Death By Chicken

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Chicken_suit1I just finished handling some raw chicken in preparation for dinner. I’ll be taking a Silkwood shower from the elbows down and blowtorching the kitchen if anybody needs me.

I’m sick of grocery stores advertising amazing prices on meat and then you find out you have to buy a metric tonne of it to get the deal. This is how I came to be wrangling a ten pound frozen mass of boneless, skinless chicken breasts this afternoon. The chicken breasts were thawed when my husband purchased them, but one of us (I’m blaming him) just threw the whole bag in the freezer without separating them into usable portions. When I took it out of the freezer, it was an intimidating ice ball of mangled chicken. This bag of frozen chicken has been in the refrigerator for two days, and it is just now showing signs of thawing.

I improvised last night, but we need this chicken for dinner tonight. With about five hours to go until dinner time, I decided I better take that big frozen bitch out of the refrigerator and start making shit happen.

I have to say, if toxic waste were treated with the same caution I exercise for raw chicken, EPA regulators would be sitting around with nothing to do, much like the Maytag repairman. The Toxic Avenger movie would have never been made. (Actually, that would be a tragedy.) Maybe instead we could have Salmonella Avenger – the woeful tale of a hippie housewife who didn’t believe in the powers of bleach and triclosan. I ain’t going down like that.

Preparing a regular-sized package of raw chicken isn’t that big a deal. You open the package over the garbage, wash your hands 37 times in five minutes, and hose down the kitchen with anti-bacterial cleaner when you’re through. Wrestling an icy chicken mass larger than a newborn baby is a different sort of ordeal.

I hate putting food in the kitchen sink because everybody knows your kitchen sink is dirtier than your toilet. That being said, I needed to run some water over this frozen chicken ball to break apart the boobs, and the nearest toilet was too far away. You want to know something about frozen meat? That shit is fucking cold. I alternated between prying the chicken meat pieces apart under the running water and holding my fingers under the faucet to thaw them out as well.

I finally separated three Dolly Parton-esque chicken breasts from the pack and put them in a casserole dish to finish thawing. Then I had to put the remaining frozen mass back into the bag and clothespin it closed since it didn’t have a Ziploc opening. (A ten pound bag of meat that isn’t reclosable? Seriously, Albertson’s, you are officially too ghetto for me. I’m done with you. I don’t care if your chicken breasts are 17 cents per pound.) Of course, by now the outside of that bag is covered in salmonella. I considered wiping it down with bleach, but since I couldn’t completely close the bag I was worried I would get bleach onto the chicken and poison myself in a whole different way. So I put it inside a plastic shopping bag and returned it to the fridge to continue thawing over the next six weeks.

I’m pretty sure my entire kitchen is now a bacteria-laden petri dish. I scrubbed my hands and arms up to the elbows, but I’m worried that tiny micro-particles of chicken death are irreversibly jammed up my fingernails. Also, I’m pretty sure that salmonella from the chicken bag is now molesting everything else inside of my refrigerator.

I’m a little worried about all of this, but I have a pretty surefire solution for situations like these: I’ll just wait until I’ve forgotten about how dirty everything is and then go about my normal business. (Hey, it works with my “dry clean only” clothes that I hang in the back of the closet.) Does anybody want to come over for chicken parmigiana? I’m pretty sure I’ll have enough for all of you.

This Little Piggie Went to Market

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romanescoToday my husband and I went to our local farmer’s market, the Saturday Morning Market. It’s huge and awesome and a great way to get excited about eating healthy foods. That’s one of the great things about living in Florida – it’s February and rather than being buried under three feet of snow, we’re entering the best time of the year for local produce. (I’m not trying to rub it in, really. I mean, come July, the temperature will be 98 degrees with 319% humidity. I have to enjoy the weather while I can. The polar vortex has fucked everyone else in the country over, but it’s given us a solid two months of crisp autumn weather, which has been really lovely.)

We loaded up on organic, local fare, including Romanesco broccoli. I don’t know how I’ve gone 38 years without ever having seen it before, but Romanesco broccoli is pretty much the most beautiful vegetable that has ever existed. Not that it has much competition. (I’m looking at you, turnips.) Anyway, Romanesco broccoli (or cauliflower, depending on your loyalties – it’s called both) is an example of a naturally occurring fractal. I don’t really know what a fractal is, just that twenty years ago, in college, everybody liked getting high and looking at them. We actually had a cable access television channel that was nothing but fractals. (Kids, see what we had to do to amuse ourselves before the Internet?)

