IS IT COLD IN HERE OR AM I OLD?

Last weekend we were invited to the opera by my in-laws. This is a big, once a year event in which they treat us to amazing seats AND spring for dinner at the Meyerson Symphony Center next door to the Winspear Opera House.This annual tradition has become one of my favorite things about Fall. This year, the performance was Carmen.

carmen

Having never seen this particular opera before, I was shocked, SHOCKED to discover the music was familiar to me. How familiar? As familiar as the classic movie, Bad News Bears.

I had long suspected any pretense to class or high culture I possessed had come from the Merry Melodies cartoons and specifically, Bugs Bunny. Turns out I was right. “Gilligan’s Island” once featured a performance of Hamlet that made use of the famous “Toreador” aria, as well. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’ll know it as soon as you hear it. This song has currently replaced “Roar” by Katy Perry as the song that haunts me day and night.

Anyway, the only unpleasant thing about attending the opera at the Winspear is the super-powered air conditioning. I mean, they must think they’re countering heatwaves from the depths of hell. Where we were sitting, and I assume it is the same throughout, there are round vents under each and every seat. These round vents create an arctic environment that comes within maybe 2 degrees of causing hypothermia.

Cold Penguin

Everyone makes fun of women and our sensitivity to cooler temperatures as we get older, despite whatever hot flashes come with the territory. Well, I know for a FACT it was truly cold in the Winspear because even Robert confessed to his feet being ice cube-like. By intermission, my upper half was draped in my pashmina and the lower half wrapped in Robert’s suit coat. I could barely resist the urge to put my frozen, goose bumpy legs into the sleeves and wear the thing like bad pants. I had visions of recreating the scene from Star Wars where Hans cuts open the tauntaun to stay warm in the blizzard.

By the time I got home that night I had to put on a thick pair of soft, fuzzy socks, climb under the comforter, and pull the artificial bear skin throw over me. I slept that way all night and NEVER felt warm. Robert swears the house was 77 degrees, so I can only assume my blood had actually turned to an icy mixture similar to a frozen margarita, which took all night to melt.

The next time we attend the opera, we have fool-proof plans. Feel free to steal our ideas. One, bring several paper plates and a roll of duct tape. Put the plate over the vent under your chairs and the chairs in front of you. Tape in place to seal.

Two, along with the paper plate and duct tape, pack some hiking socks. Men may survive with their dress shoes and socks, but a woman in evening wear and God forbid, a strappy sandal, will lose her toes to frostbite.

Three, bring a flask of whiskey or scotch, because even if you block all four seats in your immediate area and wear your comfy socks, you will still be cold and need something to heat your blood and make you care less about losing your toes.

If none of these precautions work, you should have a St. Bernard on call. Not only will he bring booze, maybe he’ll sit in your lap for warmth.

St. bernard

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PARADE AND PUNISHMENT

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS A REPEAT OF THE ST. PATRICK’S DAY POST THAT REMAINED UP FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS, THEN SOMEHOW DISAPPEARED. TECHNOLOGY IS NOT MY FRIEND.

Let’s say I did it for science. Why else would someone over the age of 25 attend a St. Patrick’s Day parade they have managed to avoid for the last 20 years? Dallas has hosted this parade since 1979 and it has grown to over 100,000 party-goers.

I attended once before. In the 90s. After being pushed and shoved, having beers sloshed all over me by strangers (and myself), I decided to forego the event indefinitely. Even though we’ve been living within a mile of the parade route for nearly three years, I’ve had no desire to participate.

However, Friday, Robert informed me we were attending this year with his friends.

What?

We’re going. It’ll be fun.

Harrumph.

So, Saturday morning I awoke at 8:00 AM. Unheard of for me on a weekend. By 9:00, our guests were here wearing bright green shirts, beads, and headbands with shamrocks on springy antennas. I looked positively funereal in my camouflage pants, gray t-shirt and sunglasses. My spirits lifted a bit when I was handed a tumbler of champagne and orange juice. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.

I slurped my vitamin C infused alcohol from my red plastic Solo cup with a guilty eye toward the clock, 9:30. We piled in the car and drive .07 miles to a parking place, where the ever-prepared and much more awake friends offered us beads, a green bowler hat and shamrock stickers to apply to our persons. I passed. Robert looked splendid in his bowler. The threat of tequila shots avoided, we made our way to the street and perched against the barricades lining the route.

The parade began at 11:00. At ten ’til, I was on my second banana, pineapple, vodka something. People-watching was entertaining. Two college aged boys were holding up signs as they moved through the crowd. “Free hugs!” Genius. Women were lining up. Some guys, too.

hug

I had to stop watching because I could sense people moving in on my space. Widening my stance and extending my elbows, I returned to claiming my territory, lest some interloper edge me out of my front row view. Nothing worse than being tipsy at 11:00 in the morning and losing your spot to some munchkin who manages to sneak in under your guard.

As we listened to Snoop Dog’s sound check, “Check, check, check, check,” ad infinitum, I wondered for the hundredth time when I could go home and take a nap.

