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Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

When I travel I like to look for practical things that I can use at home. Souvenirs that are not really dust collectors but serve a purpose, like CDs featuring local music, articles of clothing, jewelry and household items.

During my most recent trip to Istanbul, in addition to some very fine silk and pashmina scarves, I acquired a few things that surprised even me.

A flirtatious cab driver fascinated by my hair and eye color offered to be my guide of the city for free. And while I thanked him for his generous offer, I said my negotiated taxi fare to the Blue Mosque would be more than enough.

As the traffic lagged we fell into a conversation that quickly turned personal. I didn’t especially like the direction it was taking but I decided to turn the conversation to my advantage.

I talked freely and elaborately about my three children and my schoolteacher husband.

“Three children!”

I just smiled back. It was fun to imagine having three kids (two boys and a girl) and of course a perfect husband. The mental picture I had drawn was right out of an LL Bean catalogue – it was too good to be true. Perhaps somewhere in a parallel universe, I thought, it was true.

But for now, in this universe, I had to leave them in Turkey.

photo: © istockphoto.com/skynesher

Instant Family!

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Temptation is on every street corner in Paris.

The smell of freshly baked, buttery croissants greets me every morning as I walk past the boulangerie on my way to early morning meetings. Aaah, you can’t start the day without breakfast, I think. And where better to have croissants than in …

The colorful macaroons of the patisserie catch my eye after lunch. Oooh, but they’re small, I think. Maybe…

The temptation to order a glass of wine with lunch. Everyone drinks wine in …

In Paris, it’s very easy for the pounds to sneak up on you if you’re not careful. But I forego all of this and not because of my extraordinary willpower. It’s because in the midst of all of this sweet seduction lives an even sweeter one – a lingerie boutique called Etam.

For some women, it’s shoes. For others, it’s chocolate or the latest fashions hot off the runway. For me, it’s always been two things: lingerie and hats. It seems I can’t pass a boutique without buying a little something of one or the other. And if it’s lingerie, it’s always a “little” something.

And so, the incentive to be careful with calories is built into just about every trip. It’s a lot easier with hats though – especially berets – they look good on everyone, and it doesn’t matter what size your head is.

Skimpy underthings, even if I’m the only one who sees them, still have to look good. And believe me, when it comes to things that look good on me, I’m not a perfectionist. It just has to look good enough to make me feel good.

What does good enough constitute? The right cut, the right color and the right fit. Et voila!

Real women have curves, and I happen to like my curves, even if they’re sometimes a bit rebellious. I’ve made peace with my pooch years ago.

Today, I purchased a navy blue body-hugging nightie with a lace panel bra. Not only was the dark color slimming, it was also very flattering. Navy is a color that most people can wear well. It’s neutral and gives you a break from all that black.

The cut and the lycra of this one made it cling in all of the right places. When I put it on, it felt clingy but oh so comfortable.

A lace bra and panty set in the same navy color and with the same relaxed fit, made me feel so sexy that I bought it and another one in hot pink. Color can enhance as well as distract. It’s the overall picture, the sum of my parts that I see and not little defects. And I just feel pretty in pink.

Slip into something comfortable

Today’s purchases made me remember my friend Angela. She said that whenever she had an important meeting with big clients she always wore her “power underwear,” which consisted of a red bra and panties. Only Angela knew she was wearing them. Together they constituted a secret weapon that made her feel powerful.

Thinking of her makes me think of all of my female friends who keep their sexy lingerie in a drawer, tucked away waiting for some special occasion, usually linked to the nascent days of a new relationship, until cold winters and habit sets in. In the end, they forget their treasure troves of satin and lace trimmings that could make them feel good underneath it all, whether with some one or alone.

I think of them and catch a glimpse of myself and my new lingerie in the mirror, and I think. “Not bad. Not bad at all.”

And that’s why I do it. That’s why we should all do it.

Let’s face it. While it’s nice to dress or undress for a man, they really don’t care what you have on as long as it’s easy to take it off. Many is the time that I’ve barely made an entrance in a stunning something before it’s in a puddle of satin folds on the floor. “But my…” I stammer in amazed confusion. To which he responds in words made famous by Joe Cocker, “Baby, you can leave your hat on.

