Thursday, July 23, 2009

You Don't Surprise Me

I've been confronted a lot lately with people who are sure they're going to surprise me. They don't actually mean surprise, they mean impress, but that's neither here nor there. They are all quite sure that their ideas are far and away so delightful and innovative and simple right that I will be shock rocketed right out of my stodgy old seat.

I used to be a stage manager. The short description of stage management is that it is a low paying job where one works long hours to intensely mother people one has never met before. I don't do that anymore. Shortly after I graduated from college I took a job stage managing at my alma mater. The people were fine but not my besties, the job was tedious and the show was lackluster (sorry, I know it wasn't meant to be and I know that apartheid is important, but the truth is the show was not stunning and I can't bring myself to spruce it up). Each day was like the next so I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention to the calendar when one night at half hour (one half hour before the performance the stage manager goes around reminding everyone involved that they have a half hour to get their shit together [see also: 15 minutes, 10, 5 and PLACES!]) one of the actresses came running out to me in a tizzy. I was led back to a stairwell and shown the lead actor grimacing in pain. He said he'd twisted his ankle badly, could barely walk on it. I asked him a few more questions, rotated the ankle a little and made some decisions. "You" I said forcefully, pointing to a freshman on the tech crew, "go get some ice at the deli. You," I picked my assistant "find a towel or something for the ice. And you," with a coolness that almost mitigated the need for the ice, I stared at the actor, "don't unlace that boot. Not even a little. If you do and your foot swells we won't be able to get it back on and you won't be able to go on. Keep it laced up tight, ice it and I think you'll make it through the show. I'm going up to talk to [the faculty producer] I'll be back in 10 minutes and we'll see what happens." They all stared at me with an odd sort of fear around the eyes. I trudged upstairs and explained the situation. Mid-explanation the phone rang. The big cheese took the call and heard from a shaky student voice that, it being April Fool's Day (whoops), they had wanted to play a prank but I hadn't reacted at all the way they'd expected. I didn't panic, I wasn't thrown for a loop, there were no tears or even a gasp and then I started solving the problem and, frankly, none of them knew how to deal with that. Oh, and, would they be reimbursed for the ice?

So when recently confronted with all these people, sure they are going to leave me sockless, I want to yell "NO! No you won't surprise me! Would that you motherfucking could. You are, in point of fact, not surprising at all, you are the same dirtbag monkey flinging the same tired poo at the world that you always were so please stop promising me shit you are incapable of delivering. I like surprises, I love them and you? You're no surprise, my friend, no surprise at all. So quit teasing before I tell the jury that, with that attitude and those tits, you were asking for it."

That, though, seemed like it might be the equivalent of ruining an unsuspecting actor's "wild" and "crazy" April Fool's prank so I think maybe it'd be nicer if I shared something that did surprise me. Not only that it surprised me in a good way.

My camera got dust in it. The West put dust in my camera! Stupid west. Dozens of my photos from the trip have the same commas of crap in the upper left hand corner and I am not proficient enough with the foolishly basic photo program I have to retouch the dust to my satisfaction. Not to mention the fact that you should not leave dust in your camera. So I e-mailed Phototech to get an estimate on the cleaning. On their site they deal with a lot of people from out of town so the time line they have for sending an item in is measured in weeks. I agreed with the estimate and, even though I wasn't mailing the item in, was sure that I'd be looking at losing my camera for a day or two, possibly until Monday since they are closed Saturdays in the summer. The dilemma here was that I was going to Heather's beautiful picnic birthday party (pictured) last night. She turned 50 in a swanky park by the Hudson River and if I dropped off my camera before that I wouldn't be able to take any yummily sunlit photos for posterity. On the flip side if I took photos with my dusty camera I might very well die of a white hot rage induced aneurysm when I started to look through them later. So I zipped down on the express train during my lunch hour (everyone leaves their office on lunch hours and not everyone confines themselves to their office neighborhood but to me it seems wildly naughty, you'd never know I'd been an adult member of the workforce for over 20 years) and dropped off my camera.


"Excuse me?"

"You can pick it up any time after 2:30."

"Today?!?" It was 1:43 by their clock.

"Yes. Any time after 2:30."

Now that? That fucking surprised me.


  1. I love these posts, when you get frothy in the retelling and I can HEAR your voice all the way over here in HOTTERTHANASSLAND. . . then you tag it and I crack up laughing!

    I'm so glad someone surprised you!