Friday, May 31, 2013

USA! USA!

Like any red blooded American teenager the second I got home from school, the television went on.
In the tenth grade there were two shows that absolutely could not be missed:

General Hospital
and
DANCE PARTY U*S*A

General Hospital was just filler until my beloved Dance Party USA came on at 4:00. With my half-gallon (yes, half-gallon) of ice cream and spoon in hand I was on the couch ready to “party” with all of my dancing “friends.”


For those of you not familiar with the show it was a lame 80’s version of American Bandstand. Teenagers dancing to popular music of the time with "regulars" dancing their asses off as my ass made an deeper indentation on our living room couch.

You felt like you knew the kids who were on there every week, well…at least I did.
I dreamed of being one of them even though my dance skills were questionable.

The most famous alumni from the show is Kelly Ripa who had enviable gigantic hair, enviable cute outfits and an enviable boyfriend named Chris Kelly. If she would have married him her name would have been KELLY KELLY. Don’t think I didn’t lay awake in bed at night thinking about that.


Warning: White people dancing and lip syncing like fools.

Kelly was just another dancer on the show at that point, along with a few other standouts:

Heather “Princess” Day – Heather, excuse me, Princess was in love with...guess who…Huey Lewis!
Just kidding, Heather loved Prince. She dressed like Prince, wore a lot of spandex and lace and went nuts when a Prince song would come on. OH AND SHE WORE A TEAR ON HER FACE EVERYDAY OF HER LIFE THAT SHE SAID SHE WOULDN'T TAKE OFF UNTIL THE DAY SHE MET PRINCE.



Phil Ferrara – Phil had a last name that was soooo close to mine - just off by one little letter. In my demented mind Phil and I were related. We had to be. Phil was not the cutest and not the best dancer by any means and had super curly hair. Further proof we toootally could have been related.

My cousin Phil.

Eddie O’Neill – Ok, here we go. So Eddie O’Neill was my Dance Party USA crush/obsession. I would tape the show and pause when they focused on Eddie dancing and look into his bedroom eyes, trying to make some sort of cosmic connection with him through the television. When commercials came on I would get back to my pecan praline ice cream and the storyline in my head of us spending our lives together and what our children’s names would be.

Yup - here's my guy.
I had that same blazer.

I wrote Eddie a love letter and mailed it to the USA Network. He wrote me back. I have desperately gone through old boxes of notes/pictures/love letters looking for Eddie's letter which I know is here somewhere - never in a million years would have thrown something that important away.

It was a form letter that looked like it was typed out on a word processor and had been photocopied 900 times.
It told of Eddie’s likes and dislikes and was signed at the bottom, in what I believe could have been actual ink.

But he wrote me back. Well, he signed the bottom of a piece of paper. It happened.





I DIED! He's 24!
I'm sure he was thrilled that I wrote him back.

And so begins my love affair with older men. He was 24! I was 16! He had to have been the oldest guy on the show by a long shot. While the other kids were going home after the shoot to do their homework ol' Ed was heading out to the bar.

I still think about you Eddie, especially when I eat ice cream straight from the carton with a spoon while listening to Klymaxx or Shannon or Teena Marie. Which isn't that often. Not really. Well, sometimes.

I went to a Zumba class last night and I danced like a maniac in the back row. I had Dance Party USA on my brain.
I imagined being sixteen years old again, the camera panning over to me and I smiled as I did a little robot-like move that would have killed it on the show. Then I gave the camera my best sexy-ass-shake as it panned up and away from me.

Friday, May 24, 2013

What's up buttercup?

When I was little I loved to do that thing in the springtime with buttercups that little kids do.

Where you pluck one, hold it under your friends chin to see if there is a yellow reflection that will
scientifically determine whether or not your friend does or does not like butter.

Because this was important information you needed to know about your friend.

Kinda looks like a weed.
A fortune-telling-buttery-weed.
 
I can't recall any kid where the yellow reflection didn't show up, I think that basically means everybody likes butter.
 
While we're on the subject of the flora and fauna of my childhood, what did you call these?


Whirlygigs? Helicopters?
We called them Pinocchios.
We cut them in half, pulled the edges apart
and stuck the sticky part on our noses
like you know, Pinocchio.

Anyone?
No?

Ok, back to butter.

Butter is good for lots of things, like:

a) Treating a burn - do people really do this?
b) Making a sculpture - again, do people really do this?
c) BAKING with - I'm really glad people really do this.

My friend Laura made these brown butter Milky Way cookies last week that made me almost want to learn how to brown butter myself. Almost.

