Do you feel that you are living life to the fullest? Is your life meeting your expectations, or are you often left feeling disappointed?
I believe that everyone can, and should lead what I refer to as “A Royal Life.” This isn’t the life that the monarchy is living in Buckingham Palace. It isn’t the life that William and Kate are living…… It’s living YOUR BEST LIFE, while in the midst of “real life.” We can all take simple steps to improve our lives and to make our life happy, fun, fulfilling and prosperous.
If you think there is room for improvement in what you are receiving from life, please take a look at my attached video. It the first video in a series of 3 videos- Living a Royal Life.
Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to my blog so that you don’t miss any of the upcoming series and other fun and fabulous articles, events and adventures!
We went on a Silversea Silver Cloud cruise up the coast of West Africa recently. We went to 6 countries to be exact. There are basically 3 questions people ask you when they hear you have been to “Africa.” Question # 1- Did you go on a Safari (or did you see any “big game” animals- as both are basically asking the same thing.) Question #2- Why in the world did you choose to go there, of all places. Question # 3-Were you worried about Pirates.
No, we weren’t on a safari, nor did we see any big game animals. That takes place more in central or east Africa. What we saw most of were goats, pigs, chickens and cats, because all of those animals roamed freely- and abundantly – through every village and city we were in. We did see some good sized monkeys swinging through some trees one of the days while we were riding in the bus.
In Morocco we saw some camels at a Bedouin camp, and also just roaming around in the middle of the desert. In Marrakesh we saw few snakes, which were being “charmed” for the sake of tourist. The snake charmers were scarier than the snakes. You’ve got to watch out for those guys- they don’t want to let you go without getting the big bucks out of you!
This picture of animals in a Senegal Village shows about the biggest “game” that we saw on this trip. Camels, goats, cats, sheep, a few pigs and a boar were about the extent of our animal viewing!
Other than that little menagerie, no “big game” stuff. No lions, or tigers, elephants or giraffes. Wrong neighborhood for them.
Why we chose to go to West Africa is another story. My man had broken his foot last fall, right after we moved into our new house. (Great timing on his part, I have to say- thank you very much!) He was bored to death, and started looking into places he’d never traveled, and trips that would get him closer to his goal of 100 countries. A “luxury cruise” up the west coast of Africa came up in his search, and next thing I knew, we were going to West Africa. So, question number is now answered.
This Senegal Village was fairly typical of many of the villages. You’ll see a goat in the background. This village was one of the few that had any sort of “toilet” facilities. This outhouse had buckets in it to go on. Quite sophisticated compared to many!
Was West Africa on the top of my bucket list of travel? Heaven’s no! However, if you know me, you also know I’m always up for any adventure, and always up to try the unusual. So- when Don asked if I’d go on the trip, I gave a resounding yes…….
Captain Phillips, Here we Come!
As soon as we mentioned a boat, and Africa the question of safety and pirates came up constantly. After all, who hadn’t seen Captain Phillips, right? So, of course, we asked our cruise line, Silverseas, if pirates were a possibility or concern. The question was poo-pooed- and we were told that pirate activity is on the east side of Africa and we had nothing to worry about. WHEW!
Silly Americans! We don’t even know where the pirates hang out in Africa. Tsk, tsk, tsk…….
So, onward and upward we went with our plans for our trip. We decided to tack on a trip to Amsterdam to see the tulips on our way to Akkra, Ghana. Thank God, because if we hadn’t I wouldn’t have found that great shop with the fantastic 1940’s style dance dresses…….. (Good thing I brought that extra duffel, because it was filled up on day 3 of the 23 day trip!)
This is one of the 40’s style dresses I got in Amsterdam! What a find THAT store was! (And BTW- this is my granddaughter Nell at her graduation from grade school a few weeks ago!)
My prior cruising experience has been on the uber-large cruise ships. Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland, Costa- and yes, I’ll even admit to Carnival- back in the day! Don has only done small “expedition” type of ships. This cruise, on the Silversea Silver Cloud was to have approximately 200 passengers.
The “luxury cruise” part of the trip had me from Hello. Unfortunately, the “luxury” provided didn’t add up to the cost of the cruise in ever-so-many ways………..
But I digress…….
This poster was on the wall going into the Ghana Port. You would not have BELIEVED the one asking them not to poop in the port! That one was really graphic- but unfortunately we weren’t able to pop a photo fast enough! Things run a little differently in Africa than some of us are used to!
As we pulled up to the port (after a rocky start and less than impressive trip to the ship), Don noticed that the back of the ship had large bars added across the back deck where the enormous water cannons were. Water cannons? Why would the ship need water cannons? We thought that perhaps the ship goes to other areas where pirates might be a concern……..
So, blithely we boarded the ship.
And, as with all cruises, muster is the first order of business on all ships. A lovely letter awaited us when we entered our suite, telling us when muster was to take place, and how focused Silversea was on making our voyage special, personalized, pampering, blah, blah, blah….
Our welcome letter upon arrival on the Silver Cloud
Off to muster we went. Then the ship left dock. After familiarizing ourselves with the ship, we went back to our suite, to find another letter………… informing us that we were in a “high risk area for piracy
If you are of my age group, you will remember Saturday Night Live, and church lady from years ago. Can’t you just hear Dana Carvey saying “How conveeeeenient!” ( Not to mention the following line- “Who made you do it, was it the Devil?”)
How conveeeeenient that the second letter was given to us JUST AFTER we left port! And worse- it stated that the “enhanced measures” were in effect from April 8-14. THREE DAYS BEFORE WE BOARDED THE SHIP!
These assholes knew for 3 days before we got on that Captain Kidd, Blackbeard and Henry Morgan were in the ‘hood, and didn’t bother to tell us? Holy shit. Are you kidding me?
Then the letter went on in explicit detail telling us how to handle the possible boarding and takeover by pirates. My favorite line was, “in the rare event that pirates succeed to board the vessel, do not panic, and do as they say.”
Roger that. I am going to stay as friggin’ as calm as a clam. Yessiree! Ahoy there mateys- nothing to worry about. I’ve seen Captain Phillips. These are reasonable people……….
Silversea- what in the name of all that is normal is wrong with you people?
Where is Johnny Depp When You Need Him?
The pirate with a parrot on the seashore
Not only are we dealing with totally unreasonable people with pirates in the African waters, none of them remotely begin to look like Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. There is just no upside to these pirates at all. Just sayin’.
For the next 4 evenings we were told we had to keep our curtains to our decks drawn and not to open the sliding doors. This was mighty convenient, as the AC was also not working on the ship, and we were in near 100 degree heat………..
If THIS doesn’t all spell out “luxury cruise”- I don’t know what does!
In the public areas of the ship, every curtain was buttoned up as tightly as a nun’s va-j-j. Where there weren’t draperies, the windows were covered with paper and duct tape. And the decks and outdoor restaurant were closed down. No “romantic strolls” around the deck were taking place here folks! I felt like I was in London during the second world war blitz attacks.
Again, I know I am repeating myself here, but if THIS doesn’t all spell out “luxury cruise”- I don’t know what does!
Another great tip pointed out in the letter was that if the pirates were to approach the ship, and/or board, we were to go to the common areas of the ship and get down with our hands over our heads. Fuck that shit- I’m hiding under my damned bed and hope they don’t check there for me. I figure that these pirates probably aren’t into doing a lot of work, or they’d have more upstanding jobs. Maybe they aren’t going to look under all 100+ beds, right? But go hide out in the open- with my hands over my head? Are you kidding me? I’m going to come out and line up for the machine gun rally? Come on, I’m smarter than I look! (I’d have to be, or they wouldn’t let me out alone….. But again, I digress.)
