This girl is funny...not skinny.

This girl is funny...not skinny.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I can still hit my weight loss resolution for 2013...but it won't be pretty!



I was worried I'd done something stupid...what's new...and posted my 2013 resolutions on this page.  HAH!  I didn't.  What a rare moment of not sharing for me!

So it's that time of year again.  I don't think of it as a time for resolutions so much as marking an anniversary of the day I swore I was going to lose the extra weight. This would be, what, now, 14 years?  I love how, back that first time all I had to do was lose an innocent 30 pounds.  Ah yes, I'm waxing nostalgic for the days when I wasn't twice the size I should be. 

So maybe this time around I do something a little different.  Maybe, just for fun, I don't swear I'm going to lose the weight because let's be honest:  At this point the fluffy has grown roots and dug into my bones.  It's doubtful I will ever be able to fit into my wedding dress again, but it's okay because why would I want to wear it again?  I'm not getting married...and certainly not in a dress with sleeves that poofy!  (And I don't do hats anymore, so the broad brimmed sun hat thing I wore is out too.)

Let's think about this.  What do I really want to make my New Year's resolutions?  What do I really want to fix about myself?

That could take a while. How about if I just narrow it down to the top five?

So here are the top five things I'd like to change or fix about myself in 2014.

5)  I'd like to limit my after work grazing time to an hour.

Oh don't look at me like that, we all do it.  You get home from work and dinner isn't even close to being done...or defrosted...or planned, and you're hungry like you haven't eaten in a week. So out come the chips and salsa, the chips and dip, the cheese doodles, the bagels, the peanut butter, the sticks of butter, those cookies you thought you'd thrown away, but SURPRISE, they're still in a plastic bag on the counter.  And before you know it, you've been eating for three hours, and your family is staring at you.  So for 2014, instead of that being a three hour feeding frenzy, I'd like to limit that to one hour.

4)  I'd like to get to the gym every month.

Baby steps.  I tried making that 3x a week goal.  Too harsh.  So let's just focus on getting there 12x a year, and build on that.  At least then I won't feel guilt every time I look at my keys and see the gym card attached to my key ring.

3)  I'd like to let it be okay that the cat drags my underwear around the house.

We have this cat, we call him Stupid.  Well, Skippy and I call him Stupid.  Hubby and Peaches love this beast and call him by his given name, which I think is also stupid.  This cat, unlike the other three cats in the house, simply cannot leave laundry alone. He must, must, MUST bring it up from the basement, dragging it in his teeth, and leave it all over the house.  I never know when I get home if it's going to be a bra, panties, or sweats that great me at the door, but I know it will always be dirty laundry...unless I'm caught up with the laundry at which point Stupid will simply find the baskets of clean, folded laundry, dig through them until he finds something he wants to drag around, and then yank that out of the basket.  There isn't a darn thing I can do about this cat or his habits because no one will let me give him away or lock him out of the basement.  So I guess I need to just be okay with it, and boy, that it going to take some doing.

2) I'd like to care enough to want to work on the pile of mending that's growing next to the couch.

I took sewing in 4-H for three years and managed to produce two blouses, a
skirt, several square scarves and the world's most uncomfortable pillow.  (Stuffed with my mother's old panty hose...how could anyone think that was comfortable?  Bigger question:  My mom made a LOT of those pillows... A LOT of them. Just how many pairs of pantyhose did the woman wreck on a weekly basis?)  In spite of that experience, I'm not what you'd call a motivated seamstress.  But, since I'm the woman in the house, my children think I am the only one who knows how to thread a needle, put a button on a shirt, hem pants.  In my head I do, but only in the academic sense.  I have a pile of mending...the kids put things next to my spot on the couch.  In 2014 I'd like to WANT to actually work on that.  Of course, all that is going to have to take a back seat to Hubby's blanket.  The hem has been tearing off that thing for ten years.  That would have to be my first project. Which might be the big delay because...well, it's a really thick blanket and hand stitching that sucker is going to hurt!

