Archive | October, 2010

German toads and whale poop prove Robert Siegel is more mature than me

11 Oct

Jesus has never been my homeboy, but I’ve grown quite fond of Bob Oakes. He is intelligent, cheerful, mature, and real. And soft, like a teddy bear. Cuddly uncle Bob Oakes, travelling to Western Massachusetts in his hybrid car, reporting live from townie bakeries at 6a.m., trying his hardest to pronounce Spanish names without an accent. Uncle Bob Oakes is the coolest. I’m not sure why I’m talking about Bob Oakes (I guess I talk about Bob Oakes any chance I get), because the story that’s on my mind is a bit Robert Siegel read on whale and fish poop. Apparently whale poop helps fertilize the ocean and Robert Siegel said ‘poop’ and ‘feces’ and ‘dung’ and ‘floating poops’ on air like, twenty times. And the researcher contributing to the story described the weeks he spent watching whales poop and tracking their floating dung across the ocean waters. It reminded me of my college years and the radio anchor career I never had.

At four o’clock on Thursday evenings, I’d race from dining hall to campus center, down the escalator and into the radio station, tucked away in its obscurity. From this dungeon a fellow Journalism student and I read the news live at five o’clock, broadcast to the school and surrounding community. But before we could read them, we had to search the newswire for our stories; a couple national, a few more local, a bit on stock market numbers, and one piece of ‘interest,’ or however it was called. We rewrote them on the spot, so they’d be more listener-friendly, rehearsed for a few, then went live. Only 15 minutes, I believe, or maybe a half hour. I pretty much always read the market numbers because I loved the way they’re done on radio – The Dow Jones industrial average rose seven points to twelve thousand, one hundred seventy six point thirty three points, while the S&P500 was up by two points, closing in at two thousand, nine hundred five – so fast and relaxed, with just right intonations and minimal breathing noise, giving the impression I understood and cared about what the fuck I was saying. As long as I sounded like I was reading for NPR, I was happy.

The local news were fun; while we generally had to include the boring university funding bits, we also got a few robberies, trial cases, and domestic violence stories. They seemed real and tough, and called for a somber, dignified tone. Soon after, fluff news would be delivered with intrigue and delight, and chuckles when appropriate. I knew I could do a better job than the NPR chick with a lisp who seemed only able to write yawnful reports on fishing, the ocean, and similar tediousness. Until the evening I found an AP story on exploding German toads. Apparently there were toads or frogs in Germany being born with extra limbs and the tendency to burst. I thought that was an ‘interesting piece’ and decided to include it. Except when my co-anchor and I began rehearsing, we realized neither could read through the piece; especially the part where it mentioned how the frogs were filled with gas. We didn’t have enough time to replace the story, so we went with it. I was to read it. Problem was, because we were trying so hard not to think about it, it was all we thought about. I did just fine on my market numbers piece (no slips, not one!), but as Jess began reading the story right before my piece on the European amphibian crisis, she started chuckling. It was all downhill from there. I think I read it with a serious face for seven seconds, and then cracked up. Hamburg… exploding toads filled with gas… a shower of limbs… pool of death… It was too much. It was awesome. I laughed, nearly cried through the whole thing. Jess had to leave her seat and go laugh in the corner of the room, as I struggled to get the words out, now being squeezed through my vocal cords, and in spite of the tears streaming down my cheeks. I looked through the glass walls and the production chick was mortified; her jaw was to the floor, and she looked ready to kill me. I got in trouble, though I didn’t lose the gig. But I sort of lost my appetite for news anchoring. Serious news, anyway.

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Boys like me, OK?

9 Oct

I talk to my mom every day. Every single day I call her, tell her about what I’ve been eating, with whom I’ve been hanging out, the cleanliness (or not) of my apartment, how work is going, what I’ve been reading, movies I’ve been watching… my father is usually in the background, cracking jokes at my expense. Last week, as we were saying good-bye, she said, “OK, don’t forget to call me, I need to know how you’re doing. You live alone and Tori can’t pick up the phone. There’s no one else I can reach to make sure you’re alive; you have no boyfriend, you’re a card-carrying PN.” PN, in Portuguese, stands for “pega ninguem”, which can be translated as ‘someone incapable of hooking up/finding a boyfriend”, generally due to being ugly, weird, lacking in confidence, and such other qualities. Not sure how to defend myself against such accusation – what should I say? “You don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m a such a ho, I hook up with a different guy every month” – I nod and agree; “right, right. Thanks, mom. I’ll call.”

