Saturday, January 29, 2011

Take A Bite Of: Cream of Mushroom soup

I love soup. Oh, I do. And I wish I loved all the broth-and- vegetable- only combination the most. But no. My favorite soups are creamy and thick, Cream of Mushroom at the top of the list. But I have good news for you. My most recent culinary foray is into the world of soups. My mission is to create the same soups I love but in much healthier format. Most cream based soups involve a lot of butter, a lot of cream, and then some more butter and cream.  But I have made multiple soups in the past two weeks that pack all the thick and creamy you need and are super healthy. Here is my new favorite to share with you. From my kitchen to yours, enjoy every bite.

JennyMac's Cream of Mushroom soup 
1 T butter
2 garlic cloves
½ shallot
White pepper
Ground or fresh thyme
12 oz mushrooms, sliced
¼ c flour
2 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
Croutons or crostini

In a medium pot over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Chop two garlic cloves and ½ of a small shallot. Add to the pot stirring several times. Allow the heat to sweat the aromatics for several minutes.  Add your mushrooms and stir. Saute until mushrooms begin to expel liquid and darken in color. At this point I added about 2 teaspoons of white pepper (it adds a LOT of kick so if kick is not your thing, add it in smaller increments) and a teaspoon of ground thyme. If you do not have white pepper or thyme, use smaller amounts of ground pepper, salt and other seasonings you like. If you want some great ideas about pairing flavors and food, I got the most amazing book for Christmas: The Flavor Bible.

Add 2 cups of stock and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using an immersion blender, place the blender in the pot and begin to puree the soup. If you do not have an immersion blender, you can use transfer the soup in portions to a blender or food processor. (You should also buy an immersion blender because they are incredibly handy. I use the Cuisinart. LOVE! One of my top ten kitchen gadgets.)

You can blend the soup completely to be perfectly smooth or you can puree only a portion to give it a smooth texture but still great pieces of mushroom.

Top with croutons or crostini. I also used a drizzle of white truffle oil. Delicious.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You and all your honking

One balmy afternoon, I was in the car with my Mom chatting away en route to lunch when a car pulled unexpectedly and aggressively in front of us. Next thing I know I hear several blasts of the car horn and a splash of inappropriate language. After taking it all in, I looked, wide-eyed at my Mom. She is suddenly and momentarily speechless.

And then I say "Mmm, sorry. For that little outburst."

I had lived in Atlanta only about six months at this time. My Mom was unaware I was becoming quite savvy regarding Atlanta traffic. And clearly well-versed in it too. Atlanta, where the morning or evening commute can take longer than it takes bring a child to term, has a way of taking a nice young lady who would not think of honking and swearing at cars into Lady Rage of the Roadway. I have endured some painful traffic experiences over the past decade. However, I am more crafty now. It helps we live in the city and I now work ten minutes away, we use back roads to many destinations including MiniMac's school and we know how to time it right (usually) to avoid the highest volume and worst scenario traffic whenever possible.

But the early and long exposure to it produced a very bad result. I am a chronic honker. I admit it. And it is not like I do it because someone asked me to honk if I love Jesus either. I am a honker. And no longer a dainty "oh, pardon me, Miss..." style honker either. More like: ARE YOU _________ KIDDING ME style like I should be penning lyrics for Eminem.

Me and all my honking. It is a weakness. I confess. Oh, and I already know it is not exactly nice. But isn't it necessary at times? Even a little bit?And it is not like I honk at every car or driver. Only the a-holes. But, oh, there are plenty.

Now, before I go further, let me clarify I am a portal of patience and kindness when MiniMac is in the car with me. In fact, many of you may recall that when MiniMac was about 18 month old, I honked at a car coming out of a blind driveway so they could proceed out of that driveway safely. Like Pavlov's dog, my tiny son heard the horn and said firmly, "Move IDIOT."  Yes, I know it could be worse. My husband, ahem, told me that already. Why? Because he is the one who taught our son this horn + unpleasantries combinatinon. So I had to do spin control and spent the next several car trips teaching my son that when we honk, we say, "HI FRIENDS!" Really, I do not want to say "HI FRIENDS" but I also don't want to hear my son come home, or worse, go to his Grandparents and repeat things that sound like he went to Andrew Dice Clay Training Camp for D-bags.

