Thursday, September 13, 2012

Who Are These People? Or, No Seriously, Who Are These People?

 I have a handy little tool encoded on my site that allows me to keep track of how many visitors I am getting, how long they hang out and also what keyword phrases bring them to the Follies.  Not surprisingly, if you search, "Fat Girl Follies" or some combo of those word, this oasis of wit in a desert of shit if the #1 hit.

There are some some searches that I can relate to:
"Hard to date when fat" (I am #23) Yep.
"Fat girl clothing ugly" (#5) Yep.

There are some that reflect the wonderful city I call home:
"Beggars in Chicago to give or not to give" (#17)  The answer is No. Just No.
"Fat girl in Chicago Bears underwear" (#3) WTF!?! I am a Lions fan, I am insulted to be the third hit for that!

There are some that state the obvious:
"Sexy Fat Girl" (#3) Duh. This is all of us.
"Quit smoking weight gain" (#5) Duh. Up 8 pounds since quitting mid-July

Then there are some that disturb me. Deeply:
"Fat girl murder" (#2) *crickets*
"I want to murder a fat girl" (#17) *crickets*

I do not know what disturbs me more, the fact that there are people out there searching "Fat Girl Murder" or that I am the second most popular response for this query on the intrawebs. More disturbing is that there is someone out there who hates fat girls so much that he wants to MURDER one! That puts me in the potential victim pool.  And he knows I live in Chicago! It might be time to  hide my hound and run because I consider myself to be Target #1, as this crazy man thinking his searches are private has now seen my picture and knows (roughly) where I live. If he and the guy who searched "Fat Girl Murder" ever join forces I am royally effed.

Fortunately, there is some hope in humanity.  While I am keeping a vigil watch out for fat girl murderers, I will also be trying to find the person who found my site my searching, "Handle of Tanqueray." We would be great friends as we both already love gin.

Oh, and the fact that he does not want to murder me.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Too Much of Your Personal Life, Even for Me.

Dear Woman On The Brown Line,

We have all had days when we are struggling to make it out the door in one piece.  I have had days that I did not realize I only put mascara on one eye until I got home or wore a shirt inside out for the better part of the day. I get it. Sometimes there just is not enough time to get it all done at home and perhaps some time prepping on the L is necessary.

Whatever your reason was for needing to groom on a packed morning-rush hour car last week, it does not excuse you or justify the fact that you plucked your nose hair on the train. I did not bat an eye when you pulled a compact out of your purse. And while I did think it was odd you had tweezers, I figured you were just going to snag a stray piece of unibrow that popped up.  However, nothing could prepare me for the sight of watching you repeatedly pull stray hairs out of your snout and proceed to drop them idly onto the shoes of those standing near. I mean, really woman??? Of all of the times you could shove tweezers up your nose and pull out hair was on your way to work?!? I realize that I should not be so creeped out as it was not an issue for me when I thought it was a piece of eyebrow you were extracting, but the fact is that public nose hair grooming is not something I am ready to accept.

And in all honestly, lady, let's look at the big picture. You were wearing black capris that had teal seahorses and magenta sea shells embroidered on them. I think we can both agree you have bigger issues to address than a few stray nose hairs.

Your Friend,

Sunday, September 2, 2012

I Count One Sad Girl, Ah Ah Ah

Fewer things remind me of how lucky of a girl  I am than when personal tragedy strikes my world. My friends have an incredible way of rallying around me and helping me pull through the darkness.  They remind me that in a great loss, there is joy to be found from the happiness that was once in my world. My wonderful friends remind me of the happy times to help my tears and sobs turn to smiles and laughter.

I recently went through a loss that rocked my world worse than when Davy Jones passed away. Jerry Nelson, a puppeteer for Sesame Street, passed away. You may question why I am so torn up over a puppeteer from a children's show.  The answer is that Nelson brought life and voice to the first man I ever loved:

Count von Count

Yes, Count von Count was my first real crush in life.  I hesitate to even call him a crush, because crushes fade over time whereas I harbor a love much deeper for The Count. To this day, I get silly thinking about him. There is something about this arithmomaniac that just makes me feel happy and warm inside. Even watching him as an adult, I always felt as if the flashes of thunder and lightning after he successfully counted were for me because he knew that I love storms.   I carry an unhealthy jealously towards both Countess von Backwards and Countess Dahling von Dahling for getting to be the romantic love interests of The Count.

Like so many heartbroken women before me, I would channel my pain over seeing his preference for another woman into something creative, such as making The Count the first time I ever worked with gumpaste:
Made of pure sugar cause he's so sweet.

While I know that technically The Count is not gone, Nelson was the man who gave life to my sweet Count. I am sure the new puppeteer for Count will do a lovely job but it just won't be the same. When I read of Nelson's passing, I felt crushed inside knowing that the Count that I know and love is gone as well. Will The Count2.0 have the same level of manic crazy when he gets interrupted? How will his sorrow for running out of things to count translate now? It was just all too much to think about and I needed to grieve, hence why I was reminded that my friends are amazing. I heard from 18 people over Mr. Nelson's passing.  Messages, texts, a  facebook post and a few phone calls all came in from concerned friends expressing their sympathies.  Big Brother made it a point to ask how I was coping when we met up for a beer.

Think about it, almost 20 people in my life reached out to me when the puppeteer of The Count died, which allows us to draw two conclusions:
1. My friends are amazing,
2. My friends also suspect that I am an unstable whack job

Regardless of whether my sanity should be questioned because I carry a flame for a piece of animated felt, the pain I have felt in knowing that The Count I love will never be back is very real.  I have always considered Count von Count my personal, "One That Got Away," and Mr. Nelson's death just solidifies that fact for me.

It's a tough pill to swallow, to know that this dream will never be a reality:
What was once a high hope is now a mere shattered dream

Thank you to everyone who has helped me through this challenging period in my life.  And to Jerry Nelson, I hope you are at peace.  Thanks for bringing The Count to life and allowing me feel a love that I will carry in my heart for a lifetime.

Rest in Peace, Jerry.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mother Knows Best

I am going to go out on a limb here and assume that I am not the only one who had a mom who said, "You need to wear clean underwear in case you get in a car accident."

As a young girl, I never understood this. Anytime my mom would say this to me, I would be struck with the vision of me bloodied and slashed from a wreck, lying on an operating table as a nurse cuts off my clothes to prep me for surgery. The nurse would remove my pretty pink skivvies and shout in horror to the surgery team, "Cari does not wear clean underwear!" At which point, the doctors would refuse treatment for such an unsanitary little girl.

I would also be stricken with silent fear when riding in a vehicle and having a "near miss" accident. My chest would tighten and fear would race through me anytime my Mom slammed on the brakes and I realized I was wearing underwear that said "Monday" on the butt when it was actually Wednesday.  Would I get the chance to explain to the doctors that I just grabbed whatever pair was at the top of the pile? Would anyone know that I did in fact have on clean underwear before  I died in a fiery crash?

I had a very active imagination as a child. And even now as a big child.

Needless to say, my mom's advice on underwear was one of the biggest sources of stress in my life until I hit junior high and had to worry about dating and boys (Little did I know that years down the road the issue of presentable underwear and boys would come together as a big child stress.)

I never forgot my mom's advice and now work hard to keep a nice stock of underwear.  If there are small holes, fraying fabric, shot elastic or any other flaw that makes them less than lovely, I throw them out. The last thing I want is to be in an accident with underwear that could be deemed as unclean (Same standards applies to being at happy hour.)

A little over a week ago, I was gifted with a rare Sunday off. I decided to make the most of it by walking around town, hitting up specialty grocers and making a great meal. It was a beautiful August day so I wore my favorite summer casual black sundress.  As I am walking up Halsted street in Boystown with my bags loaded with groceries, I look up at the sky at the Blue Angels soaring as a part of the annual Air & Water Show.

Suddenly, I have that terror stricken realization of, "This is how I die!" as I see the pavement racing towards my face as I walked off the curb in my distraction.

I lay on the ground for the quick moment as a nice couple scramble to grab my renegade produce rolling away. I feel a draft as I realize my dress is up above my hips and my ass is on total display for everyone walking and driving by.  Fortunately, I listen to my mom and felt little shame over flashing my black skivvies with cupcakes on them and the word "SUGAR" written in glitter letters across the rump. I did, however, feel a lot of shame of the scratches and blood on my left side, so I got up, grabbed my bags and walked home as quickly as I could, embarrassed from taking a fall but proud of the fact I listened to my mom and had clean underwear on.

The real downside to my trip was where it happened. Hundreds of streets in Chicago, and I had to flash my ass in the one community that is loaded with men that could not give a shit about seeing a half-naked woman in the street. Next time, I need to coordinate my fall in a neighborhood with more straight men...

 But not before I get a pair of skivvies with my phone number screen printed across the bottom.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What Not To Talk About On A First Date

I have been wanting to share this story on the Follies for some time now, but I needed to wait a few months to hopefully ensure that the gentleman I am planning on writing about has forgotten about me and is not checking my blog out anymore. While I am comfortable with him knowing my thoughts about our night together,  I do want to spare his feelings in case he feels hurt by it.  Clearly I do not care enough to not share the story though.  To do that would be a violation of nature.

