Friday, February 26, 2010

Team rivalry

At a costume party last year, I ran into my ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend who was dressed like a slutty cowgirl, and I showed up dressed like a meatball.

It wasn’t Halloween, it was the Beer Olympics, and we were representing our chosen countries.
Like the Winter Olympic Games, the Beer Olympics was filled with victories, defeats, comebacks, upsets and…
embarrassing moments.

The Beer Olympics is actually quite a hilarious game, where teams compete in beer-inspired events (beer pong, sag nuts, quarters, flip cup) and whichever team wins the most number of “events” wins gold. It was a nice little Saturday.

Team Sweden started out as a good idea. The three of us were blonde and thought our hair color would be costume enough. And we’d put little Swedish flags on our shirts like nametags.

Then, our teammate suggested that we take it a step further and dress as Swedish meatballs.
“How funny would that be??” she said.

Representing the Motherland

As you can see, we ended up looking more ridiculous than funny, especially since the two guys we recruited for our team were also instructed to dress as blonde Swedish meatballs.

We didn’t care that people thought we were pregnant, rather than meatbally, and we all laughed when our team name got unofficially changed to the “Slutty Sweeds.”
Oh, yes, it was all fun and games until we played Team Canada.

Team Canada consisted of my ex-boyfriend, his new girlfriend and a few others who were all wearing “Canadian tuxedos” of all blue jeans.

The new girlfriend was wearing very tight jeans, with a plaid shirt tied up so you could see her (not pregnant or meatbally) stomach and cowboy boots. Perfect.

She and I came face to face during flip cup, each guzzling a small amount of beer and then balancing the cup on the edge of the table and flipping it over until it lands upright.
She was very nice —and so is he for that matter, and it had been several years since we dated — but, really, couldn’t we have been team Brazil and wore bikinis? I mean, I was dressed as a meatball. A meatball!!!

It felt really good to beat team Canada.
“What, are y’all supposed to be pregnant or something?” my ex-boyfriend asked, after the match was over.

The next event we signed up for was quarters, where you bounce change into a bowl at a small, intimate table.
Joy, my twin sister, requested that we play Team Canada again.

“Please!” I begged. “No more playing team Canada!”
“But, they’re the nicest team!” she pointed out.

Team Jamaica was not nice. They were very competitive and were sore winners and sore losers.

We played them in a relay race to suck beer out of ice cube trays using a crazy straw.
We won, but they pouted because we had a few drops of beer in the last tray and “they had sucked up every last bit of their beer.”

We settled on a tie.

Yeah, we won.

The rest of my team ignored my Team Canada protests, and we ended up playing them in several other events.

“We’re better than them!” Joy reasoned.
She was right; we needed to increase our number of wins in order to be in medal position.

Many of the remaining events required me to stand right next to the cowgirl. The “over under” event was a relay to pass a cup of beer over one teammate’s head and then under the following teammates’ legs to the back of the line, without spilling a drop.
The last person had to run to the front of the line, guzzle the beer and then start the relay again.

Sweden vs. Canada. Nice cleavage over there.

We did not medal at the Beer Olympics. The winners were Japan, Jamaica (cheaters!) and some made-up country like “DonkeyKongville.” (I’ll explain what that means later, mom).

I know it's childish, but I was pleased about the results. I was NOT pulling for team Canada.

I’ve been thinking about the Beer Olympics lately, as I’ve been watching the Winter Olympic Games nonstop.
My ears perked up when the announcers discussed the overall rivalry between team USA and Canada. I mean, I could relate.

I saw team Canada win gold in the couple’s free ice skate this week, beating out the Americans. Ugh, and they were so annoyingly sweet weren’t they? Just smiling and happy and couple-y. They were much nicer than the Russians.
There really is no reason to hate them.
Except that they had better outfits.


Sunday, February 21, 2010


I had an incredibly exciting weekend, and by exciting, I mean not for children.

It involved witnessing a full-fledged drug bust by the drug enforcement agency in the middle of a downtown neighborhood, as well as going to a glorified strip “bikini club” as an undercover journalist.

I saw someone get arrested, with two guns pointed at his head until he “GOT DOWN ON THE GROUND NOW!” 10 nearly naked women dancing in a terribly raunchy way, and I was even patted down by a S.W.A.T.-like security guard.

“They violatin’ ” said a nearly naked “dancer” who was sitting on my male friend’s lap at our small table.

