Monday, July 30, 2007

things I shouldn't admit, part I

Let's get right to the focus of today's post: I have become a (very) satisfied viewer of Rock of Love.

Oh, you're not familiar with the show? Really? Well, it follows a reality show formula I'm sure you love as much as I do. It all started with The Bachelor years ago, and it has produced an impressive group of mutant offspring ever since.

The recipe...

Combine the following with alcohol and scripted emotional drama:

1 part washed up male celebrity from the past "looking for love" (aka - looking for a desperate, pride-punishing career rebirth)

1 part former and/or current strippers, bartenders, and Hooters waitresses "looking for love" in a fight to win the heart of the washed up celebrity (aka - looking for a more direct career path into porn)

It's totally fake, it's a little disgusting and it's humiliating for everyone involved. In other words, it's great TV.

The show is on VH1 and the washed up male celebrity is a well-aged Bret Michaels, lead singer of an early 90's hair metal band we should all be grateful is actually still together, Poison. It's a real throw back to my teen years. When other junior high school girls were pining for the New Kids on the Block, I was taping a poster of Poison on my bedroom wall. The daydreams of other 15 year-olds were filled with Dylan and the boys from 90210; visions of mediocre musicians with long blond locks, lip gloss and tight vinyl pants danced around in elaborate displays of pyrotechnics in my head.

And while I did outgrow that teen obsession, the fond memories of a bygone era and an affection for a so-bad-it's-good guitar ballad certainly do remain. Toss in the appeal of really trashy reality television with those hair metal fantasies of my youth - and what you end up with is a show I'm tuning in to on a fairly regular basis; and no, I'm not proud of it.

They say admitting you have a problem is the first step on the path to recovery. I feel better already.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

when Mary Kay attacks

I have a deep love for discount stores. When work is busy or if I'm just feeling stressed, I like to bargain shop. I don't have to buy anything - it's the thrill of the hunt. Some like to eat good food. Some like to get a massage. Some drink. I like to walk into a store full of out of season discount clothing and housewares, dig around in the chaos for a while, and leave feeling like I'm a little wiser for knowing where you can get slightly damaged Ralph Lauren sheets for $29.99.
So, yesterday I went to TJ Maxx. If you're familiar with TJ Maxx (or Marshall's or Loehmann's - they're all the same), you know that the store is bare bones. Aisles are packed, and they're close together. It's not often that more than one person can really stand in one aisle together comfortably.
Understanding these logistics, it's clear why a woman suddenly standing very close to me while I was on the skirt aisle took me by surprise. And when she touched my shoulder, it was all the more shocking.

WOMAN: "I'm sorry...but I just HAVE to know what you do for a living."

SNAKE: "Uh...I work for a museum. I'm a fund raiser."

WOMAN: "Well, I saw you and I just HAD to tell you about how I've been making SO more money this year!"

The thing is, before she spoke, I knew who she was and what she was up to. I know because I've found myself in this situation more than once. I, a private citizen and discount shopper, was being attacked by a Mary Kay sales stalker.

I started experiencing this phenomenon when I moved to Atlanta. It always used to happen to me in Target. For a solid two years, I was stalked and assaulted on nearly a bi-monthly basis by a Mary Kay woman while shopping. They would always be overdressed for the surroundings (dress, heels, hair, lots and lots of makeup) and they would troll through the store, sniffing out their prey. They would sneak up on me, introduce themselves in this "really, I've never done this before!" kind of a way, and tell me that they simply HAD to know what I did for a living. They would then launch into their speech about how much more money they've been making selling Mary Kay, and they just KNOW I would have the same success. Wouldn't I like to receive one of their informational packets in the mail? And I would always so "no thanks", and they would walk away and attack some other poor gal on the other side of the store.

To be fair, in the work I do as a fund raiser, I know how hard it is to ask for things from strangers. Selling anything is hard work. I have to give these women some credit; it takes more than a little chutzpah to just walk up to a woman on the tampon aisle of Target and deliver to her an impassioned speech about the benefits of selling Mary Kay. Having said this, I also think it's obnoxious and borderline insane. I'm not dissing Mary Kay - but does the company really endorse this "stalk and attack" sort of tactic to recruit women into their ranks?
I have learned one way to stop the conversation quickly and politely is to say, "I have a friend who sells Mary Kay." I said this to my TJ Maxx captor and like magic, the forced smile left her face, she snatched her business card back out of my hand and semi-scolded me with, "We don't like to step on each other's toes. You should have said something sooner." She wouldn't even let me keep her card. Cheap.
So ladies, next time you're milling around your favorite discount store - don't let your guard down too far; there could be a Mary Kay lady hiding in the underpants bin.

Monday, July 16, 2007

if you give a boy a musket

My sister has two sons, and I love them. They are cute and they are funny. Of course, they do act up sometimes, but it's easy to see beyond their occasional wayward behavior and adore them anyway. Boys will be boys.

But, they are "mine" - in the sense that they are my nephews, part of my family. In the same way I imagine I would feel about the children (or child...) I would like to have one day - my nephews have my unconditional affection.

Other children, not as much. Show me some kid I don't know making a scene in the grocery store, and my patience is paper thin. I will, without thinking, inevitably give the child a dirty look. It's not fair of me, but it's the truth. And occassionally, I have an encounter with bad kids that disgusts me so deeply, I'm tempted to take two birth control pills in one day.

Throughout the summer there are day camps for elementary-aged children at the museum where I work. I never cross paths with these groups on most days, but on Friday I decided to take a walk - leave the office and stroll across the campus, get a little sunshine, see what those cute kids are up to.

As I approached the area where I knew the campers were, I heard a steady stream of shrieking, screaming without pause. The kids were getting a lesson in how soldiers during the civil war might have used a musket (it's a history museum - which I guess makes teaching 9 year-olds how to handle a firearm somehow make sense....) It was a group of about ten kids, all seemingly under age 12 and by the time I got close enough to really see what was going on, the kids had total control. Their camp teacher - a chubby college guy wearing a Confederate soldier costume about 3 sizes too small - had dropped his musket and was just yelling at the kids to sit down, pleading with them to pay attention to him. The kids had tuned him out completely, kids running in every direction out of their minds. One bigger boy had a toy musket in his hand, chasing the others. He kept calling one of the other kids a "dumbass". I turned around, and hauled it in the other direction as if I was abandoning a crime scene - the echo of children's laughter and profanity fading softly into the distance.

I visited my nephews this weekend, and my love of kids was renewed. We had a good time and I enjoyed how well-behaved they were. But then again, they didn't have muskets.