Blog Archives

My Aching Ass: Découpage, bento boxes and Halloween in September

Ready to tie yourself to Martha’s whipping post?

Apparently fall is the time our pal Martha, fresh from a few restful weeks of torturing the locals for pleasure in Maine, really starts feeling ambitious and decides to crank up the domestic wheel of pain. Not content with flogging Louis Quatorze lawn parties and Gatsby-themed luncheons as the best way to throw a picnic, the evil one has recently shifted the MSL lifestyle dream-machine into overdrive. Her timing is, as ever, impeccable. Once fall is upon us, any reasonable adult can finally breathe free with the kids back at school, the house guests out of her hair and the in-laws safely stashed back in their golf community, at least until the Thanksgiving horror/torture begins. Unless, of course, you live in Martha world.

I don’t, but I like to peek through the keyhole from time to time, and in the past week or so I’ve had ample opportunity after receiving about a hundred emails from the Domestic Death Star nagging inviting me to do the following:

This is SO my life.

This is SO my life.

Start your Halloween preparations early, like now.
Madame Stewart suggests using September to get a jump on updating last year’s party-planning spreadsheet, start crafting spiders from pipe cleaners and hot glue and prepare the fifty-piece pumpkin carving and microsurgery tool set for this, the most festive holiday of the year.

And of course it’s never too early to begin planning your costume, because there is nothing pathetic about a sixty-year old woman in a French maid’s costume or a fright wig.

Now I don’t know about you, but I hate Halloween, and frankly I’d rather set myself on fire than spend a full month gearing up for it, unless by that you mean buying and consuming six dozen bags of “fun size” Snickers bars, Twizzlers and mini Dove Bars, but somehow I don’t think that’s what she has in mind.

Create savory lunch box meals your kids “will want to eat.” Now, of course these days the little slattern is away at college and in charge of her own meals, but I can say with certainty that never, in eighteen years of lunchbox slavery, did I encounter a situation in which a “bento box” featuring cold Asian noodle salad, or an avocado-cream cheese-cucumber-sprout sandwich on grainy bread, or cute little lettuce leaf cups filled with apple and chicken salad would have been greeted with anything but misery followed by pitiful efforts to trade.

0306_kids_applechickensalad_xlLet me tell you, nobody in the lunchroom is going to give up half a PB&J for anything that involves even the suggestion of a lettuce leaf. They might, however, tease your child unmercifully for the rest of her academic life on the basis of such a meal, so there’s that added incentive to provide it — as if you needed another reason to spend three hours every night preparing the next day’s lunch so that it could be thrown in the trash and your child could arrive home exhausted, bullied, and in the middle of a full-on low-blood-sugar meltdown. Parenting, the Martha way.

Learn the venerable art of découpage with Martha’s five part video tutorial after which you can run out and buy all fifty items in her new découpage product line. Yup, DECOUPAGE. Look!

Screen Shot 2013-09-22 at 8.56.38 PM

Those of you who have succeeded in repressing memories of sleep-away camp — where arts & crafts classes were the only alternative to swimming in a freezing lake, hiking fifty miles carrying a two-hundred pound pack or spending a sleepless night on the ground quivering in a stinky sleeping bag all the while freaking out about bugs, bats and snakes — will no doubt be pleased to revisit this wonderful crafting activity via Martha’s instructional videos.

In FIVE installments!

I mean really, what is there to say beyond, cut some pictures out, glue them on something then shellac the hell out of the whole mess? I’ll tell you what else, NOTHING, except maybe, “Here’s how to spend a hundred bucks and three days making a shitty old picture frame/lamp/piece of furniture look like a craft project you did at Camp Wankaweewee in 1979.”

Okay, that’s enough. I’m going out to get a pizza and a six-pack for lunch, then I’m going to toilet paper and egg that witch’s house but good. Happy freakin’ fall, Martha.

The Zumba saga continues: “I thought we were dating.”

ALFRED, Maine (AP) — The first man to go trial on charges that he patronized a prostitute who worked out of her Zumba dance studio contends he thought he was engaged in a romance.

Alexis Wright, the fitness instructor who pleaded guilty to running a prostitution business, doesn’t have to answer questions from prosecutors at the trial of the alleged client, a judge said Thursday.

Prosecutors had wanted the 30-year-old Wright to testify in next week’s trial of Donald Hill, a former Kennebunk High School hockey coach. Under oath Thursday, Wright declined to answer questions about him, other than to point him out.

“He thought he had a relationship with her,” said his lawyer, Gary Prolman.

Where, oh where, to begin?

Those of you who follow my ramblings may recall a post I wrote in the not-too-distant past concerning the Zumba dance/tax evasion/sex trade/stupidity scandal in my home state. For everyone else, here it is.

So here I am, vacationing my head off in the land of a thousand dances, Downeast Maine, when I encounter the above coda to the original story in the local broadsheet. In it, we learn that one of Miss Wright’s 68 clients is fighting his charge of patronizing a prostitute because he claims he thought they were DATING.

Meet the Missus!

Meet the Missus!

Now, I can see why you might think that some denizens of this little corner of paradise, like  residents of similarly far-flung and/or remote locales, would be less sophisticated in the ways of the world than their urban cousins. It’s a fair assumption, though I must point out that naiveté and stupidité are not the same things.

Because really, what kind of moron do you have to be to think that a woman who demands money for having sex with you is your girlfriend? Does that make the waitress who serves you pancakes your wife? Is the nice lady at the dry cleaner who irons your shirts your mommy? Perhaps, if you tend toward the metrosexual, you believe your manicurist is actually your concubine.

Or maybe you’ve just spent one too many Saturday nights on the sofa indulging in heavy petting with a blow-up doll while watching Vision Quest for the three-hundredth time. I don’t fucking know, but I am certain that when the woman you’re doing the horizontal mambo with once a week has a revolving door on her vagina, and you have to take a number for a “date,” it should be apparent to even the meanest intelligence that she’s not doing it because she’s really really into you.

Any more questions?


“It was just a Zumba class, Honey”

“Shake that groove thing, Norman!”

Add this, if you will, to the pantheon of history’s filthiest matrimonial lies, right alongside “I was just standing next to my secretary/Mrs. Hot Shorts from next door/the arresting officer when she sprayed herself with perfume,” or, “I have absolutely no idea how lipstick got on my jockey shorts,” or my personal favorite, “Don’t worry, I’ll pull out BEFORE, I promise.” Not that I have any first hand knowledge of these, as Mr. Slattern is a model of propriety and rectitude. But one hears things.

Now, unless you live in the great state of Maine or its environs, the story of the prostitution ring operating out of a Kennebunk Zumba studio may have escaped your notice. I happened upon it only because I was “up home” last week closing up shop at our little hideaway, the chateau debris by the sea, or as we like to call the process, opening up the rodent hostel for yet another festive winter season. So amidst the washing, stowing and folding, imagine my delight at stumbling upon the coverage of this local cause célèbre in the daily local newspaper. Apparently the instructor, one Alexis Wright (which I strongly suspect to be an assumed name) had been trading sexual favors for cash, which is bad enough, but to make matters worse, she had not been declaring the income, and so like Al Capone, was busted for tax evasion, in addition to over a hundred charges of prostitution.

All of this is sad and tawdry, but here’s what has me flummoxed. What woman in her right mind believes her husband when he announces he has lately got a yen for more exercise and has decided to join a Zumba class? For those of you who are not familiar with Zumba, here’s my favorite description:

…a dance class spirited with Latin and international beats, a mix of rhythms, resistance training and hot and spicy aerobic conditioning. Zumba’s combination of interval training and body sculpting in an easy-to-follow dance format will have you shredding calories and grooving your body into super shape. 

Let us, for the nonce, skip over the obvious question of how, exactly, one goes about “shredding” calories and focus instead on the hot and spicy grooving. Look:

Now, can you possibly imagine a group of middle-aged, heterosexual Maine men – even in as cosmopolitan an area as Kennebunk – gathering in a group to do this? Neither can I, though it certainly is entertaining to try. For some reason I get an image of Fred Flintstone trying to rhumba with Charro, and once that picture comes to mind it’s mighty tough to shake it.

“I wanted them all. Every. Single. One”
Courtesy AP via the Portland Press Herald.

This brings me to my second question. What could conceivably be running through the mind of a man who is paying a woman for sex? Now whether it’s a lap dance or the full Lovelace, it is well beyond the realm of possibility that the woman is having any fun. If she were, there’d be no need to tip. And yet, somehow certain male brains seem capable of processing this experience as “I think this young, gum-snapping, surgically enhanced gal likes me,” or at the very least, “I’m prepared to believe she doesn’t despise me or find me pathetic.” Wrong on both counts, buddy. Unless you’re a Brad Pitt lookalike with stack of C-notes the size of a Winnebago and a Lear jet parked outside, there is no way a sex worker of any stripe is going to find you hot, or even lukewarm. Not possible.

