Archive | January, 2011

It’s Only Hair, Right?

24 Jan

It’s only hair, right?

Yesterday, in an act of independence, my 14 year old son went with two friends to SuperCuts for a trim of his golden locks. The boy has been blessed with beautiful, fine, straight hair. I marvel that he is my biological son, and yet I have coarse, thick, curly (with gel, frizzy without) dark hair. He has hair that on a girl would be Marcia Brady Hair (the hair I so coveted in my own teens). Today, or more accurately, yesterday, it would have been known as Justin Bieber hair.

He knew he was in trouble when his “stylist” grabbed clippers. Clippers for a trim?

“I just want a trim,” he reminded her.

“I know,” she said.

And then the buzz. Up that back of his nearly shoulder-length hair and his neck.

He panicked. Is she giving me one of those step-cut bowl cuts?

He sat in silent horror as she shaped a 1980s Joey Lawrence as a toddler mushroom cut.

So, he said, you’ve gotta go shorter up top (meaning, blend it so it’s not a bi-level haircut). She didn’t understand, and further mangled his diminishing locks.

Finally, knowing it was beyond repair, he told her to buzz it. Number 2, setting. All over.

Now, let me be clear: if he had wanted a buzz cut, I would not be blogging about this. We would all (except for a number of freshman girls, I imagine) be fine with it. But he didn’t want it. He wanted a frickin’ trim, stupid lady!

I could tell he was biting back some tears as he explained it to us. His two buddies (who got a bit luckier in the StupidCuts lottery) were kind and supportive.

My oldest son was furious about it (he shares my hair-itage). He went on a verbal rant.

I almost cried (I would have but too many people around, you know?) because it brought back so many horrible memories of my own bad haircuts. Let’s just say, Brunette Little Orphan Annie, and leave it at that, okay?

My husband, formerly of the long flowing locks crowd, and the genetic source for our son’s tresses, knew the indignity. “I’m going up there,” he said, grabbing his keys.

Well, the woman was “on break” when my hubby arrived demanding to know who cut the boy’s hair. He brought a school photo of my son to show them the pre-buzz splendor of the boys’ mane. They told him she’d be back in 10 minutes.

When he returned 15 minutes later, she was still conveniently not available. The manager, who I can only describe as a stubborn, prideful fool, defended the coif. “She ended up giving him three different haircuts,” she whined defensively, never offering so much as an “I’m sorry there was a misunderstanding,” much less showing any regret. She had obviously spoken with the stylist and prepared her lame rationale.

My husband, who lives and breathes graciousness and mercy in the best form of “the customer’s always right,” was incensed. He gave them what-for and verbally shook the dust off his sandals upon leaving.

How hard is it to say, “Sorry. We screwed up.” ? To offer the $16 back? Or offer a free cut (this would cost them nothing, since nary a strand of McHair will every pass through their wash basin again!). He knew she wasn’t to blame. What does an apology, offered on behalf of someone who’s hiding in the back, take away from the apologizer? NOTHING! And it goes so far in making the receiver feel a little better. Infuriating!

A few hours later, we all had a fine time verbally bashing this woman as we sat around the dinner table. And then my sweet, wonderful, kookie husband decided to show solidarity. He left the room for a few minutes and came back clean shaven.

I have known this man 25 years. Never seen his upper lip. And usually, not his chinny-chin-chin either.

All hilarity ensued, as my 18-year old was the first to notice. “What is happening to my family?” he exclaimed in mock horror, dramatically falling to his knees and burying his face in the couch.

“I can’t look at you!” exclaimed the newly bald one.

“I can’t stop looking at your upper lip!” I said, laughing.

“Maybe I’ll shave my legs,” said the 18-year-old.

“I’m getting a Brazilian tomorrow,” I said.

This stopped the laughter immediately.

“Too far, Mom,” someone yelled.

“Brazilian Blowout?” my husband offered.
I shrugged and we kept laughing, and settled in to an after dinner movie.

It’s only hair, right?

Musings over meatballs

2 Jan

Musings over Meatballs….

Dec 12, 2010 — Today’s pre-Christmas task: prepare the labor-intensive, paw-licking delicious Sweet N Sour Meatballs that surreptitiously (it was stolen) entered our Family Recipe Book around 1973.

We made these Meatballs, my mother, sister and I, many a December in preparation for our annual Christmas Eve open house. We’d relish the cooking and baking …and sampling ….in the kitchen with my mom.  Today, as I fried up meatballs solo with just the dog to help out with anything dropped (it’s a little different in a house full of men, just saying), and I created the meatballs for my own Christmas Eve Neighborhood Open House, I began thinking about meatballs and life lessons. It’s not exactly Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but stay with me here.