(Our Silversea “Pirate Warning Letter”- delivered immediately after the ship left port. At this point it was bit too far for a swim back to shore, I’m afraid!)
Every Day is an Adventure!
Now I realize that earlier I stated I am usually up for any adventure. I’ve jumped out of planes. I’ve zip-lined. I’ve snorkeled and dived. I’ve bungee jumped. I’ve married a variety of men. I’ve had children….. the list of adventures goes on and on.
However, in all those cases, these were experiences that I had preplanned for. The adrenaline spike is because of the thrill of a “controlled” thrill. One that most people live through. One that has safety parameters built into it.
Not friggin’ PIRATES! I never signed up for PIRATES!
So, for the first 4 evenings of our “luxury cruise”, while sweating like I was in an Indian Sweat lodge, with my drapes and balcony window buttoned up tightly, I wondered if I would live to see the good ol’ US of A!
There ain’t NOTHIN’ that spells luxury like that folks!
Captain Boczek’s last lines of his letter left me feeling calm, “special and highly personalized” (refer back to letter #1)… “Your safety is of paramount importance for us at Silversea…..”
Really? Really? My safety is of such utmost importance to Silversea that they didn’t tell me about my tryout for a role in Pirates of the Caribbean before the ship set sail? THAT’S how paramount my safety was to Silversea!
That all being said, I guess we can add a few jackasses to the list of animals previously noted. But they were all on board our ship, wearing nautical costumes!
As you can probably decipher from this post, we did make it out of Africa alive. No pirate boarding or takeovers.
The last tour day we had lunch at a hotel which was once a palace. This little room looked like where you’d go to smoke your hookah!
You might have also figured out that I am not going to be the head cheerleader for Silversea! Oh hell no! I wish the pirate fiasco and the lack of AC was our only issues on this “luxury liner”, but no…… those were just the tip of the larger-than-hit-the-Titanic iceberg. I’m not even going to mention the numerous small items, like Don finding a shard of glass in his lunch one day. We’ll overlook those “little annoyances.”
Silversea asked for feedback on the cruise, which I provided. Over 6 weeks ago. Then followed up 2 weeks later- to make sure they had received it. Then again 2 weeks ago again. No response in any way. Not even a form “we received your letter and someone will get back to you” canned response! The last time around we even spoke to Ricardo who booked our cruise, made him aware of our letters, and resent the correspondence to him directly. He promised he would “pass it on to his supervisors.” That was 2 weeks ago, with no follow up from anyone.
I’m sure I’m not being ignored. I think I’ve figured out the problem. PIRATES! The pirates probably boarded a Silversea ship which had a company meeting going on with all of the customer service personnel, the head honchos and the marketing people, and they are being held hostage RIGHT NOW!
Someone contact the authorities, and send out a search and rescue team!
Meanwhile, I’ll stick to my “non luxury” cruise lines, and I can get 12 -15 cruises for the money one Silversea cruise cost! (Not to mention, I’ll have AC in my cabin!)
_______________________________________________I had to add on a little “follow up” addendum to this story. While writing it, I sent a second email to our Silversea representative, Ricardo, telling him how disgusted I was with their company’s total lack of customer service. I will admit, this particular email was not full of unicorns, flowers and glitter. No, I wasn’t really my most nice on this round. I did mention in it that I now submitted a review on my experience to cruise critic and that I was now in the process of writing an article for my lifestyle blog regarding Silversea and their Silver Cloud ship.
Miracles DO happen folks! Yessiree! Amazingly enough within a few days I actually received communication from Silversea’s Guest Relations department. They apologized for the lack of response, stating that my original emails were “caught in their spam system.” OK, hold on here Frank…….. may I call you Frank, Mr. Sansone? You are going to tell me that Silversea- a large corporation, has a customer service email system, which you ask passengers to send their feedback to (email@example.com) and when they do, it goes into your spam folder? Now THAT is a clever way to set things up! Very helpful to all involved……. Of course there was no explanation as to why my letter to Ricardo hadn’t been responded to for over 2 weeks at this point either…….. hmmmmmmm. Maybe their employees letters ALSO go to spam. Again, a clever and efficient way to run things.
So, that all being said, with his effusive apologies- well, kinda- sorta’- this following line of the letter threw me off a bit- “We appreciate your candor in evaluating your experience aboard Silver Cloud which we anticipate will stand out in a positive way in terms of service and product.” Perhaps something was lost in the translation of my letters when Frank read them, because I would think it apparent to all involved that Silversea, indeed did NOT stand out in a positive way in terms of service and product….. Oh my. Consistant. At least they are consistent…..
So, in the end, what Frank offered us was some credit on a future cruise, an amount which is basically equivalent to an upgrade from one class of cabin to the next level. SERIOUSLY Frank? Oh, and the other detail is that we must use that oh-so-generous credit for travel within the next two years. I’m pretty certain that we will be getting our calendars right out and check which of the Silversea cruises are going to fit in our travel schedule. Or………..maybe not.
And last, but certainly not least- the following video has nothing to do with the idiots at Silversea, or even me- but after my rant I thought you deserved a bit of fun- so watch this great video of a young man who has been to every country in the world (how does he do that at this young age?). He shares some cute little ditty about every one of the countries he’s been to- because…….. as I always say- Every Day is an Adventure!
Seriously? What the hell has happened to common sense in our country? ESPECIALLY in my state of California?
A new law California law has been proposed which would cause a server to be fined $1,000.00 OR 6 months in jail if they put a straw in a drink of a patron without first asking. COME ON PEOPLE!
I’m just as concerned over our environment as the next person, but for the love of Pete! (At this point my daughters always ask me- “Who is this Pete guy and why do you love him?”) But I digress………. Again I say, “For the love of Pete!” This is ridiculous! This is the “last straw” in the lack of common sense in the US.
Have you ever been a server? Do you know how crazy it can get being a server during the rush of lunch or dinner? And you are going to tell me that if they forget to ask if you’d like a straw, and put one in your drink automatically, they are going to be fined $1,000.00? Or worse yet- go to JAIL?
“What’s your mom in for Jimmy?” “She got 6 months for doing the crime. She put a straw in a customer’s drink.” Heaven forbid! Cuff her and remove her from society! In fact, let’s protect little Jimmy from such a horrible person and put him in a foster home!
Common Sense Has Left The Country
Holy Shit, are you people kidding me? Common sense has left the country. I think about the time Elvis died- so did ANY sort of common sense. Maybe he took it with him.
Sure, we can all cut down on our plastic consumption. There are many ways to do it. And, yes, servers could ask if you want a straw. Or, we can, as consumers say we don’t want a straw…… But does every damn thing in this country need to become a friggin’ CRIME?????
Our court systems are overburdened. Our jails are bursting at the seams. And we are now going to prosecute AND jail people over straws??????
For the love of Pete. Again, I’m saying it. Whoever this Pete character is, for the love of him, STOP THE NONSENSE!
I hadn’t even heard until about a month ago that this straw issue was a big deal. Now, suddenly, it seems to be a problem of epidemic proportions. The whole world is going to come to a screeching stop if we don’t start arresting servers, charge them huge fines and end the use of straws……
Ughhhh…… Reusable Straws……
A San Diego restaurant is using aluminum straws for it’s patrons.