1)  I'd like to remain calm and squash the rage every time I have to call customer service.

I am a customer service rep.  I spend my days on the phone helping people with their issues and I never let the fact that I believe they are morons come through on the call.  So why is it when I have to call customer service I go from zero to insane in less than three seconds?

I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to automated phone systems. 

I find myself screaming, "I WANT A PERSON!"  like a madwoman and I do it so loudly and so physically that I'm in a heaving sweat by the time I get a live person.  And, since no one calls customer service when everything is fine, I'm calling for a problem that is pretty pressing and therefore I'm stressed.  So when I finally get a live person  (and for the record, Stuff Installed's main line rings right to my desk. There's no "press one" for anything.) I'm already in the red zone.

This next year I need to do one of two things:  I either need to pour a glass of wine before I dial customer service OR I need to just not call and let the universe or my husband take care of whatever it is  (cable, credit cards, bank issues, cell phone issues).

Here's the downside, though.  I do work up a really, really good sweat when I'm on the phone with customer service.  So it's probably the best work out I get.  How can I cut THAT out of my week?  I mean, sure, I do have to lose 44 pounds this year  (you know, in the next six hours) to hit my goal for the year.  I can do it, but it's not going to be pretty!

How much does a spleen weigh, and can I really live without it?

Happy New Year everyone!  Be safe!  See you in 2014!


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

it's Christmas: and Ebenezer's ghosts were NOTHING like mine!

Merry Christmas!

I'm a big fan of the "A Christmas Carol."  I love the timeless tale, no matter how it's told  (For the record, I think Bill Murray's "Scrooged" is hilarious.) holds up and reminds us all of the wonders of Christmas.

I especially needed a good old dose of Dickens while strolling through the aisles of my local grocery store yesterday morning.  Normally I wouldn't go out on Christmas Eve day.  I'm usually pretty much set.  But let's just say that one of my novels over performed slightly in the UK and Canada  (thank you, readers of Fresh Ice!) so I set out to purchase one last, unexpected gift for Hubby.

For the record, those in the liquor store part of the grocery store were in a lovely mood.  I was almost in despair that I wouldn't get a good Christmas story.  And then I crossed into the grocery store and it took about five minutes to find...I'll call them Wanda and Rollie.  Rollie wore a "Dusty Dynasty" style of beard and had a cart that contained three grocery items and his cane.  Wanda had recently colored her hair ten shades too dark and also had a cart with three grocery items and her cane.  Wanda and Rollie were doing sort of a square dance in the middle of the meat aisle.  She'd move forward and he'd turn around. While going through this choreography, she'd mutter something and he'd reply back in what I thought was a very calm, normal tone.  Finally, he turned one more time, facing me and said, "It's okay, I'll just go back for it."  To which she replied in a loud, and utterly enraged tone, "YOU MAKE ME INSANE!"

Merry Christmas everyone!

But I'm not writing to you on this frosty Christmas morning because of Rollie and Wanda.  No, I want to talk about ghosts of Christmas past.  Monday night I worked late at Stuff Installed and decided, since it would be sort of rude and pointless to call people the night before the night before Christmas  (also I wasn't in the mood for any more grumpy people answering the phone and yelling at me for calling them), that I would clean the office kitchen.

If you've read Not While I'm Chewing! you have a pretty good idea of what the kitchen at Stuff, Installed looks like.  (And if you haven't, remember, it's available along with "Unsafe at Any Speed" on Amazon and at Smashwords.com) So you know it's more a wall of cabinets, a counter top and a sink.  It's become sort of a pit of despair with the cabinet shelves covered in coffee grounds and granola  (apparently PM and NBM aren't terribly tidy when it comes to food stuffs) and broken, dirty plastic ware and coffee cups are stacked everywhere.

