Category Archives: Dumb

“Having the Billionaire’s Baby”: A Book Review

I recently returned from a wonderful visit with my parents. We stayed in a lovely rental house on a lake.

My WiFi died, and I finished the book I had (“Bad Day for Sorry” by Sophie Littlefield: which was great fun) so I checked out the rental’s bookshelf. There were three choices:

The Bible and two Harlequin books:

The Rich Man’s Baby

I love that he’s wearing a tux while standing in front of a random house, probably photoshopped from a mid-range suburban development called “The Estates.” Because nothing says “rich man” like a tuxedo and a tract home?

And, Having the Billionaire’s Baby

I mean, go big, right? A mere “rich man” doesn’t tempt quite like a “billionaire” does.

When suffering from insomnia, I read and tweet, and so I declared my intention to read this on my dying phone with its weak 3G signal.

Kristin quickly responded:

Which, good point.

So I began reading. Quickly I could identify with the main character, a 22 year old woman who is about to disrupt the wedding of the man she thinks she’s in love with.

Turns out “Dirk” (heh) is her next door neighbor. She has loved him from afar since she was 12. BUT SHE HASN’T SPOKEN TO HIM IN YEARS. So, naturally, she decides to blow up his wedding by declaring her “love” for him.

As you do.

What an asshole.

Luckily, the “billionaire” has a sixth sense that Serena, our “heroine” is going to try some shenanigans (HOW? Not explained) so he decides to block her at her pew as she tries to rush to the front of the aisle.

Luckily, the near ruin of someone’s wedding by a practical stranger is played for laughs.

Serena and her billionaire (described as a “granite” like presence: no one brings teh sexy like a rock, right?) adjourn to outside the church to bond. The billionaire used to be the bride’s husband, but turns out he didn’t love her like she deserved to be loved. Soon their musing turns into hot attraction.

So much so that:

Maybe Harlequin novels contribute to many people’s ignorance about infertility because there are consequences to the one-night stand.

After this initial beginning, the book plays out exactly as you would imagine: Serena keeps her pregnancy from the billionaire, billionaire finds out and boy is HE pissed, then they fall in LUURVE. Because nothing brings random strangers together like a random pregnancy.

Also, the billionaire is 34. 34!! He’s no Mark Zuckerburg, either: he doesn’t seem to even own a mobile phone or a laptop or really use any technology at all.

All in all, I think this is maybe the definitive comment about “Billionaire’s Baby”, from The Adventures of Chicken and Ham:

@2manyfish2fry this book is like an unofficial autobiography of my life, except the complete opposite

What I WANT TO KNOW is what audience is this aimed at? Gold diggers who want to trap a billionaire with a love child? And I shudder to think that is a big demographic!!

WEIRDEST. BOOK. EVER.

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Things That Are Bugging Me Now

Aaaaaaannnnnnddd, time once again for this.

* The guy quoted in the latest issue of California Home & Design about his oceanfront house: “I wasn’t even in the market for a home,” said Greg who was single at the time. “I had just renovated my penthouse and was happy with the results.”
* To quote the much-missed Chandler Muriel Bing: “My wallet’s too small for my fifties, and my diamond shoes are too tight!”
* My levels of guilt, which are reaching new and frightening dimensions. Latest trigger: NPR. When the NPR fundraising pitches come on, I am always driving, but then I forget to call and pledge once I’m off the road. Then I hear the pitch again, and the guilt rises. “Don’t you WANT to listen to our VERY VERY IMPORTANT STORIES, you freeloading jerk?” YES, YES, I really do. But do I remember to call once I’m off the road again? NO.
* My awkward social skills. The only non-family members I can converse with properly are Bodega Bliss and Stumbling Gracefully. Is it because I don’t work in an office? I feel like I miss out on social cues altogether and today at Jamba Juice I put in my order like a robot, with no inflection and I think the clerk thought I was AI. I can’t come up with any banter, even boring banter. It comes out like this: “Hello, man at counter. Sunny weather we are having or not? #jambajuiceisrad!”
* My realization that Zooey Deschanel is probably this neurotic too, but she is so charming. Maybe I need more Siri in my life.
* My realization watching Atonement: I will never write anything better than Briony’s play. Which she writes when she’s thirteen!
* Still David Guetta. Still “Sexy Chick.” Darcy STILL has that song in his head two and a half years later. I have even tried to play that Goyte earworm tune for him: no go.
* That really horrific looking movie adaptation of the book What to Expect When You Are Expecting. (Which, really? What’s next? Personal Finance for Dummies?) Tagline: “There’s No Time To Pull Out Now.” GROSS.

What’s bugging YOU now?

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Now For Something Completely Different…Classic Romance Novels

I’m not really sure how I missed this post the first time around.