For the love of Pete. Since the whole nonsense started I have now seen ads for us to purchase “reusable straws.” That sounds like a great and sanitary idea…… said no-one-in-their-right-mind-ever. Come on people! Imagine THAT catastrophe! I’m going to pull out this little telescopic straw at a restaurant, use it, and put it back in it’s little case…… YUM…… Mold, spores…… oh the possibilities are endless!
I brought this up on Facebook when I saw the ads, and people said, “You’ll wash them!” Well, even if I did take a stroll into the restroom of the restaurant, and wash it (which, believe me, might happen about… not at all) ……. you are putting it away in a little carrying case WET…… shit is STILL going to happen that is not healthy while it’s buttoned up, in the wet darkness of its little plastic, unbreathable case……….
For The Love of Pete…….
These aren’t really straws, they are glow sticks from a kids’ event we were at last night, but they looked kinda’ cool, so you’ve got them here folks! Of course, they too are made from plastic, so common sense says that the days of glow sticks are numbered!
Common sense. Let’s just use some. How about going back to paper straws? I don’t remember feeling suicidal when paper straws were in common use. They seemed to work just fine at the time. I’ve even seen articles that there are, believe it or not, pasta straws that work well with just about anything other than cola products.
A friend of mine went to a restaurant in San Diego recently and they are using aluminum straws. Again, I wonder how sanitary the straws will be. How in the world are they getting into the middle of them and cleaning them properly? The other concern I have with aluminum straws is that we have been told that aluminum is linked to Alzheimer’s. I’ve read that drinking from aluminum cans should be avoided. So now we are going to drink out of aluminum straws, which probably aren’t too sanitary? At least later in life, due to the aluminum, we won’t remember what the problem could be….
Another alternative is glass straws……….. what could POSSIBLY go wrong with a glass straw? Oh for the love of Pete, let’s not even DISCUSS what could possibly go wrong with a glass straw. If I need to discuss it with you, you are too stupid to live.
There is a solution. There are a number of solutions. I’m not sure WHAT the right solution is, but I’m sure we can solve it. For awhile anyway. Until we decide the solution is another problem we have created. For the love of Pete………. it never ends!
There are alternatives to plastic straws! Where is our common sense?
The last straw here, for me, is jail time and large fines for servers. Seriously? A number of servers I know could end up on the street if they had to pay a $1,000.00 fine! Imagine what 6 months in jail would do to them? Aren’t the consequences a bit excessive for the crime?
Yes, we need less use of plastic. Yes, you could cut down on straw use. Yes, we need to work on helping the environment…….. And YES- people need to get some common sense, and stop making everything in our country a damned CRIME!
That’s my 2 cents worth, and I’m not even charging for it!
Here is a reusable aluminum straw you can keep in your purse. Just in case you feel the need. (I’ll be checking in at the nursing home in 20 years to see how the Alzheimer’s is faring…. https://mfhousehold.com/products/straw
Sea Glass. I never really have given it much thought. I’ve seen some interesting jewelry made from it- typically at craft shows. Occasionally in a beach town tourist shop. I recently read a novel where the main character made jewelry with it as her trade. Basically, that’s about as much thought as I’d ever given to sea glass.
A few weeks ago we were floating around on a small cruise ship off the West Coast of Africa. On our last sea day there was a talk being given on sea glass jewelry. Choices being limited as to things to do at exactly that moment in time, I thought I’d attend the talk.
Sea Glass from Goree Island, thanks to Simon Cook
The talk was given by another passenger Jean Forman. She is a sea glass jewelry artist, and had a lot of interesting information to share.
I was amazed at how much there was to learn about something as seemingly “simple” as Sea Glass. Sea glass can often be up to 100 years old. It is becoming more valuable, as less and less glass bottles are being made. To find a piece of red or yellow sea glass is very rare, as virtually no bottles are made with those colors any longer.
Simon Cook’s photos of unusual “Sea Glass” treasures he has found over the years! Stoppers, marbles and other unusual pieces.
I was surprised to find out how valuable one of these rare pieces of glass could be! Jean stated that some pieces of the glass could sell for hundreds of dollars due to its rarity.
Jean shared that sea glass should have a “providence”- just like valuable artwork has a providence. Her jewelry all has a tag on it that tells where she found the particular piece of glass. In her talk, Jean stated that she has had great luck finding sea glass on beaches in Greece, Glass Beach at Fort Bragg and most recently, on our cruise stop in Goree Island in Dakar.
To find sea glass, you want to look on beaches where you see rocks. As the rocks come rolling in, so does the sea glass.
Glass found on Goree Island, in Dakar on our recent Silversea’s excursion through West Africa April 11-27 2018
One of the stops on this trip was at Goree Island. We actually had to take a ferry over from our ship. According to Jean and one of our expedition team, Goree Island proved to be a fabulous place for the sea glass collector! Both of them found a great bounty of sea glass to add to their collections!
As with anything valuable, or collectible, there are books that talk about the different colors of sea glass, and what type and age the bottles they come from may be. Obviously, some types and colors are more rare than others. In doing a bit of research on Sea Glass I found that some of the “extremely rare” colors of sea glass would be orange, red, black, teal and gray. Many of the more rare colors of sea glass were made from tableware. Most of us are more familiar with the soft greens, blues and white sea glass, which are the most common colors. That glass most often came from mass produced bottles, such as 7 up, Coca-Cola and other drinks.
Simon Cook’s creation of sea glass inside a glass tube lighted from within. Really lovely!
Simon Cook, of the expedition team on the Silversea Silver Cloud shared pictures of some of his sea glass. He had unusual stopper shaped glass, round marble shaped glass and other interesting pieces. He doesn’t make jewelry from his glass. He displays it in interesting glass bottles and vases. He shared one small bottle, which had been his father’s. In it are over 800 pieces of glass! You would never guess that to look at it.
Simon Cook’s bottle of Sea Glass
We’ve all heard about tumblers where you can make your own “sea glass.” You can also purchase it at stores such as Michaels and Hobby Lobby. This would be referred to as “cultured sea glass” and, obviously not as valuable. If a jewelry maker doesn’t give you the provenience of the piece of glass, it’s probably been made and/or purchased in this manner. It’s still lovely, but not as valuable as the true sea glass.
I’m not one to walk the beaches very often, but when I do, I’m always scouting for shells or other objects. Now I’ll have to take the time to look for a bit of beach glass, and see what story it has to share.
Sea Glass on the beach
To check out Jean Forman’s beautiful, hand crafted jewelry, go to https://www.custommade.com/by/luckyseaglassjewelry/
Thanks also to Simon Cook from the UK for use of his sea glass pictures for this article!
Everything You Need To Know About Amsterdam’s Red Light District.
One of the side streets in the Red Light District. You can see the red lights down the street.
As an American, I think it’s normal to be curious about the Red Light District in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is a bit of a curiosity all the way around, with its legalization of drug use, prostitution and other carnal pleasures that aren’t legally allowed in the glorious US of A.
Amsterdam, seems to me the epitome of Liberalism, although I don’t believe that is what they call it. When you go to Amsterdam there are a number of sayings that you will hear the locals say. “As long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else, go ahead and do what you want.” “I see you through my fingers”, which means that they know what you are doing, but don’t really care.
The thing about this type of attitude, is that it seems to work. While the prisons and jails in America are burgeoning, in Amsterdam and throughout the Netherlands, it is just the opposite. They are nearly empty, and some have actually been closed down and turned into other uses, such as hotels.
