The deli girl at the grocery store up the road from my house has a tattoo on her forearm that reads, “Sucka Free.”
I once asked her about it when she was making me a veggie sub.
I said, “What’s with the tat?”
And she said, “I got so sicka takin’ shit from suckas, I figured I’d make it clear.”
“That you’re sucker free?”
“That I’m sucka free.”
And that was the end of the conversation. She returned to my sub, returned to slicing cheese and we never spoke about the tattoo again.
That was a year ago.
She’s since been promoted to deli manager. I see her head shot framed above the double doors behind the counter. This sucker-free thing must be working pretty good for her.
She’s my favorite deli girl. She’s quick. She’s got a big-city attitude. She uses the perfect amount of mayonnaise and the perfect amount of pickles. She doesn’t waste time with frivolous small talk. She has little patience for indecisiveness. She’s got a thick hide and long, painted fingernails. When she’s not working I wonder what she’s up to, with whom she lives.
If she has a significant other, I imagine he or she is fairly browbeaten.
Or maybe not.
Maybe she comes home, removes her hair net, slips into a cotton nightgown, curls up like a cat next to her lover and falls asleep watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy.
PS. Illustration by Philip Bond
Tomorrow is 2011. The date sounds so futuristic to me.
Tonight Joe and I have dinner reservations at a trendy new restaurant in downtown St. Pete.
I plan on wearing a dress, red lipstick and high heels.
I’ve looked forward to this date all week.
And yes, I plan on having a sip (or two) of champagne. The baby and I could use a little fizz to ring in the New Year.
But that’s tonight.
Right now it’s 4:11 in the afternoon and I’m still digesting the sandwiches I made today for myself and my friend Wendy Joan, who pedaled her bicycle over to my place today for lunch.
Tomato, mozzarella and basil on pita with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, followed by strawberry salad, followed by chocolate truffles. Deeeeeelicious.
So, yeah, I keep thinking 2011 sounds futuristic, but right now the coming year feels comfortably quaint.
Why is that?
First: because Wendy brought me the cutest jar of homemade pickles. (That’s the jar above. Adorable, right?)
Second: because she rode her bicycle here.
Third: because she used to live in Sarasota, but recently moved to St. Pete and now we live a mere two miles apart.
Fourth: because Wendy is originally from Buffalo, which means we immediately have 500 Buffalo things to talk about, like the fact that she also worked at the McKinley Mall and that there’s a pretty good chance that during my four years at Waldenbooks our paths unknowingly crossed a dozen times.
Fifth: because Wendy is also a journalist.
When I woke up this morning I thought about how I want to feel in 2011. I thought about how nice it would be to stretch out the simple pleasures a little more. Of course I have my big goals and my big plans, but it’s the little stuff in between that keeps the big goals on track.
Little pleasures keep us well oiled. They make us better equipped for plowing through big stuff, heavy stuff.
The way I see it, if I can start off 2011 with a jar of homemade pickles, I’m doing alright.
Happy New Year, beloved Lance-a-lots. It’s gonna be a good one.
I’m on my return flight home, although technically I’m not on the flight. I’m sitting at gate A-11 at the Detroit Airport, waiting to board my delayed flight to Tampa.
Oh, airplanes. Nothing seems to fascinate and irritate people more. My Delta flight from Buffalo to Detroit took off 50 minutes later than its scheduled departure time, which means when we landed I had to haul ass across the airport to catch my connecting flight to Tampa.
When I reached gate A-11, I learned that my flight to Tampa was delayed an hour-and-a-half, giving me time to order a sammy from Quiznos and watch the Factory Girl DVD I purchased a couple days ago from a grocery store in Buffalo. (You know how I feel about Sienna Miller.)
Filled with a sort of detached glee, I picked up a family-sized bag of Reese’s Pieces. I figured if I wasn’t going to make it home for Dancing With the Stars, I might as well make it a Blockbuster night airport lounge-style.
The guy who sat across the aisle from me on the flight from Buffalo didn’t share in my amusement.
“Fuck,” he griped as he approached the Delta desk and learned of our delay. “You’ve got to be friggen kidding me.”
