Category Archives: Just For Fun

Failure is totally an option.

About a year and a half ago, I visited my brother and his girlfriend in Tucson, Arizona. I was eager to see the sights, and after a little coaxing, we drove the long, meandering 25 miles to the top of Mt. Lemmon. Sunny and 60 degrees at the base, there was snow at the summit. Between that and an elevation gain of over 5,000 feet, I never expected to see this:

Almost immediately, I began planning my own Tucson cycling adventure. I would bring along my sister and a close friend, and together we too would conquer Mt. Lemmon.

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Easy peasy. Photo credit

We arrived in Tucson last week with grand plans: Climb a mountain and drink all the beer.

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A flight of brewskies at noon o’clock the day before an endurance event. Duh.

When I asked my sister and friend if they wanted to drive up the mountain for a sneak peak peek, they gave a resounding, “Hell no!” We had recently done some long, challenging rides, and felt cocky confident.

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Remember this one?

The night before our trek, a man named Robert met us in a dentist office parking lot with three rental road bikes.

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You say “a strange man asked you to meet him in the bushes just behind the dumpster” like it’s a bad thing…

“Eh, it’ll take you a few hours and three bottles of water to get to the top,” Robert said. “I’ve done it a bunch of times.”

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Okay, Robert! I trust you, Robert!

The next morning, when we finally arrived at the base of the mountain (a 45-minute drive from our AirBnb), I looked at my sister. “Oh my god,” I said. “I left my helmet in your suitcase.” My sister spun around and spotted another cyclist in the parking lot. “Excuse me,” she called. “Are you from around here? Do you know where we can buy a helmet?”

We were prepared to drive to the nearest Walmart, but our new cycling friend, Gary, rummaged in the back of his car and pulled out a well-worn white helmet. Without a moment’s hesitation, he walked over and began fitting it on my head, pulling the chin strap tightly.

“That should work,” he said with a smile and a nod.

“Crap,” I told him. “I almost got out of this.”

Mt-Lemmon-base

Goddamn you, Gary.

By then it was 9:30am, and the sun felt like it was sitting squarely atop my borrowed head gear. We took off and before long, everything hurt. Numb hands, aching legs, and dull chills – everything I’d dreamt of and more.

Two hours in, my sister and I stopped for our 87th break and said, almost in unison, “Well, I can’t breathe and I’m out of water.”

We were at mile 7.

Of 25.

Mt-Lemmon-suitcase

But our cycling gear made it the full 2,433 miles home – right at the weight limit! Which is especially impressive when you consider how much shame was inside.

P.S. – Here’s our friend at the top. She’s a machine. Ain’t that right, KB!

Mt-Lemmon-summit

She was really impressed with the view.

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I Can’t Believe I’m Telling You This.

When I pulled up to my rental cottage in northern Maine this past weekend, I let out out a sigh of relief. Ten hours in the car with a distressed Labradoodle, two wrong turns, and a long, steep decent via gravel road had been worth it.

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I had booked the cottage nearly nine months earlier, anticipating my summer residency, a week-long retreat required as part of my Humane Education Masters degree program. (YES, it’s a THING.)

I knew after nine-hour days of singing Kumbaya and braiding my cohorts’ armpit hair, this New Jersey native and closet introvert was going to need some alone time.

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I think we all remember what happens when Jules tries to be a team player.

I arrived at my little rustic gem with a view and, per the check-in instructions, headed straight for what I thought was the front door. “Doors will be unlocked,” the instructions read. “The key will be inside in an obvious location. Should you need a spare, it will be under the back doormat.”

I jiggled the handle. The deadbolt, apparently, was working overtime.

I jumped from foot to foot, having had to pee for what felt like 127 hours.

127 hours

I walked around the side of the cottage and saw another door. “Ah, of course,” I said to myself. “This must be it.” I turned the handle and once again – door locks working the night shift.

My bladder screamed as I tried both doors again. I checked and rechecked under both doormats. Uncle Jesse, my dog, bounced around me as if to say, “Is it time to go back to Jersey yet?”

