When I was a kid, my family went out to eat approximately never. My mother will tell you that it was out of frugality, because my family was broke (not in a depressing, Charles-Dickens sort of way, but a charming and somewhat hilarious let’s-throw-a-blanket-over-the-kids-so-we-don’t-have-to-pay-for-them-at-the-Drive-In kind of way).
I’m sure our reluctance to eat out also had to do with the fact that restaurants don’t like patrons who sit around the table for three hours after the meal is finished, yelling at one another about nothing. This is a part of Italian culture, and if you think that I am over-generalizing, then you have never had dinner with an Italian family.
Seriously, my family can fight about what time it is, if you let them.
I find it all rather hilarious, and I often just sit back and enjoy the conflict, occasionally stoking the coals (“Don’t forget about daylight savings!” I’ll innocently add, and another hour will be lost to the yelling). Sometimes I even make a bag of popcorn and nibble on it as I watch the show, and they don’t even notice.
Before you judge me on my choice of entertainment, I will kindly remind you that it’s in my blood: the ancient Romans used to watch people tear one another apart in the Colosseum; by comparison, our family dinners involve fewer casualties, though there is just about as much sword-wielding and yelling.
… I go on what I like to call a “rage bender.”
On any given day, despite my desperate pleas to be left alone, I receive at least a dozen press releases from people asking me to try out a new product and review it on the blog. Most of the items they are schlepping seem to be odor-killing chemicals that you put in your toilet bowl before taking a crap, because apparently as a society, this is one of our biggest concerns: we literally want other people to think our shit doesn’t stink.
I think global warming might be a problem, too, but whatever.
Without fail, I ignore these requests, and I’m going to tell you that it’s for some noble reason, like keeping the integrity of my blog intact (such that it is). But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that laziness had something to do with it, too.
Do you remember when Rand and I went to an island resort in the Great Barrier Reef, and it was wonderful and all, but the food was so expensive that I nearly passed out while simultaneously evacuating my bowels?
But then my body kicked in and said: WE CANNOT AFFORD TO LEAVE ANY NUTRIENTS UNDIGESTED. Not only did my bowels not evacuate, but I was constipated for a week while my tightwad intestines worked overtime to squeeze every last bit of value from our overpriced meals. When I finally went to the bathroom (which happened sometime after we got to Sydney), I’d so efficiently processed my food, that I released only a few little odorless pellets of pooh into the toilet. Like a rabbit. Or Gwyneth Paltrow.
I’m still sick, so I hope you’ll forgive me for another brief blog post. I feel like wet concrete has been poured into my sinuses.
When I was a kid, my cousin would often come visit from Italy during the summer. He and his parents (and later, when they existed, his siblings, too) would stay with my grandparents in their tiny little bungalow (translation: non-air-conditioned house) not far from Cocoa Beach, Florida.
Soon after their arrival, I would drag a suitcase full of clothing over to my grandparent’s and spend much of the summer there. On sunny days, my cousin and I ate junk food and went to the beach. When it rained, we’d eat junk food and play Monopoly.
He now owns a gelato shop and I eat or write about cake on an almost daily basis. I’m not saying that those two things are necessarily related to the amount of sugar we consumed as kids, but … well, it’s interesting, isn’t it?
I was walking around the 4th arrondissement in Paris when I saw this:
I had to stare at it for a few moments to fully grasp the awesomeness that was happening.
It’s David Duchovny – FOX MOULDER HIMSELF – modeling for some brand that we don’t have here in the states. It’s bizarre to the point of being amazing, right? And it’s so very random. I mean, if it were the mid to late 90s, I’d get it. That was Duchovny’s heyday. But IT’S 2008, PEOPLE.*
I have this impression of the French (which I realize is overly generalizing and stereotypical and patently unfair) that they’re all rather beautiful and dramatic and madly in love, and at the same time, miserably bored.
Like, “Luc, I love you desperately and I can’t live without you, but I think my husband just found out about us, which wouldn’t be a problem except that he’s your son and … sigh. Pass the remote.”
I find it all pretty fascinating, because my family is Italian, which means they’re pretty much the same, except instead of boredom, Italians have mopeds and pasta and lots and lots of screaming. But the drama and the beauty and the passionate love affairs? That’s all there. Totally.
But perhaps that measure of boredom that I’ve (mostly likely inaccurately) attributed to the French is a good thing, because it helps temper all that drama, and makes things like this possible:
If you are playing along at home, and are a little confused, fear not: I was, too. This was the display in a children’s boutique window. To the best of my understanding, a baby doll has been used as a clothing mannequin, and has been sort of abandoned on a table. Oh, and the Eiffel Tower is rather brutally impaling a heart.
It’s the sort of thing I can imagine a group of Italians screaming about, because, seriously, THAT IS TOTAL MADNESS AND A LITTLE BIT GHASTLY.
They’d throw up their hands and scream at unholy decibels that the shopkeeper has lost his or her mind. But I suppose the French would just sort of yawn and go on being beautiful, which they’ve somehow managed to turn into a calorie-burning feat.
And I’m thinking that I could use a little more of that in my life.
Like most couples who’ve been together for way, waaaay too long, Rand and I have started seeing things the same way.
I am acutely aware of how obnoxious this is for our friends and relatives. I will walk in to a room, and make an observation (“Hey! They have dry-cured olives! I love dry-cured olives!”), and a few minutes later Rand will walk in and do the exact same thing.
Hanging out with us is basically like watching the same episode of a TV show, twice. And it’s not even that good of an episode.
I won’t even touch on all the times we’ve each told the same corny joke, back-to-back, at the same party. Needless to say, it’s a miracle anyone hangs out with us at all.