The Six Hundred Dollar Orange

As a young lass, I was thoroughly under the impression that men had very, very high dating standards when it came to women.  You often hear men describe the kind of woman they’re looking for as “5’ 10”, 105 pounds, model-type, no baggage, no high maintenance”.

Women hear that description and laugh so hard it makes their heads hurt, and then, unfortunately, on a deeper level, they immediately feel inadequate, like there’s something wrong with them for not meeting those requirements, even though they know they’re ridiculous.

For starters, if you see a thin woman who is 5’ 10”?  She probably weighs at least 160 pounds.  Women can’t tell you that, because men hear “160 pounds” and immediately close their eyes and picture the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.  I once heard a guy describe a woman as “pretty freaking chunky”, and when his friend asked how much he thought she weighed, he said, “Oh man, she probably weighed like 120.”

Sorry, I just guffawed so hard that I choked on this Weight Watchers ice cream bar, not to mention a bucket of hopes and dreams.

Also, when I was 13 years old, I was 5’ 1” and weighed 105 pounds, and people accused me of being anorexic or having some kind of terminal disease.  My head looked like a lollipop with my body as the stick.  You could play xylophones on my ribcage, front and back, and I couldn’t lie flat on my back because my spine dug into the mattress so hard that it would leave a bruise on me.  So, no, barring some weird supermodel whose bones are made of paper, nobody is 5’ 10” and weighs 105 pounds.

And “Model-type”?  Really?  Unless you, yourself, are the equivalent of a male model, then no.  Juuuuuuuust no.

“No baggage” means you should have no problems of any kind.  You know, like all those scores of people in the world who have no problems?  I’m sure the person who’s requiring you to have no baggage certainly has no baggage himself!

That sound you just heard, was me rolling my eyes until they fell out of my head and onto the floor.  I know you may live 5,000 miles from here, but I’m sure you still heard it.

Related, anyone who tells you that they are “drama-free” will always, without fail, every time, be the most dramatic motherfucker you’ve ever met in your entire life.  Count on it.

“No high maintenance” means you should wake up in the morning and look flawless.  Fuck you.  I’m not even going to dignify that one with a response.

It’s funny, because you would think that since men’s standards are so very high, that only one out of like every 100,000 women would have a boyfriend or husband and the rest of us would be toiling the nights away alone, crying in a house full of cats and collecting cobwebs in our hoo-hahs.  Look around and, obviously, you’ll see that’s not the case.  Not even close.

As I have become a dusty old hag, I have realized that these men are not highly discerning at all.  They’re just attempting to be shrewd negotiators. These types of men, the ones who state this ridiculous laundry list of standards, are usually the same ones who will turn around and stick it in anything that moves.  They’re just starting off the negotiation from what they think is the highest asking price, which is for some reason, a supermodel with the body of a praying mantis who also has no problems and wakes up looking flawless.  They know that woman’s not showing up.  They figure there’s no harm in throwing that asking price out there.  It’s a first offer.

So what do you do?  You do what you do with any first offer.  Reject it and counter.

If he says, “5′ 10″, 105 pounds”, you counter with “5′ 3″, 220 pounds”.

If he says, “Model-type”, you counter with “I am good at my accounts receivables job.”

If he says, “No baggage”, you counter with, “You first, asshole.”

If he says, “No high maintenance”, you counter with, “I don’t often leave skidmarks.”

Then tell them to take it or leave it.

It reminds me of this episode of Designing Women where MaryJo is complaining about how when she lived in Mexico, there was no such thing as a price tag, and when she would ask a shopkeeper, “How much is this orange?” they would size her up and say, “Six hundred dollars”.  Then she would put the orange down and walk away, and the shopkeeper would chase after her and yell “Thirty cents!”

All this fretting over whether some guy doesn’t want to date you because your eyebrows aren’t perfectly waxed, or because you have cellulite or weigh more than 105 pounds.  And OMG what if he finds out you have problems?!!  All the emotional strife because you’re not the kind of woman who can roll out of bed looking perfect.  I’m here to tell you it’s all for naught.  I’ve never encountered any man whose standards are actually that high.  And if they are?  They can go jump into a dick-shaped volcano.  You don’t want to be with someone like that anyway.  Those are the guys who will never, ever stop looking for the bigger, better deal.

