Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sporadically Asked Questions

Why do you have a blog?
I like to write, particularly in this freestyle (read: lazy) kind of way.

How long have you been blogging?
I originally boarded the blog train at a sad little station called Diary-X, which has since literally self-destructed. I was about 24 at the time. I spent some time at the X and then had a brief stint on Live Journal. Then I upgraded to Blogger, where I've been for more than two years now. I like it here.

What's a cupcake tent?
Originally the blog had a totally different title with my name in it, but then I decided that I didn't want to broadcast my name. I was trying to think of another title for it, but I just wanted it to come to me and not be something too contrived. Then one day Mark and I were watching Rachael Ray (stay with me!) host a special during which she threw a springtime block party for a neighborhood. Everyone helped her make the food and it was all unbearably sweet, not unlike little Rachael herself. She was making a bunch of cupcakes and putting them in (see where I'm going with this?) a tent. At one point during the show she said, "And over here in the cupcake tent..." I just liked it, and that was it. I keep waiting for that episode to air again and for someone to email me like, "Hey! Do you know what Dimples just said?" and then I'd have to admit that it wasn't just a Food Networkoincidence, that it was really just me swiping her cuteness out from under her. Considering where I got my inspiration, I suppose the blog name could've ended up being a lot worse, like the EVOO Tent. Or the She's About To Take a Bite, Steel Yourself For the O Face Tent. Or Holy Crap, Is That Girl's Face All Over The Cracker Aisle or What Tent.

Why do you go by Red?
Am I a Communist? A Fraggle? A primary color? I'm actually just a redhead, sorry to disappoint. No one that I actually know calls me Red, only strangers: "I can ring you up over here, Red." "What will you be having, Red?" "Hey, Red, why doncha learn how to fahkin' drive a cah." (My responses: Oh great, thanks; I think the risotto, and what's your soup tonight?; and shut up asshole, you're in MY LANE.)

Uh-huh. I mean, why do you go by Red, and not Your Actual Name?
Right. Well, I admire people who can blog it up about whatever they want and don't care who reads it, but I don't necessarily want everyone who knows me, or knew me in seventh grade and is Googling me on a drunken whim, to read my ramblings. I'm not entirely sure why; it's not like I ever talk about anything scandalous, really. I just feel more freedom in relative anonymity. Not unlike serial killers.

What's the deal with [insert random friend's name here]? How do you know [insert random friend's name here]? Which ones do you know in real life?
The first several blogs that I link to are real-life compadres. Anyone else that I mention by name is typically just some broke-ass friend of mine, and it's safe to assume that I went to school with them, work/worked with them, picked them up on the side of the road, or like to make mix tapes and drink milkshakes with them.

Are you dating [insert random friend's name here]?
No, I'm not dating any of my friends. Are you?

If you were a color, what would you be?
A bright yet subdued shade of whothefuckcares.

I'm coming to Boston/the Cape for the weekend. Can you make any suggestions for things to do/places to eat?
Absolutely! What are you into? Because, you know, we're kinda kinky around these parts.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

we were on a break

I'm taking a bit of a hiatus, kids. I'm feeling a little out of sorts lately and I need to figure out how to get back... into sorts. Back in the game? Back to the future? Where am I going with this?

Let it never be said that I'm not one highly eloquent girl.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I think we're alone now

Today I heard the song True Blue by Madonna, and it was like my entire adolescence came flooding back to me. Why, oh why, did we spend our childhoods coming up with complicated, intricate routines to the popular songs of the moment, yelling at each other like dictators when somebody messed up, and THEN insist on performing them for whomever we could hold captive for a few minutes? I keep waiting for my friend Dorie's 8-year-old daughter to start busting out the made-up dances with her friends, because I refuse to believe that it was a uniquely 80s phenomenon. Or was it?

Of course we really didn't understand what the songs were talking about because at that age you really don't know anything about love (unlike now, when we all have every facet of it completely worked out) so all of our interpretations of the lyrics were completely literal. For example, at the part in True Blue when Madonna sang "your heart fits me like a glove," you had to pretend to put on a glove.

True Blue was one of the all-time greats, but let's explore the other songs that caused my friends and I to pretend we were rock stars. Thanks to iTunes for helping jog my memory.

I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston
First of all, every girl who made up a dance to this song in the 80s fanned themselves to the line, "I wanna feel the heat with somebody." And this is a perfect example of how all 80s songs seemed to have that kick-it-up-a-notch moment, where the song took itself to the next level and you had to respond by doing the same with your frenetic dancing. This song's moment was: "Don't you wanna dance say you wanna dance don't you wanna dance... with me baby!"

How Will I Know by Whitney Houston
"How will I know if he really loves me?" It's really not at all surprising that the generation that listened to this song in elementary school came to, twenty years later, require a book called He's Just Not That Into You. Her backup singers told us "don't trust your feelings" and warned us that "love can be deceiving." And Whitney herself didn't even know how SHE'D know; she was "asking you, 'cause you know about these things!"

Walk Like An Egyptian by The Bangles
I'm sorry to tell you that my friend Michelle and I performed our routine to this song for show-and-tell in the third grade. I'm further sorry to tell you that my friend Katie and I performed it at my dad's 40th surprise birthday party. I remember it well: I was wearing a pink and white dress and had only been told about the party that morning so that I wouldn't accidentally tell my dad about it. My parents' mocking friends urged Katie and I to do the dance, and before I had consented, the DJ (because what's a 40th birthday party without a DJ?) started playing the song. So we started doing the dance and then their friends tried to do it along with us. I remember thinking they were just really fun; now I realize that alcohol must have also played a part. The entire thing is captured on tape somewhere in my parents' house. Thank God VHS is now almost entirely obsolete. Also, can we all agree ahead of time that we'll have a few cocktails and encourage our children to bust a move for us at our 40th birthday parties?

Manic Monday by The Bangles
"Wish it was Sunday, 'cause that's my fun day, when I don't have to run... day." Nice songwriting, ladies.

Eternal Flame by The Bangles
While we're on the topic, I feel compelled to share that while my girls and I never made up a dance to Eternal Flame (it was a slow song, after all) I knew exactly how my music video for it would have been, if I'd sung the song. I still remember every chilling detail: It would have been me sitting on a stool in a dark room, with a spotlight on me, wearing black leggings and a big Esprit sweater, with all my hair in one giant side ponytail, staring up at the camera and singing the entire thing with the dead seriousness that a song like that warrants. I was maybe eleven years old and I couldn't imagine anything more ethereal and beautiful. I told Steve about this once and he laughed so hard that he spit his drink on me.

Shake Your Love by Debbie Gibson
This was a very popular one to dance to, although I remember not really understanding how exactly to shake love, let alone shake YOUR love. I listened to it again and realized that "I just can't shake your love" loosely translates to "I just can't get over you." Who knew?

Lost in Your Eyes by Debbie Gibson
Okay, I didn't make up a dance to it, but I remember thinking that there could never be a more tragic song ever written. This may still be true.

Straight Up by Paula Abdul
"If you're only playing games I just have to say-ay, a bah bah bah bye, bah bah bah bah bye." You tell him, Paula. Her comments nowadays on American Idol make about as much sense.

Opposites Attract by Paula Abdul
I liked this song until I saw the video and realized that it was apparently Paula's story about trying to make it work with that big cat... person.

Forever Your Girl by Paula Abdul
What a great beginning: "Hey baby, you gotta remembah, a baby forevah, and evah and evah..." Let's hear it once again for the modern day Dostoyevsky.

Cold Hearted by Paula Abdul
Admit it: You'll be like 50 years old and you'll hear this song and you'll stop everything in order to sing: "You could find somebody better, girl (doo, doo, doo doo). He will only make you cry (doo, doo, doo, doo). You deserve somebody better, girl (doo, doo, doo, doo). He's got cold in his eyes." You might actually sing the correct lyrics at the end, which are apparently, "He's as cold as ice," but I prefer my misheard version.

Step by Step by New Kids on the Block
Now, the problem with making up dances to NKOTB was that I could never figure out which one of them I wanted to be. I sort of wanted to be the dreamboat (Joey), but then as soon as I saw Donnie I knew that I was really destined to be the badass in denim. Remember how great the ending to this song was? Well, allow me to remind you. "Step one, we can have lots of fun... step two, there's so much we can do... step three, it's just you and me... step four, I can give you more... step five, doncha know that the time has arrived... HUH!" I defy anyone who grew up loving NKOTB to sing that entire part with a straight face, particularly Jordan's inexplicably soprano tendencies.

What a Feeling by Irene Cara
I had some crazy gymnastics routine to this one, involving uneven bars and somersaults. I was obsessed with that song. FlyingJ and I both thought she was singing "take your pants down and make it happen." Since I was dancing to it wearing a leotard, I suppose I was in compliance with this order.

Dance routines and lip syncing were pretty much all that I did with my friends for a good couple of years, so there must have been more songs that we decimated, but those are the ones that I can remember for now. I need to call Katie and see what she remembers. And apologize for making her dance at my dad's birthday party in order to entertain all his drunk friends. Do they make a Hallmark card for that?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

liv it up

I got home last night around midnight and checked my caller ID. Joe and Carly had both called, and both at about quarter of eleven.

I called Joe's cell. No answer. Then I called Carly. "I don't want to tell you anything," she said. "Joe was trying to reach you." Two seconds into our conversation, he came up on my call waiting and I clicked over. Truth be told, I was already crying.

He was, too. "Red. Seven pounds, nine ounces."

My friend Melissa had a baby yesterday at 10:20 PM, nine days after her due date, God love her.

She's beautiful, clearly brilliant, and already has an adoring fan base. Welcome to the planet, Olivia.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

more inane questions

What is the last thing that you do before bed?
Read. I'm loving every word of Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential right now. I read my first David Sedaris book last week, and ohmygod, what took me so long? I'm having good reading luck right now.

What is the last stupid thing that you did?
This afternoon I went to a greenhouse even though it was 96 degrees outside. I was almost vaporized, but I left with my gardenias in the nick of time.

Do you think that money can buy happiness?
This is one of those questions that there's really only one answer to, kind of like, "Do you think racism is bad?" So, no, money doesn't buy happiness. Money buys you things and can make life easier, but it can't make you happy. However, if you're already pretty happy, I bet money could only make you happier, so please send me checks.

Do you believe in soul mates?
I do think that there's a limited amount of people that you could be compatible, happy, and fulfilled with for the next fifty years or so, but I don't think there's only one. But if there is, mine is probably in Egypt or something and I'm screwed.

What extracurricular activities did you do in college?
I had a column in the campus paper, which was basically a blog before blogs were invented. Sometimes they had me write movie reviews, too. I think that was it. I was lazy. It was great.

What extracurricular activities did you do in high school?
I wrote opinion and movie review kinda stuff for the school paper back then, too. I had a radio show on the school station on Thursday nights that was the source of many good times. I edited the lit journal.

What extracurricular activities did you do in junior high?
I played basketball and Nintendo.