Wait! The parade! Down the street, we saw the approach of police lights and could hear the faint wail of bagpipes. A picture’s worth a ridiculous amount of words, so here you go. This way, you can say you saw the parade without having to attend.

bagpipe

skaters

bike bar

Float occupants tossed beads to the greedy, screaming crowd. They really need to practice this, as beads either skidded across the asphalt, the strand breaking before coming to a rest about three feet from us on the wrong side of the barricade, or they whipped past us at a velocity that caused me to duck and cover. Every now and then, I’d shoot an arm straight into the air mid-duck and find my hand gripping one of the coveted necklaces. Robert and his pal were a bit more aggressive, plucking them from the air and placing them over our heads until we were weighted down. I kept repeating, “Tim Gunn would not approve. Fashion dictates you take a look in the mirror and remove one accessory item.”

I was ignored.

float 2

float 1

mustache

We were home by 12:30, and I was sound asleep by 7:30 PM, at which time my husband shoved me toward the bedroom. I awoke at 1:00 AM. WIDE AWAKE.

There you have St. Patrick’s Day in Dallas. I am the proud owner of a dozen strands of beads, if not more, a cookie from the Hare Krishna float (don’t ask), and three koozies.

Give me another 20 years and I may be up for this again.

TORNADO TOWN – DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME

Yesterday was a big day in the metroplex. We had a dozen tornadoes reported on the ground. Being at work in the downtown area, I had little clue so much drama was taking place. We DO have floor to ceiling windows on the North and South sides of the building, so I have a good view of the sky most of the day. But as far as I knew yesterday, the weather was the norm for Texas this time of year. Major thunderstorms. Big whoop.

I may have even said “Big whoop” at some point.

Then, I noticed our automatic blinds were closing, which irritated me because it was storming and I like to watch the clouds as they form little puffs or tails. I had just rounded the corner muttering to myself and heading for my boss’ office when one of our IT guys stepped off the elevator and announced, “There’s a tornado on the ground. We need everyone to take shelter.”

I have not heard these words at work before. I’m in a three-story office building on the edge of the West End in Dallas. Near the highway. A couple of highways. And Reunion Tower. I guess ever since that tornado struck downtown Fort Worth in 2000, tornadoes are cocky enough to pop up anywhere they feel like it.

Wondering why our PA system was a human being rather than a PA system, I followed him around the corner to my work space and listened as he told our side of the office the same thing – and to head for the West stairwell or the break rooms. Now.

Strangely, I grabbed my purse. Then I stood a moment trying to decide which sounded better. Stairs or break room. I made eye contact with the “boss man” who happens to be one of the architects who designed the building. He says, “Break room.” I follow.

A crowd had already gathered. It was just tight enough to bump elbows with people, which from what I hear means it’s a good party. “It’s not a party until your elbow is in someone else’s drink.” See? Like I said.

Standing in the middle of a room during a tornado went against all the training I received as a child in Texas. Even though I was safely away from windows and potentially flying shards of glass, homeless people and debris, it just felt wrong. I know my tornado alley friends can relate. At some point during our academic careers we spent the better part of a day crouched on the floor of the hallway at school, foreheads touching knees and hands covering our heads – like little yoga turtles, while outside the sky turned green.

For a brief moment yesterday as I stood there like Queen Elizabeth, holding my purse on my forearm, I considered getting a Sharpie and writing my name and my “In Case of Emergency” contact on my arm. I also giggled a little when I thought of taping my driver’s license to my chest.

It does not feel like an emergency when you are standing in a crowd of people who are updating their Facebook status (John Doe is “Huddled in a break room with lots of people I work with but barely know – waiting for death, or a coffee, whichever comes first.”) The ability to watch radar images on an Ipad was a new twist to “Storm Watch” for me. Everyone’s screens were very RED.

After about 5-10 minutes we were told to return to our workspaces but be prepared for “round two” any time. I never even realized that in addition to the tornado I heard about in Lancaster – the one with the giant trailers flying through the air – there were many, many more. I contacted my husband and he said he thought they tested the sirens on the first Tuesday of the month, and therefore had pretty much ignored it.

I called my mother, who worries, to tell her I was alive and well and that my employers were keeping us informed.

Me: Hi, mom. Just got out of the break room where they had us huddled.

Mom: You were in a lunch meeting?

Me: No. We were seeking shelter. From the tornadoes.

Mom: There are tornadoes? Are any near Sarah’s school??!
(Sarah, the adorable grandchild who is the first priority. As she should be.)

Me: I’m fine, thanks. And no. I think Sarah’s in the clear. As are you. Now.

Sigh.

All in all, over 800 homes were damaged by as many as 12 tornadoes. That’s impressive, even for Texas. Even more impressive – somehow we seem to have escaped without any loss of life. Let’s keep that up this Spring, shall we?

Oh, and in case you were interested, the new drainage system Hubby dug works great. He was wandering around in the backyard during the “siren serenade” a.k.a. “the attack of the viral spirals” yesterday to confirm it.

He may not be that bright, but he’s cute, and his drainage work is impeccable.