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Source: Scary Mommy
Like most everyone else, we like to pretend our lives are prettier, better, more exciting, much more fulfilled, and generally a heck of a lot nicer than they are. We do have nice little lives, but we have plenty of downs to go with the ups. We just don’t mention those. Michigan Lisa preens herself on her baking and inundates her feed with attractive (she hopes) photos of beautiful bakes. Sometimes she scrolls back and stares at them again just to sigh over them.
Except, you know what? Tons of stuff she bakes looks like absolute crap. Even when it does come out, the kitchen looks like a tornado hit, so why, why does she feel compelled to pretend that baking is just one little perfect square of perfection sitting on her one attractive plate with her best tablecloth underneath? Why are there all these web pages where the cook coyly claims to be messy and all this means is an plate of scrumptious food with one artfully arranged clump of quinoa on the edge of a plate in a photo worthy of a Williams and Sonoma photo shoot?Messy? It isn’t messy until you can’t find the salt because it is buried in a mound of empty butter wrappers, bags of flour and tea towels. Messy is when the egg whites have fallen to the floor from their teetering position on the counter and the house rings with a shriek of , “Oh bugger that.” So let me slip into first person and go for full disclosure. This is what my baking looks like. It ain’t always pretty. Although I do think it has a certain charm all of its own. And the enchanting smell of burning milk.
Recently Florida Lisa was asked to describe her dream kitchen. She had two words: room service. Instead of culinary delights she prefers to inundate facebook and twitter with her wry wit and charming turn of phrase. This is much harder than it looks and she spends lots of time editing and re-editing posts that never seem to go viral…
…yet. The Lisas may have missed the twerking craze and our selfies are mercifully few, but one day our social media ship will come in. Likely we’ll be at the airport waiting to catch a train, but no matter. It’s all in good, messy fun.
First things first: The Lisas had a brilliant holiday abroad. That being said, it has taken us awhile to process the experience and translate it for you, our glorious reader. There were plenty of adventures – enough for several rounds of blogging, you lucky devil.
We think the Rolling Stones got it wrong: When you can’t get what you want, you don’t always get what you need. This is the best excuse we can come up with for our terrorizing the people of England with a tank (in the form of a Range Rover) that we didn’t want, didn’t need, and should never, ever have been licensed to drive.
In a truly just and beautiful universe, a chauffeur in a Rolls Royce Phantom would have conducted us in a refined and leisurely progress through the breathtaking countryside of Devon and Cornwall. In the harsh real world, we went to pick up the sensibly sized and priced car we had reserved at Heathrow. A short time later we found ourselves perched in a gadget-filled Range Rover, safely ensconced against any and all road hazards, Queens of All We Surveyed!
I can’t remember the actual words Mr. Hertz Agent used to convince us to rent the behemoth, but convince us he did. What a deal! For only a few measly pounds-per-minute extra we could ride in pure luxury. And did he mention it ran on dirt-cheap diesel, not over-priced petrol? Obviously we’d be fools to turn down such a rare opportunity. Mr. Hertz Agent had a deep voice, reminiscent of Mark Sheppard who does the promos for BBC America. As his warm, gravelly tones rolled over us, The Lisas punctuated his sales pitch with breathless giggles. Driver Lisa blushed. Passenger Lisa winked. I hope he pocketed a big commission for sending us out in that hellish beast–at least someone should have profited from the deal.
Admittedly our suspicion that we taken on more than we could handle should have been obvious with our inability to maneuver the parking lot without rolling over road blocks (oh-so-easy in off-road gear!), but we jauntily waved bon voyage to common sense and chalked it up to needing to “get a feel” for things.
We started off on the M-something-or-other which should have been fine. A divided highway with vehicles all traveling in the same direction. Should not have been a problem at all. Wrong. Driver Lisa really doesn’t swear very often. Really. Except apparently while driving a Range Rover through England. Then it seems she cannot stop a steady and entirely shocking stream of profanity.
Hitting quaint rural roads only amped up the terror and the internal noise level. Passenger Lisa’s strangled cries of, “Hedge! Wall! Curb!” broke through the spew of curses at regular intervals, but Driver Lisa payed no heed to those piteous pleas. Didn’t Passenger Lisa know there were cars, trucks and buses–dear Heaven, BUSES–to be dodged on the other (Wrong. Wrong. Just Plain Wrong.) side of the road!? What was a tiny tendril of brambles or a crumbling wall compared to that? So what if there was a 16th Century church actually taking up part of the road? So what if we scratched the gold-plated armor of the Range Rover that would cost us selling off select family members into indentured servitude to repair? Innocent British lives were in Driver Lisa’s hands–which were already plenty busy clenching the steering wheel at 10 and 2. (In fact, no body parts remained unclenched at any time during the drive from Heathrow airport to our destination, charming Budleigh Salterton.)
