Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Plays Well With Others (Well, Usually)

I've always thought of myself as a people person. I like being social as well as anyone, I've never been known to be shy, and I've rarely met a stranger. My conduct reports back in my school days always confirmed this with comments like "talkative during class" or "Susie needs to focus on her work as much as she focuses on her neighbors." I was even voted Mrs. Congeniality in a beauty pageant once. If that's not high praise for playing well with others, then I don't know how else to give it to you. However, in case you haven't noticed, the times--and people, for that matter--are a'changing. (And if you really haven't noticed, it's highly likely you are part of the problem and not the solution).

Now, I know we are all cut out of different cloth, and that being the same is boring. Heaven knows, my friends are all sorts of different characters, and I enjoy the company of someone who is unique. It's just that, lately, society seems to have made a change for the worse. We are accepting things as normal behavior that would make Emily Post roll over in her grave. We're not cringing anymore when people do cringe-worthy things. And I'm getting fed up. It's time to take a stand, so I'm putting out some guidelines. People person or not, if you commit the following offenses, I'm afraid it means we just can't be friends.

When you say, "I'm not bragging or anything, but..." you aren't fooling anyone, and you certainly aren't making any friends. Don't think for a second that little disclaimer hides the fact that you are, in fact, bragging about yourself, your dog, your child, your life, etc. Here's my disclaimer: if rolling my eyes so hard at your "non-bragging" causes me to have an aneurysm, I will sue. I'm not threatening or anything, but....

If you don't eat meat, dairy, gluten, soda, bread, fast food, or sugar, I applaud your very weird strict dietary efforts. I will make an attempt to understand why you punish yourself this way, and when you aren't around, I will even feel sorry for you for living your life in such a depraved, malnourished fashion. But if you insist on lecturing me about the evils of all these foods on your Do Not Consume list, we just cannot be friends. Into every life, a little Chex Mix must fall.

When you tell me that you don't watch a single show on the Bravo network, I will politely pretend to believe you and applaud your high intellectual standards. And then, I will befriend you, gain your trust, and find out which of the Real Housewives franchises is really your favorite. We all watch, and it's making us all dumber for it, but it's just such good, guilty pleasure. Once you admit that you're just as sinfully addicted as the rest of us, I think we can be friends.

If you use the word "ridic" (as in short for ridiculous) in conversation and you are not being humorous, ironic, or sarcastic, we probably cannot be friends. Totes, obvi, adorbs, awesomesauce, and amazeballs are one thing, but I have to draw the line somewhere.

You don't have to have big hair for us to be friends (granted, it helps), but I am going to need you to, at a minimum, understand its important place in society. After all, big hair rules the world. Southern women are only half joking when they say, "the higher the hair, the closer to heaven." If you need further proof that bigger is better, take a minute and Google "celebrities with big hair"--the images that will bombard you are a who's who of Hollywood. And for historical reference, may I present this:

These savvy women (and their amazingly coiffed hair) would never steer you wrong. A picture is worth a thousand words. And in this case, about three gallons of extra firm hold hairspray.

If I invite you to my house for dinner, and you tell me beforehand that you don't have any food allergies and you like every single food in existence, then do not show up to the table and complain that there are mushrooms in the green beans, or that the homemade roasted red pepper hummus is "a little too spicy." And definitely do not bemoan the three-layer chocolate s'mores cake I have lovingly prepared for you as "way too rich." I know most of you would never do that, but it actually happened to me a few years ago with some (now former) friends of ours. Let's just say I figured out quickly that we did not play well together, and we could not be friends. Don't let the door hit your cake-hating arse on the way out, folks.

If you don't love dogs, don't like mayonnaise (I'm looking at you, Jen), think that things called "flirtinis" are real martinis (no, no, no, they are most certainly not), wear white after Labor Day, or are one of those freakish people who actually need to gain weight, I don't want to be unreasonable and rule you out just yet. Let's just say it's negotiable. We can try things out on a probationary term and see if I can bring you around how it goes.

In the meantime, if none of these attributes describe you, I think we can play together. Meet me on the playground at recess. It'll be ridic.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Birthday Tailgate

We officially kicked off football season on Saturday in beautiful Clemson, South Carolina. (Technically, my Tigers had already played their first game the previous week, but since we weren't there, it hardly counts, right?) The weather was perfect, the Tigers won, and the tailgate was pretty fantastic, too, if I do say so myself.

Clint's birthday is this week, so instead of our usual orange-and-Tiger-paw-covered-everything, I went with a fun and festive birthday theme. After all, he may or may not be ringing in his last year as a 30-something, and that calls for a celebration.

I let the birthday boy choose his own menu for the day, which included a Bloody Mary bar (complete with all kinds of pickled vegetables, sauces, spices, and Slim Jims), baked ham and Swiss tailgate sandwiches, Chick-fil-A nuggets, mozzarella dip, boozy gummy bears, and a dozen very festive cupcakes in honor of the occasion. You may already know that I am a firm believer that more is more, so I topped that off with plenty of confetti, balloons, party hats, streamers, blow outs, and signs to make sure every passerby knew there was a birthday in progress.

