Thursday, February 16, 2012

"Valentine's Day!" aka "Discount Chocolate Eve!"

So it's Valentine's Day. Desperation Day. The National Celebration of Love. Or, as I like to call it, Discount Chocolate Eve. (FYI, I did write this on V-Day but forgot to post it until now. Fail.)

Once again the year finds me alone. Still missing my better half, the Romeo to my Juliet, the Rhett to my Scarlet (or Link?), the Pepper to my Salt, the Peanut Butter to my Jelly, the Mustard to my Ketchup, the Prince Charming to my Damsel in Distress, the Punch-line to my Joke.

"But how could that be?!" you cry out. "You are so witty and charming and beautiful!" (Ahem. Say it.SAY IT.)

The real truth to the matter, in all honesty, is that it really doesn't bother me. Many of my friends who find themselves single on this holiday are heartbroken, sobbing as they watch romantic comedies and eating Nutella straight from the jar. "WHY?" they wail, "I am destined to be forever alone!"

When I woke up this morning though, the first thought in my head was "It's snowing!" followed by "Where did these socks come from that i'm wearing? I've never seen them before..." and then, somewhere in the back of my head, "Isn't today Valentine's Day? More sweets for me!" I've never really had that panic of being single before, the fear of becoming a crazy old cat lady in the wilderness. I mean, c'mon. Obviously I will be either an old fish lady or an old hedgehog lady. Get real, people.

All joking aside, I really have never panicked about not having a boyfriend. I guess since I've never outright tried to pursue dating that I don't feel like I've failed or am missing out on anything. Maybe when I'm a bit older I'll be more regretful with a lonely Valentine's Day. But which is worse? Having a boyfriend who doesn't do anything to express his love on Valentine's Day or to be single and still have a mystery future to look forward to? Plus asking someone out just to not be alone on Febuary 14th seems unfair to all involved. 

Speaking of expressing love, I really feel sorry for guys sometimes. They are expected to pull out all the stops and wine and dine the special girl in their life at any cost. Expectations can be so high that there is no way to meet them. On the other hand, though, they don't get out of not doing anything. Just because a guy can't buy a hot air balloon or take his wife on a trip to Paris doesn't mean he shouldn't ignore the holiday completely. If you are with the right girl who doesn't expect diamonds and caviar than any effort, even just buying her favorite flowers or taking her out to eat at a place she likes, is appreciated and sweet. Sometimes it really is the thought that counts.

For all you single ladies (and gents), here is a list to remind you of the perks of being single on V-Day:

-Sleeping in.
-Sweat pants and pjs are your new best friends.
-Comb? Razor? Shampoo? What are these things you speak of?
-Less people to buy gifts for, more money!
-Too bad I don't have to share all my chocolate with someone else. TOO BAD.

And for everyone who has found their special someone (always makes them sound like a ring of keys or an overdue library book), here is a list of pros:

- Those ooey-gooey butterflies in your stomach are going to be working overtime.
- Surprises and Sweet Gestures.
-Getting cards from someone other than family members.

So I guess what I'm saying is I'm not joining the "I'm single and proud and crying on the inside" women's parade or the "Oh honey-boo I LUV U 4-EVA'!" gang. I'm perfectly happy spending the day expressing my love to my family and friends and chocolate. Oh, and in the arms of my one true love: my scarlet snuggie.

And wearing my bunnie hat.

Love and Other Forms of Chocolate,

(Maybe I went overboard on the gifs this time...)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I Pray Bingo Over Ye Cards!

Everything is hunky-dory: People lift their hands and sing with hearts full; the worship band is really bringing the house down; the sanctuary is simply skinny-dipping in the glory and the majesty of God. And then the scary part comes.

Worship is brought to a close and the pastor stands to pray over the children going off to their Sunday school classes to make art of Jesus in elbow macaroni and Elmers. However as everyone bends their heads to pray, you know that its not Lil' Jimmy they are thinking about but what awkward version of Pastoral Simon Says you are going to play today. Here are a few examples:

"Turn to your neighbor and hug them this morning!"

"Now go and meet someone new this morning!"

"Hold hands with the person next to you while we close in prayer."

"Tell your neighbor you love them!"