For the record, I don't really use the kitchen.  I use the microwave to heat up my lunch.  I make sure I wipe up what I use and clean if I've dripped or made crumbs.  But other than that, I just don't use it.  So I was, yes, slightly stunned and SHOCKED when I started opening door and finding evidence of a ghost of Christmas past.

Elsie W. was gone, but certainly NOT forgotten. 

It started with coffee cups.  Chipped, cracked, and clearly from an old lady collection, I found a handful of coffee cups, all with a ring of hot pink lipstick on the lip of the cup.  I tried washing them.  I have no idea WHAT sort of toxic waste lipstick she used, but it wasn't washing off.

Then I found...well a couple plastic bottles of spices.  You know the ones you get at the grocery store?  Okay, one was a bottle of Lawry's seasoned salt which I'm guessing Elsie used on her trout when she microwaved it, or on her meatloaf she cooked in the George Foreman grill before it was banned from the office because that plastic bottle was so covered in old grease, I couldn't read the label until I scrubbed it clean in hot water and soap.  Even then, I could really only clean a layer of the petrified animal fat off the bottle.  That followed the coffee cups into the trash.

Then I found...well, the label sound ground mustard. 

Ground Mustard is a lovely yellow powder.  I use it all the time when I cook, which isn't that often, but still...anyway, I found a little plastic bottle of the stuff and it wasn't covered in grease!  I was pretty jazzed, until I opened it.

Ground mustard should never, ever, be a liquid...nor should it be black.  I don't know what sort of kitchen death voodoo Elsie performed on that little bottle, but clearly it had been the victim of something she did.  That I set in NBM's "in box" because that was too good not to share.

Finally I opened the bottom cabinet door. This was a door I know no one has opened since the day Elsie stormed out of the office while calling down the wrath of the Almighty on NBM's head.  How do I know?  Because when I opened the door I saw two things:  Elsie's have broken, very stained, possibly disease covered coffee maker, and under that...a wide yellow stain that looked for all the world like egg yolk.  A lot of egg yolk.  A LOT of egg yolk.

Friends, I didn't have the strength to deal with that.  So I did what anyone would do, I put all my unpleasant ghosts of Christmas past in that cabinet  (I shoved the NESCO roaster Noelle C left behind when she stormed out of the office while giving PM the iciest of silent treatments onto the top shelf of the cabinet and I shut the door.  I doubt anyone will dare go in there again, and hopefully much like Scrooge, I will now be rid of the ghosts of Christmas past! 

(At least until I forget about it and offer to clean the kitchen next year.)

Merry Christmas to all and to all a wonderful holiday time of peace and joy!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sarah's pre-Christmas Rant: If you don't know how to use the phone: DON'T TOUCH IT!

Good evening!

When I was in third grade, we had a class in school on phone etiquette.  It was part of our social studies class:  you know, the class that taught us how to function in an every day world without angering those around us?  Yes, social studies.  The study of a society.  And in that class I learned how to answer a phone properly, how to take a phone message properly, how to dial a phone, and how to communicate with someone on the phone. 

Almost 40 years later, I have a job because I can do what, apparently, fewer and fewer people are able to do:  Operate a telephone.

In this day of texting, email, and other forms of non telephone communication, I don't have to look too far to see that future generations are going to not know how to use a phone.  And I don't have to look too far back to find a generation...still living...that has always been clueless "about them new- fangled telephone voice machines."

Every day I dial a phone, and let it ring, and I either leave a message with the voicemail/answering machine on the other end or I talk to the person who answers the phone.  What shocks me, and what the source of my rant is today, is how few people know how to manage a telephone or a telephone conversation.

I've managed to narrow the categories of people who answer the phone to five.  All five are annoying, all five are clueless, and everyone in each of these five categories needs to go take Mrs. Carol Zimmerman's "phone etiquette" class.

1)  Can't be bothered because "Maury" is on.  But then again, Caller ID is just too hard to deal with because that involves reading and whatnot.

I'm shocked...SHOCKED at how many phone calls I make land into this category.  Seriously, if the phone rings, now that we have a little thing called CALLER ID, if you don't want to take a call from someone, you don't have to.  Your voicemail can pick it up.  So there's really no need, if you're deep into a multi-layered plot twist of a paternity test on Maury Povich, for you to answer the phone.  Really. No need. In fact, we as telephone professionals would PREFER you NOT pick up the phone, and then drop it on the floor, and leave it there while your television blares for three minutes which is about the length of patience most telephone professionals have with this nonsense.

This category also includes the people who will answer then immediately hang up the phone without bothering to say anything.  I realize I've been guilty of this in the past, but now I have to think:  Are we really that busy or that anti social that we can't possibly be bothered to say, "No Thank you?" (I guess "No Thank you" falls into the same category as "Thank you."

2)  Two ears, one mouth...can't shut the one and won't open the two.

I love it when people call me to ask questions and then simply will not SHUT UP to let me answer them and then get angry at ME because I'm not answering their questions.  The flip side of that fun coin is that when I do start talking, they immediately start talking again, making any attempt at answering questions impossible.  If you want answers, SHUT UP.  And if you can't shut your yap long enough to take a breath, then don't get bent out of shape when the person on the other end of the line doesn't start talking immediately...leaving a bit of dead air where your voice has been for the last ten minutes.

3)  Doesn't understand how to conduct a phone conversation from stage one.

Okay, let's review:  Your phone rings. You push a button or whatever, opening the line to the person who is calling you.  What next?  Well, obviously you say, "hello?" acknowledging that you're ready to speak to the person on the other end of the line.  Obvious, right?  Wrong!  Many of the people I call simply open the line... and say nothing.  And then I have to say, "Hello?"  And sometimes I get a live person, but more often I get nothing. More dead air.  So I say "Hello" again and then something will finally click in the person's brain and get the ball moving.  Now, what I'd like to say is this:  I say hello and then you say hello and we can start."  But I don't dare.  I have to go through this little dance because the person who picked up the phone maybe has some sort of social phobia  and can't speak into the phone.  I can sympathize, if that's the case, but I have to think there just aren't that many people with that specialized a phobia.

4)  Sure you can take a phone message.  Sure you can...

I leave a lot of phone messages.  A LOT of phone messages.  I will listen to a recording and leave a voice mail message a hundred times if I don't have to talk to some dimwit who picks up the phone but isn't the person I am calling and can't answer the one question I'm asking. I'll say, "Can I leave a message with you?"

Before you correct me, remember, I'm an English major.  Yes, I fully know I probably should say, "MAY I leave a message," but I've done this job long enough to know the problem isn't a matter of manners.  It's a matter of skill.  And rarely does the person on the other end have the skill it takes to write down a name, a phone number, and a four word message.  I say, "Can I leave a message?"  They always say yes.  I say, "This is Sarah from Stuff,Installed, and my number is..." and that's when 99 out of 100 times, the person on the other end will say, "Just a minute."

What follows is a multi minute search for a writing tool.   During this time I want to shout all sorts of colorful things into the phone about how telling a person they can leave a message is a verbal contract and by making said person wait and then repeat 2/3 of the message because you didn't have a pen is clearly a breach of that contract.  But then I realize that a person who agrees to take a phone message without having clear view of a writing tool is probably not going to know what I'm talking about when I talk about contracts.

5)  Drunk, angry, stoned, asleep, and driving.

I realize this seems like a repeat of the first category, but it's not because this includes those who dial me and get me, and then are furious because they got a live person on the other end of the phone.  Or, and this is always my favorite, I dial the phone and get the person who is clearly in the middle of some sort of personal crisis, so they start screaming at me and demanding to know where I got their number.  "Um, you gave it to me yesterday and told me to call you back today."  

I love being called a liar.  Because, see, I have nothing better to do with my day than to open the phone book...(what's a phone book, grandma?)  and start dialing random numbers.  Yes, that's exactly what I do.

