Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ali Bachelorette Episode 1: She's Back

Well, it’s back. The newest most anticipated season of the Bachelorette since last season’s formerly most anticipated season of the Bachelorette. For those of you who participated in my off season Stuff Chicks Like series, thank you for playing along. I had fun. For those of you who took a hiatus from the blog, welcome back. I’ll take great joy in knowing that the 30 minutes you usually steal from your respective employers to read this drivel will be expanded to 90 minutes today in order for you to catch up on those entries. Let’s get to it.

We begin the season like we begin every season of this show—with a recap of last season, some sunset lead ins, some teasers from this season, and then a recap of the recap, the sunset, and the teasers. We are reintroduced to our pouty yet playful Bachelorette, Ali, and reminded of her last year’s unsuccessful attempt to win the heart of that tool from Denton. We see Ali frolicking with Jake on the sandy beaches of St. Wherever, holding hands in San Francisco, and playfully flirting in the park. We then cut to shots of Ali whining and crying and are then reminded why she annoyed us. Harrison’s voice over tells us that Ali’s search for love came to a “shocking end” because she chose her “dream job” over love. Oh, the humanity.

How did she survive? How did she cope?

Cut to the present day (well, five months ago, but stay with me) and we see the now revitalized and recently homeless and unemployed (dream job, my ass) Ali contemplating her emotions while sitting at safe distances from various San Francisco landmarks at sunset in her off the shoulder, oversized gray sweater and black belt. By the looks of her furrowed brow and her pouty Bubba Gump lower lip we realize that this time it’s for real. Ali and her bra strap are searching for love and she’s determined to find it.

We get shots of Ali’s “lifestyle.” She tells us that she’s getting a “second chance at love” and she proves it in her montage. In a very Pretty Woman-esque trying on clothes scene Ali shows us her humps, her humps, her lovely lady lumps, in the back and in the front. She dances, drives fast, and goes jogging on the beach. All presumably in anticipation of—what else—love.

She drives her black convertible through a tunnel and we are reminded that Audi decided to pay nothing in the way of a fee for product placement considering the logo and license plate are covered up. I can hear the conversation now.

“Uh, hello, is this the chairman of Audi? Yes? Great, listen we’d like to use your car in some fake driving down the PCH scenes for our reality show. Are you guys on board?”

I’m sure the response was however you say “no fu**ing way” in German. At any rate, Ali makes it to the mansion and Harrison drops some foreshadowing “not here for the right reasons” banter and confirms Ali’s homeless and jobless status before blowing the whistle and launching the tool parade. And let me tell you, a tool parade it was.

Harrison emerges looking as money as ever among the roses and soft lighting in his black, perfectly tailored suit with a black silk tie. Unlike our 25 bachelors, Harrison sticks with the understated black tie. Double Windsor knots are for pansies and he lets us know it. He tees up the season as only Harrison can do. The guy is so Money you could pay rent with his picture. In one of his many throw away lines Harrison reminds us that Ali is “choosing love.” He recaps the recap---again—and sends us off to meet this season’s group of guys via their hometown running down the beach or working out action shots. We learn that their presence on the show means nothing more than they own (or borrowed) a suit and have the ability to miss 28 days of work. I’ve consolidated them below for you. Feel free to use this as a score sheet as the season progresses. You’re welcome.

1. Frank—We meet Frank screaming on a bridge in his hometown of Chicago. Apparently, he’s unaware that contact lenses and laser surgery are available in America because his unreasonably thick, dark rimmed glasses make him look like a lesbian librarian. His occupation is listed as Retail Manager but we soon learn that he quit his presumably lucrative consulting job to move to Paris and write screenplays before returning untriumphantly to America where he moved in with his parents. “Passion is more important than money,” he tells us. I could almost hear his father yelling “passion doesn’t pay the bills around here, you bum” as his mother ironed and neatly folded her son’s unmentionables while smiling knowingly at the TV. Notwithstanding all of that, he seemed like a nice guy with a good sense of humor. Ali laughs at everything so I’m sure he’ll get far. He got a rose.

2. Jay—He’s the whiney, wimpy lawyer from Rhode Island with bad hair. After enduring the fake “trial” scenes and watching him brood around the courtroom in his French blue white collared shirt, I rooted for him to lose. Ironically, the Rhode Island state motto is “Hope.” He never had any. No Rose. He cried about it too. And don’t ask me why the Rhode Island state motto is in my head. It just is.

3. Craig M.—We meet Craig M. shirtless in the mirror reminding himself how handsome he thinks he is. It’s early, but it appears that this guy is going to be the Angry Dave of this season. He’s a jerk. He looks like Patrick Dempsy’s angry, less handsome, older brother. I will therefore christen him “McCheesy.” Yes, I realize that’s a Grey’s Anatomy reference. No, I don’t watch the show. In fact, I thought Dempsy peaked in the mid-80’s in Loverboy but thought he missed the mark as Meyer Lansky in Mobsters. To be fair, anything with Richard Grieco in it is bound to suck. Well, other than 21 Jump Street and Booker, but I digress. We cut to a scene of him in his pink shirt and black suit (not even close to Travolta in Grease) hitting on his cousins—poorly I might add--in a trumped up singles’ bar scene. We learn that he flew in from Canada. We assume that his hair flew in from somewhere else. Undoubtedly with some help from the Producers, he got a rose. He’ll stick around for the drama until that other guy goes nuts.

4. Kyle—This guy was—in a word—a slob. Apparently, he’s an “Outdoorsman.” I haven’t heard of that occupation since my mother read Little Red Riding Hood to me in the first grade. Come to think of it, the guy who rescued Riding Hood and Grandma and chopped up the Big Bad Wolf was a woodsman. Close enough. I guess that line of work was effective for Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall. Then again, Kyle is no Tristan Ludlow and, for that matter, Ali is no Isabelle II. Unfortunately, Kyle has got nothing else going on besides killing animals. We have to listen to Kyle list all of the stuff he’s killed as he shows us the stuffed carcasses he’s displayed in his macho wreck room. For a while there I was waiting for him to kill Craig M’s hair and mount it. Nothing turns chicks on like a room full of stuffed dead animals. Kyle tells us that he spends “like 90% of his time outdoors.” That still leaves Ali 2.4 hours a day to sit and look at stuffed dead things. He did give Ali a sharp hook as a forget me not. We assume that the Producers were aware of his gift and ensured that Ali had a tetanus shot prior to filming. Nice try, Kyle. No Rose.

5. Justin—The 26 year old pro wrestler. He showed up with a broken ankle which might as well be a puppy. Chicks like puppies. Despite getting the Biggest A-hole vote from all of the other A-holes, Ali dropped the Rescue Rose on him and he lived to see another episode. Ironically, he seemed normal. I predict he’ll get far.

