Look at me, I’m D.B. Cooper!

You know who’s really freaking fascinating? D. B. Cooper. There’s another wild lead about him in the news, so it made me think about him again.

Sure, he hijacked a 727 and parachuted into obscurity with $200,000 ransom money in 1971. (Woop de doo! I know that was a lot more money in 1971, but it just sounds so lame now.) If he or his lifeless body would have ever been found, only a really small niche would even remember his name at this point. But, since he completely disappeared, he kind of seems like less of a bad guy and more like a bad ass.

Besides, by today’s standards, his hijacking was “polite.” From the get-go, he announced he was hijacking the jet by handing the flight attendant a note, saying, “Miss, you’d better look at that note. I have a bomb.” None of this bursting out of your seat and waving around an Uzi stuff. The note itself was even tactful, reading, “I have a bomb in my briefcase. I will use it if necessary. I want you to sit next to me. You are being hijacked.” Calculating? Yes, he obviously planned that one. But an effort to make the situation less traumatic? I’d also go affirmative on that one.

No criticizing. I have no idea if that's an Uzi.

What kind of cold-hearted criminal has the plane land to refuel and let off all the innocent hostages? Well, one that wants his $200,000 and his parachutes, I guess. But, really, the FBI must have come a long way since 1971, because they pretty much cooperated with him. I just don’t see a crime like this going down today. It’s like Revolutionary War fighting, where they would all line up properly and take turns shooting each other.

"Hey guys! Anybody got a coin? We need to flip to see who goes first."

The case seemed bungled from early on. D.B. wasn’t even the criminal’s name or alias. The media just was “misinformed.” The hijacker identified himself as Dan Cooper, but there was another random guy from Portland on the plane named D.B. Cooper who was “quickly cleared.” Hmmm.

One article says Cooper might have taken his name from this French comic book series. Here's the article: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/2211212/posts

Authorities really should have never let him take off again after refueling. If anything involves an airplane in this day and age, authorities are all over it. The TSA treats civilians like we’re all bloodthirsty bomb-mongers. Especially if we look a little suspicious. (Racial profiling!) Chris, being Italian, looks like he could be of Middle Eastern descent when he has a beard. I always make him shave it before he boards a plane now, because when he doesn’t, he’s “randomly selected” for extra screenings, explosive residue screenings, screenings I didn’t even know they made people do, every time.

Really?

But, I digress. Aside from being an awesome classic vanishing-into-thin-air story, the fact that the world was a totally different place in the early ’70s leaves me hoping they never really do find him. When I was little, my brother and I would play this game where we’d think up ridiculous places where D.B. Cooper was probably hiding. It sounds so much lamer than it was as I write this. I promise you, it was fit for hours of entertainment. My dad told us how he and his friends would play D.B. Cooper when they were little. He’s infamous. He’s a criminal. But I couldn’t help but have a small piece of me feel a little sad if they ever did find him and lock him up.

Part of me likes to think he’s sitting on an island somewhere drinking Mai Tais handed to him by beautiful women and and snickering under his breath about how he got away with it. Part of me likes to think he’s just going about his normal life somewhere right under everyone’s noses and took on a new life. But I never really like to think he just got squashed when he jumped out, because that takes all the fun out of the story.

And, you know, this kinda does, too.

Some things are better left unexplained.

Well, hello blog. It’s been a few days. Here are some tidbits that are just vague enough to either be confusing and unrelatable, or universally understood. You decide. Sometimes my inner beeyotch just has to come out, but never to who needs to hear it. I just smile and bend over backward. Eventually, it has to come out, and usually in this form … only, usually, not publically.

  • Passive-aggressiveness should not be allowed in the workplace.

  • Putting in one’s two weeks notice means, “I will no longer be employed at your establishment after two weeks.” Not, “Sure, I’ll pick up extra hours because you’ve continued to put me on the schedule two weeks after my two weeks notice.”
  • What is this “fluff” criticism crap? I like fluff. It’s a welcome distraction from how much people can suck. Fluff is not here to harm, it’s here to make people happy. Maybe everyone could use some more fluff.
  • Some people just never get the hint.

