Lucky Charms or Magically Malicious?

People will try ridiculous things to get rid of their old junk. Craigslist ads are prime examples of this. Some people employ humor to flag down the attention of potential buyers. Others appeal to our psyche’s darker, inquisitive sides and rely on the macabre factor to garnish views. Sometimes, the difference between the two can be blurry and questionable.

Recently, someone posted a piano for sale, clarifying that it is “Not possessed or haunted in any way.” Well, that’s an eye-catcher. Okay, I’ll bite. What else about this perfectly mundane, non-haunted piano? The lister continues, mentioning that it has only been played by “human” hands roughly six minutes since its last tuning which was 24 months prior. So human hands haven’t overly touched it, but have ghost hands had a go? I assumed this was a joke, playing to people’s love of the mysterious. They end the ad with a simple but slightly enticing plea, “Please take this out of my home.” I couldn’t help but notice some desperation in that request. Whether it was from simply wanting the piano gone for lack of use, aesthetic reasons, or because there really are ghostly hands that dance along the keys in the dark hours of the night, I’ll never know. Sadly, I don’t have room for a piano.

haunted piano main

This ad was not the first Craigslist ad to appeal to the all things creepy-loving side of our desires. Haunted dolls have graced numerous listings. These ads don’t quite have the humor of the “not possessed” piano and seem quite real (at least to the sellers). One lister offered to pay someone to take a doll out of their home, lock it in a chest, and keep it far away. Apparently, the doll talked and laughed and, though they kept trying to throw it away, it always came back. Sounds like a horror movie trope, but I saw the picture. The doll did have some wild demonic-looking eyes. I have enough issues with the “ne-er-do-well” trying to kill me in the dark, I certainly don’t need to give her a like-minded partner in crime.

holly

the ne’er-do-well plotting my demise

Another listing, aptly named “Satan’s Marionette Puppet,” claimed their haunted doll ran around the house while they slept. The doll also winked at people, though apparently no one would believe the receiver of said winks. They tried to add a touch of humor (at least, I hope that was their intention) by claiming it would make an excellent mobile for a baby’s crib. The price they asked for this gem of a nightmare… 10,000 souls.  I barely have one soul, and it’s spoken for already, so I passed on this one too.

So who buys these items off Craigslist? Well, people like my ex-MIL.

I won’t say that she is crazy, but she is unique. She once ordered a brass teapot from Craigslist that supposedly had a fairy trapped in it. The genie motif was strong with this particular haunted object, though it did end up taking a slightly Celtic turn.  I mean, I’ve heard of genies trapped in lanterns. But a fairy in a teapot? I didn’t know that was a thing. My MIL believed it, though, and she bought it.

Now, I’m not going to mock anyone who believes in fairies. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,  Than are dreamt of in your philosophy [science],” as Shakespeare once opined. But let’s just say I’m doubtful that this teapot held a fairy. More likely, the seller thought to use humor to catch the attention of a fellow humorist who appreciated a not-so-creative joke. Perhaps they hadn’t expected to be believed. Or maybe they just lied. You know, to appeal to a certain demographic.

For argument’s sake, let’s say it DID contain a fairy. As I said, my ex-MIL certainly believed it did. Let’s just unpack that for a moment. That means my ex-MIL willfully and with forethought bought a sentient being that was trapped against its will with the sole purpose of keeping it on her mantle. She actually expected this bring to bring her luck. Luck. WTF kind of luck can a kidnapped fairy bring you!? I can’t imagine it would be anything good.

From the mythology I’ve read over the years, fairies are fierce (definitely not of the Tinkerbell variety) and become downright enraged when mistreated. You know, like being trapped in a teapot. Oh yeah, pissing off a strong, supernatural being will bring you luck for sure.

So, say you do believe fairies exist in the world (which my MIL did), wouldn’t that be an awful thing to do? I mean, what does it say about her as a person that she would willfully keep one trapped against its will?  In a teapot. On her mantle. To force it to bless her home with luck.

The fact that she has also purchased “haunted” items should not surprise anyone. Fairies trapped in teapots, Satan’s Marionette Puppet, dolls that keep coming back no matter how often you discard them… there just might be a buyer for anything out there, if you know how to advertise successfully.

