Monday, April 26, 2010

I Was a Total Skater

A few years ago after church I waited for my friend Amy who was in a meeting. The building was just about empty except for a few of us. We stood in front of the alcove where the bishop and clerk’s office are. There were five of us in the circle: Doug and Wayne (both my age-ish but members in the bishopric), Andrew, and another man we’ll call *Brandt (this isn't his real name).

Brandt had shown interest in me – I think it might have had something to with the fact that he loved to cook gourmet meals and I like food. Dunno, but for whatever reason, he had asked me out quite a few times. He usually asked just a day or two in advance and I usually had something going on.

The five of us were chatting casually. The next day was Memorial Day and I was going to borrow Doug’s bike to go to the beach with some people. So we were talking about biking and mid-sentence Brandt turned to me and said, “Do you want to bake?” I paused, had he said bike or bake?

I asked, “I’m sorry, what?”

He annunciated each word, “Would you like to bake?”

I glanced around; Doug, Wayne and Andrew seemed puzzled as well.

I smiled, a bit confused, “Bake what?”

He clarified, “I’m asking you on a date. Every time I ask you out you’re busy. So, you tell me what night works for you and I’ll take you out.”

I noticed the men shift their weight from foot to foot. Brandt kept talking and I noticed Doug take a slow step back, then another, and then he ducked into the clerk’s office. Wayne noticed Doug was gone a moment later. He gave me a supportive smile and excused himself to the clerk’s office as well. Andrew watched Wayne walk away, gave me “the eyebrows” and made a swift retreat to the clerk’s office. I think my jaw dropped a bit more as I watched each exit. I do remember a part of my brain thinking, “Remember, this will be funny later.”

As I came back to the moment I realized that Brandt had been talking during the exodus but I hadn’t been listening. I tuned back in to hear, “So, there I was, if you can imagine it, on BYU campus, with long hair, a Get Lucky shirt, shorts to here,” he gestured at his knees, “and my vans.” He puffed up his chest just a bit and said, “I was a total skater.”

Now, Brandt is not someone you would ever imagine as a skater. His posture, mannerism, and speech indicates that he is more likely to buy opera tickets than a skateboard. So when he proclaimed himself a “total skater” I was surprised.

I tilted my head to the side, curious, “Really? You were a skater?”

He nodded with a confident half-smile and said, “Mostly roller skates. And some blades.”

What! I swallowed the laugh I felt rise in my throat and thought, “this has the makings of a great SNL skit.” I nodded and listened as he talked about the Classic Skating – the rink in Orem, Utah. I knew it. It's where I had my birthday party when I turned 8.

When Amy came out of her meeting we caught a ride with Wayne and the bishop. As I sat in the back seat Wayne turned around, patted my knee and started chuckling.

That evening Doug came by with his bike for me to borrow and said, “Wow, sorry about earlier. That was really awkward for us.” I almost fell off the bike (it was too tall for me), “Awkward for you? Awkward for you??

Mostly roller skates. And some blades. I love that memory, but it makes me wonder what other hard-core phrases might people might misuse. Similar convos might go like this:

“Hey, I’m a total boarder.”

“Awesome? You’re a boarder?”

“Yeah, and all my rooms are totally booked.”


“I love rallying.”

“Really? That’s seriously hard-core.”

“Yeah, I love getting people together for a cause.”

Or someone might tell you they like sandkiting, only to find out that they go to the dunes to fly kites. If you saw my four year-old niece at the beach you might say she enjoys wavejumping. Someone might say do inline skating with their buddies and skate off in a line. The possibilities are endless.

Oh, in case you’re curious, Brandt and I had dinner that weekend. The dinner was good, but part of me really wishes we had gone to a skate park -or was that skating rink?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Attention Passengers

One New Year’s Eve, before I moved to NYC, my friend Jason and I decided to visit my brother Ty who had moved here the year before. We flew from SLC to JFK on a Boeing 757 and the flight was packed. An hour or two into the flight Jason wondered how many people were on the plane. He thought there were less than 200 passengers and I thought there were more. We decided to make a wager. We both guessed how many passengers were on the plane and the loser would buy the winner the first slice of New York pizza. Game on!

We looked around, guestimating. We wrote our guesses on a piece of paper. If I remember correctly his was in the 180’s. Mine was 231. We stopped a flight attendant to see if she could give us an exact count of how many people were on the plane. She leaned over to listened to our wager then crouched down in excitement. “Oh, this is important.” She said, “I’ll be right back!”

