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Date archive for: March 2009

The Height of My Career

I’m not a ginormous person. Not hulking. Not alpine. I couldn’t, like, take down Ann Coulter in a cage fight, although I’d really enjoy trying. But at five-foot-ten and prone to heels, I’m on the lanky side.

Still, I’m astonished how many readers meet me and make this exact comment:

“Wow. You look so much … shorter in your photo.”

I get it all the time. As if it were a perfectly rational thing to say. As if they believed my column mugshot were actual size, and the rest of my body should be six, seven inches tall.

“You’re big,” people inform me. “We thought you were this petite little thing.” They don’t say it in a “Wow, life is full of fun surprises” kind of way. They say it like it’s disconcerting. Like I’ve forever destroyed their ability to trust themselves.

One woman actually held up my book, pointed to the author photo on the back and said to her friend, “Look at her! That’s a small person, I’m sorry.”

The first few times it happened, I let it go. Chuckled, shrugged, tried not to feel like a freak. Maybe squatted a bit, trying to slowly, surreptitiously shrink down to the size folks picture me to be. The size they really, really want me to be.

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The Sob Squawk Screech of Siblings

I’m an only child. But I was rarely a lonely child.

My folks would drive half an hour each way to shuttle my school chums to and from our house so I’d have someone to goof around with on weekends. I always thought their jaunts were generous, but now that I’m a parent I realize it was for their benefit as much as mine: An hour of driving is well worth four hours of not having to help me inventory my Hello Kitty pencils and choreograph a dance routine to an entire Go-Go’s album.

When friends weren’t around, I played jacks or skated around the block solo. I dressed Barbie, undressed her and dressed her again, maybe with a winter muff this time. I sat alone in my room transcribing lyrics from my Walkman or playing solitaire. (It sounds sadder than it was.)

I remember once playing Twister by myself. I set up the colorful plastic mat in the living room, where my mother was trying desperately to lose herself in a novel, and I asked if she would mind simply kicking the spinner with her foot as she read, so that I might know where next to plop my left hand, or right foot.

Okay, maybe that one was a little sad.

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The Love Contract

Everyone knows you’re not supposed to date your boss. It makes things messy at the office.

I dated mine once, and can attest that things did get messy at the office. Also in the car. And on the sofa at his place.

We flirted. We kissed. We got naked. Shacked up, got married, had kids. Even now, we continue to grope each other in front of the subordinates, open each other’s mail, and answer our home phone singing, “Aloha! Deano’s Weiner Shanty” — all behavior that is really frowned upon in a corporate setting.

Mr. Boss Man and I were in college when we began canoodling among the cubicles, and our tryst failed to raise a ruckus. Some colleagues offered high-fives; others rolled their eyes and made occasional gagging sounds. Most just dismissed us as indiscreet young idiots.

Today, though, employees who date coworkers may be asked to sign a “love contract” declaring their romantic alliance. Known formally as “consensual relationship agreements,” these documents confirm that both parties willingly entered into the affair, and that either one is free to end it without professional ramifications.

I saw one that read, “The undersigned independently and collectively desire to undertake and pursue a mutually consensual social and/or amorous relationship …”

Whew! Makes me hot just reading it.

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Rent's Price of Admission

Dirty needles. Cross dressers. Pole dancing. Just another day in the high-school auditorium.

After 12 years of rocking and shocking Broadway, the hit musical Rent is exploding onto high-school stages across America. The New York Times reports that more than 40 schools plan to stage the rock opera this spring. But some parents and principals are squeamish over the show’s racy content, and productions in California, Texas, and West Virginia have been canceled.

The play is actually Rent: School Edition, a somewhat milder version of the original. The profanity has been cut — but the provocative plot remains in tact.

Winner of a Pulitzer Prize and three Tony Awards, Rent is Jonathan Larson’s turn-of-the-21st-Century take on the classic opera La Bohème. It tracks a year in the life of a loose-knit clan of starving artists grappling with poverty, disease, and romance in New York’s East Village.

In La Bohème, the heroine is a frail seamstress suffering from consumption; in Rent, she’s a smack-addicted go-go dancer with HIV. If that’s not enough to get a parent’s trousers in a twist, there are (gasp) gay, bisexual, and transvestite characters.

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