Monthly Archives: June 2012
This has been bugging me for some weeks now, and since I’m currently experiencing writer’s block that will probably require a six hour subway ride, an extended shamble through Times Square and half a gallon of vodka to clear, I figured I’d bring it up. I hope you don’t mind.
As I look through the stats for my tatty little corner of the interwebs, I frequently take note of which posts garner the most attention, or “hits” as those of us with great technical expertise call them. Almost invariably, this post is at or near the top of the list.
Now, when I wrote it way back in November of last year, nobody read it. I mean no one. Yet somehow it manages to attract multiple views on a regular basis, and for the life of me I can’t understand why.
Lots of people, and by that I mean a handful which is a lot by my standards, also take a look at a post I wrote about the perils and pleasures pink wine. That I can fathom. It was actually kind of funny and since we’ve become a nation of oenophiles (or filthy drunks as my Grammie Sue used to say), I can understand the interest. This post appeared about the same time as the pantry one, so maybe there’s some kind of unholy alliance happening between them. Or maybe it’s just a random event.
So anyways, if you can shed any light on this pantry business, I’d be most grateful. Whatever I did with that post, I’d like to start repeating it, so as to turn my little essay mosh pit into, if not a moneymaking effort, at least a break even proposition.
Yesterday, I was riding uptown on the number 1 train, or the IRT as those of us old enough to recall New York when it was worse (and we liked it that way) sometimes refer to it, when a group of Mexican buskers boarded my car and favored us all with a little musica. Now I always enjoy an impromptu concert during my commute and generally tip the performers to say thanks; yesterday’s trip was no exception.
But as they strummed and sang, it occurred to me that, as far as I could tell, they were singing exactly the same song that every Mexican group I have ever heard on the subway performs. You know the one — it’s an up-tempo, cheery number that’s rendered on a couple of guitars, occasionally accompanied by an accordion, and it usually features two vocalists. This one:
So what I’m wondering is this. Do they all really sing the same song, or do I just think so because I don’t speak Spanish and am completely tone deaf? Maybe it’s easier to dance if you only have one song or it could be that’s why so many musicians come here — to expand their repertoire.
Three different meals in one night? This cannot be true. Doesn’t anybody remember the days of “eat that Swedish meatball/fish pie/liver and onion surprise, or go to bed hungry”? We all survived it — well maybe that’s a stretch. I’m sure someone was done in by Rumaki at some point in human history, and certainly more than one innocent child has been forever emotionally scarred by a plate of organ meats, but still, can it really be that there are parents out there who are actually going through the hell of getting three different meals on the table at once after cocktail hour has begun? How can this be? I mean really, making one decent meal a night is freakin’ hard enough, but three different ones? And if this is going on in the UK, where people are far more practical than over here in the land of Everybody’s Special, can you imagine what’s happening in kitchens across the US? Are Americans making five meals a night?
Now, I’m not entirely sure how I stumbled upon this article, but I can tell you this: There is absolutely no way anyone should be making multiple meals at any time or for any reason. That’s why God, in His infinite wisdom, invented cereal. Now, is Cheerios an adequate, nutritious meal? Not every night of the week, but it can easily be prepared by even the most the recalcitrant four year-old, it does not create much in the way of extra clean up, and as an occasional dinner it probably will neither kill nor traumatize even the spleeniest, most specialest child.
I’ve got to say that this article has really rocked my world. It may have been some time since I grappled with a finicky child, but I can certainly recall occasions when the little Slattern’s dinner consisted exclusively of rice and salt. On nights like that the only way peas made it into her body was through her nose, and let me tell you extracting them took some little effort. But whatever, the next morning she’d wake up hungry and happily tuck into scrambled eggs and apple slices for breakfast and no one was any the worse for wear. Unless of course we’d had to perform some nasal fracking the night before. (By the way, I have found that a little black pepper on the upper lip consistently produces a sneeze strong enough to dislodge event the most deeply impacted produce.)
