Monday, December 28, 2009

Episode 88: How to Make a New Year's Resolution

Yeah, so New Years' Resolutions. I never make them, and I'm always surprised at the ones people do make. "I'm going to practice my figure skating more!" You figure skate? Uh, okay, hi dork. "I'm going to perform a good deed for the needy every day." Okay, well, here's my routing number; please deposit fifty dollars into my account every day and wa-la! Mission accomplished!

Anyway, last year, my mother decided that her resolution was to not sit in the back seat of cars. Shotgun only. Which I thought was a funny resolution because it's incredibly selfish. Needless to say, it was a resolution I could get behind, like, say, "From now on, I will only let other people pick up the check." So the car thing: the four family members would walk to the car and Mom would stand next to the front passenger door and studiously avoid making eye contact with anyone until the door locks shot up and then she'd whisk herself into the seat, slam the door and fasten the safety belt in one quick series of movements and then she'd shout "we're off!"

She made it to April before there was a conflict. Because in April, my dad had a heart attack. He was in the early stage of it when my sister and I got there so we decided to just haul him the two miles to the hospital rather than wait for the ambulance and we all rushed out of the house and ran to the car and riiiight as we got there, I wondered: "will she do it? Will she refuse to give up the seat?" There was a flurry of activity as I threw some boxes from the back seat into the way-back and then when I looked up, everyone was in place, waiting for the other doors to open.

Sooo, dear reader, what did she do? Did she give up ownership of her seat to her dearly beloved husband without thinking about it? Or did she take one look at my father, who was not unconscious or dying and in fact just seemed a little more irritating than usual, and slide into the front seat, her newly self-declared rightful place?

I'll leave you to decide. But careful with the comments...she reads this!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Episode 87: How to Decorate a Christmas Tree

Okay so here we are again at Christmas and every year, starting in like March, the arguments start up again. No, not the ones about Obama....those started in late January. No, what I mean is the old "where are we putting the Christmas tree this year" one. We've had it in so many rooms that we forget about it sometimes and one year we opened a door in mid-April and saw a fully decorated Christmas tree still standing there.

We used to be live-tree people and then all of a sudden we weren't. I think it was the year I got it into my head that we were going to take the tree to some magical wood chipper and get it back as mulch and so we went off to do that and when I sold my car a few years later, the guy asked "what the hell size air freshener do you have in here" that was the last year of the live tree. And when we go fake, we go fake. Big white plastic tree with lights attached to the branches. It only takes eleven hours to put all the limbs on it and then after a bottle or two of wine, we start decorating it. My favorite ornament is the golden peanut and when I find it in the box, I hang it up and that is the official signal that I am now done with tree-decorating. So I go pour some more wine and watch my sister do all the rest while I do color commentary and in general criticize her ornament placement as bourgeois.

Anyway, have a happy holiday and remember that all that really matters about your Christmas tree is that it's never going to be as pretty as mine.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Episode 86: How to Get Something for Nothing

Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a land far away - well, Virginia, anyway - my parents discovered that they were going to move to back to our ancestral homeland, North Carolina. Well, one of them discovered it anyway - Mom. Dad had orchestrated the whole thing! I think the exact announcement was "la la la, get off your ass and pack everything up, lady! We're moving!" Yes, I'm pretty sure that is an exact quotation but then again, I'm no stenographer.

Anyway, in their Virginia dining room, they had this cheap-ass polyester Oriental rug bought from whatever the equivalent of Target was at the time. It was a burnt orange and brown sort of thing with frizzy fringe. Not meant to be a family heirloom of any kind, just intended to be a bit of warmth on the feet. And now I digress because the rug was on a slate floor in the dining room...the very slate floor where people were murdered during a killing spree where some malfeasants busted in the sliding glass door and killed the previous occupants while their children cowered in a closet and then everything ended in a hail of gunfire further up the mountain and I discovered all this while watching the year-end wrap-up on the local news but, oh, maybe I should save the rest of that story for another episode, like maybe How to Get Your Parents to Tell You They Bought the Polanski/Tate House For a Song.

