I consider myself to be a generally flat person. I don’t mean that I am one of those robot people with no feelings. I just mean that I usually have one mode, unless I’m at home and no one is looking at me: laughing at everything.
Maybe flat isn’t what I mean to say. Inappropriate?
I laugh at really inappropriate times. “Oh yeah it was like the most dysfunctional family dinner ever, I cried for a week – HAHAHAHAHAHAH!” Times like that. I think it’s likely because I’m either awkward or an idiot. Or both. (Probably both.)
So I promised a release of the book cover for my fourth book, and here it is. Now it’s giving me feelings I can’t quite qualify, because of that whole flat-one-mode-laugh-inappropriately-even-when-laughing-isn’t-appropriate thing. I’ll just leave it at “feelings,” because the cover is a picture of the house I grew up in.
Which will give you all an idea of the content.
Also, the back matter makes me feel like a real horse’s ass (do you see what I did there with the horse and the title of my book…), because people have said nice things about my writing and – where are my manners? – I’ve sent no ‘thank you cards.’
So here’s the cover, and if you keep scrolling, you get the other thing I promised… a small excerpt.
Emphasis on small, I don’t want to show my whole hand just yet.
One more thing before the cover, though: another promise and an invite… join me on Thursday, June 1st at 6:00 pm PST (that’s 8:00 pm in the Central Zone, and 9:00 ET) for a Twitter Party Book Trailer release. You can RSVP on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/events/211182979374387/ or just check in that night using the hashtag #datblindhorsetho …make sure to Tweet your responses to it that night too!
Okay, so here’s the cover and the excerpt…enjoy!
And now the excerpt:
…I come from a very long line of emotional eaters. On the surface, you wouldn’t know it. Obesity isn’t necessarily rampant in my family lineage. Some people are heavier than others, sure – but that’s more a statement of their general love of Prime Time TV than anything else.
Nonetheless, I was raised on the premise that food solves everything.
I like to think that my family was the original source of the foodie movement. From the very beginning of my earliest childhood memories to now, all life revolved around what we were going to eat, who we were going to eat it with, and when we were going to get it in our mouths. Every food was coupled with a nauseatingly detailed description. The gastro pubs in Santa Monica today that describe a burger and fries with no less than twenty adjectives of ingredients and notes of infused flavor have got nothing on how my mother used to be able to describe her most basic chicken and rice dish. Daily life was filling, and if it wasn’t everyone was depressed or angry. Or both.
That isn’t to say that the food has always, or ever, been particularly noteworthy. In fact most of the time it was either mediocre or something akin to roadkill.
There was always plenty of it. Way too much, actually; so much so that to think of all the animals sacrificed for the sake of all of those friend and family gatherings of years past makes me feel so terrible sometimes I think I should go vegan for the rest of my life just to make up for it.
When we lived in the suburbs of Chicago, we would occasionally visit this family that I never quite understood our connection to. Either they were distant family, like cousins, or friends of the family so close they may as well be family. Nonetheless, it was more than a want, but rather a social obligation, that we visit them frequently.
Because a lot of people would come to their gatherings, and they lived in a relatively small place, they’d always serve the food in the basement. By the dim, fluorescent lights, flickering on the verge of burning out, we’d line up in front of the table and fill our Dollar Store paper plates to the brim with the same nine dishes. Every time, each of these nine dishes were essential to the meal:
1. Something that looked like a turkey casserole and I’m fairly certain had peas in it. Not sure it really had any meat in it at all, but it tasted like turkey;
2. Baked ziti. I know this sounds wonderful – because really, who doesn’t love baked ziti? Well if you ever tried this baked ziti you’d know that it is possible to dislike the dish, and it’s simply because it was made with jars of Ragu;
3. Bologna sandwiches slathered in mayonnaise and American cheese spread;
4. Fruit slush. I never really understood this one. Supposedly a fruit salad, this was canned fruit mashed and mixed with ginger ale, then frozen and slightly defrosted. A jar of Maraschino cherries was added to the mix and this is what we ate for the fruit and vegetable portion of the meal;
5. Pistachio Jell-o salad. Because at this point, the meal just felt entirely incomplete without it;
6. Baked beans, always – and without fail – served in a crockpot. Special attention was paid each time to making sure the crockpot could remain plugged in after it had been transferred from the kitchen to the basement. Baked beans just ain’t right if not pipin’ hot;
7. Tortilla chips with dip. The dip was an 8 ounce block of regular Philadelphia cream cheese with a jar of Pace Picante sauce poured over the top of it;
8. Store brand sandwich cookies;
9. None of you will believe this, because it just seems so cliche, but the final and perhaps most important part of the meal was a mixed piece bucket of KFC original recipe chicken.
By contrast, I recently was in the unfortunate position of having to attend my sister in law’s baby shower and the food was only a side note. I was totally – and completely – out of my element. Not that I cared much, I don’t usually eat much at these types of gatherings anyway. Maybe it was the years of crockpots full of baked beans and fruit slush that did me in, I just learned to pick at the offerings sparingly and eat a salad once I got home.
But at this baby shower, where typically I would have seen an entire spread of foods from deviled eggs to more deviled eggs, to some other types of eggs that appeared deviled but also looked sort of green; plus the other array of foods like the ones listed above – instead there was a small plate of sandwiches and another small plate with carrots. That was it. All in all there were about fifty people in attendance, with maybe ten sandwiches on the plate.
At that baby shower, people were hungry. Here they had sacrificed their Sundays to come, pay homage to the to-be mother; spent a minimum of fifty dollars per person on a gift, and all they got was a goddamned carrot. Maybe. Maybe only a sandwich – if they were lucky. Some people got a piece of cake, but that was insufficient in size as well. (And oh man what people would have said if they knew that they almost weren’t going to have a cake.)
For myself, I sucked back the Cooks champagne and patted myself on the back for having eaten beforehand, assuming it would be the usual assortment of KFC mixed buckets and baked beans by the crockpot.
I had never seen anything like it, and apparently no one else there had either.
Attitudes started to turn within the first hour, and it was again made clear to me that people eat away all their frustrations and social anxieties at these things. Maybe beyond that, into their daily lives. It keeps people happy. It calms down the dramatics. Helps you forgive people for excluding you from a wedding, or for not keeping in contact all the years.
It was that day that I finally accepted that ultimate truth into my heart, once and for all: eating really does solve everything.