I groaned loudly and walked back to my car to retrieve the check-in instructions. I called all four numbers listed on the paper and not a single person answered. My bathroom situation went from a slightly unpleasant Kevin Costner film to Waterworld.

Waterworld

I looked around surreptitiously. People were sitting on the porch at the house to the left, but they were almost entirely shrouded by trees. The house at the top of the hill had a partially obstructed view of Fort Knox my cottage, but, maybe no one was home?

There was no time left to wonder. I grabbed a battered box of tissues from my car and tiptoed to the side of the cottage. With one more wary glance up the hill, I said, “F*ck it,” and, well.

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Like we haven’t all peed on the side of a rental cottage in Maine.

The relief was as sublime as the view. I was a woman on a mission now. After wrestling with several ancient windows held secure by what I think were pine tree shivs, I managed to pry one open.

I climbed inside, unlocked both doors, and started unloading my overstuffed car when I saw a man walking down the gravel driveway. He looked like a cross between a young(ish) Jeff Bridges and a basket handwoven by fruitarians.

Jeff-Bridges-basket

That rug basket really pulled the room fruit together.

I gave a shy hello, crusted in sweat, shame and ten hours of car funk, assuming he was headed towards the small staircase that led to the coastline.

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As he neared, it started to feel increasingly awkward. Maybe he was one of the numbers I’d just called? I took a few steps forward and held out my hand.

“Hi…. I’m Jules. …I’m renting the cottage for the week…?”

“I just happened to notice you pull up,” he said. “I live in the black and tan house that’s shaped like a teepee built in 1971 by a blind nudist colony.” He pointed up the hill, his long brown locks swaying in the breeze.

“Oh, yeah, so,” I stammered. Holy hell. He saw…everything. “I couldn’t find the key and no one answered the emergency number, so, I peed my brains out on the lawn and climbed in through the window…”

“I think I know where the key is,” he said without missing a beat. He headed towards the porch and knelt down by a crack in the wooden staircase. “The owner was just here two days ago.” He handed me a small silver key. “Want to give this a try?”

“Wow,” I said sarcastically. “I feel really secure now.”

He laughed and waited for me to try the key, making small talk about my dog and having once lived in New Jersey. Rattled, I tried to shake him off, and he soon headed down the stairs towards the water, as if that had been his plan all along.

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And perhaps it was. Say hello to my new makeshift curtains.

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An Idle Mind is Santa’s Workshop

humm-dingers

One week off.

One glorious week off.

I can hike!

I can read magazines!

I can blow dry my hair!

Or:

Anyone feel like getting together for a jam session? We can just eat jam if you want.

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I Got Stuck In A Stairwell (And I Liked It)

endless-stairs-jules

Last week, I spent a few days in New York City, watching many months of work come to fruition. As a project manager in the pharmaceutical industry, my colleagues and I had been planning a bioethics-themed symposium for ages. Finally, the event had arrived.

The symposium took place on the 40th floor of 7 World Trade Center. The views were spectacular.

7-world-trade-view

Things were going well on our first day, but I was anxious. There was a “networking lunch” at noon. Trying to pretend I knew anything about anything compassionate use of medicines for an hour and a half, among some of the country’s foremost ethicists, seemed daunting.

For the first few minutes during lunch, I checked my email in the hallway, doing my best to look busy and important. When I glanced up, I noticed an exit sign.

“I could do a little exploring,” I thought. “Stretch my legs.”

There wasn’t any indication that this was an emergency only exit, so off I scampered into the obviously post-9/11 constructed stairwell. The stairs were wide and well marked with fluorescent tape.

As I descended, I noticed each floor bore signs that read, “Nearest re-entry on floor 36.”

The floors in between had only locked doors, not even a pad to swipe your badge – if you had a badge.

The 36th floor did have a pad, but I decided onward and downward was the way to go. Also I had no badge. No doubt some floor would have public access, and if not, I could piggyback off of one of the people I was bound to see.