So why do it? I guess you’d have to ask someone from the published list of johns (who range in age from 34 to 65, every single one of whom should have known better). Maybe they’d say it was the spicy aerobics that got them all overheated. Or perhaps it was the prospect of illicit relations with a winsome, sweaty fitness buff. Who can say? In the end, who really cares?

In any case, ladies, if your better half ever evinces an interest Zumba, I’d suggest consulting an attorney. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

2012 North American Wife Carrying Championship: Oh yeah, it’s real.

An open letter to the Race Committee

The winners, Taisto Miettinen and Kristiina Haapanen of Finland.  Courtesy Robert F. Bukaty and the Bangor Daily News

Dear Sirs,

As a participant in this year’s contest, I’ve got a bone or two to pick with you. If you will consult your records, you’ll see that me and the missus once again finished dead last as has been the case for the past five years, except for the unforgettable 2008 race in which we bested that pair from Lewiston. You’ll recall that in that contest Mr. Norman French was ultimately disqualified for doping after it was discovered that he’d been taking Viagra for six days straight in the run-up to the race.  Any man that’s been in that state for nigh on to a week — without relief — would surely have an unnatural amount of energy to burn, and so although we were disappointed to again bring up the rear, so to speak, we understood the committee’s decision and accepted it without complaint.

Besting the log.
Courtesy Robert F. Bukaty and the Bangor Daily News.

As you no doubt know, my wife, being locally sourced, is substantially larger than most of the other wives, which brings me to my first point. I think there should be size divisions along the lines of boxing or wrestling. That little boney woman from Finland who won was no bigger than half a minute, barely even a flyweight. I could’ve carried her in my pocket and she’d have jangled like a handful of pennies, ferchrissakes. It’s just not right that I’m competing with twice that load (anyway) on my back. I’d estimate that my better half dresses out somewhere north of 200 pounds, making her a heavyweight, and while she’s still a fine figure of a woman, carrying her is no day at the beach. The log jump is particularly difficult, as it imperils the husband’s more delicate parts. If memory serves, the now disgraced Mr. French, bounced over that obstacle like he’d jumped on a trampoline. Apparently from the navel down he was number than a pounded thumb, but of course Mrs. French was probably no more than a middleweight anyway.

Hardly enough to keep most Mainers going for a week!
Courtesy Robert F. Bukaty and the Bangor Daily News.

I have my suspicions that this weight blindness has something to do with the winner receiving his wife’s weight in beer. Let’s just say that if my wife and I had won, you’d have needed a semi and a log skidder to get our winnings home. I’m not making any accusations, mind you, but I think the folks at Shock Top could be persuaded to be a bit more forthcoming with their prizes.

Since I’ve put pen to paper, I’d also like to call your attention to the issue of carrying style. As this is the NORTH AMERICAN championship, it should, I believe, require participants to carry American style, that is, either the standard fireman’s carry or the piggy back. This Estonian carry, with the wife upside down on the husband’s back, is just not right. In the event you are unfamiliar with its origins, I’d like to remind you that historically it was used to steal women from villages in some God-forsaken part of Europe that’s probably as cold as Maine, but doesn’t even have central heat or free and fair elections. My son-in-law, who’s some kind of smart-ass big brain from out-of-state, told me that and I believe him. He’s a professor at the community college, so I guess he’d know. And anyway, he showed me a map of where this Estonia is and I’d like to point out that it is suspiciously close to Finland, the country of origin of this year’s winners, whose names I can’t hardly pronounce let alone spell. Seems to me something’s fishy about that, and it ain’t pickled herring you smell. In any case, I believe the evidence speaks for itself, so I’ll say no more.

In closing, gentlemen, I’d like to just say that I and many like-minded Mainers look forward to the annual wife carrying contest even if it is dominated by sneaky Europeans and their underfed spouses. I know I am not the only one who would like to see the rules changed to make the contest fairer for indigenous participants with weight classes and a standard carry style. Failing that, perhaps you’d consider adding a cow tipping feature at the end. Just to level the pasture, you know.