This category also contains third shifters who need service calls, but refuse to answer their phones until they are dead asleep and therefore they get to rage at me about calling them when they are asleep.  I worked third shift.  If you don't want to answer the phone, you don't have to answer the phone. No one has a gun to your head.

As for those who are in an impaired state of mentality...stop.  Stop using the phone.  Stop filling my voicemail with incoherent mumbles and then stop complaining to my corporate office that I don't return phone calls.  Stop calling my number and hanging up just as I answer. And if you're in a bad mood, how about if you sit down with an episode of Maury?

Stop yelling at me when you answer the phone when you're driving.  You're breaking the law, not me.

And by the way...if you're in the middle of a domestic dispute, don't dial the phone, don't answer the phone, don't look at the phone.  I don't want to hear you and your significant other scream at each other.  Well, I do, because it's sort of entertaining, but really, it gets old when you decide you're going to treat me like some sort of free couples' therapy.

6)  You might be old, but you have had a telephone in your house since you were a child.  Stop pretending you don't know how to use it!

I've done the math.  Every person alive today (and I'm talking about industrialized nations here, I'm sure there are people on an island someplace where this isn't true.) has had a telephone in their home at very the least their entire adult lives.  My grandmother is 97 years old.  She's almost blind, she care barely hear, and she knows how to use a phone.  Ad if my grandma can manage it, everyone else can, too.  That means you don't get to pretend you don't know what to do when someone calls you.  You don't get to yell, "WHO? WHAT?  HUH?"  every time I try to say something.  I'm not Alexander Graham Bell.  Phone reception is pretty awesome these days.  Stop pretending you can't hear me.

Also, stop pretending you don't know what a phone is for.  Believe it or not, I'm not buying the idea that a darling little old lady is just randomly picking things up in her house until the ringing stops.  Don't answer that phone and then start shouting at your house mate that you "don't know what the hell the call is about. It's some damn thing or another."  Stop.  You know how to listen.  I know this because the minute I mention a big old discount you're able to focus in on what I'm saying.

And for the love of all that is holy, don't pretend you didn't get my 77 previous messages.  If you have voice mail or an answering machine, you've probably had it for eons and therefore you know how to get the messages.  The only person I've ever met who couldn't retrieve her voice mail message was Elsie W.

Do you really want to be in her category?

And finally, this isn't so much a category as it is a pet peeve of mine and since I'm giving you my pre-Christmas rant, I may as well throw this in:

Answering machines have been around for a long time now.  And yes, we've all fallen victim to wanting our outgoing messages to be personalized, funny, cute, whatever.  That said, let me just clue you in on how things are in 2013, now that we have voicemail, and digital everything.  I can speak to this because I've made about 1600 phone calls this month and this is what I run across all the time:

A) Sound clips taped from the TV or your favorite radio station are terrible.  No one can understand that garbled mess.  Erase and start over, this time with your own voice in a normal volume level saying normal adult things. you might be the biggest Princess Bride fan  (but you're not...because you're not me) but listening to some fuzzy, echo mess of you telling us you'll call us back and then Wesley saying "As you wish" from across the room is only a good idea in your head.  In real life it's terrible.  Stop it.

B)  Your children/grandchildren might be the apple of your eye, but their goo-goo gaa-gaa mess on your outgoing message only annoys everyone.  Yes, everyone.  Yes, even your best friend.  I'm the only one honest enough to tell you.  They aren't cute, they aren't adorable, they make everyone who calls you want to poke their ears out. And oh yeah, unless your pets have developed opposable thumbs, stop putting their names on the outgoing message.  I have four cats.  Do you really want to listen to, "You've reached the home of Sarah, Hubby, Peaches, Skippy, Jasper, Tacocat, Belle, and Jude" every time you call me?  Are you planning on leaving a message for the cats?  Then STOP!

C)  Only Dr. Suess is allowed to speak in rhyme.  You are not Dr. Suess.  Stop trying to come up with a cute rhyme on your outgoing message. It's terrible.  Stop it.