Hat be damned!

*Original illustration by Helen Samson for Cafe Girl Books. http://www.samson-design.ca

 

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During the course of my promotional year for my book, Any Color but Beige, (I’m nearly three quarters of the way through now), I’ve been invited to speak to a lot of book clubs. And of all of my promotional activities, apart from my book launch, this has been the most fun.

Media interviews are sometimes nerve racking. Public speaking can be a bit impersonal because of the distance between me and my audience. Book signings can be a little intimidating; you sit front and center in a bookstore waiting for your reading public to arrive and snap up your book.

Book Signing at the Twig in San Antonio

But participating in a book club discussion is like having a night out with a whole new set of (café) girlfriends. And because they don’t know me I’m always surprised by the type of comments, questions and suggestions.

 Comments

Like the night I arrived early and introduced myself to the hostess, who was warm, friendly and very welcoming and who said, “You know, I thought you’d be taller.”

I had to laugh. Actually she’s not the first person to say that. In business situations, where I’m meeting someone for the first time after just talking to them on the phone, the “tall comment” is a common reaction. My tall sister, Beth, likes to tease me with, “you must sound tall on the phone.”

How does one sound tall, I wondered? And, how else do I sound?

Well I found the answer to that one just a few days ago on a recent business trip to South Africa. The new client I was meeting for the first time said to me, “I knew you’d be a redhead, and I knew you’d be wearing something bright and warm like red.”

She was right on both accounts. She had even remarked to her boss that this is what she had expected Cat Larose to look like. It’s no wonder he had a bit of a startled expression on his face when we met; it was like he already knew me.

As for me, I’m terrible when it comes to predicting what someone will look like from the sound of their voice. Or what they do by the way  people carry themselves – in this digitally connected world I find people “show better” digitally than in real life where you can’t edit your attitude with a keystroke

My dentist’s receptionist surprised me one day as she assigned me a very “professional” attitude. After ten years of biannual appointments and polite banter,  I finally mentioned what I do for a living during my last visit. She stared at me wide-eyed. And then she said, “You know, I always thought you were a doctor!” I love these kinds of comments because they make me laugh – at myself. And it’s so important not to take yourself or life so seriously all the time.

Many of comments about the book make me laugh too, but all are very gratifying. I’d like to share some of them here with you.

I really enjoyed the humour of the book and the positivism it radiates… An Eat Pray Love meets Sex and the City, with the shopping replaced by color, and Mr. Big by a plane ticket

It made me reflect on my own life, my own writing, and where I’m coming from. You have the power to connect with your readers, you can touch people…even change the life of your readers…that is something really special.

I marked many pages and underlined things to re-read over and over and over. My favorite lines so far are:

• It’s easier to let go of something you don’t want to keep.
• It’s about how you feel and not about how someone else makes you feel.
• The only man worth crying over was a dead one. That’s a real loss. Anything else is a blessing.
• I want to be deliberate in your life.

I love the way you write and I enjoyed hearing your voice as I read it. It was a fast read because I just didn’t want to put it down and on the flip side, I didn’t want it to end. Thanks for sharing your adventures and hilarious experiences with all of us. It was so much fun to read a happy book. I’m really proud of you for having the courage, gumption and commitment to share your life.

At my hometown book club gathering with Freya (left) and Kathy (right).

 Questions

The most common question I get when people do read about my life is, “Are you going to write a screenplay, and who would play you?”

You now know the answer to the first question, and that answer is yes. It’s time to try something new. The answer to the second question is not so easy and so I throw it back at my readers. Who do you think could capture the essence of Cat?

Suggestions

Book club readers have told me they’d like to see a second book involving lots of travel and of course a little romance. All I can say to that is if my recent travel schedule is any indication: Germany, Holland, France and South Africa – I’m well on my way to collecting lots more new travel stories. As for the romance, we’ll just have to wait and see.