What was I saying? OH YEAH, the rug. So in anticipation of the move, Mom sent the rug off to a rug cleaner, who came and picked it up and then right before the move returned it all rolled up in brown paper. Mom had it loaded onto the Bekins van and then upon arrival in North Carolina, unloaded and placed in the dining room.

The North Carolina house required a lot of work so it took a few months and my good Christian grandmother Margie came down to help out occasionally. So it was finally time to deal with the dining room and Mom and Margie unwrapped and unrolled not a brown and orange polyester rug from a discount warehouse, but....a gorgeous black and lavender wool rug that was so handmade it practically had the fingernails of Persian children embedded in it. There was an awkward silence. Obviously the rug cleaners back in Virginia had accidentally switched the rugs all those months ago. Mom panicked. "What do I do? This is someone else's family heirloom! OHMYGOD." And then Grandma Margie settled deep into a bargello-covered wingback chair, took a long, deep toke of her Winston, exhaled, and said "I don't see the problem. Keep the rug."

And it's a Strong Family heirloom to this day.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Episode 85: How to Act Like an Adult

Okay okay, so a month in between posts. That's because I've been busy trying to officially Get. A. Life. Still no luck on that front but I did have a funny conversation recently with my world-famous friend Melanie! I saw her at a party and it was a very Nashville kind of party - you know, "come over to my house and listen to my friends sing!" And frankly, I've lived here twenty years and have tried every single day to avoid going to this very sort of thing but it was actually fun and good-hearted and the singers were really crazy-talented and there were, well, sausage balls and crockpot Swedish meatballs.

ANYWAY, there was funny Melanie, all bosomy and pleated in the dress department. And we were talking about how you go from being a not-adult to being an adult. And I was saying blah blah blah about how I think it's when you wake up and don't want IKEA furniture anymore, that what you really want is a four poster bed that looks like it was slept in by Andrew Jackson. And another friend chirped that for her it was not eating peanut butter crackers for dinner, that there were other things out there like seitan and tofu. But then Melanie chimed in: "I used to have this thing for hipster guys in tennis shoes. I would always fall for them. But then the other day I saw the handsomest guy and he was getting in his fancy car and I looked down and there they were: lace-up Converse. And I almost wanted to shout: would a nice penny loafer kill a man? And that's when I knew I was an adult."

Which just about sums it up, if you ask me.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Episode 84: How to Make a Martini

Okay, look, jackrabbits. I don't care how you like your martini. I don't care if you graduated from Mr. Boston's Bartending School for People Who Couldn't Get Real Jobs. I don't care how your father did it. I don't care how Don Draper on Mad Men does it. If there's no vermouth in the thing, it ain't a martini. The end, wrap it up with a bow and smoke it. Don't give me that "I just glance at the vermouth bottle." First off, it isn't really funny, even when you do that smarmy wink thing. Second off, a martini without vermouth in it isn't a cocktail at all. It's just a very cold shot of gin. Which as we all know is what hoboes drink. Vermouth makes you James Bond; lack of vermouth makes you Jack Nicholson in Ironweed. And if you have just recently enjoyed a "chocotini," congratulations on your upcoming diabetic coma. Too bad you're gonna die without having had a real martini. And don't even get me started on this vodka martini nonsense sweeping the nation one Applebee's at a time. Gah, I need a drink.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Episode 83: How to Go Camping With Small Children

So last week I went on an awesome camping trip to Mammoth Cave with my friend Meg and her Chicago friends Judy and Rob and their hilarious, very citified twin children. I think the kids are six, but I could have that slightly wrong. It was the kids' first camping trip and that was verrrry interesting. Lots of questions. Why are we cooking outside? Why are we sleeping in a tent? Why is this tree here? When is it my turn to fall out of the hammock? Is the chicken ready? Is the bacon ready? Where are you going? Where have you been? Can I go sit in the car and play my DVD player? Would you like me to show you the remote for the DVD player? Again, when is it my turn to fall out of the hammock? Would you like to hear me sing a song about the fifty states in alphabetical order that rhymes? I always like to name the campsite to reflect the tone and tenor of the trip - like two weeks ago it was Camp Dogbite because I got bit by a dog - and it becamee quite obvious quite quickly that the only name for this campsite was going to be Camp Ohmigod Please Quit Singing That Song.

