Entries in Jeff Davison (5)

Tuesday
Mar172015

Boats and Busses and John....Oh My!

When it comes to planning a vacation, there are three elements in which I consider the most important: Where to go, how much it is going to cost and most importantly, who else is going.

Most vacations we take are with just each other, occasionally with a small group, once in a while with one other couple, rarely with family, but never again with parents.

Before I begin my story, here are two short bios on Anthony’s Mom, Lillian and his Stepfather, John.

Lillian has quite a presence and is a bit on the eccentric side. It’s very difficult to describe her, but if I had to pick one word it would be gypsy. She was born in southern France, raised on the island of Corsica, married an American soldier (Anthony’s Dad), moved to the U.S in the late 1940’s and has never worn a bra. Even though she’s been in this country for seventy years, she still has a very strong French accent with a high pitch that only dogs can hear.

John passed away over ten years ago. But he was very much alive and was as much a character as Lillian. He was of Lebanese decent, and even though he was raised in Detroit, he had a loud booming undetectable accent of his very own (his th’s sounded like d’s). He was well over six feet tall and 250 pounds so he too had quite a presence.

They were perfect for each other; they both did and said whatever they wanted and neither one had a clue what the other was saying or doing.

John & Lillian

John & Lillian used to travel to France every year, but as they were getting older, it was getting harder and harder for them to get around. So, one winter, we thought we would ask them if they wanted to join us on a cruise. We had never been on one before so we wanted to see what all the fuss is about.

For those of you who have never taken a cruise with your parents, all I can say is “Don’t”. It has nothing to do with not loving them or not enjoying their company. It’s just that when totally healthy parents realize that their grown children are held captive with them on a floating prison for seven days, they tend to turn into three year old children.

It’s weird, it’s like they suddenly forgot how to live.They can’t eat, drink, dress themselves or do anything on their own. It doesn’t matter if they live independently, cook their own meals, drive, or even work full time, the minute their kids are around; they become helpless.

Anthony and I had travelled with parents before so we had an idea of what to expect. So in order to have fun, we knew we couldn't do this alone, so we asked his sister Rebecca if she would like to join us. And she did!

The official "Welcome Aboard" photo

The first day of the cruise came and we immediate started to have fun. We were one of the first people to board so we had the ship to ourselves for a couple of hours. Anthony, Rebecca and I all shared a cabin and right after we unpacked, Anthony went to settle his parents in. As soon as he left, I noticed something; "look, the plank-way is right outside our porthole and everyone has to pass us to get on board”.  Knowing you could only see out the window and not in, we started to make faces at all the arriving passengers. “Look at me, I’m an angry Pug”, I said as I smashed my nose into the window. “I’m a troll doll”, Rebecca said as she messed her hair up and opened her eyes really wide. We spent at least fifteen minutes distorting our faces against the glass until finally, one of the passengers laughed and made the same crinkled face back at us. “Oh my God, they can see us”, I said as I realized the glass wasn’t one way. “Oh no”, yelled Rebecca as she realized that earlier she had nearly mooned an entire family.

At that moment, I desperately wanted to go back in time, but we couldn’t. We had no choice but to hope we made ourselves look so distorted that no one would recognize us.

The next day was a “day at sea”; meaning, the ship didn’t port anywhere. It was also a day to relax by the pool and get to know our fellow passengers. After the porthole incident, Rebecca and I didn’t want to be recognized, so we wore dark glasses and pretended to sleep while Anthony read his book and Lillian and John stared at the people walking by. I was almost asleep when I heard a loud and obnoxious voice say, “O.K., it’s time for pool games”. “Give someone a microphone and they think they own the world” I said as I rolled over. “O.K., ‘Happy’, that’s the Cruise Director, so wake up and have fun now”, Anthony said to me. “Fine!”

John, Rebecca and I (notice Rebecca and I are doing our best at being incognito)

The Love Boat reject was up there doing her best to rally the crowd. She led us in exhaustive games of Finish the Lyric, Love and Marriage and Best Joke. We were even treated to The Hairy Chest Contest. As much as I hated to admit it, I was starting to have fun.

There was one last game left for the afternoon. I forgot the name, but it was right up my alley. It had to do with storytelling. She would ask something like “Who has a secret?” or “who has a story about their kids first day of school?”. Anyone thinking they had a great tale to tell could raise their hand and if she picked them, they got to go up on the platform and tell it. Afterward, the audience voted on their favorites. Easy.

It was actually fun listening to everyone’s stories. That is until the final question…

“Who here has a hidden tattoo?” Suddenly and without warning, John started waving both of his large hands high into the air while bellowing “I DO! I DO!” After struggling to get out of his chair, he walked as fast as he could toward the platform. “Dad has a hidden tattoo?” Rebecca asked her mom, who hadn’t a clue what was happening. “If he does, I don’t want to see it”, I said. There was no waiting to be chosen, John was going to participate if it killed him. It was as though he had just won the Oscar, he trekked his way along the pool deck and up to the stage with the now frightened Cruise Director in record time.

“Oh, O.K., Well then, Sir, do you have a hidden tattoo?” she asked nervously. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in hoping he wasn’t going to drop his shorts right then and there. “Please don’t, please don’t”, I said to Rebecca. It seemed like it took hours for him to finally speak and the silence was agonizing. We had already alienated ourselves from half the ship with our “funny” faces; we didn’t need to add “proud siblings of a flasher” to our repertoire.