6. Phillip—Investment guy from Chicago with a penchant for teal v-neck sweaters and gourmet coffee. He seemed like a nice enough guy—I mean in spite of the teal sweater—but lacked the personality to separate himself from the herd. Memo to Phillip: If you’re mother tragically dies before you go on a reality show, lead with that fact when you meet the Bachelorette. “My poor deceased mother wanted me to marry someone like you” would have guaranteed the guy at least two weeks worth of roses. In fact, if you consult the Bachelorette Rule Book (not to be confused with the Man Code Book) there is a provision stating that a death in the family trumps a leg cast and any I love dogs and kittens story. I’m sorry for your loss, Phillip, but you should have told Ali about it. Consequence? No Rose.

7. Jonathan—Weatherman from Houston who packed his best turquoise and hot pink shirts and went on the show to try and end the rumors of his raging homosexuality. Good luck with that. He got a rose.

8. Ty—Guy with Davy Crockett sideburns from Tennessee who loves his dog and his guitar. Ali liked him. He’ll stick around for a while. By the way, Tennessee is the Volunteer State. That’s an easy one.

9. Chris L.—Former teacher turned landscaper from Rhode Island. I’m sure he knows whiney Jay considering the size of that state. Come to think of it, the state motto should be changed to “Delaware’s B*tch.” It would be more accurate. Does anyone actually know anyone from Rhode Island besides the people that live there? Seriously, if I Googled “Famous People from Rhode Island” it would probably refer me to Jay the Whiney Wimpy Lawyer with Bad Hair and Chris L. How much up side comes with being a landscaper in Rhode Island? You could landscape the entire state in an afternoon. You’d need like three bags of mulch. He got a rose.

10. Roberto (First Impression Rose)—Hell, I want to date this guy. He was smooth, charming, subtle, and fun. The guy could teach a first run at the Bachelorette class. From leading with the “I love my family” line, dropping some Spanish in his intro, strategically waiting for the first impression rose to appear before asking for alone time, and flattering Ali with “you’re really good” while “teaching” her salsa, the guy rocked. Nice job. He’ll go really far. Ali clearly liked him.

11. Tyler V.—Goofy and non-descript guy from Vermont—The Maple Syrup State. Alright, I made that one up. He had the worst tie—black polka dots. Polka dots? Leave that to Minnie Mouse, dude. He did just enough to make the cut. He got a “you’re not as bad as the 8 d-bags I’m sending home” rose.

12. Derek—Good Lord this guy was G.A.Y. I have no idea how he got on the show. Clearly, the Producers misinterpreted his fan letter to Jake that read, “I want to be on the Bachelor.” After he exchanged meaningful glances and phone numbers with Jonathan, he left for greener—hunkier—pastures. He didn’t get a rose, but I’m certain that he’ll go and pick some up for himself at a local farmer’s market this weekend before he goes home and dreams about being ON the Bachelor.

13. Steve—Non-descript short guy from Cleveland who, like Tyler V. did just enough to not get booted. He seemed normal. We’ll see if he steps it up next week. He also got a “you’re not as bad as the 8 d-bags I’m sending home” rose.

14. John C.—Weird looking guy from a town with a weird name in Washington. He tells us that he has a “great shot with Ali.” If you call a 1 in 25 chance a “great shot,” I suppose he’s right. He’s not got a 1 in 16 shot now. He got a rose.

15. Kirk—Nice guy from Wisconsin. He fumbled around while making Ali a paper rose. The good news is she bought it. The bad news is that she’s likely to forget it. “I shall root for you, Gladiator.”

16. Chris H.—Real estate guy from Canada. Rose.

17. Jesse—It’s a shame this guy actually is from the Show Me State. He showed Ali what a cheese he is by making a lame play on words about his hometown of Peculiar, Missouri. He got a rose in spite of himself. Peculiar indeed.

18. Chris N.—“Entrepreneur.” Congrats for not saying a word and still getting a rose. The drapes were more animated than this guy. Also, congratulations on having the second most vague job description next to “Outdoorsman.” This guy might be a dark horse. He got a rose.

19. Kasey—This season’s whackjob. At first I thought he was partially deaf then I realized he had some odd voice thing going on. He sounded like a Jeremy Irons in that Von Bulow movie. Very odd. Even before the teasers showing him lose it, I thought he was creepy and stalkerish. He vowed to “watch Ali’s heart and guard it no matter what.” Look, that’s just weird. I wonder if Harrison has Crazy Michelle’s number lying around. Introductions are in order. Based on the teasers it appears that this guy sticks around long enough to have an absolute meltdown. I hope he gets the help he needs. He got a rose.

20. John N.—He’s from the Sunflower State, which is good because he didn’t get a rose.

21. Craig R.—Goofy lawyer and this season’s tattle tale from the Keystone State. It appeared he had a mouth full of Keystones for teeth. He got a rose after attempting to rat out Justin for the ever present “not being there for the right reasons” garbage.

22. Tyler M.—Of all the cool people in Austin they have to pick this guy. He screwed up his intro and wore boots that didn’t match his suit or his shirt. I’d like to think the producers forced him to wear the boots, but I’m not sure. Where’s Wes Hayden when you need him? No rose.

23. Hunter—Nice guy with a sense of humor from San Antonio. He did break out a ukulele, but I’ll give the guy credit for writing a funny song and having the stones to perform it in front of the other guys. He seemed normal and actually had a personality. He’s about as goofy looking as a Mexican table cloth, but he should stick around for a while. Rose.

24. Derrick (Shooter)—Frankly, I’m speechless on this one. Not only did he lead the limo exit with the nickname he was given in college for his propensity to prematurely ejaculate, he used all of his one on one time to explain it to Ali, hoped she didn’t find it “weird,” and when eliminated, got angry about “making a fool” of himself. Incredible. Really. I just hope he called his mother to warn her before the show aired. It’s a darn good thing HE’s not from the Show Me State.

25. Jason—Construction guy with a nicely manicured five o’clock shadow. No rose. If I’m not mistaken, he’s the one who did the back flip off of the limo roof. Whatever. Ali wasn’t impressed either. No rose.

Before releasing Ali to meet our men in the limo intros, Harrison emerges to hammer home the front runner for this season’s oft repeated theme: Giving up everything in search of love. He tells us that these men left their “family, friends, and job” in an attempt to nail “America’s Newest Sweetheart” (isn’t that Justin Bieber?) and we get to talk to Ali before the aforementioned wooing begins.

Ali emerges from her limo dressed ala Linda Evans in a black evening down accented with diamonds. She looked pretty, but frankly, wasn’t in the kind of shape I’d anticipated considering she had months of notice to prepare for the show. Jillian trimmed down and got a makeover. Ali phoned that part in.

