Lucky Latkes

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Things are definitely different here in Washington state. If you follow the news, you will consistently read about Seattle as one of the strongest and fastest growing Jewish communities in the country. I have little reason to doubt this fact. Except that unless I’m at our wonderful new temple in North Seattle, I could swing dozens of dead cats and never hit a single member of our tribe.

We currently live about 20 minutes North of the city in a suburb at the tip of Lake Washington known as Kenmore. My kids have no Jewish friends at school, I haven’t seen a single home with a Mezuzah on the doorpost in our neighborhood, and I can’t find a decent challah within 20 miles of my front door.

I’m not exactly complaining. But it’s awfully weird for this North Shore Chicago girl who spent the last two decades in Los Angeles and Scottsdale surrounded by plenty of Jewish brethren to be living amongst all of these lovely people, most of whom have never even met a Jew. My oldest son, Levi, who is deeply entrenched in Judaism, torah and spirituality has mentioned to me several times that he feels kind of weird even telling kids at school about his Judaism because he’s always met with strange looks and  perplexed stares whenever he mentions his religious heritage.

Please understand that we have in no way met with unkindness or religious intolerance in any way.  Our neighbors are civil and have spoken to us on at least one or two occasions. But they’re not busting down our door with plates of great Aunt Sofie’s mandelbread or a sample of Grandma Sarah’s famous rugelach.

That being said, Levi loves his new High School. In part, this is due to the outstanding culinary arts program that he managed to earn a spot in as the only sophomore ever admitted. His culinary arts teacher is an amazing chef, teacher and yes, Iron Chef America winner. We’ve even talked about having her and the students cater my younger son, Eli’s, upcoming Oneg Shabbat Bar Mitzvah luncheon at the temple this March.

But the other day, Levi came home in a state of utter delight and could barely contain his excitement long enough to tell us why he was so elated. He explained that there was a new class competition in culinary. Each student would get to choose one kitchen appliance for the upcoming challenge and would have to prepare a specified dish with their appliance. Levi immediately began gunning for the food processor. But after picking numbers from a chef hat, he ended up being the last student to choose his appliance. “I knew there was no way I was going to get the food processor,” He told us sadly.

The other appliances included a blender, a Kitchen Aide, a waffle iron, a deli slicer and several other typical kitchen helpers. “But somehow,” Levi offered, “No one picked the food processor. I was absolutely last and I got it! Can you believe that?”

“No one picked the food processor?” I asked incredulously. “That’s really bizarre. That doesn’t make any sense. I would’ve thought the food processor would’ve been the first to be snatched up.” “I know,” he said with a huge smile plastered across his face. “I never knew I was this lucky. And guess what else? You will never believe what recipe I got with it.”

“What?” My husband, Mark, asked with intense curiosity. Levi cheerfully replied, “Dad, it’s our favorite thing to make in the food processor! You’ll never believe it. Guess! You have to guess.”

“Our favorite thing to make in the food processor?” repeated Mark. “Um…potato pancakes?”

“Not just potato pancakes,” chirped Levi, “But latkes! Actual latkes! That’s what the recipe said. Isn’t that amazing!”

Now comes the moment  where I regret lacking any internal editing programs to stop my mouth from speaking exactly what my brain thinks up. “Well, obviously you got the food processor because no one else even knew what a latke was.”

Both Levi and Mark looked at me in horror. “Mom,” Levi said, “That’s ridiculous. Who doesn’t know what a latke is?” Mark was smiling a knowing smile, “Yeah hon, who doesn’t know what a latke is?”

“Um…you’re right, Leves,” I stammered. “Forget I said that. You just got…lucky, incredibly lucky!

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Matzah, Marvel and Maternal Remorse

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“Where are you going with those?” I ask Eli, my twelve year old son, as he suspiciously tries to slink out of the house for school carrying three unopened boxes of leftover Passover matzah. “Um…nowhere,” he answers. “Bye mom. Have a great day.”

“Wait just a minute, Eli,” I’m not ready to let this go. “Why are you taking three boxes of matzah to school after Passover?”

“I thought they were leftover.” He chirps.

“Yeah… So what?” I challenge.

“Alright mom,” he confides. “But if I tell you you can’t get involved. Promise?”

These are always my favorite intros to any conversation with my kids. Promising not to get involved isn’t something I’m apt to do easily.