ANYWAY. So I had it in the back of my mind to tell a ghost story at the campfire one night and the only ghost story I know is "The Monkey's Paw," which I only know because it's the only ghost story my father told when I was growing up and he basically tells it wrong because when the lady opens the door at the end, Dad just screams real loudly and scares the ever-loving-beejezus out of you and you never do find out what happened because you have to go change out of your pee-soaked clothes because he is a really scary screamer. So the day before the night, I sort of observed the kids to see if they were ghost-story-ready and I eventually determined that they were not. But the boy kid decided he wanted to tell a ghost story so he made us all be really really quiet and he started by telling us that this was going to be a very terrifying tale and we should prepare ourselves to be scared witless. Then he lit the flashlight and held it under his chin to make his scary face and very seriously intoned: This is The Tale of the Invisible Latté... and I laughed so hard I really did almost pee in my pants.

Needless to say, none of us slept a wink.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Episode 82: How to Be a Good Samaritan

Okay y'alls, so if you were to hire a private detective to ask around about me, your Psychopediast, I think you'd find that almost anyone queried would immediately respond "oh, he's such a giver."

And it's true! I give people headaches, I give people hard times, I give people what for... ha ha, I'll be here all week! Stay for the veal!

No, I am not famous for my generosity. I mean, I am friendly and I never say bad things about people to their faces and I will go out of my way to run an errand to Target for you if I am going to a Target, so I don't really feel too badly that I haven't adopted a Cameroonian or rowed around in circles in a rowboat in New Orleans with Sean Penn.

But recently, my bountiful cornucopia of generosity was tested! I went on a camping trip with my friend Sarah. We drove for a few hours and then set up eight million pieces of camping equipment, one of which was an air mattress. Now, I have an air pump, so that took about eight seconds. And we laughed and said "oh, ha ha ha, don't you feel sorry for people who blow these things up with their lungs?" which apparently some poor people still do even though if you go to Target (or I can go for you!) you can get a pump for fifteen dollars and avoid the fainting black spots and possible date rape altogether.

ANYWAY. About an hour later, we went to get ice. On the way back, we saw a person at a campsite blowing up his air mattress with his mouth. I figured this was a sign from lower-case-g god so I went back to our site and got my pump and then rolled back down the hill, where I jumped out of the car and offered him the use of my fancy air blower. He took me up on it - we pumped up the air mattress in like five seconds and then when I turned to go, a dog came out of nowhere (actually, from under the picnic table, where he had been sleeping) and bit me in the leg! A deep bite; torn skin! Black blood! Texas tea! Then the guy - Dutch, long hair, patchouli-smelling - said "Thanks!" without mentioning the river of blood that was forever staining the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area along with its watershed and I limped back to my car, drove back to the campsite, drank fifteen glasses of wine and then fell asleep and vowed to never help another living soul as long as I was drawing breath.

That was six days ago and so far I am not frothing at the mouth or afraid of water and not one person has called me Old Yeller, so I guess I'm safe. Unless I have goddamned rabies, and then one of you better fucking help me and give me a kidney or a pancreas or WHATEVER it is that cures rabies. Or you can drive your own sad self to Target after I die.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Episode 81: How to Make a Hot Brown

Seriously, it's not dirty - it's a sandwich. I meant to post this a couple of weeks ago during Kentucky Derby week, but I didn't want to post it so close to the fried bologna one because you might get the wrong idea about my eating habits. Which are above reproach, FYI.

Hot browns are like my third favorite food. Let's talk about that, the difference between food and ingredients. For example, tomatoes. Tomatoes are not food. Tomatoes are ingredients. If you slice them up and put them on a lovely BLT, well, then now you have some food. The same with eggs. An egg alone is just a dumb old ingredient that came out of a chicken. But if you whip it up into a chocolate souffle, well ta-da! Food!

Actually, I don't really know if hot browns are my number three food because I can't think what the two above it might be. But I hesitate to say hot browns are number one because I might think of something I like better later.

Anyway, the hot brown. Do they have them up north? They originated in Louisville and Kentucky was a Yankee state but people forget that all the time and I think of the hot brown as pretty southern. The only place you can get them here are those little old lady tearooms where they have Victorian needlepointed chairs and lacy window curtains and they're only open from like 11 until 1. So getting one these days isn't very easy. But it's worth it!