My dad is a serious book snob. For “my” birthday one year, he bought me a leather-bound, acid-free paged, gold-leafed series of Classic Novels. Among them: “Pride and Prejudice,” “War and Peace,” “Great Expectations,” “Arabian Nights,” “The Three Musketeers.”

I could not have been less interested in these weighty novels. But they were PERFECT for disguising the flimsy paperbacks I was REALLY reading.

As always, there was a gateway. My gateway was my friend Wendy, who every year would spend the summer in Florida at her dad and stepmom’s house. Her stepmom had an EPIC collection of historical romance: maybe it was the climate? Wendy would bring a few home with her, each year, and would smuggle them away from her disapproving mom.

When I was 16, she brought home a trilogy by Valerie Sherwood and let me borrow it, one book at a time.

From Goodreads:

“A sweet wild madness swept over Carolina Lightfoot at the sight of elegant Lord Thomas Angevine, reputed to be the most notorious rake in London. The proud Colonial beauty, graced with silvergold hair and flashing eyes, hoped to be his bride. Then, swept into a growing storm of scandal, she was banished to Virginia. Captured by buccaneers on the high seas, Carolina became the Silver Wench of the Caribbean…and the defiant prisoner of the infamous Kells, a brooding man with insolent charm andd a mysterious past.

On the island of Tortuga, where gentle winds caressed the perfumed nights and a lustrous moon whispered love’s allure, Carolina must escape…to find Thomas again, and to flee Kells’ passionate embrace, the rapturous temptation of his…LOVESONG”

I mean, how could boring Porthos compete with a man named “the infamous Kells?” Who, suspiciously, resembled Lord Angevine. Like a lot. Needless to say, the series set my standard for the next few years.

There was a typical plot I stuck to: the hero needed to be a “buccaneer” from the early 1700s. NOT A PIRATE! Buccaneers were English noblemen in disguise who ran rum in Colonial America as a way to stick it to the Spanish. Because nothing was more noble than supplying the colonies with alcohol? And that made the Spanish angry? I was never sure of the particulars.

The heroine needed to be reduced in circumstances, very spirited or “mercurial,” and possessed of a very unusual type of beauty: violet-eyed with platinum hair, cocoa-skinned and emerald eyed, etc.

Extra bonus points if:

– The buccaneer, for all his “roughness,” was actually well-educated in England by a governess, and the study on his ship contained the kind of leather-bound tomes I hid my reading in.
– The buccaneer owned a secret island in the Caribbean.
– There were misunderstandings and “secret identities,” which could be seen from a mariner’s mile away.
– There was revenge upon those who reduced the heroine’s circumstances.
– Action!

In college, I “graduated” to Amanda Quick novels. She was a bit more upmarket: her novels were set in the Regency period, the heroine was generally characterized by her geekery, smarts and wit (not her beauty), and the hero was generally some kind of Viscount or something with a tragic and misunderstood back story. There was often a mystery to be solved: usually about the tragic and misunderstood back story.

From Goodreads, again:

“There was no doubt about it. What Miss Harriet Pomeroy needed was a man. Someone powerful and clever who could help her rout the unscrupulous thieves who were using her beloved caves to hide their loot. But when Harriet summoned Gideon Westbrook, Viscount St. Justin, to her aid, she could not know that she was summoning the devil himself.

Dubbed the Beast of Blackthorne Hall for his scarred face and lecherous past, Gideon was strong and fierce and notoriously menacing. Yet Harriet could not find it in her heart to fear him. For in his tawny gaze she sensed a savage pain she longed to soothe…and a searing passion she yearned to answer. Now, caught up in the beast’s clutches, Harriet must find a way to win his heart — and evade the deadly trap of a scheming villain who would see them parted for all time.”

I adore that her name is Harriet. Nothing says “spirited nerd” like the name Harriet. (I say that with love.)

I eventually read “Pride and Prejudice” and all of the other books my dad gave me and loved them.

But those romance novels really kept my love of reading alive and well when I was a crabby teenager hiding in my room, trying to avoid yard work chores.

(Our house had many trees that shed many types of debris all year-round. Lord, I hated them!)

What books did you love reading that may have been, er, somewhat less well-regarded than Margaret Atwood’s work?

And, are you going to read that book-that-shall-not-be-named here, for my brother reads this blog and he is the BIGGEST book snob around.

(I say that with love.)

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Take 2: Never Take Me To An Exercise Class, Ever, NO I MEAN SERIOUSLY EVER!