Slow your roll, women.  Take a deep breath.  You don’t need to meet somebody’s ludicrous requirements, because their requirements are exactly that:  Ludicrous.  They are as ludicrous as asking someone to pay $600 for an orange.

A Cup of Heartbreak in B-flat

Someday, as your musician boyfriend will no doubt promise you, he is going to be rich and famous and he will definitely, absolutely, without a doubt, pay you back for all the stuff you’ve had to buy for his sorry ass.

Okay, that was a little harsh, not to mention, inaccurate.  Let me re-phrase that.

Add “by dumping you to bang indie actresses” after “pay you back”, and then replace “sorry ass” with “career that will eventually end with a poorly-received experimental electronica album”.  Hang on – I have included the mark-up below:

Someday, as your musician boyfriend will no doubt promise you, he is going to be rich and famous and he will definitely, absolutely, without a doubt, pay you back by dumping you to bang indie actresses for all the stuff you’ve had to buy for his sorry ass career that will eventually end with a poorly-received experimental electronica album.

One of the most hilarious, yet oddly enduring, grifts with regard to dating musicians is that if you love and financially support your unemployed musician boyfriend, after he “makes it big” and his album sells its first few million copies and he wins a couple of Grammy awards, the two of you will get married and move into one of those mansions in the fancy outskirts of Nashville where guys like Jack White will pop by unannounced to ask if they can borrow a cup of heartbreak in B-flat.

(I assume all of the successful musicians who move to those neighborhoods have a dedicated cellar in their mansions where they store heartbreak in various musical keys, because it’s mandated by Nashville’s city charter just above “2. Get down, turn around, go to town, the Boot Scootin’ Boogie”.  Also, I chose B-flat because it was the key Whoopi Goldberg had to figure out in Jumpin’ Jack Flash after listening to the song on repeat over and over again so she could get on the secure computer line with that British spy who was trapped somewhere in Eastern Europe.  When’s somebody remaking that movie?)

Regardless, it’s certainly better than having a dedicated cigar cellar in your mansion, which automatically means you are the most insufferable person on the planet, not to mention the stinkiest.  For the record, I have never seen someone smoking a cigar and thought, “I bet that’s a cool person.”  The only people who think you look cool with a cigar are other guys who are standing nearby also smoking cigars, and you think they look cool, too, so all you’ve really done is created one of those human centipede scenarios.  Now I’m just picturing three cigars attached to each other ass-to-mouth.  Thanks.

You’ll move into this Nashville mansion that’s got one of those pools shaped like a music note, adopt a bunch of rescue dogs and start a foundation in your spare time between your personal yoga training appointments and lunches with Drea de Matteo and Shooter Jennings, who tell you that while they are no longer together as a couple, they remain on good terms for the sake of the kids.  You’ll eventually become tennis buddies with them and “totally razz” Shooter when he comes out of the clubhouse wearing white tennis shorts with a wallet chain and a tall boy of local craft beer bulging out of his pocket.

Drea will throw her arms up and say, “I know!  You can’t take this guy anywhere!” and then you’ll all laugh about it later on when you go check out that secret after-hours show at The Bluebird Cafe where Miranda Lambert is trying out new material for her next album.  You’ll tell regular people you forget “all the time” that Drea was on The Sopranos, but you know damn well it’s literally all you ever think about anytime you see her, and you have to stop yourself from calling her “Adriana” every time you talk to her.  Anytime you think about that scene where Steve Van Zandt tells her to get in the car, and you know she definitely won’t be coming back, it makes you start to tear up, because you’re NOT MADE OF STEEL, FOR GOD’S SAKE.

The bittersweet memories of the beginning years, the tough years, the years when you had to work two jobs and sell your blood plasma to pay all the bills and get your unemployed musician boyfriend the guitar he wanted for his birthday, the “Livin’ On a Prayer” years, will be but fading images in the rearview mirrors of your fleet of fully loaded luxury automobiles.