I had a multi-colored seersucker tablecloth left from my 30th birthday party--which is to say, it's practically new (wink)--that I reused on the tables, and our "Happy Birthday" banner has been through every birthday we've had since we've been married. Needless to say, it's been witness to dozens of wishes, celebrations, and gift exchanges. To top it off, I wrapped a couple of pretend "gifts" and used them, along with the cupcakes, as our centerpiece. My friend Doug told me he would vote for me for World's Best Tailgate; I'm not sure there is such an award, and I'm quite certain if there were, it would go to something much more elaborate than my set up, but flattery will take you a long way with me.

In case you hadn't noticed, the party is here!

Clint's birthday tailgate

The guest of honor got plenty of well wishes throughout the day, and we all enjoyed the good food, good friends, and good times that tailgating always offers. After the game, we spent some time at the Esso Club dancing and enjoying the band. Once we managed to work up an appetite again, we packed up all the birthday decor and headed to Peppino's for some very delicious pizza as our late dinner. We capped off our night with a little quality time at Tiger Town Tavern before calling it a day. It wasn't even my birthday, and I had quite a day of celebrating! It's always nice when you can enjoy all the fringe benefits without the burden of turning a year older.

We still have plenty of birthday partying left to do, but I think we got off to a great start. In the meantime, if you see the slightly older, tad more grown-up version of this guy, be sure to wish him a Happy Birthday and many more to come.

Happy Birthday, Clint! 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

If You Like Pina Coladas

"If you like pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain...." Well then, you would have adored our vacation last week because we managed to do a little bit of both--although thankfully, (many) more pina coladas than rain. Tropical storm Danny tried to make himself a third wheel on our trip to the Bahamas, but he was no match for us and we enjoyed a fantastic six days on Paradise Island.

When we arrived on Monday, we were greeted by a pretty steady rain storm, which thankfully died down just as we reached our hotel. We've managed to make it to the Atlantis resort every summer for the last few years, and we love it there so much that it feels like home away from home to us whenever we get the chance to steal away there (if only). Other than Clemson, South Carolina, it's my favorite place to be.

We went straight for the Bahamian food on our first night's dinner and enjoyed conch fritters, spicy conch salad, and then went in search of a cocktail. The bar menu said the cocktails come in two sizes: regular and "Gussie Mae"--that's island talk for large. If you know us at all, you have zero doubt which size we Stancil's general motto is that more is more is more, after all. We have actually ordered Gussie Mae size drinks in the past and they were about the size of two regular cocktails. This time, however, they were bigger than the size of our heads and so heavy it took two hands to carry them, I almost died when I walked over to the bar and saw these behemoth mojitos waiting on us--the amount of mint alone looked like a salad!

These were more than drinks, they were a conversation piece. Every single person who passed by had to comment, inquire, and a few even wanted pictures. And at $18 each, believe me when I say these drinks were the best deal at the entire resort. 

Does this mojito make me look thirsty?

And of course, we finished the entire things. Hey, we're no quitters.

We dodged another bout of rain Tuesday morning and spent a gorgeous afternoon out by the pool before heading to one of our favorite Italian restaurants for dinner. My hubby may or may not have eaten himself into oblivion, causing us to call it an early carb-fueled night.

Sunset selfie.

We always take a taxi into downtown Nassau and have breakfast and wander through all the shops there. There isn't much to buy unless you're in the market for 3 t-shirts for $20 or a woven straw bag with "Bahamas" stitched on the side, but it's fun to get off the resort property and see how the downtown has changed since our last visit. There were five cruise ships in port during our stay, so Nassau was full of hustle and bustle and Carnival cruisers. 

We relaxed for a couple of more days out the pool, bought some rum drinks made in real coconuts on the beach--we are never ones to pass up on a gimmick, enjoyed the crystal clear water, and even rode a few water slides. We had a low key pizza dinner out at the marina (which is the closest to dining on a yacht I'll probably get), walked through the world's largest open air saltwater aquarium, and bellied up to the buffet at another one of our favorite eateries at Atlantis. The only problem with the vacation was that it seemed like it went by way too fast. As usual, I wished for just one more day. And maybe a day or two after that....

Meanwhile, back in Charlotte, someone else was not enjoying their r & r nearly as much.

We wrapped up our trip with dinner at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill. If you've never been, let me recommend the goat cheese fundido, ancho pork tenderloin, sweet potato tamale, and well, pretty much any and everything else. It's a great spot to save for the end of vacation so you can eat like it's your last meal without the dreaded thought of having to put on a swimsuit the next day. After dinner, we even managed to make a little profit--$50--on a slot machine, That probably paid for the tax on our dinner!

Big smiles outside Bobby Flay's restaurant.

Our Bahamas vacation was last week. This week, I've had plenty of dirty laundry and zero food in our house, which means I've had plenty of fun washing, folding, and Walmart grocery shopping. When it's over, it really is over, folks. I'm holding on by wearing my "It's Better In The Bahamas" shirt to walk the dog and reminiscing over the pictures from time to time. We're already counting down until next year, but in the meantime, we will just have to make due with football season. Be still my Clemson-loving heart.

Good-bye, summer! Hello, fall! And see you as soon as I can get back, Bahamas!