Thursday, June 26, 2008

More Stupid White Men

I strive to stay on the sunny disposition side of my live-in ATM, just in case I ever need a hall pass. My pot roast recipe usually scores a weekend pass.

This past weekend I used one - - a pass, not the ATM.

I’ve done lots of stupid stuff in my life. I try to forget them. But that seems to be one vault in my memory bank that is fully functioning.

If mistakes humanize us then I have enough humanity to last two lifetimes.

I don’t purposely stammer something stupid in mixed company. I don’t consciously entrap my house to implode at inopportune times, just so I can prove I’m not related to Bob Vila, and am then forced to hire men with butt-cracks. I don’t purchase complicated self-assembly products made in China so I can create new words to add to my extensive profanity vocabulary.

When Forrest Gump plopped down $25,000 for a shrimp trawler, the seller looked at him and asked, “What are you, stupid or something?” To which Forrest replied, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Guilty as charged, robed one.

This past weekend I consciously, knowingly, with faculties in full force, added to my stupid list. I joined two buddies for a golf outing in Borrego Springs, California - - where, by mid-afternoons, the temperatures topped 120 degrees.

At my age this qualifies for the extreme sports competition.

When Michael Moore wrote his bestseller Stupid White Men, we three were not what he parodied, but the title stuck as much as our golf shirts.

My friends shall remain nameless, to protect their collusion, though not their innocence. Let’s refer to them as Dumb and Dumber.

The Dumber label belongs to the buddy who left work Friday evening and endured four hours of LA’s going-home, snail’s pace freeways, so he could get up at 6 AM to play golf in temps that reached 110 by 10 AM.

The humidity was so low the sweat evaporated by the time it broke through the skin pores. It was dryer than a Steven Wright comedy routine.

I seriously considered tossing clubs into the water holes, even after good shots, just so I could retrieve them. But I saved getting sloshed for the cocktail hour.

The wily coyotes lolled in their lairs while the desert bunnies bounded freely. The roadrunners walked everywhere, mocking the coyotes.

We drank a water bottle per hole, never once using the outdoor bathrooms (shrubs and trees).

As the guys’ weekend cook (the only reason I keep getting invited back), I didn’t bother igniting the stove. I sizzled the steaks on the patio pavement.

I would like to say that my reward for such bad judgment was a stellar golf score. I can’t. Some of my golf shots are listed in the “What the Hell was That?” golf shot Hall of Shame. You can add golf to my long list of engineering tasks I have never mastered, domestic or otherwise.

By the time we left, a cold snap was forecast for the next day - - 105 degrees - - which at least I scored less than.

I think I’ll pass on the next June pass, and make a pass at my ATM.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I’m not sure what defines a gym rat. I am not one but I know my way around them, gyms and rats. My rat education came from years of barn duty on that farm in Indiana.

Domestic Engineer Guys need to be taut and toned, never knowing the physical challenges in store in the storage room, yard, garage, bathrooms, kitchens, multi-tasking, marathon grocery-gathering, or the discerning eye of the breadwinner.

Secretly, I’m striving to jam long enough to join Smuckers’ Centurion Hall of Fame, and get my chrome-domed-mug on the Today Show.

When I pull into the LA Fitness, Anaheim Hills parking lot in my 1997 Saturn stud-mobile, my parking choices are between Mercedes, Lexus, BMWs, and SUVs on steroids. There is barely enough parking room for my compact. I always gingerly open my door to ease out, fearing I will set off an alarm or end up being sued for a door ding. When backing out, I’m in the middle of traffic before I can see both ways. With gas now approaching $5.00 I foresee seeing again in the parking lot, and further than one car in front of me on the streets and freeways.

My routine usually includes 40-45 minutes on a recumbent bike (more conducive to reading), 15 minutes of stretching, 15-30 minutes on the treadmill, and 10-15 minutes on upper-body weight machines. I burn 600 calories twice during the week, and 800-900 on grind-day, Saturday.

Speaking of Saturdays, the Saturday morning kick-boxing class is the club’s largest class. I have never counted more than one guy gyrating in it. Guys, be very afraid.

On weekends there are three stations on the long row of TV monitors. Even though the average member age is probably early-40s, the genius programmers at LA Fitness always have one of the channels tuned to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. It’s a nice compliment to the infomercials.

One day I found myself on the treadmill between a middle-aged man and woman. Both were scanning the Wall Street Journal, while I was digesting a cookbook. My faith in stereotyping stratified some when I noted an easy-on-eyes, 40-something woman on a recumbent bike raptly reading a Glamour Magazine article entitled “What a Great Butt,” while the 30-something muscle-bound, testosterone-hoarding guy next to her not-so-discreetly checked hers out.

Sometimes I pass the time reading t-shirt graffiti. There is always at least one guy donning a taunting t-shirt, ballooned by bulges, no doubt compensating for bulge-brevity elsewhere. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say - - drug-inducements. Once a guy strutted around with a shirt spewing, “I am not scared. I am not afraid. I am tough. I am an animal. I will eat you if I have to.” Now there's a conversation starter. These guys usually arrive and depart in super-sized SUVs.

For the record, aging boomers should not be wearing spandex or leotards to the gym. I-Pod users should not sing. Guys should stick with their favorite sports team attire. Friends or acquaintances should not broadcast the days of their lives, their children, or their scumbag ex-husbands. And what’s with the women wearing makeup?

My favorite time at the gym is leaving. Meanwhile, I am slim and compact enough to avoid door dings and lawsuits.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Tools of the Trade

Putting together a kitchen toolkit list is pretty easy, though not cheap. There are lots of lists in cookbooks, on food magazine websites, and, of course, on the Food Network. On you will find a cook's equivalent to Craftsman Tools in a section entitled, "The Cook's Tool Shop." I get chills just thinking about it.

However, those lists leave out some essentials needed by a domestic engineer guy.

Broom and Dustpan - for the broken glass.
Paper Towels - for the spills.
Mop - for the really big spills.
Splatter Guard/Apron - unless you were never planning to wear that shirt again.
Burn Salve and Bandaids - for burns, scalds, and knife wounds.
Spot Remover - for the times you forgot to don the splatter guard.
Blow Torch - if your bride is particularly fond of that gridiron look on her beef, chicken, and fish.
Goggles - for chopping onions. Guys don't the kitchen.
Duct Tape - you will find some use for it.
Fire Extinguisher - burning down your house is not on the domestic engineer course list.
Homeowner's Insurance - does your policy cover grease fires?
Boat Motor - a really powerful mixer.
Cleaver - for the times you don't have the patience to finesse the separation of the chicken legs. Also used for cutting cheddar.
Hatchet - for cutting Gouda.
Chainsaw - for cutting Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Tool Belt - not just any tool belt but a double-sided one - one side for kitchen tools, and the other side for household emergency repairs.

You will also need a head cover. You're a cook, not a chef - so chuck the chef's hat. I recommend a bandanna. Kitchens get hot. Sweat is salty, but not an ingredient. If that pirate looks excites your bride, you might keep an eye patch handy.