Friday, March 25, 2005

Wanna bone?

Much has been made recently of my distaste for food that involves bones. I’ll own up to cutting all the meat off barbecue ribs and disposing of the bones before I’ll eat a bite. I’m perfectly comfortable telling people that once I get one of those accidentally-left-behind bones in a piece of fish, my meal is officially over. And don’t even get me started on those giant turkey* legs people heft around at fairs and amusement parks. I shudder even typing about them.

My whole no-bone obsession was revealed as a corollary to an unfortunate reminiscence about a field trip to Medieval Times; you see, apparently they had Pepsi in the Olde Days, but they didn’t have utensils, so at MT, you have to eat everything with your hands. The main course is some sort of poultry product (I’ve blocked specifics) that requires you to navigate around all kinds of bones with no fork-and-knife support to prevent direct contact: you either touch the bones as you’re ripping into the meat with your bare hands, or you get an unexpected mouthful of bone after you’ve taken a bite. Neither of those bone-discovery options really do it for me. I’m gagging right now, actually.

Add to the gross-out factor of dealing with your own bone-riddled hunk of fowl the fact that you have to observe other people dealing with their entrees. Here’s where I think my major hang-ups kick in. Say Medieval Times to me today, and instead of conjuring images of majestic knights engaging in heroic sport, I think of fat, balding men sporting unbuttoned Wranglers and wife beaters with yellow underarm circles, sucking poultry grease off their thick fingers, gnashing their teeth to rip tough sinew from the knobby ends of bones, and then licking those bones clean.** Ew.

Of course, in typical Erin fashion, I’ve made a big, dramatic to-do of rejecting all foods that haven’t been completely de-boned; if I absolutely must consume an un-de-boned meat, I’ll do the de-boning myself, get the bones as far away from my plate as possible, and continue politely with my meal.***

But alas, there is an exception to every rule and, likewise, to every endearing eating quirk. Buffalo wings, in my case, are that exception.

Mary and I started doing the low-carb thing, so Buffalo wings were bound to come up sooner or later. I already drench everything else in buffalo sauce, so what’s unhandle-able about chicken wings? Bones. That’s what. But I agreed to do the wing thing, and I have to admit, I’ve done a complete 180 from my initial horrific perception of Buffalo wings.

Here’s the thing: it’s not worth getting out a fork and a knife to cut the meat from the bone of chicken wings (I’ve tried.) The input far outweighs the output. I came to terms with that fairly easily.

But what’s more, I also realized that, in the privacy of one’s own home (i.e. away from the finger-lickin’ bone-suckin’ masses) Buffalo wings can be downright sexy. I think with a little practice and the development of some patent-worthy maneuvers, I could actually eat Buffalo wings seductively.
Think about it: there’s something inherently attractive about a girl who can throw back a plate of freakin’ spicy chicken, just like the boys, right?**** Now factor in the natural reactions: the throbbing lips, the single bead of sweat on the forehead, the touch that burns the skin a little, even after a hand-washing. Throw in a coy look and – alright – a little provocative finger sucking, and you’ve got, like, the hottest eating experience ever. Totally sexy … see?

I really think I could pull this off, even with my bone-induced gag reflex. I can overcome. I can be sexy while eating Buffalo wings.

As a sidenote, if you’re privy to my little show, please remind me to wash my hands thoroughly before attempting to remove my contacts (or do anything else with my hands.) Ah! The burning!

* Discourse on my bone-o-phobia as it relates to fowl led to the revelation of another of my pet peeves: calling a turkey The Bird. “How much does The Bird weigh this year?” “What time did you get up to put The Bird in the oven?” Gross! Nobody says “How much longer ‘til you’re finished frying The Pig?” or “Do you want The Cow medium rare?”.

** I guess it’s better than thinking about the Black Plague. But still…

*** This elaborate de-boning (and de-fatting, and de-gristling) process drives my mom crazy, and usually has me taking my first bite as the less picky clear their dishes.

**** This may be a false perception. But I’ve convinced myself that there are certain “traditionally masculine” things I do – loving Home Depot and chugging cheap beer, to name a few – that are simply irresistible. Allow me the fantasy, OK?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

If line 37 is $107,025 or less, multiply $3,100 by the total number of exemptions claimed on line 6B

“It’s time you learned how to do your own taxes. What if Dad died tomorrow?”

