Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Booby Prize

I like to think the best of people. I’m not suspicious, and kind of take people at face value until they prove themselves unworthy of my respect.

John says I’m gullible.

Last week I got a phone call—I’d won a chef for a night! Woo-hoo! Chef Ray reminded me that I’d filled out a card at a Taste of Home Cooking Show (lots of vendor tables and I’d filled out lots of cards) and my name had been drawn! The show was a few months back, so my BS-O-Meter should have twanged, but no. He told me to invite a few other couples and he’d bring his own cookware and food, and would see me on Friday night. I often haul my own cookware along when I rent a beach house, so again, the BS-O-Meter remained in hiding.

When Chef Ray began hauling in, unpacking and arranging pots, pans and other equipment, the truth began to sink in. This was a salesman demonstrating cookware. Now, I love to cook and at least one of the other guests loves to, also, so I thought, okay, so he demonstrates his cookware. Unethical to represent it as a chef-for-a-night prize, and I was hideously embarrassed that I’d invited friends without warning them this was a sales pitch, but I’m basically a kind person who doesn’t throw people out of her house even when the situation warrants it, and I hoped my friends would accept my sincere apologies afterward.

He’d promised we eat about an hour after the guests arrived at six. After an hour of oohing and ahhing, still no food cooked in his fancy-shmancy cookware. Lunch was a distant memory. I dealt with my creeping annoyance by plotting ways to mock the whole night on my blog.

Finally he started cooking. At eight I was getting a little light-headed but the food was ready—and then he held it hostage in those heat-holding pans of his while he witnessed to us about what Jesus had done for him. Finally the BS-O-Meter sets off alarms.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a Christian. I have been known to tell someone my faith story. But I’ve never told someone she won a prize as a way to get into someone’s house to sell them something. I’ve never used a sales call as a vehicle to witness to someone else’s guests.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me in front of my friends, shame on you even more! Bad enough I was clueless, but I invited friends to my home to be held hostage by this guy and his outrageously overpriced cookware (electric skillet $580, small set of cookware $1400). Seriously. Want the big set? $2300.

To my friends who politely sat through that evening, please forgive me! I’ll cook for you soon and will not try to sell you anything, I promise.

And to everyone else, tune up the BS-O-Meter. Chef Ray is out there.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Making a List

Every morning, I make a list of things I’m never going to do.

Of course, that’s not my intention as I make the list. I honestly think I’m going to dust all 21 window blinds today. I think I’m going to clean out the fridge, mop the kitchen, shop for replacement cabinet hardware and hot-tub supplies, complete all the tasks on my list and go to sleep tonight secure in the knowledge that I’ve done everything in my power to keep my life perking along.

I’m Valerie Norris and I’m a listaholic.

I love making lists. Each morning I make the day’s to-do list, with everyday tasks such as laundry, mopping, making a meal plan for the week, errands, etc. Also, I have a list for those big, pesky tasks that could take days/weeks/months to complete, such as that quilt that’s going to disintegrate before I finish it, or filling out the “Grandma” books, or putting photos from the last 30 years into some semblance of order. You know, the things I’m never actually going to do.

But the other day I actually crossed something off my long-term to-do list. It was an historic moment. Tears stood in my eyes as I held my pen aloft in a moment of respectful silence before inking a solid line through the listing, knowing that the task itself was not that big a deal, but the fact that I had finally done it—priceless.

Most people don’t make lists of mundane tasks. Most people don’t have my tendency to—ooh, something shiny! What was I talking about? Oh yeah, lists. I tend to get caught up in whatever’s in front of me, and soon the day disintegrates like the fabric in that quilt I can’t seem to finish. So my lists keep me on track. Even if I only cross off half of the items, I can see that I accomplished something. I didn’t “p--- away another day,” as my long-retired parents say. And for some reason, that helps me.

Are you one of those who somehow remembers that the hot tub needs to be checked regularly, or that you need to plan and shop prior to the Superbowl party or your guests will be eating that frozen fish that never sounded as appetizing after you lost the article about Omega-3s? Or are you a list-maker? Let me know which type you are. I’m making a list.