him because we were both young and awesome and I was so young and awesome when I started my first magazine. Can you effing believe that? OMG!" Bitch.

(OK, shut up, so I actually worship Jane and want to be just like her, and I'm glad she quit her job, because it makes me feel better about quitting mine, and since I'm young and awesome and now awesomely unemployed, maybe I can go start my own magazine, and use it as a forum to talk about my awesome life. You know, like I do here. OMG!)

Friday, July 22, 2005

Bullet Bitten.

"I'm out, bitches!"

OK, so I didn't really say that, but I did just quit my job. I feel great. I feel like a kid again, instead of the crotchety 80-year-old spinster bitch I've been feeling like for the past four or five months. I feel like I should be popping the cork on a bottle of champainge right now. I'll settle for screwing the cap off a bottle of Bud, though.

Oh, and I'm really relishing this newly discovered ability to make grown men cry.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I think we just sold ad space to a cow.

This morning, a giant man dressed in a cow suit (or a regular-sized man dressed in a giant cow suit -- whatever) waltzes into our office bearing free breakfast. Never the kind of journalists to let, oh, I don’t know, ethics interfere with growling stomachs, we tuck into the spread. “Holy cow” and “milk it for all it’s worth” jokes ensue between bites. Camera phones are wielded with reckless abandon.

Hey! You know who’d get a kick out of this? The old E-and-P. He says he’s on his way. Just sit here behind his desk, in his freezing office, with the door closed. Familiarize yourself, Cow, with one of our fabulous publications, and wait it out. He’ll want to meet you and, uh, thank you for breakfast.

Thirty minutes later.... cow twiddles thumbs (hooves?) until the boss shows up. Then: explosive laughter, more “holy cow” jokes, passing out of free sandwiches and business cards, more explosive laughter (a ploy, I’m guessing, buying some time in which to come up with a quickie sales pitch), aaaaaaaand.... TIME!

“Let me tell you a little about myself,” the boss begins (here, I imagine, the cow just nods, and the man within closes his eyes for a little cownap, grateful -- for once -- for his furry armor.)

And then: “blah blah blah, we’re so spectacular, yadda yadda yadda, great work with the schools and the community, and so on and so on, my business partner and I (chortle), etc etc, and if you introduce any new menu items, we’d be more than happy to try them out.”

Brilliant. Journalistic integrity at its finest. And also? FREE BREAKFAST!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Cake is Tangible Love

There's a bakery coupon in our office kitchen that says that. It's a nice thought. Sweet (heh). But the coupon is for LaDuni, which is superexpensive, and the coupon's only for 15% off, so... I'll have to pass on that form of tangible love.

However, if anyone wants to make me an IOU (using construction paper and glitter glue, of course) that reads "Foot Massages Are Tangible Love," I'll take it off your hands for you. Gladly.

Friday, July 08, 2005

DRIVERS ED'ED!!!

(Oops! Try it now.)

We're FREEEEE!

Now I can date science fiction Greg again!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Bang.

Last year, the Fourth of July was the first and only time I actually saw the fireworks on Navy Pier. Every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday since June, I'd heard the fireworks, and for almost all of June, I grudgingly admit, I thought the noise was someone hauling lumber or moving heavy furniture in the apartment above me. I guess it just didn't occur to me that nobody waits 'til dark to haul lumber, and nobody only hauls lumber on select days of the week. Oh yeah, and nobody has any need for lumber in a 34th floor, 600-square foot studio in a downtown Chicago high rise. But my stupidity is not the point here.

I finally looked out the window when the ruckus started - as usual - at 10 on the nose one Wednesday. I craned my neck to see if there were any construction crews on Ohio. Nothing. I pressed my forehead against the glass and looked down to see if my neighbors were throwing some kind of elaborate tri-weekly lumber-hauling party on our building's sun deck. Yeah, not so much.

Then I looked straight ahead, at the reflective glass of the Holiday Inn. Aha! Reflections of fireworks! Everything fell into place, and I started making a point of opening my blinds and watching the reflections (behind my switched-on TV, of course) every night there was a fireworks show. And once I found out what was making that confounded racket, the noise didn't bother me nearly as much as it did when I thought it was just crazy kids (because, you know, I'm like a hundred).

When I heard - but didn't see - Dallas' fireworks this year, I got a little pouty. I looked out my window in the direction of downtown to see if I could see anything, but there was a freakin' generator building in my way. Dammit! No reflective glass, no three-star hotel with pulsating neon sign, no sun deck 33 floors below. Just an annoying muted thump every minute or so. Might as well have been someone doing some after-hours lumber-hauling. Hmph!

So... yeah. I guess I'm still a little pouty.