Category Archives: the 80’s

Cold Chicken, Hot Bun, Not What I Expected.

Why do we assume anything that includes the words “Hot Bun” is going to be about sex? At what point did radiant heat and flour/water/yeast become so licentious? I certainly don’t know, and I didn’t mean it that way.

Today’s lunch didn’t turn out as expected. I made a sandwich of cold chicken, served on a hot bun (stop giggling). Cold chicken is sublime, completely different from warm chicken, and a mini-baguette, hot and crisp, is much better than tepid white bread. Add mayonnaise and a leaf of romaine you’ve got the makings for a tasty and satisfying lunch. But it didn’t turn out that way. The crispy bread shattered upon contact, and the chicken fell out and hit my plate with a mildly wet smack. I got mayonnaise all over my face. It occurs to me that the last sentence, paired with ‘hot buns’, has the more lascivious of you rolling in the aisles. Notice that I used Licentious, and Lascivious to describe you people, as if SAT words could ameliorate your libidinous minds.

So, appearances were deceiving. I seem to have many stories about the deceit of appearances, and I doubt I’m the only one who has fallen deeply in love with someone who turned out to be as hollow as, well, that flaky bit of golden brown bread I tried to enjoy for lunch. I also seem to have a lot of stories about falling and failing in love – but hey, I’m an artiste, we’re known for the angst of our amour and besides, never since Romeo and Juliet has a tragic love story failed to entertain.

His name was Cameron. Six foot three in his bare feet, muscular, quiet in that stoic, brooding way that I can’t resist. There was a frayed denim jacket he wore everywhere. And, he drove a gold Trans Am, white firebird emblazoned across its hood. Everything about him was manly.

Now, you don’t know this, but I have sat here at my desk for an hour and have used over 700 words to explain, in a languorous and extremely boring way, how I finally ended up in that gold Trans Am with Cameron. But life is short; at least I’m sure your attention span is, so I’ll get to it. I strapped myself into that passenger seat, put my hands on the dashboard, and braced myself for the ride I’d been waiting for. I listened for those six cylinders to rev, for the squeal of rubber on pavement and the snug knock of the gearshift as Cameron slammed that thing into second for a mindboggling lurch of a jump start. It was not what I expected. Instead, Cameron carefully set his foot upon the clutch, gently turned the key, and cautiously looked both ways before he eased into the street. There was no ‘foot to the floor’ as I’d dreamed of; there was just a gingerly tap of the gas pedal. I’d thought we were going to race around the hairpin turns of the Asheville mountains, but no, Cameron chose to use the turn signal every time we went around a bend. My grandmother channels Mario Andretti compared to this guy. I have to say ‘guy’ now. I can’t say ‘man’. There was nothing manly about Cameron, he was about as lame as warm chicken on a cold bun.

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Filed under autobigraphy, conflict, dating, food, humor, irony, memoir, relationships, sarcasm, single, the 80's, women

Hang Ups

It’s 1981, you’re 12 years old.

You wait for your parents to leave, you know they won’t approve of what you’re about to do. You watch until the taillights of the family Pinto disappear around the curve of your cul-de-sac, and then walk to the kitchen.

Leaning against the door of the pantry, you reach over and lift the receiver from the phone on the wall. You inhale deeply and exhale slowly as you dial his number, your index finger moving in seven separate, arduous arcs.

One ringy dingy. Two ringy dingy. Three. The butterflies in your stomach take flight and fill your throat with a sharp tickle of panicky giggles. Four rings. “Hello?” answers the voice of the cutest boy in school. You slam your hand on the hook, ending the call, and quickly hang up.

You can do this all night. He’ll never know it was you.

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Dating is Like a Chocolate Pecan Cupcake

Yesterday I wanted Pecan Pie. I also wanted Chocolate Cupcakes. So, I decided to put the two together. Seeking guidance, I turned to the internet, where I found dozens of recipes, all written by witty ladies and teeming with glamorous photos of food.

My photo doesn’t look like that. Mine looks like this:  20150809_115211-1

Messy. Complicated. A work in progress.

And so, I bring you: Dating Is Like A Chocolate Pecan Cupcake.

The photo shows you my first tentative efforts. I’ve got the ingredients, I’m ready to go. I’ve told all my friends I’m going to pursue this, so I’m pretty much committed.

The internet ladies didn’t mention that there would be a cat in the kitchen, the one that wove itself between and around my legs while I tried to cook. The cat represents the things about the dating relationship that were cute at the beginning, but soon become a major annoyance, like his snoring or the way I sing Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” all day on Sunday when I do, well, the laundry.

Let’s say you get past the cat (although it never leaves the kitchen), and you make it to the point where you’ve got all the ingredients mixed together, the batter in the little fluted papers, and the pan in the oven. You look on the counter and there you see the pecans, which were supposed to go in the batter, and the Hershey’s Cocoa, which wasn’t even in the recipe. These are the little things you didn’t expect, like his friends being complete assholes or your insisting that he go with you to the “80’s Retro Dance Party” on the third Saturday of every month.

You try to recoup by pulling the pan out of the oven and sprinkling the pecans on top of the half baked cupcakes. The pecans are the guy in the accounting department who you keep flirting with, just in case your new relationship crashes and burns and you need a last minute date to your cousin Yvonne’s wedding next April. Speaking of crashing and burning, the pecans begin to smoke. No need to explain this, you all know the beginning of the end when you smell it.

But you remain hopeful, and leave the cupcakes in that 350-degree heat for another little while.

When you finally admit that they’re done, your friends look at your ruined cupcakes and put on fake smiles. “It’s not that bad,” they say. “You can try again another time, maybe use a new recipe.” That’s what all happily married women with 2.5 beautiful children say to their hopelessly single friends.

And now you’re stuck with the dishes. You’ve used every pot and pan you own to make this mess. You fill the sink and squirt in the detergent, you pull on the worn yellow gloves. You can hear your friends telling you that it won’t take as long as you think it will, that you’ll feel so much better when it’s done. You vow that next time you’ll do things differently, you’ll read the recipe all the way through, you’ll, you’ll – oh screw it, there is no positive spin to this. Everyone hates to do the dishes.

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Fro Youth

(509 words)

29 degrees outside, pelting sleet, but what I needed was frozen yogurt.

So, I left the motor running when I jumped out of the car and crossed the parking lot, whispering profanities as I found myself torn between moving slowly while being sliced by silvers of ice, or dashing across the tundra with the risk of falling and splitting my chin on the pavement.

“Welcome to Zinga!” the little girl shouted from behind the counter. I recently discovered that, in my estimation, any female under 25 was a “little girl.” This one had curly black hair and a smile that was possibly reflective of her true personality, or the result of having had one too many cups of coffee, or both.

“I love frozen yogurt,” she said. “And it’s not just because I work here. Can I help you?”

“No thanks, I’ve been here before,” I said. I picked up a “medium” tub and walked over to the vanilla machine, hoping that she’d recognize my familiarity with the process and leave me alone.

“Seriously, it’s not because I work here. I really love frozen yogurt. I always have the same thing, every single time. I have Triple Chocolate and I put on some raspberries and then I drown it all in whipped cream. That’s what I always do. Except last week when I had Mocha Mist and did the Oreo Dirt with hot fudge and rainbow sprinkles but I didn’t get whipped cream, which was too bad because that’s when I found out how much really I like whipped cream. Whipped cream is the bomb, isn’t it?”

I looked down and found myself in the act of squirting whipped cream on my sundae, so I couldn’t keep ignoring her. “Yes,” I said. “Whipped cream is very good.” I put down the can and waited for her to start talking again. She took a deep breath, clearly revving up for another raucous soliloquy, and during the pause I heard Rick Springfield on the Musak. “Rick Springfield,” I said. “Wow.” I picked up a pair of tongs, plucked a red cherry from its basin of goo, and plopped it on top of my sundae. “I haven’t heard this one in a while.” That was a lie. I’d heard the song the day before yesterday; it was in one of my playlists, the one I listened to every morning on my way to work.

“Yeah, right?” the girl said. “What’s this song called? Oh, yeah, “Jessie’s Girl.” I guess he was like a one-hit-wonder?”

“Actually, he had a couple of songs, and he was a soap star…,” I said.

“Oh, yeah, sure,” she said. “I remember now. You know what other song I like? I like ‘Dancing Queen’. That’s one of my favorite old songs.”

I set my cup on the scale. “Now, that one is really old,” I said. “My Mom used to listen to that one.”

“They’re all old to me,” she said.

I handed the little girl a five, told her to keep the change, and raced out to my car.

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Hall and R-Oates-ies

I hate sitting outside when it’s hot, but it’s better than sitting inside where it’s freezing. Freezing in summer, blistering in winter, that’s the thermostat setting in my office. So, I always eat here, outside at a table near Quizno’s. At least the temperature matches the season out here. No way am I eating at my desk. Lunch is supposed to be a break, not an opportunity to type formulas in a spreadsheet with one hand while holding a sandwich in the other.

I wish I had a sandwich today. Today I’ve got last night’s creole salmon, which tastes good in my mouth but smells horrible sitting there in the Tupperware. Note to self: no fish in the lunchbox.

I hear chanting, so I look up. It’s a little girl, probably four years old, skipping across the parking lot and reciting, “Baby come back, baby come back, baby come back.” Skip, “baby come back.” Skip skip, “baby come back.” As she ducks between the parked cars, I catch flashes of a frilly pink tutu and shiny black and white saddle shoes. She makes it to the sidewalk and ducks into Quizno’s. Her mother comes jogging behind her, and as she opens the door to the sandwich shop I hear her daughter and she sing in harmony, “Baby come back.”

I think of Nancy. When we were teenagers living in St. Louis, Nancy and I rocked out to Hall and Oates. We had all their records. We saw them when they came to St. Louis, and when they played Chicago, too. We even drove out to Lexington to catch the last stop on their Midwest tour. We were roadies. “The Hall and R-Oates-ies,” we called ourselves. So of course I had to text Nancy right away.

I pick up my phone and hit the “Kakao” icon. Nancy lives in Vietnam, teaching English to Vietnamese law students; Kakao is the international texting app we use to keep in touch. I notice that the last conversation we had was on May 16, the day Ian died. Today was August 16. It was six months to the day. Today was the three-month anniversary of Nancy’s boyfriend’s death.

“Sweetie,” I type. “I know this is a damn hard day for you, so I’m sharing something fun: I just saw a little girl in a pink tutu and shiny saddle shoes skipping across the parking lot and singing “Baby come back.”

I read over the text and draw in a sharp breath, then I hit the “Delete” button seventeen times. “!kcab emoc ybaB”. I type in “Maneater!” instead.  It’s a lie, but the truth would be cruel.

The little girl and her mother come out of Quizno’s, holding sodas and bags of sandwiches. The girl isn’t wearing a tutu with saddle shoes at all, it’s just a short pink dress with black and white sneakers that light up as she walks. I look down at my text. The whole thing is a lie, but I hit “Send” anyway.

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Morrissey Knew

“And if a ten ton truck crashes into us, to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die.
And if a double decker bus kills the both of us, to die by your side, well, the pleasure, the privilege is mine.”

At the close of our session last night, I told my therapist that this was the best song ever written.
She told me that at our next session we’d have to “talk about that.”

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