Monday, November 22, 2010

Moped Madness


photo by Julia Aron
 Another one from the archives........

Kim, Sheldon and the boys from Saskatoon drop me off at the moped place after a nice lunch at Pollo Bronco. They wish me well as I bid them adios and step up to the Hertz counter to claim my moped.


The whole process is fairly simple and while I fill out the paper work, I realize my nerves have turned into excitement as I’m ready to have more mobility and most importantly - face my fears. The agent gives me a 30 second tutorial on the workings of the moped. There’s no clutch or gear shifts, so it’s pretty much a stop and go situation – this I can work with!

With the papers out of the way and the shiny blue helmet fastened tightly to my head, I get onto the moped and start it up. My heart is pounding with the excitement of a six year old whose about to take her bike out for its first spin sans training wheels. The moped is parked alongside the main road and in order to get onto the street, I have to get it up and over the curb. I give it some gas and it lurches forward with more power than I expect. The momentum lurches me forward which, in turn, makes me give it more gas. Suddenly it's all happening at once, the moped leaping onto the road, me squeezing the brakes with no success of stopping and finally, driving full speed straight into the souvenir stand directly across from the rental place.

With blankets whipping me in the face and artisan purses flying through the air, I'm finally knocked off the moped as I run right into a 14 year-old girl who’s standing in the rear of the stand and happens to be the souvenir stand owner’s daughter. The bike continues forward and down into a ditch behind the stand while me and the girl are a tangled mess on the ground above.

This is no bueno.

Chaos ensues....everyone is screaming. I'm completely freaked out and not sure if I'm hurt or if the girl's hurt. She's on top of my leg screaming and crying.

Nobody speaks English thus far and um I'm the minority here, ya know? I can't help but worry just a little that the whole scene might turn all Rodney King Mexican style on me at any moment.

A bunch of people pull the moped up and out of the ditch while the mother is screaming and the little sister is hysterical. Finally, an American woman comes up from behind and offers me some coke - as in coca cola. I'm crying uncontrollably nearing the point of hyperventilation while thank goodness, the nice woman with the soda is trying to calm me down.

I keep saying over and over again as if I’m chanting, “I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry,” which of course, nobody understands. And I’m holding the girl, her head in my lap, stroking her head, trying to keep her from moving, just in case she has a spinal injury. Her toe is bleeding, but that’s all that seems to be wrong from where I’m sitting. Fingers crossed.

The ambulance comes and the nice lady who I now know is from Arizona is scrambling around looking for my shoes which apparently came off when I flew off the moped.

The ambulance people lift the girl off me and as they do, I wonder if my leg is broken because it hurts like a mutha! The father of the girl speaks English and is nice enough to say something about my leg being possibly broken as they put me on a stiff board-like stretcher. Once on the board, they strap my leg up to keep it straight and then fasten my head to the board with one of those squishy collar things like on freakin' TV! Nobody's saying much except the nice lady who’s speaking to me in hushed tones telling me, “You’re leg looks okay. It’s going to be okay. Can you feel me scratching your shin?”

She gets my purse and finds only one of my shoes and lays them on my stomach as they're putting me into the ambulance. I lie there, clutching my purse and shoe waiting and crying - I'm so scared. It's awful.

My newfound angel from Arizona comes back, climbs into the ambulance and says, "I'm breaking the rules, but you need to have your other shoe." As she places the dusty Birkenstock on my stomach along side the other one, all I can manage is a desperate whisper between sobs.

"Thank you,” I gulp.

She wishes me well and because I can't move my head, I’m stuck there, waiting - unable to see what’s happening and the worst part is the girl that I ran over is right there next to me in the ambulance.

More waiting and silence and the finally we start moving. My mind is racing and I’m worried that I'm going to end up in a dumpster somewhere clinging to my purse and dusty shoes.

Luckily, we go to the hospital. Though, I use that term lightly. It’s more like an infirmary with stark white walls, antiquated beds and those old-school cloth dividers on wheels – like the ones in M*A*S*H. As they lift me out of the ambulance and onto a gurney, a bunch of people are gathered around the entrance taking pictures of me. I feel like a criminal.

None of the doctors speak English and the panic I’m feeling makes my limited Spanish a dim memory. Shit, I’m so scared I can barely remember English.

They start to hook some bag of something up to me and I manage to ask, “Que est a?" They answer, but I don't understand. All I'm thinking is they're going to drug me and take me to some gringo whorehouse in the middle of nowhere and leave me to die.

Eventually, I find out that it's saline (thanks to the girl’s father) so I say okay. But when they try to give me some medicine and I say, “NO WAY!”

I don't care if I’m bleeding from the head - there is no way I'm taking any medication from this place.

After about four and a half hours, the girl gets stitches in her foot as the doctor motions for me to try and walk. Though it's hard, I can do it and we now know my leg isn’t broken. I’m relieved, but I can’t help feel a little guilty that I, the cause of the accident, am going to limp away with minor scrapes and bruises while the poor girl has to endure stitches in her big toe.

The worst part is that I'm sharing the "emergency room" with her which is kind of uncomfortable. Between the myriad of family members showing up every ten minutes to the dirty looks the mother continues to shoot at me, I’m really grateful that the father is nice enough to try and help with the translation between myself and the doctors. He keeps asking me where I’m staying which, for some reason strikes me odd. He’s a taxi driver and I just ran his daughter over. How do I know he’s not going to come and find me later or worse, send his taxi driver friends after me?

The father steps outside just as the insurance guy comes. He doesn't speak English – shocker. I end up signing a bunch of papers. Fuck if I know what I'm signing and I can't argue because who's going to explain it to me or even know that I'm arguing?

Plus, I'm still waiting for the cops to come and take me away.

The father comes back and explains to me that they're ruling it an accident and insurance will cover the medical stuff. Unfortunately, the mother doesn’t buy the accident part as she continues to stare me down from the other side of the room while the rest of the family happily munches on chicken.

It’s decided that the girl will go to Playa del Carmen and get checked out. When asked, I opt not to go because my leg is feeling better – just stiff. My hand hurts a lot, but I think it’s from the IV. Plus, I just want to get out of there, get some wine, lock myself in the condo and cry.

I finally get to leave and basically walk out of the hospital onto the street. I had no idea where I was and am surprised to find out that I’m fairly close to the apartment.

I take a taxi home, hoping my driver doesn’t know the father.

As I shuffle past the entrance, I’m thrilled to see that my little family here are all sitting around in one of the apartments. Sheldon sees me and calls through the screen door, “How’d the moped go? Did ya kill anyone?”

I limp into the kitchen where they’re all seated and before I can think about holding back the tears, they start to fall with complete abandon.

The horrible events of my day tumble out and everyone is very sweet, feeding me beer and potato ships, while I sniff and sob through the story. Brian tells me he'll take me to Hertz the following day to straighten out the damages. Everyone agrees that I shouldn’t go alone. Once again, I am grateful for these nice people and their kindness.

We say good night and I’m finally back inside Karen’s apartment – sore and exhausted. There’s way too much to process and as I drift off to sleep, I’m torn between the guilt of being the cause of such a terrible accident and the sheer relief I feel for being safe, sound and in one piece.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hunkmania

Here's an oldie, but goodie from my days working at Hunkmania - a male strip club for women.  This essay was chosen for the Staten Island Arts Festival last Summer.

photo courtesy of Hunkmania Male Strippers



I’m late.  I’m always late.   It’s no accident.  It’s this little game I play with myself week after week.  I know I’m supposed to be there by 7:15, but hell, I don’t even want to be there at all.  Maybe there’s a part of me that hopes I’ll just miraculously miss it altogether. 

It’s 7:30, when I finally arrive. Bubbs sees me and his face lights up as a noticeable hush falls over the crowd of at least 50 women lined up to one side of the entrance. He lets me through the ropes and I know they’re wondering how I got inside with no hassle or question.

Inside, it’s business as usual. The bartender is cutting lemons and limes, the DJ is setting up the music and the waiters are checking their supplies.

I make my way down the long pathway toward the back. The bar runs the whole length of the room and opens up into a large square area which is the dance floor. There are three tiers of carpeted bleacher-type seats surrounding 75% of the dance floor. With the lights up, this place reminds me of an old starlet whose glory days have long since passed –weathered and worn.

Downstairs, there’s another bar that we only use for the second show along with the office and a supply area that doubles as a dressing room for the guys. Inside, some of the guys are getting ready which means greasing up and primping in front of the mirror. Cocoa butter for K.C.. Baby oil for Joey. Tony likes almond oil. Shawn doesn’t use anything – he’s too busy practicing out in the empty bar area. Given the different scented oils, the room always smells like a cross between old alcohol and Hawaiian Tropic.

Heading towards the office, I maneuver past a handful of half-dressed and half-greased guys who talk easily amongst themselves. I give a general “hello” to everyone and Tony comes over to give me hug.

“Nooooo. You’re already oily, “ I say, holding my hands up.

Tony smiles and grabs my hand. “Okay, baby. But anytime you want some of this,” he points to himself with pride, “I’m here.”

The office door is open. I cross my fingers hoping Danny’s working tonight, because he’s my favorite.

“Hello Luv!” Danny says looking up from a pile of money he is counting. “The list hasn’t come through yet. I’ll bring it up when it does.”

“They’re already lining up outside.” I say.

“Ah, fer fuck’s sake. Don’t these women have a life?” he mutters rolling his eyes.

I take the cash box and clipboard from the desk and make my way back upstairs. At the top of the stairs, Bubbs, who’s real name is Michael, is waiting for me. He’s about 6’5” and at least 275 pounds.

“They’re asking how much longer they have to wait outside,” he says, taking my cash box and clipboard from me. “One girl keeps asking to be let in. She says she has to pee.”

We both roll our eyes, silently acknowledging the fact that we hear this same thing every week as the line of drunken girls increases and their bladders start to waiver.

“Five minutes, Bubbs. I don’t have a list yet.”

“What about the girl?”

Here it is. The first moment of a very long night. I want to be nice, but I’ve seen it before. We let one girl in and then suddenly, everyone has to pee. Before you know it, half the line is already inside asking the bartender if they can order a drink, while the rest of the people waiting outside want to know why they can’t come in too.

This is my reality - This is Hunkmania.

Hunkmania is a male strip show for women that was started back in 1999 by an ex- Chippendale dancer.

I work the door. I collect money and check people in to make sure they have paid for their tickets in advance. Most of the time, I end up dealing with stuff a Manager would deal with. But I never say that I’m the Manager. Ever.

During the busy season, we have two shows. We always sell out quickly which means all 225 tickets have been purchased (for each show) in advance of the show date.

A guest list is generated for each show and then faxed to the club. This list goes to me and I have the pleasure of checking people in, making sure the number of people in their party matches the number of tickets paid for in advance. There have been times where women have tried to sneak in an extra person or two. Some of these women can be very clever. One will ask to be let in earlier because she has to “pee”. She stays in the bathroom waiting for the rest of her party to come inside hoping that I’ll forget that I’ve already let one person from the whole party inside. This is one reason I have a bouncer.

The other reason being that I’ve seen women get ugly in this place. Breaking-bottles-over-someone’s-head-ugly, but that’s later, after the show has actually started. Right now, it’s all about getting them inside and seated.

Tonight, the line has extended down to the corner of 14th Street with most of the women decked out in veils, blinking penis head bands, penis lollipops, penis necklaces, t-shirts unifying certain parties with slogans like, “We’re all getting FUCKED up for Heather’s Bachelorette Party!!” as well as the token 4 foot tall, inflatable penis. The inflatable penis is not common, but once in awhile we get one and everyone loves it.

Settling onto my stool behind a podium, Bubbs and I take a minute to bullshit about the past week. He sits down on the stool just opposite the podium – a comical site, given his size and proportion to the stool.

Danny bursts through the doors into the vestibule with the lists. “Looks like it’s gonna be a helluva of a night.” He says, handing me four pages worth of names

Two shows. Both sold out. This means twice the headaches and twice the hassles.

I take a deep breath and turn to Bubbs, “Are you ready?”

“Are you ready?”

And the games begin.



photo courtesy of Hunkmania Male Strippers

Most of the time, the girls have been out drinking prior to coming to Hunkmania, so getting them inside can be a little tricky. There are endless questions about things that are clearly stated on the website, which I have to answer each time, every week, as if I’m hearing it for the very first time. There’s also the matter of making sure they don’t bring alcohol into the club from outside – usually in the from of a penis sippy cup. One girl is not happy about giving up her penis cup. She adamantly refuses yelling out in a drunken stupor, “Nobody is taking my dick. This is MY dick!” Another job for my faithful bouncer, Bubbs.

The next bunch of ladies are a group of ten celebrating a bachelorette party. Most of the women appear to be in their mid-twenties. They’re decked out in minimal clothing, lots of sequins, strappy, metallic shoes and of course, penis paraphernalia.

The leader of the pack charges up to the podium and without missing a beat announces in full long-island accented fashion, “We’re here for a bachelorette party.”

She comes around the podium to my side, leans in way too closely and says in a ridiculously overdone whisper, “Uh. Who do I talk to about getting our bride on stage? The website said we can put her up on stage and embarrass the shit out of her. Does D’Angelo still work here? Oooooooh, he’s HOT. Can she be on stage with D’Angelo?”

Between her disgusting alcohol breath and her nasal voice, I’m not feeling very good about my evening. I try my hardest not to sound condescending, “Okay, first off, do you think you could step back behind the podium?” Luckily, she backs up a few inches, but continues to rant. “But we want Deeee--Ange-AH----looooooooo.”

I’m trying to be patient but, this is the first group of close to 200 women and I’m thinking ahead. If each group takes this long to get checked in, we’ll be here all night.

By this time, the chanting has begun. Bubbs comes inside and says, “You hear it, right?”

Outside, on 14th street, there are at least 100 girls chanting in unison, “We want the Hunks! We want the Hunks!” The inflatable penis is being passed amongst the line and an inflatable doll complete with genitalia and pubic hair, has now joined the mix. Doc, the neighborhood drunk, is doing a drunken tango with the doll up and down the line while the women are tirelessly chanting, “We want the Hunks!”

At this point, Lance, the MC of the show arrives. He’s the main man. He took D’Angelo’s place. Where I run the door, he runs the show. He’s the host. The guy who keeps everyone pumped up and happy.

Lance is a Funeral Director by day and male stripper by night. With his blue eyes and deep tan – no matter what season, he loves to remind people he’s in charge. Me, I’m happy to hand it all off to him whenever I can. Though, once the show starts, I’m the one people come to. If I were on a power trip, I’d love it. .

Thankfully, things calm down a bit once Rinaldo, one of the massage guys goes outside to hand out magnets and flirt with the girls keeping them occupied. The next several groups of women are hassle-free and actually very polite and funny, so I’m feeling better about the evening.

Lance comes out with his wireless microphone in hand. A sign that he’s ready to start the show.

“How many are left, Liz?”

“We’re still waiting on a party of 18. Give it 5 more minutes and we’ll see if this big party shows up.”

Bubbs comes in from outside, sits back down on his stool and sighs, “Damn. Sometimes this place makes me feel like such a hater.”

I smile, completely feeling his pain, hop off my stool and head inside get us some drinks.

