Monday, June 9, 2008

The Urban Car Chime Myth

The title is a spoof off an episode of Sex and the City, where Carrie stumbles upon this deliciously rare pair of Manaolo Blahniks. I thought the reference would be appropriate for this entry, since I just returned from girls weekend with a group of friends that are every bit as classy (and then some!) as the ladies of the hit series. Upon my return, I am reminded yet again of what a rich woman I am... if only I could buy my groceries with friendships!

Anyways, while I am waiting for pictures to post of the wild weekend (my camera didn't make it with me... its a long story), I thought I might grace you with the Urban Car Chime Myth of the Santa Barbara circle of friends.

There are 4 friends in this particular circle: Krista, Lynn, Terese and myself, and we were all fortunate enough to be co-workers once upon a useful-working-class-member-of-society lifetime ago...

Ahh, those were the days...

Tyson and I were 2 toddlers lighter, living in a tiny apartment a block from my office and a mile from the beach in the magical land of Santa Barbara. Ty was a hot dog man for Costco while attending college, and I paid 'the rest' of our rent turning tricks for State Farm Insurance (and financial services). Every day I would wake up at 7am (soooo early... HA!), shuffle down to the office by 8 where coffee was already brewed and waiting and the music was bumpin loud and proud, thanks to Krista (sometimes Lynn)... the early riser(s). Terese would fly into the parking lot like a bat out of hell sometime before 9am... usually... HAHA, love you Terese... and we spent our days slaving away and managing the risks of every day lives policy after policy after policy. Somewhere along the way, we all managed to fall madly in girl love with each other as we shared our work loads and our lives together over a working lunch in the break room almost 5 times a week.

One year, as Christmas approached, our office was invited to attend a holiday luncheon for all the local agencies in our region at a nearby restaurant. The event would be a buffet style lunch, followed by a small gift exchange. Each associate attending was asked to bring a wrapped gift and there was a set spending limit of somewhere around $10 or $20 per gift.

This was a time where the cash flow was more of a trickle, and I remember considering momentarily the long list of family and friends that I planned to buy gifts for with my non existent life savings and my credit card with the $250 limit. But, this was an opportunity to celebrate my favorite season with my friends and co-workers and also to GET A PRESENT (cha-CHING!), so not participating = not an option. I purchased my gift in the said price range, wrapped it thoughtfully, and showed up trying to hide my childish anticipation for the gift table.

I don't remember all the details of the exchange, but I do know I got to choose a gift early on, and I ended up with something half decent that someone 'stole' from me instead of choosing their own gift to unwrap as the pickings got more and more slim. That was fine with me, because it allowed me to GET ANOTHER PRESENT to unwrap from the table. YESSSSS!

Now, my entire office knows how much I love presents. They know I am trying not to widdle on my way up to the table. By this time, there are only a few sad looking wrap job gifts left, but WHO CARES, they are PRESENTS!!! I grabbed one that looked most promising in the bunch and turned to face the sea of faces fixed on me as I tore out the tissue paper with my hands trembling with excitement and anticipation.....


Aaaaaand..... I'm pretty sure it was like watching a dog get hit by a car for everyone in the room to see my heart hit the floor and the disappointment cloud my face.

For in my hot little hands that couldn't wait to savage the mountain of gifts, staring back at me were THESE little beauties:

Car Chimes. IIIII KNOW!! What in the blazes are 'car chimes,' RIGHT?!

The experience felt kind of out-of-body... I stood there frozen in front of a room of professional colleagues (one of them being the Judas who betrayed me), staring at my prize. I couldn't move. I didn't know what to say! I had been SO OBVIOUSLY INVESTED in the game, and I was set up to have rotten vegetables thrown at me.

It felt like an eternity had gone by before Krista hollers from across the room "WHAT IS IT???????"

"Its... its... Car Chimes!" I responded, trying to sound as enthusiastic as possible.

"OH!... Car Chimes!"

"Yah, Chimes, I guess you hang them from your rear view mirror, maybe?"

Just what every working woman trying to buy Christmas gifts for her entire family on milk money needs! GAHHHHH!

It wasn't even the fact that I got jilted that made it so initially humiliating and embarrassing and now, finally, FUNNY. Its the fact that I was SOOOO excited to begin with, I must have been the ONLY ONE in there that really cared more about opening presents than the free lunch. Look where it got me.

In the car on the way back to the office, I think my girlfriends laughed so hard they cried. By the time we got back to the office, I was finally laughing too. My boss, who had stayed behind, was also thoroughly entertained. Who wouldn't be, really? Its classic. I set myself up, and bit it hard. I wish it were on tape, maybe the horrible scene could have won me a grand prize on America's Funniest Home Videos or something. If nothing else, it would be good to have handy somewhere so I can pull it out and watch it on replay all the days that life doesn't go my way...

But I ended up stuffing them in my desk and trying to blot them from my memory.

When I left the office for good after Dawson was born and it was time to move home, I found them stuffed way in the back of the last drawer I was cleaning out. It didn't seem right to take them, so I ceremoniously passed them on to Terese (who moved into our old house when we moved out!) and asked that she carry the torch (or maybe I suggested re-gifting them at the exchange the following year?). She graciously accepted.

Terese later married her Lyle and moved several hours north to be closer to family and build her life, so naturally, she passed the chimes to Lynn (who by then was the last of our group left in the office as Krista had taken a job in Bakersfield and purchased a home).

Last April, all of us girls gathered again for a reunion of sorts in Santa Barbara to celebrate Krista's engagement. We wined and dined at a posh restaurant downtown, and tucked tight in the bottom of her gift bag of wedding lotions and potions were... HAHAHAHA SUCKA!... you guessed it, car chimes.

I think my favorite part about the passing of the chimes is... whoever is on the receiving end I know that was true for me, anyway, when I LOST a trivia game at Krista's house for the Sex and the City movie party night, yet I was mysteriously awarded a big red goodie bag anyways.

I figured she just knew I was a sore looser that loved presents.

But alas, I WAS TRICKED, and the wretched chimes have found their way to me yet again (along with some pretty bath potions to soften the blow... thanks, Krista!).

Which means... the circle is complete and ready to be retraced! AND I HAVE THE POWER to bestow for the next life event in our circle.

Watch out, bitches. Don't get pregnant, don't have birthdays, don't purchase homes... Don't even BREATHE THE MENTION of anything that suggests 'life event worthy of gift-receiving," or you juuuuust might be the proud owner of the traveling car chimes once more.

It feels good to be in charge. Almost as good as it feels to be part of such a cool group of friends.

I love you girls!



lucinda :0) said...

amazing post.i laughed so hard!

Monica said...

that was awesome...i almost peed my pants. :)