However, when my son is not in the car, oh my. I somehow think the horn has become my bugle of consciousness. An instant "You are a terrible driver" song note. But unfortunately, it is also like a call for a duel. Not only is traffic here worse than gang initiation, you will also see the following pattern. Driver 1 is a dumbarse and pulls in front of you or cuts you off. You honk. Driver 1 flips you off or yells something not so innocent or kind and involving you doing dirty things to yourself. No peace is restored. No conflict is resolved. And Driver 1 speeds off with her "My son is an honor roll student at Sunnyside Elementary" sticker blazing in the sun. Really.

So today, I was driving home and a woman, on her cell phone, because she is sooooooooooooooo busy, pulled in front of me as I was going through an intersection. She had a red light which means DO NOT do that. But it happened. I was tempted to honk. But then I finally realized a horn honk only works for mating geese. It does not deter fools from being foolish. And peace is not restored. And conflict is not resolved.

So I was a big girl. And I didn't honk. And then I wanted to say WOW, what a grown up I am. And then toot my own horn. Which would have required honking. And would have defeated the purpose of the first drill. Instead, I turned the volume up louder and the situation passed. I thought, no need to get surly and honk when I can simply listen to Vanilla Ice sing Ice Ice Baby. Because admit it, MANY of you still know (and sing) every word to that song when you hear it. I am not the only one. So I sang  to the extreme I rock a mike like a vandal. Thankfully Eye of the Tiger was not playing or who knows what might have happened.

So I now resolve to stop honking the horn at others. Except of course, to say "Hi Friends" when I truly mean it. I will let you know my profess after Friday traffic sinks in starting at about 2 pm.  But I better plan ahead and put Ice Ice Baby on a loop. Happy driving. Friends!

Monday, January 24, 2011

What's in a name?

There was a time when nicknames were stylish or a testament to awe: Joltin' Joe DiMaggio, Broadway Joe Namath, Air Jordan, Wilt the Stilt. Elvis Presley was the King of Rock and Roll. Sinatra and his crew were the Rat Pack. Growing up, a friend's Dad was nicknamed Sharky Easy. I thought this the coolest of nicknames and extra fantastic we, the kids, could call him that as well.

JohnnyMac received that nickname in college. One night, my friends heard it his old college roommate call him such. Unaware this name was reserved to a certain band of brothers, they began to call him that. As did I followed by my entire family and all of my friends. Months later he did advise the name was more of a reference point to a certain era of his coming of age. Well, not any more. I told him I cant wait until our son and his friends can call him JohnnyMac. My own in-house version of Sharky Easy.

But as an elementary school kid, nicknames are rarely beneficial to your social status. While I was on the front end of peer pressure, I still had my turn. In junior high school, a sassy rascal pants-ed me. This was an unhip version of snapping bra straps (I had no bra straps! dammit!) So I got the nickname Peach Fuzz. Seriously? But in 7th grade, puberty was still a long train ride away for me. This was the drawback and benefit of living in an era where all the dairy and meat products were not laced with steroids and antibiotics in that girls grew at a normal pace. In 9th grade, a wretchedly sassy troublemaker donned me Flatty Patty. By the way, I can't help my genetics. And my name isn't Patty, dumbarse. Who knew I wouldn't grow out of it until high school, figuratively AND literally.

Once that lazy and late visitor puberty finally made me grow upward and outward I was free! Only to find out that a boy we knew would don me with a new nickname that was even worse. I remember my step-dad telling me this pearl of wisdom: Don't react to it. Are you kidding me? I remember thinking....umm, WOW, that is profound. Except, I am a teenage girl. Control emotions? Do not react? You might as well have asked me to wear a prom dress made of scrambled eggs. 

Of course, all of my close girlfriends had nicknames in high school more hypocoristic than destructive. Ditto that for girlfriends from college. It is challenging for me now NOT to call my girlfriends those names: TazBudPoo, FernBernWern, NatSprat, Tigger (who was also Snortin Norton), Action Jackson, Bell from Hell, Muppet, Jodio, MarciaGarcia, ShaNaNa.

I am certain this induction into the fun of nicknaming honed my creative skills and I have coined a few nicknames myself over time. And since the universe is fair, I think I have earned the chance to give a few out. Believe me, none as socially reprehensible as "PeachFuzz".

