Saturday, January 2, 2010

Middle-Aged White Couple Out on the Town

Gentle Reader. Friend.

Please, sit down for a moment. Perhaps take a few yogic breathes and enjoy a sip of chamomile tea. Grounded? Calm?

Here's the punch line of this blog post: on New Year's Eve, the Matron and her husband went to a very well reviewed St. Paul restaurant and paid $12 for ONE CRACKER.

A $12 cracker with some kind of bland spread.

The restaurant is Heartland and because the place was supposedly full (lots of empty tables) and the Matron and her spouse were sorta Mary & Joseph-like, with no reservations at any Inn, they dined at the wine bar. Or rather, dieted.

Here is the wine bar menu.

The unsuspecting duo had a glass of wine apiece. They ordered the "Wisconsin parmesan cheese-pumpkin gougere with haralson apples, wild mushroom mousse, DragSmith Farm microgreens and Montmorency cherry-port wine syrup."

This was the cracker with spread, a dollop of some sort of sauce with a few sprout-like spiders on top. ONE CRACKER FOR TWELVE DOLLARS. And an uninspiring cracker to boot! The Matron figures that the capital S in DragSmith added a good ten bucks to the cost. Really -- just the word DragSmith must be worth a Hamilton.

Now, the Matron just about fell off her pretty stool, rendered instantly hysterical at the actual bona fide experience of seeing, eating and otherwise being confronted with the bland cracker that would cost her twelve bucks.

Then came the $24 lake trout -- a nondescript hunk of flesh on top of TWO parsnips and TWO carrots. John enjoyed the Iowa chestnut-sheep milk cheese ravioli for the ten seconds it took to eat: Baby Raviolis. That $22 price tag must be a dollar per second for the time it takes you to swallow and wipe the lips. Imported from IOWA and all that.

John: "But it's the artistry of the food we're paying for--the synergy of ingredients, eating space, lighting, flavors, texture and quality. The experience. This is a tasting menu."

Matron: "Good God man. We're talking about a cracker with sprouts and a flavorless hunk of fish. There's no artistry involved other than old-fashioned con artistry. Tasting menu? There is no taste! This king has no clothes, darling."

While she was scraping her insulted sensibilities off the ceiling, she also noticed that the restaurant was populated entirely by middle-class, middle-aged heterosexual white couples. Who probably read all the restaurant reviews and were all agog to eat in a place that supports "food artisans who employ sustainable agricultural practices." Food artisans? Give this girl an old fashioned cook.

Not two people in that place were touching. No sirreeeee. . . . . this was button-the-collar-sex-in-the-dark-twice-a-year-raw-energy. Sturdy shoes were had by all and everyone appeared to enjoy the expanse of table between them.

The Matron has more of an appetite. She and her husband were knee to knee at the bar, which made them, well, nearly naked.

But still. .. . she strangely fit right, being a middle-aged white heterosexual middle-class unit.

After spending a much regretted $77 before tip on about six ounces of under-examined food (yes, Heartland, she hopes you have tracking software and find this review which is also going to an online magazine next week) she and her husband continued on their middle-class, middle-aged white heterosexual journey by catching It's Complicated, the latest Meryl Streep flick also starring Alex Baldwin and Steve Martin.

Where they sat in the midst of an entire theater full of middle-class, middle-aged, heterosexual white couples barely touching shoulders.

And guess what? The Matron fit right in.

John: "I guess this sort of tells you about our place in the Universe."

That's right, honey. Either here or behind the wheel, driving Scarlett. At least the Matron's five bucks got her a BUCKET of popcorn, a full belly and a nice palm oil buzz-- a way better deal than a TWELVE DOLLAR CRACKER.

Wonder what Heather Armstrong -- who single handedly brought down Maytag and got herself some fine new appliances to boot -- would do with that!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

She's Just a Girl Who Can't Say No

Which is why -- in addition to the peeing, biting, shedding foster dog, Snappy -- she is getting two foster puppies over the weekend.

Which is why -- Scarlett is busy every day through March first.

Which is why -- Stryker is currently STILL playing Call of Duty.

Which is why -- Merrick has been naked or in footie pajamas 95% of the time since December 22.

Which is why -- when her husband won two free tickets (thanks, Current) to some big bash at the Marriott Hotel downtown Minneapolis to hear Solid Gold, she said 'okey dokey" instead of "I have nothing hip nor recent to wear and who the heck is Solid Gold?"

Which is why --- she gave way too much money to the newspaper carriers in their holiday envelopes (according to her husband) and scurried out in the wee hours to give both the garbage men and recycling workers holiday gift bags.

Which is why -- she is on two search committees at work and spent five hours of her good life buying and packaging snacks for school children.

Which is why she almost always has that second glass of wine.

New Year's Resolution? Putting her foot down more frequently before she turns into the neighborhood "dog lady."

Monday, December 28, 2009

International Incident

Yesterday, the Matron and Stryker went shopping.

Stop right there. This in and of itself would be a blog pot -- mom and teen son shopping for CLOTHING. Did you know it is entirely possible to walk through an entire department store and feel that nothing looks "quite right?"

But this post isn't about the mother-son dramas, but a drama of a different sort, an international incident that the busybody Matron felt compelled to get involved in. Yes, she stuck her pretty little nose into somebody else's business but she was more like U.N and UNICEF than anybody's militia.

You see, the Matron was watching her son carefully reject every single piece of clothing in Herberger's---this is his version of shopping-- when she heard a loud this:

"You call that ringing somebody up? I been coming here for years and I have NEVER seen anybody this slow. Why are you announcing each item's cost as you ring it up? Is this a new POLICY, that you have to announce the price? This is really the stupidest thing I have ever seen. Who taught you to do this?"

A very (very) large African-American woman was throwing her arms up in the air over the pace of a very thin nervous looking Indian (as in the country) teenager trying to ring up a mound of children's clothing.

Key item: Mound. There must've been 30 jumpers, pairs of socks, sweaters, booties and jackets.

Now, the Matron has no idea how long this woman had been waiting for the teen to finish his task. Perhaps she had indeed been standing at his side for several hours and had every reason to be righteous.

All the Matron saw was this woman systematically berate and humiliate this young man. He was an idiot, a dupe, too slow for sugar to boil, impossible, abusing Herberger's good name, rude, and costing her way too much time.

To which the young man was unflaggingly polite and apologetic. Turns out there were so many clothes that he was afraid of making a mistake and being extra careful. Systematic, as it were. Then, he felt like he wanted to go back through and double check. The poor kid looked like he wanted to die on the spot. Sweat thickened his upper lip and he was anxiously checking the receipt against the mound: "Please ma'am, I am just trying to be certain I do not overcharge you."

"DOUBLE CHECK? I want to see your manager!"

The manager was Hispanic. He simply cast his eyes to the floor while the woman ranted at him too and apologized, promising things would soon go much faster.

It did occur to the Matron that if the woman were to stop yelling at the men and left the teen to his task -- perhaps reading a magazine while she waited or chatted with the girlfriend at her side or otherwise succumbed to the reality of the situation (the kid was slow) -- perhaps then the pace might actually pick up? Because it is hard to be speedy while someone is saying: "Does your mother know you're an egghead?"

Stryker saw the Matron's keen interest in the situation.

Stryker: "Don't! She'll hurt you."

No worries there, sweetie. Your mama was appropriately frightened of the wrath headed in her direction. She's a weenie that way. Instead, she stayed back for the end run.

Once the clothing was all packaged up and the deal was sealed and the woman still fuming, she made her way to the other side of the floor and asked another worker to call the store manager, whom she needed to see immediately.

The store manager was Japanese.

The Matron will never say she is color, country or creed-blind. These things shape us, just like the ability to walk on two legs -- or not. The fact that all the major players were so -- different -- struck her as contributing to the comedic element of the situation (and also an example of what the future of Herbergers and the rest of the country will look like - not white).

Once in front of the store manager, the angry customer snapped into someone else! The abusive, elemental and outrageous woman was replaced by someone so rational, so calm, so utterly believable that the Matron nearly fell over from behind the potted plant that was hiding her.

