Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Text Message Du Jour: Violating Vampires' Constitutional Rights

My brother and I like to keep updated by texting each other breaking news:

Most random thing ever: Christopher Meloni from Law & Order SUV will be a regular cast member in True Blood season five.

Topher: Whhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaa?! Elliot?!

Me: YUP.

Topher: I have a feeling a few vampires are getting punched.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Adventures in España, Part 2: And Now, a Reflection on My Love/Hate Relationship With Ham


Dear jamón, jamón ibérico, bacon, jamón serrano, jamón–flavored potato chips and any other forms of pig meat product available in Spain,

When I was much younger, there was one unfortunate Christmas season when everyone miscommunicated and no less than three different people showed up to the same party with a honey baked ham.

After everyone had finished pigging out (pun intended), there was still enough ham left over to feed a family of four for a month. And surprise! My family of four volunteered to load all that ham in our Jeep Cherokee and take it back to our house to finish it off.

Thus began “Hamageddon.” My younger brother and I were served ham and eggs for breakfast, ham sandwiches for lunch and ham slice with a side of creamed spinach for dinner every day until our arteries exploded from the excessive sodium intake.

This hamtastrophe stuck with me for years and haunted every form of ham that presented itself in my life. But now, years later, I was finally over it.

That is, until I traveled to Spain.

The conclusion I have drawn, which, it should be noted, is not based on any kind of actual knowledge or scientific fact, is that Spain must be overrun by wild pigs. Never in my life, with the exception of Hamageddon, have I see so much ham. Ham in Spain is an acceptable breakfast, lunch, and dinner food. It is also a snack flavoring and topping for various tapas.


[Spanish nativity scene, complete with wild boars.]

Screw the Flower Arrangements, Let’s Use Ham!

Let me make a wild generalization about Spaniards as a whole: they think the leg of a dead pig makes for an awesome table centerpiece.

I’m not sure why, but shops and various eateries have taken to displaying dead pig legs on wood plaques or hanging them from the ceiling by rope. Then, supposedly, if you were in the mood for some ham (and who isn’t?) the shopkeeper could easily grab a pork-carving machete and slice you a hunk directly from a preserved pig leg, hoof and all.


I’m Just Going to Give Up on Romance and Marry Some Ham Flavoring

I’m not going to lie; I only have room for two true loves in my life: my cat, and any and all types of potato chips (no one is going to be particularly surprised when I die alone, are they?).

While traveling in Southeast Asia during college, I made it a personal goal to sample as many potato chip flavors as possible. Some personal favorites were nori seaweed, spicy chili squid, and seafood and mayonnaise.

However, nothing could prepare me for the incredible array of ham-based potato chip flavors in Spain.

My travel companion Blonde Beyonce looked on in disgust while I made it a personal mission to consume every ham-related potato chip flavor I could get my hands on. This was a simple task, as most markets and movie theaters offered Ruffle’s jamón chips as a mainstay. I also stuffed my face with ham and cheese-flavored Lays and BBQ ham chips (fuck yeah, let’s throw some ham slices on the BBQ!).

I'll Take a Big Mac Jamón, Please

Well, duh, McDonald's in Spain offers a burger topped with jamón ibérico. Was that even a question?

And Then I Considered Buying Everyone a Bottle Opener Shaped Like a Disembodied Animal

Spaniards are well aware that the prevalence of ham in their country borders on absurd. If they weren't, they wouldn’t offer ham-themed souvenirs to tourists.

Not only did I encounter a bottle opener shaped like a dead pig’s leg, I also found the same disgusting animal product in magnet and key chain form. While I was tempted to buy them, it occurred to me that nobody else back home would understand why it was hilarious that my keys were now attached to the hoof, leg, and thigh of a dead pig.

I Don’t Think This Qualifies as Breakfast

One morning, I ordered the “breakfast special” and received thinly sliced ham on a baguette doused in olive oil, and a cup of coffee. Well, obviously that would be the breakfast special.

And Then it Became Clear I Knew Nothing About Where I Was

“Boy, it’d be hard to be Kosher in this country,” I said. “There’s nothing to eat but ham!”

Blonde Beyonce consulted her guide book briefly. “Well, I doubt that’s a serious problem, because King Ferdinand expelled all the Jewish people in the 1400s.”


Well, that explains a lot.

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Adventures in España, Part 1: So Many Future Husbands, So Little Time


[C'mon now, what man wouldn't love this?]

My ability to select appropriate romantic companions has been in question since that time Soldier Boy picked me up from the airport wearing guyliner and a fedora, an unfortunate fashion decision which kept my mother laughing for three days straight. After she was able to properly breathe again, she suggested I attend therapy – as I possibly had “man issues.” (This coming from a woman who only enters into relationships with men at least 15 years her senior – and I’m the one with “man issues”?)

Prior to my departure for Spain, my hair stylist/psychoanalyst informed me that I seem to need to date men who are like my father, re: emotionally unavailable, high maintenance and prone to various forms of insanity. I then immediately threw myself off a bridge, because no self-respecting young woman wants to hear that she is trying to date her own father. Because, oh god, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.


So I went to Spain for a wedding, and watching the flawless bride and groom kiss under a shower of bubbles and rose petals outside a 14th century cathedral made my ovaries go all whack and threw me into a romantic comedy-esk frenzy, obviously. Blonde Beyonce and I then decided that the only logical course of action was to fall head-over-heels in love with some unsuspecting – and handsome – victim, er, man, and live happily ever after.

