Thumb Cuts

“Just the Tip is Enough”

Kate and I had just returned from a splendid afternoon of carousing at a new favorite establishment on the beach, and I decided to make us a healthy snack of blood orange slices.

My choice of fruit should have been an ominous warning sign.

Over the holidays, we were graciously gifted with a trio of new paring knives, and in my zeal for citrus, I snatched one up and began to carve.

By my second slice, I realized that I was using the wrong tool for the job. The blade was both curved and too short for a clean cut across the orange skin. Instead of a straight line, I was being forced to turn to the contours of the fruit.

Any intelligent person would have quickly swapped knives. It’s not like I didn’t have a better alternative – Chun Li was placidly staring down at me from the knife strip, solemnly scowling at my improper blade choice.

I was not an intelligent person.

Even worse, before this incident, I proudly lectured Kate on the importance of knife safety. I showed her my Totin Chip, taped into my beaten and battered copy of the Scouts Handbook. I have chided her for not checking her bubble an annoying amount of times.

Ignoring all the warning signs of improper knife etiquette, I continued my wobbly adventure, cutting the orange into uneven strips. Then, as I was working on the last quarter, the knife zigged when it should have zagged, and I felt it’s German steel effortlessly bite into the tip of my thumb.

I made that sound that I believe most people do when they hurt themselves in a way that they could have easily avoided. It is basically a sharp and quick intake of breath, sucked through your teeth, while still not really opening your mouth.

Then I yelled, “Oh shit shit shit shit shit”

This got Kate’s attention. I ran to the sink, and between bursts of blood, I was able to ascertain that I had sheared off the meaty tip of my thumb. Not enough to warrant stitches, but enough to make me think about what I had done.

I cut off the remaining flap of skin (I had stopped before finishing the deed, which made this part even worse), and then Kate played Florence Nightengale to my injured digit.

The thing about the tip of your thumb is that you don’t realize how much you use it until it’s gone. Typing, cooking, even putting your hands in your pockets can bring a jolt of pain to your system.

Even worse, I had to wear a chunky band-aid to work for several days, and as a 32-year old adult, it’s an immediate badge of “I Fucked Up” when you do something that requires a band-aid, and it wasn’t car repair or construction related.

They say time heals all thumbs. Who has two thumbs (tips and all) and a strong respect for his new paring knives?

This guy, that’s who.

Thumb Cuts – 1 out of 5 

Proposing

“So…What Do You Think?”

Welp. I did it.

I tricked Kate into saying that she’ll spend all of her love currency on me, until forever.

To say I tricked her is actually incorrect. For the last three years, I’ve conducted a thoughtful and calculated campaign of love. I’m talking flowers, I’m talking handwritten notes, I’m talking cleaning the toilet bowl.

Someone asked me “When did you know she was the one for you?”

Realistically, there are two answers.

The first answer is the moment I saw her. I was working on a couch in a cramped two-bedroom apartment of a startup we both worked at. She walked in, and I immediately was smitten. But to go from smitten to dating took a while.

The second answer, and more honest of the two, was when we had a big fight, but then didn’t break up. In fact, she ended the fight with something like “I know this is tough, but let’s work through this.” Up until that moment, I had never been in a relationship that could have conflict, even more so, healthy conflict that made our bond stronger.

Therefore, my most logical step was to lock that shit down.

After a month of design and work, I had the ring. I returned from the Jewelry district in DTLA last Wednesday and immediately felt it burning a hole in my pocket. Against the guidance of my peers at work, I strongly considered asking her that night, just on the canals, but it didn’t feel like the right moment.

I did know that I wanted to do it soon. Early in our relationship, I had mentioned that I would propose to her on a hike, so that was the sketchy plan of mine. I slyly asked about our schedule that weekend, and she told me that we were going to visit a Wolf Sanctuary – an experience that she had gotten as a gift for the both of us during Christmas.

Wolves? Other people? This didn’t feel right. But then the more I thought about, the more I considered it.

On Thursday night I laid in bed and was 97% good-to-go.

Then Friday I went to my book club, consisting of all married men (and me). After discussing Vonnegut’s short stories, I mentioned my wolf proposal thought process. Each and every one of my book buddies encouraged the wolf avenue.

“Wolves dude. Wolves”

So Saturday morning we drove out to Palmdale to visit The Wolf Connection. Upon being let in, milling around with the other 15 or so participants, I sprung into action.

By that I mean, I waited until Kate went to the bathroom, then awkwardly ambled up to one of the employees and said “Uh…Hi. I know this is kind of sudden, but is there an opportunity during this experience where I could maybe…sorta, propose to my girlfriend?”

I was told yes, there might be a spot, but it wouldn’t be until the end of the experience.

So, for the next two hours, Kate, myself, and 15 other people become one pack. We learned about the 33 wolves on the compound, learned about what makes wolves special, and then we spent 30 minutes in several wolf cages, petting the wolves and getting wolf licks.

Finally, it was time to go on the wolf hike. We formed into a single file line, with wolves on leashes interspersed, and trudged up a short and easy path through the brush. Then we came to a fire road, where the group assembled.

The leader of the experience leaned over to me, and whispered “Now would be a good time” and I instantly was filled with terror.

Muttering something lame to Kate like “hey let’s take a walk over here”, we went up the fire road, rounded a bend, and had privacy.

I began to say the speech that I had come up that morning on my run. It involved an allegory about things being temporary, like popsicles, but how the love we have is permanent (unlike popsicles).

Stupidly, I hadn’t thought to take the ring out of my super cool CamelBak, so 3/4th of the way into the speech I had to awkwardly sling it around, and grab the ring and the box. Bending down on one knee, on a fire road in Palmdale, surrounded by wolves, I asked THE question.

After exactly one second longer than I was mentally prepared for, Kate said yes, and we smooched.

We had a few minutes to ourselves, then the leader of the experience rounded the corner, saw our happy faces and gave us hugs. Then she brought out a special “engagement wolf” for us, and we sat on the side of the road and petted a very large wolf-dog named Koda. We’re talking Game of Thrones size.

The drive home was full of phone calls, text messages, and smiles. We threw an impromptu party at the bar across the street, and friends came out of the woodwork to celebrate us.

Besides getting literally drunk, I became drunk with engagement power. At the bar, we barely paid for drinks, due to our happy moment. However, after leaving the bar, we saw a hot-dog truck across the street. Kate loves hot dogs, my feelings are well documented.

We ordered the dogs, and then I shouted “We’re engaged! These hot dogs are free!”

I was very quickly and sternly admonished by the owner of said hot dog truck that no, they were not free.

In summary, proposing around wolf dogs is awesome, but it doesn’t result in free hot dogs.

Proposing – 5 out of 5 

Automated Bathroom Apparatus

“Wash Me, Dammit”

I’m not sure the exact technical term, but there’s a word for when emerging technology becomes accepted on a massive scale, and becomes the new normal. Maybe it’s the tipping point? I’m sure Malcolm Gladwell would know.

Hands-free bathroom technology has reached my personal tipping point. More and more public places are forgoing actual skin to machine contact, and instead, we’re just waving our hands at towel dispensers, soap sloppers, sinks, and hand dryers.

On the whole, I’m pro automation when it comes to the bathroom. I once worked at a place where everything in the bathroom was automated, and when I would come home to my very not automated home bathroom, I would have to mentally reboot a few times, realizing that I still had to *do* things.

Which brings about the dark side of automated bathroom technology. When they don’t work, the situation can go from comical to dire.

We’ve all done it. We’ve been in an unfamiliar bathroom, noticed that the sink has one of those sensors, and blindly put our hands under the faucet, ready for our paws to be polished with water. And then.

Nothing.

Nothing happens. You glance around, see if other people are having the same problem with their sink, and of course, they’re not. They’re technically literate. What are you, a Luddite?

You wave your hands in front of the sink, with ever-increasing frenzy. It either turns on or if not you’ll quickly abandon that sink and slink over to another automated station. Perhaps you’ll even try to shrug it off with a bad joke or a “whaddayagonnado” shrug to the invisible crowd.

Or, you’ll just pretend like the water hit your hands, throw some soap on it, and then grab a towel and hightail it.

However, there is nothing worse than being presented with faulty automatic technology when in a bathroom stall. Say what you will about manual toilets, but you know who’s in control.

It’s a truly humbling moment when you’re in a restroom, waving at a toilet, praying to the machine gods that it will quickly dispose of your waste.

Technology is a double-edged sword. Especially when we count on that sword to edge against the side of excrement.

Automated Bathroom Apparatus – 3 out of 5 Stars 

Dog Hollering

“Who’s A Good Boy?”

I have a problem.No matter the situation, level of propriety, or expected decorum, if I see a friendly looking dog, I will try to talk to it.

It’s not so bad that I will cross the street in hopes of petting a good boy. Instead, I’ll just keep mental tabs on it, and use my own personal version of “The Secret” and hope that we cross paths.

As someone who grew up with dogs, all dogs are nice in my mind until they’re not. If the existential question toward humanity is “Is man inherently good or evil?” my own personal philosophy toward dogs is “Are Dogs inherently great, or the greatest?”

Even after being bitten by a street dog in Thailand, I still trust all dogs to have my love as their best interest.

Dogs have to work for me to not like them. Most small dogs I judge instantly. A dog under 20 pounds has to earn my affection. It’s not hard, but it’s an uphill battle for their weirdly tiny legs.

Up until recently, I realized that I was doing something almost without noticing it. If I was driving, and I saw a great looking dog, there was a 50/50 chance that I would shout out something complimentary to the dog. Something like “Good Boy!” “What a Great Doggo!” or even just “Floof!”

It was brought to my attention that while the dog may enjoy the drive-by praising, the dog owner might misinterpret my dog enthusiasm for nefarious mutterings.

