Roll Patrol

It’s a Thanksgiving tradition everywhere. Everyone in the family coming together to share in a great feast featuring such culinary delights as turkey, stuffing, candied yams, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. And of course there are the additional items that make the meal complete like the salads, buttered rolls and other sweet treats.

In many families, such as my own, the responsibility of providing all of the food is a shared one. Someone (usually the hostess) provides the bird and stuffing and others do their individual share to contribute to the cause with their “specialty.” My sister’s, for example, is green bean casserole. Hers is hands-down the best so she provides that dish year after year, among other things. My mother brings the candied yams and usually a seven-layer salad… sometimes a dessert as well.

I’m not certain where all of the other food comes from… like the mashed potatoes and gravy, macaroni and cheese, cranberry sauce, deviled eggs, garnishes and pumpkin pie. I only know that it doesn’t come from me. I am—99% of the time—relegated to roll patrol. When I inquire as to the item or items I might contribute to said smorgasbord, I am always told by my sister, mother or cousins in a very soothing tone: “Oh… That’s OK Joanna. I think we’ve got it all covered. But, I’ll tell ya what… You can bring the rolls! and their voices slide up an octave as they deliver this news… probably relieved to have thought of something I can actually provide that poses little risk to the continued gastric integrity of themselves or others.

Ah the rolls. Now that’s a prominent role one longs to fill in the grand scheme of things (my apologies for the bad bun… I mean pun). For everyone knows that the roll bearer is usually some sorry sap that is either A. Poor as a church mouse. Or B. Good for nothing when it comes to the kitchen… Or C. Has been totally overlooked in the planning of the event for any number of reasons… Or D. Is still considered a “child” by their family because they are unmarried with no children.

In my case it is neither A or C. It is firmly BOTH B and D. I am not ashamed to admit that I am… shall we say… culinarily challenged. Neither am I ashamed of the fact that I have borne zero offspring. I just find it interesting from a sociological standpoint. Like marriage and children is equal to having wicked-good skills when it comes to cooking. I can tell you with great confidence that I DO know how to cook things (beyond boiling water). Though most of the time, I choose not to. What do I need to cook for?

Truth be told, I did imagine myself at this age, with a husband and a couple of rug rats in tow, carrying a warm, covered dish to the gathering complete with seasonal oven mitts on both hands. And although I definitely never thought I’d still be the roll bearer at age 36… It sure makes for one hell of a quick and easy shopping trip.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! Watch for tumbling turkeys on those tootsies at 5 a.m. when you arise to turn on the oven. And don’t forget to take the bag of “stuff” out of the bird before you slide it in to cook it. Even a roll bearer like me knows that.

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A Life of Convenience?

I bit the head off of the girl at the Circle K convenience store yesterday morning. OK, I didn’t bite it completely OFF… but I’m not gonna lie… I did leave a mark. In all seriousness, I snapped because she didn’t have Cherry Pop Tarts AND she couldn’t do a cash-back transaction at her register, which would have enabled me to purchase future Cherry Pop Tarts out of a vending machine on campus.

Upon realizing what I’d done in showing her my “dark side,” I immediately and profusely apologized to her and said that I was having a terrible, horrible, awful, no good, very bad day and it was barely 8 a.m. And then I said that I hoped that SHE had a great day today (extra emphasis on GREAT)… and I smiled just a bit too wide to show her HOW MUCH I meant it.

I settled on some strawberry pop-tarts instead and drove to work like Andretti on crack. As I drove, I began pondering the potential speed bumps in the life of the Convenience Store Clerk (bad pun intended). Please understand, I mean no disrespect to anyone who currently is or has been a convenience store clerk. Nor do I mean to offend anyone who knows or loves a convenience store clerk. I am merely presenting my take on why I think THIS particular profession would be a toughie.

  • Creatures of the Night – You most likely work odd hours and therefore interact with odd people. Aside from shift-workers, I personally don’t want to know who is roaming about at 4 a.m. in desperate search of a Twinkie, a Ho-Ho or a slushie… nor do I want to know why.
  • Twinkies and Ho-Ho’s – You deal largely with people who either ARE Twinkies and Ho-Ho’s or whose diets consist largely thereof.
  • Midnight Heist  – You probably live in consistent fear of the “hold-up” for the “less than $50” you carry in your drawer. Anyone else ever notice the 7-foot, vertical rulers framing the entrance and exit doors and how the place is lousy with not-so-cleverly-hidden cameras?
  • Lotto Lady – You have to put up with the daily blue-haired ladies who insist upon scratching their scratch-offs AT the counter (despite the ever-growing line of impatient customers chomping at the bit behind them) and if they win even one freakin’ dollar, they will use it to buy yet another scratch-off from you and continue standing there while they scratch that one too. This cycle could continue indefinitely perhaps taking up the better part of an afternoon.
  • The Conversationalist – Every store has at least one of these losers who are clearly one-can-shy-of-a-six-pack and they love, LOVE, LOVE to hang around and talk to you… about everything. And where can you go? Nowhere. Even though you are clearly NOT interested OR listening, they’ll talk about the weather… about their sister spending 2 hours straightening her hair every morning…  about their mother’s psycho ex-boyfiend and a detailed account on why he belongs in prison… about the government’s conspiracy to monitor our every move through jars of Jif peanut butter… and about Stella—their goldfish—and her third nipple.
  • Road Warriors – If your store happens to be attached to a gas station (which they often are) you inevitably deal with a vast amount of misguided wrath over the current price of gasoline.
  • Tobacco and Booze Police – Anytime after 2 p.m., on top of doing your regular work, you must be hyper-vigilant in your efforts to keep illegal substances out of the backpacks, pockets and coats of minors and/or would-be thugs.
  • Breakfast of Champions – Each morning there is a decent possibility that you will be greeted by an angry, I-hate-mornings and the-world-revolves-around-me bitch, running late for work, who throws a fit when you run out of cherry pop-tarts.