Its all good for the pastor up at the pulpit, smiling beatifically as he watches everyone shuffle and mumble apologies. Thats all fine and dandy for him, he got the lifetime pass from Pastoral Simon Says when he graduated seminary. The Catholics have it all worked out, too. Sometime in history a catholic got the bright idea of confession boxes. You literally get into a box and communicate through a wooden lattice. Brilliance.

Its not that i'm scared of people or anything. There was that phase I went through where i planned to become a hermit in Hawaii, riding wild dolphins and living on stockpiles of Reese's in my posh hermit cave. However even the most sociable person doesn't want to hold hands with a total stranger and then embrace them though. that I think of it I know a lot of people who would do that. But they would do it expecting never having to see the stranger again. When you go to church with them you smile at them every week in passing and remember them as that one person with the sharp rings or sweaty thumbs.

While perhaps its my job to rise to the occasion and be more sociable when declaring love to my pew neighbors I have a new game suggestion for churches: Icebreakers. Why not give the congregation a hand next Sunday and give a specific question? Or better yet, play charades. Monopoly. ANYTHING.If the pastor asks the congregation to go any farther than shaking hands one Sunday I might just resort to a game of "Which Communion Cup if the Bread Under?" in the aisle.

Holy Hand Sanitizer,

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cloak and Dagger and Meerkats: A Joel Black Adventure

Once Upon A Time in a lovely house in the lovely city St.Louis in the lovely state of Missouri in the lovely U.S.A. on the lovely planet Earth in the lovely Milky Way galaxy there lived a lyrical young man.  (Lovely just didn't sound right. Though he is.)

This boy's name was Joel Black. (Names have been changed to protect the identities of all involved). He had brown eyes, brown hair, brown shoes, and enjoyed wearing the color brown. (A pity his name wasn't Joel Brown, eh?). Joel was brilliant young homeschooler who was a bit or a perfectionist and loved to sing and dance in his spare time.

On this particular morning Joel Black was so excited he almost wet his pants but decided to call his friend Heather Baker instead. Joel was just pressing call when Heather burst through the front door and beamed beatifically.

"Whats the good news?!" She asked, slightly out of breath from running down the road a few houses down.

"Wha- how did you know I wanted to talk to you?"

Heather rolled her eyes. Joel and Heather had been friends for so long that if Joel so much as sneered a cow creamer Heather could sense it.

Joel waved his hand. "Nevermind. Guess what! I just heard from my literature teacher and talked with my parents and I'm GOING TO ENGLAND THIS SUMMER!"

Heather leapt for joy and they decided to celebrate by baking a celebratory cake and watching old Wooster and Jeeves episodes. Little did Joel know that in a few short months he would be wishing he was back in that cozy house, laughing so hard that frosting shot out his nose and dreaming of scones and tea.


4 Months Later...

"Why in the name of fish 'n' chips did I ever decide to come on this hike?" Joel muttered through his chattering teeth. He had been having a most wonderful time travelling through the rustic moors of England; visiting churches full of dead people, eating delicious food in London, lounging in the London Eye and singing with drunken Englishmen on the train. Everything was going just splendidly until his group had decided to go hike a the Cat's Bells mountain. Even that had been ok at first. It was a a bright and beautiful morning, like a freshly scrubbed goldfish. Joel leapt up the mountainside like a caffeinated goat with his delightful travel mates and admired the view of the lake below and the rolling land stretching as far as the eye could see and generously sprinkled with sheep.

Soon the travellers slowed, though. The higher they got, the harder the wind blew; shoving the hikers off balance of the steepest parts of the path and slicing rain ponchos to confetti. After the first mountain peak came another, then another, then another. With each peak the group grew slower and the once blue sky a rumbling boil of grey rainclouds. Then, somewhere far above them, God must have bellyflopped into his bathtub because water fell in not only sheets but in pillows, mattresses, and duvets of water. The last straw, however, was the realization that the all of the smuggled tarts had been eaten. Forgetting their hike, Joel and his friends fled back the way they had come.

