All Balls Itch

Another girl pretending to be a guy so she can write freely. And not get fired. Or divorced. Or lose friends.

That Wasn’t On The Menu

I rarely take my clients up on their offers for dinners or drinks. Mainly because I work with a bunch of gossipy bitches and I don’t want stories circulating about my inability to keep my pants on. Convention Guy Syndrome is real and it’s not to be toyed with. I treat this condition with the care of a petrie dish of Ebola or a brick of C4.

But Ebony is a fellow black woman of a certain age who has had to balance the shaky tightrope of talking professionally and talking white. She’s tiny and fun and someone who I look up to professionally. She can talk to anyone at any time, flawlessly. I fully expect that if she was dropped in the middle of a KKK rally, she’d have them in conga line singing “I’m black and I’m proud”. She’s THAT good.

After a hectic day at work, I was exited to see her pull up in her giant SUV with gorgeous smile. Of course, she’s a master multitasker so she was finishing a phone call as I ambled into her truck.

We hugged, we laughed. She was telling me about her new husband when she stopped abuptly, mid-sentence to ask “Hey, do you mind if we make a quick stop before we go to dinner?”

No problem!

We continued to chat and laugh until she parked the car. In front of a piercing shop.

ME: You getting something pierced?
EBONY: Yup, my hood!!

She went on to tell me how she’d been thinking about it for awhile, that her husband is out of town and she wanted to surprise him when he got home. I mean, her smile was so big. Like kid-gets-Xbox-on-Christmas big. I didn’t have the heart to curse her ass out for springing this on me.

We walk into the shop with all the grace of hippos on rollerskates, giggling and clicking our heels on the wooden floor.

Not So Subtle, Party of 2.

The Piercer was not amused and had that look of a Planned Parenthood doctor the Sunday after Spring Break. Ebony wanted the shiniest piece they had on display, but The Piercer said that piece was better suited for belly buttons. After a very clinical, and not all that titilating, discussion about the variety of hood sizing (there’s lots) and aftercare (there’s washclothing involved), and heeling (about a month), and bacterial avoidance (use condoms); we went back to the room to see what size rod Ebony needs for her hood.

SIDENOTE: This this only the third time I’ve seen Ebony ever in life and the first where we’ve hung out socially.

While Ebony dropped her pants, I become deeply fascinated by the photos in the wall. I assume the awkwardness of the handholding here is implied and there is no need to detail JUST how strange an experience it was.

Ebony and The Piercer settled on a size and we went back to the waiting room for paperwork and crack. OK, there was no crack but I would have tried it had it been available. Because sitting in a room with someone I semi-barely know with her pants around her ankles is also on my last of things I never thought I would do.

I was perusing the other patrons, wondering how many of them were also putting holes in their nether regions, when Ebony shouts “I wonder what SHE’S getting done!”

SHE was clearly a stripper.

ME: I’m pretty sure a piercing shop is kind of like ‘the clinic’– you can’t just run around asking people what they’re in for.
EBONY: No, that’s prison. Hey, what are you getting done?
SHE: My nipples.
EBONY: I HEARD THAT HURTS!!
SHE: I heard that, too. But the hood was quick. You’ll be fine.

Ebony heads back into the room and I try not to fantasize She’d backstory. Is she a mom undercover in a strip club trying to find evidence for her wrongfully jailed son? Or is she saving money to escape her abusive husband like Jennifer Lopez in’Enough??

FRONT DESK GUY: Um, She? You indicated that you haven’t has a substantial meal in the last 2 hours. When was the last time you ate?
SHE: Um… Breakfast?… Yeah, it was breakfast yesterday?

(What the what?!? I ate 2 hours before Ebony picked me up. And I could totally eat again! Remember to research ‘Tweaker Stripper Diet’ when I get home).

FRONT DESK GUY: Well, you’re going to experience a rush of hormones in your body and you could pass out. You really should eat something.
SHE: Can I eat this candy on your counter?
FRONT DESK GUY: you really need something more substantial. Try a granola bar and a Coke.

Kudos to Front Desk Guy for making the experience of poking permanent hole in your fun bags a safe one.

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Tom Getting Married

TOM GETTING MARRIED

Everyone has a college boyfriend that “turns out” gay, right?

