Thursday, July 11, 2013
"Write a to-do list like a pro!"
"The Art of the Circular Errand Path vs. Go Where You Damn Well Please"
"Avoiding Old People--both in lines, stores AND on the Other Side of the Counter!"
But the best part of all would be the "Penthouse Forum" type section where all Errant Errand souls convene to bitch-brag. I submitted this today myself:
Dear Errand Forum:
I have a confusing word problem for you all. If it's been 85+ degrees for the last two weeks and your husband asks you to drive out to Pete's Tire Barn near the dump, and demand they look at a tire they worked on a few weeks ago because it's leaking, but he also would like you to bang downtown to the hardware store to pick up a $200.00 dehumidifier, but your grocery errands include purchasing a shit ton of Popsicles because it's high summer and for some reason you wound up bringing your ten-year old who wants whatever the store she's at is selling (SHE ASKED FOR A FUCKING TIRE) and you also need to swing by your office to pick up a few things you left there weeks ago and don't forget to swing by Staples and get clothing labels for camp and a pack of legal pads for Flap Dude and ...uh, I don't know how to figure out this word problem, but I just have one question:
What time can I start drinking and what shall it be?
It's been scorching out for days. This we know. We threw a party recently, the bar is stocked with this. I turned down my ten-year old's pleas for lip gloss, shampoo, corn chips, cup cakes, ipod cases, panda journals, a 12-pack of sharpies, candy at the hardware store, erasers, and of course, a huge tire.
Flappette, you put the "tire" in tired for me.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Greetings from Flaplandia, a land populated by happy, often frazzled folk doing not much beyond School, Work, and never-ending School Work . We have plodded pleasantly along, the Flap tribe, punctuating the rote business of living with music lessons and performances of one kind or another. Throughout these routinized days I have most enjoyed our evening meals. Cooking is my super-power, as many of you members of the flap nation are aware.
Sure, it’s Work, and I don’t always feel like making it happen, but most of the time I enjoy the routine of listening to crazy people scream on the radio while I putter and sozzle my way to an evening meal that will make everyone happy.
And with most dinners I pull together, I often even impress myself. I make salads that any bistro would love to have on their menu. I have figured out ways to serve dinner that make my picky eater son not feel like a freak, because I can make a palatable-for-him version of whatever main dish the rest of us our eating. But all winning streaks hit snags. Insert sports cliche here about not always serving an ace, or hitting it out of the park, or getting the hole in one, ect. Combine that fact with this one:
There is no other full-time food preparer save me in the Flaphold. It's me or multiple pieces of toast.
The Flap household has become used to my more-than decent dinners, yet one night a few weeks ago, instead of being summoned to sit down to some heavenly yum that cures all ills inflicted in a work and school day, dinner was instead a really giant brown cracker posing as a pizza, and what was intended to be homemade pumpkin ravioli in browned butter sage sauce was in fact an undiscovered species of jellyfish...living in a freshwater swamp in the Florida panhandle.
One dish dry and brown, looking like something CURIOSITY should be roving over, the other bubbling in the pot as brackish as the contents of a sump pump.
More problems with this scenario: we tend to eat dinner on the late side (close to 7p.m., usually). And we kinda live at The Back of Beyond-at least when it comes to deciding to dine out at the last minute. But when I saw what we were up against (Mars rover landscape pizza, jellyfish rolling around in pond water), my first reaction was to grab the family and flee to a mid-priced chain restaurant. But again, it was late, and we live Not Close to anything except a farm with a herd of beef cows.
What to do, what to do. Cut to the chase, we survived. We found a box of frozen pancakes. They had deep permafrost and were somehow still extremely damp after microwaving them. Kids nibbled at the damp edges, maple syrup flowed freely that night, I can tell ya. I ate at the edge of the cracker pizza. Kids has tall milks. Found some cookies in the freezer, called it a day.
That meal was so awful, and I have no idea why it went so pear-shaped! I was spooked. I had no inspiration, no inclination to prepare anything the next night. That meal was so bad, I decided, the kitchen actually needed a buffer-zone meal that would not take place in the house. The next day’s errands and lessons stars aligned and I came up with this plan:
Bob takes lu to cello, Archer goes with and reads during. We take the freeway, thereby dropping me off at hannies en route to cello. Family circles back, picks up me and our foodstuffs, we head to 99, a buffer zone restaurant with decent kid’s steaks, and if
I did not hallucinate it, a salmon Caesar on the menu that I was hankering for. At least, that’s what I recalled. But could I rely on my memories of the last time I ate here? That last time was part of a single parenting jag while flapdude was out of town.
