Dating? Learn How to Use Chopsticks

Shannon Kernaghan chopstick-final-400 Dating? Learn How to Use Chopsticks Adventure Challenges Dating Food Fun Humor Lifestyle Love Parties Relationship Risk Sex Sex and Food

Why can’t dating come with instructions? By instructions, I don’t mean a how-to book. There are enough texts on the subject, all trumpeting slick advice on how to meet, marry and mate.

The moment you stand in a bar and pertly balance your Chocolate Martini, you’ll forget the reams of advice.

Taking a deep breath, you’ll wonder, Am I supposed to approach the guy or wait for him to make the first move?

Next, the confusion will be, Do I look at him invitingly or ignore him? Dammit, I’ve read so much advice that I can’t remember if I’m supposed to yin or yang!

Now step away from the Self-Help section and relax. What works for one person doesn’t work for everyone. Instead, concentrate on making the most of the gifts you already own, such as your wry sense of humor, your patience and your take-no-prisoners method of deadheading the delphiniums.

Everyone has strengths and those strengths will be attractive to the right person.

In my world, finding a partner should be as uncomplicated as the instructions on a chopsticks wrapper, sealed for your sanitary protection:

LEARN HOW TO USE YOUR CHOPSTICKS.

Ignore the written instructions and go directly to the illustration of a hand and a set of chopsticks, a Kama Sutra for the utensil-challenged.

TUCK UNDER THUMB AND HOLD FIRMLY.

It’s tough to meet a quality partner and then parlay those fun dates into a long-term relationship because people have skyscraper-high expectations.

When a journalist interviewed a 21-year-old university student, he admitted to measuring all the women he meets to actor Angelina Jolie. Good luck with that.

ADD SECOND CHOPSTICK, HOLD IT AS YOU HOLD A PENCIL.

I prefer my day, like dating, to unfold with simplicity. For example, I recently watched a documentary on ghostly hauntings and poltergeists.

The narrator explained how these frisky ghouls are known for their disruptive behavior, all to grab the attention of us earthly beings. I watched film footage of plates rattling and crashing to the ground.  

If I’m ever graced by poltergeists, I’ll quickly set out some ground rules . . . make that ghoul rules.

“Listen up, you vaporous squatters,” I’ll shout into the ether. “If you plan to float around my property, at least make yourselves useful. See those dirty dishes in the sink? Wash and dry them, and carefully put them away. There will be no crashing or breaking. Got it, Casper? Good!”

I’ll be a tough taskmaster with my poltergeists, the same way I’d be with any new partner. I don’t have time to ghoul around.

HOLD FIRST CHOPSTICK IN ORIGINAL POSITION, MOVE THE SECOND ONE UP AND DOWN. NOW YOU CAN PICK UP ANYTHING.

Did I say chopsticks were uncomplicated? Not according to the stained front of every shirt I own.

Like chopsticks, I wish more people came sealed for my sanitary protection.

And as for finding the right person? Throw away the instructions, baby. It’s as easy as picking up that last grain of rice in the bowl.

Audio version music
“Jamlet”
by Coolzey

Power to the Mixer, Right On

Shannon Kernaghan Power-to-the-Mixer-400 Power to the Mixer, Right On Challenge Family Food Fun Humor Lifestyle Memoir Relationship Sex and Food

I’m not a flower child of the 1960s, but I’ve met enough aging free spirits to appreciate the tumultuous decade. I gaze with fondness at peace signs, despite not being old enough to wear a bra in that decade, let alone burn it.

My husband Paul equally likes all-things 1960s. When younger, he was a wild child, speeding across the country on his motorcycle, letting it all hang out while the wind tousled his mane of hair (no helmet laws yet).

Today, his wheels stay a lot closer to home.

Speaking of home, where “flower power” was once a symbol of non-violence, now my sweetheart refers to “flour power” when choosing our kitchen appliances.

“Look honey,” Paul called out from his computer search, “This standing mixer has a Flour Power rating of 14 cups. Is that far out or what?”

“Yeah, groovy, man,” I muttered under my breath. “How much is this thing going to cost just to make some pizza dough?” I no longer muttered; I yelled.

“Cost? Who cares about the bread, man? It has a 67-point planetary mixing action!”

“Greeeeaaat.” I’ve managed to make meals with a wooden spoon that wields enough power to whip everything into submission. I simply raise it at my bowls of wet and dry ingredients and they snap to attention. No flower/flour power ideology need enter my kitchen.

And there’s the hand-held mixer with three identical speeds that I was given when we married. Still beating.

Paul wants to take us from a yellowing $15 mixer to a $730 pearl metallic powerhouse. Bummer. And here I’m trying to lessen my carbs!

We enjoy celebrating special meals with a glass of wine or two. But you can’t drink and drive so that means taking a cab or Uber from the restaurant. That also means going into the cold dark night after your cozy meal.

Sometimes cabs and Ubers aren’t quickly available. Waiting 20 minutes in a restaurant doorway is a definite buzz kill . . . behold, the pleasures of home cooking.

Yet the motive for home cooking hasn’t been to save money. If anything, our grocery bills have grown savage. For instance, I ate a couple of fresh-baked cookies and discovered they called for a $5 bag of ground pecans. Didn’t taste a single nut. The recipe also included several dollars of chocolate chips and toffee. The only way I’ll reduce our grocery bills (and waistline) is to wire my mouth shut.

 How the times have changed from the 60s to today. Now when I ask, “What’s your bag?” Paul answers, “Flour, baby. Best for bread, rye and multi-grain.” His “secret stash” of baggies are filled with fennel and rosemary.

Power to the people. Make that power to my tie-dyed chef.

Audio music False Startz
by
Blanc Vie

Copy That, Crispy Chicken Lady

Shannon Kernaghan blog-truck-driver-sep23-e1506294202863 Copy That, Crispy Chicken Lady Dating Drinking Food Humor Lifestyle Parties Sex Sex and Food Travel

Once upon a dance floor I partied late into the night, and I garnered the occasional nickname. Sometimes I was called Peaches, and for a brief period I was Sweet Thing or Honey Bunny. One guy called me Foxy Lady, which may or may not have been a compliment. Did he mean I was sly?

Except for those pet names given to me by males in search of a fruit salad, I didn’t have many lifelong labels. Why? Because the name Shannon doesn’t rhyme with anything besides Cannon, or sound interesting when shortened.

“Hey Shan, over here,” my friend would shout above the crowd. But I didn’t enjoy the abbreviation. Made me sound like a cleaning agent. “Try Shan for your pans to get the grease out!”

My husband Paul had a few of his own while growing up. When he introduced me to a group of old camping buddies, they immediately called him Pig Pen. I never asked why; I didn’t want to hear any dirty details.

I always figured I’d share my life with a dude called Brain (smart) or Duke (rich) or Moose (athletic), not Pig Pen. At least Paul had cleaned up by the time we met.

Now my nicknames have nothing to do with fruit or sweetness levels, proven when I walked into one of my favorite restaurants and took a seat. I wore sunglasses and a ball cap pulled low on my face, but that wasn’t enough camouflage.

“Hey, it’s the Crispy Chicken Lady!” called out the serving person. Crispy Chicken Lady – my new nickname. Great. I’m not sweet and fruity anymore, and gone is any sexual spin. I’m a daily special comprised of poultry and hot oil.

While I’m not one to give people a nickname, Paul refers to everyone he works with by a tag – from Boom Box (loud), Coconut (bald), Bullet-Proof (flies under the radar and avoids trouble), Titanium (beats me) to Top Shelf (self-named; the best brands of booze at the top of a bartender’s shelf).

What am I saying? I do have a nickname. My husband started calling me 2-J, my CB radio handle for when I have my “ears on.” The meaning? Won’t say, but at least it’s spicier than CCL (Crispy Chicken Lady).

“Pig Pen,” I called out last weekend, “come and move your pile of clothes and magazines. I can’t see the floor!”

A-ha! Pig Pen, the light just went on. Smarty Pants finally gets it.

Wait a second . . . poultry? . . . hot oil? . . . maybe I AM still hot, if I reach a little.

Where’s my cell? With all this talk of food, I need to order something. CCL over and out.

Audio story backing track
“Sioux Falls”
by Silent Partner

Great Escape, Skimpy Dress Code 

Shannon Kernaghan bare-butt-cook-e1493311398574 Great Escape, Skimpy Dress Code  Humor Memories Relationship Sex Sex and Food Travel

A few years ago I read how a chimpanzee named Judy escaped from her cage at the Little Rock Zoo in Arkansas. She had her chance when a keeper left the door of her sleeping quarters open. Judy’s flight to freedom wasn’t all that dramatic, considering she did little more than raid the zoo’s kitchen cupboards.

But she disappointed me during her few sweet moments of liberty. Instead of hightailing it for the open road, she picked up a toilet brush and cleaned the bowl. Then she wrung out a sponge and wiped down the front of her keeper’s fridge. Turns out Judy had been a house pet before the zoo acquired her in 1988, so scenes of housekeeping must have been the norm. If I’m ever caged and have the chance to escape, sure, I might grab a handful of cookies en route to the front door, but I won’t hang around to finish any domestic duties.

I equate travel to escaping the self-made cages of everyday life. When traveling, I’m forced to leave my comfort zones, those familiar places that feel safe yet don’t offer much variety. When my trip is over and I’m back to the usual schedules and humdrum routines, at least I can enjoy the videos I’ve taken, the photos I’ve snapped.

My husband’s favorite shot from a road trip isn’t captured on an SD card but chiseled in his memory. The image he savors is from Arizona. The location is nothing as impressive as the red rocks of Sedona or the golf courses of Scottsdale.

