Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Yelp, Yelp Me Rhonda

It started when I met a friend for dinner. He was going to get a free cookie for dessert because he checked in on Foursquare. Apparently the restaurant had a deal going. Also apparently, the restaurant didn’t tell the wait-staff about it, because the server had never heard of Foursquare.

My friend got the free cookie anyhow.

Auntie doesn’t Foursquare. I see you sweeties one at a time, usually by arrangement. When we’re trying to decide where to meet, Foursquare doesn’t get a vote. Neither does Yelp.

(Before there was Yelp, I didn’t look at Zagat either, so for once it’s not a technology thing.)

It’s a very nice idea, Yelp is, and Zagat before it. Instead of jaded, snooty professional food critics, let’s hear about restaurants from People Just Like Us.

The cynic in me wants to add, “If we were related to the proprietors.”

Notice I said “related to” and not “friends with”. That’s because I’ve seen some reviews that sounded as gratuitously vicious as the others were hyperbolically glowing. (Insert joke about dysfunctional families here.)

Of course a lot of the reviews (both good and bad) are fair and well-deserved. The problem is picking those out from the sea of self-aggrandizing bile and adoration.

So I stopped looking at Yelp.

Now it seems like whenever I’m in front of a cash register, someone tells me “If you give us a good review on Yelp, we’ll give you a free (semi-useless object or tiny discount)!”

Look how cagey they are – it’s not enough that you review the place/product/service. You have to do it their way.

In other words; it’s not enough to like them, you have to like them in a way they like.


I never voted in Zagat, but I left a review on Yelp once, years and years and years ago when it first started. I did it for my hairdresser, who is also a friend. I spent half an hour crafting the compliments so they sang odes to her talent and general worthiness.

Yes, it was a good review, but she really is a very good hairdresser. And I didn’t get anything for telling you that.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hot Pants (Ask Auntie)

That last letter sure primed the pump. Auntie got another one already:

Dear Aunt Scary Cookies,

I've always been oblivious. I never know when somebody is hitting on me until one of my friends tells me far too late to be able to do anything about it. I've missed so many opportunities over the years and I don't want another to go past!

Clueless in Seattle

Dear Clueless,

Opportunities for what, exactly? No, don’t answer. We all know.

What Auntie is trying to say is that someone who wants to get to know you better will do just that. They’ll keep talking to you. They’ll suggest getting together another time to continue the conversation. Things will either progress, or they won’t.

But you didn’t mean that, did you? You meant a chance for some spontaneous and, however statistically unlikely, great sex.

Well, let’s not let that happen ever again.

If you want to be absolutely, positively sure that you never miss a possible hook-up, your safest bet is to assume that everybody you see and/or meet is trying to get into your pants.

That way, if any of them really are, you’re set.

Just be nice. Good manners are even more important in the bedroom (or wherever you two crazy kids end up) than on the street. Or on the street if you end up there, but please, not while you’re driving.

In other words, go for it.

That’s my general advice for anyone who saw themselves in your letter. But wait, there’s more.

See, I recognized your email address. You’re quite a hottie. This gives your question a whole different tone, because there are a lot of hopefuls who might not have the guts to hit on you openly. So you’d be helping them out. It’s almost altruistic.

But all of you darlings, please remember this: No glove, no love. Have safe fun!

Send your questions to: AuntScarycookies@aol.com

Monday, April 15, 2013

Auld Lang (Ask Auntie)

Remember “Ask Auntie”? The little advice column that, after a while, couldn’t – if only because I have enough pride not to write pretend letters.

Well, lookit what was in my inbox(!):

Dear Aunt Scary,

I have a, let's say, smaller than average penis. I have been in a long term relationship that ended badly, mostly because of my "size".

I'm about to start dating again, but I'm unsure at which point I should bring up the topic. I'd rather not wait for the wrong time.
Thank you,

Little Ego

Sent from my iPhone=

Dear Ego,

Thank you for writing to Aunt Scarycookies. I’ve had more than one male friend with this problem. I don’t mean the condition, I mean being judged for it.

We all feel inadequate about something, and if we live long enough, someone is going to reject us because of that something, however unfairly.

The cliché response is that anyone who’d reject you out of hand like that (ahem) is shallow and bitchy and not someone you’d want to be with in the long term. While that’s probably true, it doesn’t help.

It also doesn’t answer your question.

Not on the first date. You may not want a second date yourself, so it’d be moot anyhow.

But before you get naked, you’ll probably have some discussion of past relationships. Mention it then, stressing your ex’s other unreasonable qualities without rancor. You don’t want to look bitchy yourself. Just make it clear that this is a stupid reason to dump someone.

