Assholes Out to Dinner

Even in the age of plastic and pay apps, there are some people who still like to pay for everything in cash. I know, I know, hard to believe… but it’s true.

Some people like the cash-only method because it’s easier to budget when they can see what they have right before their eyes. You can better live within your means if you know you only have $80 in your wallet to last until the end of the month.

Well, a couple I know exclusively uses cash to pay when they go out to eat.  For them, it’s not a budgeting tactic. It’s a means of payment that they reserve solely for eating out, and I do believe there is method to their madness, so to speak. I think they do it as a way to show off to other people. They want the servers, the cashiers, their friends, and even complete strangers in the restaurant to know that they’ve got money. They hear those dollars screaming, “We’ve got it! We’ve got cold hard cash! Look at me and admire it!”

If they lived in Hollywood, their attitude might fit right in. But they’re eating out at places like Cracker Barrel, so I’m not entirely sure why they feel the need to brag. Don’t get me wrong, I like Cracker Barrel as much as the next person, but it’s not exactly an exclusive hang-out. And this story will confound you even more when it comes to the way they show off. It’s not with a fancy Tesla or a Gucci bag.

This story is about 41 cents. Yep, you read that right.

Well, as you know, the past year has seen a major decline in dining out due to COVID. This couple, however, still sits down to eat at restaurants on a regular basis. I know. But what can you do?

This story I’m about to share was told out of frustration. They were upset and angry. They felt victimized and desperately needed to share their story with anyone who would listen. The whole mise en scène had an air of “How dare they?”

Basically, the restaurant where they had dinner didn’t want their waitstaff or cashiers handling money because of COVID. They were asking customers to pay with a card the customers could put through the machine themselves so that the staff didn’t have to touch it – a contactless purchase. No big deal, right? Wrong.

This couple? They refused. Absolutely not. There was no possible way they could pay with their card (even though there was every possible way they could pay with their card). Since the couple insisted, the cashier says, “okay, fine, we’ll take your cash.” I’m sure a huge eyeroll was also in the offing, but really, who can blame the cashier at that point.

Here’s where that 41 cents comes in. The bill was $38.59, and the husband – who was in line while his wife wandered into the merchandise area of the restaurant – wanted to pay with $39. Well, the restaurant (along with the rest of America there for a while) was experiencing a coin shortage – also due to COVID. So, the cashier asks, can we round your bill up to the $39 and donate the 41 cents to a local charity. Other patrons were usually happy to oblige. I mean, right? Who wouldn’t? Pennies add up after a while and charities are hard hit right about now.

Well, the husband felt truly put out at this point… I mean, the audacity of a cashier asking him to donate 41 cents! Just FYI, his wife later concurred, but that goes without saying. He was indignant and loudly – but loudly – proclaimed this was stealing. Stealing.

I’m still trying to figure out how being asked to donate to charity was a form of theft. First of all, the restaurant asked for their consent. Second, when you’re going out to eat anyway (which implies you have the funds for said meal) is the exorbitant sum of 41 cents really all that much to get yourself worked up about? Third, the restaurant wanted to give it to charity! It’s not like the cashier wanted to pocket the money, though at this point, she deserved that and so much more.

I imagine that as this scene was unfolding, there was someone with the unenviable job of ushering the other guests around them. They’re saying, “Move along, folks. Nothing to see here. No stealing, just assholes out to dinner.”

So, then, the husband GOT OUT OF LINE to search for his better half so he could ask her to come up with 59 cents so he could pay with exact change. Because he’d be damned if someone was going to get over on him!

This man would rather cause an outrageous scene and dig around the bottom of his wife’s purse for lint-covered pennies and dimes instead of donating a measly 41 cents to charity. And somehow, he is the victim.

Behind this mask-down-around-their-chin-type of couple, a line is beginning to form. The cashier – who just wants to get through her day without getting sick, is waiting uncomfortably, no doubt dreading the prospect of handling dollar bills and sweaty coins in the midst of a freakin’ pandemic from a couple who is clearly careless in regard to said pandemic and society as a whole. And the couple is ignorant to it all.

As they share this story over and over, somehow proud of themselves, everyone else is just shaking their heads at the assholes out to dinner.

