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[Writing Prompt: ekphrastic and timed; time limit = 15 minutes]
“How’s the baklava?”
He shoots me a surprised look. “You know to ask.”
“I know my baklava.”
The proprietor closes in to block off the other barflies. “Order it next time. This batch…?” He shakes his head.
I order a burger, a good burger, as I rarely keep red meat in my house. The order comes, and I ask for tzatziki sauce on the side.
Tzatziki. Boston lettuce. Tomato slice. Scrape the O rings off. 1/4 pound of beef, large slice of feta, more tzatziki, close with the bun. Flip over for good luck. I invented that, I don’t know when, but it’s just something I do. Bury my knife into the middle to part my feast and…
Solid. Grey. LUMP.
My eyes slit.
“I know I ordered medium rare.” It was supposed to be delivered with concern, but instead, dripped with acid.
The keeper, the trainer, the new cook, everyone’s in disarray then in a hurry. I backpedal my statement, realizing it’s become an issue. Before I could finish explaining myself, the new burger is in front of me, the house cook, doing me the favor of meticulously dressing my burger the way I just had that pile of dog food.
Sorry. It’s just that ‘well done’ makes no fuckin’ sense to me. You gonna eat meat? Get some blood in ya.
I carve in, the juices flow, all is well in the land of The Burg.
Other than the petite woman breathing down my neck as she read the beer menu board, I enjoyed my company. On moments when I teetered back to breathe and let my gullet expand, I joined in on the surrounding conversation, the latest concern from the proprietor being his current roommate situation. I dive back in. The guys around me and in the kitchen comment, “She’s really putting it away!” “She’s not playing around!” “I thought she was kidding!”
“Fellas, fellas,” I lean back as one sliver of 1/2 pound burger awaits its demise, “don’t let the small frame fool ya. I’m here for a slayin’.” I hoark the final piece down to emphasize I mean business.
“Ready for dessert? Other than the baklava?”
“I absolutely would. But I have a technical error.”
“Too full from the burger and fries?”
“Not at all. I’m wearing tight pants. There’s no more give!”
Everyone laughs. He goes back down the bar.
“Is this The Dynamics?” the guy sipping on pinot noir asks. The proprietor checks Pandora. Yes, it is.
“That’s an amazing cover.”
I agree as I finish my Lehnenkugel. “That is an amazing cover.” The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army.
They go back to the roommate issue. “If I don’t get someone to move in, I’m gonna have to get another job,” he laments.
Pinot Noir suggests, “There’s always stripping.”
“Yeah,” he laughs “there’s always stripping.”
“Just do me a favor,” I insist as I slide my bar stool back, descend from my seat, and hoist my purse onto my shoulder. “Don’t strip with sneakers on. It is just so unsexy.”
At first I get several pairs of weird looks, and then, once the thought has soaked in, laughter.
“Til next time, fellas.”
I’ve come to the assertion I have WAY too many crazymakers in my life.
So this happened this past weekend:
And what was so weird about it was, I put no pressure or heat on the frames. As casually as any of you lenswearers would slide a pair of glasses onto your face, that’s how much pressure I applied, and, PLACK!! They just…fell apart.
But the event made me remember another inexplicable demise of something very necessary at a most inconvenient time:
[Cue Law & Order SVU's dun dun dun!]
It was Memorial Day Weekend, 2012, and I was in Washington, D.C. to attend my sorority daughter’s wedding. I hadn’t seen my daughter or her chapter sisters since 2008, and hadn’t done anything sorority-related since, so this was going to be a reacquiantance/presentation moment for me. Gotta look good for the sorors!
So in my arsenal of outfits I included a pair of pumps I’d had since 2003, worn on very few occasions but they were crowd pleasers: black stiletto open toed pumps with a delicate ankle band, trimmed in gold with colorful, gilded flowers dotting the sides and back. Sooooooooper cuuuuuuuute.
I arrived at the Crystal City hotel midday, and attempted to contact my daughter but of course, day before the big event, she’s not going to be available to entertain me. I knew my granddaughter was standing in her wedding party, who I had yet to meet, but also not available. The only other sister I knew from our time at Vanderbilt University was also in the wedding party and likely unavailable.
Sucked hard for me, because D.C. ranks high in Cities I Like To Rawk My Balls Off In. So fine, no one around, not gonna bar hop alone in downtown D.C. (I’m crazy, but not THAT crazy), so I opted to curl up in the middle of my bed. I believe Die Hard was just about to start on one of the cable channels.
A text message bleeps my phone: where u at auntie?
Ohh snap. My niece! I figured since she’s part of the wedding party, she’d be too tired to hang out. But I had forgotten: she’s MY niece. Hits me with her room number.
My text back: Be there in 15.
