Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pajama Pants in Public

Yesterday at Chick-fil-A I saw a young man dressed in a bathrobe, his bare knees and hairy legs sticking out. He didn’t appear sick or weak, so I don’t know why he wore a bathrobe to a restaurant. To shock people? Laziness?

My response? I laughed, thought, “He’s an idiot,” and went on with my lunch.

I know people get freaked out about how others dress in public. The pajama-pants in public craze is one I don’t understand, but I’m not going to lose my joy over someone else’s low standards. Bathrobe-boy didn’t spoil my chicken nugget experience. I just didn’t care.

Okay, I must admit, I do have some standards. I’ve never liked underwear-exposing styles. Or young women dressed like hookers. Or bare shoulders in church. But pajamas are just—silly. If people are brave or crazy or lazy enough to dress like that, that’s their dignity dragging its ragged hem along the floor. Why should it ruin my day?

A male friend of mine hated those long banana clips women used (and still may) to clip their hair into a fluffy, cascading tail. He fretted and stewed and complained that it showed their total lack of care about their looks. The clips didn’t bother me—I thought they were kind of cute. But I hated those short, curly perms briefly popular in the 80s, a wash-and-go style that I thought made a woman look like she’d simply given up on a hairdo and now was going for something that stayed out of her eyes. I used to have a boss who hated sandals and open-toed shoes, and wanted to ban them from the very-casual workplace so he wouldn’t have to see toes.

You never know what’s going to bother people.

So, what about you? What styles bug you? If you had the power to eliminate a style/look/hairdo from the world, what would you choose?

As for me, sandal season officially began yesterday. You toe-haters out there stand warned.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Good Sports

Truth-time. I’ve never bungee-jumped, snow-skied, snow-mobiled, skateboarded, hang-glided or even slid down the length of a Slip-n-Slide. I rode on the back of a motorcycle once, in the sidecar of a motorcycle once, and on a horse without someone else leading it once. As a teen I did learn to water ski—sort of—but my family still taunts me about the plume of water as I was boat-dragged, facedown, halfway across the lake.

I’m not good at sports. In fact, I’m so not-good at sports I knocked out my own front tooth playing softball. Tried golf, tennis, trampolines and gymnastics, the latter resulting in a Funniest Home Videos moment as I dangled in a highly inappropriate position on that stupid vaulting horse thing in my high school gym. It’s possible I’m a great dancer but we’ll never know, because during our second week of lessons my husband randomly threw out his back, and blamed the Swing.

Outdoor activities are just not as fun to me as writing, reading and cooking. I would love to live on the water, but not for the speed boating, skiing and Ski-dooing, another thing I haven’t tried. A poky old pontoon boat or a houseboat is more my speed—on which I could write or read or even cook! See how it all works out in Valerie-world?

What about you? Natural athlete or klutz extraordinaire? Tell me the truth. And if you have pictures—of anything but my vault on that horse thing—send those!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Squirrel Dreams

My daughter’s family brought me a gift bag, a thank you for all I’ve done lately. And what was in the lovely gift bag with fresh, crisp tissue paper? A squirrel figurine.

Some background: I have dreams. I have strange, awful, threatening, embarrassing dreams. There are the recurring public toilet dreams, the driving-a-train-that-has-jumped-its-track dream, and the squirrel dream. I dreamed I woke up only to find my double cheerfully making breakfast, none of the family realizing the Stepford Wife wasn’t me. Then, still dreaming, I glanced outside and saw a half-dozen squirrels staring in the windows. I knew immediately the evil, nasty rodents had plotted this to phase me out for nefarious reasons of their own.

Finally I woke up for real, and later that morning sat down with coffee. On the picnic table not six feet away sat a squirrel, staring at me with his beady little eyes. It was true! The dream was true! The squirrels were evil, cunning little rodents plotting my takeover!

Okay, so it wasn’t true. But for a moment I freaked out and the feeling hasn’t gone away. I hate squirrels. I tell people squirrels are wicked, cunning and not trustworthy. I will proclaim the truth!

So when I opened the gift bag (still with me after the dream/flashback sequence?) and found a squirrel figurine, my first reaction was horror. My second was caution—don’t want to hurt feelings, you know. I said to my granddaughter, “Did you pick this out, Ella?” Behind her, her parents were cracking up. “We saw it and thought of you! We couldn’t resist! And we thought it would stimulate ideas for your writing.”

Yeah. That or more freaking dreams.

So. Now I have a squirrel added to my small collection of writing totems, which includes a miniature typewriter/pencil sharpener, a computer/tape holder, an ugly ceramic frog, a fireplace candleholder, rocks and angels. Any weird little items in your possession? Or, any weird dreams you want to admit to?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Kitchen Disasters

Okay, the "indoor electric turkey fryer" may not have been my best buy.

I love to cook, to chop, dice, simmer, stew and all that fussy stuff, but I also love small appliances and the convenience and versatility they add to cooking. So when a local store put the formerly $130 indoor electric turkey fryer on sale for under $35, I caved. Lugged the thing home, filled it with $20 of peanut oil and proceeded to fry chicken for the family. Except fry isn’t quite accurate—how about petrify?

The coating was ugly—dark, crusty and nothing like the heavenly stuff the Colonel turns out daily in his restaurants. Once we tore off the skin and coating, the meat was tasty, but the experiment was not a huge success. And the house smelled like a fast food joint, not the “grandma’s cooking” ambiance I was going for. One wonderful thing happened, though—my husband, Mr. “She Cooks and I Eat,” helped me with the frying. Yes, his willingness to help cook was fueled by the fear that I would burn down the house, but still, we cooked together. In 37 years of marriage, that may be a first.

But back to the fryer. I don’t give up easily. I remain hopeful that a turkey—no batter coating, just a bird, maybe some injected flavor—will showcase the fryer’s true greatness. And next time, despite its being called an indoor fryer, I’m cooking outside. It’s harder to stink up a whole neighborhood. Although I’ve had neighbors who tried.

What about you? Are you a small-appliance junkie? Are your cabinets filled with bread makers, food processors, hand-held blenders? Which do you like best? Least? Are there any appliance “turkeys” in your house?