D)  The "press this number for this person"  Really?  Is your land line THAT busy that you have to have multiple lines for each child and each pet?  (true story)  I'm not pressing six to speak to Mr. Cuddles.  And chances are, if I want to talk to your kids, I'm not calling them on the phone.  So unless you are a business, stop it.

Well that's enough rant for this eve before Christmas Eve...I await your angry retorts or your comments of praise.  Whichever you prefer!





Tuesday, December 17, 2013

JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS! Unsafe At Any Speed is FINALLY here!

JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS! Unsafe at Any Speed is finally here!
Good morning all! 

Well, after many fits and starts, and one major melding project, "Elsie W.;  Unsafe at Any Speed" is FINALLY available for purchase!

TA DAH!

 

Now, I know you all want to get in on this so here are the links:

FOR THE KINDLE CLICK HERE!

FOR A PRINT BOOK CLICK HERE!

FOR EVERY OTHER ELECTRONIC DEVICE CLICK HERE!

I'm really proud of this one, and I'm pretty sure this is a good one for you to give to that friend of yours who is stuck working with a horrible co-worker!  If you liked "The Office" and "Office Space"  you are going to LOVE Elsie W.!

ENJOY!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Peace on earth, goodwill to all...but manners are right out the door!

Good morning!

It's been a wild wooly couple of months here, and I'm in the throes of final edits for the long promised second Elsie book, BUT I have to take a moment to share this delightful little bit with you because, IT'S CHRISTMAS and hey, let's all celebrate the season of giving, peace on earth, Baby Jesus...all that.

So I did what I don't generally like to do this time of the year:  I went to the post office to ship packages.  I got there when the lobby was open but the main post office was not so that I could just use the self serve kiosk in peace.  I'm a pro at the post office, thanks to the years I worked for the Evil Bossman, so I knew I'd spent about ten minutes at the self serve thing and get my four boxes labeled, addressed, and shipped.
Sarah plus the self service
kiosk:  WIN

Ten minutes.  That's all I needed.

However, you and I both know that waiting behind someone for ten minutes can seem like a lifetime.  So, after getting the first package done, I noted there was a woman behind me looking non too excited, given the stack of boxes I had with me.  I said, "I'm so sorry, this is going to take me a few minutes."

She started to say what we all say, "Oh, that's okay."

But I thought, hey, it's the season of giving.  And someone opened the doors for me to get into this building, so now it's my turn to pay it forward.  I said, "Do you have a lot to do?"

But not more polite.

She said, "Well, could I just buy some stamps?"

"Sure,"  I said and I removed all my stuff, my purse, address book, boxes, everything from the area so she could move forward and buy her stamps.

While she was buying stamps a guy got in line behind us.  Now, I was really full of the holiday spirit and there was not another soul in the lobby so I said, "Are you just buying stamps?"

He nodded, and I said, "Well, go ahead of me then."

At this point the woman was done with her transaction, and she walked away.

So you see what's missing here?

SHE WALKED AWAY?

She didn't say please at the front of me letting her go ahead of me and she didn't say thank you when she walked away.  And meanwhile, the guy was almost done with his transaction...having not said please or thank you or anything when I asked him if he was buying stamps.  Remember, he just nodded and then got right behind the woman like it was his God-given right to bump ahead of me in line because he was well dressed and in a hurry.

So he finished up and walked away...again without saying one single word to me.  No please, No thank you.  No nothing. 

 I realize we aren't supposed to expect anything when we do something nice for strangers, or when we're paying a good deed forward.  But friends, I'm SHOCKED at just how rude people are.  It wasn't like saying thank you to me would have cost money.  It wasn't going to take any time.  And it could have changed my attitude about those two people immensely.

