Monday, January 28, 2013

Happy birthday, Daddy!

I am notoriously bad at keeping secrets and being discreet. So, when my Dad came in this weekend to celebrate his 60th birthday- I let everyone know--- even the band we went to see during their break. They then wished him a happy birthday during their last set. It was awesome.

Supposedly maturity comes with age, but I've yet to see my ability to not spill the beans improve. This year when I got my parents a bad ass Christmas gift, I only kept the secret until I actually picked it up. And then I had to call my Dad and tell him how awesome it was. One year, when my Mom got my Dad a sweet bike, I indirectly directly told him to go look in the shed for something (I didn't say what, though- so does that count?). I can't help it. Secrets (especially surprises) sit in the pit of my stomach until I'm talking to the person that they are about, and then they bounce around inside of me like flubber- until they finally tumble out of my mouth, immediately relieving me of the extra weight while also strapping me with the guilt of having just blabbed.

One year, when I was very young (5 or 6), my Mom decided to throw my Dad a surprise birthday party. A week or so before, we were out to dinner, and she coyly asked my Dad what he wanted to do for his birthday. My Dad, always the joker, said "I don't know, why don't you throw me a surprise party or something?" Momma, upset that all of her plans had been foiled by her kid that couldn't keep secrets, reacted swiftly.

"OK- no. That's it. I'm cancelling the party. You are not having the surprise party, Steven. AND YOU (turning to me)- you are not getting a birthday party this year either."

My jaw dropped and my eyes got wide. I immediately broke down-- Ben Stiller style in Something About Mary--- as my dad explained that he was just joking and had no idea about a party. (I really didn't ruin the surprise that time but my mom already knew me well enough to know I had a lot of trouble with secrets). I don't remember what happened, but I am pretty sure my Dad still got his party. I definitely still got mine.

And today, we celebrate my Dad's 60th. Twenty something years later, he's still a joker and my mom is still doing nice things for him on his b-day. But, if it includes a major surprise, she tries not to err on the side of telling me.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A brief look at a summer job

Remember before you were an adult and people would ask you what your plans were for the summer?

I work with college students and a lot of them still ask me that. I always want to half smile and cup their face and peer into their ambitious eyes and say "sweet, sweet child... hold onto your youth forever." Instead I half grunt/laugh and let them know that in the real world (even in education) you don't get the summer off.

But I did get the summer off at one point in my life and I, like most people, had a series of summer jobs. In high school I worked for my dad (thanks, dad). In college, I was a camp counselor one summer, got a job at my University one summer, and was a sports camp counselor at the local JCC one summer.

That's right. Sports camp. Preteen boys and sports. And, despite going to day camp at the JCC, most of them were not Jewish. (You can't play basketball- it's too dangerous. You could poke an eye out!)

I fell into this job because I worked part time at the JCC during the school year teaching "biddy ball." What do you mean 3 and 4 year olds don't have hand-eye coordination? Sure they do! And I just couldn't wait to get up early every Sunday of my Junior and Senior year to help them hone in on theses skills. Nothing cures a hangover like young children and sports equipment.

Near the end of the school year, my boss at the JCC asked if I would be interested in working at their summer day camp. I didn't have any other plans lined up so I figured why not.

That question answered itself within the first week.

Little did I know there are only a few ways you can get the respect of a herd of pre-teen boys enrolled at a sports camp- you need to have testicles and to be in with the "cool" staff members (who of course have testicles and are cool by nature--- there is no science behind it -- it's almost a catch-22). The following flow chart will explain it better.

I found myself in the bottom box--- in with the "cool" staff members, decent at sports, but alas- just a girl. Therefore, it really didn't matter what I said or what voice I said it in. I was not going to be respected or listened to at all. In fact, out of both sessions, with about 40 campers per session, there was only ever one girl camper. So it was an entire summer of feeling like I was talking to hyper active brick walls.

My frustration climaxed one day during free swim. I was the sports camp counselor on duty. Our group was swimming with other camp groups and, naturally, our boys were the only ones who treated free swim as time to dunk, push,  and beat the crap out of each other under water. During one of these asinine displays, I walked over to the edge of the pool and bent over to tell one of the kids to stop semi drowning the little guy. It took me yelling his name three times to get his attention and when I finally had him and all of the other kids looking at me, I felt two hands on my back and the water hit my face.

I came up to howls of laughter and to see a counselor from another group who I had never spoken to before standing next to the pool with a shit eating grin on his face. I pulled myself out of the pool, gave him a look that killed a tiny part of his soul, and sloshed my way into the gym where my co-counselors were hanging out. They immediately got silent.

I held back tears of frustration and rage and told them I was going home. They tripped over each other to get off of the bleachers and find me a towel.  As my boss walked me over to the back exit, he meekly asked if I would be willing to get them lunch while I was out. I turned to him in amazement as he held out a sheet with their orders and some cash.

"We have enough for you to buy yourself lunch, too." Dumbfounded, I took the order and cash and walked out of the gym. I held the tears until I got to my car. As I battled with teary vision and grabbing my sun heated steering wheel, I swore on all of the per-pubescent testosterone in the world that I would never speak to another male again.

Or at least for a few hours.

Friday, January 11, 2013

I am woman hear me.... ughhhh....

