Category Archives: Other Inconveniences

Me vs. My Stuff

This week, the morning talk shows started broadcasting stories about Spring cleaning.  Oh, goodie, another task to add to the long list of “to do’s” that somehow never get “done.”  Because if you are anything like me, your life has too much “stuff.”  Yes, too many responsibilities and commitments, but here I am talking about literal stuff — material goods, thing-a-ma-bobs, tchotkes.  Maybe, like me, you’ve blended households (several times).  I don’t throw out my stuff.  I don’t do this for various reasons: it holds fond memories for me, I think I’ll use it again someday, or, in ever-growing cases, I simply cannot find the stuff when I go looking for it.

I can remember possessing the thing I am looking for; often, I can even remember the occasion of buying it.  But somewhere between what seems like yesterday (but is in fact ten or twenty years ago) and today, I have misplaced the thing.

What a Pain in the Neck

This morning, I woke up with a crick in my neck.  It made me think of a small neck pillow I bought sometime in the ‘90s.  The pillow is filled with some sort of grain that allows it to conform to your neck and is supposed to be not only comfortable, but therapeutic.  I lost this pillow once before and stumbled upon it a couple of years ago in a gym bag that I hadn’t used since 2001 (I have no idea where the gym bag is now either, which gives you an idea of how often I go to the gym).  The pillow has since escaped from me yet again and refuses to announce its presence.  I don’t know what I did to offend it, but apparently I ignored it long enough for it to go on a major strike.

The pillow’s partner in crime could also, ironically, be a panacea for my neck ache.  Sometime in the late ‘80s, I purchased a heating pad with a Velcro strip intended to wrap around the neck to ease pain and relax the muscles.   I know this heating pad lives in my house somewhere, but though I can recall all of its virtues, I cannot, for the life of me, recall where I last placed it.  My longing for this item only increases its prestige and exacerbates the pain in my neck.

My Reaction as I Open the Closet Door

So why don’t I clean out the damn house, you ask?  I have good intentions.  Truly, I do.  But then I open a closet.  I stare at the perilously stacked piles of clothing, books, shoes, photographs, linens, blankets, electric fans, space heaters, and boxes filled with everything from old scrapbooks to gifts I don’t like but I’m certain someone will someday.  I stare and an overwhelming fear jolts my being.  It is just too… much… stuff.   Slowly, carefully, almost reverently, I close the closet door.  I don’t want to disturb the precariously balanced mountains.  I just want the monstrous beast to rest.

Which is exactly what I decide to do, too.  Maybe a nap will help relieve the pain in my neck.  After all, I need my strength for the eventual confrontation with my mounds of stuff.  But for now, I concede.  For now, and once again, my stuff wins.

No-Pain Junkie

Recently, I got a cortisone shot in my right elbow to battle increasingly painful tendonitis, or tennis elbow.  “This is gonna sting a bit,” the doctor said before injecting the needle, then grinding it in and around the sinewy tissue, trying to inoculate the tendon in a fight to the death.  “Holy cannoli, Doctor!” I screamed, loud enough to startle the nurse.  “’Sting’ was a bit of an understatement.”  Like saying Jack the Ripper was a bit cranky.

Around the same time, my mother told me of the cortisone shot she received in her hip, the hip she’s had since birth, as opposed to the man-made prosthetic implanted two years ago in the other side.  The moment she mentioned the size of the needle – large – I pictured something the length of a knitting needle forcing its way through to her hip bone and almost fainted.

I am not a connoisseur of medical stories, a lover of blood, or a fan of pain.

Yet I do acknowledge that pain makes us feel alive, assures us we’re not dead.  Or depressed.  I’ve long battled Depression (to me, my Depression, just like the Great one, warrants the capital “D”).  In my worst moments, I picture Depression as an endless bully of a tsunami intent on pulling me under and suffocating me with its massive pillows of water.  I am not a good swimmer and am succumbing to its power, being sucked under the tide of brutally crushing waves.  Depression’s only anathema – its Kryptonite, if you will – is distraction.  That distraction can come in various forms – hope, exercise, pain.  Clearly, hope is the best – that flicker of possibility which buoys my head enough to prevent irreversible drowning.  And exercise is second best (according to my physician exercise in adequate proportions is as effective as antidepressants in treating depression, or, even, Depression).  But I can’t always stir up a dose of hope, and exercise is generally as appealing to me as a root canal.  So sometimes I am left with pain as my only distraction.

