Aug 28

While recently celebrating a friend’s 29th birthday outside at a nearby bar, I went inside to use the women’s restroom and encountered a significant conundrum.

On one restroom door was the word “barley,” on the other, “hops.”

Uncertain from these words which door housed the restroom meant for the female gender, I stood in front of both doors, perplexed. Yet despite my unfortunate situation, I was too proud to approach a restaurant employee to request a hint as to whether, as a woman, I more resemble barley or hops.

And desperate though I was to use the restroom, I simply couldn’t risk the fatal error of entering through the wrong door. I was also too far from my car to potty-dance my way to the emergency bedpan that I reserve for long-distance road trips, like when I drive across the street to pick up my mail. Thus, I had no option but to meditate on my gender as well as everything I’ve ever learned about the beer precursors of hops and barley and identify and explore similarities and differences between each and how they relate to our existence as masculine and feminine beings in the universe.

At least, that’s absolutely what I would have done had I not been too submersed in an urgent need-to-go-NOW haze that I couldn’t actually think clearly.

So instead I called my friend who has never been spotted without his trusty iPhone. He uses it to call people, check the internet, read his email, and shampoo his hair (it’s the new feature: the iFoam), and it’s always nustled in his pocket, ready for action.

Friend: Hello?

Me: Oh thank goodness, you answered! Do you have your iPhone nearby? I need you to look something up for me.

Friend: Um…’s my iPHONE. If I answered it, of course I’m using it. Are you joking?

Me: (I wasn’t.) Okay, I’m stuck in front of two restrooms. One is labeled “barley” and one is labeled “hops.” Which restroom do I choose?

Friend: Is this one of your riddles, because I have to tell you, it’s sounding pretty lame.

Me: I’m serious! This is an emergency!!

So, after I convinced him that this was not simply a prank call and that I was, in fact, in dire need of solving my conundrum, my friend investigated my inquiry. It is most unfortunate that we discovered that hops are dioecious, which means that the plans could be either male or female. And barley heads are composed of spikelets that consist of two husks, enclosing both male and female floral parts. In other words, they’re androgynous.

These findings were most distressing.

As you can see, my blog has no happy ending. Yet while it does not contain a happy ending, it does have a moral. The moral of this blog is that you cannot judge a book by its cover, if its cover is obscured by inane references that were thought amusing by an idiot who doesn’t use public restrooms and doesn’t appreciate the predicament he put me in. So, Mr. Public-Restroom-Guy, please cover future restrooms appropriately so that I can judge them and enter accordingly.

–Troi out

*Editors note: While Troi was not intelligent enough to determine the answer to her restroom door dilemma, we at the editor’s desk know inherently that barley indicates the female restroom, and hops indicates the male restroom. We are sure you knew that, too.

Aug 24

So, I come to find out recently that girls are supposed to wax their eyebrows. How it is that I came to be 28 years of age before being informed of this female beauty custom is beyond me. But nonetheless, now that I knew of my duty to keep my eyebrows groomed, I went forth to carry out this duty.

Of course any 28 year old female should know that there are “preferred” places to groom one’s eyebrows. Not I. No, I am deficient in such nuisances as common sense. I brilliantly went to the mall and discovered a salon that offered eyebrow waxing for only $10. In the midst of my extensive student loan repayment, I felt this was the perfect affordable solution to my overendowed eyebrows.Â

What might have been my warning signals at this time? Perhaps that I didn’t even have to make an appointment? Perhaps that when the lady who was to perform the wax (what do you call these people? Eyebrow stylists? Brow professionals? Eyebrow therapists?) walked her previous customer out, I observed that this customer had no eyebrows to speak of??? But indeed I made no such neural connections.

So as my “eyebrow stylist” walked me into the “waxing room” I made a point of telling her I had never been waxed before, that I wanted very natural eyebrows that were just neatened up a bit. My “eyebrow stylist,” a short lady with a thick accent, seemed to understand me, which I gathered from her repeating my comments, “Oh yes natural. Never before? Oh yes, natural good.” Yes, natural is good. So we were on the same page.Â

She had me lie down, and before applying the wax she commented that I had very beautiful eyebrows. In retrospect it’s hard to say why she then chose to remove almost every hair from them!! Nevertheless, after being waxed and tweased (tweasing which caused bleeding I might add!), my eyebrows (or what was left of them) were so eager to run from this place that some of these questions remain unanswered.Â

So, in summary, I find that my experience has taught me some valuable lessons that I would like to share with my friends in hopes that they may learn from my mistakes:

1) Don’t wax your eyebrows. God gave them to you.

2) If you choose to ignore my advice and wax them anyway, don’t do it at the mall. The extra $5 to go to a reputable facility is probably worth it.