“Then you’d help me do my taxes.”

“I don’t know how to do taxes. And what if I died tomorrow, too?”

“Well, then I’d have bigger problems than figuring out who’s going to do my taxes.”

“Don’t be smart. You need to learn. You at least need to know about the financial planner.”

“Wait. We have a financial planner? Why don’t you just give me his info and I’ll get him to do my taxes?”

“What if the financial planner dies tomorrow? You need to know how to do your own taxes.”

“I think if both my parents and my financial planner died tommorrow, the IRS would cut me some slack.”

{I used to think I had the answers to everything}

So, yeah, I learned how to do my own taxes this weekend. And by “learned,” I mean “got some vague, shadowy idea of.”

I did what my dad called “the Reader’s Digest version” of my 1040, forms A, B, C, C-EZ* etc. etc.... I cross-referenced The Book and The Chart and “last year’s dividends and returns.” I added Line 22 to Line 36, subtracted the set amount as dictated by The Book (see page 35) from line 43, flipped to The Chart and extracted the random figure $318 from the matrix of dollars plotted against filing status.

{Feels like I’m caught in the middle/ That’s when I realize...}

“... ‘Taxable Interest, attach Schedule B if required’” (dig through stack of papers, find Schedule B) “OK, joint filing, blah blah blah. No that’s not me... Filing singly...”

“You’re single.”

“Yes, I’m fully aware. Thank you, though, for reminding me.”

{All I need is time/ A moment that is mine/ While I’m in between}

“This part will be easy. ‘Alimony Received?’ None. ‘Capital Gain or Loss?’ None.”

“Wrong.”

“Wrong? I have capital loss? How much?”

“Eh, about $31,000. You lost some oil wells this year.”

“I lost some oil wells this year?

“Yeah. It’s no big deal.”

“Fine. ‘Capital loss?’ $31,000. Now. ‘Rental real estate, royalties, partnerships, S-partnerships...’ None.”

“Wrong.”

“Wrong? I’m supposed to be getting royalties? From what?”

“No. You’re secretary in the Partnership.”

“Secretary in what Partnership? What am I...in the mob?”

“Don’t worry about it. You’re secretary in the Partnership. It’ll all be taken care of when I run this through TurboTax.”

“Oh. Right. OK ‘Trusts.” Hey, I’m secretary in the Partnership, surely I must have a trust out there. Right? Riiiight?”

“Keep going.”

“Alright. ‘Farm Income or Loss.’ Ha! Know I don’t have that one.”

“Wrong.”

“What the...! I quit!”

“Corn futures.”

“Corn futures?”

“Corn futures.”

“I really have those? I thought corn was just like a big family joke. Not something I’d have to consider on my freakin’ taxes!”

“Keep going.”

(Much goes off without a hitch; I calculate moving expenses -- $0, even though I’m fairly sure I spent about a billion dollars moving to Chicago, then back to Texas -- and ‘office expenses’ -- $250, “for copies and faxes.” I don’t even know how to fax. If the IRS is reading this, I was assured that “it’ll all be taken care of when I run this through TurboTax,” so, please, blame technology.)

“Alright. Almost done. I know I don’t have any of these things. ‘Foreign Tax?’ Yeah right.”

“Wrong.”

“I have to pay foreign taxes? To what country? Wait! Do I have a Swiss account? That would be wicked! It would be worth paying foreign taxes. ‘Just take it out of my Swiss account.’”

“No. No Swiss accounts. Dutch accounts. And French.”

“Bah. I’ll tell people they’re Swiss.”

{This girl will always find her way}

So I’m done with my taxes for this year. Pretty painless, considering a.) I’ve had three jobs in the past taxing period, and b.) one of those jobs was at AssPubs, where I was paid out of the editor’s personal checkbook with no taxes taken out.

Actually, doing taxes was borderline amusing; my dad used a bright yellow pencil with a little plastic fishbowl in place of the eraser, and every time he wrote something down, the beads inside the fishbowl rattled.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Does the "I'm Blogging This" t-shirt come in green?

Ahh... How do I begin a post sure to be fraught with ellipses and semi-drunken meanderings?

