How Was Your Three-Way?

It's no secret I spent the better part of my summer eating.

My personal favorite was taking the kids to lunch at Steak-n-Shake, where the three of us could roost at a table, giggle, play and feast for $20 (including tip).

Every time I went to Steak-n-Shake this summer, I ordered the Chili Three-Way.

And every time the waitress came by the table, she'd ask me, things like "How is your Three Way?" and offer "Would you like more crackers with your Three Way?" 

And each time, I'd giggle and look down and mumble something like, "My chili is fine."

The  last time we were there, during the last week of summer vacation, the restaurant was particularly quiet in between the breakfast and lunch rushes.

While the kids discussed what kind of fish we should buy, the waitress swung by our table with refilled drinks, picked up my plate and asked, "How was your Three Way?"

This time, I looked her right in the eye and said, "Are you SERIOUSLY asking that?"

She shrugged and piled more plates, "That's what we're trained to say...."

And off she went, as though on skates, leaving me at the table with both kids staring. "Whats so funny Mom? Was she supposed to laugh?"

I fidget with my iPhone and look at the bill, offering them a vague excuse like "it must be me, your mom is just..... (mumble mumble)....."

As August winds down and turn back to fruits and vegetables, I don't miss the McFlurries or the Frosties; I don't miss pizza or french fries, but I'd like another Three Way.

The **** Beer Guy

As usual, I'm overdressed for Walmart, but as usual, I don't care.

I go straight to the back to start with the easy stuff. Water. Orange Juice. Biscuits. Yogurt.

He's standing there, at the end of the aisle, smiling at me.

I smile back, vaguely, then turn my attention back to the vast selection of sugarfree powdered drink mixes.

He speaks. "Dr! ... Dr.... um, I remember, wait...."

Zack smiles and helps the poor guy. "Her name is Dr. Melissa."

He nods his head, then shakes it again, as if my name was a ball rolling around in his head looking for a place to fall into, causing lights to go off like a pinball  machine.

"Dr. Salami!"

"I've been called worse," I answer, dropping four boxes of drink mix into the cart.

Now he has my full attention.

"And you don't remember ME..." He accuses.

I look him up and down for hints.

He isn't wearing a name tag, just the patch of the beer company he's delivering for.

"You're the beer man, how could I forget you?"

In the time it takes for him to look genuinely disappointed, I remember his name.

I also remember that he was the only student to ever steal money from me during class.Four classmates turned him in, and the entire thing was pretty ugly. It's been four or five semesters, so I've let it pass. I don't think he's graduated, so I don't ask.

Besides that, I'm already eying the cinnamon rolls.

 "I remember you. You're W****. And now you're W**** ,The Beer Guy."

He laughs. I laugh, and he turns away, back to the cooler, back to his life, back to delivering his beer.

Eat * Sleep * Fork

On the night of the full moon in July, I closed my Mac, zipped it into its pretty pink case, and put it away in an experiment to find a simpler, freer summer experience.  I decide to find out what life would be like without my Mac on my lap. 

Just in case it turned into an epic fail,  I didn't tell anyone about this. 

Until now.

And here it is.

My summer 2010 memoir: Eat. Sleep. Fork.


The best part of not having a laptop on my lap has been cuddle time with the kids, one tucked under each arm on the oversized stained green recliner.

 We ate ice cream by the gallon, popcorn by the bowl, and spent an inordinate amount of time at Olive Garden (mostly laughing).

I ordered M&Ms on everything, and ate them plain (by the nibble; by the handful) in dark movie theaters, laughing.


Meanwhile, something beautiful happened.

 After ten years of being waken by  crying infants, breastfeeding babies, screaming toddlers, happy bouncy children who couldn't sleep past 7am on weekends, the kids sleep late.

Let me be extra clear. BOTH of the slept late, day after day over and over this summer.wonderfully dangerously late, past Regis and Kelly, past Let's Make a deal, sometimes even past The Price is Right.

The house feels quiet these mornings while they sleep, like the lovely silent pause after an intentional crescendo.

Because I couldn't write, I spend my vacation mornings in a stupor watching seasons of  On Demand programs so vacuous their titles even now disappear deliciously out of my head like merengue melting on my tongue.   I shamelessly gluttonously continue to stuff myself with junk TV, eat ice cream, and do absolutely nothing but count how many more days I have left to do absolutely nothing.


The only problem I came across in those delicious hours curled up on a recliner was a persistent and recurring itch on my back right behind my brastrap, right where I really just couldn't scratch.

I tried to twist agains the chair, to wriggle and squirm to get the itch scratched but no luck; it just got stronger.

Next to me was an empty mug of ice cream, a fork and a napkin.

I wiped the fork off with the napkin, and although I knew I was alone in the house, I looked around before leaning forward and slipping the fork down my back to JUST the right spot.

As it hit the spot an involuntary "ohhhhh" slipped out me before I could purse my lips and look around.

No one.


I kept scratching, moving the fork up and down behind my bra, shuddering with pleasure and relief, trying to keep myself as quiet as possible and mostly failing.

Again and again that day and the next while the kids are sleeping, distracted and otherwise gone, while I am alone,  during repetitive commercials on On Demand that are too short to fast-forward through, I pull my fork out (it is mine now, I marked all over it with a red sharpie so that its precious tines will never be immersed in another meatball) and find those elusive itchy spots and scratch them until a little line of drool runs down my chin.

On the third or maybe the fifth day of eating, sleeping and forking,  I call my Mom.

"Mom, I'm sorry I haven't called, I've had nothing to say because I haven't done anything because I've just been sitting in this chair watching TV and scratching my back with a fork."

She laughs, "Are you calling for absolution? Is this confession!? You're forgiven.... "

"Oh no," I answer, quicker than she'd expected. "I do NOT want to be forgiven,  lady! I'm calling to BRAG about the fork...."

From there, the conversation goes to  the kids, to Project Runway, to Abuelo.

A red package of takeout Chinese chopsticks pull my eye and distracts me from my Mom's story.

"Mom, I have to go,,,,"

"OK," she says,  not asking why, just letting me be free, because she's easy like that.

Because she doesn't ask me, I decide to tell her the truth. "Mom, I have to go because I just  found some chopsticks I want to tape to my fork to make it even longer.... "

The kids came home before I could find tape, so I don't  follow through on my plan, deciding it's some spiritual principle to accept the fork just the way it is.

That night turned into the next night, which turned into another week and then another which now I"ll remember as the summer I spent away from writing,  happily eating, sleeping and forking.

Down Low Love* (Prince Charmin')

Some advice please!

Is it acceptable for a guest to gush about wonderfully soft and luxuriously thick toilet paper?

Or should i just sneak a roll home for further testing?

I'm in love with this lovely toilet paper, with the diamonds that impeccably MATCH  decorated chandeliered bathroom, and it stings a little to not be able to announce it to the world.  

So here I sit, rubbing it between my fingers, thankful for this down low love...