“What is this, the airport?” I joked when they had searched us all at the table, their guns visibly on display.
The fact that they were checking for guns and weapons was a bit…telling about the place.

Everyone usually gets patted down at the door but we had gotten there early and were now being retroactively patted down, and they searched everything — pockets, purses, bodies. I was patted down both my legs all the way to my feet.

The “undercover journalism” part was that I was there to see if there was any stripping at the club.
It is not zoned as a strip club, but everyone is suspicious that nudity takes place.

The noise and complaints were so bad that the council actually voted to mandate an earlier bar closing for everyone supposedly because of this one establishment.

For the article, I talked to the bar manager over the phone, who said there is no stripping, just girls in bikinis dancing and the nudity claims are just rumors.

I didn’t know anyone who had been there before, so I didn’t know if he was telling the truth.
I remember I asked one of the council members if he had ever been to the club to check it out.

“No! I’m a family man!” he told me, horrified.
“Well, the only way to know for sure is to go,” my editor told me.

Some friends and I arranged to go Friday night (the “nipple patrol” as we called ourselves), and we were excited to learn it was free Patron tequila night until 11 p.m. The bartender, who was (tightly, but fully) clothed did not know how to make a margarita.

We got there much too early, at 9 p.m., and there were only four people inside and no one in bikinis.

The “bikini”-wearing dancers leisurely came out from the back of the bar over the next hour or so, whenever they were dressed and ready.
They were all black women, and the clothing they were wearing could have fit into a child’s T-shirt pocket.
I've never seen anyone on the beach wear those types of “bikinis.” Some thongs were made out of chain-link material.

Flyers on each table promised that 20 dancers were going up on stage that night, and for awhile, my friend and I were the only non-dancer females in the place.

One very tall woman, dressed in sparkly red lingerie with knee-high boots, came right to our table at sat on my friend’s lap. His girlfriend eyed him from across the table.

He didn’t say anything, because we were undercover. We needed to see if she would strip for him or ask him to go to a back room or something.

“People like me because I’m so tall and I’ve got really long legs,” she said, stretching them up in the air. (At five feet tall, I was jealous.)

“How tall are you?” I asked her.
“Well, I’m 5’9 and I’m wearing 7-inch heels so I’m like 6’3,” she said. A true Amazon!

The dancing was pretty pornographic.
It consisted of each one of them simulating sex in different positions — concentrated gyrating from the front, from the back, while hanging on a stripper pole, on the floor, while hanging upside down on railings, while sitting on someone’s lap, even while doing a split. The material left nothing to the imagination.

People gave money to the dancers during these performances by throwing the money up in the air, and having it flutter down to the stage.
Rap artists call this “making it rain.”

Several times, out of the corner of my eye, I saw money being exploded into the air —poof— and was mesmerized watching it slowly fall down, like a dollar bill shower.
One bill actually got stuck in the metal slats on the ceiling and a dancer had to climb the pole to retrieve it.

The vibe was pretty raunchy all-around, including the dirty rap music the DJ was spinning. I would have been completely embarrassed if my mother was there. The women weren’t naked, but they were naked.
I think that’s going to be my lede for the article.

We made a big well-to-do out of it, and, because my friends are the greatest, it ended up being a lot of fun, with lots of laughs.

The next day, we told everyone about the experience as we gathered to help my new roommate move out of her downtown apartment and into the house I share with my twin sister, Joy.
The six girls-only crew (empowering!) drank mimosas and loaded boxes into each of our cars for the caravan over to our place.

As we were moving, and all outside at the same time, a very ordinary-looking powder blue minivan pulled up and seven S.W.A.T-team police officers with black masks and shiny badges jumped out.
They had bullet proof vests, guns and a black log to bust open locked doors. We froze.
The team walked towards my parked car as they crossed the street and for a second I thought it was their target.

“Oh my God, follow them!” said one friend, who used to be a crime reporter and loves the excitement. “They’re going to bust a house!”

No! What if there are gun shots?” Joy asked cautiously.

We were too curious not to follow them, but stayed on the opposite side of the street. They marched (yes, marched, in unison like the army) around the corner. By the time we turned the corner, they had already gone inside the house.

“D.E.A.! D.E.A.! OPEN UP!” we heard them scream. Nearby dogs were going crazy. By now, a handful of gawkers had gathered across the street.
It’s not everyday you see an army of police officers with black masks downtown, on a sunny Saturday morning.

