Tag Archives: humor

Important brain thoughts from an exhausted parent

I have a confession. I’m supposed to be writing right now. Which, yes, “technically” I am. I am “technically” stringing together letters into words and those words into sentences.  

Here’s the thing, though. I don’t really want to be writing right now. My brain is mush. Just a mushy, mushy, leaky puddle of its former self. This has been a particularly trying week and my children have sunk their adorable tiny little teeth into my skull and sucked out all the good bits. All that’s left is the part that instinctively knows when they are trying to climb up the unsecured bookcase and the part that knows the theme song to “Golden Girls.”

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In fact, I’m starting to suspect that part of the deal when you become a parent is that you help your children’s brains grow by sacrificing your own.

And so today, well, today I just don’t have it in me to write a coherent 800 words on some amusing and absurd aspect of life. I barely had it in me to brush my teeth this morning.

Which is why the bulk of this column is just going to be unrelated random musings because that’s all the poor, overworked, single brain cell left functioning in my head can handle right now.

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So…*drums nails on keyboard*…y’all want to talk about coffee? So good, right? I lost count but I’m on something like my seventh cup. I wonder who was the first person who looked at a coffee bean plant and said “How would it taste if we burned the crap out of this and poured hot water over it?” Whoever it is, they deserve a holiday and a fancy parade. Screw Columbus. Let’s have Coffee Inventor Day.

You know what else is awesome? “Jessica Jones” on Netflix.

I don’t have a follow-up to that. Just that it’s awesome.

How come you never see wild hamsters? Unrelated but equally important, what is nougat? I mean, it’s in candy bars, but what IS it?

Here are some important geographical observations:

Everyone in the Northeast eats a lot of ice cream in the winter.

There hasn’t been an official vote, but I’m pretty sure Mountain Dew is the official drink of my home state of Ohio.

If you want to start a fight in the South, try casually suggesting that sweet tea is gross. (And start running the second you see someone’s grandma taking off her earrings).

By my count, 80’s fashion has come back no less than four times since the actual 1980’s.

Does everyone hate the substitute meteorologist who occasionally fills in for the regular meteorologist on their morning TV news show or am I just being ridiculously unfair to Barry and his stupid face?

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The other day I overheard two young women talking. The one was telling the other “I, like, literally, and this wasn’t my choice at all, but I literally watched him play video games all night. And at one point he told me, ‘you seem bored.’ Like, yeah, I’m bored.” And it took every ounce of willpower I had not to whip out my best Tina Fey impression and yell “that’s a dealbreaker, ladies!”

Then, after I walked away, I almost turned around to do my best “he’s just not that into you” Miranda Hobbes impression but managed to stop myself again. Because I’m a grown-up.

God, I hope she doesn’t marry him.

And lastly, I recently found out that Madeleine L’Engle, the famous author of the “A Wrinkle in Time” series, had three kids, had her manuscript rejected 30 times before it was published and had almost given up writing on her 40th birthday because she was still not pulling her own weight financially even after all the hours she spent writing.  

So there is some tiny sliver of hope for all of us hardworking creative souls out there who are drowning in parenting responsibility but are desperately still pursuing our own passions while wading those choppy waters every day. It’s hard giving up nights, weekends, whatever meager free time we have. But we keep going. Even on the mushy brain weeks. For a very important reason.

That I can’t think of right now.

But probably because your heart is true and you’re a pal and confidant.

 

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Beggars can be choosers

Do you have pearls on right now? If so, prepare to clutch them…

I no longer care what my kids eat.

Oh yeah. I said it. And I mean it. This nose ring and these tattoos aren’t just for show. I’m a rebel mom. (slowly pulls off motorcycle helmet and shakes out hair)

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I. Don’t. Care. You hear me, world? I DON’T CARE.

OK, OK, I do care. Of course I care. I’m a mom. (sets down motorcycle helmet and puts on cardigan) I’ll care about what my kids eat until the day I die. In fact, my last words will likely be “are you eating enough vegetables, honey?”

However, I did have an epiphany recently that means I will no longer fight with my kids over what they eat at dinner. (BUT THE CARDIGAN IS DECORATED WITH SKULLS!)