As it is right now, as far as I'm concerned, that fifty something woman with the short blond hair who was in the Waukesha post office at 8 AM this morning and that skinny hipster guy with the sweater vest and the glasses and the curl-ish chestnut hair are ungrateful meanies.  Forget the meaning of Christmas...they don't get how to be a human being and if I see them again I'll tell them that...as I'm letting them cut in front of me again, because I am a firm believer in killing people with kindness.

So friends, it's Christmas.  It's also a lot of other holidays, and if you celebrate something other than Christmas, then Happy Holidays to you.  But this is a holiday season, a time of year when we're supposed to be a little kinder, a little gentler to our fellow man.  So please, do those little things that will make someone else's day easier.  Sure, you might have to wait a couple minutes, you might have to stand outside a minute longer, you might have to bend down and get your fingers dirty picking someone up for someone.  But it's okay because the feeling you'll get from helping someone is super worth it.

Even if they don't say please or thank you!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Next time I'm handing out a questionaire before the concert.


 Good afternoon!  It's been a month now since I last posted and I have some news.  I did manage to write 50000 words on my new novel "Spark of a Hero," so I completed my Nanowrimo goal this year.  Now, for December, I'm fully focused on getting the Second Elsie book out, so that you can just get both of them for holiday gifts.  That will be my focus in the next two weeks.

I wasn't planning on blogging today, but sometimes things just happen to me and I have no other choice but to share with you.  After all, the blog is called "It Can Only Happen to Sarah" and boy, is that true this time.

Most of you know I'm a gigantic Rick Springfield fan.  (If you're uncertain about that, check out my first novel, Dream In Color ((which has a brand new cover!)) and you'll get the idea.)  Anyway for my birthday this year, (which was two weeks ago) Hubby did very, very good.  Hubby got two tickets to Rick's solo concert "Stripped Down" which was at the Barrymore Theatre in Madison, WI. This was to be different from the other concerts I'd been to because it was billed as "an intimate solo performance of music and storytelling." 

I was super excited.

Dressing for these things is always a problem for me, but Hubby did good there, as well.  He suggested I NOT wear my usual attire of Rick T-shirt and jeans and instead class it up a bit.  He wore a bow-tie, I wore a sparkly holiday-ish top.

The Barrymore, if you haven't been, is an old theater in one of the more fun, funkier neighborhoods in Madison.  I've never been there, but I knew right away we were at the right place because MY PEOPLE, (fluffy middle aged girls) were flocking to the place.  We got in, found some fine seats  (general seating, but I was okay we weren't up front.  I have a thing about theater seating, I have to be on an aisle.  Not only was I on an aisle, I was slightly higher than the seats in front of me, giving me a very clear view of the stage.) and we settled in.

The opening act was a pretty cool guy who sang some folksy songs about beaches and dead artists and drinking...believe me, he was a lot of fun.  While he was playing, the woman behind us, and this is key, started consuming beer. (In retrospect, my guess is the beer was to fill in the holes left by the quantity of other alcohols she consumed before the concert.)

He played for about a half hour.  After he left the stage, this woman leaned over the seat and started talking to us.  I didn't think much of it, Hubby and I sort of are those people who wind up just talking to people...sort of like the nice lady at the last Rick Springfield concert...you remember her...the wildly drunk woman behind her dumped a gigantic beverage all over her?  Yeah.

Anyway, so this woman starts talking to us.  And at first, while she's talking way too loud, and too close, and it's clear she's "deep into her cups" as they say, she's seems normal.  She asks if we're from Madison  (we're not) and she tells us where she's from  (also not Madison). Then it gets...well, I'll let you judge.

She says, "When my husband told me he got these tickets I asked him why?  He said we needed a date night.  We've been married 25 years, what do we need with a date night?  We have two kids.  We don't listen to the radio, we don't watch TV, we just do whatever the kids need us to do."
Yep, I should have moved right then and there.  Warning bells went off in my head.  She doesn't listen to the radio.  She questioned her husband about why he bought her Rick Springfield tickets. 

She doesn't watch TV.

