He kissed my cheek before bucketing my noggin.

A few nights ago Ben Folds gently placed a bright pink bucket hat on my head and crowned me Queen of the Shirtless Crab Walk.

But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

When Jeff and I were shopping for wedding rings, we ended up at a jewelry store in a mall in Nashville, Tennessee. After making our selections (Jeff’s ring is gold with black ridges that remind him of record albums, mine is platinum and has eleven tiny diamonds embedded into the band for no real reason at all), we were asked if we wanted anything engraved onto the rings.

Me: Yes. Put ‘My Only Friend, The End’ inside Jeff’s ring.

Jewelry Store Kid: Seriously?

Me: Yes. If engraving costs less than five dollars.

After our wedding ceremony, it occurred to me that Jeff never answered the question about engraving. I slid the ring off of my finger, expecting (and sort of hoping) to find a fabulous William Gass quote. Instead, I found one word. Ben.

ring

Me: Jeff? Why did you do this?

Jeff: Um, I didn’t do that. Actually, it sort of looks like the engraver screwed up someone else’s ring and then put it back into the case to be sold. Look at the messed up N.

Me (muttering a few expletives, some that begin with an F): I’ll be clearing this up when we get back to Nashville.

Get this. When I returned to the store to clear up the Ben issue, I found that all of the jewelry cases had been removed, and the store had closed down leaving no forwarding address. Interesting. (I immediately took the ring to have it appraised. I have no idea why, other than: What if those aren’t really diamonds?! What if it’s not really platinum?! It seems that everything is fine, except I still have Ben rubbing up against the finger that holds the vein that runs directly to my heart or something.)

Let’s fast forward seven years, shall we? (Seven years that involved purchasing every Ben Folds album and familiarizing the girls with his music to the extent that they can name Gracie in less than three notes.) ((If you follow that link, please know that I have no idea who the people are in that video, and I sort of wish they wouldn’t have interrupted the song with their baby’s first cry. Then again, I tend to be insensitive when the moon is full.))

On Thursday night, Jeff and I took to the streets to see Ben Folds play at The Pageant. And I won’t tell you that I was clearly the oldest person in attendance, because that fact tends to make my eyes well up a bit. So, let’s skip over my realization that several of the kids in line were born when I was already drinking beer. Legally. Wait. Can I just tell you that I heard a girl say “It’s on like Donkey Kong!” as we stood in line to enter the building? She was totally serious about It being On like Donkey Kong! (She had spent nearly two hours in the Big People line, and was slightly distressed about being asked to move to the back of the Under 21 line. When we heard her story and discovered that it was about to be On like Donkey Kong, we quickly surrendered our place in the Under 21 line and went in search of our fellow Big People. I do not regret that move.)

We found our seats, we made out a bit (I might be stretching the truth on that one), and we prepared for the opening act. (Prepared = Continued to sit. We were very lucky to have seats.) Opening act? Missy Higgins. And during her first song I developed one of those I Want to Buy All of Her Albums Right Now crushes. I also want to figure out how to knit the cabled tank she was wearing. But you don’t care about that, do you?

The Ben Folds performance? As expected, it was flawless. Had you been sitting next to me, you would have noticed me giving my cranial approval by cocking my head to the side in that “I’m really feeling this” way, and nodding to the rhythm as if to say “Yes! Uh huh! Uh huh!” over and over again. Let’s see. Do you mind if I simply run down the set list with you? (I know you’re really wanting to get to the part about the shirtless crab walk. I’m getting there. I promise.)

And right now you’re wondering what the Fake Leak thing is, right? I know! Before their latest album was released, Mr. Folds “leaked” songs onto the internet with the same titles as the album tracks. But they weren’t the album songs. SO, the folks who grabbed up the fakes thought they were getting actual album tracks. But they weren’t. And I would say something about getting pleasantly punked, but I’m 38, remember?! (You can find some of the leaks on this site if you fish around a bit.)

