So, in the true spirit of the holiday, allow me to announce here that I WIN AT CHRISTMAS! IN YOUR FACE, RAJ!
Listen, if you'd been getting reminded for A YEAR about how badly you were beaten in last year's Most Thoughtful Gift Competition, then you might also take an inordinate amount of joy in triumphing in what became Most Thoughtful Gift Smackdown Grudge Match Thunderdome Bowl 2010. Oh yes, the stakes were higher. If there were, say, a Smacktalk Meter that rated smacktalk from 1-10 with 10 being the highest, then the Smacktalk Meter would be reading YOU BROKE ME WITH YOUR WELL OVER LEVEL 10 SMACKTALK, RAJ AND LORI.
Oh, and in order to make things more interesting, we set a spending limit of $20.
The winning idea came to me in a flash of brilliance way back in October. See, for all of his accomplishments and general awesomeness, Raj is a very humble guy. He's told me repeatedly that I have too high of an opinion of him. But then every single time I meet one of his friends, as soon as Raj goes to get a drink or to the bathroom or whatever, that person tells me what a great guy he is. I tell Raj about this later and he always says, "He was drunk." or some variation on that.
So I thought that maybe I could find a way to help Raj see himself the way that those of us who love him do. I could ask his friends to send me video clips telling Raj what they love, admire, respect, and/or appreciate about him. Then I'd learn how to use iMovie and make him a movie out of them. So I sent lots and lots of Facebook messages. And lots of people wanted to make videos! Because they love Raj! They were totally going to! And they had so much time, because the deadline I gave them wasn't until Thanksgiving.
Yeah, by Thanksgiving I had one video. I sent reminder messages. A couple of weeks later, I thought I'd lost for sure, because there would be no movie. Then one more person sent one. Then two more, then two more, and crap, I had to learn to use iMovie real fast because there would be a movie after all, but it needed to be done in a couple of days! As it turns out, a toddler or especially bright raccoon can make a presentable movie on iMovie because it is so ridiculously simple. The last videos came in the day that we exchanged gifts. Many of them were hilarious, all of them were great and when combined with titles, credits, and theme music, I had "A Mighty, Mighty Good Man: never disrespecful, 'cause his mama taught him that".
After viewing it, Raj conceded defeat before I even got to open my gift. (Seeing as how the movie was free, I also got him these cufflinks with my allotted twenty bucks.) My gift was a first edition of a Mary Poppins book, which is especially impressive when you consider that $20 limit. Apparently there was A LOT of eBay time involved. He also got me a small WWF polar bear, given my very strong desire to hug a polar bear.
But, of course, the greatest gift of all is WINNING. SWEET, GLORIOUS VICTORY, YOU ARE MINE. Maybe I should feel bad about having used his many good qualities and the love of his friends against him. But I don't. Mostly I just feel really good about having won. Because I did win. And beat him. Because he lost.
Which means the score is tied. Which means Most Thoughtful Gift Smackdown Grudge Match Thunderdome Bowl 2011 is for all the marbles. Gift planning begins...now.
Oh, and Merry Christmas, Internet! May you all win at Christmas (however you personally define that.)
Really, this is us at Monte Carlo night at the French Embassy. It was a party put on by Things to Do DC and which Raj and some of his friends were attending for one friend's birthday. They'd invited me, but the tickets were a bit steep, so I declined.
It turned out that my work holiday party was the same day, beginning at 3:00. I was there at our head counselor's house in Hyattsville, enjoying some potluck, when Raj called to say one of his friends wasn't feeling well enough to go to the embassy. I could have her ticket if I wanted. I just needed to be ready in an hour and fifteen minutes. For a black-tie optional event. And I was about forty-five minutes drive from home.
It turns out that when you say that you have to leave a party because you've just gotten a call and need to get to the French Embassy, people find it hard to believe. A tip, in case you were considering using the old "I've got to get to the French Embassy" excuse. Lacks veracity, apparently.
Anyway, no problem! I mean, sure, the only dress I had that's black tie appropriate is now a little too big, such that even with a Wonderbra on under, I still spent the evening yanking it up. And the decision to wear peep-toe shoes required a 30 second toenail polish job. Fortunately, I'd shaved that morning. Seriously, it had been like a week before that. (Coworker: "If I had a boyfriend, I'd be shaving and waxing all the time!" Me: "At first. Then, you know, meh.")
