Monday, December 28, 2009

Bathroom Chemical Warfare

Other titles considered: Gassed in the Restroom, or, The Closest I'll Ever Get to Toilet Humor.

Relax! Even though I've had plenty of male roommates, this post isn't about what you think it's about. This post is about one of those things that would only ever happen to me.

The day after Christmas, my friend Justin and I decided to go have brunch at...well, for legal reasons let's call it "Smarfish Lafe." On Smarracks Grow. In Schmapitol Mill.

The food was lovely. The service was competent. After the meal, I excused myself to go use the restroom. I noticed a slightly off odor, however, as the Queen of Sinus, my sense of smell isn't that great. I also realized that by the time I walked out, my eyes were burning. A lot. I also kind of felt like I might pass out. There were annoying little itchy tingly sensations up and down my arms. And the nausea. And the headache. Oh, heavens, it was a hell of a headache.

I went home to lie down for a bit. I called the restaurant, and was informed that the janitor may have overused the bleach. By just a bit. Not by much. The person I spoke to was apologetic, but a little less freaked than I'd be if a guest called me to say they'd be poisoned by my bathroom.

After an hour passed with no improvement, I called D.C.'s poison control center. (Incidentally, Mayor Fenty? The magnet you gave me with the Important District Phone Numbers? So totally had the wrong number for the poison control center. That strikes me as a detail we'll want to get right next time. OK?)

The charming poison lady and I discussed bleach inhalation poisoning, with the probability that some ammonia had been mixed in. (Incidentally, bleach + ammonia = chlorine gas, which is apparently a chemical weapon.) Since my exposure had been less than five minutes, I was told to open the windows and that I would improve within hours.

And I did improve. I was all better by evening. But I will say my days of brunching at Smarfish Lafe are good and over.

In the comments, tell me if this is the weirdest restaurant health complaint you've ever heard.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Annual Report Card

The problem with Christmas is that it feels too much like a report card on how you've spent your life. Are you shuttling from one corner of Creation to another so nobody feels left out? It's because you can't say no, and you've lived your life too much for others. However, if your Christmas company is Wild Turkey and self-pity, you've lived too much for yourself and that's how you wound up on your own.

Or it's an exercise in wondering about the Christmases that could have been. If I'd never left Australia, it would be summer right now. If I had more money, maybe I'd be in L.A. with my sister. If I hadn't gotten divorced, I'd be on my sixth year of marriage, and maybe making myself nuts looking for windup hamsters for a litter of ungrateful brats. If I'd never learned to cook, I might have starved to death. If I'd never filled out, I'd be shopping in the boy's department. Every coulda shoulda feels more and more absurd.

The end of each year feels too much like an exercise in what could have been, and what life should be. It feels unfair, like being ambushed at your annual review with mistakes you never noticed making. Most of my wrong turns took me to wonderful places. Most of my life is being lived the way I'd want it to be. I have a lot to be grateful for.

And part of that gratitude is for y'all, my readers. May you find your peace caroling 'round the tree, at Chinese food and a movie, or alone with your maudlin absurdity.

I, for one, shall be drinking Pimms Cups with any and all who are escaping familial obligations as fast as they can manage it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Swear My Snow Story is Totally Interesting and Unique

Well, if there's one thing I know for sure, it's this: going to a wedding, in a blizzard, in a faux SUV (a two-wheel drive truck? the hell?) is the height of foolishness. It's also pretty awesome.

The adventure began in Woodley Park, and continued in the two different places we stalled out on the way to the service. Then we pulled up to the church to discover the lot hadn't been plowed. At all. We parked in a promising-looking snowbank and went inside.

The wedding itself was beautiful...except for the mounds of snow we could see sliding off the roof in person-sized clumps, like powdery shadows of impending doom. At that point, we determined that, short of sled dogs or stealing my ex-car (a Subaru), or hitching sled dogs to my ex-car, there was just no way we were getting across the river to the reception.

