Throwing Shade

Last night at the restaurant, I served a table of eight people of varying ages. Whilst grating cheese upon a large portion of pasta, I overhear (I overhear a lot whilst grating cheese) “so and so….blah blah….throwing shade….blah blah…”

More than half the restaurant is closed now, so there are plenty of tables upstairs for servers to await their last tables’ desert orders and conversations to conclude. It’s a long hard process, this. I join my co-workers and without preamble ask, “What does it mean to throw shade?”

One woman in particular with an especially expressive face stops chewing her casserole and looks up at me through thick lashes. I wonder if she is doing it now, so I might experience it.

From behind me I hear, “Is someone messing with you?” It’s Sam, tall dreamy and about nineteen.

“Not that I know of.” I reply, but wonder what hornets’ nest I’ve stepped off in by asking this question.

The woman, now resuming attention on her casserole, explains between bites that throwing shade is when you give someone a backhanded compliment in an effort to be a complete asshole. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter if that person knows you’re throwing shade or not, if one’s intention is to shade the situation with ass-holery then the deed is done.

To tell you the truth, what I thought it might mean wasn’t very far off. I thought it meant to cut your eyes at someone in such a way as to diss them; diss is a term used in the eighties and nineties meant to besmirch someone, or in essence, rudely “dismiss’ them. In my imagination, throwing shade included creative use of one’s eyelashes, not backhanded compliments. Kids these days, totally missing an opportunity to use their eyelashes the way God intended.

Today I am at my sister’s house where I have commanded my niece to demonstrate what she has learned in color guard practice. Because it is completely impossible to command a thirteen year old to do anything, she is standing in the yard and holding her purple flag, looking at me like I have lost my mind.

“Gimme that flag.” I command. She obeys this time. I proceed to dance around the yard, high stepping like any decent majorette. I also sling that flag around the yard like it’s a Samurai sword. I snap it to attention, swing it around, toss it into the air where is spins, spins, twirls and lands like it is thus magnetized into my waiting hand.

I am explaining how she needs to look more intense. Make those gorgeous Egyptian eyes sizzle! This is her time to stomp the yard if ever there was one. This is her moment not to be shy but to be awesome, purple flag and all. I snap the billowing flag’s pole to my hip and tell her to throw shade on the field.

I am imagining creative use of eyelashes and not backhanded compliments when I give her this instruction.

My use of modern slang floors my niece so much she nearly smiles. “Do you know what that means?”

“To be mean to someone.” I answer, choosing to use the loose interpretation I got from my more knowledgeable co-workers the previous night. I look at the tree to my right, whimsically thinking of its generous and cooling shade.

“Mom, I can’t believe she knows what that means.” My niece says to my little sister who then commands her thirteen year old daughter into the house, flag and all.

A little while later she asks if I know how to use my new Instagram account and offers to show me how it works, if I want her to. I take a rather long sip of my coffee and avert my eyes, not wanting her to know how grateful I would be for the tutoring.

Let me tell you something, in case you should look up @electricmala – the first picture I uploaded was of my cat. It just felt right. And the only reason I really got involved with it in the first place is because I want to promote my Etsy shop and see what those crazy yoga cats are up to. So there.

Be warned, yogis. Instagram is not for people who think # is still a pound sign. You will be greatly disappointed. In fact, this is now a litmus test for how old you are; whether you call # a pound sign or a hashtag. I don’t even know what that means!

Also, Instagram is not for people who want to read articles. They have no articles on Instagram, though  I did see a few motivational memes I’ll share this week to promote my class @URUYOGA

See how good I’m getting at this already? Apparently, @ still means one is “at the place to which they refer in the post”. See, not so scary after all. As in, I’ll be @URUYOGA tomorrow teaching at 4:30 and 6 o’clock.

And the best thing about Instagram? #catlady is a real thing.


It’s Hard to be a Diamond in a Rhinestone World

“It’s a good thing I was born a girl, otherwise I’d be a drag queen.” – Dolly Pardon 

As some of you may know, I work in a restaurant on the weekend. Last weekend was long, arduous, and a constant source of discouragement. There was a bright spot. Okay, there were several bright spots. There was also an abundance of complaining, crying and tribulation.

The bright spot is that I work with a gay man who can pick up a Dolly Pardon song no matter where I start it off and he will sing a duet with me. I am not kidding. His name is Michael and together we are like something out of a movie, me and this guy.

He is tall and roughly masculine with a scholarly side to him. He has read more books than I have. He has dated more men than I have and possibly most of those boyfriends were better looking than anything I have every brought home to meet my mother. Also, he has attended one yoga class in his entire life and it was mine, which made me richly happy.