“I promise nothing,” I say. “Now what’s with the matzah? And if you miss the bus you’re walking to school. So start talking.”

“I’m selling them to a friend.” he sheepishly confesses.

“Selling them? For how much?” I inquire.

“Fifteen dollars,” he tells me.

This is the part where I go berzerk. “Fifteen dollars? Who would buy matzah for fifteen dollars? That’s insane.” I grab the matzah and insist that it is not being sold to anyone. “If you want to give your friend the matzah that is perfectly alright. But you are not selling it to him for any amount of money.”

“But mom, we made a deal. And you always say ‘a deal is a deal.’ He wagered with me willingly. I’m just fulfilling my side of the bargain”

As I delve into this, I learn that Eli has been making money on the side selling a variety of useless items to his pals who only want Eli to play more advanced PS4 video games with them. Eli has a limited number of players, and since his mother is a meanie and wont splurge endlessly on Disney Infinity and Marvel superhero characters for the PS4, Eli has had to turn to his own ingenuity to raise the funds to support his virtual reality video habit.

“Joey begged me, mom,” Eli pleaded. “He just really wants me to be able to play with him and I don’t have the Star Wars Battlefront Seasons Pass. Can I please go now?”

Then I pulled out my ace. I was sure I had this one in the bag. “Well Eli,” I say, “If you feel that selling something like matzah, that you didn’t even pay for, to Joey, or any other friend, for way more money than it’s worth, is the right thing to do, then you go right ahead. Just make sure you feel good about yourself and what you’re choosing to do.” Ha. This was a page from any good Jewish mother’s parenting book. I felt the guilt dripping off each word as it slowly and purposely rolled off my tongue. No way Eli would collect the cash and exploit a pal with this jolt of maternal consciousness infecting his psyche.

But alas, even sure things sometimes go awry. When Eli came home from school he laid down the fifteen dollars from Joey along with all of his Chanukah and birthday money  and asked if he could use my amazon account to purchase his Star Wars Battlefront Seasons Pass. “Mom, I tried to tell Joey I didn’t want the money,” He explained. “I swear I offered to just give him the matzah for free. But he wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. He insisted, mom. Really.”

I reluctantly gave permission for Eli to buy the Season’s Pass and have been pondering this decision ever since. I’m plagued with guilt over taking another child’s money to pay for a game I wasn’t willing to buy for my son myself. I am deeply perplexed about where Joey so easily scored $15. Did his parents know he was subsidizing Eli’s PS4 practice? Would they think we were shameful people, taking money from their 12 year old son? Maybe they did know about it and were under the impression that we were from some sort of underserved North Scottsdale barrio. Maybe they believed their son was merely giving back to his community as they had undoubtedly modeled through their own charitable endeavors.

The more I mulled this over, the more awful I felt. But I had set this up for Eli to make his own decision and I fiercely believe in allowing your children to make choices and live with the consequences of those choices. I told him to follow his conscience and he had. Only his conscience didn’t lead him to the conclusion I had hoped it would. Now what?

“Is there anything Joey wants that his parents wont give him?” I asked after a few hours of hopeless deliberation. “Maybe we can get him something, you know like a toy or a PS4 game?”

“Mom,” Eli chastised, “Joey has everything. There’s nothing we could get him that he doesn’t already have.”

“But maybe there’s something he’d like that he might not buy for himself?” I pushed. “It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Just something to let him know we appreciate him and his friendship.”

“Well,” I could see the wheels turning in Eli’s head, “He really loves his gecko, Emily. Maybe we could get him something for her.”

“OK, that’s a good idea,” I said, “What do you think she might like?”

“Hmmm…” he looked at me coyly for an extremely long moment. “I know. How ‘bout a PS4 controller? They don’t use joysticks anymore so Emily could play with us. I know they would both love that.”

In the Disney Marvel Battleground Universe, I think I’m being set up for a gigantic Hulk smash.

Resolutions shmesolutions!

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Every day is the beginning of a new year.

I just realized that and Iʼm rather impressed with the depth of that assessment. Why is it that we all wait until December 31st to declare our failures, faults and foibles? I for one have the uncanny ability to notice every flaw about myself on a daily basis. I eat too much chocolate. I yell at my kids. I forget birthdays, flake out on lunch dates, hurt peopleʼs feelings. Itʼs a curse being so self-critical. But at least Iʼm honest.