We should have moved, but like I said, we had seats that really suited us.

The concert started...and her husband brought what I believe was her third round since they sat behind us.  And that's when the inappropriate WHOO HOOing began.

For those of you who haven't been to one of these, it's a quiet affair.  Sure, there's singing and cheering, and singing along, but for the most part, this was a lovely, cultured, grown up evening  (no one was wearing concert t-shirts) except for Date Night behind me.  Her only goal was to goad the front rows into standing up and dancing to cover the fact that she wanted to charge the stage...but only when Rick started singing 'Jessie's Girl.'

Ah, okay, I see the problem. 

See, there are two kinds of Rick Springfield fans.  There are those of us who have all the albums and know all the songs, we've read his book, we've gone to a ton of concerts, we've watched "Hard to Hold" RECENTLY.  And then there are the fans who just like "Jessie's Girl."    And it seems lately that I wind up sitting next to or in front of women who drink until he plays Jessie's Girl and then make idiots of themselves.  (We had the mean lady in the Dells, "Red" in Nashville, and now Date Night.)

So Date Night is sitting behind me and every five minutes, no matter what is going on up on stage, she WHOO HOOS and then said, "Come on front rows get off your asses and DANCE! And when she's not yelling this, she's talking...out loud...with her husband.  About what, I cannot imagine, because I'm trying to hear the stories Rick is telling on stage.  I wanted to turn around and say, "Hey, if you want to talk on your date night, go someplace that encourages that...like a coffee shop, or your own living room.  BUT SHUT UP I AM TRYING T HEAR RICK!"

(I didn't say that.)

Well, bad behavior begets bad behavior and this started a sort weird echo from the other side where a younger gent decided it was super cool to shout, "YOU ARE SO CUTE" every time there was a quiet moment in the show.  First time, funny.  Tenth time, not so much.  And oh yeah, there was plenty of quiet time in the show.  IT WAS AN INTIMATE PERFORMANCE OF SONG AND STORYTELLING.

Date Night is undeterred.  At some point she leans in, between my face and Hubby's  (I got a buzz from her fumes)  and she says, "I'm going up.  Are you with me?"

Hey, I've been on stage with Rick...couple times... but this was not that kind of thing.  I shake my head.  THEN, Date Night leans in closer and starts talking really loudly, and she puts her hands on our shoulders.  "I'm GOING, are you with me?"

I say, "I'll pass." and I lean forward in my chair so her hand sort of falls away.

I'm not sure at what point she dumped her drink.  I did enjoy the fact that unlike the woman in the Dells, Date Night didn't dump it on anyone in my row.  Instead, she dumped it down the aisle, ice cubes and all.  And she kept yelling for the front rows to DANCE.

And her husband kept getting up to get her drinks.

Here's the funny thing:  At some point during the concert...they left.  They just left.  And yes, they left BEFORE he played "Jessie's Girl."

So here's what I've decided.  I think the next time Hubby and I go to a Rick Springfield concert I'm going to have a questionnaire ready for the person behind me.  It's going to have just a few questions:

1)  Have you locked yourself away from society for the last 25 years, thereby rendering you incapable of understanding how to behave in an adult social setting?

2)  Have you already or do you intend to drink your body weight in alcohol?

3)  Are you just here to hear Jessie's Girl?

A "yes" answer to any of these questions is going to guarantee we find alternate seats.

If you haven't been to one of these "Stripped Down" shows, I highly recommend it.  Rick fans, music fans, fans of just good shows will all enjoy this.  But a word of caution:  Don't be an idiot during the Q and A section.  Don't bring some award you won and ask him to rub it on his body.  If you feel the urge to ask such a thing...chances are you've answered "yes" to at least two of the above questions and you have no business being in that auditorium.





The difference between a Meijer employee and a heart attack? Not much.

Good afternoon everyone and Happy Holidays! When I was little I lived in Michigan, home to a wonderful store called Meijer's Thrif...