Besides all the local farms, there are also a number of artisan craft makers and homemade food stands. I just had to stop at “Old Fashioned Goodness”, a candy booth operated by an adorable older couple. Thirty seconds earlier I had sworn off empty calories in favor of the natural, delicious bounty of fruits and veggies we are blessed with on this planet, but they were giving out free samples of chocolate fudge and salted caramels. I’m only human.

I forgot to mention, one of the things I love about this market is that a lot of people bring their dogs. (Not us, mind you. Our dogs are terrible. Fletcher is sweet and friendly, but Lucy thinks she’s in the Secret Service and I’m the President. She’s a fifteen pound, fluffy killing machine. We can’t take her anywhere.) There were so many big and little sweeties – an assortment of dogs as varied as their owners.

benetton_eggsA few minutes after visiting the homemade candy booth, while Bryan was standing in line to pay $5 for a dozen mismatched eggs, I started digging into my fudge. As I reached into the little bag and unwrapped a single piece of peanut butter fudge wrapped in noisy cellophane, every dog within a ten foot radius promptly stopped in their tracks and gave me the “Treat?” stare. It’s funny how universal that is. I almost felt bad, but I wasn’t planning on sharing my goodies with my husband, let alone some strange dogs.

Now that we’re home and my homemade candy is long since eaten, I have to look up some recipes for cooking all of these fresh, delicious vegetables we bought before they rot an ugly death in the crisper. Maybe later I’ll put on some Pink Floyd, turn on the black light, and stare at my Romanesco broccoli.

Wild Side

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concert_crowd_smallMy husband Bryan and his friend Larry go to concerts together. They have pretty similar tastes in music, so they alternate paying for the tickets. Recently, my husband treated Larry to a Megadeth concert, so now it’s Larry’s turn to pay. (They’ve also seen Rush together and probably someone else I can’t remember.)

So, we’re in the car today, on our way home from the Farmer’s Market, when “Wild Side” by Mötley Crüe comes on the radio. Bryan says, “Oh yeah, Larry’s buying us tickets to this concert at the Amphitheatre.” (That would be the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa, formerly known as the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre. You see why we just call it “the Amphitheatre”? And by “us” he meant Larry and himself.)

“What? Seriously? I want to see Mötley Crüe!”

Okay, maybe not really. I hate concerts. There are only ever a few, old songs I want to hear but inevitably bands play all their new, drug-free boring shit first and if you’re lucky, you get to hear “Pour Some Sugar on Me” at the end before you book for the exits to beat the crowd out of the parking lot. (That’s right – the last concert I went to was Def Leppard, opened by Joan Jett. Shut up, I’m old.)

Bryan knew I didn’t really want to go to the concert, so it was cool. Then he said he’ll probably owe Larry for this one since these Mötley Crüe tickets were more expensive than the Megadeth show. (Concert ticket prices are ridiculous. I thought Eddie Vedder was supposed to fix that. What, nobody remembers Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam duking it out with Ticketmaster? Is Ticketmaster even still around? Fuck, I’m so old.)

“There was another concert Larry wanted to get the tickets for, but they were just too expensive. Who was it…” Bryan says, thinking. He snaps his fingers. “Katy Perry! That’s it. But those are like $100 even for the cheap seats.”

He was totally serious, by the way. I wouldn’t think that Mötley Crüe’s and Katy Perry’s target audiences typically overlap by much, but there you go. In the Venn Diagram of “Shout at the Devil” and “California Girls” there is one person in the middle, overlapping part: My husband. And Larry, I guess.

My Husband Tries His Hardest to Make Me Happy

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dinner in a canSo this just happened:

Me: “I’m hungry, I’m going to eat those Spaghetti O’s you got at the store yesterday.”
Then, upon finding that the Spaghetti O’s Bryan bought were the kind without meatballs, I yell to him, “WTF is this? No meatballs? Who eats Spaghetti O’s without meatballs??”

Bryan: “On the grocery list, you just wrote Spaghetti O’s. I almost bought the ones with the meatballs, but I said to myself, ‘Bryan, if she had wanted meatballs she would have written meatballs. Just get the plain kind.'”

Me: “We’ve been together 15 years and you don’t know what kind of Spaghetti O’s I like? I’ve never eaten plain Spaghetti O’s in my life. YOU DON’T KNOW ME AT ALL!”

So I sit my grumpy ass down and start playing Candy Crush.

Bryan is rifling through the change on the counter. “How much do you think Spaghetti O’s cost at the corner store? Three dollars?” (The corner store is a party store/quickie mart two blocks away from our house.)

Me (happy and incredulous): “Are you seriously going down to the corner store to get me Spaghetti O’s with meatballs?”

Bryan (good-naturedly sarcastic): “Well, I can’t let you starve, now can I? But I’m only taking a handful of quarters, so you might just end up with an ice cream sandwich.”

Science Favors Perverts. Perfect.

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English: Cleavage of a womanIt seems like every other day a new “scientific” study is coming out that contradicts everything we thought we knew about the world. Coffee is good for you – drink up! Soy milk will give you man boobs, uh oh! Now the latest: ogling big tits is good for your heart. Literally. Is this really where we’re going, Science? I’m not a doctor or anything, so I can’t be sure, but judging from the amount of pink shit I see marketed toward me in the grocery store and the number of 5K’s my friends are still running, it doesn’t look like anyone has cured cancer yet. With that in mind, will someone please tell me who is funding this bullshit? Is there federal grant money just lying around, waiting for someone to form a ridiculous hypothesis and recruit clueless college kids for poking, prodding and measuring? And if so, can we do something scandalous and awesome like the Stanford Prison Experiment from the 1970’s? (Although, that sort of research is probably pointless now, because if you want to determine the human animal’s propensity toward being an asshole, all you have to do is scroll through some YouTube comments on any given day. Case closed.)

So, let’s talk about this titty thing. (There’s something I don’t say every day.) Don’t get me wrong – I love boobs. Can’t get enough of them. (Lucky for me, I’ve got two of my very own!) I still don’t understand the point of this study. We all know men like looking at a nice rack…is this just some transparent attempt to justify this behavior? Is this being done in the hopes that the next time a dude gets busted staring at a lady’s breasts, he can save himself a smack and a black eye by reaching into his wallet and pulling out his “prescription”? “Uh, see ma’am, if you look here, it says I need to: take (2) mammary glands, visually, twice per day or as needed.” Good luck with that. If you think we have a big problem with forged narcotics prescriptions in this country, just wait until medicinal mammaries becomes a thing.

By the way, if you review the research carefully, you’ll see that in order for the bosom ogling to have the intended cardiac benefits, the breasts in question must be size D or above. Okay, seriously, can you imagine what this research lab looked like when Dr. Obvious was conducting her (that’s right – a female doctor spearheaded this research) experiments? What did the “control” look like? Did the men stare at another dude for the “control” or was it some poor, unfortunate, flat-chested woman who probably has even more of an inferiority complex now that it’s a medical fact that not only are her barely-there mosquito bites unappealing, but they are literally KILLING PEOPLE. (Or at least, not saving their lives by providing measurable, quantifiable, publishable cardiac benefits akin to 30 minute of aerobic exercise.) Seriously, flat-chested women, you might as well just kill yourselves right now. You are useless. (I’m not saying that – it’s Science.) I don’t know; maybe additional research can be done to determine whether or not you can still help the cause. There was no mention of whether or not gazing at smaller boobs would confer a placebo effect. (Maybe push-up bras could become medical devices?)

I suppose that if you can’t find “treatment” of adequate size out and about in your everyday life, you could always go to an approved “clinic”. These clinics are currently known as strip clubs. “Destiny” and “Cinnamon” can give you your daily quota of heart healthy titties, and although you don’t typically leave the pharmacy covered in glitter and smelling like Victoria’s Secret body spray, you gotta do what you gotta do to take care of your body, am I right? I’m sure Mons Venus and Scores will appreciate the uptick in business although accepting Flexible Spending Account benefit cards may prove to be a hassle for them.

