Category Archives: essay

Sass and Ass

Got your attention, didn’t I? Well, so did the name of the restaurant I visited last weekend, I mean, how can something called “Mulebone” not spark curiosity? Plesae know that I think it’s a horrible name for a restaurant, that’s my opinion.

All told, I had a great time at Mulebone. My friend Rebecca joined me, and there’s nothing better than catching up with a friend and criticizing a restaurant at the same time. Actually, Rebecca has never said anything bad about anything or anyone for as long as I have known her. She does laugh at my comments, though, so mark her down for collusion.

I take a sketchbook with me when I go to restaurants, and make pencil drawings of all the things I eat. Used to be I’d take a picture, but then everyone started taking pictures and the more upscale establishments (the ones I aspire to patronize) said that pictures weren’t allowed, so I started drawing. Not really “started” drawing, I do have an art degree. I never mention that when I’m drawing though, so as to protect the reputation of my alma mater. I don’t draw very well, you see.

Entering the restaurant, I was overwhelmed by the multicolored things to look at. They have all sorts of vintage items hanging from the walls and tossed over antique coat racks. I was mostly taken by the candles placed all around the foyer and the reception desk – real candles that cast a warm and inviting glow all around the room.  STOP. This post is beginning to sound woefully “Washingtonian.” A real Mulebone, if you know what I mean.

I’ll jazz it up with by telling you about my chat with the hostess. “Do you have a reservation?” she asked. “Yes, I do,” I said. “Jennifer Moore. I know, I know, you’ve probably heard of me.” I say this all the time. It is one of my favorite hobbies, outside of making diners nervous by sitting alone in a restaurant and drawing my food. I have a penchant for throwing hostesses off balance by suggesting I am some sort of celebrity. It delights me to see their faces go blank, that kind of non-committal blank one gets when the fear of not knowing something one should know sets in. I enjoy watching the proverbial wheels in their head whirl as they try to place me, as they begin to think maybe they have seen me on TV or have heard my name on NPR. They stammer a bit, struggling with their conscience as they try to decide if they want to shame themselves by admitting they don’t know me, or lay out a bald-faced lie by saying they do. It’s just then that I laugh, swat at their shoulder with a playful hand, and say “I’m just kidding, I’m nobody.” Does it make me mean that I consider this fun? I don’t think so. I think it’s what makes me fun. It certainly sets a mood. You might want to try it. In my experience, it guarantees the best table in the house and fawning waiters who are all too eager to bring you extras, like a whole bowlful of limes for your tonic water and a heaping plate of butter for your bread. Delightful.

Oh, that was the best part of the evening. The food sucked. The broccoli rabe was overcooked and tough, the shrimp on the grits was tough, and the smoked vanilla ice cream was tough to choke down. “Mulebone?” I should say so. Thank goodness for those free corn muffins.

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I’m Ready for My Close Up, Mr. El Paso

It’s all about the lighting.

Good lighting can make even the intolerable desirable. Take my lunch, for instance. Leftover burrito* with carrots and chips- monochromatic, tepid and mushy, should be disgusting. But scroll below** to see what two-o’clock afternoon sun in the northern hemisphere can do. See how the salsa glistens? Delicious, right? Can’t wait to dig in.

Yes, I’m going to parallel this to dating. It’s what I do.

Take that mediocre guy from accounting. As he walks down the alley of cubicles and turns the corner toward reception, you see him eclipse the morning sun as it streams through the window. In his silhouette, you see no pocket protector, no black smear where the pocket protector failed. You don’t see the worn, shiny ass of his Dockers, nor the bit of jelly on the back of his left hand. No, what you see is the dark shape of a man, sun glistening around his tall, narrow form, and your mind wanders…

Then there is that lackluster friend of your sister’s. And here he is, at the family picnic once again, another valiant effort by your sister to orchestrate a Certs encounter between the two of you. And this time, it might just work. The sun is setting, the men are wrapping up their game of touch football, and as your man draws back his arm in what will surely be another botched pass, the setting sun breaks through the clouds, and he is haloed by brilliant rays of gold, azure, and ruby red. Your mind wanders…

And, let’s jump in the time machine for a bit, back to those days of our youth. Was it not lighting, pure and simple, that drove us to make our decisions vis a vis romance? Prom, with its strobe light flashing; roller rink and its laser show; the dusky bar illuminated by nothing more than the neon glow of the Budweiser and Jose Curevo signs. Your mind wanders more than it already was wandering, what with the beer and tequila and all. Yes, it was lighting that made the good look better and the better look great. Never underestimate the lighting.

‘* Yes, I eat leftover burritos every Saturday. I have dinner at Tacqueria Pablano in Arlington every Thursday night, and leftovers are pre-planned frugality.

‘**I put the pictures at the bottom so you can read the good stuff without having to scroll down down down past dozens of glamor shots of food before you get to anything interesting. I hate when they do that.

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Breakfast: I Know Who You Are

If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and if you are what you eat, then I know everything I need to know about you by what you had for breakfast.  Now, you might find this offensive if, for example, you had a donut and mocha something gwapachino this morning. Or if your typical breakfast involves gnawing on a Power Bar as you sit in traffic.  Please know that I don’t judge. I just observe. And sometimes shake my head and sigh. But that’s not you, it’s me.

Here’s an example of what can be learned from someone’s breakfast. I’ll use myself. Every morning for the last 15 years (excepting the few days I traveled or had waffles) I have eaten the same thing for breakfast: spinach salad with diced apple, almonds, and a lemon yogurt dressing.  I sprinkle on some raw oats so it looks like breakfast, and then I eat it with a spoon so it doesn’t look like salad.

What this says about me:

  1. I cling to routine. I need safety and security
  2. I am health conscious
  3. I am visual: I like color, texture, shape
  4. I am a little off-base
  5. I care way too much about what people think of me

See?  Accurate self appraisal brought on by examination of breakfast.  Try it, Mikey. Try it, you’ll like it.

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stories are everywhere

for example, my life today:

We had a blizzard.  Mid-storm my neighbor shoveled his front walk. He left his shovel outside overnight and it was buried by morning, so he borrowed my shovel and dug out not only his walk but mine, too.  There’s a story in there.

My cat might be bulimic. She ate kibble and puked and then ate more kibble and puked again three times within 25 minutes this morning. A few more adjectives and that story is good to go.

I decided to paint my nails Carolina blue for the Super Bowl, although I  have no allegiance to either team – light blue nail polish was all I had in the closet. But now I see that the color is gray, not blue, so I’m worried what that says about me as a football fan and what my friends will think. Further, the minute I got wet polish on all ten of my nails I had to pee like a fiend. That story writes itself.

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snow ponder

Sometimes I ask myself, why am I so fearful? And of all the things to be afraid of, why these things? My three top fears are: snakes, physical pain, and something bad happening to my cat. Actually, those are pretty reasonable things. I found a fourth fear yesterday: I have a paralyzing fear of the utilities going out. This awareness was brought on by the blizzard, the one that hit the East Coast yesterday, the fodder of countless Facebook posts and the joy of terror-mongering meteorologists worldwide.

It seemed like just another snow storm, until my friend brought up the likelihood of the power going out. I hadn’t even thought of that. A quick check with the National Weather Service confirmed – there would be at least two feet of snow and winds gusting to 65 – they said there was a “high probability of whiteouts and blackouts.” White and black and out. That’s not good.

My friend also mentioned that the last time the power went out, it was out for three days. She told me that her family had already procured provisions including food, water, and a back up generator, to last a week. I have one flashlight, one blanket, one bottle of water I found in the backseat of my car, and a meager amount of cheese. My extremities were going to freeze, slowly, painfully dropping off one by one. My cat would suffer a similar fate. Short of snakes, this snowstorm threatened to be my own personal hell.

So, at 2am the morning of the blizzard, I started to chant. I’m hesitant to say ‘pray’ for fear of losing half my readers who’ll think I’m one of those praying-types. Somehow ‘chant’ seems better – y’all might think I’m weird, but it will be in a bohemian, cool kind of way.  So, this chant.  It followed the tune of the kindergarten sing-song, “Polly Put the Kettle On,” and went like this:  “Please God, keep the utilities on, please God keep the utilities on, please God keep the utilities on, that would be so nice.”

I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I’m sitting here in the warm draft of indoor gas heat, sipping hot tea from an electric kettle, the only thing that hurts is my back from shoveling snow, and my cat is sleeping contentedly on the desk beside me. In other words, they chant/prayer held it’s own. Now, if whatever animal it is that has taken up a desperate haven in my attic is not a snake, all will be well.

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nuts on the brain

squirrel 2I might be a little off since today is the first day I’ve been off the couch/out of bed since Thursday at noon (I had a cold – might have been the plague), but it sounds like there is definitely a squirrel in the attic over my studio.  Not on the roof, no, this is definitely right over my head on the other side of the particle board and plaster they call a ceiling. Now, I know that with the windchill it is 12 degrees outside, and I appreciate that the attic here might be warmer than a hole in a tree, but I am certain that if that squirrel comes crashing down or worse, sets up a condo-type situation that lasts into spring, that the property management company will deem it my fault.

But maybe I’m making too much of it.

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don’t take your inventory when you’re sick

Okay, when it’s Saturday night and  you’ve been either on the couch under the blankets or in bed under the blankets since Thursday morning, it’s no time to take inventory of your life. It is no time to take stock of your achievements, assess your contribution to mankind, or dwell on the fact that none of your friends have stopped by or called or texted to see how you’re doing even though you’ve posted on Facebook like 37 times that you’re dying.

Best not to think such deep thoughts.  If you have deep thoughts to think, ponder the sick on couchmarketability of a bucket one could hang from the ears that would result in a convenient catch-all for the effluence of the rhinovirus afflicted.  Or, if you’re the creative type, indulge in some Kleenex origami.

 

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