A good thing, too, as the 1.5 mile journey back to the Metro was fraught with humiliation and hilarious peril. We stalled out. We got stuck. And that was before we'd even left the church. We got a tow out of the church lot by a wedding guest with ropes and the biggest truck I have ever seen. (I'm from Woodbridge. That's saying a LOT.)

I would feel guilty about getting towed, however, my years in the South have taught me a valuable lesson: anyone with a truck that big LIVES for this sort of thing. In North Carolina, if you have car trouble, at least three large men in a pickup will come along and help you out, faster than you could get AAA or a pizza. They love it - in fact, I am convinced those same three guys gave me six separate jump starts in college, and are the state's automotive guardian angels.

We got stuck in the snow enough times that it became faintly embarrassing...but no worries, there were always friendly neighbors to help push us out. We also discovered that, in the absence of traffic and law enforcement (I saw just one cop car all day), it was simplest to just run every light we possibly could to avoid losing momentum. Once we hit Connecticut Avenue, we were home free.

Once we made it safely back to my apartment, it was time to make macaroni and cheese, mix up a few mint juleps, and enjoy the weather.

How did you spend your snowpocalypse?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Nice Day for a White Wedding

Apparently, Washington is going to be hit with the worst storm, since, ever, or, at least since the last time we had breathless forecasts of the worst storm since EVER.

I'm ready. My cupboard groans with staples such as milk, baguettes, cheese, enough booze to stop an army of horses, Triscuits, ramen and Spaghettios. (Spaghettios were a breakfast staple in my house when I was a kid...which may tell you everything you need to know about my upbringing.) I can resist the psychological pull of winter hoarding. I am ready for the snowpocalypse.

Except...short of whiteout conditions, I'm supposed to be at a non-Metro accessible wedding tomorrow morning. I have been mulling my transportation options:

1. Metro to a friends' place, carpool with them in their borrowed Urban Assault Vehicle.

2. Borrow a friend's beagle, lash it to a sled, and scoot across the wintry landscape in homage to the Grinch.

3. See if Zipcar offers Ziptruck, Zipdogsled, Zipteleport or ZipscrewitI'mofftoFlorida.

4. Develop telepathy overnight, view wedding using the powers of my mind.

5. Triangulate the location of the first commenter to annoyingly thump his chest about how "In Boston/New York/Chicago/Somewhere North and Unpleasant, we KNOW how to deal with the snow!" Force that person, if they're so darn clever and immune to snow, to be my chauffeur for the day.

In the comments, I dare you to enable my new "throatpunch" popout feature by whinging about how wimpy Washingtonians are in the snow.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In Which You Survive an Interrogation - and Get a Recipe!

Where were you on Friday at 7:50 am? Were you riding an Orange Line train to Vienna? If so, you just might be the jerk who swiped my cellphone and SmarTrip.

To be specific, the phone was Red Samsung T39 slider-cheapie #2. Red Samsung T39 slider-cheapie #1 came to a disastrous end in San Francisco, where it was dropped, trampled, and swept into the trash. I had high hopes and wild dreams for #2, which I have now transferred to Red Samsung T39 Cheapie #3, which was delivered today. My transitory cellphone affection is similar to the way parents assume their next-youngest child won't eat paste or open a crack-flavored lemonade stand.

To be very specific, the SmarTrip was serial number 0834293597579something-or-other. It was precious to me, well, as precious as any piece of plastic that is not an IUD, counterfeit Romanian driver's license, or American Express Plutonium Card.

I'm sure I'll have many stories to tell about my fun encounters with Customer Service, WMATA, the phone insurance goons and more, but in the interest of time and waning enthusiasm, I instead share my cure for a very, very bad day:

Bourbon-Spiked Honey-Mulled Cider

(adapted from the Five Ingredient Slow Cooker Cookbook)

3 quarts apple juice
2 cinnamon sticks, broken
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp allspice
1/2 cup honey
Maker's Mark (optional for some, mandatory for me)

Pour apple juice into a slow cooker. Place spices in a cheesecloth (tied with kitchen string) or a tea infuser and add to slow cooker. Stir in honey and cinnamon. Cook on LOW for 5 hours or HIGH for 2.5 hours.