The Life I Was Meant to Lead?

Every morning after hitting the snooze button for probably the sixth time, I crawl out of bed and curse the morning. Staring in the mirror at the matching set of luggage beneath my eyes and the pillow marks etched deeply into my face, it becomes increasingly clear to me… This is not the life I was meant to lead.

I believe with every fiber of my being that I was meant to be rich and pampered. This is not a new concept for me. In the early years I merely thought that I would enjoy living that way.Who wouldn’t? However, things grew more serious as I became cognizant of a subtle but consistent migration toward behaviors and attitudes supporting this “I deserve to be pampered” way of life. And now… NOW it has become a full-on revelation that this is WHO I AM and I shouldn’t fight it any longer.

You see I am discovering as I get older, that there are very few things that I actually care to do for myself. Why can’t someone else do my laundry, iron my clothes, change my sheets, make my bed, empty my dishwasher, clean my house, wash and wax my car (no, make that detail my car), do my grocery shopping, cook for me, sort my mail, pay my bills and clean up after the cat when he hacks up a hairball on my freshly steam-cleaned-by-somebody-else white rug?

And while we’re on the subject of doing things vs. NOT doing things… Why must I work? I mean at all? Why can’t money just appear in my bank account? Why can’t I spend my days sleeping until the Lord wakes me, reading and watching television all the while becoming a student of Suze, The Doctors, Oprah, Chelsey, Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha—learning how to lead my very best, fiscally-responsible, healthy, witty, well-balanced, fabulously-accessorized life? Why can’t I spend my days shoe shopping in the farthest-reaching corners of the globe? I mean seriously, I really FEEL it in my bones that this is the life that I was intended, no make that designed to live.

Which then begs the question: If this truly is WHO I am… yet there is still no magical trust fund with my name on it… What in the hell am I supposed to do about it? As long as I continue to do my own laundry, ironing, dishes, etc. I will feel like I am living a lie.

I suppose I shouldn’t completely lose hope. They say that knowing is half the battle. And if that’s true… then I guess I’m at least halfway there.

Fending Off Crazy Cat Woman

I could feel the stranger’s eyes boring into the back of my skull and the heat from his stare on my neck. “Don’t judge me.” I thought to myself as I set the groceries on the conveyor and glanced over my shoulder at the man standing behind me with his filled-to-the-brim shopping cart.

I put the plastic divider in place after pulling the remaining items from the cart and reviewed my impending purchases… A quart of skim milk, two containers of flavored coffee creamer, a bottle of OJ, one box of cereal, a loaf of bread, a brick of cheddar, three Lean Cuisines and 10 cans of cat food.

My tiny bundle of staples barely covered a third of the checkout counter. And it occurred to me that the aforementioned items probably screamed: “CRAZY, SINGLE, CAT WOMAN!!” to anyone who cared to investigate what it was I was buying. I wondered if he felt pity toward me… “Poor woman.” He probably thought. “Mid-thirties. Obviously purchasing dinner for one. Clearly companioned by one or more cats. Poor thing. She’ll probably go home, microwave her dinner and watch Lifetime all by herself.”

It’s what I would have thought. I judge people based on what they buy at the grocery store all the time.

Sensing his judgment and pity I smoothed my skirt and stood a little taller trying to act all nonchalant, confident and indifferent as to what anyone thought of me and my two-cans-shy-of-a-dozen cat food collection. I interacted with the checkout girl by enthusiastically chatting her up about the weather and the upcoming weekend to illustrate that I do, indeed, have social skills and some semblance of a life. She rang me up, we bagged it up and I strutted out of the store like I owned it.

“I am not a crazy, sad, sorry, single, cat woman. I do have a boyfriend. I am a perfectly happy, successful, well-adjusted, strong woman. ” I said with my body language. “You don’t know me.”

Perhaps my affinity for TV shows that delve into the intricacies of the human psyche is to blame for my hyperactive-grocery-store-paranoia. Consistently watching CSI, Criminal Minds and House might be the reason I ask such questions as: What do these purchases say about me? What would an FBI profiler glean from the ratio of human to feline food in my pantry? If someone murdered me in my home while I slept, would the cops feel sorry for me when they processed the crime scene?

Then again… maybe I just watch too much TV… with my cat.