And I did see someone. Around floor 20. By then, I was determined to see this thing through. Because surely -surely- I could exit on the ground floor.

The final floors were daunting. There were no doors at all, and large, brightly lit ticker tape signs announcing, “EXIT THIS WAY >>>>>>>>>.”

I finally made it to the ground floor, wobbly-kneed and decidedly damp, only to see this:

emergency-exit-alarm

Knowing there was a red ‘call if you’re a moron’ phone back on the 11th floor, I turned around and began my long ascent.

When I reached the 4th floor, a tall, brunette man in a fleece jacket appeared.

“Can I help you?” he asked suspiciously.

He looked like Brody from Homeland.

“I’m trapped!” I blurted.

“Yeah. You’re supposed to be on the 40th floor.”

Which is when it hit me. Nicholas Brody had been watching me for forty. Floors.

“Come with me,” he said, leading me to the 5th floor. He looked like he knew 17 ways to kill someone with a rubber band.

Ma'am, you're, like, not even CLOSE to the 40th floor.

Ma’am, you’re, like, not even CLOSE to the 40th floor.

When he opened the 5th floor door and I saw it wasn’t an interrogation room, I breathed a sigh of relief.

“Bless you.”

He found someone to babysit me on the way to the proper elevator bank, and when I eventually made it back to the 40th floor, I ducked into a bathroom stall and desperately swabbed my head with toilet paper.

When I felt fairly certain I’d stopped sweating, I emerged from the stall and washed my hands. I looked up to see my entire forehead covered in toilet paper bits.

Guess it coulda been worse.

Guess it coulda been worse.

Have you ever gotten stuck in a compromising position?

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My Dog Is About To Make Your Weekend

Uncle-Jesse-youre-welcome

Some of you may already be familiar with my obsession with my Labradoodle dog, Uncle Jesse.

He’s a model.

He eats lying down.

He answers to ridiculous commands.

He’s the inspiration behind my inaugural blog post.

Recently, I began to notice something even more incredible than the fact that he turns his snout up at the sh*tty knock off Milk Bone biscuits from the local bank teller.

I noticed he learned a command entirely unintentionally.

Because he’s the most amazing f%$&*@ dog in the world.

Happy Friday!

What’s the best pet trick you’ve ever seen? (Links to videos STRONGLY encouraged.)

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Talking Animals Are My Favorite

Hi Chipmunks! I went to the zoo on Saturday.

Jealous? You should be. Here’s what happened.

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Happy captioning!

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Dear Aunt and Uncle: You Didn’t Like That Wall Anyway, Right?

There’s something you should know about me.

I mean, just something I want to warn you about, should we ever vacation together.

I like to do things.

Come back! I like to do things, too!

Come back! I like to do things, too!

I’m not the Energizer bunny or anything, but to me, going on trips is more synonymous with adventure than relaxation. If you take me to the beach, I’m going to try to book one of those wave runner or zip lining excursions. If you take me to the city, I’m going to look up event calendars and comedy clubs.

And if you take me out to dinner after all of this doing of things, I’m going to drink. A lot.

I know everyone says they have great taste and a sense of humor, but seriously. My taste is phenomenal.

I know everyone says they have great taste and a sense of humor, but seriously. My taste is phenomenal.

And after I drink a lot, I might look around and think, “That wall should be blue. I mean, like a really classy, Nautica-looking navy blue.”

And before you know it, I’ll be painting your vacation home.

This is precisely what happened when first Hub, Peppermeister, and I, stayed in my aunt and uncle’s summer house in Long Island last week.

“Are you sure you want to PAINT on your vacation?” Peppermeister asked.

“It’ll be done before you wake up.”

“I don’t know why I asked.”

BEFORE

LongIsland-wall-BEFORE

AFTER

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LongIsland-wall-AFTER

Booya.

I may have made a few other adjustments…

...bought candles and a of couple K's, painting one to match the new wall...

…Bought candles and a of couple K’s (my aunt and uncle’s names both start with K), painting one to match the new wall…

...and turned some of their trivets into a cool coffee table centerpiece. Oh and let's not forget the pillows, table runner and flowers! TA DA!

