Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blogging, Buca, and The Bitchy Waiter


Ever since I started this blogging thing, I’ve been interested in reading other people’s blogs. And I’ve discovered that there is a whole blogging world out there that I never knew existed. Oh, well, I take that back. Sort of. I mean, I knew the word “blog” has been around for a while – and I knew people were doing it. I just never took the time to read any of them.

So now, whenever I post one of mine, I press a handy-dandy icon at the top of Blogger.com that reads “Next blog” so I can read, well, the next blog. And I’ve gotta tell you, there are some pretty strange bloggers out there. I’ve landed on foreign blogs, mystical blogs, poetry blogs, mommy blogs, photography blogs, ranting blogs and blogs that pretty much defy categorization. Actually, some of them even scare me a little bit.

The other day I discovered a better way of vetting the blogs I read. There is an icon on iGoogle called “Blogs of Note.” I’m not sure how it works, but it seems that the powers that be at Google select one lucky (or clever) blogger per day and shine a spotlight on their blog. Immediately hordes of readers flock to that blog and the blogger becomes an instant celebrity.

Well, not really. But it definitely kicks their readership up a notch.

Most of the time I find these “Blogs of Note” interesting and there have even been a few that I’ve started following because I enjoyed reading them. One is called “The Bitchy Waiter.” It is written by a guy in New York City who has worked in the food industry a l-o-n-g time, which means he has pretty much (a) seen it all and (b) lost all patience for diners. He’s funny. He’s sarcastic to the point where the words practically drip. And he swears a lot.

Mostly, I think I keep reading his stuff because I want to know what not to do when I go to a restaurant. Before I started reading the Bitchy Waiter’s blog, I figured I was a pretty normal restaurant diner. Rarely do I ask for substitutions and I tip at least 20%. I’d say that if I received really bad service I would tip less, but over all these years, I’ve done that maybe once or twice. When I ask for a glass of ice water, I try to do it when I order my glass of wine or beer or soda – so the waiter doesn’t have to make two drink trips. And I read the menu carefully to make sure I like all the ingredients in the dish before I order.

So imagine my consternation the other night when we went to Buca di Beppo and I couldn’t eat what we’d ordered! Vince and I normally order the same dish every time we go there since we both like it and the portions are served family style, which necessitates sharing. I don’t like spicy and he does, so we get the wimpy dish and he loads it up with whatever spicy stuff they have on-hand.

Well, they had a summer menu with some new offerings, so I threw caution to the wind and we ordered one of the summer pasta dishes. Vince did ask for a substitution of the white wine sauce that we normally get on our other dish – and the waiter said he’d be happy to bring it to us on the side so we could add it to our pasta. Now, for all I know, he could’ve really been annoyed that he had to do extra work and perhaps he did whatever bitchy waiters do to the food of people who are annoying them. I don’t know – and I really hope that I never find out.

I usually order a glass of wine whenever I have pasta – I think it’s some sort of Italian law – and I’m a very law-abiding citizen. However, once we’d asked for ice water, we never moved beyond that to the wine list, so I decided that this once I could do without a glass of wine.

Anyway, the piping hot bowl of pasta comes out and I serve some to Vince and then to myself. I take an anticipatory bite. And then I put my fork down. There were spicy red pepper flakes liberally sprinkled throughout the bowl. Arrrgghhh! Maybe I AM wimpy, but I really can’t stand to eat anything hot and spicy. And if faced with that sort of food, I’d be happier abstaining completely than eating it. And I love pasta – so that’s a pretty strong statement for me to make.

It turns out that nowhere in the description of the dish did the words “spicy” or “red pepper” appear. Believe me, I look for those sorts of words! So both the waiter and his manager came over to our table to apologize. They promptly offered us the dish for free. And then they offered to bring out a bowl of the pasta we normally order. By now, I’m feeling like one of those very diners the Bitchy Waiter writes about. A pain in the you-know-what.

Vince, on the other hand, was happy because he had a whole lot of spicy pasta to enjoy. But by the time my bowl of wimpy pasta arrived, I wasn’t hungry any longer. So the waiter had to box up both my entire bowl and most of Vince’s bowl. Separately, of course. While he was off performing this task (and hopefully not spitting in it), the manager came back over to make sure we were happy. And she handed us a couple $10 off coupons for future visits.

Well, we already had a $10 off coupon for this visit, although we sort of debated about using it since we felt we were getting a lot of food for not a lot of money. But the waiter took it and returned with our bill. We ended up with about $50 worth of food for, well, less than half of that. We did, however, tip the waiter as if we were paying the full tab – including the free bowl of pasta we’d received.

Our waiter definitely deserved a good tip. He worked hard for it. And he was gracious and professional throughout our meal. If he was at all “bitchy” it was not something we saw. Of course, for all I know the Bitchy Waiter blog-writer might be gracious and professional throughout his shift – only to go home and wax sarcastically about his customers.

So, in review, we (a) drank only water that the waiter had to keep refilling, (b) asked for a substitution, (c) complained about our food, (d) got the manager involved (inadvertently), and (e) used a coupon. I can only hope that our waiter does NOT write a blog.

Oh, and I am VERY happy that the Bitchy Waiter is located in New York City.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fifty-Eight Years of Wedded Bliss


Yesterday was my parents’ 58th wedding anniversary, which is a pretty awesome milestone. Yep, they done good! And they’ve set a fine example of wedded bliss that’d probably be a good idea for the rest of us to follow.

Well, except for Vince and me. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that we wouldn’t want to live in wedded bliss for 58 years, but let’s face it – we didn’t start out our married life as still-wet-behind-the-ears kids. In 58 years, we’ll be, well, ancient. And, if by some miracle, we’re both still alive and kickin’ then, I’m thinking we’ll be doing well to remember our own names, let alone the name of our beloved.

But, we’re not talking about Vince and me. We were (before I so rudely interrupted myself), talking about my mom and dad. Now, I don’t exactly know the secret to their success, but I do know that they have always considered their marriage to be the foundation of the family. Unlike some families today, my brothers and sister and I didn’t rule the roost – our parents did. They knew that eventually kids grow up and move out of the house, and if they didn’t maintain their relationship, there wouldn’t be anything left by the time the final kid packed her bags and left the proverbial nest.

I believe my parents worked hard all these years to keep the spark alive in their marriage. They still hold hands whenever they go for walks. They kiss each other every morning when they wake up and every evening before they go to bed. And they treat each other with love and respect.

It’s not that my parents were without conflict. They did – from time to time – have their little spats and disagreements. Still do, in fact. But we rarely heard them arguing behind closed doors, let alone in front of us. They were raised in an era where you worked through your differences. I can’t swear to it, but I don’t think they ever seriously considered the “D” word.

When I was young I remember my mom teasing (threatening?) my dad by saying that if he ever found a “floozie” and wanted to run off with her, that was fine – he just had to take the kids with him when he left. I used to think, Heyyyy! Like being with the four of us kids is a burden? C’mon! We’re freakin’ angels here! But I also fervently hoped that she was just kidding. I didn’t know what a “floozie” was at the time, but it sure didn’t sound like someone I wanted to become acquainted with.

Plus, come on. My dad with a “floozie”? In the immortal words of Cher in the movie Clueless: “As if.”

When we were kids, my parents would try to take a day or two off together at least once a year so it could be about them – and not about us. They even had a No Kid Zone every evening after my dad returned home from work. Mom and dad retired to the living room for a set period of time to enjoy a cocktail and catch up on their day. It was probably also the time when mom ratted out any bad kid’s behavior, but since that was never me, I can’t absolutely swear this to be true.

(Hey, I’m the writer here; I get to remember the story any way I want!)

But seriously, I do remember one time coming to the entrance of the living room apparently with what I thought was an urgent question. I didn’t, of course, step a toe over the threshold. I have no idea what my question was, but since they determined that no blood had been shed, I was promptly turned away. See? Even angels try to push the limits!

(Wonder if that’s why when I’m at my parents’ house today, I still hesitate before walking into the living room. Guess I’m thinking I should probably ask for permission before entering!)

But the point is my parents were definitely a solidified unit. It never worked for us to play one against the other because they always knew what we were up to. They actually talked to each other and made joint decisions. So we never heard those magic words, “Ask your dad.” For kids, that’s like giving them the keys to the candy store. They go to dad and say, “Mom said it’s okay with her if it’s okay with you.” And – voilà! – instant permission.

Back then I might not have agreed with everything my parents did, particularly when I was denied permission to do something – but today I have to say I think they did a pretty good job. Mom and dad were definitely the parents in the equation. They were not our “friends.” We respected them and knew what the boundaries were. That is a good thing for a kid.

So even though my parents have not had a perfect marriage, they’ve had a pretty darn good one. And they’ve just celebrated 58 years of wedded bliss. My hat goes off to them. Oh wait. I’m not wearing a hat. Perhaps I should propose a toast. Hold on while I go get a glass of champagne or something…

(…okay, I’m back. By the way, does Fresca count? It’s the only fizzy thing I had handy.)

Anyway…ahem...: Mom and Dad – here’s to you. Congratulations on your 58th wedding anniversary. Thank you for showing us what a real marriage is all about. It’s not about hearts and flowers all the time. It’s about hard work. And perseverance. And compromise. And forgiveness. And a whole lot of communication. And much love and affection. And holding hands when you go for a walk together. May we all be as blessed as the two of you.

Na zdrowie!
Slàinte!
Cheers!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Shoes and Shopping...The Rare Occasions They Do Not Mix

I had a couple of free hours the other week so, like many people with a little extra spare time, I spent the time doing one of my favorite activities. By “many people” I mean women. And by “favorite activity,” I mean shopping.