Who can recall what you ate when you also order the Bottomless Birdbath Margarita for a beverage?
I flipped through the menu, reading the Entree Salads page carefully--noticing that no salad, save the Caesar was without bacon. Family restaurant chains and their salads...they are practically apologizing for serving you anything cruciferous...one salad essentially had cookies on it, in the form of cinnamon croutons. This chimera of a salad seems to have been quietly removed, if it ever existed at all.
The server was a real pro, when I asked her if I was just on crazy pills or did I ever actually see a salmon Caesar on the menu, she told me with a straight face that I could get it, “ if I wanted it”,--gently explaining that it was “just not being featured this month” but “all the ingredients were available.”
I let the suspension of disbelief hang there, for both my dignity, and hers. I find it hard to believe every month they change out their expensive, glossy, foot long menu, but crazier shit exists in this world than a chain restaurant reprinting their menus every four weeks. So, I not only ordered it, but Flap Dude bailed on his Stuffed Clams entree (THERE IS A GOD) and gamely said, “gimme a salmon Caesar too!”
So in love with the flap dude, if we are gonna go down, may as well go together!
The meal was served, the food was eaten. The spell was broken. I came home to a clean kitchen --not just counters and floors, but clean as in there was not a whiff of the fug of culinary calamity that settled on me 24hrs. previously. And who the hell knows what we’ll do if dinner disaster strikes again-maybe next time I will prefer swamp ravioli at home to a salmon Caesar in a booth. Stay tuned.
Sunday, July 22, 2012
I’m dragging my son through a medium sized shop-up at h’ford...we are on the home stretch, in the refridge/freezer section, I’m leaning in to get butter, I pop back up from the glass door just as an old lady whizzes past me with her cart. Instead of apologizing for almost clipping me, she starts shaking her head with the “There’s No Accounting for Some Assholes These Days" look on her face. What??! I long to track her down, ask where she got a sense of self-entitlement that allowed her to non-verbally imply that I was the shit head in our little freezer aisle do-si-do. It was only the fact that this is a small town, and I have a tax-payer supported job that stopped me from unloading on her.
Everytime* I long to start a verbal tirade that would cause moms to hussle their children away while other folks stand by watching with half-expectant smiles on their faces (born of the pleasure of having their boring grocery shopping spiced up with a mild altercation and the delicious feeling of realizing “Thank heavens this isn’t me"). I resist retorting because I don’t want to see the “Local Librarian Goes Loco” headline in the Around Town section of our local rag. But if it ever happens, I hope they have fun with it, work the citation angle, perhaps, maybe opine that I was OVERDUE for some R&R based on my tirade.
So, there I am pushing my cart, that, if it was powered by my umbrage, would be flying through the walls like a runaway mule team, mentally muttering comebacks like “ I hope your day gets better, lady, so sorry I almost ruined it all for you by somehow being too close to your shopping cart.” Minutes go by, I’m still steamed, so I say to A-Man: “Ugh, I am still so mad at that old lady!”
“What did she do?” he asks.
“Well, she was just getting so upset about such a stupid, little thing!” And then my boy drops the gentle wisdom bomb on me that made the entire black mass of anger and pissiness evaporate: “But now you are getting upset about stupid little things.” Huh. So I am. I have no intention of turning into the wrinkled mass of pure uck I encountered while buying butter (I didn’t think anything bad could happen while purchasing butter) so for maybe the seventh time in my life, I actually let something go. Thanks, A-man. I owe ya one.
Now, my kids rarely attend the shop-ups that go on in the gleaming, air-conditioned splendor of the chain supermarket we favor in town. Both have their own reasons for supporting the maternal solo excursion for foodstuffs. Little Flap Dude does not want to go because he gets so bored he nearly passes out. Flappette peppers me with requests for shit I refuse to buy** every 37 seconds until I nearly pass out. So we agree, I go alone and honor requests for Popsicles and the like. Stop asking for weird shit. Unless your Flap Dude dad is shopping, there won’t be any weird shit in the house.
