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bio: jen

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The Dingbat Girl and The Pink Sweater Pigeon

I was going to write (or rewrite) my Hollywood Bad Boy piece this weekend, but I had to write about a little something that happened at the gym last week. Yes, I go to the gym. Please don't stop reading.

I go to a very un-glamorous basic gym in a Russian neighborhood in Hollywood. I go there to workout. I am not a social butterfly although I am nice and practice gym etiquette. I don't take step classes. Right now, I'm doing strength training. I had a great trainer back in New York who taught me how to train independently. I have a list of exercises, and when I'm done with the list, I can go home. I love lifting weights. It requires focus and keeping the form. I feel strong doing weights, and all my heavy anxiety, bullshit, and rage falls away.

So the scene: The gym. Thursday night. Jen is in the weight room with a lot of bulked up men (uuuuu---I have an arm fetish). She is doing her workout. She feels good. The weights feel good. She is in a zone.

A rap song plays on the gym sound system. Jen don't know squat about rap, but Jen loves it in the gym. It's aggressive and the rhythm sets a good pace, I wonder if rap stars listen to rap in the gym or if that's too much like being at the office. Maybe rap stars listen to Simon & Garfunkel for a change of pace---Are you going to Scarborough Fair?---work it, gotta work it. But I digress!

Jen in the gym. She's working hard. She's sweating hard. She picks up a forty pound dumbbell to start doing rows. When suddenly, instead of rap, Jen hears. . . .


Then the opening chords of THE SIMPSONS followed by a car squeal, and yes, the rest of the crazy chaotic theme song. Now let me stress in caps, I LOVE THE SIMPSONS. I think it's brilliant. Have you noticed that the kids don't age like on other sitcoms? It's brilliant, brilliant I say! However, Jen nearly drops the forty pound dumbbell. After standing perplexed for a moment, Jen gently places the weight down on the floor and heads downstairs to the front counter.

And what a scene is before her:

Standing in front of the counter is a man in white sneakers and navy blue sweats and T-shirt. He obviously hadn't been to the gym much in his life, and he reeks of Hollywood Studio Executive Wannabe---he even has a beard.

Behind the counter are two people. First, the Dingbat Counter Girl. Honestly folks, there might be a light on in her brain, but there's no furniture in the room. New on the job, she's trying her best, but (blow air out through your teeth to achieve the proper sound). The other person behind the counter is a huge male Russian trainer named Sergei (this guy could probably bench press both me and my evil twin). Sergei is frantically pushing buttons and turning knobs on the stereo. Someone must've already said something---most likely, one of the three big guys walking away from the counter.

As Jen approaches the counter, the following dialogue occurrs:

Bearded Guy: The Simpsons are great. I love to watch The Simpsons.

Sergei mumbles something in Russian.

Dingbat Girl: Hee-hee, I don't know how to change it back.

At that exact moment, the gym manager comes out of her office with a scowl on her face. She looks at Jen, and suddenly everyone looks at Jen.

"Uh, I'd like the music back on." says Jen realizing that she's stating the obvious and probably just echoing the sentiment of everyone else in the gym.

"Don't worry. We'll get it back on for you." The Dingbat Girl says with can-do spirit.

Satisfied that she had received adequate customer service, Jen turns back to the stairs.

One possible scenario for the interruption to Jen's happy zone, was that Bearded Guy had mentioned he knew some director of some hot movie, and the Dingbat Girl squealed ‘Oh I love that movie!' Then the Bearded Guy asked if she liked The Simpsons and of course she did and wouldn't it be great if the sound was turned up so he could hear every doe! and every Bartism while spending the requisite half hour on the stairmaster (to burn off the In and Out burgers he had at lunch). So Dingbat Girl hits a switch. . . .unfortunately, it was the wrong switch. It was oh so wrong.

Satisfied, Jen heads back to the stairs when the Bearded Guy speaks:

"Yeah, no worries" he said.

No worries? No worries????? What, did he just take a trip down under? No worries? Riyyyyt mate. When someone says No Worries in LA, it either means (1) they're trying to exert control over a situation where they have no control or (2) they're pretending to be friends with the latest Aussie/Kiwi hunk/babe actor. Jen is tempted to turn around and say something ironic, but she practices restraint. She returns to her happy place. And the music comes back on---grunge guitar rock---not as inspiring.

Next time, Dingbat Girl, think! Think about if you know how the audio system works. Think about all the other people who might be enjoying rap music. Think about all those people who came up to the counter as a pizza commercial echoed over two floors of the gym. And finally, Dingbat Girl, get some more furniture in that vast loftspace called your brain.

Now I will admit that I've played the dingbat girl on many occasions. The wide eyed really???? The chuckle. The damsel in distress. The hand to the mouth with "oh! Sorry!" The squeal. Unfortunately I've never been able to maintain it long enough to get anywhere with it---I'm usually found out. This usually happens when I'm asked what my favorite film is and I honestly say Robert Bresson's A Man Condemned to Die Escapes. I know, I know, I should say Sleepless in Seattle, but nooooo.

Cut to:

Saturday, Jen goes to a play. Yep, a play, a theatrical performance with real live actors on a stage. There are two bathrooms in the lobby, so there's a line. Jen is on line. As with any line, people move forward and eventually get their turn. Because this is a women's bathroom line, any cutters will be killed by group or at the very least, glared at.

Jen reaches the front of the line. The next bathroom will be hers. Oh yes. But wait, there is chaos at the back of the line. A woman in a pink sweater seems impatient. Pink sweater had the manner of a pigeon---always pecking, always moving, peck, peck, peck.

The Pink Sweater Pigeon comes up to Jen.

Pigeon: So there are two bathrooms.

Jen: Looks like it.

Pigeon: And they're both occupied?

Jen: No, I'm just standing here seeing how long it will take for someone to ask if they were occupied.


Pigeon: Oh I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend. . .

Fortunately for Jen, the door to the bathroom opens. Ahhh yes. Jen jumps into her rightful turn at the bathroom. It's a beautiful bathroom by the way. If you're ever in LA, go see a play at the Actors Gang and check out their bathrooms. Really nice.

Finally, Happy 5 year anniversary Happy Robot! You don't look a day over three!

Where was I five years ago? 1999? Let me see. Uhhmmmm. Oh yes! I was working in a library in hell's kitchen----yeesh! I was an evil librarian. I no longer work that job.

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