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Queen of the Road

June 3, 2011

This could go one of two ways.

I’m exhausted, so it will either make no sense whatsoever, or it will be mildly amusing. Why am I exhausted, you ask? Because I spent the night driving down (up) I-95, from Virginia to New York. “Yes but why were you doing this?” You might ask. (No one asked this.) WELL, I was playing chauffeur to two (2) tapes. They weren’t very good company. Luckily, my coworker was. We shared the responsibilities for keeping each other awake, and navigating the perils of late-night radio in our rented Ford Focus (awww yeah).

These weren’t, like, magic tapes or anything. The word “tape” isn’t a codeword for treasure map. They just needed to get to an edit room by 7am. And, since our shoot ran way past the 10pm last-train-to-New-York departure time, we took to the road and rolled in at 4:30am.

I think I-95 is my soulmate, in some creepy capacity. Whenever I go anywhere, I always, ALWAYS end up on glorious I-95. Usually in the middle of the night, handling states like a total champ. I’m most proud of the way I trucked through the Carolinas in the middle of the night on the way to Florida, and again on the way back. Do you know what there is to do on that drive? Trees, trees, unsubtly parked cop car, trees, trees, SOUTH OF THE BORDER, trees, town name I recognize from some Pat Conroy novel, trees, cop, trees, …armadillo?
A: Hey, Sister! Look at this!
S: grumblesleepnoise leave me alone.
A: …Dad?
D: ssssnnnnoooorrrrrrreeee
A close runner up would probably be the time I drove from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts with one eye closed because one of my contacts had fallen out somewhere on the New Jersey Turnpike. SOLDIER ON, CYCLOPS.

Despite various complications, roadtrips are the best, and I will never turn one down. Which, coincidentally, is how I got roped into this little midnight assignment. I have apparently racked up some inter-office nicknames, which include: “the little one,” “duct tape,” “the human shield,” and “the one who likes roadtrips.”

I got this particular nickname after sharing the story of the NO SLEEP TILL FLORIDA Tour, aka the Great ¾ Family Roadtrip. Last Christmas, Dad, Sister and I packed up Ethel, my sexy Dodge Intrepid, and drove to south Florida. We took shifts, refused to stop anywhere for longer than 10 minutes, made a mix CD for every state, and it was totally great. We did it again in reverse a few days after New Years. When I related this experience to my co-workers, they looked at me with the same mixture of skepticism and horror that my mother did when we proposed the idea to her. Mom ended up flying and meeting us down there. Someone missed out. (PS: hi, mom.)

Day driving – the kind that incorporates sunglasses and rolled down windows and races that only exist in your mind – is great. But there is a certain freedom that comes with late-night driving, and it starts in the planning phase. A totally mundane trip, say from your school in Massachusetts to your home in New York, takes on a whole new kind of exhilaration when you delay it for a few hours.

The answer to the question, “is it a bad idea to leave at 2am?” is no. It’s always a great idea to do that! No one is around! AND if you feel the need to accelerate to 100 miles per hour just to see if your Dodge Intrepid can handle it for 4 seconds, you totally can! Because it’s 2am on I-95! And any of the other drivers who would normally judge you for driving a Dodge Intrepid, or for monopolizing the middle lane, or for cranking your Embarrassing Roadtrip mix CD way up and screaming along to Journey can’t, because odds are they’re on their way to one of those strip joints advertised on roadside billboards – or at least they are in your mind. You are TIRED. You are HUNGRY. Rest stops are CREEPY yet NECESSARY, which automatically elevates a sketchy and unadvisable pitstop to an ADVENTURE. You don’t want to go in there, but this gas station will surely have coffee and yodels and will most likely be playing “Freebird.” Sold.

Future roadways I would like to conquer include Route 66 and the PCH. But maybe it’s best if I stick with what I know for a while – after all, there is so much of 1-95 I have not yet seen. Maine, I’m coming for you.

(Trees, trees, unsubtly parked cop car, trees, trees, trees, town name I recognize from some Stephen King novel, trees, cop, trees…lobster?)


The Phantom Menace

May 6, 2011

I turned 25 last week.