What extracurricular activities did you do in elementary school?
Are there extracurricular activities in elementary school? Actually, I started a school paper in the fifth grade, and then I won a little award for it. Hmm, maybe I should've looked at my pattern over the years and decided to get a job working for, oh I don't know, a newspaper?

What are some things that are strange about you?
I eat Ice Breakers mints constantly. I prefer to sit on the floor rather than the couch. I don't type the way you're supposed to; I use the hunt and peck method but I'm ridiculously fast. Seriously, it's like my superhero talent. Who needs to be a brilliant neurosurgeon or a world leader when you can be a really fast typer?

What are your pet peeves?
I don't like when people take calls on their cell phones when they're out with you and then proceed to have a lengthy conversation with the person. "Hi, how are you? I'm at dinner with Red. Can I call you back?" is fine. "Hi, how are you? What's your position on border security?" is not.

What do you like to watch on TV?
The Office, No Reservations, $40 a Day, Sox games, Friends reruns, but not so much the first season episodes because they weren't all that funny.

What do you like on your pizza?
Quattro formaggi, grazie.

What magazines do you like to read?
In Style, Psychology Today, and, well, the Oprah magazine, I admit it. Sometimes Vanity Fair and Time. I had a subscription to Us Weekly for two years and my life is much better without it; now if only VH1 wasn't the television equivalent.

What is in your shower right now?
Silly rabbit. Did you forget who you're asking? Okay, two different kinds of shampoo and conditioner... Philosophy Shear Splendor and Nexxus Therappe. Aveda Carribean Therapy body scrub. Philosophy Senorita Margarita salt scrub. Softsoap Pure Cashmere body wash. Clinique sparkle skin body exfoliator. Biotherm Aquathermale moisturizing body wash. My shower is a very happy place.

What word would you use to describe yourself?

Do you have a webcam?
Not really; my dad gave me an iSight awhile back because he likes techy toys, but I don't have it hooked up. I actually live in fear that pretty soon everyone will be using web cams and video phones to communicate, and then I'll have to make sure I'm presentable before answering the phone.

If you could be anyone else in the world for a week, who would you be and what would you do?
I'd be Karen Varitek, and I'd send the kids to stay with their grandparents for the week.

unsolved answering machine mysteries

My friend Joe is currently experiencing a bit of head-scratcher. Or, rather, a completely apeshit bizarre quandary.

He received this voicemail at home:

"Hi Joe, it's your pesky great-grandmother. I tried calling your mom to see how she made out with Ilana, but since I got you on the line, give us a call, we are on pins and needles. We want to know how the [his last name]s are doing."

And then this one:

"Hi Joe, it's me again. I couldn't wait for Louis to get home, so call me and let me know how Ilana is doing. Tell [his wife] to eat something, and you too. Bye."

These are the facts of the case:

-If Joe had a great-grandmother, she would be, in his own words, like 130.
-Joe's mom passed away many years ago.
-Joe did have a grandfather named Louis, but he passed away years ago.
-Joe has a cousin Ilana, but hasn't spoken to her in about two years.
-Joe's wife, FlyingJ, is about to have a baby, which probably explains why she's being encouraged to eat something.
-The number didn't show up on caller ID, so there's no way to return the call.
-Joe's dad has no idea what the hell any of this is about.

Possible suspects:

-Long Story Short, who, having heard the facts of the case, quickly changed the subject to Joe's soon-to-be-born baby's toys. What could she be hiding?
-Professor K, who seems sweet and innocent. What lurks behind his carefully orchestrated facade of normalcy?
-FlyingJ, who has been a stay-at-home mom for the past day and a half. Has the change of pace caused her to psychologically implode?
-Jack Bauer, whose show is on hiatus. Is he filling his time by making strange calls to fans?
-Joe himself, in a sort of last act Fight Club-esque development. Who IS Joe, really?

I've decided to do my part and get all Nancy Drew on this. Here's a clip from my in-depth interview with Joe himself, soon to air on 20/20.

Red: Tell me: When urged by the voice mail woman, did [your wife] eat something?
Joe: She did not, but Joe did.
Red: Interesting. What did you select?
Joe: Bachman nutzels. Delicious.

It's unclear why Joe referred to himself in the third person, or why he selected nutzels when they probably have Baked Lays in the cabinet.

Today, the [Joe's last name] family still wanders the planet, uncertain of the origin of the messages. Are they from an actual relative? Or could they be... voicemails from the beyond? Draw your own conclusions, and we'll see you here next week on Unsolved Answering Machine Mysteries. I've been your host, Red Redaliciousness.

[Cue creepy music, fog, a serious expression on my face, and then me walking into the woods and slowly disappearing. How do we do that? Can we get the guys who worked on Field of Dreams?]

Monday, July 17, 2006

an open letter to the night

Dear M. Night Shyamalan,

How are you? Life going okay? Good. Glad to hear it.

Listen, I'm happy for you that your career seems to be going well. I was one of those people who didn't know how The Sixth Sense was going to end until the big reveal. I feel like the way people reacted to that movie was kind of an indicator of their personality, don't you? Some people had to come out of it saying, "Oh, I knew all along," even though they didn't. I hate those people.

I did think that the alien that you showed us after two hours of Signs was pretty ridiculous. I think I compared it to a $15.99 Target Halloween costume. No offense, but what the hell were you thinking with that? You're obviously an intelligent guy, and why would you ever write a movie about aliens and then show one at the very end and have it live up to absolutely every stereotype we have of them from bad TV movies... big head, scaly skin, just that generic alien look. I know it's bad when it doesn't even scare ME. You should have had the aliens look human, because in the end, that's really how they'll get us.

