Friday, December 30, 2005

Christmas Stockings Are Overrated Anyway

Truthfully, I am glad the weekend - the Christmas holiday - is over. As I mentioned, I stayed behind and spent the holiday with my boyfriend's family. I still feel like an outsider to the family which means I am very soft-spoken and shy around them. It is not that they aren't friendly, because they are. And they know how to have a good time. But we have only been dating three months - and there is nothing like Christmas - or a family holiday - to make you feel like the outsider you are. Sometimes I can sufficiently participate in the grown-up conversation but all the familial holiday hubbub just made me even more introverted than usual.

The weekend started off late afternoon Christmas eve at the sister's home. We all participated in a little family Cranium competition. And the family is pretty competitive. And - I don't know - it could be because there was no drinking involved - and this is a game that involves lots of drinking because you are going to be acting and whistling and humming and spelling backwards (which only a stiff drink can accomplish). So here is where my first bout of shyness surfaced. And it made me hesitant with all my responses for fear of sounding like an Educated Idiot. This backfired because I looked even more stupid for not getting The Obvious. Example: My boyfriend had to act out the famous person on the card only through verbal communication. I was the "guesser" because frankly he is good at impersonations. And he did nail this one. He started it off with the "politician-thumb-to-bent-forefinger-point" very accurately impersonating, "I. Did not. Have. Sexual relations. With...." I paused. I hemmed and hawed. Because Bill Clinton, right? But, I don't know, what if I was wrong and there was someone I was missing. Who else could it be?! (Kobe Bryant? Jude Law? But the voice!) So I doubted myself and thought carefully before I FINALLY answered. We ended up winning the game. Somehow. But this whole game-time wasn't relaxing for me.

Eventually they started pouring the champagne and wine. I managed to come out of my shell a little more. Then we dressed for dinner, which was a Black Tie affair. Look at me with the sparkles. Needless to say, I managed to be over-dressed. Who knew? Then we did a little Pollyanna gift exchange. And kept taking turns blowing into a breathalyzer. All in all Christmas Eve was fun. Who knew a breathalyzer could be such fun? [Only in these circumstances. Do not get in the car. --The Cops] I managed to muddle my way through conversation. Then the uncle's partner started in with how I looked like Tiffani Thiessen. Which, strangely, I have heard many times. I still never see it. So there was some analyzing of the merits of this resemblance. But drinks were poured and laughter was echoing through the house. And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care.

I kind of wish I could have ended the weekend right here. On what I felt was a good note.

Because what came first: the chicken or the egg? Or, what came first: my own Self-Imposed Bad Mood or a series of events to set off my Bad Mood?

It was agreed that we would stay over at the sister's house on Christmas Eve. The Breathalyzer was not letting us go anywhere anyway. Then - according to his plan - we would partake in the present opening the next morning, brunch, and then head out. Later that evening The Boyfriend (he'll get a name in the new year) would return to the parent's house for Christmas dinner. I was going to be given a "pass" on that. He was concerned that it would be a lot of family time for me. And I agree. However, dinner is easy. I knew the hard part was going to be the Present Opening that ALL the family was going to be doing. With nothing for me to do but sit there and watch. (I know, woe is The Lonely Soul.) In any case, this was the part I wanted out of. For my own reasons.

First, the family has a lot of money so very expensive presents were being opened all around me. They spend a couple thousand dollars a piece - easily. I could tell by the Louis Vuitton, Hermes, cashmere, and diamonds that was in abundance. Who needs - who gets! - two Louis? Therefore, I felt like his family's gifts trumped mine. Sure they were more expensive - mostly clothing from London and Paris. I know that Expensive doesn't make The Better. But they were things he specifically asked for. Things he wanted. Things I couldn't get for him because I didn't/couldn't jet to London to Christmas shop for him. Is there something wrong with wanting to buy him his favorite present?

The Ferragamo wallet I got for him - which is not shabby by any means - was something he desperately needed. On like our third date he mentioned that he needed a new wallet as he had just ran his through the wash. (I made a mental note of that at the time.) And it was falling apart. And it was a tri-fold. Nobody carries tri-folds anymore. Nobody even makes them anymore. So I thought I was gold with this gift. Because what guy goes out and buys and expensive wallet for himself? But then the sister got him a wallet too (as one of many gifts). Hers happened to be brown (and not as nice - or expensive - as she pointed out) so he was ever the diplomat and said that it was great that he had a black one and a brown one and he could interchange them. Who does that? So, my present seemed cliche and insignificant now.