In general the flap tribe tends to howl pretty badly with unavoidable supermarket excursions loom into their happy existence. However, their attitude about food shopping changed when we stumbled into the exciting world of the RT. 9 Discount store. Now, the actual lay-out is way worse than our regular food store, instead of wide aisles and cool air, you get narrow aisles, creepy, buzzing fluorescents and pitifully stinky bums. And the PSBs were often waaaay too helpful. “Ya need me to hold those ten jarsatomata sauce for ya honey?” One bum hopefully asked the flappette on a typical visit.
Despite the dismal surroundings, the atmosphere quivers with delicious expectation and possibility. From all of us. Myself, I am after Devonshire Cream for .79 (normally 8 bucks for a tiny jar), gorgeous, rough-shaped sugar cubes perfect for Old Fashioneds, fancy tea that folks weren’t willing to buy at the regular price. What I’ve realized about discount stores is that they have bottom barrel dreck, absolutely, but right alongside the dreck sits super fancy shit that was not only too expensive for the typical Yankee shopper, it’s just too odd, or difficult to use. A typical reaction from me at Rt. 9 Discount store: “Yay! They have jaggery!”
I think my kids like going to Rt. 9 Discount because no matter what we may find here, my children will hear their their favorite word over and over, whatever the request. Yes, they will hear yes. Yes, I will buy the giant bag of dum-dum suckers, the bucket of sour mesquite fruit twizzlers, the weird cookies from Guam, the Pineapple Colada Cola....why ever not, all these items together total four dollars and thirty-eight cents. And not only was the store a treasure cave of crazy candy for the kids, it was a museum of odd comestibles that never failed to fascinate and educate. Hannaford Supermarket holds no such surprises. There, you find bananas. Wow. Rt. 9 Discount? Banana ramen noodles. WOW.
It was in this atmosphere of glee at knowing anything is the store was Yours, yet having no idea just what it might be (or in many cases, what is actually was), that Archer and I stumbled onto the 50% poignant 50% hilarious leftover Easter candy bunny "The Professor". His chocolate head had broken away from his neck, the yellow candy eyes were pressed against the thick cellophane window. Who knows what kind of journey he had been on that landed him at the at this dead-end for all things edible. "The Professor "had a pathetic traveling companion on the shelf to hold his chocolate paw, "Parsnip Pete". He cost $1.49. We bought him, and Parsnip Pete. Pete was going for .99 cents.
Obviously we are always in a giddy mood when we are in this store (banana ramen has that effect) but the day we found "The Professor", the high spirits were fueled by that kind of crazed emotion that comes from knowing the fun will end soon. We were, in fact, shopping at Rt. 9 for the very last time. We had heard the rumors for a few weeks. The cashier with the tattooed neck had mentioned that it was slated to close. Something about how "they weren't making enough money". Huh, selling soup for .39 a can and you can't cover yer nut, huh? Who would've thunk? So, we encountered this uhh... Egg-Headed Easter Bunny (SORRY) and couldn't just leave him there. Not with his chocolate head askew, the blue candy pupils dilated in agony. It's all for the best, anyway. What kid today would want this Palmer relic greeting them on Easter morning? How did a stuffy intellectual persona even make it as a Palmer Rabbit mold?
If I was a good journalist I'd be on the phone to Palmer HR, getting the scoop on this antiquated ideal of a chocolate Easter rabbit. I bet they've been pouring this mold since the 1950s, back when our society fell in love with mocking the cerebral types. Hey, Palmer marketing types, time to review your rabbit molds!
Now the Rt. 9 Discount store is closed down. Empty. No more size 45 pants, brown-stained, for dollar. No more diet martini mixer, no more wall of out-dated sugar-crusted breakfast cereal from supermarket chains through-out the Northeast.
I'm back to shopping alone at Hannaford. Pushing my cart while avoiding mean old ladies, missing the bums.
*happens about five times a day
**H'ford, I beg of you, stop with the beanie babies in the card aisle.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Upon opening the magazine (and make no mistake, I closely read it page by page from the first double-spread Lancome ad (typical reaction these days to face wrinkle removers: "holy shit, they tell me this gunk has LR 2412 in it! I don't know what the hell that is, but it sounds like some might-T- fine face spackle to me..I want it!)
