Friday, September 28, 2007

DumDum can't "Just Say No"

I often wonder about college athletes and how many brain cells they actually have to band together to form a comprehensive thought. Back in ’00 VT went up against FSU at the Sugar Bowl. DumDum was the VT Quarterback. At that time I was a consultant and my boss was a VT alum. We went down to NOLA just to party with all the lunatics. It was a crazy few days and I acquired a very unfortunate nickname that she still feels the need to occasionally bust out in polite company, just for fun. A story for another day, but the real point is that this guy was young and talented with nothing but a bright future ahead of him.

So it made sense that he was a first round draft pick, ended up a superstar, negotiated himself the most lucrative contract in the NFL at the time – some $167M including signing bonuses. Hey, good news story right? Poor kid does well for himself – right? Wrong.

Enter the issue of brain cells. Apparently money can’t buy you a coherent thought.

Let's explore this for a moment. Once one has achieved success in their field what do you do next? I KNOW – let’s start an illegal dog fighting ring and give it a catchy name (how very hip!). Then once it’s exposed, you should plead guilty to avoid processing under the RICO Act. (5 years is better than 20 – right??) With the public freaking out and sentencing coming up you should definitely get high and fail a random drug test. (Cool!) That'll show that crazy judge how smart you are. I mean, c’mon, who knew that when he said “no criminal activity and no drug activity” as a condition of your release that he really meant don’t get high. (Totally understandable.) Then, let’s fight to keep the signing bonus that the Atlanta Falcons are suing you for in civil court since you can’t play football anymore (NO FAIR!) Oh, and by the way, that little gambling action may put you out in the cold forever with another really smart boy, Pete Rose.

DumDum must be a sad boy. I wonder how it feels to have everything and be so stupid that you lose it all for nothing. Do you think he stays up at night and thinks about his own stupidity or is he so ignorant that he blames other people?

Frankly I’m happy to see the tides turning, perhaps people are finally fed up with this untouchable celebrity attitude. Rules apply to everyone, not just people without money. I wasn’t sad when Paris Hilton went to jail. I mean c’mon, it was three days but perhaps she found religion? She’s off to Rwanda! Maybe she’ll take DumDum under her wing. I smell a new reality TV show - Paris & friends in Rwanda - "Roughing it below the Equator in a Post Civil War Country". I think it has a certain je ne sais quoi, don't you think?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Good Girls Don't Wear Hooker Dirndls

Our real vacation started about a week after my last post. Of course we started off late leaving his parent's house. We had plans to visit our friend Thea who happened to be in Frankfurt. She's 85 or 86 years old and she was visiting her friend who was about 90. Apparently the older one still rides her bike to the supermarket. She's about 5 feet tall with glasses just as big. I can't imagine she can even see where she's going. Talk about a road hazard. The two of them had just come from Würzburg and told us of a very nice guesthouse. I should have known their definition of nice and mine were very different. More on that later.

We drove along the Rhine to see the little villages and look at the Loreley. The GPS was barking at us in German the whole way. On a positive note, I am now capable of giving very angry driving directions in German. The unfortunate thing was the angry woman took us to the wrong side of the river. Conveniently they hadn't built any bridges either. We finally found a ferry to take the car across. All of this to see what was essentially a rock. I'm not quite sure why an entire town has named hotels and restaurants after a rock.

We arrived late in Würzburg and checked into the hotel. First we hauled our luggage up a flight of stairs (no elevator) and down a hall decorated with posters featuring the greatest hits of human suffering (compliments of Amnesty International). We walked into our room to find two beds on opposite sides of the room, white concrete walls and a tiny bathroom. So much for romance. To compensate for our accommodations I picked the most expensive restaurant in the travel guide (which isn't saying much since my husband has a fixation with Lonely Planet guides - aka the backpacker special).