Vinal Largay
Cherryfield, Maine

Journey to Disappointment

What’s Panera without the bread? No cure for a hangover, that’s for sure.

As it unfailingly does at this time of year, fall has come to New England, and so this morning Mr. Slattern and I rose before dawn to head north for a squint at the leaves. As the alarm sounded at 6 am, it occurred to me that undertaking a 500 mile drive just a few hours after returning home from a festive evening wedding was perhaps ill-advised, but we were committed to this course, and so there was no question of not pursuing it, hangover be damned. And I had one goddamned hangover, let me tell you.

Cinderella’s slipper by Christian Louboutin. Sadly, not exactly what I was wearing.
Via Get Dressed with Robin Fleming.

Of course, at a wedding — especially one that involves two superbly matched, uber-fun queens of fabulosity like our pals Robin and Jen — the champagne should flow like water, and though Mr. Slattern refused a tipple from my slipper, a good time was still had by all. I even allowed myself a big old slice of wedding cake (an indescribably sinful and delicious homemade coconut confection with cream cheese icing, sigh) in direct contradiction of the Feelbad diet plan, aka dinner at Gitmo. I figured I’d probably be incapable of eating for a couple days anyway, so what the heck, I had a brownie and an éclair too.

So anyways, by about 11 am, Mr. Slattern and I both felt like we’d been up for about a week and decided that a little sustenance was in order. Unfortunately neither of us was fit for public view for reasons previously alluded to, so a leisurely lunch at the Old Port Sea Grill was out of the question. Besides, we were in a hurry. So we decided to drop off the highway and go foraging for reasonable fast fare, which is how we ended up at Panera Bread at the ungodly hour of 11:30 am.

Mistake number one. Well two actually, since I guess you’d have to count my appropriation of a full champagne bottle from the waiter and subsequent request for a straw the night before as the first step on this particular trip to hell.

Pocket pal via How Stuff Works

In any case, it’s been a while since we were on this kind of meal schedule, like about sixteen years, which is why I guess we had forgotten that when you eat lunch well before noon your fellow diners will mostly be under five or over 90. Kids I don’t mind so much, provided they’re cute and silent, but as previously documented, the active seniors tend to get up my nose, unless they’re built along the lines of my Grammie Florence, who is still a head turner and party favorite as she approaches age ninety. But of course, she’s the exception rather than the rule.

We spent about eight hours in line behind a foursome with a combined age of about 420 who had lots of querulous questions about free refills and senior discounts. (They all ordered soup in bread bowls, the mere thought of which nearly made me vomit as wet bread disgusts me.) Finally though, we put in our order, received our complimentary Panera vibrator and picked our way across the dining room to a reasonably clean table by the window, which was a tad bright for my liking, but at least was well off the flight plan of the cookie-fueled preschooler whose mother was deeply involved in a phone conversation about what Stan was going to do with all that money and why he shouldn’t spend it on that whore he’d gone ahead and married even though his entire goddamned family had told him it would be a mistake verging on a crime to do so. Maine, the way life should be.

The road to disappointment ends right here with weird puffy egg yolks and transparent greens. Photo property WS Winslow.

Anyway, the vibra-pager eventually lit up and we retrieved our food. Mr. Slattern’s turkey and avocado sandwich was entirely acceptable, even tasty. It came with a pickle and an apple, which made for a satisfying lunch that left him fueled up and ready to drive the remaining three hours. My Panera dining experience, however, was considerably less spectacular, consisting as it did of chicken and avocado atop a Cobb salad made of previously frozen romaine, tasteless tomatoes and some kind of chopped egg product, in which the texture of both the yolk and the white reminded me more of Peeps than anything chicken-related I have ever encountered. Perhaps it’s a seasonal thing, putting Peep eggs into a salad; however, one would expect to see that at Easter rather than harvest time. And as the gag inducing egg bits were both indistinguishable and inseparable from the bleu cheese crumbles, I eventually just gave up and lunched on the chicken and avocado. Don’t even get me started on the “vinaigrette.” The apple, however, was delicious.

If Peeps laid eggs, would they taste like marshmallows?

As for the hangover, a day of green tea and Alka Seltzer eventually put paid to the nausea, which is a good thing because we’ve got party guests at the cottage, and they always stop at the wine store before they arrive.

Slipper, anyone?

%d bloggers like this: