Friday, April 2, 2010

5:00 Fridays: Tipping My Glass to Laura Bennett

I recently got a copy of a fine read Didn't I Feed You Yesterday? A Mother's Guide to Sanity in Stilettos from the author herself. I've even exchanged emails with the author herself. I feel like it's a brush with fame. Well, if said brush were but one hair thick. A brush nonetheless. And nevermind that I have never owned a pair of stilettos in my life.


The author of Didn't I Feed You Yesterday? A Mother's Guide to Sanity in Stilettos, Laura Bennett, is someone I'd like to have a weekly cocktail with. We'd have our 5:00 Fridays inked in our calendar books, and it would be a weekly standing date while our boys would tear up the joint. We'd kick off our shoes, hers, 4-inch fabulous Manolos, mine, more modest cowboy boots or handmade leather sandals my aunt brought me back from India. I'd drool over her shoes and bags while she'd secretly be thankful I'm not her size. Then Bird would deck someone or Deal's whining would reach epic levels and she'd ask us to leave.

Laura and I would make quite a pair. She towering at close to six feet, while I stand at a solid five feet if I throw my chest out, yank my shoulders back, and hold my head up. She, a redheaded red lipsticked beauty. Me, a brown skinned and eyed, dark eye-circled, 40-something with a swoosh of black eyeliner and lip balm. I think I'd mostly like to hang out with Laura in hopes of her cool factor, sense of style (Did I mention she was on Project Runway and made it excrutiatingly close to the end?), confidence, and ability to shake it off.

You see, Laura (We're totally on a first name basis. I mean, we did exchange emails and all.), lives in Manhattan in a two bedroom loft. With FIVE boys (her daughter is lucky enough to be away at college...incidentally, her daughter and I went to the same boarding school...but let's just say I didn't graduate from the same school). And of course Laura has a husband, who's really like boy #6. And here I thought a lousy two boys and a husband (boy #3) was bad. Even my dog is a male. Being outnumbered isn't the issue as much as the sheer dirt and noise. You did know the meaning behind my blog's name, right? If two boys can run amok and wreak havoc, I can only have nightmares about what five boys can do.

Laura's life is pretty much a gassy cloud of burps, farts, shrills, guffaws, spills, and well, Chaos.

Yet she thrives in it. What I learned from reading this laugh-aloud funny book was that I could use a lesson in taking it easy. I'm clearly wound too tightly, and it ain't from my Spanx (which, thanks to Laura, I must run out and buy because it's apparently the miracle non-surgical surgery fix). My version of letting loose is to declare Sunday as no-making-the-bed day. In fact, on a recent vacation Bird cleared Deal's stuffed animals off the hotel bed and started to make it. I stopped him, but part of me was damn proud. In an admittedly sick way.

I'm a stickler for rules, manners, healthy food, home cooking, blah blah blah. After reading about Laura's philosophy on mothering, take care of yourself first (akin to putting on your oxygen mask first as Laura recounts), I realize I am piling on loads of couch fodder for my sons' future therapy. But can I really exchange my rigid cookin' ways for a more fabulous MO? I mean, it doesn't seem that Laura's sons are any worse for the wear. Actually, they appear quite smart, gracious, and downright funny.

And yes, she has help. Dear God, she must. But let me be the first to say that having help doesn't make Laura less of a mother. There are no blue ribbons in motherhood, so get off your soapbox and make room for us all to share a piece of the winner's circle.

I might not be as relaxed, charming, talented, and funny as Laura Bennett but I could at least don some red lipstick and stop yelling for a spell. Luckily for me it's 5:00 Friday so I can put up my kicky-shoed feet and relax with a cocktail.

This one's for Laura. Her candor. Her humor. Her style.

Now go buy her book. If you don't laugh aloud I'll buy you a drink. Make that three. Because if you don't laugh out loud, it clearly indicates that you are a fool with no sense of humor and a corncob stuck up your ass.


3 ounces of Hendrick's gin
1 ounce of Stirrings Bitter Lemon Soda
1 cucumber slice

Drop a few ice cubes into a highball glass. Pour in the gin. Top off with Bitter Lemon Soda. Float a cucumber slice in there to make it look fancy and spa-like. Put on some of that long lasting lipstick that doesn't wear off, you know, the kind flight attendants and Mary Hart must wear, and sip away. You'll tune out that chaos in no time.
5:00 Fridays: Tipping My Glass to Laura BennettSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Lesson in Peel n' Eat Shrimp

My sons are at an age that I can recount stories from my formative years. Only the G-rated ones, of course. Um, not that there are any stories that venture out of NC-17 territory. While we were waiting to be served at a restaurant recently, I told Bird and Deal about how I was a waitress for many years. Seven, to be exact. I was about to lecture them on how hard the waitstaff works but I knew they would be like the dog in the Far Side cartoon so I stopped myself. Instead I shared a personal story about one of my waitressing experiences.

I waited tables in an English pub in town. It was part local watering hole, part tourist trap, part college cheap eats, part businessman's brouhaha. I donned the requisite khaki shorts and hunter green polo shirt and set out for the night. I sipped Diet Coke in the back while noshing on ungodly amounts of bread slathered in butter. I was in college then and had no idea that one day my thighs would touch. I remember being in a particularly chipper mood. Again, this is because I didn't have a crystal ball telling me about my mushy future.

A tweed jacketed gentleman of about 50ish came in alone. He was the kind of guy whose jacket actually needed suede patches on the sleeves and weren't there merely for professorial effect. He had a mop of brown hair that was tousled and sloppy, and I recall that his pants were so ill fitting his belt looked as if it could wind around him twice. He ordered a Boddington's and the Peel n' Eat shrimp.

Not only was the entree entitled "Peel n' Eat Shrimp," the menu blurb clearly described it as such. I did not feel the need to be even more explicit when he ordered the PEEL n' EAT SHRIMP. I served 'em right up, and he smiled and nodded, as anyone with a dollop of manners would do. When I checked back, he had cleared his plate and piled up the shrimp shells on the side of the table. I asked him how his meal was in my most friendly waitress voice (This is akin to phone voice but much trickier because people can actually see you.). In one sweeping gesture that caught me totally off guard, the gent (who turned out not to be one) picked up a handful of shrimp shells and threw them at me. In the middle of the dining room. In front of everyone. He exclaimed, "I didn't realize I'd be working for my dinner!"

"Well sir, the dish is called PEEL n' EAT SHRIMP, " said I, suddenly feeling my chipper attitude being chopped away.

The bastard wanted his meal comped.

We said no way. After all, he hadn't flagged me down to complain. I'd like to interject here that I was a very attentive waitress so it's not like I deserted him and hung out in the back smoking with the cooks or anything. Besides, he ate the whole damn thing. He paid but didn't tip me. The good news is that all the other patrons who witnessed his tantrum generously tipped me as a kind show of sympathy.

So I recounted this tale to my sons at lunch as we were waiting for a waitress to serve our chicken and dumplings and crayfish soup. I was hoping they'd get the gist of my parable, as I going all Aesop on them. I asked the boys what they thought of the man's behavior and how it made me feel. I was probing for a lesson in empathy here. Bird and Deal gave the expected head nodding and shoulder shrugging and said that the man was mean. Not exactly what I was going for, but I took it.

Then Bird, who couldn't hide his killer grin that's gonna make him the male version of Helen of Troy one day, snickered and said, "He was rude, but it's still pretty funny." He cracked up while saying this and could barely get the words out.

And with that, we all laughed.
A Lesson in Peel n' Eat ShrimpSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wordless Wednesday: The Real Deal

Wordless Wednesday: The Real DealSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend