Sunday, March 13, 2011

Goin' Out To Da Club...In a Mall?

In case anyone was wondering how I spent my Friday night, I went to a club.


I was with a friend from out of town and she wanted to go over to the next county to hang out with her cousin. She was driving, so I really had no reason to say no. When they said we were going to a club, I was like, "Dancing is sorta my thing, so as long as there is good music, I’m there." We drove to another town (I had a bit of a tour of Ventura County that night) and as we are turning into the Westfield parking lot, I ask, “Is the club in the mall?” The way our driver answered “yes” like it was a totally normal thing was just the beginning.

Now, to anyone who doesn’t live in a big city (or even a medium sized one), perhaps this isn’t strange. But to those of us who live places where going to the mall means you are either shopping, loading up on junk food, or going to a movie (or doing all three), clubbing is not usually considered a mall activity. Sure, there might be a restaurant or lounge outside the mall where people go to unwind, but I have never in my life seen a CLUB in a MALL.

Not to say that it was all negative. There was ample free parking in the parking structure and there was not a line at the door. No cover was a pleasant surprise, but then I remembered that I was at a club in a mall, so if there had been a cover, I would have gone to a movie instead. (Oh yeah, club right across from the movie theater. Fantastic.) I was a little unnerved by the fact that they weren’t even half-heartedly checking purses for weapons, though. If only I knew, I would have brought my gun, my knife, and all my drugs and really partied. (Please recognize the sarcasm.) I had to remind myself that I was in suburbia, not Hollywood, therefore this place was not prepared for any problems. The steroid patrol that was their security was slightly comforting. Except they were all shorter than me and tattooed with possibly racist meanings (Me: I think that security guard has a swastika on his neck. Friend: Well maybe it's the Hindu one. Me: Ummm, a white guy, roided out. Somehow I doubt it.) However, the best part came when I went to the bar.

After asking for a Long Island (a go-to at a club. It’s like two drinks for the price of one), the bartender asks, “Do you want a small or a large?”

Wait, I have size options?! I can have a small or a large cocktail?! Where am I?! McDonalds with liquor? I then thought it might be like Vegas, where, yes, you can get a large, but it’s $20. Nope, it was $11 for 24 oz. To put it into perspective, that’s a VENTI-sized Long Island Iced Tea. In a club, $11 is a good price for a regular cocktail, let alone a large one. Needless to say, I was totally sold.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t sold on the rest of the club in the mall. In addition to the Justin Bieber hair (on more than one guy, plus what looked like a girl but may have been an overly effeminate man) and the outfits that even 1999 doesn’t want back, the DJ was horrible. I have heard my fair share of horrible DJs, but this one couldn’t pick a song, and when he did, it was not the actual song. He mixed it with another song that, for the most part, didn’t match. I’m sorry, but “Back that Ass Up” is already a good dance song. Adding a techno beat behind it completely ruins the song. And playing Journey is never ok, but when it is turned into a dance song with a beat that doesn't even remotely keep time with the lyrics, that's just failing. Miserably. There’s a reason he’s a DJ at a club in a mall. I think this might be what DJs would call “rock bottom.”

Although, much of the crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves, so I may be judging just a little too harshly.

But it might be that these poor people living in the sticks just don’t know any better, so they are blissfully enjoying their ignorance.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Doing Something Nice for the Children

Anyone who knows me knows that I consider my time precious. Granted, I spend most of it either asleep or doing something most people would judge as wasteful, but in that respect, I agree with John Lenon, who said, “Time you enjoyed wasting, was not wasted.” In other words, it’s only wasted time if you didn’t have fun wasting it. And I have plenty of fun!

So where am I going with this?

I work at Starbucks and part of their whole mission is to be involved in the community. There are always projects going on and ways for us to help out, but I tend to either ignore these things, or just flat out not want to do them. I am not a tree-planter, house-painter, garden-hoer, or homeless-feeder. So, when my manager informed me that part of my development in moving up with the company was getting involved in my community, I got nervous.

What was I, a woman afraid of bugs and birds who calls transients “hobos” and would win the award for “Most Likely to Kill Someone Accidently with a Gardening Tool Because She is Incredibly Klutzy,” going to do in my community? I sat down with my manager and hashed out the things I could do and what I was actually willing to do. Aside from the manual labor and pretending like I don’t get uncomfortable around the homeless, there was one major category left: children.

Now, I’m not what most people would describe as “kid” person. This is mostly because I always have something sarcastic and judgmental to say when it comes to children, but really, I don’t mind them. So, after some thinking and very little organizing, one of my regulars mentioned that some of the teachers at her school needed some readers for “Read Across America,” an annual event that focuses on the importance of reading. I got a few of my fellow Starbucks partners together, we put on our finest pajamas (it was Pajama Day at school), and we headed off to read to some kids.

The first classroom I went to was first grade. I read a book called “Gerald McBoing Boing” (Yes, I am aware that the one book I picked up was the one that could easily be turned into a euphemism for something wildly inappropriate for children.) I don’t do voices, but since this book has a few sound effects, I had some fun with it. Afterwards, the teacher let the kids as me some questions, one of which was “I had a Dr. Suess pajama party last year?” I didn’t know what to say, so I just said “Oh that’s nice.”

The second classroom was kindergarten and, I have to say, they were adorable. They sat still through the story and, while that teacher wouldn’t let them ask questions, they did have a few things to say, such as “You’re pretty” and “You have nice hair.” It’s amazing how little kids know just what to say to make your day!

The other readers had a lot of fun too, reading to all ages from kindergarten through 3rd grade. Some of them even got forms to go back and volunteer more often, while another offered to donate some books.

Overall, I have to say that taking an hour to read to some kids wasn’t the worst way for me to spend an hour. While I might not be volunteering on a daily basis, it was nice to go and do something that had very little benefit for me.

Plus, I managed not to curse or say anything inappropriate to the 5 and 6 year olds, so I would call that a success.