Wanting to get the most out of the experience, I drove right on past the strip mall shopping center thinking that there weren’t enough stores there for my browsing pleasure. Instead, I headed directly to the Polaris mall.

Now the only flaw with spontaneous mall shopping is questionable footwear. I was wearing a pair of sandals that were both cute and comfortable. But sandals that are perfectly comfortable walking around the office may not necessarily be good for a two hour trek through the mall.

By the time I had traipsed from Macy’s to JC Penney, those cute sandals had rubbed against the sides of my feet until angry red blisters had formed. But rather than concede defeat and head for the exit, I did what any determined shopper in just such a situation would do – I bought another pair of shoes.

Because shoe shopping was not specifically on my agenda, I ducked into a bargain store and bought a cheap pair of flip-flops thinking I could get away with it. Ha! Blisters quickly formed between my toes, which attested to the fact that cheap flip-flops are not an alternative to sensible “mall-walking” shoes.

So I heaved a sigh, took off the flip-flops, put my old sandals back on and gingerly hobbled out of the mall.

When will we women learn?

I must admit that men have the right idea. I know men who, for the most part, can survive with a total of four pair of shoes. They own some sort of running shoes, a pair of hard-soled shoes for all events in which their Nikes would not be appropriate, a pair of sandals to wear the entire summer and with any ensemble and, finally, a pair of boots for the winter when the snow reaches their kneecaps.

I, on the other hand, have bins full of shoes. I get glassy-eyed inside the hallowed entrance of DSW. At last count, I had twenty-three pair of black shoes. Now why is it necessary for one woman to own twenty-three pair of black shoes? Truthfully, I don’t know, but I was willing to justify the number with a lengthy discourse on different styles and heel heights. That is, until I went home after my painful shopping excursion, plastered bandages on my blisters and dug through those bins searching for a comfortable pair of shoes. And I couldn’t find any. Sigh.

On a brighter note, I see another trip to DSW in my near future. But this time, I’ll bypass the cute sandals and head for the sensible mall-walking shoe section.

Or…at least I’ll try!

Friday, June 25, 2010

What if I Don’t Wanna Enter My Name And Password Here…?

Is it just me or are we being “user-named,” “passworded” and “PIN-numbered” to death these days? I’m telling you, I have so many log-ons to every imaginable site – for personal use, for work, for banking, for bill-paying. Not to mention the user names and passwords I need for e-mailing and facebooking and blogging. Oh my.

I don’t use the same user name and/or password for all those things because I don’t want to make it easier for a hacker to hack my stuff. On the other hand, I can’t imagine how exciting it would be to hack into my cable bill or my Twitter account. Who knows? Perhaps they could make my tweets a little more regular and halfway interesting.

The other day my boss asked me to create a Facebook page for his other-other business (he has several). I did an exaggerated mental sigh and an eye roll. Plus an imaginary hands-on-hips gesture with a little toe-tapping to underscore my huffiness. What I said, however, was, “Sure! No problem!”

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I don’t like to be creative. It’s more like I couldn’t bear to create yet another Facebook page under my name. I mean, I have one for personal use and one for his second business. And now I had to create yet a third Facebook page wherein I’m one of the administrators? Please. I’m gettin’ dizzy here!

So I put my creativity to the test and instead opened a new Yahoo address for him. And then I created a Facebook page for his other-other business. Pretty clever of me, eh? Yeah, but while it solves one problem, it creates another. See, I’M going to have to be the one who remembers all these e-mail addresses and passwords and log-ons. And I’ve got enough of my own to contend with! It’s only going to get more complex because I’m quite sure his next request will be to create a Twitter account for this other-other business. Who knows? I might get so frustrated, I’ll do the hands-on-hips and toe-tapping thing for real.

Most of the time I’m pretty organized and I’m able to handle all these log-ons, passwords and such, but it became an embarrassing situation a couple months ago at Costco. I normally use my debit card as Credit so I get the points offered by the bank. What this means is that I don’t need to remember the PIN number. Well, Costco only accepts Debit cards (or their American Express card, which in my opinion is a clever ploy to get you to sign up for yet another card.)

Anyway, we were using a relatively new card – and I’d only used it as “credit” prior to this shopping excursion. And, for the life of me, I could not remember the PIN number. We tried the one Vince thought we received when we signed up for the card. Didn’t work. I tried the normal “go to” PIN Number I’ve used forever. No dice. We were getting a little desperate because we didn’t have enough cash to cover our purchases and we couldn’t use a credit card. And then we noticed the line behind us growing ever longer and we started hearing audible sighs. Believe me, I could relate. Allegedly I may even have been one of those sighers in the past.

Finally, we hit upon the brilliant idea of writing a check to pay for our purchases, which, of course, caused another problem. Why? Because my checks were still in my birth name and not my married name. Arrrghhh! Fortunately, the manager approved it – probably because he was afraid all the people in line behind us would revolt and start the first-ever Costco riot. (Truthfully, it was more likely because I was smart enough to carry our marriage certificate in my purse for just such occasions. He couldn’t really dispute that I was who I said I was.)

The first thing we did when we got home – even before refrigerating our purchases? Change the PIN Number to one I might actually remember. I’ve gotta admit, I feel a major sense of relief when I use that card and tap in the 4-digit PIN number – and it is accepted. Major whew!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to post this to blogger.com. I only hope I can remember the log-in and password. Wonder if my debit card PIN Number would work?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship…


You know how you have some friends who seem like they’ve been your friends forever? And you never have that awkward “getting reacquainted” moment if you haven’t seen them in months – or even years? Well, I am blessed to have a lot of those kinds of friends.

The other day when we went to Cleveland for the wedding, we got together with several friends I categorize as my “OSU friends.” Most of them went to Ohio State, which explains the category. (Duh.) Some of them, however, did not – but I categorize them that way anyway because I met them through my Ohio State friends.

I believe we are all friends for life. (If they haven’t kicked me out of their friendship circle after 30-something years, well, I guess I should be pretty safe…unless, of course, they read this and decide to be funny…!)

Anyway, it’s a little hard to believe that our friendship deepened to the point that today we consider one another family. Why? Well, because my introduction into the group started rather inauspiciously.

It was my freshman year at Ohio State when I met the first of these characters – let’s call him “Adam.” It was the middle of winter and we’d recently had a record snowfall that even closed down the university, which was practically unheard of. So what else were cooped-up college students to do but head to the bars? (We could, by the way, legally drink 3.2 beer at age 18 back then.)

At the end of the evening Adam gallantly offered to escort a couple of us back to our north campus dorm from the Thirsty Eye. He was, as you can guess, interested in one of us, otherwise, he probably wouldn’t have made an extra stop.

He was doing the guy thing of trying to win over his potential target’s friend, which was me. And to clarify – I was the friend; not the target. But I was also not (at that time) a beer-drinker, so I didn’t have that magical layer of beer protection where the wind chill factor isn’t, well, a factor. My teeth were chattering so much that I was a little concerned about breaking a tooth. All I wanted to do was get back to the warmth of my dorm room. But he was laughing and joking and trying to get me to smile. What he was rewarded with looked sort of like a set of those fake chattering teeth. Not a good look – and not exactly sincere.

So how did Adam respond? He pushed me into a snowdrift!

Now anyone who knows me would understand that this is hardly the way to win me over! As you can guess, I was not pleased, nor did I think it was cute. But he helped me up, which was a point in his favor.

The next time I saw him, he forgot my name as he tried to introduce me. Strike Two.

But, actually, it wasn’t really a strike. He was so funny and a genuinely nice guy that I didn’t really get mad. He introduced me to his twin brother and all their friends – and, believe me, there were a LOT of them – and that was our first tentative steps toward a blossoming friendship.

…Until the next time I saw them. I walked into a party he’d invited us to and I was greeted with a loud chorus of: “Jane, you ignorant slut!”

I was shocked, appalled and embarrassed. I’m quite sure my face turned a bright shade of red in complete and utter mortification. I didn’t even know these people and they were calling me a name I’d never spoken aloud in my life, let alone done anything to earn the title!

As I wheeled around to march right back out of that party, Adam ran after me and said, “Haven’t you seen Saturday Night Live?” Uh…noooo…I hadn’t. We were not usually at home watching TV on Saturday nights and this was before the advent of VCRs or DVRs or any other television recording device.

So he explained the whole Jane Curtin/Weekend Update/Point-Counterpoint thing where she played the earnest television anchor stating her opinion about some current event. Dan Aykroyd, her co-anchor, would begin his rebuttal with, “Jane, you ignorant slut!”

Oh.

But doesn’t it figure? If the role had been played by Gilda Radner, I wouldn’t have had to live with such a greeting all these decades later whenever my college friends see me.

Not only that, but then they proceeded to combine it with the Jetsons line, “Jaaaaannne…Stop This Crazy Thinggggg…you ignorant slut!”

Cripes.

Up to that time, I was rarely called anything other than “Jane.” Sure, I got the occasional “Plain Jane” thing thrown at me in grade school. (Grade schoolers are not exactly known for their creativity in schoolyard taunts.) I also had several nice nicknames, too, as my cousins or a teacher might call me “Janie.” And in high school a bunch of us high school friends decided to end all our names with “ers” – so my name became “Janers.”

All of those nicknames I could handle. Being basically called a woman of ill repute? Not so much.

But, anyway, it was all done in fun – and if I’d really objected they would have stopped…

…Oh, who am I kidding? Knowing them, they would’ve used the phrase louder, more often, and probably under the most inappropriate of circumstances.

By the time they started translating the phrase in Italian, I gave up trying to stop. This. Crazy. Thing. (Hey, if you can’t beat ‘em…)

So, do you see why it’s a little surprising that our long-lived friendship had a chance given that kind of beginning? But our friendship did grow and, through them, I’ve met many other forever friends. Their 80-and-change mother even calls me “family,” which is, indeed, an honor.

No matter how close or how far away we live, we somehow manage to come together for happy occasions like birthdays and weddings and baby christenings. And sad occasions like funerals. And every other occasion in between. But no matter what the occasion, when we see each other, it is a celebration. Of the best kind.

One of these days, I’ll tell the story about our infamous ski trip to New York. If I can remember the details…

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Clean Freak


Our refrigerator has never looked as clean as it does right now. That’s because there isn’t very much food in it – and, believe it or not, I’m sort of happy about that. I cleaned it out last week to make room for the 80th birthday/Father’s Day celebration food and we haven’t restocked yet. I’m kind of digging the emptiness of it.

Yeah, I don’t really like looking in fridges that are so jam-packed that you can’t find anything – including the jam. And, when you actually do find something you’re looking for, more than likely it has become a weird science experiment. In my single days, when I used to run across containers of mystery food featuring fuzzy green mold, I would usually throw the whole thing out – container and all – which explains why I was always searching for containers to put leftovers in. Good thing there are two of us in our household now. Leftovers don’t usually stick around long enough to get to the moldy stage.

I love cleaning out stuff. But then I also like re-filling the empty space. Yep, I’m a little strange that way – what can I say?

It’s like my closet. I’m thrilled when I clean it out and donate clothes that I no longer wear (or the ones I have to iron before wearing, thus those particular articles of clothing never appear in public). Once I’ve gone through the purging process, I’m happy. And for one brief, shining moment my organized closet resembles one of the model closets in an ad for closet re-organization.

But then, of course, I then proceed to fill it back up. But I mean, really, who can live with just five pairs of shoes? Or – like in those ads – three blouses, a couple pairs of dress slacks, a few jackets and an odd skirt and dress? There is so much empty space in those closets, they could do double duty as guest rooms. Provided, of course, your guests don’t mind sleeping amid your dress slacks and five pairs of shoes.

I always wonder about those people who can live with very few possessions. Sometimes I wish I were like them, but I really like my “stuff” around me. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not one of those hoarder types who keep every single toy they ever received as a child or every magazine or piece of mail or newspaper ever delivered to their house. I don’t have to maneuver through “aisles” in my living space – or worse – live in a domicile so packed with junk that you can’t sit on the couch or eat at the dining room table.

The other week I found myself in the rare position of being in charge of the remote, which basically means that Vince wasn’t home. There I was happily flipping channels when I stopped at a show on Style Network called “Clean House.” O.M.G. I was utterly shocked and appalled!

That particular episode featured a family who couldn’t use the living space in their house because there was so much “crap” in every room and on every surface. The mother on the program had something like SEVEN sewing machines lying around. (Vince can’t get me to buy even one sewing machine so I could possibly fix a hem once in a while.) And the father, who had some sort of online sales business, kept boxes of every sort in just about every room in the place. And most of them were not broken down, so there was a LOT of space taken up by empty boxes piled nearly to the ceiling. He also owned half a dozen guitars – and the guy doesn’t even know how to play the guitar!

And, yes, I’m sort of guilty of the same thing. I admit that I own a guitar, which is sitting in the corner of my living room. It was handmade especially for me. And, no, I don’t know how to play it. But I couldn’t get rid of it. On the other hand, I also wouldn’t keep collecting more guitars to clutter up the place like this guy did. If I owned more than one, I’d make myself take lessons so I would know how to play and people wouldn’t think I was weird for owning a fleet of them.

Vince came home sometime during the middle of this program and wondered why I was watching it. He kept saying, “What is this show?” Mostly, I think, because he wanted to regain control of the remote so he could flip back to CNN. But I didn’t hand it over to him. I was feeling a little like I feel when passing an accident on the freeway. Sorry for the people involved and relieved that I wasn’t one of those in the middle of it. And a little curious about how it was all going to end.

And perhaps I was even feeling a little smug because never – in my worst housekeeping days – have I ever allowed my home look this bad!

On the other hand, these folks received $5,000 worth of renovations and free clean-up of their mess while they lounged around in a hotel somewhere. (Hopefully they didn’t trash the hotel rooms.)

Maybe I should move all the junk we have stored in the garage and toss it around the living room and then call up this show to see if they’d be willing to clean and reorganize it for free? Nah. One of the downsides in allowing this show to come in with their cameras is that the inhabitants must allow their faces to be shown on national television amid their pigsty of a house. I think I’d literally die of embarrassment!

So I guess I’ll just have to continue cleaning my little abode and hope that I never answer a knock at the door to find the “Clean House” people standing there waiting to attack my mess. Meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy my clean and empty fridge.

I suspect, however, that Vince is planning an imminent trip to Costco. Sigh…

Monday, June 21, 2010

Weekend Update by Jane-You-Ignorant-… (If you know the last word, you used to watch Jane Curtin on SNL and you are old enough to read today’s blog.)


Well, the weekend was a resounding success and a great time was had by all at both the wedding in Cleveland on Saturday and the 80th birthday/Father’s Day cookout in Newark on Sunday.

Vince and I managed to get everything done prior to our departure on Saturday. At least I think we did. If we missed something, well, we really didn’t notice – so it probably wasn’t critical. And nobody ended up going “commando” – so I was happy that my list-making worked. For the most part.

Well, okay, so I did forget to pack my super-duper hair smoothing serum that should last me at least a year and cost more than the gross national product of a small, underdeveloped nation and, thus, not something I was interested in replacing for an overnight visit. I figured my hair was just going to have to frizz out if that’s what it wanted to do.

And while I packed both my deodorant and Vince’s, I didn’t check to see if there were sufficient quantities in each to get us through two day’s worth of application. If I had, I would’ve noticed I was on the very last dregs of my Fresh Scent Secret (“Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman”). Thus, I had to use Vince’s Right Guard on Sunday and probably smelled studly all day, but at least it was better than being, um, “aromatic.” Fortunately, I didn’t notice anyone giving me a wide berth at the cookout on Sunday. And it was a hot and sweaty day so, believe me, that Right Guard was certainly put to the test.

When we got to the hotel on Saturday, I checked in and was told that, as a Rewards Club member I was entitled to a free breakfast in the morning. The thing is I have absolutely no recollection of signing up as a Rewards Club member. But who am I to question a free breakfast? So I took the card and beat a hasty retreat toward the elevators lest the girl at the reservation desk realize that I wasn’t really entitled to a free breakfast (with an overpriced retail value of $11.99) and had the chance to snatch it back out of my hands.

For a woman, getting ready for a wedding is a lengthier process than, say, getting ready to go to dinner at Applebee’s. It takes me a minimum of an hour. We won’t even discuss how long it takes an actual bride to get ready for her wedding, but the process begins right around the same time the engagement ring is placed on her finger.

Nevertheless, I was merely a guest at this wedding, so an hour was all I needed. Only I didn’t get an hour. I had about 40 minutes. For you uninitiated to the world of women’s “special event” preparation, those 20 critical minutes are the difference between showing up fully coiffed, dressed with all zippers zipped, buttons buttoned and hooks hooked and ready to party – and arriving with nervous perspiration on the upper lip and forehead, lipstick applied crookedly, hair only half curled and smeared eyeliner on at least one eye.

And this was an outdoor wedding under the hot, relentless sun. I was doomed from the beginning!

Fortunately, I managed to get over my snotty When-I-Say-I-Need-An-Hour-To-Get-Ready-I-Don’t-Mean-40-Minutes attitude, and was able to enjoy the wedding. I enjoyed it even more that we had an hour and a half gap between the wedding and the reception.

We spent a few of those precious moments chatting with good friends I’ve known since college along with their “80-And-Change” mother, Mrs. B. Once upon a time this group would have used that hour and a half to head to a bar somewhere to indulge in a little before-dinner libation, but our friends had their kids with them and needed to bring them to the babysitter’s before the reception. Well, the kids, plus the baby deer they had in the back of their SUV. Yes, I’m serious. A baby deer. I’m still shaking my head. Only these friends… (Bambi had apparently been abandoned and wasn’t old enough to fend for itself, so our animal-loving friends were taking care of it until they could find an alternate care solution.)

So Vince and I went off on our own in a quest to find a place where I could indulge in a soothing glass of red wine. And while it wasn’t a fine dining experience complete with white linen tablecloths and a full wine list (or any wine list, for that matter!), at least the one type of red wine they served had an alcohol content higher than, say, Diet Coke. So I was happy. Plus, I was able to remedy the crooked lipstick and smeared eyeliner situations. Really couldn’t do much with the frizzy, half-curled hair thing, but then that was my own fault since I forgot my semi-precious hair smoothing serum.

Nevertheless, by the time we showed up at the reception I was back in a good mood and ready to party. And party we did! We were seated with my old college buddies and we all had a wonderful time. The photos may show a group of middle-aged people laughing and dancing like, well, middle-aged people, but we didn’t really care. We figured as long as none of us fell down and broke a hip, it was all good. Plus, the mother-of-the-bride was dancing right along with us, so we had no worries.

We discussed the possibility of heading out to a local bar after the reception to keep the good times going, but none of us managed to work up enough energy. Thus, like a bunch of Cinderellas (or middle-aged weenies), our evening ended before midnight.

This was probably a good thing because Vince and I had to be up-and-at-‘em bright and early the next morning. For one thing, we wanted to get our free buffet breakfast before they found out we weren’t really entitled to it. So at the crack of dawn (or 9AM – same thing), we made our way to the dining room in the hotel and enjoyed our overpriced lukewarm sausage and eggs and relatively fresh fruit and blueberry muffins. No, I kid. For the price we paid, it was some good eatin’!