A very typical Amsterdam Street. 4 story buildings, bikes and a canal down the middle!
All of Amsterdam, due to the water and canals, is mostly made up of buildings 4 stories tall. You will see an occasional 5 stories, but most of the 5th stories are made up of just one room. Narrow streets, divided down the middle by a canal. One narrow lane going one direction on one side of the canal, the other direction on the other side of the canal. The sidewalks are even narrower, so many of the pedestrians walk in the traffic lanes. Add to all of that THOUSANDS, literally THOUSANDS of bicycles, and it’s a bit of a clusterfuck! Then you have small “alley like” streets that run perpendicular to the main streets. These are equal to one narrow lane, and many don’t even have sidewalks.
Charming. That’s the way to describe Amsterdam. Completely charming. The architecture is beautiful. Most every building made of brick. Due to the quagmire it is built on, many buildings tip a little to the left, to the right or a bit front wards or backwards. Some may tip 2 or 3 of the direction that I mentioned. No one seems too worried, as they are 200, 300 or 400 years old and haven’t gone anywhere yet!
The amazing thing though? You don’t see aggravated drivers. You don’t see aggravated pedestrians. The bicyclists, for the most part are pretty calm weaving to and fro between it all….. Again, the Amsterdam attitude of you do your thing and I’ll do mine. Let’s all just get along.
A typical store throughout Amsterdam. You can buy various drugs, marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms and much more!
The Red Light District
So, back to the Red Light District. What is it like? The streets look basically the same as other parts of Amsterdam, except there are a plethora of sex shops & erotic shops (which are just a sex shop with a different name!), sex “museums”, and a number of bars which have some sort of sex show or porn show. It kind of reminds me a bit of Bourbon Street in New Orleans- just missing the jazz music.
Keep in mind, little “coffee” is consumed at an Amsterdam coffee shop! The “coffee shops” are where you can go and puchase and smoke weed- all very legal. Just walking past most of them you can get a “contact high!”
The biggest difference that you see are the Red Lights, and the windows which accompany the Red Lights. Some blocks may have none, others may have 2, 4 or 12. So what does that all look like? Picture your typical front porch light. With a red bulb placed in it. Then, next to, or under the light will be a window, and the window usually has Red Velvet curtains in it. When the light is on, and the curtain is closed, that means the lady (the prostitute) is busy with a customer. When the light is not on, you will usually see the curtains closed. No one is working in that window, at that time.
Typical example of the windows the girls stand in.
An Open Curtain – Means Open for Business!
And then the thing that we Americans find SO fascinating……….. when the curtain is open, and there is a girl in the window. What do you see then? Most of the women you see are in their 20’s. They are wearing some type of lingerie. Most often a bra and panties with heels. It can vary of course. I was really surprised that I never saw any type of “bustier”, stockings and garters. I would assume that look would be prevalent. I also never saw any “nighties”. There were a few with the “school girl” look of a short pleated skirt. One had her nipples only covered with a couple of (ouch!) star-shaped stickers.
There are areas, evidently, where one can find some more “mature” women, larger women or even women-who-might-not-be-women. Those areas are a bit off on their own, not on the main drag.
The women are in their little “window” area. Many of the windows are groups, usually 3 together. Those windows are about the size of a typical front door. There were a few other windows, even smaller- typically set down about 2 feet below street level, and they were about 3 ft. by about 4 ft. then, there were other larger windows, about 6 or 7 feet wide. The wider windows actually showed you the whole room- bed and all. All of the beds were covered with a dark blue vinyl. Most of the rooms you could see were very clinical, not too “homey” and unattractive. We never saw a shower, and seldom a sink in any of them.
These are the “rare” windows, in that their curtains aren’t red velvet!
One of the larger “rooms” we saw in the main area had the usual vinyl covered bed, but also on display were numerous sex toys, wigs, whips and other BDSM equipment. The woman in this window was a bit older than the average girl we saw in other windows. (Darn it, I snuck a photo of her room, but can’t find it in my camera!)
The World’s “Oldest Profession”
So…….. How does it work you wonder? The women are behind their windows. Some are very actively interacting with the crowd, giving a cute wink or smile, a “come hither” look. Others look bored beyond belief. Some look plan ol’ scary and like you’d better not bother them. Some were on their cell phones. When someone has an interest, they motion to the lady, she opens her door, and negotiations are made as to the services offered or desired, and the price. We were told that the typical price is 50-75 Euros. That is for the “service” not for the time, and most sessions are considered about 15 minutes long. Evidently, if you want a specific time period, that is negotiated up front. Don’t ask me what happens to the poor gal who gets a guy who lasts forever and a day……….. I guess they have provisions for that!
Rules of the Red Light District
There are certain “rules” that everyone is supposed to abide by. Pictures of the women while behind their windows is strictly forbidden. There are a number of plain clothes police walking around, and they don’t take kindly to rule breakers! It is also said that the girls have been known to come out, grab your phone, and throw it in the nearest canal, or stomp on it and break it!
This is how people are expected to behave in the Red Light District. Sorry about the color, the nearby red lights were distorting the white background…..
There is actually a “10 Commandments” on how to behave toward the prostitutes which is expected. You can find it posted in the area.
They are as follows:
Do not take photographs or film
Do not tap or spit on the window
Be respectful toward the women
Do not peek through cracks in the curtains
Do not stand in front of the doors or windows
When visiting, pay in advance and discuss beforehand what is and is not permitted
Never have unprotected sex
Be Hygienic (clean and well groomed, not intoxicated)
When you suspect force or coercion, call the police on 09008844
Aggression is not tolerated.
There are a specific number of licenses given for the Red Light district. No new licenses have been issued for quite a number of years. One person can own more than one “window” which they rent out by shift. There are approximately 300 of the windows, or “prostitution rooms.” The ladies pay a specific amount per “shift” which is typically 10 hours. Most of the rentals are 150. Euros per shift, but some, depending on the location, day and time, could rent out for more – or less.
It is said that most of the ladies are “independent”- they work for themselves. But there is still some amount of “pimping” “managing” or as they call it ”lover boys”. Evidently, “pimping” used to be illegal, but in the past few years it was deemed to be legal. However, things are closely watched, to make sure that sex trafficking is not going on. In theory, in Amsterdam, everyone who is working as a prostitute does so of their own free will. Local authorities continuously investigate and inspect the working conditions of the prostitutes. It is also encouraged that if any customers suspect that someone is being forced into prostitution, they should report it, so the woman can be helped. There is an anonymous phone number that can be called to report issues, and that number is prominently displayed around the Red Light District. The safety of the prostitutes is taken very seriously in Amsterdam.
This is the suggested behavior for “on the job” success!
Taxes are filed by the women, in fact we went past a Tax Accountant’s office- and he advertised that his specialty was filing taxes for the Prostitutes. There are also required routine medical test to make sure they aren’t passing on any diseases.
In Amsterdam, there are also brothels and individual escorts. All must be licensed. The brothels are located all around, not just the red light district. It is the responsibility of the brothels and the owners of the “windows” to make sure that the women are properly checked out, and that none of them are being forced into work by anyone else.
I don’t think much sleeping goes on in these rooms! This may have been a bordello, but no one would really give us an answer on that!
Museums, Museums…….. Everywhere!
Another interesting fact about Amsterdam is that it seems you can call just about anything a “museum” and charge people to enter. In the Red Light District there were The Sex Museum, The Eroticism Museum and The Museum of Prostitution, among others.