Inside, the energy is amping up. The first batch of women are most likely two drinks into their night. The waiters are running around like crazy. The music is pumping. The bartender has her head down as she’s making a batch of Apple Martini’s and Cosmopolitan’s. Seeing me, she nods hello, stops what she’s doing and makes a drink for me and Bubbs. I love this girl!

As she’s handing me the drinks, someone taps me on the shoulder from behind. It’s Bubbs.

“The party of 18 is here and one of them doesn’t have ID. You better come out.”

Outside, in front of the club is the biggest limousine I have ever seen. It looks like someone took one end of a Hummer and stretched it as far as they could, making it at least 20 feet in length. It’s white, of course, with tinted windows and besides the thumping bass coming from inside, there are flashing purple strobe lights and a disco ball hanging from the center of the ceiling.

Twenty or so girls are all hovering around the ropes outside the club. They are all outfitted in typical Hunkmania garb along with hot pink feather boas around their necks.

The leader of the pack is clearly wasted as the stumbles up to the ropes.

“We’re celebrating a bachelorette party and we’re from New Jersey and we want to make sure we get good seats and we want to get our girl up on stage with the dancers. They said we could do that when I spoke to someone on the phone. ‘Ter!! Ter!! TER---RY. Get ova here.’ Can we go inside already?”

Bubbs steps up and says, “Yeah. I just need that one girl’s ID.”

The leader puts her long, french manicured nails through her hair for effect and leans in closer to Bubbs and myself.

“Yeah, well ya see, one of us, the bride’s sister, forgot her ID at the hotel. She’s definitely 21. Shit, she’s got two kids. JenniFAH! Show her your kids.”

I jump in. “Uh, no that’s not really necessary, thanks.” I scan the group, “Which one is she?”

The leader yells which is totally unnecessary as we’re all pretty close to one another. “JenniFAH! Come up here. Come on.”

JenniFAH makes her way up towards me and Bubbs. Bubbs looks at me and already I know what he’s thinking. This girl is NOT 21. I start shaking my head because I know this is going to get ugly.

I address JennFAH matter of factly, “So, you don’t have ID?”

“No. I think I left it at the hotel.”

“Where’s the hotel?” I ask.

The leader interrupts, again at the top of her lungs. “Come on, she’s got kids. She’s married. JenniFAH! Show her your rings.”

JenniFAH obeys like a small child and holds up her rings.

Shrugging my shoulders, I drop the bomb. “I’m sorry I can’t let you in without ID.”

The protests begin and suddenly, I’ve got 18 girls all talking at once – “this is crazy.” “she’s 21.” “she doesn’t even drink” “that woman is just being an asshole”

Bubbs steps in. “Ladies! Ladies! Listen. She’s right. You can’t come in without ID. It’s not up to us. It’s the law.”

The leader speaks to me and the rest of her group, “So what the hell are we going to do?”

There are so many opportunities in my night to be a complete asshole. As much as I despise the whole bachelorette party thing, I respect that this is a big night for people. I wish I were the type to look the other way. But, I’m not.

“Listen,” I say to Mary with compassion, “I can’t let you in without ID. I just can’t. Here’s what I suggest you do. Let the rest of the party go inside. Have your limo driver shoot you back up to your hotel. It’s in Times Square, right? You’ll be back here in 30 minutes tops. When you bring back your ID, I’ll get all of you a round of drinks on me and you’ll have a good time. Does that sound fair?”

The leader goes ballistic. “This is BULLSHIT. YOU (pointing with her manicured finger) are a BITCH. You’re just giving us a hard time. I should kick your ass. You’re RUINING our night. SCREW you.”

Sensing things have reached a whole new level, Bubbs sees tells me to get inside.

Bubbs handles the situation and I head inside where the show is just getting started. “Ladies! Welcome to Hunkmania!” Lance bellows into the wireless microphone as he makes his way out to the center of the dance floor. He’s got women on either side of him stacked up in the carpeted bleachers, screaming, cheering and waving their arms with enthusiasm.

“And don’t forget - WHAT HAPPENS AT HUNKMANIA STAYS AT HUNKMANIA!” The crowd erupts as Lance exits center stage and the lights go out. This sends the crowd into a frenzy as the women start stamping their feet, alternating between screams of “Woooooooooo” and “Yeah Babeeeee!”

“Right now, making his debut at Hunkmania from Boston, let’s give it up for AWWWWW---S--TINNNNNN!!”

I walk back towards the door and Bubbs is standing just inside the club at the far end of the bar, with a drink for me in one hand and a drink for himself in the other.

He hands me my drink and the lockbox full of hunk bucks – our version of “funny money” like in Vegas. “Jimmy says people need to buy hunk bucks.”

I make my way back towards the main event with drink and hunk bucks in hand. I notice all the guys are standing around watching Austin’s routine. This strikes me odd as they usually wait downstairs until it’s their turn to perform. But the guys are like mesmerized. Craning their necks, standing in obscure corners completely entranced by Austin’ performance. Now, I’m curious. I assume my hunk buck position and turn my attention to the show.

And what a show it is. Austin, a new guy, whose real name I don’t even know, is wearing a silver glittered tuxedo jacket – complete with top hat and tails. He’s wearing a mask that looks like something out of Cirque du Soleil and the best part of all – he’s like 5 feet tall!

“He’s really good isn’t he?” an envious voice says behind me. “I hear he used to be a Chippendale.”

It’s Joey talking, but his eyes are on Austin. I can’t believe how enamored he is by this guy. In fact, ALL the dancers appear to be just as impressed.

I’m not impressed and decide to leave this alone. I can’t engage in stripper envy. Though it’s worth noting that there hasn’t been stripper envy of this magnitude for a long time. The last time the guys were falling all over themselves with envy was when one of the dancers, a legend in the business, joined Hunkmania. He had an assistant.

Austin finishes his routine and Lance continues to keep the party going. “Ladies! It’s time for a new set of Hot Seats! If I call your name it means that someone has purchased a hot seat for you. YOU are coming up here to get up close and personal with our next Hunk.” The crowd erupts yet again, into enthusiastic cheers as the anticipation is palpable.


photo courtesy of Hunkmania Male Strippers


A hot seat is something extra that is advertised as a way of giving the guest of honor, “special attention” as she is seated with three other women in the center of the dance floor while the dancer performs his set.

The key to getting the most attention possible, of course, is about how many hunk bucks and/or dollar bills the person has attached to them.

“Doris. Can I get Doris up here on center stage, please?” Lance is arranging each of the women in their respective hot seats while their friends flock around them affixing hunk bucks and dollar bills to every place they can.

As I’m handing out hunk bucks, Lance walks over to me. “Uh, hey just so you know. We’ve got a really drunk girl in the house. I told Jimmy not to serve her any more alcohol.”

“Okay. Tell him though, if she looks like she’s gonna be sick, to have Bubbs get her out of here.”

Next up is K.C. He’s beautiful. 6’7”, lean, but muscular, very dark skin, bald head. Unfortunately, he knows it and this contributes to his lack of personality. Although, I’ve actually had some decent conversation with him over the years, he mostly keeps to himself. Lately however, he seems to be too cool, even for himself – walking into the club and not saying hello to anyone. His mystique is all bullshit to me. K.C. and I had a moment years ago and after that, I realized this is a guy who’s always gotten by on his looks.

Now, he and I play this little game week after week. I’ll be packing up my stuff getting ready to leave while K.C. is changing back into his street clothes.

K.C. will nod his chin in my direction in lieu of addressing me directly. “So, uh, you goin’ out after this?”

Some nights I play along, just for the ego factor. “Um. I don’t know. I haven’t decided yet.”

He’ll then start to shuffle around uncomfortably and say something like, “We could get a beer.” Translation: “We could drink a beer upstairs for free and then go back to my place where I can use you to help me release all of this pent up sexual energy that has built up all night long from being rubbed and touched by strange women.”