We then saw a young, shaggy-haired guy (who in different circumstances I would have thought was cute) lean over the balcony of the house, looking down over the ledge.

He didn’t look scared, considering a team of police officers had just forcefully entered his house. He looked confused.
Maybe he’s the upstairs apartment tenant, and the cops are raiding the downstairs apartment, I thought.

Within 15 seconds, two cops bust open the balcony door, immediately pointing guns at his head, right there in broad daylight.
“GET DOWN! GET DOWN ON THE GROUND NOW!!” They looked espeically scary with their ninja-like black masks on.
The guy got down immediately, and they handcuffed him. We couldn’t hear much over the dogs barking and the cars passing by the busy street, but I did hear the police refer to him as “a secondary.”

All of us spectators were chatting it up.

What kind of drugs do you think it was?
Can you believe they showed up in that van?
Why are they wearing those masks?

"For protection! an older man answered. They can’t be recognized, or else they could be seen at a restaurant or something and get popped!" He had clearly thought this through, which made me concerned.

Amidst the commotion, the landlord showed up. She was a large, blonde woman and we quickly figured out who she was because her car had a “historic downtown rental company” sticker on the back window.

She just happened to have been driving down the street showing some college kids an available apartment nearby when she saw the crowd. She walked up to the house.

“I’m the landlord!” she said to the masked man on the porch. “What is going on here?”
Of course, we couldn’t hear the response.
She laughed loudly, and then handed him her business card before coming back to us.

“You all think you’re smarter than them, but they’ll catch you!” she announced to the crowd. “Selling drugs on the property.”
“So, the apartment’s available now?” laughed one of the spectators, and we all joined in.

No real action happened after that. They drove the minivan to the front of the house and got out a large, black wheelie bag, a camera and computer. It was then that we noticed there was a female S.W.A.T. team member and talked about how bad ass that was.

I called everyone to tell them the drug bust story on my way home.

“It was crazy!” I said. “They were wearing black masks!”
“Oh, and last night, I totally saw strippers gyrating on the floor.”

These were not stories for a baby shower, which Joy and I attended on Saturday night.
The shower was the opposite of the dirty Friday night and scary S.W.A.T. team Saturday.
They served beets with goat cheese for crying out loud!

It was a wonderful all-women, all-baby shower, and the mom-to-be was realistic and down-to-Earth about being pregnant. She was open to our harsh line of questioning about it.
See, Joy and I don’t have close friends who have children. This was my second baby shower.

The best thing about being pregnant?
Having the future daddy wait on her hand a foot ( Sweeeeeet.)
The worst?
Not drinking!

There were soft blue decorations with bows everywhere, vegetable lasagna and classical music playing. Baby showers are quite possibly the most polite party ever.
It was the exact opposite scene from what my eyes had witnessed the previous 24 hours.
It was not raunchy or offensive, it wasn’t illegal, and no one was handcuffed. It was nice, sweet and calming.
I wondered for a minute if the female S.W.A.T. team member had been to one lately. I bet she could use it.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What we do when it snows


I don’t know where you live, but around here, four inches of snow is a big deal.

Schools closed at noon for the 5 p.m. predicted “blizzard” last Friday, which dumped the most amount of snow I’ve ever seen onto the ground.

It even lasted until the next morning before quickly melting in the hot South Carolina sun. It was the most amount of snowfall in the area since 1989.

Everyone was in a controlled state of panic on Friday leading up to the predicted snowfall.

Our news staff sent out emails to each other about which “snow” shots to get around town for the next edition's front page. Good shots were to be of the snowfall in familiar places that people could make comparisons to.
Snow at town hall!
Snow on the golf course!

Government offices shut down early Friday, the state highway patrol sent out “winter driving tips” to the media including, “reduce your speed” and “make sure wipers are working.”

“Snow!!!” my friend texted at nightfall. “Look outside!”

I had known all about the snow by then. I had driven through it from my way home from work, which was a very weird experience and a little bit scary.

I found it hard to concentrate on the road when there were solid projectiles coming at the windshield. I wanted to focus on the little snowflakes hitting the windshield, not the road ahead.
Even with the wipers on the fastest they could go, and my glasses firmly on my face, I remember having to consciously tell myself to look through the snow to see the road, which was an adjustment.

I made it home right before the “heavy” snow fell, blanketing the whole city in white.

“Do you want to go to the beach to take pictures in the snow?” one friend asked. Snow at the beach??? How crazy is that!
“TOTALLY!” I exclaimed, blatantly ignoring the county’s advice to residents and “not venture out unless absolutely necessary.”

