26
Jan

I was a bit of a nerd in school, so one of my favorite things is cultivating that nerdiness in others. I especially love getting kids to love learning. Plus, sometimes these children look up to me, which – I’m not gonna lie – feels amazing. Being seen as the ultimate authority on similes, homographs and dangling modifiers is such a rush.

Apparently I’m not the only adult with an imperative need to impress the twelve and under crowd. The library is constantly packed with people spewing their knowledge to those diminutive souls counting down the minutes until mom and dad rescue them.

Such was the case once again this particular afternoon. Trying to find an empty table, I circled the joint multiple times to no avail and finally decided that someone would have to begrudgingly share their claimed territory. That’s when I saw this little pipsqueak of a child. She was so small that her head barely cleared the back of her chair. Not to mention, multiple stacks of books covered the tabletop, hiding her tiny frame. I slowly approached and gently asked her, “May we share this table with you?” From the look on her face, I wasn’t sure if she understood the question. I was also pretty certain she was terrified of me. She slowly nodded her head. At that very moment, a gentleman walked up to our table. They didn’t look related, but he asked if she was okay. I then asked him the same question. Kindly, he also approved and so began my tutoring session.

Yet out of the corner of my eye, I kept watching this little girl fly through book after book. Given that she couldn’t be more than three years old – four tops – I assumed she was simply amusing herself with the pictures while a parent was surfing the nearby computers. About fifteen minutes later, she jumped down from her chair and proceeded to walk around to where I was sitting. She then patiently waited for me to finish whatever I was in the middle of saying. I paused and looked at her. That’s when she calmly asked, “What does ‘particular’ mean?”

I was shocked. I couldn’t believe this child was actually reading the book in her hands. I peered at the page to which she was referring; it was talking about a river. I tried to explain, “Well, particular means specific.” That didn’t help much. “Or it can be a way of saying that something is special. There’s nothing else like it.” From the way she was looking at me, I could tell she thought I too was special. Just not in a good way.

“What’s so special about it? It’s a river. All rivers are the same.”

“Well, you and I both have two eyes and two ears and many things that are the same, but we’re still special. No one else is like you, and no one else is like me.”

I began to feel a thin layer of sweat forming over my body. She wasn’t buying it.

“Or it can mean that they’re talking about only this river. No other river. Just this one. Does that make sense?”

“Not really, but okay.”

As she returned to her seat, the man from earlier reappeared. I then realized that he worked at the library. I must have looked completely dumbfounded because minus any prompting he informed me, “She can read at a third grade level. She’s read nearly all the books in the children’s section.” Oh… She’s one of those kids.

I tried not to feel like a total jackass and continued with my lesson. However, I was suddenly aware of this little girl listening to me. Whereas before I thought she was just another bored kid biding her time until her mom finally wanted to leave, I now knew that she was most definitely smarter than me and most likely judging me as I tried to explain proper semicolon usage to my student. I could hear the trepidation and self-doubt in my every word.

A few minutes later, she got up again and headed toward me. Please no…

“But I still don’t get it. It’s just a river. It’s not special.” Ugh. She was really stuck on this special thing.

“Special doesn’t always mean better than something else. It can also mean different. Not better or worse, just not the same.”

This answer seemed to somewhat pacify her. Encouraged that I might not be a total idiot, she then grabbed another book and promptly flipped to the page in question.

“I don’t get this. They misspelled ‘arithmetic.’”

I took a look. It read: “Why don’t mosquitoes teach math? Because they don’t know ar-itch-metic!”

“They didn’t misspell it, honey. It’s a joke. Get it? Because mosquitoes make you itch.” I then gave a hearty laugh to emphasize my point.

Realizing that she had mistakenly given me more credit than warranted, she silently headed back to her seat and buried her head in yet another book. I, on the other hand, decided it was time to look for another table.

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

19
Jan

I was very spoiled. For the last two years, I had lived without any neighbors across my hallway. Pure bliss.

Then three months ago they moved in. Fresh out of college. New to LA. Nice enough guys. We were formally introduced when I tried to enter my apartment with a basket full of laundry but couldn’t as their oversized papasan cushion was blocking my door. I assumed the endless bounding up and down the staircase would cease once they were fully moved in. I was wrong. Day or night, weekday or weekend… doesn’t matter. I find it amazing that for individuals who seemingly never go to bed, they have the energy to take the stairs two at a time every time. Not to mention the adorable way they let the screen door slam whenever they come or go.

