Monday, January 25, 2010

The Superspinner

Dear "pregnant" chick in Sunday morning spinning class,

I am on to you. I don't believe for a second that you are actually pregnant.

I suspect you snuck into a dressing room at the nearby Mimi Maternity store, strapped on the prosthetic pregnant belly, and slipped out the front door of the store. From there, I believe you decided to throw on some bike shorts and sneakers and head to the gym just to make everyone believe that you are some superhuman being.

I don't buy your act.

No pregnant woman in her right mind would hop on a bike for a grueling hour, only to ride absolutely nowhere, in a room filled with sweaty men and women, some of whom might potetnitally harbor the H1N1 virus or worse.

If my instincts about you are misguided and you are, in fact, actually "with child," I think you might be mentally unstable and I would like to tattle to your doctor about your dangerous extracurricular activities.

Didn't your doctor warn you about the risks of exposing your unborn baby to booming techno music? Aren't you concerned about exhaustion? Falling off the bike?

I'll tell you one thing, if you go into labor in the middle of spinning, while I'm pedaling along to the Black Eyed Peas and glancing at the clock every 10 seconds, I am not going to stand in as your midwife.

Nor doula.

Nor doctor.

Nor nurse.

Nor Lamaze coach.

Sorry. It's not that I'm a heartless pseudo-cyclist, I just would rather not participate in another birth at this time. I hope that you understand.

I am simply trying to get back into some sort of shape, move my muscles a bit, and bop to the music.

In between cursing the creator of spinning, bruising my butt on the rock hard bike seat, gulping down water, and trying to avoid eye contact with the flawless instructor, screaming my name for "encouragement," I have you directly in my line of vision. And I don't appreciate it.

What worries me the most is that in a couple of months, I'll see you again, without that bogus bump. You'll gallivant into spinning, jump on a bike like Lance Armstrong, and you may even have somebody else's baby (or it could even be a doll that cries real tears and pees in a diaper) strapped to your chest in a Baby Bjorn. Everyone will be looking at you in awe, thinking, "Wow, look at her, she just gave birth 72 hours ago, isn't she amazing?" But, I'll still be in the back of the class, huffing and puffing up a hill to nowhere, not buying your shenanigans for one minute.

Okay, so here's your final chance to come clean. That's not a baby in there, is it? That protruding belly button doesn't even look real! Let go of the charade, lady. Otherwise, I'm not coming back to spinning class.

(You may think that I'm just looking for an excuse to get out of spinning ever again. If that's what you think, you're absolutely right).

Yours truly,

the lazy ass in the back of the class, shooting you dirty looks

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

From Totally Metro to . . . Totally Retro

Two mesh body sponges hang side by side in our master bathroom shower; one purple, one blue. Neither one is mine.

My Laura Mercier french vanilla body wash is kicked, but for two drops. I haven't used it in weeks.

Someone has been using my sleek black bottle of hair spray and my gigantic round brush to comb his hair.

That's right. I said it. HIS hair.

My husband has a problem. He is totally metro. Sexual, that is.

His eyebrows have a nicer shape than mine. He smells of luxurious soaps, lovely colognes, expensive hair products. He has loads of primping tools, including a Mangroomer, for eliminating hair in hard to reach places, like the back. He sometimes uses my Degree Ultimate Control Deodorant for Women.

Although he was totally metro when I first met him, 3 years ago today, I feel partially responsible for the metro mania that has swept our household.

My man's metrosexuality hit an all-time high when I took him to a specialty soap store in NYC, called Sabon. He rolled his eyes in protest of browsing through yet another soap store, but he indulged me and followed me in. After quickly picking up a few of my favorite things, I met him at the cash register. He was smelling a chunk of brown and beige glycerin soap.

"What do you think of this?" he asked casually. I took a whiff.

"Yum, I love it! What is it?

"Dulce de leche," he read from the label on the packaging. "I'm going to grab a couple of bars."

Within a week, Dulce de leche was dripping from his pores and he was contemplating how Sabon could create other products in the same delicious scent.

"Babe, I emailed the the product development team at Sabon today," he announced one afternoon.

"No you didn't!"

"I did. I suggested that they make a Dulce de Leche candle too."

"Who ARE you?" I yelled, in hysterics.

My man was a mad, mad metro.

And it didn't stop there. He started saying to his buddies over the phone, "Dude, I got this great new soap, you have to try it...." WHAT?! After dining out with friends , he would lean in close to one of his college boys and whisper, "Remember that soap I told you about?" and then slip him an extra bar of Dulce de Leche the way someone would slip a dime bag to a friend.

When friends or relatives would come visit us from NYC, they would bring along pounds and pounds of Dulce de Leche soap at my husband's request.

I thought this was more than I could take. But, then a few weeks ago, something happened.