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I don’t know how she did it, but the amazing Tilda managed to remove the rhinestone! As the descendant of superstitious Italian and Irish grandparents, I wonder if removing the rhinestone will be a self-fulfilling prophecy, which means I might have just lost my good luck. Sometimes just saying something makes it so. However, like most things in life, it all depends on your perspective. So I consider myself lucky she was able to remove it without damaging the dresser.  Now let’s see if some of that luck rubs off in Vegas!

photo: © istockphoto.com/Twoellis

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Like most women I know, I am self-reliant, independent and opinionated. These are three characteristics that scare the heck out of most men my age.

I’m not a rabid feminist. If you must label me at all, call me a pragmatist. When I’m alone I open my own doors, slay my own dragons and gladly make my way in this world on my own terms. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy having a man hold the door open for me, stand when I enter a room, schlep my luggage, make me dinner or tuck me in at night. I do!  And lest the guys out there think it’s all one sided, I reciprocate!

It’s just that if there aren’t any readily available men in the vicinity – well a girl’s gotta do what girl’s gotta do.

Take this most recent trip for example. The last things to go into my suitcase are my accessories, like the colorful costume jewelry I wear to dress up an outfit. As I was packing this week, I noticed that my red rhinestone bracelet was missing a few stones. Luckily, I found the missing stones in the bottom of my jewelry box and got out the Krazy Glue.

As I was in a hurry, I performed the delicate operation on the top of my highboy dresser, standing on tippy toes and using my fingers – which narrowly escaped the fate of Siamese twins by a fraction of a second. I recalled hearing about people who glue their body parts to objects − or other body parts − then have to go to the hospital to get unstuck.

“What kind of crazy idiot does that?” I asked aloud.

I looked at my reflection in the mirror, said, “This crazy idiot.”

One rhinestone fell out of its setting, but I didn’t see it until it was too late. A little red rhinestone was solidly glued to the top of my dresser and nothing I could do would remove it, short of ruining the veneer. I tried nail polish remover and olive oil. Oh, I don’t know!  It was all I could think of at that moment. And with a taxi on its way, time was running out.

Now, I’m certain that a man would have thought of some way of removing the rhinestone without damaging the furniture. He’d figure it out just like the way he assembles barbeques, changes leaky washers in the faucet, sets up new stereo systems fully integrated with the TV, the computer and microwave so that we can watch movies and eat popcorn all at the same time.

I didn’t brood for long because I had a bigger problem: Tilda. What would my Portuguese cleaning lady do when she came later that week? She’d be dusting the dresser, see the rhinestone and try to pick it up. It wouldn’t budge. She’d pull, and push, and prod it as I did without effect. She’d apply cleaners and other concoctions as I did and still nothing.

With more time than I had and dogged determination, she might try more radical means until she perhaps would go too far and ruin the finish. Then, she’d be so overwrought with guilt and remorse for having ruined a cheap veneer finish that she’d probably have a heart attack right on the spot. And not only would I have a rhinestone stuck to my dresser, I would have killed my cleaning lady.

The clock was still ticking. I was sure the taxi had already pulled up to my apartment building.

What to do?

Oh, the pressure. Why hadn’t I performed the delicate jewelry repair with tweezers and at the table where I could see what I was doing?

So I did what any self-reliant, independent and opinionated woman in my position would do: I put a Post-it note next to the rhinestone:

Tilda,

Please do not remove the rhinestone. I put it there for good luck.   Obrigada (Thank you)

Well what else could I write? A Post-it note wasn’t big enough to explain the ridiculousness of the situation in which I now found myself. Besides I knew Tilda to be superstitious like most southern Europeans and all Irishmen.

Next, I phoned a girlfriend because I really wanted to share a laugh even if it was at my expense. Only she didn’t laugh. She took the situation very seriously and came up with the following suggestion, “Cat what a great opportunity. When you come back you go right out and buy some more rhinestones and turn that red rhinestone into a starting point for something beautiful and unique.”

