Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A love letter to thigh high stockings

Dear thigh high stockings,

I have missed you, my loves. I am so sorry I left you for that stupid schmuck, pantyhose. Pantyhose never understood me like you do. Pantyhose never fit me properly. They gave me muffin top. They left ugly lines on my body when I took them off. They didn’t let my junk breathe. I don’t know what I was thinking. But enough about them. It’s over. I will never wear pantyhose again. Thigh high stockings, you are the only hosiery for me.

I am so happy we ran into each other this past weekend. I needed sheer black hose, and all of those other hose had snags. It was destiny, serendipity, kismet. There you were in the back of the drawer, waiting patiently for years, since before I had kids. Waiting for that special night when I would pull you out of the package, gather you up in my hands, run you slowly up my legs, clip you into some garters, and go out… or stay in. You don’t care, stockings. You’re happy to go out, but you’re just as happy to stay home and make a night of it. I love that about you.

I have such beautiful memories with you, thigh high stockings. Remember our first time on an airplane together? Remember how you kept peeking out from under that too-short skirt until the nice couple next to us got up and switched seats so that the wife was next to me instead of the husband? Good times, stockings, good times.

You know what I really love about you, stockings? I love the way you make me feel. I feel sexy when I’m with you, like I have a secret. When I sit down, I love the way the garter caresses the back of my thigh, reminding me that you’re there, under my skirt. I love that little breeze on a cold night, reminding me that I am secretly naked in places that are not usually naked. I love that at any time, you might show yourself, just a little. That possibility makes me conscious of my body in a way that feels good. I walk differently, move differently, when I’m with you.

You know what else rocks about you, stockings? This might be TMI, but I think our relationship is ready for this level of intimacy. I love that I can pull down my panties to pee without having to worry about you at all. Those other leg coverings that we will not speak of, I had to pull them down, and then squeeze myself back into them again every time I had to pee. You just let me pee so easily. That’s really cool of you.

And while we’re getting intimate, my sheer silky darlings, I love that I can do anything without having to take you off. Yeah, anything. You know what I’m saying. You go from day to, ahem, evening perfectly. And it’s not just a matter of speed or convenience of… access. On the contrary, I’m told by those lucky few who have seen us together that you add a certain je ne sais quoi to the… event. Oh stockings, there is no need for euphemisms between us. When you’re around, I am far more likely to get laid. Why did I ever leave your side?

In both form and function, you are beautiful to me. One peek at you, and people look at me differently. They know I must be a certain kind of woman to be with someone like you. Thigh high stockings, you sexy little devils, I love you so. I will never leave you again.

Love, naughtiness, and secret smiles,

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Would it still be Christmas if I didn’t make cookies?

My mother makes amazing cookies. She’s a wonderful cook across the board, and while my brothers seem to have inherited more of her creative cheffiness, I got the baking thing. I make delicious, beautiful cookies. Chocolate chips, raspberry-coconut bars, oatmeal-chocolate sandwiches, sugar cookies with a hint of almond extract, walnut powdered sugar snowballs, and our traditional Hungarian family cookie, pineapple-walnut kifels. My mom’s recipes, most of them, because why mess with perfection? But I have added my own favorites over the years. Smitten Kitchen’s “World Peace” cookies. The Scandinavian almond bar recipe I snagged from my college roommate’s neighbor. And then, I also make… don’t judge me… that toffee with the saltine crackers. It is the epitome of suburban wrongness, I know, but damn, that stuff is so delicious. I just can’t help myself.

I just can’t help myself. There it is. If there are homemade cookies in the house, I will eat them. I will eat one every time I walk by the kitchen. And every time I have a meal and want a little something sweet after. And every time someone says the word “the.” I will eat them and eat them and will have to buy new pants.

So what if I just didn’t make them this year?

Just thinking about it, I feel sad. I want my kids to help me make cookies. I want them to grow up knowing how to use a rolling pin. I want them to have memories of pulling a kitchen chair up to the counter, of turning on the Kitchen Aid mixer, of learning to scrape the back of a butter knife across a measuring cup full of flour, tap tap tap tap and scrape. I want them to lick the beaters, squeeze the cookie press 1½ times to make a perfect tree, and sprinkle colored sugar and nonpareils all over my kitchen floor. When they’re old enough, I want to teach them to make my grandmother’s kifels, with the sticky, temperamental dough that requires the ruthless efficiency I inherited from her. I want their Christmas memories to include the smell of butter and sugar baking in the oven, and the taste of tradition melting in their mouths.

I would also like my ass to stop expanding.

I have so much to say about why I should make cookies. The words roll around on my tongue, like melted Scharffen Berger chocolate. The reasons not to make cookies are practical, like salad, and not even a good salad, but the sad kind of salad with the dressing on the side, where you dip your fork into the dressing to save a few more calories. If I only had the self-control, it would be a no-brainer.

But, you see, I don’t. I can have a lot of things in the house. Oreos, Reese’s cups, brownies (from a box or from the grocery store… from-scratch brownies don’t last long around me). I can have things in the house that are sweet and naughty, and most of the time, I don’t really want them. Because, truthfully, they’re not that good. I mean, Reese’s cups are pretty good, but not, like, my mom’s chocolate chip cookies good. Not like little miniature pineapple pastry good. Not like two oatmeal cookies glued together with chocolate good.

My relationship with food is complicated, clearly. It means home, and love, and tradition, and family to me. As I chop up vegetables for yet another salad in hopes of saying goodbye to the plus sizes, or finally ditching that "2" in the first digit on the scale, I wonder if I am doing my kids a disservice by passing along a tradition of butter and sugar and white flour.

But when I think about what I want them to learn from me, in the end, I hope they learn that life is for living, fully and fearlessly and with passion. For savoring, and baking, and family, and joy, and love.

And cookies. But hopefully not too many.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hit on at the grocery store

Yesterday I got hit on at the grocery store, by a stock boy probably young enough to be my son. I mean, I would have had to have been preggo with him in high school, but still, technically, I suspect it would be possible. I should be less pleased than I am, but damn, it’s such a nice ego boost. This week, I began writing a blog entry titled, “The long, slow fade of giving a shit.” It’s about how I feel invisible as a woman, and how that feeling has entered into some kind of feedback loop with my inherent sloth and laziness, causing me to wear less and less makeup, blow dry my hair less and less frequently, and wear comfier and comfier shoes. That invisible feeling, that “Why should I put on earrings? No one is looking at me” feeling, it has really been dragging me down lately. (And now I don’t have to finish that entry, because I just summarized it for you. Score one for the lazy sloth!)

But nothing can perk up a lazy, invisible sloth like getting hit on at the grocery store.

I’m walking down the soup aisle. Stock boy is putting soup on shelves. I grab some chicken broth in a can. I probably won’t even need to use it, because I have a chicken carcass in the freezer and would much rather make the stock from scratch, but if I don’t have time (see above re: lazy sloth), it’s nice to have the cans in the pantry. Stock boy glances up and says “Hello.”

I smile, actually look at him, and say, “Hi.” I look at him because I try really, really hard not to treat people like they are invisible. This behavior was apparently sufficiently odd as to earn me a once over and a smile big enough that maybe it could be counted as an invitation.

Thanks, stock boy, but I am someone’s wife, and someone’s mother, and I could be your mother. So no thanks. Smile back and move on.

In the next aisle, I look at my list… and realize that I have forgotten something in the soup aisle. Crap. Crap crap crap. Lipton beefy onion soup mix. I have to go back. I’m almost out of that magical secret ingredient. I can’t go back. He’ll think I’m hitting on him. Come on, Pam. You’re a middle-aged woman wearing no makeup with air-dried hair, and wearing extremely comfortable shoes. Just go get the damn soup mix. He probably won’t even notice.

He notices. He raises his eyebrows and gets this sort of self-satisfied look. It’s nice to know that I probably gave him a little accidental ego boost too.

“So, what are you making us for dinner?”

As pick-up lines go, it could use some work. Kid, I am old enough to be your mommy, and if I WERE cruising the grocery store in search of a tender young thing for my bed, I would not want to be reminded that you are so young that your mommy probably still cooks for you. And possibly still cuts up your steak.

I didn’t say that. I sputtered out something about grocery store sushi (the traditional post-grocery-shopping dinner in our house), trying to make it clear that I was not inviting him to join me.

“I love sushi. Or, you could come over to the fire station and I could cook for you.”

Damn, stock boy actually has some game. I don’t have the fireman thing. Some firemen are cute. Some are not. The mere presence of a fire hat does not cause me to drop my panties. But for some women, the fireman thing combined with the offer to cook? Not bad, stock boy, not bad.

I don’t say that either. I laugh it off and go back to looking for beefy onion soup mix. They don’t carry it. Damn.

And I’m off to the baking and spices aisle. Did you know that saffron costs $20 for a tiny little envelope? This soup had better be delicious. I’m definitely going to have to make the stock from scratch now. But I didn’t go back to put back the canned broth.

I should really close this little story with some uplifting comment about how beauty comes from the inside and how we don’t need anyone else’s validation to feel sexy. Self-love, confidence, blah blah blah. Yeah, that crap is awesome, and nothing replenishes it like getting hit on by a 20-year-old.

[Edited to add that the beefy onion soup mix is NOT going into the same soup as the chicken stock and saffron. Because those three together? Ew. I use the beefy onion soup in beef stew, meatloaf, etc. The saffron is for a pumpkin-shrimp bisque.]

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Open letter to the TV people

Dear TV people,

You suck. Sincerely, Pam. Do you need more elaboration than that? OK. If you produce a show on Sprout or Nick Jr., I would like to hereby demand that you produce and continue to produce toys and merchandise for every single show that still airs on TV. My kids asked Santa for one thing this year: characters from Word World. Duck, Pig, Frog, Bear, etc. You have never even made a Frog, which is dumb because he is clearly the most awesome of the animals. What the hell were you thinking? What did you make? Two Mega Bloks sets, each including two characters. So that exists. Yay. I can get a few of the characters as well as a cool barn made from the letters B-A-R-N and a fence made from F-E-N-C-E. On ebay. For more than $100 because you discontinued that shit.

Do you see why that sucks? By discontinuing toys from shows that are still on TV, you are creating a very weird black market. Some random plastic doo-dad in my kids’ playroom should not cost more than my smart phone. My phone can access the internet from anywhere in the country. It is also a GPS and a camera and a video camera. And a scrabble board. And a flashlight. And a clock and a calendar and a music player… oh, and also, it’s a phone. It should not cost less than a used plastic piece of crap made in China just because you discontinued that item five years ago. I shouldn’t have to explain to my kids that Santa doesn’t exist just because your merchandising people are all stoned.

The shows are still on TV. New kids are watching them. New kids are asking Santa to bring them crap from these shows. Sadly, elves don’t exist and cannot craft custom toys for my children. I have to actually find and purchase the things they ask for (or make them like I did last year when all my kids wanted was “Wiggle” from Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends, one of the characters you never bothered to make.) Could you make my job a little easier and make yours a little more lucrative and merchandise the shit out of these shows? That would be awesome. Thanks.

Oh, another thing. Kids lose shit. If it’s small enough to fit into a toilet paper tube, I beg of you, make 8 bazillion replacement parts and make them available. FOREVER. Your crap is made out of lead-laced plastic. But if you make replacement parts, we won’t have to throw incomplete sets in the trash, so you can market yourself as a “green” company. Moms eat that shtick up with a spoon. This is gold here, I’m telling you. You really should listen to me.

Parents will buy crap from their kids’ favorite TV shows. Make it, make it non-sucky, and we will buy it. Even if you make it sucky, stick it in stores and our kids will make us buy it. Make all kinds of crap. Tiny 2-3” plastic characters, 6-8” plushies, coloring books, T-shirts. Seriously, TV people, there is money to be made here. Put down the bong and get to work.