I met him at a concert.  At the opening of the show we had made eye contact.  Halfway through the set list and countless PBR tallboys later we were holding hands and gyrating as we sang along in a pit of bodies, sweat and spilled beer.

It was the magic that can only be captured on the floor of a live concert.  Nothing says romance quite like screaming, "WHAT DID YOU SAY??" as you take an elbow to the liver while someone crushes your left foot.

After the concert, I was absolutely sauced, slightly deaf and enjoying that general high one gets after seeing a great live show. Naturally I felt it was time to eat. I made sure my friend that I attended the show with was safely in a cab and set off to get some pizza with my Rock Concert Romeo, who shall henceforth be known as The  Lantern, as in the Green Lantern (Let's just go ahead and file that under Obvious Foreshadowing for Disaster, shall we?)

The Lantern and I find a joint that we can get pizza by the slice.  I order a slice of cheese and a draft of Honker's Ale.  He gets pepperoni and a glass of water.  I should have known by his beverage choice that I probably should not give him my number, but I was still glowing in the magic of concert, so I just snarled and brushed it off.

We had a pleasant chat over pizza, from what I remember, and he asked for my number as I was waiting for a cab near the L.  He was cute and I had laughed while we grubbed, so I happily gave it.  As he turned to walk away towards the Blue Line, I thought I saw a Transformers logo on the back of his track jacket, but quickly dismissed it, figuring no grown man wears Transformers jackets and that my eyes were just blurring a Razorbacks logo.

Over the course of the next few days we made plans for the following Friday to go see a fantastic live theater show and grab dinner beforehand.  Now, the show starts at 11:30, but we needed to be there by 10:30, and it is in a neighborhood that is LOADED with phenomenal and very reasonably priced restaurants.  I figure we would meet up around 7:30 or 8. He suggests that he will be by my place around 5:15. Note: What the Hell is up with me finding these guys who want to meet so freaking early?!!? It's a terrible trend that I won't tolerate anymore, because if I have learned anything it's that dates with these early diners never end well, or sometimes never get started at all.

Anyway, Friday comes and I spend the standard time grooming and getting beautified.  I did not know what he had in mind for dinner so I wear a casual black summer dress with some snappy sandals and minimal accessories. The hair is not frizzy and the MAC is looking dewy without shine. I look damned cute and I know it so I start to get really excited for my 5 o'clock date.  We meet up and he is wearing a Green Lantern t-shirt and black high-tops. Honestly, I did not know that solid black high-tops were still made.  I am a bit bummed but sincerely dismiss my thoughts because I am not the sharpest of dressers either.  Plus there is no denying that this nerdy girl immediately recognized the Green Lantern logo. That has to count for something.

We set off on the hike up to the neighborhood that we are planning on dining in and he immediately starts telling me about Final Fantasy.  Wanting to participate in the conversation, I tell him about how I used to do Fantasy Baseball until I found it to be too much of a time requirement to keep up with who was on the DL and different pitchers' ERAs when all I really cared about was what was happening in the ALC. He gave me a puzzled look and I realized two things: 1. This man did not follow baseball and 2. Final Fantasy was not a sports-related hobby.

Turns out Final Fantasy is some kind of role playing game that you go on quests of some sort.  It was interesting when he was explaining it to me, because when he said "Role Playing Game" my face must have read pure shock. He quickly explained that it is played through a video game console and you play with other people. He continued on for a solid 10 minutes despite me saying I did not play video games.  I learned that apparently Wiis can be hacked into and that XBox Live is a real rip off, too.

Can you sense my enthusiasm for the conversation? More importantly, are you as confused about Final Fantasy as I am?  Because even after hearing the dissertation on it I still have no effing clue what it is.  The only quest video game I am interested in playing is The Adventures of Zelda on an original NES console, which I believe my dear JP still owns.

But I digress.  As we walked I changed topics to one of my favorite conversation points, Food. More specifically food that I will be consuming in the near future.  I start prattling off about a few restaurants up in the area we are heading and The Lantern tells me he knows of this really great place nearby.  The conversation went like this:

Lantern: "One of my favorite places is just up the way, we should go there."
Cari: "Oh, what sort of food are they putting up there? What's the name of it?"
Lantern: "It's the Golden Nugget Pancake House."
Cari: "Hahahahaha!"
......... awkward silence........
Cari: "Oh you're serious."
Lantern: "What, you don't like pancake houses? It's good food!"
Cari: "Oh, it's not that. I like pancake houses, but only between the hours of midnight to noon."

I contemplate just telling him we should just call it a night here as we clearly are not well suited. There is nothing wrong with wearing comic book t-shirts in your 30s and eating pancakes for Friday night dinner, truly. But if you are trying to impress someone who cooks for a living, the ole Nug probably should not be your ace-in-the-hole locale. I start to say we should part ways to salvage our Friday nights (what salvage?!? It was not even 6 o'clock. I would have had time to get a quick nap in before getting dinner at my normal time) but I refrain as I really want to see the show we are going to and he is, despite our differences, a very nice and polite guy.

Dinner goes fairly well.  We struggle to find common talking points and finally settle on my favorite talking point: Food (Food is actually #2 next to 100 reasons that Republicans are loonies, but I try to show some restraint and discretion on a first date.) Finally the conversation goes well as we were able to talk about the food we were dining upon.  I actually was starting to really enjoy myself as he was peppering me with questions such as, "What is an aioli?" (In most American restaurants, it's glorified mayo) and "What's the key to making a really great pie crust?" (Keep your fat and dough as cold as possible. Chill often.)

We finish dinner and set off to grab a few cocktails as we still have  a lot of time to kill.  I am starting to think I misjudged The Lantern as I really enjoyed the second half of the meal. In hindsight I should have realized the reason it was so great was not so much him but rather because I was engaging in three of my favorite past times:
1: Drinking. Sangria, at that. Ole!
2. Eating.
3. Talking in a manner in which I can dominate the conversation while dropping knowledge bombs.

We stop in at a nice bar that has a really solid beer selection and great atmosphere. I promptly order a Russian Imperial Stout and am given a pint glass brimming with rich, thick roasty malty Heaven.  The Lantern orders a mead. Now, I realize that mead will mess you up due to its high ABV, but it doesn't change the fact that it is honey wine. Or that it is served in a delicate 3 ounce tulip glass.  I really try not to be one to buy into gender roles too much, but the reality is that I do not think it is possible for me to be interested in any man that orders a drink that comes served in a "dainty" glass.  I want to be able to heartily toast by clanking our steins together, not sip on something with a pinkie sticking out.  Any hope that I had at the restaurant was just about washed away at this point.

Did I say just about? Oh right, because any possible inkling of hope that there could ever be a possibility of us having a second date was completely destroyed (thankfully) due to the fact that over drinks he went into the story of how he may or may not have lost his virginity at an anime convention.

Yes, I said anime. And yes, I did say "may or may not." I will spare you the full story, because I believe my suffering through it once was enough for all of us.

Apparently that mead was loosening him up because he then continued to share that in the first year after his divorce he slept with more than 30 women. Then proceeds to ask me how many guys I have been with since my divorce.  I damn near choked on my stout.  I politely explained that I prefer to keep my private life private (you know, except for all the ridiculous shit that I share here. And the stories that my friends are privy to over cocktails.) He asked me a few more times and I kept deflecting, because the only people who need to know how many folks I've done the bone dance with are myself and JP & Mali when we play "Never Have I Ever" over fishbowls (Mom and Grandparents if you ever get the Internet, please know that I am just exaggerating for the sake of the story.  The fact is that I am still a virgin saving myself for my second marriage. Note: My Dad was omitted from there, that is not an oversight. More on that at a later date.)

Regardless of what my history is (pure as fresh snow, damnit!) it does not change the fact that on the first date I heard the story of how he (possibly) cashed in his V-card and how many ladies he penetrated within one year. And to think that I tried to exercise restraint during our dinner conversation.

At this point, I think we can all agree that all hope was lost.  We went to the show, I had a great time watching it (probably because The Lantern and I did not have to interact) and we walked back towards my neighborhood/his vehicle. We exchanged an awkward hug, he asked if he could see me again, I said, "I really don't think so" and walked home. He texted me shortly after to say he had a nice time. I thanked him for dinner and changed his last name in my contacts to "DO NOT ANSWER."

Fortunately the night was not a complete loss.  I discovered a wonderful live theatre venue not too far from me. I realized how important it is to me that a guy I date be a beer (and baseball) man. And most importantly, I learned that while I sometimes have concerns that I tend to over share too much of myself here, sharing stories of wearing fake boobies has absolutely nothing on waking up naked in a hotel room at an anime convention.

Thank you for a night that was memorable for all the wrong reasons, Lantern.

P.S. I really, REALLY need to get better about  NOT mentioning the name of my blog when I get tipsy, because apparently guys also Google their dates.  So Lantern, if you are in fact still reading my site 1. Why? We went out 3 months ago, let it go, and 2. While my assessment may seem harsh, use this as a learning tool. Pancake houses aren't ideal for a first date unless you're taking out Mrs. Butterworth and don't tell ladies how many people you've bedded in a year unless you plan to offer them a shot of penicillin after.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Few Open Letters to the Beggars of Chicago, Or "Sweet Jebus Am I Turning Conservative!?"