Now, to emphasize:  I am not a pain junkie.  I don’t abuse myself to feel “alive.”  If anything, as a giant wuss, I am a no-pain junkie.  Plus, I bruise like a sumptuous, but delicate, Georgia peach.  Still, I am a terrific klutz and I’ve learned to see that as the “glass half full.”  Stub my toe while walking past the coffee table? Holy fudgesicles! At least I’m distracted from the maze of repeating mind games swirling in my head.  Slice a finger while cutting a bagel? Cheese and crackers! Better to bandage the finger than to keep focusing on today’s obsession of cleaning out every scintilla of my belly button lint.  Poke myself in the eye while putting on my glasses? Mother of Mayonnaise! Time to rinse out my ocular orb and stop angsting over the telemarketer who hung up on me rather than listen to my diatribe about the commercialization of America.

Sure, there are times when I like to milk my Depression and stay in bed, live in pajamas, and generally enjoy my pity party.  But, overall, I don’t want to be a stereotype in an antidepressant commercial.  I don’t want to leave my partner glaring at me from a poorly lit corner of the house while I cancel yet another social engagement.  I don’t want to leave my dog moping gloomily with his leash in his mouth while I deny him yet another walk in the fresh outdoor air.  And I don’t want to leave another meal uneaten because… oh, who am I kidding… I only wish being unable to eat would ever happen to me (notice that even all of my curse phrases include food).

Still, since I’ll be battling Depression for the rest of my life, it’s nice to know I’ve got all these tools in my arsenal and, even, that pain is one of them. After all, what’s the old saying?  “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”  Hello, Pain, my frienemy.

So an Actress Walks into an Agent’s Office…

The title of this post reads like the intro to a bad joke.  It is.

First, a little background.  I have worked in Hollywood for twenty-some-odd years, both behind and in front of the camera as an assistant and an actress.

With Mike Farrell on the set of "Providence"

In the last few years, I’ve focused more on writing and have let the acting wane (this started somewhat out of necessity during the Writers Guild strike of 2007 when many scripted shows met certain death and even more reality shows — which don’t need actors — prospered).  Since then, many small agencies have seen their profits nose-dive (including my agents) and have gone out of business (ditto, mine).

When the calendar recently turned 2011, one of my resolutions was to look for a new agent. Repeatedly in the past, I’ve attempted to purge the need to act from my being so I never again had to face constant rejection and ridicule, but, alas, acting is one drug I cannot kick. (And a drug it is…  As an old boss of mine — a former television actor — once told me, “Acting is cocaine.”) So, to summarize, I have tried to kick the acting bug (drug), but can’t, so I am looking for an agent.

I send out e-mails (evidently the new media way to go) to numerous agents.  Several e-mails bounce back, from long-established agents who I fear are now defunct as well.  But a few respond.  One requests an appointment.  This agent is new to the business, having set up shop only last summer, so I do some detective work, also the new media way — online.

Clicking on the agency’s website (again, a new media must-have), I am deluged with photographs of (supposed) clients — all young, oiled, studly, and more than vaguely whorish.  I am looking at isolated shots of soft porn.  Has the business changed this much in my three-year hiatus?

With Betty White on the set of "Yes, Dear"

Skeptical, but giving the agent the benefit of the doubt, I keep my appointment and show up at my assigned time.  As I’ve mentioned, his agency is new.  And, as I read in the marketing materials in the waiting area, he is relatively “new” too — only 29 years old. None of this is a deterrent; a 29 year old certainly has more energy than I do, and Lord knows, I need that energy pushing for me out there in the world of professional acting. But I am concerned that the same photos found on the website decorate the wall.  The same photos minus the males.  Displayed in the office are a pair of greased-up young starlet wannabes, wearing looks of angry seduction (and not much else) and posing as if they’re ready to dive into the mud wrestling pool at a third-rate Vegas nightclub.

I can hear the agent interviewing another actor behind the closed door of his office and find myself waiting fifteen, twenty, twenty-five minutes beyond my appointment time.  My thoughts alternate between my old agents (a sweet older couple who I now miss more than ever) and the Amazons on the wall ready to explode from their frames and douse me in baby oil.

When the agent finally opens his door, I am on the verge of walking out to feed my about-to-expire meter and, likely, drive away forever.