There is good news in all of this. (I know you men out there are thinking, “What are you talking about? This has all been good news.”) But really, using breasts to improve heart health is another small step toward establishing a more natural, homeopathic approach to medicine. (Unless you’re going to one of those clinics I mentioned above. There is nothing natural going on in there.) Fewer drugs, more jugs! Also, heart disease is the leading killer of men. This way, if my husband ever does have a heart attack and needs to take action to improve his cardiovascular health, we can forget about scary angioplasties and risky bypass surgeries. I’ll just get breast augmentation! I’ll take these average B-sized, good-for-nothing funbags and inflate them to Double-D life preservers! There’s no risk in that, right? I’ll practically be providing a public service anyway. Win-win. Science. Awesome.

This is My Dog on Prozac

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Fletch_blogDespite appearances in the picture to the left, I did not make a Miniature Pinscher skin-suit out of my dog Fletcher. It was simply bath time, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to illustrate what a giant pussy he is, figuratively speaking. Seeing him cowering in our massive pit of a bathtub, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the infamous scene in “Silence of the Lambs,” you know the one: “Put the fucking lotion in the basket!” Ah, good times. But anyway, that is my dog Fletcher, and although he is pretty well-behaved and stoic when it comes to bath time, he, even when I’m not quoting lines from demented serial killers, does scare easily.

Tonight is July 2nd, and the homies in my barrio are already Clint Eastwood-ing it up and pretending their firecrackers are .44 Magnums and every time they go snap-crackle-pop I can imagine them saying, “Go ahead, make my Independence Day” or some such shit. The point is, I don’t understand why 1) Everyone has to start their July 4th celebrations so fucking early and 2) The allure of firecrackers and noise-making shit to begin with. I haven’t really been into fireworks of any kind since I grew tits and found out boys were interested in them, but the male gender seems to never outgrow the need for things that go boom. At least the the colored, sky-bursting light show variety of fireworks make some sense – they are pretty and give you something look at while you drink beer and snuggle with your boo. I still don’t get the 2 second bang and it’s done kind. (Again, it can’t be a coincidence that these attract the males. Two second bang anyone? Sounds like my twenties.)

So, where does this tie in with my pathetic dog pictured above? Well, like I said, he’s less Canis domesticus and more Felis fraidycatius. My sweet boy has an anxiety disorder that would make Rain Man on a Southwest airlines flight look like Cool Hand Luke. Everything freaks him out. Thunderstorms and fireworks are the absolute worst. As I type this, he is shaking like a crack addict next to me, drooling on my keyboard. As revolting as that is, he used to be even worse. Fletcher used to get his invisible knickers in a twist at something as banal as the noise the TV makes when we turn it on and off. He’s evened out ever so slightly since we consulted with our veterinarian and got poor Fletcher on Prozac.

That’s right. My doggie is a card carrying member of the Prozac nation. Actually, we carry his card for him. Like millions of unfortunate Americans, Fletcher has been left behind by our hit-and-miss insurance system, so we signed him up for a CVS membership program so we could get his prescription at a discount. I’m not sure if they don’t realize he’s a dog, or think he’s some emotionally tortured genius dog, because his prescription bottle warns Fletcher Wiltzius that he should not drink alcohol or operate heavy machinery until he knows how his Prozac will affect him. I’m going to go ahead and say that he shouldn’t be doing those things anyway.

We didn’t take the decision to medicate our dog lightly. We tried other things first. Mostly yelling, which didn’t work, oddly enough. I watched Cesar Milan’s show where he gives a crazy dog the evil eye just once and that dog goes from urinating on people’s legs and biting them in the face to instantly mowing the lawn and helping the homeless. I didn’t glean any useful tips from him either. Since Fletcher’s anxiety mostly manifests itself with him barking nonstop, I bought one of those citronella collars that sprays every time the dog barks and buckled Fletch in. Within two minutes, the collar reservoir was empty, our house was stinky but mosquito-free, and Fletcher was still barking. So much for that.

We tried a few different drugs and settled on the Prozac. It’s still an imperfect solution. Fletch still freaks out when things get extra scary, like now with the asshole kids and their firecrackers. Or say, the entire hurricane/storm season from May through September. For times like these, he also has a prescription for Valium that he gets “as needed”. What people don’t understand is that having an anxiety-prone dog is, in itself, anxiety-inducing. I have my own prescription for Xanax. Nights like these are a “one for Fletcher, one for Mommy” situation. At least I don’t have to hide mine in a piece of sausage.