Then I couldn't shake the feeling of Outsider - the outside-looking-in kind of thing. To nobody's fault. But I kept thinking this is not my family. Maybe this was too soon in the relationship to be a part of all this. Silly, maybe. Because they certainly made me a small part of it. After all, I am the girlfriend and who knows if it will amount to anything more. Why should they get attached to the Idea of Me? I don't want to be that girl they talk about next Christmas. "Remember that girl from last year - who was so quiet? We love your new girlfriend!" But they kept thanking me for being a part of their Christmas. And when the mother asked me about traditions and I told her about keilbasi on Christmas Eve, she replied that had she known she would have made sure we had some. How sweet is that? And the mother got me a beautiful sterling silver champagne icer with glasses that I love. Because she knows I like The Champagne. And the sister got me some beautiful earrings. From Neimans. So this was all very thoughtful. So you see, they tried to include me. Still did I mention there were lots and lots and lots of presents. And my boyfriend is Present Opening Upper Savorer. One by one - sloooooowly. One. By. One. The Grown-Up's Present Opening Extravanganza lasted a couple of hours easily.

And then they did the whole presentation of their stockings. Which, I don't know, I felt like they could have just thrown one in for me. I could have brought mine from home. A BYOS party! Because their stockings were a bottomless pit of toys and presents - not the Story Book Life Savers from my past. The mother gave me some Mardi Gras beads with pink duckies on them - again, to make me feel included. Again, sweet. But there is everybody - my boyfriend, his mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, and uncle and his "partner" - all carefully inspecting the huge array of gifts from their stocking. Even the dogs had stockings. Bottomless stockings. Since I was without, I tried to take an interest in my boyfriend's stocking - which he is sloooowly savoring. He practically read a whole book. I'm not kidding. It wasn't a novel - so, possible. He interpreted my interest - my need to Do Something besides sit there and ooh and aahh - as impatience.

"So do you just tear through your gifts?" (And I don't!) But I shut up and shut off. all around. He didn't mean anything by it, but at this point, it just rubbed me the wrong way.

Then he says to me - twisting the knife a little deeper - although not intending to, I'm sure, "Did your parents send you your presents?"

At that point, the insenstitivity of that "slip-up" almost sent me to tears. I curtly reply, "You mean my mom?" He knows my dad is dead. He shouldn't have to walk on eggshells but it kind of hit me...not in a good way. Not for the fact that my dad is no longer here but for the simple thoughtlessness with regard to Myself - who I am and where I come from. He caught the slip-up, he apologized, but I kept thinking, "Is he just making small talk with me?" Who am I?

Typically, he is a thoughtful and sweet guy, so am I being overly-sensitive? Perhaps. It has been known to happen on occassion. But that one little comment - or the culmination of the whole morning - or the fact that I missed being part of my own family - shut me up for the rest of the day. Literally. I didn't have the heart or strength to partake in conversation. I entered my shell. Which can only be broken open with alone time. But I still had to sit through a very long brunch and preparation of the brunch. I'm afraid I barely said a word. I drank my water with bottles of bottles of champagne surrounding me, taunting me, bubbling, "Drink me." So now I think that his family - who once liked me - probably now think that I am a Bore or a Bitch. I could also be putting way too much thought into this. Again, that has been known to happen on occassion.

But it is all over. I can't dwell on how charming I woulda, coulda, shoulda been. But, I'll tell you, I was finally thankful - and felt more like myself - once I got to my own home and called my family as I spent the rest of Christmas Day alone on the couch. Until I looked over at my own lonely little stocking hanging on my fireplace.

If you can't be with your own, someone else's family is not a bad place to be.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Fire, Baby, You're To Blame

I am pyrophobic. When I was younger I was always going behind my family and turning burners off. Now I have a gas stove and although I force myself to use it - it scares me every time. I watch my water boil. (Trust me, it eventually boils.) I won't turn my oven on over 375. I will never flambe or bombe anything. I always make sure my stove/oven is turned off every time I leave the house even if I hadn't used it in 2 days. (Although that may be a whole different set of quirk of the OCD kind.) I sit a good distance from fireplaces and each time it cackles and pops, I ask, "Is it supposed to do that?" Every time. I would NEVER work a grill. In fact, I do not "hang out" by a charcoal grill when it is being fired up. I do not light matches - that is why I could never be a smoker. I try it occassionally but it gets so frustating asking people to light it for me. From their own mouth. (Its been known to work as a pickup line.) If I light a candle I never leave it lit for more than an hour so I can cut the wick down. And I never have a candle burning in any room I am not in. Even for a minute. I hate the 4th of July. And I curl up in a ball during lightning storms.

