Sunday, December 27, 2009

What's Wrong with Your Online Dating Profile?

I've recently re-entered the world of "online dating". That phrase is in quotes, since it is mostly "online looking" for me; very little dating happens. I tried this last year for a few months and got dozens of "winks" and messages within a few days, so many that I started coming up with arbitrary reasons to cross people off my list. Went on just one date and then shut down my account because I can't take rejection. Being rejected isn't a delight, but being the "rejector" is absolutely excrutiating. No matter how gently it is done, one always feels like a big jerk. Now I've decided to try online dating again and so far the experience is less overwhelming and creepy than before.

If you are a woman, I can't tell you what to put on your profile but the advice I was given was to take this opportunity to be completely honest. This is your chance to "get it all out there". In my area, the men seem to tremendously outnumber the women, so I've tailored my profile to scare people off. It's helping both in the quality and creepiness departments. Apparently, satire attracts a higher quality of gentleman.

Some websites now offer the service of completely writing your profile for you. That doesn't seem quite right or fair. Who would be impressed with a guy that engaged someone else to write about the one topic he should know best? What I think is in order is a service that will look at your profile and say "What the hell are you thinking!?" then provide pointers for getting a woman to actually read it. So many profiles have one or two fatal flaws that are such turn-offs most women won't even consider the guy as a potential date. And it probably isn't your fault; it's caused by a simple disconnect between what men think women want and what many of us actually do want.

Disclaimer: I have no idea what most women want in a man or anything else, and suspect my own criteria is rather bizarre and highly unreasonable. But if you want to know what a lefthanded woman with a cool job, two cats and the most fabulous friends thinks when she looks at your online dating profile you have come to the right place.

Profiles that address what they don't want in a date are really off-putting and seem bound to attract bad karma. That's why this information is appearing here rather than on my actual profile. Here are my top 10 reasons for rejecting a potential date:


#1 No picture on the profile.

Causes suspicion that the person is either married or extremely unattractive. Sure, there are other reasons to obfuscate one's image, but since most of us risk terminal embarrasment by putting our picture out there for everyone to see, it seems unfair when someone else does not. Also, there is no kind way to ask someone for a picture then reject them after they send it.

#2 Sad or Creepy User Name

Mentioning Loneliness, Second Chances or anything else that elicits pity is just a terrible idea. Women aren't looking for someone that seems pathetic. Names containing the words Back Rub, Cougar, Sex or Nasty are downright creepy. Yes, I have seen all of these.

#3 Looking for your "Special Lady" or "Forever Partner"?

This phrase appears all over dating sites. Ugh! Some women probably like it, but I haven't met one yet. It suggests a guy is willing to jump into a relationship with the next woman he sees, and that's enough to send most of us running for the hills.

#4 Listing your salary

When a person lists their salary on the internet one has to wonder a bit about their judgement. All the world can see these most of these sites so a bit of discretion is advisable. It doesn't result in an automatic rejection, but it does give one pause for thought regardless of how high or low. If it's very high then one wonders about a few things. Is it accurate or a way to try and impress? Is the gentleman looking for a woman that loves him for his money? Is overly pre-occupied or impressed with his wealth. If it's low then does the guy possess ambitions? Either way it's just uncomfortable to see. Salary info is better saved for a time when a relationship has matured a bit.

#5 Shirtless Pictures, Pictures of your Car, and Sometimes self portraits.

Shirtless pictures scream looking for sex. No matter how "ripped" you are, keep your shirt on fellas. Pictures of your car can make it seem you are looking for a trophy that values you for your earning potential rather than you. Self-portraits are tricky. They have the potential to be endearing, but also can seem a bit lame.

#6 Pictures that include unnamed women

Who are these women? Your last match date? And did they give you permission to post their pictures on an online dating site?

#7 Pictures with women obviously cut out

That makes us wonder if we are destined for a similar fate "Oh, he just cuts them right out of his life when he's done with them."

#8 Poor Grammar or Spelling

Nothing turns a woman on like receiving a message that says "Your Hot." Take a few minutes to run spell check so it appears you are actually interested in making a decent impression.

#9 Mentioning prior relationships too soon

One guy man mentioned his ex-wife and his ex-girlfriend in his profile, then again in an email exchange. So I asked how long he'd been single and learned it was less than a month, but "I'm ready to move on." He may well be ready, but most women aren't interested in being anyone's rebound girl.

#10 Badly written email messages
This could be a topic of it's own. By "bad" I mean recycled, creepy, unimaginative and beyond. My favorite example is the one I received containing the lyrics to the Gershwin song Someone to Watch Over Me saying "Your profile reminded me of this song." He either didn't read my profile at all, or just sends that to everyone. I couldn't decide if he was trying to provoke me, or truly thought I was a "little lost lamb." It's probably tough to find a good balance between getting someone to read the message and being annoying or outlandish, but this guy completely missed the mark.