By the way, we left after the fake leak version of Frowne Song. If you were at the show, please don’t tell me that we missed a second encore. Please. And please don’t tell me that it contained Philosophy. Seriously. Because I don’t want to know that. (Philosophy was on the CD that Jeff and I gave out to everyone at our wedding reception. And that was Seven Years Ago tomorrow. October 20th. Seven Years. I’ve never held a job for seven years. I’ve never done Anything for seven years. (Except for the Fluid Pudding thing. Fluid Pudding and Jeff. There you go. Cheers.))

When we got home after the show that night, I sat up and watched The Office. And then I fell asleep and had a dream during which I was crab walking around The Pageant without my shirt on. (As I sometimes do. The employees are very patient.) I eventually found myself backstage balancing a bottle of beer in Billy Pancake, and Ben Folds walked up, bent down, kissed my cheek, and placed a bright pink bucket hat on my head. “You are Queen of the Shirtless Crab Walk!” he proclaimed as he tapped my head with his own bottle of beer, which is just as good as slipping an engraved ring containing eleven tiny diamonds onto the finger that holds the vein that runs directly to my heart or something. And it all seemed very Just Another Day in the Life.

If your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme. When you wish upon a star as dreamers do. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

I know you’ve been wondering about it.

As you know, back in July I auctioned off a shawl to help fund my trip to San Francisco for BlogHer ’08. When the high bidder became the winner, I told her I was going to throw in a pair of handknit socks as a bonus. I then decided to add to the trip fund by selling more socks. (I know. You already know all of this. Sadly, I’ve become that person who tells you the same story 43 times. Outboard motor! Get it?! Out Bored Motor! It’s a joke about a worm! Hey! Do you want to hear a joke about a worm?) The specifics: I sold four adult-sized pairs of socks and seven sock ornaments in a 24 hour period. Those sales along with a freelance writing project purchased my plane ticket to San Francisco. And I still get all smiley with gratitude whenever I think about it.

The sock-knitting frenzy began in July, and I set the goal of knitting one sock per week until the adult-sized socks were completed. As of last week, they have all been finished off and mailed away.

V's Spring Forward
This is the very first pair of BlogHer socks. They went to the (very fun and super nice) woman who won the shawl auction. I was able to deliver them to her at BlogHer, which was a huge deal for me, since she was sort of the reason I was able to attend in the first place! (I would link to her, but I haven’t asked permission. Just know that right now I’m thinking her name really hard. If you are at all psychic, you’ll pick up on it.)

K's Waving Lace
This is a pair of socks I started almost a year ago as a Pay it Forward gift. When I found out that the recipient was going to be at BlogHer and that her birthday was coming up, I finished them and delivered them to her in San Francisco.

Paraphernalia
This is half of a gift pair for the woman who expressed disappointment that I wouldn’t be attending BlogHer. She even volunteered to donate money toward the cause, which sort of set my pants on fire in the I Should Really Try to Make This Happen department. When she found out that I was trying to raise the money, she offered a place for me to sleep at BlogHer. Seriously? Some people are So Unbelievably Kind. (These socks were delivered at BlogHer, too!)

Teri's Teosinte
The very first paid pair of socks were for a friend and former co-worker of mine. They were delivered at the end of August. The yarn? It’s Woolly Boully “Moonflowers” yarn, and it’s SO pretty.

Oreo Monkeys!
The Oreo Monkeys went out at the very end of August, too. Done in Koigu, they’re possibly the softest socks I’ve ever made. And, Bonus: They look like smashed up Oreos.

Boysenberry Monkeys
The Boysenberry Monkeys (also done in Woolly Boully) are on their way to Japan as I type this entry. How fun is that?! Believe me, it’s very fun.

Antique Monkeys
The Antique Monkeys were finished up last week and mailed off to one of my favorite internet friends. They should arrive in her mailbox today.

Sock One!
This afternoon I finished the first of the seven sock ornaments. (They are scheduled for mailing in late November or early December.) After that, I have two more pairs of gift socks, and then I can close the book on The BlogHer Sock Project.

