Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kissing Lessons

I'm really good at kissing. It seems simple enough; but there's a finesse to it, an art that a lot of guys just don't understand. Let your lips just brush your partner's at first; pull back slightly, whisper something sweet, laugh a little, lightly touch her face, her hair. Start off almost hesitantly - savor it. It's delicious. The anticipation of the kiss is the best part.

So what you don't do, I'm saying, is lean over and stick your tongue right down a girl's throat. Why?? do guys do this??? There's no clearer signal you can give that sex will be perfunctory and mechanical, and that the most lasting impression your partner will bring away is that your ceiling could probably stand to be painted.

I don't mean to complain, though. Last night's was my first kiss in nearly a year. It wasn't a particularly good kiss, but at least somebody wanted to kiss me. Plus it was on a boat under a starry sky on Lake Austin, which is kind of a plus. It's a start.

Lucky me, I have so many friends. You can identify them by their soggy shoulders. I've been so unhappy... Yesterday I officially made the decision to get better, although actually this past week was already a lot better than the weeks before it. Last night, Tony took me to a happy hour reunion of school buddies at Hula Hut, where we met the cute guy with the boat. It was a wonderful night for me, but I'm not sure Tony had quite such a good time: the cute guy's friend was fairly drunk and possessed of a full complement of not-entirely-intelligent opinions, upon which he expounded at great length while his friend was cuddled with me in the driver's seat, showing me how to steer. I wouldn't have gone on the boat with them without Tony. I owe him one - or more.

Robbie came down and took me bowling tonight. I probably bowled the best game I ever have, with a score of - sit down, now - over 100!!! 116, to be precise. I'll have to look into it, but I suspect that might be the highest score possible in bowling. Of course, I had to sacrifice a thumbnail. And the rental shoes didn't smell at all the way I would have liked them to.

We went to Zilker Botanical Gardens, practically overflowing with brides and photographers on this lovely sunny day, then an early dinner at Freddie's before bowling. (I like Freddie's a lot, but I don't recommend the chicken-fried steak - I finally had to spit out a wad into my napkin when it wouldn't go down after chewing on it for three minutes.)

Robbie is a better bowler than I am. Granted that being a worse one would be no small feat. One of his pins fell down and forward, into the gutter along the lane; it lay there for several frames. Finally Robbie rolled a gutter ball that hit the pin and actually kicked it up into the standing pins for the most amazing spare I've ever seen. I had to sit down for a little while. I thought about him - a serious bowler. I thought about how much he would laugh at that. I teared up.

We went to Dominican Joe, Robbie bought me a mocha, and we took our coffee to the park by Palmer and watched the water fountains spraying in their ballet of changing colors, as skaters, bicyclists, and lovers gamboled nearby under a huge earthshine-lit moon. What could be more beautiful? I'm still grieving for kisses that were never possible to begin with; why? With all the friends and love and blessings and beauty that surround me?

It does and will get better. Didn't I just say that anticipation was the best part?

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Mammal, Mammal

Okay, I am now officially pissed off at all those emails that go around telling you how horrible and painful and nightmarish mammograms are. Do you know, I put my first one off for about four years, just because there were so many horror stories and I dreaded it so much? Did you know that, according to the technician, this is actually quite common and often causes cancer to be detected much later than it could have been? All because somebody had to write up a hilarious email telling you it's like getting your girls slammed in a car door or clinched in a vise.

I won't have my results back for about a week, but from a preliminary glance at the films, the technician didn't think it was at all likely there would be any questions. "Follow-ups are particularly common with first mammograms," she told me before we got started, "so don't be alarmed if you get a call back to come in and get checked out some more. It's just that since this is your first, we don't have anything to compare it to." But after we were done and she looked the pictures over, she didn't think there was anything that looked even remotely questionable.

IT DID NOT HURT, people. It was at worst mildly uncomfortable and a little awkward, standing there, leaning forward in my high heels (you bet your sweet ass I wore heels for my mammogram!) with a breast squished in between a couple of flat surfaces. But it didn't get all that squished - not anything like what I'd heard. There was pressure, no pain. Ever had thrush? Oh my God. Now THAT'S pain. This? Piece of effing CAKE, I'm telling you.