The restaurant turned out to be a very cool sort of hunting lodge. They specialized in meat, meat, meat and taxidermy. I ate a very nice salad under a stuffed pheasant nailed to the wall. In the middle of dinner I decided to pull out the Bavarian travel guide and think about our driving plan for the next day. My husband gave me a horrified look. I took that opportunity to remind him of the "New Orleans Incident". We were in the middle of Mardi Gras one evening and he pulled out a travel guide with the intention of doing a walking tour. People were half naked and vomiting around us and he wanted to discuss Architecture in the French Quarter. I pretended not to know him.

I asked him if he was embarrassed by my Bavarian travel guide.
He replied “A little”
I said “Good”
He said “That’s pretty sad that you’ve been waiting six years to do this”
I said “Whatever”

We went back to the scary hotel and made an honest attempt at sleeping in the same bed. I woke up in the middle of the night because he had stolen all the covers and shoved me off the bed. I gave up and moved to the other side of the room. We got a fairly early start and since we had declined the fabulous hotel breakfast we drove into town to find something to eat. His father had done us a huge favor by going through our travel guide and picking out the “must see” sites. We decided to hit The Residenz since it opened at 9AM. We arrived shortly before the hour and waited with a group of school children on a field trip, a group of Japanese tourists of equal size and an elderly couple. The sign on the door said that it was temporarily closed for overcrowding. (Huh? It’s 9AM) We waited 10 minutes or so and a gentleman came out and signaled the school children and old couple in. My husband inquired in German how long we would need to wait. He replied in English, “Not Japanese, you come in”. This obviously makes very little sense on many levels, but I’ll take it. It was indeed a very cool palace with the largest fresco in the world. The Mainfrankisches Museum was our next stop which had the largest collection of Tilman Riemenschneider sculptures in Germany. Apparently Tilman liked to carve detailed things out of wood that are now located all over Franconia.

We walked around a bit and left for our next destination, Weikersheim. The castle here was the last home of a couple that died childless in the 18th century and basically no one has touched it since. We were advised that the castle was nice, but the garden gnomes were the real gems. There was an entire wall of garden gnomes that were not your typical suburban variety. These were all stone, created in the various trades of the day. We decided to take pictures with them and then we left.

Onto Creglingen where we didn’t have a specific plan. Another Riemenschneider wood carving in a church that was built on the site where a sacred host was found. Let’s talk about this for a moment. When we were kids you always knew at least one kid who used to sneak communion out of church. Ten bucks says some kid did the same thing in 1384 and it caused the entire town to build a church. Catholics… We passed on the Fingerhutmuseum. For those of you who can’t translate that one, it’s a museum of Finger Hats otherwise known as Thimbles. I hope I don’t regret that decision later in life.

We moved on to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This town was 65% destroyed in WWII and has been restored to something between Disney World and The Sound of Music. There were huge buses of Japanese tourists rolling through and way over the top Christmas stores. We visited the Jakobskirche which, surprise, surprise, had another Riemenschneider alter. This one was called the Hellig Blut Altar, the Sacred Blood Altar. Apparently there were three droplets of Christ’s blood in a crystal. I swear I saw the same vial of blood in Brugge. I get the sense that there must have been a very good phlebotomist at the crucifixion of Christ.

We were making good time and seeing all the best that the Romantic Road had to offer. We headed off to Dinkelsbühl to something called the Golden Kanne, hoping that it wasn’t a youth hostel with a nice name. Dinkelsbühl turned out to be a lovely little town that somehow escaped both the 30 years war and WWII. We slept well and spent the next morning walking around town. At this point it was time to hop back on the Autobahn to take a ride out to Ingolstadt. For those of you familiar with the geography of Germany you might ask, “Why on earth would you go to Ingolstadt?”.

I’m glad you asked.

My husband has been reading about sleep phase alarm clocks for three years. He has yet to find one available retail. While we were in Düsseldorf my husband’s friend Max told him about his sleep phase alarm clock. And so we were off to purchase one of our very own in the only town that had them in stock. Basically it involves wearing a sweatband on your wrist that makes you look like Billy Jean King in 1973. It tracks your movements during sleep and decides the optimum time to go off, taking into account your desired wake up time ( for those of you interested in wearing sweatbands to bed).

