Sunday, November 25, 2007

Friday Night Lights

**I've been struggling with this post for a week now--some of them just come out fully formed, like Athena from Zeus's forehead. But not this time. I think maybe because what I'm trying to describe was so "experiential" in nature, that you really did kind of have to be there. I wash my hands of the whole thing.**

Last Friday, I experienced something truly special. Something I never would have imagined experiencing, but which changed me profoundly.

The miracle of birth? you might be thinking. (Unless, of course, you've ever met me.) A spiritual awakening of some sort? Jesus Christ, don't be ridiculous. Miracle jeans that make my ass look like someone else's--someone much smaller's? I wish. Okay, stop guessing already, you're never going to get it. After all, who among us would guess Karaoke Night at the Wilmington Village Pub.

Didn't see that coming, didja? While in Vermont over the holidays, we visited Brian, Darren's brother, for whom karaoke night was on the agenda. After about three milliseconds of consideration, I said "count me in." But if karaoke is so intriguing, why have I never been to karaoke night, right? After all, I did live in Wilmington for roughly a century, and God knows there isn't exactly a host of entertainment options through which to sort on any given weekend. I guess for me, you don't karaoke where you eat. Or something like that. Going to karaoke night was especially fun because I'm sort of an outsider now.

To wit, a list of highlights:

1. "Living on a Prayer" especially the audience accompaniment.

2. The Pub's own karaoke diva, who managed to sing the entire "raunchy ho" catalog, including hits like "My Humps," "Don't Cha" (Pussycat Dolls) and "Naughty Girl" (I have no idea.) Her voice, reaching the upper registers of helium intake, was like an angel's. And her between-song patter, featuring such gems as "WHAT'S UP BITCHES?!?" was beyond compare.

3. A bunch of seriously optimistic 50+ year-old men trying to pick up the barely bar-legal gals who, all due credit, seemed to know a quality supply of free drinks when they saw it. Ick.

4. Two girls whose performance sounded
mostly like cats humping--whether because of a natural dearth of talent or interference from Captain Morgan and his merry men, I cannot say.

5. A man so over-beveraged that he was literally no longer able to speak English (if he ever did.) At first it seemed like he might be trying to hit on Brian, but then it became apparent that he was just looking for some help fighting that pesky gravity. The one sentence we were able to translate had to do with his ride home having abandoned him. This came as no great shock to us.

In the words of Gen. MacArthur, I shall return, to karaoke night, I mean. But I'm pretty sure that's not what he was referring to. He has no idea what he missed.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

O Pioneers!

On one recent morning, the alarm went off somewhere around 6 am, like it does every weekday, and I hit the snooze like I do every weekday. (Like you don't?) As I lay there, contemplating what must surely be the myriad joys of independent wealth (not having to get up for work at 6 am being just one example) I heard my brother out in the hallway, thoughtfully informing me that the power had gone out, because he didn't want me to be late for work. After getting my mind around the fact that we were without electricity, though my alarm had gone off mere minutes before (I'm a skeptic, what can I say?) I leapt out of bed, full of vim and vigor. Just kidding. But I did get up, motivated in some small part by the curiosity of getting ready for work absent a steady supply of alternating current.
First, I wondered about the shower. After gently rousing Darren (read: forceful nudge) I asked him if it would work. "Try it," he mumbled. Not exactly confidence-inspiring. But I did. It turned on, it seemed to be heating up. I stepped in and, wait for it...the water stopped running entirely. Necessitating all of the drying off, but without the actual cleaning that typically precedes it. I went downstairs, freezing, and gathered candles with which to light the rest of my morning routine. It took me 10 minutes to find matching socks (no, I don't sort them when I do laundry--you have to leave some things to chance, I think) nestling the candle down into the ridiculously deep, dark drawer, and wondering how flammable socks are, actually. I turned on the tap to brush my teeth, and was reminded that the water was not running. I rooted around in the dark bedroom for a water bottle and managed to accomplish the task--a small victory, I thought.
After earning a D-, at best, on my daily ablutions, I went downstairs, where I promptly made a few more discoveries.
1. No electricity means no coffee, which means no will to live.
2. The coffee at 7-11 sucks, no matter what they tell you.
3. No light in the refrigerator makes it hard to find your lunch, or anything else for that matter.
4. It takes roughly eight seconds for the hot wax in the stupid votive candle to spill over and onto your counter.
5. The garage door opener does not work when there is no electricity, which means you have to leave through the front door, whether you want to or not.
As I left through the front door, I asked myself, aloud of course, the question any of us asks in this situation: "How the f*@# did the pioneers do it?"

Monday, November 5, 2007

We've Got Spirit, Yes We Do!

I've never been a big fan of "spirit" myself. You know, school spirit, or that can-do spirit, or American spirit (except the cigarettes, because I really liked those for a while.) It's a curious emotion, or whatever "spirit" is. A sentiment? A state of mind? I just don't find all that much to get spirited about, overall. Unless you can substitute "spirited" and "pissed off" in equal measure, because I find myself gripped by pissed-offedness at least twice an hour.

I know, however, that for many, spirit comes all too naturally--the pom-pon wavers, the church bakesale organizers, the glee club members, fitness guru Jack La Lanne (that could just be the Juice Tiger doing its work, though.) Anyway, the list goes on. And though I haven't spent too much time on the dude ranch circuit, I am at least marginally aware of what some call the "Western spirit," exemplified, I suppose, by the pioneers, and people who still wear Chaps cologne. I did not, however, realize that there was such a thing as a "Western spirit of deliciousness."

But then I heard an advertisement for LongHorn's Steakhouse. I was curious, since I didn't realize that there was a particular cuisine associated with the Western spirit. I mean, beans cooked in a can over an open fire maybe, but that doesn't exactly scream "deliciousness." Maybe it's not a cuisine? Maybe everything in the West is delicious? Like in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" with its yummy chocolate river, and tasty candy flowers.

In this specific case, however, LongHorn's is referring to "a tender LongHorn Flo’s Filet paired with a golden, oven-roasted, cold-water lobster tail," which they note "couldn’t be more different, yet they come together in the Western spirit of deliciousness." Besides the Western spirit of deliciousness, about which it taught me, I like this campaign because it seems to imply somehow that LongHorns alone created the concept of pairing beef and seafood. I believe this combination has existed outside the Western spirit of deliciousness, where it is sometimes referred to as surf and turf. But I'm a vegetarian, so what do I know, besides this: listening to commercials on the radio can be very, very educational.