Wednesday, October 1, 2014

beauty & the beast: a sequel

www.megangardner.com

No. This is no fairy tale....no romantic fantasy spun magically together with an annoyingly sweet soundtrack and scene-stealing, talking inanimate objects.  No.  This a cautionary tale for gals like me who get so bored with working out and fending off the unwanted attention of sweaty gym rats in a chain, paid membership, indoor surrounding...day after day...that they yearn for something better.

     Once upon an evening in late September, I foolishly decided to venture away from La Fit ( +LA Fitness)  and take my run through my alma mater, +Carnegie Mellon University , and nearby Shenley Park. The setting was splendid. The air was seasonably crisp & cool; the sunlight danced across the pavement as it poked through the branches of the tree lined streets. With "Lithium" pulsing through my ear buds, my high pony tail swayed back & forth in perfect rhythm with the beat of  my pink +Nike's on the street. I thought I had found +Nirvana .
     About 20 minutes into my run, a belle went off in my head, alerting me to turn around.  And that is the moment I first encountered the beast...a young, 2 point, white-tailed buck clip-clopping down the park road, heading right towards me! With no time to assess the sitch, I spun around and upped my 8 minute mile pace to a full out sprint. I glanced behind me and saw that he was still there and closing ground. I made a mad dash to the right at the Y in the road and instinctively picked up a large, chunk of broken concrete with 2 hands for protection. I backed up off the road a bit and tried to shield myself near a small shrub. I prayed he would continue going straight up the other street.

   WTF! I stood there in disbelief as the buck took a Ralphie at the Y and then stopped dead in his tracks in the middle of the road about 12 feet away from me. With his head lining up with my 5'9" height, I decided to act first and ask questions later. I yelled, "Get away from me!" while simultaneously heaving my concrete ammunition directly at the beast. Somewhat startled but apparently not scared, the young buck galloped a few yards away to the grass on the opposite side of
the road but stood his ground.

     And now for my fairy tale ending, a knight in shining armor on a white horse arrived to save me from peril!!!!

     No....not even close. Because in real life, my rescue comes in the form of a middle-aged couple, driving a white Toyota Camry with 2 pubescent boys in the backseat. "Hey! We just saw that deer charge at you! It doesn't look like he's goin' anywhere. C'mon, get in & we'll drive you out of here", the male driver said to me. Without hesitation I hopped into the backseat where the male teens, stinky & sticky from soccer practice, were chuckling and whispering with each other. I gave them my squinty-eye death stare that I had perfected at La Fit; however, it only fueled their laughter.
     Looking away from them and out the rear window, I tuned out the annoying juvies and the nice man who, in a weird coincidence, was chatting on about deer behavior, seeming to know more facts than the average person should. Instead I focused on the majestic beast slowly disappearing from my view. Was he really trying to hurt me? Or was he coming to me for help? Did an evil witch, jealous because a handsome prince noticed her friend and not her, transform him into this animal form and he needed a pretty girl to befriend him in order to break the curse?


     My Disney-esque daydream was interrupted by a strange sensation on my leg. Ugh! I can't even...... It was man-boy's fuzzy, clammy leg pressed against mine. I jerked away which caused a burst of snickering peppered with muffled phrases like, " deer legs" & "short shorts". That was enough for me to tap Dad on the shoulder to let me out.
     "Are you sure?" he said with genuine concern, "You're not out of the woods yet." I assured him it was okay. I couldn't hurt his feelings and tell him that I would prefer to deal with the wild animals outside than the ones he was transporting.
     Safely back home, I reflected on my experience which was both terrifying and aggravating. Surely there is a lesson to be learned here and, perhaps, even some wisdom to be gained.....
 


....and the princess exercised happily ever after at The Rivers Club at One Oxford Center, downtown Pittsburgh.


    
Rivers Club Xmas Brunch 2013
where the deer are friendly.
    


 * On a serious note, gals, please always keep in mind the dangers if you run or walk outside alone. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Field of not in your wildest Dreams

photo www.megangardner.com

  On the same day as the 25th anniversary of Kevin Costner's Field of Dreams( +Field of Dreams Iowa ), I sat my be-hind down on a hard, aluminum bleacher to watch my little brother play his last tee ball game of the season. The stands were filled with excited family & friends sitting in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. The smell of freshly cut grass was intoxicating. The innocent chatter of players & the happy cheers of the crowd were orchestral....maybe this is heaven.