We have another dog named Lucy. She is pretty normal, or at least as normal as normal gets in this household. She has a bit of a weight problem, but living with all of these crazy fuckers will cause one to “stress eat”. Trust me, I know. She’s my angel. She gets a little anxious with the fireworks and thunderstorms too, but she just does a little submissive pee and hides in the closet like a normal dog. (I may be losing track of what is normal at this point.)

Both of my dogs came from a shelter, so who knows what kind of crazy shit they dealt with before I got them. (If I drove an SUV and were a little more bourgeoisie, I would say, “They’re rescues!” in that voice that lets you know that I think I saved the world by adopting them. But really, I picked up a couple of used dogs, I didn’t cure malaria.) Every time I look at my pre-owned bundles of joy, I think, “You little shits, no wonder you ended up with me. Who else would put up with you?” But we’re a perfect fit. They may be purebred pains in the ass, but I love them all the same.

I Pretend Joel Stein Mentions Me in TIME

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JoelSigningI have already established in an earlier post that I am a devoted fan and follower of TIME columnist Joel Stein. Given that, imagine my delight when Joel recently offered the exciting opportunity to be his intern for a day! I mean, naturally, my interest was piqued. Of course, there was a catch. This opportunity was being offered through Charitybuzz, an auction site that offers experiences people can bid on, with the proceeds going to worthy causes. In this case, the charity was Miss a Meal, a Houston-based nonprofit that meets the needs of the hungry. Basically, I was looking at a chance to pay to work; this was taking volunteering to a whole new level.

Here is the description of the prize:

“A one-day internship with TIME journalist and humor columnist Joel Stein. Spend this Sunday, June 9, 2013, working for Joel! He will buy you a mid-priced lunch and eat it with you. (He will also buy his own lunch; you won’t have to share yours.) You can work from his house in Los Angeles with him or work via Skype from your own home. There are decent odds he will yell at you and even greater odds that you’ll witness his 4-year-old son or wife yell at him.

Sunday: 11 a.m.-ish until maybe 3 p.m. or so. You’ll work on this week’s TIME column which will be about YOU (featuring YOUR NAME) and this internship, as well as the auction Beyoncé and Tina Knowles are hosting to benefit Miss A Meal.”

This would be huge for me. I’ve already met Joel Stein, but this would be a chance to meet him again. Sober. I live in Florida and Joel lives in Los Angeles, and as you can see he’s made provisions for that in the fine print of the auction: winners who aren’t able to fulfill their “internship” can commute via Skype, but fuck that noise. If I were to win, I would absolutely cash in all of my husband’s frequent flyer miles and show up on the Steins’ doorstep. (At that point, luck is on my side because I doubted a restraining order could be processed within just a week.)

The other awesome thing about all of this? Did you read the part about the winner getting their name in TIME magazine? That kicks ass. This is where I let my inner dork flag fly high. I’ve been reading TIME since I was in high school. (That is, when I wasn’t already occupied with reading the dictionary or traveling with the debate team. I wish I were kidding.) Until I can convince Joel that tweeting my blog to his legion of followers is a smart career move (it probably isn’t), getting my name in his column is the next best way to get a wider audience to discover the delicious snark that is Tina Steele. Right?

The bidding started at $500. I certainly don’t have money to throw around on things like this. Let’s be honest here. I don’t have a job that pays me, so I don’t imagine my husband would look too kindly on my taking the next step and paying other people to let me work. I figured I would watch the auction for a little bit and see how things went. On the one hand, I couldn’t stand the thought of my favorite journalist being undervalued; on the other…I was kind of hoping his offering would languish until the zero hour so I could snatch it up at a bargain. Then I could tell my better half it was an investment in our future or some such nonsense. I would cross that bridge when I came to it.

Explanations to my husband and the availability of last-minute travel soon became a moot point as the bids to Joel’s internship started trickling in. The winner was somebody using the handle “Loaded Questions” who repeatedly outbid every other person who attempted a bid. Interesting. I have the game Loaded Questions. Was the owner of a board game company really trying to win this auction?