He inquires as to why I am there as I am (admittedly) older, heavier, and comparatively more prudish than the women on his wall.  I inform him that I was called in for an interview.  He shakes my hand and says to me, “I had no idea you were an actress.  I thought you were here to audit us.”  I smile.  It is the fake smile I use when I’m dealing with a dill weed.  Or a dick wad.

With Jerry Mathers of "Leave It to Beaver"

I tell him my parking meter is about to run out.  He asks for a photo and resume.  When I hand it to him, he can’t believe my credits — Boston Legal, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Shield, Malcolm in the Middle, Will & Grace, etc. — are real.  He wonders if I have “proof.”   This gives me a clue as to the level of talent he represents and I wonder, seriously this time, how many have just come from giving on-camera blow jobs on a porn set in Chatsworth.  Feeling slightly superior now, I hand him a DVD demo reel full of my acting scenes from nationally televised hit shows and tell him to watch it.  Then I gladly exit, leaving the Crisco twins — and him — behind me forever.

And as I’m getting on the freeway, I can’t help but ask myself, Why, again, did I decide to give acting another try? To go through this again, acting is a powerful drug indeed.  Perhaps my next resolution is to check myself into rehab.

High Anxiety

A few weeks ago, I went to see the Tony award winning musical Next to Normal.  I really liked the premise which (to be vague enough not to give anything away) deals with “cracking up.”  I especially related to the main character when she says, “People who think they’re happy just haven’t thought about it enough.”  Funny.  And true.  Just like the cliche: Ignorance is bliss.

I’ve had this discussion with friends lately.  Is ignorance bliss?  After all, anxiety from stress is now medically proven to cause health problems.  Is it better to be vacuously blank and, therefore, stress-free?

Mel Brooks' High AnxietyI am not a genius, but I am perceptive of situations.  This, I believe, is what makes me a writer and an actress.  It is also what gives me ongoing anxiety and the occasional panic attack.  Hell, I can have anxiety attacks over a range of things from the fact that I never had children and will die alone to the realization that I forgot to mail my Netflix DVD immediately after viewing and am, therefore, overpaying for the service.  I am, in short, a nut bag.

And yet how many times do I berate (mostly internally) the “stupids” who seem oblivious to their surroundings?  The person driving 40 mph in the freeway’s fast lane?  The co-worker who always borrows my stapler and never returns it?  The dodo who cuts in front of me in the ticket line without a word or acknowledgment?  To answer my not-so-rhetorical question: a lot.

But these folks may very well live years longer than me.  Their anxiety-free existence should allow them to annoy people well into old age.  With all my worries (petty and important), I’ll probably be gone by my 60s. But, by God, I will have gotten my money’s worth out of my Netflix subscription.

Reincarnation Destination: Dog

In my next life, I want to come back as a dog.  There’s a reason for the old saying, “It’s a dog’s life.”  Never more than in today’s world are dogs pampered: clad in designer sweaters, housed in designer beds, carried in designer handbags.   Hell, Leona Helmsley’s dog gets a hundred grand a year to live out its life (of course, it did have to tolerate Leona while she was alive).

But I’d be happy as a clam to come back as just a plain old dog like my black Lab, Jack, who we rescued from the pound and now lives on tennis balls, marrow bones, and lots of love.  But, to be honest, what I’d really love to come back as is a Search and Rescue Dog.  Now that’s a dog’s life with a purpose.  I am able to spend a couple of hours this week with the Search and Rescue team from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.  What is actually serious work for these dogs is presented as a game.  Find the victim (whether pretend like during this training practice or real like in the Haitian earthquake disaster) and, as their reward, the dogs get much praise, a tasty treat, and toy play.

Chewy

I watch a black Lab named Chewy (also a rescued pound puppy) follow the scent of a “victim” through a field and find her beneath a tarp (even “playing” victim isn’t for those squeamish about dirt, claustrophobia, and dog slobber).  Upon successfully completing the “game,” Chewy receives lots of praise and a tug toy, which he greets with the enthusiasm of a pre-teen opening an Xbox Kinect on Christmas morn.  (A quick thought on why I have a dog and not kids:  Chewy has seen this tug toy numerous times and still he is as enthusiastic as if it were the first time; months, even weeks later the kid is jaded about the Xbox.)