I don't know where it comes from. But I will break out in sweats. Panic. Think horrible things if I feel "threatened" by a flame.

So when someone with this - admittedly - unnatural fear witnesses a car ablaze right outside her office window while at work - we are talking flames bursting in the air. She runs through the office yelling, "Fire! Fire! Fire!" Really. She did. Luckily, the fire brigade came in about 2 minutes and cute muscley firemen hosed it down - that was nice. The fire never jumped from the car and didn't have a chance to reach the back of the car, thus, the fuel tank which - and I'm no fire professional - but potentially explosive? Right? Oh, I thought about this. That is why I was huddled in a corner in the back of the building - away from the windows.

This may or may not be embarrassing.

But I think my office is grateful because for 5 minutes I acted as our office's Virtual Fire Alarm because our own fire alarms were out to lunch. It was 1 PM. Perhaps Sizzlin Express had a special going on.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Home For The Holidays

My Christmas present to myself this year is a Travel Free Holiday. I will not be stuffing US Air, Independence, or BP/Amoco's stocking this year with my annual Holiday Travel Dollars. Because I am kicking it back DC-style. With My Guy. Who specifically requested we spend Christmas together. Well, it turns out, with him and his family. At the House That Will Be Christmas This Year. A mini-Disney-style extravaganza with 4 professionally-decorated Christmas trees (or one that will have the "homemade" ornaments that will be hidden in an upstairs landing). A Bigger-Than-Life-Size snow globe in the yard and who knows what other "lawn ornaments". A house totally re-arranged for Christmas decorations. Furniture hauled out. Ivy and red velvet brought in. A decorated house to rival any Better Homes and Gardens centerfold. A Semi-formal sit-down dinner. And, well, lots of booze. Which you need at this point really, right?

But this "gift" I've bestowed upon myself (which last year, by the way, was a tiny sapphire band from Tiffany) does not come without some mixed emotion.

When he first asked me I thought that perhaps we would have our own Christmas on, say, Christmas Eve. A deux. I was going to spend the day cooking and baking. For My Guy. Which "Come One, Come All, The Freak Show is in the Big Top. Tickets are going fast. You have to see it to believe it!" But there is an interesting turn of events that my head is now privy to after I already concocted this Special Holiday for me and him in my own head. See, his family has "events" planned. Christmas is an Event. That consists of something like a Formal Dress Sit-Down Dinner on Christmas Eve at the parent's "rental home" on the Potomac, as in River. Gift Exchange at 9 AM Christmas morning, followed by Christmas Brunch. And another Dinner Extravangza. With happenings in between. Or something like this. I have yet to get the details and I am not sure all that I am going to be part of. Frankly, I don't want to partake in all these festivities. Give me a bucket of chicken and a six-pack and I'll curl up on my couch in my treeless home. Isn't it supposed to snow?

The Christmas I am used to is quite different. First of all, Christmas - for my family - has never been in the same spot and doesn't always include all of us. That is what happens when you grow up - move away - move around - and build your own families. Christmas is wherever we feel like it, whoever feels like having it, and whoever feels like going. Sometimes we are all together and sometimes we aren't. So with that, I hate the stress of picking whose house I stay at. Both my sister and brother have been married for years now so they have their own stress of where to spend the holidays. Home or in-laws? But I am the Spinster Sister. (Well, I know they don't think that but my dad's side of the family thinks that.. Questions have been asked like: "What is wrong with her?" What's her problem?" and "Why is she so selfish?" They don't send me Christmas cards because I do not have family. To which I reply, "Single People are People too.") So since my dad's passing I have the stress of staying with my mom, staying with my sister, or staying with my brother. In this situation I would pick my mother and everyone wants mom so this just means triple travel time for me - from my home to my mom's home to my sister's home to my brother's or any other direction. So I don't think my family blames me for having an option to spend the holidays travel-free, spinster that I am.

But this decision does not come without a degree of guilt. Quite simply, I'll miss my family and what I remember as Christmas. Which is different depending on whose house it is at but there are some things that warm my heart with Christmas cheer and what I remember from various Christmas Pasts: The dress code is Pajamas. All day long. The tree is never perfect but filled with sentimental ornaments - all handmade - in the second grade. Can you say green paper Christmas tree with a picture of my brother circa 2nd grade pasted on - off center? So, a tree with character, nonetheless. The garland is in pieces - a new beautiful 25 foot long strand is never bought. So there are sections of garland tucked into the tree. There is no train under the tree but there are a million old-looking Santa Clauses parked throughout the house. Just move the one off the toilet when nature calls. And the tree is always taken down the day after - if not the night of - Christmas. My mom wanted her house back in order. But there is always a big breakfast with nothing off the No-Fattening menu. Plenty to eat all day long. We drink lots of beer. We probably fight. And we never get to open anything on Christmas Eve. THIS is Christmas. THIS is what I know. THIS is what I am going to miss this year.

I won't get to eat keilbasi on Christmas Eve. I will miss seeing my nieces' and nephew's faces when they open their presents. I will miss tasting whatever new beer my brother-in-law has discovered. I will miss my momma. I will miss her talking about my daddy - she will want to share stories - to which my brother will leave the room because his eyes will well up. I will miss trying to make a joke about that. I won't get to see my mom's wrapping job this year which gets worse and worse every year. (She is the reason gift bags were invented.) I will miss this.

Instead I will be at the House That Will Be Christmas This Year which will be oozing a different kind of Christmas cheer. I will be a visitor to this Wonderland because it is not My Family. Decorating perfection is not comfortable to me. (Eclectic, imperfection, and kitsch is more my comfort zone and one could argue - lawn ornament - kitsch. I might not argue.) Yet I am excited to spend time - to spend the holiday - with my boyfriend - family and all. And they are fun in spite of their making Christmas an event where pajamas are prohibited. They pour plenty of booze which hopefully will stifle any insecurity or shyness I have. [Hmmm...Will she excuse herself to use the bathroom then reappear in her pajamas? --Inquiring Minds] Silly, drunk people make me feel s-m-r-t. Seriously, I am enjoying getting to know them better. I am flattered that after only three months of dating it was important to him for me to be there. He says that he enjoys family-time much better with me by his side. I think I know what he means.

So in preparation for the Christmas This Year I am practicing the following line, "I love the snow globe!" so it doesn't come out like, "What the #$%&*$# is that!? Your house has been hijacked by Blow-Up Lawn Ornaments R Us."

Peace on Earth
Goodwill to Men, Women, Some Children, Airplanes, and Holiday Lawn Ornaments
Happy Holidays to You and Yours and any In Between

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Princess Can Not Peel Oranges

He likes to cook for me. I like that he likes to cook for me. I think I am a terrible cook. (Except scones! I bake yummy scones!)

"What do you want for breakfast?"

"What are our options this morning?"

"There might be ingredients to make waffles. Eggs. Potatoes?"

"Potatoes! Yes, like hashbrowns or breakfast potatoes." My eyes were now glazing over with spuds dancing their little potato dance. Potatoes!

"Your favorite."

It's true. I love potatoes. Cooked any which way but loose and the french fry being my least favorite kind of potato and I love a french fry - so, you see, I have never met a potato I didn't like. Unless it has sour cream sitting on it. Then that just ruins it for me. The Love Affair will be OVER. Desert island food? Potatoes. Desert island drink? Champagne. Desert island dessert? Gummy bears. Desert island man? James Dean. He is alive during the time I am on the desert island. You didn't say when I was going to be on this desert island or that there is any time continuum so Alive James Dean will accompany me in this fantasy. So I am going to eat fried potatoes, drink champagne, pop gummy bears, and kiss James Dean until somebody gets me off this desert island. No rush.

So he shreds the potatoes. Shreds. With a little shredder tool that I know I have but never use. I think to myself, can we not afford the extra two bucks to buy the potatoes already shredded? (Perhaps that is 2 dollars towards a shiney Christmas present that I don't REALLY want (of course) so I should let it go.) But he likes to grate his own cheese too. Which, um, the store already does it for you too! Oh really, Grocery Store, you shouldn't have! His argument - and my sister's - and my father's - is that it is "fresher this way." How much fresher can it be? I certainly can't tell the difference. But Kitchen People, AKA People Who Can Cook, know better so I should just sit still and beam, "He is shredding a fucking potato for me! Be happy girl." So while he is frying those up he is preparing the eggs, cracking them one by one in the bowl. And whisking and whisking and whisking. And? (Whisking.) When I make eggs for myself I just crack them in the pan and run a wooden spoon through them? Is that OK?

So I am sitting there useless. I offer to help many times, but he saw me try to shred the cheese one time and he heard about my whisking and I chipped one of his very expensive plates (don't ask) and I made the most disgusting fajitas you would every encounter so, The Thinking Guy, he tells me to sit there and relax. He'll do "all the work."

I know what you are thinking. Or I don't. But Version Smart Me point 0 is thinking, "Great! I am princess. This is my castle. You are my servant. Shred my potatoes, pluck the egg from the chicken coop and prepare me a feast, young lad. I will repay you in butterfly kisses in my princess chambers. Then you will go back to your servant duties. I'll ring when I need you again." But Smart Me is nowhere to be found. In fact, I'm not sure she entirely exists. Instead there is just Little Ol' Me Who Will Always Find Trouble point 00002 and a half. I flip through the owner’s manual for the vintage car that he keeps laying around the kitchen. Feeling helpless. Until he asks me if I want a smoothie too.

Holy fruity concoction jackpot! Visions of oranges and bananas dance in my head. Or a carton of orange juice. But, this is My Guy, who shreds, peels, and cores for his meal. And so I grab the orange. To help.

Except. The no cooking thing? Kind of correlates to All Things Kitchen. (Except scones! I bake yummy scones!) Peeling oranges doesn't always come easy to a kid like me. And the Peeling Orange gene most definetely left the building this morning. I should have just said from my perch on high, very princess-like, "That is ok, I do not feel like doing anything for the breakfast preparation. I would like my servant to peel this orange."

So I proceed to peel. Because who can't peel an orange, right? I think princesses do not. And that may or may not be Me. But I forget. So how does the peeling go? Well, you know how sometimes the peel comes off in nice big pieces and there is very little white left on the orange? It is the Perfect Orange Peel Job. Medals should be handed out when this kind of perfection happens. Well this wasn’t happening this morning as is usually the case with me and the kitchen and me. It was coming off in these tiny little pieces and what I ended up with were ends that were deeply embedded in that pesky orange. So in my hand was this mostly white round semblance of an orange with Jammed Ends. Princess be damned! I was going to be helpful at this here breakfast. So as I was mumbling about the Jammed Ends in my orange all crybaby (not really!) I thought of a brilliant idea. [Not so brilliant. --My Guy] I proceeded to open up the orange from the center. You know, just pick a random spot right in the center of the orange slices and pry that baby open. Orange juice was squirting everywhere. But not my eye! I was a Determined Orange Peeler that was not going to let the Jammed Ends get me down.

And so my Knight in Shining Armour comes over to save the damsel in distress, She of No Kitchen Skills, from the Land of I'll Just Bring Home the Bacon, But I Won't Fry It Up In the Pan. (Except scones! I bake yummy scones!) And this knight, with the best of intentions - I'm sure because he is nice, nice, nice - whisks the orange from my juicy, sticky, once-princess hands and says, “Wait. Is that how you open an orange?”

OK. I was prepared to have him muscle his way at that thing. To save a princess. A little he-man tug of those Damned Jammed Ends. But this kind of insulted me at this point. I may not be Chef Originale Moi. But intelligence insulted just a little here.

So I snap back in a very Lara The Brat kind of way (that mostly only my family knows), "Um. Excuse me? There is no right or wrong way to OPEN AN ORANGE! I was doing the best I could. Normally the ends come right out for me. But you buy all this food that you have to kill the goat and skin a hide for. I live in the 21st century where grocery stores do that for me!"

Well, I didn't really say all that exactly. But I did snap at him because I DO believe that there is no right or wrong way to peel a damn orange! Am I wrong on this? But I guess the whole point IS: To retain the juices because that is what will make a good smoothie. Again, I would just add more orange juice. But orange juice is different from orange juice. Apparently. One is fresher.

So I will not try to find something to do in the kitchen anymore. I wll sit on my perch, princess that I am, ordering My Guy as he muscles his way through the kitchen for me. You know, if that makes him happy.

But I have one question. Given that I can't peel an orange, should I not attempt to make Beef Bourgignone for Christmas Eve supper*? I can just follow directions, right? They don't look hard.

*I NEVER say supper but when I re-read my post I saw that I did in fact say "supper" so I left it in anyway because what does that mean? I was raised dinner-style.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Battle Of The Sexes

I love games. Board games. Card games. Trivia games. Drinking games. A combination thereof. You name it. But it is not the competitiveness aspect of games that I like. I could care less about winning. If the game is not neck and neck, I will probably give hints to help you along and I expect you to do the same. Admittedly, I sometimes suffer from Alex Trebekitis - Gatekeeper of Answers, All-Knowing Answer Card Holder. Like Epstein in Welcome Back Kotter - "Ew! Ew! Ew! Me! Me! I know this! I know this! Mr. Kott-ah! Mr. Kott-ah!" And so when you have the answer card it is power - you feel like you just might know everything in the world. See? We gave Alex Trebek too much power and he grew right out of those britches. Therefore, I hate when the Answer Keeper says, "Oh come on, you know this." And you don't so you feel like The Idiot because you don't know who was buried in Grant's tomb. I'm not Alex Trebek - I can't know everything! Help a player along.

So no, it is not about winning. Instead, what I really like about games is the social aspect. I like the friendly flexing of the mind - or liver. It's for the advancement of my intellect or tolerance - for better or for worse. Apparently. And, well, whenever I get together with my sister and brother-in-law – then the games and the drinking always transpire. Most recently, Thanksgiving. My sister doesn’t remember making the dinner. I don’t remember eating it. But I'm sure there was dinner. It was probably turkey. Just a hunch.

And so this past Saturday when My Guy asked me what I wanted to do I knew I had to let him into my life more. There was some talk about this. He is slowly dismantling that wall I put up to keep out Ghosts of Past Mistakes. My Knight. So I declared that we were having "game night." Ooooh fun!

So, kids, here is my recipe for a rip, roaring Game Night:

1. Start with a dinner of Negro Modelos and tacos that you prepare together. Most definitely do not make fajitas with some kit you buy from the Giant. Just so you know, the "chipotle" sauce tastes like lighter fluid sauce. Stick with the tacos and all will be well.

2. One roaring fire that your guy has to kindle because you are AFRAID of the fire. [People, I can not express the fear of fire enough! --Phobia Compartment in my Mind]. For a special twist, ask your guy to take off his shirt while he does this. Guys, if your girl does not have the fear of the fire, then ask her to kindle! Don't be surprised if he thinks you are joking. But don't get distracted anyway because you have a Game Night to partake in. The excitement builds...

3. One bottle of Knob Creek - or, as we determined, 3/4 will probably be enough. Feel free to substitute a liquor of your choice. Bottles of wine and/or cases of beer have been known to work in the past. But for this special Game Night we decided to class it up with the bourbon.

4. The XM "eclectic Christmas music" channel where you get to hear jems like Little Drummer Kid, about the kid with the drum that he "rum-pa-pum-pums" on all the live long day, driving his parent's crazy, and joining up with another kid with a guitar to form a garage band, or, my favorite, The 12 Drinks of Christmas which by the time the "singer" gets to the "twelfth drink" he can't remember the others. Sing along the rest of the night and into the morning. "Four black-what are those people?" "Russians." "And five Roy Robs?" all the way down to the "tree with the....bird" finale.

5. And the main incredient is a board game of your choosing. We happened to pick out a lovely one at the Target that day by the name of.....Battle of the Sexes. And, hell, invite Alex Trebek.

Have you seen this game? Better - have you played it? Gloria Steinem is disappointed. Rush Limbaugh wants to play. And John Gray is selling more books. "Mars and Venus Go Shopping!" "Mars and Venus Pick Out Paint Colors!" "Mars and Venus in the Kitchen!" Essentially, as one could surmise, the males have to answer the female cards which consist of “girly” questions that presumably only girls can answer. These fall into the general categories of sewing, cooking, and weddings. Because all girls want to fix a man, hence sewing buttons on their shirt, all girls like to cook for their man, and all girls just want to get married. And the male cards have questions for the women in the general categories of sports, fishing, and motorcycles. Because only men howl at the moon, sweat, wrestle, and get tattoos.

We had a friendly battle of sugar and spice vs. frogs, snails and puppy dog tails. Get your boxing gloves and aprons on! Because we are going to rumble and bake. Hot.

Actually the questions weren't so bad because really are we that divisive? My guy can sew a button himself, is better in the kitchen than me, and seems to have more interest in marriage than me. And I know what ball goes to what sport, can throw a football, and drink a beer. But the component of the game that one could find offensive - or amusing if you don't take it seriously - are the wild cards that you can not avoid. The wild cards will have things like, "You wash the car in your bikini, move forward 2 spaces." or "You used the wooden chair he made you into firewood, lose a turn." or for him: "You ask her to get you a beer during The Game, go back to start." or "You buy her diamonds, you win!"

Keep drinking the bourbon.

And this is kind of how the game went. Battle of the sexes? We did some total probing of Mars and Venus alright.

Me: What is the main ingredient in tequila?
Him: It's not the worm?
Me: It's liquor, honey, you know this answer.
Alex Trebek: All Knowing Card Holder? That is my job! Let me see it!
Him: Just because I drink it, doesn't mean that I know all the ingredients. And I don't really like tequilla.
Me: What!? No tequila? That is crazy. I hate when people say they don't like the tequila because of one bad experience with cheap tequila in college. We are in our 30s - buy the good stuff. Start again! Besides, my specialty is margaritas. I make the best margaritas! Now you won't drink my margaritas?
Him: Well, I wouldn't know that because you have never made them for me....
Me: Right. I'll get on that. But the game! I'm going to help you out here. Why don't you go pull the bottle and check it out. I'll let you look over the ingredient list.
Him: (running to the liquor cabinet, reading the ingredients which by the way, did not indicate the answer)
For those playing at home, the answer is....Agave. Who besides Alex Trebek knew?

Him: Oh! You know this one!
Alex Trebek: So do I! I know all the answers!
Him: What is the [something] that does [something] on a motorcycle called?
John Gray: Venus' eyes will glaze over when the parts of a car or motorcycle are uttered by a Martian. She will not remember the words she heard the next day.
Me: Hmm...Can I go out to the garage to look?
Him: What? At the ingredient list?
Me: There might be some clue. I'm sure if I just look around the bike.
Him: Honey, it's not a picturebook.

Him: What does trinitrotoluene stand for?
Me: Not a science question!
Him: Give up?
Me: Can I phone a friend?
Him: Who would you phone?
Me: You. You are the science guy.
Him: Give up?
Me: Yes.
Him: TNT
Him: I still can't believe you are afraid of fires. If you only knew the things I did building my airplane engines.
Me: Right. Don't tell me. And don't EVER show me.
Him: So you never even played with, say, sparklers as a kid?
Me: NO! I hated those too. All that fire sparkling all over your hand. Ow. And besides they can start fires you know. They are not as innocent as people presume. When my grandfather was a little boy he threw the sparkler up on the roof of the house and the roof caught fire.
Him: Well, you don't throw them.
Me: He was a kid. He was a little boy. Boys experiment. He was probably told that sparkler "can't hurt you." Therefore, my kids will NOT be allowed to play with them.
Him: Well, if this is OUR children, then yes they will. I'll teach them proper safety.
Me: Well...thennn...why don't you just let them ride the Harley to the fireworks store then?

Him: Oh you probably won't know this.
Him: What sport has facemasking as a penalty?
Me: Are you kidding?
Me: I won't know this?
Me: Are you kidding?
Me: You know I know sports don't you?
Him: Well, no, you have never shown that side of you to me.
Me: Honey, this game is teaching you so much about me.
Him: Or you have just been closed off to me and are now starting to open up.
Me: You are crushing me.
Alex Trebek: American football!
Alex Trebek: What? I thought you were giving up. I know the answer. I know all the answers. (fading out)

With that, I picked the card that would crush me. I forgot to buy beer at the store and the guys were coming over to watch the Big Game. Apparently a huge faux pas in the Battle of the Sexes. Because, girls, just so you know, the boys like to drink the beer.

The Little Woman is in the kitchen mixing up a batch of margaritas he tells me he wants to taste. Sigh. A woman's work is never done.

Friday, December 02, 2005

People To Hate: Metro Riders

This installment of People I Hate is brought to you by the HOV lane - the only time three is never a crowd - and inspired by Michael Stipe who reminds us that "...the train conducter says take a break. Driver 8 take a break..."

Today I am pointing my Hate Stick at.....Metro Riders. For the love of God, you Crazy People!

It is true. Just by virtue of being on the same over-crowded rush hour train, I am not going to like you for that short ride on the rails. It's nothing personal (I might like you again when we get off). But we are in competition for prime real estate. I mean, you can be the difference if I have a seat, if I have a pole to hold on to, or if I will be swinging from the overhead bar like a monkey. And we all want to be the first one off, the first one up the escalater, the first one at the turnstile. I will think you are the devil if you run off before me and stand on the escalater. Everybody knows the escalaters are for People Moving. Fast people moving.

Some of you are probably nice people. In fact, we may enjoy a beer together. Or a walk in the park. We could even exchange friendship bracelets. But just by being there - breathing my same air, riding the metro at the same time as me - well, you kind of suck at the moment. Unless you follow the rules and do not become any of the following Hated Riders.

There are the obvious Hated Riders who do not step off the train to let people off or the ones on the platform who barge the train before people can get off. There are the tourists who mostly have no clue - which I usually cut them some slack. But they should be banned from riding the hours of Rush Hour.