Yes, I am a total ageist. I don’t consider myself much older than my new neighbors, but the self-righteous judgment began the second I saw those baseball caps slung on backwards and the empty pizza boxes laying on their floor. You see, my neighbors love to leave the door open whenever they’re home. Apparently they think apartment buildings are just dorms with bathrooms and no weirdo roommates.

I wish I could say that my neighbors are proving my narrow-mindedness wrong, but no. They still act like frat boys. They stay up late. They have friends over all hours of the night. They like to play their music loud and video games louder. And lately I’ve noticed a strange aroma emanating from their apartment. A delightful mixture of Acqua Di Gio, stale beer and locker room. This all seems very normal to them.

Of course the simple solution would be to tell them to shut their door, but I can’t. I can’t be that “lame chick” from across the hall who wants to kill their fun at two in the morning. I feel like I have a good twenty to thirty years ahead of me before that should become my moniker. Plus, I think one of our other neighbors already complained about the slamming door situation as last week I overhead them mocking said informant. “Don’t let the door slam or we’ll get in trooou-ble.” They then high-fived each other and proceeded to exit the building, ahem, letting the door slam.

The other ugly truth is that a part of me doesn’t want them to shut the door since I’ve become fascinated with their conversations. Sure, some might call this eavesdropping, but I rather see myself as a kind of Jane Goodall figure who is trying to understand the characteristics of these creatures we call twenty-something males. I have already come to a few ground-breaking conclusions:

1. Most words in the English language can be replaced with the term sh*t. For instance, “Coachella already sold out! Can you believe that sh*t? That sh*t ain’t cool, bro.” Likewise, the word sh*t can be added to the conversation for greater effect. “So, like, I was watching Homeland and sh*t… Sh*t, man, that sh*t is intense!” This observation also applies to the term f*ck.

2. Any film based off a comic book figure and/or starring Nicolas Cage can easily be analyzed for two hours or more.

3. Video games are highly underrated regarding their life-changing prowess.

4. I really, truly hope I never sounded this idiotic when I was that young.

Like I said, they’re generally pretty nice guys, but the second I see a St. Pauli Girl poster hanging on their wall, I will do everything in my power to get them evicted.

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

12
Jan

We can breathe a collective sigh of relief… The holidays are over.

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, life as we know it becomes a smorgasbord of food, presents and parties. For a few blissful weeks we forget the diets, grudges and budgets to delight in delicious meals, time with loved ones and our plethora of new gifts and gadgets. At least that’s the way it usually starts out. However, this spirit of festivity typically warps into something less jolly once we begin to notice the expanding waistlines, inflated credit cards bills and the annoying way that our mother has to repeatedly ask if we’re taking our vitamins. I’m not ten years old anymore, Mom. Now go make me a sandwich.

But really I love my family. It might have taken moving two thousand miles away to realize that fact, but it’s true. When we get together, it’s always a good time. We eat. We laugh. We watch football. Does it get any better than that?

Sure, things can get a little tense from time to time. It’s the holidays after all, and we’re family after all. But it’s not religion or politics that tears us apart.

It’s games.

My cousins are big game people. I don’t mean that they like to shoot lions and rhinos; they merely like to kill their opponents in Scattergories and Trivial Pursuit. Their closet is filled with every game known to man; they don’t discriminate. Strategy games. Knowledge games. Spatial recognition games. If it has dice, cards or play pieces, my cousins have it.

The game playing always starts innocently enough. Usually we sit down with some yummy snacks, a little holiday music in the background and smiles all around. Yet within minutes, the mood begins to change. The jovial small talk shifts to an uneasy silence. With the exception of “Did you go already?” no one speaks.

That is until your own flesh and blood screws you over during their next turn.

“Shoot, I needed that!”

“I’m sorry.”

“Great, now I have nowhere to go.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Well, I might as well just quit. I can’t do anything anymore.”

“I’m sorry.”

The season of goodwill toward men? Apparently not when you have twenty-five points riding on your connection from San Francisco to Miami. (Confused? Pick up Ticket to Ride, and you will know only too well what I’m talking about.) You may get a “sorry,” but we all know that your cousin isn’t really sorry. If she were sorry, she wouldn’t have just blocked your only route to Phoenix. You may share the same DNA, but that doesn’t mean your family won’t throw you under the train tracks. Literally.