Jack the Search and Rescue Dog

Next, I meet Jack, also a black Lab who seems to be having a little trouble finding whatever has been hidden underground. The trainer starts him back at the point where he lost the scent, but then I lose focus as I am greeted by a Blood Hound puppy named Roscoe who, at only five months old, has paws the size of a Munchkin’s head. Roscoe then goes on to his own Search and Rescue game, and I turn back to Jack whom I guess must have successfully found his item, because now Jack is getting to play tug, too!  (Oh, boy, oh, boy, oh, boy…)

Then I am introduced to Bob Massey who asks me to play the victim (how long I’ve waited for another human to ask me that!). He takes me on a walk to lay a trail for his dog, a hundred-pound Blood Hound named Fausto.  Bob and I walk around the vast parking lot of the outdoor mall that contains every store from Target to In ‘N Out Burger.  After about half a mile, we pause at two bus-stop benches where Bob wants me to wait for Fausto.  I am given a baggie of prime roast beef and told not to praise Fausto until he identifies me as the “victim” by placing a paw on me or even jumping up on me.  Once I have been identified, I am to praise as effusively as possible and feed him roast beef.  Fausto is nine years old and I guess he’s done with tug toys.  Show him the beef. (Okay, so dogs can get a bit jaded, too.)

After giving Bob one of my gloves as a “scent item,” I wait on my bus bench and see him unload Fausto from his crate in the back of an SUV. They start the search, tracing the path I just walked.  Not quite five minutes later, I hear heavy, almost asthmatic breathing coming at me.   It’s either Fausto or the world’s most obvious sex offender.  Suddenly, Fausto bursts around the corner and I almost hug him, forgetting my instructions to wait for him to identify me.  Fausto passes by me, then stops, returns, and lays a giant paw on my knee.  “Good boy, Fausto!” Bob and I both explode into praise.  I quickly retrieve the bag of roast beef and try to delicately feed this hundred-pound boy a slice at a time. “Just give it all to him,” says Bob.  I do.  Thankfully, Fausto takes all of the beef and none of my hand.

Me, Fausto, Bob

As Bob loads Fausto back into his crate, he tells me of the amazing talents of Search and Rescue dogs.  Sometimes the dogs know more than the police, like the case where three separate dogs followed the scent to a house in which the resident was not even a suspect.  Yet, trusting the dogs, the police got a search warrant and, in searching, discovered the unique jacket worn by the suspect on surveillance tapes. Ultimately, the resident was convicted of the robbery.

So, basically, the Leonas of the world can keep their money.  Because in my next life, I’m going to be a Search and Rescue dog.

Year of the Elevens

Okay, so I don’t know diddly squat about numerology or astrology or any “ology” more confusing than laundry-ology.  But folks seem to be all excited about the number of dates this year that contain multiple elevens. I’ll admit I like the symmetry of it… just like a few years ago when the Summer Olympics opened in China on 08-08-08.  Evidently, the number 8 is a big deal in Chinese culture, and I was happy that their stunning opening ceremonies debuted on that day, but, again, I have no idea of “8’s” significance.

So why is “11” such a big deal?  According to some online sites, 11 appears to be a “master” number (well, that sounds a little bossy).  The number 11 is also, however, supposed to carry “balance” and represent “male and female equality” (now I’m liking the little bugger better).   Another quality of number 11 seems to be that a lot of people notice it on, for example, digital clocks.  And then they make a wish.  Hmmm, the only time I’ve looked at a clock that read 11:11:00am and made a wish, I’ve wished it were closer to 5pm so I could leave work.

But maybe I should wish for something grander upon my next 11:11 sighting.  Because, to quote Texas Tech Assistant Professor of Classics, Jason Banta, on number 11, “People who are really interested in modern numerology say it marks some sort of transitional period that something is going to change soon when you see this.  Often people are looking at the number 11 as some sort of transitory moment.”  So instead of wishing my work day were over, maybe I should think transitional (i.e., big).  Next time, I’m wishing to be a winner in the next $350 million lottery jackpot.

Then, of course, there are plenty of theories about the role “11” played in the 9/11 attacks, but I’m not going to dwell on those because I’m trying to keep my young 2011 positive.  Oh, and I think those theories are baloney.

So, let’s all work on our balance and gender equality today — 01-11-11 — and on all the upcoming elevens (the biggest being, of course, 11-11-11).  Make your wishes when the clocks turn that magical minute.  And make 2011 a truly uplifting year.  Because, according to the Mayans, the whole world is ending on December 12, 2012 at, yep, 11:11.

