Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hangin With the Ohioans. Down for Whatever

(Post copyright 2011, Dawn Weber)
It's another exhilarating Saturday night in Ohio.

And we of the Too Old To Go To Bars club are doing what we do best: playing cards.

Titillating, no?

We play Hearts because I refuse to learn Euchre, Official State Card Game of Ohio. Not playing Euchre is a lifelong goal of mine.

I dream big.

My buddy Ron and the other high school boys tried to teach it to me in the 80s. Surrounded by dozens of cans of Milwaukee's Best, they'd explain the "tricks," the "reneging," the "trump."

I'd become bored, stand up and fast-forward the AC/DC cassette.

Then, as now, Euchre makes no damn sense to me whatsoever. Is trump good? Is trump bad? Pages and pages of rules, yet you can throw down any old card. Maybe a suit is followed, maybe it isn't.

It is the fickle bitch of card games.

I have tried learning Euchre while drinking, thinking maybe it would make more sense. I have tried stone sober. I have tried during the day, I have tried in the moonlight. I have tried at tables, on porches, in campers, and at many a picnic table. I have even tried on a boat. The Carnival cruise ship "Glory," to be exact.

Yeah, when the Big Guy handed out the Euchre genes, I was elsewhere. Probably over at the boombox, fast-forwarding the AC/DC cassette.It's supposed to be an easy game, I know, I know. But, as my friend Wow,That Was Awkward said, I am Euchre stoo-pid.  Thanks a lot, WowYou asshat. And since knowledge of the game is pretty much required in the Buckeye State - they'll probably kick me out someday. Please, somebody, do it. Get me the HELL out of here!

But that's O.K. I own it. And? I quit. Yes - although it threatens my status as a Midwesterner - I'm just going to admit it: I am blonde. I am forty-damn-two. I am done trying.

And I love NOT playing Euchre.

Hence? Hearts.

So. Come, join the fun at Marj and Greg's kitchen table here, in Beautiful Downtown Brownsville (Motto: Septic Tank Optional). Be warned - the jokes here are juvenile. But the beer is cold. Longtime Lighten Up readers all five of you! I love you guys! may remember "Wise Marj" from this post, and Greg the Handyman from this post.

We're down for whatever, for some high-life, with our cans of Miller Lite, our bags of mixed nuts, our Skynyrd Pandora channel...

"Greg! Play your damn card!" says Marj.
"What was led? Clubs?" says Greg.

He looks back at his hand, perplexed. He isn't paying attention again, Googling on the laptop beside him, looking up local folks who've lapsed on property taxes.

It's a hobby of his.

Marj rolls her eyes and leans over on her right cheek. She farts, aiming at Greg.

It's a hobby of hers.

"Shee-zus! Marj! Don't you think that's rude in front of our guests?" says Greg.

Marj crumbles her face, laughs hysterically. Marj is an Avid Farter, proud of her Legendary Abilities. We, "The Guests," have been playing Hearts surrounded by her "aura" for at least eight years now.

We know our fate. It's sealed. Airtight.

The Skynyrd channel plays on, we stack cans, we throw cards. Marj's first cloud clears. And amazingly, something smells good.

So I  say...
"Hey. Something smells good,"
"I think it's my nuts," says Greg, waving the bag of Planter's at my face. "Wanna smell my bag of nuts?"

We all double over, cracking up. The laughter taxes my middle-aged bladder, so I run for the bathroom, and Marj, chortling, leans over on her right cheek. She farts.

"Shee-zus! Marj!" Greg says.

A few minutes later, I return to the kitchen, start clicking through the Pandora channels. I have plenty of time to do this, because Greg is perplexed. Again.

Marj cheats, peeking at his hand and telling him which card to play. He does what she suggests.Then he promptly loses the hand.

"I see why you wanted me to throw that. Twat," he tells his bride.

Visibly annoyed, he looks over at us.

"You guys owe me!" he says.
"You're trying to get me to show you my boobs, aren't you?" I say.
"You offering?" he says.
"Wouldn't be the first time boobs were flashed at this table," says Marj.

She refers, of course, not to my boobs, but the boobs of others. Boobs not present this particular evening.

Over the years, Marj's table has seen many boobs, for various reasons. But not mine. Yet. Give it time.

We stack more cans, throw more cards, crack more jokes causing me several more trips to the bathroom. All the washing up dries out my hands.

So I say...
"Yuck. All this washing dried out my hands."

Greg waves his Planter's nut-bag.

"Here. Rub them on my greasy nuts."

Marj's face crumbles, she laughs, she leans...

Everybody ready? All together now. You know the drill:

"Shee-zus! Marj!"

I tell you what - this is all the excitement I can stand.

And it sure beats the hell outta Euchre.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Were You?

(post copyright, 2011, Dawn Weber)

On the TV of the fifth-floor break-room, I watched those towers fall. I was working the morning of September 11, 2001 - you may have been, too. Just as they were.

My co-workers and I gathered around the set, white-faced, looking on as people jumped from the 110-story structures to end it, to escape the building's fiery hell. I wanted them all to get out, get OUT of there. Somehow.

I had visited the roof viewing deck of the World Trade Center just a few years before, in 1998, with a close friend of mine who lives in New York City. I wasn't thrilled about it at all.

"Um, isn't this the place where some guy blew up the Ryder Truck in the basement a while back?" I asked her.

She laughed, told me it would be fine, that I had to see the view.

A New Yorker, you know.

I have never liked tall buildings, and vowed never to work in one. In 2001, I didn't even like working on the fifth floor. Girls like me, from the cornfields, generally don't trust high-rises...too far from the outside and the earth and the...cornfields.

A hillbilly, you know.

As I watched the towers collapse on the TV in Ohio, I wondered how many of those people had been working when I visited in '98. If the lady who sold me my Diet Coke at the Trade Center's rooftop snack bar went to her job that day. If so, she didn't go home that night.

Two Thousand Nine Hundred and Seventy-Seven people did not go home. Ever.

My co-workers and I went home.  We didn't have to work the next day, either. I sat on the front porch of my house, in the direct flight path of the Columbus airport, and looked at a sky now empty of its usual jets and vapor trails. Flight 93 had crashed near my sister-in-law's house in Pennsylvania, after reversing its course over the skies of northeast Ohio. Over the skies near my hometown, my mother and my friends and my fields.

The days and months following 9-11 blurred into mostly news coverage, and a while later, I visited my friend in New York City. Although I had talked to her, I wanted to be sure she was OK, that she was really still there. I went to the giant pit - all that was left of the World Trade Center. People in hardhats worked day and night, scooping rubble into dump trucks. I watched at the site as shredded computer paper swayed in the trees.

Then I realized it wasn't paper at all. It was the crumbled remains of the building's metal window blinds, twisted into the branches. I felt a little guilty, a little silly, for my sadness. After all, I was just a woman from the Midwest. I hadn't personally lost anyone in the terrorist attacks, I still had my family and my life and my work.

That changed soon enough. As a direct result of the post 9-11 tanking economy, many of my co-workers and I lost our jobs. Good jobs, close to home. Jobs that never returned.

Life goes on, the way it does. We had a new baby, so staying at home for a couple years became a blessing in disguise. Although the terrorists made sure our country would never be the same, I kept moving forward. You did, too.

In the blink of an eye, ten years have passed. Osama Bin Laden is dead. I work where I swore I never would: the 25th floor of a high-rise, an hour away from my house. I have no choice. Like so many of my laid-off 2002 co-workers, I had a hell of a time finding ANY job, let alone one nearby.

A few weeks ago at work, I watched my pencils roll across my desk for no apparent reason. The metal mini-blinds quivered in the windows of my building. Aftershocks of the earthquake in Virginia. Who'd have thought they'd reach all the way to Ohio? Although I felt somewhat alarmed, I watched the little scene in my office unfold with an almost amused detachment. Since September 11 - and all the tragedies and natural disasters since - nothing surprises me anymore.

The innocence is gone.

But I was O.K., I was lucky. I worked the rest of the day and walked out of my building that night, drove home from work to my family.You probably did, too.

 We are Americans. That's who we are. That's what we do.