Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Almighty Butter Lamb

It's Easter Sunday, which can only mean one thing--the return of the Butter Lamb.

For those of you who've never heard about this magical holiday creature, let me back up and explain. A Butter Lamb is butter molded into the shape of a lamb, decorated with peppercorn eyes and a red ribbon necktie. It also has a red plastic "Alleluia!" flag sticking out of its butt. Kind of like the religious springtime version of Frosty the Snowman. The Butter Lamb is apparently a Polish Catholic tradition (shocking that it ended up at a table full of EYE-talians!) with its roots in Buffalo. The Broadway Market began selling Butter Lambs to herald the beginning of spring, and the tradition has continued for years and years.

Picture it--you're sitting around the dinner table with a soft hunk of Italian bread in your hand. You want to smother your bread in butter because butter is so obviously better than margarine. You reach toward the butter, knife in hand...and carve a giant slice from the Butter Lamb's right flank.

Weird, right?


I totally understand that lambs are symbols for both spring and Easter, but who on earth decided that spring/Easter needs to be represented by animal-shaped butter? In essence, we are taking something that comes from one animal and molding it in the shape of another animal. It's kind of like molding a ham into the shape of a goat. Wouldn't it make more sense to remain true to butter's milky origin and create a Butter Calf instead? Wait--were there cows wandering around Jerusalem in 33 A.D.? There must have been, since a fatted one was slaughtered in honor of the Prodigal Son's return. So why isn't there a fattening Butter Calf on my family's Easter table?

That being said, I love the Butter Lamb specifically for its nonsensical weirdness. I mean, how many other foods do you eat that remind you to rejoice? Alleluia, Butter Lamb! Alleluia! I truly rejoice in the Butter Lamb's arrival every Easter and I mourn its loss when the butter is gone and only the peppercorn eyeballs remain.
Farewell, sweet Butter Lamb! I'll see you next April! 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Seat's Taken:" A Guide to Getting Your Own Seat on the Bus

I’ve ridden many a bus in my day. And I’m not talking the M11. I’m talking long distance, people. Greyhound, Greyhound Neon, Adirondack, Trailways, Bolt Bus, Megabus, Fung Wah, Lucky Star. You name it—I’ve ridden them all.

As if riding that many buses isn’t unfortunate enough, I also fit the profile of an ideal seatmate: a diminutive, English-speaking, non-smelly food eating female old enough not to pee my pants…and young enough not to pee my pants.

It’s a problem.

Until I wised up, I always ended up sharing my seat on the bus, even though almost everyone else got a solo seat. What’s so bad about that? I’ll tell you what’s so bad about that. Sharing means you can’t put your feet up on the seat next to you. You can’t curl up into a little ball and lay across both seats. You can’t make phone calls with any degree of privacy. Your seatmate can see what you’re reading, listening to, watching, and eating. You run the risk of being trapped in a pointless conversation with a stranger. For HOURS. And as always seems to happen, your seatmate will take up all of his seat AND half of yours.

Though it sounds terribly mean, I made the conscious decision to keep people away for my own personal comfort.  I mean, I would never actually tell anyone they can’t sit with me, Forrest Gump-style (see below). That’s rude. If the bus is full, I will obviously share. But in most cases, I look at it this way: There are 44ish seats on a bus.  If 10 people end up with solo seats, why shouldn’t one of those people be me?

The easy way to get your own seat is to talk to yourself, or develop a tick, or foam at the mouth. But you don’t want everyone to think you just escaped from Bellevue. Being subtly selfish is totally the way to go. After all, bad seats shouldn't happen to good people. So here’s a quick acronym to remember:  ALONE.

         However big you are, increase the boundaries of your personal space.  This could mean putting your bag on the seat next to you, lying down across the two seats, or stretching your legs to the side.  Anything to make it seem that you require a lot of space.  This tip is key for smaller-than-average people.  

         Because most people are right-handed, they veer toward the right as they walk toward the back of the bus. Always choose a seat on the left side. Ideally, choose a seat in the middle of the left side.  You want to sit far enough back so that you won’t be the first open seat, but close enough that people will pass you by because they’re still hopeful for better prospects further back. 

         People tend to like calm seatmates. To get that solo seat, open your bags and rifle through your stuff. Pretend you’re looking for something, nothing, anything. The idea is to give the impression that you’ll be restless the entire bus ride, making you a terrible seat partner.

         Eye contact is the kiss of death. NEVER make eye contact with the people who are walking down the aisle and looking for seats. People will try to catch your eye for permission to sit down. Don’t give it to them. Absorb yourself in reading, or playing with your iPod, or talking on the phone. ANYTHING to keep your eyes downcast.

         Don’t be afraid to make yourself momentarily seem like an undesirable human being. One way to really drive this point home is to eat while people are loading the bus. I’ve found that the best thing to pull out is a Subway sandwich. The paper has just the right amount of crinkle so that it makes noise, but it’s not so obnoxious that people will complain. The idea is to give the impression that you’ve been starving for hours and this is the first chance you’ve had to eat something. No one can fault you for that. And people will give you your space out of politeness…and the desire to keep mayonnaise from accidentally plopping on their clothes.

Add space
eft side
pen bags
ever look

Now that I have given you the secrets to getting your own seat on the bus, I caution you to use these secrets wisely. If you know the bus is going to be full, there’s nothing you can do—you’ll have to share a seat. But if ten minutes of pretending to be annoying can get you a four-hour ride with a seat to spare, then for heaven’s sake go forth, my friends, and be as temporarily annoying as possible!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Urban Updater

I wanted to update you on a couple of fronts.

First of all, I just spent several glorious days upstate, where I was shocked to see snow on the ground. And not just a little bit--sometimes a LOT. I spent a ton of time uploading old family photos (which I fully enjoyed!).  If you're a true fan of my blog, you may remember my Halloween post, which mentioned the most amazing Halloween costume ever, my Care Bear costume, created with love by my creative and competitive mother. I mentioned that my costume won second place in our town's costume contest, but apparently it only captured a bronze. Take a look and tell me--just TELL me--that this isn't a first place costume!

Secondly, you may recall my struggle with a particular bridal shower gift in my last post. Yes, I'm talking about the coffee maker that seemed to double in size and weight every five minutes. Well, as you know, I managed to get the thing home, but that was only half the battle. I still had to get it all the way across town to the bridal shower.

I wasn't sure the best way to transport the gift, especially since the bag from Bed, Bath, & Beyond bit the dust on my journey home. In the end, I threw in the towel, shoved the gift in a giant black garbage bag, and took a cab.

On the way to Alice's Tea Cup, it occurred to me that whatever trouble it took me to get the present to the shower, it would take the bride-to-be the exact same amount of trouble getting the giant box home. But you know what? It ain't my problem. I dropped that thing on the gift table and washed my hands of it!