Dear Beggars of Chicago,

Now that the Summer heat is upon us and the tourists are flooding to our fair city like bees to honey, it is only natural that you will all be stepping up your game.  There is a lot of money passing through the Second City economy this season and I can see why you are hitting the streets full force to get your piece of the pie.  However, I have recently felt inundated with your requests for a spare quarter or bus fare.  For one week, I kept track of the number of requests for money, as well as the numerical amount requested.  When I did the math, I realized that 37 individuals asked me for a cumulative $43.75 (With "spare some change equaling $.50) over a seven day period. I am no accountant (that's what Big Brother & Old Man are for,) but I did recognize that I would quickly go broke on the meager wages I live on if I met every one's request. With that said, I would like to make a basic request of you during these Dog Days' of Summer:
1. Recognize the difference between a Chicagoan and a tourist. When I step onto the train at 11:30 at night, sweatier than Rocky and smelling of the San Diego Zoo Ape House, put the effort into realizing I am not here to visit Shedd Aquarium but rather just got out of a busy dinner service working hard for my wages.  Hit up the family of four wearing matching Old Navy t-shirts, not your fellow Chicagoan.
2. Tying into Request #1, stick to the Loop.  Do you really think someone living off of an Uptown Red Line stop has excess cash to spare? No, they don't. And if they do, then ask them why the Hell they are living in Uptown, damnit.
3. See Requests 1 & 2.

I appreciate your consideration in this matter. It's not that I am heartless or not empathetic to your plight, but rather that I would go broke financing you and would prefer to donate my meager excess to charities or solid organization such as Streetwise (Big Shout out to Jason at Broadway and Sunnyside!)

Thank you for your consideration in this matter. I have a few more letters to follow to multiple individuals who seem to have little respect for the "work" you do panhandling, along with some friendly advice.

Your Friend,


Dear Leroy Jenkins,

About a year ago, you boarded a car on my Red Line train telling a story of how you were a former convicted felon, gave the typical Amazing Grace spiel and said you were trying to find a job. You begged for job leads, business cards, anything to help turn your life around. You held up your picture and paperwork you have to show your parole office. I wept, regretting I had no job lead for you.

Three months later, you boarded a car and gave the same spiel. You also asked for money as it was expensive to get to job interviews and you needed help with your CTA fare.  I had recently switched from a typical ticket to the CTA monthly unlimited, leaving me with a fare card with $5 on it. I was touched by your story of trying to turn your life around and offered you my CTA card. You declined it. I snarled.

Two weeks ago, you boarded a car and gave the same spiel.  It's been a year and you've collected more business cards than the fishbowl at Applebee's offering free lunch. Please file a W-4 on the livable income you are clearly earning and please considering switching to a different train line, because now that I can hear your memorized and no-longer-heartfelt  spiel over the sounds of Hall & Oates on my iPod, I am starting to get pissed.

Your Friend,

P.S. I am willing to bet that Leroy Jenkins is not even your real name.


Dear Woman Outside of My Neighborhood Bodega,

A few tips:
1. Don't shove your cup into my face saying, "Hey Lady."
2. It is probably wise to keep your iPhone tucked away when panhandling for sympathy change. When your phone is nicer than mine, we should reevaluate who should be giving change to who.

Your Friend,


Dear Sir on the Red Line,

I boarded late at night, looking and smelling like the above mentioned state.  You immediately ran over to me said, "Hey Lady, can you spare fiddy cents? I need to catch the train."
Me: "You're already on the train."
You: "I mean I need to catch a cab, spare me a dolla."
Me: "It costs $3.25 to get into a cab here, sorry."
You: "So you ain't gonna give me any money?"
Me: "No."
You: "Stingy Bitch."

I feel as if the point of this letter writes itself. But to clarify:
1. Know why you are asking for money.
2. Name calling will win you no friends.

Your Friend,


Dear Sir With the Amazing Sign,

You were sitting at Jackson and State. You had a sign that started with, "Me Hungry," then had a sketch of Pac-man chasing dots followed by, "Nom Nom Nom."  I was proud to reward you clever wittiness with a couple of bucks and I applaud you for not going with the now-standard, "Why Lie? I need a beer," that is so overplayed at this point.

Your Friend,

P.S.  Chicago Panhandlers, take note of this guy. Get a clever line or gimmick. These are hard times for all of us, a good laugh is worth a few of our hard-earned wages.

Meanwhile, don't ever shove your cup in my face ever again. Because while these words will never hurt you, there's a good chance that my knife and pepper spray will.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Love That Will Last a Lifetime

I recently had the honor and sincere pleasure to serve as a Best Lady in the wedding of one of the individuals I cherish most in my life, my dear friend and former Ohio U roommate KB.  KB was fortunate to have her grandparents in attendance to the happy event. To honor their 66 years of wedded bliss, the bride played her Grandparents' song and invited all of the couples onto the dance floor to commemorate the milestone.

Twenty couples took to the floor, arm in arm and eyes fixed upon each other.

One girl swirled around and dipped a handle of Tanqueray.

Some things never change.

Monday, June 11, 2012

My Singles Meet Up Experience

My apologies for the delay in sharing this story for those of you have been waiting, I've been mulling on whether to share the entire story or to omit a few details for the sake of my modesty.  Then I remembered that neither modesty nor that innate ability to not overshare information are qualities that I do not possess. Dilemma solved.

Not too long ago, sponsored an event for Chicago-area Match Members. My original thought was that it was speed dating, which I would have OWNED at due to my ability to tell a unique and entertaining story in a relatively brief window (This post will not be one of those times.)  Much to my chagrin, it was more of a social mixer/meet up.  Nonetheless, I decided I was going to make it a great night and make a solid impression on a number of Second City Bachelors.

I decided to go to the event alone, despite the fact that the site suggested bringing a friend.  I mentioned it to a few friends, but they could all clearly foresee that Cari+Alcohol+A Room Full of Strangers=Recipe for disaster.

If only I had the foresight that my friends do.

I wanted to put my best foot forward but not look too desperate, so I skillfully applied my MAC, straightened my mane, wore a low cut-but-not-too-sleazy top, some jeans and red heels.  While I was grooming, I decided to start with a little social lubrication and made myself a g&t while listening to my Naughty By Nature Pandora station.

Four Tanquerays and Tonics, Three coats of mascara, Two hours and One impressive sing-along to "O.P.P." and I was on my way to meet my Match.

I should have known that it was not going to be a good night when I arrived at the venue and the doorman asked in a cryptic manner, "Are you here for the Event?" I replied, "Are you talking about the Match.Com Lonely Hearts Club Meet Up?"  Doorman: "Uh yeah..."  Cari: "Yes, Yes I am."  Doorman: "You are about the 40th person here and the first one to admit that it's a singles meet up."

I did not take this to be a good sign.

I head upstairs, scope out the event and promptly head to the bar for a beer.  I sit for a while and notice that people are just awkwardly grouped together in groups of 2 or 3 with the friends they came with. Apparently I was the only one with enough courage/foolishness to come alone.  I figure people will start mixing once more folks arrive and chat with the bartender for a while.  Another beer goes down, more people are coming and NO ONE is interacting. By this time I am filled with that boozy inflated sense of self and decided it was my sole responsibility to make this event a smash.

So I walk into the other room with the pool table, grab a cue stick, slam it on the ground like it was Moses's Staff and shout, "Hey, this is a Singles' Mixer, we are supposed to Mix and Mingle, not be isolated by gender like we are at a bad 5th grade dance."

Crickets. And lots of dirty looks.

If only I had brought my conch shell with me.

I continue, with my staff in one hand and 8.5% porter in the other, "Seriously, interact! Boys on the right side, number off.  Ladies on the left, do the same.  Odds cross the room.  Mingle!"

Awkward silence that was probably painful for everyone that was not me.

"I am not shutting up until every one starts mingling!"

Instantly, people start darting across the room to find someone, anyone to chat with to get me to shut up.  Not surprisingly, no eligible bachelors sought me out for some friendly conversation, although I think my take-charge attitude and confidence (read: BAC) are very attractive qualities.

I sit down, smile at my work and a 58-year-old biker looking dude comes over with shots of whiskey. He tells me he is there with a younger friend, is just there to play wingman and that he likes my attitude. We sit in the corner making snarky commentary on all the odd pairings until I decide I need to leave as the crowd seems to be turning hostile towards us.

I stop off at my favorite Mexican place for Margarita night, inhale some fantastic carne asada, trip on my way out of the bathroom and decide to head to a fun Irish joint up the street for a night cap. After all, the night is early and I look fantastic. I pop in, grab a seat at the bar and before my Guinness is poured the guy next to me starts chatting me up.

Alright, maybe tonight is not a total bust.

We banter on the usual Chicago smalltalk and exchange names.  He then proceeds to tell me how he underwent gastric bypass in October and has lost more than 100 pounds. Okay...not quite what I would reveal upon first meeting, but at least he is honest. Note:  I must have some sort of quality that makes people tell WAY too much upon first meetings with me, more on one of my more recent dates to show this perfectly.  Consider it, ME complaining about people oversharing.  You read this blog, clearly I am a woman whose idea of what is proper sharing is skewed worse than the GOPs views on women's reproductive rights.