Future Husband No. 1: The Catholic Boy

Blonde Beyonce reasoned that the easiest way to marry me off and ensure her own future happiness would be to throw me in the path of her cousin (because, hello, I would make the best in-law of all time).

Her sales pitch included the following points:

1. He is going to be a lawyer.

2. He is incredibly sweet and would totally “take care of me.”

3. No, really, he would take of me. Like, forever. FOREVER!

4. He used to be a model! Isn’t he beautiful?!

5. Unfortunately he lives on the other side of the country, but that’s not important when it comes to true love, right? Right?!


All of these things seemed enticing; however, dearest Blonde Beyonce neglected to mention until later that her cousin was, adorably, extremely Catholic, and therefore was guaranteed to be completely terrified of me and my persistently inappropriate behavior.

Most romantic moment: After the wedding reception, Blonde Beyonce’s extremely Catholic cousin had had too much to drink and was completely mortified by this fact. My story about puking off a balcony earlier in the night while under the care of the groom’s father did not seem to make him feel any better about his predicament (in fact, this probably convinced him once and for all that there was something terribly wrong with my moral fiber). However, he was extremely thankful that I kept him from puking on the bus (although, once he got off of the bus, it was a different story) and that I kept him company in the lobby of his apartment building while he avoided his extremely Catholic grandmother, who was upstairs threating to beat him with her bare hands.


Future Husband No. 2: The Flamenco Dancer

While in Barcelona, I met the man of my dreams. Well, when I say “met,” I really mean “saw,” and when I say “man of my dreams,” I really mean “man that I would have one passionate night with in a cheap hotel next to the Mediterranean.”

I and about 60 other women had this exact same revelation at the exact same time as Antonio (probably not his real name) shook his head like an angry stallion and threw sweat all over his adoring audience while he danced on stage in his bright red flamenco shoes.

Blonde Beyonce and I turned to each other, clasped hands and squealed like 12-year-olds at a Back Street Boys’ concert in 1999, and all the panties in the room went flying. Antonio (still probably not his real name) was that sexy. I downed my glass of sangria in one gulp and ordered another, lest I become parched while basking in the presence of his manliness.

Most romantic moment: Me yelling, “I’LL TAKE HIM” at the top of my lungs, and immediately being drowned out by the sound of 60 other wailing women who, it seems, would gladly throw Antonio down on the floor of the basement theater and have their way with him. Upon realizing Antonio was sporting a wedding ring, I confided in Blonde Beyonce that I simply didn’t care, and I would gladly become his second – or third? – or fourth?! − wife.


[Our Barcelona apartment, site of many a drunken declaration of love.]

Future Husband No. 3: The Los Angeles Local

Sometime during the wedding rehearsal, Blonde Beyonce very slyly left me in the company of a man from my home town who was miraculously good looking, available, and hilarious. As it turns out, my execution was fucking flawless, because I managed to A) get his phone number, B) bond with his awesome sister and C) meet his parents (yes, we basically reached month three of dating in one evening).

However, my over-blown confidence about the situation became obvious about the time I was drunkenly stumbling back to my Barcelona apartment with the bride and Blonde Beyonce. “I’M GOING TO MARRY HIM!” I said. “I LOVE HIM!” I said. I was then forced to throw all these sentiments out the window at the reception when I discovered my potential future husband doesn’t fucking dance. Ladies, that’s a deal breaker.

Most romantic moment: The one extremely short text message exchange we’ve had since returning to the states, which went something like this:

Me: “I hope you had a good trip home!”

Future Husband: “Yeah, I did. But now I’m depressed that I’m home.”

Me: “Me too.”

This is the stuff romance novels are made of, yes?

Future Husband No. 4: The Mac Daddy

Upon reaching Seville, my romantic expectations were low and my need to sleep for 3 days straight to recover from the wedding was high. But somehow, Blonde Beyonce and I found ourselves at a sidewalk café near the Alcázar, downing sangria.

Despite reassurances that this was just a “snack,” we ate an entire pan of paella and a plate of French fries; additionally, we each consumed a whole pitcher of sangria. Needless to say, we were slammered. We were so drunk, in fact, that the building next door caught fire and neither of us noticed until a fire truck nearly ran over our table and 30 firefighters paraded by.

After the fire, upon returning to the hostel, we paid 15 to consume unlimited alcohol as part of the hostel’s nightly pub crawl. This turned out to be a particularly terrible idea. At some point, Blonde Beyonce was puking in a pub bathroom, I was on my third caramel vodka shot, and some guy inexplicably nicknamed “Mac Daddy” had started courting me.

Sadly, while Mac Daddy did dance, he was only capable of performing the few moves needed to properly swing dance, à la seventh grade cotillion. When this became frustrating (around the tenth time he’d done it during a stream of electronica), I threw him off by dancing like Techno Viking. He then ran away very quickly.

For your viewing pleasure, Techno Viking:

[Fast forward to the 1:20 mark for instant techno viking.]

Most romantic moment:
Waking up in the hostel room we were both staying in and realizing we had played tonsil hockey the night before. I managed to make it as awkward as possible by giving him a one-armed hug, saying “It was nice to meet you,” and then forgetting to ask his real name.