At least this is better than the last alarm clock (a hockey puck sized disk that made the entire bed shake like a vibrating bed in a cheap motel).

With one fancy alarm clock in tow, we were back on the Autobahn to Munich. My husband loves to drive in Germany, I on the other hand find it confusing. Germans really like rules but I think they’ve taken it to a new level when it comes to driving. There’s not just one speed limit, there’s one for bad weather, one for trucks, one for specific times of the day, they even have signs for tanks. They also like to change the speed limit frequently, take it on, put it off, take it on, put it off. I spend so much time looking at signs I can’t watch the Porsches and sport bikes creeping up my rear until they’re right behind me flashing and screaming wildly. Needless to say he does most of the driving.

We arrive in Munich in one piece despite his need to drive at terrifyingly high rates of speed. We were finally off to Oktoberfest.

Everyone has seen the movies and knows that you can drink entire liters of beer in a sitting. What they fail to mention is that you have no other option. The beer only comes in one size. I guess they know there’s big sissies like me out there and offer a slightly girly version of the liter of beer. Half beer, half Sprite. It sounds disgusting but has a lovely taste and doesn’t get you quite as drunk. It was also helpful since my husband picked the hottest place to sit for the next 10 hours. His friends explained the difference between a good dirndl and a bad dirndl. Essentially the difference is quite similar to most women’s clothing choices. If you look like a hooker, that’s bad.

I observed several interesting variations of the dirndl.

The Paris Hilton Dirndl: Usually involves a woman with very bleached blond hair, stiletto heels, a short dirndl and lots of pushed up boobs. Oh, and a crucifix that hangs neatly between the pushed up boobs. At least she’s a good Catholic….

The Playmate Dirndl: Yes, there’s actually a Wies’n Playmate. I’ll leave this one to your imagination, you’re probably right.

The Cougar Dirndl: Usually involves a woman over 40, black lace, a red bra and some serious make-up.

The Tourist Dirndl: She just bought it yesterday and looks a bit uncomfortable. (probably because it’s cheap polyester and bought in the same place as the “I survived Oktoberfest 2007” T-Shirts.)

The Practical Dirndl: She’s a girl prepared for a long day of drinking. The dirndl varies but the common theme is the big construction worker shit kicking steel toe boots. She doesn’t drink the sissy beer.

The Lederhosen Dirndl: Not actually a dirndl at all, it’s a chick in leather pants. She has bypassed the practical dirndl and moved right to wearing the pants.

The people watching was fantastic and I was highly entertained. All in all, we had a delightful day, I got a tan, my husband got ridiculously drunk and I got to see 8,000 people dancing on tables to Gloria Gaynor sung by a traditional Oktoberfest band.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

No Chicken Dance, but One Chicken Hat

We're finally on vacation now for almost a week and I've hardly had a chance to stop and think about being on vacation. I arrived and my luggage did not. As I was packing in Philadelphia I told my husband that I would pack half of my clothes in one suitcase and half in the other. That way if one was lost we would both have clothes. As usual he was slow to pack and I ended up packing everything in one suitcase. Naturally both of his arrived safely and both of mine were lost. It took us several hours and as many phone calls to find it. So, I attended my brother-in-law's civil marriage luncheon in jeans and a hoodie. I'm American I suppose they'll forgive me.

The wedding went off without a hitch, which was a huge relief. I also happened to find the only three English people at the wedding to make nice with. We had also agreed to give the English folks a ride to the church and given that we only had our typical European rental (read: car big enough for 2 adults and a cat) we had to stuff them all in the backseat. In typical fashion we arrived at 10:59 for an 11:00 wedding. Ordinarily this would be fine but we had to shuffle up to the front row while an entire Church watched. As luck would have it, the bride was late as well so it wasn't tragic.