I was 35 the first time I tried cream cheese on a bagel. My whole life, up until that fateful day, I had dutifully been spreading butter on my bagels. Like an idiot.

I have two college degrees, am a voracious reader, spent years working as a journalist, and literally thought cream cheese on a bagel was icky for no other reason than I decided it was icky one day as a small child despite having never tried it. And I held onto that belief for multiple decades despite the whole world telling me it was one of the most delicious combos ever dreamed up by humans.

And when I finally did try it (AT THE AGE OF 35), it was so amazing I literally stole the other half of the bagel from my 3-year-old son.

Worst of all is that this is just the latest in a series of foods I finally tried as an adult that I spent my whole life thinking were icky.

I was 21 before I tried coffee (and 27 when I tried it black for the first time).

I was 25 before I tried hummus.

I was 28 when I first tried guacamole.

And the first half of my 30’s has been busy trying and falling in love with crab rangoon, artichoke hearts, falafel, spinach dip, reuben sandwiches and all the cheeses outside of the “colby” range.

So, I no longer care what my kids choose to eat off their plates. Because, honestly, how can I expect them to have a more reasonable attitude toward food than I do? A grown woman who still has never tasted a mushroom (AT THE AGE OF 36) because the word fungus makes me cringe?

“But, Aprill!” I hear you yelling at the screen as you clutch those pearls. “You don’t want your kids to end up like you, do you!? Isn’t that all the more reason to force them to try stuff?”

And yes, you’re right. I don’t want my kids to be 35 and just realizing that cream cheese is the delicious glue that holds our entire society together. However, my mom once forced me to eat a tomato when I was six and we had a three hour standoff over it and it became a core memory and one that I tell everyone about and I still, to this day, hate tomatoes and refuse to eat them. So, that method isn’t always foolproof either.

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More importantly, I’d much rather my kids have a sane mother, a mother who is not angry and frustrated at every meal, than for them to have a diverse palate. I no longer want to be the mom who hijacks dinner over a bite of corn. Because that is what every meal was starting to feel like. A hostage situation. With exhausting and tedious negotiations. It got to the point that everyone was starting to dread meal time.

Which is why I’m taking dinner back. I want to sit around and talk about our day and laugh and joke and relax. I want breakfast to be a bonding experience and not a waterboarding experience. I want to hand them their lunch plates and when they say “I don’t want to eat that,” I simply respond “OK, just eat the other stuff” and BOOM. We move onto other things.

It’s a gamble, sure. My kids will likely end up with scurvy. But then again, pretty much all of parenthood is one giant gamble, isn’t it? (And hey, if they do get scurvy, I’ll just hold them down and squeeze lemon juice in their mouth and be on my merry way).

In the end, having a bowl of peas on the table that everyone ignores is a pretty small price to pay for wonderful memories sitting around the kitchen table with the people you love.

And besides, peas are icky.

 

Everything is cold & dead & stupid & I hate it

I’ve been sitting in this coffee shop for exactly 46 minutes now. And yes, I see you over there, Annoying Hovering Couple, with that dual stink eye you’ve been giving me for the last 17 of these 46 minutes in the hopes I might feel pressured to hurry up and finish my business here so you can have my table.

But the joke is on you. Because I can’t think of anything to write and so will probably die here at this table. So take that croissant you pronounced in the uppity French manner and shove it.

Ugh. Sorry. I’m just in a foul mood. Is there anything worse than January? Well, yes. I mean, torture is pretty high up there. Human trafficking. War. Extreme drought. Animal cruelty. That gross YouTube guy. Culottes. People who put raisins in chicken salad.

But January comes in at least a solid 770 on the list of Worst Things.

It’s cold. Everything is dead. There’s only one major holiday and you spend it hungover.

The bills are starting to roll in from Christmas. Nothing fits because of those ten (fine, 12) pounds you gained over the holidays. Everyone keeps bragging about how they’ve already done their taxes while you’re over here like, it’s not even May yet. And then they correct you and tell you they’re due in April but you don’t care because you got a mad case of Seasonal Affective Disorder and everything is stupid and dumb and ugly and stupid and I hate it.  

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And there are still two months of winter left to go.

Ugh.

I know. I know. First world problems and all that. I’m trying to see the bright side. I really am. I even flirted with the idea of giving that Danish idea of hygge a whirl. Because lighting a candle and wearing a big floofy sweater will solve everything. But then everyone on the Internet kept arguing about how to actually pronounce hygge and I got annoyed and started drinking copious amounts of wine while randomly yelling out “I’m doing Hoo-GAH!” until my husband made me go to bed.

Honestly, it wouldn’t be that bad if I could just curl up in bed with seven blankets and read a good book. Which I would read for all of five minutes until finally giving up the facade and just binge-watching all the seasons of “Arrested Development” for the third time on my laptop.   

But I can’t. Because I made the seemingly well-thought out decision to have children.  

Don’t get me wrong. Having children is great.

In the summer.

When you can go places and do things.

But in the winter? Before they’re old enough for school? Having children is inhumane.

Every morning, there they are, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and not caring that you got drunk practicing hygge the night before. Eager and ready to do things no matter how crappy it is outside. Happy and healthy and impatient for you to throw out a bunch of creative and imaginative and educational crap that their spongy little brains can soak up.

All of which I am happy to do.

In the summer.

And most of the early fall.

But all I want to do right now is hibernate in my blanket fort.

Sigh. Luckily, my love for my children is slightly stronger than my hatred of January. Which is why I took down the “No Kids Allowed” sign outside my fort. And why I will suck it up and smile and throw out a bunch of creative and imaginative and educational crap for their spongy little brains to soak up inside our fort.

Because I am a good mom.

And also because I’m trying to distract them from the fact that I am clinging to their tiny little furnace bodies for warmth.

 

I’ll sit in the sinkhole tonight, honey

You want to know what true love is? Volunteering to sit in the couch sinkhole after a long day of work and raising kids so your equally tired partner can sit on “the good side” while you watch Netflix.

Wait, what? Oh, is that just in our house? You guys don’t all have a couch sinkhole?

Well, in that case, let me explain to all you fancy folk with your houses full of structurally sound furniture exactly what a couch sinkhole is. It’s when whatever it is that couches are made of breaks in one spot, but not completely, meaning there is now one precarious area on the couch that is lower than all the rest. And you can still sit there if you sit in it just right (although if you hear any creaking or groaning wood, freeze and stop breathing for a good solid three minutes until you’re sure it’s not going to collapse). And as long as you put down a pillow first before you sit, there is a good 80 percent chance you won’t be impaled by a broken spring.

On the plus side, having a couch sinkhole has greatly improved our children’s behavior.

Kid 1: Mom, she took my Batman! *pushes sibling*

Kid 2: No! Mine! *pushes back*

Me: Both of you learn to share or you’ll take turns sitting in the sinkhole during movie night.

Kid 1: You can have Batman!

Kid 2: No, no, you have it! I insist! *both frantically hug each other*

Yeah, our couch is old. If it were a human, it would already be well into puberty and rolling its eyes every time I talked. In dog years, it’s roughly 103-years-old. In couch years, it’s 700-years-old. A hard 700. It’s the Keith Richards of couches.  

My husband had the couch before we even met and it has traveled with us from Ohio to Texas to Boston. And so the sinkhole is just the latest of the couch’s maladies. There is the sticky and stained left side arm of the couch because a certain someone in the family that is definitely not me kept spilling martinis and wine on it when she was young and childless. Then there is the random mangy patch from where the dog kept licking that spot over and over and over again for mysterious yet very important dog reasons. And the good side opposite the sinkhole was our son’s favorite spot to sit while he was being potty trained.

And it took MONTHS to potty train him.  

We should get a new couch. We really should. In fact, we should replace a lot of things in our house. But we have three very good reasons why we don’t:

One, we have a pre-schooler and an 18-month-old, meaning anything new coming inside our home would instantly be baptized in a tsunami of juice and what we hope are chocolate stains.

Two, anytime we start even thinking of Googling the price of new furniture, a $600 vet bill magically shows up. Or Christmas is coming up…again. Or we do our taxes and discover we owe money to the IRS…again.

And three, buying big ticket household items is an aspect of adulting that bores me to death. In furniture stores, I instantly revert back into a whiny teenager. Why do we have to be here? How much longer? Just pick one already. Why is everything so expensive? Ugh. I wanna use my allowance to buy books and travel. Boo.

Sometimes I worry that we’re crossing over into pathetic territory with our couch sinkhole and our cheap rocking chair hanging on by a splinter and our almost 14-year-old red car that sports a gray hood (and a passenger side door that only opens from the inside) and our upholstered dining room chairs that have faded to a color that can really only be described as “angry pink.”

But I’ve never really been one to try to keep up with the Joneses. In fact, I’m more likely to duck and hide behind my broken-ass couch if I see a Joneses coming.

So, instead, I’ve decided I’m just going to change my entire way of thinking about this situation. Because I’m a grown-up. And I’m allowed to do that. Which is why, from henceforth, we will just be known as the quirky, eccentric family with the endearing couch sinkhole that they made a part of the family because they were too busy being eccentric and quirky to care to replace it. And eventually it will be a hilarious, quirky story my grown kids tell on first dates to the horror of the person sitting across from them.

Ah. Yes. That feels much better. Problem solved.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my 3-year-old just fell into the sinkhole and needs help getting out.

 

Stupider things

Here is the thing they never tell you about being a parent (or at least not in an official pamphlet form): Once you get to a certain point, past the “oh god, I just really need both of us to survive this” stage, you will spend the majority of your parenting time arguing.

Arguing about very stupid things.

For example, say you buy your small child a sprinkled donut. Because he INSISTS he wants a sprinkled donut. But then he hands it back to you and wants you to take off all the sprinkles. All the sprinkles off the sprinkled donut that he REALLY TRULY wanted. Because he apparently only likes the ghostly essence of sprinkles on a sprinkled donut.

Because 3-year-old logic.

Now, as a parent, you have several options here.

You could flat-out refuse, because it’s a ridiculous request. Which will likely lead to a stupid argument and end in a tantrum (yours or his).

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You could try to reason with him. Which will likely lead to a stupid argument and end in a tantrum (again, yours or his or, let’s be honest, both).

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And lastly, you could just shut up and do it. Which means every time you get donuts now, he will ask for a sprinkled donut and ask you to take off all the sprinkles. Which means, six months from now, you will likely have a mental breakdown as you are scraping sprinkles off the 27th donut, and while you are busy rocking back and forth in the corner, sucking your thumb and sobbing, your small child will turn to his father and ask HIM to take off the sprinkles. Which Daddy will likely refuse to do (because he’s not an idiot). Which will lead to an argument and a tantrum as they are driving you to the nearest asylum.

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Sigh. In case it wasn’t already clear, there are no winners in these kinds of scenarios. Only survivors.

And yes, I know. Hey, man, with kids, you have to pick your battles. But that’s the thing. I already am picking my battles. Which is how he won the stupid pizza argument.

What’s the stupid pizza argument? So glad you asked. The stupid pizza argument began because my 3-year-old claims to LOVE pizza. But what he really means is he loves pizza crust. And only the crust. If there is even the tiniest remnant of cheese or sauce or anything that actually makes a pizza a pizza, on that pizza crust, he will hand it back and ask you to remove it. It doesn’t matter if your big ‘ol dumb adult eyes can’t see this alleged speck of sauce. You are to remove it. All of it. And he will hand it back to you over and over again until not even one of those nerds on one of those CSI shows could find trace elements of sauce.

I know, I know. Ha! Ha! Kids, huh? They’re so funny with their weird quirks. But wait! There’s more! Because once the pizza crust has been professionally picked clean, he will then proceed to dip it into a small bowl of pizza sauce.

PIZZA. SAUCE.

No matter how much I explain the irony, my son doesn’t get it. So, do we go through this whole ritual every single time we have pizza? You bet your happy ass we do.

Because you have to pick your battles.

But you can’t always give in either. Because then they know that they own you, which, sure, doesn’t seem that bad now. But wait until they’re 17 and you’re having the stupid “being a dj is not a career” argument and they won’t listen to you because you decided when they were three that it was just easier to pick the sprinkles off the goddamn donut.

Which is why you simply can’t give in during the stupid “stop saying shut up” argument even though you know how stupid it is and even though everyone is staring at you because you are the crazy person yelling at your son to shut up about saying shut up because only grown ups can say shut up so knock it off and shut up because I am gradually going insane and so many brain cells are committing suicide right now.

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And so, in conclusion, alcohol is terrific.

Cheers.

 

This is my face.

My son has spent approximately 1,277 days on this Earth. My daughter, roughly 455. Counting the ones I took today, I have exactly 18 billion photos of them.

Oops. Sorry. 18 billion and one. They just did the cutest thing, you guys.

And they look amazing in every single one of these photos, even including the newborn “Benjamin Button” ones.

(No, YOU’RE bias).

By contrast, I have been alive on this planet for about 13,200 days. Thanks to the invention of the selfie, there are now probably 18 billion photos of me floating around too. The only difference is, I like seven of them. Actually, more like six (in that one photo, my eyes are doing that weird thing).

Yes, I know. Female hates how she looks in photos! Shocker!

This revelation is right up there with me admitting my feet are always cold and that I don’t understand the appeal of “Entourage.” But I bring this up for a very good reason. Because I have recently come to terms with some vital facts and it has made a huge difference.

I’m 36. This is my face. I need to get over it.

Now, if those three above sentences don’t seem like a revelation to you, congratulations, you are likely a man or a well-adjusted, confident woman. However, if you’ve ever taken 100 almost identical photos of yourself and then agonized for hour and a half about which one to post and then spent another 33 minutes trying out different Instagram filters to find the one that thins out your face the most, then you understand how huge this is.

I have wasted so much of my life either trying to micromanage every single photo I appear in or avoiding cameras all together. Because all I saw in every photo of me was every flaw a single human body could possibly house. Too fat in this one. Nose all wonky in this one. Too pale. Stomach rolls. Greasy hair. No makeup. Arm flab. Dumb smile. Double chin. Triple chin. Everywhere a chin, chin. Crow’s feet (or, in some lighting, the whole damn crow). Forehead pimple. Bad posture. Crooked teeth.

I can go on…

Dark circles under my eyes. Cellulite. Sausage fingers. Flat hair. Dull hair. Frizzy hair. Freckles. Acne. Acne scars. Thin lips. Fat thighs. That weird flub that hangs out around the side of your bra.

Yeah. It’s exhausting hating how you look in photos. Especially in this social media era where photos are taken and shared roughly every 2.3 seconds.

And so, I decided to just let go. Let it all go. Let go of the iron grip I was using to try to hold onto the face that got shared in public. BECAUSE TECHNICALLY IT’S ALL THE SAME FACE.

This is my face. This is my body. And in every photo, that is how I look at that particular moment.

Guys. GUYS. The freedom that comes with this revelation…you guys…such a weight has been lifted.

I’m now more than willing to let my husband take a picture of me playing with the kids when I’m in my pajamas and sporting my best Swamp Witch hair. Because I want to remember that moment. And because, yes, some days I look like a Swamp Witch.

Now when a parent wants a photo of me, I don’t say “how about later, when I look better?” I shut up and pose.   

And now when my friends whip out that cell phone, I smile and BOOM. That’s it. Done. No more “let me see it” followed immediately by “let’s take another one” followed by “let me see it” followed by “let’s take another one” followed by “let me see it” followed by nothing because we are dead because we got caught in this stupid loop and couldn’t get out because no matter how many photos we took, we magically never ended up looking like Angelina Jolie.

(Which is so dumb. Because even if we did look like Angelina Jolie, we still can’t afford Angelina Jolie’s stylist, meaning we still wouldn’t look like Angelina Jolie.)

Of course, every road that leads to brilliant revelations like this one are full of potholes. I mean, do I still want people to only post photos of me where I look good? Of course. I’m still embarrassingly vain. But now, if they don’t, it no longer bothers me because it’s more important to me to be part of the picture. To be part of that memory. To have people in my life that want to take a photo with me at all, than it is to look great in it.

Oh god…guys…is this…is this what being well-adjusted feels like?

 

My bartender was a mixologist (& other horror stories)

You know how people are afraid of turning a street corner and suddenly realizing they are in the “bad” part of town? Or walking into a bar and seeing that’s it’s filled with bikers and ruffians? Well, I have the opposite fear. My fear is walking into a new place and realizing with horror that it’s fancy. That they don’t have bartenders, they have “mixologists.” That the clientele all look like they just walked off the set of “Girls.”

Of course, you’d think this would be a pretty rare occurrence but it happens more than it should because they’re sneaky now. Gentrification has ruined everything and everywhere. You innocently walk into what appears to be a dive bar when BAM. They just made it LOOK like a dive bar. Hand over $17 for that fancy beer you can’t pronounce, unsophisticated peasant.

Now, I realize what I am about to write next will give away my age and thus embarrass myself. Not my real age, of course. I’m not embarrassed about that. Being embarrassed about your age is basically apologizing for being good at not dying.

But it will give away my mental age and I AM embarrassed about that. Because I am a 36-year-old with the mentality of an 87-year-old. This is especially true when it comes to money. (You want how much for my gourmet coffee? Why, back in my day, it only cost an arm, not also a leg). But still, I feel I should share my experience because it’s time all of us un-fancy people band together.

And so…ahem…

All these fears culminated last week when my family decided to grab a bite to eat after my son’s soccer “practice” (and I use that term oh-so-loosely because he’s 3, they’re all 3, and so it more resembles extras running around in a disaster movie).

Let’s try a new place, we said. Let’s be spontaneous, we said. This is definitely a decision that will not blow up in our face, we said.

So, we strolled through our decidedly not fancy neighborhood until we came upon an innocent enough looking place. But then, just as we walked in far enough that making a quick exit would have been awkward, we noticed the Mason jars. The exposed ceiling. The iPhone photography on the walls. The white bartender…SPORTING DREADLOCKS.

And we knew, the color draining from our faces, that we had entered into a HIP ARTISAN EATERY (fancy slang for “we cannot afford this place”). It looked like every scene from “Portlandia” had been filmed there. And when we got the menu, which only had five items, plus a drink menu of craft cocktails that was 55 pages long, our fate was sealed.

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We tried to make the best of it. I got what anywhere else would be described on the menu as “the truck stop special” or perhaps “the big breakfast”. Here it had a fancy unpronounceable name that looked like a Spanish word had a threeway with two French words. It consisted of fried eggs, bacon, toast and “holme frites,” which after some Sherlockian deducing, I figured out was pretentious speak for “home fries.”

(When I got home, I Googled “holme frites” and even Google was like “wtf…that’s not a thing.”)

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A small cup of black coffee was $4 (I was too scared to ask for a refill). My trucker special was $17. (See? What did I say? 87-years-old mentally. I have to tell you exactly how much everything costs and then want you to be as outraged as I am. Why, I remember when a pack of smokes was $2 and a gal could get a free cocktail with a little flash of leg, dearie).

And forget a kids menu. While places like these don’t “actively discourage you from bringing in your kids,” they actively discourage you from bringing in your kids. Which is why they ate the ancient Cheerios and raisins lying at the bottom of the diaper bag that had been in there since my youngest was still renting out my uterus.  

But I will give the place this. It was delicious. And the place was beautiful. And the service was impeccable. Because I’m not here to insult these kinds of places.

You want fancy? Great. You want a small menu curated by an actual fancy chef? Fantastic. You don’t spiral into a rage when you have to spend $24 for a cheeseburger? Bully for you!

There is nothing wrong with any of that. There are people out there who will pay out the butt for local, fresh, organic, seasonal fare. And good for them. They will likely live very long lives with very clear skin.

So, I’m not saying get rid of these places. I’m saying stop making them look like a normal place I can afford until I sit down, see the menu and die of an aneurysm. Because the only way I am paying $24 for a cheeseburger is if it also gets me drunk. Very drunk.

It’s simply a matter of timing. I am not mentally, emotionally or financially able to eat at one of these places currently. I am at a place in my life where I need you to fling some chicken nuggets at my whiny toddler and throw some mushy mixed vegetables into my crying baby’s gaping maw so I can take three minutes to choke down something comforting and deep fried. Anything other than this is stressful and confusing and it makes me angry because I am an 87-year-old woman.

So, please, stop making fancy places look not fancy. Or, at the very least, if you have your heart set on that industrial-chic aesthetic, put an old lady out front who whispers to shabby families like mine before we walk in “they call home fries “holmes frites” here, sweetie, keep walking.”