    It was also a late afternoon game with a temperature of 80 degrees F, and no shade.

    So, I peeled my now sweaty be-hind off of the bleacher & made my way to the snack bar.  As I squinted at the drink menu, I heard the Voice say, " Let us by you a drink."
    Huh? Who said that? I looked to my left and then looked down to find a 6 year old boy from the green team standing there. He certainly wasn't the Voice I thought I heard. 
    I shook my head & turned back to the smiling teenage boy behind the counter.
   "One +Diet Coke  and a bottle of water, please." As I opened my  +Free People crossbody bag to grab a couple of bucks, I heard the Voice again. "C'mon. Let us buy a pretty girl a drink." ugh... is this really happening?
   Glancing again to my left, I found the same little ballplayer but this time with a man's hand patting him on the back. My gaze was locked with the boy's. I didn't want to look up....I prayed I was hallucinating due to the heat.....
   Unfortunately not....because there he was, visible to me & everyone else.....Shirtless Joe Dad of little, green player.
   Temporarily blinded by his sunburned skin, I muttered some form of "no thanks" but Shirtless Joe Dad insisted, "You can't turn down my boy on his first try at buying a girl a drink." The little player seemed to have no clue as to what was going down as he rummaged through a big bowl of gumballs(5 for 25 cents FYI). I reluctantly accepted the offer only to try to put an end to this disturbing encounter and, maybe...just maybe, save the boy any future, troubled father/son/baseball relationship.

   "I never seen(sic) you here before," Shirtless Joe Dad inquired.  For Love of the Game, give it up!

   Before the Voice could speak again , I eased my own pain by slowly disappearing into the field of people as I waved to them over my shoulder.

   For reasons they can't even fathom, there are shirtless dads using their young sons as unknowing wingmen for hitting on gals at snack stands at their big, beautiful Little League complex. But I don't think this is what the Athletic Association had in mind years ago when they said, "If we build it, they will come." 
  
  
My little MVP bro
    




+Maniac Magazine +WHIRL Magazine +Pittsburgh City Paper +Bravo +The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon +Jimmy Fallon +MLB +Baseball America +Pittsburgh Pirates +Pittsburgh Magazine

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Springsteen tickets with a side of chicken fried rice

