Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rainbow Brite

I work in a fairly conservative office. Being that it is a company in service to the financial industry, there are occasional client and potential client walk throughs, requiring that we maintain a professional appearance. Even so the prescribed dress code is "Business Casual" which is loosely translates to no sweats, booty shorts or other hoochie-momma outfits. Unless you get your wardrobe by shopping the racks backstage at a VH1 reality show, it's a pretty easy thing to conform to. But buried within that last statement, lies my problem. I am a poor conformist.

When I was sixteen, I was infatuated with my own rebelliousness. If you asked me who my heroes were, I was likely to tick off a long list of rock stars and tortured artists. I wanted to be like them. Not in the sense that I had any real musical or artistic talent, but I saw myself as a creative soul locked in a gray bourgeoisie box of suburban sameness. As such, I spent a lot of time pondering my emotional state and complaining about my "stifled creativity". In reality, I was really just a brat and a lazy student and I wanted to blame my lack of success in school on the oppression of the man. So I adopted a tough chick persona, wore outrageous clothes and too much makeup and got into the alternative music scene.

It was around this time that my mother, frustrated with my inability to focus on school work and by my mounting trips to the Principal's office and subsequent suspensions, decided that learning a trade might be the best course of action for me. When pressed for what I might want to study, I came up with three things - dog grooming, interior design and hairdressing. After lengthy deliberation and a consult with an aunt who had pursued interior design and told me of how cutthroat and catty she found her coworkers to be, I settled on hairdressing. Little did I know that cutthroat and catty was invented by hairdressers.

Hairdressing afforded me the opportunity to experiment with my hair and gave me an environment where outrageous clothes and makeup were embraced and encouraged. What it did not provide me with was benefits. No medical, no life insurance, no dental, no nothing. After a couple of years in hairdressing, I left it; partially due to the lack of benefits and partially from having sufficiently scratched the creative itch. Much to my surprise and the surprise of those around me, I ended up going corporate. Thanks to my mother's long tenure with a large NY based bank, I got an interview and managed to land an entry level job in Customer Service. This job gave me benefits, paid for school and gave me a sense of security that I was not aware that I had been missing.

The biggest adjustment for me in going from creative to corporate was that I was going to have to do a 180 degree turn wardrobe-wise. I bought a few things and borrowed things from my mother and before I knew it, I had a nice wardrobe of conservative pieces that mixed, matched and got me through a workweek. I was as contented as I had ever been at a job, but somewhere deep inside, the diva was raging. She screamed at me when I went to bed at 9:30 and she belittled me as I purchased khaki pants in Macy's. She was unsatisfied and boiling under the surface. Until one day, I found a way to quiet her.

I decided that I was going to have a secret streak of blond hair, buried at the nape of my neck. I could dye this secret streak any and every color in the rainbow and no one would be the wiser. I could go to work in a conservative blouse and black dress pants and my inner diva would be working her hot pink streak under the cover of my neat, corporate bob. Hell, she could rave and party 'til she puked and no one would know but me and the diva.

That was a very long time ago, but now, twenty-plus years into my career, I still do the secret streak but for a totally different reason. It has become a ritual of the annual girl's weekend getaway that I go to with my friends. Each year we choose a new color; Ultra Violet in '06, Pool Blue in '07 and so on. And we all end up leaving with a brightly colored reminder of our good time nestled at the nape of our necks. What started as an act of rebellion has become a mark of togetherness and friendship and sisterhood.

These days, my inner diva has been all but silenced by the oncoming train of middle age. She rarely pokes at me anymore and I feel little need to rebel. That is until I take my daughter shopping in Hot Topic where Acid Green and Road Sign Orange colored nail polish sits side by side with black tutus and dangly, day-glow earrings. Then she wails like a banshee. I could never get away with the tutu, but girl, put on your sunglasses because you HAVE to see my pedicure.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Definition of Crazy

They say the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If this is true, then please fit me for my strappy white coat pronto.

My friends will tell you that I am a wiz in the kitchen and that’s because I manage to shovel passable tasting food in their mouths whenever they come over. But what they don’t see, in the hours of pre-party prep or the daily grind of cooking for my family, is that I am more of a spaz in the kitchen than a graceful gazelle of
gastronomy. Sliced fingers, broiler burns, spilled fluids of every possible kind are the order of the day. Generally speaking, I need to leave three hours of bumper time between prep and service just to clean up in my own disastrous wake.

Of all my kitchen catastrophes, the biggest repeat offender is my tendency to overflow things. Being that my tolerance for distraction is on par with a five year old boy on behavioral meds, I can’t get through the act of filling a pot or cup without creating a kitchen tidal wave. Catching the glint of almost anything from the corner of my eye is enough to get me to walk away from a filling pot with a glazed expression, muttering “Ooooh shiny.”

