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Last weekend I was the victim of a hate crime. The perp was a Christmas Party Task Master. (I know, I know, that’s not a hate crime, BUT I HATED IT. tm The Office) Have you suffered at the hands of one of these people? A friend of mine took me to the annual Christmas party her friend John throws. John is gay and, therefore (GENERALIZATION COMING UP), goes all out. In the past he’s had something like eight decorated trees in different rooms of his (gorgeous) house. This year there were just four trees (I guess because of the recession?) but still: gorgeous. Not to mention the dining room table impeccably decked out with not only amazingly yummy food, but the presentation. OMG the presentation. Granted, I am the person who is just happy when I make food for my guests that don’t contain animal hair and will maybe have a nice stack of napkins (can’t you all wait to come over???), so maybe anything would impress me. But still. It’s like Christopher Lowell set up his table display. There were levels. Levels! As in, he used different-sized boxes and such, then covered it with a tablecloth, so that all the nummy scrumptiousity (what, it’s a word) were at varying heights that not only made it easier to serve oneself but also was aesthetically pleasing. He had a “winter scene” DVD playing on his huge TV and delightful holiday music in the background. He had door prizes. He had a crackling fire in the fireplace and probably a little elf from the North Pole, hidden to the naked eye, running around cleaning up after us. It was awesome.

Until.

Until the majority of us were sitting around the living room, relaxing after our few glasses of wine and our several trips to the buffet table, and this woman whose name I didn’t catch but who was wearing a CHRISTMAS SWEATER called everyone’s attention to a game she had brought to the party and wouldn’t it be fun if we all played? Which, I mean, what was she really expecting us to say. After she asked, all you could hear was the holiday music in the background, which should have been a hint (where hint = GLARING INDICATION) that none of us actually wanted to play her reindeer games. Unfortunately someone wearing a CHRISTMAS SWEATER is not easily dissuaded. And she wasn’t above name-calling to get people to play. So she got a half-hearted, “ummmm, okay” from most of us. And then we were cornered.

She described the game as a kind of combination of Password and Hot Potato. (I know, I KNOW, hold on to your seats!) It was a Roomba-looking electronic device that gave clues that the person holding it would have to describe without using the word or any variant of the word, while the device beeped and as time got closer to running out the beeps got LOUDER AND FASTER until the buzzer indicated your time was up. Because nothing makes a game fun like the sounds of an annoying alarm clock. I still don’t understand the scoring. We were supposed to play in teams, but instead of dividing up the room in half (too logical, perhaps?), she said that every other person was on your team. So each time someone was giving a clue, we had to mentally count every other person from where we were sitting to determine whether or not they were on our team. All while listening to the beep BEEP BEEPing. I don’t know how she knew, but she would frequently call out to someone when they were trying to guess, “They’re not on your team!” Apparently prescience goes hand in hand with the CHRISTMAS SWEATER. None of the people around me paid much attention to that and just kept guessing regardless of teams, in the hopes that the sooner we got to the answers, the sooner the game would end. Which it eventually did. And then she made us play it again “since we’re all just now getting the hang of it.”

I’m sure it’s not a surprise that the party broke up immediately after the second game ended.

+++++

Sidebar: I googled “electronic password hot potato game” and it actually led me to the game. Which I’m sure would be a fun game with the right crowd. Even though some of the “catch phrases” made no sense to most of us. It was like it should have been called “Catch Phrases of the 1950s and 60s.”

Today I managed to visit my two clients’ houses who are less than three miles from my house (and fortunately within blocks of each other), and it took me over three hours. Because only one of the three buses I needed showed up, I ended up walking quite a bit. Which, in a city being taken over by foot-high snowdrifts is not easy. The sidewalks aren’t clear, so walking on the street where the snow has been pounded down to ground level by cars is best, except for, you know, when cars are trying to drive down that street. I’m not going to complain about the walking, because the one bus I managed to get on today had Crazy Lady who was on the phone with 911, insisting that they pick her up from the bus. Evidently the 911 operator was resisting since, you know, the bus in IN MOTION. Crazy Lady kept insisting she was not going to get off the bus until an ambulance was there because it was too cold to wait outside. News flash: bad weather does not keep the crazy people indoors. I tried to make the most of my walks, thinking that at least it was warming me up as opposed to waiting forever in a stationary position for a bus; thinking that after this I’d have thighs of STEEL baby. I saw lots of parents out with their kids, pulling them on sleds, and lots of people trudging along with grocery bags of food. At one point, though, climbing uphill in the middle of a street in the one consistent tire pattern I could find, I was just done. DONE. And I still had one client to visit and then figure out how to get home. Right about then I saw a dad on skis, pulling his kid in one of those bike trailer things. I asked him what he charged for a ride, and he chuckled and skied along, and I was all “HA HA HA I AM NOT KIDDING, MOVE OVER, KID.” So by the time I made it to my last bus stop (literally seconds after seeing a bus pull away), and it started snowing AGAIN, I kind of wanted to sit down in the ice and cry. After waiting 20 minutes for another bus, some guys in a big truck asked if I wanted a ride and Internet? I could not have jumped in that car faster. Me, who is irrationally paranoid and scared of every stranger out there. Me, who creates the worst possible scenarios out of nothing – scenarios that involve things I’ve seen from too many Law & Order: SVU episodes that I should not be watching. Me. I jumped into that truck and thanked them repeatedly, figuring that if they did kill me then I wouldn’t be cold anymore.

We finally got the much-talked-about snowstorm here in Portland yesterday. Mr. Zoo and I spent a surprisingly short amount of time putting chains on the car tires so that my clients were able to get fed. It was a blustery day – when we took the pups out for a walk, I’m pretty sure it was snowing sideways. I honestly don’t remember how I lived in the midwest for so many years and dealt with this kind of weather for months.

Anyway! I’m happy the snow didn’t arrive on Saturday as we’d originally heard because Saturday my friend Stacie and I had our Big Night Out. For my birthday in Sept, she got us tickets to see Do Jump!, which is an awesome performance group. They’re part acrobats, part gymnasts, part dancers (all kinds – ballet, jazz, modern, tap, what have you), part circus, and just so much more, all set to wonderful music by the live musicians. We saw stuff like this:

and got to hear the kids sitting near us gasp in wonder and say “it’s MAGIC!” when we saw this:

Not that it was all serious AT ALL. At one point the lights came on to show a large hoop spinning in the middle of the stage, and we all sat patiently while the spinning slowed and slowed until the hoop finally laid still on the stage, at which point we got a “ta da!” type of note from the musicians. There were also jugglers. A guy in a tux tap-dancing like a mad fool who pulled a little girl from the audience to dance with him and she seriously could not have been more excited or more cute in her fancy holiday dress. Not to mention when they brought these guys out:

and we had a nice little sing-along-slash-read-along – the guy wearing the “A” would jump around so that sometimes we were singing “Ha” sometimes we were singing “Ah” and sometimes he would flip around to show the front which had an “O” so we were also singing either “Oh” or “Ho” and I know it sounds moronic with the way I’m explaining it but TRUST ME it was entertaining, okay? Not only are these performers incredibly talented but they also make for a very fun show. They’re skilled and athletic and ironic and clever.

After that, Stacie and I got ourselves some fancy coffees and a cookie, then drove to the Portland International Raceway for their Winter Wonderland, where they give you a CD with Christmas music to listen to while you drive through the raceway to look at the massive amounts of lights. And even though I’m obnoxious and kept telling Stac to gun it past the other cars, honk her horn, and randomly yelling “SHAKE AND BAKE!” (I had just seen a snippet of Talladega Nights, so sue me), we had a lovely time. Some of the light displays were really amazing, but my favorite (that I couldn’t find a picture of) was their interpretation of the 12 Days of Christmas, which included 3 French Hens on the Eiffel Tower, and Four Calling Birds sitting on a phone. heh.

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zooaskew[at]gmail[dot]com
June 2017
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