We met up with our friends to say good-bye (which, with this group, requires a minimum of one hour), and then we headed for points north and our Sunday event.

I have one word for Sunday: HOT. I spent the first 45 minutes in the kitchen arranging food in serving bowls and making sure plates, napkins and utensils were at the ready for the hungry hordes once the steak and ribs were ready. Most of the time, however, I was digging through boxes and bags looking for a particular item the Grill Masters needed only to discover (a) they’d already found said item out by the grill and had neglected to inform me, or (b) they’d changed their minds and didn’t need whatever it was I was searching for anymore. Grrr.

By the time I came outside to the patio where everyone was gathered, I was hot, sweaty and completely wilted. And hot, sweaty and completely wilted I remained for the duration of the day (thank heavens for Right Guard, even if it did make me smell studly!). But we had a festive afternoon with helium-filled balloons, gaily wrapped packages and a memory book that we’d prepared for the birthday boy. So we enjoyed watching him look through it. And we enjoyed the food, the company and the conversation.

We ended the day full, happy, and sweaty – but we couldn’t have asked for a better day. Well, perhaps if I’d been able to use Fresh Scent Secret instead of Vince’s Right Guard, I wouldn’t have sweated like a man all day. But really, otherwise, it was great. And I didn’t have smeary eyeliner or crooked lipstick. Life is good. And, as Vince says, “It’s the little things…”

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lists…Lists…And More Lists!


We have a busy weekend planned and I’m hoping that my mystical, magical powers of organization will keep us on track. If that fails, I made a list. Okay, a bunch of lists. And if the list-making fails, well, hey, I guess something is gonna get missed.

I just hope it isn’t something crucial like the main course for the 80th birthday/Father’s Day celebration on Sunday. Or my dress shoes for the out-of-town wedding we’re attending tomorrow evening. Asking people to nosh on pretzels and carrot sticks when they’re expecting baby back ribs is just plain cruel. And wearing beach flip flops with a dress, while perhaps more comfortable, isn’t exactly a polished look for a wedding.

I can usually handle events two days in a row without a whole lot of mystical, magical powers required. But when our Saturday event is out of town and requires an overnight stay and then the Sunday event is also out of town (but, unfortunately, not in the same town and about three hours away), then extra effort is required to make sure we have everything organized.

So I’ve been making lists. There is a Jane List and a Vince list. There was a Thursday night to-do list, a Friday night to-do list and a Packing List. There have been several shopping lists created, fulfilled and discarded. There is a “Don’t Forget!” note affixed to the back door to transfer something from Vince’s car to my car lest we forget to make the transfer. And I have been so obsessed with not forgetting anything that last night I kept popping up out of bed to add a “Reminder” note to my phone complete with “alarms” set to go off at regular intervals to remind me to add those items to whichever list was most appropriate.

You think I’m slightly obsessed with lists?!

On the other hand, I think it’s better to be a little “list obsessive” than to arrive at a destination without something important like, say, underwear. I suppose some people are okay with going “commando” but I’d rather have the choice.

To me, it’s frustrating to be out of town and realize that my toothbrush is still in the toothbrush holder back home. Or that I’ll have to go to bed without my Clinique moisturizer and lip balm because I didn't make a list and I've forgotten to pack them. Talk about being a bad houseguest! Who would want to see a grungy-toothed, flaky-faced, cracked-lipped Jane in the morning? Not too many people, I can assure you! Heck, even I wouldn’t want to see that!

I suppose we should have looked at the calendar a little more carefully, but we didn’t want to miss either event. And we also didn’t want Vince’s dad to lift a finger on Sunday since it is his 80th birthday and Father’s Day we’re celebrating. So we offered to bring the whole shebang to Newark. Not that we’re super-heroes here – we are part of a cooperative effort with several other family members to make this a successful and fun event.

On the other hand, we’re responsible for some of the basics. I mean, you’ve gotta have a plate to eat off of, and a cup to drink out of, don’t you? And who wants to eat coleslaw with their fingers? And what if there weren’t napkins to clean off our coleslaw-covered fingers? Who knows…all that messiness could lead to a big food fight or something. And I, for one, will not be interested in cleaning barbecue sauce off the patio furniture after such a hectic weekend. So I figure we’d better make extra sure that we don’t forget anything.

Fortunately, Vince’s brother agreed to help us out and load up his vehicle with all our “stuff” so we can go out of town Saturday and then head straight to Newark on Sunday without having to detour in Columbus to re-pack our car with supplies and vittles for Sunday’s gathering. Good thing, too, because I don’t think the dill dip and baby back ribs would survive overnight in the trunk of the car in Cleveland. Can you say botulism?!

So tonight when I get home, I will immediately start in on my packing list. Probably I should pack the toothbrush, moisturizer and lip balm first, just to be safe. But wait a minute…I think I’d better double-check my list and make sure “underwear” is written down somewhere. This isn’t, after all, a commando sort of weekend.

Oh, and by the way - Happy Father’s Day to all you dads and granddads and dad-like men out there! May you be treated like kings. And may you be exempt from cleaning barbecue sauce off of the patio furniture after the inevitable food fight. (What? Food fights aren't a part of everyone's celebrations? Really?! Oh...)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Father's Day

June 17, 2010
This has been a very hectic day – and this evening is going to be very hectic as well – so I decided to recycle a blog I wrote two years ago. It was right before Father’s Day. And, here we are, two years later – right before Father’s Day. I’m happy to say my dad’s health is good and my parents are at their cottage in Cape Cod enjoying the summer.

From June, 2008:
My parents are pretty amazing people. They're in their 80s and don't seem to know what "slowing down" means. They've trotted all over the globe, and in fact have made return tracks to so many locales, we tease them and suggest that they've run out of places in the world to visit, so they must be starting over! Their one nod to Father Time is that they've begun taking cruises rather than organized tours of foreign countries since they only have to pack and unpack once.

At least once a week they deliver Meals on Wheels – sometimes to people younger than they. One time, a woman in her housecoat and slippers was sitting in her easy chair awaiting her prepared meal. When my mother came to the door to deliver it, the woman said, "Will you please bring it here, dear? I can't get up very easily. After all, I just celebrated my birthday and turned 77." To which my mom simply smiled and said, "Well, happy birthday – you look wonderful!" She then deposited the meal on the tray in front of the woman and continued on her rounds.

I won't say hold old she was, but at the time Mom was several years older than this woman.

My family has been blessed to have our parents in our lives all these years and I try not to take their presence for granted. I do my best to call and visit them whenever I can because I know that one day in the not-so-distant future, I might wish I could pick up the phone to talk to them – and they won't be there. And I don't want to have any regrets just because I "meant" to call more often – or "would have" visited except that I had too much going on in my life at the time.

So, with that philosophy in mind, and despite the ever-rising gas prices, I gamely filled the tank to the tune of $52.65 the other week, hopped in my car, and drove the three hours to my parents' house. And, okay, I admit that for once I actually stuck to the speed limit in the meager attempt to conserve as much fuel as possible.

Shortly before my visit, Mom and Dad had returned from their third cruise of the year. They had a wonderful time, but both of them came back with colds. They were congested and coughing, but neither of them seemed to be particularly ill. We had a nice evening, sitting on the porch drinking wine, talking about our upcoming family vacation plans and listening to the birds perched in the 40-year-old trees in the backyard.

Early the next morning my mom shook me awake to tell me that my dad was having trouble breathing and she was taking him to the Emergency Room.

In a bit of a panic, I jumped up, threw on some clothes, and ran downstairs to head out the door. Dad, fully dressed, was standing in the kitchen putting all his daily heart medications into the little pill box he carries in his pocket. His hands were shaking, he was wheezing, and his face was absolutely grey. I was shaken by his appearance but I tried not to show my fear and asked him if I could help. He said, "Thanks, Jane, but I've got it." That's just my dad – always there, always calm and always able to handle things.

Within a few moments, we had him settled in the car and I drove the three of us to the hospital six minutes away. Dad's labored breathing sounded very loud in the silent car and I fought to stick to the speed limit. Nevertheless, I think I made it to the hospital in just under four minutes.

Dad was pretty quickly settled into a bed in the ER with an oxygen mask on his face while tests were performed to determine his condition. Diagnosed with pneumonia, he was admitted to the hospital. Because he has lived with heart disease and had suffered two heart attacks (the first one in his early 40s), has had bypass surgery, and a few years ago had a pacemaker implanted in his chest, the concern was that he could develop congestive heart failure.

While there were a couple rough days, Dad finally responded to the IV antibiotics, breathing treatments and other medication, and was discharged six days later. And then the rest of us were finally able to breathe a little easier, as well.

With Father's Day coming up on Sunday, I'd like to take a moment to pay tribute to my Dad.

He's an incredible man and has been an amazing influence on my life. He's one of the quietest people you'd ever meet, but he's kind and caring, and is – quite simply – an honorable man. His primary focus has always been taking care of his family. And he has always been there if we need him, whether it's for advice or to fix a leaky faucet. And when he does speak, we know it's because he has something important to say. One of my greatest joys is being able to make my dad laugh!

He has dealt with health issues for many years, but he quietly endures the pain and discomfort without complaint, and then gets up to begin another day. He is truly an inspiration.

And, even though Mother's Day has come and gone this year, I have to add that Mom is pretty inspirational herself. She has a lot of strength packed into her 5'2" body because she is the one, after all, who has been there getting Dad through every one of his health crises through the years. If not for her, I suspect that Dad might not be here with us today. He may have grumbled a little when he was denied that bowl of ice cream or second cookie…but he knows she's looking out for him and wants him to be healthy enough to go on that next cruise.

My parents are modest and unassuming people and this little 'tribute' would embarrass them, so I suspect I will never show it to them. They lead by example and don't talk about their accomplishments.

I hope they know how much I love and admire them. And I do. I'm very grateful to be their daughter.

To all the Fathers out there, you have more of an impact on your children's lives than you can ever know. Your children love you – even if they don't say it all the time – and they need you. Thank you for all that you do.

Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My E-mail Address From Now Until Eternity Is…

I hate changing e-mail addresses. I hate it so much that I’ve only done it twice in 11 years. The first time was about 7 years ago when I finally got rid of AOL. I was paying for a flippin’ e-mail address, for cryin’ out loud, but I still hesitated to change it because of the hassle. And it was a hassle, believe you me.

When I got rid of AOL and opened a free Gmail account, I vowed never ever again to change my e-mail address. I didn’t take into consideration that I might actually find the love of my life, get married and change my name. (I’ve heard it said that some people even saw pigs in the air…) But it seems that when one vow is taken some previous – and, admittedly, lesser – vows have to be broken.

So I had to change my e-mail address again a couple months ago. And it is still a hassle.

Changing e-mail addresses is like moving. You think you’re prepared and send plenty of notice to those who frequently send you mail, but you spend months afterwards chasing down folks to try to get them to make the change. And you’re never really sure if you’ve missed something important that simply hasn’t reached you.

Unlike when I got rid of AOL, however, I was able to keep my old Gmail address, so it’s comforting to know that I still receive anything sent there. There are one or two “funny” friends, however, who refuse to update their address book. Mainly, I think, to bug me. And, okay, so it’s really just one person. He knows who he is.

So I still have to go into my old e-mail address to forward jokes or personal e-mails to my new address and to clear out the junk. This week has been busy and I’ve neglected the care-and-upkeep of my old e-mail address. I looked at it today and had 52 regular e-mails and 937 junk e-mails. Sheesh!

Instead of simply pressing “delete” today, I decided to re- contact those senders and, depending on who they were, either request that they change my address or ask to be removed from their mailing list. Yes, I’d already performed this arduous task months ago, but evidently Blockbuster.com and Tarot.com really want to send me information about movies I no longer rent and daily horoscopes I no longer read. Even though I told them I wanted to break up, they still send me e-mails. To them I say, “For cryin’ out loud, leave me alone already!”

I wish all websites had a uniform policy on changing or deleting your name from their list. But that would be too easy. Some places have a 1-click removal system. Simple. Some sites allow you to change the address from your old e-mail to your new one on one screen. Also simple.

Other places, however, make you jump through so many hoops and click on so many links that your clicking finger starts cramping. By the time you’re done swearing out an affidavit that YES, you REALLY want to be deleted from their mailing list, you’re frazzled and vow never again to visit their site even if you’d been sort of on the fence about it before. This is one vow that it’ll be no problem keeping!

And I haven’t even addressed the issue of SPAM! Personally, I think it’s a little ridiculous to receive 937 junk e-mails. I rarely open any of these, although once in a great while an actual e-mail from someone I know gets caught in the filter and I have to rescue it. Hard to do because my eyes glaze over as they flit past all the e-mails about prescription drugs I can get online (without a prescription) or the inheritance someone from some foreign country that I’m not related to and have never met has left me.

My new e-mail address rarely receives SPAM – probably because I’ve been a little more judicious when signing up for e-mail newsletters and I don’t just give out my e-mail address willy-nilly anymore.

Ah well. Hopefully this latest attempt to get my old e-mail address off all these lists will work. And all I can say is that Google better never go out of business or I might have to give up e-mailing altogether! Yeah, right. Like I could do without my daily celebrity gossip update!

Oh, and to my dear friend Joe? PLEASE change my e-mail address! It’s not funny anymore...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Clumsy Jane - Part Two

So yesterday I wrote about Clumsy Jane and how she seemed determined to wreak havoc in my life as she stumbled around breakin’ stuff. Fortunately, she seems to be satisfied with breaking one glass bowl and one wineglass and causing a few messy spills.

Now, however, she seems to be wreaking havoc on my clothes.

It started yesterday when I was sitting in the park minding my own business and eating my salad. Since Clumsy Jane had spilled half of it on the kitchen floor the night before, I didn’t have a whole lot of salad left in the bowl, so every bite counted.

What happened? Naturally, the first forkful landed on my shirt in a nice poppyseed dressing and lettuce-shaped configuration. Sigh. Not only that, but the first sip of water? On my shirt. Now COME ON. I figured I might as well just dump the entire contents of the salad bowl down the front of me and pour the bottle of water over my head…it would make quicker work of the destruction of my work clothes.

I didn’t – but mostly because I didn’t want to be known as the “Crazy Lady in Schiller Park.”

I briefly considered tucking a paper town into the collar of my shirt like a bib, but instead I did the thing where I held the bowl nearly to my lips so any errant piece of lettuce or garbanzo bean that escaped my fork would land back in the bowl and not on me. Had anyone been watching this display of salad-eating prowess they may still have thought of me as the “Crazy Lady in Schiller Park.”

Can’t win, can I?

Sadly, I think Clumsy Jane is infectious and I’ve shared with my husband because Clumsy Vince made a brief appearance yesterday as well. Either that, or Vince is such a loving husband that he’s willing to share everything with me? Nah. I think he was just dealing with his own Clumsy Vince moment.

First, he nearly cut off the tip of his finger as he was using a knife to separate two frozen hamburger patties. Fortunately, he wasn’t using the super deluxe lethal Ginsu knives that will shred metal merely by thinking about coming in contact with it. Had he been using one of those knives, well, I don’t even want to contemplate how our evening would have gone, but I’m quite sure we would have been spending most of it in the Emergency Room. Since he was using one of the old, crappy dull-as-butter knives, he merely created a small divot in his finger. Not that it didn’t hurt, I’m sure, but at least no body parts required reattachment. Small mercies, eh?

Next, he spilled some of his dinner down his shirt. Guess he must have wanted to match me since I hadn’t yet changed out of my lettuce- and poppyseed dressing-coated shirt. Hey, I figured I may as well wait until after dinner to change clothes. No sense in getting two outfits food-covered. Plus, I wanted to make sure when I put the shirt in the laundry that I remembered to spritz a little Shout on it, or else I’d have a permanent reminder of my salad eating experience in Schiller Park.

Anyway, it apparently is a well-known fact that the men in the Cordova clan spill food down their shirts. It’s just what they do. So perhaps Clumsy Vince was just a temporary apparition and we were just in status quo mode?

And hopefully I’m not going to take after the Cordova men in the family and food-spillage will become a daily event. My clothing budget is not that vast and I don’t like walkin’ around with permanent food stains on my outfits.

The good news is that so far today neither of us have injured ourselves, our belongings or our clothing…so I’m going to assume that we’ve seen the last of our Clumsy alter egos.

But it probably wouldn’t hurt to follow my friend Carrie’s advice to “keep your hands and arms inside the ride at all times.” You never know when one of those lethal Ginsu knives will decide to spring out of the storage block and have a go at us…and I’m really not interested in spending time at the hospital having body parts re-attached!

Have a happy – and SAFE! – Tuesday!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Clumsy Jane Mode

You know how things seem to happen in three’s? Well, not for me, evidently. I seem to be working in multiples of three’s. I knocked over three things in a little over 24 hours and figured I should be done…but last night disproved that theory as I knocked over a fourth thing. Gosh, I’m getting tired of being clumsy. Not to mention that I’m tired of breaking things. Plus, I’m really tired of cleaning up stuff!

It all started on Friday morning when I went downstairs for breakfast before work. Last week was one of those weeks when I did not exactly bound out of bed to prepare myself for the day in enough time to have a leisurely breakfast. Instead, I stayed in bed until the last possible second and then rushed through my morning routine, sometimes even skipping – gasp! – the eye shadow application step. I made it downstairs with only a minute or two to spare for breakfast. Hey, what can I say? Some weeks are like that. Oh, all right, I’ll admit it – most weeks are like that! If I could sleep in every morning and show up at work sometime around 10:30, I’d be one happy camper!

Anyway, Vince had made us yogurt fruit smoothies for breakfast, which was smart on his part because I usually grab mine as I’m walking out the door and drink it on the way to work. The lid wasn’t yet on my insulated cup, which turned out to be disastrous. Before I even managed to take a sip, I knocked the glass over. Thick purplish-pink yogurt smoothie spread out all over the tablecloth, chargers, cloth napkins and everything else on the table.

Messes like that so early in the morning are not a good thing. I uttered a string of pretty inventive curse words and then pulled some paper towels off the roll to start the clean-up process. I was mentally kicking myself the whole time because it was an absolutely mess and I couldn’t believe I had done it. I mean, shouldn’t it be a pretty simple process to pick up a glass without knocking it over?

Vince, trying to be the voice of reason, calmly murmured some soothing words and helped clean up. Actually, he did most of the cleaning up because I was pretty ineffectual by that point.

Once he’d gathered up the dirty tablecloth and napkins, he cleaned off my messy insulated glass and shared some of his yogurt smoothie with me. Then he securely fastened the lid (!), and sent me on my way.

Surprisingly, I managed to keep it together at work. I neither shorted out my keyboard by knocking over my water glass nor upended a filing cabinet. And I was kind of proud of myself that I didn’t even kick over the trash can that was filled with those stupid packing peanuts. Woohoo – things were looking up.

Not so fast there, Skippy.

When I got home, we celebrated the end of the work week with a glass of wine. Yep, you guessed it. I knocked over my glass and it shattered. Mess #2 clean-up was all on me as Vince stayed safely in the kitchen. Well, he did hand me the dust pan and brush.

The thing is, he’d cleaned the tablecloth and napkins and re-set the dining room table and, in my distracted state, I hadn’t even noticed. Good husband…bad wife!

