Tag Archives: Amazing Race

Trapped inside an AIDS walk

30 Apr

Today I had a front row seat to the Kansas City AIDS Walk.

Now I know, normally, walks of any kind are more participatory than observational.

I stumbled upon it when I approached the intersection of Emmanuel Clever Boulevard and Main and noticed someone was standing in the middle of the road.

Since the intersection is so close to the Plaza, it’s expected that people are going to walk out in front of moving cars.  They think we will stop.

My message to them:  Don’t tempt me.

Luckily, today, the temptress was a cop so immediately I gave into his allure and stopped.

I have this thing that whenever I see a cop, I immediately want him to notice how well I’m obeying all rules and laws.  I’m like, “See that?  I used my turn signal.  And I used it in a turning lane.  Normally, I don’t because I find it redundant.  But for you, I did.”

As another car approached in the lane next to me, the cop stepped forward a little, gestured for her to stop, then gave a little wave.

What the hell?

I looked over and there was a desperate housewife in an Acura.


That wave should have been for me!   I saw him first.  I got nothing here and you gotta get the attention of the cop?  The nerve.  And you’re halfway through the cross walk.  That’s against the rules, hussy.  And I hope he notices.

He gestured to the east as if to show us the reason we were stopped.

The walkers–about 3000 of them–who raised money and awareness for HIV/AIDS were headed our way.

I was so impressed.

And I was perfectly content sitting there and watching every one of them.  Men, women, kids and dogs.  Some had banners honoring someone they lost to HIV/AIDS, one group in the crowd was singing.  Then, the singing started to intertwine with a little yelling and a horn honking from the crowd of cars behind me, the riff-raff, the peanut gallery.

Someone approached the cop and explained he had to get to a reception.  Apparently, this was a reception for God and he was caterer or something because he acted it may be the most important thing in the world for him to be allowed out of this traffic jam.

So, Officer Allure motioned for cars to move slightly so God’s caterer can get through.

Are we, as a society, so busy we can’t pause for 10 minutes and maybe reflect on the cause?

Yesterday, I spent 4 hours among 3000 people watching a royal wedding, I think I can wait 1o minutes on 3000 people with a purpose.

Eventually, after all the walkers passed, Officer Allure allowed us to pass through the intersection.

I was thinking about cutting off the hussy but decided against it because I had just given a homeless man a dollar and I was afraid it would effect the good karma I recently paid to create.

Then I noticed, just 3 blocks from where I was previously stopped, the walkers were crossing Main Street again and backing up traffic.

You’ve got to be freaking kidding me.  Who planned this route?

It never fails.  If a president is in town, if there’s an outdoor concert, a parade, a walk, a run, you name it, I get trapped in the middle of it.  I’ll realize the problem and try to resolve it by going a couple blocks in another direction, turn around, 2 blocks in a different direction but in the end, I make it worse.

So, here I am, playing the “2 blocks in another direction” game.  I recognize other participants in the game because they are angry and making sharp, last-minute turns to avoid a possible road block.

I try to escape to my happy place–pretending again I’m on The Amazing Race–but it doesn’t empower me.  It makes me feel like I’m the bad cab driver from India and the racers are in the backseat telling me “Faster, faster!  We’re in a race!  You have to drive faster to get around these walkers!  Do you know where you’re going?”

I don’t because I turn down a one-way and right into the path of the walkers.  This time, I had 2nd row seats to the AIDS walk.  The guy in the car in front of me was drinking Starbucks and I hated him for that.  I looked in my rearview mirror and already several cars had lined up behind me.  We’re screwed.

I watched the walkers go by, and some of them I recognized from only 5 minutes ago.

If I recognized them, what if they recognized me?  I imagined one walker telling another, “Didn’t we already see that lady at a different intersection?  Creepy.”  Then I imagined another walker joining the conversation, saying, “We noticed her, too.  We’re calling her the AIDS Walk stalker.”


I was thinking about the implications of that reputation when a guy approached me and tapped on the door of my car.