We visited The Museum of Prostitution. It was interesting, but I wouldn’t say we picked up any astonishing information, or learned any big fact about prostitution in the Red Light District that we hadn’t picked up by talking to someone we knew who lives in the area.
Patti in front of the Prostitution Museum
Obviously, we weren’t the only ones a bit curious about the famous “Red Light District.” It is estimated that over 6 million people visited the Red Light District of Amsterdam in 2017, and that over 60% of all tourist go to see it personally.
So, let’s see if we have this right. Prostitutes are licensed, taxes are paid, diseases are kept to a minimum, things are policed for everyone’s safety, the jails aren’t filled beyond capacity- and the rest of Amsterdam basically feels like “live and let live”- basically not caring if someone partakes or doesn’t partake.
Can someone explain to me why in the world our country is so antiquated and doesn’t do the same thing? If people want to participate in prostitution on either end of the spectrum, they are going to. Filling our jails with adults who have both consented to a sexual act doesn’t make sense to me. People involved in that act shouldn’t have to worry about their safety, whether it is the woman, or the man.
I’m all for the Amsterdam attitude of “live and let live” and “as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else, go ahead and do what you want.”
I hope this little article answers some of your curiosity about the Red Light District!
If you know me, you know that I love being pampered as much as the next girl! In fact, earlier this evening Don and I went for a 90 minute massage. We go pretty often. Many would call me spoiled, and I don’t feel bad about it for a minute.
Nails, pedicures, facials…… I’m a regular at pretty much all of them.
So, of course, when I saw an article about the most “out there” spa treatments, I was sucked into reading it stat!
The idea of most of them left me cold (or hot- but not in a good way!) Treatments where they switch from freezing you to heating your body parts with hot volcanic rocks, within moments of one another. People ringing little bells and making noises while you are having a massage. Metal bowls laid on your body, and sound vibrations being used to “calm you.”
Shammans, High Priestess’, detoxifications, Nature bathing, Chakra Clearing, Chants, Bell ringing……… the thrills go on and on.
The one that sounds like pure torture to me are the “silent spas.” Holy shit- people go for 2 to 5 DAYS without anyone talking? I would be out of my fucking MIND with days of total silence. Please, let me give birth to 12 elephants without an epidural before I have to sit around in complete silence! Are these people training to be some sort of monks? And for this people are paying good money? Something is wrong with this scene! THE SOUND OF SILENCE…. A little bit goes a LONG way in my book!
Call me old fashioned, but my idea of pampering is to take my clothes off and have someone massage me. I don’t want Chatty Cathy working on me, but should I want to let her know I’d like a little more pressure, I want to be able to speak up and get it done the way I like it!
Bells ringing, vibrations vibrating, chakras being cleared, water being poured on my head, rattles, wind chimes and other assorted “hocus-pocus” are just not my cup of tea.
Boring. Old fashioned. Dull. Call me what you want, but when I’m being pampered, I prefer things a little more subdued. I don’t feel the need for the Shaman and his dancing band of thieves to show up and set up a show. I think my Chakras are doing, fine, thanks for asking. I’ll keep the bells on the windchimes outdoors.
Give me a quiet room, a little bit of “Origami music” (check out my Origami music side story, which is at the end of this blog) and if we are really going all out- a heated bed, and I’m a pretty darned happy camper. I prefer the “cozy” of a warm massage bed to the extremes of being frozen and heated to excess……
So, as I previously said- Keep the bells, the Shamans, the dings and the dongs, the good vibrations (I’ll keep the vibrating to the privacy of my own bedroom, thank you very much). Just get out the massage oil, a semi dark room, my man on the adjoining massage table, and let’s stick to the basics.
Now that I mentioned “Origami music” I feel the need to explain. A number of years ago, I owned a gift ware company. When we worked the gift shows, it was damned hard work- on your feet for 8+ hours straight, trying to write as many orders as possible to keep the company profitable. I always took 2 other girlfriends with me to work the markets.
At the LA gift show they had chair massage set up. I told the girls that if we made a certain goal that day, I’d spring for chair massage on our way out. Sure enough, goal achieved we went to get the massage. My friend Kim was one of the hardest working people EVER. Always doing for others, but seldom doing anything for herself…….. So, as we all settle in our chair massage contraptions, and just start to relax, Kim says, in all seriousness…. “This is great, but we need a little of that Origami music.”
HUH? Origami music? What is that, music to fold paper by?
To this day, I can’t hear “massage music” without thinking about it being “Origami music.” Thanks for about 20 years of laughs over that one Kim Hartley!
Whatever happened to Emily Post? Back in the day- (and I realize “the day” was a while back, and things have changed) society lived by a set of rules, known as etiquette. The rules for how we conducted ourselves was large. About 2 or 3 inches thick as I recall. There were details in it that didn’t really make a rats ass of difference in most people’s lives. How to properly seat people at a dinner party. Leaving a calling card when visiting. When and how to use obscure pieces of flatware. Those things probably won’t change our lives, at least life in todays’ society one bit.
But, there are still some rules of etiquette that SHOULD and could be implemented.
I probably entertain more than any 10 women put together. And I am amazed each and every time that an invitation goes out, just how rude people can be. (Sorry, just have to call it like it is!) I do realize that many people don’t entertain in their homes, and may not realize the amount of work that goes into it. Perhaps THAT is the excuse. WHATEVER the excuse, I’d like to share a few easy rules for being a guest in someone’s home, which just may get you invited back.
Just take the time to RSVP for the love of God! It’s not that difficult! I absolutely can’t believe the people who never respond in any way. No yes, no no, no maybe! Come on people! If you don’t want to go, can’t stand the host, would rather pull lint out of your belly-button, or lice off of your significant other- JUST LET THE PERSON WHO ASKED YOU KNOW YOU WON’T BE THERE. No. A simple no. Nowadays, other than a wedding invitation, most of your invitations can be responded to via email, response to evite, or via text. JUST TAKE A FRICKIN’ MINUTE TO LET THE HOST OR HOSTESS KNOW YOUR INTENTIONS!
The “Maybe” response……. I understand the Maybe response- if your daughter is due to give birth sometime the 3rd week of January, so your response is “As long as we aren’t on our way to Nebraska, due to Janie’s impending birth.” That’s a good reason for a maybe. Absolutely. It’s the “maybe’s” that make the hostess feel like you are just waiting to see if something better comes up which really piss me off. Look, if you can’t give a definite YES, I’d like to be there, because you really DON’T want to be there, give a resounding NO, and move on. If you have to see what your work schedule is, and they don’t let you know until the Tuesday of the event…… OK on that. But just maybe, a maybe that, once again looks like you are waiting to see if possibly Angelina Jolie is going to invite you over for drinks, but… if she doesn’t, you might show up are rude….. just plain rude…..
I think that California is particularly prone to this. Everyone wants to wait until the last moment to commit, fearing they might miss something better. As Bon Qui Qui would say. RUDE!
I recently had a big party for my 60th birthday. I rented a room, had a band, and had it catered. I BEGGED people, via Evite to just let me know whether or not they were coming. In the end, there were 60 people who never responded one way or the other. That could be up to 120 people who may- or may not be there. Kind of a BIG difference when you are paying to cater something.
I entertain enough to know what the average response rate is, and I had my numbers within 5 people of who actually DID attend. But SERIOUSLY? If I didn’t entertain on almost a weekly basis, I wouldn’t have had any idea how many people to tell the caterer to plan on.
2. HOSTESS GIFTS
A girl can only use SO much wine!