Then, he finally spoke, “Dere, See?” he said as he pointed to forearm. “Sir, I don’t see anything”, said the now sweaty hostess followed by a nervous laugh. “I had a tattoo, but it was removed, so now it’s hidden”. The stunned crowd erupted in applause and cheers as Julie McCoy awarded him his prize; a bottle of Champagne.

I couldn’t believe it. John was now the most popular man on the ship.

The week was starting to fly by and we were already half way through our trip and we decided it would be fun to sign up for a Land and Sea excursion. This fun-filled day started by bus at a small port in St. Lucia, where we would take a tour of the island, stop at a Botanical Garden, then wrap up with a boat trip to a beautiful sandy bay up the coast.

We boarded the bus early in the morning with about twenty other passengers wo were all very excited to hear all about the island, it’s banana fields, culture and native foods.

“One of the stops along our way” said our guide “is going to be a place where you can buy Hardwood”. After a few chuckles, she explained that “Hardwood” is a concoction that you could purchase in hopes of increasing the male sex drive. A sort of Viagra Juice.

It took a while for John to fully comprehend what she was saying, but as soon as he did, he perked right up. With a raise of the eyebrow and a wink toward Lillian, he said “I gotta get me some of dat”. “U-huh”, was all I could say in my high pitched, uncomfortable voice, as I desperately tried to erase the vision of John nestling up to Lillian after a tall glass of “Hardwood on the Rocks”.

As our tour progressed, our island native guide pointed out the various flora and fauna on the island, along with the long history. She was very good at her job too; every time she would inform us about something, she’d finish by asking if anyone had any questions. If they did, she would repeat their question so we could all hear it, then proceed to answer.

As we passed the Grand Piton’s, she gave gave us some facts about the two volcanic tips, then asked if anyone had any questions. And John, in the same fashion as the tattoo game, started waving both his hands high into the air.

Our guide made her way down aisle to John with her microphone in hand. 

Here’s how the rest of their conversation went. And I kid you not…

Guide: Yes, Mon, what is your question?

John: Do you have a lot of black people here?

Guide: Mon, what was your question?

John: I said, do you have a lot of black people here?

Guide: Did you just ask if we have a lot of black people on the island’?

John: Yeah, I noticed a lot of dem.

Guide: (into her mic). Why, yah mon, we have many kinds of people on St. Lucia.

Now, you’d think this was the worst part, but it wasn’t…

John: (now with the microphone in his hand) Well, I was wondrin’ (dramatic pause) do your black people carjack?

Honest to God, he just asked our guide (who happened to be black), if her black people steal cars. And to make it worse, the guide obviously thinking she misunderstood him, repeated his question louder and clearer into the microphone, twice, so everyone could hear it. After sinking lower in our seats, I decided the only thing I could do was to try Telepathy. I concentrated on the guide and tried sending her a mental message; “Just walk away from him-PLEASE, walk away, walk away, walk away”.  But it didn’t work and the disaster continued…

Guide: Mon, let me make sure I understand. Do you want to know if my black people carjack?

(Pause and audible gasps)

John: Well, yeah! I’m from Detroit and dey do up dere?

Guide: No, I don’t think we have that on St. Lucia.

(Longer pause)

John: Well, I was just curious, dats all.

(Even longer Pause)

Guide: O.K.

(Eternity)

Then she finally walked away.

As embarrassing as this was, there was still an entire afternoon ahead of us and it was only going to get worse.

John with the Grand Piton's behind him

After we stopped for our sample of “Hardwood” and everyone boarded the bus awaiting our drive to the next destination, John announced that he had to “go pee-pee”. ”O.K., mon, but we are on a schedule, so please do so as fast as you can”, said our understandably irritated guide. So, John did just as she asked. As a matter of fact, John peed very quickly. He didn’t even waste time finding a bathroom. He got off the bus, walked a few steps, undid his pants, let them drop, and peed on the side of the road.

We tried closing our eyes to make it go away, but it didn’t work. Every time we opened them, there he was, facing away from us, pants around his ankles and relieving himself in full view of a bus full of people.

After re-boarding the bus and facing the stunned faces of the families, John settled back into his seat and we were on our way to our next stop, the sea portion. 

When we arrived, I was relieved to see a large group of people from other busses embarking the large tour boat. And they were new people; people that hadn’t experienced John over the last two hours. So we seized the opportunity to put the mortification from the morning behind us and sat next to people that didn't know us.

We took a short boat ride to a beautiful bay that had some coral reefs and was surrounded by a welcoming sandy beach. It was fairly shallow so the boat had to moor in the middle of the bay and if we wanted to go ashore, we had to swim a short distance from the boat to the beach. “If you wish to go in the water, be sure you are able to tread water and are in good shape because it is well over your head”, said the announcer, followed by “if you can’t swim, we ask that you stay aboard during our short visit here”.

Anthony, Rebecca and I decided we could handle the short swim to the beach, plus it would give us a few minutes away from Lillian and John, so we decided to go for it. As we were standing in line waiting our turn to jump in the water, we felt John’s presence a few people behind us. “Dad, what are you doing? You have to be in good shape and be able to swim, didn’t you hear them?” Rebecca asked her father, over the heads of the other swimmers. “I can swim, I was in da navy” yelled the towering man from the back of the line. “No, Dad, you can’t, the water is over your head-you can’t go in!” The pressure was mounting as we were next in line and the people behind us were getting annoyed. We had to make a decision quick; do we jump in and hope that he comes to his senses or do we stay on the ship to keep him from jumping? It was do or die time and we were just about to get out of line when we heard John announce “Fine, O.K., you guys go and I’ll wait here”.