Anyway, while I picked up the pieces of glass, I mentally kicked myself some more. Owww. Mental bruises hurt. Who knew? But at least I managed to get all of the glass shards picked up without cutting myself. I’ll take mental bruises over actual wounds that require trips to the ER any day!

By this point, I was realizing that I should have poured my wine into a plastic sippy cup.

As it was, it finally got through my thick head that I was in Clumsy Jane Mode. Clumsy Jane appears in my life every so often just to keep me humble. Most of the time I think I’m fairly non-clumsy. But the last time she appeared, I think there were a half dozen wine glass fatalities.

So this time I vowed to be extra careful, especially now that we have some nice new wineglasses that replaced our hodgepodge assortment.

This careful attitude lasted approximately 7 minutes…until Clumsy Jane went to bed. I pulled one of the pillows off the bed – and knocked over a glass decorative lamp sitting on my bedside table. No, believe it or not, I did not break the decorative lamp (which made me extra happy as I really like that lamp). No, instead, the decorative lamp fell onto a decorative glass bowl on my end table…and broke it in two!

Sigh. But oh well, I could’ve broken both glass pieces and I didn’t. Plus, the decorative glass bowl broke in a couple of relatively clean pieces, so it wasn’t as much work to clean up as the wineglass was. And I wasn’t really crazy about that decorative glass bowl anyway.

By now I figured Clumsy Jane Mode had to be over. After all, that was three things – right?!

Guess not. Last night I was putting together our salads for lunch today…and knocked over my salad bowl. Pieces of lettuce, carrots, celery, garbanzo beans and olives went flying into the air and then landed on the kitchen floor in sort of a pretty heap. But a pretty messy heap, too. Sheesh!

Vince just wryly looked at me, shook his head, and handed me – yet again – the dustpan and brush. He didn’t even have to go out to the pantry to get it – I think he’s keeping it close at hand for me.

Really big sigh. But at least this time glass was not involved.

So now it’s a new week and I managed to get myself out the door without knocking over anything. Knock on wood that it stays that way, okay? We’re going to think positive and trust that Clumsy Jane has left the building.

But just the same, I think I’ll stay away from the glass-filled cabinet. And this evening? I’m fully prepared to drink my wine from a plastic sippy cup!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Procrastination

You know how as your life progresses, you realize there are things you kind of stink at – and then there are other things at which you’ve become quite proficient? Well, I realize I’m very, very good at something. Well, besides spelling.

And that thing is...procrastination.

Yes, it’s true. I’ve finally become an expert at something. In fact, I believe that I am the Queen of Procrastination. While I am sure there are many people out there vying for my title, I have honed my craft until it’s nearly perfect.

About the only thing I didn’t procrastinate on was my birth. Yep, that was about the only time in my life I showed up somewhere a little early. Probably I caused so much consternation being early that I vowed, at the tender age of 10 seconds, never to show up early anywhere ever again.

Apparently I took it to heart, too. I rarely show up at parties precisely at the start time printed on the invitation. In the back of my mind I think that parties nowadays are like parties from when I was in college, which meant that you could pretty much show up three days later and it would still be in full swing. If you actually showed up at the time the party was scheduled to start, you’d find no one but the hosts sitting around still thinking about making their beer-and-chips run.

And parties aren’t the only thing at which I procrastinate. Back in the day, I was very good at procrastinating on homework and book reports and such. It’d be the night before a 20-hour project was due and I’d decide to get started around 2AM. Somehow or other, I managed to pull off a good grade, so unfortunately I never learned the lesson about tackling a project early.

Sometimes this actually works in my favor in work situations. If I procrastinate on writing a letter or responding to something I really don’t want to respond to, I sometimes find that the situation resolves itself without any effort on my part. I take this as proof that procrastination is not always a bad thing.

I have aspirations of being well prepared ahead of time. I mean, I buy birthday cards weeks before the recipient’s birthday. That’s a good thing – right? Problem is, when it comes time to mail the card, I can’t remember where I put it. So then I’m left scrambling to find another appropriate card and it ends up being late. Probably I should just go out and buy all “Happy Belated Birthday” cards. It might save me a few bucks in the long run.

Getting ready to go somewhere is the worst, though. What happens is that I figure out the time I SHOULD leave and plan backwards from there. But inevitably something crucial comes up – like a rerun of Friends that I’ve already seen 53 times – and I miss my start time entirely. Then I recalculate the timing, but now have to rush around getting ready all the while grumbling that my hair is going to look – once again – like crap.

That’s usually the worse case scenario, though. Most of the time I manage to get ready more or less on time – and then I literally fly down the stairs and out the door with seconds to spare on my self-imposed schedule. The only problem with this method is that I never before had to allow for the “husband factor.”

Husbands, you see, are dressed and ready to go approximately 3.5 seconds after they shut off the water in the shower. They can leave the house with their hair dripping wet and it’s okay. That is so not right! Women, by comparison, are still standing in the shower 3.5 seconds after they’ve shut the water off. They’re trying not to drip on the rug on the bathroom floor because a damp rug is not pleasant to walk on. They are carrying on an internal debate about which moisturizer to use depending upon the atmospheric conditions while simultaneously re-thinking the outfit they selected three weeks prior when they received the invitation in the first place.

The problem with husbands being ready to go 3.5 seconds after their shower is that they then figure they have plenty of time to start a project while they wait for their wives to get ready. Said project may involve power tools, which is not a good thing. Or it might simply involve sandwich meat and condiments, which is confusing as the event they’re heading to most likely involves food.

When I do the flying down the stairs thing and snag my purse on my way out the door, I take Vince completely by surprise. He is usually sitting at his computer thinking about starting another game of online backgammon since he’s waiting for me anyway. He knows that we’re getting close to the time we absolutely must leave, but mere seconds before he heard the hair dryer so he figures he has the time. Not so much. I mean, when I’m ready, I’m ready – and it’s time to leave. NOW.

So when he sees me fly by, he starts the process of shutting down his computer. Then he gets up, walks over to the basket where his keys, cell phone and money clip are stored and he fills his pockets with these items. I am, meanwhile, standing at the door, or worse - at the car - tapping my foot and getting increasingly frustrated. But he calmly puts on his shoes and only then is he ready to walk out the door. Problem is that now we’re late and I’m cranky.

I’m thinking I should probably incorporate a “Two Minute Warning” into the schedule so he knows where I am in the process and he can prepare accordingly. That would be the fair and right thing to do.

Alas, I can’t usually tell that I’ll be ready two minutes hence. Sometimes the gods of Women’s Wear Daily work in my favor and I’m able to get ready with nary a clothing snafu nor a hairstyling glitch. But there are other times that “stuff” happens. Like the shoes I’ve selected don’t exactly match the top I’m wearing and I’m trying to find last-minute alternatives. Or I sneeze just as I’m applying waterproof mascara, which means I have to take a powerwasher to remove all the black smudges under my eyes and start the whole makeup application process over.

We have a couple weddings coming up soon and that puts me in a tizzy. Because, you know, you actually have to arrive at the church a half hour BEFORE the time stated on the invitation. It’s enough to give a girl like me an ulcer. Maybe Vince and I should do a practice run this weekend with the Two Minute Warning to see how we do. Or…maybe not. We still have a couple weeks.

Eh. Think I’ll decide later…

Thursday, June 10, 2010

AHS Class of 1977


So yesterday was June 9th, which was the thirty-third anniversary of my graduation from Alliance high school. Whoa. How is it possible that I’ve been out of high school that many years? I mean, after all, I’m only…um…38 years old! I tell ya – I must’ve been a veritable genius and graduated while I was still a toddler!

Don’t buy that, huh? Okay, so you do the math then. I’ll wait…

…Yep, you’re right. I’m officially old. Oh well. It’s wayyy better than the alternative.

When I was a shiny brand new 17-year-old high school graduate, I thought the life ahead of me was going to stretch on forever. Not so much. It’s amazing – and a little disconcerting – how fast time passes.

I loved high school, though. I loved my classes, especially literature and writing (not surprisingly). Well, okay, so I hated Math (also not surprisingly). And I wasn’t too crazy about Driver’s Ed because I constantly crashed while driving in the darn simulator.

And I also loved my friends. Well, except for that one guy who made fun of me for…well…never mind…! I even loved the whole learning thing, although the intervening years may have colored my perspective a little. Perhaps I really didn’t enjoy studying for exams in subjects like Geography. All those states in the middle had me a little confused about what was where.

Anyway…I made it through and, for the most part, I loved high school.

I am a little surprised that I enjoyed it so much, though. Why, you ask? Well, because I was pretty shy back then and I hadn’t gone to grade school with many of my classmates because they went to the public schools in Alliance while I went to the Catholic grade school in town.

So 9th grade was a scary time where I had to meet all sorts of new people. Fortunately, there were a few key friends who opted not to go to St. Thomas and thus came along for the ride at AHS, some of whom remain friends to this day. So that helped.

The biggest challenge, however, was not in learning the ropes of a new school. No, it was picking out a brand new outfit to wear every single day! Talk about pressure. I mean, for the entire eight years of my schooling until that point, I wore a uniform and didn’t have any choice in what I wore to school. Navy plaid skirt. Check. White blouse. Check. Navy knee high socks. Check. Oh, hey…wait just one minute! I DID get to choose between the navy vest and the navy sweater. Oh well, then. I feel better.

Actually, I’d have to say that the lack of uniform at Alliance High was one of the primary reasons I chose to attend public high school rather than the Catholic high school. Well, that, plus I didn’t want the long commute to St. Thomas. It would’ve been hell (haha) had I missed the school bus.

I’m not sure my parents knew the main reason I chose Alliance High, although I think they were happy they got out of paying tuition for four more years, so they were willing to let me make my own decision in the matter.