Slightly more fun is when you’re the one doing the mass killing. Of course, you specifically asked to play TriBond because you rock the trivia games, but that doesn’t make it any less awkward when your little cousin is miserable because she can’t get out of the start circle. Still… Being a winner just feels so good. Not a chance are you going to throw the game.

But that’s just it. It’s just a game. A game that has enough power to sever familial ties built on years of love and understanding… Oh well, at least we have eleven months to repair the damage before the next round of devastation ensues.

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

05
Jan

When at the airport, you can almost always tell who’s from LA. Oftentimes they can be IDed by their Uggs and/or Ed Hardy and/or spray tan. If that doesn’t work, just look them in the eye… because you won’t be able to. Nine times out of ten, they’re wearing sunglasses. Inside. Sometimes at night. Always obnoxious.

It’s become a hobby of mine to guess who’s traveling home to Los Angeles versus flying through on their way to Phoenix or Portland or anywhere else Angelinos don’t care about if it’s outside a 310 area code. In fact, I’ve become so good at it that I can spot an LA resident long before I make it to my gate. From the moment I enter the terminal, it’s game on…

I spied him while checking in my bag. He couldn’t have been any more LA had he been wearing the Hollywood sign on his back. Tall and lean, but in a diet-of-cigarettes-and-whiskey rather than working-out-and-eating-your-veggies kind of way, he was clad in a studded leather jacket and those signature sunglasses. Yet what set apart from the rest of the crowd was his hat. A top hat. On top of a baseball cap.

Yes, this man was wearing two hats. One would assume that the top hat alone would garner him the attention that he was obviously seeking, but no… He had decided that to really sell his look, he needed both accessories. Or maybe he was just cold. Either way, I couldn’t stop staring at him.

Over the years, I’ve seen some interesting flying fashions: footed pajamas, workout bras, Lucite heels. I don’t mind them either; it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun traveling without those diversions to brighten my day. I, on the other hand, like to keep it simple. Jeans, sweater, boots. Cursed with running into people when I least expect it, I choose to leave the Lucite heels at home.

Anyway. Distracted by a girl who was “checking in” her two-pound Chihuahua, I lost sight of Top Hat. I needn’t have worried, though. By the time I made it to security, there he was, standing head and shoulders and top hat above the rest of the passengers.

The line was painfully long and slow. It took nearly fifteen minutes just to make it to the stop point where they double-checked my ID and ticket. Every few minutes, I would scan the crowd to find Top Hat, anxiously awaiting the moment where he would be forced to remove his hats to go through the scanning process. I found myself getting giddy with the idea of what he looked like underneath those hats. Was he covering up a carrot top? Was he bald? Did he have some kind of disgusting, misshapen head?

Oh yeah… Did I also mention that the only thing I like better than people watching at the airport is eavesdropping on TSA conversations?

“He’s still there.”

“Is he still wearing those crazy hats?”

“Yup.”

“Who does he think he is? Some kind of magician?”

It was AWESOME. Because the line was moving at a snail’s pace, for a good five minutes I was lucky enough to stand right next to a throng – yes, throng – of TSA agents, all of whom were ridiculing Top Hat. Come to think of it, we probably would have moved a lot faster had any of those agents, six in all, helped with the scanning process, but who am I to tell someone how to do their job? I was more than happy to listen to their astute observations.

“He looks ridiculous.”

“Does he know where he is? This ain’t some party.”

“I wish a wind would come through and blow those hats off.”

At last… The moment had arrived. I, along with my TSA peeps, watched with baited breath as Top Hat finally removed his wardrobe malfunction. I then understood why he wore those hats in the first place. Though indeed ridiculous, he did manage to elicit a kind of weird/cool/interesting look with them. Without them, he merely looked… normal. Boring. Just like everyone else. His head? Round. His hair? Short and blond. Nothing at all unusual. Disappointed, I watched as Top Hat promptly returned his top hat to its proper place and receded into the distance.

However, this experience did provide me a definitive answer to a long-burning question: do TSA agents mock airline passengers? Ah… Roger that. So the next time you see an agent stifling a laugh as you exit the x-ray machine, rest assured that anything too small or too big or too saggy has been detected and noted. You’re welcome.

Image: africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...