I should have been Latina.

So Halloween night, after the big church party and chili cookoff was over (I didn’t place, oKAY?), after the last trick-or-treater left and my own trick-or-treaters were finally asleep,  after the magic and the mystique and the makeup had worn thin, I closed my front door, took a deep breath, and decided to forego cleaning up my cluttered house and instead honor the remainder of this holiday by—naturally—watching Evita on Netflix.  Because next to garlic and a crucifix,  Antonio Banderas’ muscle-bound tango has got to be the most efficient (and delicious) way to stave off evil spirits.

With tired legs but the happy mother-heart that comes only with the end of Halloween, I plopped on the couch and asked my husband to join me.  He agreed, and was surprisingly accommodating when I suggested Evita.  Five minutes into the show, I looked over and understood why:  he was dead asleep on the couch, snoring softly to the march of a million Argentines shouting “Peron!”  It turned out to be a win-win, however, as the absence of his awareness allowed me full access—and unbridled devotion—to Antonio.

Oh, Antonio!  Antonio in a peasant shirt.  Antonio in a butcher’s apron.  Antonio in a (gulp) wifebeater.  Antonio, marching for his people, crying for his people, singing (most gorgeously) for his people.  Antonio, writhing and wrenching and sweating (most gorgeously) for his people.  But mostly—most importantly and above all else—was Antonio dancing for his people.  The tango, the rumba, the mambo; all done with the passion and ferver that only a Latin lovah can exude, and the most passionate of it done in the arms of his fiery blond female counterpart.  Blond, but still Latina.  Which got me thinking:

I should have been Latina.

I am blond (ish.)  I am fiery (high strung.)  I am definitely female.  And I am perfectly willing to throw myself in the wifebeater-ed arms of one sinewy, glistening Antonio Banderas.  Add to these the fact that I

  • like the sun
  • can roll my Rs effortlessly
  • make really good salsa in a blender (which I say counts)

and you see that, somewhere long ago and far away, a mix-up occurred and my Great Latin Spirit, trembling with excitement to enter a balmy bronzed body and cha-cha my way into this thing called Life, was somehow channeled into the long, quiet line on the other side of the room, over which hung a plain white wooden sign bearing, in reticent script, what was offered me instead:  DANISH.

I am Danish, through and through.  My mother’s family is Danish, my father’s family is Danish and dangit if, instead of marrying a Latin lovah to give my kids’ complexion a fighting chance, I didn’t marry a man who’s one hundred percent Swedish (i.e., Danish + IKEA.)  Stock up on the sunscreen, people.  No golden glow in this house.

Now just so we’re clear and my great-grandparents don’t get mad at me: I have nothing against my Danish heritage.  I mean, we do have fair skin, fair hair, and tinned butter cookies.  It’s just that, well, that seems to be all we have.  Oh wait—I forgot about the wooden shoes.  We do have wooden shoes.  Or is that Holland?  (I get all those cold countries mixed up.  Yellow braids, wooden shoes, lederhosen–it all lands somewhere in that general region north of wherever.)  And of course we also have minimalist decorating, clam chowder, and lots and lots of cyclists.

It’s not that Danish culture is so bad.  It’s that Latin culture is so good.  And before you go accusing me of ingratitude to my forebears who left their fisheries and braved the icy Atlantic to give me a better life, answer these questions and answer them truthfully.  Then judge me if you will.

Would you rather have:

  • Chipotle chili tamales or open-faced herring sandwiches?
  • Salsa or remoulade?  (What, you’ve never heard of remoulade?  Think green tartar sauce that Danes smother on everything.  I rest my case.)
  • Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, and Enrique Iglesias or Mette Lindberg and Rasmus Seebach?  (What, you’ve never heard of Rasmus Seebach?  I rest my case.)
  • Piñatas or “hide the thimble?”  (What, you’ve never heard of hide the…oh forget it.  I rest my case.)
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez or Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Anderson?
  • Beaches or fjords?
  • Motorcycles or bicycles?
  • Muscles or spectacles?
  • Tawny or pasty?
  • Steamy or stone cold?
  • Dance shoes or Danskos?

And speaking of dance shoes:  At your daughter’s wedding, do you want this…


or this?

I rest my case.

Rodeo Drive

I spent today walking up and down and through Rodeo Drive.  It was fun.  And funny.

Fun because it was a bright, beautiful day in Beverly Hills and no matter who you are or how aloof you try to be, no one can resist the unbridled materialism and giddy optimism of southern California.

 Funny because, unlike most shopping venues that reflect the taste (and income level) of their patrons, the shops on Rodeo Drive seem to thrive by selling a look and lifestyle diametrically opposite to that of its customers.  Chanel and Prada may peek through those pretty store windows, but tank tops and cutoff jeans are what’s staring back.  After my day of people watching, I was surprised (and comforted, I won’t lie) that the premiere fashion district of our wealthy nation doesn’t seem to draw, um, wealthier people.  Or at least better looking people.   (Myself included.)

Look, I get it:  Rodeo Drive is more of a tourist attraction than anything, which is why tourists come in vacay garb like stretch pants and visors (though I was in capris and a tee, thankyouverymuch.)  Wecome to see the fantasyland that’s been constructed out of glass and chrome, silk and leather.  And even more alluring than this glittering world of nouveau riche is the idea that we, via our conspicuous consumption, somehow deserve a place in it.