No thanks.

Back out on the dance floor, Doris is having a blast. She’s completely into the special attention she’s getting from K.C. as she continues to replenish the hunk bucks he takes out of her cleavage. Each time he goes in to get the money, she tilts her head back, closes her eyes in sheer ecstasy and grabs the back of his head shoving it into her breasts.

The vodka has kicked in and I’m feeling a bit more relaxed. I’m almost enjoying myself while Doris and the rest of her clan high-five one another as K.C. finishes his set and she goes back to her regular seat.

After another round of hot seat assignments and more hunk buck sales, it’s Joey’s turn. The lights go out and the theme from military boot camp cues up. “Yo left. Yo left. Yo left, right, left.” Joey comes out wearing army fatigues. He has presence. With a shaved head and piercing green eyes that go beautifully with his olive skin tone, he’s the best dancer of the bunch.

The crowd responds to him as per usual tonight as he takes one of the hot seat girls out of her chair and eases her onto the floor so she’s lying on her back. Standing over her, perfectly timed to the music, there’s a dramatic pause and he chooses this moment to rip his pants off - which are held together with Velcro seams - in one full swoop. The crowd is on their feet yelling as Joey stands over the woman on the floor and slowly squats down so his groin is directly over her face and again, in perfect time to the music he gyrates up and down dramatically making it appear like he’s sitting on her face.

In spite of myself, I’m smiling, slightly amused. Or maybe I’m just getting drunk.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see K.C. approaching. He’s wearing nothing but a red g-string and motorcycle boots. Great. Here we go.

He comes over to me and leans in close to my ear. “Some girl is passed out in the bathroom.”

Oh. Well that’s not what I was expecting. I follow him to the bathroom. And there it is – a dose of Hunkmania reality. A woman, mid-twenties is lying face down on the bathroom floor completely still.

I put my hand on her back, which is sweaty and sticky, to see if she’s breathing.

“K.C., go get Bubbs and Danny. Take my phone and call 911. Where are her friends?” I demand. K.C. steps aside and the passed out girl’s friend steps up and into the bathroom.

“Do you know how much she had to drink?” I say to her friend who looks less worried and more like she wants to run out of the bathroom run as fast as she can.

“I don’t know. We had some tequila at dinner and then we drank champagne in the limo. I think she had a couple of cosmos during the show.”

Jesus. Danny and Bubbs show up in the doorway.

“Ah, fer fuck’s sake. She breathing down there, right Liz?” Danny looks more annoyed than worried.

“Yeah. Did K.C. call 911?”

K.C. squeezes through the door with my cell phone in hand. “Yeah. Somebody needs to wait outside for them, though.”

Danny goes outside to wait for the paramedics and Bubbs peeks his head into the room. “Yo, Liz. Isn’t that the girl who was yelling at you earlier outside? “He continues, “Yeah. She’s the one whose friend didn’t have id.”

He’s right. This is the girl that was calling me all sorts of nasty things not more than a couple of hours ago. Now, I’m taking care of her. Perfect.



photo courtesy of Hunkmania Male Strippers

By this time, a small crowd is forming in the very narrow hallway right outside of the bathroom.

Annoyed, I tell Bubbs to get them out of there. As I’m barking orders, the girl begins to stir like she just got jolted out of a deep sleep because she suddenly rolls over and starts moving her head back and forth along with her arms as if she’s fighting something.

“What’s her name?” I ask her friend.

Backing up closer to the door, her friend replies, “Rosemary.”

K.C. and I try to control Rosemary’s movement while I’m trying to be all calm in my voice, “Whoa. Whoa. Rosemary. Easy girl. Don’t try and stand up. Let’s try sitting..”

Someone reaches into the bathroom with a bottle of water and there I am squatting down next to Rosemary with K.C. who’s in his red g-string, trying to coax her to drink some water.

Her blond, highlighted hair is matted against her face. Her eyes are barely open. I think she’s got vomit on her chin and left shoulder. She picks her hand up to wave away the water and I notice 3 of her perfectly manicured fingernails are broken.

I tell the friend to get Rosemary’s things and let the other girls know what’s happening.

She turns to leave the bathroom just as Jimmy pokes his head inside the bathroom. “Everything okay here?” He looks at the girl. “Oh shit. That’s the girl who we were thinking about kicking out. She’s wasted, man.”

Finally, after what seems like an hour, the EMS guys show up. Two guys barge their way into the small, smelly bathroom.

“Okay. Everyone. We’ve got it from here. Let’s get everyone OUTside of the bathroom.

To me, “Ma’m. You can go too.”

“No. I think I’ll stay here.” I squat over to one side of Rosemary surprising myself that I’d want to stay. But hell, it’s my job, or is it? Right on cue, Rosemary leans her head over and rests it on my shoulder. She exhales deeply.

“You’re sho nishe to me. Shank you. Shank you. I’m shorry I cawled you a bitsh.”

And there it is. The very person threatening to kick my ass two hours ago, is leaning her head on my shoulder thanking me care and concern. Priceless.

The shorter of the two EMS guys bends down, makes a fist and starts rubbing Rosemary’s chest area right over her heart. I’m a little taken aback because he’s rubbing really hard – so hard that she falls over, head into my lap.

He’s unfazed. “What’s her name?”

“Rosemary”, I say. Suddenly I feel like her only friend.

“Rosemary. Rosemary. Can you hear me? We have to stand up. Get up. Can you stand up?”

This, to me, is useless as Rosemary’s head is in my lap and clearly not getting up anytime soon. The EMS guy maneuvers himself so that he’s able to pick her up from under her arms. He stands her up. I follow suit.

“Rosemary. Can you stand up on your own? How much did you have to drink tonight?”

Trying to be helpful I give him the long list of various drinks she’s supposedly had.

While the first guy is holding Rosemary steady, the other one wants to know who will be accompanying her to the hospital. Both guys look at me. This is where I draw the line.

Standing her up, the EMS guys start to walk her out of the bathroom. As she’s “walking” out, I notice that she’s got a glob of soap on her forehead.

“Wait!” I say to the EMS guys. Grabbing a paper towel, I wipe the soap off her face.

The EMS guys look at me like I’m crazy.

“Come on guys. I can’t let her walk out of here with that on her face.”

The shorter guy looks at me deadpan and says, “Yeah. We wouldn’t want her to be embarrassed or anything.”

And off they go.

I’m exhausted. K.C. walks over to me and hands me my phone.

“That was intense.” He says.

I nod in agreement.

Pause. “So, what are you doing later?”

Perfect.

At the same time, Bubbs appears. “Liz. You ready to start checking in people for the next show? They’re already lined up outside.”

I walk back into the main area. The theme from the show “Cops” starts as the show is still going on in full force. This is Lance’s music. His cop thing. He’s the last dancer of the evening. Looking out at the crowd of women who are drunk, still screaming and waving their hunk bucks in the air, you’d never know there was any drama in the bathroom just a few moments ago. Bubbs taps me on the shoulder from behind.

“Ya ready?” He smiles.

“Are you ready?” I shoot back. And off we go back to the front of the club to do it all over again.

“Give it up for OFFICER LANCE!”

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Letting Go............

Photo: Sunset in Tulum 2009
True mastery can be gained by letting things go their own way. It can't be gained by interfering.
- Lao-tzu

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NOW what??

It’s been a week since I sat at Birch Coffee in the Flatiron District and wrote the last line of my book. With each sentence, my heart began to beat faster, the noise in my head got louder and the finish line so close that it took everything I had to stay focused and push forward.


“Oh my GOD! You’re close! You’re almost there! Girl! You’re going to finish this book!” screamed the voices in my head.

