Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Goodbye, Monroe

Philip Roth had Goodbye, Columbus, a novella of Jewish-Americans trying to assimilate and break  stereotypes as a character leaves the Ohio State University.  I have Goodbye, Monroe, a story of departing with the crazy cast characters who made a 2 1/2 block walk up Monroe Street so very special.

A few weeks ago I switched jobs.  I know in a previous post I stated that I loved my job and was quite happy in the position I was in.  That did not change.  I was not looking for a new job, but the pastry Gods smiled down on me as they sprinkled me with confectioner's sugar and said, "Here Cari, here's a position that is ridiculous in its growth and learning opportunities.  You would be a fool not to take it." I was offered a peach of a position, well rather a peach cobbler of a position, so I seized it.  And as with my last position, nothing on here reflects my current employer, etc.

Anyway, I became quite accustomed to seeing a number of faces  on my stroll from the Red line stop at State & Monroe to my Michigan Avenue employer.  Note:  My new position is still on the Red line, so sleep easy tonight. As I've been gone for a few weeks, I've realized I have missed these secondary characters in the theatre of my life, so I felt that it was necessary to say Goodbye.  Goodbye, Monroe. Note: And Hello, Harrison.  Your crazy is already proving to be bountiful due to the residentially-challenged man who asked me for  a sandwich outside of 7-11 but specified only tuna or egg, as he did not eat meat.  Once again I learn that beggars can be choosers.

Dear Ronnie:

I always enjoyed our banters. You were always polite to ask me about my day and if the restaurant was busy.  I enjoyed dropping day-old pastries and the occasional sandwich into your shopping cart when you were already asleep when I got off work.  I apologize for stopping this practice, but you really pissed me off when you asked me to start buying you burgers and chicken breast.  Do you have any idea what the salary of a pastry cook is?  Let me tell you, one step above poverty, on a good week.  I do not, nor will I for a long time, have the luxury of pissing my money away on protein when there is perfectly good rent to pay and beer to purchase, and I would prefer it if you did not get so brazen in your requests.

Your Friend,
Dear Batshit Crazy Cuban Man:

I do not miss you. You lived in the alley behind my place of business and I tried everything possible to avoid you.  I lived in a healthy fear of you ever since you once asked to bum a cigarette off me and I refused.  You pleaded that you were homeless, I said if  I gave something to every bum that asked  for something that I would be homeless as well.  You told me that you were Cuban and that you would make me, "Say Hello to your little friend."  I initially thought this was a Date Rape threat and it was not until I came home and Googled that line that I learned it was from Scarface and you were not threatening me with your "little friend" but rather referencing one of the few Hollywood movies featuring a character from your homeland.  Note: How is it that a man without a home, let alone a television, has seen more movies than I?

Your Friend,

P.S. Thank you for showing me your "little friend,"  I was relieved that it was not a gun and terrified that it was a metal baseball bat. Your comment is the reason I became trained in hand-to-hand combat with a knife and started carrying pepper spray.  Say Hello to Your Little Friend?!?! No No sir, say hello to a punctured lung and a flesh laceration that will not heal AND pepper spray designed to be used in Alaska to stop Bears.  Say Hello to MY little friends!
Dear Bob Marley's Brother:

I am willing to bet that most people who initially see you fear you. We only had one exchange, when I offered you a leftover salad, you refused and then said thank you.  Your shoes are worn beyond worn, your hair is a bouquet of dreadlocks, you just seem to walk around aimlessly for hours and you are as essential to the Loop as the Pink lights at PalmerHouse in October. I don't know what your story is, but  I am willing to bet that you probably have some amazing stories to tell, I hope you stay warm this winter, and if you need a coat/gloves/hat/new boots, I would be happy to procure them for you.

Your Friend,
Dear Jesus Rapper:

You annoy me.  I do not care what your music is and I do not care that you pound on a timetable rapping about Jesus. I actually once had a bit of respect for you after seeing you drink half a bottle of honey then chase it with a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter.  However, I lost that all after our one and only conversation.

You sit at the Monroe stop, with a shaker of beads in hand, rapping about Jesus.  You always finish each rap with, "Thank you, my name is (edit) and I am homeless.  I get by entirely by your support."  I once thought this was mundane until I saw you taking a shot of honey.  Honey might be the greatest ingredient on Earth, I worship it. I have no less than 17 different varieties of honey in my cupboard right now (This is not an exaggeration.) I also know how extremely expensive honey has become. And to see someone playing the residentially-challenged card when chugging a premium ingredient irks me. We had a conversation about your honey consuming ways and your "career."  You told me you had the skill to not be homeless but chose not to pursue options because the only thing worthwhile in life was, "A dedication to Jesus."