In retrospect, wearing a uniform might not have been all that bad because it would have eliminated early morning decision making. High school was the only time in my life I religiously got up at 6AM every single day to primp. I am not now nor have I ever been a morning person – and 6AM is not a good wake-up time for a non-morning person.

I didn’t think, however, that I had much of a choice since sharing a bathroom with three siblings necessitated getting in and out first. If I overslept, I might have had to wait in line and then wouldn’t have had time to shower and wash, dry and coif my hair, which for a high school girl is an absolute requirement. I don’t remember if that ever happened, but if it did, I probably called in sick that day. Just guessing. (Yeah, like my parents would’ve allowed me to call in sick for something like a bad hair day…)

Anyway, with the passing of years, I have come to appreciate that time in my life when Geography exams and bad hair days were the worst of my worries.

With the advent of social media outlets like Facebook, it has been a lot of fun reconnecting with so many high school friends, and I’ve enjoyed reading about what has happened to them in the intervening years. It is, however, a little freaky to think of some of them as grandparents when I last knew them as teenagers! But that’s what time does – it rolls on. And it does soften those teenage angst moments and memories. So to that guy who made fun of me for…well, never mind… - I want you to know that I’ve forgiven you!

Happy 33rd Anniversary fellow classmates of the Class of ’77. I hope all your dreams have come true!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rainy Days and Car Keys (Always Get Me Down)

It’s rainy and dreary today – and I’m wearing gray…so I’m sorta feelin’ blue. Ha. Apparently, I should have opened the curtains this morning to check on the weather. If I had, I probably would have selected something far brighter to wear – like hot pink or lime green. And that might have altered my mood.

Interesting how that works, eh?

So, instead of buzzing around getting a million tasks handled simultaneously, I’m slumped over my keyboard wishing I had another mega-cup of caffeine instead of slurping my umpteenth glass of boring ol’ water. Damn gray jacket. All it’s fault.

Oh well. At least I wasn’t my coworker today who lost her spare car key and the entire staff spent 45 minutes looking for it. Oh, and it was her spare car key because she lost her original set of keys a couple weeks ago. She even knows when she had them last and has searched repeatedly, but simply cannot find them. So it was sort of important for her to find her spare car key today as she wasn’t going to get anywhere without it.

So where did we finally find the car key? In another coworker’s trash can. Huh?? Why would you even throw something away in another office when you have your own perfectly good office trash can to throw things like spare keys in?

That’s not something I would do. No, I just leave my car keys in the ignition. Did that the other night. I didn’t even notice until the next morning as I was dashing out the door on my way to work. I shook my purse to listen for the jangling of my car keys and didn’t hear them. So I looked in the handy-dandy wooden box affixed to the wall where I’m supposed to keep my car keys on the off-chance that I actually put them away properly the night before. Naturally, I had not. So I started getting a little frantic as I do not allow extra time in the morning schedule to play hide-n-seek with my car keys. I scrabbled through my suitcase of a purse until Vince calmly pointed out that I do, in fact, have a spare car key. Oh. Yeah.

Fortunately, the spare key was in its proper spot in the handy-dandy wooden box affixed to the wall. As I reached my car, Vince called out that he bet they were in the ignition. And he was right. I hate when that happens, because it’s usually when I’ve done something boneheaded. But oh well. At least I hadn’t left the key in the “on” position and drained the battery. Or even worse – left the car running!

Don’t laugh. I did that once. I was running a meeting first thing in the morning, so I wanted to get to the office in plenty of time to get things set up. I parked my shiny new car in the parking garage and hustled the two blocks to the office. Once I reached the office, I realized I didn’t have my keys as I couldn’t unlock the office door. Luckily, someone else came in just then and opened the office – so I started preparing for my meeting. Figured I would search for my keys later.

Well, it was about an hour after the meeting ended and I thought again about my keys. I searched through my belongings, but couldn’t find them. So I walked back to the parking garage and up to my car. Started searching on the ground for them. No dice. Looked through the windows at the seats thinking I may have put them down. No luck. Somehow or other, I touched the hood of the car – and it was warm! So it was only then that I realized that the keys were in the ignition and the car was running! As I said, it was a new car – and the thing was so quiet that I didn’t even realize it was running! Fortunately, I had locked the door; otherwise, I may have come back to an empty parking spot! The parking attendant had his slim jim thingie that opened the door in about two seconds, which made me grateful that I was able to gain access so I could shut off the car and retrieve my keys…but also made me realize how easy it was to gain access to anyone’s car – locked or otherwise. Scary.

Anyway, I am happy to report that I have never again pulled that stunt. Obviously, there are other boneheaded things I’ve done that I could tell you about – but I think I’ve admitted to enough for now!

In the meantime, I am still slurping boring ol’ water and staring out at the drizzly, dreary day and wishing I was wearing my hot pink jacket. On the other hand, maybe bright clothes still wouldn’t help brighten the day. Too bad I can’t bag it all and go home and take a nap!

Ah well…it’s okay. Tomorrow is gonna be a brighter day. I’m already planning what to wear – and it ain’t gonna be gray. Come on sunshine!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Nanna

One of my cousins just became a grandmother the other day. Mom, dad and baby are doing great. And my cousin is beaming – because she gets to add “Nanna” to her list of names.

In my family, grandmothers are called “Nanna” (with two n’s, thank you very much). But there are a plethora of names people call their grandmothers. They can be called “Grandma” or “Grammy” or “Mamaw.” They can add their first name after their grandmotherly name – like “Mimi Myrtle” or maybe add their last name instead – like “Grammy Gunderson.”

I imagine there are even some women who are called “Granny,” but if I were a grandmother, I wouldn’t want be called that. The name “Granny” makes me think of The Beverly Hillbillies and I picture Granny Clampett with her bun, gingham dress and spindly legs chasing Jethro with a rolling pin. And, now that I think about it, is this where the term “granny glasses” comes from? None too flattering, if you ask me.

On the other hand, it’s a good thing there are so many names for the role because there are many permutations in families nowadays. There may be grandmothers on both the mother’s and father’s side – and there may even be various step-grandmothers thrown in there for good measure.

Kids can’t walk around calling all of these women “Nanna” – it would be too confusing. Mostly for the kid. I mean, they need to be able to differentiate between the cool grandmother who gives them great toys whenever there is a gift-giving occasion – and the not-so-cool grandmother who gives them crappy stuff like socks and underwear.

In my own family, my dad’s mother passed away before I was born, so we didn’t have the dilemma of figuring out a different name for her as the “other” grandmother. So I just had one Nanna who lived until she was 95 years old.

And what a cool Nanna she was. She never gave us socks and underwear for gifts. Instead, she traveled around the world and brought back exotic gifts like dolls with wooden shoes and intricate jewelry from foreign lands. Or money. Sometimes Nanna just gave us cold, hard cash, which was also fine with us.

Even more importantly than the gifts, believe it or not, was the chance to spend time with her. As kids, we went to visit Nanna and Grandpa at their summer cottage on Cape Cod every August and spent two whole weeks with them. (Or at least until Grandpa passed away when I was 9.) But we loved it up there and spent many happy hours swimming and playing at the beach and fishing and picking blueberries and flying kites and doing other fun stuff we didn’t get to do in Ohio.

Now Nanna was a tiny little fireball – I don’t think she even topped 5 feet – and she drove a big ol’ boat of a car. I don’t have any clue what kind of car it was (my brother John would know, I’m sure). But I do remember that it was green and she had a little ceramic figure of a saint affixed to the dashboard. Hopefully it was the Saint of Safe Travels – because I’ve gotta tell you that my Nanna was hell on wheels! She had a hard time seeing over the steering wheel, but that didn’t stop her from driving. Fast. But she was constantly correcting her steering with jittery movements, which meant that those of us unlucky enough to be sitting in the back seat invariably arrived at our destination with queasy stomachs.

As soon as Nanna said the words “road trip,” our oldest brother John would yell “shotgun!” – so that meant that my younger brother, sister and I were the unlucky kids relegated to the back seat. John was good at stacking the deck, too. If ever he was slow on the uptake and someone else managed to call dibs on the front seat, John would torment the other two rear-seat passengers until Nanna pulled over to the side of the road and made John move to the front where she could “keep an eye on him.” Hmmm…pretty slick move, wouldn’t you say?!

While on our vacation to the Cape, my parents would sometimes take a day or two to recharge their batteries and get away from their four brats, er, darling children and Nanna would take care of us. She wanted to make the time fun, so we usually went somewhere for the day.

There was one memorable trip we took with Nanna to Provincetown, at the tip of the Cape. This was in the 60’s when flower-power was at its height and hippies were common in P-Town.

We arrived around lunchtime, which was bad news for my younger siblings and me as our stomachs were in no condition to ingest food. But Nanna marched us along until she found a place that served burgers and fries, which she figured was a treat for us kids as opposed to our normal bologna sandwiches. So in we walked…and found ourselves inside a dark bar. There were long-haired guys hunched over stools along the bar drinking beer, which made Nanna go “tsk-tsk.” Yes, she actually said this. Nanna was very good at “tsk-tsking” and one really did not want to be on the receiving end of it.

My guess is that she was “tsk-tsking” not because they were drinking – because Nanna herself was known to enjoy a cocktail or two from time to time – but probably because it was only lunchtime and these guys were sitting in a bar wasting their lives. Nanna never apparently heard the song “It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere.”

Anyway, the bartender made some sort of rude comment about bringing kids into his bar and he made the mistake of calling her “lady.” By the end of the conversation he was deferentially calling her “ma’am.” And before we finished our burgers and fries, the beer drinkers had all slunk off. Probably to go to confession somewhere or get a haircut, be my guess.