Whew!

We proceeded to jump in one by one, first Anthony, then Rebecca and me. As we started the short swim to the beach we heard the gentle splashes of others jumping in behind us, splash, splash, splash. The peaceful rhythm was soon interrupted however with a very loud SPALASSSSHHHH! Followed by “WAIT FOR ME REBECCA!” Not wanting to face the reality of the situation, the three of us refused to turn around. “REBECCA, WAIT, WAIT, WAIT!” We had no choice; we had to turn around to see John flapping around. A few people in the water started swimming toward the dog paddling man to see if was O.K. “Do you need help” asked someone, “who’s Rebecca?” yelled another. We were already almost to the beach and he was yelling to us, “SEE, I CAN SWIM, I’M COMING TOO!” And he was not only coming, he was making good time too, but then something happened. He was literally less than fifteen feet away and he decided he couldn’t swim anymore so he started screaming “HELP ME, HELP ME, I’M DROWNING, HELP!” I think this incident was the straw that broke the camels back for Rebecca and Anthony because they lost it. “Dad, you’re not drowning, it’s not that deep”, said Rebecca. “I CAN’T SWIM NO MORE,” yelled John. “Yes you can, you’re practically to the beach”, yelled Anthony. “NO I CAN’T, I’M GOING TO DIE!” By now the people on the boat started to peer over the side to see what was happening. “Dad, why did you jump in?” screamed Rebecca, “I told you not to, you should have listened”. The small group of gawkers in the water started to pay attention too as Rebecca and Anthony let it all pour out. Dad, you said you could swim, well then swim!” “Yeah, swim!” chimed in Anthony.

The entire day of patience had finally reached it's breaking point as a large crowd, now horrified by the sight of a drowning man being yelled at by his dispicable children as he dies, began glaring at us. It was just about to turn ugly, when John finally was able to touch the bottom. He stood up and walked to shore to the cheers of everyone on the boat. They were ecstatic he was safe, but wanted us dead.

Once we were on shore, we continued to lecture him by asking him how he planned to get back to the boat. “Well, they’re going to have to come get me” he said. “They can’t”, said Anthony, “the boat can’t come in this close”. “Well, they’ll have to figure something out”, John barked.

Sensing there was conflict on shore between the sad, weak and drowning old man and his murderous children, someone from the boat jumped in the water with a surfboard and began swimming toward us. “See, they’re coming to save me”, John announced. And he was right. John’s Knight in Shining Armor arrived on shore, whisked him onto his surfboard and paddled him back to the boat, all amid loud applause from the crowd.

I don’t know how he did it, but John ended up being the most popular man on the ship again and we were nearly lynched.

The cruise ended a few days later with just a few more minor incidents and we left the Caribbean with many memories and gave our fellow Cruisers something to talk about for a long time.

Other images from our cruise

Black tie dinner aboard the ship

Lillian, with John in the background

Not sure what this was about, all I know is that it involved a hat and rum

Tuesday
Feb172015

The Right to Remain Silent (Or not)

 

We all have fears and a few years back one of my biggest fears became reality.

I know it’s shocking, but the summer I turned 21, I partied (a lot). I lived in an apartment on the Detroit/Redford border with my friend Ed and although we only lived in the sub-basement abode for eighteen months, we made enough memories to fill a lifetime.

We both had full time jobs and for being in our 20’s, we were both fairly responsible. That is, until the weekends. Once the clock struck Friday night, our motto of “work hard and play harder” kicked in.  We went from “those two nice boys in 3A” to some weird combination of Bevis and Butthead meets The Hardy Boys. Not only did we get into trouble, we searched it out. We did everything from steeling a billboard, because we thought it would look great on our living room wall, to dealing Caffeine Pills and cleverly marketing them as Speed. Our Guardian Angels must have been working overtime, because I haven’t a clue as to how we survived.

One weekend, however, we decided to take it easy. There was a park a couple of blocks away from our place and since it was the first warm weekend of the season, we decided to just chill out and hang there instead of our usual “party like it’s 1999” routine. So, rather than picking up our normal fifth of 5 O’clock Vodka, we opted for a couple of California Coolers instead (remember it was the 80’s).

After we drove around a bit, we parked the car, opened up our wine coolers and started strolling around. Because the weather was so great, the park was exceptionally busy. There was even a big keg party going on that we debated crashing, but for some reason, we were both in a rare non-party mood. As we both sipped our coolers and chatted about the latest episode of The Facts of Life, I noticed an old beat up beige Chevy with two men inside it begin to drive very slowly along side us. “I wonder what they want”, I said to Ed, knowing that I wasn’t being paranoid because I was sober. “Probably nothing” said Ed, “it’s just coincidental”.

As we continued our discussion about whether or not Jo or Mrs. Garrett would ever come out of the closet, I was relieved to see our coincidental stalkers park their car and finally stop following us. “There, see”, said Ed, “they were just looking for a place to park”. Before I could even say, “you’re right”, I found us both  being frisked (not in the good way) and handcuffed (again, not in the good way). With my hands shackled behind my back, I screamed “What is going on? Who are you and what do you want?”  “We’re cops”, said one of the mean, out of shape gym teacher wanna-be’s, as he pushed me toward their car. “I don’t believe you”, I yelled, and with that, he flashed me a badge, asked if that was enough I.D. for me and we were thrown into the back seat of their car.

At that point in my life, I had never been to Mexico, but I was sure they were kidnapping us to sell our organs. I was really attached to my liver and wanted to keep it, so I desperately looked for a way to escape. Unfortunately, with my hands being bound, I had no choice but to  become their hostage.