I felt drunk with excitement overload – kind of like a first date when you know he (or she) is going to kiss you and things slow down and speed up all at once.

Straightening my back, I edged closer to my laptop in the hopes that by shifting my weight, I would give myself that final push needed to get to the end.

And it worked.

I did it. I finished and when I did, I wanted to jump up and scream to all the people in the café, “HOLY SHIT! I just finished my first book!”

Instead, I sat back in my chair and did a little silent “Woo hoo!” clenching my fists in victory.

That was seven days ago.

Today, I am plagued with the “Now what?” Sure, I’ve got a ways to go with the book, but until it comes back from my editor, I’ll have a lot of time on my hands and what better way to spend it, than to be obsessed with the next thing?

My friend Daphne, who’s always good for a kind kick in the ass called me out on it last night.

“You never sit in the space of the accomplishment. A year ago, Liz, you didn’t even know what this book was about and now look at you – you finished it. Why isn’t that enough for the moment?”

So, why isn’t it enough? I know I’m not the only one with this affliction. Why are we always looking ahead of where we’re at? If we keep waiting for something, how will we ever know it has arrived? It’s like being on a perpetual bus ride to nowhere.

Ram Dass, the famous Yogi, wrote a book in the seventies called “Be Here Now”.   He wrote:

“Reflect on the thought that if you are truly Here and Now
(a) it is ENOUGH, and
(b) you will have optimum power and understanding to do the best thing at the given moment. Thus when 'then' (the future) becomes Now — if you have learned this discipline — you will then be in an ideal position to do the best thing. So you need not spend your time now worrying about then.”

Huh?

Why are so many people, including myself, obsessed with, “If that then this….”

“When I get my book deal, then I’ll be happy.” Or “When things slow down in my life, then we can be in a relationship.” Or “If I could just make enough money, then I’ll be happy.”

What about the now? What is great about the now?

What, in your life, is standing in front of you asking to be appreciated?

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to give this being-here-now thing a shot. I’ll let you know how it goes when the “then” becomes now.

Until then, I am here.......now.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

“If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others.”
-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Monday, November 1, 2010

Head Up....Arms Wide....Heart Open

photo courtesy of www.photobucket.com


My friend Kristina is moving tomorrow. She decided a few months ago that it was time to leave New York and as her moving date edged closer, naturally, the doubts started to creep in.


She wondered if her motivation to make a “fresh start” in California had been a rash decision. After all, life in New York seemed to be improving and perhaps the very thing that prompted her decision to move was just a phase.

But Kristina decided to stick to the plan.

In the end, I believe, she moved because she made a choice. Kristina made a choice to try for something better in her life. And, if you think about it – really think about it – how many of us have the courage to do that very thing? How many of us hate our jobs; our lives; our decisions to play it safe rather than taking a step, or shall I say a leap towards something we want in our lives?

Maybe Kristina doesn’t know exactly what it is she wants in her life. But at least she knows what she doesn’t want.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve dedicated the majority of my blog space to perseverance, faith and courage. I believe this post fits right into it. Kristina decided life was not working for her here in NYC and had the courage to get out of her comfort zone – the place we stay even if it’s miserable.

Who knows if life in Cali will prove to be better for her? In my eyes, it’s irrelevant. I believe that when you want something, you should go for it – in spite of the fear; in spite of the apprehension. In spite of the odds. No matter what the outcome, you will always know that you went for it and to me, that’s the essence of courage.

To Kristina – may your courage carry you towards you destiny.  Keep your head up, arms wide and heart open.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Speak the Unspeakable.....

It's been awhile since I've posted anything about astrology and today, though I won't go into major detail, I'd like to alert you to a very powerful planetary aspect taking place.  Later on this evening, Venus, the planet of love, desire and beauty will join up with the Sun in Scorpio.  The Sun is expression at its purest and Scorpio, well, did you ever meet a Scorpio who wasn't a deep thinker?  Mercury, the planet of communication is also hanging out in Scorpio, so this matchup is all about expressing ourselves on the deepest level possible.  Pluto, the used-to-be-planet rules Scorpio and Pluto likes to uncover all that is hidden.  Are ya starting to understand your super curious Scorpion friends now?

It's a fast moving aspect and won't be around tomorrow, so today, get centered, breathe deep and speak the unspeakable.  Whether it's an email to a friend you've been meaning to let know how important they are to you; or the conversation you've wanted to have with a lover about your true feelings.  Perhaps it's just an honest expression of what you need and want in your life.  And mind you, it doesn't have to be spoken to someone.  It could just be a few pages in your journal of very honest dialogue with yourself.  Whatever it is, today is the day to be bold and clear.


Eric Francis, an amazing astrologer who's also my good friend and teacher does this aspect way more justice than I do.  Here is an excerpt from his Podcast yesterday.  It's just under two minutes and very informative.

Download Eric Francis - Podcast

I also highly recommend his website http://www.planetwaves.net/ as it is not just a blog - it's a community.

As some of you may know, I'm pretty shy about my singing.  I'm not one who sings on command for people.  I usually need a stage and a microphone, but today, in honor of Venus, I thought I'd share one of my favorite songs to sing, "Ready For Love" by India.Arie, recorded in a rehearsal with Johnny Keys on the guitar. 

Download lweber - Readyforlove

However this day ends up for you, I hope that by tomorrow, you feel a little more free and a lot more confident about expressing your truest desires.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fate



More Prospect Park 10/25/10


Fate, is an excuse for why we end up where we do. Our actions predetermine our destiny, our reactions seal that fate.

-Carl Stoynoff (Poet, philosopher)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Possibility

Prospect Park 10/25/10

Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.

— Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, October 25, 2010

Courage

Courage only comes after you've done something you fear most.
-Unknown

Friday, October 22, 2010

Discipline......

The deadline has been set and I am now in the thick of rewrites.  It's funny how many other ideas I come up with when I'm focusing on something else.  Ah, the art of distraction.  I'd rather clean my apartment than sit down to rewrite Chapter 6, ya know?  I do have a blog post milling around in my head, however and I'm hoping I'll get to work on it over the weekend.  Until then, here's what I needed to hear today:

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.
- Jim Rohn

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Friendship


Me and KJ at the Playoffs

 
 
Do not protect yourself by a fence, but rather by your friends.
- Czech Proverb

Monday, October 18, 2010

Effort

Some make it happen, some watch it happen, and some say, "What happened?"
- Anonymous

Friday, October 15, 2010

Change These Numbers: Sign the Petition

I recently recorded a commercial for a very good cause.  Check out the spot and add your name to the petition to fight for the rights of the child.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Faith

Luis Urúza, the last miner to be rescued, celebrated with President Sebastián Piñera of Chile
Photo: courtesy of NY Times
Like the rest of the world, I spent the last few days glued to the TV watching with baited breath as each of the 33 miners were pulled to safety. Standing at work last night watching, as the 33rd miner was on his way up to the surface, I could barely contain my excitement.


“I’m going to put the sound on when the last one comes out,” I said to no one in particular.

I had a full bar and one of my patrons made a face.

“Aww really?” he said, clearly appalled by my show of sentimentality.

“Absolutely!” I told him. “It’s a happy ending! We hardly ever see them these days.”

He pondered my words for a moment and slowly nodded his head in resignation. “Yeah,” he finally sighed. “That’s true.”

It is true. Happy endings (and not the kind at the massage parlor) are hard to come by. I, for one, was inspired by the efforts of the World to get these guys out safely and back to their families. But I was also moved by the tenacity of their faith. As my own faith ebbs and flows, I am humbled by the strength of these men and their loved ones who held their faith steady and strong.

Today’s quote sums it up:

Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

As for my patron, he led everyone at the bar in singing the Chilean National Anthem.