First of all, you need to let the raw meat reach almost room temperature or else you’ll feel like you have arthritis while you squish around in there. Bone chilling ache in the fingers makes for painful work. Many times we’d zealously rush to the task and end up miserable. Life lesson #1: Some things cannot be rushed and are much more pleasurable when nature is allowed to take its course.

My sis and I would always begin the meatball formation with glee, shaping the spheres with care to match the size of the perfect sample Mom made. Right around meatball number 50, however, and a glance at the still gigantic mound of raw ground beef with chopped water chestnuts, onions and spices, we’d gradually begin making the meatballs bigger. The bigger the meatball, the fewer we’d have to form. Right? Wrong. Quality Control (QC, aka Mom) sent them back and we’d have to pinch off the excess and form new ones.  Life lesson #2 – Do it right the first time, even if it is more difficult, more time consuming or not as much fun. It is worth it and will save you regret and do-overs in the future.

We loved these Sweet N Sour meatballs. LOVED them. We would snarf a few that Mom would offer as part of QC. Then, before the guests arrived, we’d power a few more. So yummy. Then, of course, a morsel or two (or 10) during the party. Well, more than a few times, I experienced meatball remorse — or reflux more accurately. Ugh. Life Lesson #3 – Too much of anything isn’t good for ya. Moderation in all things – even those things that you just love love love.

Frying the meatballs is not pleasant. Grease splatters and hair that smells like fried fat are part of the deal. But trying to determine if they are done is daunting me. I roll them around – squish them a little to see if the juice runs clear. But sometimes, you’ve just gotta open one up to check and be sure. Even the crispiest exterior can mask a raw middle. Life lesson #4: You can’t judge anyone or anything by outward appearances.

Several years after I’d left home, my Fightin’ Irish-loving hubby and I came to my folks for a visit in honor of the Stanford v. Notre Dame football game. My mom and I decided to make the Meatballs for the tailgate party, for which we’d rented a motor home. Departure time for Palo Alto rolled around, and we finally finished bringing out a week’s worth of food for the afternoon. It was difficult to find places to stash everything, and rather than have someone hold the Pyrex dish full of meatballs in their lap the entire ride across the SF Bay, one of us (we’re not sure who and let’s just leave it at that) decided that putting them in the RV’s microwave would be a good storage spot. Never mind that there was a sign (we discovered later) that said, among other admonitions “Warning: Do not use microwave as storage while motor home is in motion.”

So, as we backed the behemoth down the slanted driveway and reached level ground, a shift occurred in said microwave, and that Pyrex dish banged it’s way out, crashing to the floor of the RV (there goes the cleaning deposit) and worse, shattering a million Pyrex shards into those precious meatballs, which I can honestly say, were it not for the glass, would have been consumed by any number of people despite having been on the floor of a rented RV. Life Lesson #5 — Read and follow directions, especially those that begin with the word “Warning.”

We still had fun at that game, and I don’t even remember who won.  We had plenty to eat and drink. We have had many laughs about the meatball explosion – it is a family story now that must be told whenever meatballs are served. Life Lesson #6 — Often it’s the things that go wrong that make life richer and bond us together through shared experience and how we react to trouble.

Long gone are the who-put-it-there debates and the was-it-driver-error-that-caused-it ponderances. It doesn’t matter. Despite our hard work and our care to attention and detail in our preparation, something went wrong. Life lesson #7 — Bad stuff happens sometimes and it’s no one’s fault in particular. And even if it can be blamed on someone, if it’s done, and can’t be undone, and people are sorry and learned a lesson, forgive them and let it go. Clean up the meatballs and glass, and go have a good time at the football game.

So all this deep thinking in the time it took to fry up three pounds of meatballs. Funny, how much our family has gained through this stolen recipe. Which brings me to Life Lesson #8 – Share your dang recipes, people, so no one has to steal them! And, I promise to share this recipe with you – as soon as I can find the meatball portion of it! Had to wing it today – basic meatballs, but you add dried oatmeal, water chestnuts and Worchestershire sauce. They turned out okay, but I’ll have to tweak the exact measurements. But here’s the recipe for the sweet n sour sauce.)

Sweet & Sour Meatballs Sauce

Bring to boil the followiing:

-2 cups sugar

– 1-1/2 cups vinegar

-1-1/2 cups water

-2 tsp paprika

-4 tsp salt (3 may be better)

-4 Tb cornstarch in T water.

After sauce thickens add 1/4 cup Soy Sauce and 1 tspn ginger. Stir.

Pour drained meatballs into sauce and EAT!

God bless you and Merry Christmas.

I’m blogging?

2 Jan

Last one into the pool on this, I guess. But as I find myself writing columns in my head now and again, I figured I might as well get it down on the keyboard — either to be read by others, or to cease the constant editing in my mind!