You know, if you type the words "hot brown" enough, it does start to sound a little dirty, like something my father might say. "I'm going to the bathroom to make a hot brown." I guess that's why they're #3. Because if I made them #1 or #2, it would seem even dirtier and I could probably never eat one again.

Episode 80: How to Stay On My Good Side

Y'know, I think the single worst thing about the onslaught of the internet* is this idea that everybody gets to say whatever they want and have a valid opinion. I assure you: you have no right whatsoever to an opinion, especially if I think it's dumb. I have one friend who insists that that's wrong - that everyone's opinion is valid - which as far as I'm concerned just proves my point. Hi, Carol!

I have some other friends who own a new restaurant and they're suffering through an onslaught of suspiciously-organized-sounding negative web reviews and comments by people with names like "FauxFoie" and "Pork-ePig" and oh, whatever - don't get me started on Foodie people who think they're clever - you get the picture. The reviews always start "my husband and I have dined in the FINEST RESTAURANTS in the world..." which means they haven't been outside of East Twatsqueal in fifty years but, you know, they watch "Top Chef." Gah, these people. Excellent choke-on-their-own-vomit candidates, all of them.

They had one lady call out of the blue after the chef appeared on one of those loopy noontime television shows (they're always called "Hey There, Whereverville!") wearing a baseball cap instead of a chef's toque. She ranted and raved and cussed for like an hour about that, how it was an an insult to the word "chef" for him to not wear a chef's toque. They responded that she was an insult to the word "lady" and then they went and got all likkered up on Makers' Mark. Ha ha, so there are some opinions I can get behind. But if you want to stay on my good side, you better be pret-ty careful.

*Don't say "internets" or "webernet" or "intertubes" or any of those other dumb hipster things. You know it's called the "internet," just like I know you're a complete "idiot." Oh, and stop using unnecessary quotation marks. I promise the next one won't be so rant-y.

Episode 79: How to Avoid Annoying Hipsters

Okay, first off y'all, if you are a self-proclaimed hipster and are reading this - and let's face it, you aren't because I am neither Charles Bukowski nor Chuck Palahniuk - you can rest assured that I know whereof and whatof I speak. For fifteen years, I was the hipsterest hipster who ever did live and I can tell you one thing: I was one hundred percent insufferable. So just quit spluttering your pursed be-French-cigaretted lips and either read on and learn or just head on over to the vegan green tea restaurant you like so much. Meanwhile, I'll be sitting here in my recliner, typing away with my Cheeto-covered fingers waiting for tonight's IDOL! on FOX! results.

The tiny hamlet in which I reside used to have one relatively decent record store. Yes, record store. I know: I'm old, right? Anyway, every Tuesday I would brush my asymmetrical hairdo with my patchouli fingers and put on my thrift store togs and black Doc Martens and trudge up in the late morning sunlight to the record store, where I would head straight to the "Import Section." You know the section I mean - this is the section where you can get a particular record two weeks before everyone else for three times the price - but you were the first one in your ten-roommate apartment with the awesome new Siouxsie and the Banshees twelve-inch single and by the time everyone else could get it, you were rolling your eyes and yawning with boredom, having moved on to some other new obscure thing put out by 4AD.

ANYWAY. One time I was in there and the cashier was going on and on about some new record she had just heard and about how fabulous it was she could get me an advance copy and ohgodIjusthadtogetitrightthen because this was a cashier I secretly admired because she seemed even more genuine hipster than I could ever be. So I bought whatever record it was and raced home and dropped the needle on my new acquisition was Tracy Chapman. And I don't know if you know this - did you know this? - but once you even listen to a Tracy Chapman record, your genuine hipster cred goes down the drain. Sell the thrift store clothes, let your hair grow out. Sell the Allen Ginsberg volumes (if you can!) and the little John Giorno chapbooks. You get to keep the Doc Martens though, because you have now officially become a Lesbian.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Episode 78: How to Make a Fried Bologna Sandwich

Believe it or not, I have two stories about fried bologna. Oh who am I kidding? You believe it! But I think that might make me sound a little trailer-parky, so I'll leave out the one about my father's quintuple bypass and go straight to the one about the fire alarm.

