Tag Archives: History

The Battle of the Butter Spatters

I just read an article on the Internet that says millennials are obsessed with personal grooming. I haven’t particularly noticed this phenomenon, mostly because I rarely leave the house.

However, I have met quite a few young people who enjoy talking about how amazing they look in the mirror, but this may have more to do with the large amount of time I’ve spent in live theater. Now that I think about it, age doesn’t seem to be a barrier when it comes to aesthetic self-praise, so what’s your point, Internet?

I do blame the millennials for my growing lack of concern regarding my own appearance, though. I believe each new generation absorbs positive qualities from its predecessors, leaving older people husks of their former selves with Medusa hair and Howard Hughes toenails. I find this point of view preferable to accepting responsibility for running a comb through my hair and using the nail clippers.

This rationale, combined with Paul’s poor eyesight, is perfect for me, especially during times like last night. I was wearing one of Paul’s raggedy light-grey shirts when I noticed an old butter stain in the interboobular area. I thought that wasn’t very nice looking, so I changed from that shirt to one of his old hunter-green shirts. (The fact that I use terms like “hunter green” means I have a keen fashion sense.)

Paul said nothing about my wardrobe change, but as the evening wore on, I realized the green shirt looked like it had been on the losing side of a Gatling-gun butter fight in the Spanish-American War.

It was during one of the more famous charges led by Fabio, an Italian mercenary whose signature battle cry was “I can’t believe it’s not mantequilla—I mean burro!” after which he was drowned in a vat of olive oil by his own troops because he couldn’t tell the difference between dairy products and pack animals. Besides, it was siesta time, and the tapas delivery guy had just arrived.

So that’s how I ended up changing back into the light-grey shirt with just one stain.

Paul never noticed the switches in wardrobe, and I’ve chosen to believe it’s because his vision is clouded by love and not nearsightedness.

RoughRiders_public domain
Post-San Juan Hill Summit, where Teddy’s battle buddies persuaded him to edit his immortal phrase from “Speak softly, and carry a big stick of butter.”

 

 

Of Frying Pans and Fires

I’m feeling thankful for some lessons I’ve learned, and it’s only right that I express my gratitude.

I’m grateful to my in-laws for helping me understand that their concept of “family” is similar to what I learned as a child. The rollicking adventures of verbal abuse, taking advantage of others for a profit, and a pervasive sense of enraged entitlement give me a comforting sense of consistency. What a warm feeling.

I’ve especially enjoyed the holidays during the last couple of decades because that’s when my mother-in-law’s affectionate verbal punishments ramp up. It’s such a joy to be a punching bag, and when I pop back up like one of those inflatable clowns in a playroom, there she is like a champ, ready to pop me another one. Kapow! What fun.

I’m also grateful that my brothers-in-law have pointed out that I’m a greedy jerk for being upset that they didn’t pay the money they owe us, as they scampered off with a fat payday at our expense. They were correct to tell me, “You’re all about the money, Cindy.” What wisdom.

I’ve learned great lessons from my in-laws, especially about my own shortcomings. And even though I don’t speak to most of my biological family, it feels like I never left the hornets’ nest. What a cozy feeling of hearth and home.

Thank you, all. Seriously, there may be tears.

The_Borgia_Family_by Dante Gabriel Rossetti_public domain
My adopted family, the Borgias. Advantages: more exciting sins, and they’re all dead.

 

 

That Time I Shot a Piano

Or very nearly did, anyway.

I’ve developed a new psychiatric disorder: Dysfunction Envy.

The other day I started reading The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr. In her introduction, Karr relates an anecdote about bullet holes in her mother’s kitchen walls. This is on the first page, and she hasn’t even started the memoir portion yet. What a hook.

Although I’m enjoying the book, I’ve fallen into a funklet (not bad enough to be depression, but I’m not giddy either). I’ve recently written a few things I’m not happy with, which is okay. I don’t mind trashing or savagely editing stuff. But for some reason, Karr’s book has me worried.

Have I run out of dysfunctional material to mine for my memoir? Is my nine-month class this fall going to consist of me sitting there, doing nothing, while my classmates turn their trauma into gold? Where’s the gunplay in my story?

Then I remembered that time when I was twelve, and I found the .22 pistol that Mom kept under her pillow, loaded, with the safety off. For my protection.

As you know, I’m not able to offer much defense for my parents’ exciting decisions, but there was an incident that caused her to believe that a loaded firearm in our house was the best choice for her daughter. I’ll talk about that situation another time.

So I’m standing in the living room with the pistol aimed at my piano. My finger’s on the trigger. The whole room’s in soft focus except for the piano, and everything gets quiet like our house is made out of a giant pillow fort.

When I decide to pull the trigger, it occurs to me that if I shoot the piano, I might not be able to practice my lessons, and my teacher will be disappointed in me.

As the rest of the room becomes visible again and the sounds of the world return, I switch the safety on the pistol so that at least it won’t blow Mom’s head off while she’s sleeping, and I tuck it under her pillow.

I never told her how close I came to shooting the piano, mostly because she was busy with Glen, the womanizing truck driver she pretended to marry in Tahoe, who later left her for a gum-smackin’ poodle groomer with a platinum up-do, frosted nails and lipstick, and leopard print miniskirts. Her reason for the sham marriage is part of yet another story.

I also believe Glen was Mom’s last-ditch effort to be heterosexual, and that leads to another story for another time.

The tales I’m telling now are reminding me of so many I’ve forgotten, and there’s no evidence that this twisted river will run dry in the near future. What a relief. It seems I’ve got what it takes to compete in Dysfunctiondome.

me and guns_public domain
At least my finger isn’t on the trigger. Yet.

Virtue Smirchoo

I’m angry at my ass. It isn’t downsizing on its own. At least not anymore. After I gave up sugar last August, I lost eleven pounds and even kept them off for a long time.

It seemed true what no-sugar guru David Gillespie says. The pounds will just fall off if you avoid that evil, sweet, delicious poison. Plus he says that being off sugar doesn’t mean I have to totally give up wine or spirits. Just no sweet wine or mixers. This made my brain swoon.

Check out this site. Great message. Love the Sweet Poison Quit Plan Cookbook. (No endorsement paid here. You probably assume that. I mean, how successful and famous could I be at this point where people would pay to advertise here? God, what an ego.)

We’re eating whole fat everything now because—and you probably know this—“low fat” is synonymous with “We’ve dumped a shit-ton of sugar in this in order to make you feel great about avoiding fat. It’s going to turn you into a dirigible. Enjoy!”

I’m loving the butter, whole milk, and fatty-mcfat-fat sour cream. Plus the good-Lord-you’re-full-so-for-the-love-of-all-that’s-holy-stop-eating-now mechanism works again, so I don’t overeat. Well, I didn’t at first.

My translation of this new-to-me information is: Have all you want, as often as you want. It’s a party! Crush that baked potato under a brick of butter and wash it down with a half-liter of chardonnay. Every day. What could go wrong?

Then the weight loss stalled, and I even gained a few pounds back. Still. Off. Sugar. Except for that cake I ate last week, but it was for my birthday. So wisdom can just fuck off.

After a few months on my latest plan of action—Wait and See if Anything Changes, Part 654—I realize I might be missing a point in all this, but my hope remains: Magic will handle everything. I’m frustrated that this isn’t easy. And a little angry.

ancient-fat-woman_public-domain
My ancient ancestor, just as pissed about the weight-loss struggle. Evidently there’s a long family history of flipping people off. And floppy-gut.

 

All these months later, I see that my enjoyment of gallons of chardonnay, truckloads of butter, and nearly zero exercise have not transformed me into a super model. Now I realize effort is required in order to feel healthier and look better. Was that always a thing?

cleopatra_public-domain
I have to work for this?

Doing something good for myself just because it’s the right thing to do is in direct conflict with my assumption that I deserve nothing good. Paul goes rowing because it makes him feel good and keeps his weight down. It’s as though he believes he should be treated well, even by himself. I don’t get it.

I guess I’ll walk the whole block to the gym and do something. Tomorrow. For sure. My brain just hissed, “Liar,” which is fair enough.

Chicken Soup, Family Trees & Murder

The other day, Paul was browsing some ancestry sites online. I told him I’d been thinking about doing that too. I asked him, “Wouldn’t it be cool if at least one of my ancestors were a murderer?” Paul went back to his computer as though he were alone, which is sensible.

I had a cold yesterday, so I was sitting here feeling sorry for myself. When I’m sick, I’m a big fat baby about it, and I offer no remorse. (If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ve been warned about segues that may cause hernias.)

My cousin Lesli offered some comforting thoughts, mostly to drown out the whining. (Lesli is known in Italian as a cugina fantastica – fantastic cousin, female persuasion*) Some people offer fatuous well wishes and soup, but she knew that wasn’t going to cut it. So she told me a couple of stories about our family history.

The first story was about why a pack of Valleleys emigrated from Italy in 1903 and ended up Protestants. I mean, we’re talking Italy here, a country in which, by law, you must be Catholic or be crucified. Maybe burned at the stake. I might be confusing this with the Salem Witch Trials.

Seems the Valleleys were happily attending a Catholic parish in some US state when an Irish priest walked in the door.** He tried his best to bring the Lord to his parishioners as he struggled to hide his contempt for Italians.

Every service he mustered all of his compassion, but his sermons always started the same way:

Priest: “O, Lord, how we hate the fuckin’ dagos.”

Most of the people: “Let us show them the door.”

Priest: “Damn skippy, dudes.”

Or something like that. I paraphrase.

So about ten families joined the Protestant church down the street. This guy was so abusive that they left an entire religion, not just the building. Impressive. I love this story because it helps explain why my Irish/Italian blood is on a constant raging boil. Perhaps also why I don’t go to church.

Lesli’s second story makes me so happy that I probably should go back into therapy.

Our great-grandfather (whose name we don’t know, but let’s call him “Grandpa Badass”) was a caretaker for some guy in Italy about a hundred years ago. Someone was stealing from Grandpa B’s boss, and when Grandpa couldn’t get the guy to stop, he shot and killed him.

That’s so fucking great.

Then GB had to move to America because the freakin’ mafia started hunting him.

mafiosi
Actual picture of Grandpa Badass’s would-be killers. Or I just wish it were. This. Is. Awesome.

Then Grandpa had to keep moving from state to state ‘cause these maniacally dedicated goombahs followed him here. They were that pissed off.

At this point, I’ve wet my pants and forgotten my cold.

Love can be expressed in many forms – chicken soup, comforting words, a warm blanket. But the best way to show you care is to tell me I’m the descendant of an easily annoyed murderer.

Thanks, Lesli.

 

* If you know Italian and I’m incorrect, don’t be a smartass. Who asked you?

** I swear there’s a “So this Irish priest walks into a bar” joke here somewhere.