…turned some of their trivets into a cool coffee table centerpiece. Oh and let’s not forget the new pillows, table runner and flowers…

...and swapped the gray curtains with a spare bedroom's bright, cheery, gold curtains. TA DA!

…and swapped the gray curtains with a spare bedroom’s bright, cheery, gold curtains. TA DA!

So what do my aunt and uncle think of my impromptu makeover?

Good question.

I haven’t heard from them in days.

What kind of vacationer are you? Less is more or go-go-go? (For more of my Long Island adventures, check out how I almost died!)

Disclaimer: Though my aunt and uncle own it now, this is an old family home, and I checked with my parents before painting. It’s not as funny with the disclaimer, is it? I should’ve just let you think I was a presumptuous asshat. Dammit.

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My Boat Capsized and All I Got Was This Tiny T-Shirt

“I can’t wait to rent a boat in Long Island!” my first husband, Peppermeister, said several times before we headed east last week.

Once again, my aunt and uncle were generously letting us stay in their vacation home for our anniversary. We had fond memories of relaxing bay side, playing mini golf and binge drinking waterfront dining.

The house was just as we’d left it. (BUT NOT FOR LONG! STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO OF MY VACATION ADVENTURES!)

“Let’s scope out this place, The Station,” Peppermeister said. “They serve food and rent boats.”

More importantly, they serve Tröegs on tap.

More importantly, they serve Tröegs on tap.

While recreating one of the menu photos…

LongIsland-TheStation-photo-reenactment

…we noticed an entertaining boat name:

LongIsland-TheStation-Butthead

I swear on snot rockets and turd buckets, this detail becomes important later.

“Do you think that’s the boat they rent?” I asked.

“Nah, that one’s too nice,” Peppermeister replied. “They probably rent those.”

He pointed to the glorified row boats on either side of Butthead. I quickly let go of my mai tai drinking, bow bathing fantasies.

“We’ll come back on Monday – the weather’s supposed to be beautiful.”

And the weather finally WAS beautiful, on Wednesday. The young man preparing our boat barely put down his sandwich to attach the motor. Knowing nothing about boats, I brushed off my first thought: “Is that from a lawn mower?”

At 10:15am, we were finally ready to hit the open seas Shinnecock Bay.

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In between bites, our boat hand, who shall henceforth be referred to as “Boris,” explained where to fish for fluke, and gave us a map with the emergency phone numbers on it.

What's that? This paper looks like it got wet? Huh. Spoiler alert.

What’s that? This paper looks like it got wet? Huh. Spoiler alert!

We didn’t even make it out of the marina before the motor stalled and we drifted into sand. We shoved ourselves off with our one sturdy oar, and Peppermeister got us going again.

The weather was so flawless, I paid little mind to the hiccup.

Wheeee! We must be going 2.3 knots, by now!

Wheeee! We must be going 2.3 knots by now! Surely we’ll never need those life jackets!

We cruised steadily west while Peppermeister grabbed a beer and we tried to pick out our own marina.

LongIsland-boat-Peppermeister-beer

Hey, did you leave the porch light on?

About 45 minutes into our cruise, the motor cut out again.

LongIsland-boat-not-starting

When it happened for the third time, we Peppermeister spent 20 minutes trying to start it.

“I’m just going to call the guy to come get us. This is a waste of time.” He fished out his cell phone from the Ziploc bag in his backpack.

Here’s a summary of how that went down:

“Landmarks? …Yes, there are buildings nearby! THERE ARE HOUSES EVERYWHERE!”

“We’re IN THE DUNES. DRIVE by the DUNES.”

“WE’RE DUE SOUTH OF TIANA BAY! DUE SOUTH! We’re IN the DUNES on the OTHER SIDE of the BAY. We’ve DRIFTED SINCE WE HAVE NO ANCHOR AND ONE OAR!”

“Like I said, we’re to the LEFT OF THE BRIDGE. DUE SOUTH OF TIANA BAY. We’re THE ONLY BOAT HERE.”