3) If you forget suggestions #1 & #2, it may help to recite the 11th commandment:Â “Thou shalt not wax thou’s eyebrows at thy mall.”

–Troi out

Aug 21

Yes, that really is Troi’s thumb

Speaking of beer drinking tree shrews, I decided last week to get a manicure. At the age of 28, I’ve actually never gotten one. And I hear that it’s one of those things you have to do before you turn thirty, like, you know, going to Vegas, or reading a book. I’ve resisted this female beauty custom because I was concerned that the nail specialists who work there would take one look at my thumbs, which are half the height and twice the width of the average woman’s thumb, and ridicule me right out of the salon. But more about my deformed digits later.

I bravely entered the nail salon and approached the lady at the counter.

“Hi,” I started out tentatively, “I want……..fake nails, please.”

“A set? Acrylic, gel, or silk wrap? Color? French?” she responded.

Once she defined all of the adjectives and I chose my Acrylic French Manicure, I followed a cranky Asian lady (who I’ve named SAL, which stands for Scary Asian Lady) back to the manicure desk. She looked at my nails in disgust.

“You never have manicure before?” She said it accusingly, like she took it as a personal affront that I hadn’t spent my hard-earned money on increasing the asthetics of my fingernails.

We spent the majority of the manicure in silence, with her scrubbing away at my nail beds (that’s where the nails sleep when they get tired), occasionally muttering in Asian what I’m sure were criticisms of the sheer unattractiveness of my previously un-beautified hands. I sat in silence, even when another employee decided to clean the wall right next to me and Windex vapor drifted onto my arms, bathing me in a nice Windex shower. (I didn’t even have to pay for the Windex–it came free with my grumpy manicurist!)

Then my manicurist got to my thumbs. “Those your REAL thumbs?” she asked in horror.

It’s true. As previously mentioned, my thumbs are twice as wide and half as tall as the typical thumb. In order to fit an acrylic nail on my thumb, my angry manicurist had to dig into the colossal acrylics pile generally set aside for, I imagine, Hagrid the giant, and maybe The Rock. If they were into getting manicures.

But yes, they are my real thumbs. You just can’t fake something like that.

“How long you want?” asked Sal, my manicurist. I explained that I wanted very short acrylic tips, since I play piano. She nodded curtly, and proceeded to give me nail tips that appeared long enough that I could actually touch the opposite wall six feet away just by lifting a finger. Or maybe the Windex was getting to me. At any rate, I looked ridiculous. Long nails fit in with me just about as well as I would fit in with beer-drinking tree shrews in the rainforests of Malaysia.

But you don’t argue with Sal when she has a sharp cutting tool in her hands. She grasped those fingernail clippers like they were weed wackers, and I could just see her plotting to wack off the better half of my thumbs so that they better blended in with the rest of my digits.

For those manicure virgins out there who have the urge to dash to the nearest salon after reading my blog post, I’d like to offer a piece of advice. No matter what, do NOT ask the question, “So how long do these things stay on before they fall off?”

Not that it’s not a valid question. Nine out of ten of my acrylic tips have already found their way off my fingers (I think that my hands repel them–I think they’re looking for a more prim and proper owner). But the question will unequivocally offend your manicurist, and she’ll suddenly remember how to speak English again.

“The nails don’t fall off!” Sal screeched when I asked the fatal question. “They stay put, they good nails!”

And they did stay put. Nearly four days.

All in all, I would have to give my manicure two giant deformed thumbs up.

Please stay tuned for next week’s beauty blog:

Eyebrow Waxing: Not Just for Eyebrows Anymore

–Troi out

Aug 9

One would think that in all the years of human existence, human beings would have refined the art of beer drinking in a manner that far exceeds any other life on the planet. (I mean, have YOU ever seen a gerbil playing beer pong?)

Not so, according to this article on the beer-drinking tree shrew. This tree shrew spends his evenings slurping up his major food source: beer from flower buds (yeast has invaded the buds, fermenting the flower’s nectar).

That’s right, you heard me correctly. His major food source is beer. Beer counts as a food for the tree shrew. His mom has never said to him, “Baby Tree Shrew, finish your dinner before you dig into that beer!” Instead, she says, “Look, Baby Tree Shrew! More free alcohol! You take that flower bud, and I’ll take this one!” As the tree shrews like to say, there’s nothing quite as refreshing as a Bud.

But there’s more. At the end of the evening, after completing their own personalized pub crawl through the rain forest flower buds of Malaysia, imbibing what has been judged by biologists to be the equivalent of nine glasses of wine, the shrew shows no signs of being drunk. He passes a breathalyzer at the local Malaysian police station, walks the tree branch without stumbling, and touches his tail to his nose while holding his claws at arms’ length.

