I have a friend who is a vegetarian, which is Latin for plantslayer.
Between her and me — a 10-year gluten-free freak, which is Latin for painintheass — going to a restaurant is a big deal for us and an ordeal for the waitress.
We tip well. We have to, otherwise there would be toenails and saliva and god knows what else in our vegetable-oil-sauted-organic-gluten-free-tofu-steaks.
My friend— uh, let’s call her Becky — (NOTE: all names similar to or the exact same as my real friends are purely coincidental) — not only avoids all meat, but inquires as to whether or not the food is prepared with any animal products, such as a chicken stock base. That’s too much work for me. Being gluten free is like following a paleo (think: Caveman) diet. This is Indiana. Throw a half a cow on a platter and call it a day. Double-deep fry a stick of butter in pig fat and I’m good to go.
Becky is not a vegetarian because she loves animals. She is a vegetarian because she hates plants.
I’ve never been able to diet and I suck at exercising. The second I think “D-I-E-T,” I crave a triple Big Mac with double bacon. And, I get enough exercise just pushing my luck.
I know people who swear by the Atkins Diet and have lost a tremendous amount of weight, which is nothing short of a miracle. I mean, geesh, have you seen what those people eat?!
Daily Atkins Menu
Breakfast: Deep fried sow, scrambled eggs in heavy cream sauce and a dozen cheese sticks
A.M. snack: Four pounds of bacon and a wheel of Colby with whipped cream
Lunch: Two lambs, three ducks and a partridge in a pear tree
P.M. snack: Pork crackling nachos with whale blubber and ostrich egg and butter salsa
Dinner: A black Angus steer and two cheesecakes with pork rind crusts
Bedtime snack: Elk pate′ and two 24-inch cheese crust pizzas topped with hamburger, ham, pepperoni, sausage, a triple layer of mozarella and a large bowl of whipping cream
Atkins followers are single-handedly to blame for the extinction of the animal species.
I have to admit, at recent dinner parties I have been serving Atkins-type meals. My plan is to fatten up everyone else around me so that I will look thinner.
This is not hard to do when one considers that the casket adds 165 pounds to the ones who have keeled over with a heart attack.
I remember when I used to get the urge to prove to the world that I was a culturally diverse human being and exceptional parent.
That was when my kids were young. And before I gave up.
I remember taking my two youngest children — when they were 6 and 4 — to an elegant Chinese restaurant.
The first thing the 6-year-old did was unfold the linen napkin and make a parachute for the G.I. Joe he had hidden in his pocket. He climbed under the table to assemble Joe’s apparatus and once done, stood on his seat and threw Joe skyward yelling, “Bombs away!”
Meanwhile the 4-year-old remarked to the waitress loudly that he didn’t want no dadgum subgum chicken because he had already had the chicken pox. I tried to point out the boy’s healing scabs — proof that he was no longer contagious — but the waitress just kept backing away from our table, while the people at the next table suddenly disappeared.
And don’t think I didn’t notice when we later left the restaurant, that those same people were sitting in another corner of the restaurant.
The 4-year-old liked the egg drop soup and was devouring it until the 6-year-old asked, “What are those gross white things floating around in it?”
They both stared into the bowl for a long time and then pushed it away.
The boys were thrilled that I was letting them order real tea for this special occasion. At the time the tea was delivered to our table, I was in the Outer Limits, daydreaming of being in a bathroom by myself with no one pounding on the door asking what I was doing and why was it taking me so long.
When I snapped out of it, the guy at a table to my left was giving me a look of disgust. The kids had each dumped about 16 packets of sugar into their tea and had used up all of the sugar at our table and the one behind us.
I glared back at the man. What the heck?! Did he think I would purposefully jack these kids up on sugar and caffeine? Did he think I want them even more hyper than they normally are? Was he implying with that look that I was a bad mother? Geesh, a bad mother would have ordered a bottle of Chinese wine with a wine glass and two junior cups with lids and straws.
Hey, buddy, it’s a special night and we’re trying to get some culture here, so bug off you dipshit son of a ——- …
“No hon, that’s enough sugar … no more sugar.”
Steaming bowls of fried rice, sub gum pork and sweet and sour chicken were delivered to our table and the 4-year-old, who never talked in anything but his LOUD VOICE, immediately began complaining.
“Ughhh … What’s those green things? What’s those round things? Are those oniyuns?! What’s that pink sauce? That’s not chicken! Where’s the leg? I want a leg! I can’t eat this! I will die!”
I ignored his cries of protest and ladled out a small amount of each dish onto our plates.
The 6-year-old wanted to season his own food.
“No mom, I’m not a baby like Ben. I can do it myself. No, let me! Whoa! — that came out fast, didn’t it? Here, just a little of this brown sauce — whoa! — that came out really fast, too, didn’t it? Can I use your napkin, mom? This yellow stuff is too hot! I need the pink sauce. Whoa! That came out fast …”
The 4-year-old was incensed. “I am not a baby!”
He ended up consuming nothing but two large bowls of white rice and two glasses of sugar-laden tea.
He then announced in that deafening preschooler voice that he was full and he needed a hard, folded-up cookie stuffed with paper thingies.
Both kids broke open their cookies and I translated and read their fortunes.
You must keep your eyes open to see the nice surprises in life. (i.e.: Be good and you’ll get a Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtle at Wal Mart.)
He who rides with the wind has too much wind in his sails. (i.e.: Never, ever stay up past your bedtime or your eyes will grow shut.)
The boys loved their fortunes. However, mine was somewhat ominous.
She who tries to impart wisdom and culture on her offspring is left with egg (drop soup) on her face. Best stick to McDonald’s.
There has been a lot written on the subject of academia and how to successfully get your child off to college (at your expense, of course), but there seems to be a shortage of material telling a parent how to deal with a child who is busy furthering his/her education (at your expense, of course). So, I have come up with a handy pocket guide to use while visiting your college-based young adult/child in college (at your expense, of course).
RULES FOR VISITING YOUR CHILD’S DORM OR APARTMENT:
1. Never, ever make surprise visits.
2. If you must make a surprise visit, remember you will be much more surprised than your child.
3. Never look under the bed or in the closet. I mean it.
4. If you do look under the bed, do not comment on the three sets of eyes staring back at you.
5. Never open the fridge.
6. If you do open the fridge, do not comment on the fact that the only contents are a Ding-Dong, a 6-pack of beer, a bong shaped like Rush Limbaugh and half a bottle of Dark Eyes vodka.
THINGS NOT TO NOTICE:
1. The state and federal highway signage.
2. The large, neon flashing Miller Light beer sign above the bed or the life-size poster of a naked woman wearing nothing but a jock strap and baseball hat that says “I (heart) I-69.”
3. The absence of any fruits or vegetables.
4. The multiple packages of condoms on every table in the apartment. (thank god …)
5. The used condoms in the corner behind the bed … eeeiiiiooowww!
6. The mold in the bathroom.
7. The pubic hair carpet in the bathroom … eeeiiiiooowww!
8. The stack of pornographic DVDs next to the TV stand … eeeiiiiooowww!
THINGS NOT TO SAY TO YOUR KID:
1. When was the last time you washed those sheets?
2. Is that a cockroach?
3. Are those college textbooks you’re using as a prop to hold up the kitchen table?
4. Have you found a good barber yet?
5. Do you have any idea what all this costs?!
6. Did you know that STDs are the fastest growing disease among college students?
7. What exactly is your GPA?
8. I too, used to listen to Led Zepplin.
THINGS NOT TO SAY TO YOUR CHILD’S COLLEGE ROOMMATE:
1. Do you smoke?
2. Do you drink?
3. Do you smoke marijuana from a Rush Limbaugh bong?
4. What exactly does that tattoo mean?
5. Have you ever bought alcohol for my child?
6. What is your parents’ name and phone number?
7. Does your religion prohibit premarital sex?
8. What is your GPA?
9. Did you know that STDs are the fastest growing disease among college students?
10. This is a very friendly town. I’ve noticed all the police call you by your first name.
11. Do you think my kid has any idea what all of this is costing his father and me?
The human brain is an amazing thing … especially when it’s working.