When I was a kid one of my favorite movies was anything with Dolly Pardon or a mermaid. I grew up in the eighties; I watched Splash, Nine to Five and The Best Little Whore House in Texas one million times. The same can possibly be said for Michael.

It is The Best Little Whore House in Texas to which I credit discovering me and my singing companion’s talent for duets. Once, while waiting for fresh bread to come out of the oven and into the bin from which we scooped it like hungry wolves on behalf of our tables, I began singing “Nothing Dirty Going On”, the song that introduces Dolly Pardon as the whore house madam and the girls as possible can-can line candidates.

I am not kidding, my fabulous gay man jumps right into line with me. We skip through the restaurant, arm in arm and singing our hearts out; little red and her sexy gay wolf trotting along with their baskets.

I experimented with other songs from that movie and he knows them all. When I sing the songs alone I have to drop my voice and pull my chin down to get nearly as low a baritone as Burt Reynolds when he sang to Dolly. When I am with Michael I only have to practice buxom and bouncy – he brings the bass.

He and I worked together last weekend, yet my sunken constitution didn’t really warrant show tunes.

One of my least favorite things at work is the potential to have a large party. Lemme tell you something; waiting on thirty people all at once isn’t a guarantee that you’re gonna make any more money than if you’re serving five or six people at one time. I’m just saying.

They are nice people at this party, and it’s really only fifteen of them. They are young military and enjoying themselves. At one end of the table is a serious fellow who started with a liquor drink in a rocks glass. He switched to beer after I brought bread. After his second beer I asked his friends if he was driving. Given he wasn’t the designated driver I rang in his beer and went to the bar to wait on my favorite man to serve it up.

Michael isn’t usually in a hurry for anything. It’s another part of his charm. I was in a hurry to get the beer to my table, to be done with the night, to go home to the cats. My bartender is flirting with women who are on their second glass of wine. I want to scratch their eyes out and tell them, “I saw him first, hussies. He is my gay boyfriend!”

Instead, I begin an off-tune song, “Budweiser, you created a monster…..and they call me drinking-stein….” If you’ve ever heard the song the melody will stick with you. So will the vision of Sylvester Stallone in a pair of pointy toed cowboy boots and a wide brimmed hat bouncing stiff-shouldered while he sings it.


This is what me and Michael look like when we’re singing Dolly duets.

I am stunned when Michael begins that same stiff shouldered bounce Stallone rocked with Dolly off camera, coaching him on how to be a real Rhinestone cowboy.

I am not making this up. After the release of Rocky III wherein Balboa demolishes Clubber Lang, played by Mr. T, Stallone teams up with Dolly Pardon to film the very first movie I ever saw in the theater.

I remember going to see it. I was four and a half or so. My little sister Brittany, who was two or so at the time, must have been home with our dad. I don’t know how I got so lucky to have a mom that would take a 4 year old to a PG rated movie on a sunny afternoon, but it’s one of my favorite memories.

I was really intrigued with the lights that line the red aisles in the theater and how dim it got before the large screen was lit with the first flickers of what would be one of my favorite movies. I remember desperately wanting a dress like the one Dolly Pardon wears at the finale. It is pure shine, like platinum spray paint with tassels.


This is what I thought I’d look like when I grew up.

Little did I know that thirty some-odd years later I’d be singing one of those songs to an exclusive member of the Dolly Pardon fan club here in Lil ‘ole Pensacola. How could I have guessed how it would transform a long arduous night? With a spray of sequins everything’s gonna be alright.

I finished serving the party with much success and good server ratings had by all. (There are little computers on the table so guests can report directly to the main office of my performance, whether I cuss or not and if I offer wine). I hugged my special singing partner and bartender most tenderly before I left for the night.

When I got home I wanted to overeat and watch bad television. Have you ever had one of those days when french fries somehow seem more appealing than reasonable food and a healthy mind-body exercise program? But, my friend, I have DVD copy of Rhinestone starring Dolly Pardon and Sylvester Stallone.

I made a pot of coffee, which some might suggest can lead to derangement after midnight, like fried chicken as per Gremlins rules of engagement. I cued up that movie like it was the original debut. I felt all of four years old, set up at my craft table as I was with a large coffee and a cat curled neatly beside me.Some things never change.

I sat there with this fine mojo and I made a mala. It might be the best mojo of any mala I have ever made. But the mala is second to discovering that I still know most of the words to all of the songs and that Dolly Pardon hasn’t changed in thirty years.