Are you jealous yet??!

Reading this article, I was reminded of one of my college roommates, who told me one summer that we should go on the beer and ice cream diet.

“It works great,” she told me, “The ice cream drops your body temperature, so you expend a lot of energy to bring your body heat back up. And beer is full of vitamins and nutrients, and fat-free! We’ll lose weight in no time!”

“That makes NO sense,” I insisted to her.

And then I went to the grocery store to buy beer and ice cream.

But back to the lucky son-of-a–oh, excuse me, I mean back to the tree shrew. The shrew that would smoke you in a drinking game. The shrew that re-joins the Century Club every night. The shrew that doesn’t even attend the parties where he could win these games, because he’s too busy guzzling beer at the local rainforest to drop in and show off his talents.

If anybody could pull a moral out of the derriere of the beer drinking tree shrew, it would be me. So let me remind us that we should never judge a book by its cover. I remember the last time a beer drinking tree shrew joined me at a party and asked me for a beer, I laughed in his face. I had no idea that tiny creature could drink me under the table. Even though he was so tiny that he was already under the table. We should never underestimate people based on their outward appearance. It is not size that makes the person, but the alcohol tolerance. I mean, the character.

I would write more, but I have to go finish booking my flight to the rainforests of Malaysia.

**The author of this blog would like to remind you to please drink responsibly if you’re not a Malaysian tree shrew.

–Troi out

Aug 4

So for those of you who have had your head stuck in a paper bag for the past few years, you may not have heard the important news. And for those of you who decided to flee the planet Earth because you were worried that overpopulation was unfairly superseding your fair share of oxygen consumption, DON’T FLEE TO PLUTO. Pluto is no longer considered a planet and you will just have to leave and go elsewhere.

I know you’re angry, and wishing I’d written this blog a few years ago ago, before you settled on Pluto and bought a Pluto house and sent your children to Pluto school, but I’ve been busy. The least I can do is share with you what I know of this tragic planetary demotion. As I understand it, the IAU (International Astromical Union) met recently to propose a finalized definition of the term “planet.” The IAU determined a planet to be “an object that orbits the sun, forms itself into a sphere, and has enough gravitational pull to clear its path of space debris.”

Unfortunately for the Planet Formerly Known as Pluto (PFKAP**), Pluto apparently “does not sweep its neighborhood clear and has an orbit that is much more eccentric.” Now hold on just a minute! If I am to understand that quote correctly, it appears that there are some strong prejudicial tendencies spilling over into this IAU convention. So Pluto does not sweep its neighborhood clear? Excuse me, but I hardly think the fact that Pluto is a messier planet than the others necessitates its removal as a planet! Did the IAU consider sitting Pluto down and asking it nicely to clean its neighborhood? Perhaps giving Pluto a few hours of community service? A class that teaches the importance of recycling? I’m not going to name names here, but I have to wonder if the IAU is being influenced by anyone on planet Earth in that one country, the United States, with this philosophy that reasonable communication should at all costs be avoided in favor of removal of the problem entirely.

But it gets even worse! The IAU continues on to suggest that Pluto should not be a planet because its orbit is eccentric. According to my American Century Dictionary, eccentric means “odd or capricious in behavior or appearance.” (Sure, there are other definitions, but my time is too valuable to read on.) So Pluto’s demotion regards its unique behavior and appearance? Could we BE any more prejudiced against this poor, innocent, but apparently WEIRD former planet?? All Pluto wanted was to be different, to seek out an orbit that went against the crowd, and we have to BAN it from planetary status? Are you outraged too? (I thought not.)

Well, I’m having a hard time letting this planet go. I have fond memories of playing with the electronic geography toy from Natural Wonders my parents bought me as a child, happily clicking the planets, which included Pluto, into order and receiving a reassuring happy BEEP from the toy when I correctly identified each planet. I”m sure you all have similarly fond memories of Pluto. I’m sure you are also having a hard time pronouncing the term “PFKAP” without spitting on your neighbor.

Thankfully, you don’t have to call the Planet Formerly Known As Pluto by the term PFKAP. A name has been chosen already, and PFKAP has now been christened “asteroid number 134340.” (I know, I think it has a nice ring to it too.) Please don’t concern yourselves that in the near future human beings will also be referred to by numbers rather than names, or that messy or eccentric humans will be demoted from personhood status.

I would write more, but I am heading out to get my new government-approved Person ID number imprinted into my wrist. Maybe I’ll see you there.

**The author of this blog, the Person Formerly Known As Me (PFKAM), coined the term PFKAP for purposes of this blog only, and assumes no responsibility for blank stares from readers’ friends when using the term PFKAP in conversation.

–Troi out