Give Me a K. K! Give me an E. E!

I just want to look at her, in all her shiny redness and promises of a freshly brewed cup in two minutes or less.

Keurig, you are my Christmas surprise, and I’m quite smitten. I might name you Katie. Katie Keurig.

I have secretly been pining for this crazy invention for a while now. But I wasn’t going to ask for it for Christmas – not with all the gifts and joy my parents would already bestow on my happy little elfin children. It seemed a little over the top to ask for a most expensive gift for myself. I think it’s a sacrifice that comes with parenting: you resign yourself to a smaller line in the Christmas budget.

But then, oh, but then. My mom said, “I found a store with lots of great gifts for you, but then I also found another great plan B. Your dad is pretty excited about it, too.”

My dad’s interests are far and wide, so a gift that could ring his bell might be anything from a soft pashmina to a wall hanging to a sound trac to Glee to an air compressor. So I had no clues.

But also, I didn’t want any clues. I am perhaps, and I say this with humility, the best person ever to receive surprises. I love surprises. Love them. I even love knowing that a surprise is coming, and keeping my hands and thoughts to myself just so I don’t ruin the surprise for myself or anyone else. I used to tell Robb, “Please just tell me where it is, so I’ll know not to find it.” He kept the file for our Mexico trip in the lefthand desk drawer, right where I could have found it, knowing there wasn’t a snowball’s chance that I would look. This is how much I love surprises.

(Doesn’t that just make you want to plan a surprise for a girl like that?)

The gift looked very Suessical: red, white and green striped paper, wrapped and topped with a polkda dot bow of the same color scheme. (I have secret aspirations to dress a little girl in such loveliness.)

There is now a digital video of me opening one end of the box, seeing that my mom had written, “This is the wrong end” just under the inside flap. Because she knew I would pay attention to the directions, and she doesn’t like to have to interrupt the surprise process. So I opened the other side instead, and I saw that telltale K-E-U-R… and that’s when I knew.

It was like Dax Shepard’s surprise sloth for Kristen Bell. I mean, you can’t fake this stuff.

(And it’s not even like I deserve this kind of prestige. I’m the girl who sees nothing wrong with reheating yesterday’s batch of full and robust goodness.)

If anyone needs me, I’ll be spinning right through the ceiling in a caffeinated frenzy, because I’m delighting in making cup after cup.

Siberia, A Limousine, and the Cool Factor

There was this time? In seventh grade? On Valentine’s Day? When my dad picked me up from school in a limousine? And in the spirit of all things seventh grade? I’m speaking in questions? Like we used to do?

And now I’ll return to being a grown-up who knows other voice inflections.

My dad was a limousine driver on the weekends, but nobody at my middle school knew that. All they knew was that right there, lined up among the yellow buses, and certainly as long as a bus, was a limousine and a tuxedoed driver who waited patiently and answered, “I’m here for Tricia Lott.”

It caused quite a commotion. I remember it well. There was a buzz: who could it be? Perhaps someone had won a school visit from NKOTB, and we would all be summoned to the gym for a public concert that would be featured on the news that night as a happening at our local middle school. Someone who is a big deal must be coming. Or leaving. But who could be leaving in a limousine?

My class had our very own Alex P. Keaton, an 11-year-old who wore a suit and tie to school. While the rest of us carried a backpack with our homework, he carried a brief case containing his files. I’m frankly surprised I’ve never seen him at a board room table on The Apprentice. He was definitely our most likely classmate to earn a million dollars.

He claimed the limousine was for him. “Oh! My ride is here!” he said, putting on his size 12 trench coat.

When you’re in sixth grade and you really want to be somebody whom anybody wants to be, this kind of attention is epic. Frankly, I was pretty excited to go back to school the next day and bask in the notoriety.

But the next day, it was some ridiculous, extreme, minus temperature outside. It was just stupid cold. My mom stood in the doorway of my dark bedroom, long before the sun came up – because I caught the bus at 6:45 AM, which to this day is ludicrous to me – and she said, “Tricia, they should have cancelled school today. It’s too cold for anyone to be outside at all, let alone to wait for a bus and then ride it. You can go to school if you want to, but you have my permission to stay home. If it were up to me, this would be a snow day.”

When – in the history of ever – had I been faced with such a joyous proposition? I didn’t even have to fake being sick. I had been authorized to sleep in, watch TV, and doing not-school things all day.

Or, I could brave the elements and go to school, where everyone was talking and asking about this limousine recipient, and I could clarify all the rumors: the ride was for Tricia Lott, not Alex P. Keaton.

When you’re in sixth grade and you really want to be somebody whom anybody wants to be, this is a lot of notoriety to sacrifice.

In my pre-adolescent wisdom, I knew that there would be something bright and shiny and glittery to talk about in just a couple of days, that my limousine escort would fizzle like a burned out sparkler.

But how could I not reward my mom for her brilliant judgment? How could I not take her up on this offer to stay home and create a day without a schedule or a menu? Even then, part of me knew that positive behavior can be reinforced with affirmation. And I sure wanted the possibility that she might offer this to me again, ever, in my life.

I stayed home. And for the record, that offer never surfaced again. I made the right choice.

