Sunday, February 28, 2010

Church-tales, woo-oo!

My nephew is going on a two year mission for the Church of Latter Day Saints to Zurich, Switzerland. His farewell (where he is invited to speak in church before leaving) was Sunday. After church we gathered at my sister’s house and ate food and told some of our favorite church-tales. There are too many to write in one post but here are some of our favorites.

Amy was at the farewell too. Her ward provides some of the best church stories. I went with Amy to a primary program in her ward. It was unlike any primary program I've ever been to. All the kids were seated on the stage. One girl did leg lifts over her head, white tights flashing, while the boy next to her blew snot bubbles. At one point a mom pulled a microphone out of the stand and accidently smacked a kid in the face – the congregation winced in sympathy during the two seconds of silence before the kid’s banshee wail echoed through the chapel.

Years ago in their ward's fast and testimony meeting a young boy, about seven years old, shared his experience with prayer. He began, “I lost by teddy bear a few days ago and I couldn’t find him. So then I prayed. And I turned around and there was the little S.O.B. sitting right there!” Except he didn’t abbreviate. His parents shrank in their seats.

In the same meeting another young boy stood up to share his testimony. He stood with his hands on the pulpit and the bishopric lowered the pulpit to his height. He began with the classic opening, “I’d like to bear my testimony,” but it quickly crescendoed into something else. It sounded like this: “I’d like to bear my testimonyow ow ow OW OW OWIE OWIE!” The bishopric lowered the pulpit onto his hands!

Tiffany, my sister, dry heaved in church when we saw a larger youth hike his shirt up a bit, dig around in his belly button, and eat what he scavenged. We still shudder anytime we talk (or, turns out, type) about it.

My neighbor, Carly, got shooed out of sacrament by her mom one time because she started laughing so hard. It was Father’s Day and the primary children went to the front to sing the primary song “I’m so Glad When Daddy Comes Home.” The song goes, “I’m so glad when daddy comes home, glad as I can be! Clap my hands and shout for joy and climb upon his knee. Put my arms around his neck, hug him tight like this, pat his cheek then give him what? A great big kiss!” Well, one boy's dad was in a wheelchair. At the song’s end the boy yelled, louder than anyone else, “Give him what? A great big KICK IN THE PANTS!”

Kids in church are the best. Although grownups can be great as well.

I was sitting in between my sister Sabra and her husband and my mom and dad in a sacrament meeting a few years ago. Sabra’s husband got up a few times and walked out. After one exit my dad leaned forward and in a teas

ing whisper said to Sabra, “Incontinence? She leaned forward, looked puzzled and answered what she thought was the question, “Africa, Asia, South America…” Mom and I couldn’t stop laughing.

One time, we arrived at church a little late and there were no available seats. I had on a pair of new high-heeled boots. As I tiptoed through the cultural hall with three metal chairs I slipped and fell. Metal chairs banged against each other and clattered to the gym floor with a resounding echo. It seemed like everyone turned around to see what caused the racket. Knowing that only people seated in the back would be able to see me on the ground that's where I stayed until people turned back around.

Erin and Liesel, friends and old co-workers like to retell the story of their friend who was in church during a baby blessing. Everything proceeded as normal until the nervous father gave the baby the Melchizedek priesthood instead of a baby blessing. He stopped, looked up, mouth open, eyes wide as he realized what he had said. He looked around, bowed his head, waved a hand in a circle over the baby as he said, “UNDONE!”

Church is typically more spiritual than entertaining, but sometimes its definitely more entertaining.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The South African What?

Sometimes embarrassing moments are too good not to share:

I booked a reception in South Africa today for work. The hotel's clause of force majeure (a clause in contracts that frees both parties from liabilities in extreme circumstances) was more intense than most US contracts I've seen. I was using Google Talk and my status read:

"The South African Hotel's force majeure is a little more intense than most US hotel's: In the event of any act of God, strike, war, warlike operation, rebellion, riot, civil war, lockout, interference of trade unions, suspension of labour, fire, accident, act of terrorism or of any circumstances arising or action taken beyond or outside the reasonable control of the Hotel, then the Hotel shall be relieved of its obligations..."