Also, let’s be sure that you’re doing all the right things everywhere else, like paying attention, showing concern, responding appropriately, demonstrating respect – because sometimes, when someone is frustrated and angry, they’ll take the easy, hurtful way out.

Relationships rarely end well. The best you can hope for is to minimize the misfortune.

Sorry, I probably shouldn’t have said “minimize”.

If you’re wondering why Auntie didn’t suggest reading the Kama Sutra™, it’s because I’ve read it. At least I started to. Trust me, that won’t help.

Send your questions to AuntScarycookies@aol.com

Friday, April 12, 2013

Jumpin' Jehovasaphat

I love me some Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yes indeed I do.

No, I'm not mocking them. I respect the hell out of them, though I doubt they’d want me to phrase it that way.

Think about it: When was the last time you cared enough about something – anything – to interrupt and invade the personal space of total strangers and get cussed out for telling them about it?

When you’re sober, I mean. The other doesn’t count.

Aside from the sheer enormity of their effort, which your lazy, apathetic and skeptical Auntie can’t get over, there’s the philosophical angle.

Auntie was a Philosophy major during the Roosevelt administration (don’t ask which one, brat) and can still quote Thomas Aquinas from the Summa Theologiae. I just broke a bookend, finding my copy to check the spelling.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Internet. See previous, re: Roosevelt.

Today’s Jehovah’s Witness couldn’t handle an actual theological discussion. Oh well.

She was, however, pleasant and hugely enthusiastic. She really-really-really wanted me to know that God wants me to be happy and healthy. She also wanted me to read the Bible.

Guess what! I’ve read it. Okay, only as far as the begats in Genesis, and that was for a class in college called “The Bible As Literature.” (Don’t start, Sis. I moved the punctuation inside the quotation mark there, so we’re even.)

I didn’t tell her I’d read it, though. There might have been a quiz.

Since I hadn’t put up an argument, all she could do was reiterate her position. Again and again. She wasn’t smart enough to rephrase, or hit it from another angle, or do anything but repeat.

She was nice. I liked her. But even the silent older woman handler behind her looked weary of all that childlike enthusiasm.

Childlike, not too bright – they say God protects children and idiots.

I guess she’s in the right place, God bless her. I hope no one cusses her out.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. The T.P.

Auntie is properly squeamish about all things scatological and/or bathroom related, but I don’t understand why so many of you find toilet paper embarrassing.

No, not the kind stuck to a shoe. I’m talking about the nice, clean, unused stuff. It’s innocuous. You can’t even get a paper cut from it. Really, my only problem with it is when I’m somewhere where there should be some, but there isn’t any.

What’s the big deal?

Auntie can buy the big pack of Quilted Northern™ without cringing or looking sideways to see if anyone is watching. You know, like the other people in that aisle are doing.

I’ve seen high-fashion player-types turn into meerkats when I happen to walk by them making their T.P. selection. A big, burly, tattooed man practically blushed. A woman scurried away from me empty-handed when I took a package next to the one she was pondering so seriously.

If they weren’t embarrassed, they sure as shooting looked like they were. (That’s with two o’s and one t, not one i and two t’s, no matter how apropos the alternative.)

But why? I’ve been trying to figure that out for a while now.

By “while” I probably mean your lifetime, but let’s not make Auntie feel more decrepit than necessary. This isn’t a “kids today” tissue issue.

Yes, of course I’ve asked people directly. I have to wait til it comes up in conversation, though, and that’s pretty rare. Even so, I have asked.

The responses were all variations on, “I dunno. It just is.”

But, I counter, absolutely everyone who sees you buy it, uses it too. No one ever has an answer for that.

Until yesterday.

Turns out I know someone who knows someone who had a roommate who never used toilet paper. Every time he needed to, he’d take a shower and soap himself clean.


Now that is embarrassing.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Grating Expectations

We set ourselves up a lot. And by a lot, I mean, a lot.

We decide what’s going to happen before it happens, and even if it doesn’t happen, we usually tell ourselves that it did.

Don’t get it? Take my hand and come with me.

Say it’s one of those mornings. You’re in a foul mood. You didn’t have time to finish your coffee, there was traffic, you’ve been fifteen minutes late for everything all day – I could go on, but you get the point.

Nothing that happens on “those” days ever seems good.

Unless you win the lottery. Never mind, you get the idea.

In theory, the opposite would be true. If you’re in an exuberant and ebullient state of delight, almost anything short of disease or dismemberment is happy-happy.

(Hey, I said “in theory”, you grouchy-pants.)