Also, is the word Night really in your name, or did you just add it to be dark and mysterious? I feel like we should have dinner and discuss this. I have some more questions.

I saw that movie of yours with Samuel L. I didn't have much of an opinion of it. Something about breaking glass? I didn't see that other one about the woods and Joaquin Phoenix in a hood because it looked too scary. But I asked someone who had seen it to tell me the whole plot because it sounded like a neat concept, sort of like what I think Lost will turn out to be. That's what I do with scary movies, because I'm often interested in the storyline but I know that if I see one of them, it will ruin my life a little bit because I won't sleep for a month. Seriously, when I saw this other movie, The Movie That Will Not Be Named That Rhymes With The Swing, I was absolutely devastated. I've barely recovered. So I have to be careful. You understand. Or you don't, because apparently nothing scares you.

I'm just not that way at all. I have no stomach for scariness or violence in movies or on TV. If one of the good guys gets killed, I get upset. I saw the first few minutes of the most recent season of 24 last fall, and it upset me when they killed the former president. I can't deal with that stuff. I feel sad because they've been killed in this senseless way, and they have a family and friends that will miss them, and then I hate the fact that a TV show or movie that isn't even real has made me feel that way. So I don't watch anything that's violent. This always surprises people. I guess I come across as more pro-violence. Secretly, I miss that show Providence.

Anyway. What I really want to talk to you about is your latest movie, The Lady in the Water. I'm going to have to request that you downsize your marketing budget. I'm glad that your name is something of a brand now; good for you. How many writers can claim that? But I can't watch the previews for your movie anymore. I hate that the latest terrifying thing is a child singing a nursery rhyme slowly, with a few piano keys in the background. That shouldn't be creepy!

I was having this conversation with someone that I work with earlier this year... one day we heard a bunch of giggling kids somewhere down the hall, and I said to him, "Isn't it sad that laughing children now sound like the backdrop for a scary movie?" He understood, but he also paid money to see Saw II. Of course, I asked him to tell me the whole plot. I think it involved people getting their eyeballs cut out. Clearly, good times were had by all.

I heard that you intended Lady to be a bedtime story for your children. By chance, do you hate your children? Because if I were one of them, I wouldn't want that kind of bedtime story. I mean, phantom wolves and creepy albino mermaids? Haven't you ever heard of Goodnight Moon?

Maybe next time, you could come out with something a little more character driven and less "run from the crazy otherworld dog!" because honestly, you're scaring me with these commercials. Poor Paul Giamatti; how's he supposed to know what's in the pool? If I were him I'd go tend to some other body of water that doesn't have creatures emerging from it.

Anyway, think about it.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

summer breeze, makes me feel fine

I wrote this entry on Sunday, on my way home from Dirty Dancing. Holy crap, what did we do before computers? I filled up like twenty pages of hotel stationery and my hand was killing me. But it passed the time during a five hour drive and gave me a chance to finally write something of length about a place that's been important to me for a long time.

My parents and I first went to Dirty Dancing, a resort in the White Mountains of New Hampshire that rhymes with Palsams and starts with a B, when I was seven. It ended up being one of those vacations that suited all of us... my dad played golf all day, my mom flitted around making friends, and I became a permanent fixture in the kids' program. Normally my parents wouldn't have been the kind to tell me to run along and play so that they could enjoy their vacation in peace, but one day I went to check out the options for those three feet tall and under. I made a bunch of little friends and swam and played kickball and enjoyed it all so much that I hardly resurfaced for the rest of the week. I didn't even eat meals with my parents; I did everything with the kids' program. Rumor has it that I was so sad to leave that I cried in the car on the way home.

Talking about it now, I'm a little concerned that this ominous-sounding "program" may have been some kind of mid-80s kiddie mind control experiment. But who cares, they had ice cream and pool toys!

Anyway, Dirty Dancing turned out to be a lovely place with built-in babysitting that you couldn't pry me away from, which made it a very appealing vacation for my parents, as it would for any young parents, I would imagine. And then it turned into the sort of thing where the same families came back the same week every year, and everyone became friends. My dad would end up golfing with another family's dad, my mom would hit it off with some other mom, and I'd run around wreaking havoc with whomever was close to me in age, and then we'd write letters back and forth during the rest of the year, wishing that we could drink virgin strawberry daiquiris in a pool in our regular lives.

When I got a little older, DD was less about tackle freeze tag and paddleboat races and more about tennis lessons (of course, I never picked up a racket at home) and trying not to break any bones while maneuvering mountain bikes through the cross country ski trails in the woods. When I finished high school I assumed that there would come a time that I wouldn't be able to continue going, for one reason or another, but none of my summer job bosses minded losing me for a week, so I continued going with my family every July throughout college. Same with after college; I always had the vacation time. The only year that I couldn't go was one summer when I was in grad school. This summer when I checked in at the front desk, they gave me a framed picture of the place inscribed with a thank you for my twenty years of regard for the hotel. I can only assume that in that context, "regard" is synonymous with "spending a crapload of your dad's money for the past two decades."

It's hard to describe DD. The whole place is basically a throwback to the 30s or 40s. Big, old, beautiful hotel that's impeccably maintained but still retains much of its architecture and design from, well, the days of yore, so God only knows exactly when. At the risk of sounding completely corny, you really do walk in and feel like you've gone back in time. There are no TVs in the guest rooms and it's so far north and removed from civilization that hardly any radio stations come in. There's no air conditioning, so it's all open windows and soft breezes and blowing curtains. It all just adds to the experience... it would cheapen it, somehow, if I could put on VH1 before I went to bed or listen to crappy dance mixes on Hot 105.2 or if the AC was cranked and everyone's windows were closed. It creates an ambiance that's hard to put into words but is quite palpable. It's like you're completely cut off from the real world, aside from the newspapers in the lobby. The only music that I listen to, besides what's on my iPod, is the sound of the five-piece band practicing, because my room is right above the ballroom.