Then there are these characters:

You have your Mad Hatters. They only come out of the Rude Coccoon during the Rush Hour and when the trains are running on an abbreviated schedule, hence less trains equal more people. And I hate All Those People in All One Place. And apparently everyone else does too because it brings out the Mean. The Mad Hatters are the people who must be late for a very important date. They cram onto an already jammed train. And then choose to order the people that are already crammed in on where to stand. When they do this, this is what I hear, "There is room under the seats, people. Kindly crouch yourself down into a fetal position and stuff yourselves. Look you can fit two people under that one seat. That is how it works, people!" They are not happy unless you are pressed together - "skin on skin! hut, hut!" Like they read "Metro Rules of Order" - they know how to organize The People. Hey, I understand the hurry. I'm probably in one too. Nobody likes waiting more than 5 minutes for a train. But sometimes you need to. Deep breathing techniques help me.

Now I realize that there are the people that these Mad Hatters are yelling at that probably do deserve it. No, they DO deserve it. They are the other annoyance in an already Too Crammed train. They are the Spacesavers. These are the people who do not utilize the space efficiently and do leave empty space. Can't they see that it is a packed platform? Let the people on. Move in. Move around. Share. These people either have no clue or the world revolves around them. It can go either way with the Spacesavers. Oh, but if you are saving space for your "imaginary friend" well, then, me and the fellow travelers will give you that space. In that case.

Both of these breeds annoy each other the most and frankly, they both annoy me. Spacesaver wants to be by the door and Mad Hatter just wants to be on the train. But one time I got accused of being a Spacesaver. Me! A Mad Hatter got on board. Wait, no, he didn't "get on board." He pushed, squeezed, and shimmied his way onto that train and then chose to lecture me on where to stand because what he saw was a bunch of empty air between me and the million other people surrounding me. You know, we did not have skin-on-skin contact. But what Mad Hatter didn't see....was the seeing eye dog laying on the floor below my feet. It's like I was playing a game of Twister, contorting my body to fit the available space which was not in direct relation to the foot space - my right arm was on the silver pole behind me, left foot at dog's behind in front of me, right foot three feet to the left, left arm - well, I wasn't sure where my left arm was at that moment. It may have been on the that blue circle in the very corner under Joe's knee. I don't know. Needless to say, everybody in the vicinity put Mad Hatter in his place. "Atleast the girl is Twister-proficient!" and "Dogs are people too!"

But my least favorite Metro Commuters are the Sack Of Potatoes. There's one on every car. The train stops at a station. People get off. People get on. Sack of Potatoes sit contently in their seats and watch all the poor commuter peasants cramming into the train fighting for valuable pole space or that one seat that is vacant. That is their right. First come, first serve. Except! They wait until the train takes off and just as it does, they get up. First, don't they know that once the train moves - the people standing have to maintain their plant? When the train is in motion - it is crucial. Oh, I have tested this. AND, if you knew you were getting off at the next stop and you NEED to get in your Ready Set position, then get up when the train is in a station turning over more Hated Riders. It's win-win for everybody that way, Sack of Potatoes. I will not move for these people. Not even to get the seat which is second - at this point - to winning The Annoying Award.

Then, it is no wonder that Sack of Potatoes are also sometimes part of another group of Hated Rider. The Pushpins. These are the people who make their way to the doors while the train is moving all the while saying "excuse me, excuse me" all the way. Gunning for the doors. People, where are we going to move? I am already hanging from this pole like a chimpanzee, if I jump down now then I will lose my balance and fall. Besides I may be getting off too. In which case, you will get off behind me. It is the logical flow of the train - the people in front get off first to make it easier for the people in the back to follow suit. When they come near with their "excuse mes" I just put my fingers in my ear and "la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you!"

Finally, there is a group of people I like to call the Pole Dancers. Sounds....entertaining? Hardly. Pole Dancers are the people who lean against the pole with all their body like it is their business. Five people could hold onto that pole and not each other unless a Pole Dancer hugs it. Why don't you rub up and down it? Because I didn't get The Show. Or Pole Dancers can be the people who share the pole but whose hand keeps slipping....onto yours. Is it not obvious? Grab the pole and keep your grip people. It doesn't take much concentration. But usually these people are holding a newspaper with their other hand and ambidexterity does not come easy. So either way they are doing the "pole dance."

So Metro Commuters annoy me. I am sure you have encountered one of these or even a new breed before? If so, alert me so I can properly hate them too.