Monday, October 27, 2008

Cottage Cheese, Muffin Tops and Afro Pubs

A Moratorium on Locker Room Nakedness, Please

© 2008 Leighann Lord

Unless you have immense self discipline, or a ruthless personal trainer, the gym is a risky investment. If all the people who had gym memberships actually went, they’d have to make reservations. That said, I’ve decided to go back.

I hope it’ll be different this time. This time I have a goal. I’ve taken up running to improve my cardio and endurance because it’ll help my martial arts training. It doesn’t matter how good or strong your techniques are if you tire easily. This was a hard decision.

As a child I loved running games like Tag and Red Light, Green Light 1-2-3 but that all changed in high school. Freshman year gym was track & field. At the first class Sister Sadist commanded us to run a mile. No warm up, no nothing, just run. The girls who had asthma – okay, me – were told to suck it up. Diva In Training that I was, I refused, choosing instead to walk the mile. I got an F. The only F of my academic career and I still stand by it with pride. Consequently any love I might have had for the gym, running and religion evaporated.

So it is with great reluctance that I have finally decided to run. With Winter approaching I figured the gym would be the best place to go. My first day back I paced myself. I didn’t over do it. I started walking on the treadmill, slowly increasing my speed, then ran I for 10 minutes. I switched to the elliptical machine and did 10 minutes of interval training. Yea, me!

"Well that wasn’t so bad. Maybe this will work out after all," I thought, and that’s when I saw her: a naked woman strolling through the locker room. The only covering she had was a towel wrapped around her head but I’ve never had a problem with naked hair.

While I’ve managed to recover from most of my Catholic upbringing, I can’t seem to shake my prudish reaction to the human body. Add a bit of vanity and snobbery, and not only was I offended that this woman was naked but that she wasn’t even in good shape. She wasn’t Jabba the Hut but she was very cottage cheesy. There was some lopsided muffin top action happening and a voluminous shock of afro pubs in dire need of a shape up.

I in no way mean to imply that I by comparison am perfect. I am not. That’s why I always remember to bring a towel. According to Douglas Adams you need a towel to hitchhike through the galaxy and according to common decency you need towel if you plan to shower at the gym.

To be honest, it wouldn’t have mattered if the naked woman had a flawless figure. I just don’t think the human body is all that beautiful. At first it’s not so bad. Most babies are cute, but over time there are profound physical changes that the general public doesn’t need to be privy to.

This wasn’t the first Naked Locker Room Woman I’ve ever seen. But the last one had the decency to dash from the shower to her locker, hands and arms covering key areas while mumbling "Sorry, I forgot my towel." She evinced the proper amount of shame, conveying that this scene would not intentionally be repeated. Maybe it’s the Catholic thing again, but I think there should be dinner, courtship and some type of commitment before you begin showing off your nakedness. The Naked Cottage Cheese Lady did not scurry, run, hide or dress quickly. She in fact strutted around in her all together’s like she was in the privacy of her own home. I wish she had been.

Since I’m always up for a good conspiracy theory, maybe this woman didn’t "forget" her towel. Perhaps an astute gym manager paid her to parade around the locker room au natural – imperfections and all – to remind everyone in eye shot why we’re there. Naked Cottage Cheese Lady then is an inspiration. And I am inspired – to buy a treadmill and run at home. God help me.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Friend, Sarah

© 2008 Leighann Lord

I got a letter in the mail from Sarah Palin. It was addressed to me – Leighann Lord – not Resident, Occupant or Home Owner. Given the current housing crisis, the latter salutation might have been supremely presumptuous. The return address simply said Sarah Palin; No city, state or zip; not even a zip plus four. I guess Sarah is like Santa Claus. The post office just knows where to find her.

The letter opened with:

"Dear Friend,"

kay, let’s stop there.

Admittedly, I’m horrible with names and not much better with faces, but I don’t believe Sarah and I run in the same circles. I have not seen her at my book club meetings. I have not had the pleasure of pummeling her in my kick boxing class. I know she went to a lot of colleges, but none of them were mine. I only went to one.

We are separated by a lot more than six degrees. I doubt if even Kevin Bacon has an easy link to Sarah. We aren’t even Face Book friends. We’re not connected on My Space, Hi5 or Linked In. I have seen some of her work on Your Tube though . . . oh wait, that was Tina Fey.

Given that Sarah started her letter with a falsehood, I felt no need to read further, but curiosity got the better of me. It said:

"I personally want to say thank you for the steadfast support and unstinting generosity you have given to the Republican Party and all of our candidates."
Okay, friends. This is worse than I thought. Either my alter ego is a card carrying, money giving Republican — she’s not, I asked (actually my alter ego is very fond of Ralph Nader, but that’s another story) – or someone has stolen my identity and is making unauthorized donations in my name. Why can’t I get a normal identity thief who just wants to buy a flat screen TV at Best Buy?