There also happens to be a silver lining to my day to day fault-finding compulsion. You see, I also have the capacity to start anew, each and every day. And I take full advantage of that capability. In fact, I resign each and every night to love my kids better, to cherish my husband more, to appreciate the simple moments that comprise my all too complicated days.

Waiting for December 31st seems like a colossal waste of time to me. Plus, once a year resolutions are merely a way to set yourself up for failure. If you only go on that diet once every 365 days, youʼre bound to pork out and let yourself down at some point. Then youʼve got to wait another 8 months or 23 pounds (whichever comes first) to start starving yourself again? Thatʼs ridiculous. Iʼd rather enjoy my culinary bender, knowing full well that I can embark on my healthy eating campaign anew the next morrow.

If you act like a jerk on the freeway, cutting someone off either purposely or inadvertently, do you spend the rest of the year following suit until December 31st arrives? Then, and only then, do you pledge to be a better driver, with an improved attitude and kinder disposition? Why not recognize the error of your ways, and correct your rude behavior by the time you get to the next exit?

Or what if you joined a gym as part of your last New Yearʼs resolution and only frequented the joint a few times in January? Should you throw up your arms in defeat and wait until next January to kick your couch potato butt into action? Absurd I say. Go take a walk today, run to the mailbox two or three times, try a free Zoomba class at the Y. Get your body moving any way you can.

So, not that you asked me, hereʼs my suggestion for your 2013 list of New Yearʼs resolutions. Resolve to face yourself in the mirror every morning and not run away from whomever you see. Notice the blemishes, the wrinkles, the age spots. Then challenge yourself to accept who you see, to improve the things you can, and to recognize that weʼre all just a mess of imperfections, trying to do our best and often falling just a little bit short.
Happy New Year.

In search of a plot

“I need a plot! What if I die?” this is the text I received Thanksgiving night from my 12 year old son, Levi. He’d finally left the table and was worriedly texting me from the next room.

It all happened because we were enjoying some post repast conversation at my mom’s house. One of the guests, a long time family friend, works at the Jewish cemetery in town. The discourse had shifted to her work and she was astounding us with stories about elderly people who simply refused to contemplate death, funerals and anything associated with burials. My brother-in-law, an uber-responsible physician, chimed in, “It’s just idiotic not to take care of these things ahead of time. Idiotic and irresponsible.”

Suddenly I look across the table and I see Levi, his head in his hands, prone for an anxiety attack. “Why don’t you go play with your cousins,” I suggest.

“No, mom. I want to stay with the adults,” he insists.

“Well, are you sure you can handle this conversation?” I ask gently.

“Yes,” he replies, “I’m sure. But mom, how much is a plot? Because I need to save up and get one.”

Conversation halted and everyone looked at Levi. Several of the adults started to roar with laughter.

“Levi,” I tried to explain, “You really don’t need to worry about that right now.”

“But I’m going to die,” he matter-of-factly refuted, “I don’t want to be stupid, or irresponsible.”

Suddenly I was transported into the celluloid world of my all time favorite Woody Allen movie, “Annie Hall.” I morphed into Alivie Singer’s kvetching Jewish mother and insisted my 9 year old son, Alivie, tell the psychiatrist why he was so depressed.”

Alvie’s mother:
Tell the Doctor why you’re depressed, Alvie. It’s something that he read.

Alvie:
The Universe is expanding.

Doctor:
The Universe is expanding?

Alvie:
Well, the Universe is everything, and if it’s expanding, someday it will break apart and that would be the end of everything.

Alvie’s mother:
He stopped doing his homework.

Alvie:
What’s the point?

Alvie’s mother:
What has the Universe got to do with it? You’re here in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is not expanding!”

Doctor:
It wont be expanding for billions of years, Alvie. And we’ve gotta try to enjoy ourselves while we’re here.

Why is it that some kids burden themselves with thoughts like these while others are content to stuff themselves silly with turkey, corn and mashed potatoes? I so want to be one of those care-free people who raises easy, playful youngsters who throw spitballs into the unsuspecting heads of classmates and giggle gleefully when the teacher accidentally strings together words like “under” and “where.” But alas, that’s just not who we are.

I actually remember my first 100% sleepless night. I was about my son’s age and was convinced that the angel of death was coming that very night to take me away. My poor father tried everything to get me to go to sleep. Finally, with a tear in his eye, he implored, “Please, Debbie, just close your eyes. I’ll stand guard all night and I promise not to open the door if he comes. Just go to sleep!”

