Mrs. Maisel Took My Job. Sort of.

I have long aspired to become a Professional Party Guest.

“Professional Party Guest” has long been on my list of career aspirations.

I’m not kidding. I just ordered new Ridiculouswoman business cards, and they say, “Writer, blogger, speaker, singer” on them, but I’m thinking of getting some new ones with “professional party guest” added.

Or maybe, “aspiring professional party guest.”

I ordered the new cards the day before I binge-watched the entire first season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” which was great.

But there was Midge, doing my party-guest act. (“Everybody does it,” right? – if you’ve watched the show, you know that Midge doesn’t.)

She was trying to work out her routine, and began accepting nightly party invitations where she’d end up entertaining the room – trying out material, improvising with another guy who was trying to make it in showbiz, and generally making a spectacle of herself, to the delight of the other guests (and the disgust of Susie, her manager).

Hey, Midge, dammit, that was my idea!

Except I intend to get paid for it. In money, not just free drinks.

Like the entire adult population of Chicago, I’m a trained improvisor, so why shouldn’t I make myself available to enhance your party? If you’re worried that some of the guests won’t get along, or be too boring, or won’t have anything to talk about, hire me! I can pretend to be mysterious, outrageous, elegant, charming….or just funny. Whatever floats your boat and adds a little pizzazz to the proceedings.

In ancient times (the ’50s and ’60’s) hostesses (back then, the party planning was done almost exclusively by women) worried about making sure they had the right combination of people at a party, especially a dinner party. If there was to be an extra woman (a widow, a spinster sister or aunt, or other pity invite) throwing off the seating arrangements, an “extra man” must be found. And vice versa.

That picture of me up there was taken on Thanksgiving, 2017 – our second one without Mike. I tried to make it as festive as I could for our daughter, following all the traditions we used to follow when he was with us. (Note Sophie the cat, in background in the Bulgarian-built kitchen, gazing appreciatively. Or more likely, wondering where her dinner was).

That year, it worked out great.  This year, not so much. Lost my touch, when my rhythm was thrown off by our going to another house for the meal on the day itself. So I tried to do it all the next day. Disaster.

But I digress. I used the photo to indicate that under the proper circumstances, I can be amusing, fun, exuberant, charming, etc. You can’t see it, but I’m wearing one of those fit-and-flare ’50s style dresses with a crinoline underneath, and feeling pretty perky.

So that’s the woman I’d be as a professional party guest – dressed (ok – overdressed), smiling, laughing,  the life of it.

I’m not as smart-alecky or quick with a comeback as Mrs. Maisel, so I need other people to play off of. Your guests should expect some prying or impertinent questions, or some barging in on their conversations (unless you want mysterious me, in which case I’ll be lurking alone in corners looking fabulously bored, searching your bookshelves. You do have bookshelves, don’t you?)

Here’s the Christmas version of ab-fab me:

IMG_20171224_202307211.jpg

If you look closely you can see the glass is chipped.

As part of last year’s New Year’s Revolutions, I threw it out. It was the last of our wedding stemware, which we never had very much of anyway.

I haven’t written the obligatory New Year’s post yet. It seems to be the done thing to create some sort of “best of” retrospective of the previous year, or share some new determination to get better, at something.

So,  in 2019, I resolve to get hired as a Professional Party Guest.

No? But I have a purple dress for spring, just like the red one for Christmas! I have a demure black one with a white Peter Pan collar if you want me to look…I don’t know, “widowy” and demure!

And in another 10 pounds I’ll be back into that skin-tight blue one I wore to my high school reunion,  or the same dress in red that I wore to the ballet, if you want me to look – well, like a woman of a certain age who probably shouldn’t be wearing skin-tight dresses.

I’ll be happy to entertain (converse with, get your mind out of the gutter, again)  your “extra man.”

Seriously, think about it. Willing to make a spectacle of myself for a reasonable rate (and a coupla free drinks).

And a good time will be had by all.

Awaiting your invitation (and your check – half now, half when I leave the party, with everyone having a blast) I remain,

Your inappropriately-but-really-cutely-overdressed,

Ridiculouswoman

Snow

Hoping to avoid a snow-related heart attack,
I’ll shovel every two hours or two inches…

“Smells like snow.”

