Today I Wept Over a Sandwich

Today, I cried over food…

Not because I was starving…

Not because it cost too much…

But because it was a perfect sandwich, and it made me happy every time my incisors dived into its delicate brioche surface…

But now, it shall be no more.

There is a magic in food of certain flavors; that combination of notes activating your senses and coloring your memory. And this was mine…the sweet apple, the sherry dijon-dashed arugula, and the bite of a fiesty cheddar (I love a good savory punch after some heavy-handed treacle). On my most terrible of days, I could wander into this specialty café and the wonderful young women there would whip up this monument to the 4th Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu. Alas, this establishment will close tomorrow afternoon and with it, my sandwich days there will have come to pass.

However, like the little whisper of hope that left Pandora’s box of evils – all is not lost: One of the lovely workers scratched down the name of the bakery where I could get the bread, the types of cheddar, apple, and mayo to use, and a small heart symbol with a peace sign. I now possess the secret alchemy to try my own hand at sandwich perfection.

My last Turkey Apple Cheddar sandwich at my favorite café.

My last Turkey Apple Cheddar sandwich at my favorite café. Sad, and drooling.

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Apparently My Hair Needs An Oil Change

Living in Seattle, I have become accustomed to a certain amount of tree-hugging. I’m not complaining, as I am usually quite environmental and I dutifully recycle or compost about 90% of my garbage. But these days, I am learning that even I have my limits. Case in point: the All-Organic Movement.

First of all, let me say that I do think there is definitely some benefit to avoiding non-organic food and it’s cool when people can create industrial strength rope out of hemp, seaweed, or whatever. However, I am finding that some people are taking the “organic” label a bit too far.

An “eco-salon” recently opened near my home and for those of you that don’t know, it’s basically Captain Planet-meets-Vidal Sassoon. I was doing some research to find a new place to get my hair cut, and when I called this joint – I shit you not – their sales pitch included the following:

We use all natural products on your hair, including environmentally safe shampoos and conditioners. We also have the means of organically disposing of your hair clippings.

Organically disposing of my hair clippings? I think my mouth dropped open like I was trying to catch flies in it. I wanted to say, “Dude, my scalp is not an SUV that needs the Pennzoil changed, it’s just hair. I could bury it in your backyard and you’d be none the wiser.” When I pressed for more details on this miraculous means of waste disposal, I was given some vague story line about a special process that avoids putting chemically-treated hair into the area landfills. Apparently all those 80’s perms are coming back to haunt us again – in our ground water. Who knew?

Of course, I ran with this and asked if it involved storing the hair in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository. Needless to say, I don’t think the gentleman found my joke very funny.

"Haircut" by Steve Walker (2001)

“Haircut” by Steve Walker (2001)

When Friendship Transcends Pooping

Last weekend, I had an hour-long conversation with an old friend of mine from Iowa. She’s pretty “coarse wool” in the fabric that is friendship, but we’ve been through so much together that our foundations are like granite. She rarely indulges my self-pity, and once – when we were roommates – she started vacuuming right next to me when I was crying on the phone. Her motto has always been, “Get the fuck up and get on with it.”

Anyway, near the end of our phone call she said, “Ok, I gotta go to the bathroom, and unless you want to be on this phone for that, I’d better go.” We said our goodbyes, and at the last second, we got caught on a tangent. This sparked a whole new leg in the conversation and then she interrupted me with, “I hope you don’t mind, I am pooping right now.” I waved aside her warning and we proceeded to talk and ultimately ended the phone call about 10 minutes later.

When I got off the phone, I realized how weird that might be for most people – to poop on the phone. But it didn’t feel weird for us at all. I wasn’t getting the play-by-play or anything, and with the exception of my recommending prunes to help facilitate her future bowel movements, the bodily function had no interference in our communication. I then realized that it takes a very rare type of friendship to transcend the disgust that is fecal matter: a friend will help you move, a real friend will help you move a body, but your best friend will poop on the phone with you.

dialadump

The Wealth of Laughter

If there is one thing I will miss when my days are done, it is laughter. The kind of laughter you shared with close friends where your eyes would water and you couldn’t control your own breathing. A joyous pain in your “diaphragm-in-spasm”.

"To Laugh Again" by Bob Salo (2009)

“To Laugh Again” by Bob Salo (2009)

I remember when I was in high school we would prank call people until the advent of caller ID shut our sorry asses down; we’d tell people they had packages at the post office or that we were calling to see if they were interested in writing for a local religious publication. We’d also throw rocks at corrugated metal buildings because the sound was somehow hilarious to us. I even remember we once went out in the middle of the night and took plastic kid cars and tricycles (left abandoned by their owners in their respective yards) and parked them all like regular cars in their rightful spaces on the Main Street of our small Midwestern town. The town cop was not impressed, but we howled like raucous hyenas as we covertly watched him collect the miniature child transports and put them in the back of his police truck.

