Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Candle

Recently, I received a thoughtful gift from a friend: a candle in the scent of tangerine with a box of tea of the same flavor. Nice, huh?

So, last weekend, on the most dreary of Sundays, when frozen roads had canceled plans and my seasonal descent into an extended nasty stupor was acting up, I decided to light the candle, brew a cup and enjoy a peaceful interlude.

Remembering Seth's hypersensitivity to the presence of an open flame in the house and his nose's ability to discern it, I planned to travel to the distant end of the family room--as far from where he was taking a nap as physically possible.

Seth is unbelievably paranoid about fire safety and I cannot argue. 

We've all seen videos of how quickly a couch can become engulfed in flame as well as heartbreaking footage of loss and destruction but, on this dreary day, I headed downstairs with candle and cup as well as a box of safety matches in the pocket of my hooded sweatshirt.


Pulling my chair to the window for ventilation purposes, I placed the candle out of reach of the cats yet close enough to douse with my tea if things went wrong.

Happily surveying my tableau of both relaxation and fire safety, I lit the candle--quickly blowing out the match in hopes of diffusing the initial tell-tale whiff of sulphur. Drawing a cozy afghan over my knees, I took a sip of tea and opened my book. Ahhhhhh….

I had read less than one page when I heard movement above me and Seth's voice at the top of the stairs, "Do I smell a match?"

"How would I know what you smell, I'm not you." This was the wrong answer, immediately giving away the fact that he did, indeed, smell a match. I had left him snoring deeply at the other end of the house. What kind of superhuman smelling abilities does this man possess? More importantly, what can I say to keep him up there instead of down here, hell bent on extinguishing both my candle and my Zen moment?
Seth's concern....

Suddenly, he's in the room, running over to the candle and staring at it accusingly. 

"Why do you need this candle?" But, before I can answer, the warnings begin: I must carefully watch the cats who, apparently, are potential arsonists…not dare doze off…make sure it’s completely snuffed before I leave the room. 

I remind him that it's a small candle and not a giant and terrifying effigy in the California desert but an open flame is an open flame to Seth. He stomps away after making sure the match I used is not smoldering in the wastebasket.

I will burn down your

I try to enjoy the cozy scene I've arranged but he is now wide awake and pacing above me, occasionally standing by the stairs to ask when I'm going to be done and blow out the "damn candle." 

After about a half hour, I give up, passing Seth on the stairs as he heads down to make sure I’ve completely put out the flame. He is carrying a fire extinguisher.

Fast forward to early this morning. Seth and I are asleep when suddenly the room is filled with a choking stench that wakes me up in the same manner as might a two by four to the skull. I sit straight up and begin gagging, realizing that Nifi the cat, aka the Mad Pooper, has laid a big one in the litter box in the bathroom right next to the bed.

The Mad Pooper

Nifi produces stinkers of various strength (and size but that is another blog post entirely). This one is particularly lethal which I, with my last gasp of conscious thought, attribute to a little pinch of brisket we gave him as a treat the day before.

Because Seth is peacefully sleeping through this sensory assault and I am terribly mean, I shake him slightly, lean close and ask if he's ever smelled anything more horrifying than what Nifi hath just wrought. "I don't smell anything, he mumbled.

"You don't smell that??!!" I persist. "You smell an itty bitty candle halfway across the universe but you don't smell THAT?"

"Nope,” and back he went to sleep while I risked my own life to get up, scoop and flush.

There is no moral to this victorious or convenient ending for any of its participants-not for Seth who must endure being shaken in the night and commanded to smell very bad things...not for me who cannot enjoy a tangerine candle on a bleak winter's day and certainly not Nifi whose receipt of table scraps will now be restricted as a result of his bowel movements. 

But, then again, no one ever said life was easy.

.....and don't light candles.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Review of the 2015 Golden Globes

Okay. The Golden Globes. Hmmmm....

I have been dawdling all morning over what is, typically, my first award show review of the new year. 

It's past lunch and I have been flexing my fingers over  the keyboard off and on for two hours. I have taken a break to make a pot of hard boiled eggs,take a Facebook quiz that asked "If you were a waffle iron, what shape would your waffles be?” and search the couch cushions for lost candy. The eggs are cooling on the stove, my waffles would be in the shape of Sylvia Plath with her head in the oven and I found three Rolos in the love seat.