The other appliance that I have to break out the water wings for is the coffee maker. It is a weird Dutch variety that my husband searched out in attempt to satiate my insane coffee lust. Selected for its ability
to get to the optimal temperature for brewing burr ground, shade grown, free trade, French Roast beans, its design gave little thought to usability or practicality. My poor mother would sooner go coffee-less or worse, drink 7-11 coffee than try to figure out the complex, multi-threaded process of brewing a cup of coffee in the “Dutch Master”.

The Dutch Master has a removable coffee funnel that has two settings on it – open and closed. Presumably, the closed setting is for impatient souls that cannot wait for the coffee to complete brewing before pilfering a cup of ill-gotten brew. I am loath to do this because, the first drippings of coffee are far stronger than
the last drippings of coffee, but when mingled together in the carafe, they create the scientifically perfect level of strength and heat and deliciousness (Neurotic. I know. I’m seeking help.). So why would I ever pull the pot prematurely? Well, never, would be the answer. However, once completed, there is a possibility of
post-brew drippage (Sounds like an STD, right?) falling on to the counter upon removal of the thermal carafe that sits below it. Because I hate cleaning up the drippage, sometimes I slide the funnel setting to closed. Big mistake.

Never and I do mean NEVER, do I ever remember a time that I have set the coffee funnel to closed and remembered to slide it back to open the next time I brewed. The result of this memory lapse is lumpy brown puddles of coffee and grinds spilling over the top of the funnel to the counters, cabinets and floor below. My overflows have gotten so bad that the family knows, upon hearing my shrill screams for help that I have flooded the kitchen once again. They generally arrive in the kitchen already armed with a thirsty bath towel, to sop up what no standard paper
towel has the fortitude to handle.

I could get rid of the coffee maker, but it does make a damn fine cup of coffee. And let’s be honest, I can and have created similar disasters with a Krups or a Mr. Coffee. The problem at the core of the coffee isn't the oddball coffe maker, it's the same problem that causes my spaghetti pot over flow – me. It’s operator error in its purest form. And as sure as the sun will rise again tomorrow I will brew another pot of coffee and overflow another pot. That’s just the way it is. It’s a good thing that I drive past a mental institution on my way to work every day, because based on the definition of crazy, at some point I’ll probably have to check myself in.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Get Down With Your Bad Osmond Self

So I was poking around at one of my favorite blogs Ummmm yesterday and the topic was records. Actual stacks-o-wax albums. Being of the correct demographic, I commented about how I was owner of all sorts of Osmond, Partridge, Cassidy and Sherman chestnuts. In retrospect, I would have to say that by the time I was nine, I had amassed a pretty impressive collection of audio cheese. Thinking about my album collection brought me back to the time when I was listening to The Osmond Brothers Crazy Horses in my room and I got inspired to see what would happen if I baked crayon shavings and clay in the EZ Bake oven. My father got one whiff of melting wax and he snipped the cord, without benefit of Rabbinical supervision.

All this childhood nostalgia got me thinking; was there any video of the Osmond Brothers performing (what was) my favorite O-Bros song, Crazy Horses? Crazy Horses was the Osmond's best attempt at rocking out. And while it was certainly heavier than the content on "To You With Love, Donny", it was heavy in an Osmond way. Your grandmother would still probably like it.

Well damned if I don't love the digital age, because seek and ye shall find. Here it is in all its absurd glory. I still remembered which brother was which and I'm pretty sure that the lead singer on this track was Jay. Jay had an unusual dance style that I don't recall ever seeing before. Perhaps the last time that I saw them perform this, I was not sophisticated enough to know that the Funky Chicken was an inappropriate choice of dance move for this song, or any other. Just because the song has synthesized horse noises in it, does not require you to bring the barnyard on stage, Jay.

Anyway, check this out. I got a huge charge out of it. If you are somewhere north of your late 30's you might pee yourself laughing, I suggest strapping on a Depends before viewing. If you are under 30, you'll probably just shake your head in disbelief and wonder what you can do to widen the generation gap, because you old people are freaks.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Procrastination as High Art

This morning as I was cleaning the house, I noticed a wayward shoe under the farthest reaches of the dining room table. I tried to fish out the lone item of footwear with a skillful toe maneuver, but I could not get a good monkey-grip on it and came up empty-footed. I was going to have to get down on all fours and crawl for it.