Anyway,  he proceeds to tell me how his recent surgery and weight loss has made him despise food. I believe his actual words were along the lines of, "I hate our country's obsession with food.  I only eat soup or  a few bites and I am fine. I could never be involved with someone who was really into food."

Bartender, I'll go ahead and close my tab out now.

I was tempted to tell him what I did for a living and defend my passion for what I do, but I realized I was walking that line of being Mellow Happy Drunk Cari and Loud, Belligerent Drunk Cari. Somehow I showed some restraint and just nodded. I downed the Guinness like it was a car bomb, grabbed my purse and started to head to the door and he stopped me, looking surprised and asked if he could please get my number.

I looked him straight in the eye and simply stated, "Sir, I am, above all, a glutton and a woman of excess.  This would never work."  And walked out.

I got home, disappointed that I did not meet any interesting men other than 58-year-old biker with the whiskey and started to get ready for bed. I know I have ranted on here a few times about how fat girl clothes tend to be made with the assumption that a larger frame equals a larger bust, which is not the case in my build.  So, from time to time I have to enhance myself with cutlets to fill my garments out better. Note to the Men in My Life: Big Brother, I am sorry you had to read that. Old Man, I already told you this part of the story and you laughed your ass off, which is what made me decide to include it. Men who have bought me drinks at the bar due to my chesty goodness, yes, some women do still stuff their bras when they are pushing 30, sorry for the letdown. But thanks for the drinks!

Anyway, I am changing into my pajamas and realize that one of my bra inserts is missing.  I search around, check to make sure I did not misplace it or that the Hound Dog did not grab it.  Nope, it's gone and I am struck with the realization that somewhere on the ground in the city of Chicago is my fake silicone breast insert. You know how you see a shoe on the side of the road and wonder, "How do you only lose one shoe?" Or perhaps you are on the sidewalk and see a lone piece of  footwear and think, "How does someone NOT notice that they are missing one shoe?"  That's pretty close to what my thought was.

Sometime, somewhere in Chicago someone was going to come across my renegade bra insert and think, "How does someone not notice that they are missing their right breast?"

I guess my night ended up being a half bust.

P.S. A week later the remaining cutlet popped open.  They were 10 years old, so it was probably time to say goodbye and upgrade.  However, my birthday is next month and if you were looking for a great gift idea, know that I am now in the market for the gift that keeps on giving: Cleavage.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dear Insurance Companies

Dear Geico, Allstate, Progressive, State Farm and other Miscellaneous Insurance Providers,

Stop wasting paper and postage on sending me offers to the generic, "Illinois Driver." Your money would be better spent on this non-vehicle owning gal by offering a Red Line Insurance Policy. Create a policy that gives me coverage for immediate smart phone replacement after a theft and health insurance coverage for communicable diseases anytime a "residentially challenged" individual spits on me, and then we can talk.

Your Friend,

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cari Ponders...

Am I strange because the last song that I listen to before heading out for a date is, "Psycho Killer" by the Talking Heads?

More importantly, how is it that I am able to foreshadow my dates so well? It is becoming somewhat depressing at how well that song is able to sum up my opinion of every suitor who has courted me as of late. If new wave music is going to predict my life, I'd much prefer it be Bowie.

Qu'est que c'est....

Reason I Love Being an Adult #17

Reason I love Being an Adult #17: Half a loaf of ciabatta bread and a bottle of Cabernet is a perfectly acceptable dinner.

Note:  Popcorn tossed with paprika, parmesan & cayenne followed by a few pints of stout, as well as scrambled eggs washed down with some gin & lime juice are also equally acceptable and well-balanced meals in adulthood.

Conclusion: This growing up thing is not nearly as terrible as I once thought.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My First Craigslist Missed Connection

I apologize for my absence as of late and appreciate your patience during my brief hiatus.  I wish I could explain my disappearance on the fact that I took up touring with a jazz band or that I was filming the next season of The Amazing Race, but the reality is I have been busy with other things and chose not to make the time to blog.  Fortunately, life has settled down a bit and I am getting into summer shenanigan mode, meaning your weekly dose of Cari is coming back.

I do have a few stories that I need to catch you up on, but for now I share with you my very first posting in the Missed Connection Section of Craigslist:

"You came at me like a naked flash of white lightning. I was standing on Addison near Clark in front of Wrigley when I shouted out to my friend, "Oh my god!" as we all turned to see you sprinting around homeplate, cupping your gingerbread with one hand and pumping your other arm while running as fast as you could.

You looked pretty cute and I certainly enjoyed the view from behind for the few fleeting moments I saw it as you continued running down the first base line side of Addison.

I'd love to buy you a beer and have you regale me with the story of how you ended up streaking around Wrigley Field on an otherwise idle Thursday night. Or at the least, I would like to know if you completed your bare-assed adventure without getting picked up by the police.


Unfortunately, this story does not have a happy ending. I am sad to report that I never did hear from my Streaker.  And worst, I received  multiple messages that he was picked up on Sheffield and hauled off to the pokey.  And true to Craigslist form, perhaps the worst result of all of this was the outrageous amount of e-mails I received from men that solicited "services of an adult nature," or were colorful in their descriptions of what they'd like to do with me. Some even including some rather personal shots of their gingerbread.

Thanks, but no thanks, Craigslist.  Next time I see a streaker I want meet, I will race down to the precinct with a bathrobe and some bail money.

At least then I will have solicited the shots of the gingerbread.

Monday, March 12, 2012

This One is For the Ladies...

If you are of the XY chromosome make up, have gingerbread or can look at the inseam of your Levis and have a finite twig and berries, then I highly suggest you stop reading now.  Seriously, stop. Because I am about to write about sweater pups.  Now, I know that if you are  a man you are probably looking forward to a sneak peak of a "lady" talking about her chest hams, but the following writing is not going to be about me describing rubbing the pups up in cocoa butter before walking 'em to bark at the moon, but rather the sheer logistical pain in the ass it is to have two fat sockets projecting themselves from one's lower shoulder/upper torso area.

You have been warned.

Bras.  Brassieres. Flopper Stoppers. Over the Shoulder Boulder Holders. Boobie Holsters. Unmentionables.  Call it whatever the Hell you want –– I call it a pain in the ass.

Before  I continue on my tirade of bras, let me be very clear. I do not hate bras.  They are important in preventing us from getting breast tears that can lead to growths and they also help us keep our sweater hams from wobbling to and fro, making sure we can never tie them in a knot or tie them in a bow.  Rather, I hate the sizing and manufacturing on bras.  And I hate how terribly awkward they make me feel.

If you were to open my bra drawer right now, you would find bras ranging from a 38C to a 42DD. Men, if you are still reading, I have two comments for you. 1. WHY are you still reading, did you miss the memo that this one was for the ladies??? and 2. Bras are sized in two ways: Width around (think the 36, 38,40 and cup size of B, C, D, etc. The number is the inches it takes to get around our bodies, the alphabet is the actual mass of said fat sockets.)   Back to my story, I came to the sad realization that I did not own a bra that fit me properly.  Naturally, I lamented this to my Mom and she sent me a card telling me to go get some "support" along with a cash donation to finance getting some "Proper Support."

I decided it was high time to get myself properly fitted for a bra because when considering my two favorite bras: One fit around me fantastically but made my poor sweater pups bounce around like ping pong balls in the cup and, the other cupped the girls fantastically but was so tight around that I had this weird double-ass forming at my shoulder blades.  Such is life...

Being the "lady" I am, I properly researched all lingerie shops in Chicago and finally decided on a shop located at North Michigan Avenue (aka hope you own a Lexus and a sweatshop to afford shopping here.)  I showed up 15 minutes late, covered in dog fur but carrying a Coach bag Santa brought me.  I check in (Yes, there was  a hostess!!!) and she tells me to wait a few moments, peruse their items and wait for my consultant.

I start casually window shopping and notice a 50ish-year-old man talking to a Consultant on bras for his wife.  Naturally, I discreetly move closer to eavesdrop and hear: "I want to buy a bra for her that does not make it look like an ass is sitting on her chest.  I just want her to not have butt boob."

A cackle rings through the store just as a large silhouette darts behinds a pillar, shoves her head into a clearance rack of negligees and starts biting on her fist to not simply lose it.

Two thing: 1.  I will give you one guess as to who the girl down on all four, head in a rack of teddies was. 2.  He said BUTT BOOBS!!!

Ahahahahaha  I am STILL crying laughing over that one!  Imagine it, a commodities trader telling a glorified lace and underwire pusher that he did not want his wife's chest to look like as ass any more!  I guess I just gave away the mystery of who the cackles that kept ringing through the store belonged to were...

Butt boob.  Really, does life get any richer than that?

Anyway, the hostess quickly assesses the situation, seeing a wealthy man disturbed by anonymous cackles ringing through the store and a lady with an appointment now on her side, rolling with the giggles behind a pillar, fist in mouth to supress her laughter, muttering Butt Boob repeatedly.

Cari Bear is immediately called to meet with her consultant.