Those days seem so long ago, and yet the memory is like gilded crown molding on the ceiling of my soul. I wish I still laughed that hard and that much, but as with all things in life, repeated experience has a way of stripping out the vibrant colors. I still manage to get them once in a while, but they just seem fewer and further between.

You always hear “you can’t take it with you” when people talk about money, and that’s true – the physical shit in this life (including your body) isn’t going into the Great Beyond. But I really hope – if there is any kindness in the Universe – that we get to take our memories of laughter with us. I’d smuggle them out of the cave like gemstones if I knew how, but something tells me that is going to require some hardcore shoplifting talent.

Because if there is a Creator, he or she ain’t no damn mall cop.

An Elegant Monster

If you voraciously devoured the second season of Netflix’s web series House of Cards this past weekend, you were not alone. This writer also binged on the newly delivered loot.

I almost watched the entire 13 episodes without stopping – but my stomach requested nutrition and I figured I should probably shower. I actually felt a little like a crackhead, or at least what I imagine one feels like – bypassing normal behaviors to submit my will to this unfolding, fictitious character study. I won’t give anything away, but the season was definitely worth the wait. It delivered high voltage shocks in its political backstabbing, sexual side turns, and naked power grabs.

Of all this show’s twisted personalities, my favorite character is the devious Claire Underwood (Robin Wright). She plays the wife of Kevin Spacey (as VP Frank Underwood). A methodical machine, she carefully manipulates (often better than her own husband) her preferred outcomes in challenging situations. When her enemies fall, she doesn’t even give a smile of satisfaction; she coldly moves on to the next target with eyes like steel knives. No unethical tactic is beneath her, yet her subtle grace and calm voice give you the impression she is the most trust-worthy and caring individual you’d ever meet. A vintage sociopath. Now that I know what levels of power she has attained, I can not wait to see what she does to her opponents in the next season.

cunderwood

Although this is just a TV show, it could be considered strange to cheer on a psychotic. However, villains are usually the more fascinating individuals in a story. I feel like you always want to know, “What broke them?” Or “What made their emotions turn to stone?” How did their obsession with an audacious goal become their fundamental purpose in life? And how will it ultimately be their undoing (as it usually is)?

Claire, your magnificent malice brought you to the top. I can’t wait to see how it brings you down.

This is going to be one for the Ages.

The Star Wars Holiday Special

If you’ve ever done anything in your life that you aren’t proud of or that you simply regret, I have something for you that might help: It’s called the Star Wars Holiday Special.

It’s a horrible bastard-of-a-TV-program that aired only once (in 1978 on CBS) to capitalize on the wave of pop culture mania that followed 1977’s Star Wars. As with all cash cow Hollywood projects, it’s thoroughly terrible and pointless. It’s also unintentionally funny, but perhaps in that way when something is so poorly constructed you might think it was done on purpose. No, this comedy comes with pain. The kind of pain you feel when you know someone actually wrote it down on a piece of paper. That the project was approved by someone. That millions of dollars probably produced it.

If the "Carol Burnett Show" and "Star Wars" had a baby and then aborted it, it would be the Star Wars Holiday Special.

If the “Carol Burnett Show” and “Star Wars” had a baby and then aborted it and mixed it with Hamburger Helper, it would be the Star Wars Holiday Special.

I won’t go into the details too much, but if you watch it you can expect…

  • about 15 minutes of Wookie famly dialogue with no subtitles (or any other language to explain what’s going on)
  • Art Carney, Harvey Korman, and Bea Arthur trying to parlay variety show comedy like a bridal party serving wedding punch from an old toilet bowl
  • Chewbacca’s father basically having a sex dream about a 70’s disco diva while sitting in a “fantasy simulation chair”
  • a musical performance from Jefferson Starship
  • Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) singing a holiday carol about “Life Day” (the Wookies’ version of Christmas).

Trust me, by this point you’ll wish YOU had a cocaine habit.

Anyway, when all is said and done, think back over your life and your mistakes. Watch this televised horror and remember that no matter your guilt about dropping out of school, cheating on your taxes, or raising a kid that turned out to be a deadbeat…at least you had nothing to do with creating the Star Wars Holiday Special.

A Selfish Skin

The Christmas holiday has passed, but it has left me in a contemplative mood.

I was fortunate this year to have several invitations. Since I live so far from my immediate family, I often spend the holidays with close friends in the area. These are always enjoyable affairs, and I don’t think I am alone in saying a Christmas spent with friends (rather than family) can often involve less emotional baggage and mental scarring. I do, however, recognize that there is an ancient power inherent in family bonds that cannot be replicated anywhere else.

"Pie Fight" by Romanian painter Adrian Ghenie, 2011.

“Pie Fight” by Romanian painter Adrian Ghenie, 2011.

