Jack Sprat vs. Joe Schmoe

Jack Sprat could eat no fat;
His wife could eat no lean.
And so betwixt the two of them,
They licked the platter clean. (c. 1639)

Relationships are complicated matters. They exist between men and women, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, old and young, Republicans and Democrats (I didn’t say all relationships were good), and various other sorts. Many experts claim the art of a good relationship of any incarnation is really the art of compromise – give and take; find a balance; share.

But what about relationships where no compromise is needed? Find your opposite, and the relationship will flourish, at least in culinary matters.

Take Jack Sprat and his wife. They were early experts in this sort of thing. Since Jack could not eat fat and his wife could not eat lean, they saved money on expensive meat and nothing was wasted – pure gold in this economy! No one was upset that the other got the bigger half, both were quite satisfied, and no one complained that there were poor children starving in Somalia that would do anything for a morsel of the leftovers.

However, there may have been problems in this seemingly perfect relationships. Like what happens when Jack’s wife asks him how she looks in her new dress?

“Does this dress make me look fat?” she asks.

“Well, that’s all you eat,” he replies.

Poor Jack. He obviously missed the course in college on Interpretations of the Female Mind. Suddenly he finds himself on the receiving end of the Silent Treatment, so he does what most guys would do.

“What’s wrong?” he asks, really wondering what the big deal is.

“Nothing,” she says, when she really means, “Everything you emaciated fool!”

Actually, any guy reading this should take note: If a woman ever answers “Nothing” to that question or says “I’m fine” when asked if she’s okay, you know the answer is definitely not nothing and she is definitely not fine. Ever.

“Okay then,” says Jack. “I’m going to watch the game.”

Now Jack is in big trouble. His first mistake came in believing that nothing is wrong. His second was saying he was going to watch the basketball game. He might have redeemed himself a little bit if he said he was going to mow the lawn or finally fix the garbage disposal, but he had to say he was going to watch the stupid game.

There will be tension-filled moments (maybe hours), until Jack’s wife finally reads her latest issue of Cosmopolitan. “136 Ways to Communicate Better with Your Man” will tell her that she should tell him what is on her mind and that “nothing” is the worst possible answer she could give.

Mrs. Sprat will dry her tears and walk into the living room. She is ready to tell Jack what is wrong, but she decides to do it with 1.3 seconds left in the game. The score is tied and Jack’s team is dribbling down the court. The ball is in the team’s best 3-point shooter’s hands, and just as he throws the ball up, Mrs. Sprat grabs the remote and turns off the television. Jack lets out a painful moan, something along the lines of “NOOOooooooooooo!” as if he were on television himself and his life were set to slow motion for emphasis, and Mrs. Sprat is completely confused. Now she’s the one who doesn’t know what’s wrong. Back in college while Jack was skipping Interpretations of the Female Mind, she was skipping her Male Values class. She finally realizes her error, but instead of turning the television on, she says, “Can’t you just watch the highlights on SportsCenter tonight?”

Of course he can. He can watch it twelve times a day if he wants, with added episodes now that it’s the middle of the tournament. But it is just not the same as watching it happen in the moment. Obviously, Cosmo forgot to tell Mrs. Sprat the importance of picking the most opportune moment for communicating with your man. At this point Jack’s cell phone has buzzed six times with various forms of “Dude! Did you see that! He hit the buzzer-beater from half-court! Instant classic!” and “We won! Beers later!” and Jack further annoys Mrs. Sprat by checking them every time they come through.

What is a couple to do? Both have committed errors due to apparently innate misunderstandings of the opposite sex. Mrs. Sprat ran to the kitchen to find the chocolate she has been hiding for just such occurrences. Jack fumbles with the remote in the hopes that he can catch some of the highlights before ESPN moves onto the next game. He doesn’t feel like waiting for the next episode of SportsCenter, and at this point something in his gut tells him it may not be a good idea to watch any more basketball tonight.

Suddently the couple is mirroring their culinary cooperation. Nothing has been shared. Nothing has been truly communicated. But both seem to have found a way to satisfy themselves.