Looney Logic

So, most cartoons are made for kids, right? And obviously, someone like me would never watch cartoons for fun—unless it’s Looney Toons, which is hilarious, by the way. But that’s beside the point. Where was I? Oh, yes, I never watch cartoons. Except sometimes. Sort of like that old letter “i” rule. You know the one… i before e except after c – and sometimes. So, yeah, sometimes it is.

My question with all of this is, why does all logic fly out the window when it comes to cartoons? Okay, anvil drops. Character survives. That’s no big deal. I get it. Physics and mortality rates are a whole different ballgame in the cartoon world. But why is Little Bear naked when no one else around him is? And nobody in his cartoon world acknowledges his nudity? Weird.

Then, there are the animals that walk around half-dressed. A cute tee shirt is totally appropriate. No pants, that’s fine, too. Think about it. Everyone is okay with Pooh Bear letting it all hang out, not to mention Micky Mouse, Donald and Daisy Duck, Roo, and Woodsy Owl. Oh, and Smokey the Bear even accessorizes with a hat and belt — but apparently his jeans are enough. If he were a shirtless human, those “protect the forest” ads would read a lot differently. I’m just saying.

What makes it even weirder is that in those same cartoons with the half-dressed animals, there are fully naked animals and fully dressed animals. Like Pooh gets a shirt, but Rabbit and Tigger are nude. And Mickey Mouse gets pants, but Goofy, Minnie, Pete, and Clarabelle are modest enough to be fully clothed. Or, in Tom and Jerry, Tom is naked all day. But when he visits the beach, he wears a swimsuit. Excuse me?

The examples are overwhelming. Next time you watch an animal cartoon, just pay attention.

Oh, but that’s not where the weirdness of cartoon logic stops. Animals will own other animals as pets. And all the other animals are fine with it! Or, there’s some strange animal kingdom hierarchy that makes no sense at all. Just look at Pluto and Mickey Mouse. A mouse owns a dog.

In Little Bear, Tutu is a pet dog who doesn’t speak. Her owners are humans who befriend other speaking (and clothes-wearing) animals. What?

Then, there’s Peppa Pig, who owns a goldfish, who she takes to the vet, who happens to be a hamster.

Have you ever seen Alvin and the Chipmunks? Well, in one episode, they visit the zoo. The plot thickens when Alvin gets put in a cage in a case of mistaken identity, and everyone is outraged. But where is the outrage for the non-speaking, non-clothes wearing animals on display?  What the hell is that about?

And this broken cartoon logic transforms into the downright ridiculous when you think too hard about it. There’s one scene where Donald Duck is sitting around the table with his three nephew ducklings. On the table for dinner is a roasted chicken, for fuck’s sake. Something seems deeply wrong about this.

Or the classic scene where Minnie Mouse is afraid of… a mouse.

So, the hierarchy here isn’t even based on what type of animals they are. It’s totally arbitrary. Some animals are like humans. Others are treated like animals. Or, you know, food.

Cartoon logic is, well… illogical.

Why is Road Runner just a very fast bird, while Wile E. Coyote has the wherewithal to mail order jet-powered roller skates and hand out nifty business cards? Yes, I get it, he’s a suuuuper genius.  Still.

Elmer Fudd has regular conversations with Bugs and Daffy yet tries to shoot them — and presumably eat them, anyway. Okay, well, yeah, that one I understand. I have a few coworkers I feel that way about.

As it stands, I think the incongruous nature of the cartoon world needs to be studied further. And tomorrow is Saturday. You know what that means.  Saturday morning cartoons. So, if I’m sitting in front of the t.v. with a big bowl of cereal watching cartoons all morning, it’s research, people. Research!

X is for Xenophobia

Here I am, spilling more tea about my book club. Hey, my daughter taught me that phrase and I’m going to use it whether I completely understand it or not!

As you know, I recently got kicked out of a Murdoch Mysteries group and quite frankly, I’m not sure how I didn’t get kicked out of my book club today.  And this time, it would have been a proud moment.

This was posted by a member:

I have a petty pet peeve. Just started a book and there it is again.  Characters with impossible to pronounce names.

That’s it. That’s the post. She came on to complain about hard to pronounce names. Now, you might be thinking ahhh, the fantasy and sci fi genre can certainly have some unusual character names!  But, no. She’s reading a book with Russian characters and she hates their names because she can’t pronounce them, and she can’t be bothered to Google a pronunciation. Her solution? To just give them completely new names. Simple easy to pronounce names, names that she feels are befitting her narrow-minded view of the world … um, I mean, reading enjoyment.

The frustrating thing was, as is so often the case with social media… the comments. Not all, but I’d say 90% of the comments were in agreement and the number of people who simply rename characters or give them nicknames because they’re too freakin’ lazy to learn something new was astounding.  This is a reading group. Reading. Group. Presumably this is a group of people who want to expand their horizon via the written word, but alas, no. They apparently have no desire to truly open their minds or expand their world view or tread anywhere outside of their own bubble.

Here are a few of the like-minded comments:

I hate this too. WHY do authors do this? They should be writing to their majority audience, not just a specific few.

I just make up my own pronunciation. Doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong, all it does is identify the character. I have too many books to read to be looking up names and who cares how they’re pronounced anyway?

I make up my own names: ie: Laghoire [sic] becomes Lori. (It should be noted that it’s Laoghaire – a name with Irish origins. Apparently remembering how to spell a name is equally too much effort, much like Googling the pronunciation.)

I just come up with my own pronunciation and go with it. Authors need to do better.

I won’t even read a book if the names are too ridiculous or if I don’t know how to pronounce them. It’s definitely a pet peeve.

It’s so annoying to stumble over the name again and again. A book should flow so you can get lost in it… writers should use names that everyone knows how to pronounce and if they don’t, I just make up a name that starts with the same letter and read it that way!

If I can’t pronounce a name in a book, I just give them a name I like and then that is who they are the rest of the book.

I just give them different names. LOL! Life is too short to worry about pronouncing someone’s name.

I won’t get a book if I read the synopsis and the names are too crazy.

I make up my own version of the name which is usually better anyway.

It annoys me too so I just give them a similar name that I can pronounce. I just read a book with main characters from Nigeria and I didn’t even try. Buy a vowel for god’s sake. 

I size those long Russian and German names down to some four-letter words. I assign them names like Bob, Billy, Hank and use those nicknames all thru the book. Muslem [sic] names are even worse.

I just make a sound up in my head and go with it for the rest of the book.

Bob, Billy, Hank instead of Mikhail, Fyodor, or Piscine. A fucking arbitrary sound instead of Aiofe, Itumelang, or Adaugo. Yeah, I mean, that seems legit.

Mispronouncing names or words that you’ve only read is one thing… I personally do that quite often. Okay, fine, all the time. But once you figure out the correct pronunciation – and let’s be clear, you should figure out the correct pronunciation, you say it correctly going forward. No, it’s not that. It’s the adamant refusal to even try to learn how to pronounce these names that I find so maddening.

The original member who ignited this firestorm of xenophobia came back later to rebut comments – mine included – that called her out on her pet peeve. She claims to be “incredibly inclusive” and “loves diversity” but she’s lazy, so what?  “… but I can’t be bothered to try and figure out what the author means or how to pronounce some of these god forsaken names they come up with. So, I’m lazy. Who cares?”

There’s lazy and then there’s lazy but I’m sorry, this is waaayyy beyond lazy.  There are elements of xenophobia and racism as these readers minimize entire cultures and heritages in an effort to remake the world – even a literary one – to fit into their fantastically small bubble of existence.

Why do I find it hard to believe that these people limit their “pet peeve” to the fiction section of their lives?

So yeah, I didn’t get kicked out. But long story short, I need a new book club. That 90% statistic? I didn’t like those odds.

“Names have power.” — Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief

“Mutilating someone’s name is a tiny act of bigotry.” – Jennifer Gonzalez

“If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo and Dostoyevsky, they can learn to say Uzoamaka.” – Uzo Aduba

Midsomer Revisited

Once again, I find myself binge-watching the last couple of seasons of Midsomer Murders. Ahhh, yes, Midsomer… where the most creative murders ever known to man take place.  Squashed by a wheel of cheese? Yep. Covered in truffle oil and eaten alive by wild boar? You’ve got it.  Boiled in a vat of brewing beer? Shaken by an apple harvester? Check and double check. This idyllic English county has a knack for homicide, that’s for sure… and Wi-Fi service worth killing for.

———————–

Originally written May 23, 2017

Midsomer Lifestyle

Have any of you ever seen the show Midsomer Murders? It a great show from England about two detectives, The Barnabys (first there is Tom, played by the incomparable John Nettles, who protected and served Midsomer for 14 seasons and then Tom’s younger cousin John, played by Neil Dudgeon, who takes over when Tom retires) and their varying Sergeants who assist in their crime-solving routines. If you haven’t seen it yet here’s the basic premise: Set in the fictional county of Midsomer, the Barnabys take on and solve murder cases, which are never in short supply given the area’s shockingly high murder rate. I. Love. This. Show. I’ve been binge-watching (or rather, re-binge-watching) this week to my daughter’s dismay.  To say she isn’t into languid, picturesque British detective shows is an understatement.

the cousins Barnaby

The villages of Midsomer — many named Midsomer something, as in Midsomer Florey or Midsomer Worthy, or perhaps something as delightful as the jaunty Badger’s Drift — are so tranquil and charming that I don’t see how anyone would be angry enough to commit murder there. But murder they do, and the perpetrators never seem satisfied with just one, either; more often than not, there are multiple per show.  It’s like potato chips with these people. There was only one episode in the history of the series that had zero murders, and from what I understand, fans were outraged with that singular murder-free storyline…go figure. Who knew there were such rabid viewers addicted to rampant violence running amok amid an idyllic backdrop?  If you’re a fan of fun crime dramas this is for you. There’s no shortage of material. The show started in 1997 and as of right now, 21 seasons have already aired.

If you’re a fan of breathtaking English countryside, this is also the show for you. The locations in which they shoot are always beautiful, historical, and quaint little hamlets. They’re so quiet and comfortable-looking that I’ve daydreamed about buying a little cottage in one of these villages and living that Midsomer country life. You may be asking, “But what about, you know, all the murders that happen there?” I’ve thought about it and while it would be a disadvantage if my neighbors were getting iced all the time, it just might be worth the view. These towns are REALLY pretty. And you know, the violent crime rate does give everyone something to talk about down at the local pub. So there’s that.

Amazingly enough, while from the outside, these locations seem about as far away from modern technology as one could be, everyone (in the later episodes of course) have a laptop and a smart phone. Flip phones were all the rage in the earlier shows. It’s not just the “old-money” rich, either, in their truly opulent homes, and who seem to outnumber the middle-class residents of the area by a landslide. No, everyone from the farmer down the lane to the Lord who renovated that castle up the street have electronics that make me envious… and the data to back it up, despite nary a cell tower cluttering up the landscape. I mean, I can’t even get service in my local grocery store, let alone when travelling between towns on our rural backroads.

Outside of the steady flow of homicide, I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to live in Midsomer. If it existed, that is. With the lovely to-die-for (ha!) scenery AND the possibility of unlimited data, I think I could ignore the rampant carnage.

Seriously though, how is Wi-Fi not an issue in Midsomer? That’s the real mystery I think the Barnabys should spend some time investigating.

Petty is as Petty Does

If I’ve heard it from one teacher, I’ve heard it from 1,000 “Wendy, you’re an underachiever!”  Or “You have so much potential, what is wrong with you!?”  Well. Those teachers would be eating crow today. For today, I achieved a feat almost unheard of in modern times. Are you ready?

I got kicked out of a Murdoch Mysteries discussion group on Facebook this morning. I know, I know, don’t all of you applaud at once… my ears, they’re aching! I don’t blame you for being awe-inspired though, it’s an impressive achievement, if I do say so myself.

Murdoch Mysteries is a show set in late 1890s to early 1900s Toronto. It’s a terrific show, I highly recommend it. My erstwhile Facebook discussion group, not so much.

I’ve always thought that Facebook was full of cliques if not clichés and there is nowhere that this more evident than in Facebook groups, regardless of the topic.

While boasting a large-ish following – and despite a name that implies participation (Murdoch Mysteries Discussion Group), this particular group allows just a small band of people – admins and presumably the admin’s friends – to post or otherwise participate in the commentary. Others are routinely muted or the post deemed off-topic or conversations simply disappear. I get that some group admins can feel an overwhelming sense of power given their seemingly complete control over their realm and its citizens. They smite members and create arbitrary rules on a whim. And yes, I also understand that it’s “their group, their rules.” I suppose I just assumed that a discussion group would have some form of … discussion.