BUT, I didn't realize what it looked like in gchat until my friend Nico sent me a "hahahahahaha" attached to this photo:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Strokes, Blokes, and Flutes

Quote of the blog:

Amy in England to Italian tourists: “You’re from Italy!?” Presses her fingers and thumbs together, shakes her hand, and says, “Spiceee-Meatahballahs!”

A few summers ago two of my sisters, Tiffany and Sabra, and my friend Amy came to visit me for a week while I was working in London. It was Amy’s first time out of the country. We all had a great time and, as we are wont to do, laughed a lot. Eating a pain au chocolat from Pret A Manger became a daily to-do. Each morning someone would say, “We have to get a chocolate croissant at,” depending who was remembering the name, “Pretamangiers, Peetemangey,” or my personal favorite, “Pet a Manager.”

One evening we ate at Wagammama’s in Leicester Square. Amy asked our British waiter what he recommended.

He shrugged and said, “You know, different strokes for different blokes.”

Amy nodded in agreement. As soon as he walked away she leaned in and whispered, “What does that mean?”

We explained he just meant different people like different things. “Ahh,” she said, “I really like that.”

The last day of their visit we went for our final chocolate croissant fix. We were at the store near Trafalgar Square and the cashier recognized us. He was an ornery sort of fellow and gave us a bad time about ordering the same boring thing every day.

“We got all these things and all you want it a chocolate croissant. Bah.”

He couldn’t sway us and we each ordered a chocolate croissant. Tiffany and I were standing by the doors when Tiffany saw Amy say something to the cashier and then saw him smile broadly as he handed her the croissant. He was still smiling when Sabra ordered.

As we all walked out Tiffany asked, “What did you say to that guy?”

Amy smiled and said, “Oh, you know, just what the waiter said to us last night: A stroke for every bloke!”

We about died! Amy looked confused and we each exclaimed “Amy, that is not what the waiter said!” and “No wonder he smiled like that!” and “Did he give you the croissant for free?”

Amy stopped mid-step, looked horrified, and her face brightened with realization. We all howled with laughter.

A similar incident happened just this past summer. I met up with my friend Aja (pronounced Asia) and Jason. We traveled to Northern England and stayed in a 17th century B&B in the Peak District. On our last day there we sat down for breakfast at a table across from two Scottish men. They were about 50 years old, well-built and broad-shouldered. One was quiet and the other was loud and friendly.

The loud one looked at us and said in a quintessential Scottish brogue, “Ach! Yooou’ve gat ta cum ta Scoatland ta see tha Taattoooos.” He explained that the Edinburgh Tattoo is an exhibition of military members and military bands, etc.

The quiet one said, “That’s what I used to do for years.”

Aja asked, “You were in the military or in the band?” He answered, “Both.”

The loud one gave an “Ach!” and started teasing his friend about how he plays his flute…alone in his room…in only his socks. The quiet one rolled his eyes and gave his friend this half-amused/half-annoyed look like, “Shut up.” And the loud one kept teasing and pushing the joke, enjoying himself, and watching us for reactions – we just sipped our tea and ate our boiled breakfast.

Then the loud one said something to his friend about different types of men and the quiet one said wryly, “Yeah, those people that play their flutes.”

Aja piped in, “Well, some people play their flutes very well.”

The two men just about choked on their coffee. They looked surprised -probably not as surprised as Jason and me – and then started roaring with laughter.

Aja was about to take a drink but started laughing as well and the loud one said, “Ach! Look, she almost dropped her tea!”

They left a few minutes later and I said, “I have to admit I’m kind of surprised you said that.”

Aja looked puzzled and said, “I was just trying to be encouraging.”