She came back a moment later. We had our scrap of paper and she announced the number of passengers on the plane was….drum roll…233! I was just two passengers off! She told me congratulations, smiled, and told us how she had told the other flight attendants about the wager. They had decided on a prize, “You win! Do you prefer a bottle of white wine or red?”

I was so excited! I won a bottle of wine! But wait! What would I do with a bottle of wine? I don’t drink! Ty and his roommates didn’t drink. I kind of stammered for a moment and Jason said, “Sorry, we actually don’t drink.” She paused for just a second and then said, “Let me see what I can’t find!” A moment later she came back with two GINORMOUS gourmet cookies, all wrapped up. She handed them both to me, smiled slyly towards Jason and said “You can share with him if you want.”

At the baggage claim, Jason ran into a friend of his, who, unbeknownst to us, was on our flight. She was a friendly girl, unlike her companion. She turned and introduced us to the man who had been standing rigidly next to her. He held himself with an air that conveyed both a sense of superiority and unease. His comments matched his posture. He let us know he lived in New York and was working on his PhD at Columbia. We all stood by the baggage carousel chatting. Jason and I told the story of the passenger wager and wine-winning.

When we finished, three of us were laughing. I pulled the massive cookie from my bag to show the consolation prize. I said, “…but instead they gave us these First Class Cookies.” Her friend tilted his head back and looked down at my prize. He said in the tone of a British aristocrat, “I was in first class; they didn’t serve us those cookies. They served us sundaes.” Ok, he didn’t have an accent, unless it was PhD, and I admit that for a moment I imagined giving him the economy-cabin-people’s-elbow.

If I could do it over I would have accepted the bottle of wine and found just the right passenger to give it to. The one that catches your eye at the gate and you keep your fingers crossed that you sit next to him.

The stewardess would tap him on the shoulder, lean over and present the bottle of wine. “Sir, this bottle is from the lady seated in 27B.” Who knows what might happen. When he looked over to my seat I would glance up and flash a quick smile before I continued flipping through my Skymall magazine. I would think it wouldn’t be long before he’d make his way over to meet, but to my surprise he might look at the bottle of wine and say, “I hear they have hot sundaes in first class...”

Monday, April 12, 2010


Quote of the blog:

It poured here a few days ago - the kind of rain that blows sideways and people wear wellies and water finds a way to drip into the subway stations. I walked up the subway stairs past a line of people hurrying downstairs to get out of the rain. A lady walking down the steps stopped suddenly to shake water off her umbrella- causing a human traffic jam. At least ten people were stuck in back of her -many of them still standing in the rain. Since so many of us were coming up the stairs they couldn't just walk around her. A little old lady stopped directly behind her waited a few seconds, glared at the back of the woman's head, and then the grandma jabbed her in the back with her umbrella to prod her down the stairs. I love New York.


If you’ve ever lived in or visited New York City you’ve seen it. It's a phenomenon that exists in every major city but I am willing to bet it’s worse in NYC than anywhere else.

I call it Tourist-Like-Behavior or TLB. It can happen to anyone, anywhere. I think you know the behavior I’m talking about. Symptoms vary and TLB can strike in a moment of weakness, confusion, or deep-thought (or perhaps the absence of thought). One can have adult onset TLB although it can also be hereditary - part of the inherited makeup of otherwise innocent kids living in the five Burroughs. Tourist-Like-Behavior is a dam in the flow of the city. NB: Most TLB sufferers are not tourists: tourists suffer from tourist-behavior - which is usually temporary instead of chronic like many cases of TLB.

Perhaps the city should launch a TLB education campaign. They could post signs and ads like they did for swine flu and cigarette smoking at the entrances to the subways and on sidewalks. Posters might read:

Tourist-Like-Behavior is catching! Don’t spread TLB! For your safety and the safety of those around you please adhere to the following guidelines:

1. Never stand on the stairs - even when you get a phone call.
a. See quote of the blog.

2. Never stop mid-stride (anywhere).
a. People WILL run into you. Sometimes on purpose (like my friend Anne).
Also, see 1a.

3. Let people exit the train before you get on!
a. 4.5 million passengers ride the subway every day to and from the 468 stations positioned on 229 miles of route in New York City. Many people have good subway etiquette: they make room for new passengers, move to the middle of the car when needed, give up seats to the elderly or disabled, don't eat stinky food on the subway, don't blast music, etc.). Unfortunately, one of the side-effects of TLB is an insatiable need to push one's way onto a subway as soon as the doors open - making it difficult for people to exit. People become like sands of the hourglass trying to push through to the other side at the same time, such are the days of our commuter lives. Once on board TLB sufferers may stand in front of the subway doors, unwilling to move out of the way when people try to exit or board.