In other words, the Golden Globes were pretty dull.

Sometimes "smart-ass" isn't
always funny.
Especially, I’m sorry to report, Tina and Amy. Two smug little queens of snark, they are usually funny but last night they relied on an easy format of making fun of celebrity and attacking famous faces in the audience, all of whom adopted the same faux "Oh, gee whiz, I will just tolerate this with good humor until it's over" expression when we know they were wet-pants thrilled to be mentioned at all...with the obvious exception of Jennifer Aniston who is thrilled by nothing.

The former Mrs. Brad Pitt is the best preserved, most satin-y skinned, sleekest-without-Spanx and, unfortunately, grimmest and most humorless actress in Hollywood, today.

Her smiles are tight and forced, her guard is always up and it's only a matter of time before Justin Theroux and his eyebrows have had enough. If I am not mistaken, Tina and Amy inferred something about her age so. if they wind up dismembered in a dumpster, we know Rachel Green did it.
Lighten up, Jen.

And speaking of Miss Aniston---very early on in the festivities, she set a high bar not only for self-tanners but also for a phenomenon that is very popular on award shows: some kind of bizarro, glowing, shimmering body cream that women slather on with the hope – I presume – of appearing youthful and dewy. Instead, they gleam like beacons as highlights from their d├ęcolletage and reflections from their collar bones bounce directly into the retinas of the viewing public.Historically, the greatest offender in this department, is one Miss Viola Davis who is beautiful on her own and does not need to glow like a lighthouse in the fog.
Viola. highlighted.

This naturally leads to the stark reality of high def TV. To put it mildly, high def is not flattering to everyone. I,myself, would certainly resemble an over cooked Christmas ham but there was enough mottled flesh on my screen last night to scare a pig farmer right out of the barn.

Flawless but, oh, that dress!

The award for "Best in High Def" last night goes to the pretty John Legend and the flawless Keri Washington even if she was wearing a dress borrowed from the set of a Star Wars spin-off.

There were moments of unbearable self-righteous audience behavior as Meryl Streep leaped to her feet to applaud free speech as hard as she possibly could (thanks, Meryl) as well as enjoyable surprises--the irrepressible and ever-sly Prince with his dark glasses and bejeweled walking stick. Colin Firth can do no wrong and Ricky Gervais can do no right. His ever-present tumbler of booze and nutty giggle combined with his determination to shock and offend seemed tired and may finally have been enough to get him un-invited next year.

Sometimes you just have to
tweeze a wee bit.
There were boxes of Godiva open on the tables and the alcohol was flowing so no wonder Gervais was very buzzed. Even typically lady-like Amy Adams was barely coherent as she accepted her award and Salma Hayek was none too pleased with Kevin Hart’s manic behavior. Emily Blunt's eyebrows have gone rogue and Harrison Ford came out looking so much like Tom Brokaw that they are now, officially, interchangeable.
Harrison could share a passport with...
with Tom Brokaw...

George Clooney received yet another award for being charming and self-deprecating and despite his gushing over his new bride, based on her carefully studied and arranged fawning gazes, I am pretty sure she's the alpha cat in that marriage. Identical twins separated at birth, George and Amal look so much alike that it speaks to an ego-driven need to marry oneself. Mazel tov.

And, George is now further adored for his choice of wife, especially after his extended bachelorhood. Amal is ethnic, activist and not your typical Hollywood "face." So, congrats, George--you will soon receive another award for that, no doubt. He will put her to good use when he runs for president in ten years. That's right, America---you heard it here first. And he'll win.

Identical Twins.

Lupita should trade glasses with Kevin....
...because these are not
working, for him.
As for Kevin Spacey, he picked the wrong glasses at Costo, Billy Bob Thornton's hair plugs are looking pretty good and Paul Rudd and Adam Levin were the prettiest couple there. Unfortunately, the two leads in the upcoming and highly erotic "Fifty Shades of Grey," there to co-present an award, have the combined sizzle of a forgotten slab of lox in a deli case.

Uh-oh. No sizzle. Just fizzle.

Then there was Gina Rodriguez who plays the title role in a new and highly acclaimed show called "Jane the Virgin" which I had plans to binge watch on the next inclement weekend. When she won and arrived at the podium with her appealing demeanor and open smile, I was eager to hear something fresh and new only to have her look skyward and say "Thank you, God for making me an artist!" Really,Gina? Phooey. No wonder you're a virgin.

Finally at the end, there was redemption---an actually moving acceptance from the wonderful Michael Keaton, a few minutes of genuine dignity and modest gratitude from Julianne Moore (who is moving higher and higher on my list of favorites) and a hilarious speech from the quirky Wes Andersen, the director of my favorite movie of the year (if not ever), "The Grand Budapest Hotel."

But all that aside, the best surprise of the evening came as a result of social media. 

About midway through the telecast just as I was wishing I were watching Shark Tank instead, I flicked open Facebook and happened upon a comment made by a friend whose posts are always smart and enjoyable. Someone then responded, followed by another irreverent remark and then I put my two sense in. Before you could say, "J-Lo, please put those away!" we had a spontaneous online viewing party until the credits rolled. Now that was fun. The show, not so much.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sing to Me

Recently, Seth and I had the pleasant opportunity to enjoy dinner at a local restaurant where the cuisine is Mexican, the atmosphere is lovely and there are strolling troubadours dressed in mariachi attire who stop by your table to offer a song while you shovel fresh guacamole into your mouth at impolite speeds.

We have visited this establishment many times yet upon every occasion this trio of singers emerges, guitars in hand, we cannot help but panic.

The protocol of being sung to is very indistinct and there is much room for doubt. 

What shall we ask them to sing? More importantly, what shall we do while they're singing? 

Do we make eye contact or look away? Smile slightly, broadly or not at all? Tap our fingers, toes, or shall we sit at silent, inert attention? How much do we tip them? Do we stop eating or continue chewing while they sing?? And, why must they even come over to the table at all? 

After all, we are grumpy people who are not even certain we want to be sung to!

This evening at the restaurant was very busy. We enjoyed an initially peaceful half hour and wondered hopefully whether the singers might have taken the night off. 

Soon enough, however, Seth and I began to shift awkwardly in our chairs as the initial strains of Cielito Lindo drifted towards us. 

Our fellow diners appeared, despite possible inner turmoil, completely unruffled by the fact that three men in black velvet were about to serenade them. 

What’s the matter with us, we wondered as we furtively discussed the risks and rewards of bolting for the door.
Years ago, at a party for my birthday, a man I knew – a tenor of debatable ability -- gave me, as his gift, an endless series of songs that he sang directly to me. It took forever and everyone in the room was severely traumatized as we sat, paralyzed, through this one man show. Did my issues stem from this? And what was Seth’s excuse? 

We clutched hands across the table as we heard the singers launch into a rousing version of Happy Birthday as they placed a giant sombrero on the head of a sheepish but smiling gentleman just one table over. They would soon be at our table! Should we run? Hide? Put our napkins over our faces?

Suddenly it was too late. Here they came. Smiles on their lips, guitars poised, the question was asked: "Good evening, is there a song you would like us to play for you?"

I could feel a greasy sheen of sweat form on my brow. My mouth grew dry as the Sonoran desert despite the Margaritas I’d been swilling yet, very unexpectedly, I smiled at their lead singer -- a diminutive but dignified fellow with excellent cheekbones and a long pony tail -- and simply said, "Certainly! Please play us your favorite song!"

Where that came from, I know not but I think we all relaxed at that moment—Seth, visibly so, across the table and even the three troubadours, who must experience some sort of performance anxiety having to visit countless tables on a busy Friday night. 

They conferred briefly among themselves and began to sing a beautiful, haunting song that was sung so sincerely and so poignantly that not only did Seth and I automatically lay down our forks to daub away the refried beans on our chins but it also caught the approving attention of other tables. I think they enjoyed playing it and I know we enjoyed listening.

Hence the moral of my tale as well as a more inspired addition to my yawn-worthy list of annual resolutions (lose a million pounds, check Facebook no more than twice a day and don’t let the laundry accumulate to the point where a fork lift is needed  to transport it to the laundry room). 

From now on, if someone asks if they can sing you a song, just say yes and enjoy it. Don't fret and agonize over insignificant things and enjoy the moment, people...and have a very happy new year with love from “Susan Says…”