I knew he had a suitcase full of thawing Sahlen’s hotdogs – a typical take-home for many native Buffalonians. Hot dog-lovers claim Sahlen’s makes the best hot dog, but it’s all intestines to me.
Joe is watching the Packers–Vikings game tonight, which means I’ve lost my television privileges, which means I’m bored, sitting on the couch watching the NFL’s juicy Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers sword fight.
“Really?” I asked Joe. “We’ve gotta watch this game? We watched football yesterday.”
“It’s Favre versus the Packers,” he cried. “Yes, we’re watching this game.”
“Goddamit. OK, fine,” I said. “I’ll just write a Lance post about how much I hate peeling stickers off my shit.”
So here ya go. I hate peeling stickers off my shit. Never has this been more obvious than now, as I unpack boxes filled with the nicest kitchen gadgets, appliances and cookware I’ve ever owned – Bed Bath & Beyond wedding presents from family and friends. The goods themselves are wonderful, but the store’s stickers I swear to you are made with an impenetrable goo devised by military weapon manufacturers. I’m afraid Bed Bath & Beyond stickers are so permanent and unforgiving they are no longer stickers. They are stuckers.
What has spurred this seemingly random rant?
My cheese slicer. That’s what. A gift from Joe’s parent’s friends. Last week I finally purchased a block of cheese worthy of slicing, but when I went to shave a chunk of mozzarella off the block, I noticed that a goddamn sticker was stuck to the head of the slicer. And not only that, the goddamn sticker was wrapped around the handle of the tool making the likelihood of goo residue even more probable.
Like most stickers, this one was stubborn and unyielding. Even worse, I couldn’t actually USE the apparatus to cut my cheese until I removed the ghastly sticker. I clawed at the label. I gnawed on it. I tried to lift it with a knife and scrape it with my fingernail. None of it worked. I was salivating for mozzarella. Craving its creaminess. The milky brick was teasing me from the kitchen counter, daring me to give up the good fight and reach for a steak knife instead, but I would not admit defeat.
It took five applications of olive oil and two dishwasher runs to lift the residue off ONE cutting board! After I peeled the gargantuan Chop and Scoop sticker off the front of the board, it was so gummy I could palm it.
And don’t even get me started on pictures frames. WHY DO STORES PUT CHEAP-ASS STICKERS ON PICTURE FRAMES? I’ve lost a year of my life delicately removing sticker crumbles off the glass in picture frames.
Now, I understand companies need to label their products with prices, brands, half-off stickers and barcodes. I get that. But at least invest in a quality sticker. One that comes OFF. Like butter. ON THE FIRST TRY.
Fellow consumers, I’m using box cutters to chip away at stickers. BOX CUTTERS. And still my efforts are futile. It shouldn’t be this hard to rid an item of its packaging.
Bed Bath & Beyond, you insult me. I recommend you take a cue from Borders. Borders stickers are so easy to remove I challenge anyone to leave behind a smidgen of adhesive debris on the first pull.
Now that’s a quality sticker. That’s a sticker I can respect.
Finally. A post about weddings! It’s about time, Heidi. Some people who read this blog are surprised by the fact that I’m getting married in two months, not because I’m a shrew, but because I’ve been annoyingly terse about my wedding plans. I’m one of those writers who details her life better in rewind, but last night I managed to crank out this in-the-moment post for The Stimulist about the things I never knew about wedding planning.
(UPDATE: The Stimulist folded in late 2009. Here’s the post as it appeared on the site. I should point out that despite my disdain for The Huffington Post, the news aggregating giant picked up the story shortly after it went up. I was flattered, but slightly irritated. HuffPo built its brand by plucking content from other websites and paying NOTHING to most of the writers who submit original content.)
From to-do to “I do” (The Stimulist, July 2009)
No one told me when I got engaged that I would have to bring my own cake knife to the wedding.
I never daydreamed about my wedding day. I never closed my eyes and pictured myself teetering down the aisle in a cloud of tulle. I never stared longingly at my left hand, with its nibbled-on fingernails, and envisioned the space above my knuckle bedecked in anything other than the scar I got when I was 12 from a jagged can of cat food.