Honestly, I should have known, because - I don't mean to bash my fellow women here - there really is a cultural tradition of acting like the physical travails of being female are simply unbearable. I know that menstruation (barring medical problems) is no big deal; PMS is irritating, but entirely manageable; having a period is messy and may bring a little cramping now and again; pregnancy is generally easy (I highly recommend getting plenty of exercise and a weekly chair massage to keep it this way); childbirth is hard work and hurts, yeah, but not so's you'd let somebody stick a NEEDLE into your SPINAL COLUMN, WTF?! So I really should have known the hoop-la over mammograms is just so much more exaggeration.

It's now over. The other awful thing that was causing me to be in so much pain that I figured what the hell, might as well go get the dreaded mammogram while we're at it, is also over. I refuse to hurt anymore, I'm sick of it. I don't have to and you can't make me.

Mammal power!

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Coping Mechanisms

"Did you know," called out a gnarled, homeless-looking guy with a cigarette, causing me to break stride and reluctantly take out my earbuds, "did you know that seven thousand... minus two thousand... equals five thousand?" He held up five fingers.

Um. "Yes?" I ventured, smiling.

"That's correct!" he crowed, and strode away, guffawing loudly. "Thank you!" I called after him, and put my earbuds back in and resumed my walk.

I see random people.

Walking, pacing, biking, dancing - just to keep moving, is the best cure I've ever come across for heartache. It isn't good enough, but I guess it'll have to do.

Mind you, when I say dancing, I mean dancing to music that other people can hear; I don't care how cool those old iPod commercials were, dancing to yours will only make you look like a spaz. And word to that chick on the hike-and-bike trail last week: that goes double for singing along! You know who you are.

It's also helpful to whinge to the exact same friends who have been telling me for two years that I was acting like a complete idiot and really needed to give it up and walk away already. These friends are remarkably patient with me, considering. Still, it's always nice to make new friends, if only to give the old ones a break; we wouldn't want them to get bored.

Felicia and I met through Tony a few weeks ago, and hit it off grandly. Last night I met up with her and some of her friends at the Parish for an 80's dance party. And did we dance!

Considering the theme of the evening, I was a little surprised to see so many youngsters - who were also the ones who dressed for the occasion, albeit not always with complete accuracy. There was a free intermingling of spandex with leg warmers, black lace fingerless gloves, and sequins - the 80's being represented as a big mishmash of Michael Jackson, Madonna, the Cure, Depeche Mode, AC/DC, and wait, wasn't that Fergie?! On the one hand, I was there, and the 80's were really not very much like last night. On the other hand, last night was a lot more fun.

I ache all over today. The ache inside is still worse. Distract and wait, distract and wait; keep moving, keep going, and have random conversations with questionable strangers. It has to get better eventually.

Meanwhile, put on some spandex and dance!

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Trip Down Mammary Lane

I did it: I called the clinic. I made the appointment. I am getting my first mammogram next Friday.

'Tis the season, apparently, for gritting your teeth and doing the things you need to do that really hurt.

I also took a certain teenaged daughter of mine, who shall remain nameless to protect her privacy, for her very first pelvic exam today. She probably dreaded it just as much as I am dreading my first mammogram, but I suspect I'm a lot nearer to being right. I scheduled her appointment with one of the practice's female doctors (my own OB/GYN, you may recall, is a delightful, fun-loving guy called "Buzz"), who was fortunately also young and cheerful, matter-of-fact and kind.

My daughter is about six months older than I was when my mom took me for my first pelvic exam, but not a jot more nervous. I had a dream about it the night before my appointment. "Look at this gorgeous spring weather!" exclaimed the doctor, after I'd finished changing into a stunning buttless sheath.* "What a shame to be cooped up indoors on a day like this! Let's go do your exam out on the lawn."

Right next to the street, too. Why didn't I at least dream somebody got into a car crash?

I had to make my appointment, though, because my IUD is about to expire. I'm not sure how I'll know when this happens. Maybe some sparks will shoot out, followed by a wisp of smoke; this could be either really cool or kind of embarrassing, depending on whether I'm in mixed company or not. Maybe it suddenly goes "ding!" and shoots out across the room - again, possibly in awkward circumstances. More likely, I'll be eyeing that really cute waiter at Green Pastures and suddenly find myself knocked up.

Whatever the case, I need to go see Buzz to have the matter looked into (hee!), but I can't go see him until after I get the mammogram, because last time he lectured me very sternly for not having done it yet, and beat me about the knees with his clipboard, too. Buzz takes my health very seriously.

I guess somebody has to. At least my daughter is okay.