Next page, a front of book feature "Martha's Month". I scan the page--this section never fails to make me giggle. The sub-heading reads: Gentle reminders, helpful tips, and important dates." This part of the magazine is probably the least reality-based. And this is a magazine that assumes most readers own grommet drills. I have seen "gentle reminders" to turn your fridge around and vacuum the heavy gray grease/dust shit off the coils. Suggestions to sharpen and oil lawn tools! Rotate your window plants by a quarter turn each day! De-pill your sweater with your comb if you don't have a battery-operated de-piller! Does anyone else realize that most of these "chore suggestions" are usually only performed by relatives (or estate sale companies that smarter relatives hire) in order to get your house ready to sell after you have died? Whoever edits this section is just rehashing the content from some "So Your Great Aunt Has Died"-type booklet. And I think they are howling like hyenas at the idea that some bat-shit crazy housewife in Indianna is following the calendar suggestions to the letter. Not me, I'm in on your joke MSL staffer! I can even help you make crazy suggestions. When was the last time the mag suggested some light bulb dusting? Yes, I did mean the kind of bulb you put in the ground. You wouldn't want to put a dirty bulb in the dirt, would you? Course not. Gives those fuckers a light dusting before planting, fer christsakes. I'm hired, right?
And the "suggestion" this month did not disappoint: she tells us we should all scrape out our bird feeders with a spatula then wash it out with warm soapy water. I've got smeared cup cake frosting on the back seat of my car, but what the hell, the birds deserve a shit-free floor more than my kids, right?
After I wipe the tears from laughing out of my eyes, I see IT. An amazingly consistent suggestion I have seen for years and years that has no basis in reality. I see it every year and every year I do a mental Andy Rooney-meets-Erma Bombeck type rant that I guess I am finally articulating as a Flap Rant. (there is no other kind of Flap).
A suggestion to clean out a damn bird feeder is more grounded in reality than this old chestnut. Anyone who has ever read any so-called Women's Magazine has seen it in every November or December issue. The refrains vary, but it usually goes something like this:
"Keep pantry supplies like olives, nuts, crackers well-stocked so you will be ready if guests stop by unexpectedly." The exact quote from the MSL December issue: "Refresh your supply of cocktail snacks before the holidays re in full swing. Keeping basics on hand, such as mixed nuts, assorted cheeses, olives, and champagne, means you'll be ready if friends and family stop by unexpectedly. "
I ask you, Flap Nation, WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME ANYONE STOPPED BY UNEXPECTEDLY? Honestly, if I any one's car pulled up in my drive way, the first thing that would go through my mind isn't "Oh great, so and so's here, let me break out the mixed nuts" it's more "OH SHIT which one of their kids is in the ER and which one will be rotting here all day instead of watching the Discovery Channel on a TV bolted to the ceiling in the ER waiting room?" And further more, what's with all the stress about providing nibbles to someone who just decided to roll on over? . This refrain to "be prepared" is so consistent, I find myself fascinated with its origin. Is it some kind of 1950's hold-over, where suburban families tortured one another with drop-bys and demands for bridge mix? And we know that drop-ins happen. But think of the last time it did: did anyone need food? No, there's just never gonna be a Perfect Storm-scenario where an entire family rolls up, wants to visit, and is hungry. Yet every year millions of readers get this cheerful suggestion. It's almost poignant. If this kind of world ever existed, it's long gone now. Talking it over with a friend this morning, she suggested it's always been some kind of middle class fantasy. It's fun to at least pretend that we are all not so horribly overworked that people have time to visit, and hosts have the wherewithal to lay out a tasty spread within minutes of your arrival.
This fear of not having nuts should "friends" stop by seems to be bordering on the primal. Is it in our race DNA? Do we all carry a fear in our hearts about people coming into our home needing food and there is no food to give? And why the special emphasis during November and December? Why is the publishing industry so convinced that we are more itinerant in early winter? I don't know what you would do, but here is my promise to you, Flap Nation, should any of you drop by unannounced: I will get out of my pajamas if I am in them.
Don't get me wrong, I love friends coming over. I don't even care if you DO show up unannounced. But what's with the expectation that unplanned guests deserve a handful of nuts? Are sane people dropping by truly expecting comestibles? Would anyone of us maintain a relationship with a person who 1. tended to drop by unannounced 2. expected to be waited on when they arrived?
No, we wouldn't maintain relations because those people are clueless assholes who deserve only soft, stale crackers and rancid nuts. And I do think I can provide both at any given time. So I guess I should calm down. I'm ready. C'mon over.
