Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Conquering My Deepest, Weirdest Fears

I have big news. And it's not, as my mother guessed, that I'm pregnant. This is much better: I watched the original full-length music video for Michael Jackson's "Thriller."

Surely, you say, this is not the first time you've watched the Thriller video? It debuted over 20 years ago! Well, no. I watched it when it first premiered on MTV in 1983. It was a huge event; there'd been such hype about it. My whole family gathered around the living room TV. I think the lights were off and we had popcorn, but my memory's a little fuzzy on those points. Because the video came on and I was all excited—for whatever reason, I had a total Michael Jackson crush as a child. I had a Michael Jackson calendar, multiple Michael Jackson dolls, hell, my mother even made me my own glittery glove. Just one. I wore it to preschool and got peanut butter on it at snack time. Without exaggeration, I can say that I wanted to be Madonna and marry Michael Jackson. I was a weird little kid.

Anyway, the Thriller video started. Car runs out of gas. Michael's girl thinks it's a sleazeball trick, but it's not. All is well, except that they have to walk home now. At this point he decides to tell her that he's "not like other guys." Understatement of the century. The full moon comes out and sweet, girly-sounding, still-black Michael Jackson turns into a werewolf, complete with fangs and glaring yellow eyes.

Scared. Me. Shitless.

I was only coaxed back into the room after the opening sequence ended and werewolf Michael was replaced by the significantly less threatening zombie Michael. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I began having Thriller nightmares. I was three then...so that means I've been having Thriller nightmares for 23 years. Twenty-three years. I tried watching it again when I was in sixth grade, but I freaked out again and never even made it to the zombie dance sequence. Nope, the werewolf transformation had me simultaneously trying to shut my eyes, plug my ears, grope for the remote, and scream for my mom.

Needless to say, I avoided Thriller and, by and large, Michael Jackson in all forms. (Which was probably a sound idea, considering the ensuing train wreck he'd become.) Every time a "best of the '80s" clip show came on MTV or VH1 or whatnot, my palms would get clammy and my heart would beat faster. Oh, I wanted to be a material girl with Madonna and just have fun with Cyndi Lauper, but there was always that nagging fear that they'd sneak in a clip from Thriller. I'd still have Thriller nightmares every so often, sometimes not for months at a time, sometimes several nights in a row.

Fast-forward to last week. This past Friday night, I went out for fondue with some friends. It was a veritable food orgy, with six different kinds of fondue, unlimited wine, and cheesecake. When we returned to my apartment, the topic of conversation turned to the video of Filipino prison inmates doing a Thriller dance routine that had been circulating online. Pretty nifty. Then I mentioned that I'd heard of a Bollywood South Indian version that I sort of wanted to see, but was worried that the makeup would scare me. We chanced it though, and it was pretty ridiculous. Then Afshin said that he'd never actually seen the original version. Of course, I instinctively shouted, "No!" But my friend Kara wisely (though tipsily) said, "Kaitlen, you're 26. I think it's time to get over it."

And so, dear friends, I stood as far back from the screen as possible (which isn't far in my apartment), squinted my eyes, and nearly broke my friend Daniel's ribs from squeezing him so hard. But I watched it and got over it. The zombies? Piece of cake. The werewolf? Sorta silly. The Michael-to-werewolf transformation scene? Um, still creepy. But not terrifying by a long shot. I don't think I'll have Thriller nightmares anymore.

I told my mom of the recent development and she said that was great news. Just not as good as if I'd been pregnant. Sheesh. I just conquer my Thriller fear and all she can think of is grandkids. Some people....

PS: If you're up to it, here's the full-length version of the Thriller video. For the love of god, don't let your three-year-old watch it, though.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Escalator Escapades

Not to sound too Seinfeldian, but what is the deal with Californians and escalators? This morning I nearly smacked right into the guy in front of me, and just a few days ago I saw yet another woman trip over the end of the escalator...because she didn't see it? Was distracted? Was being a total space cadet? Maybe all of the above. I just do not get it. I've seen more people absentmindedly trip at the ends of escalators during my year in California than I saw in the entire seven years I spent in New York. New Yorkers get on the escalator, walk/stand, periodically block your path, and get off the damn thing. Californians mosey. And, apparently, forget that the escalator does, in fact, end.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

I Loathe the US Post Office

I have a long, sordid history with the USPS. Today was their latest coup in their ongoing battle to keep my mail from me.

For a change, I won something in a contest: an autographed copy of the Tord Boontje book that CoolHunting was giving away. Yay me! Was very excited, and asked Afshin every day upon getting home, "Did my book come today?" Until yesterday, the answer was no. Yesterday we'd gotten a little card saying that we'd missed a package and would have to pick it up from the post office. Naturally, while our mail is usually delivered late in the day, packages can show up at any and all times, generally while I'm at work and Afshin is at the gym (or, in the past, in class, or at lunch, or in the shower...any time he wasn't available, basically). So they tried to deliver the book while he was at the gym this time. I asked him if he'd pick it up at the post office for me today, as I had to go to work today, the post office will be closed tomorrow, and I'll actually be out of town from tomorrow night through next Wednesday. Being an obliging fellow, he said yes.

So Afshin takes the little "sorry we missed you—sucker" tag and trundles off to the post office. They won't give him the package because it's for me. He shows the woman that the address on his driver's license matches that on the package tag, so he and I clearly live at the same address. No. He explains that I asked him to pick it up and offers to call me and have me speak to the woman at the post office. No. He asks if he should have had me sign the tag first. No. It apparently wouldn't matter if I'd signed it, because I still wouldn't be there in person. He points out that, had he been home when it had been delivered, he would have been able to sign for it. Yes. But he can't do that at the post office? No. So (he offers this hypothetical situation), a thief could break into our apartment, show no ID, and sign for a package, but he, with ID that states he lives at the address listed on the package, cannot pick it up from the post office. No. ("And I actually presented that exact situation to her," he told me.)

He also pointed out that he's picked up packages for me before, to which the woman countered that whoever let him do so "must not have been paying attention." "Could you not pay attention?" he asked. No. (She wasn't nasty, apparently. Just firm as hell.)

So he had to reschedule delivery. For next Tuesday, since I'll definitely be gone, he may be out of town for a few days, and he has a dentist appointment on Monday. Tuesday he can stay home all bloody day waiting for the package, though. I would have had it redirected to my office address, but the post office doesn't do anything that convenient. That's just UPS (which is inconvenient for a host of other reasons, but not that one).

I detest, despise, and loathe the post office.