I never paged through bridal magazines in line at the grocery store. I never ached to be a bride. Sure, I’d get married—absolutely. But the technicalities of the affair have always been hazy, underscored by what some people might call a no-frills attitude. I would fall in love. I would wear white. I would sign my name. I would kiss my groom. I would not belabor the day with bouquet drama and centerpiece woes.
I would plan, skimp and save for only one thing: my honeymoon.
So why am I sitting in my home office, surrounded by 25-count wedding invitation kits, stacked with envelopes hand-stamped with a brown leaf and adorned with prissy return-address labels custom made for me by a graphic designer in Nova Scotia?
Why is my sister, the maid of honor, calling me from New York to ask whether or not I’m cool with her wearing a flower hairclip when all my bridesmaids are going hair clip-less? Why have I bookmarked a website on how to make 150 paper mâché birds nests? And why, dear holy mother of wedding gods, did I burst into tears last month when my fiancé Joe told me he didn’t want pine cone place card holders and sunflower boutonnières?
Because my wedding is in two months and appears that somewhere between picking truffle bridesmaid dresses and snubbing fondant frosting, I sneakily and insidiously became the bride I never thought I would be.
I used to come across stories like this and pity the woman sweating in satin, but I promise you no fiancée is spared the burdensome task of wedding planning. Here’s a CliffsNotes version of what this one learned in the first six months of her engagement:
You can buy your wedding dress alone
While I would have loved to have my mother at arm’s length as I clumsily zippered the skin on the sides of my boobs into two-ton gowns with vintage beading, she lives seven states away. Of all the tedious wedding tasks, purchasing my dress was the easiest of them all. I promise, it doesn’t have to be a weepy or expensive undertaking. It can be as simple as running to the supermarket for a half-gallon of milk—whether or not you want to treat it as such is totally up to you.
You handwrite your guests’ addresses
According to theknot.com—the go-to source for every piss-ant wedding tradition every concocted—it’s in bad taste to stick computer-generated address labels on the outside of your wedding invitations. One of the few things Joe and I both agreed on was that we wanted tidy-looking envelopes with people’s addresses printed on transparent labels. Had we never nosed around The Knot looking for font suggestions, we’d have printed off 150 transparent labels in what we thought was an attractive typewriter font.
You will be bullied into registering for stupid things
Long-regarded as a thrill by newly engaged couples, registering for shower gifts sent cold chills of gluttonous consumerism down my spine. Not only did Marcie, our customer sales associate at Bed, Bath & Beyond, horde the scanner the entire time, she trailed Joe and I for two hours, steering us toward any gadget with a plug, directions and a $300 price tag. Feigning my zeal for brass toothbrush holders and bamboo shower rings, I edited my registry the next morning on the store’s website. After consulting with another newly engaged couple, I learned that the screaming match Joe and I got into over a $179 garbage can was completely par for the course.
You must purchase a wedding cake serving set
Another tradition I’m not familiar with. Not only do caterers nail you with a cake-cutting fee, they also assume you’ll shell out unnecessary cash on your own Williams-Sonoma serving set. Many brides register for these things. Retailers hawk them as “keepsakes.” I told my mom I wasn’t into bulbous ornamental handles on my knives and that she should go with whatever she finds marked down to $10 at Pier 1.
And don’t forget the toasting flutes
Many engaged couples register for champagne flutes embellished with ribbons, charms and lace. Like the cake serving set, his and hers glasses are sold as mementos, often with engraving options. My parents have monogrammed toasting flutes. For years they collected dust on the top shelf of a cabinet beside the Care Bear drinking glass collection we got from Pizza Hut in 1989.
CC your bridesmaids on all shoe-related emails
As a journalist you’d think communication would be my forte. But it seems I’m no good at dictating what kinds of dress-shoe-hair ensembles my bridesmaids should wear. Just last week I told my future sister-in-law Rosey to purchase gold high heels and my best friend Ro to purchase brown. They both dutifully followed my orders. Whoops.
