I'm sure you've all heard of my friends, Anna Kournikova and Maria Sharapova.
Ok ok...So maybe I'm stretching a tad (and by stretching a tad I mean stretching the truth so thin that it's basically transparent) by calling them "friends," but I have had personal encounters with each of them that few will ever have.
Let's start with Anna.
Back in high school, I used to visit Montreal quite often as my sister attended University there and Montreal happens to be one of the coolest cities in the world. So one year, we decided to plan our trip so it coincided with a big tennis tournament held there, formerly called the "Du Marier."
My Anna happened to be entered...What a nice coincidence!
Aside from watching the matches, it was fun to roam around the grounds and watch players warm up and practice. A lot of players were driven around to the practice courts on golf carts, and others walked with security. If you were lucky, you might be able to catch a glimpse of them as crowds of people surrounded as they walked to the practice court.
I was more than lucky...actually, I think she was subconsciously attracted to my gravitational charm :)
So I'm standing around near some courts, kind of oblivious to anything going on. Suddenly I hear this low, loud, and somewhat muddled voice barking at random pedestrians to step aside.
I, thinking I was already out of the way and not wanting to move excessively for risk of being personally smashed by the Sumo King of Canada, stood still as he thundered by right next to me.
Then I am rudely bumped in the back by someone! Before I get a chance to turn, hoards of people are running towards me!
At first I was shocked and scared, but then I realized that this type of fame is price I must pay for being ME!
As I turned to see who accidentally crashed into me, I felt a strange sense of chemical electricity and passion. As I met eyes with aforementioned offender, I was struck speechless! (hard to believe, I know)
Anna was smiling sympathetically into my eyes. She quickly apologized to me for her clumsiness and gave me a couple of autographs. She then gazed back deep into my soul and smiled flirtatiously.
Anna, being the extremely dedicated player that she is, fought of her urge to ravage me right then and there, and continued on to the tennis court. I was left stunned. It takes an extremely focused athlete to resist the animal-like instinct of attraction that we shared for those brief moments.
Interestingly, my fans who had previously rushed over and surrounded my area, left and followed Anna as she continued on to the practice court. Perhaps they wanted to let me enjoy my vacation in privacy?
Now onto Maria Sharapova.
When I used to work as a Floor Supervisor at the Tennis Warehouse we used to, on occasion, get orders from professional tennis players. Supervisors were only allowed to handle these orders because each player had a special code that we'd verify and ensure they got a discount. Most of the players that ordered stuff were lower ranked (as higher ranked players get everything for free anyways).
I did manage to talk to some names that tennis fans would recognize such as Mashiska Washington (Malivai's brother), Richie Reneberg, and Mark Phillipoussis' Dad.
Despite the fact that top players very rarely called to order stuff, it did happen some times, and we had a list of the top 500 Mens and Womens players who were privy to discounted merchandise. We were sent an updated list every month by the official Mens and Womens Tennis tours (ATP and WTA respectively).
Well one time the WTA messed up. They sent us the list, but instead of including just the players name, ranking, and verification code, it included information such as email, mailing address, and phone numbers of the top female tennis players.
Suffice to say, we disposed of this list immediately...well almost immediately.
Me being the curious guy that I am, decided to verify the authenticity of this list. Who better to verify with than Maria Sharapova! I called and the conversation went like this:
Arun: "Hi! Is this Maria?"
Maria: "Yes it is. I'm sorry, who is this?"
At this point of the conversation I'm incredibly flustered as I didn't really expect to talk to her.
Arun:"Ummm...you're Maria Shablahblahblay (making up some crazy last name)"
Maria: "Oh no...I think you have the wrong number."
Arun: "Oh I'm sorry! Have a great day!"
Maria: "You too"
Despite the dull content of the conversation, I could sense the underlying tone of desire in her voice. I could've had her right then and there, but I didn't want her to have to deal with the stress of having a man like me so far away.
To this day I still have her number. I've only ever called it one other time. It's more the novelty of having it than actually using it.