The sidewalk which passed for a two-way street up the cliff (yes, cliff) to our B&B overlooking the seashore was the final challenge. We pulled onto a postage stamp driveway and sat, panting slightly, to let our blood pressure lower. We were alive! We had not killed or (seriously) maimed any fellow travelers! Hurrah for The Lisas!
As we exited unsteadily from the vehicle we were met by our hostess, who with one look immediately regretted ever opening her home to strangers. However, like the intrepid Sir Winston Churchill espousing the motto, “Never, never, never surrender, ” she straightened herself and pronounced, “It looks as though you could use tea.”
Perhaps it is a psychological phenomenon. Perhaps our hostess slipped a powerful narcotic into the English Breakfast blend. Perhaps a little slab of sugary raisin cake, eaten with tiny forks, in a cozy sitting room, perched atop a seashore bluff, casts a magical spell on unsuspecting travelers. Whatever the case, upon consuming a Proper English Tea the Lisas were revitalized, rejuvenated and utterly determined to ditch the death-trap Range Rover at the next possible portal for the most compact vehicle available short of a bicycle built for two. Although Passenger Lisa proposed hitchhiking or hopping the rails hobo-style as alternative travel methods, she was vetoed by Driver Lisa, who had earlier been nominated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Acting Adult in Charge. But that is another story.
The moral of this story? There is nothing, nothing, a proper tea cannot fix, and never, never be seduced by a British car salesman, no matter how big his motor.
Valiant readers of this blog will recall that the Lisas plan to invade London in the fall. Plan is the key word here. Entire presidential campaigns have included less strategy, discussion and all-around quibbling than just one of the Lisas B&B decisions.
However, we have finally confirmed our choices. We know where we will be eating scones in the mornings. We know which stately homes will receive our gracious patronage. We are terribly, terribly excited. Yes, we’re absolutely thrilled to be spending our life savings to soak in Jolly Olde England. We tried to go cheap, but apparently there isn’t such a thing in all Great Britain. Except a couple of places which seemed to be part hotel, part fungus farm. And folks, we seriously considered the fungus farm. We did reserve a room in a university dorm, yes, a dorm, in London to save a few pounds.
So, in the interest of retaining a tiny fraction of our savings so we can retire somewhere other than our children’s basements, or the least rodent inhabited alley we can find, we are seeking a sponsor for the trip. Take note prospective benefactors! Our standards are “least rodent filled”. We are a bargain! Answer our desperate pleas (you can tell the desperation by the exclamation points!) and show us the money, honey.
Possible sponsors include, but are not limited to:
McVitie’s–This fine company, maker of delicious digestive biscuits, is our first choice. On a former trip to England, OneLisa became addicted to McVitie’s wholemeal digestives. They are incredibly expensive to buy in the States, so at the end of the holiday she will be throwing out all her old undies (read: they’re all old) and using the extra luggage space to take home many, many biscuit packets. She may also have a fiendish plan to dump all of Lisa2’s clothes as well–imagine her surprise and delight to find a suitcase full of biscuits when we arrive back in the States. What a good friend! They just don’t make ’em like OneLisa anymore.
McVities! We love you! Give us cookies and dough and make us the center of an advertising campaign targeting the huge demographic that is middle-aged American women who swoon over digestive biscuits.
Top Gear–To say that the Lisas enjoy the madcap antics of Jeremy, Richard and James would be to use far too much British restraint. We adore them! We revel in them! Well, we adore James, think Richard looks quite sweet and feel that Jeremy can be annoying, but he makes up for that by living in a town named Chipping Norton. All is forgiven anyone who lives in such a melodious sounding town.
Dear Top Gear producers: our motto for the trip is “Keep Calm and Careen On”. That alone should be enough to give us a prime spot on your excellent programme. Follow our madcap antics as we careen about in a rental car, terrorizing the populace of southwestern England. If only we were celebrities, a whole week of episodes could be renamed “Driving with the Stars in a Reasonably Priced Rental Car.”
Cadbury–Although not helpful for the negotiating table, it can be admitted here among friends that the Lisas would sell themselves out (in an advertising sense) for a lifetime supply of the Egg ‘n’ Spoon Chocolate Mousse candies OneLisa spotted on the Cadbury website. Or perhaps a vacation-time supply?
British companies–our tour of England will take us through the hotspots of your fair country: Budleigh Salterton, Beer, Lostwithiel and Mere to name just a few. Get in on the ground floor of this exciting venture! Don’t let Iceland reap all the glory. We have a huge, massive, influential following. Even a guy in Canada. (Did we mention we’re giving you first shot over Iceland?) Because we actually are going there as well. But more about that icy adventure next time…
Be afraid, People of Great Britain, be very afraid. Thelisas are coming to invade your island. Casting aside all domestic and professional cares (nothing new here), we’re crossing the pond for a girls-only holiday filled from start to finish with tea shops, stately homes and gardens. Our husbands have already run and ducked for cover, breathing sighs of relief at dodging our chintz-filled itinerary. That leaves only the population of southwestern England to worry about this adventure.