The entire service was in a language I do not speak or understand so I only had people watching to entertain me. There are a finite number of people in front of you when you're forced to sit that close so it was a bit of an art form to surreptitiously sneak looks around the sides. The highlight of my church experience was the cello player. I'm not sure if she had a sinus problem or a cocaine habit, but the snorting noises were terrifyingly loud. Each time she brought the bow across the strings she would sound like a Hoover.

After service I tottered back down the stone hill in my impossible shoes to stuff back in the tiny little car with the three English people and ride back to the castle for the afternoon reception. It really was a lovely place. The castle has a multitude of functions, including serving as the set for a soap opera. Its less glamorous and curious purpose is a nursing home for old spinsters of nobility. I'm glad I didn't know that until after the fact. I think I would have felt a bit like I was being watched by nuns as I was slugging back champagne and trying not to fall over in the rocks in my hat. Speaking of hats, there were several worth mentioning. One had so many feathers that it looked like a chicken had found it's way onto her head and fallen asleep. Luck for us she had a matching chicken handbag. Another was dressed head to toe in a pink and green ensemble. She looked a bit like an Easter egg. My husband's brother's girlfriend commented that it was fairly typical of the area she lives in the South. It must be a rule that that Southerners are crazy everywhere.

Afterwards I went back to our room to sleep off the fog I had been slurring around in. My dear husband on the other hand felt it prudent to continue drinking with his friend. They both stumbled in to dress 30 minutes before dinner. I of course was ready and had even less sensible shoes than the previous event. His friend and I teetered back over the rocks to the castle, I because of my shoes, he because of the large quantities of alcohol.

My dinner date was a very nice college friend of the bride. As we sat down he told me that he was looking forward to sitting with me because he was told I was very funny. No pressure... Across from me was an older gentleman who was married to an American for many years. It was a bit like talking to my grandmother as I had the same conversation with him three times. On the other hand, three identical conversations in English is better than none at all.

There were several highlights of the evening. There was a girl with a dress that was reminiscent of JLo's famous dress that hardly covered the goodies. The DJ told us she was taped up like a Christmas package. Apparently he got a good look. Later in the evening my husband's friend accidentally threw her into a potted plant. This is not at all surprising since earlier in the evening he whipped me around so fast that I accidentally flew out of my dress. Thankfully I have a quick hand and was able to rectify the situation before I became wedding fodder on the Internet. Much later in the evening my brother-in-law did an interpretive dance to Robbie Williams. It was a cross between having a seizure and channeling a large bird. Perhaps he was inspired by the hat earlier that day.

We drank until about 6AM at which time I realized that I was only going to get about 4 hours sleep before I had to get up and play nice at brunch. Ugh.... This wouldn't have been problematic except for the fact that I had only gotten 4 hours the night before as well. This trend continued for three days when the following morning we got up at 7AM to drive a friend to the airport. We soon discovered the bomb squad had been called in. In typical fashion they had evacuated one terminal while the other continued along as if nothing was wrong. Perhaps they figured the EZ Jet people wouldn't mind getting blown up? That's what you get for flying discount.

Tomorrow we're off for our vacation from our vacation.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

My Grandmother Needs a New Boyfriend

Another weekend out at the folks house, this time my husband in tow. He's trying to enjoy his three day summer. Since he spent the entire summer studying he is officially the whitest man alive. Yesterday he took his shirt off at the pool and we were all blinded by the glare of the sun off his ghost like complexion. It's like a double whammy. Being German, he's already at a disadvantage and being home bound for three months has only intensified the whiteness. He's also lost at least 8-10 lbs (that's just his luck that it would happen without even trying). Next to the flock of Italians in my family and our friends he looks sort of anemic. They try to feed him, I try to slather him in SPF 60.

We arrived at friends of the family to swim and we were greeted with, "Hey, it's the "Fresh Air" kids. Must be nice for you to get away from the gun shots and the concrete". The weather was superb and the water, due to Carl's obsession with the solar cover, was at 86 degrees. Can't ask for anything better than that!