“So what is everyone wearing?” I asked as I piled into the warm, stuffy car.

“Long johns, jeans, chef pants a hoodie and a coat,” the fellow rear passenger said. It was a crisp 29 degrees Fahrenheit.
I wore that same amount of layers, too, only I added wool socks, gloves and a hat with earflaps.

On the way to the beach, we excitedly rolled down our windows and snapped pictures of snow on the trees, roofs, cars— even the road that had impressive clumps of snow built up on it.

Ohhhh wintry!!!

“Don’t worry, I lived in Okalahoma,” the driver said when asked if he was OK driving in the snow.

“Oh, does it snow in Okalahoma?” I asked.
Everyone but me laughed aloud, yes, of course, silly Jenny from New Orleans doesn’t know anything about snow. Which is true.

“Sometimes in Okalahoma we have to put flags on car hoods so the people clearing the roads know there’s a car there!” the driver said.
My eyes widened at the thought, and I imagined the scene as if it were in a movie.
“That would blow my mind,” I said.

There was no snowfall on the beach and we quickly remembered that the beach is generally warmer than the rest of the area.
Our faces fell as we crept closer to the coast and the snowfall turned to a wintry mix of sleet and rain. Rain is boring.

“Well, we’re not going to go take pictures of the beach in the rain,” the driver’s sister said from the front seat. “Let’s go get drinks!”

We went to the lodgy-est bar we could think of, which happened to be nearby and wood-paneled with a stuffed deer head inside. We threw snowballs at each other in the large, normally grassy patch out front. It felt like Christmas.

Watch out!!

The snow melted quickly the next day, although we were able to marvel at snow in the daylight, a first for me in the nearly ten years I have lived in South Carolina.

Hidy-ho neighbors!!!

Despite it leaving as quickly as it came, the snowfall remained the topic of conversation through the weekend.
"A RARE SNOW HITS our paper wrote on the front page, with pictures of well-known streets covered with a frosty blanket and children sledding (where did they get a sled??) down a small hill.

Even though it was less than five inches of snow, it became a memorable event for the people in this part of the state.

“Can you believe that snow?" People asked each other all weekend. “Did you make a snowman? Did you have to drive in it??”

Next year, no doubt, people will bring up file footage of the snowfall, photos of the cars at the car dealership all covered in snow (a pretty common shot by the local TV station).
“Remember when it snowed last winter?” people will ask. “The snowfall of 2010!”

I know that millions around the country — and world —experience many unmemorable five-inch snowfalls in February and scoff at our enthusiasm and wide-eyed wonder.

“I think it's pretty cute when all my Southern friends get excited for snow,” one Facebook friend up north wrote.

“Prepping for Snowmaggedon, round 2,” another wrote from Maryland.

Our snowfall certainly wasn’t snowmaggedon, but it was certainly a different forecast for us in the south, and worth remembering.

A New Orleans friend, who now lives in North Carolina, put the phenomenon into perspective: “It's the same here!” he said. “What kind of Mardi Gras weekend is this?”

Who dat!!-Jenny

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Screw dat

So, the electric company came to my street on Monday and Avatar-like hacked up the beautiful Oak tree in front of my house.

Not only did it ruin the afterglow from the Saints’ win at the Superbowl the night before, but the company’s chainsaws made it impossible to sleep off the Abita beer, WHO DAT shots and celebratory champagne.

“SOMEONE WILL BE PUNISHED FOR THIS!” I threatened the crew supervisor, after noticing that 50 percent of the tree had been butchered.

It wasn’t just any tree. It was one of the reasons why Joy, my twin sister, and I bought our particular house in South Carolina.
It added value and character to the house — “DO Y’ALL KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS??????? DO YOU?” I shouted at the crew. “NO, YOU DON’T!! YOU CUT TOO MUCH AND IT LOOKS HORRIBLE AND YOU DON’T CARE BECAUSE YOU DON’T LIVE HERE!!!”

It was such a beautiful tree, it could have lined St. Charles Avenue in uptown New Orleans.

Yes, back to New Orleans. What an epic win! WHO DAT! Too bad I had less than 24 hours to be happy about it until Monday’s Chop Job ruined my spirit.

I want to be celebrating the Saints’ win properly, with big smiles and big beers, not threatening tree-cutting crews and yelling until I’m blue in the face.