Long before “Will & Grace” and Twitter was a time and place where you didn’t just release all your shit into the universe. Back then, you crowded around a tiny dorm room with your sorority sisters and wrote a pros/cons list while sneaking shots of tequila:

Reasons To Date Tom
PRO
1. Has his own house (no more sleeping on futons or mattresses on sticky frat house floors!)
2. He’s 6’9″ so I will feel tiny!
3. President of his fraternity means I get to go to more socials
4. SUPER outgoing. I could take him to a party and not babysit his ass all night.
5. Doesn’t drink. Can anyone say, Designated Driver?!?
6. Cooks, like actual food. Not just spaghetti.
7. Sings and plays piano. How cute was it when he serenaded me at formal? Sure it was a show tune I’d never heard of, but still…

CON
1. His penis is enormous. The guy uses Magnum condoms. (Ooh, his new code name is Tom Selleck. You know, MAGNUM, P.I.)
2. Pretty sure he’s into dudes

My dating experience was limited. I never got to mean-girl some poor kid who dared approach me with a wilted daisy and an eye-contactless nearly inaudible, “doyouwanttogooutwithme?”. If you asked the question, the answer was yes. I’m like the community college. Everyone got in.

When Tom asked me to his fraternity formal, I was in the heels of a breakup with Jack the Townie. You know, the 26 year old manager at the Jack In The Box across from the campus. Jack was confident and sweet and a sharp departure from the drunken “I’ve always wanted to fuck a black chick” proposals that I getting far too frequently. He called me at work to see how my day was going and called me sweetheart in a non-pimpy, make-a-gal blush way. Eventually, I spent 3 nights a week at Jack’s house where we stayed up late talking about life and cuddling and not having sex out of kindness and respect. “When the time is right..I don’t want to rush it with you.” Should I have been surprised when his roommate said “You know he’s dating other girls, right?”. Um, no. No, I didn’t. After angry-sexing the roommate, I decided Jack may not be a good choice for me after all.

Enter Tom, the sensitive, non-drinking, might-be-gay, asexual, virgin.

Clearly, Tom and I turned out not to be an ideal match, but we’ve remained friends and kept up with each others lives. I’ve had dinners with him and his dates, ogled over photos of Tom’s fiance on Facebook. I managed not to punch him in the wiener when he met my then-fiancé, shook his hand warmly and said, “Me and Terry used to do the nasty!”.

Did I mention Tom’s inappropriate sharing and penchant for ‘the perfect icebreaker’ as keys to our demise?

Tom sent me and invitation to his wedding, which I happily accepted, with a warning that I WILL be greeting his husband in the exact manner met mine. Unfortunately, I see the whole thing backfiring and Tom introducing me to EVERYONE in this impertinent manner.

Boys…

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My Gym Sucks Balls

I used to go to the high-priced gym.  The one where the staff looked like they stepped out of an issue of Steroids &  Pheromones Weekly.  People who would lift your car to get your post-exercise Cinnabon that rolled there.  Then punch you in the face for buying it.  Those folks who know where the fuck a lat or trap is; and only consume calories, not food.  Those who use the gym shower to shower and not as a changing room for the modest and not-at-all stealth.

Dude, I SEE your socks!

But I wanted shoes more than I wanted to rid myself of that pesky roll of backfat, so I downgraded to the ‘affordable’ gym. The one that smells like bacon grease and despair.

When My Boy and I went on our international vacation, I was identity-thefted.   After frustrating bouts of uncommon sense with the bank and the police station, I’d forgotten to update sad-gym with my new credit card number. Heaven forbid, they miss my $12.11 monthly payment.  But I did get a call from a boy whose voice cracked and very probably was masking a chubby behind the front counter.  I explained to Boner Boy what happened and gave him my credit card.

Problem solved.

Then I get a letter in the mail from wackadoo-gym saying they still can’t charge my card. And my annual membership was due.  Even though I’d only been at the gym for 6 months.  After I looked up the word “annual” in the dictionary, I decided to visit the crazytown-gym in person.  Where I was greeted by Katy Perry. Or her angry little sister.  I showed Not Katy the letter was sure to explain to her the situation using 1-syllable words.  Because Katy was smiling like I had a gun to her head (yeah, I must’ve had my Angry Black Girl Face on again).  Not Katy took out one of those carbon copy slips and rubbed my card number with the pink bobby pin holding back her bangs.

Problem Solved.

Four days later I open my email and get a “Hey, loser, your card was declined AGAIN” message from the crack-gym.  That is NOT bcc’d to everyone with payment issues that month.  Yup, the put everyone’s email address in the “To” field and I can tell you the name and email address of everyone who decided to buy ho-hos instead of pay their gym bill. Normally, I would hang my head in shame because, let’s be real, this is NOT the first time I’ve gotten this message.  But this time it was TOTALLY NOT MY FAULT.

I immediately call unprofessional-gym and get connected to Not Katy.  She says “Oh, I remember you!  Are you sure you paid? Everyone who paid has their name crossed off a list and your name is not crossed off.”  While I jog her memory about the pink bobby pin and revisit the definition of ‘remember’, I explain that it is possible that there may be a flaw in the gym’s ultra high-tech accounting procedures.  And then I ask to speak to a manager.

SPICOLI: Oh, shit! Are you serious?

ME:  Um, yes. I will forward you the email for your reference. What’s your email?

SPICOLI:  Oh, I’m not laughing because I don’t believe you, I’m laughing because that’s crazy.

ME: What’s your email?

SPICOLI:  The accountant is out for the weekend.

ME: Then I should email it to you so you have it on file when she gets back on Monday.

SPICOLI:  But she won’t be back until Monday.

ME: So I will just forward it back to the email I got it from.

SPICOLI:  Yeah, yeah. And I will totally hook you up with a t-shirt the next time you come in.

Yes, that’s a great idea. Because I want a souvenir to remember you by.

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Geek Handsome

Apparently DirectTV and Viacom are on a break and I’m like the kid mommy and daddy are trying to keep the divorce from.  It took me 20 minutes of flipping though the damn “Mix Channels” before I realized something was amiss with MTV and VH-1.  And I have to say, I really don’t miss either one.   The brain cells that were deadened by Mob Wives Chicago and Real World 9,000 have been sent to rehab and are recovering nicely.

Thank you, Viacom. Your bitchassness has served me well.

I channel-surfed to figure out which channels I still had and screeched to a halt on TV Guide’s 25 Sexiest Geeks. Two of my favorite things in one place:  lists and geeks.  The secret is out. While my lady parts shudder for Joe Manganiello and Taye Diggs, my heart pitter-patters for Raj Koothrappali and Jonah Hill.  I want Joe to pick me up and spin me like pizza dough.  I want Taye to feed me grapes topless.  And then watch him floss a little.  I want flash Raj and watch him blush.  I want to take Jonah to Banana Republic to try on new, big boy clothes.

So I grabbed a club soda and was all set to indulge in my geek fantasy.  But we must remember this is Hollywood and their idea of geek is Drew Barrymore.  Mine is the kid in high school whose acne was so bad it would spontaneously bleed.  Theirs, Courtney Cox. Mine, the non-alcohol drinking virgin who refused to pay for my drink but asked if he should bring a condom when he came over to watch a movie. Theirs, Anne Hathaway.  Mine, the guy who brought me a his class photo for my wallet. On our second date.

Weirdos. But endearing weirdos.

Here is really who SHOULD have been on that damn list.

1.  Brian Krakow

Sure, he was a total dick to Delia, but that’s only because Angela Chase didn’t tell him that she was using him to get back at Jordan Catalano.  To his credit, he told Delia that she was his second choice, but a close second. Because Krakow is nothing if not honest.  And true to himself.  While everyone else was rocking the grungy flannely look, Brian clung to his jewfro and Bill Cosby sweaters and ‘like’ like a lot.

2.  Colin Frissell

Colin is the self-proclaimed god of sex and this American girl does dig his cute British accent. The singular focus and unflappable confidence makes me all giggly.  What other cater waiter could tell the actual caterer that her creations taste like a dead baby’s finger? Plus, he was besties with 1 of only 2 black people in the movie, so there’s that.