This year, I spent Christmas Eve with a couple who are very dear friends of mine, and Christmas afternoon with a co-worker with whom I share a love for poetry, history, and off-beat relationship wisdom. Both events were wonderful and my hosts provided me with a delightful combination of sustenance and memories. However, I left both feeling somewhat sad and disappointed in myself. Although it may have been but a footnote in the program, I completely failed to bring a gift to any of my entertainers. They all opened their beautiful homes to me. They fed me and filled my brain with enlightening conversation, and all of them had set a side a present for me. The thought did cross my mind earlier in the week that these generous folk might get me something to open – being it’s Christmas and all – so perhaps I should be prepared with something to give them? Well, apparently in my old age, I discarded that thoughtful notion and when the moment came, I was receiving objects of their kindness – but had nothing to give in return.

None of my hosts seemed bothered by it, but I was bothered.

I was bothered very much.

“I didn’t use to be this way,” I said to myself on the drive home. I used to be that very intuitive person who could go out and find a gift that was perfectly reflective of its recipient. I used to have an excellent memory for details about my friends. I would inventory comments they made about music or fashion all year long and when the time came for a birthday or wedding, I would unleash the fruits of my intuition to an amazed friend. And more importantly, I felt great joy in those moments. What happened to that guy? I actually did a full-on dissection of my decision-making process. It was like a mechanic pulling apart an engine to find out why all the pistons aren’t working. Although it is no excuse, I think I found the explanation: More and more, I am becoming a selfish-thinker.

There is a certain side effect to being single for a very long time, at least in my case. I am used to only caring for myself. Getting groceries for myself. Doing everything in my life with me as the primary focus. I am sure there are lots of people who live alone who are still thoughtful people who think of others first, but apparently I am not one of them. The co-worker who hosted me lives alone and is in my same predicament as myself, but he had the fore-thought to make me a beautiful CD of Christmas music and put my picture on the cover. A gesture of kindness that crushed me when I had nothing to offer in return. Certainly many people expect nothing for their good deeds, but I am not always someone who (when conscious of it) accepts things greedily and does not reciprocate. Had my long spells of loneliness baked me into a crust? Have the scabs of my life-hardening experiences grown like a second skin over my intuition? Good lord, I hope not.

I once read in the Talmud of the concept called “bread of shame”. Mind you, I am not Jewish or a religious person by any stretch, but the text was quite profound to me. The “bread of shame” is basically accepting gratuity when you have not earned it. These friends of mine could very well say, “These are gifts. This is our generosity to you, and you do not owe us anything.” But I would still feel as though I did not earn any special gifts. Maybe I was Jewish in a former life? Who knows.

It’s possible I made this more of a deal than I should have. However, I fear growing such a selfish skin; a thick alligator hide that will eventually relegate me to the swamps of humanity.

The President’s Horrible Anus

Dear Google News Editors,

Please DO NOT use Latin in a U.S. headline. Case in point…

annus_horribilisNow, I know that this headline translates to “Obama’s Horrible Year”, but my first read/reaction was, “What is so horrible about Obama’s anus? Is he eating too much Quizno’s or something?” Quite frankly, I am not sure it’s fair to judge that body part as they are all pretty gross in my book. In fact, I am willing to wager that Queen Elizabeth’s is probably MORE horrible after years of digestive abuse via afternoon tea and scones.

My next thought was, “Fuck these guys, I’d go to a different proctologist for a second opinion.”

 

Promiscuous Cookware

A text conversation with a slutty friend of mine…

Me: How was your day?

Friend: I fooled around with another guy this afternoon. I feel weird now, like empty and without feelings. Besides that it was good, I got a new cookware set 🙂

Me: The guy gave you a cookware set for sleeping with him?

Friend: No.

kama_sutra_cookie

One Ugly Mug

A friend of mine recently texted me a picture of this mug…

mugI have some real issues with this piece of work. Why? It’s a stereotype-enforcing artifact designed with one purpose: TO KILL.

“How?” you ask…

  1. Travel mugs (which one would assume people drink from while driving) should not have mirrors unless the primary purpose is to cause loss of human life. You shouldn’t be checking your face in a mirror this small while traveling at killing speed.
  2. I think the rhinestone frame is further evidence of intent to kill. You could be fixing your face in the mirror and be temporarily blinded. “But officer, I swear I couldn’t see that kid in the wheelchair due to the glare from these rhinestones!”
  3. I find the added “For Her” label particularly insulting. Aren’t all mugs unisex by nature? Sure, this one is pink with fake jewelry but is that all it takes to lure a female in? Perhaps an idiot husband or a flamboyant lover of kitsch, but no self-respecting person is going to fall for this menacing accessory to highway murder.

I think it is clear this is meant to be an impulse purchase for last-minute Christmas shopping men with IQ’s under 40. I plan to organize a boycott of the sinister Totes Corporation.