I'm not saying no more bong hits for you. The shows you make up while you are high are awesome for parents. Yo Gabba Gabba... Dirtgirlworld... These little gems could not exist without your altered states. Feel free to smoke up and make new shows that make parents glance knowingly at each other, raise their eyebrows, and mime smoking a joint. But then when you're done writing the shows and brainstorming on cool visual effects that "will totally blow the kids' minds," don't just hang out on the couch eating Cheetos for the rest of the day. Have a cup of coffee and get back to work making toys.

You are making cool educational TV with minimal commercial interruption. That is awesome. Keep doing that. Thank you for teaching my kids to read, exposing them to art and classical music, making bugs less icky/scary, and whatever the hell the Bubble Guppies are supposed to be teaching them. But please, please, make the damn toys.

You know who’s good at this stuff? Disney. They could give the movies away for free rather than locking them in the vault (you hear that, Disney? The vault is really dumb. Let us buy your movies so that we will buy your merch.) I’m sure that Disney makes far more money on the crap than they do on the movies. You can’t swing a baseball bat emblazoned with Lightning McQueen without hitting a guitar or roller blades or Band-Aids with the Disney Princesses on them. Sure, Word World has a smaller audience. I don’t need my toilet paper to be quilted with images of Duck and Frog, and I don’t need pictures of Pansy and Snowdrop, the spider twins from Sunny Patch, on my box wine.

But just make the damn toys. OK?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

No Wiggles in MY minivan

On the way to preschool the other morning, I was singing along with my road trip playlist, and Liz Phair’s “Big Tall Man” came on. My son announced, “Mommy, this is the race car song.” I was like, “OK, kid… whatever.” But then after the lyric “I’m drag racing,” he said, “See mommy, I told you it’s the race car song.”

Um, crap.

I had no idea they were listening so closely. That’s soooo disturbing. Especially since these are some of the other songs in semi-regular circulation in the swagger wagon:

“Let’s get it on” – Marvin Gaye… OK, not Marvin Gaye. Jack Black, from the High Fidelity soundtrack, because I love Jack Black and find him weirdly, disturbingly hot and like to listen to him singing about getting it on. Speaking of Jack Black singing about getting it on, our home phone ring tone was Tenacious D’s “Kielbasa Sausage” until very, very recently. Every single time someone called me, that song played in our house.

“Every day I love you less and less” – Kaiser Chiefs. Some lyrics for those of you who don’t know this little gem: “Everyday I love you less and less. I can't believe once you and me did sex. It makes me sick to think of you undressed. Since every day I love you less and less.”

“Comfortably numb” – Pink Floyd. This is probably the least disturbing song on this list, but it still gives me a twinge when I look in the rear view mirror and see them sort of swaying in their car seats like a couple of tiny stoners.

“Super freak” – Rick James. More problematic than lyrics like “That girl is pretty kinky. I’d really love to taste her” floating through the minivan is the fact that this is my four-year-old daughter’s theme song, and has been since she was able to hold her head up. My hubs started holding her up by waist and butt and doing the MC Hammer “Can’t Touch This” dance move side to side with her while singing the bass line. At a few months old, this made her laugh like a miniature hyena. But since that bass line will always be Superfreak for me, those are the lyrics I sang to her. Poor kid. That’s just so messed up. I guess that’s why therapists make the big bucks.

“Creep” – Radiohead. You’re so f*cking special, kids. So f*cking special.

“Get Up/Sex machine” – James Brown. James Brown. Kids love him. I love him. He makes kids dance like kids shouldn’t dance and mamas dance like mamas definitely shouldn’t be allowed to dance anymore. Shake your money maker, kids. Oh yeah.

“I wanna be sedated” – The Ramones. If exposing my kids to The Ramones is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

“I touch myself” – Divinyls. Yes, really. Don’t judge me. There is an 80’s nostalgia section in my road trip mix (which also includes “Whip It”). Actually, I usually skip the whole touching myself thing when the kids are in the car. There’s really no redeeming musical value, so I feel OK about censoring their experience.

So yeah, that’s what my kids have been listening to. Kind of makes “I kissed a girl and I liked it” seem charmingly naive, huh?

Anyone want to share fabulously wrong songs and lyrics their kids can sing from memory? Come on… it’ll be funny.