I paused, “Wait. What did you think he was talking about?”

Aja looked at Jason and then at me and ventured, “Playing the flute?”

When we started laughing Aja said, “Wait! What? What did I miss?”

As I was trying to figure out how to explain, Jason offered, “Let’s just say that in this situation only men have flutes.”

Aja exclaimed, “Oh!” and turned red.

For the rest of the trip (and beyond) we would burst out laughing any time we thought of it. One of us would say, “I was just trying to be encouraging.” Or say seriously, “Well, some people play their flutes very well.”

I’m not sure that symphonies will ever be the same for me. And who knows what that flute-playing panhandler thought when I started laughing in the subway. If he had asked about it I might have waved my chocolate croissant in salute and said, “You know what they say, different strokes for different blokes.”

Sunday, February 14, 2010

What's in a name?

Quote of the blog:

Gaby’s friend: “If the word Latrine had a different definition I would use it for a baby name. Think about it. Isn’t it pretty? Say it slowly. Latrine.”


While listening to a radio show about funny names I thought about some of the people I’ve known: The Wood siblings, Cherry and Aspen, who went to school with my brother, Rhoda who married a Pigg (Mr.), and my mom’s childhood neighbor Newborn Butt (who by that time was far from newborn). During my musings a caller rang in: “I know a Shanda Lear!” The radio hosts couldn’t believe it and neither could I since Shanda is my cousin, and no, that’s not a married name.

I could have called in the name of a young man our family went to church with years ago. I was nine when I knew him. His name was Burk Gurr (say it out loud). He started dating a girl named Amber. I had great hopes that they’d marry. Wouldn’t it be amazing to hear them introduce themselves as Burk Gurr and Amber Gurr? It was a match made in heaven - or maybe Burkgurr King (sorry, I couldn’t help it).

My second semester of college I had a neighbor named Jenna Cobia. The first time I heard her name I thought it was a disease: jennacobia. That idea stuck. None of my seven roommates really knew Jenna, but we frequently tossed around phrases like, “Are you feeling ok? Do you have jennacobia?” And “I can’t go to class today (cough, cough) I think I caught jennacobia.”

It probably wouldn’t have caused any problems if it weren’t for one infamous evening. A bunch of us from church went on a huge group date to a Mongolian BBQ place. Couples stood on each side of the buffet and selected dishes they wanted barbequed. As my roommate Mandy filled her bowl her date nudged her arm and pointed at an unidentifiable dish, teasing her to try it. She exclaimed, “I’m not eating that! I don’t want to contract jennacobia!” She looked up and saw Jenna standing directly across from her. It was an awkward moment.

Amy, my good friend and old roommate, served an LDS mission in upstate New York. She and her companion were in Dillard’s when she saw a little girl skipping near the makeup counters. The girl stopped and pointed at the signs at one counter and said proudly, “That’s my name, that’s my name.” A moment later her mom yelled, “Cliniqwah! Get over here!” Same spelling. Different pronunciation.

When my friend Benton visited New York he told me one of the best name stories I’ve heard in a long time. He’s a dentist in Florida and not too long ago he picked up a chart before seeing a patient. He noticed the first name was La-e. How would you pronounce that name? Laeh? Layee? Lahay? He wasn’t sure how to pronounce it either. Well, it turns out her name is pronounced LaDASHa! LaDASHa!! The hyphen isn't silent! La-e is pronounced LaDASHa!

You know, maybe her parents are on to something there. People could save a lot of time and ink by incorporating logograms and symbols into their writing. We could have Margaret Th@cher or : Powell. You could write phrases like Waltzing Ma~ or my car has been im#ded.

All I know is that when I have a girl I’m naming her Ellipses and I’ll spell it … .

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Utah? Is that in Brooklyn?

Quote of the blog:

A date to me (said in his Jewish-New-Yorker-Italian-accent): Brook, you’re the kinda girl, I know, that if I was ever a paraplegic you’d never leave me.