Go figure.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dare to Trust

Some moving words from my dear friend Giovanni Cucullo whose blogging these days on everything from poetry to food to restaurants.  Thanks GIO!!

"One thing I continue to learn and know on my path is that everything in this life is balance, and the wisdom of nature will balance us out – whether we like it or not – nothing is punishment, but growth requires pain and those who are chosen, somehow must find the courage to honor that journey, within ourselves, drawing upon our full attention in each moment; expanding our hope, faith and trust in our hearts true intuitions and deep knowing that there is always a reason to keep going, even when it is unseen."

Gio's favorite quote from Teddy Roosevelt:
"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Letting go......

Courtesy of Julia - aka "Hoolia"

“If we let go of things, our life is going to change. And the reality is that we are actually more afraid of change than we are of death.” ~ Caroline Myss

Finish Line Syndrome

photo courtesy of photobucket


You cannot dream yourself into a character: you must hammer and forge yourself into one.


---Henry D. Thoreau
 
 

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the blog and I really miss it. As most of you know, I’m writing a book, so this summer was all about sitting in a chair and writing for a two hours a day, five to six days a week. As I watched the book grow to well over three hundred pages, I was motivated by the fact that I was doing it – the very thing I said I wanted to do my whole life - I was writing a book! And so, there I was or here I am – writing, writing, writing. At some point, my life began to shrink as I spent the majority of my time immersed in the book, whether it was the actual writing or thinking about what I wanted to write.

“It’s like constantly walking around and packing for a trip in my head,” I told my mother.  "Ya know, like 'hmmmm. maybe I should take that shirt or those shoes, oh yes - definitely those shoes!' "

“Ohhhh…..” she sighed. “That’s hard.”

Yep. It is hard and exhilarating and terrifying and sometimes fulfilling. I took month off at the end of August to let the story marinate before coming back tto write the ending. Now that I’m just one chapter away from finishing the first draft in its entirety, I find myself with finish line syndrome.

I once ran a tiny marathon in Central Park – something like three miles. Not really a runner, I remember struggling the most when I knew I was almost at the end of the race. Knowing the finish line was near, though I couldn’t quite see it, I wanted to give up. My legs hurt, my mind was flailing around like a two-year-old having a meltdown urging me to give up. “This is bullshit!” my hecklers screamed. “It’s too hard. I can’t make it. I’ve gone as far as I can. Somebody PLEASE tell me I don’t have to finish.”

But because I’m a prideful son-of-a-bitch (or would that be daughter?), I soldiered on. I’d be damned if anyone saw me quit. And then it happened. I rounded the corner and actually saw the finish line. People I didn’t know were cheering me on with such enthusiasm, I completely forgot about myself and let their faith and excitement carry me to the end.

It is now time to listen for the cheers and I’ve decided to look for that encouragement in words to inspire me to keep moving forward.

I’d also love to hear from you. What inspires you? If you’ve got a quote or a mantra or even a prayer that reminds you to stay the course and not give up, email it to me and I’ll post it to the blog.

We all have our finish lines and why not grab for whatever we can to help us through the tape?

email me at gari47@gmail.com with your thoughts.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

And.....here's what HE said:

Check out his side of the story - the unedited version of an article appearing in the "He Said/She Said" column on The Stir, to which my friend, Matthew Wells and I were contributors.

If you missed HER (my) side of the story, check out yesterday's post!!


 photo: courtesy of www.photobucket.com

Sorry; a question? Sure. Shoot.

What's that, you say? “Who should pick up the check on a first date?”

Hmm. Let me give this absolutely no thought at all. My automatic answer: if it’s a date, the guy picks up the check, because that’s how you know it’s a date in the first place. Or at least that’s how you know the guy thinks it’s a date in the first place, or wants it to be. Picking up the check is a signal of intention and interest. It’s the guy saying, “I’m not just looking at you as a friend.”

But it’s also a sign of respect, in a way that has nothing to do with romance. When I say, “Do you want to go out to dinner?” and you say, “Yes,” then that means I’m paying. Why? It’s all part of the package. We wouldn’t be sitting across from each other sharing a meal if I hadn’t popped the question, and picking up the check is understood as a given the moment I hear your “Yes.” It’s not even an option. Think chivalry.

Of course, chivalry may seem quaint and even sexist in our courtesy-challenged society, but again, it’s a sign of something. All first dates take place in a Signals Bar. Everything I do and say will be interpreted a hundred different ways, like a speech at the United Nations. If I pick up the check, it says a couple of interesting (and hopefully interest-related) things about me. (Like, y’know, “Look out, girls--he’s a man with a job.”) If on the other hand I say, “Let’s split it,” that says something, oh, half-interesting at best (which implies half-uninteresting, and lemme tell ya--if you’re more than 40% uninteresting on a first date, it’s the kiss of death). And then, if I’m stupid enough to say, “Your treat, right?” or, “You had the $30 dollar special which means you owe me--wait--hang on a second while I pull up the calculator app,” or, “So is it okay if I leave the tip?” then that is what most women politely call a deal-breaker and profanely call something else entirely.

Another deal-breaker is the guy who goes into a first date saying to himself, “I will only pick up this check if there’s a spark,” or, “I’ll pay if I think this is going somewhere other than two separate cab rides home.” This guy you do not need, ladies--any hint of quid pro ho is a sign that you are having dinner with someone who is totally prepared to dump you for somebody younger or prettier at the first available opportunity. Since his feeling is that a date is like a high-risk investment, that means he orders the wine believing that he’s owed something in return, and if he doesn’t get it, then he’ll put his money somewhere else. (This probably also means that he’s involved in insider trading, and treats his secretary like crap. Run; don’t walk.)

The point is, dating is not an investment. In reality, dating is a gamble. It’s like a game of poker--you raise, you call, and you always pony up to see the other player’s cards. And once that game starts? That’s when it gets really interesting. Once I raise the stakes, it is then up to the woman to decide whether she calls or raises back. The call would be by saying, “No, let’s split it.” The raise would be by either making a half-hearted attempt to pay and then backing down, or by saying, “If I had known you were pickin’ up the tab, I would have ordered that Johnny Blue.”

And, like poker, if you raise? The game continues. But if you call? The hand is over. If a woman insists on paying half, then there is no date. As a guy, if someone I’m interested in throws down a couple of 20’s and says, “No, I insist, this is for my half,” that translates in my brain as, “I am not interested in you romantically.” And I’m fine with that; in fact, I’d rather hear that than the actual words, “I am not interested in you romantically,” because the actual words hurt like hell. That’s why, when a woman says she wants to pick up half the dinner tab, it’s the rejection equivalent of French: a really nice way to say something that in reality sounds like a slap in the face.

But--and I cannot say this strongly enough--it is also a heart with a line drawn through it, which is the universal symbol for NOT INTERESTED. So if I do continue seeing this woman, it will have to be as friends, unless I want to delude myself into thinking that through the liberal application of persistence and three-course dinners, I can get her emotional barometer to swing from COLD AND DISTANT to HOT AND HEAVY. And don’t think I haven’t spent years paving a road through that emotional jungle, okay?

Oh. You too? Really?

Iteresting. Want to talk about it over dinner?

Comments are welcome!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Who Pays?? A commentary from BOTH sides of the table.


Here's the unedited version of an article appearing in the "He Said/She Said" column on The Stir, to which my friend, Matthew Wells and I were contributors. 

Here's what SHE said........

 
“I’m having an amazing time,” Drew said, his big, brown eyes smiling with delight.


“Me too,” I almost giggled as I took another sip of wine.

It had been a great first date – one of the best I can remember. We laughed and talked with the ease of a couple dating for months, not hours. He was scoring high on the first-date-checklist: Good conversationalist – check. Great table manners – check. Polite and Courteous – check.