My best advice is to have a female friend check out your profile and give honest feedback. Good luck! Online dating isn't for the feint of heart.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Little Edie

My recent introduction to the documentary Grey Gardens, the story of Jacqueline Kennedy's aunt and cousin who lived in dilapidated splendor in East Hampton, resulted in a bit of an obsession. I'm in good company as some close friends actually named their new kitten after Little Edie Beale. I also took the DVD on vacation to New Orleans where I played it any time we were in our rooms.  Two friends that were along repeatedly said "Are you watching that again?" then promptly sat down mesmerized each time, while the fourth in our party simply gazed in wide-eyed, undisguised fascination at the scenes playing out on the screen. I wrapped scarves around my head and tried to speak like the younger Edie.



Dressing for Halloween isn't top of my list, but I'd been looking for an excuse to remake myself into Little Edie wearing her "best costume for the day". When told of my plan most people asked "Will anyone know who you are?" It didn't matter because anyone that did know would get such a kick out of it that it would make up for the blank looks of everyone else.

It's a simple costume, so I had much of what I needed already.  The wrap for my head and the sweater are items I owned, along with the shoes. I found a pin similar to hers at a 2nd hand store and the skirt is one of those 1970s wool wrap things, which I thought kind of looked like a salvaged slipcover from an old couch or chair.  The shorts underneath are grey workout shorts.  I did not, as she described, pull the panty hose up over the shorts but wore them underneath since that didn't sound comfortable.  The following year I wore the same costume but took along an old ripped mink since it was cold.



After seeing the documentary film Edie declared it a classic. As delusional as she must have seemed at the time, having a Broadway musical and an Emmy Award winning HBO Movie created about her and her mother certainly gives proof to her point. After hours of walking and talking like Edie, something clicked and I didn't want to stop. She was indeed fabulous and I hope she would have been delighted by my emulation of her in the revolutionary costume.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Quinoa & Arugula Salad

Dinner for 4 Saturday night at Reba and Pancho's: A Modern American Restaurant. Everything was delicious, but the biggest hit was their Quinoa and Spinach Salad. The recipe includes cold Quinoa tossed with Feta, Red Onion and a vinaigrette, served over baby spinach. We didn't realize the vinaigrette was there until we asked how it got such a great flavor. It was so good that I came home today and created my own adaptation.



Quinoa and Arugula Salad

1 cup of Red Quinoa
1/2 Leek finely chopped
1 T Rosemary Wine Vinegar
3 T Macadamia Nut Oil
1/2 cup Feta Cheese crumbled
Fresh Arugula
Salt and Cracked Pepper

Cook the quinoa according to the package directions. When it is nearly done, add the oil, leeks and vinegar, cover and continue cooking over very low heat until the vinegar is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cool, toss the feta in with the quinoa. Add Salt and Pepper to taste. Place a handful of arugula on a salad plate, spoon the quinoa over it and serve. Makes 4 Servings

Sunday, October 11, 2009

New Orleans 2009

New Orleans is, hands down, my favorite city in the United States. Thus, I return and return and return. Here are a few highlights from my most recent visit.

Louis Armstrong International Airport now boasts an Acme Oyster House outpost. Having a bit of time to wait for the arrival of one friend, we took the opportunity to grab drinks and a quick snack. On the menu is a sampler of fresh and fried oysters. I've been a fan of fresh oysters since my first trip to Key West, but having their succulent fried oysters was a new and unexpected treat. The waitress there might call you honey, and she might also then apologize and explain that she doesn't mean anything by it. If you take enough offense at being called honey to complain, New Orleans is probably not right the place for you. Fortunately, my party delights in being addressed so warmly.

We were famished when we arrived in the French Quarter and so we hiked down Decatur Street to Café Maspero. Rather, I think I dragged everyone, continually saying, "It's just one more block! It's on the corner." The Roast Beef sandwiches they serve are something to dream about, but this time I ordered a Shrimp Po Boy and went overboard to add a cup of Beans and Rice. The portions are beyond generous and beyond delicious. We also shared a Muffaletta, a New Orleans classic sandwich heaped with Italian meat, cheese and olive salad. A word of caution about all Muffaletta's: eat what you can in one sitting, but don't save the rest for later. Trust me on this. When recounting our day over the phone to a friend that lived in New Orleans for several years, he replied "That's my favorite place!"


Café Du Monde was our next stop. Though it is a favorite, I had to be dragged this time, feeling I couldn't eat or drink another bite but knowing it would be impossible to resist a Café Au Lait and Beignets. The place was packed, the music was grand and the fare was indeed irresistable. A more the perfect spot for people watching never existed.






This video captures the every-day vibe at Café Du Monde very well.


