Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Well, This Sucks

There are nights I wish we lived in the fifties again. The nineteen fifties, not the temperature although nights in the fifties would be damn pleasant compared to the other climactic extremes we sometimes try and sleep through.

There are the winter nights where, by the time you get home from work and cajole the furnace to kick it up a notch or two, it's purt near time for bed and the house is still a snapping sixty two. This means a whole lot of shaking going on under the covers and since I live alone that's basically spastic body jerks trying to garner some heat as I've forgotten to put flannel sheets on the bed again.

The opposite extreme is of course the sweltering summer night where the temperature hangs on to the mid eighties like Wally Mondale hoping for a second shot. Sure you can turn the window air conditioner on but if its the first heat of the season and you're me, chances are the window unit is somewhere in the basement under the Christmas decorations you just took down last week. Getting it involves lights, stairs, opening windows, hoping the cat doesn't make a charge for it, jerking you off your balance as you try and deflect her latest attempt to fly over these prison walls and chances are you will be back at Wallymart the next morning anyway as you've dumped the unit out of a second floor bedroom window.

Nope. Give me consistent nights in the fifties. Good sleeping weather as a New England weatherman used to say and the ex and I would look at each other, breathe a sigh of relief in that at least tonight we had a reason to leave each other alone. I can doze until the cows come home and crap all over the new rug.

But I'm after fifties, the decade. Ike, A-bombs, big chrome gasoline powered monsters and a sigh of relief that we take take a little vacation after saving the world.

I'd like to bring back the cocktail hour from that era. I think its a damn civil ritual that we've gotten too far away from. A good highball at the end of a hard day is a fitting reward for having gone through that day and ample incentive to try another one just like it tomorrow.

Last night was one of those nights after one of those days and Thumper and I gave it a whirl on a purely experimental basis. But it seemed to be working. The gin was measured out, the shaker filled with ice and the olives lined up for the perfect red vermouth sweet martini. One of the local barkeeps calls it a "Gin Manhattan" where as I prefer a "Bond Free Martini." Whatever the nomenclature, its a damn fine drink, we poured two into chilled glasses and set about having dinner.

The sink in the knob and tube is an odd thing. It works just fine but is a single bowl with a garbage disposal in its center that kind of leers at you like an all-consuming maw. There's no strainer or impediment to water flow into the maw other than a rubber skirt that runs around the edge of the unholy orifice and really just re-directs stuff into the center of the processor. I've used the thing once or twice on cat food or limp pasta but generally I'm not keen on dumping pounds of solids into the sewer system since the piping at the knob and tube could conceivably still be hollowed out log for all I know. The place is old.

Thumper did dinner so I did dishes. I'm running the water and its filling the sink which is not really the point. If I wanted to soak the dishes in water that was pretty much just a more fluid version of dinner I'd have the cats lick the plate clean and be done with it. So I evacuated the rest of the cutlery out of the sink, gave it a good rinse and that being the last of the dirty stuff, planned to hit the disposal switch and give some mechanical encouragement to the water that felt it had to stand around like me at a high school dance. Except I didn't. For some reason I reasoned that there might be more than just an old detrius impediment to the water draining. I reached my hand past the rubble skirt into the guts of the thing and hoped not to come across an errant floater of a pork chop. What I found was the bullet shaped top of the martini shaker.

Now there's disaster neatly averted.

Like I said, the shaker top is bullet shaped. Its smooth and doesn't really allow you purchase with your hand. Add to that you're in a restricted space, your hand is the size of a holiday ham with kielbasa fingers and you add up pretty quickly that you're not going to just reach in and grab this thing. So you flip it over and get a hold of an edge. Gently coax it up but the rubber skirt impedes the opening like a plumbing hovercraft from hell. Stuff some tongs down into the maw and the same skirt is getting in your way. Thumper's more delicate hand is also no match for the abyss so you've got to start using some cranial matter to get to this thing which of course is not easy in that it was a very good martini, but now its over.

Thankfully, the brain is only addled. Unlike a civil servant, it remains functional on some level.

Grab the bulb of the recently semi retired gravy baster, give it a good squeeze and let the force of a vacuum get a hold of the smooth nose of the cone and hoist it up. Nice try but you get a slurping sound. In addition to the one you're making getting the last of the martini, its the gravy baster bulb losing its purchase on the nosecone.

This is America. Never force anything. Use a bigger hammer.

The damn rubber skirt continues to irk me so, given my relative valuation of a garbage disposal versus a martini shaker, a sharp kitchen knife makes quick work of cutting the skirt out.

Then there's a vacuum cleaner close and handy. Snap the extension onto the hose, stuff it down the drain until you hit the shaker cover and, voila! Out comes the thing to gleam in the halogen spots another day!

I live in town. The houses are close together and the windows are generally uncovered. We're a friendly neighborhood. I shut the vacuum down, the nose cone dropped into my hand and I looked up to see my neighbor sort of standing by his kitchen window, sort of watching all the theatrics going on in mine.

After a one handed sink massage, I pointed a knife at the drain and finally stuffed a vacuum hose down it. I can only imagine him wishing he had the soundtrack to the action.

We're due over there in a week or so for the annual holiday open house. I'm sure he'll have some interesting questions about last night. I'm sure I'll have some interesting answers. Maybe we'll share them over a drink.

Bunny on.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Wait Until It Stops Kicking and Blowing Air Bubbles

There are epiphanies in life. Some are as apparent as the girl you meet in the restaurant that you know you'll never see again after dinner. Of your choosing or of hers. Depends.

If she's doing the discarding, you smile as you recognize her from her on-line picture or description by a friend or whatever. She in turn recognizes you and kind of rolls her eyes or gives a slight sneer and you turn around because you KNOW it's because you're being followed by Osama Bin Laden. I mean, why else would she sneer?

If you're the discarder, its because you recognize her and realize there's been some stretching of the .com truth. As a matter of fact, if the truth were a rubber band, you could pretty much slingshot Venus with it by now. Body style: "Curvy" means fat. "A few extra pounds" means the door jambs at home get slathered in Crisco so she can get out to the grocery store. You on the other hand have been as honest as the day is long and it's not your fault that the closest descriptor of your hair color is "salt and pepper" because "flesh colored" was not an option.

Other epiphanies sort of catch you long after they've passed from the moment. Uncle Dave belonged to a lot of sports clubs and never really had a steady girlfriend because...

Your high school principal did not have persistent morning headaches and bloodshot eyes because of alergies. Particularly not in winter.

And then there are the epiphanies you slip into like a warm bath. The ones that you see coming from afar, the water is running and you slip out of your robe. "Curvy" is perhaps an update you need to load onto your internet description runs through your mind. You pull back the curtain and step into the tub and envelop yourself in the latest "oh boy!" realization that things are going to change for you again...

Big time.

Thanksgiving is just ending and the ghost of the turkey has not yet begun to haunt my ass cheeks. The inflatable jack o' lanterns have been replaced with the inflatable turkeys and they now are succumbing to inflatable santas, snowmen, strange plastic balls that bombard toy trains with merciless torrents of petroleum-based snow. In some neighborhoods, the inflatable menorrahs are coming out, a new candle filled with air each day for eight days to celebrate the miracle of the temple not being re-zoned for a Wal-Mart super center. I can't wait for Martin Luther King's birthday to mature to see what lawn ornament gets trotted out for that one.

This Thanksgiving was quite pleasant in that the bird was juicy, the company well-behaved and the sweet potatoes did not self-immolate in the mother of all grease fires. But I was ill-equipped for the holiday and had to go shopping for a turkey roasting pan a few days ago. These roasting pans account for about seven percent of global steel consumption annually in their sheer size. They are either big enough to roast an average size bird or a humvee. Whichever you prefer and don't kid yourself that you use them any more than once a year. After the Thanksgiving feast you clean out a garage bay for the thing to stay in or bury it in the hole that used to house your swimming pool or rent a commercial airplane hangar from which you can pick up up from next year.

I bought my pan this year along with an oven thermometer along with a spatula. The thermometer was to be scape-goated if anything went wrong with the turkey. The spatula was for something else entirely.

A few months ago Thumper, the woman I'm dating, burned a spatula at her mother's. It was red. The spatula, not Thumper, although I can't speak for her mother having only been ignored by her once in our relationship to date. Mother has re-decorated the kitchen in a red impliment motif. Lord knows why but it being the middle part of a middle state perhaps this is what passes for excitement out there when Aunty Lou isn't being sucked out of her trailer by the latest tornado. At any rate, Thumper promised to replace the red spatula and casually mentioned it to me who has been poking around various gourmet food stores. And there it was in Bed and Bath and Beyond and Then Some or Ladies Home Depot or whatever the place is called. In addition to toting around my roasting pan I was now holding a red spatula high above me like an enemie's head impaled on a tenderizing hammer. A friend called me on the phone because he was bored and while I was explaining to him what I was doing and why I was doing it and what I had bought and why the warm bath was drawn and I gleefully got in.

Bachelorhood as I know it, seems to be over for me. Like an old friend drowning I am standing idle at the shore watching it slip beneath the waves, whacking it on the forehead from time to time with a red spatula if it seems to be gaining a grip on the shore. In my indifference to its fate, I don't think it has much of a chance.

Sure I'm still keeping an eye open now and then. We chanced across a realtor a few weeks ago as we were looking for a new house together (glug!) We had met her before at another venue while we were looking for investment properties. She remembered us (glug) and after the open house I noted that she was, um, er, a kind of attractive woman.

Thumper said she was and was glad I had noticed. It wouldn't be normal not to. Of course, further demonstrations of my heterosexuality were unnecessary.

But basically my second solo act is drawing to a close. Not in a hurry. There are a few things to be taken care of but just as slowly and surely as you approach a red wine hangover after the fourth dead Syrah soldier I seem to be heading for this altered state.

In the meantime there's still time for a little play and we do have a new red spatula. True to our word, we'll give it to her mother as a replacement but suggest that she wash it thoroughly before she flips her first short stack.

Bunny on.

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