During the day, it's a cheery, sparkling place filled with swimming, golfing, hiking, or QT with a book and an adirondack chair. Around six everyone retreats to their rooms to shower and dress for dinner, and that's what I think really sets DD apart from any other place I've been. It's sort of the perfect day, in a sense... running around doing whatever you do during the day, and then a shift to a dreamy, opulent summer evening, where even the little boys are in suits. There are pianists, the sun setting over the mountains and then stars on top of stars, five course dinner, dancing, conversation, connections. Honestly, I can't explain it, because if I'd never been and it was described to me, I'd probably automatically think, "Eh, not my scene; dressing up EVERY NIGHT?" But I absolutely love it, I think because it's such a departure from reality for me. Even when I was a kid, I could feel and appreciate the way a night there had a way of heightening your senses and making everything a little bit exciting and romantic. And it's not pretentious, in case it was sounding that way; obviously I wouldn't gravitate toward it at all if it had a snooty vibe. They have a pretty high service standard so it seems very formal, but once you crack the surface, you've never met such warm, kind, funny, and interesting people in one place, whether they're staff or guests.

Incidentally, back in the day Stephen King was a waiter at DD, and rumor has it that it inspired him to eventually write The Shining. My Google search results tell a different story, but who knows? They originally wanted to shoot the movie at the hotel, but were turned down because it would have required closing down for awhile and management didn't want to do that. And can I just say, thank GOD. I never could have gone back for as many years as I have if the freakin' movie had been shot there. It's bad enough that every time I go back to my room at night, I'm convinced that I'm going to round the corner and see two little girls asking me to come play with them forever and ever and ever.

Anyway, it was during my college summers that I started to be friends with some of the waiters (never crossed paths with Stephen King, though, sorry to disappoint). Moreso the waiters than the waitresses, because for whatever reason the dining room staff has always seemed to be about 85% male. Many of them are college students from all over the world who come to work for the summer and live in the dorms next to the hotel. Some of them grew up and still live in the next town over, so they work there all year long, surrounded by their siblings, cousins, parents, aunts, uncles, and former high school classmates. It's pretty much the only place to work for miles that isn't a rundown gas station or pizza place, so I can understand the preference for employment at DD by comparison.

But it's still a bit of a trap, the perfect example of "nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there." There's total desolation in the winter, a two-hour drive to something as culturally edifying as Wal-Mart, and a sort of entrapment in the social hierarchy leftover from high school. Off the top of my head I can think of five or six guys that I've known for years that I'd let stay in my guest room at home indefinitely if it meant they'd get out of there and do something else and meet new people. Not that I'd ever bring it up, because it's their life and who am I? But if they ever mentioned something to me about leaving, I'd make the offer right away.

Since the hotel was acquired by a managing company, there have been a lot of changes and "restructuring," if you want to get politically correct about it, and as a result some of the longtime employees have been driven out, and others compelled to leave out of loyalty to those that have been screwed over. When I was there this year, the housecount was low, something like 150, when July and August are supposed to be their busiest months. So obviously it could (gulp) eventually result in the place closing altogether. The concept of an over-the-top resort supporting the residents of a small town that marinates in poverty is sickening on many levels (said the girl who has done nothing but perpetuate that off-balance relationship over the years). It's not like they all work at the Four Seasons and can just walk down the block and get a new job at the Westin. The impact on that community of DD closing could be devastating or liberating or a bittersweet combination of both. In short, it's a Vanity Fair article waiting to happen.

Okay, I have to stop myself before I start working in something about the socioeconomic ramifications of the blah mcblahness. I certainly didn't mean to skip over the waiters so quickly.

Before I was friends with any of them, I was younger and had crushes on them. The college boys seemed so indescribably sophisticated, with their eccentric and endlessly fascinating proclivities. When I was in college, I realized they were frat boys who knew how to groom themselves well for work. Once that image was shattered, I naturally gravitated toward the homegrown waiters, the local kids.

You know how you have some friends that, when you hear they're dating someone or that they want to introduce you to their other friend, you just know you'll like them? It's always like that with all of those guys. Maybe it's the mountain air or something, but the majority of them are such decent, nice, goodhearted people, and loads of fun besides that.

And every so often, being away from home is an opportune time for a fling of sorts. I mean, I just described this place, right? Basically, a girl doesn't stand a chance in a setting like that. In real life, it's the guy that you're attracted to. At DD, the place itself is its own damn aphrodisiac, and it can be way too easy to let things happen that might not happen in your regular life.

Part of it is just the fact that it's not allowed. I'm technically not supposed to be hanging out with any of the people who work there. When I was 17 I went for a bike ride with a guy who ran the old-fashioned elevator they used to have. He was also 17, and he almost got fired for it. Since then it's been an exercise in discretion. The rules say something to the effect of, "Members of the staff are strictly forbidden from interacting with guests except during approved hotel-run activities." Dear God, what are they trying to do to me? Didn't they read Romeo and Juliet? See Titanic? Thornbirds? Any woman will tell you that in that context, the words "strictly forbidden" loosely translate to "my sole purpose."