    
     Two days until the +Bruce Springsteen concert and I still hadn't scammed any tickets. Since I "have a job now", my parents said they weren't buying them for me like they had in the past. The clock was ticking and I was getting desperate.
    With one, last ditch effort and my best princess voice ready, I dialed Daddy's cellphone......But before I could lay on the charm, he said, "Don't worry about the Springsteen concert. It's taken care of. "  Huh? What? How? He wouldn't answer my questions but he assured me the tickets would be good. I was over the moon about going (and not having to drain my bank account for a ticket); however, his vagueness about the details left me a bit uneasy.
     I decided to distract my brain from these negative thoughts. My project for the next 48 hours:  make a one of a kind Bruce tee to wear and a sign to hold.  I cropped an old Springsteen shirt and then sewed some sheer material to the bottom...so adorbs!! My sign read, "Give the Girl a Kiss" with an arrow pointing at me (FYI that is a name of a Springsteen song not a plea from an obsessive fan.)
   Anywhoo, concert day rolls around and my parents still would not tell me anything except, "Don't worry. It's taken care of." All I knew was the clock was still tickin' and I still didn't have a ticket.
   I met up with Parents and Big Bro at +Blue Line Grille at 6:00pm for dinner before the concert. We were all starving and the place was packed with a 1 hour table wait. The security guy at the door wouldn't let me into the bar because I didn't have my ID..... AND still no tickets.....not off to a good start. Then my dad spotted some guy that he said he knew," Hey, that's Doc! He owns the place." He had a quick conversation with him. With a wave of the hand, I am allowed past the security guard. Then Doc took us up an elevator to the second floor bar where it wasn't as crowded. Unfortunately, they don't serve food up there (yet) but I was able to get a few cocktails.
   With the doors open to the outside deck, the cold breeze was getting to me...not to mention the diet coke & rum on an empty stomach...."Where the h*ll is my ticket!?!"
    Then all was revealed.....sort of. Daddy's good buddy from Chicago was in town and yada yada yada....they played golf with Springsteen's tour manager and head of security who told them, "Don't worry. It's taken care of." OMG!! This is amazing....but, still, where are the tickets? It was almost 7pm. Daddy said that we were waiting for a text from Chicago Buddy who was waiting for a text from Tour Manager Guy.
    Okay....I was not digging this plan. The Blue Line was starting to clear out as all of the actual ticket holders headed over to the +CONSOL Energy Center . As Big Bro & Daddy were trying to get a pizza delivered to the Blue Line, Doc came & told us our table was ready. Yes!!...........No!!......Stop!! Daddy's phone tinged. It was a text from Chicago, "Meet at China Wok now!!!"
   We flew down the stairs and out the door. A passerby told us that the China Wok was to the left a couple of blocks. We were walking as fast as possible against a tide of Springsteen fans heading to the concert. Quick thinking Bro googled China Wok and, yup, we going the wrong way. Within 5 minutes though, we were in front of the China Wok. Praise be!
    Okay.....now what? Chicago just texted, "Wait at China Wok. I'll be there in 10".
    It was freezing out and I didn't wear a jacket (I couldn't cover up my one of a kind Bruce tee!!); so, we went into the China Wok and stood in the doorway. While they were complaining about the lack of food again, I was thinking that I'm getting punked. Really? Am I to believe that 30 minutes before the start of the concert, Tour Manager Guy & Head of Security Guy are going to stroll over for some Chinese takeout & hand us our tickets?
   Okay.....now we all had to go potty. The sign taped right in front of our noses plainly states, "Restroom for customers only". And there was no way to sneak by the counter. Big Bro made the ultimate sacrifice for us all and placed an order for chicken fried rice. He was so hungry that he actually ate half of it( and gave it a thumbs up) before .....
   Another text from Chicago, "Meet me across from China Wok". Leaving the chicken fried rice behind, we raced across the street & found him & his 3 buddies. 
    Okay.....now what? We all just stood there silently and waited for the text from TMG. But I think we were all preparing ourselves for the worst and how we were going to run Chicago out of town........Ting! OMG!! It was TMG. "Meet at top of stairs across from China Wok."
    We raced up the deserted steps to find a closed door without a handle........then it opened it. Tour Manager Guy!! Praise be!!
    It was all too much. We were entering backstage through a backdoor at a Bruce Springsteen concert.
   He handed us each 2 wristbands (which put us in The Pit!!) and a green, triangle sticker (which we weren't sure what it was for). He showed us around a bit and then took us out to The Pit through the stage opening! Oh, yes, I did!  He was telling us things about the tour and such, but my head was in the clouds.












  Then for the next 3 hours, Bruce Springsteen & E Street Band with Tom Morello rocked & rolled us to heaven & back.




   At the end of the encore, we followed Chicago to the side of the stage where a security guard stood by a metal barricade, we showed him our magical, green sticker and he let us through. The 8 of us lined the tunnel leading backstage as The Boss, with a few waves & head nods, walked
right by us and jumped into one of 2 white vans that were waiting with their engines running. Tour Manager Guy said the rest of the band members were already inside the vans and they were heading off to the airport. I was still starstruck as Tour Manager Guy walked us through the whirlwind that was the crew packing up the stage and equipment. We exited through that same backdoor.
    I hope they all could sense my heartfelt gratitude for such an experience for I was at a loss for words. This was not a dream, baby, dream. As we walked away from the arena, I couldn't help but glance back for another look and smile at the China Wok.

   Yeah, it would have been a cool ending to say I had met Springsteen & Co. But what a night anywhoo!!



Thanks for singing my all-time favorite song ever,
Back in your Arms
   
video
 
 
*Thank you to Tommy R, Jerry F, & Marc D  
 
 
follow me on Instagram @faubulousinpittsburgh
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Dawn of the, like, Dead (at the Mall)



 I finally got around to completing a much dreaded task..... going to "The Mall" to exchange a Christmas present ( it's April!) ( it was a sweater dress!) from a well-intentioned relative. I love fashion but I hate to leave my house to shop. I'm more of a click 'n ship kinda gal.
    So, on a random weekday morning, I entered the mall... yellow, plastic bag in hand. Within minutes, I stopped dead in my tracks......did the apocalypse go down and I didn't get the memo? I looked around me and realized the main occupiers of the almost 100,000 square feet of indoor, climate controlled, retail space were mannequins and senior citizens getting their walk on. I could only spot a handful of other shoppers and a skeleton crew of store employees.....either way, we were way out numbered.
    While standing there pondering a potential blog idea, a small army of elders nearly mowed me down! Man, they were power walking with a purpose and with a major 'tude...... "Move out of the way, honey!" "Watch where your standing!" What? Why? Is this an AARP health club now? Is the Grim Reaper cape hunting at +Macy's?