Optional Step: Stir in a splash (or three) of bourbon into each mug just before serving. Continue until all drinkers are in a relaxed and horizontal state.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Even Nosferatu Needs a Nap Sometimes

I've slept with probably 100 people. Ew, not like that.

What I mean is that when you factor in roommates, slumber parties, overnight guests and so forth, I have probably been in the vicinity of 100 sleeping people. Whenever I have a party, I usually just slide air mattresses under people as they conk out. And then I perform experiments on them.

OK, but not really. But I do like to stare at people while they sleep. I consider it a matter of scientific curiousity, and not a manifestation of complete and utter creepiness. I pay attention to things like who snores, who sprawls, who mumbles and who doesn't appear to sleep at all. I have a friend who will fall asleep on her side, and wake up in the exact same position eight hours later. I have another friend I dubbed the Starfish Sleeper, who manages to splay his arms and legs in perfect starfish formation and take up an amazing amount of room.

But in the dull glow of a hungover Sunday, I saw the strangest sleeper of all. A Nosferatu Sleeper. As of 3 am, he had fallen asleep flat on his back, arms crossed over his chest. When I checked on him several hours later, he was still in the exact same position.

Naturally, I threw crucifixes at his head and doused him in holy water and garlic.

Then I felt like a bit of a it turns out, he was sleeping in that position due to the close quarters and mixed genders, and he considered it ungallant to accidentally wake up to a handful of girl-parts.

In the comments, tell me if Nosferatu Sleeping is the new vanguard of chivalry, above and beyond walking on the outside of the sidewalk. Or tell me about your weird sleeping habits.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Wacky Neighbor Update

You know my neighbor, the crazy hoarder lady? With the boxes and the five bicycles for two kids? I found out her name, and it's marvellous.

I mean, literally. It's "Marvellous," spelled with two 'l's. I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I am to live next door to an adjective. This is beyond terrific, and hurtles toward awesome. My curiosity is running away with me. I bet whatever she does for a living, it's fantastic! And as a tenant association floor captain, I'm sure she's pretty darn superlative.

This is beyond excellent.

In the comments, tell me what sort of adjectives you would use to name your child.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Great. Now I'm Making Fun of Poor Kids Who Play Polo.

I don’t consider myself particularly charitable or saintly. I do, however, consider my smartassery to be a valuable public service. So color me thrilled when I hopped a few links to the left of the state dinner crashing Scandal of the Century, and wound up at a charity that teaches polo to at-risk youth. (Though nowadays we call them at-promise youth.)

I'm not doubting the value of equine therapy. I rode and cared for horses back in Woodbridge, spent several summers at Camp Wingaroo, and I believe there are few things more gratifying than hanging out with horses.

But, admit it. Take a deep breath, hug your inner smartass, and 'fess up: don't you get a tad giggly at the idea of rounding up a bunch of urban at-risk kids to teach them how to play polo? As in, the world's most hoity-toity rich person Biff-and-Muffy prenups-and-summering in the Hamptons sport? Like, maybe they pulled in some extra funding from the charity that teaches kids to drink tea with their pinkies sticking out? Or borrowed a business plan from the charity that teaches proper deportment at cotillion, or how to drink a G&T on a yacht? My brain is a total flood of hilarious mental images.

Though, perhaps my laughter signifies that I'm the sort of throwback reactionary who would have snorted at Carnegie's libraries. Or that I'm a raging class warrior who hates rich people. Or that I hate kids. Especially poor kids.

Nah. Most likely, I just think polo is kind of dooftastic.

In the comments, invent a charity that exposes at-promise children to the opportunity to try on their very own pair of fancypants.