Along the way we stopped to look at the art hanging on the wrought iron fence at the Place D'Armes - Jackson Square. One friend has a thing for fancy chickens, and picked up a brilliant piece of original art painted on wood recovered from the 9th Ward. The artist picked this particular rooster especially for my friend. After we paid he told us why he choose to paint roosters; during slavery ailing roosters were often given to slaves to butcher and eat, but instead they would nurse them back to health and the result was a stronger and more robust animal. His roosters are a symbol of the greater strength being developed in New Orleans while the people there nourish this city ravaged by hurricane and flooding back to health. He also related how school kids had collected the wood for him, while he was taking extra time to work on a mural for their school. While painting he was worried about the amount of time he was spending there when he should be out gathering more wood. He returned to find his truck had been filled by the grateful children.

For me, no trip to New Orleans is complete without a facial from Trudy at
Le Salon in the New Orleans Athletic Club. Trudy is a delight, and just walking through the club is reminiscent of another time. During this visit Trudy also tinted my eyelashes, and the results are delightful. Trudy has a full schedule so be sure make an appointment in advance. Anyone receiving a spa treatment may also use the Athletic Club facilities. I admit I've never been inclined to use my time in the Big Easy in that manner, though.


Brunch at The Old Coffee Pot at 714 Saint Peter Street. This place has food, service and ambience nailed. As I bit into my Eggs Sardou, I squealed. I don't squeal. I also never clean my plate, but there wasn't a scrap left on our plates at the Old Coffee Pot. The staff made us feel very welcome, though were scandalized by my yankee friend's insistence that she would be putting sugar on her grits when they arrived. Her grits were so tasty that she didn't even try. Their Bloody Mary comes with at least 3 pickled green beans. I suggest picking up a jar of these at the French Market to take home.


Oceana Grill on Conti Street. I stumbled upon this wonderful restaraunt one evening when I arrived before my travel companions. They took me in, fed me and treated me like a friend and I've been coming back ever since. Not once have I been disappointed. I always order the same thing; fettucine alfredo with grilled chicken and a side of vegetables on top. The caesar salad is also a favorite. They do have plenty of Traditional New Orleans fare and after years of taking friends I've never heard anything but praise. We also tried and enjoyed the Fried Eggplant. We learned it's popular with locals when asking about places to eat "My all time favorite place though, is Oceana."


Big Al Carson is another Bourbon Street Staple. He plays Tuesday through Sunday at the Funky Pirate. Big Al has a delightful range, singing Blues, Motown, R&B and more and he also has an amazing girth, though I do believe he's lost some of it since my last visit. He belted out "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer", "Stand By Me" and treated me personally to a serenade of "It Hurts Me, Too"

Jamil Sharif at Maison Bourbon at 641Bourbon Street. For the price of a drink per set you get 45 minutes of beautiful old school Jazz. The sound that comes out of his trumpet is like honey and butter mixed together, playing original works as well as old favorites. While there on a Sunday night, the musician spotted this amazing woman walking by and dashed out to ask her to come in and sing. She crooned out "Wild Women Don't Have the Blues." She told me afterward that she worked in a restaraunt down the street and was old and tired. I'm still not sure of her name, but got a little taste that night of what it's like to be in the presence of genuine musicians whose love of their music and their audience is always evident.
Every trip includes at least one mistake. For New Orleans 2009 that was taking a Haunted History Tour. If you see a brochure with a vampire on the front, avoid it at all costs. The guides are surly, unknowledgeable and annoying. We left mid-way through becuase we just couldn't take it. There is another Ghost Tour that boasts knowledgeable guides and provides a true history lesson of the French Quarter, sans vampires, costumes, and encouraging people to yell in the streets. The Vampire folks have done a terrific job of making it seem like they are the only game in town, and frankly, I knew better but decided to give them a shot. It won't happen again.
The one good thing about the Haunted History Tour is that the tour includes a stop at Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop on the Corner of Bourbon and St. Phillip for a drink. Our guide pointed at the building and essentially said "That place is old, we don't know how old, and it's really haunted. Now have a drink and meet me back here in 15 minutes." I imagine they lose quite a few people on the stop; I can't be the only one that wanted to stay. It's in a quiter section of Bourbon, beyond the noise and lights, so many revelers never make it down this far. There is a reason this place is a favorite with locals and tourists alike.


It's easy enough to remain in the Quarter and have a wonderful time, but there is so much to see in the rest of the city. My friends took the street car to the end of the line while I was having a facial. One tip about the streetcar: adult beverages are not allowed, but are more likely to be ignored if you remove the straw.

We also ventured out of the Quarter for Sunday Night Football at Cooter Browns, where we feasted on the most amazing "cheese fries". The fries are actually silver-dollar sized slices of potatoes covered in cheese. Washed them down with an Abita Amber. This was my first visit to Cooter Browns, and I will surely return.


What always strikes me the most about this city that I love so much is how much they love everyone back. It's amazing that residents of a town so full of tourists year-round never tire of welcoming guests. Their hospitality is never stale. Each time I return, I meet new people and am delighted by the number that actually remember me from previous visits. They always smile such brilliant smiles and greet everyone with a truly genuine warmth. Leaving New Orleans always leaves me a little sad, wondering how I can be so homesick for a place that's never been my home.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Housekeeping

Kevin explained to us over dinner last night that during Ramadan, hotels are very hard to come by in Indonesia. Apparently it is customary to give the housekeeping staff time off so that they can be with their family, but rather than taking the housekeeping duties upon themselves many opt to move to a hotel. I realize there may be many reasons for this beyond the obvious, but I still find it a relief to know that I am not the only one that eschews housework.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Public Service Announcement: The Internet is not Anonymous!

Despite the maturity of internet, and enough years of widespread use, many folks that should know better still have no clue that the internet is not an anonymous place where they can safely post whatever they like without risk of exposure. Anyone on Facebook is prone to having the occassional stranger send friend requests. I usually ignore these, but recently used one for a little experiment. The person's last name was obviously fake, so I decided to see how long it would take for me to find out more about them, and how much I could find.

I found full name, address, date of birth, more pictures, occupation, relatives names, where they attended school, and more. All this with just a first name, a picture and a list of their friends.

It is most shocking how many people under the age of 30 think they can post things on social networking sites and that information won't be available to others. One would expect that growing up in the information age and seeing people fired for MySpace Photos like Stacy Snyder, fired for Facebook comments like Kimberley Swann, or completely humiliated AND fired as shown in this fun video broadcast by the Young Turks.


Once you put something out on the internet, you have no control where it will go or who will see it. You may think you have secured your profile, but there is always a possibility of holes in that security. Many employers search these sites before and during your employment with them. That's how the Bishop came to call Alex a cross-dresser and a swinger, as immortalized here at rumorsaboutme.com. Two Professors I know told me they often google their students, and their colleagues have declined to provide references to graduating students based on things they found that reflected poorly on the student.

So think long and hard before you hit post. And before friending and following people you don't know on social networking sites, please consider that they might well be information-gathering internet junkies like me. Do you really want your personal details in the hands of a stranger?

Hanna Nearly Picks up a Prostitute

Kevin and Michael needed a ride home from the train last night so I picked them up. After a glass of wine at their house I drove back toward mine. It was raining more than a little but not a complete downpour. At one intersection there was a woman standing in the street in the rain, waving. Thinking she might need help, I slowed to a stop, all while wondering what the hell I was planning to do if she did. Picking up strangers in the hood isn't usually a wise move. She walked over to the car and looked in with a huge grin. A man was standing not far away on the opposite side of the street, watching us. I smiled back at her but shook my head no very slightly and didn't roll down the window. She continued grinning as I just drove away.

It took a minute for all this to click in my head. She was probably in her 40s, looked like someone's sweet Grandmother, not badly dressed at all. She definitely seemed whacked out, and looked so happy that someone had stopped.

Most of my neighbors would probably have called the cops. It was right in my own neighborhood, on a fairly major street. I thought about how it isn't good for the property values. (Nice attitude, right? Don't worry about the woman, worry about how much your house is worth.) But last night I was in a "live and let live" mood, so I let it go.

And since I believe all things happen for a reason, I have to wonder if the reason for this was to teach me, a woman from the South, that waving back at people that wave to you from strange cars isn't always wise, especially if you are in the hood. A few months after the events described above, I was walking down a street where prostitutes are known to do business when a car pulled up next to me and the driver waved. I had the good sense to put my head down and keep walking.

The woman in question also recently walked by when I was getting in my car in front of my house and asked for a ride. I guess we are friends now. Again, the Southerner in me hesitated, but the wise woman in me won that round.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Football, Strangers and an apology

M- who always knows when to go home, and I attended a Big College Football game today. Mike is in Mongolia and all our usual suspects are out of town for the weekend, so when tickets became available it seemed like a good opportunity to see what all the fuss is about. We've both been to plenty of games, but being fairly new still to this area neither of us had attended a game at this particular school.

So we two fun-seekers left our surprisingly pleasant city early this morning and travelled the 3 hours to the game. Usually we bring lots of food everywhere we go, but today it was nice to just show up, sit in the practically disposable lawn chairs that I keep in my trunk because I wouldn't let my mom throw them away and drink a beer each before going into the stadium.

M- and I got separated in the entry line, because I had a big bag that needed to be inspected, so I was alone when I heard the older couple behind me talking about me.
GrandMom: She has *two* phones!
GrandDad: Just like our grand daughter
GrandMom: *Two* phones!
GandDad: She's always on those phones, talking on one, texting on the other
GrandMom: Yeah, she can't be away from those things for even a second.