Harrison takes her back to this season’s Lair of Seclusion, avoids the word “journey” like a hooker with herpes, and sets up the other two potential themes of the season: “Being here for the right reasons” and being “SO excited.” Ali proves that she takes direction well and tells Harrison that “it’s all on the line.” She’s “giving up everything for love.” Her “biggest fear” is having someone in that group of 25 that “thinks it’s a game.” Well, isn’t it? At this point, I was painfully reminded at how annoying Ali was to me last season. I actually liked her until Vienna got under her skin and the claws came out. I’ll reserve judgment until at least the third show. Ali leaves to meet her suitors.

At this point, I’m going to gloss over the stepping out of the limo scenes other than to say that everyone with the exception of Roberto came across as a giant loser. We all know that the entire schtick is scripted, but it’s just so embarrassing to watch. I’d rather earn the nickname “Shooter” than watch it. Ali meets everyone and the fun starts.

After Jason and his manicured scruffle back flip off the limo, Harrison emerges with an “are you kidding me?” We can only assume he was talking about the entire show. Ali and Harrison head toward the MAN-sion where all of our eligibles have undoubtedly been boozing it up for an hour or so. She enters the sword fight and the jockeying begins.

Ali feels “special and beautiful”. Frank makes the first move and uses his bottle thick glasses to fend off the other suitors before getting her alone. Nice move. The guy is a little too “on” but I respected the assertiveness. I think Ali did too. Kirk actually has the nerve to tell the other guys that he’s made Ali a scrapbook after going to a scrapbook store. After screaming, “don’t be that guy!” at the TV, I settled in to watch McCheesy begin to lay the groundwork making himself the biggest jerk in the house. In spite of the criticism he endured, Kirk’s scrapbook works—the pictures of his mother were an excellent idea.

Next we get to meet Kasey “Buffalo Bill” Gumb (Google it). This guy is creepy with a capital “R”. He does more of the guarding Ali’s heart talk, lets us know that he’s a mama’s boy because his dad cheated, and is glad Ali finds none of that corny. It’s too bad the rest of us did. I’ve got many faults, but one of my gifts is the ability to spot crazy a mile away (see last season’s Michelle references). This guy is clearly a six pack short of a case. I half expected him to say, “It rubs the lotion on its skin. It does whatever it’s told. Now it places the lotion in the basket.” I’m sure this guy has a well in his basement back in wherever he’s from. Regardless, Ali seemed touched by the mom story.

Hunter spins the guitar and love song angle masterfully and breaks out a ukulele. Again, I give the guy credit. It actually worked. One of the guys didn’t buy it claiming that Hunter “tries to be like Shakespeare or Romeo but ends up being…that guy who doesn’t get girls in school.” Good one. The last time I checked Shakespeare wrote sonnets, poems, and plays and as far as I know didn’t own a ukulele. I don’t believe that Stratford-on-Avon was known for its ukulele production. I could be wrong.

Ali hears the soon-to-be infamous “Shooter” story, is horrified, and then gets paired with the weatherman and McCheesy. Weatherman dominates the conversation and McCheesy and his hair get angry about it.

Latent Homosexuals 1
Angry Guys 0

Roberto works his magic and earns the first impression rose, lays it on thick, tells Ali how he moved to Charleston to start his own business (nothing like a month of not working to push new sales over the edge), and gives her salsa lessons. Again, front runner.

Ali takes turns wearing everyone’s suit jacket and hearing about nothing. Wimpy Jay whines about not making the most of his opportunity, Justin shows off his wrestling shirt and gets the guys to hate him. Craig R. fumbles all over his giant teeth, rats out guys not there “for the right reasons” and gives Ali a yellow shoe keychain. Weak. Really weak.

We see Ali’s pouty lower lip in action as Harrison enters with the ubiquitous fork and crystal champagne glass undoubtedly reeking of single malt scotch and perfume to announce the “Vote off the A-hole” contest. The guy who helped Roz pack her sh*t after she got booted last season enters with the “Not Here for the Right Reasons” box and McCheesy does his best to get his name on the ballot. Justin wins because of his wrestling talk but Ali saves him with a rose. Frankly, I think she’ll be glad he stuck around. Sure, he has a stupid job, but he seems to love it and he seems like a nice guy.

In what appears to be the longest cocktail party ever, Ali spends time with everyone and she and her flat hair and unglossed pouty lips comment on everyone. Where’s the make up crew when you need them? Probably partying in Harrison’s suite.

On his way to the wine cellar, Harrison stops back in and gets the rose ceremony going. Ali dumps the 8 guys she’s supposed to dump, makes an insincere speech, and tells us that she’s “SOOO excited,” which is now the new “journey.” We get pictures of helicopters, shirtless feats of strength, sports cars, make out scenes, suicide attempts, someone has a girlfriend phone calls, and Ali whining and crying and displaying her left shoulder and bra strap. It appears we’re in for a dramatic season. The most dramatic ever? We shall see.

With the “Amazing” count at an unprecedented 21 (which includes Roberto’s “amazingly”), the new season is off and running. Log on next week for my recap. If you need me, I’ll be at home shirtless practicing my double Windsor knots in the Lone Star State. DP

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Stuff Chicks Like: Spa Treatment

Well, here we are; the last installment of Stuff Chicks Like before our favorite show comes back on the air. Although I’ve tried to avoid it, it’s been impossible to ignore all of the teasers planted by ABC over the past few weeks. I’m certain that we’re headed for the most dramatic season of the Bachelorette ever . . . well, at least until next season, but I’d be lying if I told you I was anything but overjoyed at the possibility of watching the latest parade of buffoons who will soon be vying for Jake’s sloppy seconds while high fiving each other in the pool and calling each other “bro” for the next 10 weeks. In the meantime, let’s discuss my spa treatment.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that I am a big fan of the massage. By “massage” I mean deep tissue or sports massage and not the rub and tug variety that can be found in various questionable establishments on the East side of town here in Austin. I’ve been to some hoity toity places for the aforementioned sports massage, but I’d never been to a “Day Spa” before. Incidentally, why is it called a Day Spa? I see no reason why the myriad of services these places offer can not be offered at night.

I located a fancy schmancy type place close by and decided to check it out in search of the perfect combination of treatments. Selfishly, I planned to select at least one thing I’d enjoy but wanted the excitement of selecting something I’d never heard of before. I committed to leave the phrase “happy ending” out of my vernacular and—as I’d been doing over the past couple of weeks—get as much information from the female employees as I could.

When I entered the contrived serenity of the spa I instantly noticed the emphasis on relaxation. The place was painted in muted and serene earth tones. Soft lighting and water features were abundant and the waiting room was carefully arranged to create the perfect staging area for my journey into the nether regions of serenity. The place smelled funny too.

