Sunday, June 26, 2011

I'm old as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!

I've always been a bit of firecracker,  never shy about telling folks what I think and causing justifiable ruckuses where warranted. However, when it comes to the likes of hairstylists, waiters, doctors, and housecleaners, I've taken what service they've dished out to me over the years - no matter how lousy - with nary a peep. Funny haircuts, snippy restaurant service, medical double-speak, and shoddy cleaning left me boiling on the inside, sweet and demure on the outside.

But the times they are a-changing.

I'm tired of takin' it, and especially paying good money for takin' it. Over the last couple of years, I've walked out mid-haircut (before too much damage was done), asked for and gotten better restaurant service (yes, I want my water glass filled and butter with the bread; no, I don't want to sit next to the restroom or kitchen), and grilled my doctors when my questions aren't being answered in a straight-forward way.

Just last week I walked out ten minutes into a dental cleaning. I've never walked out mid-dental service, but I raised at least three objections to the dental hygienist as she continually sprayed water up my nose, gouged my gums, and ignored my concerns, and it didn't take me long to realize this cleaning could turn out badly. The whole experience was weird, as if the dental hygienist was making me pay for whatever bad things were going on in her life. As someone who's had lots and lots of cleanings over the years, it didn't take me long to realize this wasn't going to end well. I stopped the cleaning and walked out.

I don't know if good service and client care are sliding to a bottomless pit these days, or if I'm just turning into a crotchety old broad. But I find I have less and less patience with not getting what I pay for or not being treated in a respectful, professional manner by service providers.

Perhaps one of the benefits of getting older is a new-found spirit of demanding the services expected and paid for. And if that's the case, I'm ready to barrel into my golden years!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

How To Succeed In Business And Have Fun Doing It

Aspiring entrepreneurs can learn a thing or two from J. Pierrpont Finch. By following the rules put forth in a little book called How To Succeed In Business, Finch quickly rises from the mailroom to Chairman of the Board of World Wide Wickets. He never lies (he lets others speculate about one thing or another, but he doesn't actually lie); he thinks on his feet; he gives others their due (which may or may not work out for the other person): he's focused on a goal. The only thing in the little book he doesn't follow is the falling in love part. And we're happy about that.

Yes, I just saw Broadway's revival of the Frank Loesser musical "How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying." I'm here to say it was simply wonderful. I was looking for something light-hearted, sing-alongable, colorful, and that's exactly what I found at the Hirshfeld Theatre this afternoon. It's the 50th anniversary of the show, the third rendition (Robert Morse originated the role in 1961; and remember Matthew Broderick's Finch in the 1995 revival?), and stars Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette. And that's Anderson Cooper's voice reading excerpts from "the book."

Yes, Daniel Radcliffe can sing and dance and talk like an American. No mention of Voldemort in the entire production. And John Larroquette's comedic skills are perfect for J.B. Biggley. The whole production - songs, sets, cultural references, costumes - are a yummy throwback to the early 1960s. So the secretaries wear delicious little dresses, suits, hats, and gloves - very Mad Men, but much more colorful. The set is a corporate vari-colored honeycomb. And I think I was the only person in the audience that got the reference to Metrecal. The only current cultural reference I caught was Finch declaring his love for Rosemary by jumping up and down on the couch Tom Cruise-style.

And what an energetic show! Almost every number is full-out all-singing, all-dancing, all-working up a sweat. Man, am I tired! Here's a little sneak preview:

At the curtain call the cast did a little reprise of "Brotherhood of Man," with the audience singing along. Just another something I can add to my resume, with singing on Broadway with Liza Minelli (Spamalot) and my Broadway stage debut at Spring Awakening. So now I'm feeling all Broadway-comfy-cozy. Yum.

Oh, aren't you proud to be
In that fraternity?
The great big Brotherhood of Man!

Evening Stroll

Through Central Park. With 15,000 other folks.

Thursday evening, I participated in the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge with Team 815 from the Episcopal Church Center. While I'd walked in similar events in Atlanta, I'd never joined my colleagues in NYC for this annual race. The event is so popular in New York that it has to be held on two consecutive days to accommodate the 30,000 registrants.

We struck out from our offices at 815 Second Avenue at 5:30 and headed toward the subway and on to the staging area in Central Park, inside 72nd Street entrance. Our group was assigned the Orange area, where a table and sign awaited our team. Our "security" volunteers took possession of our worldly goods and spread the table with water, fruit, and cookies. (Thank you for watching our stuff, Eric, Sharon, and Esther!)