They told us we were being arrested for drinking in public. “Drinking”, I said. “First of all, I didn’t know drinking was illegal and even if it is, I hardly think a half of a California Cooler constitutes drinking”. Besides, there is an entire keg party going on, why don’t you arrest them?” I asked. “We’re going back for all of them,” said the other mean man, “there’s just so many of them that we need a wagon”. “Great”, I thought, “not only am I going to jail, but it's going to be overcrowded”. This was not going to turn out well.

As we made our way to the station, I eavesdropped on the conversation going on in the front seat between Starsky and Hutch. “Maybe we got the wrong guys,” said one of the coppers. “Yeah, but there’s nothing we can do about it now”, said the other, “we have to arrest them”. As they continued to discuss mine and Ed’s fate, I gathered enough information to realize that although we weren’t the culprits they thought and they arrested us for the wrong reason, they still had to follow through and book us for something to save their asses. So, seeing that our only crime was having open intoxicants in a public park, that had to be it. 

Seriously, of all of the reasons I should have been arrested in the past, this is what does me in? Walking peacefully in the park on a Saturday afternoon while discussing a sitcom?

WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!!!!!


For those of you who have never been arrested, all I can say is I don’t recommend it.

The first thing I had to do was hand over my belongings, including my wallet, watch, rings, sunglasses and keys. Then, we were both fingerprinted, had our mug shots taken and made to surrender our shoelaces. I don’t know why, but for some reason, this sent me over the edge. There was something about taking my shoelaces that made me feel less than human. Up to that point, I thought this misunderstanding was going to be cleared up as soon as our fingerprints cleared and they realized we were just two nice guys from 3A. But there was something about handing over my laces made me realize this was quickly turning into a made for T.V. movie starring Ralph Macchio.

In order to keep my lace-less shoes on, I had to shuffle over to the pay phone for my one and only call and face the dilemma of whom it would be to. Do I call my brother who would think it was funny that his youngest sibling, who was afraid of the crossing guard, was now in a Detroit City Jail? Or do I call my mother, who would panic at the thought of her son marrying a cellmate named Bubba? 

I opted for mom.

“Hi Mom, you’ll never believe where I am”

“Jail”

 “No, no, mom, I’m not at a sale, I said I’m in jail”

“Jail”

“Yes, that’s right mom, jail”

“Yes, that’s what I said”,

“Well, they made a mistake”

“Listen”

“Listen, mom, all that matters right now is getting me out of here, O.K.”

“No, Ed didn’t make me do anything wrong”

“Yes mom, I know not to eat the food”

“No, I don’t need any toilet paper”

“Just come down here and bail me out…O.K.?”

“Love you too”

“Bye-bye”.

As I was ushered to my cell, I passed three or four holding tanks with two or three people in each. “Please”, I thought, “please just have it be Ed and me”. I knew I would never survive being someone’s bitch. Then I saw it, my room for the night. It was sparsely decorated and a bit cold, but it was private. “Thank you”, I said, nearly kissing the guard. He looked surprised, as though no one ever said thanked him for being arrested before. “I appreciate this so much”, I continued as he locked me in. “By any chance, do you know where my friend is?” I asked my hero. “No” was all he said, before he disappeared.

“Pssst.” I heard from the next cell. “Ed?” I asked. “Yes” he whispered and then I saw his hand waving at me as he reached between the jail bars. We were right next to each other. “Are you alone too?” I asked. “Yes” he replied, “they must know we wouldn’t play well with the others,” he said. Laughingly, I agreed.

Since all we could see was each other’s hands, we played a few games of Rock, Paper Scissors and talked about what a great story this would make one day.

“I think I’m going to try and sleep for a bit”, I said, thinking it may make the time go by faster. Just as I shut my eyes I was alarmed by the smell of cigarette smoke. “Is someone smoking in here”, I asked Ed. “Yes, it’s me”, he said, “can you believe it, they let me keep my cigarettes” I couldn’t believe it; they took my shoelaces, but let him keep his cigarettes and his lighter!

“Dude? Gotta another?” a new voice suddenly said from out of nowhere. “Sure”, said Ed. “Thanks” said this unknown criminal. “My buddy wants one too” said the convict. “No problem” said Ed. I couldn’t believe it; Ed was making allies with the other prisoners and I was being left out. That was just like him, always being the popular one. “What are you in for” Ed asked them, “robbery” lied the killer. I couldn’t take it anymore, “Don’t talk to them!” I demanded, “They are bad news”. “Shut up” yelled one of the ax murderers, followed by, “tell your friend to be quiet or else”. Feeling brave and safe with iron bars between us, I retorted “or else what?” What came next haunts me to this day. The hoodlum whispered to Ed thinking I couldn’t hear him, “Dude, when you get out, you have to walk by us, be sure to tell us which one is you and which one is the sissy, because we are going to throw pee on him”. PEE? I can handle a lot, but having pee thrown on me isn’t one of them. “Ed, if you tell them which one of us to target, I’m going to….”and suddenly, my friend the bailiff cut me off. “You guys need to be quiet now, we won’t have any rioting in here”. “Rioting? Strange choice of words”, I thought and highly unfair, especially when I’m the one who’s told to pipe down and they’re the ones threatening to super soak me with urine.

It’s a strange feeling not having any windows or a watch. You haven’t a clue how much time passes, so when the bailiff told me my bail had just been posted, I had no idea what time it was, I was just thrilled to get out of Alcatraz.