I was greeted by “Cindy” who, unlike the now legendary Helen and the overly make-upped Ann, was young and attractive. Bingo, I thought. Cindy smiled at me and her perky spa-treated ponytail bounced like a fat woman’s belly on a trampoline. Her neatly pressed spa logo golf shirt and perfectly snuggy khaki shorts accented her tanned, toned, and taut little body. “She looks like a cheerleading coach,” I thought.

“Hello, Cindy,” I began. “I’m here for a spa treatment. What do you recommend?” Like an NFL quarterback checking his wristband, Cindy quickly went to the playbook. She produced a brochure from behind the counter that contained more options than the Bunny Ranch on a Saturday night. I pretended to read them all carefully before finally telling her that I wanted something for my face and some kind of massage. I realize that asking for “something for my face and some kind of massage” in a place like that is tantamount to going into Starbucks during peak hours and asking for a “large cup of coffee,” but I didn’t feel like screwing around. I wanted to be coddled and rubbed damn it and I only had two hours to do it. Cindy politely recommended two treatments:

The Mediterranean Breeze Ritual. Notwithstanding the fact that the word “ritual” conjured up pictures of Haitian women scrawling words across my back written in blood with a chicken leg while bongos deafened me, I listened carefully.

This treatment is inspired by the most delicate aromas and textures from the Mediterranean. “Sea water and lasagna?” I thought. The “journey” (there’s that word again) starts with a rich and pleasant exfoliation with an exotic blend of seeds, argan shell, olive stones, grape pips, and orange flower oil to remove surface skin cells. This is apparently called the “Cleansing Phase.” I found that funny since that’s what I also call my morning trip to the bathroom after a long night of Mexican food and beer. It was nice to know Cindy and I could relate to one another. Next is the “Healing Phase” which entails a body wrap in a refreshing breeze of aloe vera and mint to nourish and deeply regenerate the skin, leaving it irresistibly silky. My journey would end with a back massage to calm the mind and enhance my sense of well-being. 75 min. $150.

I had no idea what an argan was and was surprised to learn that it had a shell. I also thought that a “pip” was a guy who sang background vocals for Gladys Knight and I prayed that one of them was not going to emerge from behind a curtain and rub me down. Man, they must be hurting for gigs. Not sold and increasingly fascinated with Cindy’s bubbly demeanor, I chose to explore other options.

The Balinese Spirit Ritual. This treatment is based upon the phases of rising and diminishing energy of yin and yang. “Ahhh, the yin and yang,” I thought. Then I realized that I knew nothing about the yin and yang. Cindy explained with the help of her trusty brochure that the experience starts with an exfoliating scrub with extracts of sugar cane, citrus and apple followed by a soothing bath with lemongrass and ginger oil in the hydrotherapy suite. The ritual continues with a Swedish massage using an exhilarating blend of lemongrass, wild lime, and ylang ylang followed by a scalp massage with wild lime scalp oil to awaken the senses. At the end of my journey, I was guaranteed to have my body rejuvenated and my spirit revitalized. 105 min. $195.

Trust me, the possibility of rejuvenating my ying yang by getting it rubbed with some ylang ylang was tempting, but the Mediterranean thing was cheaper, so I picked it.

Cindy checked the schedule and penciled me in right after lunch. I was supposed to eat light and drink lots of water before arriving for my treatment. Cindy let me know that “Ian” and “Li” would be my “therapists” and that I should arrive 20 minutes early so I could “prepare for my treatment.” Whoa. You mean Cindy is not the one who gets to richly and pleasantly exfoliate me? “Who’s Ian?” I asked trying not to cry. “Ian is the Manager of Men’s Services.” She handed me his card. On the card was the flowery logo of the spa along with Ian’s name which was followed by a lot of consonants separated by commas. I presumed that meant he was either a plastic surgeon or he was certified in Mediterranean Relaxation Rituals. I sure hoped Ian knew what he was doing. “Who’s Li?” I asked. Li didn’t have a card—which led me to believe that she might be on loan from one of those rub and tug places. “She’s Ian’s assistant,” Cindy noted. Why in the hell does Ian need an assistant? Details. I left for my light lunch and water intake. Man, this relaxing thing is stressful.

I arrived 20 minutes before my scheduled appointment and again was greeted by the effervescent Cindy. “Follow me,” she said as the plot of every dirty movie I’d ever seen flashed through my head. “I’m going to take you to Gentlemen’s Services.” Gentlemen’s Services? Huh? I walked in Some Guy from Austin and now all of the sudden I’m Henry Freaking Higgins. Gentleman? It wasn’t like I rode to the spa on my bike with a giant wheel in front in my tuxedo tails and top hat ready to patiently await my impending spa service while perusing the latest issue of the New Yorker using my monocle for assistance with the dreadfully small font before heading to the horse races.

Cindy showed me the locker room and instructed me to “get comfortable” (read, Nude Up), put on my complimentary spa robe, and meet her in the Gentlemen’s Waiting Room. I walked naked in my robe down the hallway to find Cindy patiently awaiting me with a cup of cold water. “Have a seat and Ian will be right with you. Can I get you anything else?” “Yes, but it’s not on the menu,” I thought. Cindy floated away and I sat there . . . naked . . . waiting for Ian to come and scrub me.

Here’s where it gets weird.

Unlike my doctor’s office where the People Magazines are 3 years old, the waiting room had some current publications to peruse. About 10 minutes into reading about Jennifer Anniston’s stunning new home in Architectural Digest, the door—and from the looks of what emerged, I assumed it was a closet door—swung open and there, in all his glorious magnificence, was Ian. “Hiiiiiiiii (insert lisp here), I’m EeeeeeAaaannn.”

Good Lord. What did I get myself into? It was then painfully apparent to me that I was naked under my robe.

Ian was fit, tanned, and energetic. His frosted tips accented his angular face and sparkly blue eyes. He was wearing the exact same outfit as Cindy and—minus the push up bra—actually, I’m not entirely certain Ian wasn’t wearing a push up bra—he looked fabulous. His shorts were tight enough that I could see that either he was really excited to perform his ritual or he had a roll of quarters in his pocket. Clearly, this guy punted from the other end of the field. Richard Simmons would have found him to be too flamboyant. He might as well of had theme music following him wherever he went. I was willing to bet that Streisand writes HIM fan letters. Ian was—in a word—as queer as a dog sweater.

Disclaimer: Let me just say that I could care less that Ian was as gay as the day is long. It really doesn’t bother me. Granted, I’m not going to go dance shirtless with the guy or discuss shoes over hummus and sangria, but I was fine with him as my therapist. In fact, I’d rather have a gay guy with consonants after his name perform my Mediterranean whatever than some burly straight guy with no frame of reference. I wouldn’t take my car to “Ian’s Garage” and I wouldn’t want Joe the Plumber anywhere near me with argan shells. However, the fact that I was already a bit uncomfortable was not helped by having Liberace as my therapist. You get the picture. Let’s get back to Ian.