Everyone was slowly becoming more and more waterlogged until they felt like soggy tube socks teetering down the mountain peaks in freezing cold rain. Well, everyone except Mary Magenta. She was leaping, perhaps even fueled by the harsh conditions, and already planning how she was going to go swimming in the sub-zero lake when they got back to the hostel. But thats Mary for you.

Almost an hour later, so cold that hypothermia had surely set in, Joel was inching his way on a narrow ledge around the final peak. Or was it the third to last peak? He had lost count. Somehow he had pulled ahead of his friends and was taking another step when he slipped on the slick rocks and fell forewards, turning, twisting, the world blurring until he felt the hard embrace of the ground and blackness enveloped him.

Joel was rudely awoken by an army on angry rubber duckies. Thats what it sounded like, anyway. He opened his eyes to find a dozen furry creature staring at him.

"AHhhhh!" screamed Joel like a little boy discovering he had cooties. He scrambled to his feet and promptly fell back down on the backside of his brown shorts from the dizziness of rolling down the side of a mountain.

"He-hello?" he squeaked, looking around him in vain for another human in the little cave he seemed to have woken up in. There was a fire burning brightly in the corner along with several copper pots and pans and a strangely out of place door in the packed dirt wall. All that met his eyes was the mob of downy grey creatures that had woken him. They perched on their hind legs, their elongated necks bending so they could study Joel with curiosity.

"Um...nice freakishly tall kitties?"

"We are not 'kitties", my good man. We are commonly known as "Meerkats"," rose a voice from the thrall. The animals parted and a rather posh meerkat strolled forward, pipe in hand. Joel had never seen anything like it. The meerkat was impeccably dressed in a velvet dressing gown and silk ascot and had a rye smile on his suave little meerkat face.

"Splendid to make you acuantince, Sir ....?" The meerkat paused, expectantly.

"Joel. Joel Black."

"Ah. Sir Joel Black. Welcome to our meerhome. I am Earnest Augustus Bob Meerkat the Fourth and this is my family. I do apologize for the mess, our guests don't usually roll unconscious to our doorstep."

"Oh, well, yes. Sorry about that, I slippped. Wait, I didn't think meerkats even lived in England?" (For some reason this was Joel's first thought, not why the meerkats could talk.)

"Quite. We were first attracted by the booming comercial industry but were so enchanted we decided to stay on. In fact, I have extended family living all over England working in the underground meerkat chocolate industry."

Joel rubbed his head, wondering just how hard he had hit it. "The underground what?"

"Chocolate making industry, of course. Why, its a well known fact that the finest sweets in the world are made by meerkats! The Queen herself has a meerkat on staff at each of her palaces, its that good. Really, you'd think you were the one who lived in a hole! Haven't you heard of Dove Chocolate?"

Joel felt quite a fool. "Yes, its delicious. But if its made by meerkats then why is it called Dove?"

Earnest sighed and puffed his pipe. "If I had a pound for every time I heard that question! Its the most frequently asked after the recipe for my prize winning watermellon and banana pancakes. Well, Dove actually stands for Darling Oblique Valiant Elephants. It was the name of my boy band back in the day. When the band failed due to the horrendous name we shortened it to Dove and have been using it ever since." Earnest re-lit his pipe and stared off into the distance for a moment. "Lennon always said the name should have been "Pugs 'n' Drugs". I just loved puppies too much."

Joel nodded thoughtfully. "I can see why you band failed. Well, its been a pleasure, but I must get back to my group." He regretfully stood up.

"Wait! You must be starving, let us prepare you a snack before you go on your way. Julia, bring out the pancakes!"

Soon Joel and the Meerkats were having an absolutely smashing time, frolicking about the den and dining on watermelon and banana pancakes the size of Newt Gingrich's head (and they really were quite scrumptious). Joel taught his new friends how to play Ninja and in return they made him a batch of specially made meerkat chocolate for the road. They even wrapped the sweets in individual gold foil with inspirational meerkat proverbs or yore.