I guess the sad thing here is that this whole experience just confirms what I’ve known all along; that children really are just mirrors that showcase every flaw, fault and foible of our own misguided psyches. Genetics, my friends, are inescapable.

It’s all kind of depressing. In fact, sometimes I find it so disheartening that I relate completely to Annie Hall’s brother, Duane, (played eerily by a young Christopher Walken), who behind the wheel of his automobile,
confesses to Alvie while speeding down a darkened freeway, “Sometimes I have a sudden impulse to turn the wheel quickly, head-on into an oncoming car. I anticipate the explosion, the sound of shattering glass, the…flames rising out of the flowing gasoline.”

Alvie is stumped for a reply but spits out, “Right,” just as they pull to a stop, “Well, I have to — I have to go now, Duane, because I’m due back on the planet earth.”

Sometimes it sucks to be me. I desperately want to see myself as Audrie Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” or Meryl Streep in “Out of Africa.” But no matter how hard I try, my true alter ego wont let me forget that I’m really just a female version of a Jewish, neurotic, anxiety-ridden Alvie Singer.

Just desserts

I am crushed. I just discovered a betrayal of monumental proportion. My favorite restaurant is deliberately utilizing sophisticated, pre-meditated, cognitive techniques in order to manipulate my behavior and psychologically pressure me into doing what they want me to do. This is one of those horrifying realities you try hard not to believe. But at a certain point, you can no longer deny the subversive tactics being employed against you.

I have a favorite eatery. It is one of those restaurants I never tire of frequenting. Their food is delicious, relatively low cal, fresh, filling and nutritious. And they have fabulous desserts. The greatest thing about their desserts is that nothing is ever over 475 calories. Plus the desserts are incredibly eye-pleasing, decadent and small enough to avoid any kind of post-repast guilt or remorse. I always order dessert at this restaurant. Until yesterday.

Yesterday I met my mom and sister-in-law at my fave spot late in the afternoon. I just wanted coffee since I’d eaten several hours earlier. But both of them were hungry and ordered lunch. After they’d finished eating and our table had been cleared, our server came by, dessert tray in hand, and began laying out clean napkins and silverware for dessert. “I don’t think anyone is going to indulge,” I kindly remarked to save him the trouble of replacing all of the utensils and painstakingly describing each of the 10 stunning desserts before us.

He continued placing the silverware, though, as if he hadn’t heard me. My sister-in-law chimed in, “I don’t think we’re going to order dessert.” Again he ignored us and started to describe the first item on the tray, a healthy peach melba housed in a miniature shot glass.

It was then that I realized something astounding. I felt guilty. I felt guilty that he’d gone to all that trouble to lay out the table for dessert and I suddenly felt compelled, out of some kind of misguided sense of duty, to indulge in one of the tiny, tasty treats. I didn’t actually want to eat dessert. I’ve been very disciplined the last few days, adhering to my daily weight watcher point limit. Dessert was the farthest thing from my mind. But I was going to order one simply because I suddenly felt compelled to not hurt his feelings. Rationally, I realized the absurdity of this. But emotionally I’d been hooked. This realization, however, ignited my inner will. “We don’t want dessert!” I announced emphatically.

The server was taken aback by my assertive stance. He looked stunned, and hurt, like I’d shocked him, wounded him, rudely interrupted him. “But I have to finish,” he stammered. “It’s restaurant policy.” And at that moment, everything became clear. “You mean, that’s why you kept placing the dessert spoons and napkins on the table even though we said we didn’t want anything?” I inquired. Then he confessed, “Oh yeah. There’s a whole psychology to getting people to order dessert.”

Feeling guilty? Try not ordering one.

“Please don’t tell anyone,” he fearfully implored, “And if anyone asks, I did describe every dessert. OK?” We assured him of our loyalty and he defeatedly collected the spoons, napkins, and dessert tray and slunk away. His disappointment was palpable.

My sister-in-law picked up the tab. I bet she left him a hefty tip in response to his despondent demeanor. But wait a minute, maybe that was simply another form of emotional manipulation. Maybe he was merely feigning dismay in order to secure a few more gratuity percentage points. I wouldn’t put it past him.

