Thursday, May 28, 2009

Brows, Balls & Cartoon Boyfriends

Pardon me for shamelessly quoting Sex and the City as a 30-year-old, but they say that in New York, you're always looking for three things: a job, a boyfriend and an apartment. If you've got at least two of those covered, you're doing pretty well. Hmm. Hmmmmmmm.

It's pretty much the same deal in Chicago, except apartments are easier to come by. An alarming review of my current status in the three categories:

1. Last week, I submitted my resume to a major media conglomerate with the following line in my list-format cover letter (devised to avoid the utter boredom of actual paragraphs): "Gets along well with others!" In the same e-mail, I also name-dropped Mary Poppins the musical, a topic which I cannot cease referencing.
2. I can't go into detail about topic #2 without exercising my signature eye roll to the point of retina fatigue, except to say that lately, has been attempting to lure me back into its soul-shriveling fold with the following e-mail subject line: "Love is on sale! 25% off!" Is that a bargain? The offer is accompanied by a rendering of a possible future love interest (above), who, as you can see, might not have a face but comes complete with a full head of hair and confidently slouchy stance.
3. When my upstairs neighbor strides around his living room preparing for his shift at the shoe store, it's like the cast of Riverdance is rehearsing inside my skull. When my next-door neighbor dries her hair at 5:26AM with her low-wattage, non-salon-quality tool, I might as well insert my eardrum into a trash compactor. And when another neighbor lets her XXL tabby cat into the courtyard while my porch door is ajar, he creeps into my kitchen and startles my pants off with his baleful meows. How much, I wonder, am I currently willing to tolerate in exchange for the ease of accessible street parking in the 142 residential zone?

P.S. An open letter to the makers of Brach's malted milk balls, once my favorite mass-market candy:

Dear Farley's & Sathers Candy Company, Inc.,

I have recently learned, via Internet research, that you acquired the Brach's candy company in November 2007. While one would hope you'd keep their time-tested recipes intact, I can see (and taste) that you've implemented some cost-cutting measures to the one candy I regularly purchase at grocery and drug stores: Brach's Malted Milk Balls.

Based on my evaluation of a bag of said balls obtained yesterday at my neighborhood Treasure Island, I would like to submit the following observations:

Packaging (THEN): Lustrous pink bag with superior plastic thickness and tempting photo of malt balls beneath Brach's logo.
Packaging (NOW): Noticeably flimsier plastic in more garish pink hue; dull, grainy picture of unidentifiable brown mass.

Malt Ball Appearance (THEN): Shiny chocolate brown exterior; slightly irregular ball shape with mildly undulating surface.
Malt Ball Appearance (NOW): Smaller ball size; suspiciously matte texture with waxy finish.

Taste (THEN): Initial bite through medium-thick layer of semi-real chocolate, crunching through to sweet/crisp nougat interior.
Taste (NOW): Disturbingly chewy, 100% fake chocolate non-taste followed by chalky, lackluster semi-crunch at center.

Basically, Farley's & Sathers, you're busted. Per your suggestion on the back of the bag, I shall return the unused portion in original packaging to your Minnesota mailing address. I hope you are able to replace it with a quality candy specimen.

Very Truly Yours,

P.P.S. The latest installment in the Drury Sisters Eyebrow Chronicles, excerpted from a conversation on 5/20/09:

Emma: Your eyebrows are looking good. You're going to a new girl in Louisville, right?
Claire: Yeah, she's strict. She yelled at me. I'm not allowed to wait more than two weeks between appointments.
Emma: Well, are you happy with them?
Claire (pointedly arching aforementioned brow): I think they make yours look a little thin.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Once and Future Jackpots

It is one of my most frequent activities: Driving up and down I-65 from Chicago to Louisville, Louisville to Chicago, in my trusty auto, Black Beauty. If you've ever previously read this blog or have met me in person anytime between 1999 and now, you will remember that Black Beauty is not your standard semi-antique hunk of steel. In fact, the two of us have a lot in common. We're both always simmering a little under our hoods. We look younger than we really are. We have the same breakdowns over and over again. And neither of us has very good shocks, so we hit potholes hard (but at all other times we hug the road with a high level of style). You get the gist. So, I usually make that I-65 drive by myself these days, but I'm never 100% alone. A recent (as in yesterday) conversation between me and Black Beauty:

Me: Are you serious? Check engine again?
Black Beauty: If I've told you once I've told you a thousand times, check my dang engine.
Me: Bogus. You always say this and it's always nothing.
Black Beauty: Well, you never know.
Me: And frankly, I could use a little input about this SRS light situation.
Black Beauty: Supplemental restraint system.
Me: I know, but is it seriously broken? Would the airbag still protect my face in a crash?
Black Beauty: That's for me to know and you to find out.
Me: N-E-WAYZ, which exit are you thinking for gas?
Black Beauty: Let's hit 240. New pumps, nice quality windshield wipes.

When my car and I run out of things to discuss, I turn to my other favorite 300-mile pastime: deciding what to do with my lottery winnings if and when I win them. I cover the usual bases (pay off people's mortgages, go on an African safari, build myself an elaborate treehouse where I'll read books and listen to birds, and (shhh!) buy a hot new M5), and yesterday I made an addition to the list:

Me: You know, all these billboards are a crying shame. Nothing but porn, preaching and patty melts for sale.
Me 2 Me: Yeah. If that lottery ticket pans out you can totally put whatever you want on these billboards.
Me: Then you can give back to the community. You know, do something to really connect with your fellow drivers.
Me 2 Me: Something pretty.
Me: Yeah, pretty. And fun! Like an art show.
Me 2 Me: Yeah! You can rent, like, seven billboards in a row and hire a famous photographer to do something large-scale and arty.
Me: But not like those nature pictures in the inspirational poster store at the mall. This is not about footprints in the sand.
Me 2 Me: I know. It would have to be non-controversial but cool.
Me: Yeah, like those back-lit Tokihiro Sato photos from the Art Institute [see below] that you got in trouble for taking pictures of because it's against the rules to take a photograph of a photograph.
Me 2 Me: And you could have just a few words at the bottom of each billboard. A greeting to all.
Me: It would be like:
1. Hello, fellow drivers!
2. Please enjoy these beautiful photos.
3. But don't get too distracted.
4. Happy trails!
5. Exit here for a free cookie.

Me 2 Me: A free cookie?
Me: Yeah, you could build a little drive-up shack at the next exit where you'd give everyone a free homemade chocolate chip cookie.
Me 2 Me: Hmm. A few logistical kinks to work out, but man oh man, that is a great idea. I sure hope this ticket is a winner.

P.S. I am anti- the new British announcer they had calling some of the races on Derby day at Churchill Downs. This is not England. This is Kentucky. A British accent does not automatically make everything fancier.

P.P.S. And come on, people, when they play "My Old Kentucky Home" right before the Derby, I really do expect you to sing along. If I memorize the all the words and wear a fascinator all day and throw down cold hard cash on Mint Juleps and park three miles from the track, then I need to hear group participation at the crucial emotional moment. I don't even care if you're from out of town. Get on it for next year. Thanks.

Herewith, the fascinator in action. Speaking of jackpots, my sister Claire (right) took home some bank on the long-shot surprise winner, Mine That Bird.