My intent is never malicious but mostly descriptive. I will admit, I ran with a wickedly clever crew in graduate school and in the middle of learning about Civil Procedure and Tort Law, we were the absolute worst about nicknaming. I think back and it was a long, long list: RedLegs, Gargamel, the Porpoise, Frosty, Wrinkle, DomPerignon...ahhh, the mere recall transports me back in time. And I think I would take being called Peach Fuzz over Gargamel. If you do not know who Gargamel is, he is the nasty man who torments the Smurfs. If the cloak fits...

BUT, a former beau once told me that his Dad was such a great golfer and made it all look easy. I thought he said his Dad was called Easy Eddie. When I met his Dad, who is a fantastic person with a great personality, I called him Easy Eddie. I proceeded to call him Easy Eddie. For two years. Before being asked at the dinner table with about 20 people why I called him Easy Eddie. I explained the golf reference. And then was advised his nickname was Steady Eddie. Uh oh. My beau apparently didn't have the heart to tell me.  The nickname theory can backfire.  


And a guy friend once asked if he could set up my roommate with his friend "Porkchop." Ummmm. No. We were 31 at the time. Do you want to be called Porkchop at 31?

Once, at my BFF's house, we were discussing her pregnancy and potential names. She made her husband tell me his list which I deconstructed by demonstrating the many (and awful) nicknames we could create from said list. My BFF laughed and said, "SEE! I told you we can not name our baby ___, ____, or _____." Oops.

When we found out we were pregnant, as we discussed names, you know I put my brain in overdrive to test the potentially ill-fated nickname our yet to be named baby might suffer. I worked those names from every angle and since the baby's sex would be a surprise, we landed on two very solid names. (Oh, and I learned you NEVER tell anyone your name beforehand if you do not want them doing what I did to my BFF's husband.)

They clearly passed the nickname test but the day may come when our son has a nickname. I hope it is a good one. Not Gargamel. Or Porkchop.  The day may also come where he dishes out nicknames to his friends, or worse, us. Maybe we can simply remain JohnnyMac and JennyMac. And pray to all the heavens, our son doesn't grow up to call himself "The Situation."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Take A Sip Of: Warm Sangria

It is 27 degrees here right now. I would include a sarcastic statement about the weather but apparently, Mother Nature is already my frenemy so I will restrain. And hopefully not wake up tomorrow to 7 degrees. All the cold weather deters me from cold beer and drives me toward red wine. But then I came upon another tasty sensation and I have to share. Warm sangria? Yes, please. And come over, I will pour some for you as well.


Warm Sangria
1 cup frozen peaches
1 cup frozen cherries
1/4 cup sugar

Place these ingredients in a medium bowl and let stand until thawed, about 10-15 minutes. In a medium size pot, pour one bottle of dry red wine (Rioja or red table wine) and the fruit mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup peach schnapps. Serve warm in mugs.

You can also experiment with different fruit like frozen raspberries or blueberries. I have also used a bag of frozen tropical fruit bought in bulk at Costco. You can also use triple sec or straight brandy. *Use grape juice or white grape juice in place of wine for a delicious non-alcoholic version.

Comments are off. Except to our friends in FL and AZ, everyone else: stay warm. PS: Mother Nature, you are so pretty. And talented. And I have learned recently, VERY creative. But I love it when you are in a good mood.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Chicken Lady strikes again ( & How to avoid acting crazy when your son brings home a girlfriend)

Ok, so now that I have shared an amusing anecdote of dating, I did receive some hilarious emails and comments. Several of which asked me if I ever heard or saw Darren again. I shared with some of you that when I met him he was very attractive, seemingly put together, and quite successful. Primarily because his boss clearly never had late night Donkey Kong tournament over at Darren's parents' house. How he hid this secret side from me for so long, I shall never know. So no, I never saw him again. Ironically, I DID hear from his mother again. So let me share some more dirt. Several months after the chickenpalooza, I receive a call very early one Sunday morning. This is how it goes down:

Ring ring.
Me: Hello
Unknown caller: Is Jennifer there?
Me: This is.
Unknown caller: Is Darren there?
Me: Is this a prank call? (Mind you, it is EARLY. As in, the sun nor roosters are up yet. Nor am I.)
Unknown caller: No, I am looking for Jennifer. And Darren.
Me: Who is this?
Unknown caller: Mrs. S______
Me: Silence because who is Mrs. S?
Mrs S: This is Darren's Mom. Do you remember him? You slept over at our house one night?
Me: (inner monologue: Are you *&#%#) kidding me? Because I did not know the acronym WTF yet.) and then: WOW, nice to meet you Norman Bates.
Mrs. S: Darren did not come home last night and I wanted to know if he is at your house.
Me: I have not seen your son in several months ma'am so no, he is not here.
Mrs. S: Well, he spent the night somewhere.
Me: I am sure he has a lot of options. Out of curiousity, how did you get my number?
Mrs. S: I went through his phone.
AWESOME. Because I wasn't quite thoroughly afraid of you when you crept around in the dark waiting for your grown man-child to come home and then subsequently watched me through some hole you likely drilled in the floorboards before coming down and offering me breakfast and implying I better be clothed under my blanket. Make SURE I know you have my number too and clearly, are not afraid to use it.
Me: I need to go, Mrs. S. Good luck finding your son.
Mrs. S: I guess it bothers you to know he moved on.
Me: YES. It bothers me SO very much. Or the opposite. PS: You are C-R-A-Z-Y.

This story is hilarious to me. Now. But since I have a son, and many of our friends do too, it caused me to think about how we might behave or NOT behave the first time our son's bring a young lady home. And it caused me to reflect on some interesting scenarios shared by friends or friends of friends over a decade or more of situations I would never want to be in. Come on, I met Chicken Lady. I had my turn. But these scenarios compelled me to make this list.

How to avoid acting crazy when your son brings home a girlfriend:


1. Try not to let them live at your house past age 30 unless dire financial or medical situations exist. If they MUST live at home, try not to do their laundry. And also try not to tell your son's girlfriend how he likes his laundry done. She just met you.

2. Try not to call your son's girlfriend his previous girlfriend's name. Repeatedly. When he asks you to stop, do not laugh and tell him his new girlfriend needs to "lighten up."

3. Try not to tell your son's girlfriend his previous girlfriend was so beautiful she could be on the cover of Vogue and that "clearly, not every girl can make that claim."

4. Try not to ask your son's girlfriend what method of birth control she is using. At the dinner table. In front of multiple people.

5. Try not to talk about your child's previous wedding and how amazing it was.And how much you LOVED your previous daughter-in-law. Especially when you think it possible your son has not told your new girlfriend any of the above.

6. Dad, try not to hand your son condoms in front of his new girlfriend and give a sly wink. And by all means Junior, do NOT take them from him. Buy your own condoms or if you must, discretely fetch them later.

7. Do not ask your son and his girlfriend to sleep in your bed while they are home visiting for the weekend. Do not ask this question especially if you are going to follow with the statement: Please do not have sex in there if you do.  

8. Do not fly your son and his new girlfriend home to meet you and stand AT THE AIRPORT with a clipboard in your hand which you refer to within minutes of meeting her and systematically make check marks or write notes based on her answers to your first 50 questions.

9. Do not tell your son's new girlfriend she has "great child-birthing hips." You are not the Walton Family and this is not your home on the range.

10. Try not to walk in on your son and his girlfriend having sex and then later try to discuss this situation with the girlfriend. And by the way, RW, you KNOW you should not be trying to have sex in the middle of the day in your parent's house while your parents are home especially when you lied to your girlfriend and told her there was NO WAY either of your parents would hear you. Wrong. But all of your friends found it hilarious. Sorry she broke up with you after that weekend.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Not your average sleepover...

Long before meeting JohnnyMac, I was a girl about town. More Charlotte York than Samantha Jones, mind you, but I fully embraced the freedom, experiences, and sometimes antics and anecdotes singlehood provided.

I would not change my life one bit, because each of these roads led me to to where I am now, which is exactly where I want to be.

But, let's be candid. While all of my experiences have intertwined in different ways to make this caravan of my life a great one, all roads are not created equal. Some roads were the autobahn, some were slick two lane highways, and a few, well, a few were bumpy dirt roads strewn with handfuls of empty beer bottles. And some roads were laden with rather funny stories. And those stories should be shared. This is one of those stories.

