Monday, October 29, 2007

Kudos to the Old Lady Who Used the Jedi Mind Trick to kick us out of our bagel shop table

Last week I was a cut-throat predator in the parking lot, this week a 90 pound old woman was able to maneuver me out of my table at The Bagel Factory using only her mind.
Once or twice a week Danny and I have lunch together at Chesapeake Bagel (it's changed to something else but we still call it Chesapeake). Usually it's not that crowded and we're able to snag a booth, spread out the paper and enjoy commenting on the state of the world and progress of Britney's divorce proceedings.

Today however was different. It was crowded. Boothless people nervously balanced their little plastic baskets while posturing for a table. An old lady and I were locked in subtle combat, hovering, circling like vultures near a booth where four women were packing up their things. She ended up with it. I could have scooted in, but after last Monday's parking incident my Karma is in a delicate state.

So I grabbed the only table left. It was one of the larger ones. Not huge, but you can definitely seat more than 2 people comfortably. Three quarters of the way through our meal a small old woman approached us, "Do you mind if I sit here?"

Of course, we scooted over, crinkled our newspapers into a smaller corner of the tabletop.

"It's just that we come here every Thursday and usually use this table for about 8 people…" she added.

I went to grab my purse, Danny started to clear the table for her book club. "No, no don't get up" she said, "I'm not trying to rush you." We lowered back into our chairs.

Then she sat down with her book, the one I assume she brought in case she arrived before her friends, except she didn't read it. She just sat there, making us incredibly uncomfortable.

I calculated how long I had to sit there to make it look like I wasn't allowing myself to be rushed out while at the same time getting the hell out of there as soon as possible.

As Danny and I ran next door to grab some groceries we marveled at the woman's ability.

"So," Danny said, "That woman had like, complete mind control over me."
"I know!" I said "I was completely ready to obey her every command. Move, leave, sit, stay…how did she do that?"

Here's what our analysis yielded:

The recipe for getting people to leave a table using the old lady mind control method:

1. Start with a Reasonable request (can I share this overly large table with you?)
2. Add a dash of guilt, (we usually fit EIGHT whole people at this table)
3. Add more reasonable (no, no really, don't get up. I'm not rushing you)
4. Throw in a bit of tension (sit quietly and stare at the people you wish to leave)

I have to admit I'm a little easy in this regard. I am a people pleaser to the very core of my being. I get a knot in my stomach if I think anyone is mad at me or thinks I did something rude. And maybe I would have reacted differently if the person was my own age and not an old woman who I feel extra incentive to be nice to.

I think she was brilliant actually. She wanted her usual table and got it. She was not shy about it. She was not rude and made us just uncomfortable enough to get what she needed, a secured space for her weekly book meeting with her friends.

So bagel man, send a round with extra cream cheese to the Thursday women's book club, it's on me.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

All's Fair in Love and Parking?

So last Monday I pulled my most cut-throat parking maneuver ever.

I feel the need to write about it here so the karma-counting gods know that I feel bad about it (sorta) and therefore will reduce the number of points I have to make up in order to not get a flat tire in the near future.

I had to meet Kelly early on campus where we're teaching a women's liberation class to help her carry stuff in. I couldn't find a legal parking spot so I parked in a restricted one thinking I'd help Kelly with the stuff and then come back and try my luck again.

Once I had walked to Kelly's car, I saw someone pulling out of a nearby spot. I sprang to action, without thinking of consequences or etiquette or the personal safety of myself, Kelly or my vehicle. To someone who doesn't have one, a parking spot is like asphalt gold. My primal instincts had taken over.

As soon as I saw the car edging out of the spot I grabbed Kelly and all the stuff we had in our arms, ran over to dump it down in the freshly empty spot and sprinted to get my car.

As soon as I started sprinting I noticed that two other people were waiting for the spot. People who were actually still driving their cars.

I admit I did have an unfair advantage. Instead of four cumbersome wheels I had four legs on my team that could get over and claim the spot faster than a two ton box of metal. But I had already committed to the plan, I'd already abandoned a pile of crap and my good friend Kelly as pawns in my seedy scheme.

Kelly did the dirty work really, I should probably buy her a drink or something. Parking on UF campus can get N-A-S-T-Y. I wouldn't be surprised if half the arrests in this town originated as some sort of parking altercation. Kelly bravely endured the nasty looks and "are you going to move?" from the two angry motorists.

When I pulled up in my car, Kelly kindly moved the stuff out of the way so I could roll into the spot (a problem I hadn't foreseen, that I wouldn't be able to park right over my pile of crap place markers).

I did get the spot though, and got to the class on time (Actually I very nearly ran, I was scared the folks in cars would run me over or come at me with spears and torches.)

So how wrong was I?

In my defense: I didn't initially see that there was anyone else in the parking lot who would want that space. One of the girls waiting for the space was parked in a handicapped spot so I couldn't have known she was camping out.* (see footnote) The other person waiting had just pulled into the parking lot after I dumped my shit in the space.

I pretty much know I was wrong but am trying to figure just HOW wrong I was so I know how many nice things I have to do this week to balance out my karma.