I think it is really thoughtful when people bring a hostess gift for the hostess. You definitely deserve Kudos for the thoughtfulness. Can I give you a hint on what NOT to bring for said hostess gift. 2 items I suggest you forget about bringing to a hostess. (Keep in mind- I’m the girl who has held about 10 events in the past 3 months). PLEASE, rethink the bottle of wine, and cut flowers. At one of my housewarming parties a few years ago I received over 30 bottles of wine. As a single woman who rarely drinks wine, and then, only white wine ( and, I’ll admit it- shit white wine at that), there was not a chance I was going to ever drink that much wine, not to mention, be able to store it. Can I just say…… IT IS UNIMAGINATIVE! It’s boring. It’s the easy way out, and most likely, it’s wine some other unimaginative, boring person gave YOU! Come up with something that the hostess might really be able to use. It’s simple. It’s more fun. And it says you really care.
The other item to stop bringing…… cut flowers that need to be put in a vase. The last thing in the world a hostess has time to do when a slew of people are walking in her door is figure out where a damned vase that will fit your flowers is! AND, if her cupboard where vases are stored is where my vase cupboard has been in all my previous homes, it is 6 feet up, above the oven, and they are stacked in there in such a way that opening it may be life threatening. DON’T DO THIS TO THE WOMAN WHO JUST MADE YOU A MEAL! Either bring a plant that is in a ready-to-go container, a flowering plant or flowers in a vase. Don’t add stress to the woman who just put this event together. It’s stressful to figure out what to do with a bouquet of flowers when so much is going on!
A potted plant is a great gift! A hostess doesn’t have to find a vase, take time to arrange it, and can plop it down and carry on!
You might wonder, what in the world you are supposed to being a hostess if not wine and flowers? Bring something seasonal. An ornament or decoration if it’s the holiday season. A pretty fall accessory. An orchid or other flowering plant which can be set down and dealt with later. If you know the hostess has a passion for something, bring something that speaks to that. A friend recently brought the cutest little mug set to a party I gave. One said “The Queen of Damn Near Everything.” The other “The King of Whatever’s Left.” Something for both Don and I, that said she’d thought about it! Another friend brought a lovely orchid. For about 8 weeks, I had blooms that made me think of her. Neither cost more that most bottles of wine, I’m sure! But they spoke volumes to me when I received them.
This was a hostess gift that showed me the giver KNEW me, and took time to bring something fitting my tastes and quirks!
3. DON’T BRING A GUEST WITHOUT TELLING THE HOST
I am probably the most “more the merrier” person in the world. Unless I’m putting on an event that can only have a specific number of people for a good reason, I always say “bring whoever you want.” HOWEVER, if you do that, can you PLEASE clue the hostess in that someone she may not know will be arriving?
On more than one occasion I have been in my home at a party and see someone I don’t know, enjoying food and drink. It is very awkward to walk up to a person in your home, and inquire who they are, and how they got there! It’s really not that tough to clue the hostess in that you have brought a friend, and introduce you, or to tell her your friend may be stopping by. COME ON PEOPLE- should we have to tell you this shit?
4. DON’T WHINE IF YOU AREN’T INVITED TO SOMETHING.
As a host or hostess, we can’t invite ALL of the people ALL of the time. I have had numerous occasions where, at a smaller gathering I haven’t invited someone that might come to other gatherings I have. When you are having a sit-down luncheon for example, only a certain number of people can fit at the table.
DON’T BE THE PERSON WHO GETS ALL BUTT HURT BECAUSE YOU WEREN’T INVITED!
I can’t begin to tell you the many times I’ve seen people getting all up in arms because someone had an event and they weren’t invited to go! GET OVER IT! We aren’t in 3rd grade. We can’t always invite every damned person we know, AND….. I’ll bet those of you who get all butt hurt NEVER INVITE THOSE SAME PEOPLE TO YOUR HOUSE! It’s always the ones who want to be invited to every damned thing who never invite others to their house! They typically don’t entertain, yet they WANT to be entertained!
Take a look at your social skills people! Are you being a good guest? Taking time to RSVP? Inviting your favorite hostess to your house now and then? Remember your mother’s old saying, “To have a good friend you need to BE a good friend!”
We are all adults here. Let’s look back at some of Emily Posts rules, and take a bit of time to follow some of them. You will be glad you did! (And so will the hostess who invited you!)
I fully understand that most of our Christmas Carols were written quite some time ago – and standards of what is acceptable have changed dramatically during that time. Am I the only one who shudders when you hear some of those “old classics?” Many are not only “politically incorrect” they are “socially incorrect.”
Think about it. In We Wish You a Merry Christmas– a bunch of strangers walk up to your door, and start singing outside. When you open the door, they demand “figgy pudding” (and God only knows what the hell THAT foul sounding concoction is). Then this intrusive bunch of strangers says they “won’t go until they get some.” It’s like spontaneous trick-or-treating of sorts, but you have no idea that this rude bunch was going to show up- and you are supposed to be Johnny-on-the-spot with some damned figgy pudding! Or maybe, it would better be called Martha-Stewart-on-the-spot! ( I’d doubt that even Martha would have figgy pudding whipped up, ready for carolers! And – I’d also bet, you don’t just show up ringing the bell at Martha’s house unannounced!) I can’t imagine too many of us would be ready to welcome a large group of strangers into our home unannounced and feed them dessert!
Where was Santa when the bullying was taking place?
Then of course, the one that really makes my blood boil. The ultimate “it’s OK to bully someone” song. Rudolph The Red Nose Raindeer. Rudolph, the poor little raindeer with the big red nose. This poor little guy is different from the other “kids” and gets teased, made fun of and ostracized from raindeer society.
The big guy in the red suit obviously knows this bullying is going on, and he doesn’t do anything to stop it either. But then- alas- when there is a USE for poor little Rudolph- he is called upon and becomes the hero of the raindeer hierarchy. Am I the only one who is pissed off by this little song? Come on- why didn’t anyone stick up for little Rudolph earlier in this little ditty? Fuck you Dasher and Dancer, Donder and Blitzen, and all your other little raindeer bully friends………And shame on you Santa and Mrs. Claus for letting the bullying happen in the first place.
How about Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Again, Creepy! He “Sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake.” This sounds more like Stalker Santa than not, in my book! Picture some fat old guy hovering about in your bedroom, looking over you when you are a small child asleep in your room. Uh………. no thanks! I’m not going there for just a few little presents under the tree Santa….. I have my standards!
Oh my goodness- another song that is very odd when you think it through. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. What’s it do to a little kid to see his slutty mommy screwing around under the same roof where daddy lives? What’s THAT say to a developing little psyche? Mommy is kissing AND tickling the chubby old guy, and this kids sneaks in and sees the whole scene! Right under the same roof where daddy was probably the sole breadwinner in those days! I have a feeling that once daddy gets told mommy is screwing around with another guy, this kid is going to find out it isn’t so “funny” after all!
The guy in this song just doesn’t get the word NO!
The REALLY creepy song? What I call the original “date rape” song. Baby It’s Cold Outside. This woman CLEARLY states numerous times she wants to leave, and he insists she stays.She says “I really must go, the answer is no.” Still he insists she stay- saying there are no cabs outside, because it’s cold! Whatever happened to that saying- “No means no?” Not only does he keep insisting she stay, but it sounds like he slipped a rufie into her drink! She says, “What’s in this drink?” CREEPY! CREEPY! Mr. Date Rape himself is the star of this little ballad!