Kate and I were driving somewhere early in our relationship, and I saw a good boy. Instantly my window was down and I gave the dog a shouted phrase of praise. Turning back to Kate with a satisfied grin on my face, I saw a look mixed with horror and disgust.

Turns out, the dog walker was an attractive woman, and Kate interpreted my dog hollering as actual hollering. Looking back, I see the error in my ways.

Tail between my legs, I toned down my dog hollering. For a while, I would just yell praise to the dog, but with my window up. I felt confident that the doggo’s superior sense of hearing would pick up my words of encouragement, without me branding myself as a street harasser.

Now, I wait for a dog to pass me by, then I politely ask the owner if I can pet their dog.

But, to all the doggos out in the world. Know this. You are all good boys and good girls.

Dog Hollering – 3 out of 5 Stars

Shun Chef’s Knife

“Oh That’s Nice”

For my birthday, I was awarded a smattering of great gifts from friends and family. They’re all equal in value, thoughtfulness, and loving gestures.

Then there’s my new Shun 8″ Chef’s Knife.

Probably forged by the last great Samurai Swordmaker, Hattori Hanzo, my Shun knife is the greatest thing to ever happen to my novice culinary career.

Lovingly named “Shun Li”, after the Street Fighter character, Chun Li, Shun and Chun have similar capabilities. They’re both delicate, sharp, and can take down objects double and triple their size.

We have great knives in our kitchen, but Shun Li has taken it up to the next level. Kate and I jockey for who gets to do the cooking prep work. Dicing an onion is like trying on silk pajamas. Smooth and sexy.

I feel a tinge of guilt everytime I take Shun Li down off of the wall because the rest of our knives are left to hang up on their magnetic prison, gloomily staring down as Shun Li chops and carves.

This must be how Woody felt in Toy Story 3 when he realized Andy was getting too old to play with toys.

Not to say that my other knives aren’t useful. We have a bread knife that is incredible. But the rest of them…just don’t cut it.

Is this the beginning of their sad, slow march to the back of the kitchen drawer? Perhaps they’ll be handed down to younger family members or friends.

Maybe they’ll eventually be donated.

Or, they will end up going to the great whetstone in the sky, where all the steaks are marbled, the knives never go dull, and chefs never replace you with Japanese steel.

Shun Chef’s Knife – 4 out of 5 Stars 

Cats

“The Musical”

At a lovely dinner party last night, somehow I became involved in a conversation about Broadway. The story revolved around how a group of young 20 somethings from Iowa had trekked out to NYC, and got back row seats to see a new musical called “Cats.”

Now, I had heard of Cats. My knowledge (up until last night) was that it was Broadway play about cats. I also feel like it has been a pop culture punching bag for decades.

Last night, after we came home from the dinner party, Kate insisted we watch YouTube videos of Cats. Now I understand why this play gets made fun of.

I think I was able to sit through three or four songs from the play before I begged Kate to turn it off.

Cats, as I saw it, is what happens when a high school drama class is given a massive makeup department and stage budget, and that’s it. The Cat makeup was…good? However, the songs that I heard weren’t sung well, if sung at all.

I understand that this was the first Broadway show to do something like Cats did (dress up like Cats?), but maybe they should have built the show around some good singing.

To me, plays are just small moments of talking between anthemic or funny songs that propel the story along.

Growing up, our house was regularly blasting soundtracks from plays like Les Miserables, Wicked, and The Music Man. Plays are supposed to have good music and singing. Cat makeup is great, but let me hear some pipes.

In an attempt to clear our palette, we began searching for Les Mis videos, but in a classic YouTube misstep, we clicked on a video called “Boss Cats” and lost the next 9 minutes to footage of cats being assholes.

But hey, the video had cats singing, so it was definitely the better of the two Cats.

Cats – 1 out of 5 Stars 

Latkes

“Hashbrowns With Guilt”

Happy Hannukah everyone!

We’re not a religious household, but we do like to celebrate the holidays, and what better way to celebrate Hannukah with latkes – the traditional Jewish pancakes.

So, on Tuesday night, Kate and I spent an hour peeling potatoes and chopping onions, and then I managed to not burn myself with oil frying these delicious potato cakes on my cast iron.

I do have certain basic questions though. Of all the foods that Jews could have claimed, why the potato pancake? It’s not bad, but realistically it’s just a fancy way of doing hashbrowns.

Matzoh I understand – with the Egyptians and Moses and all that. But latkes? If we’re going to take a basic breakfast staple and adopt it as dinner, why not something like a breakfast burrito? Or French Toast? Or a quiche?

Are latkes supposed to be the side dish? Or the main course? Has anyone ever made a sandwich out of brisket with two latkes being the bread? Because if not, I might just open up that food truck.

Long story short, we made a lot of latkes, and now my lunch today is leftover latkes. I might have hit my latke limit.

Latkes – 2 out of 5 Stars