His newest number one song that has rocketed to the top of the charts will be about you and how your never-ending love and devotion were sometimes the only things that got him through another tour of the Pacific Northwest in a broken down, leaky 1989 Chevy Astro van that his drummer had to push-start half the time.  This earned his drummer the nickname “The Pusher”, even though he likes to make up a story that he actually got the nickname from being an “enforcer” for the IRA back when he still believed in “The Cause”.  The Pusher’s rosary beads, that used to dangle so proudly from the rearview mirror, now reside in the glove box next to his St. Christopher keychain, because even when Catholics decide they aren’t Catholics anymore, they still believe that jewelry and keychains will keep other cars from crashing into them on the highway.

Your successful musician husband will surprise you on your second wedding anniversary with a tattoo across his back that says “Angel of Montgomery”, and it’ll be a portrait of you done by Kat Von D, depicting you with angel wings and your bought-and-paid-for, brand new bitchin’ rack of boobies.  Also, you are from Montgomery, Alabama or that tattoo doesn’t make any sense.

Your eventual children, Gunnar and Patton (twins!), will go to one of those preschools where people like Zac Brown send their children, and they will weave you a wine glass-cozy for Mother’s Day out of sustainably-harvested felted wool that says “Mommy Juice” on the side, and you’ll laugh one of those hearty, belly-type laughs even though you have rock-fucking-hard abs from all the Pilates you did with Nicole Kidman’s trainer that morning, as you sit on the porch with a glass of Rose’ that was made at your friend Jon Bon Jovi’s new vineyard.

Overlooking the gorgeous, lush rolling Tennessee hills of your rustic, yet palatial estate, you’ll remember all the times, all those years ago, that you overdrafted your bank account to make your unemployed musician boyfriend’s car payment and buy his gas, all the times you cried when you got your paycheck because it was already gone from having to pay the rent and all the bills by yourself, all of the times you picked up the dinner check while he looked down and fiddled with a pointy charm from his many black leather cord necklaces, and you’ll smile a knowing smile and think, “I loved him when he was nobody, and look at what we built together with that love.  It was all worth it.”

Then you will wake up from this dream in the rags you now wear for clothes, shake off the street-scabies, and push your bag-lady shopping cart down the street to get a bowl of soup down at the mission.  You will pass a store window with a television showing the live red carpet arrivals at that year’s Grammy awards, and the unemployed musician boyfriend you loved and supported all those years will be on the screen in a Tom Ford tuxedo and ironic high-top sneakers from the 80s, with someone Hollywood refers to as “The Next Jennifer Lawrence” on his arm.  He’ll tell Ryan Seacrest that he couldn’t have made it this far without her, and that even though they’ve only been dating a month, she is his “soulmate”, and you will go to the library so you can use their computer and free internet to post a one-star rating for her latest movie and point out her cankles.

He used to make fun of people who used hokey terms like “soulmate”.

You will shuffle back from the library to your cardboard box only to be served with a subpoena from the credit department at Guitar Center for all of the shit you were manipulated into buying for Mr. Grammy Winner when he didn’t have a pot to piss in, and then you will proceed to lie down and die penniless in the gutter, still with your original boobs that he used to call “just okay”, and a credit score of 480.

Welcome to FlavorTown

The only two varieties of Hamburger Helper that have ever been worth a damn are Lasagna and Cheeseburger Macaroni, in that order.  Trust me – I used to be an expert.  A real “white trash foodie”, if you will.

Anything that first requires you to brown one pound of ground beef is firmly in my culinary wheelhouse.  Anything outside of that is dark magic and is not to be messed with.  That’s how you end up becoming a whore gypsy – all those “herbs” and “spices”.  Next thing you know you’ll find yourself in a bus station in Istanbul trying to trade sexual favors for saffron.  I won’t lose another friend to it.  I just won’t.  It’s easier to just eat the Hamburger Helper.

Besides ground beef as your leading protein, I also know all the boxed starches you can successfully cut hot dogs up into and bake under a layer of crushed Fritos.

If you wrap a Pillsbury crescent roll around anything, you have officially baked something “for company”.  If you make the entire can and eat them all by yourself, you have something I used to call “Soft Dinner”.