Just an idea - instead of a monetary fine, the MTA could brand offenders with friendly reminders of TLB etiquette. They could even let people select their tattoo fonts. An Avatar fan could get, “Let People Exit the Train first…” in Papyrus font tattooed across the shoulders or down the forearm. Or "I will never block the stairs again..." in descending letters - like shape poetry. Who knows, it might help stem the pandemic spread of TLB, but we won't know unless we try.

It could also become a new trend. What if people started getting etiquette tattoos? "Give up a seat to the elderly" tattooed around the calf, "Don't talk with your mouth full," across the chest, "Mama taught me not to smack my gum when I chew" tattooed in cursive around the neck or "Don't Litter" tattooed around their bicep. haha. Ok, I'm digressing. Back to TLB -

The MTA and the city could sell merchandise marked with the acronym TLB positioned behind a ghostbuster’s circle and slash. They could sell t-shirts, sunglasses, pens, bags. It just might work and there's a market for it. Everyone wins: you, me, stair-walkers, subway riders, sidewalk-striders, TLB sufferers, tattoo parlors…

Monday, April 5, 2010

Come again?

Quote of the blog:

One of our directors answered a call at work. We heard, “Do we serve Jews? Of course we serve Jews! Students of all religious affiliations attend our programs.” He was quiet for a moment as he listened and then exclaimed, “Oh! Juice! Yes, yes we have juice on the programs.”

I have a habit of tweaking words just a bit, or speaking in accents, or weird voices or whatever. [Don’t judge]. One of my occasional word-tweaks is to add “sies” on to the end of words. Time for foodsies, bedsies, whatever(sies).

My coworker Mario was in our office at one of the computers. I work in open office with four other people. Mario was lamenting to us all that he had to get blood-work done the next day and couldn’t eat for the rest of the day.

I nodded sympathetically and asked, “For testies?”

Everyone looked up, shocked and laughing.
I tried to recant, “For testing! Testing!!”
Mario couldn’t stop laughing, “Brook, you’re blushing.”
Yes, yes I was (and I rarely blush).

Another similar, ridiculous, situation happened when I had some friends over to watch Sleeping Beauty. I love Sleeping Beauty (is there a better villain that Maleficent?) I hadn’t seen it for years and when Disney rereleased SB two years ago my friend bought me a copy and we had a movie night. I noticed the styling and the music - a chorus enters many of the songs throughout the movie. When Briar Rose starts singing with the prince the chorus joins in. I said, “And enter chorus.” Everyone kind of looked at me and I looked back like, “What? What did I say?” After a few seconds Jeff said, “Did you just say ‘intercourse’?”

Two weekends ago I was at a party where one of the men admitted to getting the words Smooch and Mooch mixed up – even in his teens. I would have loved to see that in action. He would say things like, “He totally smooches off his parents.” And, “Stop being a total smooch.” I like to imagine what that looked like on the flipside when talking about a girl.

That came up because another man there said how excited he was when the zequel to some movie came out (I don’t remember which one). He noticed our faces when he said, zequel and explained that he had said zequel instead of sequel his whole life and no one had said anything to him until just a couple years ago. I think by that time he just decided to own it. I could sympathize – I never realized that I say magneNts instead of magnets until last year when my friend Jason asked me about it. That’s right. A life full of magneNts and I never realized. I know how to spell it, just (apparently) not say it!

There are so many moments of misunderstanding or misspeaking that happen. They provide endless amusement. Like my friend Carly who thought Rihanna’s song “Disturbia” was “Squirmy Love” and even had a little dance to go with it.

There was the time when I worked at UVU and my coworkers and I were commiserating about an office assistant who had keys to our offices and would go through our things when we weren’t there. One coworker said, “He moved my pictures around and left his stuff on my bookcase.” I remembered coming in one morning and he told me that he had unlocked my office and used some things he found in looking through my desk. Another coworker vented something else and I said loudly, “Yes! And he’s been in my drawers!” They stopped complaining, looked at me, and then burst out laughing. That would be another time I blushed. A lot.

One morning my coworker Justin looked at another coworker who had a heaping plate of food. Justin sniffed, “What are you eating?” Pei responded, “Gross stuff.”

Justin’s nose crinkled in disgust, “And that is why I’m going out for my breakfast sammich.” (He likes to call sandwiches sammiches).

Pei asked, “What do you have against gross stuff?”

Justin, “Really? What do I have against gross stuff? For breakfast?”

Pei turned, “I said ROAST DUCK!”