Fast forward to this week when my TIME magazine came in the mail, and I immediately flipped to the second to the last page to check Joel’s column. There it was: Interning with the Stars. I did a quick scan before actually reading it. I wanted to confirm my suspicion: Did the Loaded Questions guy really get to advertise his company in the column? Yes, he did. Something else immediately jumped out at me though: my name! It’s hard to miss your own name and “Tina” caught my eye pretty quickly. WTF? It only took a second to realize what I was reading. Of course. The article is about Beyoncé and her mother’s name is Tina, and she is referred to as Miss Tina in the column. So, the joke’s on you Loaded Questions* guy! I got my name in the magazine for free.

What surprised me most when I read this article is that Joel actually made his temporary intern do real work. He made phone calls, answered emails, and interviewed Miss Tina. When I was contemplating bidding on the auction, I really didn’t take that part of the deal seriously. I thought if I won, Joel and I would sit around, braid each other’s hair and maybe argue about who is funnier. “You are!” “No, you are!” All things considered, I still have all of my money, I didn’t have to do any work, and I got half of my name in TIME magazine.

I can live with that.

*Despite the fact that I kind of slammed the Loaded Questions guy, let me digress just a little bit to tell you that Loaded Questions is in fact, an awesome fucking game. (And clearly Eric Poses is a genius because not only did he win that auction and get his game advertised in a national magazine for a mere $2,550, he’s gotten me to mention his game a half dozen times here as well.) Anytime I get a group of friends together, this game comes out. Usually, people start out answering fairly honestly, but things eventually regress into inside jokes, sexual innuendos, and outright debauchery. My husband’s friend, Corey Bishop, holds our all-time record for the most memorable answer ever. The question was: “What is the furthest place you can think of?” His answer? “The tip of my cock.” That, my friends, is Loaded Questions.

My Fifty Shades Confession

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grey-colorsI’m going to admit to something I thought I would take to my grave: I recently read the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. I hadn’t planned on sharing this, but I find myself inspired by this daily prompt, and Fifty Shades certainly gives me something to talk about. So, here’s the thing…

Fifty Shades of Grey (and its sequels) are ridiculously awful.

When I picked up the first book, I knew little about the premise other than it was an S&M flavored bodice-ripper that was making housewives across the country weak in the knees. (This includes some of my friends, like Angie who shall remain nameless.) I’m always up for a literary aphrodisiac – bring it on!

As soon as I started reading, it only took me a few pages to become annoyed with Christian Grey and all of his “Miss Steele” business. My maiden name is “Miss Steele” and I wanted to pop that smug prick in his chiseled jaw halfway through the first meeting. Also, Ana Steele was a giant wuss who cursed like a six-year-old, even within her own internal monologue. Double crap?  Really? I hadn’t read clumsy banality like that since the Twilight saga. In fact, the only remarkable thing about the writing was how incredibly similar its subpar quality was to another series: Twilight. I couldn’t get over the likeness. Of course, I soon found out that’s because Fifty Shades of Grey is Twilight fanfiction, and it is supposed to sound exactly the same. (Apparently you can sell millions of books doing that now.)

Disgusted with this drivel, from the “Miss Steele” business to the whole fanfiction concept, I quit the book before finishing the first couple of chapters. Then I told anyone who would listen that Fifty Shades of Grey was everything that was wrong with literature and I went back to reading Hemingway and Steinbeck and volunteering at the homeless shelter. (Actually, only the part up through slamming the books is true; I made the rest up to illustrate how fancy and superior I was feeling at the time.)

A year or so passed, and for reasons I still don’t understand, I decided to give Fifty Shades another try. I muscled through the lackluster writing and the myriad typographical errors. (Do publishing houses seriously not employ proofreaders anymore? What is going on here? I know we have spellcheck and all, but there is no substitute for a set of well-trained eyes. I am tired of reading published books with typos. This has become an epidemic and it is making me lose my faith in humanity. Please, someone do something about this. Sorry for that tangent, folks.)

Needless to say, since I’m writing all of this, at some point, I started to like it. I can’t begin to describe how painful it is for me to admit that not only did I read all three of the books in the Fifty Shades of Grey series, but that I actually enjoyed them. I suppose it’s apropos, since the entire plot of the books is predicated on a young woman who unwittingly finds herself sucked into the web of a handsome sadist who enjoys causing pain and spoiler alert: she likes it too!