The universe, never one for bad manners, has apparently gotten me a gift. It’s this new thing called rip roaring allergies.

You may be a seasoned warrior, but I for one have never had allergies before. This year, though, I have found something new to add to my “Nothing Is Ever Wrong With Me/Oh My God I Am Dying” repertoire.

It started with some sneezing, a runny nose and a cough. I thought all of these things were due to the pre-birthday-week cold I get without fail each year. Nothing a little Advil cold and sinus, some Puffs with lotion and some secret nighttime Vicks vapor rub can’t solve. But the next plague was harder to stop.

I knew about pollen, of course. It’s a plant thing…and everyone but me is allergic to it. Right? Wrong. Pollen is awful, elusive, evil in every way, and it’s complicating my life and stalking my every move. It’s a phantom that invites itself into your life and turns your senses against you. I couldn’t smell anything. I couldn’t taste anything. I needed 3 pillows just to breathe at night. And then it moved onto my eyes.

My eyes started tearing the minute I left my apartment yesterday morning. And, by the time I got to work, I couldn’t open them for more than a few seconds. This scared me, because I had just watched this creepy ass episode of Doctor Who, and I was worried some crazy statue might try to kill me. Also, I looked like I had spent the morning crying, and I guess that’s more or less what I was doing. I jokingly told people I was allergic to work. No one really laughed. In a fun twist, I work in one of the dustiest rooms on earth and everything was much worse when I was near my desk. So, yes, in a way, I am allergic to work.

I took an Allegra, purchased from the Duane Reade near my office. Then I took out my contacts, thinking it would help. It didn’t really, but at least I was free to rub my eyes without worrying about scratching my cornea or something. On the downside, I didn’t have my glasses with me, and this left me both teary and blind.

I have terrible eyesight. Not quite the worst, but it’s pretty bad. I’ve worn glasses since I was about six and it’s just gone downhill from there. I once said “excuse me,” after walking into a chair. Sometimes, after I’ve already taken out my contacts, I misplace my glasses and then wander around squinting and patting every single surface until they reappear. I’ve broken at least two pairs of glasses by stepping on them during this process. In other words: I am hopeless.

After I disposed of the offending contact lenses, the rest of the day went like this:

Stare at the computer screen; realize I can’t see anything I’m typing; move closer until I’m an inch away from the screen; close my eyes because the brightness makes them tear.

Stand in the elevator pretending everything is fine even though guy on my left obviously thinks I’m crying; get off at the wrong floor because I can’t see; get back on the elevator and pretend I can see; repeat.

Walk around the office praying I don’t trip; trip; recover and pretend everything is fine.

There was a lot of pretending going on, but that’s what I do when something bad happens. My ailments are generally weird and hard to explain, so I like to keep them to myself while they’re happening. I don’t get sick in normal ways. I sort of will myself to not get sick, and then my body winds up rebelling and staging various physical revolutions to mess with my mind at inconvenient times. I could never be counted upon to get the chicken pox or the flu or a fever like a normal person. But I occasionally will develop something weird and mutanty – like the Mysterious Stye that Wasn’t a few months ago – and this is my body’s bat signal to let me know that I need sleep. And/or orange juice.

Anyway, no one really said anything to me, except one co-worker who sort of scolded me for not seeing a doctor. He then asked me if I even had a doctor.

“I took Allegra,” I mumbled feebly. “It…didn’t really work.”

When the day finally ended, I realized I was going to have to find my way home in this blurry state of existence of mine. So I put on my sunglasses, decided to ignore the subway, figuring that it would only confuse me, and sneezed my way out onto the sidewalk.

As I waked, blindly making my way along the thankfully familiar route, I started to feel pretty good about my situation. I pretty much knew where I was going, and because I couldn’t see them, I didn’t care if people were giving me the stinkeye for almost walking into them. Most importantly – I live in a place where one is not expected to drive a car. For the first time in a long time, I found myself thinking, wow, I’m so glad I’m in New York.

It only took an allergy attack to make me appreciate this big dumb city.

Funeral for a Friend

April 19, 2011

We hid the car in the dunes, behind the construction site that was possibly being watched by mobsters.

“Do you think we’ll get whacked?” I asked the question, half-joking, but half-worried. I don’t think I was actually worried about being killed, just about being arrested. In college, they teach you to fear jail over death.

“No.” Mom was rolling her eyes. She climbed out of the driver’s seat wearing jeans and sneakers: a sign of Serious Business, if you know my mom. “Just stay cool.”

It was a few days before Christmas, and although it was only four in the afternoon, the sun was already setting. We made our way down a narrow path through the dunes, following the sound of breaking waves. I looked over my shoulder, back towards the car (which bore the ever-so-telling bumper sticker of my campus radio station), and when I looked ahead of me again, I saw the ocean. The beach was completely deserted, which is why we’d chosen that day. We’d chosen the time because of the tide.

I followed mom, who knew the way from previous, solo adventures. We were on our way to the Swope House, also known as Lands End, which lives in the pages of The Great Gatsby, disguised as Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s house. Mom had first driven me past the house after I read The Great Gatsby when I was in high school. Since then, I’d driven carloads of friends, their friends, and guys I had crushes on past the house during the informal tours of the north shore I loved to give.

I’d put the top down in my mom’s convertible, and we’d wind past F.W. Woolworth’s haunted mansion in Glen Cove, stop at the water spigot that constantly pumps out the most delicious water in the world in Cold Spring Harbor, cruise past the remnants of famous old mansions and take in the views of the city from Sands Point, and end up on the beach back on the south shore. The Swope House – Daisy’s House, as I thought of it, was always my favorite. I imagined her in there, staring past the green light on her dock as she looked out to sea. Mostly though, I liked to think of Fitzgerald, running around crazy jazz age parties having a drunken blast, and how the area eventually inspired him to write.

I drove by all the time, by myself or with friends. I’d go in the middle of the night or on lazy Saturday afternoons, always taking my time as I found my way along the quiet streets of Sands Point. But today, we were going in.

It was 2006, and we’d started to hear rumblings of a possible demolition. The house was locked up and abandoned, and we desperately wanted to see the inside before it was bulldozed in favor of a bunch of McMansions. The front door – the very one I could see from the main road – was obviously out. But the back entrance opened right onto the beach, and it just happened to be open. The only way to get there without wading up to our waists in freezing water was to go during low tide, climb over a sandy hill, and let ourselves in without drawing attention to ourselves.

Getting in was surprisingly easy. I found myself standing in Daisy’s kitchen, surrounded by peeling wallpaper spotted with tiny flowers. The house was quiet and empty, but it felt full of memory. I looked out all the windows and took in the view from all angles. I walked up and down the carpeted staircase, watching my reflection in the dusty windows and mirrors of the house.

At first, we froze every time we heard sirens or cars driving by in the distance. But then I allowed myself to relax. I thought about all the parties that had gone on there, and about all the famous guests who had walked those hallways, probably having conversations about how awesome the 20s were and how delicious their gin-based cocktails tasted.

Upstairs, I opened all the closets and walked through each of the bedrooms. I entered the pantries, and ran my fingers over the buttons once used to summon maids and butlers. I found a pair of old cream-colored curtains in the closet of the master bedroom and decided to take them with me. I was sitting in one of the bedrooms rummaging through an old file cabinet and pretending I was a flapper when I heard my name.

“There’s a guy in the yard!” Mom hissed. “We have to go!”

I snapped out of my flapper fantasy, and back into my paranoid college student reality – like I did whenever public safety showed up to break up a party on campus.

We’re going to get arrested They’re going to put us in jail and I won’t be able to go back to school and now I’ll never graduate or get a job. Run!

We ran. We ran out the way we came and I cast a quick look back inside as I reached behind me to pull the door closed, bidding the house a hurried goodbye, like I knew I wouldn’t be coming back but didn’t want it to realize. We took off down the beach, and I started shoving the bulky curtains under my winter coat. I looked pregnant, but at least I didn’t look like a curtain-thief. Maybe the police would miss them as they hauled me off to jail, and I could hang them in my cell.

Mom and I didn’t really encounter a problem until we reached the bottom of the hill. The tide had come back in, and a wide, deep pool separated us from safety. I felt like Chris McCandless. Back to the bus! Don’t kill the moose!

Mom jumped. Cold water splashed over the bottoms of her pants. After some coaxing, I did the same. I stood on the other side of the water and looked back up at the house. It was still there, still quiet, the back porch crumbling slightly into the drained pool. Any green-light bearing finger dock had long ago been washed out to sea. It was a dilapidated, empty shell of what it had been, but it was beautiful. To me, it was perfect.

No one chased us or carted off to jail, and I still don’t know who my mom saw walking across the lawn. A concerned neighbor? A pro-bono gardner? A fellow interloper? Nick Carroway? The ghost of F.Scott? Who knows. The house stood for four more years. And yesterday, it was torn down. It was a piece of history that stirred imaginations and inspired creativity, and now it’s gone. All I can say is that I’m so glad I got to see it, fall in love with it, and become a part of it in some small way.

I hope whoever moves into their $3457308589090345 McMansion realizes how much it actually cost some of us. And I hope they throw some badass parties that will do the grounds justice. Here’s the article that accompanies the top photo. I took the bottom photo four years ago, post sneak mission.

shut it down

April 8, 2011

do the lights really go off? are all non-essential light fixtures dismissed? is John Boehner afraid of the dark? stay tuned to find out…

They’re All Named Shawn, And I Hate It Here.

April 7, 2011

There are a lot of homeless guys who look like Nicolas Cage, but that’s not what this post is about. Rather, this post is about doom.

I’ve officially crossed over, friends. I’ve moved from winter panic into full-blown extended winter all encompassing rage. Lately, I hate everything! April usually brings on this uncontainable glee, because a pot of gold (in the form of my birthday) is waiting at the end of the month (It’s the 28th, TAKE NOTE). And at first, that’s what happened this year. I went skipping around the city, casting off layers and trading my tights and boots in for flip-flops and bare, embarrassingly pale legs. But it wasn’t over yet. There was even more snow. Cue the rage.

I want to know why this is happening. Is it because I went to Florida twice in three months? Is it because I put my winter coat away two weeks ago? Is it because my favorite boots are hanging on by a single thread? Is it because of less ego-centric but far more plausible reasons like climate change? I demand answers! I’d do something like write to my congressman, but since the government is like a day and a half away from shutting down, I doubt that would do much good. (Sidenote: does the current state of our government make anyone else immediately think of Martin Sheen saying “shut it down” before taking a midday jaunt to Capitol Hill with Bradley Whitford and the rest of the dream team to face off with the Speaker of the House? No? I watch too much television.)

I blamed New York at first. I wanted to believe that things are better outside this stupid city where a grilled cheese sandwich costs $12, and where people insist on stopping in the middle of the the sidewalk in order to take pictures of taxis and homeless versions of Nicolas Cage. But then I was in DC earlier this week, and was just as irate there! I mean, streets there make no sense, every intersection is a traffic circle, and cabs don’t even take credit cards. I’ve got news for you, capital city: even cabs in Little Rock, Arkansas take credit cards, so why can’t you? Also, I’m not mocking Little Rock; I spent a week there back in October and it was lovely. They have a healthy love for Bill Clinton and an aversion to traffic circles.

Parts of my beloved west coast aren’t faring too well either. Did you know that Washington state saw only four dry days in March? Four. If you live in the state of Washington and managed not to axe murder anyone during the month of March, you deserve a medal or a cookie or something. FURTHERMORE, I’m fairly certain the world may be ending.

But still, we soldier on. Sure, horns are blaring more frequently, some guy fought an old lady for a seat on the uptown 1 train the other day, and I may or may not have actually cursed a guy out on the street on my way home (he deserved it), but we’re surviving – no matter how much doom stands in our way.

We continue to force ourselves out of bed in the morning, don our coats and boots and scarves and mittens (STILL! AHHHH!), and drag ourselves to work. Even if you teach crazy people in the south Bronx every day, like my roommate. She spends her day with people like Shawn, who has four siblings – also named Shawn. No, really. We know there’s also a Sean, a Shaun, and a Shone, but we’re not sure about the last one. All we know is that they’re all named Shawn. (And yes, they’re mean.)

My question is: how else can you spell it? It’s driving me crazy.

Help. Please send sunshine. And maybe some Mallowmars or something.

The Summer of Boiling Doom

March 24, 2011

By definition, summer jobs are supposed to be fairly awful. They cut into your beach time, force you to get up early, and occasionally, they scar you for life.

Being the (evidently pampered) suburbanite that I am, I managed to escape this rite of passage during my high school years. I had cornered the babysitting market in my hometown and made enough money hanging out with other people’s children to cover excessive ice cream runs/trips to the arts and crafts store/whatever else I did in high school. But that all changed during my first summer home from college.

That summer, I came home with a Dream. The Dream in question was twofold: buy a car, which would be financed by waitressing. I was dying to be a waitress, in the way that I wanted to be a teacher when I was eight: Chalkboards! Passing out papers covered with stickers all day! Telling people what to do and having them be required to obey me!

The version of the summer that lived in my head featured me running around in some cute outfit, making $3,000,000 in tips, giggling a lot, and occasionally carrying a perfectly balanced tray on my outstretched palm. In reality: I got a job at a low-end catering hall. I wore a cheap polyester penguin suit (complete with clip on bow-tie and orthopedic shoes), often left work covered in bits of other people’s wedding cake with the Cha Cha Slide stuck in my head (take it back now, y’all!), made roughly $0 in tips, and hated everything on a regular basis.

There were no romances or after work bonding sessions at the bar (also included in the original fantasy). Instead, there were only mandatory silverware washing quotas and cigarette breaks in the back alley with some barback named Merlin. (He smoked, I drew comic strips no one really got.) To my dismay, waitressing was hard. Things were heavy, faux-tuxedos are uncomfortable, and I wasn’t very good at any of it.

The job didn’t really become completely unbearable until Jason’s Bar Mitzvah. (This doesn’t sound nearly as ominous as it should, but just wait for it.) This Long Island staple-y sounding event was held one hot, sticky July morning. It was to be part one of a double Saturday shift (my favorite), and my ill-fitting tuxedo pants were already chafing.

Jason was impossibly blond, like the rest of his family, which consisted of his loud and overly anxious mother, tall and sullen father, and three older sisters who rarely spoke. The first thing he did when he entered the party room was kick over the “Congratulations Jason” poster board his parents and sisters had made.

“I don’t like it,” he fumed, as his father’s eyes darted from his son to the waitstaff and back again. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!

“Now Jason,” his mother said. Her voice was low and fearful, like she was trying to talk down a bank robber. “Your sisters and I worked very hard on that, and –”

“But I don’t like it!”

His mother continued her sentence as if she hadn’t been interrupted. You don’t want to do this! We can all walk out of here together! “…and all your friends can come in and sign it, and-“

“And I’m going to pee on it if you don’t take it down!” Jason yelled.

That ended all negotiations. She motioned me over.

“Can we move the sign?” she asked. She lowered her voice and continued, “put it somewhere he can’t see it. Put it with the coats.”

There were no coats, since it was already about 200 degrees, but I shoved the poster into the supply closet in the hallway anyway.

By the time I returned to the party, all hell was breaking loose. Jason and friends were running through the room, knocking over chairs, commandeering trays of food so they could throw them at the servers, and hitting each other with the large water guns they had received as party favors. I questioned why Jason’s mother would chose to include water guns as party favors for her spawn-of-satan son and his friends, but didn’t really have the chance to bring this up to anyone.

The waitstaff soon gave up. We placed our small serving trays on tables and went to seek shelter as the 12 and 13 year olds descended on them and began flinging food in every direction. I ducked beneath the Panini table to avoid a barrage of chicken nuggets as I watched one of the other waiters crawl army style out of the room. Mercifully, the party ended early after several guests were sent home for urinating on the party favors and throwing their underwear at passing cars.

It was around this time that I began plotting my escape. My last day wasn’t for another three weeks, and I figured the only way my parents would let me lay around on the beach like I wanted was if I sustained an injury of some sort. I wondered if I could throw myself down the stairs and break an ankle, and began hoping for something simpler that would keep me from being able to waitress.