We soon learned that my grandmother had taken a turn for the worse this morning. She awoke and started screaming that she couldn't walk. There was some sort of lump on the back of her knee. She told my mother that she would stay in bed and proceeded to sit up straight as a pin and stare at the wall. I would imagine this was slightly unnerving to watch, so my mother left the room. My father was put on duty to watch her and he proceeded to sit in the downstairs and watch a Charles Bronson movie. When my mother arrived several hours later my father was still watching Charles Bronson and when she went to check on my grandmother she found her in tears. She had to go to the bathroom, couldn't walk, no one was home, etc, etc. High drama ensued to get her to the facilities. Lots of shuffling and moaning.

Now you're thinking, "Oh, you are so mean. She's 87 and I'm sure she has pain and God have mercy on your soul; someday that will be YOU." Normally I would agree with you but the minute she saw my husband she was like a new woman. She immediately put on an outfit, walked down a full flight of steps by herself and began fawning over him. She did not leave his side for the next 8 hours. In fact, I had to explain to her that I was actually married to him and that yes indeed, I was related to her. I can't attribute the 180 entirely to my husband. My father and I had a conversation with her about the fact that she's living in a two story home and if she can't walk then she can't stay. We don't want her to have to go somewhere else so perhaps she should start exercising a bit so she keeps up her strength. I think she may have started to think about the implications of this and decided that perhaps this wasn't such a bad gig.

We weren't taking any chances, this morning we sent my husband to wake her up. She was all smiles and sunshine. She even let him put her eye drops in. I suggested to my parents they might want to find a "friend" to sit with her so they can actually leave the house.....together. I think a young male nurse would work quite well. Plus she needs a new boyfriend, preferably one that's not my husband.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

One Fire, One Flood & a Nice View without Locusts

I'm sitting on my balcony doing a little work and I thought, "wow, I have a great view". In all the years I've lived in the city, I've never had a balcony or a view. I feel compelled to share.

With the exception of West Philly, which we'll leave out of this discussion since it's more or less a wasteland of slumlords and hookers, I've always lived in fairly reasonable apartments. It started up on 19th & Pine when I lived with Kelly. That was a great place, high ceilings, his & her's sinks and a wonderful location. The guy that lived upstairs smoked a lot of dope and professed to be an acupuncturist, but it could be worse. (Of course I can say that because he set fire to the building after we moved out).

My next city apartment was with my husband at 13th and Walnut. We were diagonally across the street from Woody's and so we experienced Techno Night on Wednesdays right from our couch. Our first Memorial Day weekend there we found a squatter in the empty apartment next to ours, called the cops and watched the good 'ole Philadelphia PD bust through the door. This guy must have been about 300lbs of solid muscle. When they finally did lease that place it was to a guy who we swore was running a meth lab. He never hung curtains, just black trash bags in the windows. He was nice enough, but his "friends" were a bit loud at strange hours of the day and night and I think most of them had Tourettes. Post wedding we didn't fit anymore so we decided it was time to start looking. It did have huge beautiful windows that I could stand in but the "one butt" kitchen was significantly lacking for two people who like to cook. Plus, it caught fire.

One night we came back from an evening out to find the lobby gutted. We could see clear through the building wall to the neighbor's toilet. Apparently Philadelphia Management had brought in PECO and some electrician to do some work. The fire started in the basement and came up through our wall. Aside from giant sooty fireman handprints on the wall and the fact that it smelled like 4,000 girl scouts had a campfire in there, our personal items were fine. A good dry cleaners and three days later we were gone.

We moved down the street a few blocks to a first floor apartment on 13th & South. We thought it would be far enough up on South that we wouldn't get the crazy noise on Friday/Saturday night. Instead we got all the people walking to the craziness. They knocked on our windows, rang our doorbell and got into fist fights in front of the house. I've never called the cops so much in my life. It did have two bedrooms but it was like living in a concrete box. Since we couldn't keep our windows open we never had any light. I think I suffered seasonal disorder while living in that place. About 6 months after moving in, my husband was up late one night and heard a funny noise. He had just enough time to unload the bookshelf and move the furniture before the ceiling let loose with about 40+ gallons of rain water from our upstairs neighbors balcony. He was nice enough to not wake me up through this fiasco so I discovered our trashcan in the living room collecting water the next morning.