Of course I could write some feminist dissertation on everything that is wrong with the premise of these books, but it’s really not that serious. The whole thing is so ridiculous that it’s not worth debating the social mores or implications of the relationships found therein. Mostly you just skim over the poor choices, roll your eyes, suspend your disbelief, and hope you get to the good parts while your husband is lying next to you in bed and not when he’s out of town running a drywall trial at a manufacturing plant in Wyoming. Or maybe that’s just me.

The best part of indulging in this guilty pleasure was quite unexpected. (No, I’m not talking about my sex life – that benefit was wholly expected.) E.L. James, the author of the Fifty Shades series, actually did me a great service. See, I love writing, and I love books. I read as much as I possibly can and of course I’m inspired by my favorite authors. But something E.L. James did for me that none of my favorite authors have been able to do thus far was this: she put writing within reach. Because if this lady can sell her mediocre “Spank Lit” and make millions, there’s a market for me too.

I can’t wait to be someone’s guilty pleasure.

Salvador, the Mystery Man

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note

Oh, Salvador. Where do I even begin?

I came out to the parking lot one day after work to find this note, along with an advertisement for a massage/spa place, tucked into the door handle of my car. I hope the two were unrelated.

Salvador, the mechanical engineer, clearly had no idea what he was getting into when he left me this invitation to talk about culture, theater, sports, technology, god, or my favorite: a subject of my choosing. He is also being a bit presumptuous in thinking I am capable of doing this in a polite, respectful, and kind way. Salvador doesn’t know who he is dealing with.

Salvador says he is not from Florida, but I’m going to go out on a limb and venture that, despite his claim, Salvador does not originally hail from Pennsylvania either. Unless the Pennsylvania public school system failed him miserably, I’m guessing that Salvador is one of Florida’s many friendly Latino residents. (It also happens that there is a facility next to my workplace that provides a service of some sort to Spanish-speaking folks, although I have no idea what they actually do. They could be training them to sell encyclopedias or steal kidneys for all I know. Maybe an amiable note placed on a strangers’ vehicle is the first step and it’s all a trap.)

I might seem like a ballsy broad, and as much as I love the opportunity to discuss subjects of my choosing ad nauseam, I love my kidneys even more, so I’ll save you the suspense and confess that I did not drop Salvador a call or text. This stranger left a note on my car with his phone number on it for Christ’s sake! If I have brass balls, his are clearly titanium. Who does this? Anyone fearless enough to offer his phone number to discuss god to a stranger with a Human Rights Campaign equality sticker on her car is too brave for me to jerk around.

All things being equal, I’m not sure what bothers me most about this unsolicited invitation to socialize. It has an inherent creepiness factor, sure, but can we talk about the random word capitalization? This part I don’t understand. My Spanish leaves a lot to be desired, but capitalization rules are pretty consistent from language to language. And also? I’m happy for Salvador that he is gainfully employed as a mechanical engineer with Alcoa, but he doesn’t have to shout about it. That’s just poor manners. That being said, if I were inclined to discuss a subject of my choosing with Salvador, I think that subject would probably be “Capitalization – When and Where it is Appropriate”. I mean, if you want to start socializing with peoples, particularly peoples who read and critique things for a living, you might want to learn how to write your creepy notes with the correct grammar and punctuation.

Of course, if you do not mind.

White Girl Weave

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hair_weft_blondeAbout 10 years ago, I got myself a weave. Not extensions – a weave. The difference is subtle, I’ll admit. This was around the time that celebrities were finally coming out of the beauty closet and admitting that those luscious, flowing locks we all envied didn’t belong to them – at least not until they were bought and paid for. Hair extensions have come a long way in the last decade, but my weave was old school.

At the time, I hadn’t had long hair since high school. I tried to grow it out, but I kept getting impatient and chopping it off before it passed my shoulders. I was discussing my hair woes with a black, female coworker when she piped up with a solution. “The woman who does my hair has a white customer whose hair she does! Do you want her number? She’ll hook you up.” Aisha had a different hairstyle every month, and she always looked good. Her hairstylist had experience doing weaves on white girl hair. Sounded good to me.

