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A woman turns down John Arbuckle for a date claiming she has to stay home and floss her otter.

Via the always hilarious Garfield mins Garfield.

I hereby declare “flossing the otter” as the hip new masturbation euphemism. Who’s with me?

I could give two shits about fashion, but I will say this for it: fashion is easy.* You buy a magazine, you watch a television program, you read a website, you keep your eyes open when walking past shops with window displays, you hang out in the common areas of any accredited undergraduate institution, and ta da! You now know what is in fashion. You may not like it and you may not have the knack for making it look effortless and you may not be able to find it in your damn size, but at least you know that skinny jeans and high heels that lace up and kind of look like boots but are also open-toed and over-sized watches are on trend.**

But what about style? Not what the fashion industry is excited about this season, but what I am excited about every day? For some people, those two things are the same, but alas, not so for me. The problem is that after, shit, nearly a lifetime of having to subjugate my own personal style instincts in the face of a dearth of off-the-rack, at-least-semi-well-fitted, affordable clothing, I had no idea what my actual style preferences were. In the same way that in a patriarchy, women are strongly encouraged to ignore their own instincts regarding hunger and eating, in a capitalist society, everybody is encouraged to ignore his or her own personal taste and preferences regarding consumer goods, because capitalism feeds on the constant dissatisfaction of the consumer base the way Pennywise the clown fed on little kids’ fear. If the consumers stop chasing the brass ring of the Next Great Thing, capitalism stops working (or at least starts winding down (presumably; it’s hard to say what those in power will do to keep the status quo chugging along)), so consumers shouldn’t worry about what they actually like, because if they buy it and hate it, they can just buy something else!

So my first step was to figure out what I even liked, style-wise. I could have followed Plumcake’s reasonable directive to make an inspiration board, but I have this thing where when I get an idea and I know it’s good, I’m all, “FULL STEAM AHEAD” and “DAMN THE TORPEDOES” and many other naval metaphors and creating an inspiration board was going to take FOR-EV-ER and GOD I just wanted to do this WARDROBE THING, OKAY? So instead I started by thinking about stuff that I like, the kind of stuff where when I see an item that is representitive of said stuff, I say, “Ooo!” and run directly toward the representative item, leaving my companions standing around, brows furrowed in puzzlement. For me, this list includes (but is not limited to):

Victorian Literature
Gothic Fiction
Art Nouveau
The Arts and Crafts Movement
Jane Austen Novels
The English Renaissance
Horror Movies
Norma Desmond’s bedroom in Sunset Boulevard
Gothic Architecture
Battlestar Galactica
The Pre-Raphaelites
Fairy Tales

While there are a few outliers, this is a sufficiently cohesive list from which I can tease out a general aesthetic trend: bookish, proper, and correct yet unrestrained and unpretentious, and a little witchy with a crypto-goth streak a mile wide. The cool thing for me was realizing how right freaking on this general aesthetic trend actually was. I looked around and saw this aesthetic on my bookshelf, in my DVD collection, on my iPod, around my workspace, and to a lesser extent in my home decor (I do live with another person whose preferred aesthetic is best summed up by the concrete and stainless steel modular home that this dude in Japan built that was featured on the TV show Small Space, Big Style a couple of years ago, in which you can slide big, blank, dully reflective walls around to hide your kitchen, bathroom, living and bedrooms, and which, in its native state, looks like a big, empty concrete and metal box, the mere thought of which makes my chest tight). The one place this aesthetic does not appear? My closet.

Unfortunately, another place in which this aesthetic is absent is on the racks and webpages of most plus-size retailers, unless Victorian Dress Reform included a hidden period of enthusiasm about polyester and plastic bedazzling. And so, now familiar with my personal style aesthetic, I bought this dress in every color and spent $5,000 at Holy Clothing and called it a day.

Just kidding! For me, there is a lot more to creating a capsule wardrobe than just selecting clothes that satisfy a particular aesthetic paradigm. I also have to consider the logistics of why I need to wear clothes. There are obvious environmental considerations: I live in Chicago, which while sometimes as hot and humid as a hobo’s armpit, is mostly temperate to colder than batshit on a witch’s tit. Then there are professional considerations: I am a legal professional and while my current job does not require a particularly high standard of dress, I am a believer of dressing for the job I want, and I want a job where people won’t ask me if I am going to be on TV or something because I happen to be wearing a tailored black dress and pearls. And finally there are general, practical considerations of personal preference: a strong preference for natural fibers and dresses more so than pants, a unabashed love of cardigans, a white-hot hatred of constricting clothing, the need for durable and easy-care garments, and a tragic lack of closet space.