  • I’m sacrificing what small semblance of a life I’m currently grasping on to, is there anything else I can do for you? (The answer is always yes. I’ve learned the hard way to stop phrasing this in the form of a question … which goes into effect after this morning, when I did phrase it in the form of a question.)

  • Hot coffee, when given the chance, will always spill. Same with most other liquids. This also applies metaphorically.
  • On a related note, don’t leave that hot coffee alone too long. It gets cold really fast. That can be metaphorical, too, if you want it to.

  • Jack Johnson was mostly right. “Maybe” always means “no.” Same with a lack of response. It sucks to be on the receiving end, but, as mentioned earlier, other people need to also learn to take the hint.
  • People will generally make stupid, unwarranted, uninformed comments on most things you post online. YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW.
  • There’s never such a thing as too much time. Or too much money. And, unfortunately, the two are not friends.

  • I wish I had nothing better to do than sit around in coffee shops being pretentious.
  • There’s only so much one can do before they reach the point of *metaphorical brain explosion*. This is characterized by silence, glazed over eyes, and extreme lack of motivation. This person requires a recovery period, or more caffeine.

I only wish a kitty was the source of my brain explosions.

  • A teeny bit of consideration can go a long way.
  • Those people who never get the hint? They’ll really rub it in your face that they don’t get the hint. It’s karma’s way of punishing you for not just spouting off to them. I’m currently suffering a terrible punishment.

  • Haters gon’ hate. Control freaks gon’ control. And the rest of us just have to deal with them apparently. I deal by writing long, bitchy e-mails to said Control Freak and then never sending them. Passive aggressive? Kinda. Therapeutic? Absolutely.
  • Just because someone isn’t working for you at the moment doesn’t mean they’re just sitting on their ass in a beanbag in front of the TV eating bon bons and getting fatter. Don’t assume they’re not working somewhere else.

  • Instructors of online classes should still make an effort to be a fricking teacher. You know, answering voicemails, e-mails, grading assignments before the last week of class …
  • It’s dangerous to bank on it not raining.

  • Don’t pass up an awesome deal because you assume it’ll still be there when you have more wiggle room in your wallet to buy it. When the time comes, the price goes.
  • Can I take back all the hours I never took naps as a child and use them now?
  • Weekends are never long enough.
  • Anxiety is more often used for evil than good.

  • There’s a fine line between pointing out errors in work to be helpful and being completely obnoxious.
  • Wow … and your computer will always short-circuit, displaying a huge error message that basically says, “You’re screwed” every time you’re in the middle of something important. Every. Time.

If I had a little more energy, I could have probably cleverly weaved these bullet points into a crafty little post. But I don’t, so this is what you get.

Can’t get enough over-analysis?

I’m going to assume you know about my neurotic tendency to over-analyze things. Rest assured that it doesn’t stop at text messages. As many readers commented on the texting article, any kind of communication that’s not face-to-face opens up the opportunity for misinterpretation. And I’m well aware. I planned to write this post before the texting one exploded, but I figured I had to wait a while, so it wouldn’t look like I was just trying to re-do that.

I LOVE this. So me.

I think the only form of technological communication I over-analyze more than texting is interactions on Facebook. Facebook presents the opportunity for so many more subtle, silent “body language” stand-ins, causing me, at least, to analyze my creeping to the max.

I’m guilty of contributing. I often have cryptic statuses, straight from the depths of my latest favorite obscure indie folk song. But I would never put up a cryptic lyric status unless it related in some way to what I was feeling that day, or my current life situation. There’s always a “hint hint” factor in hopes that whomever or whatever it’s directed toward over-analyzes.

Okay, so this one's not from an obscure song ("Flake" by Jack Johnson) but it's been a while since I had a cryptic status and this was the most recent.

If anyone ever gets the reference, though, they don’t tell me. I always make sure to say something if I sense an underlying reason for someone’s quoted status. Sometimes the person is like, “Wow, you got that? That’s totally what I meant!” But, most of the time, they either don’t respond (To me, that’s Facebook lingo for, “You’re totally over-analyzing, but I’m not enough of a jerk to call you out in front of the world of Facebook and make you look stupid”), or they call me out in front of the world of Facebook and make me look stupid.

This girl got called out. But she was totally asking for it.

