Signs of Spring (Fever)

Standard

‘An it’s-too-nice-out-to-be-chained-to-a-computer story featuring funny signs, though not necessarily about Spring’

Okay okay. I have a zillion ideas for stories that should amuse the bejeepers out of you. I’ve got trip stories, like the one about when we went to Rome right after Chernobyl and nobody was there. Or the one where we left The Child by the side of the road next to a pueblo.

I’ve got ad-biz stories, like the one where we went to South Africa for a diaper shoot and the baby wrangler would only eat foods that started with ‘C’. Or the one where I got lost finding my office in the new Ogilvy digs at Worldwide Plaza and wound up in a British documentary.

And of course I still have plenty of fuel left in the family-story tank — plus major holdings indeed in the growing-up-in-a-small-town memory bank.

But. It is Spring. And Spring is distracting. I’ve been so distracted that the photo at the top of this post was mistakenly snapped by my iPhone-clutching hand while strolling along checking out Spring in New York City. (Actually, I was in a rush to deliver some crutches to The Child, who had just sprained her ankle badly in a fall from a climbing wall — but that’s, ahem, another story.)

Photo taken while wandering lonely as a cloud. If one can ‘wander’ while on a bike

And then this weekend, while on a bike ride out in Amagansett, hoping to clear my head and focus — focus, already — on a story, I found signs of Spring springing out at me from every which way.

But then I had it: Signs! I’ll pack a post with signs, and then I only have to write the bits in between. See, the other thing I do when I’m out and about is ‘collect’ signs that I find amusing. Here. I’ll stop writing and show you one.

This one’s in the thanks-but-no-thanks category

I see lots of at-least-to-me amusing signs while on walks. In fact, I have a whole sub-category on dry cleaning establishments alone. For some reason, I find that dry cleaning signs just beg for wisecracks. ‘Hand Laundry’ — how specialized! ‘Joseph Cleaners’ — but what if Mary gets dirty? ‘Delta Cleaners’ — wow, big job! And then there’s this recent one:

Now that’s a niche market, for sure

Of course, my very favorite, the Dry Cleaning Sign of All Time, which I spied before I wised up and started taking pictures of them, was (I kid you not) ‘Wong Cleaners’.

But wait, there’s more. Because, trust me, even if all the dry cleaners went bust, the streets of New York are full of comic material. As well as purveyors of knockoff ‘designer’ handbags, costume jewelry, and fruit. Lots and lots of fruit, sold by guys from carts who take breaks in trucks.

This guy was apparently trying to ward off the parking-ticket-pushers. If you check out the dozens of slips under the wipers, you’ll see his method wasn’t entirely successful. Maybe he needs a new sign

Speaking of trucks, I sometimes spot ‘my’ signs from a moving (or stuck in traffic) vehicle. Here’s one I spotted on the ramp leading down from the Queensboro Bridge. It’s rather subtle, but as a former advertising writer and creator of slogans, I find it rather unintentionally amusing.

Maybe I’m the only one who finds this one unintentionally amusing. But no, Doctor Dude did too

Reminded me of the sign I see every time I leave the City to go to Amagansett. I’m usually jockeying for traffic position, so I haven’t been able to get a good shot, but I did send it in to the New York Times.

Printed in the Metropolitan Diary, a feature that appears on Mondays in the Times

Of course New York isn’t the only City with amusing signs. Here’s one I just love, taken on a not-recent-enough visit to my Mother’s place in Seaside, Oregon:

Taken on the main drag in Seaside, after a delicious dinner (not featuring donuts or Bud Light) across the street at Dooger’s

But you don’t need a streetscape to find good signs. If you keep your eyes and your mind open, you’ll see them practically everywhere. Those of you who have read my stories for a while know that I have a particular fondness for ‘Danger’ signs. (Check out ‘Oh no, Danger Man’ for hilarious examples.) Here’s a shot of a ‘Danger’ sign that combines two pleasures — a visit with family and civil disobedience:

Nobody-Doesn’t-Like Jen defies the sign in classic married-to-a-Henry-so-that-explains-it fashion

I could go on and on, but even lazy-butt Spring-Fever-induced blog posts crammed with signs have to end sometime. Besides, I have to get outside and check to see if the magnolia blossoms are out yet. (We have some rather spectacular specimens right outside our front door, as you can see from this photo taken during another equally-distracting Spring.) Oh, and you never know. I might see another silly sign to snap.

Wishing everyone a super-distracting Spring, with little or no Fever

New York City. April 2017

“You looked so nice I almost didn’t recognize you.”

Standard

‘Appearances can be deceiving. Or something like that.’

So. Today is February 14. And yes, I did get something red and shiny for Valentine’s Day: my nose. Maybe by next week — when it’s (fingers crossed) only a miserable memory — I’ll find this cold amusing enough to write about. We’ll (sniff) see. In the meantime, I’m going with what I originally planned.

Which is a riff on Being Compared to Someone Else.

You know. Like when someone comes up to you at a family reunion and says something along the lines of “You remind me so much of your Aunt Net”. (A real Aunt of Mine whose name was Annette. She wore a hairnet, which is how she got that nickname. Or so we kids thought.) Continue reading

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Standard

‘Practice practice practice. But please don’t fake your practice notes and forge your parents’ signatures’

If there’s anything I’m more tired of than reading about the election, it’s writing about the election. So this week, I thought I’d switch gears and write a story that makes fun of inept people in positions of power. It also involves some lying and cheating.

It’s about the time The Child faked her violin practice notes.

First, I have to say that the whole situation was absurd from the get-go — the fact that she had to take the violin. See, The Child had been playing the piano basically from birth. And playing it very well indeed, I’ll have you know.