I head into a private dressing room with my consultant, Angela.  She immediately tells me to remove everything from the waist up and I obediently do, having flashbacks of strip Flip Cup freshman year at Ohio U.  She asks me what my issue is and I explain to her that I am very disproportionate for my body shape and  I should be significantly bustier.  Women my size normally sport cleavage that a homeless family could take up residence in, whereas I would be lucky to accomodate Tinkerbell. I pour my heart out to Angela about how hard it is to find bras, tops and blouses that fit me around that are not a Hoover Dam of gaping fabric in the bust.  Mind you I am doing all of this while completely naked from waist up, roughly 8 inches away from her in a space smaller than most closets.

I do hope that across the room there was someone else cackling at my situation.

Angela comes back in with a huge assortment of bras, telling me she thinks I am more of a European fit (read: we can charge you 5 times as much because it's European.)  She starts tossing  lace and satin garments on me from all angles, tugging Righty up while shoving Lefty down so that my chest looks more balanced.  I get caught up in the moment, savoring the fact that there are, in fact, bras out there that fit my lovely chest hams perfectly while not making my back look like rotating hot dogs at a baseball stadium.  Angela tells me she knows that we would work well together immediately by saying:

"I can completely feel your pain on being so wide and having a relatively small bust.  I have a similar problem in that I have such a small frame and huge breasts from these ridiculous implants I got when I was 21."

Let that one sink in for a moment.

Yes, I can see how a plus-sized, size 14 with glorified C cups is exactly like a Size 2 with Double DDs in this culture.   And my skin that rarely sees natural sun and hair that  has not been dyed in 4 years is EXACTLY like your perfect golden spray tan and amazingly maintained highlights. I totally feel your pain.

I wish I could say that her comment made me throw all of those beautiful lace and satin garments on the floor.  I wish I could say I told that Consultant that she had NO IDEA what it was like to be built fat with small boobies in our culture.  I would be so proud to say I marched out of there with my head held high, telling the commodities trader to quit caring less about his wife's Butt Boob and actually ask her how she was doing and felt instead.

But I am a fat girl. And fat girl's have many weakness.  Rather, I spent the rest of my monthly grocery budget, and then some,  on a few garments that made me feel amazing, made me comfortable and made me feel as if I understood the pain of a consultant who was too thin and busty to handle the world.   The moment I walked out of the store, I texted JP and said, " I just spent way too much on one bra.  It made my boobies look like two beautiful dancing orbs suspended by sheer sex."

Because when all is said and done, I am pretty sure dancing orbs trump Butt Boob any day...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My Sad Reality

Deep Down, I always knew that the day would come that I would projectile vomit on the Red Line. I just always assumed that it would be a result of an evening of too much whiskey consumption, not a flair up of the flu bug that I shook a day ago.

To my fellow CTA riders, I really did try to keep it all in my Redeye, but for the past 48 hours I've only been consuming popsicles, gatorade and chicken broth.  Newspaper is no match for pure liquid.

To the CTA officials, I suggest you cordon off the third to last car on the northbound Red Line.  I hear kitty litter does wonders for soaking up bile, feel free to bill my transit account for the cost of said litter.

And to my stomach, thank you for keeping thing under wraps until after I got off work.  If it was going to happen, I would much prefer that it occurred in an environment where people regularly express their bodily waste rather than in a kitchen.

Next time though, I would appreciate some warning signs, such as some salivation, or just hold on for two more stops so I can do it in the gutter like the classy girl that I am.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

May The Force Be With You

Dear CTA,

I have never seen the Star Wars trilogy, but I am aware of pop culture references.  That is why I would like to thank you for the entertainment you provided in the form of two Star War fans dueling with lightsabers while I waited a ridiculously long time for a northbound Red Line.  Perhaps if you provided this sort of entertainment every evening, you would see a sharp decrease in the volume of strongly-worded letters you are receiving from me in respect to the single-track construction bullshit you have going on. Thirty minutes is not a reasonable wait for a train, what do you think it is, the Pink Line?!?!

Either provide more entertainment like this or fix your timing on the single track trains, or else I may have to use the force, aka increase my letter writing campaign. 

Your friend,

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cari Bear, Table for One

My most recent encounter on is quickly becoming the stuff that urban legends are made of in my circle of friends, so please bear with me as I do not want to leave any exquisite detail out.

Three weeks ago or so, I started bantering with a nice guy on  He messaged me due the fact that he laughed at my headline, "Must Love Hall & Oates." Things progressed, we talked on the phone and I laughed. A lot.  And the quickest way to get me to adore you is to make me laugh. FamilyMan (name given due to the fact that it's a Hall & Oates song that also fits this man's hopes for our Match meeting.  Go ahead and file this one under "Obvious Foreshadowing for Disaster.")

Anyway, FamilyMan and I agree that we are going to get together that upcoming Friday night for a few drinks and do the whole standard meet and greet judgment of "Did she photoshop her pictures?" and "Does he look like someone who has killed prostitutes on the turnpike?" The night before our agreed meet-up, FamilyMan cancels because there is a snow storm coming, up to 16 inches he claimed.  I checked the report, saw it was only 1-3 and immediately called bullshit on him.  Well, it turns out FamilyMan was not wholly forthright in his profile in disclosing his location.  It turns out his "City of Chicago" location was actually BFE, Indiana.  FamilyMan came clean and I explained that I did not own a car and did not think it was feasible for me to see someone in Indiana. Thirty miles separation back in Ohio is nothing to blink at.  Here in Chicago, it qualifies as a long-distance relationship in my mind.  Truthfully, I do not think I would even be able to date someone in Logan Square or Pilsen. If a bus transfer is going to be involved to see someone, it's doomed from the beginning.   Anyway FamilyMan assured me that it is no problem for him to come into the city to see me and it would not be an issue.

Red Flag #1: What mentally healthy person would want to deal with the Skyway, Dan Ryan and Lake Shore just to see a broad?  Let me tell you, a desperate one.

Long story short, we canceled our Friday plans due to the snow (that never showed up!) and agreed to reschedule for a later date.  Throughout the week FamilyMan and I texted about mindless things such as our favorite H&O songs, David Bowie, and the merits of gin over vodka. He was not too clingy and did not seem anxious to meet me, so I dismissed my concerns on the fact that he would want to date someone 30 miles away. 

I had the following Saturday evening off, a gift more precious than manna from heaven in my industry, so I made plans with FamilyMan over texting.  That night after I got home from work, he called to chat me up.  During the course of our conversation, I went from really excited about our date Saturday because he seemed like a nice guy to really excited about our date Saturday so I could tell all of my friends about how terrible it was.  Some of the information that he shared was:

-He told his parents about me.  Not in a, "Oh I am going out with a girl from match, here's her information in case I die" sort of way, but in a, "She's an amazing woman, so beautiful, so smart and witty" way.  He also told all of his closest friends this information.  And he told me that he shared it with them.  While he was certainly accurate in describing me, the fact remains he has NEVER EVER MET ME YET!  I could be covered in green scales, I could have terrible body odor or I could only eat my food like Randy from The Christmas Story (okay, that last one is not too far of  a stretch, but you get my point.)

-He repeatedly told me how much potential he thought we had together.  And then got annoyed when I did not agree. I told him that I am going into things with no expectations, am simply looking forward to meeting a new person and hopefully having a nice evening together.  Red Flag #2.

-He said he wanted to get dinner at 6.  I said, "Six o'clock?" and he replied with, "Well unless you want to go earlier."  Earlier??? I was thinking 7:30 or 8, certainly not 6. My friends summed it up best with Max Maple's response of, "Where in the hell are you going? Bill Knapps?" and the Grappler's, "Are you 80 and grabbing an early bird special?"  My thoughts exactly.   However, I saw some merit in the 6 o'clock meeting as it meant a departure of 10 was perfectly reasonable, allowing me plenty of time to meet up with my friends and regal them with the recap.

-He dropped the bomb of, "I'm ready to settle down in my life."  I asked him to explain what he meant by that and it was precisely what I feared, the "Have a wife and make some babies settle down."  I immediately wanted to start dry heaving.  I would rather a man tell me that he has genital herpes than say he is ready to settle down in life.  I would also accept that he has a closer-than-appropriate relationship with his pet goat, does not believe in showering or voted for Bush in 2004 over ready to settle down.  Scratch that last one, I would take someone who wants to settle down over a Bush supporter.  Both induce dry heaves, but the Bush-supporter heaves produce actual vomit.

-He told me how his parents fell in love on their first date, married one month later and have been in wedded bliss for the past 38 years. As if the implied hopes and dreams of sharing this story were not strong enough, he later joked that perhaps we would fall in love on our date.  And here comes the actual vomit...

I politely ended our conversation yet still agreed to go out on Saturday, and immediately regretted doing so, as it meant I lost the opportunity to see my 9-5er friends who I have a hard time coordinating my schedule with.  Nonetheless, I tried to put my best attitude on and began psyching myself up for the date by telling anyone in earshot about the asinine date I was going to have.  The night prior to the big date, I met up with The Grappler and our buddy Max Maple.  I tell them that I have plans to fall in love the following night and the conversation quickly turns to the engagement ring I shall be finding in my dessert and the lotion that I will have to put into the basket.  Prior to parting ways, the guys did make sure that I felt safe about meeting him and made me promise that I would have my phone and pepper spray available at all times. I assured them I would and we made plans to meet post date.

