Monday, November 24, 2008

The Carving Conundrum

Dueling Over Thanksgiving Dinner
© 2008 Leighann Lord

The local news had a cooking segment on how to carve a Thanksgiving turkey and I thought to myself, "This isn’t news! What idiot doesn’t know how to carve a turkey?" Oh wait... me. If it were up to moi, I’d pass the turkey around the table like a joint and let everybody take a bite. But by the time I thought to pay attention, the segment was finished and so was my smug attitude.

I’m actually very lucky, or in deference to the season, thankful. I married both a cooker and carver in one. Sweet! Most first dates ask inane questions like what’s your favorite color, movie, or position (football wise, of course). With an eye toward the long term viability of the relationship, "Can you carve a turkey?" seemed much more relevant.

I guess every family has a designated carver; that one person who’s job it is butcher the bird, but maybe they don’t. Bereft of a resident carver, a lot of pressure and hope is brought to bear on each new generation. With every baby born, family members gather around the infant and ask the ancient question: "Are you the one?" But whether meat carving be nature or nurture, these families suffer either way. The skill set is not in their gene pool and they can’t teach what they do not know. Sans divine intervention or genetic mutation a vegan lifestyle complete with tofu turkey may be in the offing.

Some families are blessed with an abundance of turkey technicians. On the surface this is great, but it begs the question, who gets to carve the turkey? Naturally, seniority wins until the day grandpa grabs the knife and, forgetting what he’s cutting, makes short work of the ottoman; scarring the kids and house pets in the process. Location is the next logical criteria. Everybody knows the house always carves.

But all things being equal by age and neutral locale, a clash of egos can lead to fisticuffs. This is, in fact, how the practice of dueling began; two potential turkey carvers brandishing increasingly larger knives like a scene from "Crocodile Dundee" trying to assert their carver claim. Though bloodshed is an ironically fitting way to commemorate Thanksgiving, it could deprive a family of both its carvers (through death and subsequent incarceration); the specter of tofu turkey looming.

In order to preserve the harmony of the holiday, I propose a Five Point Thanksgiving Bail Out Plan:

1. The Exchange Program: Families with, share with families without.

2. The Apprentice Program: Find the person in your family least likely to stab themselves and apprentice them to a carver in another family.

3. Outsourcing: Start dating the deli guy.

4. Goal Oriented Socializing: Integrate practical skills assessment into your dating/mating paradigm. In other words, before you mate, ask your date if they know how to carve a turkey.

5. Abject Surrender: Give up, go vegan and learn to like tofu.

Happy Thanksgiving!
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Monday, November 17, 2008

Wedding Dress in a F@%#ing Box?

© 2008 Leighann Lord

I love eating at the Cracker Barrel. Where else can your cup runneth over with dumplings? I also enjoy browsing through the Cracker Barrel General Store, which is jammed packed with all sorts of interesting items. You can get a John Deere cap, a harmonica, a cast iron skillet, scented candles, or a t-shirt that says "Whatever Happens at Grandma’s, Stays at Grandma’s." Pretty cool stuff or so I thought until I saw "The Cracker Barrel Wedding Dress in a Box." I almost threw up my dumplings.

For a mere $29.99 the box includes a wedding dress, veil, ring, garder, and bouquet; ironically, everything but the boy. The dress fits little girls up to size 8, which is probably about the time when a young lady begins her life long battle to be the "right" size.

I’m sure someone thought this was cute, but I am appalled; primarily because a thorough search revealed no corresponding "Groom In A Box." Could it be that little boys aren’t sitting around hallucinating about how handsome they’ll look in a tuxedo, praying they won’t be too nervous to tie their bow tie and hoping they’ll be svelte enough to pull off a cummerbund that compliments the colors of their bridal party?

When I was a little girl, I did not fantasize about my wedding day. I didn’t have every minute detail planned out decades in advance. In fact I never thought of it all. I dreamed of having a high powered job on Wall Street and a pool boy named Sergio who cooked my meals, cleaned my house and gave me great back rubs. Two out of three ain’t bad. (In case you’re wondering, my house is filthy.)

The other problem is that the prepackaged wedding ensemble skips quite a few steps on the relationship ladder. Shouldn’t there be something like "First Date in a Box?" It could come with flowers, candy, and a cue card of what not to ask and what not to tell. "Stalker in a Box" could sport a really cool ninja outfit and a set of binoculars. "Living Together in a Box" would come with a u-haul, free storage and a dumpster for all his vitally important childhood memorabilia.

At some point everyone could use "Break Up in a Box" comprising Kleenex, Jack Daniels and a dart board with a photo of your former other. If things turn ugly, as they sometimes do, "Crazy Ex in a Box" would provide the requisite restraining order, new phone number and un-guess able password for your FaceBook page.

For the commitment phobic who needs a little push: "Ultimatum in Box." It includes the all important pre-nuptial agreement, pre-marital counseling and Valium. There’s a lot more to a marriage then just the wedding, but "Marriage in a Box," with a divorce attorney on retainer, may not be a big seller.

I guess of all the dress up games little girls can play, "Wedding Dress in a Box" isn’t all that bad. "Unwed Pregnant Teen in Box," "Baby Daddy in a Box" and "High School Drop Out in a Box" all seem sadly common place by comparison. Perhaps a truly progressive, anti-prop 8, company will soon sell "Same Sex Wedding in a Box" with matching wedding dresses or tuxes, but that might be a little much for the average Cracker Barrel customer. They might be incensed enough to take their business elsewhere. Oh well; more dumplings and harmonicas for me.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Suck It Up Gotham

© 2008 Leighann Lord

NYC, the epicenter of the financial crisis, is beginning to show the strain. Facing a $4 billion budget gap, Mike Bloomberg – The Mayor Who Would Be King – has a plan. If President Elect Barack Obama plans to go through the national budget line by line with a scalpel, then King-Mayor Mike is using a hack saw.

The most outrageous suggestion is a six cent tax on plastic grocery bags. Inexplicably, I’ve been hoarding plastic shopping bags for at least a decade. I’m not sure why. I’ve always assumed it had something to do with my deep down fear of becoming a bag lady, but apparently I’m just psychic. My subconscious foresaw a day when my obsession with plastic bags would turn instantly from warning sign to wise investment. Take that Wall Street.

I’m sure the save the planet people love this proposed bag tax plan. In the long run it’ll encourage The City to go green but right now, Gothamites – who are already heavily nickel and dimed – are only seeing red at the very suggestion that they pay for something that’s free.

I thought my personal bag stash would insulate me from the tumult, but alas no. Rumor has it that the tax would be levied even if you bring your own plastic bags. Why not just stick a gun in face? If it comes to pass, I plan to buy a week’s worth of groceries. When they go to bag it I’ll say, "No, no. I can’t afford the bags." Then I’ll carry my groceries out to the car one item at a time. Take that Stop & Shop.

The hard, cold financial fact is that the budget must be balanced by both cutting expenses and raising revenue. Perhaps the more outrageous suggestions are meant to make the harder ones more palatable, like eliminating five engine companies. That’s a tough one, but for those of you who are unemployed – and according to the latest numbers there are a lot of you – please try having your fires during the day when there will be more firemen on duty.

This also means we’ll all have to cut back on those famous NYC midnight bonfires and the indoor marsh mellow roasts. Instead of buying scented candles to set the mood, buy fresh batteries for your smoke detector. Nothing says romance like not dying in a fire. Unless you’re a cannibal, the aroma of burning flesh is not that arousing.

Plans include scraping the January 2009 Police Academy class. A courteous heads up for the criminals who like to plan ahead, and a warning to the rest that we are on our own. I worry this cut will jeopardize The City’s "If You See Something, Say Something" program.

"Officer I’m being mugged!" said the Victimized Citizen.
"So am I!" said the Victimized Cop.
The news isn’t all bad, the proposed budget provides for 200 additional meter maids. I can only hope I won’t be mugged on the way to my car to put money in the meter.

On the egregious scale, King-Mayor Mike plans on closing an STD Clinic in Harlem. Translation: Fuck you Harlem. Guess you should have been more supportive a three term mayoralty. Perhaps if patients haven’t spent all their money on smoke detectors they can invest in high speed internet and avail themselves to the wonders of cyber sex. They should probably budget a little extra money for condoms as well. No one’s mentioned it yet, but I’m pretty sure condoms will be included in the six cent plastic bag tax.

If they try and charge you, demur and say, "That’s okay, I’ll wear it out." Take that King-Mayor!

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day in My Hood

© 2008 Leighann Lord

Rapper 50 Cent and I are from the same neighborhood. I however, have never been shot; Not even once. I guess Catholic School and hands on parenting really do make a difference. Given the historic significance of this election the media has been predicting Depression era long lines in “urban areas” like mine. I was understandably a little worried, so I drew up a battle plan:

Dress warmly
Wear comfortable shoes
Bring a bottle of water, a book and a folding chair.
Get there early

“6am?” my Husband suggested.
“Are you insane? The place will be jammed with folks who have to go to work.”

Since we have “non traditional” jobs and my parents are retired we had the luxury of waiting until 10am. The gamble paid off. When we showed up to our local polling place, the line was longer than I’ve ever seen it, but it wasn’t bad. It moved. I set my stopwatch and we were in and out in 42 minutes!

It would have been faster if we had remembered what district we were in. (I know. I know. I’m very embarrassed.) I had my ID and proof of address. I even had my passport, but could not find my voter card. Grrr! So we marched off to wait on the information line that was moving quite a bit slower than the voting line. Luckily I spotted one of my neighbors who was done voting and on her way home and I said, “Hey (Neighbor who’s name I can’t remember and only wave to at a distance) what’s our district?”


Again with the dire warnings from the media I was worried that somehow my name had been purged, dropped, removed or otherwise unscrupulously spirited off the voting rolls. I imagined the headline “Local Comedian in Bitter Battle with Election Officials!” I pictured myself engaged in witty repartee with Anderson Cooper, Jon Stewart and Keith Oberman about election fraud and the conservative conspiracy. Move over Joe the Plumber. Leighann The Comic is here. But alas, no.

As I stepped into my voting cocoon, I eyed my choices and picked the only one that made sense: Senator Barack Obama. I took a moment to reflect on how amazing and special this moment was; A Black Man poised to become President of the United States. My Husband asked me if this election means as much to me as it does to my parents. The honest answer is, no.

Is it important? No doubt. Am I completely obsessed and invested? Absolutely. But I think it’s only fair to say that this election is a bit more emotional for people who actually lived through lunch counter sit-ins, fire hoses, marches, assassinations, riots, the birth of Affirmative Action, and all manner of race based indignities. Are things perfect now? No, but my parents and grandparents suffered much to make my road a little easier. It will be my job to do the same for my children.

As I proudly pulled the lever for Barack I also thought of my grandparents, in particular my grandfather, F. Levi Lord. He was Marcus Garvey’s secretary general. He traveled the country speaking on behalf of the Garvey Movement, racial pride and the upliftment of the race. It would have been an honor to escort him to the polls today, and probably somewhat newsworthy since, had he lived, he be about 120.

“Everything okay in there?” a poll worker asked.
“Just fine,” I said, snapping out of my reverie.

It was time for me and “Fitty” to go grab an espresso, put on my Obama T-shirt, sit by the TV and wait.

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