So now what happens? They eat dinner in silence. Thankfully they don’t have to share anything, nor do they have to ask the other to pass a dish. They go to bed in silence. Mrs. Sprat lets out a few exaggerated sighs, but Jack fails to notice. He is sound asleep and snoring before she can dramatically turn her back to him in the bed, pulling all of the covers with her. The next morning she wakes up, still holding a grudge against Jack, but he has forgotten all about their spat. He is still excited that his team won on a great play by his favorite player (that he snuck down to watch on SportsCenter at 3am).

As Jack eats his RaisinBran with water, he notices Mrs. Sprat is unusually quiet.

“What’s the matter, darling” he asks.

Will he ever learn?

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Are you as Irish as You Think You Are?

A friend of mine sent me a list of ways to tell if you are Irish, and as I read it, I was shocked and amused at the freakish accuracy of this list. So in honor of the great St. Patrick’s feast day, the day everyone thinks they’re Irish, check this list and see how you do.

1) You will never play professional basketball.

This one may not be as true as it sounds. My sister is still one of the best point guards around.

2) You swear very well.

Yes, I do. My family swears well, also. But the trick to this one is knowing when to swear, and when to keep your mouth shut.

3) At least one of your cousins is a fireman, cop, bar owner, funeral home owner or holds political office.

My uncle is a bar owner. That totally counts.

4) You think you sing very well.

Only when I’m at my uncle’s pub. Or my local pub. Pubs in general.

5) You have no idea how to make a long story short!

No clue, but it’s totally worth it to listen to my stories.

6) There isn’t a big difference between you losing your temper or killing someone.

But there is still a difference. And, as a typical Irish woman, usually I pray, “Lord grant me strength” when I feel my temper start to rise.

7) Many of your childhood meals were boiled. Instant potatoes were a mortal sin.

I discovered the deliciousness of instant potatoes last year, but they will never replace the taste of Mom’s mashed potatoes. Mom, if you’re reading this, yes, I do eat instant potatoes. Orlaith made me do it.

8 ) You have at least one aunt who is a nun or an uncle a priest.

Not true, but I did get drunk with a priest once. At the altar. Here’s what happened. He came over to my aunt’s house to say mass and my whole family was there. We put a white table cloth and a crucifix on the kitchen table and it became the altar. When Mass was over, we put the crucifix away. He pulled out a bottle of gin and I pulled out a bottle of Pinot Grigio, and the rest is history.

9) You spent a good portion of your childhood kneeling in prayer.

Ugh. This is true. We went to Mass all the time.

10) You’re strangely poetic after a few beers.

Poetic, musical, etc…

11) Some punches directed at you are from legacies of past generations.

Thanks, guys.

12) Many of your sisters and/or cousins are named Mary, Catherine or Eileen …. and there is at least one member of your family with the full name of Mary Catherine Eileen. Catherine, Katherine & Kathleen are often shortened to Kate. Bridget, Bernadette, Maureen, Noreen & Pat are also common.

My middle name is Catherine, named after my grandma, who told me when I was in college that her name is actually Kate. I have two aunts named Mary, and my mother would be Mary but for the fact that my grandma broke from tradition and named her first daughter Anne instead. My other grandma’s name is Eileen, who also named one of her daughter’s Eileen, who named her own daughter Aileen.

13) Someone in your family is very generous … it is most likely you.

I’m a freaking saint.

14) You may not know the words, but that doesn’t stop you from singing.

Ask my sister about this one. She’s the best at making up words.

15) You can’t wait for the other guy to stop talking before you start talking.


16) You’re not nearly as funny as you think you are… but what you lack in talent, you make up for in frequency.

Not true. I’m hilarious.

17) There wasn’t a huge difference between your last wake and your last keg party.

You know, except for the dead person.

18) You know someone named Murph, Mic or Sully.

Actually, it’s Mick, and I know one of each.

19) If you don’t, you are Murph, Mic or Sully.

No. My name is way more complicated.

20) You are genetically incapable of keeping a secret.

This one is definitely not true. There are many things I’m taking to my grave.

21) You have Irish Alzheimer’s… you forget everything but the grudges!

I heard my dad say this when I was younger, and I thought this was a Dad-original. Looks like it’s made the rounds. It’s true, though. Don’t mess with the Irish.