They've become a little more lenient over the years and understanding of the fact that many times staff and guests form entirely platonic friendships, and "strictly forbidding" this only makes it into a big deal that it doesn't usually need to be. So the management will allow a waiter, or another staff member, to go with you to the ballroom for that night's show if your family invites them. And they need to change into a suit (that isn't their waiter uniform) and carry a note with them that they had their boss write out that basically says, "Dave has my permission to join the Red family tonight in the ballroom," and then their manager needs to sign it. It's pretty horrific to me and I hate that they have to carry around this note like they're in kindergarten and they need a permission slip to go to the zoo, but it doesn't seem to bother the people who work there.

After the show at the ballroom, everyone goes to the tavern (the youngish people, anyway), which is basically the bar that I wish I could find in Boston. It's beautiful, all buttery leather and gleaming wood and candlelight. It's one of the few bars that I feel like I could stop into even if I was by myself because I've known the bartender for a million years and she used to work for the kids' program, or I could look around and know most of the guests occupying any of the tables because they're people that I've known for most of my life. The tavern is supposed to be a place for guests, but I sort of get around that by bringing one of my waiter friends with me as my guest, and then the rest of them show up and by then the people who run the hotel have gone home, so it kind of works out.

The tavern! You can imagine how nights there can end up going, depending on the crowd gathered. I've always been really careful not to become a hotel ho in any way, shape or form. I've just seen way too many people let it happen, even married people, and it's such a shame, because the person just embarrasses themselves and becomes a joke. On any given night, you can look around and the air is thick with either good fun or impending bad decisions. This time around I tried to casually deter an acquaintance of mine, a guest who is, shall we say, more than a stone's throw from the age of consent, from getting into it with a guy who is old enough that he should've known better, and she immediately told me that she could handle herself, and suddenly I felt like the shrill sister in the actual Dirty Dancing movie: "He's not any good for you, Baby!" I watched her leave and was mentally wringing my hands, and one of my friends said to me, "You can't derail that kind of train." Point taken, but it's such a bummer to observe. Misguided girls seem to get such a heartbreakingly early start.

If they're never planning to come back, I suppose it doesn't matter much what they do up there, but that's never been the case with me. DD is a place that I've been going to every summer for three-quarters of my life. It's a place where almost every employee knows me, knows my family, knows what rug I threw up on when I was nine. And in a place like that, flings can be good, but only when flung properly. (And when you're old enough, for the love of God! Otherwise I WILL do my best to try to knock your train off its track.)

Usually such things can be rationalized, to some extent: You're only young once! You have to suck the marrow out of life! You can sleep when you're dead! And then, when you're done silencing your inner nun with fortune cookie-worthy metaphors, come the more specific excuses: Someday you'll be spending all your vacations tethered to screaming kids who refuse to eat anything but chicken nuggets, and then they'll be sullen teenagers who think that everything you do or say is lame and wrong, so you must, you MUST have your fun now.

What is it about vacation? When a friend of mine (who will, ahem, remain nameless) and I went away together a couple years ago and she hooked up with the water sports guy (I've already made all the tactless jokes) IN the water sports hut, I was endlessly amused for many reasons, one of which was the fact that it was the equivalent of her meeting some random guy just in town for a few days and then bringing him to her office late at night. Only when you work at a resort are you able to reap the benefits of guests who check their inhibitions along with their luggage, and you can do so in the very same place that you collect a paycheck. If the CEO of your company ever caught you and a brand new friend in your cubicle, there'd be hell to pay and a 401k to think of. But if you live on an island and work at a resort and your water sports boss catches you with a cocktailed vacationer, what does he do, demote you to calypso band duty for a few days? And more importantly, if everyone had the opportunity for no strings attached sex at work, would anyone ever call in sick?

Let me go on record with this now because if there ever comes a time in the distant future that I have a son, I'll deny ever having said it: Young men of the world, forget backpacking across Europe or moving right to Manhattan after graduation to embark on a respectable career. Go work at a resort, any damn resort, for a few months, because people who vacation there are in a state of mind that usually takes two and a half drinks and a Swedish massage to get to. After your tenure you will have had enough crazy experiences to write a book that I'd be interested in reading, or at least buying a ticket to when the movie comes out starring Colin Farrell as you, and then you can go about the rest of your life and settle down with a nice girl, secure in the knowledge that you didn't deprive yourself of anything during your days of being single. Well, now I have part of a commencement address prepared, should I ever need it.

Ahh, I'm mostly kidding. The thing that cracks me up is the stories about guests trying to seduce employees like they learned pick-up strategies from Danielle Steel novels. I'm talking moves like pushing the room key across the table in the dining room and saying something like, "You know, my wife is at the spa all day." It's just so ridiculous and insulting that a guest thinks this is going to be such an opportunity for an employee. Would they ever walk up to a stranger and think they could get away with saying something like that? A friend of mine brought a bottle of champagne to a woman's room after she ordered it and requested that he deliver it. He obliged even though he doesn't do room service. He was cracking me up describing it: " then I opened the bottle and it makes that really satisfying pop, you know?" She basically took off her clothes and asked him to stay, or, no wait, "she kept taking stuff off." He didn't stay. Or at least he told me that he left. I seriously hope I didn't get an edited version of that story, because I require all dirty details. So I guess another point to make about vacation flings is that they must be flung in a way that doesn't make someone feel like they're an inadvertent star in a highbrow porn.

Before this year, I'd, well, flung with two guys at DD, in all my time there. In case that sounds like something worth noting, it's not. There are other guests who have flung with two guys per night every time they're there. As you might imagine, it's the sort of place where everyone knows everything about everyone else, and anything that happened the night before is common knowledge by breakfast the next morning. The concierge, who is actually my mom's age, actually said to me this year, out of nowhere, that she was surprised I hadn't "dated" more during my time there. "You know so many of the waiters, and they're all so cute," she said. I wanted to grab her by the shoulders, shake her violently, and yell, "YOU THINK?"