I tried to help, too.

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One hour and five phone calls later, Boris arrived in none other than…

Butthead!

LongIsland-boat-Butthead-to-the-rescue

He, of course, managed to get our motor going, and told us to follow him back. The motor stalled a minute later, and it took him three minutes to notice we weren’t following. He circled back to tow us.

He tangled up his lines in his motor, and then attached one line to the front of our boat.

“He’s doing it wrong,” Peppermeister muttered. “You’re supposed to tow with two lines.”

We lurched forward, and Boris started swerving Butthead left to right, right to left, while we tipped from side to side in our boat.

LongIsland-boat-towing

I should probably say something.

I leaned forward and backward in the opposite direction of his swerving, trying to keep the boat level.

About halfway to the marina, the water grew increasingly choppy, as did Boris’s driving, and gallons of water sloshed into our boat. We tried bailing it out with our one bucket, a bleach bottle with the bottom cut out.

Peppermeister whistled loudly. Boris, who’d never once looked back to check on us, raised his eyebrows in mild surprise.

“Every time you turn, more water comes in! We’ve been trying to empty it this whole time!” Peppermeister shouted. “Will this boat sink?”

“No,” he replied, and kept driving, staring straight ahead.

Titanic-orchestraThe water rushed past our calves, almost as high as the seats.

Peppermeister whistled again and Boris stood there gawking.

Everything next happened in slow motion.

Peppermeister yelled, “You need to get off!”

With my brain still saying, “This boat’s not actually SINKING,” I grabbed our precious cargo -the backpack- and held it above my head. Suddenly, half the boat was under water. Good call on the Ziploc bags. As it capsized, my left leg got pinned beneath, allowing me to appreciate its sturdiness. Wow. No. I kicked off my flip-flops and paddled away, shouting,

“Here! The backpack! Get it on Butthead! Get it on Butthead!”

Because I’d be DAMNED if I was losing my cell phone and car keys over this little snafu.

Peppermeister threw the backpack at Boris, who let it hit his chest and slide to the floor. I swam for a second or two, watching the contents of the boat drift south (due south! Of Tiana Bay! Towards the dunes! In case you were wondering).

“Don’t worry about the boat! Don’t worry about it! Leave the stuff!” Boris called, finally looking rattled.

“Get a life jacket!” Peppermeister cried, and I grabbed the only one still within reach, passing it to him, confused.

Ooh, the water feels nice. It’s not as hard to swim in a denim jacket as I thought it would be. Bet I could swim back pretty fast. Great exercise.

“Do you need it? Put it on!” Peppermeister said frantically.

I took one look at his face and his next statement answered my unspoken question, “I’m freakin’ out a little.”

“It’s fine,” I replied. “It’s fine. We’re in a bay. You know how to swim.”

“I know, I know,” he said. “You get on first.”

Shouldn’t we get the stuff?

“Don’t worry about the stuff!” Boris called again.

“Go! Use our boat!” Peppermeister urged.

Our overturned boat was creating, I realized, a handy step up onto Butthead. Boris grabbed my arm firmly, “I got you, I got you.”

Man, I always thought that would be impossible, I thought as I tumbled onboard.

Once Peppermeister and I were safely seated, we began our 45-minute slog back to the marina. I didn’t realize why it took so long until much later.

Boris was towing our boat.

Upside down.

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The Station owner was waiting for us on the dock when we returned.

“A ‘small’ problem?” he asked, glancing between Boris and his sodden passengers.

Boris stared at the ground while Peppermeister and I disembarked. Moments later, he handed us a full refund and two t-shirts.

“I’m so sorry about this,” he said.

He walked away, shoulders slumped, and I looked at Peppermeister.

“That. Was. AWESOME.”

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Have you ever had any vacation mishaps?

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It Wouldn’t Be A Proper Vacation Without…

What day is it again? Where am I? Who are you? (Just kidding – I’ll never let go, Chipmunks.)