Eat, Pray, Eat

Okay, so I’m a little late in jumping on the Eat, Pray, Love bandwagon.  I watched the movie via Netflix the other night.  Especially loved the Italian scenes with Julia Roberts eating her way through Rome and Naples.  I mean, really, what is more delicious than Rome, and pizza, and Julia Roberts?  Exactly.  And, of course, the food is filmed in such a way as to bring Pavlovian saliva to our jowls.  I had to stop the movie mid-Italy just to go to my kitchen and heat up a can of Chef Boyardee (a poor substitute, but still).

Anyway, Julia and her movie friend visit Naples for a weekend and eat at the world’s most famous pizza parlor where pizza was invented or something to that effect.  While Julia is chowing down on her full pizza, the friend simply stares at the pie in front of her.  Julia asks why she isn’t eating.  Is she okay?  Now, both of these women are Hollywood thin, without a finger-full to pinch between them.  But the friend has to say (and I’m paraphrasing here), “I can’t eat.  I’ve been gaining so much weight; I have to watch my calories.”  Now, you know this makes me feel great since I’ve just inhaled an entire bowl of Chef Boyardee, wasting at least a week’s worth of calories and carbs on this mediocre can of processed chemicals.  And this skinny bitch won’t eat even a bite of her Napals original pizza pie?

Quickly, Julia comes to the rescue of American women everywhere.  She says (again, I’m paraphrasing), “Look I have a muffin top too.  But has any guy ever turned you away from his bed?  No, he realizes he just won the lottery!  Now, eat.  We’ll go buy new clothes after this.”  They do buy new clothes, which are still smaller than anything I’ve been able to wear since 1982.  So, in short, this particular Eat, Pray, Love scene is inspiring and depressing all at once.

One last thing, on the subject of muffin tops (those expansions in our bellies that bulge above the waistbands of our pants)…  When I started gaining weight in the early 1990s, I noticed the bulging from my waistline (though, at the time, the phrase “muffin top” had yet to be coined).  I wasn’t obsessed with it (I definitely would have eaten every bite of my Naples pizza), but I knew I was putting on some pounds in my early 30s. One Saturday afternoon, I rushed to an appointment with my hairdresser, just throwing on an old T-shirt and some sweatpants.  As the assistant brought me to the sinks to wash my hair, he exclaimed, “Congratulations!”  “Oh what?” I asked.  “The baby,” he said, looking at my muffin top.  “I’m not pregnant,” I said.  “Oh, I’m so sorry,” he said, confused (I guess they don’t get many muffin tops at hair salons in Hollywood).  As he silently washed my hair, I wondered, Was I that fat? Or, perhaps, was it the T-shirt I was wearing from U2’s concert of the day, “Achtung Baby”?  That’s what my T-shirt read, in bold, tie-dyed letters, “Achtung Baby,” which means “Attention Baby.”  Was I “reading” (as we say in Hollywood casting) pregnant because of my belly or because of my T-shirt?  Probably because of both.  Well, I’ll tell you one thing:  I’d still eat the damn pizza.

Happy New Year… Time to Diet

These two greetings are synonymous in my household:  “Happy New Year”/”Time to Diet.”  After two holiday-filled months of carbo-loaded meals, never-ending Christmas candies and cookies, and alcoholic toasts to everything from Feliz Navidad to Auld Lang Syne, it is time for that annual ritual called (yikes) A New Year’s Resolution.  After all, isn’t this the time that attaining every goal seems possible?  (I’m trying to psych myself up here.)  I mean, 2011 is in its infancy, all huggably baby soft with nary a blemish.  So this is when I say to myself with the same intensity that Jillian Michaels saves for contestants on The Biggest Loser:  I can lose those twenty pounds!  I can get a new job!  I can clean out fifteen years of crap in the garage!

But the time to act is NOW.  Because soon February will be upon us, where our newborn year into which we put so much hope turns its Terrible Two — a screaming, tantrum-throwing little Damien — and then all we want to do is walk away and leave the year with the nanny or drop it on the front stoop of the local fire department.  (“Little ’11 was so adorable and hope-inspiring as a baby, but as a toddler, watch out for the hair-pulling-hold-his-breath-till-he-passes-out hissy fits.”)

By February, this not-so-new year will only inspire me to roll my eyes, throw up my arms, and ask with dripping sarcasm:  “Weight loss?  Who am I kidding?  New job?  At least I’m employed.  Garage crap?  What’s another year of junk?”