Ian skipped down the hall with me in tow and we arrived at Therapy Room 2. When I entered I saw a tiny Asian woman dressed in medical scrubs standing by my treatment table with a bowl full of what I assumed were pips and argan shells. “This is Leeeeeee,” Ian said. “Once you get on the table, we’ll start with the exfoliation rub.”

“Fu*k it,” I thought. I took off my robe, hung it on the door hook, walked over to the table, and lied down. I was pretty confident that Ian had seen a naked man before. I began on my stomach and relaxed to the soothing sounds of some Enya-esque music and water features as Li and Ian pleasantly exfoliated my entire body with the shells and aromatic orange smelling paste. I have to admit, it was awesome. Ian and Li stayed a respectful distance from my ying and my yang and I drifted away into serenity. “So THIS is the Cleansing Phase,” I smiled. Solid.

Now on my back, Ian let me know that the body wrap would be done and asked me if I’d like a hot towel on my face. “Sure,” I said praying that it wasn’t soaked in chloroform. After I was wrapped in what I assume was seaweed or some sort of odd cloth covered in mint, I closed my eyes and Ian applied the hot towel. I found this part a bit claustrophobic, but was able to relax after a few minutes. That was short lived.

Bound in cloth, covered in sheets, naked and on my back with a towel over my face, Ian spoke the most horrifying words I’d heard in years.

“Ooookaaaay, just relax,” he lisped. “I’m going to remove the towel and then use big strokes and spread this all over your face.” Oh. My. God. It IS that kind of place, I thought.” I almost burst out of my refreshing breeze of aloe vera and mint. “Remain calm.” I suppose remaining calm in that situation is the Stop, Drop, and Roll of gentlemen’s spa treatments. Once I felt a paintbrush and not Ian’s phallus on my face, I settled back into serenity. The entire thing ended with Ian doing some “neck work,” which sounds dirty but wasn’t, and Li massaging my feet. In spite the fact that I was naked with an Asian chick rubbing my feet on one end and Harvey Milk working on my neck, I was more relaxed than I’d been in years.

After the treatment was over, I showered in the locker room, confirmed that my skin was indeed irresistibly silky, and had a brief meeting with Ian over a cold bottle of water while he suggested some neck loosening “ex-sir-thigh-sez” to help me at the office and recommended that I purchase a good facial cleanser, exfoliating scrub, and moisturizer for my face. “I’ll do that,” I thought. “Right away.” He also suggested that I eat lots of fruits, which I took as a thinly veiled pass at me. I shook Ian’s silky hand and thanked him sincerely. He was good at his job and I respected that.

Cindy processed my payment. I tipped Ian and Li generously and thanked Cindy for her help. “Do you need anything else today?” she asked. “Your phone number,” I thought.

Well, there it is. Stuff Chicks Like. I hope you enjoyed the filler over the past few weeks. I had fun seeing how the other half lives. Tune in next Tuesday when I’ll post my recap of Ali’s first look at the parade of cheese that is the Bachelorette. DP

Monday, May 10, 2010

Stuff Chicks Like: Hallmark Movie

Alright, week two of Stuff Chicks Like. This week, I chose to combine several of the requests while watching the Hallmark Movie “When Love is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story.” In light of the requests to watch a Lifetime movie or a soap opera, I figured I’d substantially comply with all of them. I’ve subsequently been told by some of my female friends that Hallmark is different than Lifetime. Frankly, after watching the movie, the only discernable difference between the two was the fact that the Hallmark movie starred Winona Ryder and Barry Pepper instead of Merideth Baxter-Birney and that guy from Seventh Heaven. Let’s get to it.

I have to confess that in anticipation of the blog, I recorded the Hallmark movie which aired on CBS last week. I needed a fallback just in case I couldn’t get a waxing appointment. My planning paid off. But first, I needed to prepare to watch the movie. My DVR said it was 1:59 minutes long—just like The Bachelor—so I was confident I could stomach whatever awaited me. I perused some of the requests I’d received and decided that I would watch the movie in my pajamas by candlelight while sipping wine and eating a pint of ice cream. One request suggested that I “take my underwear off” and “turn down the blinds.” I assumed that the turning down of the blinds would come first.

With my DVR cued and my underwear ready to come off, I first headed to the local grocery store in order to select my ice cream. Although I didn’t get a lot of help from the audience on this one, I assumed that the ice cream selection is just as important as freeing myself from the confines of my unmentionables while watching the movie. I planned to take it seriously.

On the way to the store, I attempted to get into character. I imagined that my hypothetical boyfriend of over a year just broke up with me because I was too needy. He felt trapped. It wasn’t me, it was him. He just wanted me to be happy. Once he got all of his CD’s and old college t-shirts back, we planned to “take a break” and try and find out who we really are. All of my friends were headed to a martini/sex toy party but I just couldn’t bring myself to go. I preferred to be alone, I told myself. Besides, I’d gained three pounds since the break up and now those really cute linen pants I’d purchased at Forever 21 specifically for the martini/sex toy party upon receiving my save the date notice in the mail three months ago just didn’t fit right. They were white too and I just couldn’t risk wearing them in light of the fact that I’d been cramping early this month. I might have even skipped a pill or two. No harm in that, I’d just take two tomorrow and brace myself for the mood swings. No, I wasn’t going anywhere. I just wanted to curl up and watch my movie.

After wiping the tears from my eyes, I arrived at the store, entered, and found the frozen foods aisle. I decided to go with Ben & Jerry’s because it had the most calories and the coolest names. I actually took the time to read the labels. I narrowed my selection down between Chunky Monkey, Chubby Hubby, and Cake Batter. Frankly, I’m a chocolate guy, but I figured I’d try something new. I ultimately decided to go with Cake Batter. I swung by the wine aisle and selected a light and fruity pinot noir to compliment my ice cream. Items in hand, I left the store ready to return home and watch my movie. Then fate intervened.

Because I had a quick errand to run prior to going to the store, I went to a grocery store that I do not usually frequent. Upon getting in my car and backing out, I saw three words emblazoned on a storefront on the opposite end of the parking lot: Sally Beauty Supply. “Why not,” I said. I drove over, parked, and entered the store.