I wouldn’t know.
There are days when I cannot remember the names of my children.
But, I have no trouble remembering all of the words to a dirty limerick that Terry Hougendobler sang to me after we climbed to the top of an old dead tree in the Clay Pit on Pleasant Street when I was in the fourth grade.
P— Pot Pete, Came over the hill with 120 pounds …
Well, we won’t go there … it’s only Tuesday and too early for me to let loose with my weekend vino, tongue muscle fatigue and the bellowing of dirty ditties.
But I can’t remember if I ate breakfast and I can remember the Clay Pit and the dirty limerick? What the heck is that all about?
Oh yeah, I think it’s called Getting Old.
Stacy, Geoffrey, Christopher and Benjamin.
The names of my kids.
I mean really, who the heck could remember that?!
Here’s to you Terry, for keeping my brain active — even into old age.
I’m not a great writer, mediocre at best. But, I think that might be a good thing, as many of the great writers I hold in high esteem were suicidal alcoholics.
Take Dorothy Parker for instance. She was a poet, writer, critic and satirist and best known for her witty observations and her civil rights work in the 1920s and 1930s – a time when campaigning for minorities and the downtrodden while spouting wisecracks about the rich and powerful would have been downright dangerous. And to add insult to the injuries of many – it was a woman uttering the unutterable.
“Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words,” Parker liked to say. She had the ability to see through the thin veneer of rich and powerful hypocrites and bigots, and thought nothing of publicly commenting on those foibles.
Parker was well-known as a writer for The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, the first female drama critic on Broadway and as a founding member of the famous Algonquin Round Table in New York City in 1920. In 1929, when Parker’s caustic wit offended one too many people in high places, she was fired by Vanity Fair. When the Round Table broke up, Parker moved to Hollywood to pursue screenwriting. She was twice nominated for an Academy award, but was soon blacklisted in Hollywood after speaking out and becoming an activist for left-wing politics.
The marker at Parker’s birthplace in West End, a village in Long Branch, some sixty miles south of New York City, notes that Parker was a tireless fighter for social justice, civil rights and left-wing causes.
In 1988, the NAACP claimed Parker’s remains and designed a memorial garden for them outside their Baltimore headquarters. The plaque reads: Here lie the ashes of Dorothy Parker (1893–1967) humorist, writer, critic. Defender of human and civil rights. For her epitaph she suggested, ‘Excuse my dust’. This memorial garden is dedicated to her noble spirit which celebrated the oneness of humankind and to the bonds of everlasting friendship between black and Jewish people.
Despite her successes, Parker — who was married three times, twice to the same man — was never convinced of her worth. She grew increasingly dependent on alcohol and attempted suicide more than once. Parker died in 1967 in New York.
Twice, while visiting NYC, I just had to have a drink in the Algonquin Hotel, made famous for the Algonquin Round Table.
I sat in the dark, smoky wood-paneled bar and — as an ardent fan of both Parker and her close friend, Robert Benchley — ordered a martini and raised a silent toast to the duo.
And, then — in true Parker style — I ordered another cocktail, and another … then slid under the table and later, my host.
Dorothy Parker on alcohol:
I wish I could drink like a lady.
I can take one or two at the most.
Three and I’m under the table.
Four and I’m under the host.
I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.
A hangover is the wrath of grapes.
Three be the things I shall never attain:
Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.
Heterosexuality is not normal, it’s just common.
By the time you swear you’re his,
Shivering and sighing.
And he vows his passion is,
Lady make note of this —
One of you is lying.
There’s little in taking or giving
There’s little in water or wine
This living, this living, this living
was never a project of mine.
Oh, hard is the struggle, and sparse is
the gain of the one at the top
for art is a form of catharsis
and love is a permanent flop
and work is the province of cattle
and rest’s for a clam in a shell
so I’m thinking of throwing the battle
would you kindly direct me to hell?