     Gosh, I just wanted to get to the other side of the mall and exchange the sweater dress. But with these chronologically-challenged mall rats circling the area like zombies on Adderall, I knew it wouldn't be easy. All of a sudden, a chill ran up my spine...a creepy feeling that someone was right behind me .... I spun around to find 6 mannequins staring at me! Oh, the horror! Had they just witnessed me being scolded by Gramps and were now snickering with each other about it? I know, I know...  they don't have eyes or mouths or any facial features (or anything else that makes them human ). But there they were.... while striking a fierce pose...making fun of me.....a clique of plastic, mean girls...... Meaniequins.
     I was so embarrassed. I had to get away from them. I tried the power walking thing....drafting behind a couple of grays for awhile.....but I couldn't keep up with them. I soon realized that I couldn't escape all of the storefronts and all of their mannequins, too. It was obvious from their faceless faces and earless heads that they had heard the gossip and that all of the Plastics thought that I was a loser.
    They were right. I don't fit in at the mall. Even the manager at Buckle reprimanded me because I didn't know the return policy. I could never survive shopping here. I'm safer behind a keyboard.
     After I left Buckle, I stood there..... yellow, plastic bag in hand...... pondering a possible screenplay idea of a zombie/mean girls/mannequin mash up...until I was jarred back to reality by a chorus of surly seniors telling me to move along.

 Zombie mannequins casting call.....



*
   Dawn of the Dead (original, of course), George Romero (fellow CMU grad!) 1978
  Mean Girls, 2004 #10thAnniversary


follow me on Instagram @faubulousinpittsburgh

Happy anniversary!

+Bravo +Andy Cohen +The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon +Tina Fey +Mean Girls 2004 Full Movie HD

Friday, March 28, 2014

Dear Deer Diet

     My mother always calls me "dear". So, what? That's a normal, sweet motherly thing to do. But the other day she actually called me a DEER.....Yes.....She said I remind her of a deer.
    After being startled by what I thought was an insult, my first instinct was to flee but instead I remained still. MD went on to explain that her comment was meant as a compliment.
    " But, dear", she said," a deer is a beautiful and graceful creature. Think about it. They have a lithe body, long legs and a cute, small head. Your fur, I mean, hair is similar in color, shiny and smooth. You love to run. And, look at your plate, dear,.... you eat like a deer."
    Hmmmmm...I also have hit my share of cars and I do try to avoid most humans.......so, other than the small head thing, maybe she has a point. And, maybe, it's not such a bad thing that my doppelganger is a doe.
    As I sat there grazing on my plate of undressed spring greens, mushrooms, blueberries, blackberries and nuts, perhaps MD is onto something here. Could eating like a deer make one deer-like?

    Could  I buck the crazy fad diet trends out there, like the Paleo Diet(eat like a caveman), the Baby Food Diet(self-explanatory), the Werewolf Diet (based on the cycles of the moon) and cash in on a get-slim-quick scheme with  The Deer Diet & Doe-tox ?

 
 
   
The Deer Diet & Doe-tox
   *trademark pending
   *book currently in pre-production
   *My fav shark, +Mark Cuban is considering investing
   *not a +Dr. Oz recommended diet
  


follow me on instagram @faubulousinpittsburgh

+Bravo  +Andy Cohen +Pittsburgh Post-Gazette +Pittsburgh City Paper +WHIRL Magazine +Maniac Magazine +Pittsburgh Tribune-Review & TribLive.com +Pittsburgh Magazine

Friday, March 21, 2014

Barbie does The Urban Tap

    


     It's been a rough couple months for Barbie. Her appearance in Sports Illustrated  swimsuit issue got blasted. Then the Girl Scouts had groups petitioning them to end their partnership with her.  In fact, The Western Pa. chapter said they will not promote any affiliation with her! Also, a new study was released claiming that girls who play more with Mrs. Potato Head than with Barbie have more career aspirations. To make matters worse, Barbie had to deal with questions surrounding the campaign promoting Lammily, with her realistic proportions, as the new "it" doll. Gosh, how much can one fabulous gal take before she breaks!
    Oh, yeah, there is one more thing.....Barbie just had her 55th birthday.  Yikes, she's older than my mom! So, can anyone really blame Barbie for just wanting to cut loose for a night and let
her synthetic fiber hair down?