In a past life, I might have Pay Paled Abraham Lincoln a couple of dollars, post emancipation and pre assassination, but other than that I have never knowingly given money to the Republican Party. Quite frankly, I never thought they needed it. Maybe they’d have some extra ducats in the kitty if they didn’t spend money buying bad mailing lists or expensive outfits at Neiman Marcus. (Really Sarah? $150,000 on campaign accessories?) As far as I know, the wife of Joe Six Pack cobbles together her ensemble from Target, JC Penney and Forever 21.

I showed the letter to my husband and he was hurt. To date, he – a registered Republican – has received no correspondence from his friend, Sarah, although if he had, he probably would have burned it. My Sweetie is a bit disenchanted at the moment with the right wing wacko take over of his party. It also helps that I whisper in his ear when he’s sleeping, "McCain is insane. No drama with Obama."

I don’t feel bad about this. When we dated, he promised me he would switch to the Independent Party. That was his idea of sweet talk and I fell for it. I was young, in love and a sucker for bipartisan promises.

Any who, my friend, Sarah, was not writing to inquire about my health, wish me well on my career or even ask me for grand-baby name suggestions. No, she was soliciting money from me to help the McCain-Palin campaign.

"So please rush back your Emergency Pledge of $5,000, $2,500, $1,000, $500, $100 or $50 to McCain-Palin Victory 2008 in the postage-paid envelope I’ve enclosed with my letter today."

Normally, I’m all for using money to influence and corrupt the political process, but I’m shocked. I thought Republican’s – as a rule – were allergic to handouts. Wouldn’t my donation be akin to political welfare? I couldn’t do that to my friend, Sarah. I would much rather see her and John stick by their principles and boot strap their way to the White House. That’s the only way they’ll learn. Besides, I’m a little short right now. All my money’s tied up in the $700 billion dollar bail out.

And by the way, Sarah, it doesn’t take a Washington insider to know that a real friend would have at least remembered my birthday. At the very least, an invitation to the $150,000 clothing shopping spree would have been nice, gosh darn it.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

The Flip Side of Rohypnol

Hearing the Call of the Cougar
© 2008 Leighann Lord

Every experienced party person knows you never leave your drink unattended. Be it glass, cup, can or mug you must be vigilant lest somebody slips you a Roofie. Even back in the day before Rohypnol was part of our everyday vocabulary you just knew if you turned your back somebody was bound to take liberties with your libation.

In my heyday I hugged my drink tighter than a running back grips a football. Nobody was sneaking in anything without my knowledge. I even hawkishly watched the bartender to be sure he wasn’t in league with some nefarious ne’redowell. I can honestly say that while at a party I’ve never drained a drink dry. If my attention wavered for a moment I would immediately abandon my beverage. I learned it was cheaper just to dance and pretend I wasn’t parched.

I was at a function recently where a woman left the table and put a napkin over the top of her soda can. I think she did this out of reflex because it was a relatively nice and upscale event; not at all the type of shindig where one need worry about running the risk of a roofie. While I believe whole heartedly in the adage “better safe than sorry,” I wondered how much protection a napkin would really provide. Can a would be Rohypnol Dropper be so easily foiled? Does etiquette demand that if a cup is covered he move on to an unguarded glass?

Is there an age where you no longer have to worry about being roofied? Certainly a young lady so new and fresh on the scene that she’s still shiny must be on her guard, but what’s the cut off? After age 60? 70? (My ego hopes that men will still want me, and not just for my money. I want to have that Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt kinda sexy well into my 90s.) The woman at the event who put the napkin over her soda can was in her mid-50s. It seemed more likely that she’d go cougar and roofie some sweet young thing in his 30s.

Some people are offended by the term Cougar. I’m not sure why. What’s wrong with a mature woman being a wild cat; a creature who knows the rules of the jungle; who can hunt, chase and capture what she wants. Maybe people are concerned that as a women ages the tables turn. Instead of worrying about someone slipping something into her drink, she’ll begin employing the tactic herself.

In this paradigm, however, one would think a roofie would be unnecessary. Given the dictates of human biology, men don’t need much coercion when sex is in the offing. Men go willingly, nay, happily should their good fortune net them a teacher, a sugar mommy or just a good time. And this isn’t mere charity work. Today’s older women are looking fabulous! No longer does my gender need to quietly toddle off to the land of moo-moos and orthopedic shoes. There are a plethora of hot mamas over 40 who are putting 20 year olds to shame.

