mysterious business trip to Singapore
LIFE'S A BEACH AND THEN YOU STEP ON A DEAD THING
I have a wicked sore throat, contracted on the last day of the Florida vacation. Which was really okay because it was the only day that we shelled out to rent the condo's beach chair/umbrella combo, and nothing fulfills my Victorian-invalid fantasies like feeling unwell while wrapped in a fluffy towel and staring at the ocean. And now we are back in Chicago and I am wearing my winter coat, and the bars here have regular names and straightforward drink specials instead of strange mango-coconut-nautical-word noun strings that somehow manage to work in an unpleasant sexual innuendo, and there are no hurricane evacuation route signs or tide reports on television. Also, here there are fewer white people (or rather, there are not so very many white people that one takes special note of the vast sea of whiteness, the way one does in Fort Myers, Florida). There is less karaoke. And there is a welcome lack of souvenir shops and “hot body” contests and Perkins restaurants.
We had fun. Nora swam and swam and swam and swam. She has learned how to dog-paddle with her swim vest on and can make it all the way across the pool, although she somehow seems to expend more energy than necessary while doing it. I don't mind, because the sight of those skinny little legs churning underwater is totally hilarious, plus it meant she conked out at a wonderfully early hour every night, leaving me and LT to drink beer on the “lanai” or let my parents babysit while we counted mullets at the aforementioned local bars. She engineered complicated dams and trenches in a futile attempt to hold back the sea. She ate foods from many different kids' menus, and consumed many more french fries than necessary. The only problem was on the flight home, when she started screaming something about jihad and Thomas the Tank Engine, and then she broke into the cockpit and there were sounds of struggle and we had to make an emergency landing.
Okay, what actually happened is she said, “I want to peek” while we were boarding, and the pilot overheard and then let her poke around the cockpit for quite a long time. I guess she doesn't look like a terrorist. Being cute opens so many fucking doors, man. The kid even gets free cheese at the deli. Where is my free cheese? Where is my cockpit visit? Nowhere.
I just read a Christopher Hitchens quote where he said that the four most overrated things are champagne, lobster, anal sex, and picnics. Although I am not a huge fan of the Hitch, I liked that sentiment very much. I would like to organize a picnic where everyone eats lobster and drinks champagne and butt-fucks the other guests and yawns mightily with the utter dreariness of it all. More champagne, my dear? More backdoor action? Oh dahling I couldn't possibly. This whole scene is so last year.
MOUNTAIN CREEK, NO PADDLE
Recently the whole family went to Trader Joe's. This store seems to inspire a sort of carnival, devil-may-care attitude in me—although I am normally a very careful, stick-to-the-list shopper, there is nothing I truly NEED at Trader Joe's, and thus we just sort of wander the aisles, me with my basket and Nora driving her child-sized cart, and randomly throw intriguing items into our respective containers. One of the intriguing things we bought was a canned beer called Mountain Creek. It already sounded dubious, because mountain creeks usually contain moose urine instead of delicious alcohol. In very tiny print on the can, the Huber brewing company claimed responsibility for producing Mountain Creek, but none of their websites will publicly say so (another red flag). However, the Mountain Creek was so cheap it was practically free, free like a freethinking Unabomber type who wanders out from his electricity-less cabin to scoop up mouthfuls of a mountain creek, so we decided to give it a try.
Don't you make the same mistake. I am a fan of shitty beer, and I willingly lap up all the dollar Pabst and Schlitz and American that this city cares to throw at me, but Mountain Creek tastes like melted gummy worm with some sort of weird herbal undertone; melted gummy worms simmered gently on the stove with some bay leaves thrown in. Although now that I type that it sounds kind of good (keep in mind I am high on Dayquil). I hope it all remains hypothetical for you, however, because I don't wish Mountain Creek on anyone.
Typing about bad booze reminded me of this stuff, which we brought back from China, and I had ONE shot of it ONE time and swore never again, I have drunk all manner of foul concoctions in college and whatnot but baijiu is something else entirely. I think I could hear the supersonic sounds of my organs shrieking after I swallowed it. Here, see for yourself:
idlewords: Oh god it burns. Was it you who warned me against Chinese white spirits?
smartypantsmimi: Yes. Anything distilled from SORGHUM has got to be bad news.
idlewords: What the hell is sorghum anyway? I wish I had bothered to wonder that before trying to drink it.
smartypantsmimi: It's an itty bitty grass. You drank the prairie!
smartypantsmimi: We keep a bottle around to haze guests, but by now everyone we know has tried it. I need to make new friends.
idlewords: It's like an atrocity in your mouth
smartypantsmimi: It's like Milosevic in a stained undershirt wandering the hallways of your mouth.
idlewords: Some cute Chinese girl gave it to me with the words “it takes a while to get used to.” Clearly attempted murder.
smartypantsmimi: “Keep going, you're almost dead.”
idlewords: “It will get better after a while”—true in only the strictest sense.
smartypantsmimi: It kind of pains me that there's an intoxicant in the world that I don't enjoy.
idlewords: I saw a bottle of it in the shape of a rocket and thought of getting it for you. But then I remembered the contents.
smartypantsmimi: I wonder if bums would like it. I could make up a series of small to-go flasks.
idlewords: What else does sorghum get used in? Besides sorghummy bears?
smartypantsmimi: It's mostly for pigs, right?
idlewords: I associate it with 19th century farmers who grew things like it and alfalfa and muskmelons.
smartypantsmimi: Of course there's a trade organization.
idlewords: National Sorghum Producers Foundation, 4201 N Interstate 27, Lubbock, TX 79403. Is there a more poignant address anywhere?
smartypantsmimi: Just keep driving down that lonesome highway. We'll be waiting at the other end with a nice hot plate of sorghum.
—mimi smartypants: ensuring sorghum's profitability.