On my inaugural creep of a new Facebook friend, if I find they have 400 profile pictures and 396 of them are MySpace-style self portraits in the mirror making the duck face, I judge. I don’t know if that’s entirely out of the ordinary — I think it’s safe to say most people will get the impression that user is pretty self-absorbed and really likes the way they look. Maybe that’s just general analysis.

Why? You're fooling no one. Your cheekbones don't look like that unless you're making that face all the time ... which I guess some people are.

While we’re on the topic of profile pictures, there’s always the “hidden meanings” in them, as well. If you’re in a relationship with someone, it’s not uncommon to set your profile picture as the two of you as a happy couple. But God help you the second you change it to a picture of, say, just yourself, or you and some friends. People will start wondering if maybe you’re mad at each other. Rumors will fly that you’re having relationship problems. Maybe one of you is cheating. It’s ridiculous, I know. But, believe me, I’ve seen it happen.

I try to limit my Facebook friends to people I actually interact with in real life (or used to and want to stay in touch with). But leave it to the one thing you don’t want that random acquaintance to see, and they’ll comment on it.

That always makes me wonder just how much of my personal stuff they’re actually creeping on. I like to imagine that only the people I have in mind when I post things see said posts but, of course, that’s not the case on Facebook. It’s times like those I wish Google+ would just catch on already, with their Circles. After worrying which things Random Acquaintance could have possibly seen in the past, I usually end up placing them on my no-no list in my privacy settings … for a little while, at least.

This was likely a hack, but if it wasn't ... Well, then I guess you're asking for it by posting it on Facebook.

Say it’s your birthday. (“It’s my birthday, too, yeah!“) Everyone and their mother will wish you a happy one on your Wall (literally). And if you have a close Facebook friend who doesn’t (which I would define as someone you know in person and interact with on Facebook a lot), it’s on.

See, your birthday is the one time of the year people will creep out of the shadows and post on your Wall. Even if I agree 100% with a post of someone I never talk to on Facebook, I’d feel like a creep if I commented on it. We’ve all got to admit, there are some people we’re friends with solely to “silently” creep on. But that inhibition dissolves on someone’s birthday, where you’re almost obligated to write on their Wall, or else you’ll look like a jerk. I admit, I still hold it against at least a certain person who I know purposefully didn’t acknowledge my Facebook birthday. It’s ridiculous, I know. But it’s like a virtual slap in the face.

I always try to avoid statuses asking if “anyone” wants to do something. (Although, I did, out of desperation, ask who was up for sushi last week because I was craving it and Chris isn’t a fan of the raw fish. It led nowhere. I never got my sushi.) These statuses are traps: Either no one will comment on it, making you feel like a loser who has no friends, or all those Random Acquaintances from before will comment on it, leaving you in an awkward situation.


The “liking” option is sometimes dangerous, too. “Liking” something is usually a way of saying, “I agree casually.” Unless you write something about how bad your day sucks and someone “likes” it with no explanation.  (A suitable explanation could be: “‘Liked’ only because I agree — Not because of your situation!”) Or unless it’s one of those “Bobby went from being “In a Relationship” to “Single” notifications. Those are always fun for attracting the wrong kind of attention. The only other acceptable case for a “mean like” is if you’re good enough friends with the “liker” that you know they’re just messing with you. An unexplained “like” on a depressing status is like kicking someone when they’re down, and is grounds for unfriending.

This is boyfriend Chris, so I know he's messing with me.

On the topic of “liking,” “liking” one’s own status is almost never okay. It says: “I don’t know how to use Facebook,” or, “I’m that much of a loser.” Exceptions, of course, apply in the case of intentional situational humor.

Acknowledged, rendering it situational humor.

Then, there’s the lingering friend request. You request to be someone’s friend, and they don’t accept or deny, but they just never confirm either way. This is a polite way of getting around things. You don’t want to feel mean and deny them, but you really don’t need them creeping on you. So you just let the request linger there in Friend Request Purgatory. I admit, I currently have over 20 of these — People I haven’t talked to since eighth grade who request to be friends with me, people I have never met in my life that come here for oilfield work and see I’m from North Dakota, and people I’ve unfriended because everything they post makes me want to vomit who just don’t get the hint and keep trying to re-friend me.

Straight from my page

I thought I was crazy with my over-analysis of texting, but with the responses I got, I know I can’t be alone here, too. Or maybe I can. Feel free to let me know if I just need to take an extra dose of my happy pills with this one.

Come on over! We’ve got Kegs!

I’m a self-proclaimed foodie. Some people might call me a fatty. Either way, I enjoy food, and I’m not ashamed. When I had cable, my TV was on Food Network at least 80% of the time because I find it interesting, and because it’s relaxing background noise for doing homework. Now, I have to resort to planning my workouts around my TV schedule, and end up being “that girl” who’s watching Food Network while she’s running on the treadmill.

I can't believe I actually found this picture. That's me. Only I'm not tan or brunette.

If you watch Food Network semi-regularly, you’ve probably seen a pretty popular show called “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.” It’s one of my favorite shows on the channel, along with “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” That’s probably because these shows pick out awesome little restaurants around the country and feature them for making fantastic food. I’ll totally stop at restaurants featured on the shows if I’m ever near any of them on vacation. (North Dakota doesn’t really get a whole lot of airtime.)

In fact, I would make a road trip out of it to go to some of the nearby places. It’s nothing to me — In high school, we used to drive 45 minutes to get a Whirl-a-Whip in Stanley, ND. (It’s kind of like a Blizzard from Dairy Queen, but known around the state.)

This is an image from Stanley, ND's, website. The Whirl-a-Whip is their claim to fame.

Although North Dakota (specifically, Grand Forks, ND — since that’s where I’m currently living) has never been featured on one of those Food Network shows, we’re home to some spots that are definitely worthy of some airtime. I finally visited one for the first time today, after a lot of curiosity and recommendations.

“Have you gone to Kegs yet?” my parents often asked me. I’d always do the mental head-slap, wondering why I didn’t think of it last time Chris and I were sitting around playing the “I dunno — What do you want to eat?” “I don’t care. What do you feel like?” game.

This is actually a website. The F-word makes it somehow more funny and entertaining than your average recipe website: http://whatthefuckshouldimakefordinner.com/

My dad often told me how he was a regular at Kegs when he was a student at the University of North Dakota, grabbing a monster burger or some onion rings on his way to work. The student-friendly prices haven’t changed. A huge, homemade cheeseburger was around $2.

I probably forgot about Kegs because it’s tucked in the middle of town. It’s plopped right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Kegs definitely takes you by surprise a little when you first approach it. Aside from being a little dilapidated on the exterior, you can’t deny that it’s got a curiosity-sparking gravitational pull.

The Kegs Drive In at three on a Monday afternoon.

When my family and I pulled up, we were the only car in the lot. It’s a true old-fashioned, 1950s drive-in. You press the button on the menu when you’re ready to order, and the waitress brings you your food on a tray. It first opened in the 1930s, as part of a local seven-restaurant chain. This Kegs is the last one that remains.

The Kegs Menu

We were a little unsure it was still open until we saw a fluorescent-shirted worker passing behind the counter inside. We discovered she was pretty disgruntled, to say the least, but I think it added to the whole experience. Besides, the food is worth it.

They’re known for their sloppy joes — That’s what I had. I didn’t think you could really do much with a sloppy joe recipe, but there was definitely just something better about it. They’re also known for their root beer, as you can probably tell by their signature keg-architecture, but they have a whole slew of beverage choices, like homemade vanilla, lime, and cherry Coke and even a chocolate Coke, which I might have to try next time.

Their burgers and onion rings were perfection, too. I had a bite of my dad’s and will definitely be trying that next time. As my brother said, it tasted like 1953. And in the best possible way. There’s just something about a really great cheeseburger that makes everything seem right in the world. Or maybe that’s just me and my foodie-fattiness.

Not long after we arrived, Kegs quickly filled up with cars full of people young and old. Battle Axe Waitress and her younger counterpart remained efficient, although Battle Axe also remained pretty crabby.

There’s just something about places like Kegs — They’ve been around forever because they’ve been doing things right. Grand Forks, like any city, is rich with tradition, but a lot of those traditions stem from the University and its hockey team.

Kegs is a place that hangs onto a tradition of its own.