Joel waved goodbye to his new friends and set off on the round-a-bout shortcut. When he reached the crest of the mountain and looked back to see he was in fact still ahead of his travelling companions he thought about telling them his fantastic tale of meerkats and chocolate...but decided against it. After all, he reasoned, if it was true that the chocolate meerkat industry was as well known as Earnest had said then he would look a right fool for admitting he was the last to know. And besides, the message on the inside of his chocolate wrapper he was eating said:

"Sir Joel, I almost forgot: Our den must be confidential knowledge. Please tell no one of our location, there are Wonka spies everywhere. Come back soon! Sincerely - Earnest Augustus Bob Meerkat the Fourth"

How the meerkats had managed to fit all that writing onto that tiny square of foil was beyond Joel but he kept his lips sealed. Well, except when he slipped a chocolate.

Joel's friends were amazed at how much energy Joel had when they caught up with him.

"Joel!" they said. "We are amazed by how much energy you have!" There was one bothersome thing nagging at Joel that the meerkats hadn't fixed, though. His trousers were so cold and wet still that it felt like he was wearing a fish. Mary came to the rescue however and lent him her extra pair of furry pants and Joel was soon running down the mountain to the waiting bus in his pink pj pants covered in pictures of Tinker Bell with wild abandon. Not even the looks of other hikers in scandalously short shorts when Joel's friends yelled "JOEL, YOUR PINK FAIRY PANTS ARE SLIPPING!" could slow him down. Now that, ladies and gentleman, is a confidant man. Or a silly American who didn't yet know that "Pants", in England, is what they call underwear.

Several Days Later...

"Good Gravy and Other Glorious Things!" Joel's seatmate Hannah Music flopped onto the minibus seat and pulled out her headphones to listen to some Kpop for the long bus ride ahead. Charlotte and Mariah started laughing uproariously at something they had seen on Mariah's laptop in the back and Gemima, Charlotte's little sister, ran over and sat on the seat across the aisle. Joel's group had just visited a quaint town on a walk through the rain to enjoy the scenery. And the gift shops. And perhaps most of all the heavenly bakery full of all sorts of whipped, baked, and flaky perfect dream desserts.

"Hannah! Can I listen to my favorite song again?" Gemima pipped up in her lisping British accent. Combined with angelic blonde hair and wide eyes, she was a force of cuteness to be reckoned with.

"Sure. Just give it back when you are done, ok?"

Gemima settled into her seat, nodding her head and singing, "Hey Sooouuullll Sis'ta! Ain't that Mis'ta Mis'ta on the Radiooo, Stereoooo, Oooh-ohhh-ooooh-oh-oh!" (There were some gaps in her knowledge of the lyrics).

"Whats the gravy about?" asked Joel.

"I'm just so tired. I feel like we just did the Hike from Heck all over again." Hannah yawned and wadded up her coat behind her head.

"What, I loved that hike! Except for those scary biker guys that almost murdered David and I in our sleep at the Youth Hostel."

Hannah rolled her eyes. "Joel. They were a bunch of older Scottish guys who liked to ride vintage bikes. I think your lives were hardly in danger."

Joel smiled. "You are probably right, Hannah. You always are! After all, you are supremely intelligent and beautiful and by far the most skilled Ninja player I have ever met."

(Ok, some dialogue might have been slightly altered. Just a little.)

Joel was about to go on defending his case as a near murder victim (ahem, praising Hannah) when something caught his eye just outside the bus window. A coal black 2000 Honda Civic paused next to the bus, stopping just long enough for Joel to see the window roll down and Earnest the Meerkat (wearing stylish Bond-esq shades, I might add) salute before the car roared off. Joel grinned to himself. While his friends might be bringing home pictures, little figures of the Big Ben on key chains, and a cold or two; Joel had a secret and memories that were so unbelievable that only the chocolate wrappers in his pocket could possibly make someone believe.

The bus rumbled to life and they were off. Somewhere, today, in the lovely Milky Way Galaxy, on the lovely planet Earth, in the lovely U.S.A., in the lovely state of Missouri in the lovely city of St. Louis in a lovely house there is a lyrical young man named Joel Black. He might appear to be like any other brilliant homeschooler with a knack for stacking cups but don't be fooled. Agents of the Underground Dove Chocolate Meerkat industry are well trained and only the most observant person might hear the crinkle of foil wrapper, the drop of milk chocolate on his t-shirt, and the twinkle of a secret in his eye. But you didn't hear anything from me.

Espionage and Ewes,