“You’re a foot away from me and my window is open.  I’m aware of your presence.  Don’t tap me.”

As he getured to his car parked somewhere behind me he said, “They told me to just drive through when we’re able to, and I have a meeting.  I gotta get going.”

Now a meeting?  Someone needs to create an app for people who aren’t good at making up excuses.

Pomp and Odd Circumstance

29 Apr

I know you won’t believe me but I really wasn’t all about this royal wedding.  I kind of secretly and, well, publicly, made fun of people who were getting excited about it.  So it doesn’t really make sense that I would pull myself out of bed at 2AM to be a witness to the city’s biggest royal wedding watch party.

I was much more interested in the people I was going to encounter than actually watching the wedding.

When I drove up to historic Union Station at 3AM, I wasn’t at all disappointed.  There were already approximately 300 people in line.

My estimation:

290 female

6 men

4 I would put in the category of ‘hard to tell.’

This is what it felt like:

Hard to tell, but those are really people.

The first 10 to arrive received a free Mother’s Day breakfast at Harvey’s in Union Station and a free ticket to the Diana, A Celebration.

You know, that’s the exhibit that presents the life and humanitarian work of Diana.  Let me give you a little preview of that: no one lingers around the pictures and text about her humanitarian work at this exhibit.

It’s about seeing her wedding dress.

Union Station reports that 40,000 people have already viewed the exhibit.  That’s about everyone, except for me and Oprah.   Recently, Oprah wanted the dress in Chicago so she could have it on her show today.  But, Oprah was told no.

One can only imagine the devastation associated with this tragedy.  If there is some bizarre outbreak of horrible weather or we are invaded by locust in Kansas City in the next few days, I’m pretty sure we can blame that on the wrath of Oprah.

So, anyway, the first 50 to arrive got a free ticket to the exhibit.  Rip off, because the exhibit was going to be free from 3AM to 6AM today anyway.

I seriously thought I would be in the next group, the next 100, that got a union jack and a tiara.  Now, I don’t know all things Britain but I was kind of hoping that a union jack was a drink.

Union Jack…

…and Coke.  But, apparently, it’s not.

By the time I parked, about a block away, they were letting people in the door.  Us losers that didn’t get there until 3AM didn’t get Jack.  Or a tiara.  And, we had to stand in line to pay for parking.

A huge line formed because of the prehistoric parking technology used by Union Station.  This is how you pay for parking in their world.

1.  You have to remember the number associated to your parking space.  But you don’t know you have to do that because you really don’t even notice a number painted on the pavement behind your car.  And if you did, you’d never think you would need to remember it, because it’s 2011.

2.  Then, you find this board positioned at the edge of the parking lot that has a numbered slot associated to your parking space.

3.  Next, you take dollar bills (like anyone carries them around anymore) fold them up and shove them into that slot.  There is actually a little metal tool there to use if your wadded up bills get stuck half way through that slot.

This is an irritating procedure on a good day but when you are behind 20 WEiRDs (Women Engrossed in Royal Drama), it’s royal torture.

At the height of my frustration, I use these tricks to take your mind off a situation and attempt to keep my composer.  It rarely works.

My trick is to pretend I’m on The Amazing Race.

In this leg, I was able to pass up one team because I folded my four dollars separately and shoved them in the slot one at a time while Team Wears Hat with Feathers was giggling and using the ridiculous metal tool.  I thought I would be able to pass up other teams by deciding to first visit the Diana exhibit then join the watch party.  Uh, road block.  Everyone else had the same idea.  All the tiara wearing WEiRDs are already there.  U-Turn.

So, I headed to the watch party where there was a lot of watch, but not much party.

Last I heard, Union Station estimated there were about 3500 people there to watch the royal wedding.  So, in my estimation, that’s about 3500 people, and about 50 chairs.

The wedding was projected onto a large screen that was right along side, the much larger picture of Diana, advertising the exhibit.  It could have been my sleep deprivation but this image gave me an uncomfortable feeling that Diana was looking down at us while we watched this wedding.  As I realized how much this creeped me out, I assumed the WEiRDs were probably comforted by it.