Now this is where you'd expect me to say, " and we all lived happily ever after", but that didn't happen.......

 

Being only 21 and having a record of “Disorderly Conduct” wasn’t going to help me with my career choices, so I decided to argue the charge.  Ed’s cousin was an attorney and agreed to help us pro-bono. He met with us a couple of times and thought we had a good chance at getting the case dropped. He assured us by telling us that there was a good chance they wouldn’t even show up on our court date and that our case would be dismissed. So with full confidence we decided to fight on.

Since there were two officers and two of us, it made sense that there were two court dates. Ed’s was the day before mine and went flawlessly. Just like his cousin said, the arresting officer didn’t show and his case was dropped.

Then came my turn………

In my case, I guess “pro-bono” meant not showing up to court. To start my day off, Ed’s cousin called me in the morning to tell me he wouldn’t be able to make it due to an emergency at home. “But not to worry”, he said, “The guy isn’t going to show anyway”.

WRONG!

Not only did he show, he argued that I was in the wrong and my record should stick. After a couple of minutes of his throwing me under the bus to the judge,  it was my turn.

“JEFFERY DAVISON?” announced the judge in a very large and booming voice. “Yes, your honor”, I said in a very dry and weakened voice. “DO YOU ALSO GO BY THE NAMES ANDREW JAMES, JOE GREENE AND TYRONE JOHNSON?” Thinking I was on Candid Camera, I chuckled “No, your honor”. I seriously thought this was all a joke, I mean did he really think I looked like a Tyrone? Then he said “WELL SOMEONE WITH YOUR NAME ALSO USES THOSE OTHER NAMES AND IS WANTED FOR ARMED ROBBERY AND ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY WEAPON!”

WHAT             

THE                

FUCK?       

Seriously, what are the odds that someone would use those names plus mine as one of their alias'?

This was my biggest nightmare: Arrested and thrown in prison for 50 years due to a case of mistaken identity. You know how they say your life passes before your eyes at the time you die? Well, that didn’t happen; instead, I saw the opposite. I pictured myself spending 50 years doing hard labor, marrying Bubba and finally being released in 2034 as a lonely and broken 70-year-old man not knowing how to even fly a car.

The judge told me that I had to be re-fingerprinted. “THEN WE’LL KNOW FOR SURE IF YOU ARE NOT ALSO ANDREW, JAMES OR TYRONE!” said the towering shadow in an even larger and more echo-y voice.

By now, I was petrified and sweating profusely. I didn’t even know fingers could sweat, but guess what? They can. They sweat so much that my fingerprints kept smudging and they couldn’t be read. “Sir, if you don’t stop sweating, we’re going to have to put you into the holding cell”, said the fingerprint specialist person as she pointed to a door with a small hole covered in jail bars that had ten angry hands clinging to them, while beckoning for someone to join them.

The thought of being thrown into a holding tank with the real Andrew, James and Tyrone frightened me so much that I think my mind realized it was literally do or die time. I was suddenly thrown into some fantasy land. It was really weird, I closed my eyes, took three deep breaths and when I opened them; I swear I saw Cagney and Lacey in the corner of the room giving me their thumbs up. I immediately stopped sweating and was able to complete my fourth and last attempt at fingerprinting, thus proving my innocence.

At the end of the day, I was cleared of the Assault With a Deadly Weapon/Armed Robbery charge but found guilty of the original Disorderly Conduct charge, and I couldn’t have been happier.

The following Saturday was another picture perfect day- sunny, 80 degrees and no humidity and I went to the movies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday
Feb102015

Cinderella Saves the Day

As children, we’ve all had crushes. Mine was on Will Robinson from Lost in Space. It wasn’t so much that I found him attractive, it was mainly because he got to hang around a gay robot and a handsome pilot named Don. Along with visiting different planets, he was able to carry a laser gun and do things like pass through a time warp and visit earth in the 1940’s. He was also very brave, I remember watching in awe as he and Penny explored uninhabited lands after surviving meteor storms and aliens that strangely resembled humans.

I had such an obsession that one Christmas, I asked Santa to bring me a model of the Jupiter Two with a complete set of Robinson family action figures. I was so sure that I was going to get them, that my mother had no choice but to look all over town for them.  What she didn’t realize is that they didn’t exist; I just expected Santa’s Elves to make them. 

Anyway, as obsessed as I was with this family from the future, Anthony was doubly obsessed with Cinderella, especially the one played by Leslie Ann Warren.

The difference between my obsession and his is that I grew out of mine. Once I realized that I was never going to be traveling through space with a slightly feminine doctor, I gave up my fantasy. Anthony, on the other hand, would divorce me if he had a chance to play Prince Charming with Ms. Warren.

One summer, Leslie Ann Warren came to Detroit to film a made for tv movie. As most stars do, she stayed in one of the area’s best hotels, The Townsend, which conveniently is across the street from the salon. The Townsend is an upscale, European boutique hotel located in the heart of downtown Birmingham, Michigan. Although it has many amenities, it doesn’t have a health club, so they partner up with a local club so their guests can work out there. The club just happened to be the same one we belong to, so from time to time, we would see famous people on the treadmill.

The summer Ms. Warren stayed across the street, Anthony found himself on the lookout. Anytime a group of people gathered around the entrance of the hotel to see who was coming or going, he would peer out the window to try and get a view of her. There were sightings of her in local coffee houses and restaurants, but we never found ourselves sharing the same venue at the same time. One time, she even came into the salon, but we weren’t there, so close and yet so far.