Thanks again to all of my sock people.

And thanks to you for dropping by. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

Down the basement, lock the cellar door!

Let’s get right down to business, shall we?

As you know, Saturday night was the big Class of 1988 Twentieth Reunion Bust-up Jamboree Wing-Ding Saturnalia. To prepare for the event, I indulged in some vegetable quesadillas and a Budweiser less than an hour before the party. (This is not an attempt to foreshadow. Surprisingly, those quesadillas did not put an early end to my evening. BUT, please know: If you’re ever about to attend an event that you’re not so sure about, stuff a bunch of beans and shiny grilled vegetables into a tortilla and swallow. You’re now at the 50% level of May or May Not Have to Make an Early Departure. If you top off those quesadillas with something containing tequila? Yeah. You may as well just stay home, Cinderella.)

During the five minute drive from my parents’ house to the Elks Lodge, I explored my feelings with Jeff.

Me: Jeff, I am unexpectedly scared about walking into the Elks Lodge. My flesh? It is crawling.
Jeff: Is that you talking or the quesadillas?
Me: I think the quesadillas are taking a well-deserved siesta for now. This is straight-on Me.
Jeff: I wouldn’t worry. Unless the Elk are there. They eat bones, you know.

(Jeff sometimes links to information during our conversations. He’s incredible, really.)

((Apparently, the plural of elk (the animal) is elk, and the plural of Elk (the benevolent man in the funny hat) is Elks!))

We entered the building, and before I took the time to grab my name tag I was approached by two people from my old gang. (I recognized them immediately. Brown and gold bandannas, teardrop tattoos, and dangerously low-hanging jeans. Obviously, I’m kidding. Also, no disrespect intended to actual gang members, yo.) From that point forward, I felt like a character in Einstein’s Dreams. Who knew that time could actually accelerate as you stand with beer in hand and talk about the past?

Anyway, here is proof that I actually attended. Surprisingly, my face was in this position for most of the night:
Ah, Bud Light.
(Is it weird that I was the only person in the room without cryptonymous eyewear?)

Although there was some dancing (not done by me, of course), most of the evening was spent wandering around and doing this:
Little Women (and some men)
(Thanks to Jeff for taking lots of photos that night as I wandered around saying things like, “Oh! I’m going to go say hi to Blashen Blashenfield!”)

Biggest surprise of the night: One of the guys in my class has six grandkids.

Not such a big surprise: There is only one person I know of who actively didn’t like me in high school. (Many people didn’t know me. Only one chose to be a hater. I suppose I’m lucky.) Anyway, I said hello to that girl in the bathroom, and although she looked right at me, she didn’t return the hello. And as I took care of business, I listened to her tell a story to someone, and it was one of the most boring stories I’ve ever heard in my life, and I kept thinking, “Really? You haven’t seen this person in twenty years and you’re telling THAT exasperating story? Please stop before I become the girl who fell asleep on the toilet at the reunion!” All of this to say: I’m sort of glad my water hasn’t gone under her bridge. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Oh! Oh! Later in the night, I saw her dancing to Poison’s “Talk Dirty to Me”, and she was doing that thing where you act out the lyrics as you dance, and when I saw her go down the baseMENT and LOCK the CELLAR DOOR! (complete with acting out the motion of going down stairs and turning a key in a lock) I had to smile. Because who does that? I’m cool with her not liking me.

It was a good night. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

Super Music Saturdays!

This video seems oddly appropriate today.

Twelve hours from now I’ll either be whooping it up at the Elks Lodge with two handfuls of mozzarella cheese sticks, two feet wobbling with mad crazy rhythm, and a tongue dripping with amicability (and cheese), or I’ll be back home. In my pajamas. With a wallet that’s fifty dollars skinnier and a heaping plastic tablespoon of No Ira Glass regret.

I’ll be in touch. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

Pour some sugar on me, 1988.

Okay, guys. I need some help.

It seems that my 20 Year High School Reunion is in three days.