*Band name! Or album name - or something.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Good Life

One, people who die should not talk to you after they're dead, because it freaks the shit out of you.

Not that they meant to. Today I called my ex-mother-in-law to tell her that I'll be picking up my son (who lives with her) from the airport tonight on his return from Manila. My ex-father-in-law, who passed away last April, answered the phone. "You have reached [their phone number]," he read off in a slow, measured, carefully-modulated tone (which, actually, he did use in real conversation during real life, because he was kind of weird that way). "Please leave your message after the tone."

My stepfather kept my mother's outgoing message on their voicemail for as long as he lived in their house. I guess I got used to it after a while, but it didn't sound like Mom: stiff, stilted, trying to speak clearly, professionally and coolly, since she ran her piano studio out of her home. In real life she was usually giggling.

Maybe she'd have laughed at the voicemail too, later. The first time I called and heard it, without warning, perhaps a month after she died, I took it like a punch to the gut, hung up the phone without leaving a message, and sobbed for an hour. There was no other recording of her voice, that I know of. Maybe four months ago my stepfather left the house and the phone number and moved on. It must have been erased now.

Two, my son is returning home tonight from a one-week trip to the Philippines - Manila, where some six months or so ago, he met a girl online. She's 24. He's 18. Am I thrilled about this? Not so much. Nonetheless, he saved up his money for the trip, he doesn't live with me, he's - more or less - an adult, or at least working on becoming one, in his own particular way. I want him to be happy. She does seem like a nice girl, and teaches English to Koreans over the phone. Most importantly, he had a wonderful time, learned from an experience I've never had (I have never been overseas - never!!) and he's coming back, tonight. I'm picking him up at the airport a little after midnight. He left Manila at 7:40 p.m. yesterday, my time. He's likely to be a scoche on the tired side.

Three, I am a scoche on the tired side already. Life is easy: friends and kindness abound, I want for nothing, even this weird leprosy shit on my neck and arm seems to be finally clearing up. But I'm just not happy. I'm tired. I'm sorry, I'm just ready for things to be a bit better soon, please, please?

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nothing Personal

Guys, when I'm out walking on the hike-and-bike, I don't mind being hit on, really I don't.

But must you do it while wearing those shorts?!?!?

I enjoy browsing through the subject lines in my spam filter; I always feel it offers a lot of insight into the collective conscious. What's on our minds? What do we dream of? What do we dread? A couple of years ago we were all about day-trading tips, but lately the focus seems to be on cheap imitation luxury items. Naturally there are very sound socioeconomic reasons for this.

But while topics come and go, the inadequacy of the male sexual organ never goes out of style. Without question, those are always my favorite subject lines. "Works so good, you will put your eye out" got several of my cube neighbors to gather around, inquiring what the sprayed coffee and hooting were all about. The one I saw this morning was not as adorable, but raised (sorry!) an interesting question.

"Your new bigger package will be a deal-clincher!" it said. Now, questionable attire on the hike-and-bike trail aside, I've always kind of assumed that by the time a girl finds out what the size of your package is, the deal is already clinched - isn't it?? Or are there women who will, after liking a guy so much that they'll go home with him, get friendly, and be all ready to get busy, suddenly glance down and say, "Oh. Never mind"?

Maybe there are, I don't know, but that seems awfully rude.

Anyway, all I really wanted to say about that is that it's interesting to me to see that same topic come up again and again (sorry!!) in my spam filter. Honestly, guys, really. Penis size is the least (sorry!!!) of your worries!

No. It's the way you dress that's keeping you down.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Life Goes On, Yeah

If there's one thing I've learned over the past three years, it's that you should never go anywhere without a camera.

Thank goodness for friends. I have some great ones, and there are times in your life when you realize how badly you need them, how heavily you rely on them, and how terribly lost you'd be without them. Last night I went to Tony's for movies and champagne. We watched Fool's Gold, not exactly the greatest movie ever made, but quite nice for drifting off to sleep on your friend's shoulder.

Robbie came down today in some hopes of buying a new coffeemaker at IKEA. We had thought of going last weekend as well, but never quite made it: it's too crowded there on the weekend, and if Robbie's driven all the way down to Austin to hang out with me, why would he drive me all the way back up to Round Rock, then drop me off down here again, then return to Georgetown? It's a lot of driving, even for a normal person.

I had a dream about another friend of mine, one I love dearly - I guess I should say a former friend. We've had a falling out, probably irreparable I'm afraid, and are not speaking now. I dreamt I asked him, anxiously, if he were seeing some other girl (since I've been accustomed to considering him as my own personal property). He hemmed, he hawed, he was evasive. Finally it came out that he had indeed met a girl and the relationship was quite promising - except she lived on the other side of town, and he didn't like to drive that far out of his way, so it wasn't going anywhere. In my dream I was jealous and upset. Once I was awake I laughed until tears were streaming down my face. That's exactly how it would be! Dreams are not supposed to be quite that realistic.

Robbie sent me an email week before last. "We need to go to IKEA," he wrote. "I need a fresh prince. I leaned down too hard and the glass broke, and ever since that I've been supporting Starbucks."

I was confused, and for several minutes pondered typing, "IKEA sounds good. What the fuck are you talking about?!" Then I remembered that a fresh prince is what we call a French press.

Bed Bath & Beyond has them, but they cost three times as much as they do at IKEA (although they might be more durable). So we gave up on that, had lunch, got Robbie a new iPod nano (ooh they are pretty!), picked up some coffee from Dominican Joe, and spent a couple of hours at Little Stacy. Someone's placed a cement Buddha there by the creek, which just goes to show that an afternoon spent with Robbie is always a religious experience. But a picture taken with his phone didn't come out well enough to post here.

We're starting to talk about another Corpus trip, over Memorial Day weekend. That Friday, the 22nd, will be my fortieth birthday. Forty! My God! That's, like - well, I don't know. It's forty. It's hard to pretend you aren't a grown-up when you hit that age.

But as God is my witness, and with the help of all the friends I can muster, I damn well intend to try. And there will be pictures.

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Friday, February 13, 2009


My boss and I went down to San Antonio today for a speaker/trainer showcase: a half-day sampler of motivational speakers broken down into easily digestible, ten-minute chunks.

I mean, the presentations were broken down into ten-minute chunks. The speakers themselves seemed to be more or less physically intact, and none of them looked particularly appetizing anyway.

One of the interesting things about this format is that, when you have to go through them every ten minutes, the gimmicks speakers use to engage and involve their audience really stand out. Or stand up, as the case may be. Stand up, hold out your arms, find out a random fact about someone else in the audience, make a circle with your thumb and forefinger and put it on your chin (as the speaker places his on his cheek and half the audience does what he does instead of what he says - hilarity and enlightenment ensue), close your eyes, take three deep breaths, point in different directions, now point in the same direction, turn around, sit down, stand up, sit down, fight! fight! fight!

Conflict resolution is a popular topic for corporate trainers. It's a great topic to train on, because you can deliver inspiring platitudes all day without ever actually solving any problems, and therefore rendering your further services unnecessary.

My favorite speaker today talked about negotiation. "There are four possible outcomes to a negotiation," he said. "One, you could get everything you want and the other person could get nothing. But how often does that happen? Two, the other person could get everything they want, and you get nothing. Three, you could compromise; but if you do, how do you feel? That's right. Compromised. Or four, you can go for the win-win."

One, win-win is a myth. There's always compromise; in a relationship, you may take turns getting your own way, or you may know and care about one another enough to give on the things that matter to the other person, and stand stronger on the things that matter to you. Personally, I think that's as close enough to win-win as makes no difference. I once took a negotiation-skills class where we divided into two groups fighting over an orange crop, each needing it desperately for our own particular purpose. Of course, once the exercise was over and the groups revealed their instructions to each other, it turned out one group only needed the fruit, while the other only needed the rind. So there really never had to be any conflict at all, and if the students had only been smart enough, we'd have worked together and each of us would have gotten everything we needed for half the price we had been prepared to pay if the other guy got shut out, you see? But come on - is life ever really like that?

Two, he was wrong. The four possible outcomes are win-lose (both of his first two options were examples of that one), compromise, win-win, or lose-lose. He forgot that last one completely, but sometimes I suspect that's what happens most of all: you can't reach an agreement, your pride gets in the way, you need appeasement, the other party feels equally hurt and angry, everything goes horribly wrong, and finally, talks break down completely, nobody gets anything they want (not even what they started out with), and hope is lost forever.

Another favorite gimmick of motivational speakers is the random, unsubstantiated statistic. Did you know that 68% of customers who don't return aren't staying away because of bad customer service - they stay away because of indifferent customer service? Maybe there's a study somewhere that backs this up, but the speaker didn't cite it. I've been leery of statistics like this ever since a trainer I had to listen to in 2001, to back up his assertion that we all needed to expunge the word "try" from our vocabularies ("Don't try... Do!"), claimed that ever since Avis adopted the motto "We Try Harder," their sales had dropped by 75%.

This is obviously rampant bullshit, because of course if there were any truth to that claim, Avis would have gone out and found them a new motto, toot sweet - something less offensive to the car-renting public, like maybe "Avis: We Kick Puppies."

Oh well. At least it got me out of the office all day.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

These Shoes Were Made for Sulking

We didn't make it to IKEA, but Robbie did not let me down:

It's good to have friends who will dispense sage advice or drive down from Dallas to spend the day with you. Robbie and I visited old haunts - lunch at the Garden District, where they make a mean organic grilled-cheese, cucumber and onion sandwich; girly-girl shopping for shoes followed by manly-man shopping for electronics; a stroll down SoCo, where Robbie inexplicably purchased some pickle-shaped band-aids; and finally two mocha frojoes and a giant piece of chocolate cake from Dominican Joe, taken to go, and affectionately consumed in the old 3MBG spot.

You know what the break spot needed? Bunnies. That's what it was missing. Our center in Amarillo had lots of little brown bunnies, but most have been lost to the depradations of a big snake, I was told today, and of a coyote. Exterminators came and removed the snake. They tried to remove the coyote too, but coyotes are wily. Sadly, an 18-wheeler accidentally accomplished what the exterminator could not, and the bunnies roam unmolested once more.

All two of them. Still, two bunnies, as I pointed out to the Amarillo supervisor, should be quite enough, provided that one is a boy bunny and the other is a girl bunny. Also provided that the boy bunny is into girl bunnies. And provided he's a nice boy bunny, who treats the girl bunny kindly, and doesn't make the poor little thing jump through hoops just to try to make him happy.

It's so hard to hop in four-inch stilettoes.

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Needful Things

If this were a perfect world, IKEA would sell shoes. Alas! they do not.

Shopping can be a confusing and scary experience. I went to San Marcos to see Margie today. I was there for work during our Central Texas fam tour and learned that the Victoria's Secret outlet store sells bras for $5, and this piece of information has itched around in my brain ever since, accumulating layers of desire and temptation like nacre on a grain of sand, until finally today I gazed upon the flawless pearl and breathed, "Let's to to the Outlet Malls!"

Okay, maybe not so much, I realized after approximately 0.1 minutes of attempting to navigate the parking lot, in which some benighted architect, perhaps consumed with the same egocentric mania that makes the main character of Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead" such an irredeemable prick, only with a sense of humor, which I must observe Ayn Rand does not appear to possess, has placed a turning circle - that grand institute which embodies everything that is most anarchic and terrifying about Old-World driving. Miraculously, we made it back to I-35 unscathed, and settled for a nice visit to the playscape instead. You can't get $5 bras there, but you can probably get some good drugs, if you know when to go. Curfew's not till 11.

We did, however, make it to Bath and Body Works and to Goodwill. Clothes, cosmetics and shoes are the Holy Trinity of balms for a broken heart. So that's two down, and I'm going to IKEA with Robbie tomorrow, even though he complained that the bed be bought there over a year ago is now falling apart; and I had to point out that we were after all drunk when we assembled it. He needs a new coffeemaker, which hopefully won't suffer the same fate.

I figure if I pour enough margaritas into him, I can get him into a shoe store.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Love Is Extremely Nearsighted

Ooh, the new doctor at my optometrist's office is cute! Or he might be. That might have been the coatrack. It's hard to tell, since they had me take out my contacts before he came in.

Every other year I get my eyes dilated, which is always lots of fun. First the doctor had me read off a line of letters while flipping lenses in front of my face, determined that my prescription hasn't changed any since last year - and thank God for that, because if it gets any worse, I will only be able to see things that are actually behind my head - then tilted my face back, put drops in my eyes, and sent me back to the waiting room to ripen.

So for about twenty minutes I sat there among the new arrivals, as the room grew brighter and brighter. I was bored. It's not like you can read a magazine. I thought about leaning over to one of my neighbors. "Psst! Hey, buddy!" I would whisper, glancing around furtively. "The letters are S, J, X, P, B, Q!"