In the age old battle of the sexes, I will be one of the first to admit that there are some benefits of being male.
  • Guys can pee standing up. (Well, women can too, but not without serious consequences).
  • Guys only have one area to cover up for an impromptu swim, sun bathe, etc. 
  • Guys don't give birth.
  • Guys never have to go through the hell that is buying a new bra. 
Recently a friend of mine had to invest in some new "over the shoulder boulder holders." (If that's the first time you've heard that one, pretend like I made it up). While the whole process was as awkward and uncomfortable as it always was, it was made a little better by the running commentary from the woman in the fitting room next to hers. She sent me continuous texts to keep me updated.

First, for all of you girls that are blessed with small tatas (and yes- it is a blessing) and for all of you guys out there, let me give you an idea of what it is like to buy a new bra:
  • If you really need support, you don't go to Victoria's Secret. I guess that's the secret- they don't actually fit well or hold up if they are holding up more than a C- cup. Surprise! Our bras only work if you look like our models and are a size 00 with a B and look great in push-up bras!
  • Good bras cost a lot of money. Anywhere from $50-$80.
  • Spending that much money on a bra means knowing the correct size. You wouldn't spend that much money on jeans or tennis shoes without knowing they would fit.
  • Knowing the correct size means getting measured. Which means having someone (usually an older woman that has made this her life career and has no shame---- yeah forget hot girls touching hot girls--- that ain't happening in the bra department) wrap a measuring tape repeatedly around your boobs to get the exact size. And the exact size means a taut measuring tape. Which means Gertrude/Bertha/Doris/Thelma unapologetically gets all up in your stuff. 
  • You then go into a fitting room with an array of bras, most of which look like they were designed to withstand the Apocalypse (at least the roaches will be around to enjoy the bras) and start trying them on.
  • Trying on bras include bending, shaking, twisting, jumping, and a series of other moves that would make Elaine from Seinfeld look like a ballerina. And all of these moves before you put your shirt on to see how the bra looks normally. So there is a lot of time in front of the mirror discovering what you really look like.
So now that you have an idea, let me bring you back to the dressing room where my friend listened to one of the best monologues in the world:

"Ooooohhh be positive. Don't get frustrated this time. I know, I know... Spanx are just not doing it. I need something here (sound of hands slapping bare skin). OOOOOHH- good lord- these must be baby spanx!! (very heavy breathing).......... Maybe I should just go all natural with no bra and really move my flesh. No, no, no, I can't do that. I really need something to smash my boobies down- this dress is just too low cut and I can't look like a floozy....... Oh, god, now that really is a new roll.... (Panicked, heavy breathing, sounds of struggling, muffled talking).... Oh no... Oh no... I can't get out of this dress... I HATE shopping... (huge sigh) that's it, I'm done! Now where is my old bra?....... Awwww, here it is. Look how dilapidated it is. Now that is some sad looking. Ain't that something...."

And to this lady, whoever she may be, I dedicate this post because I know I've been there and will be there again at some point. It's just a fact of life in this farmisht world.

To the rest of you that are cursed with the plague of bra shopping:

May your straps hold up forever
May your clasps never quit
May your cups always protect against THO
May you always find that one perfect fit

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Famous last words

My mom is a really good cook. She can put together 6 course meals or whip up fish en papillote. She makes excellent gumbo, amazing grillades and grits, and has mastered the art of producing fluffy matzoh balls. She is the queen of her kitchen. While my mom enjoys spending time in the kitchen, she does not like baking. Unfortunately for her, however, a tradition started decades ago when she baked an award winning cheesecake for one of my dad's customers around the holidays. I am almost certain that if she could time travel, she would go back to that December, put some cookies in a tin, and be done with it. But alas, her fate was sealed by that cheesecake.

Now this is not any ordinary cheesecake (or so I've been told- I don't know, I don't like cheesecake). People go nuts over this cheesecake. Back in the 60s, my Grandmother would sell these cheesecakes at fundraisers for $20. That's the equivalent of over $100 today. For a cheesecake. Cream cheese and sugar. And eggs and butter. My Grandmother did not give my mom the recipe until she and my dad were happily married. Oh yeah- it's that good. (Or so they say).

Throughout the years, my mom saw the list of loyal customers who were to receive cheesecakes grow. The once coveted family recipe became the cornerstone of our holiday kitchen activity as we would churn out literally 12-15 cheesecakes every December. My mom and I developed our own assembly line of crust making, egg separating, and flour measuring.

In recent years, things have changed and now only the very select few get a cheesecake. This year some of those select few included my coworkers. I went home one weekend to partake in the cream cheese sweat factory and to have my mom's support while putting together my own cheesecakes. Since the kitchen is HER room and she has made a gazillion cheesecakes over the course of time, she had an overly watchful eye on my doings. She was particularly attentive when I began assembling her Cuisinart Elite Food Processor (insert awe here) and I finally snapped when she told my dad just to grind the cookies for me.


She put her hands on her hips, raised one eyebrow and hesitantly relinquished some of the kitchen power.

I dramatically sighed and turned to back to the food processor. I put the cookies in and mashed the button. Nothing. I shifted the top and tried again. Nothing. I started getting nervous at the thought of replacing the expensive machine that magically broke when I touched it when I realized it wasn't plugged in.

I tried to play it cool and plug it in without anyone noticing. But my parents saw. Oh yeah- they noticed.

Two degrees.

But neither in cheesecake making.Or how to plug stuff in.