Thursday, August 26, 2010

Too Haunted to Blog

Dr. Mars, my kind but increasingly horrified shrink, reassures me that some day I’ll regard my late parents as something akin to “historical figures.” He doesn’t say which historical figures (Rasputin? Pat Nixon? Howard of Troy?) but that’s not the point. The point is, he wants me to think that some day I might stop having the nightmare I’ve had every night for the last five years wherein they show up at my house for Thanksgiving dinner only to find I’ve: (a) completely forgotten that they were coming, and, far worse; (b) completely forgotten to go to the store.

It’s not just my late parents who appear every night on my R.E.M. doorstep, it’s every late relative I ever had, as well as a few who still dare to live. Indeed, there are nights when Polish and Ukrainian graveyards alike issue my ancestors long weekend passes just so they can stop by and eat. There they all are, nicely arrayed in their black shredded shrouds and matching babushkas, waiting for cocktails and hot juicy drumsticks, and there I am with nothing to give them.

When I say nothing, I mean Truly Nothing, as in no chairs for my dead guests to sit in, no table to hold my dead roasted turkey. Not that it matters, since another thing I don't have is an oven. This is not only true in my nightmare, but in Real Life as well. The only real-life oven I have is the convection oven my landlord’s microwave is supposed to turn into if I were to push the right buttons--except that I've never tried it because I know it will turn into a blow torch instead. Also, in real life, I don‘t have a stove. I have a hot plate that dies every year, after which I go out and replace it.

“So you used to cook Thanksgiving dinner for your family?” Dr. Mars asks me when I explain how having variations of this dream every night without interruption leaves me feeling, every subsequent morning, crushed by delirium, not to mention too haunted to blog.

“Every year since I was 24,” I remind him.

I’m sure I’ve told him this a zillion times, unless I’ve just vividly thought it a zillion times. “Also Christmas and Easter and all family birthdays and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day too.”

I ask my friends if they too dream of their late parents nightly, and they tell me: "No.  Not even yearly."
Is this because they are sane while I am not, or merely because they all have real kitchens? Or is that the same question since only a mental would settle for living without a real kitchen? 

Why, I ask Dr. Mars, does the Food Network Channel never address such matters? Why, for example,  can’t Bobby Flay ever grill out of grief? Or Paula Deen deep fry her sons, plunge them in mayo, and cater a wake?

"Who are Bobby and Dean?" he asks.

I tell him they’re historical figures.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mad Men, Peggy, and Chicken Kiev

As alarmed as I am by Food Network stars---from The Complacent Contessa to The Always Ecstatic Though Seemingly Foreshortened Giada—I’m thanking god that the Mad Men are back so I can allow them to alarm me instead. 

Mad Men, of course, covers the era before food as we now know it existed. This is why the increasingly drunken Don Drooper must seduce his dates over such awkward fare as Chicken Kiev. And why Joanie orders up equal parts deli and take-out Chinese to serve at the office Christmas debacle. Who among them can taste food anyway? Lucky Strikes have scorched every palate and gin martinis have numbed every bud. Indeed, Freddy Rumson could dump his Pond’s Cold Cream into a chafing dish and pass it off as a pallid fondue.

Speaking of Freddy, let’s speak of Peggy, a woman for whom no man ever buys Chicken Kiev. I suppose the odious Duck might have ordered her some from room service once, but since he is so odious, I highly doubt it. No, Peggy can’t get Chicken Kiev because Peggy’s a girl who tells men the truth, and truth is never girly, to wit:

Freddy to Peggy as they discuss how to advertise Pond’s Cold Cream: “Isn’t it about making old ladies look good?”

Peggy (pause): “Nothing makes old ladies look good.”

And when Peggy isn’t telling a truth, you can see by her face that she’s in the horrendous process of realizing one. Take the last scene of this season’s episode two, when she’s finally succumbed to her boyfriend, the Sex Nag, a lad so clueless he thinks she’s a virgin when she’s actually given birth to Pete Campbell’s baby. (Oops, I guess Peggy isn’t always telling the truth—bring her a platter of those steaming Kievs!) Peggy doesn’t want to be lonely, but being stuck with a Sex Bore for life might, she senses, be even worse.

And how does she know this? Here is my thought: As ancient and evil as Duck Phillips is, he did tell Peggy that he longed to (let me paraphrase here) take off her clothes, throw her onto the bed, and give her the “best go-around" she’d ever had.  The best go-around she'd ever had.  Ponder this statement a moment.  It might not be romantic, but it’s still quite a promise. And who knows? Maybe he kept it.

In which case, Peggy could be maritally doomed. Unless, that is, she can find a way to send Mark the Youth to Ducky the Devil for several sessions of Go-Around Tutelage. Now that’s an episode I want to see. I’ll watch it while snacking on scotch and rumaki. Or some new-fangled buffalo wing per a recipe from  Down Home with the Squeelys, yet another show that completely alarms me.