One time Sister Meg and I rented this fantastic house. It was a beautiful restored Victorian, practically a mansion, with all modern updating inside and on the second night we were in the house, we were exhausted from unpacking so we didn't want to bother with a fancy dinner. So Sister Meg rustled up a couple of fried bologna know, like Jackie O or Brooke Astor might do. Marie Antoinette, perhaps.

Oh, if only it had been so simple! But no, smoke went everywhere and the fire alarm went off and contacted the fire department and we desperately dialed our new landlord, who was super fancy and nice and ritzy, because we didn't have the alarm code yet and she was all "what on earth are you cooking? That smoke detector hasn't gone off in ten years!" and it was with great hesitation and through gritted teeth that I practically whispered: "We are making fried bologna sandwiches." And you could feel her regret about renting to us through the telephone.

Later that year, a tornado hit the house. We deserved it - once you fry up bologna, the White Trash Gods just KNOW.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Episode 77: How to Be a Freelancer (or An Inventor)

Oh, the exciting world of freelancing! The high-powered meetings where I'm flown by private jet from board room to board room, where I show two sketches I whipped up in the Admiral's Lounge and am then compensated with tax-free thousands and a time share in the Seychelles!

No, that's not what it's like at all. Well, mostly not. I just now looked at my Daytimer and here's what the life of this particular freelancer looks like:

8am: Roll over, stare at clock. Two more sleeping hours!

10am: Turn on The View. Get thumb ready to mute Elisabeth every time she squeaks, which is often.

11am: Get up, look over lunch menus from various local boites and bistros. Phone in order for clam spaghetti.

12 noon: Get in car, go pick up clam spaghetti. Detour to bookstore, coffee house, ice cream shop, etc.

1:30pm: Send out emails to clients along the lines of "oh, I'm sorry you didn't get that file! There must be something wrong with your email!"

2:00pm: Nap.

3:00pm: Send out emails to clients along the lines of "oh, I'm sorry you didn't get that file! There must be something wrong with my email!"

3:30pm: Turn on Turner Classic Movies and watch an Irene Dunne move. Another one. There are a lot.

5:30pm: Visit liquor store, pretend to browse the fifteen-dollar wine, buy Yellow Tail anyway. Who do I think I'm kidding?

6:00pm: Mess up office real fast so soon-to-arrive-home housemate thinks a lot of work got done. Clean house (read: hide wine bottles.) Act exhausted.

So as you can see, there's a lot to keep up with. The View is on five times a week.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Episode 76: How to Shop at the Grocery

I know you've all been biting your fists and rending your garments wondering where I've been. But I have a good explanation, I promise. I've been in an insane which I was committed after a particularly discombobulating trip to the local grocery store. My sister found me around midnight, sitting in the pantry, wrapped only in plastic Kroger bags and a turban made from Saran Wrap, trembling and muttering "I only wanted snow peas...I only wanted snow peas" over and over again.

You see, I have a particularly awful local grocery store. Don't get me wrong: it's enormous and brightly lit and they have a pharmacy and all the current up-to-date information about Brad and Angelina and poor poor Jennifer, so it does have its good points. Alas, steady Enquirer-eating does not make for a healthy diet, which is sad because unless you can put it in a microwave or cram it in an ice cream cone, my grocery store doesn't carry it. I once asked if there happened to be any whole garlic bulbs in the back and they offered to special order it for me. I guess they thought I might be planning for a meal a few weeks in advance or something. One time I bought beets and the cashier asked me if they were "for eating or for planting?" as she futilely thumbed through the PLU booklet while I said "B. It starts with a B. As in 'bumbling.'" Whereupon she started looking for 'bumbling,' which I'm fairly certain might be some sort of seedless cucumber. And then there was the other time when I got escorted out by security after having a complete nervous breakdown because I knew the PLU number for the tomatoes on the vine but the computer did not! 4664! 4664! For goddamned sake it's 4664! Why can't they program it into the computer? I've been complaining for five years and still, only I seem to know the number. 4. 6. 6. 4. Ohhhhhh, where is my Saran Wrap turban? WHERE?

