Edited by Rebecca Lomax
As another birthday snuck up on me, this time rearing its head on a workday, so Saturday night was the time to celebrate.
An impromptu gathering at Northside Tavern ensued. My friend Paul's band, The Underwoods, were playing. It was drummer Cedric's last night, so I had to say good-bye. A typewriter was available for everyone to write their adieus. My roommate and a few buddies were at hand to buy me drinks and, of course, embarrass me.
After a few murderous games at the hockey machine, my roommate suspiciously pushed me toward the front of the bar or, rather, picked me up and lugged me there. I did my best to remain planted where I stood, losing a shoe in the process.
Paul sang "Happy Birthday" as my face turned various shades of red. Afterwards, he tossed me one of the band's CDs. When my face returned to its normal color, I limped back and a stranger handed me my abandoned shoe.
The temporary Prince Charming returned to anonymity and Cinderella regained her seat at the bar.
After my beau arrived, we decided to check out the scene at Plush, above Carol's on Main. We walked upstairs from the restaurant and found the club packed with the uber-stylish swaying to Brit-Pop. There was little room for movement, so I people-watched, taking notice of the chandeliers and nursing a vodka cranberry. One goth girl caught her purse on my shirt, which didn't need much more than a tug to reveal even more of "the sisters."
The music was right up my alley, but we girls would have to appear another evening to actually get our dance on. My boyfriend didn't feel dressed for it and an ex seated at a table and staring at anything in a skirt put a slight damper on things. When my roomie tried to drag me to the dance floor, I ungraciously declined. Instead, I watched people repeatedly stumble over an invisible step on the floor and swell when "Last Night" by The Strokes played.
Another ex-boyfriend materialized and reminded me that I still had his rare Dogs in Space video. It's been over a year since he stepped foot in my place, and in that time objects tend to switch ownership.
I figure there are few places in this city I can still go and not see one of them, those exes. I could move to another state, say Texas, but there's one there, too.
At the Tavern, my friend Jim had surprised me with the question, "Are you feeling the urge to settle down?" Before I could invent a lie, I said yes. It surprised even me.
When the heat and drink started getting to me at Plush, I had no qualms about leaving with my boyfriend. Last year at this time, I had a boyfriend but still felt "unattached." Back then, my eyes had practically become vagrants from all their wandering. While there was a sufficient amount of eye candy at Plush, I felt like my vision was 20/20 when I walked out.
The Red Headed Stranger
In theory I'm a fan of Riverbend. An outdoor show with an oversized, overpriced beer makes it feel like summer. Each spring I peruse the line-up and try to find the band I most enjoy from a growing list of bands I have never heard of or have never considered myself a fan of.
This year I picked Willie Nelson. I know little about him except that many of his songs creep into that part of the brain where songs that everyone knows are kept.
My friend Amy and I headed out last week to catch his show in our mid-range pavilion seats, which actually were some of the last rows occupied before the vast empty area that separated the pavilion from the lawn. Our timing was impeccable as we approached the stage to the last refrains of Lee Ann Womack's set.
Not necessarily a country music fan, I'm definitely a fan of cowboys, but the only ones I saw were onstage. Instead, girls in tight tank tops and pink glitter Madonna-style cowboy hats prevailed.
Willie's voice was amazing. Clear and deep, it wafted above the chatter. As for any other sounds that were coming from the stage, they were mostly muted and garbled. His old, old guitar was too quiet to hear well and when his sister hopped on the piano to pound the keys she might as well have been playing an unmiked toy piano. Aside from weird volume problems, there were also long episodes of feedback throughout the set that never seemed to get fixed.
I remarked to my friend Amy that it was nice to go to a show where my ears didn't feel like they might bleed, but if that was the trade-off for actually hearing the show I'd take the former. But then again, the median age of the crowd was probably around 60, and I'm sure they didn't want to chase them off.
When we ran out of the pavilion to get more beer, we noticed the sound was drastically different there — in fact, it sounded good. If it weren't for the scary couples rolling around in the grass making out we might have actually restationed ourselves out there.
All in all, the show was relaxing and we could easily comment to each throughout on things like the girl carrying around the oversized painting of Willie and trying at each checkpoint to get closer to him; the father and son dressed like Garth Brooks wannabes; the sweet way a woman in the crowd handed Willie a dime-a-dozen plastic flag and he accepted it wordlessly, offering his bandana in exchange.
By the time the show was over, my dislike of Riverbend had grown, but so had my enjoyment of the red headed stranger.
Doggy Boot Camp
Stopping newspapers and holding mail are the usual preps for going on a week vacation. Up until now, I'd also ask a neighbor to look in on the plants for watering and the cat for food and be done. Well, with the new puppy in the household, all gets a tad more complicated.
When I made last minute reservations for a Vacation Express trip to St. Maarten with passport in hand, I was faced with Maggie's deep brown eyes asking, "What about me?" The French take their dogs to bistros routinely, but in light of airport security wanting me barefoot and metal free, can you imagine trying to escort a errant puppy?
Alas, I called Super Dog K-9 Academy. Dan, the dog trainer, answered the phone and explained that boarding is $15 per day and training is $25 per day. I told him Maggie is a mix of unknown breed abandoned near our horse barn. We arranged a meeting about training and boarding on Thursday.
Maggie doesn't yet have great car manners, and my little sporty European sedan was tortured by her random seat choices. I was frazzled by the time we found Dan and the doggy boot camp, located way out on the western side of town near I-74 and I-275 off the Riebold and Harrison roads exit.
Maggie bounded out of the car and started sniffing. Dan greeted us and offered to show us a trained dog. He entered with a lovely German Shepard who ignored Maggie, much to her chagrin, and did her routine with Dan effortlessly. The beauty of the dog's eyes and her large alert ears impressed me. Maggie wanted to jump on her and play.
Dan tried convincing me that he can train Maggie, which I'm confident he can, as my horse trainer has a Rottweiler he trained who is perfection in manners. I was interested in knowing if Maggie was the right age for training. He said at 5 months she was perfect, as she hadn't developed bad habits. Maggie and I beamed as she acted very composed for her age, showing Dan how well she sits on command. She wanted to stay since Dan had goodies in his pocket that he gives her when she does the "sit" trick.
I agreed to three weeks of training, which will involve three sessions of training me. I can call to check in on her when I return from my vacation. I say goodbye and get in my car, all the while being reassured by Dan that Maggie is a good dog.
As I drive off, I wonder if Dan can train men. I would like one to come when I call, which he describes as "off-leash training." Yeah, that's when guys are a problem. I don't want a guy who rolls over and plays dead, but one who doesn't jump on me and spoil my outfit or bark to get in.
Maybe the problem is I've been dating full-bred men who have had the silver spoon in their mouths too long. The German Shepard was beautiful and I like the idea of a dog with papers, but often the large breeds are prone to hip dysplasia and have sensitive digestive systems that require $40 bags of dog food.
Well, guys with their papers work all the time and eat large amounts of food late at night, which doesn't agree with my life style these days. Plus, I get them in the mid-thirties and older range that, as Dan pointed out, means they have lots of bad habits. No kidding.
I go home to pack and decide a good paperback book is the best traveling companion. That is until Maggie learns "sit," "down" and "heel."
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