It really is true. Once trust is destroyed in a relationship you can never go back.

A spoonful of chocolate helps the medicine go down

What mom? I didn't have any chocolate. Really.

Ah, “Love and Logic,” the parenting protocol based on natural consequences. Where you don’t fight. You don’t negotiate. You don’t even engage in power struggles. You simply allow consequences to occur as they would in real life. Sounds fairly simple. Until it involves the dreaded, delectably delicious cocoa bean.

Seriously, I stumbled into hell on this lesson. My 11 year old son, Levi, was in his school play last week. As a special opening night gift, we gave him one of those ginormous dark chocolate bars that realistically could serve as dessert for a dinner party of 40 people. We’re not usually big fans of food rewards, but we made an exception this time and he was elated.

He carefully gnawed away at it over the week, demonstrating remarkable self control. He never had more than a square at a time, only allowed himself his small portion after meals, and generously shared with all who asked. Everything was going splendidly. Until the other day.

As we were leaving for school, I noticed a hunk of chocolate in his hand. “Not in the morning,” I gently reminded. “O.K.,” he answered. He then proceeded to bite off a chunk of it, his back turned to me, and pretended to return it in its entirety to the fridge. My 
“Love and Logic” voice kicked in. “Ohhhhhhh…,” I softly murmured. “Bad choice.”

Now my children have learned to dread these types of soothing sighs and understated comments about their choices. They know that when they hear those, the other shoe is surely going to drop, even if they can’t predict when, where or how. Levi started back-pedaling immediately. “What?” he challenged, “I put it back. Come on, mom. What did I do?” Like a well scripted actor, I merely repeated the lines Id been rehearsing for all these months. “Not to worry, sweetie.” And off to school we went.

When I got home later that morning, I knew what had to be done. I also knew that given my affinity for the dark, rich indulgence, this was going to be a challenge. But I powered on, opening the fridge and directly confronting the thick, Belgian, beauty, stoically staring back at me with those wide, innocent squares, and sweetly alluring scent. I cradled it into my arms, my heart filled with as much sorrow as Abraham must have felt on Mount Moriah as he prepared to sacrifice his beloved Isaac. “No,” I lamented as I dropped the edible delicacy unceremoniously into the garbage can. There was no turning back.

No one ever said motherhood was going to be easy. But I never imagined It would test me like this. One can only hope that lessons of this depth will need only to be learned once.

Magic or madness; the choice is up to you

“What are you thankful for?” My mother-in-law asked as we sat down to our sumptuous Thanksgiving dinner. This being one of our family’s annual traditions, I was excited to hear what my two sons had to say about gratitude. My little one led off with a short but sweet account of being grateful for family and friends, and not surprisingly added a thankful shout out to the NFL and NCAA football associations.

A few other guests shared their tales of gratefulness which led to my older son, Levi’s, turn at bat. “I’m grateful for everyone at this table and everything on this table,” he managed to slur out in between massive mouthfuls of mashed potatoes. Now, normally, that might be enough of an answer for an 11 year old boy. But this seemed oddly abrupt for my theatrically inclined, loquacious eldest son who has never missed an opportunity to speak in front of an attentive crowd.

I didn’t worry too much about it though and followed carefully as the rest of the guests offered up gratefulness for family, health, friendship, children, spouses, love, and all the other usual suspects. Then came my eldest nephew’s chance to speak. This kid’s like a 17 year old rock star; bright, athletic, popular, funny. He’s got it all. He gave a thoughtful speech about his parents, teachers and clergy keeping him grounded and on track and thanked his younger sister for being his best friend and ardent supporter through thick and thin. But he didn’t stop there. He spoke for another 7 or 8 minutes thanking mentors, friends he’d grown up with and even his two young cousins which put a smile on both my boys’ faces.

With everyone’s gratitude out of the way, we went back to eating and resumed our regularly scheduled conversations. Suddenly, my eldest son announced that he had much more to add to his earlier remarks on thankfulness. He stood up, called for attention and explained that he had been unusually brief before due to excessive hunger. Now that he’d already snarfed several servings of all of his favorite Thanksgiving delights, he was ready to begin his gratitude homily.

He then went on to…go on…and on…and on, about all the things for which he was thankful. Everyone smiled and cooed at his lengthy, detailed list that seemed to last an eternity. Finally, I gave him the “wrap it up” gesture along with a slightly irritated eye ball bulge that said, “Alright already. It’s enough!” He took the cue, just before I had to pull him away from the table with a large, old fashioned crook handled cane.