And my memory was prompted as my Mom and I were watching something this weekend and during an odd scene involving an odd character, she leaned over to me and whispered, "chicken lady..."

Let's get down to the grit. Oh, it is not exactly brief. Get your coffee.

Back in grad school, and out on the town one night, I met a guy and we began to fraternize fairly frequently. He was already a decade out of college and working downtown. One evening, after watching one of his baseball games, I make the mistake of not going home to read Criminal Procedure, and instead I join him and his team for consumption of cocktails.

We were far from the sleeping over stage but after many o' beverage, I was in no way going to drive home. He asks me to sleep over, you know, really for my safety than to try to mack on me. Mmm hmm. I ride with him, and his friend follows in my car. Such gentlemen. My car safely parked, we bid his friend adieu.

We enter this absolutely stunning house. Even in the pitch black I can tell it is massive. We go upstairs and in the midst of playing all kinds of 7th grade style grab-ass, I hear the following in a weird and whispery tone:

Darren....... would you like some chicken?

It is PITCH BLACK and I literally jump out of my skin. What is that? He flips on a light and look there, a woman is sitting on a kitchen chair. He says, "Hi Mom."

My mind is lightening quick with questions. Things like, why is your Mom at your house, in the middle of the night, sitting in the dark, offering savory snacks like its all perfectly normal.

I could not adequately voice the severity of my discomfort.  He declines the chicken. And she immediately asks Who is your friend? Not quite Joan Crawford-ish but not June Cleaver, either. Giving him a severe pummeling seemed like a fantastic idea at the moment. He grabs my hand, two bottles of water and leads us away from the situation. His first statement is something only Matlock could have deduced: He lives with his parents. He was 32. Really? I figured it out. Sign me up for 21 Jump Street.

Now we are downstairs in his man-den. A man-den which includes the entire basement of his parents house, also known as his living quarters. Fooseball. Pool table. Donkey Kong. Living at home had its perks for this cat. He tries to explain his situation and yet nothing comforts me from the previous scenario involving a creepy person lurking in the dark with a plate of barbeque fowl. So I smile brightly, like, OF COURSE! This is FANTASTIC!!

And then I see behind his pool table what appears to be a collection of Playboys. And by "collection" I mean WOW, there are hundreds and hundreds of Playboys. Playboys from back in the day when Hef wanted to name it Stag Party. He immediately told me they belonged to a friend. A friend with a big affinity for the visuals, I see. The mags were not a deterrent because any naughty intent on his part was washed out with cold water when his Mom appeared.

He then asks if I want to watch a movie. I am still buzzed, can not count the minutes fast enough until I escape, but I need more time before I can drive. So he then tells me we can watch his favorite movie. What might be his favorite movie? Godfather? No. Tommy Boy? Not quite. Good Will Hunting? Oh no. This:

Are you KIDDING ME!?!?!?! I don't even have that movie. Wait, what is that sound? Oh..that? It is your stock falling.

I fall asleep in a big chair before he wakes me up and asks if I want to sleep in his bed to be more comfortable. Sure.

It is a water bed. Because the hits just KEEP ON COMING. Water bed? 1997? Those two words and that date do NOT go hand in hand.

I decide to sleep all bundled up. As he attempts to kiss my forehead goodnight, his shoulder hits the nightstand sending a 32 ounce cup of water onto me and the pillow and sheets.

He says we can change the sheets.
Except he has no more clean sheets.
Because while having your own Donkey Kong machine MIGHT seem like the best value-add of living at home, I would rank it BEHIND another bonus called clean laundry.

But no. He chose Donkey Kong. And the late night chicken platter option. I ask if I can sleep on the couch in his man- den. He only says, "I wouldn't". OH, yum. Free DNA samples.

No buzz in the world could last thing long but now I am exhausted. I hoped that sleep would bring me a better perspective.

I wake up a few hours later. Blanketed up, rather burrito style on the Partridge Family-esque water bed. Gray light creeping through the windows. And daylight has the skill of making this place look even worse. Dim lighting is a sloppy bachelor's friend. Daylight is not.

But perhaps what is most startling is the fact there was a face about 4 inches from my face. And it wasn't his.

