Eighth grade attitude

The other day I was at Trader Joe’s, and I was in kind of a bad mood. I walked up to the cashier. He took one look at me, furrowed his brow, and said, “Uh oh…looks like somebody needs some stickers!” He then proceeded to hand me a sheet of stickers they keep behind the counter for children. Then he fist bumped my boyfriend.

This is a true story.

My mood rapidly went from bummed out to mortified to semi-delighted (I mean, who doesn’t like stickers?). Then he gave my boyfriend a lollipop because he “didn’t want him to feel left out.” But besides making me love the cashier and confirming that Trader Joe’s is the happiest place on Earth, this incident left me feeling slightly concerned. I mean, he looked at my face and instantly said “uh oh.” That…is not great.

I’ve written before about how my face gives me problems. And if people think something is wrong based on my facial expression even when I’m happy, I guess it would make sense that my unhappy face would be…alarming? But still, it’s a bit embarrassing that it was that obvious to a perfect stranger.

img028One of my earliest recorded eye rolls

The thing is, I’ve never really been good at concealing my feelings. They’re always written all over my face. But it’s one thing in particular that has gotten me in the most trouble over the years: the eye roll. When I was a kid and got called out on it by my parents, I’d feebly protest, “I wasn’t rolling my eyes – I was just looking up!” And every guy I’ve ever dated has at some point during an argument frustratedly exclaimed, “Don’t roll your eyes at me!” (“I’m not,” I’d reply, rolling my eyes.)

But the worst incident happened in seventh grade. My English teacher that year adored me, but by June, the feeling was far from mutual. One day, she was lecturing us about something and, without even realizing it, I rolled my eyes. She stopped and stared at me icily. “Apparently,” she announced to the class, “some people think this is a joke and want to roll their eyes. Some of you already have that eighth grade attitude.” Everyone in the class turned to look at me. My face got hot. “See who’s the teacher’s pet now,” she snapped. (Note to teachers: never publicly identify a student as the teacher’s pet!)

I’m proud to say I now have that eighth grade attitude under control, and no longer roll my eyes at authority figures. If you’re my boyfriend, sister, or woman who cut me off in the supermarket line, though…you might still be fair game.

Hey, I’m working on it. That, and my exasperated sighs.

An ode to omelets and Albany

Sunday morning, I took my boyfriend to our favorite brunch place, Café Madison, to celebrate the awesome completion of his first 10k. We’ve been going to this place for years, and it inspires in me a food-lust like no other. The surefire quickest way to get me out of bed on a weekend morning is to utter its name; I drool over it like my dog when she hears the can opener start cranking at 5 p.m.

Their brunch menu changes every single weekend. Like I said, we’ve been going there for years, at one point two or three times a month, and we have never seen the same item twice. Just the anticipation of seeing the menu is half the fun; it’s against the rules to sneak a peek while waiting for a table – we have to be seated. You know the episode of The Office where they’re having a quiet contest, but then Kevin bites into a candy bar and just can’t help but say, “Oh yeah!”? That’s basically me while reading the menu.

duck blt

One time I had a duck BLT, you guys – a duck BLT. Duck bacon with grilled tomatoes, braised kale, crumbled gorgonzola and a cranberry aioli on toasted homemade white bread. Are you drooling? The chef came out while I was eating to see if I was enjoying it. I praised it effusively. He seemed so pleased I loved it, but not in a self-congratulatory way. You could tell he just loves feeding people, and wants to do it well.

But yesterday – due to the fact that my role at the Dunkin Donuts-sponsored road race was sitting on the curb eating munchkins – I wasn’t really hungry. I thought about just ordering a scrambled egg and my favorite dill-onion toast…but then I saw the menu.

This particular Sunday, there was a street fair taking place outside. In its honor, the chef had made the menu an ode to Albany. At the top, he talked about his love of the city, and each item that followed was named after a significant spot in the neighborhood – the playground where he’d played as a kid, the best street for trick-or-treating, the hospital where his grandmother once worked as a nurse.  “Oh yeah” was temporarily replaced with “awww” as his sincere love of his hometown just jumped off the page.

When you live in a small city, it’s so easy for people to be cynical, to say their city has nothing going on, and to forever blame it for their own boredom. In comparison with the metropolitan areas that surround it – Boston! Montreal! New York! – it always comes up short. And it’s true that Albany will never have the variety or endless options of those cities. But it has its own people and places that make me love it, and some of them are just irreplaceable – my brunch place is one of them.

I wound up ordering The Point omelet – filled with feta cheese and roasted mushrooms, squash, zucchini and onions and topped with hummus, arugula, and a balsamic reduction – and I ate every bite.

It was the best omelet I’ve ever had.

Time to vent (part 2)

I feel bad breaking my long blogging dry spell with nothing more than a rant, but…that’s what I’m doing. Last time I vented, I felt so much better. Today I’m taking issue with…

  • Twerking. Not the dance itself. Not Miley Cyrus. The term twerking. Listen…Miley’s VMA performance was awful. We know this. She looked like a drunk 12-year-old, and it was embarrassing. But for me, the worst thing to have come out of foam-finger-gate is the fact that I now hear the word “twerking” on a daily basis. Still. Can it please just stop? I can’t take it anymore. That, and the fact that every time I see my little sister now, I myself am forced to say, “Please stop twerking.”
  • Littering! Recently I was at my parents’ house talking to my mom on the front porch when a guy drove by, rolled down his window, and hurled his Dunkin Donuts iced coffee cup onto the street. (My blood pressure is literally rising as I type this.) What the %@#&$!? What kind of person thinks that’s ok? Here’s the thing…people do dumb things. People break laws. I’m not saying it’s right, but it doesn’t necessarily mean someone’s a bad person. But littering? That tells you all you need to know. If you throw garbage out your window, there is something fundamentally wrong with you as a human being.

  • Online dating sites (yes, sites, plural) for people with food allergies. This is a real thing. You can apparently even search by allergen to find a “match.” Um…is finding The One not challenging enough? Now it has to be The One With The Soy Allergy? I can’t even. Like, “So Jane, what are you looking for in a guy?” “Oh, you know, just someone with Celiac Disease.” How is that even relevant other than being able to share food? Is that really what defines you as a person? I have severe environmental allergies – should my primary criterion for a boyfriend be that we sneeze in unison when there’s a high pollen count? Honestly, maybe these sites aren’t the worst thing, because if two people meet on one…they probably deserve each other.
  • Updated to add: I really, really wanted to vent about this too, but I just couldn’t have said it any better myself. Amazing.

I’m glad I got that off my chest! Anything you need to vent about today?