My metro man came home from Rite Aid with Old Spice body wash and cologne. Let me say it again. OLD SPICE! I wanted to take his temperature. I asked to check his Blackberry for evidence of an affair with some cheesy 50 year old woman with feathered hair. I wanted to know what the hell happened to my metrosexual husband who would ordinarily turn his nose up to such a putrid retro product.

He dismissed my fears, laughing. "I wanted to try something new, that's all. It reminds me of my dad."

"First of all, your dad is ALIVE, and he doesn't even wear Old Spice!" I complained. "It's awful."

"Just give it a chance," he said, slicking his hair to the side like an extra on Mad Men.

"You know I have a nose like a blood hound! PLEASE go back to Dulce de Leche, Laura Mercier, Kiehls....your usual cast of characters. I can't take that Old Spice smell!"

The next day, after he left for work, I grabbed the red family-size bottle of Old Spice body wash from the shower and hid it in a kitchen cupboard while on my tippy toes. He would never find it there.

"Where's my goddamn Old Spice?" he pondered with a western drawl, the second he came home and saw me giggling.

"I don't have a clue," I laughed.

"Come on, give it back, it's starting to grow on me."

"No, the only thing growing on you is all that hair on your chest! You look like a '70s porn star!"

"It's a new look for me," he laughed.

"A small animal could be burrowing in there and you wouldn't even know it!"

Somehow the purchase of Old Spice changed everything. My husband went from totally metro to totally retro. It was like I was married to Burt Reynolds circa 1975. I know, I know, he was a sex symbol. But that was 1975!

I quickly started to miss my husband's well-groomed eyebrows, his gelled spikey hair, his clean-shaven face and body.

I thought a weekend in NYC might do the trick. In the middle of a restaurant in Bryant Park, my sister mentioned, "There's a small Sabon store over there with the other shops." My husband's face lit up.

"Let's go check it out."

There were 100 people crammed into a store the size of my bathroom.

"I'll wait out here," I told him, "but take your time."

I smiled at him through the frosted window. He asked the sales girl to hold up a whole bar of Dulce de Leche soap, the length of my leg.

"Should I get the whole thing?" he mouthed to me.


And, with that one purchase, my husband went from totally retro straight back to totally metro.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Be My Guest

Whenever a massive snowstorm hits, I think of three things.

First, 302. 302 was the number that meant Lower Merion Schools were closed. Snow day! When I was growing up, my sister and I would huddle in her bedroom at 6 a.m., crowded around her pink Sony clock radio and cross our fingers that the radio announcer would say that magic number. If we heard 302, we knew we could go back to bed, watch TV all day, go sledding, bake cookies, sip hot chocolate, or anything else we chose. (Remember the days before computers and the internet?). It was glorious.

If the radio announcer called out, "300, 301, 303, 304," we would sigh audibly and head into my parents' bedroom, our heads hanging low. Very quickly, we would prepare a plea deal.

"Mom, school's open, but it's gonna be TERRIBLE out today. I mean, seriously, EVERY other school in the state is closed!" Sometimes we exaggerated.

"The roads are icy, that treacherous BLACK ice, ya know, it's downright dangerous out there." Two powdery inches lay on the ground.

My parents giggled sleepily. They had always taught us to think creatively and argue a position with persistence and flair. My mom would roll over and respond sleepily: "If there's more than 6 inches of snow, you can stay home." By far, the coolest rule my mom ever devised. I would take out a ruler (and sometimes tilt it) and often find 6 inches of snow on our wooden deck out back. AMAZING.

The second thing that I think of when it snows is being in labor at home in the middle of a huge snowstorm last March, curled up on my sofa, watching the movie, Milk, with my husband, not knowing that our lives were about to change forever just 12 hours later.

Whenever it snows, I also think about how my grandparents came to stay with me for a night when they got snowed in at the Philly airport in February 2003.

My mom called me in a panic, "Gram and Grandpop are stranded at the airport!" My mom was known for her creative flair and tendency to exaggerate also.

"What do you mean STRANDED?"

"They sat on the stupid runway for 4 hours and all they got was a bag of pretzels! Now the whole airport is shut down and there's a 2 hour line for a taxi!

The most serious part of this story, the four hours with only pretzels, was not lost on me. "Mom, didn't they pack sandwiches?"

I could not fathom any family member of mine boarding a plane without first picking up/preparing Boars Head turkey sandwiches on rye bread or perhaps a sesame bagel. A good plane outfit was first priority. Sandwiches, second. Photo ID/passport, third. If my grandparents boarded that jet to Miami sans sandwiches they were just asking for trouble.

"Forget the sandwiches, Stacy, do you know anyone with an SUV who can go pick them up?"

I hung up and made several calls to friends, but nobody was venturing out in the blizzard. There was already a foot of fresh snow on the ground and more expected. I called my mom back to tell her the bad news. "It's alright, they're in line for a taxi now," she told me.

"Oh, good." What a relief.

"And they're coming to your apartment, because it's the closest to the airport."


"Wait, what?"

"They are going to sleep over."

