Friday, September 23, 2011

Aint no love in the heart of the city...

It’s official, this week, according to some study somewhere,  Raleigh, the state capital of North Carolina is the best city in the USA. I found this very hard to believe. A neighbour recently described  Raleigh as boring - and he is Canadian!!! Surely, if it was going to win an accolade it would be for the most boring City on earth. I guess I could conduct my own poll with my visitors who would confirm my opinion. Mind you – they have Birmingham, UK (not Alabama) to compare it to so of course Raleigh is going to be boring, (with the exception of an hilarious segway tour I took with my sister and neice). Raleigh can’t boast Ozzy Ozbourne or riots on a regular basis.
Named after Sir Walter Raleigh, who never visited there, I wondered by what criteria Raleigh had been judged the best city by They ‘counted up restaurants (867 apparently), evaluated school scores, and considered the number of colleges and pro sports teams’. I wondered if they had counted up restaurants that were actually open… Or if they had considered the distance between restaurants. This is an important point. A place great for restaurants must have them in close proximity to each other. Of the 867 restaurants they counted I think around 6 are in the city ‘centre’ (the centre of an American city is referred to as ‘downtown’. When I was younger in Birmingham, I used to go 'up town' if I went to the city. Funny with a Brummie accent!). One of the strangest things about Raleigh is; it seems to have no centre as I would define one in a city – somewhere where people congregate to work, eat, drink and shop. A great city is one where you can WALK to a VARIETY of bars and restaurants and find them OPEN at such obscure times as lunch! We took recent visitors to the museums (which are great and free) on Labor Day. We tried to find somewhere to eat in walking distance from the museums. We couldn’t. We drove around. Most places were shut in ‘downtown’ Raleigh. Sure, it was a national day off – but that should mean the nation goes out and eats and drinks!
As for school scores – people who want good school scores have kids. People with kids live in suburbs. People without kids want to live in cities with bars and restaurants. Am I labouring a point?
Great cities have a number of colleges. This could make Raleigh a great city but it doesn’t. The last time I was 'new' to a place, 'a stranger' away from home was when I lived in a city with one of the highest student populations in Europe: Manchester, UK. What made it great, as a student, was that you could walk from any number of college campuses to the city centre and its bars….It was lively and vibrant. Raleigh’s 3 main campuses are miles apart. Two of them are 30+ miles from the city centre in different directions. Great universities -but they don’t contribute any ‘life’ to downtown Raleigh.
I realize that my perception is different to that of the study. I consider a city the middle of somewhere. When they collated data they considered Raleigh as a 144 square mile span. That’s 864 restaurants spread over a very large space. They said Raleigh had ‘a thriving social scene’. They didn’t give me any hints as to where I might find it in a 144 mile expanse. It isn't anywhere obvious.
Amazing cities like San Francisco, Boston, and New York couldn’t compete with Raleigh’s wonder because of negative factors like higher unemployment and worse public education. The one thing that you have to have for unemployment is people and in Raleigh, the population of 400,000 is rather spread out. This seems to have helped Raleigh’s ranking. The criteria included stuff like park acres per 1000 residents. Raleigh won with its vast number of empty parks! It also won on air quality. No hideous carbon monoxide output because there is no traffic. There is no traffic because there are no people heading in the same direction each day. Great Cities, to me, are packed bustling places full of people, too many people: rich; poor; unemployed; high flying; rich and famous; down and out, all rubbing shoulders. Sorry, cities that don’t compete with the number one city in the states are like that. Alive! With a tangible heart – a beating pulse that any stranger in a strange land, if left at the edge of the city for the first time, without a map or compass, would be able to navigate easily to find its heart. I have tried to navigate Raleigh too many times without success. I aint feeling the love! Cities are often considered to be unfriendly places but I don't think they are. Those student bars in Manchester? As the new kid in town you might go in one alone but it was never long before you had friends to drink with. In the cities I would consider great - they are so eclectic that everyone is a stranger which serves to make people much more open.
If a new study were conducted to find the most boring or unfriendly city or the one lacking any substance, I think it would not be too hard to locate a winner.
There is one son of Raleigh worth a mention - Doug Aldrich, guitatist with Whitesnake. You can see why he was drawn to join them with songs like this! After all, who would understand better than Doug? There aint no love in the heart of the city!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Good Wife!