I got my wish a week later.

On what turned out to be my last night, I was in charge of three tables of ten, and no one was making my job any easier. As I handed out lime-flavored intermezzo, one enormous woman with bright red hair grabbed my arm.

“Why am I gettin’ ice cream before I get my dinner?” she demanded, tightening her grip.

“It’s…it’s not ice cream. It’s intermezzo,” I said, trying to be helpful.

A blank stare.

“Intermezzo is –“

“I know what intermezzo is!” she snapped. Annoyed? Offended? Indignantly confused? “But why am I getting it now?”

By the time it came to hand out dessert, I was way behind the other servers. I figured that if I could get all three coffee pots out on one tray, something that usually took two trips, I could make up some of the lost time. I filled two large pots with freshly made coffee and one with boiling hot water for the tea no one ever drank, and put them on the tray. I walked quickly, and as I knelt to slide the tray onto the stand, the whole thing collapsed, sending the hot liquid back towards me in a flood of boiling doom.

Seconds later, I was wearing three pots of liquid awful. I was dripping. Steam was everywhere. Everything smelled like coffee. The Cha Cha Slide was still blaring through the room. Thirty people gaped at me in third-party embarrassment, and I felt like someone had lit me on fire.

Tina, one of the older waitresses, who was missing four of her teeth due to a crystal meth habit, grabbed me by the arm and led me into the bathroom.

“Strip,” she told me.

I obediently took off my vest (oh we had vests – this is a classy establishment), shirt, and the tank top I always wore under my uniform, despite the fact that there were other people in the bathroom. Tina pressed a wet paper towel to a section of skin just above my armpit. She excused herself to go get the burn cream, while I remained motionless, wondering if I had somehow willed this to happen.

I turned to face the mirror and made eye contact with one of the party guests. She looked me up and down, taking in my matted hair, coffee stained clothes, tear stained face, and my red, paper towel covered back. The entire bathroom smelled of freshly brewed coffee as she reapplied her lip gloss.

“Woohooo,” she grinned. “This is a great party. I’m going to sleep well tonight.”

With that, she turned and slipped out the door, leaving me alone. I guess I’m glad someone was having fun, but I was too busy being a total mess to be too happy for her.

Tina returned to report that we were out of burn cream. I wondered if things like this happened often, but didn’t really want to know the anwer. Since there was nothing left to be done, Tina sent me on my way with a handful of bandaids and a final parting thought.

“I hope it doesn’t scar,” she said.

As it turns out, my back did scar, even though my father rushed me to the emergency the moment I got home. (It’s pretty faded by now, though. Be careful what you wish for, kids!) I spent the rest of the summer working in a small law office. I answered phones and wore high heels, but still managed to spend an afternoon locked in the settled cases closet.

I did cruise on back to school in my very own (nine-year-old) car, so that was good. And, since then, bad days have become relative. After all, it can’t be too terrible if you escape the office without being maimed.

Let Them Eat All the Cake

March 15, 2011

I am no stranger to the wide world of crash diets. I remember going on my first diet when I was about eight or nine, with the rules being:
1) stop eating the funsize snacks in your Lunchables every day
2) also stop sneaking oreos after dinner.
These types of things continued on for years, and during the summer between seventh and eighth grade, my mother and I were convinced we’d struck gold when we discovered the ultimate “one-hour carb” diet.

(Its actual title sounded way more legit and serious. A is for Addict!)

This was at the height of the late 90s low carb craze, and the basic premise of the diet was this: designate one hour of each day during which no food is off limits, including carbohydrates. Outside of that hour, no carbs allowed. Makes sense, right? Sort of? The idea would seem simple to any rational-minded person. To us, it sounded totally awesome: Everyone loves carbs! Especially us! Eat ALL the carbs!

We started the diet as a team effort on a Monday morning. By Monday afternoon, we decided that since most of the things we liked to eat somehow involved carbohydrates, we might as well not eat all day and save up for our glorious carb-binge-athon hour, which we had already decided would be from 6pm-7. We had settled on this time because my dad would be home from work by then. This was crucial, because we needed him to hang out with my little sister and make sure we didn’t accidentally eat her in our frenzy, and as an added bonus, he’d also be around just in case we needed him to run out and get more cake or something.

