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’>

He’s crotchety, too.

Harper: Does Ella have a sister?

Meredith: No. But she has a brother. A mean brother.

Me: She does? How old is her brother?

Meredith: He’s 68. Namasté.

(It’s Cultural Awareness Week at Meredith’s school. She’s particularly fond of India.)

((I love the thought of Ella, who is five, having a 68-year-old brother who is still sponging off of their parents. In my mind, he looks a bit like David Crosby. And he spends a lot of time sitting around in his underpants. Eating applesauce straight from the jar.)) ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

I think Nick is the cutest. And I’m more than twice his age.

Dear iTunes,

One night last week I was doing that whole I Can’t Sleep thing, so I jumped on the computer at something like 2:17 in the morning and started browsing through the recently released items in the iTunes store. You know how it goes. You listen to thirty seconds of one song, and then iTunes does the “Hey! You like THAT?! Then you’ll DEFINITELY like THIS!!!” thing, and the next thing you know you’re bobbing your head around to the tune of Kanye West’s Love Lockdown. (I particularly like the percussion bit between 1:00 and 1:16. Um, onward.)

Anyway, I was doing the hopping, skipping, and jumping around thing, and I slipped and fell into a very syrupy Jonas Brothers pit. And it was late and my mind was starting to fail me, and all of a sudden I had a big goofy smile on my face and I was purchasing Love Bug. And iTunes raised its eyebrow and asked, “Really? You REALLY want to put that song on your iPod?” And I said, “Confirm! Purchase! And let’s keep this between you and me, iTunes!”

Last night I looked at my husband and said, “Come into the kitchen if you want to see one of my most embarrassing purchases.” Obviously, he was expecting something a bit more scandalous than a ninety nine cent song. (I’m full of semi-disappointing surprises, iTunes.) Anyway, I looked everywhere for that stinkin’ Jonas Brothers song, and I couldn’t find it. It had been removed from iTunes, and it was no longer on the iPod.

My question to you, iTunes: Do you think my iPod is trying to tell me something? Do you think that Jon Nakamatsu and Joni Mitchell weren’t really digging how the Jonas Brothers landed between them? (I’m assuming Joni whispered something like, “Man, now I TOTALLY wish I had a river I could skate away on!”)

I didn’t want to revisit this Jonas Brothers thing, iTunes. However, if I purchase the new Ryan Adams next week (or the soundtrack to High School Musical 3! La la la laaaah!), I sure as heck don’t want the tracks to show up and then disappear with no explanation.

Oh, iTunes. Help me to help myself.

Tail between my legs,
Angela Pudding ‘ ‘ ‘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’>

The Dreaded Phone Call

Jeff (working hard in his office, and trying not to sound annoyed at the fact that I’m interrupting his day at 9:00 in the morning): Editorial, this is Jeff.

Me: Jeff?

Jeff: You got me!

Me: Listen. Please know that this is one of the hardest phone calls I’ve ever had to make. I’m about to ask you something, and it’s embarrassing. Humiliating. And know that I know that you’re working really hard over there.

Jeff: What’s up?

Me: I need you to tell me where the remote control is for the television.

Jeff (giving me the gift of Long Awkward Pause): Really?

Me: Yep. IJustPutSupperInTheCrockPot!!! So, I’ve got THAT going on!

Jeff: What?

Me: Um, yeah. I just don’t want you to think that I’m not doing anything over here. But, listen. Gilmore Girls starts in an hour, and I really can’t picture myself hitting that Channel Up button 36 times in order to get to ABC Family.

Jeff: Wow.

Me: Yeah, so. What’s up? How’s your day? Whoosh! It’s sort of busy over here what with the sour cream and the soup and all the stuff I just put in the pot. And now I’m going to maybe clean up the family room. And maybe I’ll fold some towels or something? After you tell me where the remote control is? I just keep on talking and talking, don’t I? La la la la la!

Jeff: I bet you find the remote control while you’re cleaning the family room.

Me: Jeff, if I have to hit that Channel Up button 36 times, I can’t promise that the repetitive motion won’t cause my crazy jerky hand to jump into the kitchen and unplug your dinner.