I go to other grocery stores occasionally and it's like a slap in the face, with their fancy produce sections and their cous cous. But I chalk it up to some sort of caste karma. I get the grocery store I deserve. Which means I must have fucking murdered the pope in the past or something.

Note: this diagram represents my fantasy grocery store, not my actual one.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Episode 75: How to Remodel Your House

If you know me - and let's face it: since you're reading this, you probably do - you are well and truly bored with my tales of woe regarding my double-bathroom renovation that took three years. Well, you'll be happy to know that those tales are now coming to an end, as we finally signed the "The End" paperwork last week. Of course, our vicious letters and constant bitchiness eventually brought down a national chain of (let's say) Flexpo Design Centers in the process, but hey, someone's gotta pay, right? Sorry, stockholders!

The great joke (on us!) of it all is that the two bathrooms involved in the renovation total maybe 100 square feet. They're two ca. 1932 bathrooms, so you can imagine how small they are, and we didn't enlarge any footprints or even move fixtures. Meanwhile, the short-haired lady down the street has had a Biltmore House-style addition to her house completed in three weeks and is already on the goddamned tour of homes.

But la la la, whatever. It's all over now. Though the cat that got drywalled into the walls is still severely traumatized and just wanders around in counter-clockwise circles, meowing in Bulgarian, which I do not speak unless someone has brought Absinthe into the house. And my motor-scooter is still missing a mirror from when a wayward plumbers' butt knocked it over in the basement. And several accessories from Pier One that were damaged in a tragic crown moulding incident remain unmentioned in any of your local memorial gardens and/or cemeteries.

And oh yeah: three years of my life are missing. Fuck you Crapco Design Center! I'm glad you're bankrupt!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Episode 74: How to Survive as a Waiter

I can barely believe it took 74 episodes of The Psychopedia for me to get to this one and I thought for sure I had already done it, but the Official Psychopedia research assistant/fact checker assures me that no, this subject has not yet been episoded.

So here we are! How to Survive as a Waiter. The short answer is: it's impossible. They all die at age thirty, like all those people in Logan's Run where the minute they turn thirty their palm jewels turn red and they have to go to this thing called Carousel which is not a Rogers and Hammerstein musical but instead this thing where you float up into the air in a flame-covered bodysuit and get laser-beamed to death because in the future, anyone over the age of thirty is useless. Hey, that's just like today! I better sit on my hands.

ANYWAY! I used to wait tables at a joint that was sort of the end of the line for a lot of people who worked there. I mean, they didn't go to Carousel and get laser-beamed or anything, but it tended to be peoples' last restaurant job. It was the most fun place ever to work and you got away with drinking and not working and more drinking and being rude and drinking and so on and once you've had all that freedom, it's almost impossible to go work at Applebee's.

One time I had a table of six people who I could tell I hated on sight and there was one lady at the table who made this big to-do blabbering on and on about her shellfish allergy and I said "okay, just don't order any shellfish and we'll be fine." And then someone else at the table ordered scallops. So when all the entrees came out, I put them in front of the appropriate person and about two seconds later the shellfish lady stared screaming because her neck and face were swelling up because she had reached across the table and speared a scallop from someone else's plate and eaten it. So I went over to see what I could do to help and she started screaming at me I TOLD YOU I WAS ALLERGIC TO SHELLFISH! I TOLD YOU I WAS ALLERGIC TO SHELLFISH. And I asked "well why did you eat one, then?" and she screamed back I DIDN'T, YOU IDIOT! I ATE A SCALLOP!

Things do get a little fuzzy at this point - peppermint schnappes and all - but now it was (as the kids say) on. No, I didn't have any Benadryl. Would she like some trucker speed? No, there was not a doctor in the house. Would you like to talk to the painting professor from Vanderbilt? She's right over there. No, I'm sorry, I do not know the Heimlich maneuver. But I do know the Charleston. How 'bout we try that?