3.  Hoyt Fortenberry

Bless his little virgin-who-lives-at-home heart.   You’d think working in construction and being best friends with Jason “Crowned Whore of Bon Temps” Stackhouse would get him some collateral tail, but my boy falls for the only virgin vampire for miles.

4.  Jeremy Lin

He’s wearing a freaking bowtie.  And is entirely too proud of it.

5.  Rebel Wilson

While I’m fairly certain small puppies and my soul were killed in the making of it, I will probably see Pitch Perfect because I loved her in Bridesmaids. And I may be a lesbian.

6.  Jesse Eisenberg/Michael Cera

I’m gonna have to play the “all white people look the same card” on this hand because I genuinely do have a hard time telling them apart.  The constant jacking their characters get on screen makes me want to hung them tight. Or pull them into my cleavage to see how long it takes to get motorboated.  Or suffocate.

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Girls Who Don’t Blog Are Bitches

I think back to a time when I lamented the lack of female friendships in my life. A time when I believed some part of my feminine genetic code was askew because I  was incapable of bonding with women.

Until I had a blog.  A tepid little blog that first introduced me to her ,then opened me up to meeting her and her.  Then I went to BlogHer and embarrassed myself meeting her, was taken under her wing, felt like giggly little school girl meeting her as introduced by her.  You get the point. I’m people who know people. Well, just those people really, but I learned I am  capable of connecting with people who ovulate.   And The Ovulators are complex and brilliant and hilarious and gorgeous in not just appearancy ways.  So I decided to expand my circle and jump in the pink pool with wild abandon. I accepted every invitation from every gal that would have me.  Brunch? Sure.  Your Mary Kay party?  Heck, yeah!   Birthday of the girl who will whip out a doobie in the limo?  Why not?  After giving it a go for a couple of years, I learned one very important thing-

Girls who don’t blog are bitches.

In the last week, I’ve had 2 non-blog relationships go horribly awry.  A little perspective, please.  Kim Kardashian and Kanye West = Awry.  Flavor Flav and Brigette Nielsen = Horribly Awry.

Yeah. Holy, fucking, shit, balls.

Instead of dwelling on the she said/she said of it all, I will break it down into 6 Simple Rules for Friendship:

1.  There is a chance that I will say something about you behind your back.  It’s usually because I’m trying to figure out if something you said or did was just strange to me or if it is considered universally strange.  And if it is universally strange, why you’re not aware of it.  Is your inability to be aware of your strangeness a permanent condition or are you just having a day?  In any case, I’m not seeking perfection in my relationships.  You’re not an outfit that I need to wear to premiere.  You’re a person.  Everyone has a quirk. Quirks are what make you, you.  Unless your quirk makes me want to punch in the face and, in which case, I’ll just ignore you.

2. Don’t ask me if someone else has talked about you.  My general belief is, if they wanted to tell you, they would.  If that doesn’t make sense to you, please refer to the previous rule.

3.  If you found that I have talked about you, I will own up to it.  As long as it won’t get me fired or divorced, I have no problem owning up to anything I’ve said.  More often than not, what you’ve heard is (a) out of context and (b) said in a tone that likely wasn’t mine.  I also won’t throw another person under the bus to clear my ass, so you will get a version that is from my perspective.

4.  rarely take sides.  I am more than happy to listen to you vent about your parent/sibling/spouse/colleague/neighbor/waiter/waxer/endocrinologist/sherpa/cat whisperer/rival blogger/etc., but I will never jump on the YEAH, THAT PERSON IS DOUCHE! LET’S SLASH THEIR TIRES!  I believe that you have chosen to keep the people in your life in your life for a reason and it’s not my job to tell you who to vote off the island.  I will likely play devil’s advocate and work with you to figure out why that person has acted this way in this instance and offer suggestions on how you should proceed.  Because I only have your side of the story.  And while I don’t believe you to be a liar, I do believe in the fine art of making yourself look better to an outsider.  So if you want someone to jump on Team You and come out with a sword and a cat-o-9 tails, I’m nots the one.  However, I WILL be there to help you move/wiener punch/drive the getaway car/buy you a drink should you sever that relationship.

5.  I’m sensitive and I’d like to stay that way.  Aggressive doesn’t look good on me. I don’t have a cute cry, nor do I have sensible rage.  Most of the time I’m a shell-less turtle.  I’m nice because I don’t see any reason not to be.  And because nice people generally don’t get shanked.  So please don’t try to alter me in order to suit you.

