Thursday, February 16, 2006

sweet charity

Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday ever.

Halloween? One can only take so much orange and black. Arbor Day? All hype. Christmas? Sorry; no holiday that lasts 3 months can possibly sustain it's momentum. Give me good old St. Valentine’s any day.

Following a tradition that dates all the way back to last year Turk and I made reservations at the reservation for a little R & R ~ because, as I’ve said before, nothing says ‘Romance’ like Indian Casino. This time it was just outside the tiny town of Temecula, where the Pechanga tribe plays host to a 4 diamond resort and casino. Although not huge gamblers, we enjoy a change of scenery and the excitement of lots of bells and whistles. Bright, shiny things make us smile.

My goal was to make enough money playing Blackjack to pay for the hotel stay, or at least for dinner. Of course, this strategy pretty much never works. I don’t actually win. The best I can ever do is break even. While I am a very bad card player, I do enjoy the game. Turk’s goal was to make sure we didn’t leave destitute. I thought I’d warm up on the slot machines.

And I promptly won $1000 playing ‘Wheel of Fortune.’ Actually, I won $1072, but when you’re as rich as I am now, you don’t count the chump change.

“Oh, I can SO afford to pay dinner!” I squealed in amazement at my wheel spinning prowess.

“Oh, and you are SO going to get to!” said Turk. “And do not dance around waving that money in the air.”

“What do you take me for ~ an idiot?” I said, dancing and waving the money in the air.

“Yeah, right. Put the money in your jeans.”

“My lucky jeans, you mean.”

“Okay. C’mon, Lucky. You get to buy me a drink.”

I’d brought the soft, teal-colored little somethin’ somethin’ with a deeply plunging neckline to wear under the bright, sparkly little somethin’ else. Unfortunately, I hadn’t noticed the tendency of the draping neckline to drift dramatically apart with movement, revealing a bit more of the girly bits than I was strictly comfortable with. I grabbed Turk by the shoulders and looked him straight in the eye.

“You have but one purpose in life tonight, and that is to keep an eye on my blouse and tell me if my bra is showing.” He wasn’t listening to me. He was watching golf over my shoulder.

“I mean it. I’m depending on you to not let me embarrass myself. This is not Vegas, and I can’t go around with my breasts hanging out. Are you listening to me?”

“Yes. Cleavage patrol. Don’t worry. I’m on it.”

Needless to say, an hour later I was sashaying around the restaurant with my Wonderbra on full display.

“I give you one lousy job to do…” I complained, returning from the ladies’ room, where I’d gotten an eyeful. “I’m not sure you have the dedication required to be my Valentine.”

“I was distracted,” he said.

“By what?”

“By…your beautiful eyes.” He grinned.

“Forget it. You only love me for my money.”

“You betcha. Now get the check. I hear there’s karaoke in the cabaret lounge!”

So we had a truly lovely romantic dinner in an attractive and intimate setting. We played some more and didn’t lose. We listened to terrible amateur singing and enjoyed it immensely. We might even have danced but for the threat of further wardrobe malfunction, although by then it’s safe to say the point was pretty much moot. And not only is everything paid for, but I’ve even got a little left over for a rainy day.

I love you, St. Valentine. Thanks for everything. You have always been my favorite Saint.

Monday, February 13, 2006

almost a post

I haven’t been here, there or anywhere online lately. The fact is that I've been the victim of a recent, unexplained attack of efficiency.

I've spent the last 10 days or so engaged in the most mundane endeavors imaginable, and while the accomplishment of said tasks has been personally satisfying it would certainly have made for some very tedious blog entries. Not that it's ever stopped me before ~ God knows that I am not above chronicling how many calories I ate for breakfast or the number of miles logged on a treadmill. It's just that I wanted to spare you, my imaginary audience, such pedestrian fare. Out of imaginary respect.

But I just got back from the gym (5 miles and an hour of Chi Gong…d'oh! Sorry...habit) and when I realized I had an hour of free time (well, free-ish; there's laundry to do and I ought to pack) I thought, hey ~ why not roll all that dullness into one post?

So: this week I cleared the kitchen counter of the detritus of a couple of years; the result of an indifferent and laughable filing system ~ bills paid, payable; insurmountable or unaccountable ~ all properly filed away now. Gone too are the clippings from newspapers yellowed with age; book reviews and directions to gallery exhibits long past; articles on how to remove red wine and grease stains from the carpets, and spider mites and rabbits from the yard. A column on how to properly wear false eyelashes ~ I'm keeping that one. It may come in handy. Also keeping the Bizarro cartoons. Just because.