Saturday arrives and I am not overly excited about my date, but I am looking forward to eating some yummy tapas and hopefully getting some good fodder for the blog.  Unfortunately for me, only one of those things came true for me.  On my way to the restaurant, I was texting FamilyMan and he says he is almost there.  I was also wise and shot a text off to Grappler, Max Maple and JP that read, "The man's name is FamilyMan, his #  is 555-555-5555. I was last seen entering Cafe Iberico in a black & grey dress and snappy black boots. Should I go missing, give this info to the CPD and the tip to search residences that requested zoning to construct a well in their basement."  Responses flew and references to baskets, lotions, and not hurting dogs abounded. I debated turning around and heading home to the hound.

But once I stepped onto Chicago Avenue on a Saturday evening, looking amazing and feeling jovial, I was actually excited about my adventure.  The fact that I got a few "Nice boots!" hollered out to me did not hurt either.  I walk into the restaurant at five after and look around for someone vaguely looking like FamilyMan. Not seeing him, I check in with the hostess and waited.  Five more minutes go by and I text, "Are you already seated?" No response.  Ten more minutes elapse and I text, "You standing me up?" No response.  I shoot a flurry of messages off to JP saying I would wait for 10 more, can't believe I was stood up, etc.  At 6:30 I step out of the restaurant and call.  No response.  I resign to the fact that I was, in fact, stood up and walked to the closest bar I could find, ordered a Guinness and regrouped.  I was in shock. After all, he wanted to fall in love with me.  He texted that he was almost there. My head was spinning with questions, so I set off to meet Grappler, Max Maple and his lady Sister Mary Margaret.

I get to their table and the first thing the Grappler says is, "Those are snappy boots!" I grab a seat and tell the server to bring me whatever stout or porter has the highest alcohol content.  I down a few 9.2% stouts and, as I love to do, turn the conversation back to myself and how could I possibly be stood up.  Max Maple states that the only logical conclusion was that he was killed in a fiery crash on the Dan Ryan and not that he saw me and bolted. Note:  In addition to the snappy boots, there was a gratuitous amount of cleavage.  I quickly agree with his conclusion and pull up the traffic report to see that there was, in fact, an accident on the Dan Ryan.  Naturally the conversation turns to his funeral.  We all agree that I need to show up playing the role of the grieving widow, as I was supposed to get engaged that night. The plan was for the four of us to go to his funeral, I give a moving eulogy on how he was willing to die for my love, I demand the $15 for my cab ride and Guinness from his parents, ask what his last name was so I can change it appropriately then be on our way.  Note: I realize this sounds ridiculously callous, but you need to consider the fact that the company I keep voluntarily chooses to be around me.  I am sure you can imagine the type of motley crew that is...

I depart ways with the crew and head down to meet another group of friends.  These friends are paid to spend time with me but elect to spend their free time with me as well (No, not gigolos, rather coworkers.)  En route to meet them, I receive a call from FamilyMan's mom telling me that he was jumped and mugged on his way to meet me. They stole his wallet and phone. And a knife was involved. Swallow that, and consider that I received a call from a blind date's Mother. Red Flag #3.

Out of respect for FamilyMan, I will not go into details of the incident.  But rest assured that he is fine, so much so that he texted me on Sunday from a new phone to tell me what happened and to thank me for the colorful voicemails my friends left him.

Remember how I texted my friends with his name and number?  Hell may have no fury like a woman scorned, but Earth has no fury like the friends of a scorned Cari Bear.  After I took off, they left him a litany of voicemails ranging from Max Maple telling him he needs to see a doctor and get his head checked for standing me up while Sister Mary Margaret called him a hick from Indiana who she saw once on the Maury Show. Say what you want about me, but the company I keep?  They are incredibly witty and fiercely loyal. Note: The Grappler did not recall making any calls, but his phone records indicated two voicemail-length calls.    FamilyMan tells me that he wish they had the facts before leaving the messages, I point out that was not possible and he admitted that they were actually quite hilarious.

I tell FamilyMan that we need to meet soon or else I will lose interest.  Yes, I realize that he had no control over getting mugged, but I am a woman in demand and cannot keep freeing up nights for an unknown.  He says we will meet the following night for pancakes.  Long story short, Monday evening he cancels and I end up out with the Badger and Frances, regaling them with the story of how I was supposed to fall in love on Saturday but ended up pitching carrots at my hound dog at 4 a.m. instead.  We all concluded that it was best to let FamilyMan go to be with a woman who also wants to settle down and will not lead to assaults on the streets.

And to FamilyMan, we may have not fallen in love at dessert, I may have never met you and I don't even know your last name, but know that you gave me one of the most exciting weekends of my life without even meeting me.

 It's nice when that happens without inappropriate charges appearing on my credit card on Monday morning. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cari Ponders...

What is it about Triscuits that make them never go stale? I bought this box of Cracked Pepper Triscuits in July and they are still delicious.  Is it that the fiber makes them already odd, masking the staleness? Or is it because they truly are weaved with wonder?

All I know is that Triscuits=Best Return on a Long-Term Nourishment Investment when your main meals consist of either a Fiber One bar, ramen  or stale popcorn.

And while Cari is pondering....How in the world did I acquire this Hamm's I am drinking?  I don't buy cans for home, nor do I buy shitty beers.  How is it that I finished two bottles of craft beers and am now downing a Hamm's with my Triscuits. Perhaps that is the TRUE wonder of the weave...

God Bless You, Nabisco.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Funny Valentine; or You've Got a Friend

In case you have been living under a rock for the past few weeks, Saint Valentine's Day was yesterday.  I am quite proud to report that this is a day that I have become quite ambivalent towards. Granted, I worked a long shift taking care of all the couples who came to dine at the stellar establishment that I am proud to be a part of, but other than that, I really did not even notice it was Valentine's Day.  Except when I went grocery shopping, but I think my Facebook status for the day pretty much summed things up:

 "To all of the Valentine's Day shoppers at the Grocery Store who were giving me pathetic and pitiful looks as I was purchasing 40 pounds of weight control dog food and 4 bottles of Cabernet, Let's re-evaluate this situation: I get to get drunk and have David Bowie dance party with a bad ass little Hound Dog. You are shamed into spending money on subpar quality chocolates and flowers that are out of season. Looks like the joke's on you, Suckas!!?

Note: I did NOT get to have David Bowie Dance party with the Hound.  By the time I got home, I was dead to the world. Those bottles of vino are being applied to tonight, as I really only write well when my blood type is  Cabernet.  Take note of the timestamps on when I post, clearly I only channel my inner Fitzgerald when a bit schnockered...but that's how F. Scott rolled so it only seems fitting.

But I digress.  Moral of the story is I truly felt no bitterness towards the fact that I was not going to receive any flowers, chocolates or romantic surprises on February 14th.  Mainly because I am wholly content and happy with my life and the amazing people that are in it.  I did not need a "Valentine" because my friends bring me all the love and happiness I need.  It boggles my mind daily when I look at my circle of friends and try to decipher why in the Hell they keep me around.  And Valentine's Day reaffirmed this for me.  Despite the fact that I received no formal "Valentine" gift, I received a barrage of personalized messages from friends expressing their love and friendship.  Note:  It needs to be stated that I did, in fact, receive cards from both my Old Man and my Mom.  Mom, thank you for the sweet card, cash and a note telling me to buy myself beer or chocolate. I picked beer.  Old Man, I expect you to step up your game come St. Patrick's Day.

Anyway, as I stated earlier, it truly boggles my mind why my friends keep me around.  Anytime I spend time with one of them, I walk away thinking, "What an amazing person, how did I end up in his or her life?"  While I do this with every friendship, none boggle my mind quite like the relationship that I have with JP.

JP. Those two letters are probably meaningless to you, but to me, they represent the biggest mystery in the universe of how one person can tolerate another   (Also, we agreed to be each other's Valentine's, so there is your seque.)  While JP represents quite a mystery to me, those letters also represent the epitome of friendship to me.  Those who know JP and I as adults without knowing us as youngins' frequently comment that they don't understand how we are friends.  Those that knew us in our younger days know that we played sports together, attended Math & Science camp together, took 2nd place in the Science Olympiad as a team together and that we wore matching Mickey Mouse Outfits together.  It is only logical to those that knew us then.  But those that know us now?  We are an anomaly. She's quiet, I'm loud.  She listens, I talk. She cries when she laughs, I laugh when others cry.  She observes, draw logical conclusions and speaks with purpose, I spend most of my time thinking of me, how does the conversation relate to me and how can I work Cari into things.  To summarize, if we were birds, JP would be a sparrow whereas I would be a screech owl.

My little sparrow is also the singular person in my life who knows every thing about me.  I tell her everything (probably because she is such a great listener.) I always walk away wondering why she continues to keep me in her life and offer me such sage and thoughtful advice.  But when I say everything, I do mean everything, ranging from:  (Note: these are actual text messages and/or conversations I've had with JP.)

*Ahem* Ranging from:

The Mundane: "I just spent 15 minutes spinning hard-boiled eggs on my kitchen counter."

The Things She Could Not Care Less About: "My Red Line car smells like pee."

