Sunday, May 22, 2011

There are times when a congratulations is in order, but I don’t think this is one of them


I’m about to make a mountain out of a molehill here, but something happened a couple days ago and it’s been stuck in my craw ever since; do you mind if I share?   This all started a year or so ago, when I decided to remove the vertical blinds hanging in my apartment and replace them with real drapes.  

(My sister Shawn was overjoyed; she hated them.)  Anyway, I was pretty attached to those vertical blinds--they were no maintenance & allowed just the right amount of light in here.  Okay, so they were old even when I moved in here back in ‘95; a couple of them were split at the bottom, and I had a few of them scotch-taped to the slider rail because the clips had broken off.  (But that’s one of the nice things about being a single guy, you can get away with such things.)  

So last year I finally (and tearfully) ripped them down, and installed one of those patio-sized curtain rods, and hung a VERY cheap pair of curtains on them (until I figured out what I really wanted to hang, which drove my sister a little nuts as she hated the cheap curtains even more than the vertical blinds).   A guy can’t win!

I’ve spent the last year buying (and returning) probably 10 sets of drapes.  If I had known it was going to be this difficult, I would’ve just stocked up on scotch tape instead.  I hated lined curtains, they blacked out the whole apartment, and patterns that looked modern in the catalog turned my place into Pee Wee’s Playhouse.  Sheers were…well, sheers (sissy) and “eco-friendly” was just a clever way of charging 200 bucks for burlap.  I was ready to throw in the towel when I found this ‘two tone’ set of ‘flax/ivory’ grommet panels at Crate & Barrel.

Aren’t these nice?  I get lots of light & most important, they don’t look girly

In fact, I was so pleased how these turned out that I thought I’d do ol’ Crate (and customers like me) a favor & write a positive review about them on their website. 

So I’m on this product’s page, I write up something nice, hit ‘Submit’ and a window pops up:  “Your submission has been saved for review; please allow 72 hours for us to contact you if yours is selected for publication.  Good Luck!”   Waitaminute—I thought I was just leaving a review for a pair of curtains, it’s not like I entered an essay contest or submitted a funny story to Reader’s Digest… they make it sound like there’s going to be a prize.  Um…Is there going to be a prize?

A couple days later, I get an email from Crate & Barrel; this is what it says (and in a much larger sized font too):


Your submission has been approved & selected for our website!  Click here to see your review

Hmm—there’s my review alright (& if you click on the link above, I’m ‘Singleguy’).  Now I don’t mean to look a gift-horse in the mouth, but—wait, there is no gift-horse ‘cuz I got nothing out of this, so why am I being congratulated?  What they should’ve sent was:


Or, they could’ve just said ‘thanks’.  Okay all kidding aside, if I helped a little old lady across the street, she wouldn’t say “Congratulations, you just helped me across the street!”  SHE’D PROBABLY SAY  "THANK YOU”.

.          .          .

Well, I didn’t mean to sound petty here (I know, too late for that) and I don’t resent the fact that I’m helping a multimillion dollar company sell their product—that’s why I wrote the review (and to help male customers like me, hopefully).  I just wish it didn’t feel like they were the ones doing ME the favor.  Just sayin’!


Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Barber of Seville—er, I mean Bellevue

I never thought I’d say this, but I hope we get some booze in my neighborhood soon.

I’ve been a resident of Bellevue since 1995, and I can still remember the first thing my prospective landlady asked me when I visited here to inquire about an apartment—“do you have any pets?”  Okay, the second thing she asked—“Douglas, are you aware this is a dry town?”

I had no idea what that even meant;  when she explained to me that alcohol was prohibited here, I wasn’t just fine with that, I was overjoyed.   Besides the fact I’m not a drinker (I think my last glass of wine was in 2001), at the time I was living in another little apartment in Sharpsburg, home to thirteen bars up & down it’s main avenue—and on Saturday nights I felt like I was living in the Wild West.  (Let’s just say the air was filled with saloon music, shouting and the occasional shoot-em-up.)   So I told Mrs. Salkeld (now my new landlady) it sounded great & I happily moved right in.

And I’ve enjoyed living here ever since; but I’ve noted with dismay that things aren’t what they used to be.  In fifteen years I’ve seen several businesses close—and they’ve either shut down for good, or been reopened as a ‘Rent-A-Center’ or one of those godawful dollar stores.   (Choke!  That second dollar store used to be the local movie theater!)   In fact, on Main Street I only see a few local businesses that are thriving—a bakery, a couple pizzerias, the Lincoln Barber Shop.  

I’ve been a regular customer of that barber shop for a couple years now--it’s a friendly place to visit (half the men in the neighborhood hang out there) and is well run by my friend Aaron & his 2 ‘aunts’ (I put that in quotes as they’re all the same age).   The shop is outfitted as a ‘men’s lounge’ with Al Pacino on the walls, ‘Rat Pack’ memorabilia and sixties rock music.  And free beer.  Free beer?  

Aaron has a ‘Free Beer’ sign outside the shop, his protest against the “Dry Laws” here prohibiting the sale of alcohol

Aaron isn’t trying to bring bars into the neighborhood; he just knows the value of allowing restaurants to serve beer or wine.  Plus he’s hoping to convert the local Methodist Church (another ‘closed business’) into a small theater for plays & independent films, with a wine bar for the patrons.  Geez, wouldn’t that be nice?

Bellevue Methodist Church, closed since 2007 when the local Catholics chased all the Methodists outta town—I’m kidding

The poor guy has been fighting an uphill battle with the Town Council for the last couple years, and he’s finally got a referendum on the table, that will be voted on this Tuesday.

I have to admit that I never thought I’d be voting in support of something involving alcohol, but I have a very good (and pretty persuasive) barber.

Anyway, Aaron recently made a short film that says all of this better than I can.  I just wanted to share it here (click on video below).   Good luck man, and like I said to you this morning--if it passes, please don’t give up your day job.  Smile

SPECIAL NOTE:  Well, it’s May 17 & the votes are in; It looks like Bellevue is staying dry for another 4 years.     Yes – 761    No - 849