I pulled out two of the heavy dining room chairs to give myself ample space and light to retrieve the shoe and while down under the table, I came face to face with my own personal demon. My Procrastination Monster. I have to mud-wrestle this evil fiend from time to time. When things are going well and I feel relatively self-confident, I manage to keep it at bay and be a contributing member of society. Other times, when less impressed with myself, I am the cram for exams kid in a cage match to the death with the PM and often losing in the bloody ninth round.

However, this morning's issue wasn't so much an orphan of flagging self-worth as it was a trophy of my plain old laziness. When we moved into our current house in July of 2003, I decided that it was time to get a new dining room table. After an exhaustive search for the perfect one, we had it delivered in time to sit amidst the freshly painted walls and new flooring.

The pieces were unwrapped and assembled by the furniture company. Legs were screwed into the table top, chairs removed from their plastic mummification and the leaf inserted to ensure the table's successful placement within the room's dimensions. On the surface, everything seemed perfect. . .but the underside of the tables and chairs hid an ugly secret that the furniture movers did not address.

Under each chair and each segment of the table top, there were these bizarre grey ropes of strapping that were stapled to the wood. Some of them were affixed flush to the surface, while others hung loose like old testicles. I got under the table like a mechanic under a Chevy and I started to yank at them to remove them. With much gnashing of teeth and grunting I managed to get all of the ones that were attached to the bottom of the chairs, but the ones attached to the table were not budging. I tried to swing on them like Tarzan, applying all my weight and repressed anger in one brutal tug, but it wasn't coming out. It hung there like Methuselah's manhood, drifting ever closer to his knees.

Ever since that fateful late summer day in aught three, I have disregarded the grey strapping and held numerous dinner parties and poker games at the table. Each time, saying a little silent prayer that a long legged guest will not get tangled in the dangling strapping.

Fast forward to this morning, August 22 of aught niner, I face the brutal gray strapping again. Horrified, I call to my daughter to fetch me the scissors and the digital camera. And what did I do? I took a picture of the hanging strapping and said to myself "This will make a great blog post!". Upon which, I ran to the office and started typing furiously.

The strapping? It's still there, attached to the table, swinging in the breeze of my speedy departure. Only now, it has friends to keep it company. My lone shoe and a pair of scissors have joined it and my Procrastination Monster is doubled over with laughter. That's alright, I'll get right on it. The three things will either disappear or double to six somewhere around September of 2015.

I see you there, lurking in the darkness, mocking me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Top Ten Truths of our Amish Vacation

We are back from our four day excursion in the PA Amish country. And as I sit here with a delicious cup of perfectly brewed Italian Roast coffee, I can thoughtfully reflect on what I learned over this long weekend with the kids.

Now that the kids are older, we get to spend so little time with them. My son thinks that I am an ogre because I insist that he join us for family dinner at least 5 out of 7 nights of the week. I guess it cramps his style to some degree, but dinners together are a rule that I don't want to give up on as it keeps us (loosely) threaded together amidst all the chaos. So imagine my absolute glee at having my children as a captive audience for four days. This little family bonding event this inspired me to write our family's "Top Ten Truths of our Amish Vacation":

TRUTH 1) No ammount of sleep is enough for a thirteen year old. Getting the boy out of bed in the morning proved to be as much of a challenge on the road as it was at home. I assumed that the long days in the sun and all the theme park walking would tucker them out and they'd be asleep before 11:00. And for the most part, they were. However, that did not translate into the boy bounding out of bed at 8:00 am, ready for the next activity. Nope. Explosive rigging on the order of the Bridge over the River Kwai was still a necessity.

TRUTH 2) My daughter is way hardcore. She faced her fear and went on a bunch of roller coasters that twist, turn, spin and go backwards. This is the same kid that cried and yelled at the carnie to stop the ride when she went on a roller coaster that was six feet off the ground at a local fair. I cried for her to stop talking to the carnie.

TRUTH 3) Talking GPS makes my ass twitch. There is only so much GPS yammering that one woman can take. My husband had his GPS voice set to a bizarre digital Australian woman's accent. If I heard "Keep roit on ey tewhundred and seventy six eest" in digiroo one more time, I was going to take an axe to the thing. Thankfully, the narration was shut off, incurring no harm to either the GPS or spousal unit.

TRUTH 4) Theme parks dominate vacations with teens. 3 out of 4 days were spent on line, roasting in the hellacious mid-day sun waiting to get on some whirligig or another. I had wanted to hit the Lancaster Central Market, The Giant Corn Maze and some other Amish attractions, but I was voted down on all counts. Whatever, let's just see what "Santa" brings you this year. I'm sure that he will remember his inability to buy fresh Amish produce and Whoopie Pies when December rolls around.

TRUTH 5) I am not the hardcore shopper that I used to be. I had one entire afternoon to myself to outlet shop and I finished early and ended up sitting in the amusement park parking lot for an hour waiting for hubster and kids to finish going on rides. I know. I know. It's sad. I've lost my edge.

TRUTH 6) The Amish Were Oogling ME. While I tried desperately to be be mindful of not obviously staring at them, I noticed that the little Amish did not stop peering out the back of their buggy at me. These little Am-lettes were eyeing me like a a tiger eyes a steak. I was going to yell out "Take a picture, it lasts longer!" But then I realized, what's the point?

TRUTH 7) There's a Take an Amish to Breakfast program. There must have been some sort of cultural exchange program going on yesterday morning because I kept seeing groups of tourist families ushering a bonneted or suspendered Amish guest into the breakfast buffet. How come nobody told me about the rent-an-Amish program? I'd gladly buy a bowl of scrapple to pick an Amish brain. If I can get just one of them to lose the chinstrap beard, I will have gotten benefit from the sharing of thoughts and ideas.

TRUTH 8) Pervy Amish town names never get old. The origin of our son's Beavis and Butthead tendencies come clearly into focus when we get into Amish country. Here's a list of some of the names that made my husband and I giggle this weekend:


-Blue Ball




-Mount Joy

- Chocolate Ave. (in Hershey)

9) You can't over-tip the hotel housekeeper when my kids are in the house. Continuing on the reign of destruction world tour that kicked off at our house when they were born, the kids were complete slobs in their hotel room. The places that I found socks and shoes defied explanation. Needless to say, we tipped generously as we knew at least one wayward garment would be found in the coffee pot or in a bathroom sconce after we departed.

10) You can travel the world over, but the best cup of coffee is brewed at home. I spent a good deal of time and energy on this trip trying to find a decent cup of coffee. For me, a bad cup of coffee is an assault to the senses on the order of licking an ashtray. It's just cringe inducing. But when I ground my beans this morning and poured my clean, cool filtered water into the coffee maker and took my first sip of its warm delicious brew, I felt a rush through my body that I imagine a junkie feels upon finally getting the fix he's been jonesing for. It was heavenly.

I'll miss the Amish country, but it's time to get back to the business of cooking, cleaning and mom's taxi service. I go back to the job tomorrow, so I will spend today baking treats that remind us of vacation and fishing socks out of the bathroom sconces. It's good to be home, I just wish someone would leave me a big tip at the end of the day.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Amish ya, ah really will

I'll be away for a few days. And, while I can't say that I will be without connectivity or an opportunity to blog, I am going to say that I will try to refrain for a few days. I need to unwind as I have been quite the stressed out be-otch of late and I need to come back to center.

However, I know myself well and much like I will not be able to live without Starbucks for the next few days, I will also probably be semi-connected. It is highly likely that I will be blathering on Twitter, because sometimes you just have to share (whether anyone cares that Aaron Stamtish has a fine crop of corn this year or not).

So while I ponder the logic behind the beard with no moustache look, I leave you with this little nugget of greatness from Weird Al. I know it's not cool to like weird Al, but after my good friend Cenzo quoted him in a Tweet (The guy's a genius. Cenzo, not Weird Al) and I did a mental check of some of his works - White and Nerdy (my personal theme song), Like a Surgeon, Living With a Hernia, I realized how much I dig him. Some people say "Fat" is the jewel in the Weird Al crown, but I say it's this -

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Amish Teenage Wasteland

As some of you may have read here and here, I have a teensy weensy little obsession with the Amish. I don't know what started it, but it goes waaaaaaay back. Now, with our upcoming trip to Lancaster looming in the near future, I am all raw nerve endings and excitement, thinking about it.

But, what would I do if I actually lived in the Amish Country and was raised by Amish parents? Certainly part of who we are is how we are raised, you know the "nurture" part. But part of us is who we are programmed to be, the nature part. That's the part that would have gotten me in trouble. Let me see how the teenage me would have dealt with the traditions and restrictions of an Amish upbringing.

TRADITION 1: Quilting

MY REACTION: I would steal all the black pants and white shirts out of my father's draw that I could get my hands on and I would make a quilt with a giant AC/DC logo in the middle. When my father would ask me if this be one of Jacob Zooks hex signs, I would reply "No father, it is of the Angus Young clan. The emblem of a man that wields his axe mightily." Father would then reply "It is good to show interest in a man that is crafty with wood." This response would make me laugh until I shot Chow Chow out my nose.

TRADITION 2: Plain Dress

MY REACTION: I would most definitely have a tutu, ripped leggings, combat boots and a dayglo spandex shirt under the modest frock at all times. As soon as my mother called upon me to take the buggy out to get sewing notions, I'd take the bonnet off, put the nose ring in and let the freak flag fly.

TRADITION 3: No Electricity

MY REACTION: What? No tuneage? Like I'd put up with that shit for even a minute. Out of my way bitches! I'd be in the barn until all hours hooking up potatoes , bell jars and tractor parts until I built something, anything that could pull in a signal. Then I'd charge all the naughty Amish children admission to hear the devil music that I was pumping in "Direct from Hell". It would be a sweet gig because they'd never tell on me for fear of getting shunned for being in cahoots with Satan.

TRADITION 4: Beards with no Moustaches

MY REACTION: Uh, no. There will be no chin strap beards in my presence, even if Amish law dictates that all men stop shaving their beards once they are married. You know that I'd be sneaking a buggy ride off to Walmart to replace the soap with some Nair. Besides, don't you know that all clean shaven Amish men look like a young Harrison Ford? It's true. Go on, disprove it. See you can't.
TRADITION 5: Barn Raising
MY REACTION: I have to admit, I have no issue with this one because all the men do the hard work. The women just cook awesome food all day. I can get behind that, except for the fact that they do all the cooking without air conditioning. The one thing the Amish know how to do is food. Good lord is their food delicious. All country gravy goodness.
Ok, I suppose I'd have made a crappy Amish teenager. I suppose that I am best relegated to Amish ogling. That's fine, at least I'm good at that. Highly skilled, even. So next week when I return from Lancaster, expect lots of bloggy love posted here for my homeboys Zacharia and Levi and Jacob. Unfortunately, they'll never read it.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Somebody Out There Thinks I'm Cool

I got an award. Go figure!

Well thank you Lin for taking a chance on an unknown geek like me. When I went over to Duck and Wheel with String today for a little readin', I was quite shocked and excited to see that Lin had put me up for the award below:

Apparently it comes at a cost of having to share the love with five other bloggers. Problem is, Lin and I read a lot of the same people, so she already tagged a couple of mine. Also, she would have been one of my choices. I would assume that re-tagging would be bad form, only because I really don't know any better.

So here's how we do this thing:

You must copy and paste the rules and the instructions below in the post.

Instructions: On your post of receiving this award, make sure you include the person that gave you the award and link it back to them. When you post your five winners, make sure you link them as well. Don’t forget to let your winners know they won an award from you by emailing them or leaving a comment on their blog.

My choices are:

Predator Press - Lobo will probably shoot me for this. He was just posting about how he wanted to get guest posters to cover some of his posting obligations - now here I come with all kinds of work. Whether he wants to do this or not, I want to nominate him because he makes me laugh.

In Three Words - It is the simplest and most interesting concept for a blog. Mad props.

Nanny Goats in Panties - Already wildly popular, Ms. Panties doesn't really need my bloggy love. However, it feels wrong to leave her out since I really love her offbeat sense of humor.

Mommy Wants Vodka - Aunt Becky is already the prom queen of the blogging High School. She, like NGIP does not need my kudos. Hell, she won the BlogLuxe Funniest Blogger award this year. But I would feel remiss if I did not mention her. I read her pretty regularly and obviously lots of you do to as I get the most referral traffic from her.

I can't choose between two of blogs that I have discovered recently, so I am going to list them both here in the hope that one of two has the inclination to participate. Go on over and check out Amy over at Goodbye 20's Hello Botox and Linlah over at Corn-bean.

OK, so per the terms of the award, here are my five addictions:

Hells Kitchen - Yeah, Gordon Ramsay is a loudmouth and he can be brutal on the contestants, but I see a lot of theater in his behavior and a lot of genuine care under the yelling. And bonus, the show really gets a strange mix of contestants of widely varying abilities. Makes for good TV.

The Amish Country - I go there at least once a year. Partly to ogle with all the cultural insensitivity I can muster and partly because it is genuinely peaceful and calming. Oh, and the food rocks!

Modjeskas - Homemade marshmallows wrapped in a soft, buttery caramel. Heaven in a perfect bite. So delicious, you can't eat just 12.

Poker - I love to play poker. I really love gambling in general, but playing poker with family and friends is THE best time for me.

Family Dinner - A point of great contention with the teen in the house, but I think it is so important that we gather back together for dinner at the end of the day. It helps me reconnect with home after a long day at work.

So there it is. Thanks again Lin. And to all the other blogs out there that I frequent, if I am a regular reader of your blog, be prepared for me to tag you next time. I have so many favorites, it's tough to choose just five.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sesame Street Wants Me to Audition

I am a natural redhead. No really, I have the baby pictures to prove it. When you grow up with red hair (auburn in my case), it becomes a defining characteristic. It's usually the first thing that people use to describe you and sometimes, much to the chagrin of many a redhead, it is the source of your first nickname. As a little kid, I didn't particularly like my red hair because it was different. But eventually, I came to embrace it for the same reason.