“Say, WHAT’S in this drink? (Maybe a rufie?)
Santa Baby takes “gold digging” to a new standard! Work it sister, and get the old geezer to buy you diamonds, furs and cars! There is a GREAT standard to teach the kids! Money can’t buy you happiness, but using those womanly curves can get you the goods!
The list goes on and on…… this is just the tip of the Creepy Christmas Carol lyrics.
My last comment on Christmas Carols…….. I know I have a number of screws loose, but am I the only person who gets creeped out whenever Karen Carpenters songs come on? I don’t know WHAT it is, but the whole time she is singing my mind plays a constant loop of “dead woman singing.” I don’t think that when Whitney Houston songs come on, or Nat King Cole, or Bing Crosby- or any number of other artist who have gone on to the big gates in the sky….. but Karen Carpenter songs cause damage to my brain, because that is all I can think of……. Dead woman singing. I know, someone should have me committed…….. put away for a long time so I don’t do further damage to myself or those around me.
My mind tends to go to places the average Joe, or Josephine wouldn’t begin to imagine.
A little PS to this article…. Do you remember the song Grandma Got Run Over by a Raindeer? Well, check out the following YouTube link! It gives some real credibility to that song!
There is no doubting that in our lives, time passes, things change, people come and go from our lives. On my computer, my screensaver is a constantly changing round of all of the photos stored on my computer. I have never gone in and purged photos from the years past, so, undoubtedly, photos from past relationships show up, my children’s past relationships, sometimes family or friends who are no longer with us, or aren’t any longer a part of my life. My daughter has expressed shock that a picture of an old boyfriend of hers will pop up on my screen. “Mom, why do you still have THAT on your computer?” I’m sure there has been the occasional time my man has walked past my computer to see a picture pop up of me with one of my ex’s.
You may wonder why I don’t “purge” those photos from my computer. Time. Or lack of it may be one reason. However, even if I had the time to go through dozens of files of photos to take out those from past relationships, I probably wouldn’t do it.
This silly picture is me, my daughters, Alyse and KT. We went up to Long Beach, to see my sister who was visiting from Illinois. This was New Years Eve Day, and who could resist these glasses? (I still have 2 pairs!) It’s one of those memories of a great family day, filled with silliness!
Memories of Days Gone By
Each and every one of those photos are a part of me. Although a breakup happened, those photos typically represent a small snapshot of time, a time that I was enjoying the day, the person, the event. To purge those photos would be purging a happy memory. While a relationship, in “the whole” might not have worked, the day at the beach was a good one. The family trip may have been a special one. The wedding we attended was a beautiful day for the couple involved, even if that couple’s relationship- or mine- may not still be intact.
Seeing those pictures from years past often give me a brief spark of memory of what redeeming quality I did see in that person at the time, and make the “mistake” of the relationship a little less piercing.
And if you know me, you know I’m a bit vain, so seeing myself as I looked a few years back is a fun kick in the pants too! “Damn, I looked pretty darned good at that family party, I must say!” “What was I thinking wearing that Christmas sweater?” “Look how young the kids were there!” “That was such a fun vacation! I remember that we did (this or that) on that trip!”
Traces of Love… And Friends No Longer With Us
If you are old enough, you may remember the song, “Traces of Love”, which had the lines, “faded photographs, covered now with lines and creases, tickets torn in half, memories in bits and pieces…traces of love, long ago, that didn’t work out right….. traces of love with me, tonight.” Our digital photos no longer fade and crease, but our memories often do. The constant replaying of those photos helps me to remember those days, those moments and those memories.
I love the feeling of looking at my computer, and chuckling over a particularly silly time, or feeling that little “tug” on my heartstrings when a photo of a friend who is no longer with us pops up.
My lovely friend, Sharon Freed. So gorgeous, so much fun! When we worked together, we would laugh so hard our stomachs would hurt. Gone too fast, and too young. When this picture pops up, although I look like a complete DORK in this picture, seeing my friend makes me smile every time! Yes, it’s bittersweet, but memories of our times together are nothing BUT sweet!
Life’s “Before” and “Afters”
I have photos of the first home I purchased as a single woman, about 5 years ago. At the time, I had recently come out of a marriage to a financially reckless man who left my finances devastated, my credit score well below 500, and no credit cards to my name. The ability to purchase this home was totally unexpected- kind of kismet, you might say. So, as I remodeled this home, doing vast amounts of the work with my own two (manicured) hands, not only did I build myself a new “home”- I was in the process of building a new life. Reinventing myself, and reinventing this dated mobile home into something I was proud of. I can remember the nights I worked at that house until 2 or 3 am getting it ready to move into. I loved that home, I shared it with numerous friends, having many events there. The sweat equity I built into that home became a springboard to purchase my second home as a single woman, the home I currently live in.
This was the “before” of my bedroom at the home I redecorated.
Here is the same bedroom after I worked on the house.
Looking at those photos when they randomly pop up- whether it is one of the “before” photos of a dated, worn out kitchen, or the unpainted 1970’s dingy, dark paneling, or the “after” pictures of the fabulous 1940’s style black, white and crystal bathroom I created, I feel a great sense of accomplishment for having made my way through what could have been a dark time.
Here was the kitchen when I took possession of the house. Yes, all of this junk was left for me!
Here is the after on the same kitchen. I LOVED that kitchen! I did it on a shoestring- pulling out the old cabinets myself, re-using the stove, and getting a refrigerator free from a friend! This picture wasn’t taken ‘staged’- so ignore the stuff on the countertops! You’ve got to remember, many of these photos were taken for “memory’s sake.” I had no idea I’d have a blog where I was sharing them!
There is no rhyme or reason to the order my photos from my past show up. Some pictures will have rotated 20 times through my screen, when others don’t seem to appear for months, but whatever is on my screen, there is ALWAYS a memory sparked. Often a smile. Sometimes a shake of the head and an eye roll, along with “What the hell was I thinking.” But no matter what the reaction, I know that what I am seeing is a snapshot of my past. And every one of them add up to having made me the woman I am today. The unique me that I am. Every one of them is a treasure to me, and to my ever fading memories of my past. Will I clear out those photos of my ex, my daughter’s ex, even the “friend” who might have turned out NOT to be such a great friend? Probably not. Because every one of the memories that pop up before my eyes are there for a reason.
My darling grand daughter Nell and me at Disneyland. We were attending the “Princess Lunch” and you can see she was thrilled! (So was I, obviously, because I was wearing a tiara….. Once the Queen, always the Queen, and don’t you forget it!) Nell is 10 now, and she was only 4 here!
Really Wayne? Is this the best you’ve got for those people who have been your fans for years? Where is the funny guy, the friendly guy, the personable guy we all think of when we see Wayne Brady? I just have to ask!
Last weekend, my daughter Alyse, her friend Liza and myself took the hike up to LA to be on Let’s Make a Deal.
Now, if you know me, I’m ALL about putting together costumes! I have, literally, dozens and dozens of costumes in totes in the top of my closet. If you can think it up, I probably have a costume for it.
Your’s truly, my daughter Alyse, and her friend Liza. We are pretty damned glamorous, you have to admit! 🙂
We decided to go as the Three Blind Mice. When I do a costume, I do it up to the last detail. We had mouse tummies, mouse ears, mouse bow-ties, mouse tails, mouse “canes”, sunglasses. Sayings printed on the back of our costumes, and great 2 sided signs, with oh-so-clever sayings…….. If that doesn’t get you chosen for Let’s Make a Deal, what would, right?
