Tag Archives: college

Now and Then

Is anyone else cursed with the inability to separate the term “now and then” from the 1995 movie of the same title?

I say this without an ounce of disdain because this movie was totally enthralling and watched repeatedly by my 11-year-old self.

The pre-teen drama.  The emotional scars of not yet having a chest.  The denim overalls (worn, regrettably, by both the girls and their adult counterparts).

The movie is about four 12-year-old girls who become best friends one summer and vow to always be there for each other.  Fast-forward twenty-five years and one of them is nine months preggo so they all show up.  Tears, flash-backs, and bad hair ensue.

Demi Moore is dark.  Melanie Griffith is vain.  Rosie O’Donnell is unattractive.  Rita Wilson is annoying.  You could say it’s some of their best work.

I bring this up because I’m feeling very “Now and Then” about one of my BFFs 25th birthdays (you can’t talk about long-term best friends without using cheesy acronyms).   Although we were never adolescents together, we certainly acted as though we were.

The three of us met in college as roommates in a women’s house at the UW.  I was 20, Lindsay was 21, and Annie was 19.  A snapshot to give you an idea of how far we’ve come (and how well traveled…this is in Oahu one year after meeting):

We’ve now been friends for nearly six years.  In the movie they’ve been friends for about 25, so they’ve got a few on us.  But hey, at least none of us grew up to look like Rosie O’Donnell.  I think that makes us winners.

And though we’ve never had a séance in a cemetery as we attempt to contact Dear Johnny, we have hosted outrageous dance parties, fit 13 people into a Jeep Cherokee, gone skinny dipping in Lake Washington (twice), run a half-marathon, stayed up all night with nothing but three bottles of two-buck-chuck before a 5AM flight…sorry I just lost myself in the buzz of our beehive of memories.  Or is that the buzz of the two-buck-chuck?  Nevermind.

Last Saturday night we celebrated Annie’s birthday in high style at Toulouse Petit in lower Queen Anne, and had a great time, as usual.  But it should be noted that there are definite differences between who we are now and who we were then.

Then
We dressed up because there was never a reason not to, and we were out to prove we were hott.  Yes, two-T’s hott.

Now
We dress up out of the knowledge that chances to dress up don’t happen twice a week anymore, and we’ve never been more aware of the fabulousness of our youth.

Then
We’d order long islands, multiple shots of Jose, and anything pink.

Now
We order champagne (Lindsay), a glass of wine (me), or a gin and tonic (Annie).

Then
We’d scrounge for the cheapest happy hour and tailor our evenings to the clock of half-priced drinks.

Now
We make the plans to our liking.  Damn the cost!

Then
We were all single and ready to mingle.

Now
I have been married 2.5 years, Annie has a boyfriend, and Lindsay is actively dating.

Then
We were there for each other.

Now
Still the case.

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Filed under UpWORD (Beauty)

Excuse Me, Mr. President: An Etiquette Special Edition

See if you can spot the numerous faux pas committed by both me and the patrons I encountered.  The following is a true story.

Last Friday evening Mike and I were having dinner at Sostanza Trattoria in Madison Park with our friend Meredith.  As we ordered wine, the restaurant was just filling up for the night.

I happened to glance over to the table next to us and see a nice-looking couple seated next to the fireplace.  I stared for a second at the gentleman before realizing he looked familiar.

“Doesn’t that look just like Phil Eaton?” I asked Meredith.  We both attended Seattle Pacific University (me for only a year) of which he was president.

“Eh, kind of, I suppose,” she replied, not finding this the least bit interesting.  I considered how to redeem the topic.

“Remember how he used to invite students to his home once a year, to make us feel connected to him or whatever, but we were all just annoyed because he lived in this fabulous house while we’re all killing ourselves to pay $25,000 a year in tuition?” I ventured.

Then we were off and running.

“Yes!” she said.  “It was criminal what they paid him, and remember how he would drive to the school in his A6 and it made all of us cringe?  University presidents are so overpaid.  They’re just glorified speech-makers,” she concluded.

“Oh Eaton can’t hold a candle to UW’s president,” I added.  “He’s ranked among the highest paid in the US.  It’s absurd.  I read he makes $900,000 a year.”