If you live in, or visit, the Northeast or Midwest or mountain states of the US in winter, you might hear someone say this.

If you have the misfortune (or luck, depending on your perspective) to live in a place where there is never any snow, and you have never visited a place where there is, you will not have had the sensory experience of what the air is like before snow.

The scent usually is most noticeable before the first snow of the season, or if it hasn’t snowed for a while, and there is no snow on the ground at the time. That’s when you notice something’s coming.

It’s clean. It’s crisp, and there is a decided sort of clarity to it, as if it has gotten…thinner, somehow. In a good way. As if you were at a higher altitude. All the junk in the air seems to have stepped aside for a moment, to make way for the snow to come.

And then it starts.

You check the outdoor temperature, so you’ll know whether this is going to be the light, fluffy stuff that shovels aside like a feather, or the heavy, heart attack stuff that could kill you: everyone who lives in a snowy place will know, or know of, someone who died of a heart attack trying to move the stuff. And that includes trying to move it with a snowblower, because you still have to move the snowblower.

If the temperature is near freezing, you know two things: the driving will be especially treacherous, because the snow will be covering ice beneath it, moisture that froze as the temperature dropped, and that you better get your ass outside every two hours to shovel so you never have to shovel more than two inches of it at a time (and risk dying of a heart attack).

We had a snowstorm several years ago that everyone came to refer to as “snowmaggedon.” Sixty mile-an-hour winds that ripped part of our roof off (“hon, what’s that flapping sound?” “no idea – but we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out.”)

But the winds didn’t stop Mike from going outside every two hours, all night long, in the raging gale, to shovel the driveway.

The next day, we had to shovel our way out of the house. Couldn’t get out of the garage or the kitchen door without a shovel. But the driveway was easier because the drifts were a foot lower, due to Mike’s determination with the shovel.

The snow by the doors was three feet deep. Not exactly Buffalo or Watertown, New York, but still.

The morning after was bright and beautiful, and we worked together to clear the driveway and the walk, taking breaks to warm up, change gloves or defrost toes.

I will never forget the winter when, the morning after my Dad finally got home from the city, I stood in the garage at the moment the door was first opened.

And the snowdrift on the other side of it was as tall as I was.

In those days, a “snowsuit” was a sort of winterized pair of overalls, with suspenders with metal clips. Just getting dressed to go outside was a half-an-hour ordeal – tights or long johns, turtleneck, sweater, snowsuit, heavy wool socks, parka (for girls like me, with a border of fake wool or fur around the hood), scarf (which for some weird reason we tied around the outside of the parka, where the hood met the jacket, under the chin), mittens (sometimes two pairs, one within the other) and rubber boots or “galoshes,” which weren’t warm enough, but wool socks, two layers, right?

We did things then that are the stuff of parental nightmares, now.  I’ll just say they involved sledding. I can’t describe them here because it makes me too anxious, now that I’m a grown up and parent, remembering. I’ll just say it makes me wonder how the hell we survived our childhoods.

But somehow we did survive, and grew into cautious adults who respect the power of a big snowstorm enough to bundle up and get out there and shovel, every two hours or two inches, whichever comes first, slowly and carefully, hoping to avoid the heart attack.

There’s a big storm just starting here, now, and it will affect a huge part of the midwest and northeast this weekend. The kind of storm where you check to be sure you have enough food in the house to get through the weekend, because you ain’t going anywhere til it is over, plowed and salted. And blankets, too – because this one is going to be followed by arctic cold.

There was no snow-smell before it here this time, but when it starts, the air clears, and you hunker down: flashlight checked, phone charged, firewood brought around, iron pot ready for cooking in the fireplace if the power goes out, ice-dam preventing salt pucks on the part of the roof that will leak if I turn the heat up beyond 64 (first time trying those), hat, scarf and gloves ready on the drying rack, shovel and boots ready by the front door.