The one time I called was after I saw her play a match in San Diego...it went straight to her voice mail and I left no message.
Worry not though Dear Maria. No one else has, or will ever get your number from me! After all, it's no longer a novelty if everyone has it!
Maybe some day I'll call her again. Maybe not. When I become rich and famous, maybe I'll invite my little Russian tennis players on a Caribbean Cruise aboard my yaht...just Anna Kournikova, Maria Sharapova, and Me :)
Monday, September 24, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
We visit them everyday. They're essential for living! They provide nourishment for all that are hungry and have wallets.
The good ol' grocery store.
Personally, I'm a fan of grocery stores. They make doing enjoyable activities such as eating, quite affordable. Yesterday during my weekly shopping run, I really thought about the quirks of the grocery store, and also realized some of the problems we encounter all the time.
It starts with the shopping cart. At some places, selecting a cart is like playing Russian roulette. You know what I'm talking about. You get your cart and start strolling through the produce section and all of a sudden one of wheels starts sticking.
Somehow, this problem never shows itself until AFTER you're sufficiently far from the cart bay so then you have to decide to either go all the way back to the cart bay and exchange carts or deal with the annoying sticky wheel the rest of the time!
I'm more of a "basket" shopper these days and avoid the shopping cart altogether. The only problem is when throw something heavy like milk in the basket. Then you have to hobble around the rest of the time lugging a heavy-ass basket around, walking like half your body is suffering from paralysis. At Costco however, the basket is not an option. Conveniently, Costco has oversized carts because everything in Costco is, well, oversized.
Costco shoppers however observe ZERO cart etiquette! I always thought you should push carts like you drive a car. People in the main isles get "right of way," stay to the right (in the U.S.), no tailgating etc.
Apparently Costco shoppers are not good drivers. The worst is when the back of your heals get "rear ended."
"Oops! I'm sorry."
Me Thinking: "Oh I'll show you sorry, soccer Mom!"
The best thing about Costco though is the abundance of SAMPLES. Go there on a Saturday afternoon, and there's no need to buy lunch! As a kid, going to Costco with my Mom and Sister was always great because they are both vegetarian. Keeping in mind that most of the good samples contain meat, I'd always be privy to three delectable tastings!
And speaking of samples, it always really annoying when you saw a sample stand and got all excited only to realize when you got up close that they are giving away like apple wedges or demonstrating a cleaning product...but I digress.
So now that we've got a nice cart or basket, produce is usually the first area we go to. It's always interesting to see people shop for fruit.
You get to the melons and shake em a little, and start tapping different ones. Apparently this tells us something. What the hell are we listening for? Is it like a seashell when you hold it up to your ear and hear the ocean breeze??? Does louder mean riper?
So once we've finished all of our shopping, we make our way up to check out. There, we are bombarded with tabloids and candy! It makes you wonder about this country's state of mental and physical health when every time, every person goes shopping, he encounters such wholesome, quality goods!
The checkers are generally pretty impressive though. They seem to have every four-number code for produce memorized!
In highschool, I had a friend who was a grocery store checker, and used to quiz him on produce codes (though I suppose he could've said four random numbers and I wouldn't know any better). I was the only person who ever stumped him!....the item? Pomegranate.
Yes, yet another in depth-observation and analysis of everyday life. Coming soon...Walmart: The Not-so-good, the bad, and the ugly!
Posted by Arun at 10:29 AM
Monday, September 17, 2007
I am old.
Ok ok, well I guess technically I'm in the prime of my life, but I feel damn old. As of today, I'm no longer in my early 20's! I'm now in my early-mid-20's! Yikes.
I'm half way to 48! I have a few friends who are Married!
What's funny is that despite my age, I still pretty much the same as "little Arun." How is this you ask? Let me give you a short list.
1. I'm still quite adorable :)
2. I smile a lot.
3. I sing everywhere and all the time.
4. Ghostbusters is still my favorite movie and if I had a choice, I would forgo the plastic grocery bag I bring my lunch in for a "Real Ghostbusters" lunch box.