I knew it was coming up. It is. In three days.

This leaves me no time to lose those last few pounds, grow out my hair, or become a surgeon. If nothing else, I’m hoping (with your help, of course) that I can choose The Perfect Ensemble.

The reunion invitation states that dress is casual. However, I think I know better than that. These women (of which I am one! A Woman! I know!) haven’t seen each other in two decades. (Unless, unlike me, they attended the ten year reunion. Or, unlike me, perhaps they have the ability to maintain friendships from their teenage years. I’ve been in touch with no one. NO ONE. In other words, I’m walking into a room of strangers, and the only thing they might remember about me is that I tend to wear fake glasses and I fall down quite a bit.) Where was I? Oh, yeah. These women haven’t seen each other in two decades. You can’t tell me they’re going to be all, “Casual! Great! Honey, where are my cut-off shorts and my INXS t-shirt?”

This is where you come in. I’m about to give you three options. Please tell me which is most appropriate.

skirt

Here we have a knee-length denim skirt, a black t-shirt, and a short sleeved jacket thing that originally sold for $116, but I managed to score it for $11. Also, red patent Danskos. Because if I’m going to drink wine and fall down, I want everyone to notice my shiny feet. Not my Hanes Her Way underpants. (Note: Why, yes. I often stand like a flamingo when I’m sipping wine (or Pomegranate juice, in this case). Thanks for noticing!)

Next up? The dress that shows a bit of cleavage.

dress

I purchased this dress for BlogHer, and it’s the most comfortable dress I’ve ever owned. Also, it requires absolutely no ironing! Polyester! With dots! And although I’m sporting black shoes, I think this might look a bit more dangerous with red shoes. Maybe. What do you think? (My grandma gave that stein to Jeff for Christmas many years ago. He keeps it in the freezer, and when he drinks from it, he speaks nothing but German. Obviously, I’m lying. BUT, cool stein. Cold stein, even. Klirrend!)

The final choice is a literal one. If you’re telling me that this event is truly casual, well, this is what you’re going to get.

sticks

Ratty jeans that may or may not be too tight, a black tank top that never really makes its way out of my drawer, my Ben Folds Five bucket hat, and my scratched up sunglasses. Also, a big stupid bag of frozen fish sticks, because I have to be holding something or else my hands will constantly be nervously shooting up to my face. (We’ll talk about that next week.)

So, anyway. Help.

Oh, yeah. Get this. Ira Glass is coming to town the night of my reunion. This is a huge conflict for me. If you know me at all, you know that I would drop just about anything to see Ira Glass. Let me just say this: If I have to wait 20 years to see Ira Glass again, I’m going to be So Angry with these people who waited 20 years to see me again. (I realize no one has really been waiting. If this thing wasn’t being held at an Elks Lodge, I’m positive I could do the Fly on the Wall game and no one would even recognize me!) If you live in St. Louis, please go see Ira Glass Saturday night. And while you’re there, pour a little of your drink to the floor and whisper something like, “For my misplaced homey, Fluid Pudding.”

I wonder if I should videotape the reunion so you can see how awkward I am in uncomfortable situations. Do you want me to? Because at this point, I’ll do just about anything for you. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

It’s the Autumnal Equinox Giveaway!

I don’t have anything against Miley Cyrus. Anything she does, naked or not naked, is none of my business. (Although the media is dying for me to know that Miley took a 20-year-old tank top sporting boy to church last weekend, I really couldn’t care less. However, for some unknown reason, I’m retaining that information.)

A few weeks back I received an e-mail from the kind folks at Build-A-Bear asking if they could send a Hannah Montana bear to the girls, along with a $25 gift card to be given away at Fluid Pudding. Knowing that my kids would either fight over or just not get into the Hannah Montana bear, I went ahead and took it (with the card) and set the plan to give it all away.