The bigger challenge for me was taking this aesthetic, and all these logistical considerations, and turning them into a style. I actively and intently thought about this quite a bit. Eventually I settled on the following characteristics: evolved from an Anglo-Western tradition; was fairly modest without being timorous; relied on smart tailoring and a wee smidge of stretch to achieve a fit that emphasized simple lines yet was comfortable and non-restrictive; had a decidedly yet subtly old-fashioned vibe; was minimally embellished and then Morris over Mondriaan; and constructed, whenever possible, of natural fiber fabrics. Think an episode of Project Runway as hosted by Lady Dedlock and Aubrey Beardsley, with special guest judge Queen Elizabeth I, in which the designers have to create a plus-size look appropriate for presenting oral arguments before the US Supreme Court, and Stevie Nicks wins.

And thus was born My Personal Style. The next step is to apply this nascent personal style to my fantasy capsule wardrobe.

*Well, in some respects. In other respects, such as the respect of actually finding those on trend items in your actual size, it’s fucking hard as hell as Gabi and many other excellent fatshion bloggers can tell you.

**Actual trendiness of the listed items not guaranteed.

About two months ago, a thought exploded to the forefront of my little brain with all the ferocity of a supernova: I could give two shits about fashion.

And it’s true. I could really, seriously give two shits about fashion. I don’t care about what’s “on trend.” Sometimes trends and my own personal taste will intertwine, but 90% of the time as I pass store windows or read fashion blogs, I wind up just shaking my head in puzzlement or dismay.

Now, please do not mistake me. By “fashion,” I absolutely do not mean “style.” Style is extremely important to me. Style is what makes me feel confident enough to push my way onto a crowded train. Style is what helps me stand up to misogynistic jagoffs in a professional setting. Style is what supports me when I am feeling a little deflated in the ego department but still really want or need to appear in public.

Style, however, is not fashion. Which isn’t to say that fashionable people lack style. I merely realized, in a moment of cerebral detonation, just that one need not be in style to have style.

Though simple, this realization was startling.

I have been struggling valiantly to develop a wardrobe of clothes that suit my style and my personal distribution of fat for at least the past year. And friends, I have been failing spectacularly. Sure, I have (and wear, fear not) clothes, but clothes, I would posit, are no more synonymous with style than fashion is. Getting dressed is just something I do because the alternative is hypothermia or jail or both. Getting dressed for me is a routine, a desultory start to my day. And you know, I totally deserve better.

Over on Shapely Prose in the comments to a post that I will never be able to identify at this point, A Sarah mentioned that she was looking for a tailor to help her construct a capsule wardrobe. What is a capsule wardrobe, you ask? Let me provide this excellent definition from Shop Talk, a blog I just found by Googling “capsule wardrobe” and that also happens to sport the eerily relevant tag line “Fashions fade, style is eternal”:

It is what’s left when you downsize your closet to the bare essentials. It is the actual backbone of your wardrobe and as such should work with everything. For that very reason it must be based on timeless, best-quality items (think cotton, cashmere, silk) with the most flattering cuts. Think of it as a style investment as these pieces will transcend fashion trends, year in year out. Finally your Capsule Wardrobe will be built around key pieces in neutral colours that suit your natural colouring.

I don’t give a shit about fashion, I thought. A capsule wardrobe, I pondered. Clothes that excite me, that fit, that reflect my personal aesthetic, that make me want to get out of bed and go out there and knock ‘em dead, I enthused. Could I, fat woman looking down the barrel of 40, have and embody… style?

Yes, I thought, I absolutely can.

And so, what I have been calling in my head My Own Personal Wardrobe Project was born.

Imagine, if you will, a moderately curvy fat woman of average inseam length sitting at her desk, pausing in her professional tasks to peer out the window and idly muse, “I wonder if Lane Bryant has the right fit straight leg jeans in stores yet?” Then imagine this fat woman calling her local LB and discovering that YES, Right Fit straight leg jeans ARE in stores, or at least average-length, Right Fit Reds are in one particular store, and then imagine this woman squealing in a fairly uncharacteristic way and waving her arms around like a Muppet and then grabbing her pursing and running out the office door, barely slowing down to tell her coworkers, “I’mgoingoutotlunchnowandmaybesomeshoppingI’llbebackbye!!!” and you will have imagined me at about 12:30 this afternoon.

I’ve been waiting for this moment since Colleen first announced the immanent arrival of LBRFSL jeans. I’m currently unhappy with my jeans array (I have three pairs, each of which is wrong in some small yet fundamental way) and straight leg jeans offer a very appealing middle path between boot cuts and skinny jeans. Although I could have ordered the jeans on-line, I suffer from extreme size-chart cynicism and decided to grit my teeth wait until I could try on the range of sizes necessary to figure out which pair worked for me.

That turned out to be a pretty wise move. LB’s Right Fit size calculator recommended Red 6. I normally wear an 18/20 (I am, in fact, wearing a pair of size 20 non-Right Fit LB pants right now, and they are a little big) so 6 seemed large to me. Having now tried on LBRFSL jeans from a 3 to a 6, I can confidently say that the size calculator is smoking a special kind of size-distorting crack. I ended up buying the jeans in a size 5, which someone younger and trendier than I am might feel were too big on me, but the 4, while comfortable, just fit too… sleek. Yes, these are probably going to loosen up with some wear, but I own a belt and I’m not afraid to wear it, plus I was edging a little close to camel toe territory with the 4s.

I basically agree with everything Colleen had to say about the waist band and the detailing and the cuff and the fit. I’m particularly pleased with the waist band, and with the rise. These are, thank Maude, NOT low rise, which I am like so way over from a basic comfort standpoint, I can’t even tell you. I didn’t notice any stinky dye smell, but I never noticed such a smell before, either, so I’m probably not the one to ask about that.

ETA: I just smelled the jeans after showing them to my coworker, and they do smell like something, but whatever it is, I think it smells kind of good. Chalk it up to that brief but unfortunately inhalant phase I went through in the mid-90s.

I did end up buying two pairs – one blue, and one black. The store was offering a buy one, get one half off deal, which made the price a little more palatable (I do disagree a little with Colleen that $54 is a fair price for these jeans because I just don’t think the denim is all that great, and also because I’m a cheapass Yankee). I had always intended to purchase two pairs (pro tip: if you do not share a dwelling space with your own washer and dryer, having two pairs of working jeans can save you some drama and stress and public shame) but was skeptical about black jeans generally, and find “whiskering” to be vulgar in a way I have trouble really articulating. Once I tried on the black pair, though, I was pleasantly surprised at both the fit and the look of the jeans.

So, in summary: don’t trust the size calculator, comfortable, attractive, not vulgar, potentially on sale, and just in time for casual Friday.

This must have been the three-day weekend for symbolically moving on.

Spoonforkfulls had a jeweler cut off her wedding ring, and I gave my wedding dress to the Brown Elephant.

I was about a size ten when I got married four years ago. My wedding dress, which was just a white cotton day dress that I bought on super sale at Marshall Field’s, might have even been a size eight. Whatever size it was, it doesn’t fit now and hasn’t fit since my first anniversary.

I remember the day not just because it was my first ever wedding anniversary, but also because, although I was unaware of it at the time, it was the day I took my first shaky step towards fat acceptance. And by “first shaky step,” what I really mean is that my first wedding anniversary was the day my carefully constructed world of “permanent lifestyle changes” and atypical results collapsed down around me in a spectacular heap.

Like I said, my wedding dress was a white cotton day dress. I was in law school at the time, and unsurprisingly, had very few occasions for which a white cotton day dress was a suitable garment. About six months into marital bliss, I decided that I would wear my wedding dress when my husband and I went out to dinner to celebrate our first anniversary. It’s a cute idea, and it would have been a lovely and appropriate sartorial choice, except of course when our first anniversary rolled around, the dress was way too small.

I’m sure I’ve written about this before on this blog, but in the interest of not making anybody dig through archives, let me offer a bit of back story: Like most people, I yo-yo dieted to varying degrees of success starting at about age eight, up through and including my penultimate diet, a stint on Weight Watchers beginning in 2002, which resulted in my losing about 80 pounds (still never made my goal weight, though). I then went to law school, and realized that the level of intellectual, physical, and mental stamina required to perform at an even remotely acceptable academic level necessitated that I eat more than 1000 calories a day. I also resented using my precious free time counting stupid points, and let’s face it. Sometimes when I was on my fifth straight hour in the library, denying myself just about everything that I loved the only thing keeping me together emotionally was cookies. So, while on some level, I recognized that staying on Weight Watchers and academic success at law school were completely incompatible, on another, deeply denial-laden level, I was sure that, having lose eighty pounds, there was no way I would gain them back. I had made a Lifestyle Change! The Fates of Weights wouldn’t be so cruel as to render all of my hard work and self-deprivation for naught. Surely, the fact that I was suspending my Weight Watchers account for law school, and not for a love of cheese cake or abject laziness or some other fundamental moral failing, meant that I would find myself on the “right” side of that ninety-five percent when everything was said and done.

Yeah, sorry, no. My first anniversary fell the summer after my second year of law school, and that wedding dress was too small by at least two sizes, and let me tell you. I completely lost my shit. Here is my beloved husband, dressed up and ready to go out to dinner at an expensive restaurant, and here I am, sitting on the couch in a t-shirt sobbing my face off because I had failed to do what nearly every other human being who manages to lose weight by simply eating less and exercising more had failed to do. I didn’t see it like that at the time, of course. All I saw was failure. Sure, I had great grades in law school and had secured a fantastic summer clerkship and had, concurrently, just successfully completed one year of marriage to the love of my life but I was also FAT, and thus a FAILURE, and thus WORTHLESS, and thus the money it would cost to feed me at a fancy restaurant, not to mention the cost for labor, materials, shipping, etc., that a new dress in my dreadful new size, would be utterly wasted on me. Oh pathos, up yours!

Eventually, I got it together and donned a skirt and shirt that I derided at the time as “fat clothes” (which I have long ago jettisoned as too small) and actually enjoyed dinner. Not long after, I got a prescription for anti-depressants and then some therapy and then read Rethinking Thin by Gina Kolata and then got turned on to Shapely Prose by a friend who will always hold a special place in my heart for that very reason, and while I still have my moments (had one on Friday that I might write about related to the realization, shocking to absolutely no one but me, that I have back fat) I’m doing okay.

But I still hung on to my wedding dress. At first, I had an idea that I would return to Weight Watchers with that hoary goal of Fitting Back into My Wedding Dress. When that didn’t work out, I decided I should keep the dress because it was my wedding dress and that seemed like something I should keep, even though it was far from the kind of heirloom quality, bespoke garment that I would wish to force, I mean, pass on to my hypothetical children. Then I kind of forgot about it until Saturday when my husband and I tackled the long-delayed but very necessary task of cleaning out the larger of the two closets in our apartment and there it was.

I took the dress, entombed in four-year-old dry cleaner’s plastic, from the back of the closet and regarded it at arm’s length for a minute before stuffing it in a hideously floral and broken wheeled suitcase that my mother pawned off on us last Christmas with the probably undeserved benediction, “Stupid dress, you made me have a nervous breakdown on my first wedding anniversary!”

And just like that, it was gone.

I should probably get my wedding ring resized (again), too, but I can still get it off with the aid of some lubricant (oh hush) so I think I’ll wait until October and see if summer is making me as puffy as I suspect that it is. And congratulations and high-five to Spoonforkfuls.

Dear Poor Neglected Blog,

There’s this dream I have sometimes. In a frenzy of stomach-clenching knowledge that I’ve forgotten something indescribably important, I rifle madly through cabinets, closets, handbags, and discarded suitcases. I dig into the back of long-forgotten cupboards. I push aside dust bunnies and peer under the bed. Eventually, I find what I’m looking for: a baby. Sometimes, a kitten or a puppy. But it’s always something helpless, and it’s always something near-death due to my own selfish neglect. Once I found a baby in the back of a kitchen cabinet, barely alive and only then thanks to a stale package of cheese straws. If I have this dream tonight, I will be unsurprised to find a gasping, wheezing WordPress blog disintegrating into darkening pixels at the bottom of a broken cedar chest.

I really hate this dream.

I do have my reasons, though, for abandoning you in the wilderness. The first is that navel-gazing quandary as old as blogging itself of being unable to address the scope of external issues that I deem important with anything approaching the necessary reverence and attention, balanced by an unwillingness to get too personal, tempered by a recognition that remaining impersonal while lacking the time to delve thoroughly into the external leaves me with very little to write about. That’s really a wordy way of saying I feel both overwhelmed by possibility and empty of ideas.

The second and more practical reason is purely physical. I have a day job in which I sit at a desk, turn on a computer, and proceed to write for the next eight to ten hours. Sometimes I read, occasionally I research and sometimes I contemplate or analyze (although I am a very kinetic thinker and tend to write my way through tricky turns of analysis) but mostly I am just writing writing writing. I have little time for clandestine work-time blogging, and at the end of the day, the least appealing activity I can think of is sitting down at a different desk, turning on a different computer, and writing some more. Not only that, but my hands, wrists, and forearms are barely able to sustain my current occupational levels of typing. Slowly but surely I’ve eliminated most beloved manual leisure activities (minds out of the gutter, please, for I am speaking of crochet, embroidery, creative writing, video games, and my vow that I will one day start playing the guitar again I swear (by which I mean that I no longer make that vow, as realistically, my hands could not handle the additional strain)) and that, alas, has included this blog.

So that’s it. In short, dear blog, it’s not you; it’s me. Now stay out of my dreams.

Love,
Ottermatic

I’m not dead. I’m just resting my eyes.

This is a meme from Odd One Out. Bold the things you’ve done. I’m an exciting individual!

1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band

4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo

11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightning at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning (Never eat buffet food right before closing time.)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables (badly)

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Skied a marathon (I didn’t even know this was something people did.)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse (And lost my powers! Wait, that was something else…)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise (booze cruise, maybe)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors (I candy striped in the birthplace of my ancestors – I’m like a millionth generation Delmarvan. I’ve never been to the British Isles, which is the origination of my ancestors, but since we’ve been in North American since the 1600s and claim no kinship to the Motherland, I’ll still say yes to this.)
35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught myself a new language (tried, failed.)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt (Been to Wyoming, though.)
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance (My friends in college drove an old ambulance as their main form of transportation. Heh.)
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (I know, I know.)
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi concentration camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt (unsuccessfully)
73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades (Been to Florida, though.)
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (I was IN FLAGSTAFF and did not go to the Grand Canyon because I was too hungover. I know, I know.)
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life (Heimlich maneuver. It’s good to know.)

90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person (Been in Texas, though.)
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake (Been in Utah, though.)
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

100. Ridden an elephant

Conclusion: Time to leave the continental US.

So… David Foster Wallace hanged himself this weekend.

In 1997, I moved back to my parents’ house in my small hometown from Boulder, Colorado after escaping a relationship to which I will show unearned kindness and describe as merely disastrous. Somehow, after short stints as a temporary high school office receptionist and a telemarketer at a memorial park, I wound up working first at the pizza restaurant where I waited tables in high school and then at the record store where I worked during the summers when I was in undergrad. I had regained all the weight I so victoriously lost my senior year in high school and kept off throughout college by rigorously courting an eating disorder. Within a week of returning home, I totaled my grandparents’ car. I was unbearably lonely. I was depressed, although unable to recognize that at the time.

And that’s when I first read Infinite Jest. My mother was a member of Quality Paperback Book Club, and could never remember to stop the book of the month shipment and so IJ arrived in our home and sat on a bookshelf in what had once been my bedroom but had been immediately transformed into an office when I left for college. The last minute addition of a day bed on my prodigal return made the tiny quarters fairly uses as either bedroom or office, but that’s where I slept. I remember that the book was in my line of sight in the morning, and I looked at it a lot as I laid in that day bed until the promise of a long, reality-suspending read and the resonance of the name’s clear applicability to my life prodded me to pull it off the shelf one meandering Saturday morning and see what the giant book with the cloudy cover was all about. I stayed in bed and read most of that day, and carried that heavy fucking thing around with me everywhere I went until I finished it two weeks later. Then I took a couple of weeks off and read it again. It would be a bit too dramatic for my tastes to say that Infinite Jest saved my life, but it certainly served as the closest thing to a friend that I had during one of the stupider periods of my adult life. And it would not be an overstatement to say that for the next year or two, I was deeply in love with David Foster Wallace.

I’ve re-read IJ three or so more times since then. To be honest, I don’t love the book as much as I used to, in part because it evokes those unpleasant feelings of intense loneliness that I felt when I first read the book. But it’s still a good read, and funny, and eerie, and prescient. It still paints a starkly accurate picture of addiction and depression. It still features a tennis academy with the motto, “They Can Kill You, but the Legalities of Eating You Are Quite a Bit Dicier.” For me, I would classify the rest of DFW’s books from exceptionally brilliant to nearly unreadable. And I’m not in love with him any more, although I will always think of him fondly.

But still.

I walked into the living room on Saturday and my husband said, “Did you see this?” and pointed to the computer screen. There was the AP headline “Novelist David Foster Wallace found dead.” It would not be an overstatement to say that my knees buckled a little, and I backed up half a step to sit down abruptly on our coffee table while I read the rest of the short article. Getting up, I noticed a white blobby smear of some substance on the table where I had been sitting. I craned my neck to inspect the back of my pants to discover that I had sat on a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese, a forgotten snack that my husband neglected to return to the fridge.

It is meaningless that in my gentle grief at the lost of a dear old friend I sat on a wedge of processed Swiss cheese, but I found some solace in the absurdity anyway.

My friend L sent me this link to the Omnivore’s Hundred, and I love a meme, and I am really hungry right now (contemplating some vending machine carrot cake, L!!!! (she hates it when I do that)) so here we go. Bold what you’ve eaten and strike through what you would never eat.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare

5. Crocodile [I have, however, eaten alligator.]
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart

16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
[I actually don't remember trying this but my husband assures me that I have, so okay.]
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
[I am counting this as a yes because over the course of my lifetime, I have easily eaten my weight in scrapple, which is a delicious regional variation of head cheese. RAPPA SCRAPPLE FOR EVA! ETA!!! Head cheese is actually more like souse meat than scrapple (which is more like liver pudding than head cheese) but as I've eaten souse meat, I shall leave number 25 as it is.]
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar [Never had them together!]
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat

42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin

51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV

59. Poutine [I've never had poutine but OMG do I ever want to try it. French fries, cheese curds, and gravy? Yes please.]
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads

63. Kaolin [I am crossing clay off this list in the hopes that I never have to it.]
64. Currywurst [BRING IT ON.]
65. Durian [Durian fruit is as bad, if not worse, than every terrible thing you have read or heard about it.]
66. Frogs’ legs [Animals I will never eat include: cats, dogs, frogs, turtles, and rabbits. If I've ever had it as a pet, or if it starred in a beloved children's book I read, I won't eat it. Arbitrary, but effective.]
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill [What can I say? I come from an area of the country where if you hit a deer, you take it home and dress it.]
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail

79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. [I have enjoyed the tasting menu at Tru, but that's as close as I've come.]
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare [Edit: MissPrism informs me in the comments that rabbit and hare are actually quite different, so I have un-bolded number 86. I also opted not to cross it out, since I've never had a hare as a pet and as such would probably eat one.]
87. Goulash
88. Flowers

89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

So I was reading a post on Pound yesterday, in which Wendy linked to one of her old posts about Bad Times retail locations, which incidentally is hilarious and totally articulates something that I have always found disconcerting yet totally inarticulable and also I totally used to live near the Andersonville Bad Times Jewel and would go out of my way to hit up the Good Times Dominick’s on Broadway and Thorndale instead, that is how sensitive to Bad Times I am, and then she linked to another post about Hair Question Men.

I like to fancy myself a generally nice person. I smile, make eye contact, and politely say, “No thank you,” to people who want to save the children, people who want to know about my feelings on the environment, people who want to sell me a copy of Streetwise, give me menus, or give me literature on any number of social justice causes, whether well founded or totally fucking paranoid. But those awful, douchey, shitbag Hair Question Men really, really, really piss me off.

My first HQM encounter was actually with an Hair Question Woman. I had just moved to the city and was in the middle of my first year of law school. As I scurried along to class in the loop, exhausted, stressed out, wind blown, unkempt, make-up free and sans accoutrement and probably about eight months out from my last haircut, a nice lady stopped me at a light and said, “Can I ask you a question about your hair?” My ego, which law school had been systematically destroying, jumped up and said, “Really? My hair? Sure! Sure! Do you like it? Are you going to say something nice to me? Can you validate my existence as a human being? Please! Please ask me about my hair! ASK ME ABOUT MY HAIR!!!”

The HQW started in on her sales patter and, this is a genius move, really, extended the coupon book she was trying to sell toward me. I, being a total idiot plus also really not wanting to hurt this nice lady’s feelings, accepted it. And then? The HQW put her hands in her pockets, leaving me holding the item she was attempting to sell me in my hot little hands, with nowhere to put it. BRILLIANT. I forget how I extricated myself from the situation, but once I realized she wasn’t my new best friend but was actually selling me a product in which I had zero interest (not to mention zero time or money to use it), I started rambling about being late for class and being broke and haircuts being against my personal religious beliefs and being legally prohibited from being within thirty feet of all the stylists at the salon for which she worked and then I tucked the coupon between her arm and her coat and ran ran away as fast as my little legs could carry me.

And I’ve held a grudge against the whole endeavor ever since. But it’s not just a personal grudge. The enterprise feels eely and dishonest and really rankles me from a feminist standpoint, too. My first HQW was also the only woman I’ve ever seen working that particular gig. In ever other case, it’s opportunistic men exploiting gender hierarchy to sell a basically worthless coupon book by using women’s socially inculcated insecurities about their looks to get their foot in the door and employing a really distasteful “no means yes” hard sell, plus guilt, plus emotional manipulation, plus sometimes straight up physical intimidation to part women from their hard-earned 76 cents on the god damn dollar. And it makes me just furious.

I’ve basically made it my life’s work, or at least a hobby of mine, to be as unpleasant to HQM as humanly possible. Once, after a woman had declined to discuss her hair, I watched one of these slimy jerks flick a lit cigarette butt after her retreating form and call her a bitch. I asked the name of his employer, intending to call and report his actions and probably report the salon to the Better Business Bureau for putting assholes like him out on the street but can you believe it? He would not tell me unless I bought a coupon book. Another time I called building security on a HQM making the rounds in the food court of a public building where I was trying to eat lunch and read in peace. A few days ago, I responded to some shitheel’s entreaty to question me about my hair with an unimaginative but heartfelt, “No! Go fuck yourself!” Lately, perhaps because of the increased foot traffic in the summer, or because times are tough and the HQMs have been downsized from their regular douchebag day jobs, the HQMs, like summer’s ubiquitous piles of abandoned dog shit, are just everywhere.

I don’t know if it was the heat, or the fact that I was both hungry yet, due to the heat, disgusted by the thought of food, or because last night’s crazy mother fucking weather forced me to put on a bra after seven p.m. (in case I had to leave the house in a hurry; didn’t want to be running in a panic down the street with my melons a’bobbling) AND literally scared the pee out of our smallest cat (all over our bed), but today when I got hassled by a HQM, I totally lost my shit. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those stories where I talk about how awesomely witty and cutting I am, because I was really neither, but I think it does show exactly the kind of men who think accosting women on the street with a bullshit sales pitch would make a really rewarding career:

HQM: Can I ask you a question about your hair?

OTM wheels around to face the HQM, who launches immediately into his sales pitch.

HQM: I work for one of Chicago’s premiere salon’s and we are offering a fantastic deal on–

OTM: Shut up! Shut up! What is wrong with you? You have the most annoying job in this entire city, do you know that? Why don’t you quit this and do something that doesn’t totally fucking suck? (See? Not witty.)

HQM: This job is annoying? I bet I make more money than you do.

OTM: Seriously, you have the most bullshit job ever.

HQM: Well, I bet I make more money than you do.

OTM: You probably do, but you are still the most irritating person on this street right now. (walks away, throws her hands up in a gesture of frustration.) You all make me nuts with shit. Can I ask you about your hair. What a bunch of (yells over her shoulder) HORSESHIT!

HQM (yelling after me): You’d be surprised at how many girls I lay!

So there you have it. A little insight into the psyche of hair question men: they are better than me because they make more money than I do and they “lay” a lot of “girls.”

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