Summer was reaching its end and L.A.W.’s movie was wrapping up, so it wasn’t looking good for our chance meeting. That is, until one day at our gym…

As we walked in the club, we made our usual trek from the check in desk to the locker rooms. Not realizing Anthony wasn’t behind me, I proceeded to pick out my locker and change into my workout clothes. After a few minutes, I began to wonder where he was. He was right behind me when we walked in, so it seemed kind of odd that he was missing. But, I soon found out why.

As I started to make my way out of the locker room, he came in and rushed directly to the sink. I saw blood and ran over to him. As he was padding his forehead with paper towel and water, I could see his forehead was cut. “What happened?” I asked as he desperately tried to make the bleeding stop. “Nothing”, he said. “Well, obviously something happened” I said, “you’re bleeding”.  Then he began to tell me what caused his unfortunate accident.

It seems that as we were both making our way through the gym, he spotted Leslie Ann Warren doing lunges with her trainer. Star struck, and trying not to be too obvious, he "nonchalantly" turned his head in her direction for just a second. But that’s all it took for him to confidently walk smack dab into a metal pull-up bar that was dangling right in front of his face. “And to make things worse”, he said, “Leslie Ann Warren saw the whole thing”. He said she immediately came over to see if he was O.K., and not knowing there was blood trickling all over his face, he tried to be cool and convince her that he was fine. “Oh, this happens all the time”, he told her as he tried not to cry. “Oh, honey, I think you need some help”, Cinderella said, followed by “you’re bleeding pretty badly”. By this time, a small crowd began to gather around, and I’m sure that’s true, “it’s not everyday that we get to see a movie star comforting a blood soaked stalker”, I said.  He ignored me and continued his harrowing tale by telling me the princess told him that he may need stitches and the gawkers were making it worse by chiming in things like “Yes, you need a doctor”, “How did you do that?” “That’s gonna leave a scar”. 

“All that in a matter of a couple of minutes, how did I miss that?” I asked as I started to chuckle. “It’s not funny”, said Anthony “Leslie Ann Warren thinks I’m a Klutz and now she has to sign my accident report”. Trying to lighten the situation, I said,  “Well, at least you’ll have her autograph”. The deafening silence that followed made me realize Anthony didn’t appreciate my attempt at lightening the situation. So, trying again, I said, “well, at least we don’t have to work out today”. This time there was a longer silence, so I gave up.

As we made our way to the manager’s office to pick up the accident report, we both sort of felt like rock stars. “That’s the guy who met Leslie Ann Warren”, murmured one of my fellow club members. “I saw her comforting him” mumbled another. In the end, no stitches were needed and there was no scar, but Anthony did become forever known as the "Man Who Cinderella saved".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday
Nov202011

Breaking and Entering 

 


One of my quirky ideas of fun is to visit seasonal towns off season. I seem to get a thrill visiting New England in March when the leaves are just budding, Paris in foggy November and 120 degree Las Vegas in July.  The lack of people and going against the grain has always given me a thrill.

Michigan living provides a lot of opportunities to fuel my weird desire. As with many northern states, Michigan is proud to boast two seasons: Summer from June through August and the other: Fal-ter-ing, lasting from September through May.  Temperatures can vary anywhere between minus twenty and seventy. My favorite part of Faltering is the early part when the leaves are bursting with reds and yellow, followed closely by the holiday part, thirdly is the part when it snows on the fresh green grass and flowers.

 

One cold January afternoon, I decided it would be fun to drive up to Frankenmuth, a small tourist town in mid Michigan. It was about one degree outside, so since it was still above zero, I thought “why not”?  It would be a perfect chance to see the city without all the hustle and bustle of the summertime chaos. Frankemuth does it’s best to impersonate a quaint German village. The waitresses in the restaurants wear those cute little plaid German outfits, while men are garbed with lederhosen. The town has three claims to fame. The first is Bronner’s Christmas Village-an enormous holiday store that resembles the North Pole on steroids and offers everything from traditional Christmas tree lights to the troublesome statue of Santa praying over the baby Jesus. The second and third “not to be missed” stops are Zehnder’s and The Bavarian Inn. Both of theses are eating establishments specializing in family style dining. What this really means is if someone were to crave an upscale red-necked fried chicken dinner complete with a side dish of creamed cholesterol followed by a dessert of angio-plasty,-a la mode, either of these restaurants would be sure to satisfy their taste buds.

 

After convincing my friend Ed that it would be fun, by promising him that after we survived the hour and a half drive on an extremely icy freeway, we’d have a blast visiting the local pubs, we were on our way. “I can hardly wait to sink my teeth into that chicken” I said as I had a death-grip on my steering wheel and hardly being able to see through the frosty windshield. “I can almost taste the mashed potatoes and gravy right now”.  Ed just replied with a “you’re going too fast, slow down” and finally “why did I let you talk me into this?”

 

Three hours later we pulled into historic Frankenmuth. I decided we didn’t need to make reservations. Who else goes to Frankenmuth on a frigid Sunday in January? Our first conquest was to find a place to sleep for the evening. “I’m sure someone will have openings” I reassured Ed as we passed our fifth hotel with a sign saying “Closed for the Season”, some even giving the all assuring “See you in May”.

We were rapidly approaching the end of the city limits, and I was starting to abandon hope. It was one thing when the hotels were shut down, but another when all the bars had red glowing “closed” signs in their windows.  I finally admitted that maybe risking our lives to drive to this  Deutchland wanna-be town was not my brightest idea. As I was looking for a place to turn around to head back to the now pitch black, icy highway, I saw the word “vacancy” flashing in red neon. “See” I said, “not only is something opened, it looks charming”.  It was a small, quaint hotel done in the typical Bavarian style-white stucco with brown wooden cross beams. There was only one car in the parking lot, probably the night manager’s, but at least it was open.