The Too Much Information: "I just got my first Brazilian and now I want to show off my oonie like a shiny new toy."  (My apologies to my parents and their friends for having to read that.)

The Philisophical: "Life is all about seizing the moment and throwing caution to the wind."

The Drunken Expressions of Love: "If you were the last frozen coke on Earth, JP, I still wouldn't drink you."

The Shameless Fishing For a Compliment: "I mean, I am cute right?"

These examples are only the tip of the iceberg in respect to what I share with JP.  And through it all, I almost always find myself telling her, "I don't know why you put up with me and I don't know what I would do without you."

And it's the truth.  The biggest mystery in my life is why this girl tolerates me.  However, it seems I recently found the answer. Last week I made the very difficult decision to end a friendship that meant a lot to me.  Naturally, JP is the only person who knows all the details, but the short story is that it is a person that I love and care about endlessly and I realized that having her/him in my life was detrimental.  So I called that person up, told the person how I felt and asked that he/she never contact me again.  Prior to making that call, I called up JP for advice and a pep talk. Afterward, I texted her all night about how I felt like my heart was breaking and that I was sitting on the couch eating mediocre take out and crying. The next day I told JP how I wanted to write a letter and could not decide whether to send it or burn it.

And then Whitney Houston died. Suddenly my pathetic heartache from cutting someone I love out of my life had an avenue for escape.

Naturally, I shoot off a text to JP to comment on the situation:

The Text: "Whitney Houston's death sure is convenient!  Now it is not pathetic that I am going to listen to I Will Always Love You endlessly while crying into a bottle of wine!  It's honoring her!"

Her response? Her response is what finally clued me in to why she keeps me around:

"And this is why I love you!"

After decades of being friends, I finally learn why JP tolerates me and my immense oversharing – because I can make light of celebrity death.  Or rather, I can bring her a smile no matter what we're going through.  Or most likely, she knows that I am the one person who would help her bury a body based on the sheer amount of blackmail she has on me, so she keeps me around.

Whatever the reason, I am grateful that JP decided to put up with me.  And if you have a friend that means everything to you, be sure that you let them know, and throw a few Whitney jokes in for good measure.

To all of my friends, know that I am listening to  I Will Always Love You while smiling into some wine because you are all in my life. Happy Belated Valentine's Day!

And if you will excuse me,  I have some hard-boiled eggs to go spin....

Life Lessons With Cari

After a crazy busy ten-hour shift at work, going out to imbibe and unwind with the coworkers is a great idea.  Stopping off at Taco Bell before heading home with your  coworker (she was staying the night, not stopping off to give Thunderfoot a run for his money) and picking up a grande meal is an even better idea.  Throwing excess bean burritos at your Hound Dog is a most excellent idea. Truly, this is one of the most delightful and entertaining things I have ever seen.

Coming home the next night from work stone cold sober and reheating the renegade soft taco and burrito you found in your fridge?  Not a most excellent idea.  You will quickly learn that Taco Bell is not nearly as delicious sober and that your tummy cannot process it without a cup of whiskey and liter of High Life to dilute it.

Learn from my mistake.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Two Scoops and a Side of Equal Rights, Please

I think every person has a friend that when they are together they have recurring experiences.  For some, maybe it's that Huey Lewis's timeless classic "Hip To Be Square" comes on in the car whenever they're driving together.  Perhaps it is that they always miss the train by seconds when getting on at a certain stop.  Whatever it is, I am confident that we all have that special person in our life that we find ourselves saying, "Every time I am with you..."

For me, that special person is my dear friend Muffin.  My Muffin is one of my closest friends –– when I first moved into the city and did not have a friend other than Big Brother, Muffin is the person that drove, at minimum, weekly into the city from the burbs just to spend time with me so I would not be lonely.  Have you seen Chicago traffic? Now that's a great friend right there.  Muffin is also the one that I always have the most bizarre dining experiences with.  It never fails where we go, something out of the ordinary is going to happen.  There's the time we went out for Pakistani food and spent our time alone in a giant dining room with no less than nine waiters staring at us from eight feet away.  We needed refills of water, our plates needed to be cleared and I wanted to order more na'an for our kofta. We smiled, gestured and made eye contact with the line of servers but got no response.  They just sat and stared at us like the gargoyles on Notre Dame. I was debating feigning a stroke to see if we could get a response, but at pushing 30 and obese, I did not want to tempt fate. Instead, Muffin and I just made commentary and waited close to 20 minutes after finishing to be acknowledged by this legion of servers.  It was one of the oddest dining experiences of my life.

Then there was the time we went for breakfast at a charming little diner and the owner screamed at and kicked out one of his waitresses.  The whole drama went on for about 15 minutes, but the Cliffsnotes  version is that he was sick and tired of her being late, spending all of her money on booze and not taking care of her kid.  This was playing out right in the middle of the dining room.  I thought that perhaps we had caught some sort of improv production, but I quickly realized that no, it was not.  And yes, the owner of the place was firing and bitching out one of his employees right in the middle of his business.  The server left with tears streaming down her face and, based on the owner screaming into the phone, called back to plead for her job.  The owner later stopped at our table to apologize for the drama played out.  While his apology was nice, I would have preferred that he apologized a piece of pie.  But alas, no pie, just an apology and another strange dining experience with my Muffin.

This past week Muffin and I decided to get  some ice cream (Read: Cari demanded a hot fudge sundae after polishing off a half slab of ribs and baked potato at dinner.)  We headed over to one of our favorite little ice cream shops and promptly ordered a few frozen treats.  While we are waiting to pay, a woman comes in screaming, "Please call 911!  My friend be sick! Calls us the ambulance!" We all stopped for a moment and one of the clerks  called 911 as a man came stumbling/falling into the shop and promptly sat down in  a booth and started moaning.  Note: What do you call ice cream shop workers? Barista obviously does not fit, Scooper sounds like they clean up dog crap,  but clerk or counter girl just does not do justice to the magic and happiness that they deliver. I shall call them Pushers as they deliver my favorite white powder in a frozen emulsion of fat and yumminess.

Muffin and I grab our sundaes and seats and watch the drama being played out in the little shop.  The woman who asked for an ambulance is now screaming at the Pushers, "Did you call the ambulance? It be takin' so long!"  Mind you, the Pusher was on the phone with the dispatcher asking the woman questions and the woman responded that her friend had some sort of pancreas problem.  Logic would indicate that the Pusher's boyfriend would not take an interest in a passed out man's pancreas and that the Pusher was, in fact, on the phone with emergency services.  Pusher ended the call, a few moments pass and again, the woman starts in on, "Did you call the ambulance?  I ains't hearin anything!"

At this point, I was having two thoughts.   Number 1:  I wanted to somehow help the man, perhaps get him some water or warm towels.  However, I quickly then remembered that this is America and any kind soul who helps another can easily be sued if they screw something up, Good Samaritan Laws be damned. In hindsight though, I should have helped because if someone wants to sue me, they are more than welcome to as my main assets include a rather extensive Beanie Baby collection from the mid-90s and a stockpile of MAC make-up empties that I need to trade in for free lipstick. Have at it, vultures.   Thought Number 2:  I understand this woman was in distress over her companion's state, but does she really need to scream, "Did you call an ambulance?" repeatedly to the clerk?  The Pusher said yes, and if there is any profession I believe you can trust, it is someone who doles out ice cream in an adorable parlor for a living.  Other trust-worthy professions include people who take care of dogs and old men who whittle things while sitting in rocking chairs.  Girl Scout would have made the list, but my mind has been changed after one of those little harpies tried to price gouge me on some thin mints outside the Jewel, but that's another story.

The man passed out and I quickly lose interest until I hear sirens.  Only one thought came into the mind of the fat girl: 911 dispatches to the Chicago Fire Department. That means Chicago Firemen are going to be walking into the door at any moment and I happen to be looking particularly cute that day. I demand that Muffin trades me seats as my backside is at the door and let's face it: This is America where our concept of beauty is grossly skewed and my size 14 ass is not going to be grabbing any one's attention.  My eyes and smile though? Money.  I tell him he needs to swap me seats, but as he is just as interested as I am in the idea of hunky firemen, he merely moves over.  I scoot over but argue that it now looks like we are a couple.  He then moves tables so we can each have a view of the door but I don't like that either as 1. I look like a lonely fat girl shoveling my s'more sundae into my face and 2. I need an audience for my witty commentary on the situation and I don't want to have to yell at Muffin at the next table.

We shuffle around and are back to our original configuration of him facing the door and my derriere pointed in the same direction.  The ambulance arrives and my head is filled with the demons of every bad romantic comedy I've ever seen: The handsome fireman comes in and catches the eye of the cute brunette in the corner, he takes his patient's blood pressure and shoots her off a quick smile.  His partner comes in and removes the passed out man while the hunky one comes over to me, gives me his number and tells me that his shift ends at 8 a.m. the following morning, asks if I'd like to meet up for waffles.  I say yes and we spent the entire day together on the world's greatest first date ever.