It was at this point that I started making biblical references about waiting for the locusts to get us next.

As previously mentioned my landlord decided to sell that place and that is how we ended up here. For those of you who aren't jumping in your cars/onto planes/throwing on your running shoes to come visit, I thought I would entice you with our new view of the city. We haven't seen any locusts but there are a lot of crickets here....

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Ocean Handle! What's an Ocean Handle?

I spent the weekend at my parent's house while my husband studied diligently for his board exams. This particular weekend was my grandmother's 87th birthday which she started off by falling down and whacking her head on the corner of a dresser. This was then followed by a visit to the hospital and 48 hours of declarations of new ailments and wild meanderings.

"My ears, I can't hear but if I stick my fingers in my ears I hear better."
"My back, it hurts."
"Did you know I fell down the steps?" (Ummm, no. That was last year, you actually fell in your bedroom. "Oh, yeah. I fell in the bedroom.").
"I have a hole in my head."
"I don't want to stay here anymore, I hate you people. I'm going to ask Mother if I can stay with someone else." (Huh? )
"That hairdresser cut my hair like a boy." (Considering I cut her hair the last time, this was a vast improvement)

My grandmother had been living with my aunt and uncle for almost 17 years prior to her moving in with my folks. She was entirely lucid until about 2 years ago (note: the use of lucid since she's always been crazy) when she started forgetting people. She pretty much gave up remembering her great grandchildren's names. They now have nicknames, known only to her. "You know, the one that screams" or "that one with all the hair". The other day she said to my mother (about me), "I don't remember her, is she married?". My mother replied, "Yes, you know her husband" and my mother demonstrated my husband's strange face rubbing tic that he does when he finds something funny. Immediately my grandmother replied, "OH, I know him, I loooove him." WTF she remembers my husband but not the grandchild she's known her entire life?

So needless to say we end up having very odd conversations with her on a regular basis. And by regular, I mean very regular. It usually goes something like this:

Mommom: Hi ya, what's new?
Me: We're moving.
Mommom: Oh yea, is it nice?
I explain our new place in great detail
Mommom: Oh that's great. Good luck with that.
Silence for about 1 minute
Mommom: Hi ya, what's new?
and repeat

I visit occasionally so I have these conversations with a great deal of amusement, my mother on the other hand is subjected to this on a daily basis. I think she's dealt reasonably well. She herself is slightly deaf and I think this helps.

We've repeatedly told her that she needs a hearing aid. Evidence provided below.

My sister talking to my mother...
Sister: You know mom, they have these services that come to your house and fit you for a hearing aid, you don't even have to leave the house. I saw it on TV.
Mom: Who's coming to my house? What are they doing with my TV?

The family driving in the car...
Sister to my father: If you're going to do anything crazy, let me know so I can grab the Oh-Shit Handle.
Mom: An Ocean Handle! What's an Ocean Handle?

My mother and I talking yesterday...
Me: That guy said he hasn't been back to Austria since he was 10.
Mom: How old is he?
Me: He's probably fifty or sixty.
Mom: Oh that's only 6 years.
Me: Hey, good math mom. How do you figure?
Mom: You said he's only 15 or 16.

You can see how this might be slightly irritating. Last year at Christmas time was the final straw. After enduring days of "What?", "WHAT?", "What did you say?" we finally said ENOUGH. We told her that she would not receive a single gift for any holiday going forward as we were escrowing gift money toward the purchase of a hearing aid. By this point you're picturing my parents as poor retired folk that are watching their pennies - why else wouldn't the poor woman get herself a hearing aid, right? Wrong. They're quite fine and the only reason she doesn't have one is because it is a "significant purchase" and my father told her that "he'll let her know when she needs a hearing aid".