For the race, I was assigned to the White Group - not based on skin color, but based on ability. I'm not a runner, so all walkers were White. Each participant area was jammed, but folks were well-behaved as we awaited the 7pm start time. The fastest groups were led out first, so we slow-poke walkers were the last to go. Our numbered bibs had a couple of tracking strips taped to the back, and as we crossed the start and finish lines, our times were accurately recorded.

I stayed well to the left to allow runners to pass. But anyone who knows me knows that I'm a fast walker, and I was often outpacing folks with non-white bibs. It was a lovely, breezy evening, and the 3.5-mile loop around the park was quite enjoyable. A couple of people commented on my shirt (it had the Episcopal Church logo) as they passed me, so I'm assuming they were good Episcopalians.

I crossed the finish line with a time of 59:44, not great, but respectable for an old broad.

All in all, a lovely evening stroll.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Six Decades of Adorable

Reporting back from a great week in Orlando with the girlfriends. It was hard to concentrate on just the five of us, what with Weiner-gate (really? Weiner-gate?) and wall-to-wall Casey Anthony coverage, but we did manage to talk about everyone we ever knew (yeah, we probably talked about you), run rampant through Universal/Orlando (and all the shops), imbibe in a suitable amount of adult beverages, and sun ourselves around the pool most of the day.

We staked out a prime pool spot - far enough away from frolicking children, but close enough to the pool for a quick dip - and circled the lounge chairs. Time goes quickly when you're catching up on families, trips, health issues, and remember-whens. Add time in the whirlpool, sauna, and steam room, and you've got yourself a winning vacation experience.

Believe it or not, we still have enough stamina to work our way through 9-10 hours' worth of Islands of Adventure and Universal theme parks. We can highly recommend the Harry Potter ride, the Monster Makeup Demo, and the Lucy (as in Lucille Ball) museum. Standing in long lines weren't a waste of time for us, because we just kept up our catching-up talk.

One night we hit the Sleuth Mystery Dinner Show and had a ball. The show was funny, our table-mates were fun, and the wine kept flowing. None of us got the solution right, but we laughed ourselves silly and enjoyed the meal and camaraderie.

It's a real luxury to have five full days to get all the news of each other's lives. We do fall into our old friendship rhythms, and for a brief time we are in our elementary or high school environment. Yeah, there are pros and cons to that, but mostly it's just natural.

We've all completed six decades, except for two who cross that line next month, and we loved celebrating that achievement together. Something tells me that we'll be celebrating eight and nine decades together, God willing.

And we'll still be adorable!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

The Gathering of the Girls

Yep. It's that time of year again. What used to be called Girlfriends Weekend has now been expanded to Girlfriends Week, as we head down to a fun/sun-filled week in Orlando. I don't really remember how it got started, but sometime in the mid-90's, five friends decided we didn't see each other enough - all those child-rearing, career-slogging years seemed to get in the way - and vowed to get together once a year.

Four of us have been together since we were in first grade at Barger Elementary School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. We survived six years there and three at Brainerd Jr. High before heading across the river to Chattanooga "City" High, where we met girlfriend #5.

Years of slumber parties, Twist contests, transistor radios and 45's, pimples, bad hair days-weeks-years, Bobbie Brooks sweaters, Weejuns, pep rallies, and English compositions mean that not a one of us can bullshit the others. We all know too much. We knew each other when.

Do you know how freeing that is? And more comfortable than sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt.

One thing's for sure. We can't lie about our ages. We're all 1951 babies, so we have a lot of decades to celebrate this year. The members of this little quintet are stereotypically named (according to the Most Popular Girl Names of 1951): Linda (#1), Mary (#2), Susan (#6), and two - count 'em, two! - Sharons (#13). No mistaking which era we're from, no siree.

We will catch up with each other - grandchildren, childrens' milestones, one new marriage, vacations, mission trips, work, aches and ailments - and, of course, we'll talk about other folks (good Christian gossip, of course). We'll eat and drink well, sun ourselves, swim, laugh, and do a lot of remembering-when. And after five full days, we won't have scratched the surface of stuff to talk about. That's just what happens when friends get together.

I'll try to report live from Orlando, but I may be too busy talking. Or eating. Or drinking. But probably talking.