The sumptuous dressing rooms, the gorgeously indifferent mannequins, the hedonistic prices—all convince us, initially, that holding court here is a privilege reserved for the elite.  So imagine our delight when the manicured sales staff graciously accepts our presence and—lo and behold!—our credit card?  Finally, we’ve been invited to sit at the Cool Table.  I left each shop a little disillusioned, though, because really:  would you want to belong to a club that would admit you as a member?  The prestige of shopping in a Fancy Store is a little deflated when everyone in line looks like they’re on their way to the county fair.  I found myself wondering why, if we can all afford such expensive clothes, we aren’t we wearing any of them?  Because if you’re not going to wear your nice clothes while shopping on Rodeo Drive, where are you gonna wear them?  (And please don’t say the county fair.)

My conclusion?  None of us really has a place to wear those Jimmy Choos, but we certainly share a purpose in buying them:  it gains us temporary admission into a world more glamorous than than our own.  It’s also called escapism, and the whole thing’s a little Vegas-y to me; average people throwing their money down to be someone else for a little while.  It’s not necessarily a fatal thing.  Just an expensive one.

Now lest I’ve gotten too heavy-handed in this post, rest assured:  I like clothes, and I like money.  Strolling down the the “Golden Triangle” of Beverly Hills, I realized that though I had little interest in purchasing that splendid clothing, I was supremely happy it was there.  I enjoyed the merry buzz it created among the shoppers, I enjoyed watching them fawn and gawk over it all (awkward as the fawning and gawking may have been), and I enjoyed the thread of commonality it seemed to weave among us all.  (Money!  Shopping!  Capitalism!  We were practically cheering it in silent unison.)  I enjoyed seeing the handiwork of artistic fashionistas, I enjoyed the visceral euphoria in the air.  I enjoyed inhabiting, for a little while, a world more glamorous than my own.  (Think Julia Roberts but with shorter legs, shorter hair, covered hindquarters and no blank check.  That was me today.)

Rodeo drive is fun, and funny, and just a little bit tacky—as are we all.  So I say:  embrace the tackiness.  Just don’t spend too much money on it, dahling.  Vegas is waiting.

p.s.  There is one exception to the tinsel found on Rodeo Drive, and that is Tiffany & Co.  Not one piece of jewelry in Tiffany’s was garish or gaudy, only pretty and bright and sparkly and did I mention pretty?  Today I decided that I heart Tiffany’s diamonds.

(Are you reading this, Derrick?)

Sovereign Saturdays

This weekend, I experienced my own version of an absolutely perfect Saturday.  It did not include shopping, dining out, or suddenly and inexplicably losing ten pounds (although I wouldn’t have required an explanation, had that happened.  I would have been content with the happening itself.)  Rather, it consisted of:

1.  Going for a long “run” (term used loosely) with a good friend down by the river.  We become very smart when we run and manage to solve all the worlds problems as we go.  If only people would listen.

2.  Coming home and taking a long shower, followed by no hair styling and no makeup application.  (And no bra, if you must know.)

3.  Staying home and scrubbing my house all day.  It’s almost clean, people.  One day.


4.  Going to Target with my twelve-year old daughter; buying body spray for her and (more) sunless tanner for me.  Clean house, orange skin…ready for spring, baby.

5.  Stopping for frozen yogurt on the way home, wherein I engaged my new practice of layering, thus enabling me to enjoy multiple candies atop multiple flavors.  Example:  Tonight I started with a layer of Chocolate Mint yogurt on the bottom, then topped that with a layer of crushed Oreos, then topped that with a layer of Dutch Chocolate yogurt, then topped that with a layer of Reeses Peanut Butter cups.  See, we can’t be mixing Chocolate Mint yogurt with Reeses Peanut Butter Cups–that would be two great tastes that do not taste great together.  But I wanted both the Chocolate Mint yogurt and the Reeses  (and the Dutch Chocolate yogurt and the Oreos), so I had to improvise.  I guess that’s what we low-fat-yogurt-eaters do.  There’s a cost to living such a healthy lifestyle, you know.  It’s all about choices.

And that was it.  Saturday perfection realized.  Now lest you are puzzled by how a woman of my sophistication could be satisfied with such a simple day, let’s consider what my Saturday, for once, did not consist of:

1.  Driving my kids anywhere.  This is the first day since 2009 that this has not been required of me.  So noteworthy is a day without me shlepping the brood around in my “champagne” (old-lady gold) minivan, I decided to write a post about it.

2.  Grocery shopping.  When that chore falls on a Saturday, there is no greater weekend buzzkill.  (Does everyone else detest grocery shopping as much as I do?  Why haven’t we talked about this?  And how can we make it go away?)

3.  Attending my nine-year old son’s basketball game.  I love my son, and I support him in his dreams.  But he’s a nine-year old boy, playing basketball (term used loosely) with other nine-year old boys.  And I pretend to like watching the games, okay?  So stop dialing CPS and get on to number four.

4.  Helping someone move.  Admittedly, I haven’t spent a Saturday helping someone move in at least six years.  But that’s not the point.  The point is that today was yet another Saturday in which to be grateful that I didn’t have to.  Since that fateful Saturday six years ago, I’ve woken up every Saturday since with praise on my lips and a song in my heart for the fact that I don’t have to help someone move, ugh, again. It was so much work the last time I did it.  (Which, come to think of it, was also the first time I did it.)

5.  Wearing a bra.  (See above pp., #2.)

Now before you judge My Life and the possible lack thereof, let me ask you this:  when was the last time your house was clean, your sweet-tooth satisfied, and your Girls (we’re not talking about your daughters here) relaxed and free, all in one day?

The best part was that when Monday dawned bright and sunny, I was able to spend my time writing about housework instead of doing housework. Come to think of it, when I do housework, I think about writing, and when I write, I think (and then write) about doing housework.  Maybe it’s time for a new hobby.

Do any of you fish?