Where does collecting end and hoarding begin?
I’m just wondering. Where do you keep your stash of mystery keys — the kitchen junk drawer, that old shoe box in the back of the closet, a jar under the sink? Maybe you carry them around on a hernia inducing ring or at the end of a chain that hooks through your belt loop and can double as a towing rig for a ditch-bound semi-tractor trailer truck. Don’t even try to tell me you don’t have at least a little hoard secreted away in your home or on your person. Anonymous keys are like in-laws; everyone has more than they want, but it’s nigh on impossible to get rid of them.
Everyone, that is, but me.
That’s right, I threw them all away — the keys, I mean — every single unidentifiable or disused one in the great unruly tangle that has been dragging me down for the past fifteen years, and lately has caused the pantry door where they’ve been hanging to list with their combined weight. It took three hours, reading glasses as thick as Coke bottles, a nuclear-powered flashlight and approximately fifty trips up and down the stairs, but with the aid of some very strong coffee (combined with just a suggestion of Irish whiskey) I have liberated myself from the enslavement of key hoarding and thrown off the shackles of the pack rat. Plus, the pantry door now closes properly. Win win.
So what exactly moved me to take on this hellish task, I’ll bet you’re asking. In a word, Hoarders. For me, the lure of this program is not unlike the inexorable pull of a crate of filthy, disused housewares for the subjects of this show. Utterly and completely irresistible. I cannot pass a listing in the cable guide without tuning in. The nastier, the viler, the crazier the situation, the more I watch. It’s like heroin. Or Cheez Doodles. One fix is too many, but a hundred ain’t enough as Nick Lowe says. I’m “a fish with a hook in its lip” before the opening credits even start to roll.
Now, I know what you’re wondering: is my house cluttery? Nope, not even a little. In fact, I’m what Grammie Sue called “nasty neat.” My family members have even been known to use the term “neat freak” when they think I’m out of earshot, though I have it on good authority I’m not even on the OCD spectrum. I just like a little control of my environment. Nothing wrong with that.
No, it wasn’t the possibility — however remote — of filling up entire rooms with disused keys, ornamental fobs and orphaned padlocks that pushed me to finally purge. It was the image of my future self sitting on the floor, agonizing while picking through stacks of potentially “useful” crap, wearing extra large spandex shorts and a size 24 tank top that fueled the great key catharsis.
That and the rats.
Every Hoarders episode I’ve watched, and I daresay there are very few that have escaped my notice, makes reference to rodents and their droppings in the homes of the hoarders. And this terrifies me.
There was one show where the cleaners started shoveling up stuff in a hallway and they disturbed a massive mouse nest and all the mice went scurrying in about a hundred different directions. Some even attached themselves to the cleaner’s shirt! If I were living like that, there would really be only two ways it could go. Either the filth would make it impossible to enjoy a life giving cocktail in the evening or I’d start happy hour at nine in the morning. I suspect that for Mr. Slattern either would be grounds, and we can’t have that.
So I tossed my keys, and good riddance. Of course, I suspect the issue of my shoes may yet be lurking. Last night, I found Mr. Slattern in the closet, and he appeared to be counting the boxes. Is sixty pairs too many? Hardly. Some of those have barely even been worn, and you know how the right shoe just makes your outfit. And no, one pair of black slingbacks is not appropriate with almost everything, because my trousers are hemmed to accommodate particular heel heights and I can’t have the hems dragging on the floor or worse riding at a high water mark because that would ruin the look and I’d be stressed and uncomfortable in the outfit which has been known to lead to excessive consumption at parties or social events and anyway they’re already bought and paid for and nobody buys used shoes so what’s the sense of throwing them out just because I haven’t worn them recently even though I could if I wanted to but I don’t need to get rid of any because that’s a carefully curated collection. It’s VALUABLE.
I notice, however, that Mr. Slattern’s key ring is looking a bit bulky lately.
Some thoughts on Viagra, Oreos and war as a dance fight
An acquaintance once shared a piercing insight with me, namely that a woman would never have invented Viagra or its evil twin Cialis. Rather than addressing erectile dysfunction, she pointed out, a modern day Madame Curie would almost certainly have taken on the larger, more pressing problem of masculine inability to pick up dirty undershorts, socks and T-shirts from the floor and transfer them to the hamper. Among the fairer sex, it is well known that the repetitive act of relocating well worn, often soiled undergarments is a surefire libido killer in women. As a result, Viagra becomes about as useful as sneakers on a fish, and the only thing the suddenly tumescent spouse is likely to be able to use that thing for is a place to hang his damp bath towel.
For obvious reasons, I often recall this conversation while sorting the laundry, and recently as I was working my way through about six weeks’ worth of washing, I had ample opportunity to consider the question of how our world would be different if women had done the bulk of the inventing over the years.
Now, before my male readers jump ship and go searching for more testerone-friendly surroundings, let me just say that I have no plans to turn this into a husband bashing extravaganza, unless of course I decide to whip up another batch of Bloody Marys before I get to the end of this post. In that case, all bets are off, grammar rules become suggestions and I can’t guarantee we won’t also end up discussing Emeril, Fairway or the New York Yankees in terms that are at best pejorative, or at worst obscene. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I like guys. I really do. In fact, I have always tended to avoid anything with a feminist label, starting with Virginia Woolf and continuing through the ass-frying ill humor of Gloria Steinem and right on up to the droning, whining sanctimony of the Women’s Studies majors of today. Though I remember clearly the era of bra burning and Women’s Lib, with the exception of Bella Abzug’s hats, I have always found it all too boring and annoying to even contemplate. Call me an ingrate; I’ve been called far worse and occasionally will even answer to the name.
Anyhoo, where was I? Oh yes, Madame Curie, Viagra, undershorts. So I have concluded that daily life would be subtly, yet measurably different had women been doing the inventing over the years. For example:
First of all, any wattage higher than 60 would never have been invented, and if it had, the bulbs would be in use in operating rooms and holding cells exclusively. The notion of domestic overhead fixtures would have been dismissed outright as the product of diseased minds. Why? Because stark 150 watt bulbs are absolutely disastrous for all but the youngest female face. I haven’t screwed in anything higher than 60 watts in my house for years, and we may be on the cusp of a general downgrade to 40 watts in the not too distant future. If my eyebags get any more ruched, it may come to a candles-only policy in the evening. Eventually Mr. Slattern will have to learn to read Braille or start wearing a petzl around the house.
Now I realize Isaac Newton only discovered the principle of gravity, but I think we can agree his time might have been better spent trying to reverse it. One look at my jawline is proof enough. If only he’d brought his work home, I think Mrs. Newton might have been able to offer some gentle suggestions and guidance as to the direction his work might take for the betterment of mankind. If so, asses might be riding a bit higher in midlife and millions of tragic face, brow and breast lifts could well have been avoided.
Oreos = Health Food
If women ran the food industry, they would have long since developed a harmless and effective way to remove the carbs and calories from sugary treats, so that spending Saturday night with a pound of thin mints or a cherry cheesecake would be the same as a week at a
fat farm spa. Also, there would be no “cool ranch” anything, and beef jerky would be sold in the pet food aisle.
It would never have existed – at all – and we’d all have been spared the sight of hideous bowling shirts and the horror of rented shoes. If by some quirk the game had been invented by a woman, the shoes at least would come only in black (slingbacks with a kitten heel I think), teams would wear matching caftans and champagne would be sold at a modest mark-up in the bar.
The Theory of War
Forget Sun Tzu. Left to us, war, territorial disputes and power struggles would be resolved by either 1) dance fighting, 2) fashion supremacy, or 3) a series of cutting remarks. Failing that, we’d dress the combatants in formal attire and lock them in a small overheated den with their mothers in law for a few days while The Wheel of Fortune played on a continuous loop. That, my friends, is deterrence that works.