The Dude introduces The Child to Mr. Piano

The Dude introduces The Child to Mr. Steinway. She is, oh, two days old here

 

Here she is, actually touching the keys. This piano was in the soon-to-be-pummeled-by-storms teeny-tiny beach house

Here she is, actually touching the keys. This piano was in the soon-to-be-pummeled-by-storms teeny-tiny beach house

She played the piano so well that she played in competitions and gave recitals. She and some of her fellow piano prodigies once played for the residents of a nursing home in New Jersey, where a little boy was startled enough to almost miss a note when he was in the middle of Chopin’s Fantaise-Impromptu and all these oldsters started swaying in unison and singing ‘I’m Always Chasing Rainbows’. Continue reading

The boss who got banished to Belgium

Standard

‘Dealing with ‘sexual harassers’ back in The Day’

Okay. A couple of weeks ago I told a story about politics. And last week I wrote about religion. So I guess this week I have to (gulp) live up to my promise and deliver that tale about sex.

Sometimes a waffle is just a waffle. Unless it’s Belgian, perhaps

It’s pretty timely, since the news has been chock-full of stories about a Certain Candidate for President Who Shall Remain Nameless and his predilection for pouncing on people in the workplace (actually, make that pouncing on people practically any place: on planes, at pageants, on back lots pre tv guest spots). [Note: I am so not going to provide links here, since you know perfectly well where to find stories about this guy.]

Oh, to be perfectly clear, it’s female people he pounces on. But not just any female people. These are females who rate, oh, at least a 7 or an 8, if not an all-out 10, in his personal scale of pounce-worthiness.

Dah dum. Dah dum. Dadum Dadum Dadum Dadum. Dah...dum.

Dah dum. Dah dum. Dadum Dadum Dadum Dadum. Dah…dum. Nope, he doesn’t think she’s a ’10’. But he’s stalking her anyway

Oops. There are exceptions, of course. See above photo.

But no no no. There are no politics in LutheranLiarLand(!) Let’s get back to my story. Continue reading

‘You have an honest face’

Standard

‘How I went home with a Turner without paying for it, and other Tales of Artistic Adventure’

‘If you get a little money, buy art. If you get a little bit more, buy food.’ I’m pretty sure it was Hemingway who said that. Although, if it was Hemingway, wouldn’t he have been talking about buying books? Oh well, it’s a good quote anyway.

And it reminds me of the time, years ago, that I took my own personal plunge (well, maybe more like a dip) into the Art World. It was back when I was the creative director for an international skincare brand based in Maidenhead, UK. Which meant I had to go to London regularly. (‘Had to go to London’. Sure, you can just hear me: ‘Oh, no, Mr. Boss. You need me to go to darned old London again?’)

I have to admit that I don’t remember all that much about what working on that brand was like. But I remember vividly how cool it was to go to London, say, twice a month. And stay in hotels like Brown’s and the Cadogan and Blake’s. On somebody else’s dime.

I mean, what’s not to like about London? For one thing, everything you do is ‘brilliant’. Seriously. You get in a cab and the driver asks ‘Where to, Love?’ (Nice, being called ‘Love’.) And when you say ‘The Ritz, please’, the cabbie says ‘brilliant’. Continue reading

Gimme a kiss. I’m goin’ to work(!)

Standard

‘Embracing Working Momhood without (too much) guilt’

It’s been ages since I felt guilty about working. Nowadays, I’m much more likely to feel guilty about not working. You know, whiling away my afternoons on a chaise longue (which Google, for some reason wants to correct to chaise ‘lounge’) in a filmy peignoir, flipping through trashy magazines while nibbling on chocolates bought with The Dude’s hard-earned money. (Actually, my non-working afternoons are more likely to be spent in the company of SoftScrub.)

But, back when The Child was an actual child, I used to feel guilty about working. My guilty feelings weren’t so much about leaving her adorable self in the care of others (though she was pretty darned adorable, as you can see):

Super-adorable Baby Child, about to be left by Heartless Selfish Mother (Me)

Super-adorable Baby Child, about to be left in the care of Another Person, not her Heartless Selfish Mother (Me)

Nope. My guilty feelings arose because I, um, actually preferred going to an actual workplace and interacting with other adults to hanging around all day with a pre-verbal non-ambulatory person, adorable though she might be. As you may already know from reading some of my other stories, like ‘Gone Baby Gone’, I used to say ‘Hey, if didn’t enjoy getting down on the floor to scribble with crayons before I had a child, what makes anyone think I’d enjoy it now?’ Continue reading

Radio Days

Standard

‘Did I just hear somebody say “sushi”?’

The Dude and I grabbed some sushi last night. (Why is it that one ‘grabs’ sushi, I wonder?) And, as I deftly dipped a chunk of inside-out California Roll into a little dish of sodium-reduced soy sauce, I was transported back, in a rather Proustian tasting-the-madeleine-like way, to one of the very first times I ever had sushi.

It was in Chicago, back in those golden years of traveling around the country on somebody else’s dime. I was working in advertising, natch. On this radio project that involved interviewing people who had lost their money because they were silly enough to be carrying actual money instead of American Express Travelers’ Cheques.

We were using this interviewer named Alan Kalter (he got to be pretty famous as an announcer on Letterman, but, trust me, this was way before that). Anyway, Alan was in a glass-fronted room talking to a group of losers (er, people who’d lost their money) while the producer and I watched and listened and prompted him (via a tiny wireless earpiece mic) to ask certain questions, or to get the interviewee to repeat a phrase more clearly or loudly.

See, we were recording the interviews so we could piece together some ‘it-could-happen-to-you’ radio commercials. So we needed certain phrases, like ‘I lost my money’, ‘My vacation was ruined’, and, of course, ‘I wish I’d been carrying American Express Travelers’ Cheques’ to come out nice and crisp and clear. Continue reading