She greets me at her door and we close the four-year gap in our lives with a big hug. I meet the other sisters in town for the wedding, not in the party, and finally, my grandbaby, proving she’s related to me, without question down to hang out for the night. After small talk we decide to bar hop with some other wedding attendees more familiar with the local haunts. I went back to my room, switched into Night Mode with the Crowd Pleasers on my feet, and we went our merry way via taxi to a segment of P Street where the other people were going to meet us at.
The gist of the evening: bar, drink, other bar, drink, club, flirt, drink, other club, dance. And again, we’re along P Street, not venturing any more than two blocks to visit venues. But while we’re at the last club, I feel a bit of a hesitation on the bottom of one high heel. It looks as if the sole was pulling away. I discount it as latent effect from the friction of dancing and keep winding my waist.
Last call at the bar, then city ordinance kicks us out, and we’re on the streets of D.C. loitering with other club bunnies. I am ANCIENT compared to these spry twentysomethings, so while they’re harangued by every other dude exiting the nightclubs, I stride over towards a brownstone intending to rest my weary body on a stoop. That’s when I hear STTTTTRRRRIIIIPPPPP! The entire bottom of my shoe pulls off! One of the ladies pauses her sorority strolling along P Street to assist me, by ripping the rest of it off. Then, because she thinks in the macro sense, she relieves my other sole, so that I can walk evenly on the residuals. That sister is going to run a nation one day, mark my words.
But then it was painfully obvious why shoes have soles in the first place, and any attempt to walk along the wide, cobbled sidewalks that are uniquely D.C. was causing me duress. Finally, a fleet of flying taxis and I spot The Red One, the red taxis will run you to Alexandria and Crystal City expressly. I clop clop clop from the brownstone towards the taxi, and that’s when I hear, “You are looking mighty fine this evening, Miss Lady.”
I stop my enflamed feet, stagger to balance on these Borgia-esque torture devices and plant my hands on my hips. “Yeah? Well I’m not feeling mighty fine.” Then I call over to my niece, “I’m gettin’ in this cab. Ya’ll comin’ or what?” I pay the gentleman caller no heed and continue forward, for as I continue to walk on these threadbare devices, they’re just falling apart. I’m feeling the sides of the shoes flap away, the ankle band now a clumsy means of keeping a semblance of shoe attached. Once in the cab, the shoes disintegrated.
Never in my life had I done the Walk Home From The Club With No Shoes On thing, but I had no choice.
But it gets better folks.
Next day, Wedding Day. I had bought a new pair of shoes to compliment the cobalt blue dress to compliment my daughter’s wedding colors. The entire time at the church, lovely. The entire time at the reception, lovely. It wasn’t until we went to the vodka bar along DuPont Circle that my shoes decide to fall apart. I’m beside myself. The Crowd Pleasers, fine, we’ll chalk it up to expired warranty. But I literally JUST BOUGHT THESE A WEEK PRIOR!
Mystery. Complete mystery.
Rounding out my love + romance week, reblogging this in honor of Valentine’s Day. Even war vets have battles of the heart… Enjoy!
Remember I invited you to the wine tasting this past Saturday? Well, Marie and I went and, well, lemme tell ya.
Before I turn into a tart, let me set up the scene: me, former wine and cigar enthusiast, Marie, former chef. Both of us congested from the gloomy winter weather, so our noses and palettes were facing a challenge.
Our first stop was visiting with the handsome, engaging gentleman representing Angulo Innocenti, Mariano Innocenti. His family’s vineyard is located in Mendoza, Argentina in a low lying, rocky region overlooked by the Andes. Along with grapes, they grow walnuts and fruits on their property. He poured us a sample of his Malbec. A woman joining us at his table noted she’d never tried reds before, she was partial to whites. I held the glass to my lips to watch her reaction, the same reaction most people who aren’t into dry wines give, that puckered face indicating harshness. I fought my congestion to smell the bouquet; earthy, not punchy, no pepper. I ingested it and felt it smooth, almost a buttery finish. In my mind I paired it with a short rolled Maduro of the Ybor City variety.
Bacchus smiled upon us. The nibbles table was freshly replenished with a spread of meat and spinach-filled empanadas just as we turned around. REAL empanadas! Perfectly executed. As I noshed on my empanadas, Marie sailed us towards the Ernesto Catena table. I continued shoving food in my face while she delivered the requisite “how yoo dooin’?” to the HAWT vineyard representative. Marie produced his business card, cuz she’s a bawse, his name is Mauricio. Ernesto Catena Vineyards is also located in Mendoza, Argentina.
He presented two styles of Malbec, one heavy with oak, the other, more fruit notes. I enjoyed the former. We discovered his English was spare, so we kindly launched into Spanish to make Mauricio more comfortable, or, at least, more entertained. My Spanish depends on the dialect I’m around, but with the wine and empanadas in me, my accents were hopping the globe. Meanwhile, Marie kept up by listening to Mauricio speak and smiling coyly as she responded with English.
In my best Valley Girl accent, I said to her, “Me gustaria hablar en Espanol como las Blancas.”
Marie responded with, “Tu eres una puta.”