Her unique approach and imaginative answer made me realize that while there are some days I miss having a man around – this wasn’t one of them.

photo: © istockphoto.com/Yuri_Arcurs

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When I mention to people that my book launch was the best night of my life, reactions vary from agreement to doubt. It’s interestingto note that only the men appear to doubt my claim. I find this puzzling because, given the differences between the sexes; I would have thought men would just get it. So this reaction surprised me.

Oh yeah?

Men, who by their very nature, are competitive beings, have played some sort of sport at least once in their lives or have “lived” an extraordinary moment: a game-saving tackle on the goal line, a home run in the bottom of the ninth, or a three pointer at the buzzer. Or maybe it was closing a million dollar deal, landing a new account, or cashing out a winner in poker. Whatever the event, it will go down in their memories as probably the best “moment” of their lives.

So why is it so hard for men to make the leap from pitch, playing field or boardroom, where the glad-handing and back-slapping of buddies is commonplace and where solo efforts of prowess are lauded, to the softer side of life where creation and not competition reigns supreme.

The cynic in me postulates that any achievement not involving at least the advice or counsel of a man is somehow lacking. How could she have done it without me? How dare she do it without me? It can’t possibly be the best without me. This last one may have a slight sexual undertone depending on whom I’m talking to. Wink, wink, nod, nod.

But the explanation is quite simple once I juxtapose it for them against a bigger picture –the marathon race we all run called “life.” People come and go and add and subtract from our lives (hopefully they add more than they subtract). And the memories created “a deux” can sometimes be tainted with sadness, despair and regret, should things end badly.

Our memorable solo moments, days, nights or seasons are the best because we own them. We are the sole architect of those pieces of happiness, achievement or glory. A moment, day or, in my case, night, is something, not even time, can take from us, nor memory taint. Savor them!

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/Ulvestad

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Everything was ready, and well in advance. I had booked the caterer, selected the menu, purchased an assortment of wines (sparkling, red, white) picked the mood music, Pink Martini, and organized a surprise salsa lesson for my 45 guests. I had found the perfect dress – red of course. And the shoes? We’ll they’re the same shoes that appear on the cover of my book.

And then friends and family stepped in and took over. My friend Nadia, who has managed more than once to put a roof over my head, organized and decorated a beautiful venue. Nadia is a sculptor with a great eye for color, aesthetics and proportion so the room was awash in color – everything from the table cloths and cocktail napkins to the center pieces and the flowers.

My sister, Margaret Mary, with the precision skills that come with being a mother of four, ran a flawless event. She did everything from welcoming guests and selling books to giving direction to the people who staffed the event.

Pierre, who is an artist when it comes to taking candid pictures, created a digital photo album that captures everyone at his or her best.

Giacomo stepped in and set up an extraordinary bar as his gift to me. He engaged the services of a magical mixologist, Thomas, who conjured up a “Café Girl Martini” to commemorate the occasion. (I didn’t drink anything during the event – my adrenaline didn’t need any outside stimulation – but I’m told that once everyone left I had three martinis in rapid succession as well as my own bottle of Prosecco).

All I had to do was show up. And thanks to them, that’s exactly what I did.

Technically the event was a book launch, but the reality is that it was a party for my friends and family – for all those people that I love who supported me through the entire process. Some friends traveled great distances to be there and others who couldn’t make it sent flowers. It was a celebration of friendship. I was happy to bask in their unabashed pride in my efforts. Authors get a lot compliments and criticism about their work  but words I will prize most are those five little words that I heard from family, friends and even colleagues – “I’m so proud of you.”

It was a night of eating, drinking, dancing and the great conversation that only happens when friends are reunited to celebrate a happy occasion. They all waited patiently as I signed the books they bought – I wanted to give them away but they insisted on buying them. I  wrote a special message in each one.

Later I remarked to my mom, who couldn’t be there, that the event was just like a wedding without the complication of a groom. I reflected on that for a minute and jokingly said, “had I known that 25 years ago, I would written a book instead of getting married.”

To which my wise mother remarked, “Cat, if you hadn’t gotten married, you wouldn’t have written this book.”

And just like a wedding, to commemorate the occasion, here’s the launch video for my book: Any Color but Beige: Living Life in Color.

 

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