Here are a few products that tom me are like buttah:

Dove Nourishing Care Shea Butter Soap.
You know I'm a sucker for my plain 'ol Dove Soap. I'm normally not into the various different potions/varieties that they offer but I happen to like this one. Guess why? It has a "warm vanilla scent" to it, and I just can't resist any opportunity to smell more like baked goods. On top of that infamous quarter-cup of moisturizing cream I get a little shot of vanilla in my morning shower. Yum, I like it.

It's like buttah.


Butter London Nail Lacquer.
Yes this nail polish, excuse me, nail lacquer, cost fifteen dollars. Yes that is ridiculous. No I didn't buy it, I borrowed it from a friend who can spend fifteen dollars on nail polish. Yes "lacquer" is more fun to say than polish. Yes I wish I had an extra fifteen bucks to blow on this color called "Trout Pout" because I LOVE IT.

My nails are like buttah.


Bliss Body Butter.
I have always been a fan of this thick, creamy, delicious body butter in the lemon+sage scent. It's all citrusy and yummy smelling, I'd kind of like to spread it on some of those butter cookies that come in that big tin to our office at Christmastime and eat it. But I won't. Instead I'll just slather it on my bod thinking about how far away Christmas is.

Like a big stick of buttah.

So there you go buttercups. 
Some hot from the oven products that I baked up special just for you.
Get out there and put a yellow flower under your chin and see what happens.
I'm guessing it will prove that you do in fact like butter.

And don't look at me all funny when I stick that whirlygig/helicopter deal on my nose.
It's a Pinocchio, and that's what you're supposed to do, silly.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Saturday morning fever.

So...if Sunday meant Church and all-day-dinner, Saturday meant:

CARTOONS.

In the late ’70’s we did not have the luxury of entire networks and channels devoted to cartoons. We did not have small discs showing up in the mail with animated goodness for us to watch. Nope. Our asses had to wait in footie pajamas for Saturday morning to roll around so we could get in a few hours of cartoon satisfaction.

My brother Mike is four-years-younger than me. On Saturday morning we would wake up at the crack of dawn like it was a school day, throw on our bathrobes and tip toe down the plush avocado staircase for our favorite time of the week.

Footies! Robes!

We knew we had to keep quiet and keep the volume looow as not to wake a sleeping mom and dad. Dad would be up in a few hours to make us a weekend feast of cheesy-eggs, pancakes and toast with butter and jelly. Mom would sleep in, sometimes until like ten or eleven as this was her only day of rest. Remember we have church and a full day of eating to get to tomorrow.

Mike and I had our morning cartoon ritual that ran like clockwork every Saturday starting around 6-something-a.m.

Turn TV on.
 
Go into kitchen and use a stool on top of a chair to climb up onto the counter to reach where the cereal was.
 
Use same extremely unsafe method to grab two ceramic coffee mugs from another cupboard.
(Mike spotted me. He was like only four-years-old but he was all I had.)
 
Pour Apple Jacks into said mugs, jump down off counter, kind of hurt ankle but shake it off.
 
PLANT OURSELVES IN LIVING ROOM CROSSLEGGED IN FRONT OF BIG GLOWING BOX.

This is a picture I took of our television. No shit.
It's an RCA, you got up and turned that dial to change the channels.

Once we were settled in, mugs of sugar in hand the cartoons could begin.
Here are a few of my favorite shows Mike and I watched together:

Super Friends.
By far my most memorable, most important cartoon. Other girls who didn't have brothers didn't have the pleasure of being big Super Friends fans, but I think I would have watched it even without Mike. They were saving the world from the Legion of Doom and Aquaman was teaching me magic tricks and sometimes a craft project. Wonder Woman was of course my favorite, I had the set of Underoos that paid homage to her, they were way better than my Betty and Veronica ones. The little actor in me loved the drama of the Super Friends, the over-the-top narration, the mad scientists and space alien villains, and the fantastic bright capes and costumes. As a little girl I didn't even need that Wonder Dog or a space monkey named Gleek. The theme song still makes me misty whenever I hear it. And if I hear Ted Knight doing the voice over I'm a goner. That's not weird, is it?




Tom and Jerry.
I LOVED and still love Tom and Jerry. Very little talking, some cool jazz music, clever/weird one liners (DOOON'T YOOOU BELIEVE IIIIT) and humans shown only from the waist down. Tom and Jerry was like watching a silent film. A silent film where a cat and mouse are constantly trying to dismember, disembowel and be-head each other. Ahhh, so funny. I gotta admit, I always rooted for poor Tom, even though I knew he'd never outsmart that cute little mouse. He'd end up with the crap beat out of him, face flattened by an iron, beat up by Killer the bulldog or kicked out on the back porch for the night while Jerry sat inside by a warm fire doing that little laugh that sounded like a violin.
 



