Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cruising the boulevard

Kenmore is the part of Akron where I grew up.
The people who lived there were working class, blue-collar types who toiled at Goodyear, Firestone, General Tire or Goodrich, or they worked for a tire-related business. No one was wealthy in Kenmore; those people lived in west Akron and, most likely, supervised our parents. Most of our parents both worked, and as we got older, more and more of them divorced.
While our parents bowled (what was the name of the bowling alley on Waterloo Road near Main Street?) or played euchre on the weekends, we roller skated at the Arena Roller Rink where we smoked cigarettes, "made out" under the coat racks and, of course, roller skated.
Kenmore guys loved muscle cars. The louder they rumbled, the better. Guys would drive down my street, pass by my house (and Lisa Spak's, who lived across the street) and rev their motors as they passed (sending Lisa and me both to our bedroom windows). I got to know the sounds of different guys' cars that I didn't really have to run to the windows - Troy Silver's Cutlass had a high-pitched waaaaaa sound under the hood, especially when he was pissed off at me and would fly at full speed down my street. John Shipley's car, which I think was a Chevelle (correct me if I'm wrong, John), had a killer sound system for back then; he was way ahead of his time as he would blast Jimi Hendrix's "National Anthem" from his woofers and tweeters. Tom Cox would drive by in his piece of sh*t El Camino that lacked an exhaust system (which required passengers to ride with the windows open year-round) or his friend Brian Fields' Corvair with the WMMS buzzard painted on the trunk. Mike Perenkovich's multi-colored whatever-the-hell-that-was ...
Cruising was a big deal when I was in high school. Sue Zurzolo would pick my friend Jodi Gump and me up in her huge boat and we'd cruise around, driving by people's houses, honking and then driving away really fast so they wouldn't see us. We'd drive by guys' houses we liked. We'd drive by girls' houses we didn't like. We'd smoke cigarettes and cruise, trying to find other people who were out doing the same thing. We had places we'd go to hang out - that old strip mall at Arlington and Waterloo roads, where the cops would come and chase everyone away. Does anyone remember The Ledges behind Rolling Acres mall?
Lori Orlando would pick us up in her dad's Ford Falcon (I think it was a Falcon?) that had push-button gears, and we'd cruise the boulevard and end up at KB's, where she and he would end up yelling at each other.
A cool car for guys meant more "friends" and girls. One guy showed up at school driving a shiny bright orange restored late '60s Camaro or Firebird. No one knew who this kid was until he rumbled into the parking lot. Suddenly, he was wearing a black leather jacket and hanging out with our guys (who all wore black-leather jackets). Behind his back, they all said his car was full of bondo (a filler for rusted-out cars) and that's why he had to paint it orange - you had to use bright colors to hide the bondo. That bondo didn't keep him from getting invited to parties, though.
When I see the new Camaro, it takes me back to my neighborhood. I got my driver's license with my ex's '68 Camaro, which had no power steering, no air conditioning and had a custom-size steering wheel that was about the size of a dinner plate. It was full of bondo.
The new Camaro brings out the Kenmore girl in me, and makes me want to shop for a black leather jacket, pop in some Nazareth and cruise the boulevard. No smoking, though.

Friday, March 26, 2010

You CAN'T talk about THAT

My friend Mary called me from Colorado and said, "I just read your blog. I can't believe you wrote about poop. You  can't TALK about  that!"
But it's funny, I told her.
"Who reads your blog!?" she said, worried about my future, my career, my reputation.
"I don't know. My Facebook friends, I guess," I said.
"You can't write about that! We don't talk about poop!" she said.
There isn't much Mary won't talk about. When we were in sixth grade, she was such a chatterbox that our homeroom teacher, Mr. Lomax, threw a piece of chalk at her after getting so frustrated with her because she wouldn't shut up. Really. I had no idea she was so uptight about excrement.
I told her that's why I wrote about it - because no one likes to talk about it. Yet everyone does it. Daily. I hope.
"I can't believe you wrote about that," she said. She WAS laughing, by the way.

The only time bowel movements become accepted and expected topics of discussion are when new parents watch their babies' outputs to gauge how well their inputs are working.
"Just changed his diaper."
"Did he poop?"
"How was it?"
Believe me, I have issues with the subject.  As I said in my last blog, I once went 36 hours without doing it, all in the name of romance. And it wasn't by choice. Each time we'd enter a restaurant, my first stop would be the ladies' room, just to give my poor bowels an opportunity to relieve themselves. They never took me up on the offer.
I even went for a run that Sunday morning, planning my route by a Safeway, thinking things would loosen up on my jog. Nope.
It wasn't until he dropped me at my door, carried my bags inside that my body knew it was home. I quickly hugged him, patted him on the back as I ushered him to the door. "Thanksforthelovelyweekendcallmelaterbuh-bye ..."
When my son was a toddler, we bought the book "Everyone Poops," because, as responsible parents, we wanted him to know that there is NOTHING wrong with it - every animal does it.
Maybe the title of the book would be more appropriately, "Everyone Poops, Just Keep It To Yourself."

Friday, March 12, 2010

I'm with the right guy now

My man and I survived our first real trip together, and here are a couple of things I learned about couplehood ... and myself.

First, it's OK to want - and take - some alone time. While he took care of his business, I strolled the streets of Georgetown, got a pedi- and manicure in Sharlington and watched a couple of Russians play speed chess in Borders (I couldn't even play checkers that fast.).

We spent the bulk of our time together, tooling around D.C. and its suburbs and discovered some terrific restaurants. We did two runs along the Potomac, visited the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials, checked out a couple of museums and had some romantic together time.

Museums. That brings me to my second revelation: I prefer to do museums solo. It isn't that I don't want to share the experience with my beloved, but I want to see what I want to see at the pace at which I want to see it. He informed me, "I can do about two hours in a museum, and then I'm toast." Or something like that.

Don't get me wrong. I am not someone who has to read every placard and ponder every artifact. In fact, I did the Rick Steves half-day tour of the Louvre in Paris and saw all the highlights: Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, Vinus de Milo, some Boticellis and Michelangelos. While it's possible to take days to tour every square foot of the Louvre, I felt duly enriched after four hours.

Next time he and I do a museum, we'll divide and conquer, just like we do when we hit Nordstrom's Last Chance - he hits men's shoes, I hit women's shoes and we find each other somewhere around women's swimsuits and men's casual wear. Need more time? Cool, I'll get a hot chocolate and plant myself on a bench.

The last thing I learned is, by the time you take your first trip together, you'd better be over the whole I-don't-poo-when-he's-around thing. I once took a romantic weekend away with a guy and somehow managed to avoid moving my bowels for three entire days. It wasn't a conscious decision; fear impacted me, you could say. "What if he finds out ... I produce ... foul odors?!" I learned from that weekend away that if I'm not ready for a man to find out that I'm HUMAN, then, I'm not ready to spend three days with him. And he's probably the wrong guy for me.

Let's just say, I'm with the right guy now. And leave it at that. :-)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I'll wait for the humans to cross

Just when you think you know someone, take a trip with them. I don't mean a weekend away by car where you hole up for two days in a romantic hotel room. I mean, plan a trip and TRAVEL. Fly, book a hotel, rent a car and see some sights.
My beloved, whom I've been ga-ga over for nearly a year and a half (off and on), took me to one of his hometowns - Washington D.C. - this weekend. Our first real vacation together.
I've always thought of my man as a rather laid back kind of guy, save for a few curse-fests in the car when some stupid driver interrupts our route. We all get a little hot-headed behind the wheel from time to time, right?
I was surprised and somewhat amused to learn that my guy is one of THOSE people. The ones who, when the airplane announces boarding, stands up and starts moving toward the gate. Meanwhile, I'm of the ilk who sits in the lobby until all THOSE people get on board. I mean, why shuffle my way to the gate and down the breezeway so I can sit on the plane a little longer?
I subscribe to the same philosophy when deplaning. Unless I have a tight connection, I'll sit back and wait until all those Type As get their bags and bump each other down the aisle. I relax, grab my stuff and sashay to my destination.
Not my man. He's up and motioning me to follow him. Hurry up, his face says. We're in a hurry? I ask. Why? So we can stand around the baggage carousel a little longer?
We secure our rental car, and I am the designated driver because I'm the one with a credit card and insurance. The Alamo attendant directs us to a row of cars and tells us to choose whichever one we want. We select a Chevy Impala.
As we drive away, my man comments on how big the car is. Maybe we should have gotten a Malibu, he says. This car feels too big, he says. Are you OK driving this? he asks. Several times. You look so small driving this big boat, and you make me nervous because you almost ran us off the road back there, he tells me. That's because I wasn't paying attention, I said. Now I'm paying attention. I'm fine.
And he navigates me through the streets of D.C. to our hotel in Georgetown. Turn here, he says. There are people in the crosswalk, I say. You have to be aggressive here, he says. This isn't Phoenix. People are different here. Still, I say, I'll wait for the humans to cross.
As we approach a fork in the road, he says, "stay here." What is here, I ask? I need you to say "left" or "right," I tell him. "I don't know what 'here' means."
Ever been boating with another couple and witness them verbally tear each other's hair out as they put their vessel in the water or dock it at the end of the day? 
This is the stuff that builds relationships. We get together based on physical attraction, then we woo each other with romantic dates, flowers and sappy love letters. Those butterfly moments in the beginning are no indication of whether the two of you have what it takes to last a lifetime. It's those toilet-seat-up/toilet-seat-down, cap-on-the-toothpaste, backseat-driver, the-plug-isn't-in-the-boat-you-moron moments that tell us if we have longevity.
If my man survives through Wednesday without me running off the road and killing us both ... or ... shoving his backseat-driving butt out of the moving car ... we might have what it takes ...