But the same biology that drives men to seize the punani pay day may also make them hesitant to move from hunter to hunted. It’s not a position they’re used to. I envision young men at parties clutching their rum and cokes, casting suspicious glances at the seasoned women on the prowl. The men worry, “Will that Silver Fox at the bar slip me a roofie if I glance away from my glass? Will she use me, abuse me and cast me aside?” Only if you’re lucky, Baby. But if you’re not ready, Fellas, don’t worry. Any self respecting Cougar will pass you by if you put a napkin over your drink. That’s proper roofie etiquette and a Cougar is nothing if not a lady.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Debate Date: Joe, If You're Out There

Joe, If You're Out There

© 2008 Leighann Lord

My Husband and I had a Debate Date. We were both working during the third and final presidential debate, so we taped it, came home and watched it at midnight. Very romantic! It’s not exactly dinner and a movie but it was entertaining.

I’m not sure I learned anything new during this debate, unless you count, Joe the Plumber. I heard more about Joe and his tax problems than I would have liked. I don’t think Joe is doing too badly. He was able to attend a political function during the day. Did he use a sick day or a vacation day? The American public deserves to know.

Is Joe the Plumber related to Joe Six Pack? Are they the same guy? Can Joe the plumber down a six pack? In this economy can he afford a six pack? And I’m sure the ladies would like to know if Joe has a six pack. And what about those Americans who can’t afford a plumber be he drunk or ripped? John McCain isn’t going to gain much ground in these last few weeks if he keeps narrowing his base to guys named Joe who have a drinking problem.

All agree that Obama came out of the debate looking as cool and calm as ever, and McCain... well the old man looked down right irascible. Issues aside, I am worried about McCain. All that anger and tension can’t be good for him; too heavy on the jaw clenching and teeth grinding. I got a little livid just looking at him. Although listening to him was infuriating as well.

Maybe it’s the fear talking. The reality is this is it for McCain. If he loses his bid for president now, he will not be back in four years. He may not even be back in four hours. This does not mean his entire career is over; not by a long shot. If he continues to eschew anger management, he’ll have a job waiting for him with The World Combat League or the WWE. With his temperament, he’d be a natural for Smack Down. “Let’s get ready to stumble!”

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Closet Chaos: 80% Crazy, 20% Sane

© 2008 Leighann Lord

Living in a four-season climate, I get the pleasure of switching the clothes in my closet two times a year. Tricky business this. There are always a few awkward days when I’m sweating in a turtle neck on a warm October afternoon or shivering in a cute but thin blouse on a cool May morning.

This biannual switching has shown me that my wardrobe adheres to the 80/20 rule. I wear 20% of my clothes 80% of the time. The other 80% I’m not wearing speaks volumes. The first thing it says is that I’m a pack rat. There are times when I’m at peace with this and others when I’m in full blown denial. I tell myself that I’m only hanging onto good quality pieces until they come back in style. Speaking of which, I hear vests are returning this year. My tan fringed suede vest that would look perfect on Linc from "The Mod Squad" is finally coming out of the plastic.

While it’s true that everything comes back — even things that shouldn’t — it takes about 20 years. Do I have enough space to keep stuff for that long? Will I really want to wear the outfit I’m wearing right now in 20 years? Even if it fits me physically, I probably won’t be same person stylistically.

I loved my big 80s leg warmers. I was young. I didn’t know any better. Slip them on again? Probably not. In retrospect considering everything that went on in the 80's — crack cocaine, Ronald Reagan, the last episode of "Mash," I’m lucky to have escaped with my leg warmers and Milli Vanilli tape in tact. (Yes, I said tape!)

I’ve also learned that if an impromptu formal function breaks out, I’m ready. For some reason I’ve got an assortment of formal wear (not including bridesmaids dresses) stashed in my closet. The lesson? I’ve got to stop basing buying decisions on "Wow! I’d look great in that!"

That brings me too the goodly number of clothes in my closet that I bought with The Best of Intentions. They looked great in the store, but they never seem to survive the "What am I gonna wear today?" selection process. I hang on thinking one day I’ll don them, but that’s like trying to make a relationship work when deep down you know there’s nothing there.

I also have the bad habit of trying to color match from memory. While shopping I’ll see a really cute top and become absolutely, 100% convinced that it will perfectly match something I already have. I buy it, take it home and learn – once again – that there are multiple shades of black. Do I return it? Can’t. It’s cute.

The most perplexing thing in the 80% section of my closet is anything white. I almost never wear white. Of course I look outstanding in it (you should have seen me in my wedding gown) but I’m just not a big fan. Wearing white is way too stressful. I’m paranoid I’ll get a mark or stain that’ll ruin the outfit.