Stryker: "Mom. Can we be done with this?"

The store manager's face furrowed into a bundle of worry as the hesitant, apologetic customer explained that normally, well, she wouldn't even say a thing, but:

"This man was exceedingly rude, as well as purposefully slow."

My, she would hate to see someone else treated as such. The store manager agreed! The two shook hands and the woman hoisted herself onto the escalator while the manager hustled over to where the clerk toiled.

The woman on the escalator had a very very pleased expression on her self-satisfied face. "That'll teach him," she said happily to her sidekick. "Hope he gets himself fired."

Bye-bye, thought the Matron, watching her back disappear down to the first floor and out of sight.

Where upon the Matron trucked on over to where the store manager was querying the other manager and the clerk and made her citizen's arrest! She outed the woman as a crazy, noted that the clerk had been unflaggingly polite despite being humiliated and abused, and observed that the only person out of line had been an unhappy customer.

Of course, the whole time she had Stryker on point by the escalator should Medusa return. The Matron wanted none of that. Coward!

And the teenage clerk stared at her, eyes bright with relief, gratitude and astonishment.

This little busybody? Felt good.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Wherein the Matron

honest to all things both holy and unholy in the Universe: FORGOT ABOUT HER BLOG!!

Until ten minutes ago. Seriously. If you met her in the grocery store and said "how's that blog?" she would have said, "what blog?"

So taken was she with every everyday life -- so present -- that she completely forgot about her online existence, which is frequently more predictable and pleasant than the reality in her kitchen.

Random update!

Shall she start with the snow? After nonstop news coverage about the impending blizzard -- including on Public Radio, shame on you, - the winter blast to beat all blasts fizzled into a weenie foot of snow. In Minnesota terms, this isn't even a hiccup. Christmas Eve at the in-laws happened as usual.

Santa had a boom year and Merrick has enough footie pajamas to last him until he's 12 and plans to wear them nonstop that long as well. Yes, he's been in pajamas since Thursday night and he still can't read! That kid is a genius with a stick, though.

She is not allowed to blog about Stryker. Let's just say he's happy and some of that involves clothing, baseball and computers.

Tomorrow, Scarlett starts a three month marathon that frightens even the stage-sturdy Matron. Between rehearsals and performances, that child has just five days off from December 28 to April 1. Think Scarlett anxious?


But an 11 year old is not always aware of her own best interests. That's where the Stage Mother steps in and perhaps this time, the laid-back Matron dropped the ball by not saying 'no' to something. She of the 'follow the child' philosophy will report in and try not to follow the kid over a cliff.

Satan's Familiar has not shed his cloven hoof since she last checked in on Wednesday, but the Matron had to pull the plug on Snappy, the foster dog. Despite all their best interventions, the dog has two unbreakable habits:

He bites.

He pees.

The Matron is sporting a bandaged wrist with fang marks. The house? Pee spots on the carpet upstairs, by the master bed, near the chair in the office, around the dining room and kitchen tables, in the front hallway--and spectacularly, he has now peed on the Matron's bed! On the bed, as in mattress and pillow.

Next week, Snappy is moving to a foster home designed to handle pets with "behavior problems."

The children would be mourning but in a move of complete insanity, the Matron agreed to take two PUPPIES! The tiny teeny five pounders arrive sometime this coming week if all clicks smoothly.

If all clicks smoothly + puppies. Erroneous equation.

Let's just end this rather random update with a nod to what the piddling storm did bring: ice. Thanks to a mixture of rain and snow on Christmas Day half of the state is a sheet of ice. This is actually not a joke or exaggeration. Okay, okay, a wee bit of geographic hyperbole but the Twin Cities is certainly a skating rink.

Lo and behold the spikes the Matron now straps onto her running shoes. This is how she manages the daily four miles in the winter. Plus three pairs of running pants, wool socks, a t-shirt, a running shirt, running jacket, vest, hat, gloves and neck warmer.

What she'll do for forty minutes of solitude. And size 1 jeans.

2010, here she comes.