I’ve heard some amazing pick-up lines since moving to New York. One of my favorites happened this last summer. One morning I was crossing the street to the park when I noticed a golden Chow at the park entrance. I like all the different types of dogs in the city and I don’t see chows that often so I was paying attention to the dog. When I got about five feet away I looked up to see the owner watching me. He smiled, nodded towards the dog and said smoothly, “I used to think she was the prettiest lady in the city.” I couldn’t help it; I laughed right out loud. Did he just compare me to his dog? Yes. Yes he did.

Another morning I got on the 1 train headed downtown. It was early-morning for me but late-night for the drunk who sat next to me. As the conductor announced each subway stop the drunk exclaimed, “Uptown! Oh man! I wanna go downtown!” He said this at every stop: 125th, 116th, 110th all the way to 42nd street. In the middle of one of his loud laments he looked over at me and stopped. He leaned towards me and said, “I don’t know what you do to your eyelashes, but it’s working.”

Last summer my friend Allyson and I were in a stationers store buying some birthday decorations. A man in rollerblades rolled into the store, looked at a few items, skated over to Allyson, looked down at her pedicured feet, and said in a Barry White voice, “I like your toes.” Then he did a 360 turn and sailed out the door. Amazing.

A few years ago, a few friends and I decided to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge (a must if you visit New York!) and eat at Grimaldi’s. It’s a famous Brooklyn pizzeria just off the water. When we arrived I washed my hands. When I got back to the table everyone thought that was a good idea. As they got up to stand in line for the one bathroom my friend Richard nudged my arm and whispered, “We’re sitting next to the Sopranos!”

I looked over. In classic New York restaurant-style the tables were just a few inches apart. Two dark-haired Italian men in suits sat kitty-corner across from me, less than three feet away. They were both broad, imposing men in tailored suits. One of them was about 60 and the other about 30. Across from them sat a middle-aged woman with magnificently teased blonde hair, a fur collared jacket and long acrylic nails. I waited for her to speak. I like to imagine it would have been a high-pitched Jersey voice that said something like, “Morty, I need to get my nails done!” To my disappointment, she never said anything while they were there.

The younger one looked at me and in a thick Brooklyn accent said matter-of-factly, “So. You’re pretty.” I was alone at the table and said, “uh, thanks.” He continued, “What’s your name.” I told him it was Brook and asked him his. He responded, “Tony.”

Tony?? Was I in a movie? I looked over to see if anyone was coming back from the bathroom but they were all waiting for each other.

Tony was still staring at me. He said, “So. Whereya from?” I responded, “Utah.” His thick brows drew together as he looked at me. Then he asked, “Utah, is dat in Brooklyn?” I paused before saying, “Oh, uh, no. It’s a state – out West…One of the fifty.” About this time everyone came back to the table and sat down.

Tony and his friends finished their pies a few minutes later and got up to leave. As they walked out the door the older man turned and looked at me. He drew his lips way down at the corners like an upside-down horseshoe, squinted his eyes, and nodded his head at me. What did that mean? Was I made? Was I dead? I wasn’t sure but I avoided the docks down the street just in case.

I’ve never had anyone tell me, as a man in Harlem said to a friend Amanda, “The man who gets to suck those toes is one lucky dude,” but in the meantime I can remind myself that I can give those chows a run for their money.

Y as in Europe- Addendum

I may have written Y as in Europe too soon! My friend shared with me a phonetic alphabet reference she got on the phone. A woman said, “A as in (long thinking pause)…A flower.”

This week I called a school in California. The secretary spelled the name of the principle and said, “G as in the letter G,” and then “D as in the letter D.”

Unfortunately, I still couldn't tell if she was saying, B, D, or C but I loved that she referenced the letter as the thing itself. I want to try that out the next time I explain something, “He has Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia. You know, Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia, as in Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia.” Ps. Whoever came up with that term has a cruel sense of humor.