Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Periwinkle ...

This all started last week? Maybe the week before. I was walking behind a woman in the Skywalk. She was wearing green leggings, subtle camouflage pattern, with a grey sweatshirt -- hood up -- and an oversized green jacket. She had black booties and a worn-looking green bag that hung low. 

She'd glanced at me when I entered the same stairwell and a few steps later, just as I was plotting how I could create an adaptation of her outfit, she turned around and said four magic words:

"I love your look."

I was so thrown that all I could do was stammer "ILOVEYOURLOOK" and then find the nearest mirror so I could pretend I was a stranger looking at myself.

The next day I was walking to my car and I saw her again and again she'd knocked it out of the park with some sort of kicky jacket that made her seem like she was coming up for air in a pool of faux fur.

And she didn't say a word. She just cruised past and didn't even acknowledge me on a fashion peer level. "I'm the one with the look!," I wanted to say. "Not today, I guess, no, but yesterday! I had a look! (What do you think of this look. Today?)"

I've sort of been trotting out this Celebrity Caught by Paps at Starbucks thing. Big sweaters, leggings, boots, red lipstick, terrible hair and a slightly disoriented look. Venti vanilla latte with soy milk. That's how I got her the first time (Reminder: "I love your look") but it has failed since that first day.

Which brings us to ...  

"Periwinkle," Chuck says when I walk into the living room. He's talking about my leggings, which I'm wearing with a striped jumper and mustard cardigan. I'd purposefully grabbed three things completely unrelated and then added a scarf.

Shit's getting real.

"I've got to get that girl," I say, breezing past to the full length mirror.
I decide on a pair of slouchy grey booties, twisting and giving them every angle.
"She's like your new Greener," he says watching, baby on his hip.

Greener was a ritual. On my most questionable of costume-y of days I'd step into her office for a wardrobe critique. Other days I'd slink by on tip toes and hope she didn't notice I'd gone hard core norm core.

"Yeah, if Greener went to Harbor City," I say, referencing a charter high school filled with fashion-forward teens.
"Wait ... I Love Your Look Lady is in high school?" he asks.
"I thought I told you that," I say.
He's cackling.
"I thought she was like a woman who worked downtown," he says.
"Oh no," I say. "High school student. And she's coooool."
More cackling.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dancing in the moonlight ...

Chuck: Which Kevin Bacon?
Me: Hmm. The one where he's invisible. 
Chuck: Which one is that?
Me: You'd love it. Elizabeth Shue?
Chuck: What's it called?
Me: (Searching. Finding image. Weakening with laughter)
Chuck: Let me guess. "Dancing in the Moonlight"?
Me: (Choking, flashing image) "Hollow Man"
Chuck: If it has Elizabeth Shue and invisible Kevin Bacon I would love it. Why haven't I seen this?
Chuck: (Searching) Oh. I thought it was a rom com. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Big savings ...

I've been couponing. Just recreationally, not competitively. I've had to attach some caveats, lest I lose my mind and hire a contractor to build a special shed just for my cans of Butter Beans. For instance, I won't buy something I don't normally use or stray from my areas of brand loyalty. If I want Crest, I'm going to buy Crest even if Colgate is pretty much free, etc.

Last weekend I clipped some coups, filed them in my [DISGUSTING, ALBEIT CONVENIENT, NEIGHBORHOOD GROCERY STORE] envelope, and put them in my purse where they have burned with inactivity. Until today. I finally got my chance to earn some sweet savings. Diced tomatoes, Town House crackers, orange juice, more.

I found an open checkout lane just as I was double checking my grocery list on my grocery list app. Oh, I forgot Bread. I unloaded my cart, muttered something not quite apologetic, dragged my grocery cart with a sleeping baby to the wall of bread 10 feet away and got back just as the cashier was finishing the transaction.

"Oh. You need split top wheat bread, not seven grain, to use this coupon," she said.

I dragged the cart and sleeping baby back to bread wall, found the coup-friendly bread, and when I got back I had to squeeze past a guy who had gotten into line behind me (even though I wasn't there to be behind) and the rest unfolded without incident.

"Kind of new to the whole 'Coupon Thing,'" I said, heartily. I think I included the air quotes.
The cashier gave zero shits.

Reader, I saved $15 and had a chance to be that asshole who completed her shopping while a line built behind her. Powerful. On top of that, I can't guarantee I didn't nick the guy's heels with my aggressive maneuvering of my cart. Sometimes I look at a situation and I say: "I choose to not be meek here." That's what happened today.

I carried grocery bags, Target bags and a car seat with a sleeping baby over snowy terrain and into the house, all the while wondering if I should be doing more arm wrestling in my free time. Once inside, I began unloading the goods only to realize ...

I'D LEFT THE BREAD AT THE STORE. (With, like, six apples).