And we’re in there like swimwear.
We gave beautiful, delightful Mauricio some space to work while we visited the sole representative from Chile, Cono Sur. They hail from the San Antonio region. Yet another table of tall, gorgeous, dedicated craftsmen, and Marie and I are now trying to work out how to move to South America and open a B&B near these guys. Why are all South American men beautiful??
We engage one of the gentlemen, and I ask about his white wines. Note to those new to the wine tasting thing: if you know nothing about wine, be honest. These guys want you to enjoy wine the way they do, and they’re happy to assist you in finding one that appeals to your palette. In my case, I told this well-dressed, lovely eyed man I’m not a fan of whites, but I want to find one I can enjoy with friends who insist on white wine. He introduced us to their Sauvignon Blanc. I noticed the label said ‘organic’ as he poured it, and frowned. I’ve had organic wines recently. They are, in a word, shit. Not this one. Very oaky, green peppery, citrus notes, lovely soil, I was standing on the summit of the Andes spinning in place with my arms splayed. Magic. How? He entered into this very engaging description of how they process the wine, reducing the sugars to just 7 grams, leaving that clean taste, resulting in an organic wine that can stand with the classics.
The second wine he presented with great pride, introducing it as the star of Cono Sur, the Pinot Noir. The nose to it was heaven. Marie and I drank, and immediately fell in love with its body. Savory, citrusy, full, deep soil. It conjured up pairing with venison, maybe bison, pheasent. Marie agreed; it was a wine that was perfect for a complex dish. Marie and I talk about food like college frat boys talk about sex, so for us to start planning meals at the mere sip of this wine is a high compliment. Our sommolier was pleased. Gorgeously pleased. His assertiveness, posturing, intellect, maaan… that’s my kind of hype. Then I realized, I’m tipsy. Smartly, he walked away.
“Hey Marie, we didn’t try the white wines at the Ernesto table.”
We flirted up Mauricio some more as we tried the Sauvignon from his vineyard. Marie bore a wide contented smile across her face, which I’ve learned is her finish line smile. Mauricio asked if we wanted more wine. I turned and asked her, “Do you want another round?” then politely silenced as the little angel and devil parked on opposite her shoulders engaged in a debate. Finally she said, “Nah, I’m good.” We slinked (slunk?) away and did the responsible thing: went down the candy aisle and grabbed some chocolate bars for the ride home.
BLUE RIBBON: CONO SUR – Pinot Noir
ANGULO INNOCENTI – Malbec
ERNESTO CATENA – Malbec
CONO SUR – Sauvignon Blanc
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Edited manuscript? Check. Cover artwork? Check. Leading pages? Check. Author Photo? Hrmm. Do we really need to put a picture on the back of the book? Can’t people just assume I’m a crazy-haired cat lady who watched too many G.I. Joe cartoons as a kid? Well, according to my friend Carolyn, everyone looks at the […]
I gotta hand it to the beast, Bobby Tiberius can take some injuries.
We went on our evening constitutional, minding our own, wrapping around the north end back towards The Treehouse. There’s a segment of the property that’s all large, lush flora, what Florida looked like before the conquistadors had their way with it. As we walked through our mini tropical forest, we came upon two tween girls. The taller one gasped, “You scared us!” I laughed and gasped back, “You scared me,” as children do genuinely frighten me. Then I look down and see Bob’s back leg lifted in the usual release of bodily fluids akimbo, but found it weird he wasn’t lowering it. The girls approached with the expected awww that everyone gives my cute little dog. I lowered to look for the spur that was bothering him, and noticed…it was moving.
The fuzzy thing was a honeybee. An angry, going-to-work-on-my-puppy’s-toe honeybee. I swear, living in this neighborhood is a constant episode of When Animals Attack. Moment of truth, gotta spare my dog his pain. My two witnesses are giving their best “Oh no!”’s as I look for a soft leaf. Bob, amazingly, is wagging his tail towards the girls, telling them telepathically, don’t worry, ladies, I’m gonna be okay. I’ll let you scratch my belly after the big one is done doing her job.
I pulled the disoriented honeybee from his foot, said my apologies, and placed it under my foot, pressing the bee against the ground as I searched for his stinger. Fuzzy, black foot under leafy cover and overcast sky was not helping. I released the foot, and Bobby hobbled towards the girls. While they comforted him with hugs, I watched for anaphylactic shock. Nope. Still 100-mile-an-hour wag, affectionate, but favoring the foot.
“Now girls, I want you to walk around the trees, I don’t know if that bee is still alive, I don’t want you stepping on it,” I instructed. They listened, and I watched them walk across to the sidewalk before departing.
Bobby hobbled the rest of the way, and he stretched across his yard pillow as I assembled the recovery kit: tweezers, hot water, cloth, Witch Hazel, clippers, diphenhydramine HCl, dog treats. I found the fat barb after gently cleaning his rear left paw. Nasty thing!