Colours of Cattiz was doubtful there could be a worse exercise class than the one described yesterday. (Short version: I knocked a stationary bicycle onto my leg in the middle of a Spin class.) I’ll let you be the judge of whether the next experience is worse. In my mind, it is. But everything is relevant. The third and LAST ever class is so embarrassing that I don’t even know if I can post it. Y’all, it is seriously that bad. I don’t think anyone has ever humiliated themselves more. Ever. In the history of the UNIVERSE.

As you can imagine, the Spin fiasco became legendary around the office. Lisa would tell the tale to an incredulous audience, gasping for breath from too much laughing. Later she would add the punchline: “And she had a bruise the size of a MUFFIN on her leg for three months!” Soon I was approached by many co-workers to attend many different activities with them: rock-wall climbing, Hip Hop Funk (NO), Salsa dancing. This went on for over a year. I think they all wanted a spectacular Jjiraffe story. I said no way to all and sundry.

Until Darcy and I met and settled into domestic bliss. In other words, we started cooking and eating a lot. I put on a few pounds and my jogging routine was curtailed so I had more time to shop at the grocery store, where I bought things like capers and spaghetti and Bibolis and all sorts of fattening love foods. So when my colleague Elizabeth approached me about a new class, I was vulnerable. This time, though, I would go in prepared. I peppered her with many questions: was this a beginner class? Could the least athletic person in the world get through this class? Was there heavy machinery that I could knock over onto my leg? The answers to all these questions were satisfactory.

Elizabeth thus brought me into class number two: Introduction to Kickboxing. I can hear you groaning: of all the classes, Jjiraffe, why THAT? I can see you thinking of all the possible scenarios in which I could wreak havoc on myself: I could get kicked in the head, I could knock down a punching bag. And I had thought of those scenarios myself and solutions to avoid them. I would hit the punching bag really lightly. I would have super aware senses to protect me from others’ flying limbs.

I was a little intimidated when the instructor, who looked Taye Diggs, if Taye Diggs had been an Army Ranger for 10 years, introduced himself. This time though, I wouldn’t pretend like I knew what I was doing. I raised my hand and said: “I’ve never been to a kickboxing class before!”

Turns out, that was a big mistake.

Taye was very intrigued by my green status. He wanted to teach someone completely fresh to the subject, in hopes that they would develop excellent form and be a kickass kickboxer. It became clear right away, though, that kickboxing was NOT the sport for me. What HAD intrigued me about it was that you use your legs a lot. I have a lot of lower body strength, like most women. In terms of my upper body strength, I think I am in the bottom 1% of everyone in the world. I have narrow shoulders, small bones and limited endurance. Turns out, that particular kickboxing class was 80% arm punches and 20% leg kicks.

Taye, in his efforts to mold me, pretty much left his class to itself. (“Partner UP, everyone! Practice your uppercuts now! Now, roundhouse kicks!” I was Taye’s partner, up front and center.) Which meant everyone was paying attention to my every kick, punch and jab, all of which were terrible, even the kicks. I could tell Taye was getting frustrated, but his method to try to improve my uppercuts was to increase the frequency and repetition of them. “Aim HERE! Punch THERE!” he kept yelling. Always the people pleaser, I tried to keep up the best I could.

Ten minutes in, the exertion was starting to take its toll on my gentle body. Have you ever run really fast, so fast you thought your insides might come out of your body, starting with your lungs? That’s what I felt like. Then, suddenly, bile started to rise. I realized I was going to hurl: I had the watery jowls. How could I make my escape in the midst of performing for the whole class and strict drill sargent Taye? I tried to say excuse me, but had to put my hand over my mouth to prevent the vomiting. I ran out of the room as fast as I could and made it to the trash can outside the hall, whereupon I heaved my guts out. Unfortunately, the trashcan was clearly visible to the kickboxing room. I looked up to see every single person in the class staring at me in horror. Including Mr. Diggs. So I did what brave Sir Robin would do. I bravely ran away.

Then I made a horrible realization: my bag with my wallet and keys was back inside the kickboxing room! I was going to have to go back in there and subject myself to total humiliation to get it. I couldn’t do it. So I trudged down the hall to the front desk (because of course my cell phone was in the bag) and asked them if I could make a local call. Luckily they relented.

I called Darcy and begged him to come help me. Fortunately, it was early in our relationship when he would do pretty much anything for me. (Behold the power of Biboli pizzas!) He boldly marched up there, grabbed my purse and waved at Elizabeth, cheekily. I will never forget that.

Monday, the office eagerly waited for an update from Elizabeth. They were not disappointed.

Seriously, I don’t know if I can post Class #3. Are these cheering you up and making you laugh? Are they making your morning a little brighter? If the answer is yes from enough readers, I GUESS I’ll man up and post it. But it is seriously mortifying. There are times when I remember it randomly and cringe. Still. Ten years later!