The Wait Begins………
So, if you’ve never been to one of the TV game shows, let me tell you, this is a LONG and drawn out affair! It starts with the reservation to go up there, then when you get there, you stand in line to prove you are supposed to be in the audience. You have to show your reservation and your ID. Then you go through a security check and metal detector…….. after that the wait starts.
Waiting in the line that seemed to take forever. But we kept the “perfect contestant” smiles plastered on our little mouse faces!
You are handed a clipboard, with about 8 pages of small print. You fill that in and wait. And wait. And wait. There are various people you connect with to get your ID scanned, paperwork checked out, nametags, numbers, blah, blah, blah…….
We were aware that they are checking you out the whole time to see if you are “fun material” for TV, so we kept the fun-a-coming….. the happy attitudes in check and the cuteness factor just oozing from our bodies for every damned minute…… hour (and seemingly day and week).
The thing that amazed me was the amount of people who come into this process WITH NO COSTUME! Yep! You can rent them there. Now, silly me….. the way I would do this thing would be to look at who really made an effort at a costume, made it fun, made it creative — and they would be at the top of the “people to choose” list. Evidently, not so, as you will soon see!
Don’t get too excited about this picture. This is just a “fakey” they do in front of a blue screen! Your phone is confiscated AGES before you get to the studio. We were actually sitting behind where my left ear was when we were in the audience.
At the end of the long and tedious line, you are pulled off into a little section at the end of the room with about 20 people, where one of the producers goes around, asks your name, what you do, etc…….. then into the holding tank you go, with all of those who are going to be on the show that day.
You’d think they might give you a clue, such as, “The bus to the studio will be boarding approximately “blah-blah” time, or “15 minutes after the last contestants get through their interview” or “when hell freezes over” or “when you die of old age” or “once Bettie White is no longer the most popular female in the US.” Uh, no. No hint. You are a bit scared to go off to the potty, because it’s out the door, down and around the building, and up on a trailer full of porta’ potties. (Seriously? They can’t even give you a REAL bathroom here at the Let’s Make a Deal holding pen? Let me tell you, on a day that hovered in the 80’s with more damn humidity than is legal in Cali’- this was not a pleasant experience.) So, you don’t know if they might call everyone while you are porta’ pottying it, and you might miss the whole damn show! And, when you are one of the 3 Blind Mice, you miss it, and the rest of the gang is also kinda’ shit outta’ luck for their costume ensemble…..
A little information for the masses would be nice you execs in charge of Let’s Make a Deal. Just sayin!
Me and Liza. (BTW- might know that out of hundreds of people, I’d get assigned contestant number 69! Just sayin’!)
So, it’s once you are put into the “holding pen” that those who need to can rent a costume. These aren’t great costumes. Not by any stretch. A lot of “Hawaiian Shirt and plastic lei” type of stuff. Santa and Santa’s helper. With “Santa” consisting of the Santa top & hat, no beard, no Santa pants or boots…… Very basic, not-a-real-costume type of costume…
And the wait goes on…..and on….. and on……
We kept up our happy-as-fuck little effervescent attitudes, however, because we KNEW we were being judged each and every moment. Once 3 separate people gave us our marching orders (all 3 speeches were basically the same, BTW!) We were told that, indeed, we were being watched moment by moment, both now and throughout the show, until the very last moment, and we needed to keep our enthusiasm til the end, act excited if we won a prize, even if we hated it more than our mother-in-law, don’t touch Wayne Brady in any way, unless he gave explicit consent, and don’t chew gum…… we finally were herded into buses to go to the studio.
Upon getting to the studio, we were then herded into a sort of hallway to sit until further notice. Again, a bit of information would be nice. Information such as how long we might be there, if/when and where we could go to the bathroom, etc. Of course, the moment my daughter wandered off to the bathroom they started us moving inside, giving the other 2 members of the “blind mice” ensemble a moment of panic.
It might be nice before they DO herd you into the studio to tell you you WON’T be able to get a drink of water, or go to the bathroom for the next 2 hours or more……… HOLY GOD, is that too much to ask? Heads up here people, do what you have to do, and you have this much time to do it in……… NOPE!
Then the fun, and the disappointment begins.
Once they seat us in the studio, there is yet another speech (#4 for those of you who have stopped counting). This speech reiterates the same content which was gone over repeatedly before boarding the bus. I DO fully understand, that some of the people in said audience are not rocket scientist….. but SERIOUSLY? This isn’t LIVE TV, and if someone really F’s up, they CAN edit it out……
“His Royal Highness” Arrives!
Then “his highness” arrives on the set. We are all prepared for the moment. When Wayne Brady enters, the first person he calls up is a gal who isn’t even IN a costume. SERIOUSLY? WTF? She was cute, and did win a motorcycle, so we were all pleased for her. When it’s time for a commercial break, Wayne strolls out, no interaction in ANY WAY with the audience. Not a wave, not a smile, not a joke, nothing! We, however, stand up and, as Liza put it, “dance like monkeys” the whole commercial break, because that’s how they told us they choose people for the segments. It was like rinse, and repeat for the rest of the taping of the show. Almost everyone chosen for the show was- are you ready?…… wearing one of the IDIOTIC RENTAL COSTUMES!
Closeup of Alyse and Liza. Once you are on the show, your contestant number comes off.
There was one costume that was UBER popular in the audience. This was a hat type device which looked like a milk carton, and your face became the face on the milk carton. There were at least 7 people in the audience with that clever $5.00 costume. There were 3 “rainbow unicorns.” 90% of the costumes were easy-peasy purchased costumes We had the only hand held signs in the whole audience. No notice of that! We had accessories! We had cuteness! We had creativity! All that, on top of our sparkling personalities the whole frickin’ day! And none of us were called!
There was one gal in our “group” who did get called up front. We were so happy for her! She was a kind of Sandra Bullock look-alike, and very friendly. Her costume was a slot machine, and she had personalized it with Wayne Brady phrases on it. Alyse called it early on that she would get chosen, and we were excited to see her do well.
Wayne Brady……. Not So Much……
But the worst part of the experience? Wayne Brady. Wayne Brady and his lack of interaction with anyone in the audience. He didn’t actually even ACKNOWLEDGE us in any way shape or form! Other than 2 funny bits he did while the camera was rolling with guys on stage and in the audience, none of us existed. We were simple “props”, and not worthwhile human beings.
Like mother, like daughter. Even as blind mice we look similar! Turns out, Wayne Brady is kind of a dirty rat. At least, not a very friendly one, as it turns out!
Wayne, Wayne, Wayne……. I’ve loved you since I saw the first Who’s Line is it Anyway…. but I’ll never feel the same about you. Bummer! I don’t think a bit of kindness to the people in the audience would have been too much to ask from you. Wayne actually came right in front of us in the audience, to get to the woman they were choosing for “the big deal”. No eye contact, not a hello, not a hi five…… in fact, I don’t think he knew we were humans he raced in front of.
Wayne, you pompous little ass! You hadn’t been standing in line all day. You hadn’t been in the holding pen for hours. I’m pretty damned sure YOU hadn’t missed lunch. You weren’t dying of thirst and needing a bathroom. Would a little hand wave, a few hugs, maybe a little joke or two have killed you? What’s the deal, Wayne? Did you forget the people who put in in front making the big bucks? Our relationship is officially over now you chump! I’m embarrassed for you and your lack of simple kindness and compassion to the people who came to see you. Nice suit, by the way.