It may be hard to see but that’s Diana watching us watch her son’s wedding.

But, she looks like she’s happy we are there.

These were my watching buddies, Charlotte and Peggy.  I struck up a conversation with them and found out they drove to Kansas City from Arkansas for this event.  Charlotte said, “They think we’re crazy in Arkansas.”

Just in Arkansas, Charlotte?

I don’t remember this lady’s name although I have her email address.  She asked if I could take her picture and email it to her.

She remembered her tiara, but forgot her camera.  The life of a princess.

I really lucked out sitting next to them.  Charlotte loved everything and that made her a good kind of WEiRD.

Here’s a little advice though.  If you find yourself in a crowd full of WEiRDs, don’t be surprised if they collectively respond to romantic or pretty things with  gasps, claps, screams and cheers.

When Kate was barely seen getting into the car and only a portion of her dress was in sight, the room vibrated and the WEiRDs screamed.

I thought I missed something because, at the time, I posting on Facebook that I thought Prince Harry was probably drunk.

So, I leaned over to ask Charlotte and without taking her eyes of the screen, she confirmed that she had just “gotten the first glimpse of the dress.”  And she was giddy.

I wasn’t.

I watched Kate enter the church but before the vows were said, I moved on.  I walked towards the back of the room, saw a man wearing a kilt and was thinking “why?” when I heard another huge gasp and squeals from the WEiRDs.

My first thought, “Who fell?  Please, let it be that!”

I turn around just in time to see Elton John projected on the screen.

Seriously, WEiRDs!  Elton John?  Come on!

On my way down to the Diana exhibit, I spotted this elderly woman in a beyond vintage dress and fancy hat.

I would guess her age as around 70+.  She was so willowy and slight, it was almost like she was one of the ghosts they say still roam the halls of Union Station.

Trying to find the exhibit was quite a royal adventure.  I had to take one escalator, walk, walk, walk, curtsy, take another escalator, walk, walk, walk, twirl and I arrived at an exhibit.  The Diana exhibit?  No.  This one was featuring the wedding dresses worn by Kansas Citians called “Every Bride a Princess”  No one cares.

And, every bride a princess?  Um, I’ve known a lot of brides and I say, false.

Kept walking, walking, walking, now down a ramp and I see this:

I read it as:  Rarely is an exhibit so hard to locate, you feel you left your life behind to find it.

But, frustration quickly fades when I turn the corner and see my willowy, little ghost and her sister.

She told me how she found the dress at a thrift store and already had the hat.  I loved it.

 Then, I hit the jackpot when we got in line behind this.

I’m so sorry that this picture does not do this hat justice.  If you look closely, that’s a tea pot on the top and the black line, of course, is tea being poured into a tea cup.

Why is she hiding her face?

Entering the exhibit I was told two things, I couldn’t take any pictures and I didn’t have to follow the line of people–I can go through the exhibit as fast or slow as I want.

Good, I choose fast.

First area, Spencer family history including family tree.  Blah.

Second, how Diana and Charles meet and the engagement details.  Blah, we know how this ends.

Third, the wedding dress.  Contrary to how everyone reacted seeing the dress, Diana wasn’t actually wearing it.

I snapped this picture basically because I was told not to.

Third area:  Gowns, display designed by the person that brought you Star Trek, Next Generation, I guess.

Fourth area:  the death of Diana with Elton John tribute music.  This was full with a bunch of sad WEiRDs.

Fifth area:  Humanitarian display.  This area was empty.

Gift shop:  Replica of the cake.

Holla!  Now I want cake.

Just as I was leaving the building, I ran across this, my last WEiRD of the day and by far, my favorite.

She told me she attached tulle to her ball cap to duplicate the length of Diana’s train.  I love how it looks like toilet paper in the picture.

 Ooops!  Watch out!  Someone almost stepped on your train.

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