* Sitting down with fresh cup of coffee and a new magazine with no children in sight in the morning, with no pressing engagements pressing is one of my top five Heavenly Things. There are often minor versions of this scenario. Typically I get interrupted every three minutes by Flappette--a child who finds a parent craving solitude a threat to her existence.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
And what affords this flap---on a family vacation of all things? Strangely, I have had more alone time so far on this family vacation than I have in years. Want to know the secret? Sure you do, who doesn't like being alone? On certain family vacations, I imagine solitude would come at quite a premium. Well, I am happy to share it with you, as I just stumbled onto it myself. Here's all you have to do: Just get really, really fucking sick! Have a fever so high your husband is "just in case" googling the nearest hospital. Be so warm that the cat keeps wanting to sleep on you. Also, be unable to hold anything down, or in--food, medicine, liquids, anything ingested is a gamble, a ...crap shoot, if you will. During this illness, if my digestive system had a foley artist, it would be mining the sound scape for the same noises they need for when a giant ship is creaking and about to break apart or maybe whatever noises they use for when irresponsible teenagers are breaking into the local haunted house.
I couldn't help finding myself augmenting my favorite Blossom Dearie song during the earliest stages of this Holiday. Hence the title of this post.
But today I'm in that special zone where I'm on the mend but not quite up to anything more demanding than accompanying my kids to get ice cream. * And now everyone's gone again, because even though the Flap Family's on holiday, it's business as usual in one respect. I realized it was something like this:
Growing up, my family went to church. Very, very churchy. Even on vacations, if it was Sunday and we were on the road somewhere, they found some church and trundled us in there. ( I think it was mostly if I was coming home from Bible Camp. What if I forgot all the shit I learned at bible camp, huh?) I used to think it was kind of a rip-off, this going to church on vacation, and I could kind of see the same logic in my children's eyes when the flap dude came in this afternoon and announced that he had found a local fun run and it started in one hour. Conflict shaded the flappette's face: but ...I'm eating a popsicle and watching iCarly...on a tv...
"C'mon! shoes and socks, now! "
Several weak excuses later, they were all off to the Flap Dudes own Holy Ground--which any part of the earth making contact with a running foot.
* This was the second trip to this fine establishment. The first is all about getting the lay of the land. We had no idea a single/small would be so damn generous. When they handed the cones over I thought they were pulling something on the out of towners and served up jumbos as a default. "Oh god, I did say Small," I thought to myself as I clutched a tenner. But those were indeed a Small. We ambled away, out into some pretty intense heat. Archer lost control of his pistachio top layer, it tumbled to the sidewalk, some 60 yards from the shop. Lucy and I make suitable commiserating sounds. A local old lady was having none of it: Take it back! Tell them they didn't pack it right-put some muscle into this time! She was really outraged for the kid. She had no idea who had just lost this blob of ice cream. Do you even know what a Vermont Small looks like lady? As far as this kid was concerned, he still had enough to throw at his sister, let alone dump on the sidewalk.
Monday, May 30, 2011
This Contract is made on ___May31______________, 2011____, between
Eileen Parks, of ___4 Moons Manor______________________,
and _____Archer and Lucy Parks_______________, of __________same address_________________,
For valuable consideration, the parties agree as follows:
1. No child will utter the word "Popsicle" before 10am. Similarly, there will be no utterance of any words synonomos with popsicle including frozen confection, pop, ice treat, ice, italian or otherwise ect. ect.
There will be a daily limit on popsicles once the mid-morning phase of the day commences. To be determined by weather and supplier vendor ("Mother"). Once either child meets the limit, then popsicle availability ceases.
This agreement stands even if one or both children of 4 Moons Manor has a subsequent visitor who arrives after the limit has been exceeded.
There will be no howling protests if one sibling eats a popsicle in front of the other who has previously exceeded their daily limit.
2. No modification of this Contract will be effective
unless it is in writing and is signed by both parties. This
Contract binds and benefits both parties and any successors.
Time is of the essence of this contract. This document,
including any attachments, is the entire agreement between
the parties. This Contract is governed by the laws of the
Ad Hoc Parental Organization _______Summer_Frozen Confection Sanity Savers____________.
The parties have signed this Contract on the date specified
at the beginning of this Contract.
Eileen "Don't Ask Me for another fucking popsicle" Parks
Lucy "Can I please have a popsicle for breakfast" Parks
Archer "I deserve one more popsicle even though I've had five" Parks______________________