Thursday, February 5, 2009

Rewriting Flannery O'Connor

A good man is like a pair of Italian leather boots. Pricey. But usually worth the craftsmanship and fit. Wears well over the years. But sometimes the pointy toe, or square toe, or chunky heel, depending on the context, is a bit...well, embarrassing. Makes you wonder what you were thinking.

Take the Super Bowl. Apparently, it's a pretty important sporting event. Never really paid attention because football, for me, is like String Theory. I know it's out there, but it's too esoteric for consideration. One only has so many brain cells at this point so they must be used wisely. I keep mine in a tidy Tupperware container which I only pop open for hockey games.

The Ranger, on the other hand, lives for the Super Bowl, especially when his beloved Steelers are in play. So we threw a Super Bowl party. Which involved fried food items, sticky dips, an obscene amount of beer and thankfully, because of my creative friend, M., pitcher after pitcher of pretty pink vodka cocktails dubbed, "pantie droppers." I drew the line, however, at face painting. Black and gold in combination are so Dallas. So Falcon Crest. All that's missing are the shoulder pads and flammable pants. Wait...does that mean Linda Evans is a Steeler? Or that football players dress for 80s television? I digress.

Steel Town Basket Steaks Before The Fire

Steel Town Basket States After The Fire
(accidentally dropped on the ground, but we told guests the prickly things
were rosemary, not pine needles)

After the nail biting victory in the last seconds of the game, The Ranger was ebullient, buoyant, beside himself. Like when I agree to scratch his back, cook enchiladas wearing only an apron AND listen to the Grateful Dead (shoot me already)...all at the same time.

Yes, more bacon. Always more bacon. This time wrapped around jalapeno poppers.

With his head swimming in Victory and Fat Tire, The Ranger drew a long breath then gave a 20 minute speech about friendship, winning and losing, the roll of the dice and something about respect for one's fellow man. Then he handed over his Steelers Terrible Towel. That's right. HE GAVE IT AWAY. To The Neighbor. Who, to his credit, clutched it to his breast and swore never to disrespect it. It was the boy version of a public make-out. I didn't know whether to snatch the towel back or insist that the two of them get a room. There was hugging. Back slapping. Promises made. And a pre-nup.

The dregs of the cheese dip

The next morning, before coffee even, The Ranger wanted to know WHERE EXACTLY his Terrible Towel had gone to. When I explained that he gave it away and that the accompanying speech was so sentimental, so over-the-top lovey-dovey he couldn't possibly ask for it back...he buried his throbbing head under a pillow and didn't get out of bed for 24 hours. Yes, he slumped into a post-towel depression. I had to wonder...a man who gives away his Terrible that the man for me?

A little history if you please. This Terrible Towel has been in Ranger hands since 1996 (nope, wasn't yet shaving) and he's waved it at many a Steeler game in Heinz field and twirled it to a froth during every televised game for as long as I've known him. It used to hang in our bathroom. And it was only after I agreed to move to Fish Town that he even let me touch the damn thing. Now, it lives next door. With any luck, there will be visitation, possible joint custody. The Neighbor is reasonable about these things because, after all, if anyone knows the ramifications of drunken foolishness, it's him. He's still trying to explain how he "accidentally" nailed the Taco Bell girl.

A few nights later, however, The Ranger proved that Italian (in his case Croatian/Polish) craftsmanship always pays off. We were at a blind wine tasting (the bottles were wrapped, not the people) hosted by le creme de Fish Town. Reidel stemware. Invitation only. Two flights of four. Walla Walla reds. Which means there was a good deal of pashmina, third-world jewelry, useless graduate degrees, small wire-rimmed glasses and talk of the Tour de France. The Ranger began rolling his eyes immediately.

When we hit Wine #3 of the first flight, the till-then-silent Ranger was plied for a response by our lovely hostess.

"Come on, Ranger, tell us what you think of this one. I taste an arid mustiness, a hint of pencil lead, a botched attempt at a Bordeaux blend, perhaps. Too much ambition. Or maybe it's impatience I taste. And definitely a heavy hand with the French oak. You?"

The Ranger: "Tastes like bad breath to me. You know like when you go out for Chinese food and order the Hot and Sour soup and they put too many of those slimy water chestnuts in it and afterwards you have this really nasty bad breath. It tastes like that."

And there, right then, was the big AHHHAA moment when everybody clutched their pearls (even the men) held up their glasses, swirled and nodded in agreement. Yup, bad breath. Exactly right.

And that's why I love him so.


Mich said...

What do you mean the Ranger wasn't shaving when he got the Terrible Towel? I didn't think he shaved yet? And Ranger, if you read this, that comment is just my way of getting even for the Steelers winning the S-Bowl. Beats $50 in pennies, right?

Kylita said...

Yeah, but the Red Wings won today, eh? ;oD (Jeff made me send this)
Re: the towel ... All Things Must Pass (fat tire beer??)

Erin said...

I love your description of the crowd at the wine-tasting. Oh, I can so picture those people. And I love the Ranger even more for his immediate eye-rolling.

Kylita said...

Hey, 2nd Ed, these leftovers are getting moldy! How the hell are ya? I miss you and your toasty posts! ;o)