Tag Archives: embarrassment

The Opposite of Art Sophisticates

Mike and I each set off a museum alarm while in Europe.

One of us did this intentionally.  The other did not.

Both of us didn’t get caught. 

Here are our stories.

We were walking around the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, exploring the decorative arts (read: furniture) of the 16th century.  There were several-hundred-year-old chairs and beds, expansive red-velvet hangings and silk bedspreads.  I was enthralled with the idea of seeing how people actually lived in their homes, as opposed to just seeing what they’re famous for (their works of art, for instance).

Mike was walking a room or two ahead of me (medieval home furnishings not being a topic that makes him gasp with excitement), and I had slowed to look at a particularly ancient carved wooden chair.  I started thinking about all of the hundreds of people who had sat in that exact chair over the last 500 years, and it gave me little goosebumps.  Those little goosebumps took me straight back to being eight years old, at any of a number of historical sites with my mother.

“Abby, think about it, George Washington LIVED HERE.  This was HIS ACTUAL BED.  You have to touch it!  You have to touched what he touched!  This is HISTORY!”

So, inevitably, I would touch it.  I touched everything I could get my hands on, particularly in Williamsburg, and always at the urging of my mother.  She and I shared a special history-obsessiveness, and touching things was the only way to separate us from the throngs of passing public who merely looked at each exhibit. 

As I stood in front of the chair at the V&A, however, I failed to account for the nineteen years of museum technology that had occurred between my preteen illegal activity and now.

I looked around the room.  Empty. 

For just a split second, I reached across the rope and put my hand on the armrest of the chair.  Satisfied, I started walking to the next room.  It only took three seconds for the alarm to activate.


I jumped at the sound and started walking faster toward Mike, who was far enough away not to hear the sound.  By the time I reached him, four guards had appeared at the scene of the crime and were walking around looking for the perp. 

But I was too smart for them.  I’ve watched cop shows, I know what to do — the opposite of what a law-breaker would do: talk to the guards.

I walked up to the nearest guard and explained that I was looking for Da Vinci’s drawings.  I expected a quick answer that would dismiss me from suspicion, but apparently I chose the one guard who had been looking for his chance to show that he knew every corner of the museum by memory.

“Da Vinci is in room 24, which follows a series of rooms that explore several artists’ significant contributions to…” I glanced at Mike in misery that we had just been trapped, as the guard continued, “…or alternately you could take the Asian exhibit route which would show various periods of dress from the seventeenth to…”  This was never going to end.

Luckily, it did, and I never brought up my little dalliance with the law with the husband.


Five days later we were at the Musee de l’Orangerie in Paris, appreciating Monet’s enormous murals of his water lilies in Giverny.  We decided to venture downstairs to the temporary exhibits, because we had yet to see any of Picasso’s work while on our trip.

We noticed as we walked room to room that there were small metal rails blocking people from getting too close to each work of art.  But the odd thing about the rails was that they were only 12 inches off the ground, and they were extremely sharp and squared off on the ends. 

When we found the Picasso area, we moved slowly around the room, looking at each piece of art.  Without Mike realizing it, I left the room and moved into the next, and as he glanced up and saw that I was gone, he turned too quickly and jammed his leg right into a rail. 

He immediately lost his balance and gave a shout at the pain, and tumbling forward, he smacked his hand against the wall for support.  Only his hand didn’t land on the wall.  It landed on a Picasso.

Cue the alarm.

Suddenly Mike came hobbling toward me with the look of an animal in the crosshairs of a hunter.  He was grabbing his leg and reaching for the bench I was sitting on.  He pulled up his pant leg to reveal a three-inch gash on his shin.  But he didn’t care about his leg.

“Oh my gosh I just smacked the Picasso.  Oh my gosh.  Oh my gosh.  Look at the painting, I just smashed my hand into the glass.  Did they see?  Did they see me?”

Just then a female guard came running, literally sprinting down the hall toward the Picasso.  She stopped directly in front of it and started waving her arms around in the universal “Who did this?  Who did this?” gesture.  She turned around several times, as if the idiot who assaulted the painting would be standing there ready to be escorted out.

“Keep your head down,” I said to Mike.  “And stop grabbing your leg!  She’s going to put two and two together!”

The woman circled the area once more and then threw her hands in the air in exasperation, as if she had conducted a full investigation and come up empty.

“I can’t believe I just set off the alarm.  Who does that!?” Mike asked me.

I decided the only way to make him feel better was to come clean. 

“Well…” I began.  “At least you didn’t do it on purpose…”


Filed under AwkWORD (Humor)

Designing Woman: Part Three

People may think of a number of descriptive words for me, but D0-It-Yourself is not among them.

One of my favorite blogs that I read all the time is Young House Love, and they are all about the DIY.  But they’re DIY on crack.  They knock down walls and paint brick and tear out concrete.  They do an incredible job of making it look accessible, but it still scares the junk out of me.

Enter our hideous bar stools that the previous owner of our home left us — and refused to pick up when we found she had left them (but we could hardly blame her — they’re hideous, after all):

Not only is the pattern like something from a Ringling Brother’s Circus, but one of them was actually stained:

How did we live with them for 16 months?  If I think about that question too long I will go into convulsions, so in the interest of time, let’s skip that question.

When Mike and I decided that we finally had to get rid them, naturally we planned to throw them away and buy new ones.  But then some DIY-type friends heard our plan and were aghast that we’d waste money and resources on “such a simple project.”

Sure.  Simple for you.  This coming from the people who carve their own dining room tables.