“You never know. This could be the last time we eat here. They’ll probably tear it down by the time we get back to Grand Forks,” my parents were saying, acknowledging they’d said the same things 20 years ago when they were in school.

I’ve got a feeling Kegs isn’t going anywhere.

GTL: As long as the “T” stands for “Translucent”

I’m a natural blonde. I’ve never been a redhead (except the one and only time I became a brunette just out of curiosity and my hair kind of started turning auburn). You wouldn’t be able to tell by how prone I am to sunburn, though. I’ve got just enough Norwegian in me that I can’t quite enjoy the sun.

Contrary to popular belief, North Dakota does get warm for a few months. It’s an extreme climate. In fact, I had a Facebook status a few weeks ago that I think summed it up perfectly: “North Dakota: One of the only places on earth where you can experience what both 111 degrees and -50 degrees feels like.” I’m not exaggerating. We’ve been battling a heat wave that just recently let up enough for us to enjoy some time outside.

Sigh -- Apparently it's impossible to find the weather from a few days ago. I would have taken a screen shot, but it just disappeared.

But even on those rare days when it’s 75 or 80, breezy, and the mosquitoes actually aren’t gnawing at any bit of exposed flesh they can find, I can’t win. I had a coffee on the patio at Starbucks with Chris one afternoon for 25 minutes tops. I was under an umbrella in the shade. My shoulders still gleamed red afterward. So much so that mere acquaintances winced at them in empathetic pain and suggested aloe vera.

It pains me to even post this. It's so unflattering. This was the result of being fresh out of chilly ND and into Virginia summer heat. Sunburn doesn't usually show up well in pictures that aren't intentionally documenting it. Also, excuse the lack of makeup on my end.

I think it’s just North Dakota. I think being confined indoors, seeking shelter from blizzards and frostbite nine or more months out of the year, deteriorates whatever endurance you may have had for the sun.

In fact, I have evidence of this.

Chris’s background is Italian. When my grandma saw a picture of him she commented, “Oh, he’s so dark!” For North Dakota, yes. His so-brown-it’s-almost-black hair and golden skin sticks out a little against all of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Norwegians here. And, I admit, he’s naturally several shades darker than my general hue of purple. (My translucent skin usually gives way to my blood vessels underneath. Yummy.) But set Chris out in the sun for a couple of hours, and he bronzes up like a freshly-baked calzone.

See? Notice my sunburn, once again. It's kind of turning into a tan in this picture, though. "Tan" for me is sometimes considered "darker shade of pink/purple."

Or, he used to. Now he has to worry a little about sunburn, a phenomenon he’d never experienced before spending a winter in North Dakota. Longing for warmer weather, he spent spring break in Malibu, California, his first year at UND. He came back with a peeling sunburn. Coincidence? I think not.

Unfortunately, no documentation of Chris with sunburn exists ... that I can find at least. But his nose was the worst, so here's a picture of a sunburned nose.

I’m finally taking a few days off from North Dakota living and heading east in two weeks, spending a few days in Pennsylvania, a few in Virginia, and a few days on the beach in Delaware. [I CAN’T WAIT.] I’m fully prepared to become Lobster-Kaitlin, as usual. Even when my initial burn has turned into my version of a “base tan,” I’m no match for a few days baking on the beach.

A lot of girls here, though, do achieve a bronzed-goddess glow. (Especially female athletes of winter sports — Have you ever watched a high school girls’ basketball game in North Dakota?) I’m jealous of them … and their perfect ankles. I think they achieve it from a combination of much more fortunate genes than those I was graced with and chronic fake-baking.

Even though my dad and grandma tan easily and burn little, I ended up with the crappy end of the gene pool in many areas: yucky toenails, fine hair, inability to tan, and the dreaded CANKLES. I do make a few trips to the tanning bed a year. (I know how bad it is. I only go a few times a year to acclimate my skin to ultraviolet rays in an attempt to avoid the inevitable melanoma-causing, molt-inducing sunburn that will confine me to a tub full of aloe vera lotion for a week.) Still, any tan I ever accumulate fades almost as quickly as I got it.

Ewww. Molting.