Less than 24 hours after signing on to take the bear, the biggest Hannah Montana fan I know fell and broke her arm at a friend’s house. And what sucks is that this girl loves gymnastics, but can no longer participate with a huge cast on her arm. And when kids get their feelings hurt along with their bones, my heart bleeds. Immediately, I knew who would get the bear. (Closed door! Open window! Not really. But sort of!)

Look at this bear:
HMBear

Adorable. Fuzzy. Soft. Wearing a glittery shirt that says Ready to Rock. And although it lacks the ability to mend bones, it did bring a smile to the recipient’s face. And that’s never a bad thing.

All of this to say: If you’re interested in the $25 gift card to Build-a-Bear, I can hook you up. $25 would get you a naked Hannah Montana Bear (you can stage your own Vanity Fair photo shoot!), or just about any other Build-A-Bear friend. Best of all, Build-A-Bear sells donation animals. When you purchase a donation animal, a percentage of the proceeds is donated to charity. I hereby encourage you to use the card toward the purchase of a donation animal.

Anyway, leave a comment below and I’ll enter you in the drawing. On Friday at noon (CST), I’ll draw a name and notify the winner! ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

How to Jump Start a Perfect Day

I’m about to tell you about my Yesterday Morning.

But before I do, go click on this for background music, because it sums up the feel of the morning pretty perfectly. (Incidentally, this is one of two pieces of music that I practiced and practiced (and practiced!) but never seemed to get quite right. The other is this one. By the way, I’m starting to get the itch to pick up the piano again. Here’s hoping I don’t give myself a hernia! HA HA HA!!! Those things are heavy! Oh. GET IT?! Anyway.)

Do we have our accompaniment going? Okay then. Onward.

Yesterday morning my mom came over and the two of us (plus Harper, of course) went to one of my favorite yarn stores. (My mom is itching to start a Hemlock Ring Blanket, and she needed the right yarn for the job. You know how it is.)

Anyway, we grabbed some coffee, drove about ten miles, parked the car, and entered the store. When we walked in, the owner told me that she and another employee had just been talking about me. Long story short? She offered me a job. Working in a yarn store. And I know it’s totally hokey to be all “Pinch me! Am I dreaming?!”, but there you go. Also, I would scream out that thing about “Do what you love and the money will follow!”, but that’s sort of wilted, too. Rattlesnakes! Beat them with a baseball bat!

So, yeah. Tomorrow I’m going in to talk details, and then fairly soon I’ll be working in a yarn store for a few nights each week. And, I’m excited. AND, I’m choosing to spend the next few weeks immersed in information. Because if someone comes in and says something like “Which right leaning decrease do you prefer?”, I don’t want to have to run and find a book.

Next up? Figuring out The Perfect Wardrobe for a less than ten hours per week job. (I tend to freelance in my pajama pants. The frog ones. Just in case you wondered.)

One more thing. You are now talking to the Head Room Mother for Meredith’s class. What does this mean? It means that I am The Boss of All Parents. (Not really. But it DOES mean that I get to plan parties. And we all know how great I am at planning parties! The Puddings are constantly welcoming guests into their home for crazy-time parties! Right?!) (I can’t remember the last time someone not blood-related walked into our house. Unless you count last week’s plumber who fixed our little Feces in the Basement problem. Wait. Feces in the Basement. Now THAT’S a smart party theme!) ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

Rattlesnake Bit the Baby

It was seven years ago today that I wore Capri pants to Starbucks and tried to impress a gaggle of high school boys by blasting The Weakerthans at them with my car stereo. And then I decided to sign up and document the experience at Fluid Pudding Dot Blogspot Dot Com, because I knew The World would give a crap.

Because today marks seven years of Fluid Pudding, I’ve decided to share the video that some of you have asked for in the past few months. (For which some of you have asked. For. With. Around the house. Beside the house. Between the house. I’ve really been haunted by prepositions lately.)

Also, because I’ll be wearing my Mommy Blogger bandanna tonight, let’s make this thing look as mommyblogesque as possible, shall we? Here’s a video of my kid! Cha cha cha!

Thanks for making the past seven years so interesting.
Shall we embark on seven more? ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>