Sir, I respect your devotion; however, I really think you should be able to find time for a dedication to paying taxes through legitimate employment.  Or at least claim your tips when you file with the IRS. Because even if you do not take advantage of the social services provided by taxes, you will have a very hard time finding an audience to make donations when I declare Martial Law in the near future due to the American Economy, or as I prefer to call it, "The Hindenburg: Reloaded."

Your Friend,

 Dear Monroe Street Residentially-Challenged Individuals,

Thanks for the memories. Carpe Diem.

Your Friend,

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Life Lessons with Cari

When you are getting ready to take a shot of Jameson with friends and you have a feel a slight tickle of a potential sneeze coming on, wait for that tickle to pass.  Don't think that you will be able to hold that sneeze back in the event that it happens, because you won't.  You will sneeze the moment that the sweet Irish whiskey hits your throat and you will send it all flying back out.  It will go rocketing into the shot glass still at your lips and shoot straight back  and splash your entire face. You will have whiskey all over your face.  And it will get in your eyes and they will burn with an intensity you never thought possible.  People will give you odd looks when you go restroom with mascara streaks down your cheeks and Jamo dripping from your chin.  Not only will it be painful and embarrassing, it will also be a waste of perfectly good whiskey.

Thin Lizzy had Whiskey in the Jar.  I had Whiskey in the Eye.  Learn from my mistake.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Moment I've Always Feared.

The Moment I've always feared has arrived.

I've dreaded this moment. I've denied that it will ever happen.  I've skated around accepting it as my reality for longer than is reasonable. I've just always assumed that it was not ever going to happen, just as a viable presidential candidate who supports women's reproductive rights, embraces gay marriages, did not deploy troops unless absolutely required and was fiscally conservative while still supporting welfare will never happen. It was a unicorn, my white whale... A unicorn that mated with that white whale and stabbed me straight in the arse tonight.

My biggest fear has become reality. I am finally able to admit.

I am an adult.

Holy crap. I am an adult. And I realized it fully tonight after having a few doubles of Jack & Diet, and a few more pints of Sam Adams Oktoberfest (I floated the keg, I rule!)  I was out with a few girls from my former place of employment (tears) and we were heading to our respective homesteads.  The Boilermaker (pretty sure you can figure out by now how she acquired that nickname) said she wanted to go out some more.  It was pushing 2 a.m. and I have 12 hours before reporting to work.  This typically translates into a solid 2-4 more hours of fun (read: Boozing) for the fat girl.  So I said, "There's a great 4 a.m. bar right by my house, let's go."  Then I took two more steps and said,

"Forget that, that was the drunk talking."

Did Cari really just say those words?  And mean them? Yes, yes she did, and in that moment, I crossed that finish line that I've been trying to dodge for the past decade and owned up to adulthood. I believe I followed it up with, "Holy shit, Did I just say that?"  I did. Dear Lord, I just became an adult.

My adulthood did not come from having an IRA and a 401K.  It did not come from earning two college degrees.  It did not come from moving to Asia for a few years and establishing myself as the youngest manager worldwide with a Fortune 500. No, my realization of being an adult came from a walk in the rain with two wonderful women when, for once, my common sense vetoed my sense of constant fun.

Now that my biggest fear has been realized, I am being flooded with so many other questions and fears.  I am an adult now, does that mean that I have to start wearing actual pajamas? Will these pajamas have to match, and will they be as comfortable as my skivvies/gym shorts/camisoles/nothing that I typically wake up in?  Do I need to start a high-fiber regimen? Will I lose that special magic that has made my life so remarkable, that sprinkling of fairy dust that has made my experiences so extraordinarily charmed, causing those around me to say, "Only Cari"...?

And what do I do about drinking...right now I love gin, red wine and quality beer.  Is it high time I start ordering Manhattans, Seven & 7s, swapping Wild Turkey for Black Velvet and  actually study the wine list as opposed to going with the Second-to-Cheapest Cabernet??? Note: Going for the cheapest one offered= amateur.  And it JUST occurred to me that I do not know how to knit and/or crochet an afghan.  How in the world can I enter female adulthood without knowing this valuable life skill??!

Oh God, why isn't there an instruction manual for this.  Just one too many drinks on a rainy night and I've been thrust into a reality I am not ready for (I should have seen the writing on the wall, no way would have semi-Adult Cari passed on a late night bar after a mere 5-7 drinks.)

But nonetheless, it's happened.  And now it's 3 a.m., meaning I should have been in bed 8 hours ago or should be waking up in 2 to go catch an early bird/low cholesterol breakfast special. I suspect I will be spending the next few hours in bed shaking with fear over what is going to happen to me now that I am finally an adult.