Wishing you a cleared, heart-attack-free driveway and no dangerous snow-related antics by your progeny,

I remain,

Your yes-I-pay-someone-now-to-do-the-driveway-but-dammit-that-walkway-is-MINE-snow-shoveling, environmentally-friendly-ice-melt-scattering,

Ridiculouswoman

Wisdom Tooth Weight Loss Secret: or, How to Drop a Pound a Day by Worrying

Oral surgery and germophobia make a powerful weight loss combination!

I’ve lost seven pounds in ten days.

What’s my secret? The miracle weight loss secret you’ve all been clamoring for (actually, that should be, “for which you’ve all been clamoring” or, “for which you clamor” – there’s no quelling the inner grammar bitch, even when what’s wrong sounds more natural)?

How can you, too, experience this miraculous, effortless and swift reduction?

Lose unsightly weight! Feel more energetic (and hungrier – I think that makes one a little more manic) and suddenly start getting SO much done around the house!

All you have to do is:

  1.  Have all your wisdom teeth removed, and
  2.  Be living with (in my case, self-diagnosed) Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and/or, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a/k/a OCD.

All the stars aligned for me on this one.

I put it off for almost a year because everyone I asked who had theirs out said it was the worst, most painful experience of their life. Some suffered awful complications that I dare not mention, lest naming call.

But, it went very well. After a day of trying to talk with a mouthful of gauze, and two socks filled with ice tied around my head, I had…

No pain, and no swelling.

I was almost disappointed, having been robbed of the drama I had been told to expect.

But I digress – get on with it, I hear you plead. How’d you lose seven pounds in ten days?

Easy – my natural terror of germs and infection coupled with the stricture that I can’t eat anything crunchy for six to eight weeks.

And no lettuce or spinach.

Nothing crunchy and no lettuce or spinach pretty much means I eat….nothing.

No lettuce, carrots, celery, cauliflower, radishes or anything else that usually goes into a salad. I can have chicken, eggs and cheese and mushy overcooked veg.

The instructions said I could eat hot food after the first day and pretty much anything other than crunchy stuff, seeds, nuts, lettuce and spinach, after the second.

So, being a salad eater and a carb-avoider, what did that leave me?

Soup.

Strained, to take out any little bits of basil or herbs or tomato skin or seeds that might get through, lodge in the (small but deep) crevices in my jaws, fester, create disgusting infection and probably kill me.

And overcooked chicken mashed into mush with mayonnaise and a little curry powder.

And eggs and cheese. Improvised turkey and swiss roll-ups with mayo and honey mustard.

Boneless, skinless chicken with overcooked green beans. Turkey burgers.

I’m so afraid of bits getting stuck where they shouldn’t be that I’ve been eating really, really slowly, and chewing and chewing and chewing with my weak and wobbly front teeth instead of the remaining molars in the back.

Then I rush madly into the bathroom to rinse, floss, and use this odd looking little syringe with a curved tip to shoot a water-hydrogen peroxide solution into the holes left by my former wisdom teeth, blasting out any of those little nasty bits that might get stuck in there (and fester, and kill me), which (the rushing madly, and the worrying about festering bits that might kill me) probably counts as exercise.

I didn’t have any milk in the house to make canned cream of chicken soup, so I made it with heavy whipping cream instead (hey, it’s called Cream of… right?)

Which was delicious and, it occurred to me, probably so high in fat, even though it had too many carbs, to, along with the cheese, almost qualify me as a Keto dieter.

I’ve also been drinking LOTS of water – I don’t know what it is about losing my wisdom teeth, or taking prophylactic antibiotics, that made me so thirsty, but the effect seems to have been a sort of cleanse.

And, while I was supposed to be prostrate with pain, not bending or lifting anything and taking it easy, I was actually

  1. undecorating the Christmas tree
  2. packing all the ornaments away
  3. getting the lights off and packed away
  4. hauling the tree outside so my brother could help me get it on top of the car
  5. driving out to the forest preserve to drop the tree off for recycling
  6. maniacally cutting up four cashmere sweaters that my angelic daughter innocently washed and put in the dryer on high heat for me, rendering them unwearable, and hand sewing them onto a fleece backing to make a blanket for my Great Nephew and racing to the only FedEx place open after 8 p.m. to pay a ridiculous amount of money to have it overnighted to him so that it would get there on time, thereby negating any money-saving idea about making something homemade for him but I really didn’t want to be late for his first birthday and, today,
  7. taking down the outdoor lights and garlands.