Having fully vented our grievances on university presidents, we moved on to happier topics.  Soon we were laughing, enjoying our meal and our bottle of local Washington red.

“Excuse me, you all really need to be quiet,” a stout woman in her fifties was suddenly standing over us, speaking to us like we were in second grade. “This is a public restaurant and people are trying to eat in peace and you’re laughing so the whole place can hear you.  You need to speak quietly to each other so only those at your own table can hear you.”

We were all so stunned by her pretentious speech that we simply stared at her, mouths agape.

She returned to her seat without another word, and none of us could recover the conversation for the next two minutes because of the offense.  Gradually, because we couldn’t help it, we giggled about the absurdity of someone speaking to us like children, especially in the context of any place outside of a library.

A few minutes later we heard a woman sitting across from the Phil-Eaton-look-alike laughing happily.  Mike couldn’t help himself so he leaned over and said, “Hey, keep it down; this is a public place.”  We just about died, this was so funny, but we weren’t sure if she would agree.

“Oh you’re such a party pooper!” she laughed back at him.  Fearing that she would think he was serious, I leaned over to her with one hand covering my mouth and explained, “We just got scolded in those exact words by that woman over there.”

Suddenly, she was totally intrigued.  “Really?” she said with enthusiasm.  “Oh you must be joking.  It’s Friday night!  This is a restaurant!  We can be as loud as we want!” she said, swinging her glass of red wine around to face us.  “Who is that woman?  I mean, honestly!”

The relief!  The balm to our souls!  Despite being the same age as the crotchety “party pooper” who rained on our parade, this woman was fabulous.  I especially liked her purple-framed glasses.

After another hearty exchange, she returned her focus to her table.  Meredith and I immediately agreed to name her Viv.  There was no other name for a Madison Park socialite who loved red wine and young people with equal fervor.  However, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that her husband was familiar, so I turned to Mike and Meredith and resumed my earlier verse of, “He looks so familiar!  I can’t shake that he’s someone I know or someone famous or something.”  They both rolled their eyes.

“If you really want me to, I can just try to find him on my iPhone,” Meredith offered in a last-ditch effort to shut me up.  “We’ll just start Googling Seattle celebrities.”

“OH MY GOSH!!  OH MY GOSH OH MY GOSH!!”  Suddenly I knew exactly who it was.

“IT’S MARK EMMERT.  It’s the freaking UW PRESIDENT,” I explained.  “I am a COMPLETE IDIOT.”

“WHAT?!” Mike exclaimed.  “How could you not recognize him when you went to that school?  Do you realize we were just talking so loudly about his salary that we got ‘shushed!?'”  We all looked at each other in the face-draining panic that accompanies such realizations.  We had just criticized the husband of our darling Viv, the one we wanted to be our friend and take us around to cocktail parties.  Had they heard?  Could they have?

I reasoned with them.  “Why would she have spoken to us if she heard us chastising her for being wealthy?” I asked.  “Come on, Viv loves us!”

By this time Meredith had pulled up an image of them on her iPhone.  Granted, the image was at least five years old, but we held up the phone, looked over at them:  confirmed.

“She’s not Viv,” Meredith read from Wikipedia.  “She’s DeLaine.”  Of course — even more of a president’s wife’s name than the one we gave her.

“Oh and you were almost right,” she continued reading from her phone.  “He’s not just one of the top-paid presidents.  It’s even better: he’s ranked second.  SECOND.  Bested only by Ohio State’s president.  Emmert makes $906,500 per year.”

Of course he does; our Viv/DeLaine deserves it.

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Filed under Good WORD (Etiquette)

A Real Slice

I am about to reveal what is easily one of the most mortifying moments of my adult life (we don’t have time to go into moments of my childhood.  That would take pages, books, endless inches of text).

I was living in my parents home during my sophomore year of college.  Scratch that.  I was living in my parents home precisely because I had just dropped out of my sophomore year of college (right now, in bewilderment, some of you are clicking on the “About Abby” tab to make sure you’re reading about the right Abby…but again, we don’t have the time for that adventure).  One of my best friends was visiting and we were prepping for a night on the town, and we were running late.  Impossibly late.  Get your shoes on your feet and MOVE kind of late.

Of course I hadn’t even showered yet, so I certainly wasn’t ready for shoes.  My friend sternly told me I had exactly two minutes to shower and get dressed or she would walk out the door without me.

“Not a problem,” I said breezily.  “I’m not one of those people who needs twenty minutes in the shower.”

I hopped into the shower while she paced outside the door, applying and reapplying her lip gloss.  I shampooed madly, scrubbed myself clean and was about to exit the shower and do the I-told-you-so dance to my friend when I realized what I would be wearing that night.  A skirt.  And a skirt only means one thing: the shaving of legs.  UGH.

This was going to take FOREVER and we were going to hit traffic and I just didn’t have time and I hate doing it.  But I had to; there is nothing good to say about female legs that haven’t seen a razor in several days.

It’s moments like these when I wonder how much time I would have saved by just doing it, rather than having a Hannity and Colmes-like debate with myself on the time it takes to shave versus the benefit of shaving.

So I grabbed the only razor in the shower, one that looks like the kind hotels provide for free:  orange and white, a single pathetic blade, no sign at all that it will grace my legs smoothly.  At least, being in the wrapper, it had never been used (thanks Mom!).

Naturally there wasn’t any shaving cream, just a bar of Dove and my hands to create the lather.  I started shaving as fast as possible, working that soap and blade like they were born for each other.  In order to keep my legs out of the stream of water from the shower head, I faced away from the faucet and put my leg on the side of the tub.  I slid the razor up my lathered leg, then held the razor behind my back to rinse it before the next swipe.  Things were going brilliantly — I was making good time.

All of a sudden, as I whipped my razor from my leg to behind my back, I felt a stab of stinging pain run up my backside.  “What in the world?” I thought.  Did something just BITE me?

I quickly stood up and strained to twist myself so I could see my back, and just as I turned my head I saw gushes of blood running down my leg.

I sliced my butt with the razor.

A huge, unbelievable four-inch gash was stamped across my butt cheek.  I was in shock, staring at the most grotesque example of poor skill ever exhibited in the shower.

I grabbed my cheek with one hand and tried to reach for a towel but I couldn’t go anywhere without blood dripping down my leg.  I couldn’t turn off the faucet, dry myself, and continually hold my butt cheek all at the same time.  They don’t teach this in Home Ec.

I had no choice.  What else could I do?  I had to call for backup.

In a state of sheer humiliation that I knew could only worsen, I yelled for my friend to get herself in the bathroom.  She opened the door and said, “What are you doing?  We need to GO.  Get dressed!”

And then she realized I was standing in front of her completely nude, one hand reaching for a towel and one hand holding my rear.

“I cut myself shaving my legs!” I cried.  “But I didn’t cut my leg…I cut my tuchis!”  Using Yiddish vocabulary always makes painful situations funnier, I apparently decided.  I could barely finish my sentence before shaking with laughter.

“What were you doing shaving your ass!?” she yelled.  Then I moved my hand and she saw the gash and screamed, and called for my mom.  This was going from bad to worse.

Now I had both of them standing next to stark naked me, laughing uncontrollably and trying to find a bandage big enough for this laceration.

“Oh my gosh,” my clever friend said.  “Aren’t you so em-BARE-ASSED?”   Cute, my friend, very cute.

Few times in your life do you ever imagine that you will have your friend holding your butt cheek while your mother applies a bandage.  Maybe when you’re four.  Maybe when you’re in a coma.  But most definitely not when you’re 20 years old.

At least it only left a scar in my mind, which I much prefer to a scar on my behind.

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Filed under AwkWORD (Humor)

Unbearable

In 2005 I attended a student retreat in Gettysburg, PA with a number of friends from the University of Washington.  Days earlier we attended events in Washington, DC (the “other” Washington, as it’s called around here) and then headed to rural Pennsylvania for leadership training with students from around the country.

But that is not all we did.

After the first meet-and-greet day, and all of the awkwardness that comes with it, everyone pretty much settled on with whom they would spend any voluntary time.  In fact, we were given four free hours the next morning to do whatever we wanted:  mistake number one.   We were also given a choice of steak or crab cakes for dinner that evening, and I chose crab cakes:  mistake number two, though I wouldn’t find that out until later.

