Last week, after dissecting the Golden Globes with my sister, I realized I’d become a hater. Every sentence began with “I can’t stand….” or “How awful did…” or “I loathe…” Now, of course awards shows are ripe for ridicule, and really, how important is it that you have nice things to say about the beautiful and famous in their free clothes and jewels? But it’s how I feel when starting a sentence with “I hate” that got me thinking, what if I just expelled all my negative thoughts in a kind of last hurrah rant? Maybe that would help cleanse my soul, an exorcism of sorts. I thought it was worth a try.
Here is the list I compiled of all people and things worthy of my hatred:
Ladies first, all of whom make me nuts and none of whom I actually know: (Oh, just in case I needed a transplant of some sort and one of them turns out to be the only match, I stuck to first names).
Padma, Reese, Claire, Renee, Anne, Kate H, Julianne, Sophia, Sarah Michelle, Katherine H and Lea.
Gentlemen, if you please:
Oh dear. Looks like I have a problem with women. I can only think of one man whom I’d like to punch, Jeremy Piven. (I’ll risk losing him as an organ donor since I don’t want a transfusion of mercury poisoning.)
But wait, there's more. I also can't stand:
Adults who ride Razor scooters
Tommy Bahama shirts
Coffee or tea served in a glass mug
People who like rain
People who whistle, smile or sing to themselves in public
People who talk to the bus driver
The Uggs shuffle of insolent teenage girls
Every shopper at Fairway, when I’m in the store
Women who eat like birds
People who talk during movie previews
Cashiers who say, “the following customer” instead of “the next customer”
Men who call women "Darlin'" (Darling is okay)
Nouveau business speak (e.g. “Digital Space,” “Pop-Up,” “Experiential,” “Curate”)
After I made this list I realized that my plan didn’t work. The list wasn’t an exorcism, it was self-indulgent. There is something about actively expressing negativity that just feeds on itself and makes you feel worse. Also, don’t I have better things to do with my time and my brain than to wallow in all the really petty things that annoy me? Of course! And that was my “take-away,” (Oops, forgot that I also hate “take-away” and “Aha moment.”) I needed to try to just let the hate go.
On the heels of my insight my friend Marsha asked me if I wanted to join her for a tea being held at Park Here, a sort of indoor park in Openhouse, a space downtown. My instinct is always to say “yes” to her suggestions because 1) she’s great and 2) our adventures force me to leave my neighborhood. But I paused when I opened the forwarded link and saw a thick-bespectacled hipster couple sitting on a bench in the indoor park under the header, “Openhouse: Pops-Ups, Events, Experiential Marketing.” Gag me. Oh, and the guy was wearing a knitted wool hat. Inside.
Here I’d made this promise to myself to stay positive and I was already feeling my will begin to waver. Then I clicked on the photo describing the tea and it got worse. There was a picture of a prissy pink floral tea set, artfully set on a wrought iron table with a pedestal of treats and pink flowers everywhere. It was all so precious that I feared I’d overdose on whimsy before taking my first sip. But then again, it promised “a selection of sandwiches, biscuits, scones, petit fours and graceful service” and an afternoon with Marsha. I bucked up, committed to my attitude adjustment and we headed downtown.
In all fairness the idea of the indoors mimicking the outdoors is not a stupid one. I could see if you were downtown, and it was really cold and you just wanted to take a load off and relax, or do some work on a laptop using their free Wi-Fi, or get out of the house with your small, cooped up children, Park Here might be just the thing. It really does look like a park. Between the “grass” and the extensive “flora” the walls are painted with more flowers and trees, the sounds of “nature” surround you, there’s a picnic table and benches and little café tables and space to run around or lay out a blanket etc. It’s really pretty.
Now, let’s discuss the tea. I was prepared to let the anticipated, cloying whimsical fussiness roll off my back in exchange for a tiered stand filled with abundant cucumber, egg and smoked salmon sandwiches, scones, jam and the petit fours. Here is what the buffet looked like.
Um, excuse me? How was I supposed to stay positive under these conditions!? I don’t want to trash the attempts of the tea givers because indeed the service was graceful, if by graceful you mean warm and friendly. But what they had in kindness they lacked in speed. Truthfully it took 20 minutes for me to get a cup of tepid mint tea and another 20 for Marsha to get her English Breakfast. It was so strange. I’m pretty sure the “petits fours” of an “Afternoon tea…a delightful tradition born in England” don’t translate into slices of an Entenmann’s fudge cake or a plate of Food Emporium mini black and white cookies, even if we are across the pond. But the most irritating, and kind of insulting, aspect to the experience in the experiential space was the price. This hodge-podge scenario cost us $25 a piece!
But the real news was that none of it got to either of us. Sure we discussed our confusion and slight disappointment. Marsha thought our tea would have been fairly priced at $12. I felt more generous and came in at $15, just because the women working there were so nice. But then we both just let it go and talked about the real things that matter. Our families, our writing, Marsha’s upcoming blog, our shared love of the Supa Dupa Greens juice at our neighborhood Juice Generation and our plans to try to recreate it in Marsha’s new Vita-Mix. You know, the important stuff. We gabbed for three hours and didn’t notice that our lukewarm tea had become ice cold.
And since I made my last hurrah list I haven’t started any sentences with “I can’t stand,” “How awful did” or “I loathe.” I feel lighter and clearer. But what I don’t feel is satisfied by my tea experience, which is why I baked these crispy, crunchy oatmeal lace cookies when I got home. They have a wonderful burnt sugar, toffee flavor, are egg and nut-free and are so light they're the perfect ending to a real, and filling, afternoon tea. Now all I need is a tiered stand, a loaf of bread, a cucumber and some scones. Oh, and a teapot.
Don't Say Hate Oatmeal Lace Cookies
Adapted from the Ladies Home Journal Dessert Cookbook, Doubleday 1964
Printer friendly version
½ cup flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup sugar
½ cup oats (old-fashioned, not quick cook)
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 Tablespoons Lyle's golden syrup or light corn syrup
1/3 cup melted butter (see measurement on stick, it’s almost ¾ stick)
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract.
Preheat oven to 375 and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper
Sift flour, salt, baking powder and sugar together into a large bowl
Add oats, cream corn syrup, butter and vanilla.
Stir together until well-blended.
Using a one teaspoon measuring spoon, drop 4-inches apart onto cookie sheets. (They really do spread a lot)
Bake 8-9 minutes until golden brown. (I like mine more towards a dark golden)
Let stand just a few seconds
and remove carefully with spatula on cooling rack.
Yield: 40-45 cookies