So I raise my last mimosa of the morning in a toast to this New Year.  May 2011 remain full of possibility at least long enough for me to shed a pound or two and hold onto a shred of hope for attaining perhaps another goal.  And if Little ’11 gets all bratty and stubborn before I’ve accomplished a thing, well, then there’s always the unblemished hope of that precious baby girl, 2012.

How Rude

A couple of weeks ago, a woman in the Philippines cut in front of a man waiting in line to buy a lottery ticket.  As he was a gentleman, the man didn’t protest, he simply tolerated her intrusion and bought his lottery ticket after her… and ultimately won 17 million dollars.  Here’s to a victory for politeness.

I know I’m not the only American, hell, the only world citizen repeatedly rolling my eyes at random acts of rudeness.  In fact, there have been occasions when I did more than roll my eyes, I commented on the act out loud and sometimes directly to the offender.  For example, one day at the lunch rush in a busy mall in Century City, a young office worker ran into me using his single slice of cheese pizza as a buffer.  “You just rammed your pizza into my ass,” I said, more than a little pissed.  He looked at me vacuously, then just as air-headedly walked away. “Thanks, Jerk,” I said as I dabbed at the triangular grease stain on my linen skirt. “Goddamn it.”  As I was throwing my hissy fit, I inadvertently knocked a woman’s tray, drowning her silk blouse in Diet Coke.  In a Three Stooges movie this is funny, at lunch hour in the middle of Los Angeles business cool, it is not. Suddenly, I was the vacuous jerk.

What I learned from the pizza fiasco and other similar incidents is this:  there’s a fine line between being the victim of rudeness and the perpetrater.  In other words, sometimes I need to be quicker to forgive and realize that patience and kindness begin with me.  This is all frankly easier the older I get, not because I’m a wiser or better person; no, I’m just plain tired and too exhausted to fight.  Plus, I no longer wear expensive and costly-to-dry-clean clothes.  So, here’s to being an old, tired, sweat suit-wearing Mother Teresa.  I may no longer be a young hottie, but I’m also not an uptight hothead either.

Bad Santas

I overheard some women discussing the worst Christmas gifts they’ve ever gotten — a present regifted to the original giver and a $50 gift card with only $23.99 left on it — and it got me to thinking, What was the worst Christmas gift I’ve ever gotten? Now, I know men can be notoriously bad gift givers (I remember the Christmas my father proudly gave my mother a home haircutting kit), but women aren’t always home-run hitters either. After a year in which I had gained fifteen pounds and failed at losing the weight on the Nutrisystem tastes-like-newspaper diet, I awoke on Christmas morning to find a festively wrapped large package from my first partner.  As the Lexus commercials say, “No one ever wished for a smaller holiday gift,” so I excitedly opened it to reveal… a Suzanne Somers’ Thigh Master.

Still, the worst gift I ever received came not from a good friend or an intimate, but from someone I barely knew.  She and her husband were having a Christmas party and since he was the coach of my partner’s women’s hockey team, they kindly invited the whole team, plus me.  We were all to exchange gifts and the wife mentioned having a “special” gift for my partner and me.  Her excitement over our present grew as the party neared.  Knowing they enjoyed a nightcap, I had purchased a bottle of port wine, but started worrying that my choice was not worthy of the bounty coming my way.  En route to the festivities, I ran by a liquor store to buy a more expensive brand of port.

At the house, I proudly handed over the liquor to the hosts and noticed the line of standard gift baskets for all the other team members.  Poor things, I thought, as I gazed at the lone giant box in the corner; bet they all wish they were as “special” as me. The husband opened up the port as his wife handed my partner our gift.  I couldn’t fathom what was about to be revealed and certainly never imagined… a homemade plywood end table with a decoupaged sketch of two naked women embracing.  Huh?

Now, I don’t have the greatest taste in fashion or interior design, but is this really what folks think to give to two lesbians they barely know?  Got some extra plywood in the garage and those Playboy-esque sketches; instead of throwing them out, why don’t we glue it all together and give to those two dykes for Christmas?

I said nothing except “Thank you” to our hosts as they were truly gracious and kind (albeit misguided) people.  But I must say that suddenly those standard gift baskets looked downright classy and, unfortunately, far out of reach for such a “special” person as myself.