Sunday, April 20, 2008

Going for Mascara

I figured running this errand - "Frank, would you mind, when you're at the store, getting me some mascara," would be easy enough to do. I mean, how hard can it be to buy two tubes of mascara?

When I went into CVS, my first task was to figure out which aisle mascara would be in. I stood there in the front of the store, gawking like a tourist, looking at the aisle headers: Nope, not fragrances. Certainly not feminine hygiene, eye care, mouthwash, or hair products. Hmmnn. Then it dawned on me that mascara was cosmetics. The aisle on the far left. Easy enough; I'll just pop in, get this done and be out in a flash.

Next thing I knew I was standing there staring at four different but side by side floor to ceiling displays of mascara and related products. "Oh, shit." I thought. Maybelline, L'Oreal, Revlon, and Almay. This is not going to be easy. I barely know what mascara is; I mean, I know it's stuff that women (for the most part) put on their eyelashes to make them look - look what? Beautiful? Luxurious? Exotic? Accentuated? Accessorized? Cat-like? Catty? (No. Not catty. I need to stay out of trouble here. It's hard enough to focus on this much less veer off on a tangent.)

Does she want longer lashes? Maybe smoother ones. No, how about longer and smoother; certainly not clumpy. Clumpy and lumpy would not be cool. Should the eyelashes curve or be straight? If they naturally curve would you want them straighter? If they're naturally straight do you want them to curve?

Does she want smoother, longer, fuller eyelashes? Is each lash supposed to separate to... to what? To be separate - from what, each other? Why would you want your eyelashes to be separate from each other? Are eyelashes fuller if they're separated?

How about color? Does she want black eyelashes, brownish-black, brown, mostly black (or mostly brown), or some other color altogether? No, I knew black was the color of preference. But what color of black? One choice was blacker black. The mystery deepens. Sweat starts forming on my brow and under my arms. It's starting to get warm in the store.

I remembered something about waterproof. I understand if a person wearing mascara has their eyes tear up (hopefully from joy; but, you know, you never know; at least, most guys don't), the mascara runs all down their cheeks and onto your shirt and then...Whoa, Frank, don't go there.

Oh man. It's really getting warm now. I'm sorry I agreed to run this errand. I'll just tell her they didn't have any. Instead, I pick up matching tubes from each of the four displays. All four choices are black, waterproof and cost $7.49 each. I make sure there are two tubes of each. God forbid if I were to come back with non-matching tubes. Why does she need two tubes, anyway? Is it one tube per eye? Don't go there, Frank. Focus on the prize.

Standing there, I read the backs of each tube in the hope of finding something that will make my choice the best it can be. A couple of the tubes have aloe and vitamin B15. That's got to be good, doesn't it? All four are hypoallergenic and have been opthamologist tested. Tested for what? I can just imagine an opthamologist, wearing a white lab coat, standing on the podium in front of a thousand people with a tube of mascara in his/her hand, saying, "Yep. It's a tube of mascara, all right." I guess that proves it.

Okay. I discard the two that don't have the aloe and vitamin B15 in them. Now I'm down to two. Jeez. Twenty minutes have gone by and I'm still standing in this aisle trying to pick mascara. It's become an insane process. I'm starting to hyperventilate.

Ah! The difference! One brand has, as it's 20th year anniversary promotion, a buy one full price and get the second one 50% off. There you go: buy two, get one half off.

So, I finally get two tubes of black, waterproof, hypoallergenic, opthamologist-tested, mascara with aloe and vitamin B15. And, it's only taken forever.

I trot on back to the house, fairly secure I've gotten the right stuff and able to defend my choice based on exhaustive consumer research. I've even managed to save a couple bucks in the process.

Here you go, my dear: Two tubes of mascara. Gee thanks, she says. Well, wait, I say. Don't you want to know what I got? I mean, I'm ready with this whole spiel justifying my choice. In return, I get two questions - is it waterproof and is it black? Well, yes; but, what about all this other stuff about it, I ask?