Somewhere between babyhood and middle age, long before grey hair became a problem, my red hair faded to brown. I can remember my mother telling me that "redheads lose their pigment early" when I was a child, but I never really understood what she meant until it happened.

Seems that around the age of 32, that heinous bitch mother nature decided that it was indeed time to take the red pigment from my hair, but when she did so, she never bothered to adjust my skin color to match. The loss of red was very gradual. So gradual, that it took a long time for me to notice. It was sort of like I woke up one morning and noticed that my skin looked like a vomit-tinged shade of taupe. I looked at myself in the mirror, convinced that I was dying of some horrific blood disease. Once I got through reeling over the other-worldly color of my skin, I noticed my eyebrows. Who the hell put those there when I wasn't looking? It was like mother nature sent in the eyebrow fairy to make a deposit on my head while I slept. It was the furry black brows that finally tipped me off to the fact that my red hair had indeed faded.

Prior to this little life event, I had always prided myself on the fact that I never had to groom my eyebrows. While my friends plucked and waxed and subjected themselves to various forms of medieval torture, my brows just chilled. They had a natural arch, were reasonably populated and were a light reddish brown color. I never touched them until that fateful morning when I magically went from graceful arch to Groucho Marx.

I looked at my brows in the mirror in complete disbelief. They had become black, thick and unruly. They had somehow gotten disproportionately darker than my darkening hair. They were like two black caterpillars crawling across my forehead. Think Joe Jonas or Bert from Sesame Street. It was a major WTF moment in my life.

Something had to be done. It was at this time that I turned to the bottle. . . of hair dye that is. Ever since that fateful day I have been dying my hair every six weeks and bleaching and shaping my brows as soon as I see a Muppet looking back at me in the mirror. Considering my off the charts laziness, I resent the hell out of this required maintenance. But, the dark brown racing stripe down the center of my head becomes all the incentive that I need to keep on a regular touch-up schedule.

Nowadays I have to battle both the brown and the grey in my hair. Seems the greys don't take to the dye as kindly as the brown does. I guess that this will become more of an issue when I get morethan the sprinkling of grey hairs that I currently have. I suppose that when that day comes, I will have to switch to a darker color of dye and leave it in longer or (gasp) even worse, visit a professional colorist. That problem seems manageable. But what about the brows? What happens when they go grey? If they go grey as quickly as they went Jonas, I am going to wake up one morning looking like Andy Rooney. Holy shit! I can't afford to have another visit from the eyebrow fairy. Get me an IV drip of Starbucks! I'm never sleeping again.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Atlantic City Road Trip - Part 3 - Is That a Gun in Your Pocket or are You Just Happy to See Tom Colicchio?

. . . Part 3 and conclusion. Continued from here.

It had started to drizzle while they were laying out the dessert
and by the time that Colicchio took the stage, it was a torrential
downpour. As we made our way out of the event tent and back into the Bally's building, I got soaked by a line of water pouring off the tent. I made my way to the ladies room to get dried off
and to try to get some clear mental space to think about how to ditch this guy. Nothing came to mind.

I wiped the last of my dripping mascara off my face and
sheepishly walked back out into the hallway to meet up with
Dave and convict X. It occurred to me at that moment that I
didn't even know his name.

A long line had queued up at the taxi stand in front
front of Bally's. As we waited in line, I noticed that the guy kept
checking and rechecking something bulky in his front pocket.
I suddenly realized that he might have had a gun.
Here we were, about to get into a cab and drive
through the seedy center of Atlantic City in a downpour
with a (possibly) armed man. What the hell was I going to do?

There was no tipping off Dave to my suspicion as we climbed into
our cab. Luckily ol' striped jumpsuit took the seat in the front
with the driver. Suddenly I knew what to do. I would fake a phone
call to my mother, so that he would think that I was in touch with
someone and could possibly tell them to call the police if things
got ugly. I yammered on and on into the phone about how we
had been slighted by a Top Chef and how the food was very good
but the weather was very bad. I made sure to leave a lot of pauses
for her (supposed) responses and threw in the occasional "uh-huh"
and "yup".

All the while that I was faking this call, I had my eyes glued on
shifty in the front seat. He had introduced himself to the
cabdriver "Jean" citing his own name was "John". I assumed that
he was ingratiating himself to the driver to put him off guard for
the moment that he stuck his gun in his mouth and demanded the
cigar box full of money that he had under the driver's seat.