Our advice? For the love of Heaven and St. George, stay off the roads of Devon and Cornwall from early to mid-September. Roundabouts, driving on the wrong side of the road, navigation…these are just a few of the many grave concerns for us. And they should be even graver to the populace we may be endangering at every charming village or green-hedged road we careen through in our sensibly priced mid-sized rental car with the steering wheel firmly affixed to the passenger side.
We will most certainly be a danger and a menace to motorists, pedestrians, animals, fences, hedges, signposts and the TARDIS, should it have the misfortune of materializing in front of us. We can promise sharp, unexpected turns and sudden stops. We brake for cream teas. We would like to believe a GPS will keep us from getting lost, but we admit with deep shame that it will not. We may forget to use it, manage to misinterpret mind-numbingly simple instructions, or simply be talking too loudly to hear them.
Alas, People of Cornwall and Devon, if it were only the roads that were unsafe. Even out of the car we will disturb the rural bliss. Individually Thelisas are loud, even by American standards. Tag team us and we never–never–stop talking. If you seek sanctuary in your quaint tea room or traditional pub, you shall be horrified to hear the clash of our Midwestern accents as we cackle our way through pints of beer and pots of tea.
Shutter your windows, lock your doors. We urge you to take a leaf out of the American history book and hang a lantern in the belfry of your church when you see the whites of our headlights. Remember, it’s ‘one if by land’.
The Lisas are coming, The Lisas are coming!
The Lisas are always thinking. Maybe too much. Too much thinking, not so much writing. We twist, we turn. We dodge, we duck. Avoiding writing is all very well, but if we don’t write we may have to clean the sink, or make the beds or something to justify our existence.
So, after a long fallow period filled with excuses, alibis and far too many bowls of ice cream, we blew the digital dust off of our work in progress. We’ve actually-factually been editing the book variously known as HSOTI, Thin Ice, or Reason #47 to Talk on the Phone Five Hours a Day.
Once we started, we remembered that this writing stuff is a real blast. Not wanting to leave you, our loyal, cult-like followers out of the fun, we’re sharing a snippet we just edited. Of course we’ll re-edit next week, and again a month from now, but what the hell.
“The hotel does retro and theme weekends. This month it’s ‘Disco Flashback.’”
“You don’t say?”
“They go all out,” Nils nodded as they entered the lobby pulling their bags behind them.
He couldn’t have been more right. A disco ball was suspended from an already cheesy-looking smoky glass chandelier and there were life-size cutouts of the band Abba and John Travolta in full Saturday Night Fever regalia, on either side of the check-in desk. Yes, Gina thought, I survived the disco-era, but what on earth made Nils think I enjoyed it? And then it hit her: Was this all because she told Nils her youthful fantasies about teen recording heartthrob Andy Gibb the last time they were playing a rousing game of pillow talk?
A slightly dazed Gina let herself be led to a room on the top floor of the six-story building.
“The honeymoon suite,” Nils said, scooping her into his arms and carrying her across the threshold while propping the weighted door open with his foot – no mean feat for most mortal men.
He set her down and turned back for the suitcases. While he placed the bags on the luggage rack, Gina took in the room. The focal point of the room was the giant bed covered in a black satin bedspread and a dozen throw pillows in various shades of purple. The most prominent pillow was in the shape of a giant pair of lips. To one side of the bed there was a heart-shaped hot tub. On the other side was a desk/table and two chairs. The table held a large vase filled with red roses and a bottle of champagne protruding from an ice bucket with two glasses sitting next to it.
“We can order room service, if you’re hungry,” Nils suggested.
Gina was not, but she knew her husband was probably famished. “Sure, that would be fine,” she said, plopping down on the bed. The bed plopped back. “What the…” Gina exclaimed, springing up.
“It’s a waterbed!” Nils grinned.
“Do you think it’s a 1970’s original?” Gina poked warily at the rubbery mattress, finally moving over to one of the desk/table chairs.
“How about popping the cork,” she suggested, trying to remain unfazed.
“Don’t you remember what today is?” Nils prodded, uncorking the bottle.
Gina racked her brain. Obviously she should remember the date. What was it? September fourteenth? Fifteenth? She settled on the fourteenth and still could make no connection. She closed one eye in concentration, but quickly reopened it, recalling how it gave her forehead unbalanced wrinkles.
Nils seemed to take this as some sort of epiphany. “I knew you wouldn’t forget about our second first-date.” He handed her a glass and sat down on the bed, facing her.
“We slept together on our first – second – date?” Surely she couldn’t have forgotten that much.
Nils smiled. “I wish.”
This one’s for our NJ author pal, TOOL (The Other-Other Lisa).