How ‘bout with the carnations?

Nah… too obvious.

Oh, I know. How ‘bout the casual utterance of the question, “… so do you go to church around here?” before I even had a drink in my hand?

No. That’s mean.

Ooh! I’ve got it! Let’s start with the Confederate. Flag. Belt. Buckle.

Yes! Aha! A suitable start-point. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.*

St. Patrick’s Day, and what’s an Irish girl to do? (If you said, “Go on a blind date! Get wasted to avoid talking to said blind date! Actually employ the old ‘I have to wash my hair’ excuse!”... you win - hippie.)

So… yeah. Confederate flag belt buckle. Also:

1.) The Mullet (at once greasy and dry and frizzy. How does that happen?)

2.) The Sears’ Credit Card (as in, “I got sick of doing laundry at my parents’, so I bought me a washer and dryer. Spent ‘bout half the limit on ma Sears’ credit card.”)

3.) The Night Classes at Eastwood Community College (Me: “What did you study?” Him: “Ah, Automotive. Just two credits shy of getting’ ma degree. One of ‘em’s Algebra. Never did like no math. Only math I needs to know’s number hours ah worked times number dollars ah get per hour. Still need me a calculator to figger that out, though. Heh heh.”)

4.) The Fact That He Consumed One Beer to My Three (can’t fault him on that one though, really.)

5.) The Stubby, Oil-coated Fingers With Nails Chewed Down to the Quick (apropos, given the day’s earlier conversations about wife-beater-sporting Medieval Times-goers, and bone-licking-with-subsequent-finger-licking. I was asking for it, wasn’t I? Foreshadowing City, population… you know.)

6.) The Carnations (not quite good enough to lead off with, but worth mentioning nonetheless.)

7.) The Chain Wallet (‘nough said.)

8.) The Talking to My Chest Maneuver (I suppose he can’t be blamed for that one...)

9.) The Following Conversation Starter: “So I was at the liquor store, buyin’ my boss his Christmas present…” (Yeah, I don’t know.)

10.) This: “Right now I don't really have any goals to speak of. I am just living day to day” (published on those darn Internets, for all to see.)

I guess, in a way, this is a good thing. I got a few free drinks (although I paid my own cover because I knew from the carnations that I wasn’t going to be calling this guy back.) I got the motivation to write the rare mid-week blog update. I got a great laugh, with more to come, I’m sure. And I got tipsy. Everyone in the club’s doin’ it, or so I hear.

Also, I got to use my Coach purse – and the ‘washing my hair’ excuse – for the first time. What a productive night!

*I could, actually, make this stuff up if I tried. But what on Earth would possess me to try? It’s so much better when based on actuality.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

I used to think 'Magenta' was pronounced like magnetta

t’s amazing all the things you can draw with a box of crayons that consists of nothing but the browns. Sepia. Burnt Umber and Raw Umber. Tan. Basic Brown. Burnt Sienna.

I’m sure there were a few others left – there were always a few purples (Plum, namely) that weren’t worth taking, and it’s practically proven fact that no one’s ever done anything notable with White – but the browns stood out because they were all there, sharp, waxy-smelling, utterly unused, toppled almost deliberately against the sides of otherwise empty cardboard separators.

All I can say is, Thank God it was Thanksgiving. Turns out you can draw a mean ear of Indian corn with just the browns.

I had to have a new box of Crayolas – the biggest box on the market – at the start of each school year. I was convinced I needed the 64-packs with built-in sharpeners, or the 92-packs with bonus clumps of neons or metallics or flesh tones.

My mom supported my addiction partly because I was spoiled, and partly because she liked the new-crayon smell. Crayons were kind of an old-school fascination for both of us, so I’m sure she was relieved when I grew out of the crayon-hording phase just when colors with names like Macaroni and Cheese and Timberwolf replaced classic Yellow Orange and standard standby Gray.

But that didn’t happen until the early ‘90s. When I was in second grade, a 64-pack of Crayolas – arranged by color family, strategically stuffed into cardboard clusters – was the pinnacle of primary school cool. My gold-and-green box lasted a whole two and a half months before the big fall-out.