We parked the car, grabbed our overnight bags and proceeded to go inside. As I reached the door, I gently tried to pull it open. LOCKED. The lights were on so I was certain someone was inside. I kept pulling on the door thinking that maybe it would magically open on the tenth or eleventh try. Ed, in the meantime, rang the doorbell under a sign that I missed instructing visitors after five to ring for service. After a minute or two, a large, big- boned German women (at least I think she was a women), answered the door. “Vailcum”, she mumbled. It was a good thing I remembered certain German words from the semester I took of German in the eighth grade.  “That means welcome” I interpreted for Ed. He just looked at me with that “shut up” look that I often get. “You vant a room?” Helga asked. Thinking, it was funny, I replied with “Vell, yes, ve do, ve are very very cold and vould like a varm room”. Helga must have picked up on the look Ed just gave me, because she suddenly had the same ‘say another word and you’re dead” glare.

I decided Helga was not in the mood for my attempt at German humor, so I just proceeded to check in. “You vill be in Room Ny-en”, she said. I desperately wanted to inform her that the number nine only has one syllable, but I chose to leave that comment in my head.  She grabbed our bags and escorted us to our chamber.  It was not the fanciest room I’ve ever been in, but it would work, it was clean, had a television and heat.

After putting my things away, and freshening up, it was time for a cocktail.  We put on our parkas and ventured out to the frozen tundra of mid-Michigan to search for the local watering hole. Luck must have been on our side, because we didn’t even have to drive. Across the street was a charming pub, with the same décor as the rest of Frankenmuth, called Das Bar.

Das Bar was really cute. It had two pool tables, three dart boards and a long wooden shelf stocked with a full line of libations. We settled in by drinking our fair share of das seven and seven’s and playing a couple games of das billiards. An hour later, the crowd of four was dwindling and we found we were the only two left. “Let’s see what else is going on in town” Ed said. It seemed like a good idea, after-all, the night was still young and we were feeling no pain.

As we walked the crunchy, icy sidewalks through downtown Frankenmuth, we hardly noticed that our extremities were beginning to freeze. We felt just fine as we searched for another pub that stayed open past the hour of Nyen o’clock. As we continued to search for the next happening place, I was starting to get cold.

“Nnnnnot, mmmuch, happpennning” I shivered out. “NNNNo, mayyybee, wwweee shshshshould hhhead bbbacck to the hohotel”, Ed said through chattering teeth.

Then we saw it. At first, I thought it was a mirage.  Before our eyes was a cozy, inviting cottage-looking store. All the lights were one and I could see a fireplace through the windows and smoke billowing out of the chimney. We both ran as fast as our leg-sicle’s let us. I didn’t care if this store sold exercise equipment, I was going to act like I was interested in their items until my eyeballs thawed out. “Brrrr”, I announced as I entered the warm environment. We stomped our icy feet on the willkommen mat, took off our hats and gloves, wiped our fogged glasses off with our scarves and began our act of being “interested” in what they sold so our bodies could regain conscienceness.

“They have really nice things, maybe you can find your sister a birthday present”, I  said. It was a high-end home accessory store. The displays were really unique. They had it set up like a home. “It must be an interior design store” I said.  “You’re right”, Ed replied, “because nothing has prices on them”. “You must have to order them”, I said, acting like I knew how Interior Design Studio’s worked.  We continued browsing around when a sharply dressed sales women approached us to see if we would like some assistance. I told her we were “just looking”. I was certain she worked on commission, so I assured her we would find her if we needed to purchase something. She gave me a look like I was crazy and walked away. I know we didn’t fit the bill of the average shopper in this store, but she didn’t have to be rude, I thought. We were the only two in the store and I was pretty sure they wanted us to buy something because less than a minute later, another sales person, this time a preppy looking gentleman in his fifties approached us and asked if we needed some help. He didn’t ask us in the “can I please help you” sort of way, it was more like “you look like you really need help”.  Again, I told him we were just looking around. I was starting to get peeved. This was before Pretty Woman, but I felt like Julia Roberts did in that scene when the clerks wouldn’t wait on her because she looked “different”.

 

They offered a wide selection of gift items, some my taste, and some not.

I noticed a curio cabinet in the corner that housed various little German knick knacks. As I walked over to get a closer look, I noticed another department, this one resembling a dining room. It had a large rectangular dining table, an antique china cabinet and a tea- cart in the corner. It looked very homey. The employees must have been celebrating someone’s birthday because they were all gathered around the dining table and big birthday cake was in the center. “No wonder they looked at us so strangely” I thought, “the store must be closed and they stayed open after hours to celebrate a birthday”. Immediately embarrassed, I told Ed my suspicions and that we should probably go. Ignoring me, he was looking at the picture frames. “This would be a great gift for my sister for her birthday”, he said. “Do you think they would let me purchase it or do you think I’ll have to order it?” he asked. I looked closer at the frame. It was really pretty, and keeping with the uniqueness of the shop, instead of a stock photo of a model inside, it had a picture of a familiar looking husband and wife in front of Frankenmuth’s Bavarian Inn”.  Then I noticed the other frames, they all had familiar faces inside them. Upon closer inspection, I realized the reason the people looked so familiar was because I had just met two of them and saw the others were sitting around the dining table. At that moment I noticed something disturbing, the sofa was slightly worn, the lamp shades were crooked and in the corner sat an old television.  I suddenly realized why this lovely store resembled a home. BECAUSE IT WAS A HOME! We had just broken into someone’s house! The two sales people who were stalking us were talking on the phone in the corner and looking at us. I heard them give their address to the other party, which I’m pretty certain was Frankenmuth’s finest.