I’m never going to accomplish anything; that’s perfectly clear to me. I’m never going to be famous. My name will never be writ large on the roster of Those Who Do Things. I don’t do anything. Not one single thing. I used to bite my nails, but I don’t even do that any more.
“I know this will come as a shock to you, Mr. Goldwyn, but in all history, which has held billions and billions of human beings, not a single one ever had a happy ending.” (Dorothy Parker to Samuel Goldwyn while working as a screenwriter in Hollywood.)
If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.
If wild my breast and sore my pride,
I bask in dreams of suicide,
If cool my heart and high my head
I think ‘How lucky are the dead.’
If all the girls at Vassar were laid end to end, I shouldn’t be at all surprised.
Women and elephants never forget.
Woman wants monogamy;
Man delights in novelty.
Love is woman’s moon and sun;
Man has other forms of fun.
Woman lives but in her lord;
Count to ten, and man is bored.
With this the gist and sum of it,
What earthly good can come of it?
It turns out that, at social gatherings, as a source of entertainment, conviviality, and good fun, I rank somewhere between a sprig of parsley and a single ice-skate.
All I need is room enough to lay a hat and a few friends.
A little bad taste is like a nice dash of paprika.
It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard.
“So, you’re the man who can’t spell ‘fuck.'”
(Dorothy Parker to Norman Mailer after publishers had convinced Mailer to replace the word with a euphemism, ‘fug,’ in his 1948 book, “The Naked and the Dead.”)
If you wear a short enough skirt, the party will come to you.
I am not sick, I am not well.
My quondam dreams are shot to hell.
My soul is crushed, my spirit sore;
I do not like me any more.
I cavil, quarrel, grumble, grouse.
I ponder on the narrow house.
I shudder at the thought of men …
I’m due to fall in love again.
Time doth flit; oh shit.
Ducking for apples — change one letter and it’s the story of my life.
That woman speaks eighteen languages, and she can’t say ‘No’ in any of them.
You can lead a whore to water, but you can’t make her drink.
The Algonquin Round Table – dubbed the “Vicious Circle” of 1919-1929 — was a celebrated group of NYC writers, critics, actors and wits who met for lunch each day at the Algonquin Hotel in NYC from 1919 until roughly 1929. At these luncheons they engaged in wisecracks, wordplay and witticisms that, through the newspaper columns of Round Table members, were disseminated across the country.
While their individual creativity was stimulated by their daily get-togethers, both at the well-lubricated luncheons and outside of them, the entire group worked together rarely on group projects. The only collaborative effort resulted in the production of No Sirree! which helped launch a Hollywood career for Round Tabler, Robert Benchley, who was best friends with Dorothy Parker.
Some thought the Round Tablers not to be taken seriously.
Groucho Marx, brother of Round Table associate Harpo, was never comfortable amidst the viciousness of the Vicious Circle. “The price of admission is a serpent’s tongue and a half-concealed stiletto,” he said.
Some members of the Round Table criticized it later in life, including Dorothy Parker, who said, “These were no giants. Think who was writing in those days – Lardner, Fitzgerald, Faulkner and Hemingway. Those were the real giants. The Round Table was just a lot of people telling jokes and telling each other how good they were. A bunch of loudmouths, showing off, saving their gags for days, waiting for a chance to spring them; there was no truth in anything they said. It was the terrible day of the wisecrack, so there didn’t have to be any truth.”
In addition to Parker and Benchley, other members of the Round Table included Heywood Braun, columnist and sportswriter (married to Ruth Hale); Marc Connelly, playwright; Ruth Hale, freelance writer who worked for women’s rights; George S. Kaufman, playwright and director; Harold Ross, editor of the New Yorker and his wife, Jane Grant, journalist and feminist; Alexander Woollcott, critic and journalist; Tallulah Bankhead, actress; Edna Ferber, author and playright; Harpo Marx, Robert E. Sherwood, author and playwright and John Peter Toohey, publicist.