22) ‘Irish Stew’ is a euphemism for ‘boiled leftovers.’

Maybe in some households. In my house, it’s a euphemism for “Take it or leave it.”

23) Your skin’s ability to tan…. not so much. (Only in spots!)

My nose and forehead, in particular.

24) Childhood remedies for the common cold often included some form of whiskey.

Actually, that was a remedy for teething.

25) There’s no leaving a family party without saying goodbye for at least 45 minutes.

This also applies to phone conversations: http://twitpic.com/xzwju

26) At this very moment, you have at least two relatives who are not speaking to each other. Not fighting mind you, just not speaking to each other.

Ha. No comment. See? I can keep secrets.

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25 Things to Know about Me

The latest fad to hit Facebook is writing notes telling one’s friends 25 Things to Know about So-and-So. I think the object of the exercise is to write 25 things your friends don’t know about you, but I’ve been seeing a lot of “I love my friends” and “Chocolate is my favorite food.” Well, duh. Tell us something we don’t know! I decided to tackle this, and found that it was harder than it looks. It’s hard to think of 25 things I don’t think my friends know about me, which makes me wonder if I talk to much…

Without further ado, here are 25 Things to Know about Me:

  1. My appendix burst when I was 14.
  2. I have a pretty awesome scar from the surgery.
  3. I just took my Christmas decorations down this weekend.
  4. I still get a thrill out of wearing high heels. It makes me feel like a grown up, and when I actually walk properly in them, it does, indeed, make me feel sexy.
  5. I can’t believe I just admitted that.
  6. Paying bills, especially making car payments, makes me feel grown-up, too, but not sexy.
  7. I want lots of kids, and I don’t break out in hives when I’m near them any more. I’ll even admit to wanting to get married some day.
  8. I write all over my books – underline, notes in the margins, exclamations points all over the place. I turn them into veritable diaries.
  9. In spite of the fact that I ran almost every day for seven years and earned my way through college by running the 10k, I have no desire to ever complete a marathon. It’s just not on my To-Do list.
  10. I love chocolate. You knew that. I also love cabbage.
  11. I’ve dabbled in love a few times, but looking back, I’ve truly been in love twice. Third time’s a charm?
  12. I’m not going to freak out if the third time isn’t a charm.
  13. I’m not entirely sure what my natural hair color is. I’m pretty sure it’s some shade of brown. I’ve been dying it since I was 14. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to avoid dying it until I find out the answer to this mystery.
  14. I found a gray hair last week. I plucked that sucker right out.
  15. I’ve been proposed to three times (though not all serious). I said yes once (though not at all seriously).
  16. My favorite spot in all of New York is at the clock in the main hall of Grand Central Terminal.
  17. I don’t drink coffee. Ever. I don’t like the taste. You’d be surprised how socially debilitating this can be.
  18. One of my biggest pet peeves is bad grammar in written communication. Example: One ex-boyfriend had such horrid grammar that I would print his emails, correct the grammar with my red/purple/green/whatever pen, and then read them…and then I would carry them around with me all day to reread them. Between the two of us, we wrote beautiful, grammatically correct prose.
  19. I hate it when people correct my grammar or other people’s grammar during conversation. I think it’s rude.
  20. I’m the older of two sisters. You knew that. My little sister is my hero. I don’t think she knew that.
  21. I don’t really like Valentine’s Day, and I’m not just saying that because I’m single. Even when I had a boyfriend, I didn’t particularly care for Valentine’s Day and wouldn’t have cried too many tears if it was cancelled all together. If your BF only shows romance one day a year, it’s time to trade him in for a better model. (Birthdays, on the other hand, should be celebrated like national holidays.)
  22. I know how to knit, sew, crochet, cross-stitch (both counted and stamped), make a quiche, a good cup of tea, a killer Manhattan, and I also know how to waltz and swing dance. Did someone order a 1950s housewife, straight up?
  23. I can’t believe I just admitted that.
  24. I’m a Daddy’s girl. You knew that. I hope I’m just like my mom when I grow up. She didn’t know that.
  25. I can’t think of anything else, so I’m giving you a freebie. Ask me something you want to know, and I’ll make an honest attempt at answering the question.


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