Saturday, January 15, 2011

Atrocity Upon Atrocious Atrocity

First, let me just say this about Sarah Palin and her astonishing use of the term “blood libel” as well as her perhaps even more astonishing (to me anyway) use of the verb “to purport:”

She does not know what she is saying. 

Seriously. She just does not know. She’s like a toddler who grins at you while bleating the F word she heard on TV, except she happens to be in her forties. But if you think she has ever once said “purport” in real life, then you must also believe she understands Blood Libel to be something more than the name of a rock group, and I sincerely, but truly, believe she does not. She might, with the dubious help of her speechwriters, purport to have a vocabulary, but no speechwriter living or dead can convince us she has any kind of  context at all, particularly a historical context. Jews? Are you kidding? She has no idea. If she hasn't been told that Jews rhymes with Booze, she rhymes it, I'm totally certain, with Moose

Moving onward, or rather backward, to other atrocities, let me just say how very pleased I am that the holiday season is so very over. And let me just tell you how I got through it, which was mainly by getting sick (unplanned) and feeling atrocious (also unplanned). 

The only good thing about feeling atrocious in the physical sense is that you no longer care about the psychological sense, as it is completely eclipsed by the body's discomfort. Some might say it is also compounded by the body's discomfort (did Sylvia Wrath have the flu when she put her head in that oven or did she not?) and this is true too. 

Eclipsed and compounded; contradictions abound!  Either way, I declined two Thanksgiving dinner invitations not just because I was feeling atrocious, but because the feeling atrocious made me recall that socializing when you’re half deaf feels like being stuck in a blender. A blender turned on to “puree.” 

So I spent Thanksgiving alone on my couch watching every episode of Six Feet Under I could get On Demand and dining, because the antibiotic I was taking was making me sicker than I already was, on soda crackers and ginger ale. Meanwhile, my upstairs neighbors (who had kindly extended one of my two invitations) were cooking up a Thanksgiving storm with relatives from what sounded like ten generations, their happy voices laughing and booming amidst the fragrances—the so very nostalgic and dangerously evocative fragrances—of turkey and sage and, yes, pumpkin pie. All of which would have made me hysterical with grief had I not, in anticipation of just this atrocity, practiced the art of self-immunization. 

I don’t mean a flu shot, though I’d gotten that too (and why don’t they work?) but immunization against olfactory grief.  What, I asked myself, was I going to miss most about missing Thanksgiving? The  post-Thanksgiving Day sandwich, of course! The turkey, the mayo, the sourdough French bread, the strategic dabs of unctuous stuffing and tartly florid cranberry sauce!

So what I did in order to not have to miss it was to have it instead. And not just to have it but to have it and have it, every day for a week before Thanksgiving even occurred. Being sick, I cooked nothing, of course, but I didn’t need to because my local deli had everything I needed hot and on hand. And after I finally became immune to the lure of the sandwich, I immunized myself against the lure of dessert, which for me will always be the pumpkin pie my Aunt Laura bought at Blum’s in the city to bring over the meadow and through the woods—okay, across the Bay Bridge—to her brother’s family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Only, of course, I did not go to Blum’s, I went to the supermarket and bought one of those hideous pies whose labels list six thousand ingredients.  I brought it home and sprayed it with the dubious and unspellable Rediwhip.  Luckily, its taste was so atrociously inferior to my Aunt Laura's pie, I was fully immune to it after only one piece, and got to throw the rest in the garbage.

Oh yeah, and then there was Christmas. By then I was feeling a bit less atrocious, and since Mrs. Pep, who is now the only sister—or immediate family-- I can lay claim to, was in town while her husband, the esteemed Mr. Pep, was still in New York, I made her come stay with me on Christmas Eve, the only might of the year when even I understand I should not be alone.

I lured her there with fresh Dungeness crab, which, like a Food Network mental, I served two ways: Cold on sourdough bread with Trader Joe’s organic mayo, and warm with truffle butter and angel hair pasta. Crab is my only Christmas tradition, and I always buy it out of the shell because I am way too old for the cracking and seeking. Crab meat might cost $30 a pound but since you can’t eat more than five ounces without throwing up, it is still a remarkable holiday deal. Mrs. Pep enjoyed the meal thoroughly, and also liked Carrie Fisher’s “Wishful Drinking” which I made her watch so as to avoid the potential grief of Christmas Eve conversation.

The next day we went, like everyone else, to see “The King’s Speech” where I unexpectedly threw a huge tantrum because the theater was filled not just with heterosexual couples, but with ancient, white-haired, fatly arthritic, but nonetheless still totally smug heterosexual couples. And I hated them so much for their nonchalant teamwork, for the males securing, as they had for decades, their mutual fat-laden popcorn and cokes while the females secured their two perfect seats, that I did not get over it for maybe five days.

Mrs. Pep, who is half of such a couple of herself, was duly appalled, but such is the nature of family relations.


  1. Happy new year, Ms. Gonick -- hope it's the best one yet!

  2. Yay! You're back!!

  3. But hey, now your new year's got nowhere to go but UP (which featured an ancient, white-haired, non-stuttering but potentially smug-in-their-love couple until, of course, the sad part happened) so there's that. Welcome back and here's to 2011!

  4. Oh, I can feel your pain. I went on a trip designed to disguise the inescapable fact that I would be turning sixty while on that trip, and while celebrating with a dozen happy strangers was really pretty swell, the fact that I came back two days before Christmas with a grisly case of amoebic dysentery was not. So my Christmas was trashed as well.

    Happy to report that things have now shaped up, so to speak, but I will never take the word of the so-called "safe" restaurant that their all-you-can-eat salad bar is, indeed, safe.

  5. My dear BerryFine,
    Civilization ended when the salad bar started. I'm so sorry you were felled by one, and so pleased to hear that you have recovered. Thanks for reading me. And, yes, Happy Birthday!
    Your friend,
    Ms. G