Little does she know that I could’ve had like, 5 boyfriends in the past two years I’ve been single. I’ve been asked out, and had my boobs grabbed at clubs. I’ve been catcalled, and offered a chance to perform fellatio for very attractive men, with enough money to pay for a cab ride back to my place after. And little does she know how adored I am by tow truck drivers and toll booth collection workers all over Massachusetts. In fact, every Sunday when I visit my parents, there’s a silver fox working at the Mass Pike exit I take to my parents’ house. I won’t be seeing him anytime soon, now that I use FastLane, but when I did… he would caress my fingers as I handed him my exact change, and tell me how cute my car is, and how pretty are my eyes. He’d ask me where I was going, and tell me how much he’d enjoy taking me out to dinner at Olive Garden. He was young too, definitely no older than 55.

As for the tow truck drivers; I met one, as we waited inside our respective vehicles for the light to turn green, and he saved my life by telling me the location of the closest gas station, as I drove around with a near-empty gas tank in the wee hours of a frigid Sunday morning. I pulled up, walked by Dorchester homeless men huddled against the wall in their torn clothes, and paid with cash for my full tank of gas. I walked back to fill up my car, but couldn’t get the hose to pump. Moments later, he was standing next to me:

“Hi, I drive that tow truck, you asked me where to find a gas station.”

“Oh, hi!” Are you going to kill me?

“I came after you because I wanted to tell you that your break light on the right side is out. I can help you replace it, if you want, it’s easy.”

His name was Julian. He was a dark-eyed, dark-haired, olive skinned cutie with a beautiful Puerto Rican accent, and just-below-the-ass oversized Dickies pants. I thanked him for the offer, but assured him my father could take care of it. He saw I was struggling with the hose, and offered to help. Surely enough, within seconds he got the gas to pump. We said our goodbyes, and he walked to his truck… only to return and hand me his phone number neatly written on a McDonald’s napkin.

“If you ever need anything, call me. I work in Boston every weekend, overnight shift.”

How sweet is that? Fuck AAA, I can get VIP service, bitch.

After Julian came Edgardo. Edgardo is divorced with three children, one of whom just started college. He owns a beautiful home in Florida, and shares an affordable apartment with three roommates just 7 miles from my house. He towed my car once, and let me and my dog ride home in his truck. He promised he’d teach me how to change a tire. One sunny afternoon, while I lay tanning by the pool, I decided it might be a good day to learn how to put in the tire I’d bought for my car. He came over, smelling so fresh and so clean, crisp white socks on brand new Adidas sandals. He jacked up the car, took out the spare tire, put it back on, and walked me through the process. I did it like a pro. We moved on to a real tire – it was heavier and scarier, and I thought the car was going to tip over, but I did it all by myself. We chatted for thirty minutes, and I learned about his plans to open a tile installation business down in Daytona Beach. I evaded invitations to dinner and expressed my urgency to return to my chores.

Two weeks later I received a text from him, in Spanish, telling me he’d seen my car in the town of Concord (it’s FAR from where I live). I was afraid he’d been following me, but it turns out he was working out there. And then there’s the fact that my car is… memorable. I’ve only seen two others in the same model and color in the five years I’ve owned it. Last night he texted me when he saw my car on the highway, late at night. “No andes solita en la noche, que te van a robar” (Don’t go out alone late at night, you’ll get robbed). Silly Edgardo thinks we’re in Mexico.

The truth is, I could be gearing up to move into a fabulous house in sunny Florida, managing my boyfriend’s new and booming tile installation company, never again having to worry about changing a tire or replacing a car battery. I could be enjoying the company of a gorgeous young Puerto Rican, probably without any children, who’d save me $40 per year on a AAA membership. I could be playing golf every Sunday with a well-preserved silver fox who’d treat me to dinner and buy me pretty dresses. My mother has no idea what a catch I am.