As we drove on, I noticed that John seemed to have a lot of
questions about Jean's homeland of Haiti. He was
grilling Jean about the people, the culture and his reason for
leaving Haiti to live in America. He also had a lot of questions
about voodoo, asking Jean whether or not he believed in god.
As we rounded the corner to the Harrah's casino, John turned
to Jean and said "Well, I like the way your people do sex."
Relieved to be in front of our destination and not feeling
confident enough that John wasn't packing heat to point out his
disgusting comment and cultural insensitivity, I threw a
$20 bill at the driver for a $13 dollar fare and bolted out of the cab.

John offered to give us something toward the cab ride, but we refused his offer. He mumbled something about talking to the casino host about getting tickets for
the Food and Wine event and he took off. Relieved to see him go, I finally confessed to Dave that he gave me the creeps. Dave seemed blissfully unaware of his shiftiness. Then I repeated the comment that John had made to the cabbie about how "his people" did sex. Again, Dave had no clue what I was talking about. It was just about this time that I decided that I should just shut up and let it go. I was either living a day out of the Belushi/Ackroyd movie "Neighbors" or we just narrowly escaped death.

We proceeded on to the Food and Wine pairing event hosted by Tom Colicchio. I spent the entire event nervously scanning the room for John. As it turns out, he never showed up. Oh, and neither did Tom Colicchio.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Atlantic City Road Trip - Part 2 - Don't Blink or You'll Miss Tom Colicchio

Part 2 - Continued from here.

During the dinner hour we exchanged pleasantries with the others that sat at our table. Every now and again I would chit chat with the middle aged man sitting to my right. Whenever I asked him a question, he would look away when he answered. He had very strange, evasive body language. From what I could gather, he was there on a comp from the casino host and he really didn't know anything about the event that he was attending. He had a kind of weathered look, like he wore the road map of a lot of hard living on his person. It was tough to nail down whether he his mileage came from drinking or gambling or both, but something about him had me on edge. I would have bet a large sum that he had served time in his lifetime. At least that's what my woman's intuition told me.

At one point early on, he had gotten up and tried to find another table to sit at, but he ended up coming back to our table. It seemed to me that he was scanning the room looking for single women.

When dinner was ending and they finally made the announcement that Chef Colicchio was going to join the party, the young girl at our table kicked into motor-mouth mode. She yammered on about how much she loved him and how she came all this way just to see him and how she couldn't believe that he would be sitting with her and yada yada yada. Another 10 or 15 minutes passed before he finally came out. He was flanked by handlers and security in front of him and behind him as they escorted him up on to the stage. The girl at our table fixed her gaze on him.

Being that it was a tailgate party, our special guest came to the stage in very casual garb - shorts, a printed button down shirt, straw hat, flip flops and a heavy five o'clock shadow. He welcomed the crowd, told them that the chef (insert unpronouncable chef name here) from the casino made all the food, said that his dad encouraged him to be a chef, said that he loved good barbecue then said thank you and good night. Citing his need to move on to his next "event" his handlers attempted to wisk him out the same way that he came in, but a stalwart few managed to rush him for pictures, including the Chef groupie at our table. She got her picture and came away complaining that he was "short". He didn't look short to me. Fickle.

I am a Top Chef and I don't have to shave.

As he was carted away by security like Elvis leaving Madison Square Garden, there was a collective groan that sort of said "that's it?". He was in our presence for about three minutes. No, I'm exaggerating it was more like two minutes. Right after that they announced that dessert would be served. It's like the event planners figured, let's plug up their mouths with cake so that they can't complain.

Feeling somewhat gipped by the brief appearance, I made my way to the dessert bar and took an assortment back to the table for Dave and I. We munched on mini sized versions of oreo cheesecake, raspberry cheesecake, strawberry shortcake, some sort of blueberry parfait and fresh fruit. There were too many desserts to choose from, so I kept it to things that I knew that we would like.

Our tablemates, fresh off the letdown of a hit and run appearance and of not actually having any VIP's at our table, seemed to poke at their desserts half-heartedly. My cynical nature never allowed me to anticipate his actually coming to our table, so I was not disappointed. It didn't matter to me, really. I wouldn't have known what to say to him if he did sit with us. I am a dork in the best of situations. Combine a famous chef with my normal awkardness and complete inability to make small-talk and I probably would have done something stupid like call him Chef Ramsay or ask about the new season of Hell's Kitchen.

Just as they were starting to clear the plates away, they made an announcement that he would be coming back to answer some questions. This reappearance smacked of someone important complaining to the right person.