But it's worth it, obviously. I enjoy my time with my friends up there so much and I wouldn't want anything to negatively impact it. I'm typically pretty discriminating in my real life and see no reason not to be when I'm there.

I love Dirty Dancing, and it's always hard to leave but also good to be home. I'm a simple girl who easily misses her friends and her bed, you know? I wasn't too far away, but with how removed I felt from the civilization that I'm used to, it may as well have been a million miles. Also, I love going away to visit a place and people that I love, only to return to the place and people that I love for the rest of the year. So I came home on Saturday, threw my suitcases in my front hall, hit up the Cherry Tree with Jen, blissfully caught up on the Sox, and drank Wachusett blueberry, brewed locally and at its best in and around Boston, kinda like me.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

where the hell was I?

Twenty years ago: I was spending all my time with my friends Katie and Katie and the rest of the neighborhood crew... riding bikes, lemonade stands, a thousand modified versions of capture the flag, reading the Ramona books, cutthroat sticker trading and negotiation of scratch and sniff vs. glittery, collecting Garbage Pail Kids and charm necklaces. My friend Jeff unceremoniously kicked out my front tooth when we were rolling down the hill in my backyard; luckily it was a baby tooth. He's told me that I can kick out one of his so we're even; I may take him up on this offer right before his wedding in August.

Ten years ago: It was the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college, and I spent those few months working as a receptionist at the company that my dad worked for at the time. I basically spent the day poking around online (the internet was still a bit of a novelty) in air-conditioning, which are the only ingredients necessary for a sweet college gig. We had a company-wide instant messenger type thing, and I used to send my dad messages asking him to bring me a Diet Coke from the soda machine in the hall, because my boss wanted me to stay at my desk all day. She couldn't figure out why that middle-aged guy from engineering was always coming by to talk to me, and she'd glare at him until she found out that he was my dad. It was fun to let her figure that out on her own. What else? I was dating Justin, as I always did when I was home on break. Ahh, functional relationships. (Is it awful of me to point out that my spell check wanted to change his name to Justine? See my "young love" entry from March of this year if you don't know that whole story.)

Five years ago: That was my summer of debauchery. I was living in my beloved apartment in Watertown. It started with the fact that my company was having periodic layoffs and I was the latest one taken down. I came home in a daze and pushed the button on the answering machine to listen to messages, but then called a friend to tell her my news before the messages had finished playing. We began plotting a big night out to celebrate my unemployment; then my roommate came home and got in on the plans, too. Then I made everyone stop talking because I could still hear the messages playing in the background; one of them was from Steve, whom I'd just met the previous weekend, asking if I wanted to hang out sometime. At the end of the message, my roommate said, "That guy is awesome!" which may have been the only thing that she and I ever agreed on. He couldn't have come into my life at a more random or perfect time. I had no job, it was the beginning of the summer, and the next few months progressed as you might expect. I returned to the working world, and Earth, in September.

One year ago: Lots of Cape, a little bit of Mexico, post-Mexico parasite, that eHarmony wedding, a bunch of other weddings, Sox games and late nights... that summer was a little debaucherous, too, now that I think about it.

Six months ago: Damn, I don't know. Merry Christmas.

Yesterday: Got to Dorie's at the crack of dawn for a last minute babysittage for her two kids. We spent hours playing kickball, monkey in the middle, and soccer, or more accurately, "There's no way you're playing soccer without your shoes on; if you get hurt, what's your mom going to say when she hears that I let you play barefoot?" I stayed until her husband got home from court (lawyer, not defendant). I love her husband and want to meet someone like him, only my age. She encourages me to just take him, but that's a little bit too Lifetime movie for me. My name may rhyme with homewrecka but I ain't one. Hmm, I think I just came up with the title of my autobiography.

Today: Well, I'm off work and between vacations and I'm really just doing laundry and packing, so my big excitement of today was that I went to the dentist. I love going to the dentist! Suburban parents like to finish their basements and then finish their kids, so my childhood was all about getting my braces tightened and bubble gum-flavored fluoride treatments and trying to sleep while wearing a retainer. Now my visits are drama-free and I love having my teeth cleaned; even when they're mining for plaque and using their evil whirring toothbrush and spit suckage machine, you know your mouth is going to be happy afterwards. I'd never had a cavity before, but I had a little one this time, damn my near-perfect record. I go to the same dentist that I went to when I was a kid and she always praises me for brushing well, like I'm still six. I secretly love my semiannual congratulations from her. My hygenist was sharing all the details of her life with me and said "my fiancee" about 400 times. At one point she said, "I don't know why I'm telling you all this!" which is the same thing that my pedicurist said to me the other day. I don't know why they do either, but random people are always telling me their life stories.

Tomorrow: More laundry, packing, iPod updating, and peach binging because I have four in my fridge that will go bad if I don't eat them before I leave on Sunday.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

last night, or the slow disintegration of Party Jen's and my moral compass

It started with Roobar, purveyor of the $12 martini. Progressed to Liam Maguire's, home to a fiddle and spoons-playing band and Wachusett blueberry (on tap!). Downgraded to Towne Tavern, where I started to ask Jen what she wanted to drink and noticed that they had two choices: Bud Light or Pabst Blue Ribbon (a.k.a. Bud Lighter). Jen came back from the ladies and gave me a multiple choice quiz: "The bathroom contains A) a man, B) paintings of French cafes, or C) both of the above." We knew it was time to go home when we were invited to a party by a guy who mimed pumping a keg.