    I had to do something....so, I grabbed Barbie & a few of the most fabulous forty-somethings I know and headed down to the South Side.  I took them to one of my fav bars, The Urban Tap. Although the place was packed, the handsome bartender was attentive as well as efficient with our drink orders while we waited for a table. Since it was a Friday night during Lent, us good Catholic girls just ordered the Grilled Romaine Salads(nicely grilled n warm) and the Short Rib Nachos sans short ribs( having had them before with the meat, I liked them better without!)
       I guess we were all having so much fun at The Urban Tap that none of us noticed how much Barbie was actually drinking because, well, let's just say that Ken was not too happy with her the next day. Even though we all enjoyed our night out with Barbie, maybe the petitioners have a point and she's not the best role model for the Girl Scouts......... But I don't really give a hoot, I was never a Girl Scout ; )
 
Waiting for our table with a round of Coors Lights.
 


Long Island Barbie
                                                                            

Hey! Where did Barbie get the cute St. Patty Hat?
She's so full of surprises!
 
 
Doll's gone wild!

One of many dudes trying to hit on Barbie.



The Pens really do hang out at The Urban Tap!


The Urban Tap is smoke-free and so am I...
 

When we told her she would have to go outside, she threw a mini fit
and headed out and up Carson St to Dee's.
                                                            


On her way, Barbie stopped to hang with the hippest cat on Carson, Price Bennett, beating the beat
on the SoSide Friday & Saturday nites. He's a real deal drummer.
Check him out on  Facebook.

                                      

Barbie is so funny when tipsy...she asked the SoSide
Flame thrower for a light!!



    
    To the two living dolls who were our servers that night, thanks for playing along!  You're the best!
 
 
The Urban Tap on Urbanspoon


The Urban Tap is located at 1209 East Carson St. www.theurbantap.com


follow me on instagram @faubulousinpittsburgh

+Bravo +Pittsburgh Penguins +Pittsburgh City Paper +Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Friday, March 14, 2014

Greetings from (my visit to) Asbury Park, NJ

 
     
 
       In 1973, Bruce Springsteen released his debut album,  Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.; 40 years later, I made my first visit to Asbury Park, NJ.
 
      Alright, alright, alright.......I was exploring the boardwalk when I found a gray, long sleeve sweatshirt (with "Greetings from Asbury Park" printed on it) hanging on a rack in the front of this little joint. The inside of the store was dimly lit, but I finally found the cash register way in the back of the store.......... that's when I realized it was a "smoke shop".  The guy behind the counter asked me if I wanted the shirt "Jersey-style."  I admit I was a bit dazed and confused about what this meant; but, I wanted to seem dope.  So, I said, "Heck, yeah!"  He then pulled out a pair of very large scissors and cut off the sleeves and the bottom of the sweatshirt.  I bit my lip, paid for what was left of the shirt and then split with my bag.  I don't know if the dude was just stoned or if I just got torched. But you know what?  I don't care because I think it does have Jersey Shore swag & I'm gonna spark it up here in Pittsburgh!  'cause sometimes "you just gotta keep livin', man.     L-I-V-I-N."
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rebuilt Asbury Park Convention Center/Boardwalk post- Super storm Sandy makes me think of, "4th of July, Asbury Park(Sandy)", from Springsteen's Album, The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle.....
 Springsteen wrote the song as his goodbye to this town and starting a new life.
"for me this boardwalk life is through, babe
you ought to quit this scene too"
 
 
  
Wonder Bar: Story has it that, in 1971, Clarence Clemons was playing at Wonder Bar and,
 during a break, he went down the street to another venue to see Springsteen play
 "and the big man joined the band". The song "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out" is the story of this infamous encounter.


Part of the Casino and Carousel House where
 "the boys from the casino dance with their shirts open like Latin lovers on the shore"

The Stone Pony, where Springsteen played many times over the years, starting in the 70's...
"she was  dressed like a star in one of them cheap little seaside bars"
I read that this is where Springsteen first met his wife, Patty Scialfa!
                                                                              



 
 

 
"Did you hear the cops finally busted Madam Marie for tellin' fortunes better than they do"
Madam Marie passed on in 2008 at the age of 93.
                                                                                                                                                        
 
                                                                             

                                                                       
 




follow me on instagram @faubulousinpittsburgh



+Bravo +Pittsburgh City Paper +Pittsburgh Post-Gazette +WHIRL Magazine +Pittsburgh Magazine +Springsteen