I threw out magazines and catalogues I'd been saving for...dunno. The Rapture, maybe. I cleaned the house and hit the garden, finally finishing cutting back the roses and mucking about in the dirt. I found the bottom of the laundry basket and had lunch with a friend. Started a new painting and even dabbed at the epic, never-to-be-completed piece whose working title is now 'Journey.' As in 'Never-ending.'

My car died, not once but twice ~ the first time I bought it a new battery and whispered sympathetic words of love and gratitude in it's ear. The second time I just growled and left it to sulk by itself in the garage for the weekend. Now it's at the shop, awaiting diagnosis. I am expecting a call.

I colored my hair (again) ~ an impossibly, implausibly who-does-she-think-she's-kidding-with-that bittersweet chocolatey brown that makes me want to don a tiny black tee, move to a loft in SoHo and take up smoking again. I had it trimmed as well; chunked up the bangs but kept the length. I'm letting it grow just to see if I can still get away with it.

I can’t.

I went shopping and bought a soft, teal-colored little somethin' somethin' with a deeply plunging neckline to wear under a bright, sparkly little somethin' else at dinner during our cozy Valentine's getaway tomorrow. I already have a pair of strappy black sandals with 3 inch come hither heels. It’s entirely possible that I could injure myself. Long story short ~ I get lucky Tuesday night or die trying.

Happy Valentines's Day!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

I feel lucky

I spent Thursday pulling jury duty. Again. It seems to me I was writing about this just a scant 14 months ago. I've been called so often I know all the back road shortcuts to the courthouse, recognize a good number of the attorneys and even have a favorite café for long breaks on extended cases. And honestly, I was happy to do it.

In the past I‘d always believed that it was the duty of every citizen to show up and serve honorably. The American system of justice cannot function effectively if good people fail to participate, I reasoned, and I’ve found both the legal process and the cases I’ve participated in to be fascinating.

Besides, I am just the sort of person I'd want on my jury if I were ever accused of a crime ~ fair, intelligent, open-minded, and a snappy dresser in the jury box.

However, I have not been feeling particularly civic-minded these days, my natural tendency toward public service steadily ground down by weary resignation to a government of brazen corruption, awash in political malfeasance, addicted to Big Brotherly Love and, apparently, possessed of an irrational prejudice toward human hybrid cloning (whatever have you guys got against Mermaids and Monkey Men?) So I decided for the first time in my adult life to try and duck jury duty.

In the space on the form requesting exemption from jury service I wrote, in my best cramped, Unibomber-style handwriting,” I have served on 3 juries and been called 4 times in 5 years ~ most recently in December 2004 (!!!) It’s time to give somebody else a chance.

I received notice that my request for exemption had been denied, but that I might qualify for a postponement. No doubt to allow time for a mental health evaluation. I called the office.

“I am requesting to be exempted from jury duty on the grounds that I keep getting called for jury duty,” I declared. “I know people who have never been called for jury duty in their lives and others who, having been exempted once somehow manage to never get called again. I feel that those of us who stand up and serve are somehow penalized for being responsible citizens by being called on a more regular basis.”

“Have you been called in the past 12 months?” a pleasant female voice inquired.

“No, but I have been called 4 times in 5 years, the most recent being 13 months ago. I think I’ve been put on some sort of sucker list.”

“The jury selection is made from random drawings from DMV and voter registration lists. I assure you there is no ‘sucker list’.”

“Well, I don’t believe that for a minute,” I said, not unkindly. “Look, there are about 610 million eligible adults in Orange County, give or take a few ~ how is it that my number comes up 4 times in 5 years, while thousands of others never do? It’s statistically unlikely. And if I’m that lucky, how is it that I’ve never won the lottery?” Ha. Had her there. You know, I really should be buying lottery tickets.

“I could postpone your service until August, ma’am. You will receive the notice in July.”

I considered. It would be 98 degrees in August, and no doubt the air conditioning would be out. Sweaty lawyers and even sweatier clients. Me in shorts. The picture was unappealing.

“No, thank you. I’ll stay with February, I guess,” I sighed, gracious in defeat. Peevish, but gracious.

“Will there be anything else?” the still pleasant voice asked. I must say she was being an uncommonly good sport.

“No, thank you. You’ve been very nice. See you tomorrow. Goodbye"


So it was that I served gallantly and lived to survive a particularly close call ~ a pool of 100 jurors was summoned for an attempted murder case, estimated by the judge to last a week before going to deliberation. After a number of jurors were questioned and released over the course of a few hours, those of us who had survived the first couple of rounds of drawings became tense as the pool dwindled and the deadline 5:00pm drew near. Juror#91 was called. #94. #92. At last both attorneys accepted the jury. The survivors applauded. I was #93.

I have really got to start buying lottery tickets.