But I was feeling blue and mopey, and not really up to any hijinks. Too bad, because wouldn't that be funny? You're just sitting there, minding your own business, leafing through a three-month-old Newsweek while you wait for the nurse to call you, and someone with pupils the size of dinner plates tries to get you to cheat on your eye exam. Well, I think it'd be pretty cool. But bear in mind that I'm the kind of person who tries to flirt with furniture.

"Are you driving today?" asked the doctor, shining his light into my eyes. "No, no, I'm on my bike," I told him. "Oh, good," he said. Biking blind is much safer.

Actually (once I got my new contacts in) it turns out he is pretty cute, although he's much too young, probably fresh out of medical school. "The first two years, all my classmates and I had to dilate each other's eyes a couple of times a week," he told my sympathetically when I complained about the sensation. "Partly for practice and partly so we'll know what the patients are going through. I hate it too."

It has to be done. I'll be back again in two years, so if you need to schedule an eye exam, you might want to get it in before then. Because who knows what kind of mood I'll be in?

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Learning Experience

Before booking your work group on a guided tour of a coal mine, you should probably do a little homework.

You might google the tour company and find out if previous groups have returned from the tour alive. Or just read their brochure. If it says something like, "Your thrilling trip to the coal mine ends with a blaze of glory as your guide slings the mine cart caroming into the flames of the smelting pit!" then you might plead a tight schedule and ask for the abridged version.

Or just don't go at all, because I don't think coal mines are even supposed to have smelting pits.

Death by immolation is one thing. Being misinformed on an educational fam trip? Completely unacceptable.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Water: No

If you only see one film in your life, it should be Sharks in Venice.

Oh wait, did I say that? What I meant was, if "The Godfather" and "Jaws" and "The da Vinci Code" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" got really drunk at a party and went a little crazy and one of them got knocked up and had a baby, and she* kept drinking heavily throughout pregnancy (well, wouldn't you?), the end result would be "Sharks in Venice."

"What," I inquired - innocently enough, I think - "is the movie about?"

See, I didn't realize. It's not about drug dealers, or jewel thieves, or some European black market underworld, or the seamy side of the tourism industry. No, it's about sharks. Sharks swimming around in the canals of Venice, eating Italians and tourists. Yes.

Not, mind you, that there's all there is. Oh good heavens no. There's also the Mafia, a double-crossing blonde Italian police lieutenant, the ancient hidden treasure of the de' Medicis (that means "of the doctor family," by the way), some mirrored sunglasses, drama, conspiracy, Bulgarians trying to sound Italian, Stephen Baldwin in a SMedium T-shirt, and the worst acting you'll ever see as long as you live. And this isn't a "Snakes on a Plane" thing here, either. That was an excellent film, totally kick-ass in its "what, you think this is a silly movie? Well, a cobra's gonna bite your dick, beeYOTCH!" kind of way. No, this one takes itself seriously.

There's lots of lovely National Geographic stock footage of sharks swimming around in the open ocean, which suddenly become the murky waters of Venice at little to no notice. There's a grand shot - my favorite - of a shark arching itself in particularly dolphin-esque fashion out of the water in order to land on a gondola, snapping the boat in two and gnoshing on a surprised gondolier. But what turns out - I suppose this could be construed as a spoiler, incidentally - is that the bad guy (he's the one with the mirrored sunglasses) actually stocked the canals with sharks in order to discourage divers who might go after the fabled de' Medici treasure, although the only divers ever actually to have tried are the ones he has hired, who have all gotten eaten up before they could find it for him, so this is a slight flaw in his plan.

But of course you know, the moment you see Stephen Baldwin, that he'll save the day - find the treasure, defeat the bad guy, AND marry his lady-love and live happily ever after, and hopefully make enough money in the process to pay for acting lessons. This takes place despite a lengthy sequence early in the movie when he gets attacked by a shark, the action conveniently hidden by fast-motion shots and plenty of murky Venetian blood-fog in the water, at the end of which we see a single severed leg drifting down towards the bottom.

It turns out he was only dreaming, but they never made it clear quite when the dream sequence began. I think it might consist of the entire movie and we're all in on it, but when I look it up on IMDB, there it is.

IMDB may also be a figment of our collective imagination. We'll sort it all out eventually, assuming we aren't eaten by sharks. In Florence, next time. Let's remake "Room with a View." Don't go near the Arno!!

*I'm leaving it as an exercise for the reader to determine which one of these movies is the girl.

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