At this point because I am shocked that people would just stand there discussing me while I was in earshot, I decide to enter the conversation.
Hanna matter-of-factly: She's a drug dealer.
To which I get four very large eyes and raised eyebrows.

GrandDad: We were just saying our grand daughter is just like you, she has two phones and she's always typing on them.
Hanna dryly: Yeah, she's probably a drug dealer. Drug dealers usually have two phones.
I let that sit for a moment, then I couldn't take it so I smiled and eased up.
Hanna: I'm just kidding. One is personal, the other is for work. I don't like making personal calls on the company's phone. And I can't sit still, I need to be doing something all the time so I am checking the news.

We had a lovely conversation after that, and without a doubt these two will continue talking about strangers within their earshot. I really hope they don't go home and accuse their grand daughter of illegal activities though. But then, there really aren't very many good reasons to have two phones so maybe I was right.

The game was great fun and as usual M- knew exactly when to go home so we had a very smooth ride out of there. On the way, I decided that though 36 years of watching football and not understanding at all was quite an accomplishment, it needed to come to a close. So I came home and I read the rules.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hanna at Home

The yard needed attention today so I spent the morning weeding, trimming and bagging. The butterfly bush that Natalie and I chopped to bits a few months ago is now enormous and in gorgeous full bloom. The garden flowers were totally overgrown so now the house is filled with them. The recent rain induced a delightful moss to grow over the brick patio. Ignoring the herb garden all summer worked like a charm; the rosemary, parsley, chives, basil, oregano and lemon verbena have grown in abundance.

The results:
8 ramekins of various Garlic Herb Butters
Lemon Verbena Sun Tea
Oven-dried Chives
Freeze-dried Oregano and Chives
More Herbs hanging from the ceiling to dry
Refrigerator filled with fresh parsley
Fresh homemade Pesto - made with pecans and romano
Rosemary Wine Vinegar
Snack - cold leftover orzo with eggplant, asparagus, scallions and parmigiano - mixed in fresh chopped tomatoes and pesto - delicious!
Lunch - gnocchi with sauteed mushrooms and eggplant in a tomato, pesto, olive and caper sauce topped with romano cheese

My crazy but beloved neighbor who will be moving away next month came by for a visit and brought silverqueen corn. We will cook that Tuesday for the "Going to Mongolia Party" for Mike. The kitchen is a mess but smells absolutely wonderful. What a magnificent day!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You don't get to decide that!

Mike, who was in China for a very long time, remarked recently that it doesn't seem right for someone to say something critical of another, then call them "hyper-sensitive" when they don't react well. It may be completely true, but it isn't a determination that the initial offender can objectively make. It also leaves one rather defenseless since the person potentially being hyper-sensitive isn't in a position to persuasively disagree.

So if you are going to criticize someone, you need to enlist another to insult their reaction after you do it.

Otherwise, it just doesn't stick.

Guests of Guests

This weekend while playing Wizard with davis and A- in the early morning, I was accosted by the newly-matriculated visiting drunken brother of another friend. Old Country music was playing on the stereo, and Little Stevie had been two stepping in the kitchen with his Sister-In-Law. When Dwight Yoakam's rendition of "Honkey Tonk Man" came on, Stevie, who by his own admission had hit on everything in sight that evening, turned his attention to me and demanded that I dance with him.



I smiled and said "No" to which Stevie, the recent "Ivy League" graduate replied something like "come-on, come-on, come-on". I explained that he was extremely unlikely to persuade me since I didn't want to and I rarely do things I don't want to do. A- said to him "That is true, she really doesn't!" He then asked "Where are you from?" and when I replied "Kentucky" he said "You have to love this song. What is wrong with you? You aren't even tapping your foot!" For the record, I do love the song and was indeed tapping my foot, but I didn't tell him this. I simply smiled.

Little Stevie then took another tack. "How old are you?" he demanded, to which I simply smiled; I've got at least 15 years on him. A- said "You never ask a lady her age!" Stevie then informed me that I needed to learn to live life, because one never knows when it may come to an end. I continued smiling and to my credit I did not grab him by the throat and commence strangling. I did not tell him that in the event that I had not previously known this, the recent death of a friend had provided ample education in that regard. I don't consider being flung around my friends' kitchen at 2:00am to be "living life", but I didn't feel like debating that point, either.

The great thing is that I barely had to say a word or defend myself at all, because A- did the talking for me. I got to just sit there and smile. I thought of M- who always knows when to go home, and realized I had once again erred in that regard. I left shortly thereafter. davis spent much of the evening following Stevie around to make sure he wasn't falling down the stairs or breaking anything. But I believe he was secretly pleased with the harrasment and my departure because at 12s I had a score of 360 and was on the path to destroying his own 560 record. It kept him from enforcing his new house rule regarding what happens to people that endanger his Wizard record.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Recipe: Kentucky Beer Cheese Grits

This is my own recipe for Beer Cheese Grits.

First, throw a large Kentucky Derby party with loads of great people, mint juleps and food, preferably in a gorgeous sprawling manse on the banks of a beautiful river. If you do this properly it will require lots of help from people that cook better than you and the home of someone you barely know. A bartender would also come in handy but is optional. Using a recipe from an original edition of "Out of Kentucky Kitchens" by Marion Flexner , make so much Kentucky Beer Cheese that even if the party goes into the wee hours at least 3 cups of it will remain in the morning.

Wake up the following morning and have at least one Bloody Mary. Make the grits according to the packaging. I use Quaker brand, but not instant. While making what was intended to be garlic cheese grits, realize that all of the garlic and all of the cheddar cheese was either eaten the prior evening, or used in the making of the Beer Cheese. Eyeball the leftover Beer Cheese. Get it out of the refrigerator and taste it. Have another Bloody Mary. Dump half of the Beer Cheese into the pot where the grits are cooking. Stir, taste and add more and more until it appears you have simply added grits to your Beer Cheese rather than vice-versa.

Have another Bloody Mary and put your concoction into a baking dish. Bake it until everything else for brunch is ready. It will have a lovely crust of baked bubbly cheese on the top. Serve it mostly to people that have never had or never liked grits before. If they don't love it, that will simply leave more for you. If they do, you can pat yourself on the back for helping folks gain an appreciation of fine Southern Cuisine.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sloppy John's Mahuffer

The 4th of July always reminds me of a long ago trip I made to Clearwater Beach to attend the wedding of a friend. I had an extra day there alone after everyone else flew home. The moment they departed I took off in search of a better hotel because I had walked in on the night manager of my current digs watching some rather unsavory programming in the middle of the lobby while "relaxing" on the couch.

I checked into a nice hotel on the beach, then drove down the road scoping out places to eat. I knew I would know the right place when I saw it. I stopped and checked menus and ambiance at a few places, but nothing tempted me until I saw a vintage Pink Cadillac parked next to the sign: "Warm Beer, Lousy Food, Wurst Place on the Beach."

I parked and wandered in around the back to the entrance. There was another sign that said "Welcome to my home. Opens when I wake up, closes when I am ready to go to bed." The place was amazing, things hanging from the ceiling, a chair covered in bird droppings labeled "Edgar Allan Poe's Chair", tables made from surf boards and boat parts, a couple of animals wandering around. Turns out everything there was found on the beach or in the water by John, the octogenarian owner. There were more signs on the wall that said "This ain't Burger King. You'll have it our way. If you don't like it, hit the bricks."

It was about 4:00 PM and it felt a bit deserted at that hour; about 6 patrons, 2 bartenders and one ballad singer playing guitar on a small stage. All of them eyed me suspiciously when I walked through the door. I headed around the bar toward what I thought might be a hostess stand. I heard the man on stage say "Well there she goes". I hit a dead end and turned around to come back and heard "Here she comes again. Whatcha looking for honey, the bathroom?" I was indignant but determined not to let these people ruffle my feathers. "Noooo." I said. "Are you looking for a beer?" "Yes!" I stated firmly. "Well then follow the yellow brick road!" I looked down and sure enough there was a yellow brick road painted on the floor. I followed it to the bar, which was made from the hull of a boat, pulled out a stool and plopped down." People were still eyeing me the entire time and not in the most welcoming way.

The bartender came over and said "Whadya want?" I looked around and noticed everyone drinking the same thing...cans of budweiser. Not even bud light. Unsure of what else they carried and unwilling to inquire, I said "Could I get a bud?" Mocking my tone she said "Could I get an ID?" so I tossed my ID on the bar, being sure to act as irritated and cold to her as she was being to me. She checked it and was surprised. I was probably about 10 years older than she'd first figured. In a condescending tone she said "Would you like a glass?" implying surely a princess like me wouldn't drink from a can. "Nooo." I replied without adding "who drinks beer from a glass?" For the record, I never do.

Then I busied myself reading a little flyer sitting between the ashtray and candles on the bar and trying not to notice that everyone was still staring at me. The man in the next stool, probably in his late 30s, had been seriously sucking face with a barely dressed woman sitting next to him. He finally stopped and turned to me postively giggling while he spoke, "Whatcha looking for, the menu?" I said "oh, not really." He said "They ain't got a menu...all they got's ham sandwiches....But they're really good ham sandwiches."