Eventually, her husband walked up to the mini-mart on the corner and got her some Benadryl and she took it and five minutes later was knocking back the Long Island Teas without a care in the world. They tried unsuccessfully to have me fired - especially when I added the tip on. Party of six, no arguments...IT SAYS IT ON THE MENU! But that was like a daily occurrence, someone trying to get me fired from that job. Once I actually did get fired, but I just showed up the next day like it had never happened and kept right on working. I suppose I should feel guilty about being perfectly content to watch a person die from a shellfish allergy - shellfish that I delivered, no less. But I don't. She was too stupid to live in the first place. If it hadn't been a scallop, it would just be something else later. It's called thinning the herd.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Episode 73: How to Fart Discreetly

When I was in the third grade in Goldsboro, North Carolina, I had a teacher named Mrs Larkin. She was an older African American lady who dressed up to come to class every day, in jewel tone pantsuits with giant artificial corsages that matched her costume. She wore her glasses on a chain around her neck. I suppose in today's world, she would be thought of as "eccentric," but no, really she was just insane.

One time she accused me of cheating on an art project (an art project!) because I spelled "Halloween" correctly on a Happy Halloween poster and she didn't think a third grader would know how to spell "Halloween" correctly so I got in trouble for that but I think the real reason was because she had spelled it wrong on the chalkboard and I corrected her spelling on my own project. That was the same week buck-toothed Rebecca Smith stabbed me in the wrist with a lead pencil. It was a very trying Autumn.

Mrs Larkin also could not abide the idea of anyone "passing gas" (I guess she thought she was being classy saying it that way) in her classroom. So she made a big deal about reminding us EVERY DAY that if we were going to feel the pressing need to do such a thing, we were to raise our hands and tell her we were about to do it - and we had to say "pass gas," no other vulgar terms, thankyouverymuch - after which she would allow us to walk over to the classroom door and stick our derrières (again, classy) out into the hallway and then and only then could we "release." That's what she said, "release."

Well you can imagine what a whole bunch of third graders thought about that. Up and down all the livelong day so we could fart into the hallway, even if we didn't really have to. And once one person had asked, there was a parade of twenty more arms shooting into the air so we could all go giggle our way across the classroom and "release."

Anyway. Mrs. Larkin. She was one mean old biddy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Episode 72: How to Make Risotto

I love risotto. I could make and eat it every day. I love everything about it; the prep, the process, the flexibility, the flavor. And with the one exception of an ill-fated butternut squash version about which no one is allowed to speak, I'm very good at making it.

But this story is about something else! Although risotto-related. When I was in Italy, lo these many years ago, I went to Venice with my friends Beth and Thom and oh my my before the trip we would not shut up about how excited we were about getting to eat some risotto in Venice, where risotto has its origins. Risotto risotto risotto, we would not shut up about it. By the time we got to Venice, in Week III, however, there were a lot of other foods we had not shut up about. When we were in Piemonte, we would not shut up about white truffles. White truffles, white truffles, white truffles! When we were in Chianti, we would not shut up about cinghiale, the wild boar. Cinghiale, cinghiale, cinghiale! When we were in Lucca, we would not shut up about chestnuts. Chestnuts, chestnuts, chestnuts! You get the idea. And maybe you hate us already. But that's okay! I hate us too.

In other words, we were fooded out by the time we got to Venice and we forgot ALL ABOUT our obsession with risotto. And so on the last night in Venice, we were in some restaurant in Dorsoduro and uh-oh, there it was on the menu...risotto! So Beth said "I'll have risotto!" and the lady said "no risotto! Risotto only for two!" So I said "oh, okay, then in that case I'll have the risotto as well!" and the lady smiled and said "si, risotto for two!" And then Thom said "I'll have risotto as well!" and the lady said "no! risotto only for two!" It's so labor intensive they would only make it in batches for people in pairs and this odd number was really causing some problems. It was very traumatic and somehow the lady made us feel like the ugliest Americans in the history of ugly Americans, this while another table of Americans kept saying "Eye-talian" this and "Eye-talian" that.

So we ended up not ordering it at all! We never did get to eat risotto in Venice, which is why I hate that fucking place. I hope that city sinks into the goddamned ocean.

P.S. I don't really hate you, Venice!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Episode 71: How to Know If the Glass Is Half-Empty or Half-Full

Sometimes I can never figure out if I am an optimist or a pessimist.