His Mother had come down to check on me. And to ask me if I wanted breakfast. And if I slept alright because she noticed the sheets bundled up on the floor. And was there something wrong with those sheets to cause them to be on the floor? And to imply she hoped I was dressed under my burrito blanket. I am sure the next question was going to be whether I preferred my carcass being dumped in the river or in the woods but I had no time for that.

She left and I was gathering my wits and my belongings, he woke up. I told him in a wee bit of a hiss/terse fashion You're mother was just down here asking me a dozen questions.

His answer?
I know. I pretended to be asleep.

WTF!?!?!?!

He got up to walk me out. No thank you. He tried to kiss me goodbye. No thank you. He told me he would call me later. No thank you. He asked if I still wanted to go to the Counting Crows concert. YES. DAMMIT, I really wanted to go to that concert but No, no, no and no thank you.

Because the only thing better than a 32 year old bachelor who conveniently forgets he lives at his parents house, has a Mom who sits up and waits for him to return home in a lurky fashion, has a stash of about 3000 Playboys but of course only for "a friend". The same man to whom it never occurs it might be wise to say the Lord of the Dance DVD also belongs to "a friend" and has not a clean sheet to be found, is all of those same exact qualities in a 32 year old who pretends to be asleep while his overnight guest gets interrogated by his Mommy.

See, I told you some of the roads might have been dirty and bumpy, but they were not without their share of comic value.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

We need to get the ____ out of the house.

This state is freezing.  A giant piece of ice with a few gerbil holes for breathing. And it is chaos. Why? Because we are having a bit of a snowy mayhem. Mayhem which means if it snows more than 2 flakes, we have problems. Oh, I know, I know.  Most of the U.S. is susceptible to icy weather and debilitating storms. But we are tender. Do you think we live here for the grits? 

Metro Atlanta has not a single company capable of sanding, salting or shoveling snow. We are going on the FOURTH day of no school or work. Have you ever lived in a place that closes school AND office buildings for almost a week? Neither have I, until now. Let me share an equation I crafted yesterday: 
3rd day of being trapped in house due to weather + a LOT of family togetherness + toddler with abundant energy - the Wii Running program we have already used = my idea to have a "jumping jacks" contest with MiniMac. Repeat 100 times. Genius. Someone is napping. Desperate times lead to desperate measures, people.
And friends of ours had to go out to the store yesterday. Have fun buying the last two cans of fruit cocktail in heavy syrup and deviled ham.  People are panic stricken. 
After so much family time, JMac said, "We need to get the ___ out of this house." AMEN. In sheer desperation, we bundled, and I do mean bundled, up to traverse 1 mile to go to one of our favorite restaurants. My first exclamation, "THANK YOU for being open." Living in a typically balmy city, we do not know what to do with ourselves after multiple days of being kept indoors. I have ordered several new books for my Kindle, read a new cookbook I got for Christmas, and I have made several great new recipes including wheat bread. YUM. That's the idea...stay inside, drink wine and eat bread.  Oh, and while doing my Wii workout, I was front side down on the exercise ball doing lateral arm raises with weights only to have our son see me, think I was like a new ride at Disney, and run AND jump upon my back and yell "GIDDY UP." The positive thing about being trapped inside, you certainly need a laugh.
BUT, my Mom just arrived this morning. Never mind hers was a travel pattern similar to  John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Minus the pillows of course. And we had planned a fun weekend full of enjoyment.  I need enjoyment people, Swiss Family Robinson, it is not. 


I hope you are warm. We actually see sun today and supposedly, this part of the world will resume normal temps this weekend. I hope so. We need it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A LongTalker walks into a bar

A LongTalker walks into a bar. And that is one more reason people drink: Getting stuck with a LongTalker. Oh, the LongTalker. I know you know what I mean. Someone who turns a tale that merits two minutes of time into a 30 minute sitcom (or dramcom. Or borecom.) segment.

I am all about details so do not think I am throwing rocks. Believe it, I can tell a story that takes us halfway through dinner. But is that story funny? Or entertaining? If so, tell it, tell it, tell it. And while I love details, I can trim and snip a story into 20 words or less. By that I mean, if you ask me what I made yesterday, I don't simply answer cake. I say, I made the most amazing chocolate layer cake with Italian Cream filling and raspberries in the layers. See? It is detailed but succinctly detailed. Do you know how a long talker answers?