Either that, or I will be scouring the TV Guide to find out when I can catch a rerun of Matlock.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dear Scut Farkus

Dear Skut Farkus,

I see a lot of crazy things on the late-night Red Line, but running into you was an absolute shock.  I always just figured you went into hiding with your crony Grover Dill after Ralphie told you what was up and beat the living snot (and blood) out of you after you chucked that snowball at him, sending him over the edge.

Imagine my surprise to find you located in my same train car on an idle Thursday night.  And drinking a Budweiser when alcohol is expressly prohibited aboard CTA vehicles, nonetheless.  I never thought that you would be someone I would want to get to know after the way you dogged my boy Ralphie, but I am intrigued in learning more about your covert consumption methods, making the already-entertaining red line that much more interesting.  Let's talk.  After all, I suppose I can drop my lifelong grudge because Ralphie did get his revenge in the end. 

Your Friend,

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I don't know much of the dating game, having spent more than a third of my life with the same person. I do not know how long someone is supposed to wait to call after a first date. I have no clue as to what the appropriate time period is until your suitor can see you in your favorite lounging pants and do not even ask me when it is safe to introduce a potential partner to friends and family.  I am truly clueless (and trembling with fear at the prospect of having to figure all of this shit out on my own.)

While my dating knowledge is severely lacking, my long-term committed status honed an incredible skill of mine.  I am a superb Wing girl.  For those of you who are not familiar with the phrase "Wingman" or "Wing girl" (ie Mom,) a "Wing person" is an individual who goes out with a friend and helps their friends pick up other people.  We are the ones who are witty and clever, helping to bridge the gap in conversation.  We highlight our friends amazing attributes to potentials while they are off ordering a drink or in the restroom.  We talk and flirt with the sloth-like friend that is hanging with the person your friend is interested in.  We know our role, embrace it and execute it well.  Not only do we help our friends meet people they are interested in, we also aid in screening potential candidates as well as weeding out the rejects.  Men (and women) should never underestimate the power of the Wing girl, because at the end of the night, we will be the one dragging our friends into cabs to get them away from the creepers and encouraging them to give out fake numbers.

As a Wing girl, I have developed some unofficial rules for grading those who are pursuing my friends.  It is not a checklist, per se, but when one violates them, my douchebag radar starts beeping like crazy and I inform my friends that they need to move along.

I was recently out with one of my close girlfriends, and I think that we may have met the man that should have written the book on unsuccessfully picking up women, "Antigame: How to Think You Have Game but Really Come off as a Major Tool."

So I am enjoying a few drinks with my girl, henceforth to be known as The Badger due to her U. of Wisconsin connections, and we are chatting, laughing and catching up on all things life, love and pastry related.  As we are halfway through our first (of countless) round, a good-looking guy approaches the The Badger and opens with, "My friend told me I shouldn't come over here, but you were too beautiful to not approach."

Wing girl says: Strike One.  Terrible come on.  Truly lacking originality, but I will let it slide.

The guy, henceforth to be known as GravelVoice due to the fact that he sounded like he had a chainsaw in his throat when he spoke, then leaned onto our table, putting up his arm to separate me from the Badger

Wing girl says: Strike Two.  Sir, I know you are not interested in me and do not want to give me a mixed signal by interacting with me, but to physically separate myself from my girl is bad form.  And also, sir, where the hell is your wing man to come talk to the Badger's sloth-like friend??  Don't you know the rules?

I was annoyed by GravelVoice's approach, but was amused at watching The Badger bask in his compliments and adoration.  It was fun to see her flirting and toying with him.  GravelVoice then proceeded to offer to buy the Badger a beer, specifically stating, "Can I buy you a Coors Light?"

Wing Girl says: Strike Three and Four.  Everyone knows if you're offering to buy a woman a drink, you offer a round to her friends as well.  That goes beyond the rules of pick-up too.  Don't ever be that person who cherry picks who they buy drinks for.  Don't buy drinks for half the group. Don't buy a drink for just you and your significant other if others are buying the whole round.  And DON'T forget to get the wing girl a drink.  However, terrible round-purchasing etiquette aside, he offered her a Coors Light.  A Coors Light.  Mind you, we were at a bar that does not even serve Coors Light.  This, coupled with the fact that we were both drinking local craft beer and had sampler glasses of other crafts that we taking a few nips off, should have indicated we were clearly not Coors Light girls. Scratch that, The Badger was not a Coors Light girl, as I was never even offered a beverage.

From here things just went downhill. GravelVoice kept telling The Badger that she should just come join him at the bar.  Take note of that sentence, "SHE should come."  He was pretty much saying, "Ditch the broad who looks like she just climbed down from her bell tower.  It will be good practice for when she is older and living alone with countless cats." Note: I will never be a crazy cat lady, ever.  Due to my severe cat allergy. Now, crazy shelter dog lady? Let's talk.  Anyway, Badger said he was welcome to join us. He refused, and finally went back to the bar...