A Croc of Something

Picture this: It’s a warm summer evening, and you have a very attractive man coming to pick you up at your door to take you out for a nice dinner (who says chivalry is dead). You’ve got on your little black dress (every girl needs one, right ladies – insert eye roll), but you just can’t decide on what shoes to wear. You want sexy but comfortable, breathable but classy. Okay, forget classy; you won’t get that with these shoes. But comfort, a nice breeze on your feet, and a few inches to make those calf muscles pop… you got it! What you need is a stiletto croc designed by Balenciaga (whoever that is). For a mere $850, you too can have these fetching rubber disasters.

crocs with heels

Seriously, have you tried walking in crocs with wet feet? Say you step in a puddle, a light rain begins, or you start sweating profusely from nerves because while out on this date, you realize that not everyone accepts crocs as legitimate footwear. And who knew that particular shade of green would glow in the dark? All eyes are on you. Or, at least, your feet. What if he takes you to one of those fancy restaurants where men have to wear blazers, and they don’t let you in because your choice of shoes is more reminiscent of a day at the beach or a last-minute trip to Walmart? Now there you are, wet feet slipping and sliding around in your rubber shoes, and there is a 4-inch gap between your soles and the pavement.

I know I’m not up to speed on what’s considered fashion these days, but seriously? Is this really what fashion has come to? Yeah, no thanks.

Have you seen the see-through plastic jeans? Isn’t the point of wearing pants to cover up what you don’t want others to see? Where does one wear transparent, plastic pants? I would think you’d have to stay inside or reserve them for a cloudy day. Clear plastic makes for great greenhouse material, which doesn’t bode well for pale skin prone to sunburn. 

clear jeans

Of course, you could always go for the more conservative look… jeans with plastic knees. Just $95 at Nordstrom. Presumably they’re still available, though honestly, I have no idea. As I may have mentioned, fashion and I aren’t exactly friends.

plastic knee jeans

If plastic “jeans” aren’t your thing, there are always detachable jeans in the running for the most ridiculous fashion statement. These provide a denim coverage of the essentials (basically, shorts). The denim legs are attached to the shorts with garter belt-type straps, or in some cases, zippers. Why, people? Why?

garter belt jeans

Cowboy boot sandals, distressed tights (tights that look like they’ve barely survived a rough night of drunk dancing), grass-stained denim from Gucci, sweaters with the abdomen removed, and even jeans that come out of the factory with holes already there, the list sadly goes on.

What’s up with cutting holes in perfectly fine clothing? Why can’t clothes just be functional and not ridiculous? I want to shout from the rooftops, “Keep the clothes whole!” Just add pockets for God’s sake.

And crocs with stiletto heels? Thankfully they aren’t available yet. When they are, I’ll be the first in line to not buy them.

Let’s Get This Over With

To be clear, I am in no way ready or willing to try the spike-laden hamster wheel that is a long-term relationship again anytime soon.  Having removed myself from a toxic vat of goo, I have no desire to wade back in. Besides, the whole friends with benefits thing isn’t a bad gig and I like having my own space.  Hanging out with someone and then saying you can go home now is just my cup of tea. And I enjoy that cup of tea in my fortress of solitude, thank you very much. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever want to share my space on a full-time basis again. It would have to be a true fellow weirdo and soulmate extraordinaire for me to give up my peace and quiet.

Now and then, though, I get an itch, a feeling like I’m missing something. My monkey brain decides that perhaps a round of “dating with purpose” would do the trick. Then I have another go at Bumble or Match. A quick foray into this world is all I need to remember that I’m not missing a damn thing. Putting pen to paper, I’ve come up with some quick mostly sorta accurate stats to share with you, my dear readers… in case, you ever feel the need to venture into the online dating world hell yourselves.

95% of male profiles have some version of “no drama please!” or “no baggage!” What the hell is no baggage? How am I supposed to take those weekend trips to the wine country you’re touting as your fave thing to do if I don’t have luggage? But seriously, what is baggage? Kids? An ex? A dog? A broken washing machine? WTF? We’re in our 40s and 50s and maybe 60s. We ALL have baggage at this point in our lives. If you’ve made it this far into life without baggage… well, I don’t think we have much to talk about anyway.

And no drama? That’s a vague request. What does that even mean? Is that a Gaslighting 101 way to say they don’t want women who know their own minds? I have clear boundaries and am not afraid to use them. Does that count as drama? Opinions, passionate political views, an ability and desire to speak up for myself, is this drama? What are we talking about here? I kinda get the idea they mean more than just no As the World Turns viewers allowed.

99% of men mention their height. In their profile blurb. Right alongside their favorite holidays and unexplained dislike of baggage and drama.  They would have you think that it’s because women are interested in that particular statistic, but I’m not convinced. Admittedly, I’m still working this one out.

And the pictures they post! Okay, so this one isn’t a stat per se, but seriously, what are they trying to prove? Men are holding dead fish while wearing a ghoulish grin, kayaking, running (which makes me wonder, is something chasing them?), biking, hiking, mountain climbing, or the less-impressive alternative, indoor climbing. And, of course, the obligatory “hey, I clean up well” shot (wearing a tux or spiffy outfit). Their pictures look like stills from a Viagra commercial. I mean, I get it. They want people to know they’re active and whatnot. But, where is the photo of them bingeing Netflix or Hulu and stuffing a pizza in their face? You know, like real life? And if the Viagra-esque stills ARE their real life, then good grief. Who has that kind of energy? It’s exhausting just perusing their photos. Don’t even get me started on the dead fish. Oh, hey, here’s a stat I just made up calculated!  92% of men have a photo holding some kind of a dead fish somewhere in their online dating portfolio.

90% claim to be young at heart, but they look older than I am (I mean, we can see their photo, it’s right there). Or the poetic, old soul, young heart. Who are they trying to impress with this line? Do they think it makes them seem hip? A bit more palatable to the twenty-something age range they are secretly or not-so-secretly trying to entice? Quick question… we do still say hip, right?

You know how people will say “looking for a unicorn”? Some men call THEMSELVES a unicorn because they’re a “nice guy.” Haven’t we outgrown the tired motif that nice guys are rare? I’m not sure niceness qualifies one as a unicorn. This same unicorn is most likely a member of the 86% who are in open marriages that are doing just fine, thank you very much, looking for a side piece with no strings attached. While we’re on that topic, what about men who make a point of saying that they want a woman who gives and wants a lot of affection? Maybe it’s just me, but that just sounds like someone looking to get laid (someone should point them in the direction of Tinder).  And I swear, 93% of men say their love language is touch. Go figure. Maybe I’m cynical, but… No, you know what? I am cynical. I’m not sure they created the world of dating apps with women like me in mind.

How about an app called “let’s get this over with” designed for people who occasionally need a reminder of why they are single? A place for people who’d rather binge Netflix with their animals on the couch than have to sift through a ridiculous montage of phony, celebratory bios that don’t mention how they chew with their mouth open or smoke menthol cigarettes like it’s the mid-90s.

This app would allow only photos of people in their pajamas, the rusty bike in the bushes that they never ride, or the sketchy spaghetti dish they make every Monday. Required for the bio would be a list of recently binged shows, favorite reads, and a multiple-choice question on how well they tip servers. Then, those of us who occasionally feel like we’re missing out on the dating world could scroll through and (without having to weed through ridiculously curated dating profiles) remind ourselves of why it’s better to avoid the apps in the first place.

Although now that I think about it, I could really get on board with that kind of a dating app. Those are my kind of people. Called it! My idea. No stealing. Okay… so how do you create an app?  Anybody?

No Time for Beauty Routines

We all see them, those people so well put together we know they must have a team of beauty professionals tucked away in a closet somewhere, ready to spring into action any moment they need to leave the house. Flawless skin, perfect hair, and make-up that looks like it was done for a photoshoot. I’ll admit, I’m envious. But I do question their methods. How do they find the time, the energy, or the motivation?

I am in awe of these individuals. I often wonder what led them down the path of an involved beauty routine. And how can I join them? Every night I drag myself to the bathroom sink to brush my teeth for the required two minutes. Even that seems like an annoying, time-consuming chore at times. I can’t imagine finding the will to scrub my face and apply an array of creams and moisturizers before crawling into bed.

Sure, I could try it. Test out my discipline and start with a bottle of moisturizing night cream. I could spend a lot of money on it too. But you know what would happen? Every night, after slogging through brushing my teeth, I would look at the bottle of cream and argue briefly with myself. Then I would hang my head in defeat, abandoning the cream and the potential benefits of its magic, before crawling into bed, dry skin and all. Don’t even ask me how I know this.

I recently learned about face rolling, the act of literally rolling a specialized jade, rose quartz, other types of stone, or metal across your face. Some of the rollers even have little pins on them—Ack! Who the hell decided that this medieval torture device was a beauty tool?  The idea of the roller is to help spread skincare products, increase blood flow, soothe your skin, clear sinuses, and activate lymphatic drainage. This is all with the intended result of reducing puffiness, contouring your face, possibly decreasing anxiety, and inspiring a tightening of the skin. Right.

Could I use all of these things in my life? Yes, absolutely! I’d rather not watch the lines deepen on my forehead or stare into the mirror at eyes that look like they’re embedded in pillows. I do love the idea of a facial massage to help relax and tighten my skin. But am I going to spend the recommended five minutes rolling a stone across my face? Every damn day? No.

How do they keep it all straight? Is one supposed to exfoliate before bed or when they wake up in the morning? How do they choose which face mask to use and how often is too often? What happens if I use my neck cream under my eyes or exfoliate something meant to stay smooth? I often find myself exhausted just taking a shower. These people find the time to apply toner, moisturizer, under-eye moisturizer, neck moisturizer, primer, etc. They know the difference between cream, serum, and face oil and are not afraid to use that knowledge.

These skincare routines seem like a science to me. I would need a chart or a diagram, laminated and hung on my bathroom wall, to remind me what order to use my products. Each one would need a little blurb reminding me what they are used for.

These beauty routine folks are capable of incredible feats of organization and determination when it comes to caring for their skin. Add to this the precision and patience of make-up application, foundation, concealer, bronzer, then the 1500 things needed for the eyes to “pop,” and we’re talking Olympic athlete type dedication.

There are those who exist in a state of beauty and vibrant skin. Then there are others, like me, who struggle to convince themselves that conditioning their hair is a worthwhile endeavor. I’m lucky if I wake up with enough time to brush my teeth (again?) before heading out the door. If I can throw a quick hair combing into the mix and look partly presentable, then I feel I can say I’ve accomplished something for the day.

What’s Next?

I’m thinking of a career change. For many years now my job has involved… people. Everyday I’m confronted with people. I’ve decided that I want to try something new, challenge myself, break free from the tethers that bind me, spread my wings, and see just how far I can fly. Also, people tend to annoy me, and I’m tired of fake smiling.

Now, I don’t want to make the typical career change; swap my current desk for one in a different office. I don’t want my choice to be a lateral shift into something mundane. I want to dig deep beneath the façade of human importance and, as they say, ‘Go Big’ (or go home – which would be nice too, but, hey, somebody has to pay the bills).

To help sort out my options, I’ve made a list of possibilities.

First off, there’s always Queen of the Underworld. I could greet souls on the final leg of their journey, witness the torment of those who brought destruction and pain to those around them, become an arbiter of justice for the evil doings of individuals, and have access to all the pomegranates I can eat. Unfortunately, that’s a lot of time in the dark and not a lot of fresh air. I wonder if souls smell as much as their human counterparts. A gathering of that size, in that space, could be an olfactory disaster. Moving on…

I could be a menacing, horse-riding, arrow-slinging, two-breasted (yes, the whole cutting off one breast thing was just Ancient Greek propaganda) Amazon warrior. Living in a community solely comprised of women would certainly cut my annoyance with humanity by at least half. I’d probably be in the best shape of my life. And I could use my strength for good, fighting the good fight and beating down injustice with my incredible archery skills. I wonder how long it takes to acquire that skill.

Sticking with Greece, I’ve thought about heading straight into the business of snake-haired creatures who can turn men into stone. Imagine having the power to transform a man into granite with just one look. I mean, that’s what he gets for looking at me, right? Creeper. Walking around with a head teeming with hissing, slithering snakes would take a bit to get used to. I wonder if I would have to feed these creatures or if they ever rest at all. What if I want to wear a hat? Would they be containable? Too many unanswered questions for this one. Next…

Maybe I should try for something more straightforward, perhaps more pleasant and homey. I could take over for Deipneus, the demi-god of meal preparation, in particular bread-making. The thought of living in a home with the scent of warm bread permeating the air sounds delightful. To wake up each morning and have delicious warm bread slathered in butter could be a dream. Until I remind myself that I would be the one getting up before the sun to make the bread, then it doesn’t sound so wonderful. Can a demi-god outsource labor? I’m also reminded of my attempt at making homemade seitan and the subsequent vow to never see another bag of flour.

Then again, maybe I should try something with more of a passive income. I could fill in for Kokytos, the river of wailing. Specifically, the current that pushes the perpetrators of homicide to the Akherousian Lake, where judgment and punishment are meted out. I love the idea of witnessing divine justice… and wailing. I do love wailing. But again, there lies the issue of darkness, never seeing the sun, and a possible locker-room-smell situation.

Perhaps I should try for something more manageable, more in line with my tolerance and skill set. Animals. I love animals. I think I’ll look there. Maybe Cerberus needs a pet sitter. Three good doggos for the price of one… that’s a win-win if you ask me.

A Day in the Life…

I went into the office again today. I can’t say it was much different than yesterday or the day before that. I thought I’d share with you all a little glimpse of the dream, just to cheer myself up… you know how it goes.

At the usual time, I made my way to my office, thankful for the door between my desk and the rest of humanity. Before I could make it to my sanctuary, I ran into my colleague, whom I privately refer to as the “Over-Sharer.” She wanted to apologize for being 5 minutes late (I hadn’t noticed) and proceeded to give me a rundown on her medical history and the most current ailment (the reason for her lateness). Next thing I know, I’m offering solicited, unprofessional advice (I’m not a doctor, I just play one on … never mind) on whether or not she should take those antibiotics now or wait to see if she feels better in a few days. Despite any appearance of paying attention on my part, not only do I not know what her ultimate decision ended up being, I have no idea what ailment we were even discussing. I zoned out after she mentioned milky discharge. Anyway, I delicately peeled myself away from that conversation and hid in my office for an hour.

At 10am, I had a zoom meeting with out-of-state clients. While in the middle of my meeting with out-of-state clients, “Clueless” found his way into my office.  He burst through the closed door without knocking, loudly finishing a complaint he had apparently started while still outside my door. The “Passive-Aggressive Note Writer” had struck again, posting a typed letter on the printer that stated, “We can ALL work more efficiently if we do OUR part. Loading the printer with paper HELPS! Thank you for being a good office mate!”  I tried to shush him with my eyes while holding a smile for the meeting. Unfortunately, he didn’t see and continued, “Can you believe these stupid &@!%#* notes?” I spoke to him discreetly, pointing out the meeting I was in, and silently cursed him and his firstborn as he dramatically crept out the door.

I recovered quickly, finished my meeting, and spent a solid five minutes at my desk pondering the many creative ways I could quit this job. I thought longingly of that scene in Jerry Maguire until I remembered that I’m not a Tom Cruise fan.

More accounts to look through, more steering my straying thoughts to the work at hand and counting down the minutes until lunch. Finally, the hour arrived. I made my way to the communal kitchen with lunch in hand, my food needing a brief foray in the microwave. I walked through the door but was impeded by none other than “Cooks a 3-Course Meal in a Kitchenette” chopping vegetables on the counter. And yeah, I’m trying to come up with a shorter name. I excused myself, leaning across shards of broccoli and carrots and what looked like homemade seitan (and no, I wasn’t jealous, why do you even ask me that!?). My co-worker chef also happens to be “Close Talker.”  Hey, multitasking, amirite? I suffered through 2 minutes of chit-chat (the time it took for my lunch to finish getting radiated) trying desperately to avoid looking at the lunch sample in his front teeth as he effervesced over the deliciousness of his homemade seitan. If you ask me, I think he did the whole seitan thing on purpose. The beep of the microwave saved me, and I retreated thankfully back to my office.

The post-lunch hours were spent busy with work, punctuated by random thoughts of “Kill me, please,” “Am I too old for a career change?” and a simple “Fuck this,” while I waited for an impending staff meeting. At least I could go home afterward.

We all shuffled into the conference room, offering each other bored smiles and conspiratorial eye rolls for the task at hand. These meetings were often quintessential “this could have been an email” scenarios. It did allow me to peruse the faces at the table and come up with some fun nicknames for colleagues who had – as yet – remained nicknameless.  Did I mention, I hate staff meetings?

Across from me was “Slink,” the person who could never be found when something needed to be done. Next to him was “Passive Aggressive Note Writer,” though she would never admit it. Oh, we all know it’s her!  On my left sat “The Gossip,” perhaps the most compelling character in the show, though I make sure to never divulge too much of my own life lest I become fodder for her water cooler trysts. Now, I have made up some stories though, and believe you me, it’s fun when those come full circle.  In front of us all, the executive manager… the not-so-heroic captain of a damaged ship limping to port. It was a struggle to stay focused. 

Finally, the meeting wrapped up, providing no more clarity about expectations than when we had begun. Back in my office, I stuffed files, notepads, and laptop into my bag to head home for the weekend.

There was no catchy closing-credits song à la The Office to accompany me as I trudged past offices and through the lobby. So, I hummed my own little tune as I exited the building out into the promising light of a setting sun. 

Get Thee Behind Me, Seitan

Just so you know, it did not end as I had hoped. I envisioned myself sitting peacefully at my kitchen table, sunlight streaming through the window to gaze upon the masterpiece gracing my plate. Instead, the way it ended was with a kitchen that looked like the setting for a flour-bomb testing site and a tragic case of mistaken identity. 

Seitan, (with the unfortunate pronunciation of say-TAN), referenced as far back as 535 C.E. in China, is a meat substitute made from wheat gluten. Basically, rinse the heck out of some flour, rinse again, stretch, braid, and cook. Voila, seitan. Simple, right?

There I was, nine cups of flour in a bowl, three cups water, and hands ready for a marathon of mixing. Have you ever noticed how rebellious flour can be? How sometimes when mixing, a little renegade cloud puffs out of the bowl? That’s okay, maybe a little annoying, but when it’s two cups of flour, it doesn’t make much of a difference. Try nine cups of flour and notice the level of containment possible. Right away, my counter and hair were covered. 

I began to mix. More tiny puffs of flour escaped, getting onto the floor, the stove, even up on the cabinets. So. Much. Flour. Everywhere. Finally, I had my shaggy ball of dough and began the relentless fifteen minutes of kneading. So. Much. Kneading. My fingers felt like uncooked seitan strands by the end. But I finally did my time, covered my doughball with cold water, and let it sit.

I wish I could say I had done the hard part. I went outside, shook out my clothes, and readied myself for round two. Pour out the water, cover the doughball with fresh water, and knead… again.

I’m not sure if there is a graceful way to knead dough in a bowl of water. If there is, I’m not aware of it. Puddles of milky water now joined the flour patches on the counter. Streams managed to squirt up into my hair and onto my forehead so that I then had streaks running down my cheeks. I was almost as messy as the kitchen.

Once you’ve kneaded the dough a ridiculous number of times and changed the water almost as much, you then squeeze out the liquid and let the dough rest in a colander. Here’s where I should have been sitting on the patio enjoying a cup of tea and the warmth of near success. Instead, I popped the cork on a bottle of wine, reminding myself it was 5pm somewhere and wiped the now sticky streaks from my face. My hands were cramping and shriveled like rotting berries, and I still had more steps to get through.

The next step was to stretch out the seitan 12-15 inches, cut it into three strands, and braid. Simple enough. I managed, surprisingly, to pull this part off with only minor cursing and fumbling. It wasn’t the prettiest braid (if that’s what you could call it). I was to let it rest. Again? So. Much. Resting. More wine.

Here’s where things went decidedly worse. After letting the seitan rest, it now needed to be stretched and tied into a knot. Now, I’ve done difficult things in my life. I’ve managed to raise children into adulthood, after all. But tying knots into the supposedly braided dough with shriveled, aching fingers is not on my list of skills. My braid kept unraveling at the ends, and I just couldn’t quite get all the strands through the same loop. This may seem like an irrelevant step in the directions but trust me it’s not. They asked for at least three knots, and I couldn’t even get one good one.

I looked around my kitchen, the flour splattered across the cabinets like a piece of modern art, the splotches of dough drying to my counters, the empty wine glass, and the patches of stickiness beneath my feet. Like any mature woman in extreme duress, I decided to throw a tantrum. Right there in my kitchen.

I slapped the dough back onto the counter, pounded it with my fist, and let a string of curses fly from my lips. Unfortunately, I had miscalculated the invoking power of my words and the unfortunate pronunciation of what I was cursing. HE arrived in a burst of black smoke and, with a booming voice, threatened, “HARK MORTAL, I’M HERE FOR YOUR SOUL. IT’S TIME TO—”

 “Wait, what… what the hell is that?” he asked.

His eyes trailing from my matted starch-water hair to the sad pile of water-logged dough in front of me, he gave me a look of disappointment – and strangely, pity – and then disappeared in that same puff of black smoke, leaving my soul right where it was.

I wish I could say I did the same with the seitan, but somebody had to clean up the mess. It took a few hours, another glass or two of wine, and a pizza delivery. From now on, I’ll be buying my seitan from the store like ordinary people.

Telling Off the Grammar Check Troll

So, the other day I was writing a blog entry (as I do), and I was using some very colorful language (as I do). Nothing out of the ordinary. However, something unusual happened.

My grammar check program called me out. That in itself wasn’t the unusual thing that happened… I often draw the ire of the grammar check algorithm. Sometimes it gets so flustered with my writing that it has nothing useful to offer in response. It’s like “yep, I got nothing.” But this time, it wasn’t telling me that I used “their” instead of “they’re” nor was it warning me that a participle was clearly in danger of dangling. No. It was telling me that some readers might find my language offensive.

First of all, I’m not out of line. You’re out of line, grammar check. How exactly am I supposed to write about assholes if I can’t use the word asshole? To be clear, asshole was in fact the word that was flagged here. I’m sorry dear grammar check, but “jerk” just doesn’t offer the same believability of tone my readers have come to expect.

I mean, anyone who reads my blogs knows how I write. Most of my readers have even come to expect colorful sentence enhancers. And if you haven’t caught on by now, well, you will.

If anyone takes offense from my fucking language, they’re on the wrong blog.

Second of all, who the hell does this grammar check troll think he is? Really, who does this grammar check troll think I am? Listen, I write, but I’m no Shakespeare.

I can’t just pull previously nonexistent elegant insults out of my ass whenever I feel like. I can’t command language with the precision and poise of the great Bard himself — and I don’t want to. Sometimes, a good “fucking” is exactly what you need to communicate your point. Yeah, okay, so that didn’t sound right, but you know what I mean. And now that I think about it, Shakespeare wasn’t all that prim and proper, either. His work was pretty scandalous for his time, and the people loved it anyway.

I get that this advice to avoid colorful words may be helpful for some grammar check users. Like if you’re writing an essay for school or working on your resume. Employers might not like to see “organized the fucking files” under the list of duties. And teachers might have aneurysms if they saw “this book was fucking great because” as an essay introduction. Though personally, I’d find that book report a hell of a lot more interesting than most – and probably more accurate to boot, wouldn’t you?

But grammar check, this is my blog. My blog. And it’s the 21st century. After what we dealt with in 2020, I think it is entirely appropriate to call some people out for the assholes they are (and don’t even try me, grammar troll!). I get that my insults are more of the garden variety and not as powerful or as graceful as they could be.

But I’m okay with that. It’s fine with me that my insults are more like homegrown tomatoes instead of wild berries. They taste and feel different, but the job gets done either way.

Sorry, Grammar Troll. I’m not interested in you’re advice. Just kidding. Sheesh, yes, I know it’s “your.” Please don’t inundate me with helpful hints. It was a joke, grammar check. A. Joke.

And yes, readers. I know that he can’t really hear me. Still…