Animated by Henry Cram and hand-lettered by Alex Savakis. Voiced by me and Henry. We needed a better post roll for our online video. We had so much fun.
Animated by Henry Cram and hand-lettered by Alex Savakis. Voiced by me and Henry. We needed a better post roll for our online video. We had so much fun.
My mother’s third husband used to throw us these bang-up birthday parties when we were kids. He went all-out with a scavenger hunt, pin the tail on the donkey, that dart balloon game, and a pinata. It was this massive event, and all of my classmates came, and I wonder what they thought of our tiny, roach infested apartment turned into a temporary carnival.
I loved those parties so much, because I felt so damn special. Those are the earliest birthdays I remember, especially remarkable because that particular step-father had been a Jehovah’s Witness when my mother first married him. For a few years we didn’t celebrate a damn thing. Then, once he denounced his faith, he went balls-to-the-wall with every single holiday.
I would open my gifts from my classmates delicately, softly pulling the tape away so I could save the gift wrap. No matter what the present was, I would loudly declare that it was exactly what I’d wanted, feeling some new bond between myself and the giver. Even Megan, who’d been on my shit-list since she reprimanded me for kicking Phillip under the table in kindergarten, was transformed into my closest friend as I opened the transistor radio she gave me in second grade. Such a thoughtful gift indicated that Megan knew of my deep love for listening to the radio. Megan, I had you all wrong.
Later, when the cake was eaten and the friends had left, I would smell the paper, imagine their mothers’ hands pressing the creases, hear the pull of the tape. I would picture them at the store with their parents, choosing the perfect gift, considering me as a person. “I think-,” they’d tell their parents, “actually, I am sure I hear her say she doesn’t like the color yellow. How about something in blue?”
Sometimes I woud re-wrap the gifts and open them all again, pretending that each classmate presented the gift to me along with a speech about the kind of friend I’d been to them. I’d wave their sentiments away in gestures indicating that really, it was nothing! That time I gave you my animal crackers at snack? Forget about it. Or I’d engage in eye contact, clutching my chest, eyes full of tears, as they talked about how close we’d become.
Truthfully, I didn’t have any friends. Probably because I was a goddam weirdo who sat in my room play-acting scenarios in which I was loved. Or it could have been because I ate my crayons and cut off my eyelashes at school. Maybe also because I was always dirty with my hair sticking up, and in the winter I’d come to school with baked potatoes in my pockets. Maybe also because I claimed to be a powerful witch- a thing I’d prove by swinging as high as the top of the swingset and jump off, landing on my feet.
But, on my birthday I had every friend in class. They all came to our apartment, and they brought things to me, and they sang to me, and I was the queen of everything. And that was the bar at which birthdays were set for me. And then, any year after that, when my birthday was forgotten, or when it was remembered but there wasn’t any celebration, my queen of everything heart was crushed.
At some point, I stopped worrying about my birthday so much and started to try to recreate that feeling I had as a child for other people. It was rewarding to see them feel really special. I love throwing parties for my kids and for my friends, complete with a speech about how much they mean to me.
On the 15th, I’ll be 34. This time last year I was in the midst of serious illness, and on my birthday Tim came over and we ate pho and I threw it up and went back to sleep.
This year I was going to plan something big as a way to celebrate not being full of cancer anymore. I was going to make my own Queen of Everything celebration, instead of hoping that at some point a bunch of people were going to show up and say “We remembered and we got you a blue transistor radio and a hamburger!”
I think, instead, I’m going to spend the day in a different way. I think I’m going to find my way down to the ocean, stare out across the water, and have a day of thanksgiving and reflection. This year’s been kinder than it’s been cruel, and the dust is just starting to settle. I’ll have just completed my first week at a new, wonderful job, after all. And this year has taught me that I don’t need to be the queen of anything at all. I am content with my small speck of a place in the massive world.
But, I will be taking a hamburger with me to the ocean-side. I may even stick a candle in the burger, make a wish, and laugh at the giant weirdo I’ve been all my life.
You know that thing where you’re watching sitcoms and you keep wondering if they’re just hanging out, watching your life and writing it all down? It happens to me only all the time. It could simply mean that my life is boring and predictable and just like every other single 33 year old woman’s life.
Anyway, Tim, you’ve been my best friend only forever now, and recently I was watching the Mindy Project because, yes, I like the Mindy Project. I do, after all, have a heart and ovaries and it’s an adorable show. Mindy was at this party and she assumed that these two people were a couple, and got upset when the guy asked her out. Turns out they’re just best friends. And I was making fun of it at first because these best friends were really over-doing it, like, all up in each other’s daily lives, frequently talking about how much they love each other, being affectionate. I mean, they’re just best friends, tv show! You don’t have to hit us over the head with it. Real best friends don’t- ohhhh. Yeah.
And we know that if we were the sitcom, the audience would be yelling at their television right now that we should just get together already. Hell, most of the men I’ve dated over the past few years have told me that we should just get together already. I even used you to get rid of one of them. He was convinced we were in love and wouldn’t shut up about it, so eventually I told him he’s right, I love you, and could never fall in love with him.
But I love what you had to say about it, the other night, before our Valentine’s Day date-night, when I was asking why it is that we aren’t together. Because, people ask me that and I never have any sort of good answer. You’re one of my favorite people, and sometimes I feel like I’d never make it through (through this world without having you) and all other manner of sappy 80s love lyric. We have fun together, you’re great to my kids, and I think you’re the most attractive man I have ever met. We both understand each other very well, and you’re brilliant. So, why aren’t we together?
“Because why would we screw up what we have?” As things stand, we already do everything a couple does, except for get in big, dumb fights. We have fake fights sometimes. Those are fun. And then there was that one time you punched me in the back of the head, you jerk. And last night I got mad at you because you made me find the HD PBS channel when I was content to just watch Downton Abbey in standard def. You were right, by the way.
But, seriously, once you put a name on a thing, once you stake the claim of boyfriend/girlfriend, things change fast. All of a sudden there’s more pressure on both of our sides to try and live up to things. Right now, when you disappoint me, it’s stuff like you decide at the last minute that you want to stay in and play X-Box when I’d rather go to parties. As my boyfriend, you’d be disappointing me every time you didn’t wash a dish, or chose to go to a burrito place even though I said I didn’t want a damn burrito. Right now, as friends, we get to see each other in that special spotlight reserved for people you love, where they look amazing from any angle. As my boyfriend, I’d be putting you under an interrogation lamp, assessing you constantly for flaws.
What we have is good, Tim. We should keep this up forever. Sure, in the sitcom, the best friends ended up confessing their love to each other and making out on a stoop. But this isn’t New York, and we’re aware of how we feel about each other, so there’s not going to be a passionate revealing moment of confession. Plus, everyone knows, if this were a sitcom, we wouldn’t end up together until the season finale.
Take Valentine’s Day and Shove It Right Up Your Stupid Ass
A smart person treats Valentine’s Day like an atheist treats that Shiite holiday where people slash their kids with machetes and put swordfish through their face. Stay indoors and don’t get involved.
Is there still a sucker out there suffering through this shit, in two thousand motherfucking twelve. Is there still a guy who called in December to book a restaurant that’s gonna be packed to the gills, overpaying for some bullshit prix fixe menu, ordering from harried miserable waitstaff working the longest shift of their lives. Is there a guy who bought a heart shaped box of chocolates. Is there a guy who Went to Motherfucking Jared™ and bought a god damn diamond that some Sierra Leonian kid had his arms hacked off for. Is there a man left on this planet who doesn’t know that romance only earns contempt, that the quickest way to a woman’s heart is to not give a fuck, that you’re only cementing your status as a tool as you lean back and accept your annual blowjob, every cell in her brain frantically trying to imagine it’s any cheese smelling dick but yours.
Is there still a woman out there who doesn’t know that your valentine hates this shit with every fiber of his being. That none of this is a gesture of his love for you. It’s just a sad and desperate attempt to not fuck up. To not piss you off. Like a wise man once said, it’s a DUI checkpoint. The best case scenario is you get to zero. But you better get out there and spend money and time and hustle, and this bullshit bouquet of roses isn’t gonna cut it. You can’t just do what everybody else is doing. You better do something original. You better do one of those engagement proposals that makes the front page of reddit, or she’s gonna be thinking about the guy who did. And then next year you better do even more. Look at this guy, he sent flowers to his wife every year from beyond the grave. Motherfucker, you better keep me happy after you’re dead. You better be Valentine’s Jesus, never once fucking up in life and then showering my ass with expensive and useless shit from your fucking tomb. Do it right and I’ll reward you with some sex. Every cell in your brain pretending it’s any cold yeasty blimp hangar of a pussy but mine.
Look, don’t listen to me. I’ll die alone, my bones gnawed by starving pets. I’m just jealous of your love. Why not have a day to celebrate. While we’re at it, why don’t we have an It’s Great To Be Rich Day where the Romneys take one of their G rides down their car elevator and parade around town flashing wads of cash. They could toss around those fake 20 dollar bills that say “if you think you need this money, you need THE LORD” on the back. The poor would be lined up on the sidewalk, forced to applaud. Why don’t we have an It’s Great To Be Good Looking Day where models on floats point and laugh at the leering ugly masses. Why don’t we have it’s great to have a big dick day. I’ll tell you why: there are 365 of them in the fucking year already. I don’t need my wounds salted by the likes of you. Take your loving relationships and your happiness and shove them right up your ass.
Almost everybody fucking hates Valentine’s Day. All men hate it because it’s a stupid scary obligation they don’t understand. All single women hate it because their hungry pets are just waiting for them to drop. Women in bad relationships hate it because it just reminds them of the hollow contemptuous loveless hell they suffer through. That leaves: women in good relationships. That’s who like Valentine’s Day. Women who have attained the prize they’re told their whole lives is the crown jewel of womanhood. Women who won. Let’s celebrate, put on your favorite Disney® Princess™ dress and let’s watch your special edition DVD of Nicholas Sparks Laughs All the Way to the Fucking Bank with the Money You Paid for His Retarded Fucking Emotional Porn starring The Guy Your Girlfriend Is Thinking about When She Asks You To Hit Her From Behind. You got what you wanted. Why the fuck do you need us to hurt so you can flaunt it.
Eat shit, princess. We all know Christmas is bullshit too, but we suffer through it for the children. At least they have an excuse.
Delicious Tacos is an unemployed drunk who lives alone, in an apartment that smells like old chicken. He will weep bitter tears into his cat’s fur while you are enjoying Valentine’s Day.
You most likely know him because he’s funny. The writer and director of some of my favorite contemporary comedies, “Anchorman”, “Step Brothers”, and a producer of the brilliant series “Eastbound & Down”. He’s one of the founders of Funny or Die. There is no denying that Adam McKay is a funny, funny guy.
I love Adam McKay because he has a built-in audience based on his funny that allows him to talk politics to people who may not otherwise have paid attention. And when you do pay attention to Adam McKay, what he’s saying makes a lot of sense. His ideas are interesting, and even if you don’t, I know I agree with the things I hear him saying.
(For example read this pre-election piece McKay wrote for the Huffington Post.)
Dear Adam McKay, Thank you for speaking your mind and being more than just a funny face. Well. No, I don’t mean your face is- I meant that your mind is- Oh. You know what I meant. Thanks for being smart. I love that about you.
You guys? I’m looking at my big list of things I love, and man, do I seem like a big fatty boombalatty. And if I think about the foods that make my heart beat a little faster, those are also the foods that clog my arteries, so be prepared for my heart to explode sometime very soon.
I have loved Hoagies & Wings since the first moment I ate one of their hot wings. Initially put off by the name, because at the time I was still trying to keep myself svelte, I wandered into their Ventura Blvd location in the midst of a day when I hadn’t had anything to eat and wasn’t in any mood to think about what I wanted. I ordered their Suicide Sauce hot wings, and I have never found a hot wing across the land that has matched theirs in flavor and heat. (Although I once got to look at a rather nice butt while having wings prepared for me. Those wings take second place.)
However, it’s not just their wings that I love about them. About three years ago I placed an order online and had a bad experience. I posted about it on Eat24Hours.com, and the owner of the place, who noticed that I also use Foursquare, reached out via twitter asking if anyone knew who Nikol H. was. He was put in touch with me, and we had really great conversations about technology and service. It was a smart, human move.
However, it’s not just their tech savvy customer service that I love about them. In August I was able to show a group of foster kids from South Carolina around California. They’d won a trip here based on their personal accomplishments. The owner, Akida Mashaka, sat down with the kids and talked to them about how to actualize their goals. He gave them each his personal contact information. (And he gave us hot wings.) He was in the midst of opening a new pub in Silver Lake, but he found it important to take time to talk to us. If I wasn’t already in L-O-V-E with Hoagies & Wings, that sealed the deal forever.
Also? Their hamburgers are pretty good! Hoagies & Wings, you make me happy. I love you.
I’m a total romantic sucker for engagement stories, like…
I’d heard about this woman who loved movie trailers. They were here favorite part of going to the movies. Her boyfriend was always running late, and she’d get pissed off, maybe call him names, probably go sit in the car to make it a point that she was not going to miss those trailers. More than once, I bet they missed some, and I bet she gave him the business over that.
Her boyfriend called up the movie theater and arranged things with them, then filmed a his proposal of her. Right before the real trailers began, there he was on a big screen, asking her to marry him. He said she was actually running late that night. He was afraid that they’d miss it.
Some people get engaged in the mountains, or in art galleries. The man gets on his knee- I love that part. He ducks down on one knee and that’s when the woman knows what’s about to happen, and she covers her mouth with her hand. It’s the one knee mouth hand reflex. Then she calls someone right away, “Guess what? We’re getting married!”
Sometimes I think that the best parts of marriage are the proposal and wedding. But then again, I’ve never been married to Michelle Williams, and I have a feeling that would be wonderful all the time.
I saw this comedian last night. And I think you should see him.
I heard a rap song once called “I Used To Be A Vegan”. It’s not a good song, at all, which is a damn shame, because I’ve been looking for an anthem to replace “Barbie Girl”. I think the premise of the song, which I promise you is awful, don’t even bother giving it a google, is that they are actually healthier while eating meat, and veganism isn’t your automatic good-health indicator.
Whatever. I agree. I know unhealthy vegans and healthy vegans. I was both of those things at times in my life. But when I moved out to LA, everything changed. I woke up one morning, after Jude had moved back to England, and I hadn’t been able to eat anything substantial in weeks. I went on an amble through the neighborhood, at at the end of the amble I arrived at the beacon of delicious known as “Fatburger”. It was there that I ate my first LA hamburger, and certainly my first hamburger in years.
There’s a lot of stuff about LA that I love. I can’t even write a post about how much I love LA, because I promise you that it’s so much that you’d want us to get a room. And one of the many things I love about LA is hamburgers. I cannot think of a single hamburger I’ve had to date in this city that hasn’t satisfied. And when it comes to where you want to eat, sometimes I don’t feel like having Thai or Viatnamese or Mexican or Ethiopian. But I always, always feel like hamburgers.
My favorite hamburger spots in LA:
5.) Patra Burger: Cheap, fast, and delicious. You order your food at an outside window. There are pictures of all of the foods to make it easier to point at the things you want. They misspell bacon as “becon”. And there are always hot, young hipsters hanging out, being adorable.
4.) Fatburger: Not to start any shit, but I’m not a fan of In-N-Out. And in my experience, you’re either Fatburger loyal, or In-N-Out for life. Fatburger has these big, juicy patties all wrapped up in paper. I love a burger that’s wrapped in wax paper, just sticking it’s delicious burgery self out there. “Oh, hey, Nikol. You want to eat me, don’t you? Maybe just a liiiittle nibble?” Then, holyshit I ate that in two bites.
3.) Black Hogg: I mentioned them in a post recently, because I’d gone on a date and eaten this delicious buttery lamb burger with habenero pickled onions. I still think about that burger. I miss that burger. I listen to sad songs and lament that the burger could not stay with me forever.
2.) The Oinkster: Here’s my Yelp Review
1.) The Counter: Okay, so when I first started on my burger journey, I was introduced to Umami Burger, and I was smitten. When we got the check, I was less smitten, but I had just eaten a wonderful burger and had a cocktail, so I was willing to accept that maybe my kids won’t go to college because my extra funds would be going to burgers. But here’s my BEEF (yup, live with it) with Umami. They do this really irritating “No substitutions” thing. They’re not the only ones to do it, either. There’s this snotty LA dining thought that the chef who created the dishes knows best for your mouth, because he’s some kind of hamburger wizard, and so they don’t let you have it your way. At first, I was luke-warm on this. I know what I like on my burgers thankyouverymuch. But, last time I was at Umami I also had a terrible service experience that I won’t bore you with. Fortunately, that drove me to a burger spot a few doors down. And The Counter is the perfect burger spot for me. You get a little sheet of paper where you check off the kind of meat, bun, toppings, sauces, cheeses, building your own happy idea of perfection. And even if you do something insane and order bean sprouts, then you sit there biting your nails wondering if that was a terrible idea, the quality of the burger is so wonderful that they can make any combination of toppings work.
Dear Hamburgers, thank you for being a part of my life. You’re always there when I need you for breakfast, you’re the perfect meal any time. I love you.
I am especially in love with this recording because I love her cut off shorts and her bare feet. Lissie, I love you. How much? Sometimes, I feel my heart will overflow.