I’m certain all of you reading this have been to Sally Beauty Supply or one of its demonic spinoffs. The place is a smorgasbord of crap. The chemical smell when I entered was so strong it actually occurred to me that I could walk out of there sterile. I put my hand over my junk and proceeded with caution. I felt like a Mormon in a liquor store. Realizing that I was in way over my head (and that I had ice cream in the car), I quickly approached the counter to ask for assistance. The woman behind the counter turned around. For a second, I thought I was looking at Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. “Ann” had clearly been ridden very hard and then hung outside the tent to dry. I will give Ann credit, though. She was wearing just about every product the store had to offer on her face.

It was impossible to determine how old Ann was based upon the strata of makeup on her face, but I assumed she was in her late 40’s. Seriously, the Sphinx has less plaster on it. Geologists would have to take a cross section of her face upon death and examine each layer in order to accurately determine her exact age. The Shroud of Turin would be easier to date. Her hair was so fried by whatever she purchased with her 30% employee discount that week I could have chopped it off and lined a stable with it. “Hi Ann,” I said. “I need something to make my face soft and clean.” Frankly, that was the first thing that popped into my head. Well, after the Joker resemblance but I didn’t know Ann that well and I didn’t want to insult her. After all, she was the “Beauty Consultant”—at least that’s what her nametag read. “That’s like putting a silk hat on a pig,” I thought.

Ann immediately walked me over to the face masks. I assumed that Ann used these quite a bit along with turpentine and a blowtorch to remove her make up. I felt confident that she would make a good recommendation. I lied to Ann and told her that I had “combination skin”—a phrase I saw printed on a box on the shelf behind her. After a few more questions about the skin on my face and my “goal” in using a mask, Ann recommended an avocado mask. She even suggested that if I didn’t want to spend the money I could actually make one at home. “Wouldn’t I have to go buy avocados?” I thought.

“Why avocado?” I asked inquisitively, effectively masking my disinterest.

Ann explained that there are many benefits to avocado masks and mud masks. Avocadoes are rich with monounsaturated fats, Vitamin B, and Vitamin E, which are excellent for moisturizing and rejuvenating dry, tired skin. “Dry and tired. Just like Ann.” I thought. A mask made with avocadoes is a terrific way to pamper myself and to replenish the skin's moisture after a long day in the sun. Pamper myself? I don’t plan on wearing a diaper until I’m in my late 90’s. Avocadoes are also rich in Vitamin C which can stimulate collagen and reduce the visible signs of aging. “Either that or I can just dip my face in base and rouge like Ann,” I thought.

Ok, at this point I was sold. Apparently, Ann didn’t recognize my buying signals. “A mud mask can help improve your complexion by improving blood circulation and natural skin regeneration. The small grains work to exfoliate the skin by removing dirt, impurities, and toxins. It gently peels away dead skin cells so healthy skin can shine through. The combination of avocado and mud works to detoxify the skin, nourish dry skin, and provide relief from psoriasis, eczema, and acne,” she rambled. She made it a point to tell me that many of the products offered by Sally were “Paraben free.” She explained to me that Paraben was a chemical preservative used in many cosmetics. I assumed that Ann ate a Paraben sandwich for lunch every day.

When she finally shut up, I selected the Queen Helene Avocado and Grapefruit Facial Masque. Sure, all of the above information strongly influenced my decision but it was only $4.99 and Ann wasn’t blocking it from my reach. I bristled with anticipation at the possibility of giving my cheeks a healthy glow. I couldn’t wait until the unique, gel-clay formula gently lifted away impurities while preserving my skin's natural balance. I was ready as hell to get my skin ultra-clean, satiny-smooth, and toned. I walked to the counter hoping my Cake Batter was not yet Cake Soup, grabbed a PediEgg for good measure, and went on my way. I was glad to be out of there. I let the chemical fume buzz wear off, thankful to be going home. Besides, I felt a little bloated and my boobs were sore. You know, not on the front or anything, but under the arms.

I arrived home right around dusk—perfect timing for a mask and a movie. I couldn’t wait to find out who in the Hell Lois Wilson was and why her husband was such a jerk. I put the ice cream in the freezer, opened the bottle of wine, and retired to the bedroom in order to change into my wearing-an-avocado-grapefruit-face-mask-using-the-PedEgg-while-eating-a-pint-of-ice-cream-and-watching-a-Hallmark-movie outfit. Since I don’t own pajamas, I settled for a pair of boxer shorts and my oldest University of Texas t-shirt. My hypothetical ex-boyfriend wasn’t getting this one back.

I read the directions on the mask, smeared it all over my face, poured a glass of wine, lit my now infamous bamboo rain candle, turned off the lights, and hit the couch for the movie. My ice cream needed some more freezer time. Besides, I didn’t want my mask to crack. I found the mask uncomfortable. My eyes were burning because of the fumes or whatever and I must have looked like the guest of honor at the beginning of a surprise party. “How long does this take?” I wondered.

“When Love is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story,” the narrator began. To my horror, I quickly realized that this movie took place in the early 1900’s. Damnit, a period piece. Well, actually, isn’t every Hallmark or Lifetime movie a “period” piece? Menstrual humor aside, I was not happy. If I wanted to watch Winona Ryder run around in someone else’s clothing, I’d get the security tapes from the Los Angeles County D.A.

The movie begins with Barry and Winona (Lois and Bill) frolicking through the leaves and eventually getting married before Bill goes off to war and leaves poor Lois to brood, sew, and nervously await his letters from the front. We cut to a shot of Bill in a fake WWI encampment writing a love letter to Lois telling her to “look at the moon” because he plans to “hold it in his arms as he would her if he were home.” Good Lord. After no battle scenes, Bill returns home safely to surprise Lois and the love affair continues. “When does this guy start drinking?” I wondered. Bill and Lois leave their mundane life behind, buy a motorcycle with a side car, and tour the country trying to get Bill’s company off the ground. He eventually leaves her in the rain on the side of the road in order to go drink in a bar. Now we’re talking.

Commercial break. Hit Pause. Time to wash off my mask. I have to admit that upon washing off the mask my face felt refreshed, tight, and rejuvenated. I was also relieved to know that—as Ann had mentioned—since I had exfoliated properly, there would be less dust in my house because 90% of dust is human skin. Disgusting statistics aside, I found the mask to be easier than I’d expected. Ice cream time.

I got my pint of Cake Batter and began to eat. It was delicious. I have to admit that the dim lighting, bamboo rain, and uninhibited nature of my equipment made the ice cream eating a pleasurable experience. I secretly hoped that my hypothetical ex-boyfriend was sitting home crying in the fetal position overcome with regret that he’d broken up with me. I then realized he was probably out with his buddies hitting on women 10 years younger than me. *sigh* I was just thankful that I wasn’t Lois Wilson.

