Saturday, January 10, 2009

Clueless is no excuse...

... and yet, how is it that I so frequently find myself saying things like "wow, I didn't notice?"

I would like to think I am observant. Funny story about that word actually. During a dark 5-week period in my life, I decided I needed to make some supplemental income, around my being an adjunct professor and entrepreneur. So, I did what most people with a master's degree and a highly overachieving ambition do - I called my sister out of state and asked her to get me a job with her nationwide discount clothing chain employer. She made the call, got me an interview, and I was offered a job in the spring of 2004, putting circular, quarter-size, multi-color labels on the bottom of drastically discounted shoes. The going rate was $5.75 a hour, but the store manager said she would pay me $6. And who says a liberal arts master's degree does not bring in the big bucks?

So, this was an interesting experience. I should have started blogging back then. I really learned a lot about myself, and others during that experience. But one of the best stories was from one of our morning "associate meetings" before the store opened. It seems the corporate office was fond of disseminating "rah rah" slogans to help motivate the employees who were slaving for a non-livable wage. At this particular meeting, one of the assistant store managers revealed the new cheer, and kept telling us to "Be Ozervent." What the hell did he just say? Now, I know it was early in the morning, and I really did not want to be there, but I looked at the crowd gathered around him, and no one else seemed as perplexed. He said it over and over again. BE OZERVENT, BE OZERVENT. I finally got it. Be Observant! You would think after such a great moment in my career, that advice would have really impacted me. And yet, I still remain clueless at times...

Back to my original thought: Clueless is no excuse. And yet, approaching 40, I am still regularly clueless in a good relationship. Am I self-absorbed? That could be part of the reason. I'm not proud of that fact, but U. Blogger is the youngest sibling in the family, and has exhibited tendencies of self-absorption from time to time.

I have a great relationship with a great partner. She gets me. And that says a lot because I rarely get myself. And yet, I can frequently be clueless to things that are impacting her. It's no excuse, but it keeps happening. It's terrible really.

But, can you teach a proverbial old dog new tricks? I'd like to think so. How do you do it? Let's hope I learn it before it's too late.

Friday, January 9, 2009

When Reality Comes a-Callin'

Part of my convoluted outlook includes thinking that I still have a handle on being cool. Of course, in some ways I might still be... Or perhaps the younger people in my life are humoring me. Then again, using the word "Cool" might indicate just how un-cool I am, to those in the know. I'm not quite 40, and among my nomadic career, I am a college professor at a couple of universities.

So, what better barometer than a room full of young 20-somethings to help keep me in check. They laugh at my jokes, and appear to be sincere. But, the biggest reality check took place over Christmas.

My partner's kids got the video game "Rock Band" for Christmas. In a previous life, I was a pretty decent musician. I can't dance worth a damn, but as the Gershwin's said, "I've got rhythm... Who could ask for anything more?" So, I do have a bit of a musical advantage, if I may say so. I figured I was in good shape.

But, this is where I got my coolness reality check. 47 songs are included in the game. I knew like four of them. Quatro. Less than 10%. Now, I RECOGNIZED the names of some of the artists. But, singing lead vocals on "I think I'm Paranoid" by Garbage, I failed. As an overachiever, let me tell you, that was devastating. And of course, when my sister asked why I failed, my partner proudly announced, "Because she sucks!"

And why did I suck? Not because I can't read the words on the screen, but because I had NEVER HEARD this song. I had no idea who this group was. But I did them justice - my rendition WAS garbage.

And the song "Maps." What the hell is that about?

Here is a sample from this little ditty:

"Wait! They don’t love you like I love you;And wait! They don’t love you like I love you;Ma-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-aps;Wait! They don’t love you like I love you!And wait! They don’t love you like I love you!Ma-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-aps!Wait! They don’t love you like I love you …Wait! They don’t love you like I love you;And wait! They don’t love you like I love you;Ma-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-aps;Wait! They don’t love you like I love you!And wait! They don’t love you like I love you!Ma-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-aps!Wait! They don’t love you like I love you …"

Can someone tell me? Am I THAT out of touch?

So, I'm getting zen with my lack of coolness. And at the risk of blowing my uber-coolness, here would be my dream version of Rock Band: Anyone with me? Care to add something I may have missed?

1. The Lady is a Tramp, F. Sinatra
A kickin' big band chart where you can wail on the drums.

2. Got to Get You in to My Life, Earth Wind & Fire

3. Sway, Michael Buble'

4. I Want to Come Over, M. Etheridge
Where is the Rainbow version of rock band?

5. Glamorous, Fergie
If you ain't got no money, take your broke ass home!

6. Home By the Sea, Genesis
Classic Rock, and not the predictable "In the Air Tonight" Phil Collins drum solo.

What about a request for the Doobie Brothers? Am I completely out of touch?

If they could only see themselves...

...But would they even care?

The UBlogger's very wise (and no doubt once exhausted mom) used to say to UBlogger "If you could see yourself" when I was being typically ornery or just a pain in her ass. So, like most things moms say, that stuck with me, and as UBlogger approaches 40, I hear myself saying much of what she said to me when the bag on my head was a small, instead of a large.

So, in the last week, this phrase has been popular once again.

There was the drivethru at the Dunkin Donuts. As I was waiting for my bagel, Pakistani-Annie relieved herself of a wedgie right in front of my eyes. And then used that same hand to take my money and pass over my breakfast. If she could see herself...

And then road rage on the interstate... This was a good one. New Years' Eve. 3:30pm on the interstate near my home around one of the top 10 media markets in the USA (have to maintain that anonymity you know). The merging ramp unfolds to reveal a parking lot on the highway. O well. It happens. It is a road, after all. Cars do tend to use them from time to time. I try to relax, accept it for what it is, and enjoy the moment. It does not always work that way, of course. But the woman in front of me provided such great entertainment. She went absolutely ape shit. She threw her hands up in the air repeatedly, drove onto the shoulder (presumably to get a better view - of what I don't know) and thrashed her head from side to side. It was fabulously entertaining. She saw me laughing in her rear view mirror and shot me the bird. If she could see herself...

Two days later on an airplane. One of my least favorite places. I do not mind flying per se, its just the people you have to do it with that annoy me. On this particular flight, I had the frantic hair twirler in front of me. 2.5 hours. It's amazing she had any left when we deplaned. 2.5 hours, twirl to the right, twirl to the left. Pull. Repeat. If I had $4 cash, I would have bought her a bloody mary.

These people... they make me smile, partly because I'm pretty certain I've done dumb shit before, but also because they are just so entertaining.

Relax folks. Light a cigar. Have a drink. Meditate. Something. Enjoy yourself, because you just might spot someone doing something really stupid, so you will have a really good story to share later.