Sigh … the joys of a North Dakota summer. The only thing that’s worse is a North Dakota winter.

P.S. Just so someone else might have some entertainment out of my unpleasant situation, I’ll post a picture if I end up burned at the beach.

My Super Sketchy Sixteen … with a Creepy Old Guy.

I may be a bit behind the curve, but I just heard about this “51 year-old Doug Hutchison marrying a 16 year-old” thing. Hutchison is most notable for playing Percy Wetmore, the guy nobody liked in The Green Mile and Horace Goodspeed on Lost. Not that I personally recognized him. He goes back to roles in Party of Five and A Time to Kill, too. (Ironically, he played the child rapist.) But those are a little before my time.

Cue "The Creep" by The Lonely Island.

And a lot before 16 year-old Courtney Alexis Stodden’s. Maybe.

Annnnd that's their wedding picture.

All creepiness and illegality aside, this couple is extra controversial. When I first looked into this, I honestly thought, “Okay, so this Hutchison guy is kind of a creeper. Scandalous, but whatever.” But I watched an interview E! News did with the “happy couple” which I found deeply disturbing. I didn’t notice exactly how disturbing until I caught a glimpse of myself reflexively making a disgusted face in the reflection of my laptop screen.

Stodden doesn’t look a day under 25.

Her profile picture on her official Facebook page.

“So, whatever. She looks a little mature for her age. A lot of girls do nowadays,” I thought. I read in RadarOnline’s article about the E! News interview that people were accusing her of being “fake”: Either she’s had a lot of work done, or she’s older than she’s letting on. I thought that was a little obsessive for something that seemed so irrelevant to anyone’s lives.

But then, my curiosity got the better of me. As the interview went on, Stodden’s mannerisms became more … odd. She was striking ridiculous poses and practicing making coy pouty faces into the camera during their live interview. From the sound of it, she was trying really hard to make incoherent, immature responses to every question asked, whipping herself around and fluttering her hair.

Whatever voice you're giving her in your head to make fun of her right now, I guarantee it's not even as bad as hers in real life.

So I looked her up on Facebook, and I found two different pages of hers. “Courtney Stodden” and “Courtney Alexis Stodden Fanpage.” After spending just a short time on these sites, I decided there is no way one person can possibly be this stupid. Something has to be up — She has to be older, and for some reason faking her young age and total ignorance as some publicity stunt. Either that, or she’s actually 16 with the IQ of a shovel. There is no way any guy even in his mid-20s would put up with idiocy of that degree in a relationship, let alone a man who could easily be her father.

Wow, I bet that's how she always pictured it.

First off, she repeatedly refers to herself as an “inspiring” actress/photographer/model/singer/anything else she can think of to sound “good.” Even after people correct her. A normal human who wanted to be taken seriously would learn that she had made a mistake and change it. Stodden seems to only put it more prominently and more often, reinforcing the blonde bimbo persona.

She's giving me no shortage of material to back this up.

Let’s just take this exchange via Facebook comments on this photo:


And that was the exact point that I decided I needed to blog furiously about this. Not only does her long response defy all logic for how little cognitive functioning a person needs to maintain basic human mechanisms like breathing and blinking, but the incoherence of her short, afterthought comments boggles my mind.

The thing that sent me over the edge, though, was her last comment. It seemed to go just a little too far. I don’t know about you, but I think I see a zipper. “… so you should respect me and stuff.” It seems to me that any 16 year-old who’s trying to prove her maturity would avoid the whole “and stuff” default teen suffix. Its belittling, childlike, and it seems like she wanted it that way.

Um, can I take you back to your ... gutter?

But that’s just me speculating. I really don’t see why an older woman would pretend to be 16 and marry a 51 year-old. I guess I don’t see what a 51 year-old would see in a 16 year-old either … besides the platinum blonde hair and I-claim-they’re-real-but-there’s-no-way-in-hell chest.

How many bras does she have on here?

Maybe Stodden is just a really dumb teenager. And, in that case, Hutchison should probably hire a nanny or something for when he’s out of town. And not let Stodden cross the street unsupervised. E! News claims they have her birth certificate, but claiming they have a little piece of paper isn’t going to convince me. Her body definitely looks … aged, in more ways than just her development.