 

 

Once I realized that we were seconds away from being arrested-again, this time for breaking and entering, I went into survivor mode. I knew we had to get out of there quick. Hoping not to a create a panic, I said in as quiet of voice as possible and without moving my lips, “We- have- to -leave –now.” It was obvious that Ed was still clueless that we were about to be thrown into the big house, because he insisted that he wanted to stay because it was the only open store in town and it was below zero outside. “You don’t understand”, I said, with a bit more volume, “THIS IS NOT A STORE, WE ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF SOMEONE’S LIVING ROOM AND WE HAVE TO RUN-FAST!!!!”

 

Ed quickly put down the purple paperweight that he thought would make a great gift and the two of us ran out the nearest exit laughing and didn't stop until we reached the safety of Das Hotel. 

 

We decided to wait until Monday morning to do anymore shopping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday
Aug292011

Cheers!


-->

I am what you’d call Star Struck. Whenever Anthony and I are in an airport, restaurant or on a big city street, my eyes are always wondering around to see whom I can spot. It hasn’t failed me yet.  My knack for star spotting has given me the chance to see and even meet many celebrities. My star-stalking resume includes Susan Sarandon, Ed Begley Jr., Jude Law, Seinna Miller, Robert Downey Jr., Macaulay Culkin (I think he’s still a star), Michael Jordan (I collided with him in a hallway-ouch), Tim Allen, Faye Dunaway, Andrew Lloyd Weber, Leslie Ann Warren (this one was funny, it involved an accident report-look for the future blog) and actually shared drinks and dessert with Darryl Hannah (again, another blog).
My most recent star encounter happened in the salon.
It was 5:00 on a Wednesday night. I was getting ready to go home and the front desk asked if I could “cut this guy’s hair”. He was staying at The Townsend Hotel, which is right across the street and he wandered in for a haircut. We had just gotten back from Paris the day before and I was a little tired, so I blame jet lag for my behavior.
I’ve been told from time to time that I have “the gift of gab”. I don’t think of it so much as a gift, but more of a skill. I read in a book once that people love to talk about themselves. If I don’t have anything interesting to share, it’s best to simply ask them questions about their lives and let them do all the talking. Most of the time, my little skill is a great  conversation tool, but once in a while, when I’m tired, hungry or insecure it can get me into trouble.  
After consulting with my client I started to cut his hair. I also started to talk. A lot. “Where are you from” was my first inquiry. The familiar looking gentleman said he was visiting from southern California. “Oh, you are so lucky, I love it there” I babbled, “it’s one of my favorite places”. I continued with “I have a really good friend that lives there, although I doubt that you know her, her name is Dana, although maybe you do, wouldn’t that be weird? I just got back from Paris, blah, blah, blah”.
I haven’t the slightest idea why in this situation, I felt the need to try and impress this guy. For some reason I felt it necessary to let him see my “cool” side. 
Trying to put the focus back on him, the next question in my line of fire was “so, what brings you to Michigan?” He told me he is an actor and was in town shooting a commercial for a health drink. I’m still not sure why I couldn’t simply have told him a little bit about our city and offer restaurant suggestions. Instead I replied with “I’m an actor too, I also direct, sing and I write a blog” Inside I was telling myself to shut up, but I couldn’t, I just kept going and going and going.  I continued with “living in California, you must see a lot of stars. I’m really star struck, I’ve met so many stars, I don’t know why, but I always seem to see them, I even had drinks with Darryl Hannah once".  On and on I went. I finally took a breath by asking him what famous people he has seen.
This poor guy finally had a small window to say something. “Well, actually I know Darryl Hannah too”. At this point during our one sided conversation, I started to think not only did he look familiar, but he sounded familiar too.  If I only allowed him to talk, maybe I could have figured it out. Instead I went on by asking him if he thinks she’s prettier in person too.  He said, he thought she is pretty inside and out. I’m a hairdresser, that’s supposed to be my line, I thought. 
“Who else have you met?” I asked as I continued my nervous chatter. He paused and told me that two of his best friends were Kirstie Alley and Ted Danson. This was followed by a very looooonnnnng pause. The light bulb was starting to flicker. I was slowly beginning to recognize my customer and I was clueless what to say next.  So, out came “oh, they’re kind of funny”. “Kind of funny”, not “really funny” or “very funny”. I had to say “kind of funny.”
If I could have simply disappeared, I would have.
The reason he knows Sam and Rebecca from Cheers is because he starred right along side them. I couldn’t believe it. How did I not recognized this man? I was a huge Cheers fan. He was in my living room for 30 minutes every Thursday night at 9 p.m. And the reason his voice sounded so familiar is because on the plane the very day before, I watched Toy Story Three and he was the voice of the pig.  I was cutting John Ratzenberger's hair.
I had no idea how to get out of this. My tongue was so tied it couldn’t form a single word.
I had spent the past twenty minutes telling this successful actor all about me. I had a golden opportunity to be discovered and I blew it.
Needless to say, the next time I have the opportunity to meet someone famous, like Johnny Depp, I’ll be sure to tell him that I’m a hairdresser to the stars and offer him a haircut.