Note: Know who else doesn't care that you're "New to this whole" (air quotes) "couponing thing"? The woman at the service counter, who shows you pages and pages of dummies who have paid for groceries and then left them in the store.

Double note: I did this all while wearing Leggings as Pants.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Stay ...

You imagine that you won't be returning with this cat. This collapsible tent-shaped carrying case he's leaving in will be empty when you get back home. Or maybe you won't even stop back home. Without the cat, why bother. You could toss the carrier into the back of your car and return to work. Six months later you'll find it collapsed between toilet paper and a stroller and you'll think, "Oh yeah," frown, "Hal."

You've decided on cool aloofness. With the last cat, you cried until you wondered if you would ever stop. You vowed to never fall again for fur. You got two kittens and you planned to think of them as hired guns on permanent mouser detail. They became regular fixtures in your Instagram feed. Hal, so handsome and stately. Orin, so round and empathetic.

Hal has kidney stones. Lots. He's too nauseated to eat dry Iams, so he begs instead for treats. He'll eat canned food, but only seafood and just the gravy. At one point your out-patient procedures included an entire drug cocktail that was stirred into his gravy and shot into the vicinity of his mouth. At night you jam a sharp needle into his upper back and push fluids under his skin. The liquid collects in a ball around his front right leg and he looks lopsided as he scampers away. The doctor wants the stones to move to a resting place in his bladder. Passing them could be painful. In addition to the hydration, Hal takes a drug to make his urethra pulse and hopefully push the stones along.

He's begun pissing on the kitchen floor. He backs his butt up against the lower cupboards, just beneath the drawer that holds his treats. His tail seizes and the urine spreads slowly across the wood. Orin stands next to him, nuzzling his haunches. Hal's also done this in the bathroom and in your bed. He's done this in an undisclosed location you could smell but not see when you returned home from vacation. You've taken to calling him Piss Cat.

Cool aloofness isn't such a stretch. It also looks like annoyance and anger.


Hal used to be strong and now his shoulder bones jut from his fur, his stomach cuts a sharp U next to his rib cage. He folds his limbs into his body and sits alone on the steps. When Orin tries to spar with him, he hisses and wanders away. He seems to have a limp.

You plan to accept the doctor's inevitable prognosis. Faced with an option of extreme medical care to prolong a short painful life and a lethal injection, you will choose B. This isn't Toonses, a steady companion through so many life phases, unable to turn his body left and tipping over into the litter box. This is Piss Cat soiling unknown surfaces, surfaces your ever-more mobile daughter is desperate to put her mouth on. He's loaded into his tent-shaped carrying case; You imagine that you won't be returning home with this cat.


The clinic smells like urine-soaked fur. The receptionist confirms he's lost a pound. You pick a corner and set the carrier at your feet. Hal meows, throatily, disproving what you've just told the woman about how he seems lethargic. The ultrasound doctor is running late. The waiting room is chaos. A medium-sized dog craps on the floor.

"She has dementia," her owner tells everyone. "She walks and plops."

An employee picks up the fresh mounds with gloved hands, sprays disinfectant, mops and sets up a Slippery When Wet sign before returning to the front desk.

A brown Newfoundland lumbers through the door like a bear of a man who has just woken from a beer and nacho cheese coma. One of the receptionists squeals.

"I was just saying today that we don't see enough Newfoundlands," she says, emphasizing the "found" syllable.

The dog's owner offers no response, just checks in. The receptionist's face sags as she begins to understand the situation. The dog will also be receiving an ultrasound. His owner's face is puffed and streaked with red and she's given information on euthanasia.

You choke thinking of this poor woman with this human-like animal. His furry face and innocent eyes. The way that losing something so big would cut such a massive hole in one's life. Your chest gets tight and your nose tingles. Your cat meows at your feet and you wonder why you're more sad about a stranger's dog than you are about your own pet.

There's a woman with a baby, a small child and a dog. She leaves.
She returns with a baby, a small child and a puppy. She cradles the puppy in her arms, the car seat is balanced on a chair and the kid is sprawled out playing video games on an iPhone.

"That must be tough," a woman says. "A baby and a puppy."
"Aw, he's a good dog," she says.

The baby cries, and she swings the carrier. You want to ask to hold the baby. You think you can get her to stop crying. With even just an ounce less self-control, you would do it. She's got five daughters, she tells the receptionist.

The door opens and closes and people come and go. The big dog attracts a lot of attention, people want to pet him. None of them even suspect that he is dead dog walking. Your cat unleashes a string of meows. You wonder if you should be cuddling him instead of playing Words With Friends.

"So did you say your cat has kidney stones?" You ask the woman next to you.
They don't know, she says. The cat has been peeing everywhere.

Her story is long and complicated and includes taping the cat into a large cardboard box for the night. She chewed her way out. The woman had a dog, she tells you, but he died. He got into a box of baked goods her mother had made for Christmas.