School House Rock!
Holy crap, don't get me started on School House Rock! - it's kind of hard for me not to devote like 900 blog posts to School House Rock! I learned all about adjectives from a girl and a turtle who went on a pretty weeeird camping trip. A fat little train conductor with no eyeballs taught me about conjunctions and their functions. And that superhero movie Verb! looked pretty happenin'. Thanks to School House Rock! I can also recite The Preamble to our US Constitution, I know what the hell an adverb is and of course I know that a little bill can someday become a law.
OH YEAH!

Knowledge is power!

Between my Saturday morning cartoons these three-minute-long gems snuck their way into my brain and stuck through adulthood. I can still recite the Preamble, but I have to sing it to you, if that's ok.




Years later Mom nixed the whole mugs of cereal unsupervised in the living room thing.
Mike and I were forced to sit on a plastic tarp, with tray tables while wearing
old backwards work shirts of our Dads if we wanted to eat anything in there.


Seriously.
I wish there was a picture of me in my shirt. It was the worst shade of red,
like canned tomato soup when you make it with milk instead of water.

Back in the here and now, we just finished dinner and the boys are in the living room watching
SpongeBob SquarePants. They have that instant cartoon gratification Mike and I never had.

But doesn't it make it more fun if you have to wait for it? The anticipation?
Like if everyday was Christmas that would kind of suck. Right?

They are in there eating their toast or "night bread" as they call it, which is basically bread, eaten at nighttime.

No yellow tarp or backward shirts. Yet.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Macaroni and gravy.

Growing up I associated Sunday with two things:

Church
Dinner

We were Catholic so church was an hour on the dot - bing, bang, boom - sometimes a little more sometimes a little less depending on which priest was giving the sermon.

Sunday dinner followed mass and was pretty much an all day event.

After church we would drive to Eastchester to Grandma and Papa’s house for "THE MEAL" which started around 2:00.

My brother Mike and I would fly out of the big brown bomber car, where Grandma was waiting on “the deck” or as Papa jokingly called it “the lanai” that overlooked their driveway. We were greeted with lung crushing hugs and loving hard kisses before throwing the screen door back and running inside.

Grandma, Papa, Aunt Carrie, Aunt Phyllis.
The smell inside Grandma and Papa’s house on a Sunday was nothing short of Heaven.

Aunt Rita, my brother Mike getting a smooch from me, cousin Valerie.

The stars of the show were the gravy (tomato sauce) that had been cooking all morning in a giant pot on the stove, and meatballs frying in olive oil that came in a giant square tin container that was as big as my head. Papa was famous for sneaking me one of his meatballs on a piece of white bread before anyone else got to try one, I was the “tester.” It was all sneaky, so I kind of became an expert in wolfing down a just-out-of-the-frying-pan-scalding-hot-meatball. I think I got second-degree burns in my mouth but it was worth it. I had to do my job.
I was the tester.

My other job was “macaroni picker.” All varieties of pasta was called macaroni or 'ronis for short. In the cupboard there sat nine-hundred different boxes of Ronzoni – ziti, bow ties, gemelli, spaghetti, rotini and my fave – rigatoni. Rigatoni is still my favorite of the pasta shapes – the gravy and parmesan fall into the little grooves on the sides of the ‘roni perfectly.

 We were usually the first to arrive followed by an onslaught of aunts, uncles, and cousins. There was my favorite aunt in the world, my dads sister Barbara. We never called her Aunt Barbara, she was and still is simply known as “Auntie” because no other aunt could ever come close (sorry all other aunts.) There were my grandmothers sisters, Rita, Ray and Carrie, My Aunt Phyllis, her daughter, my cousin Valerie and a variety of Johns who all required nicknames to identify them: Johnny Sigh, Johnny Blue, John-John Uncle Johnny, and Johnny Boy - who was not a boy at all - he was an old man so, I always thought it was weird that we called him that.

Grandma and Auntie.

My mom was the only non-Italian of the bunch with a pinch of Italiano in her veins. Blonde haired and fair skinned. My grandma used to joke that my dad had “broken the bloodline” with her. I think she was joking. Mom’s contribution to the meal was dessert – she was taking a cake decorating class (didn’t everyones mom do that back then?) and could make a rose out of frosting like nobody’s business.

I was also the "frosting rose tester."

Supporting roles in the meal included a platter of deli cold-cuts, a bakery tray of cookies and salad, or as my grandma called it, "lettuce." A sad bowl of iceberg swimming in olive oil straight from the giant square tin can from earlier, garnished with lots of salt. You had to have a vegetable, right?

Post-meal activities included watching the Yankee game, yelling at the TV, laying on the couch reading the Sunday comics, getting spare change from uncles pockets, eating salami and cheese slices from the deli tray and lots of loud talking about a variety of topics which included how good the gravy was today.

Gathered around my great-grandma, who I nicknamed
"Walkie" because she used one of those walkers to get around. 