I don’t remember what girls bickered about in second grade. I recall a big to-do about who possessed the best New Kids on the Block lunch box. I was at a disadvantage here – my lunch box was a particularly heinous shade of fluorescent tangerine, while second-grade tastes leaned toward the more obvious flamingo pink – so I avoided the lunch box-based arguments altogether. I pretty much avoided all arguments, though, because, as an only child, I never really learned how to fight.

Staying out of it, however, is apparently the biggest sin imaginable in second-grade Girl World. In the fiasco aftermath, a friend told me I was a target simply because I was the only girl in class who hadn’t been in a fight yet (the nerve!)

We broke into reading groups every day (I was in “Red,” the most advanced, natch) and one day I came back to find Magenta missing from it’s space amongst the reds and pinks in my box of Crayolas. The next day, a few more were absent – Violet and Evergreen and Peach (not a great color, taken alone, but a vital one) and Turquoise. On the third day, Cerulean, my favorite, and Black, without which trying to color is futile, were gone, and soon only the oranges and browns, Cadet Blue, Plum, and Cornflower (which had a different, more translucent consistency than the other blues, rendering it near unusable) remained. Eventually, even the only-used-once Red Orange and the only-good-for-coloring-Barbie’s-hair Lemon had been taken.

Little waxy flecks of the colors that had been pulled out, used, peeled, sharpened and reorganized stuck to the exposed wax of the browns, reminders of the remaining crayons’ stagnancy.

I said nothing. I drew turkeys and brunette pilgrims in drab dresses and scenes from Little House on the Prairie. I drew outlines of faces in Tan, but didn’t color the faces in.

I tried to be discreet, asked casually for a new box of crayons. The box from the beginning of the year doesn’t have a single sharp crayon left. The Black is worn down to a nub. They don’t smell like new anymore.

No such luck.

I should have learned how to fight then and there. I knew who was taking my crayons – the box was left opened, turned toward the desk of the perpetrator, for whom being found out was obviously not an issue – so confrontation should have naturally ensued.

Not so, though. I stayed out of it once again. I borrowed Cerulean and Black and Magenta from friends, hoping they’d notice my deliberate sullenness. Cue the beginnings of an Erin trademark move: sulking not because of emotional distress but because I had what I wanted, then had it taken away.

What got me was not, as it turns out, the cruel Girl World emotional politics... you know, the ones that inspired a plot designed to stir me up and make me admit I - gasp! - have feelings. In the end, it was simply the not-having that made me jut out my lower lip in a defiant pout.

My mom finally caved (I think it was the lost-scent argument that eventually got to her), not knowing that she was enabling a long tradition of confrontation-avoidance, and spoiled-brattiness.

Even though it contained a much-coveted cluster of special-edition fluorescents, the new box went untouched. I kept it in a pencil box strategically wedged at the very back of my desk.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Hazy and Dolorus, Redux

This has been the longest weekend ever. It’s Sunday, it feels like it should be next Sunday (is that even possible? Sure it is.)

I’m in a listy mood. Actually, I’m in a very restless mood, and attempting any sort of prose would be futile, so a list it is.

This weekend:
Books: 1 finished (White Noise; much better the second time around.) 3 on the docket.
Purchases: shampoo (new brand, hair smells like flowers); bra ($50 - ! - a good investment, though)
Song: Mr. Brightside by the Killers
Beers: 1 green; 9 non-green
Walking: At least 3 miles
Sunburn: Nose and cheeks; painful,but very endearing, I think (sorry Robyn!)
Naps: 3 in one day (a record)
Home: No
Work: Yes
Laundry: No (should be yes)
Car wash: Maybe later (hunting for quarters)
Realizations: 3

a.) I am too old for this (“this” being waking up early for getting-drunk purposes, then falling into a series of non-sleeps that add up to nothing.)

b.) I am too young for this (“this” being everything aside from the scenario related above. I’m just a kid, really, despite online quizzes to the contrary.)

c.) I’m afraid I’ve lost my affinity for Diet Cherry Coke. I’m on number three of the day, and it just tastes sticky and lukewarm and lacking. But those motifs have been cropping up lately, so I’m hardly surprised they’ve weasled their way into applicability concerning even my beverage-drinking habits. It’s a habit I need to break anyway; maybe this is a sign that it’s time to get down to breaking.

It’s not like I want to go into the capital-f Future with this habit, right?