I’d rather stay up all night doing a second-line with a glittery umbrella then toss and turn in bed stressing over what other “choice words” I could have told the electric company’s “forester.”

I want to walk around the city with a Saints Jersey on and have people shout “WHO DAT WHO DAT WHO DAT!!!!” over the loudspeaker in the grocery store.
NOT: “Didn’t you get the memo we sent out about the tree trimming last November?” LAST NOVEMBER???? IT'S FEBRUARY!!

Everything about the tree cutting was the exact opposite of the Saints win.

Saints win-------------------------->Tree cutting
Happy ---------------------------------->Sad
Planned on it -------------------------->Blindsided
Hoping to repeat next year --------->Hoping all chainsaws get discontinued

Since I can’t very well fast-forward, oh, FIVE YEARS until the tree grows back, and the company has done nothing to appease me, I have, unfortunately, been unable to fully rejoice in the Superbowl win.

I know, it’s unforgivable.

I keep trying to move on, but the electric company’s tree mutilation has put a gray cloud over my (Saints) parade. Literally.

Everyone just loved the Saints parade in New Orleans Tuesday night. Who wouldn't? Every major Mardi Gras parade came together, donating a float each carrying true royalty atop.

I know how hard people shout at floats during the regular parades with regular people riding; I can't even imagine the cheers Drew Brees or Sean Payton got. And my man, Reggie. Hope you didn't get too cold, Reg! THROW ME SOMETHIN!

I wish I could have been there so bad.

Maybe that was it — wanting to be there celebrating— combined with being so annoyed about the way my tree looks that I used the "trimming" incident as a reason to (maturely) bash the state of South Carolina.

“This is exactly why I need to leave this place!” I told Joy, who is equally as upset over our missing tree branches. “Nobody cares about anything around here! They don’t care about you and they don’t care about me!” I wailed.

"They don't care about life!

“Electric companies do this everywhere,” Joy said.
“Not in New Orleans!” I shouted. “They don’t have the manpower to do unnecessary trimming work! Mom and dad still don’t get mail everyday!”

We bashed the electric company together, which made me feel better. (Until I got home and pulled into my no-longer-shaded driveway.)
I’d like to think the electric company in New Orleans wouldn’t overly hack up a perfectly good Oak tree in the name of power line public safety.
One thing I know for sure: they would never do it the day after the Saints won the Superbowl.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Office humor

No question about it, I think the TV show “The Office” is one of the best TV shows of all time.

It perfectly mocks the office environment in all its glory: memos, monotonous tasks, office relationships, conflicting personalities and creative ways to get through the day. (Oh, and Jim Halpert…call me!)

One of the best on-going jokes in my opinion is boss Michael’s Scott’s “that’s what she said” quips.
He inappropriately blurts out that phrase whenever someone says something that could be taken in a sexually suggestive way.

And, in an office, where nothing should be taken sexually, things have a way of…sometimes....sort of...sounding...dirty.
For example:

“I was up all night working on this.” THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID!

"Your box is full." THAT'S...WHAT SHE SAID!

“Once I finish up with him, I'll get started on you." THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID!!

The news staff here has fully adopted "that's what she said" into daily conversations. It’s quite easy in our line of work because with newspapers, size and length matter (that’s what she said!!!!)

The following are direct quotes heard in our office. Please, feel free to fill in the "that's what she said!!" response in your head:

“It was supposed to be a ten-inch story but there’s only eight inches.”

“You think you can fit that in?”

“No, it’s not going to fit in there.”

“I promised her I’d squeeze it in.”

“She didn’t like her picture, she wants me to do it again.”

“How long is it?”

“Friday’s edition? it's been put to bed.”

(I'm just kidding, mom, none of this is funny at all.)

After the paper was laid out today (that’s what she said!!!) I looked over at the page designer who was able to fit my very long article into the paper without having to cut it.

“Thanks for squeezing that in,” I told him, as I took my red pen and headed back to my desk. “Oh, and, that’s what she said.”
Seriously, we do this daily. (THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!!!)

Really, once you train your ear to make out (that's what she said!!!) all the sexual inneuendos in everyday phrases, there is no limit to what can be turned “dirty.”

In a courtroom:
“Juries scare me. I don't want to put it in 12 people’s hands.”

At a school:
“You all did really well on your English exam. You must be worn out!”

At a restaurant:
“Hot meat coming at you from behind!”

Once again, just kidding mom. Not funny at all.


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