5. I love sweets and dessert items and crave them with reckless abandon.
6. In any big problem or emergency, the first person I think of to call and fix everything is my Mom.
Of course my maturity and mindset are totally different. One of the biggest things is money. When I was a kid I used to think, "Gee when I grow up I'm gonna buy all this awesome stuff, and everytime I go shopping, I'm gonna buy the Snicker's bar I was never allowed to have!"
Now, sure I buy SOME awesome stuff, but my main goal is to parle' all this money into becoming incredibly wealthy. I almost never buy candy at the store, and I actually use coupons!
Luckily, my desire when I was two years old to marry my Mom has also passed.
When I was a kid, before my birthday or Christmas, I'd give my Mom a stack of Toy Flyers from the Sunday paper conveniently marked up with items circled that I desperately wanted. Then, I'd peruse Toys R Us for AGES! Now, I can't think of anything I really want!
Somewhere along the line of growing up, I decided to forgo the Velcro shoes, then went to the two-bow shoelace tying strategy (also known as the "bunny ears") and finally graduated to the much more efficient single bow with the loop-around.
I do, however miss the days of playing with boats in the bath, rocking the latest Bugle Boy Shirt, waking up obscenely early on Saturday Mornings for cartoons, and having birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese.
And speaking of Chuck E. Cheese, man what a disappointment those places are when you go as an adult. I was at Boomer's game place last year and was all excited to play "Ski Ball" (the one where you bowl the little wooden balls up the ramp and into the plastic circle things). The ramp is seriously like 1/4 as long as I remember it! I could seriously lean forward and practically toss the ball in!
Oh well. 23 was a great year and every year of my life has seem to have been better than the last.
Birthdays are always great because you get calls and messages from everyone and are doted on more than usual!
Somehow, I need to figure out a way to harness this doting, and get it to happen everyday! As soon as I figure this out, I'll add it to Appendix K in "Arun's Guide Lifetime Awesomeness"
Posted by Arun at 11:25 AM
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
As I've mentioned many times before, I pride myself on being the type of person that "put's myself out there," and likes to instigate positive interactions. I'm all about being social and I think too many people miss out on great opportunities to meet wonderful people by being too scared to break the ice.
I'm usually a pretty good ice breaker (although sometimes I forgo the ice-pick and skip straight to the jackhammer).
In the same sense, a lot of people lose touch with good friends when one of them moves away. In general, I'm pretty good about keeping in touch with my friends. I'm usually not shy about calling to chat and catch up after a long silence.
A lot of people get hurt when someone doesn't call for awhile. Then, they get this attitude of "why should I be the one who calls?!?" When an old friend doesn't call me for a long time, I generally not offended because I know that most people have this inherent reluctance to be the one to step up, put themselves out there and make the call (either that, or I'm just not getting the hint that they don't want to talk to me :)
In fact, yesterday was a reminder to myself that even I have this reluctance sometimes. TWO friends called me, each of whom I hadn't spoken with in about a year, yesterday and it was awesome catching up!
I had been in contact with both via email, but phone conversations are so much more personal and intimate. I thought about these phone calls and realized that I probably would not have made either call had Kelly and Nikki not stepped up and called me.
Here's how I envisioned the conversation would've started had I made the call:
Me: Hey Kelly! It's Arun!
Kelly/Nikki: Arun?....Oh.....(akward silence)...hi...uh..what's up?
Not exactly the smoothest interaction. Me being one who likes to demonstrate high levels of smoothness chickened out on calling each of them for the risk of an akward conversation.
Lesson learned...I need to put myself out there and take the first step EVEN MORE! For every ten great conversations that could ensue by taking the first step, I risk having MAYBE one akward one? Well worth the risk.