6.  If you don’t like me, leave me the fuck alone. I don’t need you to tell me all the things you find offensive about me. We don’t need to have “the talk”.  We don’t need time off or a break or distance, what we need is to pretend like one of us had died and move the fuck on.

That’s all.

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Bitch, Please.

One of the things that has kept me away from blogging is the fear of getting discovered and thusly fired because of what I post here.  I realize bigger better bloggers have blazed that trail and are not subsisting on cat food nor are they turning tricks to survive.  And thanks to quick response to my random email from Kristy, I’m gonna give it a go.

I mean, I have advanced degrees.  I’m cute.  And nice.  And black.  And some place is going to have some affirmative action quota they need to fill, so there’s that.

Over the last 7 years, I’ve had a pretty bumpy career.  I think it’s because my first 3 professional years were so amazing that my expectations for the World of Work were set pretty high.  My first 3 years I worked in an environment of unbridled support and mutual respect.  We picked up the ball for each other without worrying that we’d be working unpaid overtime.  We did happy hours, celebrated birthdays, went to each other’s weddings, laughed, grunted through work so it never felt like work.  I was inspired. I was happy. I was doing exactly what I my high-priced education prepared me to be doing.  And then shit changed. People got promoted. They got egos. Divisions were made between us and them.  It was like being friends with a divorcing couple.  And I stuck it out for 2 more years until I saw the underside of a bus.  Since then I’ve followed jobs where it starts out all sunshine and promise and that THIS time will be different. Until it’s not.

So I changed industries.  Followed the money with a big company. The one where I felt a little tingle in my bottom every time I saw the logo on TV.  Where work/life balance is not only non-existent, but people take pride in the amount of time they spend away from their real lives.  Where sending an email at 3am is a badge of honor and walking around the office with an IV of coffee and speed are strongly encouraged.  While I’ve never been one to chase awards (I’d rather see your appreciation on my pay stub), it was starting to come.  At first my recognitions were well-received by my colleagues.  Then I got a promotion and that shit changed real quick.

In an office of 70+, there are 7 men.  And, besides me, 4 black women.  While I pride myself on being able to get along with just about anyone (some of my best friends are white!…actually ALL of them are), I seem to be running into some issues lately.  The newest being one that is “older” and has questioned my qualifications since the day I arrived.

The frustrating thing is she has a very Holly Hobby, kindergarten teacher manner.  Her voice is soft and sing-songy and I let her get away with starting sentences with “Girl” because punching her in the face would be rude.  I’m essentially her assistant on a project with very picky clients.  Most of the other people I’ve assisted have scheduled a meeting with me to say “This is what I need from you, this is what I expect, how I want information to come from you, and when I need it.”  Done and done. I can work with ANYONE if you’re clear with me.  Now if you expect me to meander through the cobwebs of your mind, we’re gonna have problems.

Which is what we have now. Problems.

I take notes on all of our calls with the clients email them to her.  Since I am pretty detailed in this process, most people I assist either send them directly to the client or give me a heads up on what they’ve changed before sending it.  Not her. She changed a bunch of crap, assigned it to me,  and didn’t alert me to it until the day before our next client meeting. And then got pissed at me for not having it ready.  While I was out of town.

It’s MY process that I know more than my assistants, so I can delegate tasks appropriately.  On our last client call she asked me some key questions, I felt, she should have known and then threw me under the bus.  When I scheduled a “Hey, let’s talk about your style/process” call with her, she asked me if I wanted to go through each point in my job description to make sure I understood it.

(sigh).

I’m adding “mind reader” to the “Other Duties As Assigned” and moving the fuck on.

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and that’s how hard it was

They call me Uncle Tom. Oreo. Coconut.

Wannabe. Tryanbe.  Neverbe.

A fake. A sellout. A shame.

I call me Me.

With no pretense or plan.  No aspirations for capitalized title. A moniker.  An also known as.  I just wanted calm. Peace. Stability.  Only I was looking for clouds with a metal detector– thinking every beep and light signaled that I was going in the right direction. It took me until now to realize not every sign and sound is indicative of divine intervention. Sometimes a noise is just a noise.