The ballad singer, Rusty McHugh, was playing a song about a skinny woman with a big appetite with a refrain "How I wish that we'd gone dutch, I aint ever seen a bitch that could eat so much". When he took a break he came over and sat caddy-corner from me at the bar. He said "I'll bet you don't eat much." I smiled and said "You'd be surprised." and away we went into conversation. Soon another woman was sitting with me. Much to the consternation of her significant other she refused to go home, "I can't leave Hanna here alone! She needs company." John eventually came out and told me all about his place. Despite all the signs he was a very gracious host, though clearly not one that would stand for any bullshit. The group grew larger and when Rusty finished his break a few of us moved to a surfboard table in front of the stage.

The night wore on and the place became crowded. Soon I was glaring at the tourists as they walked in, and rolling my eyes at them along with the regulars that had now decided I was okay and made me their friend. Anyone that stayed long enough was eventually inducted into our little group, regardless of their origins. Rusty and the gang even invited me to hang out with them later that night in his RV, parked behind Sloppy John's, to indulge in some herbal enjoyment, an invitation I had to sadly decline. It was an evening I will never forget.

John and Rusty are both gone now, but Mahuffers is still open for business despite 35 years of local law enforcement trying to shut it down. The menu has evolved a bit and they apparently no longer serve Budweiser, but if you ever find yourself anywhere near Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, be sure to check out Sloppy John's Mahuffer. John's family still runs the place and I promise these folks will make you feel like you've just come home from a long trip.


http://www.mahuffer.com/john.html

John's Bio

St Petersburg Times: Bar owner John Susor leaves a combative legacy

The late Rusty McHugh singing "I ain't ever seen a bitch that could eat so much"

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pulitzer Prize Winning Toothbrush

Our friend Shark has always embellished a little. Well, actually a lot. In fact, I don't think he's ever given a statement without blowing it out of proportion. But, even with all the BS he gives out, he is extremely good natured about it - he realizes that we know he is full of it, but still does it out of sheer entertainment value.

For example:
A colleague, Blender had just come back from the dentist, where they extolled the value of the motorized toothbrush. He started a little rant about it, and all of us (Shark, Magnum, Lothar, Meatball, Mile High, and myself) listened in. Then Shark got involved.

Shark: "You know, I don't have to go to the dentist anymore. I have teeth like a horse. Plus, I've got this amazing toothbrush that does everything, and using that, I don't need to go. It's won awards and everything!"

The rest of us: "What awards has it won?"

Shark: "It's that big one...you know, very famous...it was the Pulitzer prize"

Blender: "Really!? That's amazing! What did it write?"

Shark: "Oh, wait, no, it wasn't the Pulitzer, it was the other one. The other big one."

Us: "The Nobel Prize?"

Shark: "Yeah! That's it!"

Needless to say, we just left it at that.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

perhaps

Perhaps men and boys do make us blush easy
with almost brilliant words that would away sad yesterdays
and melt the cold marble hearts we hold as sacred

Monday, June 29, 2009

Job Opportunities

Standing at the roulette table in Vegas this weekend I met a real character. He shook his head and yelled out "No Luck!" in a delightful Italian accent every time he hit, even while raking in thousands. When he didn't hit he would look at the number and say "I knew it! I knew 4 was going to come up!!!". After a bit he turned to me and:

Italian dude: "I like you. I'm going to give you a job."
Hanna: "Oh really? And what job is that?"
ID: "You are going to be my good luck charm. I will fly you out here and put you up in a suite. You can do whatever you like, eat, shop, sit by the pool. No strings."
Hanna: "Sounds like a great opportunity! When do I start?"

So now I am trying to figure out how to fit this in with my day job. Any suggestions?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Epiphanies

e⋅piph⋅a⋅ny:

A sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, unassuming, or commonplace occurrence or experience such as falling off a bus, landing in a ditch and showing your ass to all the passengers of said bus.


You are now viewing the results of an epiphany, people.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

jewelry, jeans, weddings, music, coffee, books, knitting, photos, computers, gadgets, stereo, electronics, gourmet food, spices, cars, silverware, tanning, Art, bottled water, smelly cat

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Reply-to-all

Early in my friendship with davis and the gang he and A- were having movie night in their backyard. I showed up with my friend Jack Daniels and proceeded to drink into the wee hours, even after the mutual friend M- that had introduced us was long gone. M- always knows exactly when to go home.

I fell asleep on their couch, and davis and Boots woke me up and said they figured I wouldn't be very happy to find myself there in the morning so they would walk me home.

The next morning standing in the neighborhood deli getting multiple beverages to go with my tasty breakfast sandwich I got an email from M-, a funny joke about why drinking beer is a better investment than purchasing stock on my iPhone. I replied "I got a piggy back ride home last night!" The moment I hit send I realized two things 1) I was not yet hungover because I was still drunk and 2) I had just hit reply to all and shared this little tid-bit, which must have sounded way more sordid than it actually was, with her numerous friends and colleagues.