As predicted, Bill Wilson drank and drank and drank and drank. Lois cried and cried and cried and cried. Lois miscarried, Bill lost his job, Bill lost the house, Bill lost the family’s money, Bill cried, Lois thought about drinking, Bill apologized, Bill screwed up the adoption, Bill relapsed, Lois cried, Bill relapsed, Lois cried, Bill apologized, Lois’ mom died, Lois cried, Bill apologized, Lois cried, Bill founded Alcoholics Anonymous and Lois founded Al-Anon. Then I cried. My entire arm was numb from trying to eat ice cream from the pint. I resolved to invent a pity koozie that fits ice cream pints. Look for the prototype at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

All in all, I enjoyed the solitude, the breezy undergarment, and the ice cream. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to use my PedEgg, but it’s on the list now. There’s nothing wrong with kissably smooth feet. Until next week, enjoy. If you need me, I’ll be at the gym working off the ice cream. DP

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Stuff Chicks Like: Diaper Cake

Alright, so the voting is done and I’ve completed task number one. I went shopping for the ingredients and built a diaper cake. I was also able to mix in a lot of the other suggestions. I hope you find this entertaining.

Build a Diaper Cake. Hmmm. Why a cake? Why not a diaper box or diaper meatloaf? Those would be really easy. Frankly, it doesn’t make any sense to me. I realize that it’s festive and all that, but who in the world invented the Diaper Cake? I suppose that’s irrelevant. When a girl reaches puberty do you build a tampon tower? Questions aside, I had to go and get my ingredients and get this thing done. I allotted an hour and a half for the entire process. Lesson number one: when dealing with Stuff Chicks Like, never set time limits.

In the spirit of getting into character, I decided to go to Target in search of my diapers and to Bed, Bath, & Beyond for my other ingredients. After confirming the location of the nearest Bed, Bath, & Beyond, putting on some comfortable shopping clothes (no, it wasn’t a matching velour Juicy warm up suit), and donning my favorite pair of flip flops, I jumped in the car with my list of ingredients determined to build the best damned diaper cake Austin, Texas has ever seen.

I will confess that I do, on occasion, go to Target. However, pretty much anything I need to survive can be found at a Shell station: Beer, condoms, toilet paper, wine, beef jerky, and gum. In fact, my grocery list is laminated. I arrived at Target and immediately parked in the Stork Parking space. Yes, I know that’s for pregnant women, but I’m bound to make this as authentic an experience as I can. Plus, it was a good space. I entered Target and immediately headed for the baby section, picked out my diapers, and went to find the section where they keep all of the baby gifts. I told myself that because I was there buying baby gifts the Stork Parking was justified. It’s important to maintain a clear conscience. I wandered past the food section and selected a fruity, robust, yet elegant and refreshing chardonnay. I loved the idea of sipping on a cold glass of wine while building my diaper cake. It then occurred to me that I don’t own any wine glasses. Well, if you consider a plastic take out cup from Rudy’s BBQ a wine glass then I suppose I have a set.

I found a set of 4 generic wine glasses and while perusing the aisle I noticed some adorable wine glass markers. You know, the ones that look like an earring that you put on the bottom of the stem of a wine glass during a party so you don’t lose your wine glass? So cute yet so practical. I had to have them. Since I’m from Texas I bought the one with the cowboy hat, horseshoe, spur, cow, boot, and longhorn. It’s too bad they don’t make them for beer bottles. I would have bought some of those too. After wandering around for a bit, I found the baby section. Frankly, I was unimpressed. Their whatnots were just notwhat I needed. Rattles, sippy cups, and teething rings seemed so generic. My diaper cake needed some whimsy, damnit. I decided to see what they had at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. When I checked out, “Sharonda” looked at me as if I was either gay or in really big trouble with a significant other. “You see, I’m writing this blog about. . .” . Oh, nevermind. I let Sharonda judge me.

Here’s where it gets weird…

After my relatively innocuous visit to Target, I entered the world of Bed, Bath, & Beyond. The extent of my prior experience with this store consists walking in and buying towels off the clearance rack about 2 years ago when I moved into a new place. I received that giant 30% off coupon that they harangue me with via the United States Postal Service once a week and figured I’d give it a try. This visit was nothing like that. At this point, I was getting concerned because I needed blog material. I needed to take the blog to a higher plateau. I decided to engage one of the employees and see if she could help me. Incidentally, having the salesperson assist me is a common occurrence in various men’s and outdoors stores that I frequent. They realize that men don’t like to meander around the store like urine in an alley way. We want in and we want out. Little did I know that the purpose of female store employees is quite the opposite. They are apparently commissioned on how much time they can make a person spend in their “area.”

I arrived at BB&B and made my way to the baby section. I was greeted by “Helen,” who happened to be restocking or inventorying or whatever she does. “Hi, Helen,” I said with a smile on my face. “Let me be honest. I’ve never shopped before and I need some help with baby gifts. I’m building a diaper cake for a baby shower and I need all the help I can get.” Then, I held my breath. I had visions of Helen pushing the secret panic button in her mom jeans right before I was hit by a tranquilizer dart and light quickly fades to black. I’d wake up in the secret female lair beneath BB&B strapped to a gurney like Hannibal Lector where I’d be questioned by aggressive, mysterious women in black pant suits and sunglasses demanding to know who I work for and why I was sent there. Luckily, Helen smiled and said she’d be happy to assist. In your fat face, Sharonda.

Instead of the diaper cake, Helen suggested a pre-made baby basket. I’m certain all of you know what this is, but it was news to me. Maybe I should have just stuck with that f*cking rattle.

BEHOLD! The Moses Basket. The Moses basket? Huh? I half expected Yul Brenner to jump out after a gong went off in the background. The Moses Basket. Hmm. Look, I know Helen was trying to be helpful but I’m not counting the imaginary beneficiary of my diaper cake being abandoned by his mother in the Nile. I don’t believe the Pharoh cares anymore. I’m pretty sure the actual Moses’ basket was neither pink terry waffle nor sweet safari, although I’m sure his mother went with the a cable knit over the eyelet style to ensure that baby Moses would stay dry. I politely renewed my commitment to the diaper cake and Helen patiently moved past the baskets and on to diaper bags.

I thought the diaper bag could be a good idea considering the fact that the diaper cake would be dismantled and mom would need something to carry all of the diapers. I have to admit, the Dwell Studio Hudson Diaper Tote looked lovely but on the other hand, the Bugaboo Red White Leather Diaper Bag looked stylish and practical. Then there was the Groovy Diaper Bag by Scooch. It was so darn whimsical I seriously considered buying it for myself—you know, for the office. In the end, I settled for a few crib toys and a book about petting things. I began to wish they sold whiskey at BB&B.

Now that I had what I needed for baby, Helen suggested that I include something for mom. After all, she’s got to endure a healthy 20-30 pound weight gain, odd cravings, cankles, and the agony of childbirth. The least I could do was include something for her. Helen suggested an aromatherapy candle. “Fine. Whatever,” I thought.

