According to the forecasters, today in New York, the mercury will climb to 90 degrees (Farenheit, not Celsius for my Euro friends — fear not). The lilacs are blooming, the grill is up and running and the rum is flowing like water through the proverbial desert of my life. In short, folks, I’m in the mood for a party.
Some of you may recall an earlier foray into the party mix arena that we took at Christmas. I was somewhat surprised that my readers had any interest at all in the subject of what to fill the speakers with, though a good party mix is crucial to a festive evening, and essential if you’re hoping to stretch the evening well into the next day. In my opinion, it’s not a party until someone dons the lampshade, strips naked or frugs on the dining table. If one intrepid guest takes on all three at once, well, he’s probably a close relative of mine, and I’d hope others would join in the spirit of the moment and eventually call me to the ER. I realize not everyone keeps a stomach pump on hand, though for the life of me I don’t know why. Ours is right next to its pal the fire extinguisher, and I’d be lying if I said we frequently used one without the other, especially around the holidays. So there you go.
Having recently logged some off-road miles during the college search process, I have a few thoughts about the current state of higher education in America, none of which one might describe as glowingly positive; however, I have chosen to take the high road of satire rather than the lower, easier path of the rant in airing my opinions. Happily, the good folks at the Cronk of Higher Education have agreed to feature one of my recent my scribblings, Bespoke Building. If you haven’t already discovered their whipcrack funny site, do toddle over at your first opportunity. The Cronk is to higher ed as The Onion is to Snookie — an SAT-worthy analogy if ever I endlessly drilled one in preparation for a completely meaningless test.
C’mon ladies, let’s send the surrender T-shirt to sartorial oblivion.
Spring approaches and my sisters and I are contemplating a change of habit, specifically those of us in cooler climes are about to undertake the semi-annual, seismic shift from wool to cotton, from boots to sandals and, sadly, from cake to cucumbers — all in the name of spring fashion. As our toes yearn for liberation and our limbs again seek the sun, I am once more reminded of the question that springs to mind every year along about this time.
Ladies, why oh why do you continue to buy these?
There’s really only one reason companies keep making these things you know: women keep buying them. Open a closet or dresser, and I’ll bet if you see one, there are ten more lurking nearby in a range of glorious colors and splatter patterns, depending on where the coffee/red wine/baby spew tends to land first (chest, mid-section, lap). I can’t even bear to think about the striped ones.
If you own one or more of these, I’m guessing that once the mercury starts to rise you wear them a lot. After all they’re marketed as “wardrobe staples,” right? They go gardening and shopping, get thrown in the suitcase for summer vacation, and even appear regularly at the office and social gatherings. Tell me I’m wrong. Please?
Well, I’m sorry, but I’ve got to get this off my chest, so you’d best buckle up.
Even if you look better than the perky model, I guarantee that the surrender t-shirt does absolutely nothing for you. It is just not possible. See photo above.
Which brings me to the name. Why surrender T-shirts you ask? Because when you wear them, this is the message you send the world: I give up. I feel unattractive and will never look good again. All I care about is taking care of my kids/fifteen cats/elderly and incontinent parents. I have no life. I surrender. If you’re reading this blog, I am willing to wager a significant sum that that’s not who you are.
Before you argue with me, hear me out. I’ve heard the justifications for these horror shows a hundred times. “Ooh but they’re so comfortable and cool. They go with everything. They hide my trouble spots. Cotton breathes, you know.”
Bullshit. These things are shapeless, frumpy and unflattering and they make anyone who wears them look like Charlie Brown in drag. Trust me, other than slapping an extra ten pounds and another 15 years on you, they do nothing for you, or anyone.
Still not convinced? Time for some tough love.
Still resisting? In that case you leave me no choice but the nuclear option, God forgive me.
Just so you know, this is how a cotton T-shirt should fit:
And yes, you have to look like Angie if you’re going to rock the body armor and firearms as accessories.
C’mon ladies, let’s put the surrender t-shirt manufacturers out of business and this wretched item out of its misery once and for all. Are you with me? OK, go to your dressers and pull out every one of those horror shows and destroy them immediately. Either cut them into dust rags or set them on fire so that you’re not tempted to resurrect them in a moment of weakness. Do not save them for gardening or house painting. And for the love of God, don’t give them to charity. Poor people have enough problems.
In the not-too-distant past, I have railed against Campbell’s condensed soups, in particular the cream of mushroom and cream of celery varieties that are commonly substituted for béchamel sauce in casserole recipes across this vast and blessed land. On several occasions I’ve also remarked on the puzzling consumption of Velveeta cheese, for which I inevitably receive a handful of responses extolling its virtues, but let’s leave that for the nonce. People like what they like and the palate is a mysterious organ. How else to explain the existence of head cheese? Witness the recipe:
To make head cheese, clean the hog’s head by removing the snout, eyes, ears, brains and all the skin. Trim away all the fat from the head and cut it into four pieces. Place in a crock or enamel container. Cover with a solution of 1/2-cup canning salt to 1-gallon water. Make sure the pieces are completely covered. Let it soak for 5-hours to draw out all the blood…
There’s more, but I can’t bear to go into it. At least they remove the snout, though it’s unclear to me whether it gets tossed out or thrown in the crock. Anyways, you get the idea. Different streaks for different freaks, as they say.
I don’t claim to have cornered the market on slattern-dom, and I certainly didn’t invent it. I have, however, done my level best to elevate the art form over the past twenty years or so, and as I look back on the cluttered landscape of middling meals, drunken dinner parties and neglected housekeeping that has been my life, it occurs to me that none of this could have been so easily accomplished outside the urban jungle. Let me explain.
First of all, the urban environment is easy on the domestic tippler. Let’s say it’s five o’clock and you and a couple of pals have been having a friendly chat over a bottle of vodka for the past few hours. You realize you were supposed to pick up your kids from soccer practice, but getting behind the wheel is no longer an option. No need to endanger the driving public, disturb your better half or give up your parking space — just call a livery service and send a car to pick them up. After three or four instances of this, most city teens will learn to take a twenty from your purse before leaving the house, store the car service number in their phones and call the ride themselves after waiting around for an hour or so. Kids these days!