You can break tradition where you see fit
Wedding blogs are the new bridal magazines. Ask any newlywed. The Internet is swimming with posts on do-it-yourself favors, centerpieces, place cards and invitations. Looking for a rustic bouquet wrapped in twine and dried anise? Your dream arrangement is only a Google search away. Clever brides and grooms showcasing highly personalized soirees have planted wild ideas in my head and loosened the reigns on what I perceived as an industry fraught with “rules.” Thanks to the addition of a few subtle and quirky touches, I’m still chipping away at the to-do list. Joe and I are using a typewriter in lieu of a guestbook. Our guests are arriving at the mountain-top ceremony via chairlift. I’m crafting bird’s nests as placeholders. And at this very moment Joe is strumming the song that will play when I walk down the aisle.
PS. Special thanks to Heather at alis grave nil, who let me interview her yesterday for an education story I’m working on. It was the first time I’ve actually talked to a Lance reader, and as a journalist mucking around in social media, I was both relieved and thrilled to use my blog for work-related matters.
PPS. I’m currently sitting at a coffee shop in Sarasota, between interviews, eating a Caprese sandwich that is causing me to sweat profusely. I’m considering going to the restroom to splash water on my face. Anyone have suggestions on how to cool off? I’m usually impervious to heat. What the freak?
It’s how he wakes up every morning before work – to 20-second blasts of 1980s pop songs.
“Do you come from a land down under? Where women glow and men plunder? Can’t you hear? Can’t you hear the thunder? You better run. You better take cover.”
Who would’ve thought when I swiped this Artvoice mug eight years ago from the dimly-lit, alt-weekly newspaper I interned at in Buffalo, that I’d be sitting in my office, in my house, in St. Petersburg, Fla., sipping Timmy Hos in a blue nightgown and red slippers?
“Buying bread from a man in Brussels.
He was six-foot-four and full of muscles.
I said, ‘Do you speak-a my language?’
He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich.”
Although Valentines Day has come and gone, I’m going to put this post up now before it totally gets away from me.
Since I still feel like the new kid on the blog block, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to introduce Lance to some friends, which I did by following new peeps on Twitter. I hadn’t set out to befriend only mommies on mommy blogs, but apparently Lance likes moms.
“Lying in a den in Bombay.
With a slack jaw, and not much to say.
I said to the man, ‘Are you trying to tempt me
Because I come from the land of plenty?’
And he said …”
Not being a mommy, I didn’t think I’d be drawn to mommy blogs (oh, and to one pseudo-daddy blog), but upon further reading, I found myself oddly captivated by these men and women and their child-rearing highs and lows, the likes of which I won’t get into. That’s their job.
Suffice it say, reading mommy blogs has kept me equally awestruck and birth-controlled.
Jill over at Modern Mommy Blog, is a 29-year-old social worker whose New Year’s resolutions include ingesting fish oil every day and avoiding alcoholic beverages. I think it’s refreshing that she broke both of these promises by Super Bowl Sunday, because in my opinion, cutting alcohol out of your life while introducing your body to fish oil sounds grim.
Jill has a one-year-old daughter, and is rooting for Kate Winslet in the Oscars. She entered herself in a Valentines Day contest sponsored by Linda, a scrapbooking, stay-at-home mother-of-three in Mississippi.
On Valentines Day, Jill, the Modern Mommy, spread a little “bloggy love” my way by posting about Lance on her blog, which was so solid of her.
In the spirit of paying it forward, I recommend Modern Mommy to those of you who have children/are about to have children/might one day have children/are parents to pugs (or other such animals)/can appreciate a network of supportive family-friendly folks even if you are crass, self-indulgent and light-years away from having children/enjoy a pretty blog layout with meaningful posts/appreciate good advice and loyal webships (web friendships.)
Oh, and Joe finally woke up around 9:30 a.m., throwing groggy daggers my way in Pat Benatar’s battlefield.
“We are young, heartache to heartache we stand.
No promises, no demands …”
PS. My father gave my mother 1,600 lb. of corn for Valentines Day. After receiving such an awesome gift, she helped him lug the corn bags into the basement to dump into their corn burner hopper.