"Death by Chocolate," she says. "Every woman's dream."

The receptionist calls you to the counter and asks you for your euthanasia preferences. He can be cremated with a pack of other animals, you say. You don't need the ashes, you say. No, you don't want to be present for the injection. You want to hand him to a professional, walk out the door and never look back.

"I've done that before," you say. "And, just, no."

And then you start crying. You remember the room in the back of the clinic. The couch covered with a sheet. The way Toonses went limp in your arms. You remember picking Hal out from a room full of whizzing fur balls. He was the second-craziest cat in the room. He --

You stop yourself. Cool aloofness. You sign your name and sit down.

"They're going to keep her overnight," Death By Chocolate tells you as she leaves the office. Now that you're sad-sad, you can't pretend to care.

Maybe you do want to be there for the injection.


Hal pees on you as you hold his legs through the ultrasound. His right kidney isn't worse; his left one still has stones. You start to get a feeling.

They aren't going to kill your cat. Not today.

The vet reminds you of Crispin Glover. He wants to check Hal's blood. As long as he isn't worse, Crispin thinks the cat can live.

But you're done with the cat. The cat's already dead in your head. You are cool. You are aloof. You were going to toss the carrier into the back seat and return to work. Now you will have to take him home.

You're a little dazed when you wander back to the lobby.

The receptionist is sitting with the Newfie's owner. The dog is at her feet.

"How'd it go," the receptionist asks. Her eyes wide. Empathetic.

"He's gotten a stay of execution," you say.
"Mine, too," the Newfie's owner says, nods at her dog.
You both shake your head. You were prepared. And now ...

Piss Cat lives.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Pop Culture Curiosity: Subway's Fritos Chicken Enchilada ...

Listen. Putting Fritos on a sandwich isn't exactly competing, science-wise, with Louis Pasteur. It's a pretty organic progression: Here's my sandwich, here are some Fritos, I like crunch, Fritos crunch, the top of this sandwich just, like, opens, this allows for easy access to my sandwich, I can put Fritos on there, etc ...

I've been putting Cool Ranch Doritos on PB&Js for about a decade, but that was born of Ruffles on Turkey who knows how long ago. Before that I was putting pickles on potato chips and for a curious spell in the late 1980s I would chew a Saltine cracker then spit the wet cracker wad onto a fresh Saltine cracker, and then eat it. Also: I invented the "Got Milk?" campaign, in my head, when I was a teenager.

But I digress.

This is not some kind of "I was listening to that band's sick beats when they were still in utero." Ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump. This is just to say that I have experience with this, and feel qualified to speak about the Chips On ... movement.

And so: Subway's Fritos Chicken Enchilada. Or Chips On a Sub.

Shredded chicken bathed in a subtly spicy enchilada sauce. Approximately six Fritos. Popped into a warmer. I added a dash of Sriracha Cream Sauce to mine. Risky move, I know. These two spicy components might have clashed.

Is it good? Hell yes. But, as is always the case in these science experiments, it has more calories (almost 600) than I want to spend on something that isn't slathered in chocolate and oozing with a custard-like filling. 

Aside: One of the employees gave me a Psst just as I was about to pay.
"You know what tastes good on that?" she asked.
I get insider treatment once in a while, probably because I never ask the sandwich artists to toast my sandwich if there is a long line. (At least not since I stopped worrying about listeria).
I cocked my head, pressed my eyebrows together: "What?"
"A container of nacho cheese," she said and made the universal sign for Gas Station Nacho Cheese Container, her fingertips touching.
"Where do I get that?" I asked.
She nodded in the direction of the convenience store next door.
I didn't do it, but I admired her palate's moxie.

Double aside: She and I recently had an awkward sitch where she put so much Sriracha on my sandwich I thought I'd need a straw to eat it. I'd made a noise, kind of a click-beep with my tongue, and she'd looked up from the spice bath to say: "I thought you liked Sriracha?"
I've tried to make things comfortable between us since that day. Let her know it's no big. One day, one sandwich. This nacho tip says we're back to our special Customer v. Sandwich Enhancer relationship. Phew.

The Fritos Chicken Enchilada is getting big billing right now with a larger-than-life sign outside of my home shop. It has the kind of "Did you hear Subway is putting Fritos on a sandwich" incredulity that is usually reserved for, say, bacon on a sundae. But this isn't at all whacky by fast food standards. Not in a world where a waffle masquerades as a taco shell (review pending) or two chicken tenders ape bread.

I like to consider myself pop culture curious, but there are whole categories of things that go by unnoticed in a way that suggests I've never seen the internet. In order to educate myself, I've set aside time and space to conduct scientific research on the foods, TV shows, songs and see-through pants that are getting chatter. This all started with a review of The McRib, which is here.