I remember complaining that I was hungry at around 3pm on that first day.

“Drink water,” mom suggested.

I drank water. I drank a diet coke. I ate an ice cube.

3:30 pm: “Mom. I’m still hungry.”

“We have hotdogs,” she said. “You can have a hotdog. No bun, though.”

I ate a hotdog. No bun.

4:30 pm. “Mom. I’m hungry.”

But instead of eating more boring, carb-less things, we decided to focus our dwindling energy and growing appetites on planning our feasts. We were on a mission! It was like an episode of 24, but instead of having 24 hours to save the world, we had one hour to eat all the carbs in the world.

Naturally, this took some careful planning. We were basically re-enacting the “take a jelly donut, suck out all the jelly and fill it with whipped cream” scene from “Fatso,” with both of us competing for the award for Best Dom DeLuise Impression.

She wanted things that made sense: salad. Pasta. Cookies. Maybe some bread.

I wanted the world. In sandwich form. More specifically, I wanted Wendy’s spicy chicken (my very favorite fast food of All Time), french fries, cookies, ice cream (as long as we were eating, I was going to eat), and cake. Entenmann’s cake. The crumb cake with the powdered sugar and vanilla frosting in the middle, which only seemed to be available in one grocery store in all of North America. Fortunately, that grocery store was only forty-five minutes from our house. We sent my dad on a quest. He frowned and kind of mumbled in an attempt to talk some sense into us, but we would not hear it. We hadn’t eaten all day and were starving. We were too busy having grandiose dreams of eating our way through mounds of Mounds bars and mashed potatoes to carry on a rational conversation.

At 5:55, we lined our selections up on the kitchen table. It looked like Thanksgiving dinner for a family of 20, but we didn’t even care. We were totally psyched. My dad was terrified. When the clock struck 6, we dove in. At first, it was heaven. Not eating all day made everything taste better, even the lettuce and tomato I usually discarded. Soon, my stomach started to hurt, but I powered through. 7:00 was coming fast! We ate up until the last possible minute, then collapsed on the kitchen floor, our mouths coated with a ring of powdered sugar that probably could have landed us on an episode of “Intervention.”

Best. Diet. Ever.

The second day was basically the same. We brought out the leftovers, replenished our supply and went to town. When the phone rang at 6:15, the two of us frantically waved our arms and shook our heads as we glared at my dad.

“Don’t answer!” we said through half-chewed french fries. “We’re not here! Let the machine get it!”

“But what if-”


The same rule was applied to the doorbell. If we had any visitors during the glorious Food Hour (as it became known), they were just out of luck. And If Dad or Sister had to walk past the front door, they better do it on their hands and knees. This was no problem for my sister, who was six and thought it was fun, but I think my dad found it to be a little strange, and somewhat distressing. But he obliged, because my dad is a good sport, and because he was probably sort of afraid we would bite him or something. I don’t think we would have, but you never know. Food Hour was a very dangerous hour.

We were starting to have our doubts by the third day. But hey! Give the diet a chance to work! Pressing errands (I don’t remember exactly what they were, but they must have been extremely pressing) made us alter our strategy a little bit since we would be out of the house. No problem! We just took the show (read: food frenzy) on the road. We ended up parked outside an ice cream shop (Coincidence?! Genius?!) so we could finish up in style. We tried to avoid window watchers, but just because we didn’t want them to be too jealous.

By the fourth day, I had a stomach ache and decided to step on the scale. To my extreme astonishment, I had gained weight. How could that be?! I was only ingesting approximately 7359789375769873457889748975 calories per day and was too exhausted from starving myself until 6pm to bother exercising.

The stomach ache intensified. My mouth actually started to hurt. We threw in the towel before the end of the day. It was for the best, of course.

Actually, the diet did sort of, kind of work a little bit – or at least it turned me off baked goods for a good long while. But not forever, of course. As everyone knows, the only things better than cake are cupcakes.