Here’s what I learned about candles:

Candles are available in various colors, shapes, sizes, and scents to transform any room. First, I needed to decide if I was going to display them singly or in groupings—Helen said that was important. Was I looking to add a soft, warm, romantic ambiance, create a magnificent scent experience, or simply discover aromatherapy? “What happened to lighting up a dark place?” I pondered. I’m certain Paul Revere wasn’t asked any of these questions when he purchased his lanterns. There was even a candle you just put into a metal champagne glass and stick on the counter. I found that odd. BB&B, I was assured, had a candle to suit my needs. I had to choose from popular highly fragranced jar candles, pillars, votives, tea lights, or floating candles. The Meltables line of creatively scented candles was supposed to “infuse my atmosphere with fragrance.” In other words, it stinks. Meltables? Don’t all candles melt?

For some reason, we lost sight of mom and began to concentrate on MY candle needs. I played along. Helen actually had the nerve to ask me how I planned to “display my candles.” What? At this point, I seriously think Helen was just f*cking with me. Wall sconces, plain and decorative glass votive holders, and tiered candle holders were all fantastic options. Glass jars and bowls are perfect for creating a floating candle display. Floating candles? I settled for a polished metal thing that the candle would sit on in order to avoid getting wax on my table.

I jokingly let Helen know that if I purchased all of these candles I was likely to burn down everything I owned. Not surprisingly, Helen had an answer for that too. Apparently, for areas where a flame isn’t permitted (yes, she used the word “permitted”), LED votives look like real candles without the fire. Thank God. Also, reed diffusers and potpourri are wonderful alternative ways to introduce scent without flames. Candle Warmers are an electric alternative to lighting my jar candles, as well. “How in the hell does that work?” I asked. The warmer gently warms jar candles, releasing their aroma. Ohhhhh, I see. Of course. And I’d be remiss if I forgot the other candle necessities such as snuffers, candle rings, insta-match lights, and wax lifter. Frankly, everything in that last sentence sounded like something I would get at one of those XXX novelty stores on the side of the freeway. I won’t even go into the visions of Helen that ran through my mind while she was explaining them.

Wait a second, wasn’t I here for a diaper cake?

Sensing I was candled out, Helen walked me over to the ribbon section in order to pick out the accent ribbons for the now infamous diaper cake.

I honestly (and naively) expected to pick up a spool of colored ribbon and be on my way. I could not have imagined what was lurking around the corner.

“Ribbons” one of the displays told me. “We wear them in our hair and tie them on presents, but update an entire room with them? Oh, yes! Ribbons aren’t just for making bows. Those slender strips of fabric have a world of decorative uses and can transform a room from so-so to sensational. Ribbon can add vibrant touches of color, pattern and texture to household furnishings at minimal cost.” Holy cow.

At this point, Helen dropped the ruse of asking me questions. She could clearly tell I knew nothing about what she was about to tell me. I must have looked like Forrest Gump in a math test or Paris Hilton in church. Clearly, I was lost. I’d gone from sensational to so-so.

Apparently, ribbon comes in a broad variety of styles, as well as widths and patterns, to suit individual needs. There’s grosgrain, jacquard, satin, and velvet. “What’s the difference?” you ask.

Well, allow me to explain. You see, the fluidity of satin ribbon makes it particularly wonderful for trimming fabric items, such as bed linens and curtains. Helen pointed out that sturdy grosgrain works well on things that are handled often “Like my junk?” I thought. Velvet adds a luxurious texture for those who enjoy rich tactile sensations “Like my junk?” I thought. Rickrack and Swiss dot evoke old-fashioned charm while the intricate designs of jacquard ribbon are perfect for adding an imperial accent. “To my junk?” I thought.

At this point, I decided I’d had enough. After assuring Helen that I wouldn’t “be afraid to experiment” with my ribbons, I picked out the first two spools she showed me and headed for the mercy of the check out line. This stuff was expensive. I wish I’d kept that billboard of a coupon they sent me last week.

Armed with my chardonnay, candles, wine glasses, and wine glass markers, I trudged home with my diaper cake ingredients hopeful and ready to begin. I needed a nap.

Just as I pulled into my driveway, I realized that I forgot the rubber bands. I quickly ran inside to put my chardonnay in the fridge and my candles on the counter. I didn’t want to take a chance of my bamboo rain scented aromatherapy candle melting in my car. Sure, the woody teak aroma was enchanting, but the mess would be awful. I eventually made it to Walgreens (finally, a store I know), got some rubber bands, and actually picked up a half dozen roses for myself. We all know that the only thing better than roses on your piano is tulips on your organ. Alright, that’s a little blue-even for me-but I love that joke. Between the roses and the bamboo rain, I was certain the ambiance would be perfect for building a diaper cake.

I kicked off my shoes, poured a glass of chardonnay I marked with the boot thingy, moved my coffee table aside, and put all of my “ingredients” on the floor. I lit my bamboo rain candle after it was placed on that metal thing, of course, and to complete the mood I put on Sarah McLachlan’s Surfacing album--recently downloaded for the ensuing diaper cake construction--and sat Indian style on my living room floor. I was going to go with Tori Amos or Dido, but I opted for Sarah because she’s the hottest of the three. Incidentally, I wonder if any 38 year old Indians actually make it a practice to sit this way. Based on the fact that my hips are numb and my knees are getting ready to snap, I seriously doubt it.

I began the diaper cake as Sarah McLachlan’s “Building a Mystery” began to play in the background. Oddly enough, after a few sips of chardonnay—which was frankly disgusting, I began to substitute the words “diaper cake” for the word “mystery” and the word “your” with “I’m” in the song.

'cause I’m working
building a diaper cake
holding on and holding it in
yeah I’m working
building a diaper cake
and choosing so carefully

I was actually enjoying myself. I quickly rolled the 48 diapers and secured them with rubber bands. This process was annoying, but easy. I assembled them into three circles, each smaller than the first and used my ribbon to secure each of them. This took a little practice, but again, was easier than I thought. I stacked them, added accent ribbons (Helen’s idea), and topped it off with the aroma candle I’d selected for mom. My crib toys and petting book adorned the first and second layers of the cake. I even tied them together with some ribbon—that was whimsy at its best. Voila! Behold, the diaper cake. I was pretty proud of myself, actually and I stood there, wine in hand, admiring my work for some time. I polished off the bottle of wine in the midst of the teaky robustness of my aromatherapy candle while being serenaded by Sarah McLachlan. All in all, the entire process took me 3 hours and 20 minutes from start to finish. In guy time, that’s a football game.

In case you’re wondering, I took all of the ingredients to the local Goodwill by my house and donated it and it felt good. Stay tuned for next week.