"In my tiny little STUDIO?"

"Yes, they can't get home to Wynnewood, they can't fly down to Miami until tomorrow at the earliest. And, listen, they don't have anything with them except their carry-on bags. Not even winter coats."

I jumped out of my bed and started "grandparent-proofing" my apartment. I grabbed the long cords from my blow dryer and hair iron and wrapped them up frantically, as they now presented a tripping hazard. I plucked stray sweaters off my walk-through closet floor. I made sure my area rug was not curling in any corner. I scooped a stack of 10 pound law books from my floor and placed them with a thud on my wooden desk.

Next, I pulled out a sponge and scrubbed my minuscule black and white '70s tile bathroom, a far cry from the gigantic marble bathroom that my grandparents called their own in their North Miami Beach condo, where they had been headed before the storm hit.

What would they think of my tiny apartment that could have fit easily into their bathroom? You could practically do the dishes in my kitchen sink while laying in bed. That's how small is was.

I started to think of the positives. My building was right ON Rittenhouse Square, not too shabby. But you would have never known it by the view of the imposing red brick wall from my two windows. If you stood exactly one inch from the windows and you craned your neck approximately 90 degrees, you could make out a sliver of park life below. Nobody ever stood that close but me.

My grandparents' condo was located on an island, which Sophia Loren, a resident herself, had dubbed "the Florida Riviera." Their home had a sweeping wraparound balcony that overlooked the glistening Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. Hundred foot yachts would cruise lazily by all day long and manatees would pop their heads out of the water happily.

I started rifling through my drawers for clothes that could double as appropriate pajamas for my grandparents. I found a pair of men's scrubs and an XL Budweiser University of Michigan shirt, tattered and well-lived in by my friend, Eric, for 4 years of college. My grandfather was 84 years old, had fought in WWII, and here I was trying to dress him up like a frat boy. I found some large sweatpants and an oversized Harvard sweatshirt, which I thought, in my delusional state of mind, would be perfect for my grandmom,.

I pictured Gram's pink silk robe hanging idly in her Miami condo, wondering what the hell happened to their plane.

The screeching sounds of my next door neighbor singing her heart out and pounding her piano keys flooded my apartment.

"Not again!" I yelled to myself.

"Oh, the weather outside is FRIGHTFUL!" she howled off-key.

My grandparents had a neighbor in Miami who sang too. Whitney Houston.

I put on my ipod and found some Billie Holiday. I cranked the heat up to 75.

I was sure that my grandparents would arrive in foul moods, exhausted and stressed out. Instead, a happy knock struck my door.

"Who issssssssss it?" I asked, feigning ignorance, like they used to do when I knocked on their door as a little girl.

"Mailman!" my grandmom hollered back in a gruff male voice.

The party was ON!

"Yay, you made it!" I greeted them, opening the door. They stood there with light sweaters on, snow-covered Gucci loafers, and huge grins on their faces. Gram's vibrant red hair was sprinkled with snowflakes. "Are you guys okay?" My grandpop held up airplane size bottles of gin and vodka proudly in each hand.

"We brought the cocktails, sweetie pie," my grandpop laughed, giving me his usual bear hug. "We asked for more bottles while we were sitting on that stupid runway," Gram admitted. "Do you have any mixers, doll?"

Within minutes, I was mixing cocktails, mashing tuna, toasting bagels, and, for the first time in my life, hosting my grandparents.

"Sorry my place is so small," I said.

"It's cozy in here," Gram gushed.

"I can sleep out at my friend's house, so you guys can have my bed," I offered.

"You're not going ANYWHERE!" my grandpop boomed in his military tone. "You'll sleep in bed with Gram, I'll sleep on the sofa." And that was that.

After our little cocktail party, we watched the Weather Channel to find out we had 19 inches of snow outside. Of course, you could barely see it from my apartment windows.

Gram was tired. She emerged from the bathroom wearing my oversized Harvard sweatshirt and sweatpants. "You look like a college girl!" She giggled. She soon fell asleep in my bed under my warm down comforter, while watching, What Women Want (of course, this was years before Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic diatribe made headline news).

My grandpop and I stayed up late. He refused to wear my college frat boy outfit. "I've never worn pajamas in my entire life," he declared. Okay. He was a tough cookie. If he didn't want to wear the pajamas, I was not going to argue.

He told me war stories, starting each tale with his signature, "True Story...." He told me about the odd jobs he had growing up, like driving a hearse when he was only 15 years old and without a driver's license. We talked about our family. I told him how glad I was that after some time he had opened up his mind to accept and love my dad, even though he had started out life with a different religion. He patted my hand and smiled.

I covered him with the colorful mohair throw blanket. He was sitting up on my green leather sofa, loafers off. "I feel so badly that you have to sleep like this. You should be in your cozy bed in Miami," I told him. He shook his head.

“Sweetie Pie, we are THRILLED to be here!” he responded.

And I was thrilled to have them.