From her Official Facebook -- Taken when she was "13"

Either way, with celebrity stories like this which, I admit, are a guilty pleasure, I always find myself asking, “Why do I care?” I usually don’t have a good reason, but in this case I do: There’s just something too weird about her … and there’s that off chance that she’s an alien robot sent here from some distant galaxy, and her only way in to infiltrate the government is through Doug Hutchison. (She’s already defiled the flag!)

Creeping justified.

Hey, I’ve never been 21 before.

Not so long ago, I turned 21. And I’ve been “using my power,” as I call it, almost every chance I get, even if it’s just to browse the liquor store and not buy anything (which, I’m sure, looks kinda sketchy) or to go into a 21+ bar and grill with no intention of getting drunk. But I still have yet to get the hang of the whole bar thing. Or the inherent … comfortableness everyone has with one another at bars. I make plenty of noob mistakes.

Little turtle = Kaitlin. Big turtle = Everyone else at the bar

First of all, in general, I have no idea what to order. I’m not going to pretend I was some pristine being and never touched a drop of alcohol until I was 21, but really, dorm drinking (and sometimes even house party drinking) is very different than drinking socially for pleasure. Dorm drinking usually consisted of the cheapest crap someone could smuggle into the dorms mixed with whatever soda was still left in the vending machine in the hallway. Sometimes ice, if you were classy. It usually tasted roughly like rubbing alcohol and Sprite/Coke/Mountain Dew. Badass.

A.K.A. Rubbing alcohol.

I couldn’t wait to step up to the bar, lean against it all smooth-like, and order a drink. On my birthday, most people ordered drinks for me and funneled them down my throat. So when I stepped up to the bar later in the evening for my suave moment, free birthday drink voucher in hand,  I  had a mini panic attack when I realized I had no idea what to order. It was the time of night when I was getting sleepy … “Can I get a vodka Red Bull, please?”

Something like that ... In my dreams. I'm never that smooth.

Fail. I now realize that if I had a free drink, I should have gotten something expensive and delicious that I’m too cheap to buy myself. But I had no idea what that would be at the time.

"Bring me two pina coladas. One for each hand ..."

So, I’m cheap. I go where the specials are. Except how the heck am I supposed to know what the “wells” or “rails” that are on special are? I don’t want to look like the noob that just turned 21 and ask. (Even though they can see my birthday on my ID, I guess. I still have my pride!) So, of course, I Google it and find out the terms are interchangeable, and they basically just mean a simple drink made with cheap alcohol. Back to the dorms it is!

I’ve also come to realize that normal social boundaries are all demolished when it gets to be about 11:30 p.m. at a bar. That personal space bubble that usually floats around everyone? Gone.  Popped. It usually makes me uncomfortable when people I just meet hug me or hold my hand or tell me they love me and we’re going to be best friends forever or demand to get a picture with me as I come out of a bathroom stall because I’m a blonde. Not at a bar. At a bar, that’s perfectly acceptable. (Although, I would be really interested to see that picture I took with the girl in the bathroom. Maybe someday.)

Speaking of bathrooms, not too long ago, a girl sat next to me at a bar that smelled like that nauseating smell when someone leaves a nasty surprise in the bathroom and tries to cover it up with sickeningly sweet vanilla air freshener. Normally, I would have had to get up and leave, but eventually I became immune to the smell because we started talking and decided we would make pretty good friends. I would have probably passed out from the gaggish scent of girl that smelled like bathroom poo cover-up in real life, but in bar life, I not only remained conscious, but discovered that she was quite a nice person. Aw, yay for learning life lessons in a bar.


But all sentimentality aside, I can now see how people end up going home with companions they would never normally end up with after a night out.

"Explainthisimage.com" is right. I don't even know how they got this picture.

I still have a ton to learn about being 21. A ton. Like how to deal with creeps that won’t stop pestering you to play beer pong just so you can be “arm candy” for other creeps. And what to order — I’m definitely in a rut with my drinks of choice so far: Long Islands, Jeremiah Weed and lemonades (current fave), and vodka cranberries. (Apparently vodka cranberries are old lady drinks? Psh, don’t judge. They’re delicious.)

Any suggestions? Teach me, oh wise ones.