March 27, 2001


Sharon Stone stood outside my office window in her underwear all day yesterday.

Or so I was told. I never actually caught a glimpse of her. I did, however, see thirty or forty other people walking around downtown Oakland in their unmentionables yesterday: men and women of varying shapes, sizes, ethnic backgrounds and degrees of attractiveness ... all of them dressed, from the waist-up, in expensive suit jackets and tailored blouses, and from the waist-down in boxer shorts, briefs, bikini panties, garter belts and half-slips.

Frankly, I haven't witnessed so much underwear on public display since ninth grade P.E.

And no, this isn't how we celebrate the official arrival of spring, here in the East Bay -- by stripping down to our undies in public. (Although the idea is not totally without merit. Think of how much you'd save in drycleaning!) They were obviously filming something: a movie or a television commercial, from the looks of it. For more than nine hours -- from the time I first got into the office around quarter to eight, until just before I left for home at 5:30 -- the actors milled around in the courtyard directly below my office window in carefully-choreographed confusion, in front of a solid wall of cameras and equipment and film crew personnel. Some of the extras were carrying briefcases. A couple of them were pretending to talk on cell phones. One guy pretended to eat the same soggy submarine sandwich, all day long.

All of this, mind you, in their very best Fruit of the Looms and Hanes Her Way.

Later, we found out they were filming a commercial for an Italian bank. One of the women in the office next to ours went downstairs and brazenly offered her services as an extra. Although they politely declined her offer  --  and swiftly escorted her off set  --  she was able to provide us with lots of interesting information once she got back upstairs. Like the fact that Ms. Stone wasn't actually in her underwear. She was fully-clothed, for a change: it was the extras who were forced to walk around half-dressed. Or like the fact that Ms. Stone stood off to one side by herself for most of the day, talking to nobody. Or like the fact that this commercial will probably never ever be seen in the United States, unless it shows up someday on one of those stoopid Dick Clark/Ed MacMahon/"Foreign Commercials That Make Us Pretend To Chuckle Warmly (But Then Again EVERYTHING Makes Us Pretend To Chuckle Warmly)" TV specials.

Predictably, it was the Totem Pole Testosterone Units who clustered around my window all day yesterday.  (My office, apparently, providing the best view of the lurid proceedings below. Ned the Receptionist Guy even brought in his camera and took pictures.) The women in the office, on the other hand, were more blasé about the whole thing, especially about the prospect of catching an eyeful of Ms. Stone. It was like, Yeah, yeah ... you've seen one bikini wax, you've seen 'em all.
I'm sure it might have been a different story if it had been someone more *interesting* standing downstairs, parading around in his Speedos ... like Matt Lauer, maybe. 

(Or Ю僱êrvØ¡.)

I will tell you this, though: watching all of these people standing around outside in their skivvies yesterday, shivering in the East Bay sunshine, convinced me of one indisputable fact: Spring is finally here.

And not a minute too soon, as far as *I'm* concerned.

They wouldn't have been filming that commercial here two weeks ago. It has been a ridiculously long, ridiculously wet and dreary winter here in the East Bay, even by my somewhat soggy Pacific-Northwest-native standards. (Just because someone is born in Seattle doesn't mean they necessarily love the weather up there. OK? At least, not all the time.) Nobody would have been walking around Oakland in their Jockeys at the beginning of the month, believe me. It started raining here in the Bay Area right after the first of the year ... and it just never seemed to stop. One relentlessly dreary, wet, pukey day followed another, and another, and another. My hair was always flat, my sinuses were always bottled-up, and the local TV weather puppets were always apologizing. By the end of February, I was starting to lose my mind.

"I moved to California to get awaaaaaaaay from the rain!" I whined to David.

This of course is not true. I didn't move to California merely for weather reasons, any more than I'm marrying David merely for his magnificent broad shoulders, beautiful translucent blue eyes and incredibly gigantic palms. But the crappy weather was making me cranky and short-sighted.

David kept trying to reassure me that it was only temporary: that the rain would let up eventually ... that there was an end in sight ... that spring was on the way. "Don't you remember," he said, "it was just like this last year? And the year before that?"  But I didn't want to hear it. This may be my third Bay Area spring, but that doesn't mean I've memorized the weather patterns, forcryingoutloud. Neither did I want to hear about how much worse other parts of the country had it. It was snowing in Buttfork, South Dakota on Valentines Day? Big deal. That's what they get for living in a stoopid place like BUTTFORK, SOUTH DAKOTA. I just wanted it to stop raining.  Right here, right now.

And eventually ... it did stop.

I'm not completely sure when it finally stopped raining. I wasn't paying attention, frankly. I was so busy bitching and moaning and complaining about it, for all these weeks, that I completely missed that magic moment when the sun broke through the clouds and the mud puddles dried up and the birds crawled out from under their rocks and burst into song. (I'll bet there was a rainbow, too, and I missed it. Damn.)  In fact, it took something as unexpected -- something as visually jarring -- as looking out my window yesterday morning and seeing a bunch of people strutting around in their underwear, I guess, for me to realize that spring has indeed sprung.


Now that I'm aware of it, though, I am absolutely beside myselves with joy. Spring is here!  Warm, sunny, clear, lovely, non-cranky/non-rainy/no-umbrellas-allowed SPRING! 

Of course, four weeks from now I'll be complaining about hay fever and UV rays and network re-runs.  But for the moment I am simply revelling in the pure pleasure of spring.

But I'm doing it fully-clothed, thankyouverymuch. 

throw a rock