Not at all dismayed, my son turned tail and headed back to the buffet for yet another heaping serving of holiday treats. By the time dessert rolled around, he was moaning in tummy distention in one of the guest bedrooms. When we finally packed up the leftovers and headed home, his gratefulness centered solely on being able to unbutton his now too tight trousers and know that soon he and his bloated belly would be happily tucked into bed to sleep off his Thanksgiving binge.

This morning I found him cheerfully chowing on some of his leftover faves without even a hint of remorse about last night’s overindulgence. “Can we go to the mall today?” he asked expectantly as I sleepily emerged from my bedroom. “Are you insane?” I retorted. “It’s Black Friday. Do you not remember the chaos from last year?” And that’s when I realized that being a kid means you get to forget all the bad stuff, like over-eating, tummy aches and aggressive shopping crowds. I tried to remember when exactly my view of “holiday magic” got replaced with “holiday madness.” Whenever it was, maybe I need to try harder to remember the good stuff and not get so focused on what’s wrong with this time of year.

Funny how putting your attention on gratitude can refocus your view of the world. Well, onward we go. We’re off to the mall to spend money we don’t have on things nobody needs in stores full of hostile shoppers. Sounds fun, don’t ya think?

Turkey sex

They're real and they're spectacular!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I heard this interview on NPR the other day with Stephen Dubner, the author of Freakonomics, and I just can’t get it out of my mind. He asked Kai Ryssdal what percentage of the 40 million Thanksgiving turkeys Americans will eat this year are products of artificial insemination. Ryssdal made a few guesses and then Dubner amazed him with the answer; 100%.

Although I didn’t quite understand why, I found that factoid moderately disturbing. Then, Dubner went on to explain why our friendly fowl aren’t doing it anymore these day. This put me over the edge.

As is usually the case with sex, it’s all about appetite. Only in this case, it’s more about human appetite than turkey hunger. You see, Americans have an overwhelming preference for breast meat. (I’ll leave you to unravel the psychology behind that.) So to meet the demand for that most sumptuous body part, the turkey industry turned their backs on traditional turkeys in favor of breeding the broad-breasted white turkey which has been selectively bred to have the largest breasts possible.

The caveat to messing with mother nature, however, is that sometimes there are serious repercussions. According to this chick from the USDA, the turkey breasts are now so large that they actually get in the way and make old-fashioned turkey sex impossible.

Isn’t that…ironic…and…weird? So to satisfy our appetites for breast meat, we’ve done away with turkey coitus. Somehow that just doesn’t seem right to me.

I was explaining this to my dancer friend the other night and she said it sounded a lot like what happened in her burlesque dance class this week. For anyone who doesn’t know, Burlesque is a form of dance designed to allure and tease men sexually. She usually draws a big crowd on Wednesday nights. But this week a couple of the regulars were missing. When she inquired as to their whereabouts, she learned that one of the women couldn’t dance for a few weeks due to breast enhancement surgery. The other was out because she had had to schedule her quarterly Botox treatment that day. (Apparently, you cannot dance the same day you inject.)

At first I didn’t make the connection. But after a moment, I realized how frightfully similar these human behaviors were to our abstinent avians. The truth is, we spend so much time trying to force our bodies to look sexually appealing that we skip the act that might really lead us to sexual fulfillment. The women in the dance class spent time, energy and wads of cash to look alluring in order to attract romantic (or sexual) partners.

The turkeys were being designed with ever-increasing sexual organs, only to be unable to actually follow through with the act. The only difference I can see here is that, unlike the turkeys, the women actually chose their bodily disfigurement. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not slamming anyone for choosing cosmetic surgery. I’m just pointing out that there’s often a price to pay for messing with what nature gave us.

So think twice before ingesting that hormone bloated turkey breast this Thanksgiving. Maybe a good ol’ drumstick will do the trick instead.

Leggo my Eggo!

Stay away from my dinner!

I eat out a lot. Partly because I hate to cook. But even more because I abhor cleaning up. Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, it’s not as healthy as eating at home. But it’s fast, fun and makes my life a whole lot easier. But here’s the thing; I apparently missed the memo to all food service professionals regarding clearing away dirty dishes the nano-second they become “inactive.”