So when the bill arrived and he gently pushed it toward me saying simply, “You got this, right?” I was speechless.

The shock of it all prevented me from doing anything other than paying the bill. My disappointment was palpable. The night was going so well! It was as if someone just pulled the plug on one of those old record players, the needle scraping against the vinyl with a horrible screech.

“Why didn’t you say anything?” My friend demanded the next day when I told her what happened. “He invited you out, didn’t he?”

“Well, technically he suggested we go out, but it was more of a mutual thing,” I countered.

“That’s crazy!” My friend snorted. “The guy should always pay on the first date.”

This got me thinking. Why should the guy pay on the first date? It’s the new millennium after all. Isn’t it a little antiquated to expect such chivalry?

All of my friends said, emphatically, that they prefer the guy to always pick up the tab – especially on the first date. I wasn’t convinced, so I took it to my blog, asking all my female readers to weigh in on the subject.

The comments varied from women in their twenties to those in their mid-forties, but most agreed that whoever does the asking should most definitely do the paying. The reasons behind their opinions were more interesting though, varying from not having to “owe” anything at the end of the date to maintaining the masculine/feminine polarity. Take a look:

“The guy should always pick up the tab on the first date, especially if he asked the girl out in the first place.” –B, 23

“The person who requests the date should pay for the date. If a woman asks a man out, she should expect to pay. This lends itself to the notion that if things are going well, keep it goin-with the counter offer. Dinner was great and thank you, now let me buy you a drink, a coffee a piece of cake.....” –F, early 40’s

“…I insisted on going dutch the first date; unless the date was precipitated by him asking: "Can I take you out to dinner," in which case, he paid…..I kept the dutch rule because, firstly, I've always been proud when it comes to money (perhaps a character flaw); and, secondly, because I believe that equality between men and women begins with treating each other as equals in everyday circumstances. If I depend upon a man to buy dinner, that dependence could stretch into other categories as well.” –A, 33

“The guy should definitely pay on the first date. I think for the masculinity/femininity balance to work out, the man has to be the provider, especially at the beginning. He has to show that he can look after her. She’ll then feel safe and be able to open up to him…We all have both masculinity and femininity within us, and to keep the chemistry alive in a relationship, you need to be mostly in the opposing trait to your mate.” K, 41

A week later, he called to ask me out on a second date. I thought about my own relationship to how I feel about the guy picking up the tab. I’m an independent woman. I own a home and make a decent living, so why would I need a guy to pay my way? In doing so, wouldn’t I be defeating the very purpose of being a strong and capable woman?

But here’s the thing. The very reason that I would like the man to pay is because I’m an independent woman. I work so hard at taking care of myself and holding it all down that it’s nice to have a man who wants to take you out, show you a good time and insist on paying the bill. For me, it’s like a mini vacation or more importantly, it gives me the chance to relax a little and let someone else be in charge for a change.

Just because I’m a strong woman doesn’t mean that letting someone else take charge will threaten my ability to take care of myself. If a person is truly comfortable in her personal power, allowing the guy to pick up the bill isn’t anything more than a nice gesture. It is just as much an act of power to receive as much as it is to give.

I say, keep it simple. If you’re interested in a second date, let him pay and offer to take him out the next time. Otherwise, politely decline and offer to split the bill.

Either way, always remember, you’re just as much a part of the date as he is and however you feel about him, you still get to choose what’s best for you.

I thought about it and Drew really did ask me out on that first date and my reason for declining a second one was simple. Dating, especially the first few, is all about putting your best foot forward and I’m not ashamed to say that I expect the very best from a man who’s interested in me. Drew didn’t deliver and put his best toe forward and in the end it’s not about the money – it’s about the effort.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

For the Ladies.................

photo: courtesy of photobucket

I want to hear from the females out there!!

Ladies, on the first date, who should pick up the tab???

email your thoughts to gari47@gmail.com

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Worker Bee








photo courtesy of www.photobucket.com


Thanks to everyone who's emailed me over the last couple of months wondering, "When will you start posting again?" and "Is that book finished yet, or what?"

It's been an intense couple of months and I'm happy to report that I'm in the homestretch.  Bear with me as I put the final touches on my first draft - good thoughts and energy sent my way are always welcome!!

I'll be back soon and when I return, stay tuned for some exciting news!

All the best and as always, thank you for reading.

Friday, March 26, 2010

On Love and Surfing........

photo: courtesy of photobucket


I’m a control freak. Make that a self-control freak. Okay, an emotional control freak. Some people prefer to control others unleashing a litany of passive-aggressive behavior in order to get their way. Me? I’m more of an eyes-on-your-own-paper kind of girl. When things get too sticky- code for “You’re getting too close to my emotional edges” - I shut down and head for the hills taking my vulnerability with me.

I’m not a coward, though. I push my limits in all other areas of life. I’m the girl, who travels to Mexico for a month, knowing not a soul. I’m the one who left a lucrative job in the corporate world to pursue my creative passions.

So, signing up for Surf School in Costa Rica was right up my alley. It was Winter; I was pale; and I always wanted to learn how to surf. For five days, I stuck close to my adorable, South American Surfing Instructor, Rodrigo, whose shouts of “P-AH-ddle! P-AH-ddle! Get Up!” rang in my ears long after school was over.

On the third day, I had a revelation. As I paddled out to Rodrigo, who was straddled on his board, sitting upright, feet dangling in the water, he gave me the usual, “You ready?” I was exhausted. The muscles in my arms were on fire, my nose running like a five-year old, and the waves seemed bigger that day than they had all week. But, I’m no slouch. I nodded and got into position.

As I lay there on the board, Rodrigo offered some last minute reminders. “Fit W-EYE-d. Bock foot fearst. Then front. Okay? Let’s go. P-AH-ddle! P-AH-ddle! Hard!”

Determination kicked in and I focused on everything he told me. As I waited on the board, face down and ready to paddle, I thought about how bizarre the whole experience was. I couldn’t see the waves coming and I was completely reliant upon Rodrigo’s judgment and direction. It was a total loss of control.

I thought of Rob. Tall, dark and beautifully chiseled Rob, whose deep voice alone could drive a woman to orgasm. We dated for almost a year. He was a Personal Trainer who liked his weed and his workouts – pretty simple. He loved my spirit and the fact that I spoke my mind. He was also a great listener.

“I have a fear of losing myself in relationship,” I told him early on. “I’m not sure I know how to be independent and committed.”

“I don’t want anything from you, Liz,” he said quietly, deep voice soothing my mental chatter. “Just, do you.”

Unfortunately, “doing me” consisted of bobbing and weaving like Muhammad Ali

And Rob was a good opponent, dipping left, when I went right, never doing that hug-thing boxers do when they want to stop the fight.

I tried, but I was terrified. What if I really let him in and actually got used to it? Then, what? What if he leaves? What if I couldn’t function without him?

I give him a lot of credit because he never pushed. Though, sometimes, I wonder if he had pushed a little harder, if we’d still be together, but, alas, we aren’t.

I just couldn’t let go – of myself.

In Costa Rica, I realized that learning to surf is a lot like love. Sitting there on my surfboard, I had to put myself in someone else’s hands. I had to let go and not only trust my instructor, but I had to trust the fact that when the time came for me to ride that wave, I could do it. I wondered how I could lay there, my back to the waves, with no idea of the height or the timing of the oncoming wave, waiting for that moment every surfer feels when the swell of the wave takes hold and challenges you to ride along with it.

Love is just like a wave – it swells, takes hold and the rest is just a ride. All you can do is remember to keep your feet planted properly and your focus on what’s in front of you. Sometimes, you fall – hard. Other times, you find that wave and everything slows down, as you truly feel like you are one with the ocean.

For me, I decided if I can ride the wave of Mother Nature, I can certainly give love a try.

As for Rob, he’s got a new girlfriend. I hear she’s teaching him how to surf.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Rinse and Spin

photos by julia aron


This morning, I said my final “Adios” to LAOra as today is the last day of school. Julia is finished with her classes for the day and has agreed to join me and my surfing peeps on the beach. She’s bringing her camera which is exciting to all as we’re all anxious to document our surfing progress.

I’ve got cramps, a condition not conducive to surfing; It takes almost half my energy to tolerate them – not a good thing, considering I need as much strength as possible to get my surf on.

At the beach, the waves are looking a lot like they did yesterday in Hermosa – a fact that still excites me today – in spite of my cramps. I’m ready to make my last day of surfing here, a memorable one. We do the usual splitting off – Ben, Mike and me with Rodriguo and the others with their respective Surf Instructors. Julia’s on the beach, camera in-hand, excited to take pictures of me riding the waves.

I give her a small wave as I make my way into the water and out to sea. Getting out proves to be fairly simple because the waves have died down for the moment. I paddle over to Rodriguo who’s already sitting on his board, legs straddled, dangling in the water. “You ready, Leez?” he asks, flashing me that sheepish smile I’ve come to appreciate over the past week. I want to tell him that I’m feeling less than 100% and that I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep up, but that’s not really my style. Fake it ‘til ya make it, right? “I’m ready Rodriguo!” I say, mimicking his seated position on my board.

And then, we wait.

There’s a lot of waiting in surfing. Some of this has to do with the fact that I’m still an amateur and not ready to take every wave that comes. But, even the others who’ve been here much longer, don’t necessarily take every wave that comes. So, we spend the first hour waiting a lot. I try to catch a few waves, but they don’t really pan out. I imagine it looks like I’m descending down a flight of stairs from afar as I sink slowly down into the water, atop of my board.




Finally, Rodriguo calls out to me to get ready. I paddle closer to him and get into position. He reminds me to keep my “fit wEYEd” as he yells for me to “P-AH-ttle! P-AH-ttle!” With that, I can feel the wave coming up behind me, I try to steady my breath and focus on getting my feet wide on the board.

I’ve got good position and as I stand up to full height on the board, I instantly realize something – this wave is freakin’ HUGE! I am way the fuck up here! Maybe I’m not really cut out to surf, ‘cuz this doesn’t excite me – THIS SCARES ME! And with that, I panic, pretty much jumping right off my board and into the water. Doh!

I don’t even bother to look back at Rodriguo because I know he’s going to give me that familiar shrug of his shoulders, a silent gesture of “What happened?”

But, I’m not off the hook because Ricardo, the Head Instructor, calls out to me, “Why you jump off yer board?” I don’t even bother with an answer. I’m sure it would go over real well if I yelled back at him, “Because I got spooked!”

And like a chorus of hecklers, Carlos, Surf Instructor/Photography teacher calls over to me. “How beeg you think tha’ wave wuz?”

With my palms on the board and my feet still in the water, I lean forward and yell, “I dunno. 20 feet?”

This sends Carlos into a fit of laughter and I ignore him, getting back on my board to paddle back out to the others.

He calls out to me, “Four feet!” And I hear the laughter behind me as I make my way back to Rodriguo.

“You okay, Leez?” He asks, pulling my board closer to his.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m fine. I just got a little scared.”

He tells me not to be scared, which, of course, is easy for him. He’s only been surfing a million times in his life.

After some more waiting, I try to take another wave. My footing is off and I barely get past a kneeling position, finally slipping off the board completely. The only problem is there are a few larger waves behind me and for what seems like an eternity, I am thrown around in the undertow like a rag doll, swallowing a ton of salt water. The good thing about having a leash is that you’ll never lose your board. The bad thing, that I quickly learn today is that while I’m being thrown around, it is too – pulling my right leg practically out of its socket.

I finally reemerge from the water and get my bearings. I’m a lot further in than I expected. I grab the leash and pull on the rubber tubing to retrieve my board. Mike’s about ten feet away from me and we shoot each other a quick, “Holy Shit, that was intense!” look before we begin the long paddle back out to the others.




As I paddle out, I take stock of my physical condition. I didn’t hurt myself on that last one, but I am completely exhausted. I think I’ll just chill for a bit when I get back out to Rodriguo. My arms are sore and tired from paddling and I feel like I’m not really getting anywhere.

The waves have picked up and they seem to be coming faster and harder than before. If I can just get past the point where they are breaking, I’ll be fine. The only problem is that I can’t. The wave coming toward me is a doozy and I know that I’m going to have to get under my board for this one. I just hope I can hold onto my board once the wave breaks.

I paddle vigorously towards it and as it breaks about five feet in front of me, I grasp my board, flip over and under the water, hugging it close to the front of my body. The wave is so strong that my board lurches upwards, pulling my arms and the rest of me with it. I learn later that, in this case, I should just let the board go, but right now, I hold on as if my life depends on it. Unfortunately, once the wave passes, the board comes back at me with a WHAP! - hitting me in the forehead. More swallowed salt water. Much more pain my body; and the sinking feeling that I’m not even close to reaching the others.

I pull myself together, get back on the board, and do it all over again. This time, I know what to expect and unfortunately, it creates more fear rather than less. As I see the next wave coming towards me, two things cross my mind – the first is the fear that I won’t be able to handle this and that I’m going to get seriously hurt. The second is to Carlos: Four feet my ass!

As expected, it’s more of the same, me flipping the board and getting whipped around like Raggedy Ann. Finally, I get back out to the others and Rodriguo tells me to “Take it EE-see for awhile.” No arguments here.




I must be feeling better because while I’m taking a timeout, the frustration starts to build. I don’t want to go out like this! I want my last day of surfing to be a success. I have to get up at least one more time. And with that, I tell Rodriguo I’m ready to get back in the game.

After more waiting, I’m finally ready to go. With my board facing the shore and my arms paddling as hard as they can, I feel the swell of the wave lurch me forward indicating the point at which I’m supposed to get up. I pull myself up and plant my feet on the board. It’s not a perfect plant, but I’m up and I try to cheat my feet outward a bit. Unfortunately, this screws up my balance and I go down – hard!

After more spinning and lurching, I get above water only to find that the entire left side of my body has gone numb. This can’t be good. I can barely hold onto my board as the waves continue to throw me around. It’s not like the ocean’s going to wait until I feel better. I look out to Rodriguo so I can let him know that I’m done, but he beats me to it and gives me the fingers across the neck sign, calling it a day.

The numbness in my body overtakes the disappointment of ending on not-such-a-great note and as I make my way to shore, I’m not sure what to do. Ben’s already on shore, wrapping the leash around his board. “You okay?” He calls out to me, as I stumble out of the water. “I don’t know. My whole left side is numb.” I say, struggling to hold the board while I unhook my leg from the leash.

I want to cry – mostly ‘cuz I’m scared. But, the numbness is now accompanied by a general pain in my left arm. I do my best to pack my board up, wrapping the leash around the back fins and dipping the front-end into the water to get the sand off.

Julia has no idea what’s going on and while I’m doing my best not to throw myself onto the sand screaming, “Ow! Ow! Help me!” she’s all about taking my picture. The sun is setting behind me and in spite of my pain, I know it’s a great shot. So, I move closer to the water to give her a better shot and give her a phony smile.

When I reach her, she’s all excited. “How was it? You looked great out there!”

I tell her about my pain and numbness.

“Oh shit, girl. Are you okay?”

“I’m not sure.” And I mean it.

Ben’s sweet and offers to load my board onto the van for me. Rodriguo and I pose for a picture and we all pile into the van and head back to school.

So, my last day of surfing wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be, but I loved the experience. And…call me crazy – but I’d do it again.