I’ve been living it up vacation style, and just wanted to pop in to let you know that both my liver and I are still alive and kicking.

How do I know I’m doin’ this time off thing right?

For starters, leisurely breakfasts have consisted of no fewer than 3 of the following: Croissants, coffee, champagne, cheese, fresh fruit, and/or BACON.

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I’ve stopped to smell the roses (or whatever the hell these are) on my morning walks.

early-morning-walk-flowers-2013 early-am-walk-shadow-2013There’s been double rainbow ogling.

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Stops at the bank when I’ve run out of singles for the strip club.

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Or, you know, the local farm stand.

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I’ve loaded up on all the fresh seafood I can get my claws on.

whole-lobstah-2013 lobstah-salad-2013I’ve done my new Fitbit (pedometer) proud and hit the trails with Uncle Jesse. (Note: Your own vacation success should not ride on this particular activity.)

highlands-hike-sweaty-2013 UncleJesse-highlands-hike-2013

I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen, making things like homemade mid-east feasts.

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I can still taste the garlic.

And of course, there’s been booze. Lots and lots of booze.

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But the real reason I know I’m on vacation? I’ve only turned on my computer once.

The very best part? It’s not over yet! Today First Hub, Peppermeister, and I celebrate our 5th anniversary, and have another week of this to look forward to:

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Ed-Jules-Long-Island-smooch-2012

But just so ya know, it’s not all smooches and sunsets. We like to exchange meaningful gifts, too.

A wolf t-shirt to go with his BB guns.

A cutting-edge wolf t-shirt to go with his BB guns. You’re welcome, Peppermeister.

And his gift to me: Clever methods for stashing booze.

And his gift to me: Clever methods for stashing booze.

Stay tuned next week for the much-anticipated Peppermeister Roulette, where Rachel’s Table and Peppermeister go head to head to see who can handle his hottest homegrown peppers.

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What does vacation success look like to you? It wouldn’t be a vacation without _____?

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I Got “Spanked!” With My Mom

Once upon a time, my mom, Babs, sent this email to my sister and me (click to enlarge):

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

After you get over Babs’ adorable italics, you’re probably feeling appalled. Or at the very least, wary. But that’s a perfectly good waste of emotional energy. You should consider saving your disgust for things like global warming. Or cicadas.

Cicadas in NJ. Even grosser than that one scene in 50 Shades. You know the one I'm talking about.

Cicadas in NJ. Right. Now. Even grosser than that one scene in 50 Shades. You know the one I’m talking about.

Oh yes. I’ve read 50 Shades of Grey, and the only thing I’m ashamed of is not Jules-Shadesmaking it through more than half of the trilogy before growing tired of Christian and Ana’s antics (or, rather, the author using ten words when only one was needed [usually “Ouch!”]).

In other words, I was totally game for the blogging potential Spank!

If you think a 50 Shades of Grey theatrical parody might go over well with the more, ah, age-advanced female crowd, you’re right. It was part musical, part striptease, part insanely impressive revenue-generator, thanks to the 50 Shades year old contingent.

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Babs. A woman so nice, they named her in, um, italics.

There were only 3 cast members (to which I attribute much of its money-making potential): The author and the male and female leads. The author stood in as a couple of other characters, but mostly narrated the play as the dramatically under-sexed E.L. James.

The actor playing Christian was an understudy with vocal and guitar chops that only his abs could rival. Babs and my sister weren’t as impressed with the actress playing Ana, but I think they’re being unfair. A character so complex and riveting, well, even Meryl Streep would have struggled.

What is the meaning of this "no"?

What is the meaning of this “no”?

They had some audience interaction, wine with straws, and, all in all, a pretty funny script.

The only fail of the night was when my sister and I heard the word, “No.” We desperately wanted a picture with the woman selling t-shirts, because her shirt was one-of-a-kind, and also because there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you chipmunks. She politely declined, embarrassed.

So I thought I’d recreate the t-shirt here. You’re welcome.

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Do you have a favorite play? Anything you want to get off your chest? Like how many times you’ve really read 50 Shades?

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