I held the elevator door

What I saw: two guys, Broseph and Chad. Broseph filled the opening of the elevator door like a tank-top-wearing storm cloud, blocking the light from the sun. Chad blew in behind him, dressed in an American flag-striped polo, almost as big but pinker, because of the acne he was too old for.

What I did beforehand: flew to Florida, had dinner alone, wandered the forlorn aisles of the next-door liquor store, ducked a clerk watching a telenovela set in ancient plastic Egypt who called out to me repeatedly asking if I needed help finding anything. It wasn’t until I was driving home that it occurred to me I might have asked her about finding an amateur-friendly horse, under ten years old, nice enough to show in the dressage ring. Or better, why are we here, any of us? I should have asked her that.

IMG_2162What I wore: black suede Pumas, capri-length jeans, black tee shirt, scowl

Where I sat: the exit row

Who went with me: pocket friends

How I got tickets: a couple of weeks ago I saw an ad for a horse and contacted the sales agent about it. Within hours of my booking a trip to try it, I got two messages from friends saying, “Ooh! Look at this one!” and suggesting I go try it. It seemed fortuitous.

What it is: dressage horse shopping these days has become like an obscure subculture of internet dating, and is facilitated by an open Facebook group. You read ads, look at videos, show them to your trainer and friends, saying, “Ooh! Look at this one!” You talk to people on the phone, and sometimes even fly to other cities on the chance that they’ve got the horse you’re looking for. You wonder if you’re crazy. You hope you’re going to be safe. I tried horses on one previous trip that I couldn’t really steer and on another trip, a horse that wouldn’t stop. The people I’ve met doing this have been extremely pleasant and nice and as open to the weirdness of some random, unknown person showing up to ride their horse as I have had to be to the weirdness of riding some random, unknown horse.


Things that were not funny: a group of construction workers crossed my path as they passed from the pool deck to the interior of the hotel. I was dressed in riding clothes, and more than one of them felt it would be ok to make “appreciative” hissing noises about me.

Things that were sad: dinner alone next to the mating turtle salt-and-pepper shakers at a strip mall Thai restaurant.


Things that were funny: trying to convince the owner of the Thai restaurant to make my food spicy enough.

Something I ate: massaman curry that was actually spicy enough


What about the horse: that story is to come.


What happened on the elevator: when Broseph and Chad stepped onto the elevator with me, they thought I was holding the door open for them. Really I was pressing the button for my floor. So they thanked me, and I said, “Sure.”

Then the door closed, revealing a big ad for the hotel chain we were in, with the word “selfie” and a dog wearing sunglasses. I said, “You know, a dog can’t really take a selfie. No thumbs.”

Chad agreed. “I know, right?” said he, adding, “It’s like anything can be anything these days.”

As I stepped off the elevator, I threw in, “I mean….Look who’s president.”


My husband is said to be the funniest man in his whole family, but all of his siblings are doctors in rather unfunny specialties, so how funny is that? Also, he really gets annoyed when I explain something he did by saying, “He’s the funniest man in his whole family.”
The perfect selfie: 
taken while sitting on the toilet on an airplane
Whether I am funny is a question I find hard to answer. I said I was funny on the first day of my writing class at the New School about a year ago, and my writing teacher asked me to clarify. “Oh, you’re funny?” she asked.
“No,” I replied, trying to be funny.
It wasn’t funny.
There are several ways to measure funny, like if you get a laugh, or even if you get a snort or a smirk or a smile. On Twitter you might get favorite stars or retweets. On Facebook you get “likes.” Sometimes west coast audiences clap for good jokes, instead of laughing.
When I used to teach night classes at the University of Utah, sometimes I had as many as 110 students. Ok, they didn’t all show up all the time, but I used to like to say that if you’re a math teacher and you can get a laugh in a room full of bored undergrads, you feel like you’re Johnny Carson.
Should I say Ellen DeGeneres now? Louis C.K.? Tina Fey? Back then, it felt like Johnny Carson. It was the 80s, you know.
Anyway, I was at a fancy party with the Bacon Provider, and while he was fetching drinks and tiny plates of hors d’oeuvres I found myself talking to a suit-wearing finance guy from a large media company. I have no memory of what I was talking about. Sometimes I just talk. I can do it without thinking. I can talk about dogs or cats or horses or children, about St. Louis or pure mathematics or Seattle, about figure skating parents or ultimate Frisbee, or Twitter or non-profit and governmental accounting, about skiing in the 1970s. I have stories from my childhood about crows, imaginary friends, and not eating mixtures of foods. I tell stories about being a math teacher. It could have been any of these, or something else.
As the Bacon Provider walked away for more drinks, the suit-wearing finance guy from a large media company said, “I know your husband, and he’s a nice guy and all, but you, you’re really funny.”
I probably smiled and nodded, with my eyebrows all the way up.
“No,” he continued, “really funny.”
Now. At the time I took it as an awkward moment at a party. But sometimes on Twitter I get mistaken for a guy. Not because I get called “Bro,” or “Dude,” because my kids and former students did that. Because I get wished a Happy Father’s Day. I keep my avi the same: a cartoon monster drawn a long time ago by my youngest child. I tweet about stuff I’m interested in. Some people can’t tell my gender from that. I’m A-OK if people don’t know my gender.
Really, I find it amusing, as I do almost everything. I think if you can’t find life funny you’re fucked.
There is another kind of funny, like funny meaning odd. I have the strangest feeling that I’ve written this essay before. That’s a funny feeling. Funny meaning odd.
My writing teacher pointed at me a few months ago and indicated that she wanted me to read next. “You,” she said, forgetting my name. “You, with the funny hair.”
Why do I get to be congratulated for being funny? Is it because I’m known to be unemployed? Is it because I’m a middle-aged-mom-type?  Is it because women aren’t thought to be funny?
Last Tuesday, I tried to tell the story of being told I’m funny at a fancy party by a suit-wearing finance guy from a large media company, and while the details seemed amusing to the person I told it to, he clearly didn’t get it.  Why would he? He’s a smart guy, good at his job, a dad, and a serious person. He’s a suit-wearing finance guy himself.
Maybe it’s because my stories never have a point.