Well, I got up and it was so beautiful and then I decided what should I make and it occurred to me I hadn't made this cake in ages. You know, I made it for a friend once, and she claimed it was better than a NY bakery. And then as I was getting the ingredients out, my friend from college phoned, and she and I were thick as thieves back in the day, have you ever been to the campus at.....

Are you picking up what I'm putting down? I believe you are. Now, I know I have LongTalked it up especially back in college when feelings were involved but I didn't know better. Now, especially in a corporate workplace, nothing moves me to malcontent quicker than sitting in meetings with LongTalkers. I used to work with a LongTalker that drove me coo coo bananas every time I would get cornered by him in the elevator. It wasn't a simple "Hi, how are you?"

But I got the full throttle of his aches, his pains, his kids, their aches, their pains all which drove my inner monologue to ask where is the cyanide and how quickly can I have a taste.

My malaise for the long talker is because at times, I am with but a scant modicum of patience. I try to mask it by envisioning this person as lonely or in need of conversation. But then you realize that most LongTalkers are this way with everyone they encounter, and their stories are so long and meaningless they often can not recall which details have previously been shared so why not reiterate them all again.

There is a guy in our neighborhood who is a LongTalker and has been nicknamed (of course he has a nickname) as The Trapper. Because he traps you with his longlonglonglong story. I will even share he once told me a story so long I prayed for acid rain. Why? Because I am not patient, his story was meaningless, and it included many details of his tummy troubles. I swear if you LongTalk me and the word diarrhea is involved, I will carry earplugs (or mace) next time.

If you know a tip for either dissuading the LongTalker, besides either carrying my cell phone and immediately pretending to be on a call, which will not work in meetings OR pretending I too have tummy troubles, I am all ears. As long as your tip is not wrapped up in a Long Talk.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dress code

After WWII, a time when scarcity of fabric had impacted the length of skirts, Christian Dior introduced American women to the "New Look" with cinched waists and long, full skirts. Apparently, some men found this discouraging.The following is an actual letter to the NY Times.

June 30, 1947
To the Editors of The New York Times

I am writing your influential paper in the hope you will publish this letter, to help bring to an end a frumpish fashion. I mean these horrible longer skirts and dresses that the dictatorial fashion experts have brought out. They a definite offense to the gaze and an insult to the Maker who gave women legs to show, not to conceal behind a screen of cloth.

I wouldn't walk two yards with a woman in a long skirt. Why can't women have character and individuality enough to wear what they desire, and not what fashion says? Prudery and narrow-mindnessness are the sinister forces working behind the fashion designers.

American Women, I call on all of you to resist to the utmost a hideous fashion. Wear your skirts as short as you desire in the name of beauty and freedom of movement. How can you move with a horrible old sack of skirt flopping around? It is 1947 not 1847.

EG Hall, Northampton, MA

Love it Mr. Hall. He who demands the gams. Mr. Hall did not yet know the 60's and 70's would bring a whole new meaning to "freedom of movement." And had he lived to today, he would see the shortest of short skirts. And in addition to all the leg he could absorb, he quite often would see the hoo-ha splashed across the pages of tabloid rags. And because of that, I am all for maybe, just maybe, you wear a skirt that covers your pelvic bones. And since Mr. Hall was adamant about dress code, this is a good time to talk about it.

I am by no means advocating for Laura Ashley up to the collar. I am sure if I had cleavage, I would free it a time or two, just never at the office. Believe me, I am familiar with companies enforcing a ban on open-toed shoes. I know this ban. I ignore this ban. And I am all for style, especially individual style, but we don't work at the traveling carnival and most offices still have rules of protocol. For those office, here are some tiny suggestions.

When you have enough cleavage visible that a grown man runs the risk of falling in and disappearing, its a touch inappropriate.

And since skin is so frequently on display now, perhaps I should say to one or two of the college interns in my previous office, Mr. Hall didn't mean it. What might be a comfortable handful of threads at the pool in the summer, is not appropriate for work. Did I see tummy? At the office? Unless I am your parent or your physician, I need not see any part of your torso. EVER.