All of this went through my mind this morning, when we faced yet another day of dropping temperatures that are in fact colder than Siberia. And not even a delayed start? Really? I should call my own snow day, I thought.

And then I remembered that a sixth grade girl can entertain herself for a day, unlike two boys who would be begging me to go sledding, build a snowman, make hot chocolate, go to a movie, watch a movie, make a movie, have a pillow fight, a punching contest, a stare down, bake cookies, muffins, pancakes, watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, battle like the Turtles, talk like the Turtles, dress like the Turtles, and be their one and only source of joy and entertainment for all the livelong day.

“Well, guys, dress warm. It’s cold out there and school isn’t cancelled.”

All of this to say: My mom was officially cooler than I am.

The Thing About Meringue

“Two- to three-day-old eggs make the best meringue. No yolk at all, and use a very clean bowl,” says the guest chef on the news this morning, who is teaching us how to make nontraditional pies.

All five of us are piled into this hotel room, in a most charming, thankful way. And we’re all watching “The Best Thanksgiving Ever” special that precludes the Parade, which is the magic we’re all waiting for.

“Use a clean bowl. Very clean bowl. She really emphasized that,” I said.

“I’ve always heard that,” says Mom. “I’ve always heard, ‘use a very clean bowl to make meringue.’ And when I’ve started to make meringue, I’ve thought, Is this bowl really clean enough? I mean, how clean are we talking? And when do I not use a reasonably clean bowl to prepare meals? ‘Gee, Polly. I see you made mashed potatoes. It’d be better if you’d started with a clean bowl, though.'”

(She makes me laugh.)

My Soiree with Walnuts

I have a mild allergy to walnuts.  It’s not a big deal, not anything near the lethal peanut allergy that scares the living fingernail polish off me.  I can’t imagine having to go through life with that kind of filter and margin, and yet so many people do.  More and more people, actually.  Suddenly I’m wondering why there are so many of you, since I met my first peanut allergy in college.  I was his assistant.  He taught me to how to give him an EpiPen shot, just in case.

Anyway, my allergy isn’t like that.  it’s a localized allergy, and it makes my throat itchy, and sometimes I get hives on the inside of my lips.

It’s just all things not fun.

But when I was a little girl, I didn’t know how to articulate this.  I wasn’t sure why my grandma’s chocolate chip cookies, that I loved so much, left this situation happening in my mouth.  People snuck walnuts into things, for texture and flavor I guess, and there I was, suddenly clearing my throat like an old fat man in a locker room.

I discovered the link one day.  But I didn’t know the name for it.  Wold Nuts is what I called them.  “Do those have wold nuts in them?  Because I am allergic to wold nuts.”

Instead of anyone taking me seriously in my request for a different, nut-free option, they loved that I was a three-year-old who could talk about nuts and give them such a charming name.  Sort of how I don’t correct Tyler when he asks the waitress for Root Beard.

I kid you not, I was married before anyone believed me that this was true.  I finally said, “Look, everybody.  Have I ever in my life varied from this?  It’s the same ingredient, the same symptoms, every single time.  I’m for real.  Walnuts make my mouth itch.  I get bumps on my lps.”

That last sentence is the one that always got everybody giggling to themselves.

Anyway, now I am taken seriously with my walnut aversion.  In fact, thanks to you peanut allergies out there, waitresses and waiters in restaurants will go out of their way to find out if there are traces of walnuts in the item I’m interested in on the menu.

I just meant, “Are there walnuts in your carrot cake?”  And the next thing I know, I’ve got the manager by my side, reading me the list of ingredients and the packaging from the factories.  Which then humbles me, since the worst that can happen is the itchy lumps.

Anyway, that’s the story.  I don’t do walnuts.

And still, my mom nearly bought them yesterday in a bag of ready-made salad fixings.  “Oh, cranberries and candied walnuts… Trish would love those.”  I asked her, while I was skimming through a holiday magazine, “Hey, Mom, why don’t you make this Toffee Walnut Bark this year?”

She said, “Oh, I should.  It’s delicious.”

“Hey.  Mom.  I wasn’t asking why you don’t.  I was giving you the chance to say, ‘oh, because my daughter is allergic to walnuts.’  It was a test.”

“Well, that answer felt artificial to me.”

Fun Is Too My Thing

“Mommy, it just seems like fun isn’t really your thing.”

Well, not everyone has always thought so, kiddo.  I’m sorry you get the mom version of me.  The sister, friend, love, teacher, companion… she’s a fun girl.

And if only you knew how much worse this could be for you.  Vegetables aren’t even on my radar.

Family legend says that I told my mom once, when I was about their age, “Your childhood was so much better than mine.  I mean, look at the mother you had.”

She said, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but the mother I had is a whole lot like the mother you have.”

And history repeats itself.

I initiated building a snowman, for the record.  Because I’m fun like that.  Also, I didn’t totally lose my mind yesterday when I found the boys wrestling – while Tyler was holding a saw.  I’m not even kidding.  I just calmly asked him to put away the saw. Forever.

I think I’m fun.  There’s fun in me.  There used to be.

I just don’t think a girl’s measure of fun should come down to whether she’s willing to sleep downstairs on any given evening.

Someday, maybe.  Just not tonight.

And I’m still fun.  No matter what they think.

So there.