Today, someone who is tight with the admins was bashing the members, as a whole, for constantly asking “when will the show be available in my area!?” A question that they can “basically google themselves if they weren’t so freakin’ lazy.”  It’s an annoying question, I’ll give them that. But bashing members is “against the rules” and besides, it was a stupid, self-serving post. There. I said it.  Anyone else, and it would’ve been gone almost before it hit the interwebs.

My comment of “How does a post like this help to further the discussion of Murdoch Mysteries?” was deemed, you guessed it, bashing a member.  Hence my ouster. It was really kind of funny, actually. The OP (original poster) immediately – but immediately – tagged her friend, the admin, and well, there you go. Tattling, adult-style.

Now, my feelings aren’t particularly hurt due to my ejection from the group. It’s not the first door to hit me in my… well, you know what, and it won’t be the last. Although, I assumed it would be over something a bit more dramatic and worthwhile. I disappointed myself in that regard.

 But it does leave me with one burning question:  Does high school ever end?

Delusions of Grandeur

When I have what I think is an awesome idea or an incredibly hilarious story that I would like to share or a dream that could win me the next Pulitzer (or more likely, a horror fiction award), I’ll write myself a note or I’ll text myself a brief reminder of my brilliance. My memory being what it is and all.

Well, I found a text to myself today that said, simply, Delusions of Grandeur. Capitalized just like that. Now, there was a surprise. Because I didn’t remember texting myself. That in itself is not all that surprising – or uncommon. My ability to retain my own thoughts, as I may have already mentioned, is not all that and a bag of chips… hence the notes in the first place.

But – Delusions of Grandeur? Delusions of Grandeur?  Delusions. Of. Grandeur. What the hell did I mean by Delusions of Grandeur? What was I trying to tell myself? Did I witness it? Did I dream of a King in a far-off land with ostentatious taste? Do I suffer from it?  Was it the basis of the convoluted plot for a best seller?

Don’t ask me. I haven’t a clue.

Karen’s Trip to Target

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I’ve seen yet another article that tugs at my last nerve. I know. Shocking.

In this blog article, the author, Jennifer, tells us about a trip to Target that she claims was ruined by a Karen. The article is riddled with hypocrisy, self-centeredness, and a generally unkind attitude towards a woman who suffered the loss of her child.

If you don’t want to read the article, the gist of it is that Jennifer goes to Target with her very young daughter, admittedly lets the child trail behind her and then turned a corner where the child is briefly out of sight, when a woman looks “at [her] as though [she] had done something wrong.” The woman says something along the lines of “your daughter is far away from you,” which (the author again points out) was said with “a tone that implied [she]’d done something wrong.”

Already, Jennifer is taking this woman’s actions as an extreme personal offense with an attitude that considers only one person (and spoiler, it’s not her daughter).

I will digress for a moment to say that Jennifer claims her daughter was only two feet away from her. I don’t believe that for a moment. Want to know why?  Jennifer explains: “I have the pitter-patter of her steps imprinted in my heart.”  So, she could hear her child, but not see her child.  Jennifer also states this about the woman: “…she could have simply watched her from afar to be sure she was OK and when seeing the child united with a parent, left it at that.” If the child was just two feet away, why would there need to be a reunion in the middle of Target?

To be clear, I’m not mom-shaming Jennifer (god forbid *insert eye-roll here*) but rather, just empathizing with the woman Jennifer encountered.  There was obviously reason for some concern. I also believe that’s why Jennifer was so offended at a stranger approaching her: she knew the concern had merit.

Once Jennifer hears the woman say, “I had a child who was taken,” her thoughts immediately bounce to, you guessed it, herself. She is overly concerned with her own emotions—not her daughter’s feelings, not her daughter’s safety, not this woman’s profound grief, but her own feelings of discomfort in the situation.

Then, she has the audacity to write that “if what she is sharing is true; silence is the kindest thing I can do in this moment.” Wow. Her invalidation of another human’s experience is automatic. And she truly believes that putting a hand in this woman’s face and saying nothing is the kindest thing she can do.

The blog ends on a note urging readers to “always be kind and sensitive” because her day was absolutely ruined by a stranger who she refers to as a “Karen.” The whole piece is meant to vilify a woman who lived through a parent’s worst fears—losing a child to abduction. If you ask me, there is a Karen in this situation, and her name is Jennifer.

As soon as she found out that the woman had her child taken and likely has PTSD from the horrific experience, the author could have shown compassion (as she urges her readers to do). Saying “thank you for your concern, I’ll keep her close” wouldn’t have been hard to do. In fact, it would have been ridiculously easy. Even taking one moment of consideration for this woman’s pain could have resulted in a very different experience for both parties. The concerned woman would have walked away feeling heard and Jennifer could have walked away feeling good about her day and how she helped a stranger to overcome an anxious moment in the middle of Target.

Instead, Jennifer felt violated that the woman “projected her PTSD” and “mom-shamed” her. She felt strongly enough that she needed to write this entire blog about it.

What is wrong with people these days?

It is so obvious that Jennifer is criticizing this woman for not showing compassion or empathy while at the same time failing to glance at her own reflection. If she were to see herself in the mirror for who she truly is, she would recognize her shortcomings in that department.

Instead of lighting a fire within herself full of distaste, shame, and anger, Jennifer could learn about practicing gratitude for her daughter, kindness towards others, and how to not take everything so personally. If she did that, there would be one less Karen in the world.

Repository of Useless Information

Do you ever think about all the useless trivia you’ve got floating around inside your head? I do. All. The. Time.

I could tell you every single lyric to Saginaw Michigan, a country song released in 1964 by a man known as Lefty Frizzell. I also know the words to All About That Bass, 9 to 5, and Amazing Grace. Go figure.

Anyway, do you know why flamingos are pink? Their bright colors come from their diet. They eat a lot of pink shrimps. How do I know that? I’m not entirely sure.

What else do I know?

Well, I know that the ZIP in zip code stands for Zone Improvement Plan.

I know that Frank Oz voiced the original Miss Piggy—and the original Yoda.

There’s a right way to pronounce Samhain, and it doesn’t sound like “sam-hane.” It’s “sah-win,” for your information. While we’re at it, forte is pronounced fort, not FOR-tay. No, really. Do I pronounce it fort? No. No, I do not.

Gruntled is a real world. No, not disgruntled—gruntled. It means pleased. I’m gruntled that you now know what gruntled means, but quite disgruntled that the word gruntled is rattling around in my brain.

Supposedly cats can’t taste sweetness. It has to do with their genetics, but I know from experience that my cat loves sweets, especially whipped cream. I’m not entirely sure where to stand on this one, but I want you to know that I think about it. A lot.

What’s your favorite movie? I’m bound to know the most trivial facts about the actors from the star right down to the eccentric character actor who had less screen time than it took me to type that out. For example, the main actor, he was in another movie with another actor who is actually the brother to the actor in that one movie, you know the one, and that actor was married to an actress who performed in a TV show with the main actor from the first movie. Crazy small world, huh?

The fact that you still have that cool tattoo is all thanks to your immune system trying to rid your body of, well, the tattoo. Because your immune system, and specifically your immune-response cells, is so good at its job, that black cat surrounded by barbed wire you got on your bicep 20 years ago should stay with you forever.

Do you know about the creation myth? Well, there’s more than one creation myth, and nearly every culture/religion around the world has a similar creation myth that they believe… one involves a turtle. Maybe there is just one original story, but people twisted it up a bit through the years like an old game of telephone. There’s a lot more that is similar in the various myths than there is that’s different. If you want to get into it, we can talk more about this one someday. Right now, though, that turtle is taking up space in my head.

Oh, and beer isn’t vegan. Well, not all of it, anyway. Most beers use an ingredient that comes from fish’s swim bladders. Yes. You read that right. Fish. Bladders. It’s not uncommon for beer brewers to add animal products like gelatin or isinglass (the fish bladder stuff)—and Guinness especially is known to use this technique. I know, right!?

The Catholic Church declared beavers and capybaras fish so that parishioners could eat them during Lent. No, seriously. Hippos went the same route. Since they spend most of their lives in the water, they’re fish. Who knew? I know this has more to do with the Church’s never-ending quest to convert all and sundry to Christianity than science, and that sometimes, it’s just easier to let the newly converted have their hippo meat. Nonetheless, it was apparently an easy decision. Since they all swim so well, it wasn’t a leap to declare these animals… um, I mean, fish… worthy of mealtime at Lent.

Who even thinks about this kind of stuff? I do. Quite often.

Do you need someone to help you win trivia night down at the pub while we throw back some Guinness?  I’m the queen of movie trivia—hit me up, and I’ll be there.

Were you wondering about that beyond obscure footnote that’s nearly been lost in the history of the world? I’ve got you.

Struggling with a crossword clue? Call me. I’m on it.

All of us stuff our minds with information of one sort or another, and most of the time, that’s seen as a good thing, right? Straight A students, engineers, mathematicians—there are plenty of people who need a brain full of facts. But what about when it’s stuffed with useless trivia?

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I am a whiz at trivia board games like Trivial Pursuit. Even the aforementioned pub trivia contests.  You’d definitely want me on your team. But I’m not good enough to win Jeopardy. If I was, I would have won by now, and I’d probably be sitting on a beach somewhere instead of going to work every day. I’m telling you, useless trivia. Keyword: useless.

As it is, I’m just the crazy kook you might meet at a party who rambles on about Alan Rickman, the origins of Christmas, interesting traits about dog breeds, and hippo meat.

Oh, well.

By the way, did you know that Johnny Depp is terrified of clowns? You do now.

A Treacherous Tale, or The Infamous Grocery Store Run

These days, a day in my life is pretty uneventful. With quarantine keeping most people, including me, at home as much as humanly possible, I only leave the house for the bare essentials. And even then, I try to get things delivered to my house when I can.

Over the past several months, I’ve become accustomed to doing my grocery shopping online and opting for curbside pickup. When I’m feeling extra lazy, I have them delivered. Whoever thought up free grocery store delivery is a freakin’ genius. At first, I was skeptical about having other people pick out my produce, but it is seriously the best idea. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should.

I’m telling you, when I opt for curbside service I get my food with minimal or no human interaction. That’s great for me as someone with social anxiety. Being in crowds makes me excessively nervous, and my crowd anxiety has only worsened since COVID-19 started. Oh, and it’s super convenient. I love it. LOVE. IT.

Well, with the holiday season upon us, a lot of people must be treating themselves to the relaxation and relief that comes with not having to do the weekly shopping. I assume this is the case because no curbside appointments were available anywhere, and I was forced (forced, I tell you!) to go to the store and actually do my own shopping last week. Can you imagine!?

I hadn’t picked up an item off the shelf in who knows how long. Did I even remember how to shop? I wasn’t entirely sure.

Back in the day (aka before quarantine), I used to organize my list, create a plan of attack to be as quick as possible, and execute my shopping trip with stealth and speed. I would even draw out a rudimentary map of the specific store I was visiting to make my visit that much more efficient. My grocery shopping skills today are a bit rusty.

As I prepared to leave the house, I realized I might not be ready. When I arrived at the store, I realized that I may never be ready to shop in person again. As I searched for parking, my anxiety turned to irritation. There were no spots. When I found one, guess what was there? A collection of rogue carts.

Finally, I found a place to park my car. As I headed into the store, I saw that my list was a mess. I hadn’t organized it because I never have to when I picked up my groceries. Frozen foods, produce, snacks, and canned goods all fell on the list willy-nilly wherever they felt like it. It would have to do — it was too late.

The store was packed with people, which is the worst possible scenario if you ask me. I can spend an hour max in the store (or in any crowd for that matter) before my patience runs out. Forty-five minutes if I’m being honest. Okay, fine, thirty minutes tops and then what I euphemistically call “my window” has slammed shut.

This trip was also the worst. It seems that I hadn’t been to the store in so long that they changed all the aisles around. I mean, why? Just why? I had no clue where anything was. On top of that, it seemed like the ‘COVID-19 panic’ of 2020 hadn’t subsided because basic items were out of stock.

Settling for the worst choice dish soap is one thing, but not having any toilet paper is another. As an aside, what the hell is up with hoarding toilet paper during any and every crisis from snowstorm to pandemic? I mean, come on, people!

Halfway through my trip, one of the wheels on my cart started to stick. Pushing the cart became such a pain that I abandoned a quarter of the items on my list. Although to be completely truthful — that wasn’t the only reason.  When I ended my trip in the dairy aisle, it seemed as though I had missed all those items along the way.

See, you laughed earlier, I know you did, but this is exactly why I always have a rudimentary map and plan of attack. Except this time. This time, admittedly, I was wholly unprepared for the grocery store chaos. My trip was now approaching that hour threshold, with not much to show for it, and I was not about to walk back and search for the errant foodstuffs on my list.  Any recipes with those ingredients would just have to adapt.

Luckily, I found a somewhat short line. But there must have been some trouble with the register or with the customers (spoiler alert, it was the customers) because it seemed to take an eternity. My anxiety became even worse as I stood in line listening to the monotonous beeps, chatter, and rustling of the grocery store.

Once I could finally escape, I pushed my wonky cart out into the open air — and rain. Great.

As the raindrops pelted my groceries, I hoped that the water wouldn’t ruin any of my paper-wrapped products and booked it across the parking lot as fast as I could with my wonky wheel.

After lugging all my groceries into my condo, we were all pretty wet. It seemed an appropriate ending to the day.

What was for dinner, you might be wondering. I’m glad you asked. Cereal.

Reel Life

If you’re anything like me, you love to watch movies. You might even shape your world view and expectations around them, knowing that the real world will fall short, leaving you disappointed and disillusioned again and again. And to cope, you’ll just watch more.

It’s a cycle I’m fully aware of and entirely content participating in.

Sometimes I even try to take advice from movies, but life always gets in the way. Take Under the Tuscan Sun for example. Since 2003, Diane Lane has been convincing women that the solution to their problems is to move to Tuscany. She’s not wrong.

Okay, Diane, I’m in. Yes, I would love to move to Italy and solve all my problems by running away from them. I’ve got half of that down already.

Except, how am I supposed to afford it? Is there some sort of waiting list I need to sign up for?

In the movie (which is based on a book but doesn’t really follow the book like so many other movies based on a book), Diane’s character takes a singles trip after her marriage fails. In Italy, she decides she’s not coming home — ever. The whole time it feels like she’s taking some massively brave leap into uncertainty. But she also seems to have an endless supply of cash. With a safety net made of money, her spontaneity feels a little less risky.

I would love to be casually wealthy — you know, to the point where no one talks about how unusual it is to have so much money in the bank for no apparent reason. And I would love to just up and move to Italy and never come back.

Oh, and if I could have Diane Lane’s looks while I’m at it, that would be great. I mean, come on… the woman is gorgeous and doesn’t appear to age at all.

Unfortunately, the only remote similarity between my life and hers in Under the Tuscan Sun is a cheating ex-husband.

If I did have enough money to visit a foreign country and never come back, I would go to Ireland. And if my life were written and produced in Hollywood, I would ask to have a fairy tale ending like Amy Adams’ character in Leap Year.

Do I want to meet my soulmate in Ireland? Yes, please. Am I going to? Probably not. I’ve never even been to Ireland, and I think getting to the country in question is probably a prerequisite to meeting your soulmate there.

Life just isn’t the same in the real world versus the reel world.  Go figure.

Look at Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love. Her character goes through a divorce (do you sense a theme here?) and soul searches across the world — regardless of how much money it costs.

I’ve got the divorce and the soul-searching, but I don’t think I’ll ever have the cash to find myself in Italy, India, and Indonesia. I mean, who does? Well, besides Elizabeth Gilbert, the woman who inspired the movie Eat, Pray, Love.

In the film, our heroine is seen as a brave risk-taker, but the real risk would be to try that trip without a disposable income. I’m not crazy or desperate enough to try that. At least, not yet.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against our wealthy traveling heroines — hell, if I were in their place, I’d be on a plane tomorrow and never look back.

But it’s just all so unrealistic. I guess that’s the escapism we’re drawn to when we watch movies.

Some movies, like About Time, break the illusion with outrageous elements like time travel. On a basic level, I know we all understand we’ll never be able to travel back in time, but I think it still leaves some of us wishing we could control the event in our lives.

As for most of these other movies, they leave us wishing we had more dough in our pockets. And not the brioche variety. Although now that I think about it, one can never have too much brioche.

Maybe that’s why we watch these movies in the first place. So we can live vicariously through others in a way we never could in real life.

It seems quite depressing, doesn’t it? Acknowledging that life will never be like our favorite movies is no fun. Yet we continually and willingly subject ourselves to these escapist fantasies. What the hell is that all about? Speaking of which, I think it’s time for another good romantic comedy movie binge. I’m nothing if not a glutton for punishment. It’s entertainment, after all.

Crazy Rich Asians seems like a good choice, although I’m certain I’m past the age of marrying into money. Oh, well. One can dream. And I do like to dream.

At least the characters always find their perfect happy ending, even if we don’t.