Oh, and to the girl who has a huge bird tattoo across your chest.
Cover that up. Pronto. Better yet, I have one word for you: turtleneck.
PS: It looks like you had that done in prison.
PPS: With a hot ballpoint pen.
Whoever did it, I am sure it was their first one. Don't get the "starter tat". And don't get the tattoo that is 75% off for _____ sake.

Oh, and woman I used to work with wearing a regular length cardigan sweater that was actually longer than your dress.....mmmm....I am pretty sure you know better. HR doesn't want to have these conversations with women over the age of 35. But they will. Weird you wore that the day the CEO was in town, whom you find attractive. Or, not weird at all.

And bless your heart woman who showed up to interview at my former office wearing a shirt so sheer I could see your veins. When I saw you also toting a pleather purse with a Playboy Bunny icon on it, I pondered how many heart attacks you would initiate. I know John Grisham made it all look so sexy but that's not how we do business here. And a Playboy Bunny purse? Maybe fun for Friday nights (when you are wasted. In Vegas. And on your way to an all-male revue.) But not for 8-5.

In 1947, Mr. Hall was a renegade. A bit before his time then but oh, what would he say now.

Monday, January 3, 2011

That's unfortunate

Jules at Mean Girl Garage did a hilarious post a long time ago on reform suggestions for the profanity addict. One of the suggestions is to select new verbiage in lieu of saying WTF or Are you f'ing kidding me which I have already admitted I have said a time or two. Instead of using these phrases, and in the interest of cleaning up your sassy and salty mouth, you should instead opt to say That's interesting. 

That's interesting is one of my favorite responses. And sometimes it actually means "that's interesting" and sometimes it means one (or both) of the other two above. Another one of my favorite expressions is "That's unfortunate." 

While I may not have a Poker Face, I do have some Poker Phrases.

My college (and grad school) boyfriend(s) despised these expressions. You would think they all would have rejoiced in the occasions in which I elected to use as few words as possible. But I think they knew what I was implying. No decoder ring needed.  

That's unfortunate is as descriptive as it is ambiguous. Most often for me, it indicates I am going to need this situation to end. Immediately.   Examples from 2010:


1. When I was using the auto hand dryer in the women's room of a hotel, another woman, standing next to me said, "You aren't doing it right." I didn't respond because I could certainly attest I did not have my dial set to NUTSO and no stranger would be schooling me on how to use a hand dryer. But, I was wrong. And that's unfortunate.

She went on further to step right next to me and show me how I was to rub my hands vigorously while telling me I needed to rub said hands vigorously instead of the apparently super lazy ass method I had chosen. How about you get off my _____ing hipbone and skedaddle along? Busybodies abound. And that's unfortunate.

2. When I was was working from home one day last week, it was a perfect enough morning to actually open windows and have fresh, cool air. It was also a great time to blast my stereo at high decibels. While belting out Erotic City quite loudly, I also opted at one point to do some kind of horrible cabaret-Liza Minelli style version, and I failed to see the landscapers in the yard below. They enjoyed it a great deal. That's unfortunate.

3. I was speaking to my Mom on the phone one day and had to use the restroom. I do not want to be rude and flush so I delay flushing until I am off the phone. I forget. My Hub comes home and discovers my momentary forgetfulness. He teases me and asks if I forgot something in the bathroom. The adults in this house aren't really down with O.P.P (in this case, Other People's Production) so I am not excited about this discovery. I say, " I will talk to our son about that...." to which my Hub bursts out laughing because our son flushes the toilet 500 times if he goes peepee in it once. While not a catastrophe, this is still unfortunate.

4. While at the Doctor's office recently, I had to get blood work done. When poked with the needle, I chose to shout JESUS. The nurse gave me a serious scowl. So I quickly added, "LOVES ME!" She, not amused, asks, "Didn't you have a baby?" I say, "Not out of my arm with a needle!" And then she said, "You shouldn't take the Lord's name in vain." She has the needle so I give no rebuttal. I am now needle-holed, and reprimanded. That's unfortunate.

All of these circumstances merited much stronger responses, but I had the opportunity for reform. And only hope these circumstances don't repeat themselves in 2011 or I will likely choose alternative and certainly more sassy and salty expressions to use, which indeed will be unfortunate.