It happens everywhere, and it’s driving me batty. The minute you take your last bite, or someone seems to think you’ve taken your last bite, a person emerges out of the shadows and surreptitiously swipes your supper before you can say Wolfgang Puck. It’s particularly problematic if you were saving your orange garnish for a final palette cleanser or hoped to sop up some spaghetti sauce with a piece of leftover sourdough.

I’ve tried to remain silent on this subject and just go with the flow. But, A, I’m mentally incapable of going with the flow. And B, We hit an all time high on the annoyance Richter scale the other night and I just need to talk about it.

My husband and I had a lovely meal at the White Chocolate Grill in our neighborhood. The food was delicious, the waiter attentive and the atmosphere was elegant yet comfortable. All was well. Until we got to the final thirds of our entrees. That’s when the vultures began circling. One black clad server stealthily snagged the remainder of my husband’s rotisserie chicken as she swept by in such a smooth and fluid motion, it was as if she had performed a Houdini sleight-of-hand maneuver. Luckily his reflexes are sharp. He grabbed the plate back and asserted loudly that he was still working on his dinner. After a few stunned moments, we relaxed back into our meals. But as I distractedly raised my water glass to my lips, I noticed the remnants of my Ahi salad had been snatched. I called out to the young thief. But, alas, it was too late. He had disappeared into a sea of ebony outfitted employees. “I guess I’m finished,” I sadly conceded.

Then, as if carefully choreographed, servers approached, lifted and removed each and every plate, glass and utensil that adorned our two-top. My husband had to ask for a new water glass because someone had commandeered his as he carelessly lost sight of it while lamenting the loss of his sugar-snap peas. At one point, he was so irked that he placed a leftover empty salad plate at the edge of the table to tempt one of the passing waiters. But as soon as she eyed it and moved in for the kill, he swept his napkin over it and slid it to safety beneath the table. Then, not finding this at all amusing, she outstretched her hand like a stern school teacher who had discovered the classroom clown hiding a perilous pea-shooter. “I’m going to take it anyway,” she chastised, “so you might as well give it up.”

At this point, I looked around in search of cameras or a grip or gaffer in case we were victims of some new Ashton Kutcher reality show. But, lo and behold, I found none. We finally called over the manager and inquired about this over-the-top team effort to rid our area of dirty dishes. “Full hands in,” he replied professionally, “Full hands out. It keeps us efficient.” It wasn’t hard for us to read between these lines as we eyed the cue of hungry incoming at the hostess stand.

Before he got around to offering us a free bread pudding we didn’t want, we thanked him, laid down our cash and excused ourselves. After all, we know when we’re not wanted.

Why I eat grapefruit

Behold; my beloved acrid orb

I eat grapefruit because I’m selfish. It’s a repugnant realization. But I have to be straight. I mean, if you’re not gonna be honest with yourself, how can anyone else believe anything you say?

I came to this objectionable awareness the other day after my children devoured two flats of Costco strawberries, three giant Jazz apples from A.J.’s, a bulging bag of juicy, seedless purple grapes, and two pints of exorbitantly priced blueberries from the farmer’s market. You see, nothing is ever mine! And it’s not fair. I get hungry too.

I go to some type of grocery store every single day because my children love fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables more than life itself. I know you’re thinking, “and she has a problem with that?” But hear me out. It’s all well and good until my husband or I venture into the kitchen with a craving for a crisp cucumber or a newly picked peach. It’s never there! They eat EVERYTHING! This is not hyperbole. You can ask anyone who’s ever shared a snack with my boys. They’ll bypass the deep fried mozzarella sticks, skip the salty potato puffs, and opt instead for a platter of peppers or an extra helping of honeydew. The other day I nuked a bunch of brussel sprouts only to discover them completely eaten by the time I set the table for dinner.

Thus I have turned to grapefruit. It is bitter, tough to peel, and time consuming to ingest. Three traits that ensure my boys will avoid it like gluten. Loosely interpreted, this means that I can fill the fruit bowl with several of my acrid orbs on Monday and when I finally get around to eating them on Wednesday, they will still be there! I can even sit down on the coach, in full view of my children, and indulge in my citrus sections without fear of having to share even one slice with those irresistible imps arguing over the tv remote control.

I know it’s ugly. I should be ashamed. But sometimes, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Hmmm…maybe I’ll start eating liver.