My little fantasy is quickly disrupted by the Muffin's raucous laughter.  He is grinning like a shark as he busts out with, "It's a woman!" My head whips around quickly to see that he is not playing a cruel joke and my fireman is, in fact, a firewoman.  I do not get discouraged though, as I know the ambulance is driven by two people, meaning there is a better than strong chance that the next person through that door with be my fantasy man.  Unfortunately, she's not.  Muffin and I start laughing at the situation.  The passed out man seems to be fine as one of the firewomen said, "I just got drunk off his breathe!" Smart move for a man with pancreas problems.  The man was placed into the ambulance and our dining drama came to and end, as did my (and Muffin's) fantasy of meeting a hunky man in an ice cream parlor.

As the sirens roared, the liberal feminist in me was actually quite thrilled to see two females running an ambulance.  However,  as I shoveled a heaping spoonful of chocolate ice cream in my mouth, all I could utter was, "Damn you 19th amendment!" Damn you for stealing my fantasy.

Note: I am fully aware that the 19th amendment is about woman's suffrage and is not the failed Equal Right's AmendmentHowever, I do believe the impact of that amendment, along with the Seneca Falls Convention,  and the efforts of the amazing Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the countless millions who demand equal treatment are the driving force behind gender barriers being broken down in all aspects of our lives, including traditional job roles. My apologies for having to get serious, but I did not want to be called out for not knowing where my rights as a proud woman came from. And major kudos to those two women who were running that ambulance, while you may not be my dream date, you set a great example for little girls and women everywhere.

And now back to our regularly scheduled Follies. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Thunderfoot Finds Love; Or Things That Go Bump in the Night

So it seems that my old friend Thunderfoot has got himself a girlfriend.  Things seem to be pretty serious as their relationship has evolved to wholly expressing their love with their bodies.  I do not want to be too risque, but let's just say that the "enthusiasm" for which Thunderfoot expresses himself physically is directly related to the PSI of his step.  I am trying very hard to be patient despite losing a lot of sleep as my bedroom is directly underneath him.  I own a hound dog who undoubtedly makes noise that annoy my neighbors, so I am really working to ignore the fact that I think he is going to thrust his headboard straight through the wall and into the stairway. I know (hope) that in due time, things will settle down or perhaps they will rotate where they stay at.

And in the interim, I am now accepting donations of ear plugs fit for both human and canine, as well as monetary donations to cover my medical expenses from the injuries I sustain as a result of a bed falling through the ceiling on me as I sleep.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Inflated Sense of Self

If you are a regular reader of the Follies, you have probably noticed that I frequently refer to my "inflated sense of self."  If you think that an inflated sense of self is just being sassy and confident, you are wrong.  It supersedes a healthy sense of well-being.  It's a constant thought of, "I am fantastic, and nuts to anyone who does not appreciate how amazing I am." That's the inflated sense of self that I carry.

Need proof?  Exhibit A:

I saw some gold star stickers at Target and immediately wanted to buy them.  I planned to award them to myself simply for being Awesome. I put them in my cart and envisioned sticking one on my lapel anytime I wanted to celebrate Cari.  However, my better judgment won out and I returned the stickers –– not because I do not deserve to regularly receive gold stars for being Awesome, but because the $1.99 price was better applied to my favorite $4.99 Rex Goliath Cabernet. And as we all know, wine encourages that inflated sense of self much quicker and more efficiently than any little gold star ever could.

See how efficient and budget conscious I am?  I deserve a gold star for that.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My First First Date; or It's So Hard to Say Goodbye

Another moment that I have been dreading has finally arrived.  As if coping with the dreaded moment of becoming an adult was not bad enough, I actually took some action in upgrading myself from permanent WingGirl status up to potential Top Gun Pilot.  I recently took a giant step into embracing my new sassy, single status and went on my First First Date.  I am considering it the First First Date, because when it has been more than a decade since my last First Date, I am pretty sure the first date slate gets wiped clean.

The Guinea Pig that unknowingly volunteered to introduce me back into the wild, crazy world of dating was introduced to the crazy that is Cari on   We exchanged a few messages and he spelled my name correctly each time.  One point.  We exchanged phone numbers and he did not text me inquiring about my foot massage preferences.  Two points.  He called, we talked and there was absolutely no mention of bowling.  Three points and he earned himself a meet-up.

I must admit, I was terrified about this experience.  The night prior, I was texting the Badger all evening long planning location and attire.  The day of I was shooting off a flurry of communique to JP about my impending First First Date.   I finally decided on an attire that flattered my curvy build and selected a location that I felt comfortable in that also had multiple exits in case this event took a turn for the tragic.  I also made three rules for myself to abide by to make sure I put my best foot forward:

1. Don't get drunk.  I am mouthy, loud and demand attention at all time when I am drunk.  I did not want that to happen.
2. Don't talk about my previous relationship.  What happened in my past is between the two of us and those that need to know already know.  I certainly do not need to go airing my dirty laundry anymore than I already do here on the Follies.
3. Don't make an ass of myself. See Rule 1.

I showed up at designated location a few minutes early, hoping to calm my nerves a little bit.  A friend of mine happens to be a server at this bar and she stopped over to say hello.  I told her that I was meeting a blind date, it was my first first date and that I was as nervous as Hell.  She promptly responded by bringing me  a double of Jameson with a double of Jameson chaser to calm my nerves.  I threw them back, took a quick shake and saw my date walk in the door.  He found me, went for the hug and I deflected for a handshake, not wanting him to smell the whiskey I undoubtedly reeked of by now.  My friend returned and took our drink order.  She knows what I like and this bar has a great rotation of craft brews, so I told her to surprise me.  She brought me a delicious breakfast stout out of Grand Rapids, MI that happens to have an ABV of 7.2%.  It was delicious. So delicious that I had three.  Goodbye, Rule #1.

Shortly into the meet and greet with Guinea Pig, the whole concept of comes up.  I, as a direct result of violating Rule #1, started in on my tirade of how depressing the site has been in respect to unanswered inquiries and ignored winks. This quickly turned into our profiles and he flat out asked me, "So, you have yourself listed as Divorced, what's that all about?"


More Crickets...and rapid fire chugging of 7.2% beer.

I give Guinea Pig the standard line of, "We realized we married too young and were better off as friends than spouses." Note: This is more than the standard line, it's the truth. He kept poking and prodding and I tap danced around direct answers better a presidential candidate in a primary election (Here's lookin at you, Mitt.)  Goodbye, Rule #2.

Once we got past that awkwardness I realized I was actually having a really great time.  In hindsight, I realized the great time was fueled entirely by the Jameson and the fact that I was regaling Guinea Pig (and everyone within earshot) with some of my favorite stories, follies and tales.  In the moment, I did not have that hangover-induced clarity, so naturally I suggest that we ditch the current locale and head out to karaoke.

To keep it short, after performing You're So Vain, It's the End of the World As We Know It, My Kind of Town, Can't Get Enough of Your Love Babe, and carrying the female vocals on a duet of Meatloaf's classic Paradise By the Dashboard Light –– it's safe to say Goodbye, Rule #3.

Despite the fact that I broke the three rules I set for myself, Guinea Pig still took an interest in me.  Unfortunately, I really was not feeling the same way.  The following Friday I had plans to have my very dear friend, The Grappler, over for dinner and a quiet night.  Around 4 o'clock he texted me that he had a terrible work week and was bringing a fifth of rum over for himself.  I was originally planning on waiting for my guest to arrive, but knowing that the Grappler was going to be hitting it hard, I was encouraged to uncork a bottle of Cabernet a few hours earlier than scheduled.  By the time the Grappler arrived I was already on my second bottle and invited my friend, The Nutcracker over for dinner as well. Note:  Nutcracker stems from the fact that he's an amazing dancer and the first (of hopefully many) performances that I saw him in was Tchaikovsky's best-known work.

After an amazing meal, half of fifth of Bacardi gone and the cork popped on the third bottle of vino, I started regaling my guests with my First First Date story, (see Rule #1 on what happens when I imbibe) and they both immediately tell me that I am probably being too quick to judge AND that they want to meet him. Since wine makes me make great decisions, I text him to see if he's free that night and we make plans to meet up at a local joint with some good dancing.  I tell him we will be there in half and hour, but I failed to tell that I was operating under wine time.

An hour and a half later we set off and he's waiting outside, watching me skip down the street with the Grappler on one arm and the Nutcracker on the other.  I certainly know how to make an entrance.  Shortly thereafter, my girl Frances showed up and I spent the night pin-balling around from Frances, The Nutcracker, Guinea Pig. Note: The Grappler was gone at this point, I last saw him boarding a party bus to destinations unknown.  The night ended with me pulling a trademark (and hereditary) move and just leaving to head home without telling anyone, leaving The Nutcracker and Guinea Pig to fend for themselves over a late night round of foosball.

Amazingly enough, this behavior was still yet not enough to diminish the Guinea Pig's interest.  And his tolerance for my shenanigans was still not enough to make me any more interested. He is still texting me and ask about getting together at times, which presents me with a whole new realm of dating unknowns that I am absolutely clueless about –– tactfully letting someone down.  I think doing it via text message is pretty heartless, but do two nights of me being a drunken fool really warrant a phone conversation of, "Thanks but no thanks?" 

So I am now taking suggestions on how to delicately cut this one loose.  Because if I don't figure out something soon, I will just be sending him a link to the Follies.