"Oh, I don't really look at all that," she says. "I just go in and grab two tubes off the rack. Doesn't matter which kind, you know." she says, "I'm in and out of there in a second." Then, as a final, afterthought, she says, lightheartedly - "You guys. Always looking to save a buck."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Dining at One of Boston's Best

This past Friday Judy and I went to Locke Ober to celebrate her birthday. Locke Ober is one of Boston's finest restaurants. It's located in an alley off of a side street across from the Boston Common near the Park Avenue red line stop. We got there by going down a one way street the wrong way (which is allowed after 6 p.m.) and turning into an alley, to be relieved of the car by a parking valet.

Locke Ober was once exclusively a place for the wealthy Boston Brahmin businessmen. The establishment is full of dark mahogany, polished to a shine. The wood work is finely carved, ornate and evidently created just for the restaurant, but done, oh, maybe a hundred or more years ago.

We ate in the main dining room, eschewing the private dining areas available upstairs. In order to eat in the dining room, proper dress, described as at the minimum, business casual, is required. One can be more casual at the bar but even there jeans and work boots are verboten.

For dinner, Judy had Dover sole and I had Scottish salmon. Both dishes were excellent. The food was rich, well prepared and tasted sooo good. Because we were going dancing later on in the evening, we both declined dessert. However, since I mentioned that it was her birthday, the waiter brought out a sorbet sampler with a lighted candle in it for us to share. He also sang happy birthday to Judy. On our way out, one couple wished Judy a happy birthday.

Locke Ober is not a place to go to regularly, at least not for a guy with my budget, but it's definitely the type of Old Boston establishment to go for a special occasion. Quaint, refined, reserved, expensive, it's the kind of place you can only go to rarely, and leave with a lasting memory.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

This Past Month

It has been a while since I last posted. Time gets away quickly. On Easter Sunday I went skiing, up at Gunstock in NH. It was a gorgeous day, 20 degrees at the base of the mountain and 10 degrees at the top. It was a great day, bright sun and a big blue sky. After a few runs I was comfortable enough to let it loose and cruise on down with (not quite reckless) abandon. There was hardly anyone there, no lift lines and little trail traffic.

During the past month or so I've been learning zydeco dancing. It's a fun dance and, while I can incorporate some swing moves into it, I'm interested in learning more of its traditional movements. It's an earthy dance, for sure. I took a private lesson and, at the end of the session, the dance instructor said that she felt comfortable enough with me to say that the dance is really done with the pelvis. I can do that; well, now I can. I'm concentrating on learning to dance with my body more in place than, for example, in swing where there's more movement in space.

Last weekend I went to a wine tasting party. First time ever in my life. I wanted to make fun of it, but couldn't. You know, the bourgeoisie of it all, hah, hah. Instead, I got involved in learning about wine. The color, clarity, legs, noting the subtle nature of the smells the wine exuded when you swirled it. It was pretty cool. I'm not much of a wine drinker, never paid attention to its finer aspects, and know I'll never become a wine snob, but it was neat to learn about it.

What is interesting to me is that while wine goes right to my head and I can get tipsy pretty quickly, I have a strong tolerance for hard liquor. Beer, I find, bloats me and causes me to snore so I stay away from it. Mostly though, I find I can do without any alcohol at all. I don't like to drink and then go dancing since the effects of the alcohol affects my rhythm and timing. I also don't like to dance with women who have been drinking as, I've found, it affects their balance and and makes leading them more difficult.

A few weeks ago I went up to the Boston Tea Party in Danvers, MA for a day (it was actually a weekend but we only went for one day) and took a bunch of west coast swing workshops. At the end of the day I was confused, tired and hungry and wondered if I'd learned anything at all - but I had. Now I just need to go and dance more west coast swing.

I did run across John there. He and his friend, Carol, drove up from Catonsville, MD for the weekend. It was very cool seeing someone from Baltimore. Especially so since John had been part of the men's group I was in in Baltimore. We ate lunch together before heading off into separate workshops. Hopefully, I'll see him again soon.

Dixie's doing well. She's had flare ups of stiffness in her hips, especially the right one, but giving her Novox from time to time keeps the inflammation down. Yesterday she was stalking a squirrel on a playground. She was walking so deliberately, slow, like a lion in the wild. The squirrel finally started paying attention and hopped up into a tree. After the squirrel did that Dixie broke into a run. I just shake my head. Dix, I said, you're a little late and a little too slow. She doesn't care.