It was a perfectly steady decline from respectable to utter sleaze. And being out on the Cape instead of Boston meant no lines, no covers, no wall-to-wall people. We had the best time.

Monday, July 03, 2006

wash that drama right out of my hair

I'm at CVS restocking Cape stuff, particularly for the guest bathroom, because Party Jen and Dorie are both going to be using it this week, and the only thing in there right now is a lonely bar of Dial and some aloe vera, circa four years ago. So I pick up shampoo and conditioner, and I see that Herbal Essences has a new line called Drama Clean. It smells good and, you know, where there be my friends, there be drama, so maybe this is my subtle way of saying, "You're on vacation now; cleanse yourself of stress." Or maybe it's just shampoo and I'm not Deepak Chopra.

In the checkout line, the cashier is just tickled. "Drama Clean! That's so funny! I wonder if you wash your hair with it enough if all the drama in your life just goes away."

Huh. Maybe I should get some for myself, too.

Happy drama-free 4th, everyone!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

survey says

Did I say I was taking a hiatus from you guys? Like that would ever work in a world where I still have internet access (i.e. the Cape). A girl can only spend so much time in the sun (especially when that girl has minimal skin pigmentation to begin with), and we all know I'm a sucker for a survey. As of this weekend I really WILL be gone, in a land without the internet or even television (gasp). But, in the meantime, back to the topic at hand. Thanks to Stefanie for some of these gems.

Do you own an iPod?
iCouldn't live without it. iEspecially couldn't live without it in my car.

What was the last movie you watched?
The Break-Up. It was mostly swell, but I was distracted by the casting of Joey Lauren Adams as a level-headed soccer mom. That's a long way from Fingercuffs.

Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?
I had to think about this, which is funny because when I'm at home I'm on the phone all the freakin' time. Even when I don't really want to be; not sure how that works. Anyway, it was Dorie. We discussed how the agenda for tomorrow evening is wine, fireworks, and then Grumpy's in Falmouth, but that on the Cape you never know if it's going to be a fun place or full of old, drunk fishermen. Either option is pretty great, though.

Do you think people talk about you behind your back?
I hope there's a great deal of wide-eyed speculation about what that impish Red is going to do next, but I suspect they're busy enough with their own lives to give much thought to mine.

Did you watch cartoons as a child?
Of course! Now I can't think of any of them. The Snorks? Why the hell did that emerge as the representative cartoon of my childhood? It really doesn't deserve such high billing. I loved She-Ra, and was mystified when my next door neighbors had a girl and named her Shira. I couldn't process that it could be a name separate from the show. Now I can't remember if She-Ra had her own show or if she just rode on He-Man's testosterone-laden coattails. I also loved this weird show that was all about Tom Sawyer's adventures; it was half live action and half cartoon. I googled the crap out of it and finally found this, which means I wasn't hallucinating because for years, everyone that I mentioned it to had never heard of it.

Who were your childhood heroes?
Yeah, I'd love to tell you Eleanor Roosevelt or something edumacated like that, but it was really Princess Leia and Olivia Newton-John.

Would you ever date someone covered in tattoos?
Is he beefy?

Do you use sarcasm?
Moreso when I write than in real life. In person, I am a gentle, softspoken creature who communes with spirits and animals and speaks lovingly of all.

How old will you be on your next birthday?
I'll be 29 in October. According to the greeting card industry, it's the age that everyone in their 40s likes to pretend they are, so I figure there must be something to it.

Are you picky about spelling and grammar?
Obscenely so, and yet not: I misuse semi-colons, I'm sure, and abuse the run-on sentence phenomenon.

Do you think your a good person?
I did, until I wanted to mock you for using "your."

Have you ever been to Six Flags?
I think so, but I prefer the ghetto fabulous Canobie Lake. Amusement parks are the best, but only at night.

One of your scars: how did you get it?
I have a chicken pock scar behind my right ear.

If you could pay anyone in the world to be your friend, who would it be?
Like I'd ever pay anyone to be my friend. As if I could ever stoop THAT LOW. Fine, Kate Winslet.

Have you ever met a famous person?
Only minimally famous. I met Drew Carey and Ryan Reynolds at a bar in Florida on spring break and I met Thurman Thomas, who used to play for the Buffalo Bills, waiting in line for ice cream. Now, he was beefy.

What's the scariest story you've ever heard?
So I'm watching an episode of the "new" Twilight Zone and it features Jessica Simpson before she got famous. She's babysitting this little girl who has display cases full of creepy dolls. Of course weird things start happening with the dolls... they find one of them downstairs, even though they never took her out of the display case, and then later all the dolls try to jump on Jessica, stuff like that. Well THEN the little girl attacks Jessica and it turns out that the girl is some demon child who turns all of her babysitters into dolls, and the other dolls were past babysitters that were just trying to protect the former Mrs. Nick Lachey from harm. Brilliant. Why didn't I write it?

What five things would you take with you to a desert island?
Okay, I'm really bad at the desert island question and here's why: I'd like to bring an airplane, a pilot, a co-pilot, enough fuel to get us home, and a second airplane in case something happens to the first one. "No, it has to be five fun things!" Okay, because fun is priority one. How about a water purifier kit? "No, you have to pick CDs and stuff!" I'm puzzled by the implication that I'm stranded on an island and yet my first impulse is going to be to rock out. "You're no fun." Maybe not, but I'll be showered, pedicured and out having cocktails by 10 tonight, and you'll be choosing between water logged copies of Revolver and Abbey Road.