So then I speedwalked/ran in my cheap Target peep-toe heels over to the Metro to meet up with Raj and everybody, missing their train by a couple of minutes so they had to get off and all of us wait for the next one. But eventually we arrived at the French Embassy and when we walked in, there was our official photographer and his Magical Forest backdrop. Which is how we ended up with a photo that enables me to give Raj a hard time for not buying me a corsage. My poor wrist and its total lack of foliage!
There was dinner, dancing (Raj and I tried out our salsa moves from the lessons we've been taking. Reports from onlookers indicate that we are...to phrase it gently...not good. The perpetual need to pull up my dress did not help.), a few faux gambling tables, and a dessert buffet.
Not for sharing
The real fun of the evening though was in harshly judging the fashion choices of others. Such as the woman featured in this conversation:
Kristen: There's a woman over there whose boobs are about to pop out of her dress.
Raj and Steve: WHERE?
Busted, gentlemen. Then there were the very clearly bridesmaid dresses, the too short, too tight, far too tight, and shoes the wearer was clearly not qualified to operate. I always worry about being dressed inappropriately for these sorts of things until I get there and am reminded that there will be enough really outrageously inappropriately dressed people to make me look good.
Unlike actual prom, there was no after-party unless you include half an hour out on the street trying to get a cab willing to take us to Maryland. (Seriously, cabbies, I live across the street from DC. You can drop me on the DC side and I will walk.) A bunch of us did hang out the next day, but instead of going to Six Flags or something equally post-prom-appropriate, we went to the Botanical Gardens to see the Christmas display (flower pictures in the previous post explained!) and then the Museum of American Art to see the exhibit of Norman Rockwell paintings owned by George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg. Then dinner and back here to decorate Irving.
The following morning, we celebrated Katie's birthday with a joy unknown to me at the time of my first prom: bottomless mimosas. They're not kidding about that, either. They are constantly refilling your glass, such that you will become tipsy by the time your eggs arrive. And then go on a reckless Target shopping spree and maybe treat yourself to something nice. Like a humidifier! (Maybe you have a cold at the time, ok?) Good thing you took the Metro instead of driving.
I'd write a conclusion here, but I've umm...got to get to the...Italian Consulate. Yeah, it's urgent.
Because the Mucous Cold of Doom 2010 has eaten my brain. Attempts to write things are proving unsuccessful. (Case in point: repeated misspellings of both "unsuccessful" and "attempts" in that sentence.) Ok then.
1. Kyra ran her first half-marathon this weekend! Yay, Kyra!
2. Holly ran her first (and she says, only) FULL MARATHON this weekend! Holy crap, Holly! And also, YAAAAYYYYYYY!!! Shibuya!
3. Back at my first post-college job, a bunch of us each set a weekly fitness goal (I believe mine at the time had to do with doing Tae Bo three times a week or something) write them on a chart and then meet up every Friday to report on our goals. Those of us who made our goals got to put big shiny happy face stickers on the chart. Those of us who did not had to draw a big X in the box for that week. It was simple and entirely honor system based, but it worked for us. Then someone moved into the empty office we'd been using for our meetings and threw away our chart. Boo. But in talking to another teacher, it came up about how it's difficult to motivate ourselves to work out. So I sent an email out to all of the staff about the idea of doing something like that at school and so far ten people (aside from me) have signed up. And there are maybe forty of us on staff, so it's a pretty good percentage. Hopefully the desire to avoid public shaming will help us all stay motivated. Plus, I look like a go-getter, starting my own group and all. Ha, ha! I've fooled them all!
4. Mod Cloth Indie Clothing - fun clothes and accessories by indie designers. Definitely read the reviews. Thankfully, I did before ordering a dress and heeded the reviewers' advice to order a size up. Those reviewers were correct and the dress fit. (For those of you wondering, it was this one.)
5. Jennifer Knapp's comeback album, Letting Go. And Jennifer Knapp herself, for having the courage to come back to Christian music after coming out. Obviously not an easy thing to do.