My great-aunt and great-uncle are snowbirds who leave Michigan to spend the winter in Palm Beach, Florida. Naturally I was concerned when I heard about the shooting at the Wendy's in Palm Beach yesterday. So I called her. Her response? In a glacial tone: "I really don't see why you would worry about us. We don't eat fast food." All *right*, then! I guess I should be grateful to the Gods that she's snobbish and vain about her figure. I don't eat much fast food myself--just grilled cheese, tots, and limeade at Sonic if I'm far enough from the City to find one--but I've had relatives call me all concerned because they heard about something happening in NYC, and I never take offense.
Wasn't that Las Vegas race awful? Even more disappointing than Will Ferrell's Semi Pro movie. The word of the day was attrition. So many wrecks! They really need to re-evaluate those tires for the next Vegas race--there were way too many blowouts. It was horrible to watch my beloved Tony Stewart limp away from his wrecked car with an expression of sheer pain on his face (TTG no bones were broken!) and Kurt Busch so dazed and dizzy that he tried to take off his helmet and ended up twirling around instead. I was so scared when Stewart failed to take down his window net. For those of you who don't know the sport, drivers have nets on their windows, not glass, and they are taught to take their nets down when they crash to signal that they're conscious, can move their upper bodies, etc.
The weird thing about NASCAR wrecks is that the ones that look really hideous and make praying people immediately look up, like Jeff Gordon's, are usually walked away from quickly. Who would have thought that it would be passenger-side crashes into a specially-designed SAFER barrier that left guys needing assistance to limp to the ambulance? The one that took Dale Earnhardt in 2001 also looked like it wasn't too bad. It just reminds me not to be complacent or take things for granted. Always, always, wait for the window net to come down and the driver to walk away on his own power. Maybe it sounds weird, but I consider it a lesson to take into other aspects of life as well.
I'd have liked to see Kurt Busch or his brother (and Tony's teammate) Kyle win because Vegas is their home town and neither has won there yet. I enjoy watching a driver win at his home track, and I've really been enjoying Kyle's daring moves. A couple of our guests--a man and a woman--have huge crushes on Carl Edwards (you can see why here) and loved to watch him do his victory backflip again. L'Ailee, as a gymnast, always approves of this little ritual and did her own backflip off the back of the couch. While I think it's kinda cute, I'd like to see less of it now. And of course, now we know it may not have been come by honestly! Stewart tends to really come alive as the weather warms up; I expect to see a few of his victory fence climbs in a few weeks.
For those who aren't Carl Edwards fans, the main highlight was the fisu shots. Fisu shots are a Finnish innovation that I read about in USA Today's travel section on Friday, in an article about how weird Finland's nightlife can be. L'Ailee and I would like to go to Finland if the dollar's exchange rate ever gets better--the Arctic climate seems soothingly familiar to my Siberian-born and raised wife, and they apparently have some really awesome design going on over there, too. My one problem with it is it seems like a pretty difficult place to travel as a vegetarian, but that's a bridge I'll cross when I get to it.
Anyway. Fisu shots. I am so impressionable, because I decided to try them out this weekend. My work husband told everyone about them on Monday, too. The USA Today article described them as Fisherman's Friend cough lozenges, the original licorice flavor, tossed in a blender with chilled vodka. "Fisu" means "fish." It rhymes with "sisu," which roughly translates to "guts" or "gumption," and it will surely take some to drink this. You'll need a good blender if you want to try this, not some $12 thing you bought at Wal-Mart ten years ago, and it helps to chill your Fisherman's Friends in the freezer as well as the vodka. It is *bracing*. You'd cry if your tear ducts weren't frozen.
Several of our guests tried it, and their reaction was similar to mine--"This is *awful*! It's so *weird*!" followed by, "Actually, that's pretty cool. Can I have another?" L'Ailee got upset when our friends started asking me to blend their various cough drops with the vodka. She couldn't refuse her two very best friends in the world, her brothers from other mothers, when they presented their Sucrets and Halls. I ran the blender during the many race cautions. Incidentally, the smell of the Sucrets reminded me much too much of high school parties where people sipped on syrup when the beer and liquor ran out, and the mentho-lyptus, or original-flavor, Halls were even more bracing than the Fisherman's Friend. I blinked a million times and cried frozen tears when I *opened the blender*, never mind actually drinking it! I did not taste either one of those variations--I didn't actually want to get hammered, and L'Ailee, who never likes it when I have more than two drinks at a time, would have been downright furious if I did. Thankfully I ran out of chilled vodka right before another of our beloved guests got the idea to blend in Werther's hard candies. My wife grudgingly forgave me Monday morning, my cats are finally out from under the furniture, and my blender may even stop smelling like cough drops eventually.
I still keep in touch with my friends in Orlando. One is pregnant with her fourth and fifth children right now. This weekend, she wrote in an e-mail that "after they are born, the factory will be open for tours, but production will be stopped." She loves being pregnant (a concept us female friends of hers have a bit of trouble with :-), loves raising babies, loves watching her babies grow up into interesting little people with minds of their own. But she and her husband would like to start sleeping again one day, and as a professional accountant, she figured that they can't afford any more kids. The Duggar family documentaries on Discovery Health really got to them, too. (The Duggers are the ultra-conservative Arkansas family with 17 kids and counting.) They don't want to turn into the Duggars, and if you look at their scary website, you can understand why.
I don't think they're going to become Florida's answer to the Duggars, though. S. is bisexual, and very butch if you ignore her baby bump or nursing blanket. (She jokes that when she's in early pregnancy, people think she just drinks too much beer.) Her husband thought he was gay until he met her. She is deaf and Jewish. He is the atheist son of deaf atheist parents. It's because his parents are deaf that he was able to interpret for her at an LGBT pride rally eleven years ago, where she had gone in hopes of meeting a woman. Wow, did their lives take a different turn than they expected that day! They did both set out to meet someone special at Pride; it's just not quite what anybody, least of all the organizers, expected. "Nobody tell the ex-gay people!" they say when they recount the story.
I've heard a lot lately about non-Jewish fathers of Jewish families--Gentile men who married a Jewish woman, who invoked the rule about Judaism being passed on from mother to child. My BossLady has a Christian husband; their children and grandchildren are Jewish. A favorite client of L'Ailee's is a lapsed Catholic father of two Jewish children. In the past few months, Salon.com has published a couple of articles concerning non-Jewish fathers of Jewish families--one about a newly invented interfaith celebration centered around a "snow chicken" leaving gifts in the pants that the family hangs by the fireplace, another about a formerly born-again Christian author whose wife worried that he'd feel called back into the faith when he researched current Evangelical culture.
S.'s husband is thinking of starting a support group, at least an online one, for men in that situation. If he does, of course I'll link to it. I love the compromise they reached. Floridians take their college football rather seriously, and the two of them went to rival schools. He told S. that he was perfectly fine with raising the kids Jewish as long as they were also raised as fans of his football team! It seems to be working pretty well so far.
A lot of people find it important to have things like geographical origin and religion in common with the person they marry (or date, or live with). Some people can't even date across school rivalries! I can understand that. Those are traits that form people. That said, people grow and change over time, sometimes so much that they can't even recognize their own selves. Sometimes couples that started out as two very similar people can end up as two wildly different people who can't stand the sight of each other anymore. I don't know what awaits me and L'Ailee, or S. and her husband. I certainly couldn't have seen what has happened so far coming, even if I do feel psychic occasionally. I do know, now, that love is a hell of a powerful force that can mold a Nuyorussian into a NASCAR fan and a gay lifelong atheist into the proud bisexual father of several Jewish children. Maybe for some eccentric people, it's best to find another eccentric who you seemingly have no business being with and walk towards them anyway. Maybe if you're both really tolerant and both have enough sisu, you start apart and get to enjoy the process of growing together.
Links, if you can stand to read any more:
Obama as spellcaster, by Starhawk. Seems like as good a reason to like him as any.
And he's right not to wear a flag pin, too.
But maybe he's not *that* great...
Another reason why Prohibition is stupid.
The L-Word's anti-bisexual stereotypes.
Finally, why does Russia even bother to hold elections? The thing that made my wife irritable long before I fired up the blender.