I haven't seen a joke via email from M- since then.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Career Crisis? (Not for Mom!)

Not long ago I was mistaken for a dancer. I don't mean a back-up dancer for a pop-idol like Britney Spears or Beyoncé, I mean an exotic dancer. Though I can't plead complete innocence, this falls into the category of getting myself into a screwed up situation for completely altruistic reasons. This time it was minding a friend. By minding, I mean tending to, though in this case it also means obeying.

Friend turned up at the wrong time in the wrong place. Let's say he was the Bishop and showed up in his skivvies while mass was in full swing. He needed to be steered out of there and for some reason the task fell to me. To distract him from "church" I spent the evening driving him anywhere he asked, because I've learned that is the easiest way to handle people that are incorrigible and powerful: do whatever they say and they won't hold it against you. This strategy brought us to a strip club. Not just any strip club though, one that looks like it is on the first floor of a residential house and inside appears like someone's dirty basement hangout. They serve food that comes in microwaveable containers by that famous chef... Boyardee. Let's just say it was not my scene, but there wasn't much I felt I could do at the time except sit and watch the show.

There was an older dude sitting a few stools over from me at the bar. He appeared to be pushing 85 actually, and obviously spent alot of his evenings at this dive, since every topless woman there knew him by name. The Bishop tells me "go talk to him, it will make his night". It took him a few minutes to convince me, but I agreed. Mostly because I was bored out of my skull, and had come to a sort of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em attitude."

I stink at flirting but sidled over to him and said "Hi, what's your name?" He replied "Charlie" and then the following conversation ensued:
Hanna: "What do you do for a living Charlie?"
Charlie: "Oh, I don't do anything now. I used to be a milkman, but I retired"

Now I am thinking geez, he IS really old, we don't have those any more. Something about his manner of speaking indicated Charlie wasn't the brightest bulb in the box.

Hanna: "Oh, that is nice!"
Hey, I said I stink at this
Charlie: "Are you a dancer?"
Hanna: "No Charlie"
Charlie: "Did you ever want to be a dancer?"
Hanna: "No Charlie"
Long silence and then
Charlie: "Did you ever think about being a dancer?"
Hanna: "Hmm...not really, but maybe I should"

Meanwhile, the working women are getting a bit peeved. I am obviously horning in on one of their best clients. We are quiet for a while and my phone rings. Yep, it's my Dad. Obviously I don't answer but it does give me a few minutes to think for the nth time "What the hell am I doing here!?"

Then Charlie starts again, pointing over to my friend who is chatting up the ladies, showering them with 20s and close to getting us thrown out by the bartender who clearly feels a mixture of loathing and fascination with the guy. She is hesitating because most of the clients are showering $1s, not $20s.

Charlie: "You are here with him, aren't you?"
Hanna: "Yes, I came with him."
Charlie: "You are leaving with him, aren't you?"
Now at this point I am beyond annoyed with the whole scene, but since we came in his car, I didn't feel good about driving away and leaving him there.
Hanna: "I'm not so sure about that, Charlie"
Charlie: "How much do you get for a donation?"

I'd never heard that term used in this way before, but I knew exactly what he meant. I said nothing for at least two minutes. I didn't know what to say, sitting there in my good church clothes looking like anything but a call girl. Then I grabbed a cigarette from my friend's pack and lit it. I don't smoke. I took a few puffs, thought for a few more minutes then pointed over at The Bishop and said "He gives me a grand." Charlie audibly sucks in his breath and in a suddenly high pitched voice says "uh, uh, uh, A THOUSAND DOLLARS?" and I said "Yep Charlie" He replies "He must have a very good job!"

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Entertainment Value: High; Veracity: Questionable

Occassionally I hear the most fascinating rumors. About myself. I won't deny that I have a propensity to get into some rather interesting positions. There are plenty of opportunities to do so and I don't always shy away even when I know it would be prudent. But the stories that are the most entertaining are the ones that are either completely untrue, or contorted so well as to be barely recognizable. For instance, I recently learned that I was dating a woman a few years ago. Over two years after bringing a friend from out of town to a party with me, I heard this particular rumor and I apparently was one of the few that didn't know. I giggled when I heard. It was quite flattering because though I am not actually into women, this particular friend is gorgeous, intelligent and loads of fun. It's a compliment that anyone would expect me to have a girlfriend that great!

It is not a surprise that moving completely unknown to a small town coupled with being thirty+x, female and never married makes one a good candidate for gossip and speculation. And as I mentioned above I am more than capable of becoming involved in situations that others might consider out of the ordinary, even if I generally arrive there through rather innocent and well-intentioned means. So after some reflection I have decided to embrace it all- truth, conjecture, misunderstanding, complete fallacy and everything in between.

I will share my rumors, adventures, stories, and tall tales with you. You can try to sort the fact from the fiction. If it even matters.