Monday, December 11, 2006
The Network Kicks In
While my romantic life is forever in shambles, my world has no shortage of love. True, my Man Picker may be broken but my taste in women is impeccable.
It all began last Thursday. There I was, minding my own business, toying with loneliness and depression when an unscheduled Love & Friendship Parade came storming through my life for a full three days, making a lovely point.
There was a knock at the door – Mr. Fed Ex dropped off a massive mysterious box. It turned out to be a 17-piece cookware set! My good pal, Laurianna, (a bad ass firefighter in Albuquerque) decided that enough was enough. We are former college roommates and during a recent visit, she'd noticed that my cooking skills had advanced, yet I was still using pots and pans purchased at garage sales and Thrift stores in the 80s. With mine and Jesus' birthday creeping up, she splurged on the most beautiful cookware I have ever seen.
Once out of the box, I laid all the shiny pots and pans on the counter and just marveled. I even took a photo. It feels unreal, like I won something. Honestly, I was worried I'd have to have to stage a wedding to get my paws on some quality kitchen goods. Laurianna basically saved me from my first marriage.
Next day, I received a long, loving email from Joanie, an old friend from the LBC. She'd gotten caught up on the blog and felt compelled to say, "Makes me wish I'd known you better all these years." Her out-of-the-blue letter really made my day. She also provided a brilliant theory about our mutual love luck:
"I think it might be that we're freaks, and so we go for fellow freaks (freak fellows?), and though I don't think that freaks are necessarily any more assholish than any other group, the ones we, or at least I, tend to go for are the ones that are more overtly freaky, and I think those do have a higher incidence of fucknuttery."
Whether this is true or not, does not matter – what does matter is that my new favorite word is 'fucknuttery' and Joanie gave me that gift amidst her gesture of understanding.
I then recieved a random phone call from my old friend, Andrea. We go back to the 10th grade. "Just thinking about ya," she said, "Howz it going?" Again, completely out of the blue.
Later that evening, my friend, Jennifer, flew in from San Francisco. She is always full of love and laughter – a welcome antidote to a tough work week. We took the light rail (my civic pride insists) to Buckhorn Exchange for some rattlesnake and whiskey. There under antlers and wagon wheels, we discussed the state of our lives and dreams for the future.
Not long after we returned to my Milwaukee Street Cave, there was a knock at the door. (Very odd, since no new friends know where I live.) To my astonishment, there were two additional friends – Andrea and Maria – who had also flown in from San Francisco as a surprise! They stood there, bags in hand, shivering, laughing at my dropped jaw while I sputtered and made an effort to process the new expanded situation. The three women (all work friends) had organized the hoodwink from the get-go. Thank God I had cleaned the bathroom. The next two days could be a viable candidate for induction in the Weekend Hall of Fame.
As previously discussed with Jennifer, the main goal for Saturday was clothes shopping for me. I had to attend an intensely professional three day corporate seminar the following week (where I am now) and needed to appear highly respectable, completely crisp and thoroughly competent. In other words, I needed a convincing costume. (Turns out, faded jeans and dirty cowboys boots don't convey the necessary characteristics.) Admittedly, I have little or no skill in this area and look my best when dressed by committee. As I explained to my friend, Karen, "It takes a village … to dress the idiot."
After a delectable breakfast at The Egg Shell (love those potato pancakes!) we stormed the Cherry Creek Mall. With military efficiency, we took over the dressing rooms of Banana Republic, Ann Taylor Loft, Ann Taylor and Aldo to accomplish my Corporate Fashion Makeover (CFM).
I tried on many items expertly picked out for me by the CFM Team – black pants, grey skirts, crisp white button-downs, blue sweaters, black blazers – you name it. Under the curious watch of amused sales staff, I learned that a tapered leg is a big fat no-no and that a mid-calf length skirt is – no matter how pretty – unflattering. I now speak the term 'kitten heel' with a general inkling and understand it is technically okay to wear black patent leather pumps with brown pants, even though my gut still tells me 'no.' In short, I got an education.
To bring all these new items together, I purchased a designated 'key piece' that the CFM Team was/is crazy about. Thrust upon me, the dress jacket is black with grey piping and a thick, nubby texture. Like a dog due for a bath, I fought and fought but it was no use, CFM Team had made up its collective mind. Nub Jacket was not only a crucial part of the new wardrobe, I was told, it would be the crux of the entire strategic effort. Knowing they know best, I pinched my nose, handed over the plastic and made the purchase. Operation Nub was ready for launch.
To celebrate my deeper plunge into debt, I took CFM to DAM, Denver's new crowning jewel. Plenty of art to ponder and weird angles for wooziness – all much appreciated. Then, it was off to the grocery store to buy egg nog, circus animal cookies and suitable hosiery. We then picked out a Christmas tree upon realizing Maria had never done so (apparently, her family drags a piece of green plastic up from the basement every year.) After some hilarious peer pressure, (I think CFM became drunk with power at this point) I eventually gave my phone number to our helpful, hunky lumberjack who apparently was flirting with me. (My knowledge of men decreases every day so I believed them.)
Since we were getting in the yuletide mood, I then took CFM to Blossoms of Light where they 'oohed' and 'aaahed' in all the right places. Then, off to my favorite Denver restaurant, Steuben's, for chocolate shakes and mac-n-cheese. ("There are so many straight men here, I can't believe it!" said Andrea, offering at least one reason I no longer live in SF.) Then, it was back to the cave, where we decorated the tree, teased one another and giggled past midnight.
The next morning, I made my famous Deluxe Egg Burritos while they put together suitable ensembles for my trip. Jen carefully explained, "Okay, Heather. This is Day One, Day Two, Day Three and here is an alternate you can rotate in. Of course, The Nub works on all days, as we'd discussed."
While waiting for their airport shuttle, Maria asked to see me complete in one outfit, pointy shoes and all. I complied and Jen's eyes got teary. "Oh, our girl is a grown up!" Maria just stared and shook her head, "It's like a different person." Meanwhile, Andrea openly coveted The Nub, "I've got to get a jacket like that. I'm going back there and get one for myself."
This morning at 7:00 a.m., in a high-rise hotel in San Francisco, I reached for the crisp new clothes and thought about the CFM Team and all my girls (new Denver pals included) – all the expert guidance, the endless love and the never-ending support that keeps me afloat. How lucky can a girl get? I'd be lost without this network – truly, truly lost.
I reached for The Nub and put it on. It looked perfect – CFM was right. Still, I could not resist. I looked in the mirror and singing into the toothbrush did my best Roger Daltrey, "Whooooooo are you???? Who, who – who, who! I really wanna know …. !"