As I neared my pre-teen years making the all-day trek out to Grandma and Pops house kind of lost its appeal. I remember sitting in the parked car in the driveway by myself so I could finish listening to American Top 40 on the radio while Grandma waited and waved from the lanai. I wanted to hang out with my friends, not my family. And I didn’t understand why we had to hang out there ALL DAY. I would eat and reluctantly sprawl out on the couch with my comics asking when would it be time to go – thank goodness there was no texting or cell phones back then or I would have been an even bigger anti-social jerk.


I'd like to send a long distance dedication to my young self saying,
"stop being an asshole, get out of the car."

Today of course, I would give anything to spend this Sunday with Grandma, Papa, Auntie, and a roomful of John’s.

When the discussion comes up regarding a “last meal” it a no-brainer for me, my answer has never changed.
It would be Sunday Dinner from Grandma and Papa’s house. And as the official macaroni picker, I choose rigatoni.
Ronzoni sono buoni.


Friday, May 3, 2013

You are an obsession.

At work today as I headed off to my lunch break I said to my friend Tracie, "I'm off to get my latest obsession."

"Make-up-related or food-related?" she asked, knowing that if I am obsessing about anything it would fall under one of those two categories.

Yup.

Here are a few of my latest obsessions.
Fun. Spring-y. Must have now obsessions.

Trésor perfume by Lancôme.
Certain fragrances swoop me back in time. Like Paris always makes me think of my mom, Charlie makes me think of my grandma, and Drakkar makes me think of making out with boys who were bathing in the stuff back in eighth grade. When I caught a whiff of my old luv-ah Trésor on someone the other day I knew I had to have a bottle of that on my dresser and on my bod - STAT. I went through several bottles of this lovely Lancôme perfume back in the nineties before I ditched it for all things vanilla. But when that woman passed me, mmmmm...apricot-y, peach-y, a little spicy and a little floral. I went out with a gift card I had and got myself that pretty little bottle again. People ask, "What's that you're wearing?" and I can't stop smelling my arm so, I think that's a sign of a good purchase.
 
Little treasure.

Silk Crepe pink polish by Essie.
I don't usually wear hot pink polish, I tend to gravitate toward either a vampy deep red or a ballet-slipper-barely-there pink.  My bestie Laura writes an awesome blog called Finding Lagom which is all about paring down the "stuff" in her life. Lucky me, sometimes I reap the benefits of Laura's paring down - I get first dibs on any beauty products she's unloading. Recently I acquired some of her nail polish collection. I've worn this color by essie a bunch lately and have finally discovered a nail color with just the right amount of "hot" and just the right amount of "pink" that work for me. All thanks to Laura and her lagom. 

 
Cheap-ass dresses from Old Navy.
Okay, I know these are neither cosmetic or food, but I am kind of obsessed with them. I bought these three in one swoop a few weekends ago - for under twenty bucks. FOR ALL THREE WITH A COUPON. I thought they would be great weekend dresses but guess what? I'm wearing them to work too. Since I've gone part-time I'm trying really, really hard not to shop for clothes but come on, these were so cheap! And cute! I've spent hours admiring the receipt, silently praising myself while reflecting on my great deal.

Patriotic! Jailbird! Warholesque!

And the black and white one has pockets! I loooove pockets on a dress. Today, I made up a little "pockets on a dress" rap song at work and sang it from the lunch room to the reception area. As you can imagine no one was annoyed with that at all.

The "Pockets on a Dress" single hits the clubs this summer.

"Bowl of the Gods" acai bowl from kure juice bar.
I'll be honest, I have no idea what the hell this even is.
I do know that it is a true obsession from kure juice bar. I also know that it is like eating a giant bowl of ice cream in the middle of the day, which I am totally good with. Here is the deal - I saw a girl order this and immediately had total food envy after ordering a smoothie that tasted like a lawn. The next day I ordered this Bowl of the Gods  like I knew what the hell I was talking about, hoping it tasted as good as it looked when the girl got it. I don't want to sound dumb, I mean I know what bananas are but I'm not sure what "happy berries" or "Sambazon Acai" is.
I sure as hell know I like it though, whatever it  is. I'm eating it a lot and I think that it's healthy. I think. I hope it's healthy. It's from a juice bar.

The ingredients are listed above, and I still don't understand.

Bowl of goodness on my lap.

Looks revolting, tastes great!

Ummm, yeah...I didn't like that at all.
 
When I love something a lot I want everyone else to try it/love it as much as I do.
So please go to Old Navy this weekend. These dresses are on the clearance rack, they won't be there forever.
I'm trying to help you.
When I run into you on the street I expect to see stripes. Yes, even the horizontal ones, it's okay.
Wear your dress and meet me at the juice bar for a gigantic bowl of whatever.