We promptly ignored their suggestion and proceeded to look for new bar stools.  However, upon finding that any decent bar stool was at least $150 a pop, we figured why not try to fix our current ones?  If we fail we can always throw the embarrassment in the garbage and THEN spend the $450.

Off to the fabric store we went.  We chose a fabric, bought a staple gun and some backing and headed home for the dirty work.

First we took the stools apart to determine if we’d need to strip the fabric.

We decided that the backing on our new fabric was thick enough to prevent any of the old fabric from showing through, so we left the seat fabric on.

The fabric on the back of the stool, however, had to come off.  That was not a fun process.

We then proceeded to iron our new fabric to ensure it was perfectly smooth.  When I say “we,” I mean “he.”  We all know I don’t know how to iron.

Isn’t it a beautiful pattern?

Everything worked like a charm until this point.  The next step was nothing short of maddening.  We had to align the fabric perfectly, staple it correctly and tightly, and make sure the corners didn’t look freaky.  We alternated between talking to each other through gritted teeth like seamstresses on Project Runway, and cheering each other on like we were at the Mathletes Finals.

After dozens of removed staples, we finally had it:

…and then we realized we had to do it again two more times, and we almost decided it would be easier if we just sold our house and left the new owners with two torn apart stools.  Let history repeat itself, we said.

But we motored through, and finished all three seats and one seat back.

Those of you paying attention realize this leaves two seat backs unfinished.  How long do you think it took Mr. and Mrs. Reph to finish those last two seat backs?  I’ll give you some hints:

  • it’s the same amount of time it takes to get five credits at a university
  • it’s the same amount of time it takes to grow 1/3 of a baby
  • it’s the same amount of time that Seattleites enjoy the weather each year

Three months, people.  Three months.  For three months, two of our chairs sat there without backs.  For three months, we told our guests we’d “just started” this project and that we were going to complete it “this weekend.”  It was sometimes the last thing one of us would say to the other before falling asleep, “You know, we really need to finish those bar stools.  No seriously.  It’s embarrassing.”  The other would always dutifully reply, “I know.  Totally.  Let’s do it this weekend.  Oh wait, we’re out-of-town.  Next weekend, then.  For sure.”

This went on for three months.

Until this week.  This week, in a fit of energy, we decided it had to come to an end.  We got home from a date, walked right into the dining room and started stapling like it was our jobs.

Ladies and gentlemen:


Aren’t they pretty?  But really, the attractiveness doesn’t even matter to me at this point.  The point is that they are done, complete, finito.

And just as I hoped, they bring in the red from the family room behind them, and help add a little color and interest to the space.

The other side of the victory is that what should have cost $450 ended up only costing $35 ($20 for the fabric and backing, $15 for the staple gun).  Even though they aren’t perfectly done, I’ll take imperfect at $35 over perfect at $450…at least for now.

Instead of teaching us that we are DIY-capable, this certainly proved to us that we should never remodel a home.  It took us three months to do the backs of two stools; I don’t think we should be knocking down walls and replacing granite counter-tops.  For the sake of our marriage, obviously.

To read about other design projects we’ve conquered managed, see here and here.


Filed under UpWORD (Beauty)

On Owning It

I’m 26 years old, and yet I had two costumes for Halloween weekend.

And I don’t even like Halloween very much.

On Friday at work I dressed as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.  I was Michelangelo, for obvious, husband-related reasons.  My entire team dressed up and we actually won a contest for Best Cube Decoration.  We made our cubicle aisle into a sewer.

Allow me to illustrate:

That is a pizza box on the right.  We were detailed.  And that is why we are the proud owners of a $100 gift card to Chili’s.  Yes, Chili’s.

We quickly did some research to discover the Chili’s gift card would also work at Macaroni Grill or Maggianos.  Needless to say, we were all relieved.

A few things to note:

1.  I have nunchucks.
2.  I have a cardboard shell.
3.  Splinter is in life-size poster form.

Clearly you can’t win contests by doing things half-way.

On Saturday evening Mike and I went to two parties, and I was dressed as a banana.  Mike was a sock monkey.  We both thought this was hilarious until we showed up at the first party and we were the only people in costume.

Later some other people showed up in costume, but I hardly consider a kitten-ears headband a costume when I am literally inside a polyester banana.

As we were driving to the second party, it occurred to me that this humiliation might happen again.  Not in the same way, since we knew everyone at the next event would be in costume, but in the sense that my costume was decidedly funny, and I knew every other woman’s costume would be decidedly whorish.

After we parked, I turned to Mike in the car and said, “I’m afraid.”

“Of what?”

“Of everyone being ‘the sexy something’ and me being the not-even-remotely attractive fruit.”

He didn’t hesitate, “You need to walk in there and OWN IT.  Your costume is hilarious and so much more fun than the cliché “hot nurse” or whatever the girls are wearing tonight.  OWN IT.”

So that’s what I did.  I walked in and struck a pose and people totally responded.  They laughed, and I realized that was much more fun than looking trampy on Halloween.

This isn’t a judgement on those who look sexy on Halloween — it’s totally cultural and virtually everyone does it.  I just discovered that men don’t corner the market on silly rather than slutty.

In fact, you could argue that my costume was a little sexy-banana-ish, considering I was wearing black leggings and knee-high boots.  However, when one realizes my costume came from Pottery Barn Kids, it loses its sex appeal significantly.

Now that I know I am no longer afraid to be a food paired with an animal, the possibilities are endless.  Horse and carrot?  Cow and grass?  Elephant and peanut?

Bring it on.


Filed under AwkWORD (Humor)