The leaders suggested we invest in our country’s history and take a guided tour of Gettysburg.  I had already done it, and it’s something one needn’t do twice in a decade.  The rest of my crew hadn’t done it, but for some reason didn’t find it necessary to learn about the Civil War.  That left us perusing the brochure stand to find a viable alternative.

What a relief that the good people of the Carroll Valley Resort had included the brochures to every antique and quilt store in a 50 mile radius!  And look at the literature on the ten thousand museums on the Civil War — every college sophomore’s dream!

Skipping past those thrilling options, our eyes settled on a tourist’s heaven-on-earth: a brochure for Boyd’s Bear Country.

“Welcome to Boyd’s Bear Country!” it read.  “A picturesque country setting of the world’s largest teddy bear store, perfect for a family day trip or weekend destination.  Yer heart will melt as ya look at all the lil’ bear cubs.  Enjoy the day with those you luv!”

It was like all our minds together formed one thought bubble above our heads that read “WHAT THE…?”

We immediately got into the car.

Annie, Hunter, Casey and I were on our way to the most heinous tourist trap imaginable.  Who needed Gettysburg?

After a ten minute drive through winding roads lined with endless fields, we arrived to a parking lot that rivaled Costco’s in size.  We stared in wonder at the largest red barn any of us had ever seen (but really, how many red barns have we Seattleite’s encountered?).

We walked inside and were immediately visually assaulted by so many thousands of stuffed bears, even the Berenstain’s would have turned and run back to the car.

Hunter:  “This is like the mothership of bad taste.”

Annie:  “I don’t know whether to be horrified or amazed.”

Casey:  “Get me the HELL out of here.”

Abby:  (Stunned silence)

Allow me to paint a picture of just how insane the entire concept of Boyds Bear Country truly is.  As we walked from room to room, we saw bears in various human situations – at school, at a picnic, sitting around the Christmas tree at home.  Things went from appalling to creepy when we found the Boyd’s Teddy Bear Nursery.  It was built to look EXACTLY like a real nursery – one stands on one side of the glass looking into a room of infant incubators filled with STUFFED BABY BEARS.  The nurse on duty (yes, this is someone’s actual job) walks up to you and asks if you’d like to hold a bear to consider for adoption.  I briefly considered poking her in the face to see if she too, was stuffed.

However, the real low point came when we happened upon “Peeker Boo’s Folkus Pocus Portrait Studio” (I couldn’t make these names up).  We saw cute families getting their photos taken together against a typical brown backdrop.  The photographer was printing out some results so we walked over and took a look.

It pains me even to write this.

When the picture came out of the printer, the nice family’s bodies were gone, and their heads were superimposed onto STUFFED BEAR BODIES.  Bear, bear, bear – human face, human face, human face.  It was all I could do not to light my hair on fire.

We immediately signed up to be photographed.  How else would anyone back at Carroll Valley believe that we had seen such atrocities?

After wandering around with our eyes glazed over as we toured the FOUR FLOORS of bears, it was finally our turn to have our bodies replaced with bear fur.  There was serious debate as to who should get which kind of bear body, but given that we were all different in size, it quickly became obvious.  Hunter was stocky, Annie was shortest, I was average, and Casey had dark hair and eyes – obviously the kitten bear.

As I sat to have my picture taken, I realized this was one of those moments in life when I’m sure I have left Earth and entered an entirely different planet comprised of a wack-job species.  How else to explain that in some boardroom a group of people decided there needed to be a Wal-Mart sized barn full of bears and people who take pictures to look like them?

The resulting picture caused such a scene of laughter and hysteria between the four of us that you would have thought we had just won the lottery and discovered it was tax-exempt.  That’s right, we were all going to split $65 million and the government wasn’t getting a dime.  We were THAT ecstatic.

Except for the cashier.  The tears of laughter streaming down our faces probably caused her to feel somewhat suicidal due to her form of employment.

And to think we almost passed this up to tour Gettysburg.

Bear Country

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Filed under AwkWORD (Humor)