Maria Konnikova calls it the "affect heuristic”, but this is just a blog post and Auntie doesn’t have to get technical.

When you’re grumpy and cranky and bitchy (the two who got cut when they decided not to do “Snow White and the Nine Dwarves”), the trick is to recognize when things aren’t going downhill. It’s kind of like throwing your car in reverse when you’re speeding in the carpool lane, only without leaving your engine in the road half a mile back.

(No metaphor is perfect.)

Auntie had one of those freeway moments last night. I expected the evening to be painfully awful. I really did. Trust me, I had good reasons.

Then it turned out fine.

Despite the obvious fine-ness, it took about an hour for me to stop cringing. My dire expectations were so rock-solid that amiable reality had trouble shifting them.

That’s the lesson for all you sweeties. Sometimes things are better than you think they are, you just haven’t noticed. I didn’t.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Bushel & A Heck

We all know what road is paved with good intentions, indeed we do. It’s the road leading up to where we are right this minute.

No, that doesn’t mean we’re in hell. To continue the metaphor, we took the off-ramp right before it. We can say that’s because there’s gridlock on the road to hell, but we know better.

Auntie is happy to stipulate that your boss is Satan, though you might get an argument from some of my other darlings who believe it’s their boss. Anyhow, as I said, we’re not in hell.

If I had to put a name to it, I’d nod to Dilbert™ and say that we’re in heck.

Face it; you didn’t jump out of bed this morning ready and raring to go dick around on the Internet.

Please don’t argue. If you’re reading this then I adore you to pieces, but you’ve got something better to do. It’s probably the same something that you promised yourself you’d get done yesterday. You might even have started to jog on the path to doing it when you tripped and fell down this rabbit-hole.

It was a good intention. Just like mine were.

Of course it’s easy-peasy to get derailed from an unpleasant plan. (Get it? Train tracks, more metaphor!)

If you’re like me, then you substitute doing something useful, or something for someone else, for the thing you should be doing. That way you can’t tell yourself that you’re doing something wrong.

I can’t tell myself that I’m doing something wrong by telling you all this rather than hit my To Do list. The list can wait, because you’re important to me.

See previous, re: spin.

Last night I saw one of those fear-mongering teasers online about bacteria lingering in coffeepots. So it made sense to drop all my plans this morning and scrub my coffeepot until it’s as clear as a baby’s conscience.

I’ve also done the dishes, sorted the mail, cleaned the kitchen and started the laundry. It’s not at all what I meant to do today, but I can honestly tell you: housework is heck.

To hell with it.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Who Is Art, Anyway?

“Art for Art’s sake” doesn’t work as a joke anymore because nobody knows anyone named Arthur. It’s like “Fire at Will!” Or “April Fool!” Except that Wil Wheaton has 2,269,636 followers on Twitter and I went to school with a smart girl named April.

Never mind, I’ll start over.

We went to the Museum of Modern Art in La Jolla. I didn’t mention that before because it deserves its own bit.

Normally, I don’t do Modern Art. (I think of it that way, with capital letters.) Modern Art to me is like Brussels sprouts or broccoli are to you. It’s good for me, but I don’t like it.

I love Brussels sprouts and broccoli. I don’t love Modern Art. I don’t even get it most of the time. Here, take my membership in the liberal intellectuals’ club. I haven’t gone to a meeting in years anyhow.

But Robert understands and enjoys Modern Art, and it’s a nice museum, so we went. Surprise, surprise, I’m glad we did. It was fun. Really. It was even Fun!

The exhibit was all about Realism. (I liked it, so it gets a capital letter too.) The piece of corrugated cardboard leaning against a wall turned out to be cast out of bronze. It seriously looked just like cardboard.

There was a trashbag heaped in the middle of the floor, except that wasn’t a trashbag, it was carved out of solid marble. The old paint cans, brushes and rags were made of Styrofoam. The crumpled blue quilted sleeping bag was also bronze.

Capital letter plus exclamation point Fun! And amazing craftsmanship.

But was it Art?

I’m used to art being pretty, and Art being expressive. This was expressive as hell, I’m just not sure what it was saying.

There were video rooms. One had New York street scenes on all four walls. Robert said, “This is the kind of art I hate.” It was pretty enough so I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t stay to watch. Later he told me after I left, the street scenes expanded to show that they were all fake. (Realism!) They were just stage sets, all mock-ups, mostly miniature. He said, “I like it now.”

I wrote that down because I’m convinced there’s a definition of Art buried in there somewhere. In any case, it’s a better definition than mine, which is:

If it’s in a museum, then it’s Art.