Moral of the day: Don't be a chicken. Take the first step at doing anything with a decent probability of a positive outcome even if it means putting yourself out there. If you're worried about the possibility of not coming off too smooth, just remember....chickens are not very smooth :)
Posted by Arun at 2:39 PM
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Sometimes I look back and miss the days of elementary school. Lots of drawing, building things, recess, and easy homework. When someone had a birthday, the whole class got cupcakes! I received more valentines in one day in elementary school than I have in the combined years since!
The more I think about grade school though, the more I realize how many ineffective and somewhat useless things we spent time learning and practicing!
The Pledge of Allegiance:
I'm all for patriotism and think its important to establish a strong feeling of citizenship at a young age, but seriously, reciting the pledge everyday in grade school is a waste of time.
I said it everyday, yet didn't know what it REALLY meant until like sixth or seventh grade? All I knew was the routine of standing up, looking at the flag, putting my hand over my heart, and reciting this spiel.
For heaven sakes, I thought "...and to the Republic for which it stands" was actually "and to the Republic for Richard Stantz" for the longest time!
I always wondered who that guy was...
Studies have shown that most younger kids think "One nation under god, indivisible" is "One nation under god, invisible." Somehow, being a citizen of an "invisible" nation doesn't come off as very patriotic :)
Good intentions??? Yes
Does it Work?? No way Jose
Extra Curricular Teachers:
In most elementary schools, including mine, we had once or twice a week mandatory extra curriculars during the day such as music class, physical education, and library.
Let's start with music class. In elementary school, we went through four music teachers while I was there and none of them were particularly adept at anything musical. Sure they taught us some very rudimentary music history and we sang classics such as "Mama Sita," but none of the teachers had any profound musical talents.
I think I could teach a more effective music class than we had in grade school! At least we'd sing cooler songs than freaking "Mama Sita" or whatever the hell it's called.
Similarly, PE was so much fun, but it was only later on that I realized how not in shape my gym teacher was. Can we at least have someone in shape educate us on the importance of being healthy and active?
And speaking of out of shape gym teachers, I'll never understand why people pay big money to get trained by personal trainers who aren't in tip top shape! I mean, if they can't take care of themselves, how the hell am I supposed to trust them to take care of me?
Back to the rant.
How about the lessons we learned when we went to the school library? Reading is important, but seriously, I just remember spending years learning the damn Dewey Decimal cataloguing system. Honestly, who needs to know Dewey decimals except for librarians? When I go to a library, I use a computer (or the old fashioned card catalogue) to locate the section for my book. Who even remembers the Dewey Decimal?
I think I still remember the first three (0-100 is Biography, 100-200 Psychology and 200-300 is Religion...at least I have a backup career as a librarian) but aside from that, who really needs to spend so much time learning how to look up books in a library?
I remember my library teacher Mrs. Prockish, would give us a treat once we had checked out 8 books. We were only allowed to check out 2 books per week in library class which means it took about a month to get the treat. What was the treat you ask?
A jellybean...ONE FREAKING JELLY BEAN!
I will confess, I actually snuck an extra bean a few times and was never caught! In about third or Fourth grade, Mrs. Prockish introduced a new treat option! Now we had the choice of either ONE Jelly Bean or TWO Cheezits.
May her generosity never cease. (I still loved Mrs. Prockish by the way)
Despite these little shortcomings, I love elementary schools for funny little games that everyone plays. No matter where we'd go, everyone always wanted to be in the front of the line.
"Hey no Cuts! But, you can have Chinese cuts if you want."
Elementary School Dictionary of Terms: Chinese Cuts - allowing someone to get in line at the position immediately behind you...apparently this is how you cut lines in China.
Or the good ol' games that we'd play in the cafeteria at lunch:
"Last person who has their feet on the ground likes Stephanie!"
(Thundering sound of everyone's knees hitting the bottom of the table)
Inevitably someone would chime in:
"Nuh uh!!! Today's opposite day!"
(Thundering sound of everyone's feet hitting the ground)
Good ol' Elementary School. It's too bad bad I'll never do it again. At least I have the memory of being playground Tether Ball and Tag Champion!
Posted by Arun at 10:55 AM