He came back out and did a breif Q and A session. One of the handlers kept looking at his watch and counting down, three more questions, two, more, one more. I managed to ask a question in the Q and A, but I had mentally resolved his departure, so any meaningful questions had left my head already. I tossed a throwaway question at him about grilling and his answer was equally throw away. He was not staked to this event, probably because he had another right behind it and because his wife was due to give birth to his first child any moment and he was understandably distracted.

I am a Top Chef handler and I count down the questions and my eyes shoot laser beams.

We began making plans to move on to the next event, also hosted by Colicchio. We would have to leave Bally's and go back to Harrah's for that event. That's when the convict to the right leaned in and asked if we wanted to share a cab with him. My fight or flight response kicked in right away and I started to stammer, but Dave went ahead and said yes. Something about him bothered me alright, and I didn't really want to find out if my intuition was right or not.

. . . tune in tomorrow for part 3 and the conclusion to our road trip story.

Atlantic City Road Trip - Part 1 - Maybe They Should Call it "Hot Chef"

This past Friday, Dave and I road tripped it down to Atlantic City for the 2009 Food and Wine Festival. Good egg that he is, Dave had given me tickets to two of the scheduled events, both featuring Tom Colicchio of Top Chef and Craft Restaurant(s) fame. We saw this on our way down which was so hysterical to me that I considered it a good omen. This was going to be a great trip.

The first event was a Tailgate BBQ Party at Bally's. They had the tables set up with grass-green table cloths, goal post centerpieces and black and white referee chair covers. The event was sponsored by some joint called "Game On" (Dave and I looked at each other like - "Who?") and something called Jerimiah Weed Sweet Tea. We walked in and Dave tried to lead me to a table over on the left side near the food, but I split off in the other direction and plopped my behind at a table right in front of the stage. A woman and her 24 year old daughter sat down to our left and shortly after that a middle-aged man sat to my right. We all sat on one side of the table like they do in sitcoms, because we didn't want to have our backs to the stage.

Dave ran off to get a drink at the bar and I decided to try some of the sponsor's product. I got on line thinking that Jerimiah Weed Sweet Tea was an iced tea, like a competitor to Snapple or Lipton. But HELL NO! This delightful concoction is actually Sweet Tea flavored VODKA! When I saw that, I whispered ever so seductively in Jerry's ear - Oh Jerimiah, you are a sexy bitch, come sit next to me and tell me all your secrets. There were flavors like Peach and whatever, but all I wanted was the regular Tea flavor mixed with Lemonade. It was sooooooooooooooooo good. Like a grown up Arnold Palmer and it tasted like more, and since I don't mind if I do, I did have several more.
Over on the sidelines I caught a glimpse of something large and white looming in my peripheral vision. I could feel it's eyes on me. Staring at me. Boring holes in me with its gaze. I tried to be cool and not look, but I'm not discreet at all. I snapped my head around, all whatchoo lookin at only to lock eyes with an eight foot tall Tyson Chicken. I think it was love at first sight for both of us. I shreiked at Dave "It's the Tyson Chicken! You HAVE to take my picture with it!" And off we ran to get all cozy with la poulet de amour.

To get the event got going, they started asking trivia questions. The questions were multiple choice and very easy. The goal was to get promotional items in people's hands, not to challenge us with meaningful questions. I jumped at the chance to answer an early question about what BTU stood for. I didn't even wait for the multi choice answers, I just rocketed out of my chair all "British Thermal Units bitches!". For this embarrassing display of food nerdiness, I won two Jerimiah Weed Sweet Tea Bell Jar glasses and . . . wait for it . . . a stuffed Tyson Chicken! Woot! Woot!

After about fourty five minutes of trivia, chicken pics and Sweet Tea chugging, they announced that the food was served. I wondered when "Special Guest" Tom Colicchio was going to come and which of the dishes he prepared. Dave and I had the good fortune of being at the first table to be directed to the food line, so we got everything while it was hot and fresh. There was BBQ Brisket, Pork Sliders, a giant roasted beast of some sort, Shrimp and Grits, Corn on the cob, Sopas, all kinds of salsas, salads and sides. There was really too much to mention and pretty much all of it was very good. Though, come to find out, none of it was cooked from a recipe from the conspicuously missing Chef Tom.

Around the time that we were wrapping up our meal, the event manager came over and whispered in the ear of the girl sitting at our table with her mother. She went white as a sheet and began fanning herself with her hand as the event manager took the folded napkins off our tables and placed them over the backs of the six remaining empty chairs. She looked over at us with a deer in the headlights look and said "Tom Colicchio is going to sit at our table. I think I'm going to faint." Dave and I sorta looked at each other all confused. What does a 24 year old girl want with this guy? I think I read somewhere that chefs are the new rock stars and I guess it must be true. She was swooning.

. . .to be continued