My hubby said this morning, “if you loved me you would cut my toe nails.’
I said, ‘if you loved me you would never ask!’
According to the ‘Good Wife Guide’ of 1955 that would make me a bad wife. Not only should I never question him but ‘Catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction’ Obviously the Good Wife circa 1955 wasn’t married to the Hammer toe House of Horrors – X-rated!
I was rather depressed when sent the ‘Good Wife’s Guide’ from 1955 to see that as ‘homemaker’ some of these things were still expected today. As a good wife who spends all day at home it isn’t unreasonable for hubby to expect the house to be tidy, the children to be clean, fed and watered and a nice meal on the table. It isn’t unreasonable but highly unlikely as I am really shite at being a house wife. I went to a ‘jewellery party’ (you know – Party Plan, where you buy junk, in this case jewels – real diamonique, for 4x the price they should be – as an excuse for women to drink wine. I never need such elaborate excuses) in azalea Lane the other day. We had to say what we did in the day. I said I was a CEO of my own company- financial controller, operations director and HR guru. The ladies smiled sweetly and one asked what company I ran. I confessed, embarrassed, that I was a housewife. I got applause! FFS! They were all housewives and liked my analogy. I was being sarcastic! Taken to its natural conclusion as a CEO I would be sacked by the shareholders for being crap. Luckily they love me and tolerate my inefficiency in running our household! The 1955 guide says ‘never complain…if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone though that day!’ My modern day equivalent is the opposite. He sits on his arse all day at work and I have to do all the house wifey and mommy stuff. He would never dare complain if I left for an all night bender as he walked in from work – Minor compared to what I go through every day! A ‘good wife’ knows her place. I know mine and it isn’t in the home!
I liked some of the guide lines but fail to meet hardly any of them. Take:  ‘Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him’
I can’t even manage that. We arrived at the beach on Saturday and all hubby wanted upon arrival was a cold beer. I had not put the beers in the cool box – not because I had forgotten but because I didn’t care. The wine was chilled. I had told him if he wanted cold beers to sort it out himself! Does that make me a bad wife?
As for the leaning back or lying down and making him comfortable…Hubby said the other morning in bed ‘I was hoping you would wake me up in a special way. ‘I tried to clarify if it was a cup of tea he was after. He said he was hoping I had had some special lessons. It took me a moment to realise what he was referring to and a few moments more to fetch iced water to tip over him before he got any bright ideas of ‘self help’ or ‘teach yourself’. It was clear he had read the leaflet I had picked up from the Pole-dancing school I had been to the night before.
A friend took me pole dancing. It was an introductory 1 hour session. My friend is a fitness fanatic and runs marathons for fun. The class of ten was made up of my friend, 8 of her fitness fanatic gym fiends and me! I don’t do exercise. Pole dancing was very strenuous although I did have flexibility in my favour – and a sense of humour. While the fitness fanatics were trying to do the perfect moves I was mostly rolling about laughing.  I seemed to have a knack for it. It was me who was able to spot the next move to a few floor thrusts was slapping one’s own arse in a cowboy type fashion. I resisted shouting yeehaa! I’m far too British. Had I not been leaving North Carolina I may have been tempted to sign up for a four week programme that transforms you from wearing yoga gear to thongs and high heels! I don’t think I need 4 classes to change clothes. Maybe some pole dancing goes on too. Even if I had been able to sign up I fear I put my pole dancing career to an end trying to move a very large sofa. I tried to move it by sitting on the floor and pushing it with my feet, sustaining a nasty strain. Someone suggested I spray ralgex (or WD40) on it till I pointed out it was my groin. Ralgex would end any future pole activity of any kind for life!
What had interested hubby were the other classes available. Not only could I learn some sexy pole dancing moves but also Lap Dancing. It said ‘Bring a man's button down shirt, tie and high heels for the class!’ I guess a lap would be useful too. It said you would ‘Learn to give your partner an enticing lap dance that will leave him ready to give you whatever you desire’. Maybe if I was a good wife I would have him ‘lean back in a comfortable chair’ whilst I perform a lap dance… In the 1955 version I would be happy enough for him to go elsewhere for such an experience and ‘Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to …other places of entertainment without you..’ Actually – I’d be happy for him to go elsewhere today. It would save me the effort and there are Hooters Bars everywhere in this Bible belt state!
 The Art of strip class promised ‘You'll never take your clothes off the same way again!’ What? I’ll never throw my clothes off all over the place in a wanton fashion as I normally do? Hubby would be impressed if I went to a class that taught me to fold them up and put them away neatly!
What I think Hubby had hoped I had taken were the ‘special’ classes:

 Princess Hands | $25 per workshop
Even Cinderella knows the power behind the stroke! Come learn how to create magic with your own hands. This workshop is designed to teach you how to give a fairytale hand-job that will leave him feeling happily ever after.
Oral Wonderland | $25 per workshop
Learn how to give tantalizing oral foreplay! This workshop teaches tips and techniques that will blow him away! He'll think he's the king of the land when he experiences your sensational oral talents!

I wonder if the Good Wife of 1955 considered such things as part of her daily duty? The guide advises: ‘Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it’. He’s got no chance! I consider some things beyond the call of duty

The Good Wife’s Guide 1955
  • Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have be thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.
  • Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.
  • Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.
  • Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dustcloth over the tables.
  • During the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.
  • Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.
  • Be happy to see him.
  • Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.
  • Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.
  • Don't greet him with complaints and problems.
  • Don't complain if he's late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.
  • Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie him down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.
  • Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.
  • Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.
  • A good wife always knows her place.

Hubby suggested this as an appropriate epitaph for me to this blog:
I guess I don’t measure up as a ‘good wife’ circa 1955. I don’t think I measure up that well circa 2011!