* UF Parking strategy terminology

The Camper: a strategy that I've used many times myself, wherein you "camp out" at the end of a row of cars and wait for someone to leave. I read many classics of literature while camping for a parking spot.

The Hitchhiker: A strategy where one positions his or her car at the entrance to the lot and offers people rides to their parked car.
The Parking Shark: Someone who cruises around the lot employing the "it's a dog eat dog world" philosophy of hunting for spaces.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

JK Rowling Reveals Dumbledore is Gay.

In a recent book reading JK revealed that Dumbledore is gay and was in love with his future rival Grindelwald in their youth. I'm glad that JK let Dumbledore out of the closet.

Here are some background facts about some other characters that she hasn't yet revealed:

Minerva McGonagal was Hogwarts prom queen in 1952, sometimes on Saturday nights she dons her tiara, puts on sexy lingerie and dances for professor Flitwick.

Arthur Weasly is a kleptomaniac.

Hermione's parents are not really dentists, they are secret government agents. That is why they are always out of the country and often can't see their daughter off to school or on the holidays, because they are on special assignment. In the last book they go to Australia and change their identities. Hermione didn't do that, she just didn't want to blow their cover.

Severus Snape is obsessed with Joan Rivers. He spends whole summers playing re-runs of her red carpet fashion shows and owns her entire QVC jewelery collection.

Lucius Malfoy was once in a very popular boy band, he went sour when one of the member's solo career took off while Lucius' single "Pour Some Venom on Me" debuted at a disappointing number 456 on the billboard charts.

Madam Hooch is a lesbian.

Madam Pomfrey was always high. While a student at Hogwarts everyone called her Pom-fries since she always snuck down to the kitchen in a fit of the munchies. Dumbledore knew about her drug problem but kept her on because she was the only one who could grow his "medicinal mushrooms"

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Take with Food

Why does it embarrass me that my doctor wrote "menses" on my prescription? I'm (about to be) a 30-year old woman. Obviously "menses" is a fact of my life.

You'd think that in 19 years of having a period I would no longer be embarrassed in front of the sales clerk at CVS. But alas, I am. I still can't buy the Tampax Multi Mega pack without turning a little red in the cheek.

Here's the world I'd like to live in. No other human being on the planet will ever think of me doing anything besides showering and putting on make-up in the bathroom. That's it. That's all I ever do.

How can I turn in a prescription with the word "menses" on it? When I got home and saw that I felt like a teenager embarrassed that my mom had just told my principal I stayed home with "the runs."

At the very least, I don't want to be standing directly in front of the pharmacist when she has the fleeting realization that once a month bloody guck pours out of a certain orifice.

Could she not have written a different word? Menses sounds so….biblical. So parting of the red sea, and smiting and begotten. Hark! She hath begotten her menses unto the lord!

At least period sounds clean, neat and singular. Period. They can even say it on TV, no birth control commercial would be caught dead saying "menses." But now I have to march into CVS with it boldly stamped on my prescription.

I prefer my "menses" to be shrouded in a little more mystery at the drugstore. Maybe I'll have Danny pick up that prescription.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Downtown Gainesville on a Monday night.

On most weekday nights I am most likely to be found in a meeting where I am, in some form or another, plotting the overthrow of male supremacy with other feminists (imagine what you will, cauldrons, fire, chanting etc).

Last night was no different, except that I could have been stabbed.

We were having a phone bank, calling our supporters and urging them to send us money. During the course of the phone bank I learned the that a person I have never talked to before in my life, is completely fabricating conversations with me and telling people around town how unreasonable I am.

It's tough being president these days, with folks writing to the paper about my disservices to the community and other people running around concocting stories about my iron fist.

But neither of those people are the ones who nearly stabbed me.

Being in a good mood after raising some money, my friend Lisa and I decided to cross the street to downtown Gainesville and get something to eat at Harry's. There we swapped stories over crab cakes and scallops; I ate an entire loaf of bread and when Lisa asked, I assured her that the tattered sleeve of my t-shirt was not a fashion statement but yet another casualty of the dog.

We paid and got up to leave. As we approached the door we saw that it was held open by the Harry's bouncer/doorman. He had his back to us and was saying something to a man standing six feet from him at the entry gate to the sidewalk. The doorman glanced back at us and, quite gallantly, moved aside to let us through.

We crossed the threshold and came nearly face to face with the man at the gate. It was then we realized that the man was swaying and wielding quite a large knife. I also registered what the doorman, who had just kindly ushered us into the knife man's arms, was saying. "Dude, just put the knife down. Ok?"

Yeah dude, I thought. And dude, how about the bouncer give us a little, "Hang on a sec ladies, there's a drunk man with a big knife right out front?" Feminist though I am, I'm all for people holding a door open for me, just not when that door has a deadly weapon on the other side.

Lisa and I walked through the gate and deftly sidestepped the knife man. We made our way across the street, keeping one eye on the armed drunk now staggering in our direction. We walked two blocks out of our way and made it to our cars as we heard sirens rushing toward the restaurant we'd just come from.
I wondered if the doorman had respectfully moved aside to let some elderly patrons exit. What a gentleman.