Oddly enough I didn’t stress about my white wedding gown. No doubt I had a few other things on my mind, but I also had an army of people at my disposal who’s job was to help keep me and my dress looking pristine. Without a staff I just don’t have the stones. So why do I have white outfits sitting in the 80% section of my closet?

Well, I went through a phase where I thought if I bought more white I’d get over my fear and wear it. It hasn’t really worked out that way. It’s too bad because I’ve got some cute stuff: A white denim skirt, white sweat pants, white dress pants, white button down shirts ... And it all hangs inside-out in my closet, getting switched around, back and forth, season to season.

The only white I wear, out of necessity, are my gi pants. They are part of the uniform at my martial arts school. I wash them religiously and damn near own stock in Clorox and Oxy Clean. The cool thing is the students who have earned their black belts get to wear black pants. Guess who can’t wait? Thankfully, as a brown belt, I’m 80% there.


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Monday, October 6, 2008

Post Financial Crisis Survival Tips

Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You
© 2008 Leighann Lord

As the economy prepares to slide into the abyss, the experts are warning us to prepare for hard times. Jobs will be lost, dreams will be deferred, and folks will be robbed. When the Dow goes down, crime goes up. While we’ve all been enjoying a relatively low crime rate, some of us may have forgotten how to manage in more thuggish times. Worried about getting through the coming crime wave? Fear not! Let us harken back to the time of The Club, LoJack and Benzi Boxes.

In general, for your personal safety, it’s best not to be seen looking too prosperous. This means you’ll need to cut back on the conspicuous public consumption of your personal music. Leave your Ipod at home. If you must carry it with you, for god’s sake don’t walk around with your headphones on. You’ll never hear the danger coming.

If you really can’t be without your music, start singing to yourself. This carries the bonus of making potential thieves think you’re crazy. If you really want to be hard core don’t sing happy songs. Instead of "Don’t Worry, Be Happy," belt out a full throated rendition of "Amazing Grace." Religious crazies are guaranteed safe passage almost anywhere and it might earn you a couple of dollars if you stand still and set out your coffee cup.

Speaking of coffee, no more bopping around the city with your ostentatious Starbucks grande latte. You’re welcome to continue patronizing Starbucks – if you still got it like that – but I strongly suggest you imbibe on site or transfer the beverage into a Dunkin Donuts cup.

This probably goes without saying, but no more whipping out your laptop in the great outdoors. Luckily, Winter is coming so this isn’t a big issue, but on a lovely Indian Summer day you might be tempted to visit your local outdoor cafĂ© or public park and surf the web. Don’t do it. Thieves will not be content to just steal your identity. You could get victimized virtually and literally.

If you’re sensing a theme then you know talking while walking may no longer be the safest of activities. Phone jackings – long prominent in Europe – will surely increase. You could find your Side Kick, Black Berry or iPhone whisked away before you have a chance to dial 911 or text for help.

It’s not just electronics, you’ll be needing to secure your personage as well. That’s right Ladies, we’re bringing back the signature after-work Nike’s and bobby socks look that was big back in the late 80s, early 90s. Yes, those Jimmy Choo heels are way cute, but if you suddenly have to run for your life, you’re dead. If you get your purse snatched, and trip and fall while trying to run after your assailant, they might double back to grab your shoes too; a double humiliation. You might be able to buy them back on Ebay, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Non sequitur: if you do enjoy running I encourage you to keep it up. It’ll come in handy, but please don’t do it alone. Now’s the time to run with the pack. Don’t fall behind. Don’t get too far ahead. There’s safety in numbers.

Gentlemen, you’ve got to be careful with your wardrobe as well. If you’ve got a suit and tie job, bring a change of clothes. It might be enough to shed the jacket, roll up your sleeves and pretend you work in the mail room, but if you look like you work on a Wall Street, you’re putting yourself at risk. You might catch a beating from a disgruntled former home owner from which no one will bail you out.

It’s also time for everybody – male and female – to tuck in the bling. I hope things don’t degenerate to the days when miscreants boldly snatched gold chains right off people’s necks in broad daylight but why take the chance? Those days made such an impression on me. Since silver is less valuable than gold, wearing it made you almost invisible to would be snatchers. And if they did see you, you were looked upon with pity. I switched to wearing silver and never looked back.

I’m not trying to scare anybody; just consider these tips as a few words to the wise. If you happen to have any wiggle room in this economic downturn it might not be a bad idea to invest in some self defense classes. You never know when you need to defend yourself or help beat a banker’s ass.

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