But these are things people learn in stable homes, right? Or at least that’s the plan. That two people come together and cultivate a person that is more than themselves.  A person who will know from creation what it took these two decades of stubbed toes and bruised parts to know is true—that confidence is everything.  So the parents tell kids things that make them believe they are special and smart and loved.  Parental units establish a practice community through sleepovers, AYSO, the scouts; so progeny learn life’s lessons before scars set up residence permanently. So that your kid can look danger, heartbreak, solace, and challenge square in the eye with a smirk that raises only one side of their mouths and says, “Bring it, asshole.”

I know these lives exist because I (un)consciously surround myself with them. I have a homing beacon for the stable and I hitch myself to their trajectories like a stubborn sea barnacle. Every friend I had growing up (and they were few) exuded confidence as though it was their given right.  As though it never occurred to them there was any other way to be. They were the type of people everyone called by both names. The Jake Ryans. The Ferris Buellers. Whereas I, in all of my awkward and confusion, was just Duckie. The Freshman. The Basketcase.

From what I can cobble together from years of overshares about their marriage, my parents had no business being together. Only neither of them knew it at the time.  Had it existed 40 years ago, eHarmony would have referred them to ePickSomeoneElseFool.  Like a dream pair of shoes that don’t go with anything in your closet, but you know that if you brought them home you’d find some way to make them go.  Yeah, that was them.  Only my dad is all flannel and polyester and NOTHING goes with that.  But they were bright and young with promising futures and they made sense on paper.  My dad had little family and my mom, who’s parents both remarried (white people, ironically, but more on that later), had tons.  Unfortunately, my dad had a plan for how he wanted his family constructed that he either didn’t communicate with my mom or it was one she thought he was kidding about.  Mainly because it deviated from their dating life so drastically.  My dad wanted to go from dancing in clubs to the wee hours, smoking stuff I was told not to, weekends in the Poconos playing spades with their couple-friends; to coming home to a hot meal prepared by his voluntarily unemployed housewife and 2 happy young girls who couldn’t wait to hand daddy the remote so they could all watch the Jets game together.  My mom’s version conjures images of a tanned Al Bundy with a better job and no dog.

They separated when I was 2.

For a time, my mom raised my sister and I in a Brooklyn high rise and I recall constant visits with my dad.  Puppet shows, amusement parks, movies, weekends at the Connecticut hotel where we swam until we looked like pink bathing suited prunes.  People muse that I learned to swim so young, but today his teaching “method” would be called to question. Had anyone seen my giant father in his sadly tropical trunks drop his infant child off the high dive, they would have called Child Protective Services. I, literally, had to sink or swim.  But I think about that time with a mix of unbridled love and cynicism. This huge man carting around 2 girls, with a 7-year age gap, could not have been easy. What do a 5 year old and a 12 year old both find entertaining? What’s with all the pink? Why do they cry so easily?  But we managed…. with some assistance from The Girlfriends.  Oh, the girlfriends.

In retrospect, I get that my dad must’ve been this major catch.  Great job, loving and supportive of his children, can fix anything, loves to eat out, likes nice things, and generous.  Hugh Hefner meets Bill Cosby meets Bob The Builder.  But The Girlfriends were a United Colors of Benetton ad with Rosie Perez accents.  Short, tall, skinny, fat, kids, no kids, international, domestic.  When I was small, I loved The Girlfriends because they doted the hell on me.  My sister was a harder nut to crack, because my adult eyes now tell me she saw through their thinly veiled plan.  They knew they couldn’t get to him through her, so they all went through me. The weak one in the pack.  My affection would be bought and sold with candy, clothes and Barbies.  “Daddy, when are we going to The Girlfriend #1s house?”  “Not now, we’re going to Girlfriend #3. And don’t say a word about us spending the light at Girlfriend #2s house!”.  When I mention this to him now, he says “What? I wasn’t married!”

My bad.

Eventually Brooklyn and the Bronx felt far too close and my mother relocated us to Southern California when I was 6.  No Kramer vs. Kramer moment. No tearful “I promise to write you every day” departure. Just one day I lived in snow and the next I lived in sunshine.

And that’s how hard that was.

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