After lunch, I remember walking down the street and seeing stoned out hippies lying around on the grass. One guy was lying there in a happy haze – or at least until he encountered Nanna. He was sprawled across the sidewalk with his big, black boots sticking up in the air that made sidestepping him impossible. So one-by-one, my siblings and I veered around him and into the street so as to avoid confrontation.

Not Nanna. Oh no. She stood there staring down at him until he flipped open an eyelid and peered up at her. Admittedly, he didn’t have far to look up. But they stared at each other without saying a word until finally he dropped his eyes in defeat. But he didn’t move. So she prodded his jeans-clad leg with the tip of her sensible old-lady shoes and told him that he should be ashamed of himself – a young man like him lying practically in the street. She told him to move out of the way of pedestrians and, finally, after some sort of internal debate (perhaps he was thinking of pounding on a little old lady, but she looked kind of feisty and he didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of his stoner friends?), he rearranged himself so that he was no longer blocking the sidewalk.

Nanna didn’t say another word – she just calmly continued on her way down the sidewalk. Or maybe she tsk-tsked – but I was far enough away from her by that point so I didn’t actually hear it.

That’s pretty much my entire recollection of that particular visit to Provincetown. I’m quite sure I blocked the memory of the trip home because I guarantee you that car sickness was involved. Fortunately none of us ever tossed our cookies in the back seat. I’m guessing that Nanna’s “tsk-tsking” would have gone into overdrive and we couldn’t have borne the shame.

But queasy stomachs notwithstanding, I have such great memories of my Nanna. I miss her, even though she has been gone for twenty years now. And I can still hear her saying, “Jane Dear...” (never just “Jane” – it was always “Jane Dear...”), which was usually followed by, “Can you please reach {such-and-such} for me?” (Did I mention she was tiny?)

So I’m thrilled for my cousin who is a newly-minted Nanna. And I know her grandson will have some great memories of his Nanna, too. Maybe she should practice “tsk-tsking” though. She can still be cool. She just needs to avoid the bun. And maybe the rolling pin. And never ever – under any circumstances – purchase socks or underwear as a gift. Trust me, M – you’ll do great!

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Fine (?) Art of Farting

I’m going to discuss a subject today that most women do not talk about or even acknowledge really. And that subject is…um…farting. Passing gas. Tooting. Whatever you call it – we don’t like to talk about it and we really don’t like to do it. Ever. I suspect that there are even men out there who believe that women neither possess the knowledge nor the ability to perform this biological function. These would not be married men, by the way. Married men know all our ugly secrets. Or most of them anyway.

Truthfully, most women would rather suffer inadvertent internal combustion rather than doing something so crass. And in public? Forget it! We’d prefer you posted a video of us on YouTube trying on bathing suits rather than tooting in public. And let me just clue you in on something: unless they’re a Victoria’s Secret model, women really hate trying on bathing suits. Clearly, there is a hierarchy to the things we hate doing. (And, guys, don’t let anyone fool you – folding and putting away your boxers and cleaning out the vegetable drawer in the fridge are somewhere on that list, too.)

So why is it that men find the subject of flatulence so incredibly hilarious? I mean, they virtually regress before our very eyes and become giggling 10-year-olds if even the subject of passing gas is brought up, let alone if they were to let one rip or hear someone else do it.

Oh, and before I go any further on this subject, let me just state for the record, that no, I did not have a tooting accident – in public or otherwise.

No, I bring up the subject because we went to a cookout on Saturday night and our host brought out his “fart machine,” complete with remote control. And the guys at the party thought it was the Funniest. Thing. Ever. They cracked up every single time anyone bent over or lowered themselves into a chair and the fart machine went into overdrive. I don’t know this for sure, but I suspect that the batteries for the remote on the damn thing needed to be replaced after its evening of non-stop use.

Vince said it was the most fun he’s had in a long time – and he laughed harder than I think I’ve ever heard him laugh before. Yikes. I thought I was pretty good at knowing what makes Vince tick…but who knew that the way to a man’s funny bone is a remote controlled fart machine?

Men even have names for their gaseous emissions. The loud-but-odorless. And the silent-but-deadly. And they giggle whenever they let one loose. The smellier the fart is, the louder these grown men laugh. Why is this? I simply don’t get it.

On the drive home after the fart-fest – between bouts of uncontrollable laughter – Vince asked the same question. “We don’t laugh when someone sneezes or belches,” he said, “so why do we laugh when people fart?”

I said, “First of all, honey, the ‘people’ you refer to in that question would be ‘men’ – let’s just get that straight. And, also, women don’t laugh when men fart. We’re too busy trying to uncross our eyes, fanning the air in front of us and hoping the noxious fumes will dissipate before we’re forced to move to another room or, depending on the severity of the smell, to another ZIP code.”

Vince just laughed all that much harder.

My theory is that – for men – there is a strange combination of embarrassment and pride in their ability to pass gas loudly. When they were boys, they had farting contests. C’mon, I know these things. I had brothers. And, also, I saw the movie Blazing Saddles and know what the effects of eating baked beans will have on a group of grown men sitting around a campfire. Mel Brooks probably thought up that scene when he was 10 years old and couldn’t wait to grow up to be a filmmaker so he could recreate the visual. Not to mention the audio.

Clearly, men and women are different creatures entirely. If a woman were to accidentally pass gas, even in a private room with only her best friend in the world there to hear it, she would still be mortified. It’s just not something we do.

Now, I must admit that there are exceptions to every rule. I am sure there are men who don’t find flatulence funny. And there surely must be women who take pride in their ability to produce long, loud farts – but I cannot say I’m acquainted with any of them. Or at least they don’t display such prowess in front of me.

I’ve not done a scientific study, but I know of at least three men who, while finding great humor in the art of farting, find it distasteful to hear women pass gas. In public or otherwise. Double standard? Yeah, sure. But that’s okay. There are some areas in which I do not wish to be considered equal to men. And one would be in the silent-but-deadly category.

Pass the baked beans? Nooooo thank you…I’ll think I’ll, uh, pass!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Thurman Café


One night last week Vince had an appointment downtown, so we decided to meet for a quick dinner somewhere in German Village. My modus operandi is that at 5:01 I’m already outta German Village and headed north on my way home. I do not tarry and I do not dawdle – but not having to forage in the fridge for some semblance of a meal was a definite incentive.

Vince has long waxed poetic about the “Thurman Burger” at a little restaurant/bar in German Village called the Thurman Café, a family-owned restaurant that has been in existence since 1942. Despite all these years of working downtown and in German Village, I had never been to the Thurman Café. So that is where we decided to meet.

I didn’t actually count them, so don’t quote me on this, but I’d guess that there are only about 12 tables and booths in this joint, along with the stools along the bar. They do have long benches in the waiting area where people take their beers to sit, drink, talk to their friends and relax. Possibly they are working up an appetite in anticipation of eating one of those Thurman Burgers. And, from what I understand, there is usually quite a lengthy wait to get seated, so this outer room also handles the overflow.

We only had about a 10 minute wait and then we were seated at a little two-top table, which didn’t seem big enough if the burgers were as big as they say. It was…but just barely! We had a great server/bartender help us. As she said, she wanted to make my “first time” an extra special one. Ha ha…not the first burger I’ve ever had, lady.

But it was the first burger from Thurman’s I ever had…and that probably qualified as a “first time”!

Vince ordered a Thurman Burger and I ordered one of their Blue Cheeseburgers. Mine was delicious, by the way – just let me get that out of the way. I managed almost half of it before giving up in defeat. But this, too, is my modus operandi. I rarely leave a restaurant without a container to take home for another meal. And KFC has nothin’ on the finger-lickin’ good thing. Yum!

The Thurman Burger itself, however, is a height-defying tower of ¾ lb. of burger, bun and all the fixings held together by what must have been specially-ordered extra-long toothpicks. My eyes widened in amazement when it was brought to the table and placed in front of my husband. There would be no way on God’s green earth that I could manage one of those things! But, Vince, well, he’s da man and somehow he managed to eat the thing without dripping most of it down the front of his shirt. I do not know how. I think he didn’t let go and just kept eating until it was gone. If he had let go, it probably would’ve burst apart in a flurry of tomato, pickle, burger and bun.

Apparently, they have a burger on the menu even bigger than the Thurman Burger, which is called the Thurman-ator. This gastric monstrosity contains DOUBLE the meat. Are they kidding? I didn’t see anyone eating the Thurman-ator when we were there. Who knows – maybe the wait staff would be legally required to have paramedics on-site with their resuscitation paddles just in case. I can’t imagine what a double the meat burger could possibly look like. But I do think it takes gluttony to a whole new level.

The restaurant received national attention when the guy from Man v. Food came to Columbus and filmed a show featuring the Thurman Burger. I don’t watch that show – other than once when it was on TV in someone else’s living room. In that episode, host Adam Richman consumed mass quantities of some sort of spicy seafood, which would pretty much be my nightmare meal, so I quickly lost interest. As Vince frequently says about my spicy food eating habits, “Ketchup is spicy for Janie…” And, no, sadly, he’s not really kidding.

I have to assume that the episode featuring the Thurman Burger was a success, or else Thurman’s Café wouldn’t still be promoting the Man v. Food episode with a big sign in its front room.

Anyway, my first visit to the Thurman Café was an enjoyable one. I mean, I was sitting there with my husband – so what’s not to like? And the second half of the burger turned into dinner for both of us the next day, so we certainly couldn’t complain about the value!

But, it’s now an entire week later…and I think I’m still working on the whole digestion thing. I'd say it should be a celery stick-and-water sorta weekend...but we're going to a cookout tomorrow evening. Hopefully, burgers will not be on the menu!

(Graphic Image by: Modern Photography)