This logic is baffling. Do you know the other day my mother ended up with the wrong salad at lunch because she couldn't hear the waitress. What's next? My money is on her accidentally selling herself into white slavery.

I have to get going. I have several repetitive conversations to have at very high volume. Enjoy your Labor Day!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Hat Hunting

I think that I am now permanently crippled. Partly from my not at all sensible shoes and partly from the six hour witch hunt I was just on to find a hat. I'm sure most of you have heard me talk about the fact that my brother-in-law's wedding is coming up. Weddings there are much different than weddings here. I needed a hat. As best as I can figure, hat wearing went out of mainstream fashion in the US some time in the 60's. Clearly our friends over there haven't gotten the memo.

I find the cultural differences quite interesting. For instance, my in-laws find it amusing that my husband calls my parent's Mom & Dad. "Oh, that's so old fashioned" they say. However they're the ones getting dressed just to go outside to get the mail. Generally speaking it seems that this lack of formality has extended to all activity in US. Every day in the summer we roll out the door in shorts and t-shirts while the only place this "ensem" is acceptable over the pond is when one is going to the gym. I have to remind myself when visiting that it is decidedly not ok to show up at the breakfast table in my PJ pants and a tank top.

So I needed some serious shopping for this trip. Could I have recycled from my current wardrobe, sure but where's the fun in that? Plus, I needed a hat. I needed a dress for the hat (note: the fact that I bought the dress before the hat is irrelevant, so shush). I typically have two colors in my wardrobe, black and black. Black is not ok for church. Looking out at a sea of wedding goers over there is like looking at a giant Easter egg. If I look back at pictures of my wedding you can spot the Americans at 500 yards - a sea of black. Don't get me wrong, everyone looked absolutely chic and lovely, but our style is certainly not garden party, unless of course one is having a funeral in the garden in which case that would work out quite well. So I forced myself to look at the dresses that I would normally speed right past. I saw this dress as a happy compromise, it's secretly a black dress that's not black.

One June Cleaver, garden party looking dress purchased...check!

I spent one evening surfing the Internet looking for hats. Who knew that these things were special order? So now I'm screwed. I have to find a hat off the rack. They might as well have told me I need a burka because they're probably about as common as hats in this country. I nearly killed myself walking around Philly looking. I even went into Sophie Curson which is old biddie heaven. I didn't find a hat, but I did end up in Leehee Fai and found an awesome dress for the evening. I'm in love with this dress. It's sort of like wearing a cross between your PJs and a giant parachute. I did cave and buy it in black, but seriously we can't be colorful all the time. My husband says that a tuxedo is black intentionally so that the woman is the focus of attention. I say black is minimizing, who wants to look back and see pictures of ones self looking like a giant grape or some sort of big white sausage?

One fabulously comfortable evening gown purchased.....check!

This morning my mother and I got up bright and early to go shopping. We mapped out all of the possible locations that might be hiding church hats. The adventure began at 10AM. We drove out the main line and hit every ladies boutique between Wayne and Bala Cynwyd. Nada. Finally hit Saks around 1PM. Nuttin. Lord and Taylor, used their ladies room but that's about it. (btw, the L&T out on City Line smells like an armpit, don't go there) Drove to King of Prussia, did the department store thing. Finally, I put all good sense aside and went into Needless Mark-up. There, in all it's glory, was an honest to God hat department. I can only theorize that hats are like engagement rings. There must be a rule somewhere that a hat should be one month of your salary. That's the only POSSIBLE reason that something so small and useless could cost as much as it did. The only somewhat redeeming part was that the stupid thing was made in the good old USA. At least I'm not supporting 3rd world child labor. The funniest line from the whole Nieman's experience....the saleswoman says to me "..and it comes in one of our beautiful hat boxes." Seriously, you can't make this stuff up, those words came out of her mouth.

So here it is. My lovely hat. Of course, I got it in black.....check!

Picture credits:,,