...only to come back an hour later.  The Badger made it known to me that she had no interest in GravelVoice and declared open season on the Man with poor pick up etiquette.  And yet he would not relent and just give up. Badger and I laughed, so naturally I started to make fun of him for being a Yankees Fan (Strike Five and GO TIGERS!) Finally, after a solid 15 minutes of busting his balls, he walked away, duly shamed. I do, however, applaud his self confidence, or perhaps his inflated sense of self due to too much booze.

In closing, I would just like to summarize the rules of being excellent at Antigame:
1. Offer a shitty beer
2. Do not offer a shitty beer to wing girl
3. Ignore Wing girl
4. Be a Yankees fan
5. Ignore blatant ignoring of advances

Badger and I are still laughing about his terrible approach and question (fear?) how many more encounters we will have like this as our nights together are increasing in frequency (hooray!)

My only hope for now is that the Badger can be as good of a Wing girl to me as I was to she. And if not, at least I will always have my shelter dogs.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cuckoo for Clocks! Or My New Thrift Shop Adventures

I love clocks, specifically funky analog clocks.  Since entering the world of semi-Adulthood, I've always adorned my walls with clocks.  Every room in my home has always had an analog clock, bathrooms included.  I've had clocks that the numbers were sushi pieces, retro alarm clocks, a stained glass Ohio State bar clock, pretty clocks, boring clocks...I just love clocks.  One of my favorite pieces is my clock  that is inspired by Salvador Dali's painting, "The Persistence of Memory" aka the melting clocks picture for you uncultured proles.  Unfortunately, over the past few months, it has been requiring a lot of batteries and is running on time of a different dimension.  I know I can take it to a repairman and have it up and running, but then I would not have an excuse to buy a new clock.  So I will add it to my clock graveyard of timepieces I plan to get fixed in 30 years to adorn the walls of the library I will have in my home someday.

For now, the dead Dali hangs, waiting to be replaced.  And I know what the perfect replacement piece is- A Cuckoo Clock!  I have always harbored a secret yearning to own a Cuckoo clock.  They take me to a happy place as I associate them with my days as a chubby little toddler running around my Busia and Papa's house.  They had a fun Cuckoo clock that had pine cones hanging from chains that I adored.  I had a lot of fun out at their house in the country, primarily because my brother was not around often, so I did not have to share the spoils of being with grandparents. I was able to bask in their love, attention and new toys without having Big Brother around to snatch it all away.  It's irrelevant that I now know that I was dumped off there due to the fact that my brother was constantly in the hospital and my parents refused to visit me.  Nevermind the fact that the one and only time that my Dad came to visit me I chased him down the street as his car pulled away, yelling for him to take me with him, and he told my mom when he got to the hospital that he was not going back to visit me again.  No, despite my parental abandonment, I have great memories of being out at that house and I associate Cuckoo Clocks with that period of Cariness.

Fast forward a few decades, now I desire to adorn my walls with a clock to remind myself of the happiness I felt at that time in my life.  However, one's desires are often beyond one's means, ergo I am too damned poor to afford to buy a new Cuckoo clock.  I hunted around on E-bay, but I am hesitant to get something like this on there, so I've decided I shall scour through thrift shops and garage sales until I find the perfect clock for myself.  I know that it is going to take some time, most likely years, but it will give me something to focus on besides wine consumption.

And as anyone who's ever smelled the unique funk of a Goodwill store, there are some great finds to be found in thrift shops and second-hand stores.  So as a new feature here on the Follies, I shall be showcasing the best item that I discovered at the various shops that I hit up.  From the Salvation Army located on Broadway south of Montrose, I present this:

Why someone chose to donate this beautiful item to a thrift shop is beyond me.  It's absolutely perfect for the chain-smoking cat enthusiast who has (presumably) her house decorated in pink sea shells.  I can think of three people off the top of my head that fit that bill and would love to own this. Incidentally, it is now sitting on my bedroom dresser as I decide which of the three to give it to at the holiday season.  Perhaps I should let them know they are in the running so they can fight for my affections.

While my first trip did not yield me the desired timepiece, I also found this gem.

Interestingly enough, I knew a number of sluts in my high school college younger days who used this exact same logic to justify their "extracirricular activities." Unfortunately, no one ever manufactured a wall clock to celebrate their methods of getting alternative forms of protein.

Looks like I finally found my way to make my millions!

Cari Ponders...

Do Yankee Candles go bad?  Because this Pomegranate Cider I have burning smells like Pomegranate Poop.

Either that, or there's a flaming bag of dog shit on my back stoop.