For example, I am fully expecting to win the Powerball drawing this Saturday night. One hundred and sixty-five million dollars. I'd tell you my numbers but then I'd have to share with you and I'm not really a sharer. So on Sunday, I'll be hunting for a solid gold bathub that dispenses gravy, which has been a lifelong dream of mine. So if you know a source for one of those, do give me a jingle. Then after that, I am going to buy my old company that I used to work for so I can fire a few people. You know who you are. And there are three other miscellaneous people I am going to have killed.

So I guess that makes me an optimist.

But then! I start thinking, "oh, the taxes on a hundred and sixty-five million dollars! What a burden! And ugh, I'll have to change banks because my current bank only lets you withdraw four hundred dollars at a time which so far has not been a problem since I've never had four hundred dollars in the bank but if I had one hundred and sixty-five million in the bank, I might have some sort of immediate need for like a quarter million dollars (if I find that bathtub, for instance) and do you have any idea how hard it is to close a bank account these days? So then I think, "gah! I don't want to win!"

So then I think maybe pessimist.

I've looked at the rest of the family to see if there's some sort of genetic pattern and here's the evidence:

Sister- pessimist. "You're too fat and you're either going to break that ladder or fall off of it."

Father - optimist. "I can make you another ladder! I like a project! I'll put it on the list right now!"

Mother - realist. "Who do you think you're kidding? You aren't going to ever clean those gutters."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Episode 70: How to Watch "The Sound of Music"

Yeah, I'm sure you think you know how to do it, but trust me, unless you sat next to my friend David while watching the greatest movie of all time (his words), YOU DON'T.

I was recently on vacation with a handful of friends and on the final night of the trip, we popped in the DVD version of The Sound of Music that has the singalong version on it (yes, two people went to bed immediately). All that means is they put the words to all the songs on the screen during the musical numbers like subtitles. And by the way, all the songs are faster than you think. Like when you sing them while vacuuming -like you do, I'm sure - you sing them at a certain speed. But you aren't singing them fast enough, trust me, no matter how fast you are singing them. The big mystery for me is why is the movie eight hours long if the songs go so fast? And why do they show it at Christmas? There's not a Christmas scene in the whole movie. I've never gotten that.

But ANYWAY lemme tell you...David didn't need the subtitles. And not just for the songs. He recited almost every line of dialogue before the actors did. In a way, I wished we had just watched him do it; it would have been an hour shorter. Seriously, it was like watching Rainman perform the Collected Works of Shakespeare. I won't bore you with a song-by-song replay, but at one point he got up and moved to the other side of the room, telling us we were making him sing off key. As if. You should try it sometime, the singing along. That Do-Re-Mi song is like running a goddamned marathon.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Episode 69: How to Start the New Year Right

Oh the end of the year has been so EXCITING I have hardly had a chance to Psychopedicize very much. Actually, no, that is a lie. The end of the year has been a BORE and the reason I haven't been educating you lately is because I was off researching how to turn each of my fingers into corkscrews, so I could save time opening wine bottles during the holiday season. And maybe after.

ANYWAY! I spent a fun five days in Eureka Springs, Arkansas for the New Year's holiday. I know what you're thinking: it must have been a crystal meth-filled holiday, what with it being in Arkansas and all! But no, even though crystal meth does flow like the RIver Jordan there, we kept mainly to cheese nips, macaroons and vanilla vodka. Most of us had gone to college together so it was just like The Big Chill but instead of "I Heard it Through the Grapevine," it was "You Spin Me Round" by Dead or Alive. And singalong Sound of Music, so yes, you can imagine, I'm sure. Nothing makes people choose different chairs faster than originally sitting next to the wrong person when you get to "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," let me tell you.

We took turns making dinner; one night, David and Jeff made filets and roasted green beans and potatoes made out of unicorns or whatever and then another night, Dani and Don made quesadillas and tortilla soup. I was paired with Sarah, so we made bean water. Our theme was "The Joad Family New Year," apparently. Hahahahah that's what they get for pairing the two poorest people up! Then we laughed a lot at dirty phrases that we don't really know what they are (AND DON'T TELL ME), like "rusty trombone." So that was funny because now we're all going to try and say them innocently in conversation and whoever laughs we'll secretly know is a total pervert. That's a good trick for the new year.

Anyway, Happy 2009 from your Psychopediast. Keep tuning in; you've been doing a lot wrong, I can tell.