I called the salon and spoke with Aisha’s stylist. I felt a little awkward. “Uh, I’m a friend of Aisha’s. I’m interested in getting a weave – sewn in but loose. She said you could do, uh, white girl hair?” If it sounds like I’m making a big fuss over the black/white issue, it’s not that I’m a flaming racist. No, really. The fact of the matter is, I have the finest, straightest, blonde hair imaginable. To a hairstylist who is used to working with thick, textured hair that braids easily and holds a style, my showing up unannounced with this hair would be like bringing my vagina to a circle jerk. I didn’t want her to have a “What the hell am I supposed to do with this?” moment.

The hairstylist, whose name I cannot remember, but may have been Cassandra, assured me that she was up to the task. She gave me my instructions for buying my hair at the nearby Bags O’ Hair shop and bringing it with me to my appointment. We were both very excited. Okay, maybe just me.

On the day of my appointment, I walked into the salon, and I’m pretty sure I heard the needle skip and scratch across the record as everybody’s head turned to look at Blondie entering the salon. (The movie Beauty Shop hadn’t come out yet, so I was breaking relatively new ground here.) After a pregnant pause, everybody resumed their business, and my (yet unattached) hair and I made our way to the chair.

Cassandra was friendly and we chatted a bit about how I wanted my hair to look. Then what would become a nearly three hour process began. For those of you not familiar with a sewn-in weave, I’ll explain. My loose hair was parted across in sections, with the first part being from ear to ear. Then Cassandra braided a tiny cornrow braid (snug to the scalp) along that part. This is where my hair first started being fussy.

(Actually, here is a video that shows exactly what I’m talking about, except that these weaves are MUCH better than what I got.)

My hair is so slippery that the braid kept falling out; it just wouldn’t hold. No problem – Cassandra improvised. She took some wavy black hair weave from some secret hair stash she had lying around, I’m hoping not from the last customer or the floor, and braided it into my hair to give it the necessary texture. Since this part wouldn’t show anyway, it didn’t matter that the color of my cornrow was now a mixture of blonde and black. (See, this is where experience comes into play.)

After all my undercover cornrows were in place, it was time for the hair to go in. (This is where things went awry, but I wouldn’t realize it until later.) I had purchased two bags of hair at Cassandra’s instruction. The hair comes in pieces called wefts; loose hair attached to a strip across the top to hold it together. The wefts are then sewn into the cornrows with a needle and thread. You heard me right. That’s why those braids need to be tight as hell so you don’t have a floppy weave that smacks people in the face when you’re headbanging at Slayer concerts or whatever we white girls are supposed to do with our newly minted long hair.

Our ebony and ivory weave party drew a little attention now and then. One of the barbers in the salon seemed to approve, I think. At first he was perplexed: “I didn’t know white girls could get weaves.” Then as the process progressed, he praised Cassandra: “You are hooking that white girl up!”

Here’s the thing: I think that Cassandra’s other sole white client was a stripper. That is the only explanation I can come up with for the ungodly amount of hair that sweet woman put into my head. I felt like I was wearing a football helmet. I later realized she had doubled up the wefts before she sewed them in, essentially putting double layers of hair at every part. I mean, I was all hair. I don’t know how I didn’t tip over.

When she was finally finished, my head ached, and I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the results. My head was the size of Rosie O’Donnell’s with long blonde hair hanging from it. After I styled it with a curling iron, it looked pretty, in a Pamela Anderson way. I had to try not to wash it too often because when I did, the hair (despite being high quality human hair, or so I was told) looked and shed like a wet Cocker Spaniel. Also, because I had approximately 17 pounds of it, the layers of hair underneath never, ever dried completely. During the short time I had “the hair” I missed a friend’s wedding because I couldn’t get my hair ready in the two hours I had allotted for myself. It was like having a kid, but I couldn’t get my hair a babysitter.

Less than two weeks after getting my new hair, I sat down in front of my husband (then boyfriend) Bryan while he was watching TV, handed him the scissors, and asked him to cut out my weave. In less than ten minutes, my $250 stripper hair was no more. Incidentally, I like to think that little experience of Bryan taking out my weave brought us closer, mostly since there was no longer an 18-inch-thick wall of anonymous Indian lady hair between us.

I learned something from this experience. There is only so much I will do for beauty. The things that are too painful are usually not worth it anyway. (Maybe someday I’ll write about my Brazilian bikini wax, but I don’t think my readers or I am ready for that yet.)