“Crunchy Dinner” was when I would take an entire cookie sheet of Ore-Ida Crispy Crowns, burn them nearly to a crisp, and then cover them on both sides with Tom’s Barbecue Sauce and eat them over the course of an hour while I watched The Love Boat at 3am in the same t-shirt I’d been wearing for two weeks.

Fruit = canned fruit cocktail, and if you have enough money left over after getting your electricity turned back on, you can buy a jar of maraschino cherries and dispense a dozen or so into the fruit cocktail can and instantly turn it into a party in your mouth instead of settling for the two sad half-cherries the cheap motherfuckers at Del Monte tossed into the can at the factory.  I used to refer to this as “Going Off-Road”.

Do you care for spicy food?  Something exotic, perhaps?  Then allow me to go over to my packet drawer where I can retrieve your choice of either Hot or Fire Taco Bell hot sauce packets to accompany your meal.  Have as many as you want – Taco Bell makes it a point to give me 100 packets of both varieties for every single taco I’ve ever ordered, even after I have emphatically specified that I only need “Two Hot, please.”  I’ve said it so often I should have a license plate that says “2HOT PLZ”, but then I imagine that would get me more attention in the way of “strange wang in my car window” than I really wanted.

Hashbrown casserole contains two different kinds of canned soup AND a vegetable.  That means it’s health food, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t eat it at every meal.  If you want to change it up, put it on a piece of buttered Wonder Bread toast for breakfast, sprinkle crushed Funyuns on top of it for lunch and then, using your fingernail as the knife, julienne some bologna slices over it for dinner.

Green beans and all other vegetables are purchased at the peak of their canned freshness, cranked open and dumped out into a pot with a half a stick of butter and then turned up to a boil.  If you want to make it for a special occasion, you can add a little pickle juice to the pot and call them “Dill Green Beans”, and dazzle all of your friends who just got out of lock-up on a technicality.

^^  The above scenarios refer only to the times when I felt like cooking.  Most of the time I would just eat dry cereal out of my fist and call it a meal.  That old school gigantic biscuit version of shredded wheat can easily be eaten like an apple, but without all those gross “fruit vitamins” getting in the way of your enjoyment.  The dog will clean up all the millions of wheat-string-leavins that will run from one end of the house to the other.  Fiber is good for everybody.

All that aside, you should know that I’m a reformed white trash foodie now, since I was fortunate enough to marry a man who not only doesn’t consider Velveeta a fancy dairy product because it’s “brand name”, but also makes things like basted eggs over curried riced cauliflower, doesn’t tear open a paper packet to make gravy, and makes his own salad dressing.

I don’t mean “makes salad dressing” as in “takes the bottle of Kraft Zesty Italian that has half an inch of dressing left in it and dumps it into the half-empty bottle of Kraft French dressing”.  He’s got a spice rack and and fancy vinegars and oils at the ready.  He mixes, shakes, tastes, adds things, mixes more, tastes.  It’s amazing to watch.  His attention to detail, his desire to make something that actually tastes good.  It’s like watching someone paint a masterpiece.

Prior to our getting together, I had reached a point of culinary laziness that was so rich and so deep, I had convinced myself that I actually preferred my salads with no dressing at all, because that would mean I wouldn’t have to get up and go get the bottle out of the fridge.

Yes, I am that lazy.  Pre-Bobby, any time I would actually get up off the couch and go get a bottle of dressing out of the fridge, I would inevitably discover that it was a new bottle, meaning I would have to break the outer seal, unscrew the cap, and pull off a foil-protector disk to get into it.  This discovery would cause me to loudly sigh, drop my shoulders, and proclaim, “WHY ME?” and then put the unopened bottle back in the fridge.

I would gladly pay for a service at the grocery store where they remove all the tamper-safe packaging from everything in my cart before I leave the store.  I’m just putting that out there, universe.  Work your magic or something.

Now I’m just rambling.  I bet Guy goddamned Fieri is going to sue me for using the term “FlavorTown” and then use all of my money to buy more thumb rings.  Happy Monday.