Jeff: I’ll take my chances.

Love is patient. Love is kind. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

Proudly keep the colors flying skyward!

You know that Jeff is a fairly reserved guy, right?

You also know that the Mizzou Tigers played Nebraska in Nebraska yesterday, right?

Did you know that the Mizzou Tigers haven’t scored a victory in Nebraska in thirty years?

Yesterday evening, less than fifteen minutes before the start of the game, Jeff jumped up from the couch and ran outside. A few minutes later, I glanced up and found him doing this:
Flying the Flag

And because Jeff gazelled around the yard flying the Mizzou flag for nearly ten minutes, the Tigers took Nebraska down with a final score of 52-17. It just goes to show that sometimes you have to shake it up in order to come out on top, Cliché Wizard.

(The girls haven’t made eye contact with him in nearly eighteen hours.) ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

The Trouble with Apostrophes and Nuts

About six weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a pistachio company. In not so many words, they asked if I would be interested in eating their nuts and then writing about it on my website.

“Fluid Pudding is not THAT kind of website,” I answered.

A few weeks later, I discovered a large white box on my front porch:
pistbox

Clearly, my nuts had dropped.

(Wow. Two nut jokes, and I’m already tired of the nut jokes. I was eleven when I started writing this entry. Suddenly, I’m 86 again. Will you run me to the post office, Sweetie?)

I popped the box open, and found the following items:
pistcontents

Four boxes of pistachios, a pistachio shirt, a pistachio hat, a brochure all about pistachios, and a stuffed pistachio that Harper quickly claimed as her own. Because “it looks like a big sandwich with eyeballs.” And we all know that big sandwiches with eyeballs = Comedy Gold amongst the pre-school set.

Although I was sort of weirded out by the stuffed pistachio and the hat (okay. and the shirt.), I have to give the Everybody’s Nuts marketing team some credit. The back cover copy on the pistachio box is probably the funniest back cover copy I’ve seen. (Oh, and I’ve seen my share of back cover copy, Sparky. Someday we’ll kick back with a glass of milk and talk about it.)

On the back of the Roasted, No Salt box:

When Everybody’s Nuts first started, we gathered all the pistachios and said, “We want each of you to open up. Can you do that?” The response was overwhelming. “I like to wear cowboy boots to bed!” yelled one nut. Another piped in with, “I have an unnatural fear of kitty cats.” We heard, “I sing show tunes in the shower” and “My parents never supported my acting career.” Finally we said, “Hey, hey. We didn’t mean to open up like that. We meant for you to open up your shells 100% of the time, so people can easily enjoy your cholesterol-free, protein-packed delicious goodness.” Thankfully, they agreed. And they also agreed to stop talking about their distrust of nutcrackers.

I admit, it loses a bit of funny toward the end. But the part about the pistachios opening up? Yeah. That part made me ROFLMNOP.

Okay. Pistachios. There’s really not much to say, except: I never really considered these things to be a snack food. BUT, I ate every single stinkingly delicious pistachio. My favorite flavor? Salt and Pepper Pistachios. (Incidentally, I found three pistachios that were NOT opened. According to the box, I could mail those back in with a proof of purchase and they would send a free box of nuts to me. Because I didn’t pay for the pistachios, this is not an option for me. Perhaps I should look into selling the unopened pistachios on eBay.)

I know you’re wondering if I wear the shirt and the hat.

I do not wear the hat. However, I’m sure one of the kids will someday have a Wear a Goofy Hat Promoting Your Favorite Protein-Packed Treat Day during Homecoming Spirit Week, so it will eventually get some face time.

The shirt? Okay. The shirt says “Everybody’s Nuts.” As soon as I can convince myself that the apostrophe is filling in for an omitted letter and has absolutely nothing to do with possession, well, maybe then I’ll pull it over my head.

Wait. Wait! The apostrophe is clearly NOT filling in for an omitted letter. It IS denoting possession. These nuts belong to everybody! And by Nuts, I mean Pistachios!

I’m forever tripping over entendres… ‘ ‘ ‘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’>