What would you do with a free afternoon?

If you know me or have been paying attention to the things I write (you are paying attention, aren't you?), you know that I end up positively vapor-locked when presented with a windfall of money. I agonize over making just the right choice. Should I spend my money now, or save it for something later? Is a pedicure a treat, or a necessity? (If you saw my feet, you'd insist it was a necessity.) What about that mascara I love from Sephora? Maybe I should save for a new camera, or splurge on dinner out with the husband?

I'm the same way with an unexpected windfall of time.  What would I do with a whole afternoon alone, with no "real" work to do? Would I stay home and clean? Get caught up on laundry? Catch up on This American Life podcasts? Or just sit quietly and read? Watch mindless TV? Shower? Shave my legs? Or maybe nap? Or would I go shopping? Or to the library?

Do you see what I'm talking about??

More than a few options and I seize up, just like all those traded-in clunkers' engines that had to be destroyed.  Well, the same thing happened to blogger Suz Broughton. Jump on over to her blog, Alive in Wonderland, and and see how this Irvine, CA mom handled it when her husband hooked her up with a free afternoon. (Hint: She survives.)

Speaking the language

OVERHEARD: LUNCHTIME. BAJA FRESH. The manager behind the counter is trying to get orders out to customers. "Number 83. Nachos Carnitas. 83," he said into the microphone.

A Very White Man approaches the counter. "No," he said to the Spanish-speaking manager. "83 is nachos."

"Yes," the manager replied. Nachos WITH MEAT. Carnitas."


This exchange reminded me of two times where trying to speak French didn't go as planned.

The first happened in 1985, right after I graduated high school. Our school organized a trip to Europe every three years, whereby kids from rural Central PA could broaden their horizons and learn more about Our World. I think they called it the Cultural European Tour.

And so it was we found ourselves on line at the Burger King on The Avenue des Champs-Élysées (because really, nothing embodies the true culture of Paris more than a fast food restaurant on one of the world's most famous boulevards). (And this is to say nothing of the fact that several days before, we ate at Pizza Hut in London. But don't worry, Mom, I still learned a LOT!)

The guy in front of me in line, who I'm sure has since become a Pillar of his Community but then was, well, a 17 year old boy, stepped up to place his order.

"Yeah, uh, gimme summa them-there, uh, PUM-FREEEETS," he said to the pretty girl taking the order, and grinned.

The girl blinked and deadpanned, "You mean French fries?" with a glint in her eye.

"Uh… yeah."

Fast-forward to 1993, and I find myself in Paris again, this time on our honeymoon. It was a lovely October day and we'd spent it walking around the arrondissements,  soaking in the true local flavor. We came upon a vending cart, and as it happened, I was thirsty.  Eager to try using my Francais faible, I approached the woman and said:

"Une Coke-Diète, s'il-vous plait," in what I was sure was a perfect accent, one that would not belie my American upbringing to even a native Francophone.

"Eighty francs," she replied, in textbook-perfect English, completely bursting my bubble.

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Your turn. Please tell me about a time where you tried to use a foreign language but things didn't go as you thought they would. Merci beaucoup.

Irreverent (imaginary) Tweets

HERE ARE SOME THINGS I MIGHT HAVE TWEETED this morning while sitting in the choir loft at my church, through not one but two morning services. This happens from time to time, on Big Church Sundays, that the choir is asked to sing during both services. Most of the time, this isn't a big deal and I manage just fine. But today, well, my head just wasn't in the game. Especially the second time around. This might be the Dirty Little Secret of choir members: We may look all pious and reverent, sitting up there in our matching robes, but don't assume we are all always completely engaged in what goes on around us.

Lucky for you, I didn't have my Blackberry, so I scrawled these notes on my bulletin.  As I sat quietly and tried to listen to everything. TWICE. (I know. This could mean I'm going straight to hell.)

Can someone pass me a Sudoku, maybe, or a crossword?

Can't believe I'm thinking this: I would rather be doing laundry.

SING IT, people! With enthusiasm!

Wait; that doesn't make any sense. Can you repeat that?

Hey, folks in the back! There are plenty of good seats left up here in the front! Good views of attractive singers!

If I close my eyes, maybe they'll just think I'm praying, or meditating. Won't they?

Hey, Man in the front row, WAKE UP! No fair you can sleep and I can't.

STORE LIST: Milk, bread, eggs, pepperoni, dog food, apples, fish sticks, Diet Coke, something for dinner…

What would YOU have Tweeted this morning, in church or otherwise?

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I don't often check my site analytics because I'm not all that hung up on my numbers. However, the search terms are fascinating! So, If you are the person who landed here by searching "tetanus from can of soup", "shit soup", "breast torture interrogation" or "fun finger food hat", I apologize, for I'm sure you didn't find here what you were expecting. Please refine your search terms and try again.

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One year ago today: I shared a cool postcard from Brigantine, NJ from the late 1960s. Commenters left some hilarious caption suggestions!