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Never Take Me To An Exercise Class, Ever, NO I MEAN SERIOUSLY NEVER EVER!: Take One

Many, many well-intentioned people I know urge me to take exercise classes. “Jjiraffe, take a Spin Class!” they’ll proclaim. “You’ll burn a lot of calories!” Or “Tae Kwon Do will make you feel your strength as a WOMAN, Jjiraffe!” someone will rave. Or, “Yoga will change your life, Jjiraffe. For real.” Or I’ll read a post like this, about the amazing power of emotional clarity that the right workout can provide. Aaaand, I’ll be tempted. REAL tempted.

Then I remember that I’m me. And every exercise class I have ever taken has ended in dramatic, flameout, Borat-style dysfunctional disaster. (Remember when he destroyed that antique store?) People still dine out, years later, on just ONE tale of my three attempts to exercise in a group setting with others. You may think I’m being dramatic. I’m building this up too much. There was that time you tripped during your Flash mob routine of Cee-lo’s “Forget You.” That was embarrassing, right?

Not even. Here’s a taster of humiliation.

Borat asks: You think I can glue this back together?

Foreshadowing, people.

The year: 1997. The setting: Spin Class, Gorilla Sports, San Francisco
The characters: My friend from work, Lisa, and myself. And 50 Spin Class (mostly male) fanatics.

Lisa was my first friend to talk me into an exercise class. (But unfortunately not the last.) I preferred running or working on a treadmill (for no particular reason other than a TOTALLY PSYCHIC Premonition subconsciously keeping me AWAY, the FUCK away from classes) but her description of burning more than 600 calories in a session was really tempting. I asked her if I needed any special skills. “Have you ever ridden a bike?” she asked. Well, duh. Of course I had. I mean, not really since I was in junior high with a three-speed Schwinn, but whatever! Once you’ve ridden a bike, you’ll always know how to ride a bike?

We were a little late to the class so the only two bikes open were in the front of the whole group. I wasn’t keen on a bunch of guys staring at my ass, but I had no choice but to trot up there and awkwardly straddle the bulky stationary bike as everyone watched. My initial hesitation turned into outright panic when the Teutonic instructor barked out “Has anyone not taken this class before?” and no one raised their hand. I wasn’t going to single myself out and encourage even more attention to all those behind my hindquarters. Well, that Schwinn was not too hard to maneuver, right? RIGHT?!

Cue the intensely loud techno music which made it difficult to understand Frau Instructor’s commands. Which were many, and complicated. A lot of gear shifts were talked about. Shifting to lower gears to go uphill or shifting to higher gears to go downhill. I was unsure how to downshift up or down. I’m sure it wasn’t rocket science, but I was becoming increasingly flustered.

Uta’s commands became more intense as she led us on a virtual tour of the Alps. We were climbing a steep precipice on our very own Tour de France (which, ambitious much?) so I shifted to the lower gears, pedaling slowly, my butt in the air. (The last place I wanted it to be.) Then suddenly Frau spotted a sharp drop-off: “Shift higher, pedal faster. FASTER!!!” Jolted by the order, I pedaled really fast, but missed the part about shifting into higher gears.

You can imagine the physics behind my dumb move: The pedals had no resistance but I was pedaling them fast so I soon lost control. No big deal, you say. You can’t lose much control on a stationary bike.

Oh, my friend. You are wrong.

My foot lost its traction on the pedal, but my heel got caught on a strap. (Which I probably should have asked how to secure properly.) In an effort to shake it loose while still pedaling madly on the other side, I stomped my left foot, thus compromising the entire structure. The bike came loose from its underpinnings and in slow terrible motion fell to the left. I collapsed in a heap, with a terrific crash, the bike on top of my left leg and when it landed I was parallel to the floor, still straddling the thing.

The music and class actually stopped while the instructor and my friend struggled to get the bike off my left leg, which hurt a bit, but not as much as my humiliation. People were starting to stiffle their giggles. I mean, who falls off a stationary bike?! If I had been worried about people staring at my butt, well, I had much bigger fish to fry now. My face turned the color of a 49ers sweatshirt. My friend Lisa was initially worried I had injured myself, but the truth was I had injured my pride. And apparently a stationary bike.

She told me later after a few margaritas that nothing like that had EVER happened in the six months she had taken the class. Well, of course not.

My only war wound was a hideous bruise the size of a muffin on my left knee and thigh. Of course summer was about to begin, of course I was single, of course the bruise was totally ugly and of course the bruise lasted until fall, when I had already packed away my shorts and short skirts.

Not my actual bruise, but pretty similar.

Hématome

By KoS, Public doman, via Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever performed an epic fail during an exercise class?

Are you strong enough to hear my next tale? It makes the stationary bike disaster look like small potatoes…

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