I’m beginning to sense a theme here.

Things that haven’t been dusted in months (OK, maybe years, but whatever) got dusted.

Vacuuming has occurred, often.

I just might wash that kitchen floor.

And clean the bathrooms.

And finally get a blog post done. Voila.

So, if you want to lose weight fast, all you need is:

  • a smooth, uncomplicated episode of oral surgery coupled with
  • a mortal fear of germs and infection which causes you to
  • chew very slowly with your front teeth, avoiding the molars, at the back of which are those openings into the dark and infectable places, plus
  • a determination not to eat any of the recommended mushy but very carby foods (potatoes! Hell no! Pasta? Are you kidding me?) and a whole bunch of too-long-neglected housekeeping.

No? Oh well. Works for me, anyway.

I’ll let you know where all this goes, in six to eight weeks.

Until then, I remain,

Your anxious, germophobic, mindfully masticating (yes, the word that starts with “m,” to give me some alliteration here, that means chewing, so get your mind out of the gutter), hydrogen-peroxide rinsing,

Ridiculouswoman

I Got My Wivdom Teef Ow

I didn’t expect hilarity – but I’ll take it!

“Why don’t you get yourself a smoothie on the way home?”

“Bup don tho hab lil sees in em?”

“Get a Mango smoothie.”

I started to chuckle, and the chuckle turned into a laugh, and pretty soon I was guffawing and crying.

Guffawing and crying, with my mouth full of gauze.

Ha! I couldn’t stop imagining it, trying to order at the drive through:

“May I pwease hab a man smooey?”

Drive through guy:

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that, can you say it again?”

“Meem man smooey.”

“Sorry, there must be something wrong with my headset. Once again?”

“I wan a meem man smooey! A smooey! Oo know, wif orange fooot? Fwozen and bwended?”

“A smoothie?”

“Yef, yef, a smooey!”

“OK, what flavor?”

“Oh, Ga! a MAN smooey! Manjoo!”

“Mango?”

“Yef! Yef, Manjoo!”

“What size?”

“Oh, GAAAA! Meem! Meem, pwease!”

“Medium?”

“Yef, yef! Meem! Bup no stwah.”

“You don’t want a straw?”

“Wight. Na pose hab stwah fo two wee.”

“OK, no straw with the smoothie. Anything else?”

“Ife cweam”

“Ice cream?”

“Yef, yef, Ife cweam!”

“Cup or cone?”

“Cuh – wif a poon.”

“What size?”

“Warge.”

By the grace of God, they only have one flavor, so I wouldn’t have to try to say, “vanilla.” But it would have been fun.

“Vaniwa. Wif chawla sauf.”

Etc. I’m crying, here, and I’m not supposed to be. Better go re-stuff my mouf wif gaub.

Now what’s so funny, Sophie cat?

OK, so I’m a little swollen.  It is nowhere near as bad as everyone said it would be. I’ve got the tube socks stuffed with ice tied around my head, the bleeding has stopped (but it will start again if I can’t stop laughing), the clove-tasting things the oral surgeon stuffed in the holes on the bottom seem to be numbing whatever pain there is supposed to be, so, so far so good. Not much pain at all.

Yet.

I suppose I should be a little concerned that, as soon as she pulled the final tooth, the oral surgeon jumped up and ran out of the room.

And puked.

I’ve decided to treat that as hilarious, too.

I mean, I’m sorry she wasn’t feeling well, or is pregnant, or my ancient decayed wisdom teeth were so disgusting they made her hurl, or whatever caused her to puke. At least the bathroom was right in the next room.

And she didn’t puke on me, at least. So there’s that.

I’m not even getting all germ-freak OCD about it.

Because I can’t stop finking bow owdwing a meem manjoo smoowey at the dribe tru.

I’ll keep you pof sed.

Until then, I remain,

Your swollen, gauze-biting, laughing-til-I’m-crying, pudding-eating, smooey-drinking, honest-it-was-only-local-anaesthetic,

Ridiculouswoman