Instead, it’s one where he waits for me in a grocery store parking lot. We’ve stopped at a little town and I’ve run in to pick up some snacks before we park our trailer for the night. When I exit the store he watches me grin as I walk across the lot towards our truck. I grin because the check-out line is mercifully short and the beverages are pleasingly cold.

He grins at the sight of my new cowboy hat and boots, tight jeans, and the 12-pack of Miller Lite I carry under each arm. I also carry a few bags of snacks. My husband won’t recall the snacks. Not when a woman featuring tight jeans and 24 cans of cold beer is bearing down on him.

As I spot his happy expression, what goes through my mind is, “Travel is really healthy for a relationship.”

Turns out my husband is thinking the same thing, in his own male format: “Shannon should forget to wear her bra more often!” There it was. We were on slightly different sides of the psychological fence, yet we were both happy. For him, all it took was a dusty parking lot and the sight of me holding beer. And the no-bra factor.

I have my own favorite snapshot, make that two, from the photo album. The first is one of my husband standing in the desert between two gnarly cacti.  He’s also wearing his new cowboy hat and boots. A few props are added to the arsenal – a frying pan he wields above his head like a weapon and a green chef’s apron. The next picture shows him in the identical pose, except I’ve walked around to the back of the cacti to take a rear shot.

Did I mention my husband wasn’t wearing anything besides his hat, boots and apron?

Unlike Judy the chimp who was returned to her cage after a dose of sedatives, I don’t need caging or sedatives for an excuse to avoid housework. Testimony is the inside of our microwave. It resembles an execution-style crime scene. And when I reached for the TV remote from our bed’s headboard last night, my hand came away gray with dust.

I wonder what Judy’s doing this weekend. Our place could use a good cleaning. I’ll even throw in some lite beer and snacks.

Find Shannon’s books on AmazonShannon Kernaghan books-row-display-800 Great Escape, Skimpy Dress Code  Humor Memories Relationship Sex Sex and Food Travel

Audio story music
“Search and Rescue”
by Dan Lebowitz

Good Vibrations

Shannon Kernaghan Sushi-model-400 Good Vibrations Humor Relationship Sex and Food

After the shopping is finished, Paul steers our car in the direction of home. My stomach grumbles.

Hungry?” Paul asks. “Where do you want to eat?

“I don’t care, you?” This is the ping pong we play on weekends, tired of the chains and the non-chains that taste like every other chain. Despite our lack of success (maybe we’re picky) I remain optimistic, certain the next restaurant will have potential. Stopped at a red light, I point to a sign in a corner strip mall. Coco Deep Fried Chicken. The restaurant is nestled incongruously between a violin store and a Source Adult Video.

We place our order at the counter and find a table to wait for our food. Both the flimsy plastic forks and the chopsticks are unmanageable so we eat with our hands. Soon, our fingers and mouths are smeared red with sticky sweet and sour sauce.

“Do you like this?”

“It’s different,” I say, pondering. “Actually I do like it.”

Paul holds up a half-gnawed chicken leg and uses it as a baton to motion next door.

“Wanna buy a dildo?”

“No!” I say, choking on my last swallow. Before he has the chance to look deflated, I add, “Maybe a vibrator.” And then I scrunch my shoulders and make a funny noise. Paul looks at me quizzically. This is an unfamiliar sound, one I haven’t heard since my friend Susie and I were twelve: it’s a full-on giggle. “Can I finish my chicken first?” and Paul nods.

The last time I was in an “adult” store was with a group of women. We were in search of irreverent gifts for a bridal shower. We’d toss anything feathery or penis shaped into our party basket.

The theme hasn’t changed much over the years. I spot several lone men wandering the aisles and reading DVD covers; a young couple scans a table of gadgets, items with silver studs and flourishes of pink marabou. Perhaps they’re creating their own party pack.

I find the vibrator wall and am mesmerized by the array, many of the toys as small as lipstick tubes and blinged out with colorful designs. I pull one from a hook – one of the “lipsticks” – and take it to the cashier.

Before we can react, the cashier pops my vibrator from its container and inserts the included battery.

“What are you doing?” I ask, not pleased that this perspiring stranger, one who’d just run her fingers through her hair and taken our money, is handling my new purchase. The vibrator buzzes and she give satisfied nod.

“I have to make sure these work ‘cause there aren’t any returns.”

“Good thing,” I say and hear that silly giggle again, now sounding more like the bleat of a sheep.

Paul whispers, “It’s not like I’m going to drive back if the battery’s dead.”

“Don’t worry,” I whisper back, touching my lips to his ear as the woman bags my purchase. “I have 99% isopropyl under the sink.”

“That won’t erase her image from my brain.”

Again the giggle. I like this fresh side of our relationship.

Back in the car, I relax against the head rest. A decade-old memory appears: my mom and I sit together on a balcony in Honolulu and my dad is taking a siesta inside the condo. I’m there to visit for a week, leaving Paul behind in Canada. Mom and I chat, and then she is quiet. I turn to her; she’s looking at her fingernails and grinning.

“What are you thinking?”

“I was going to ask if you wanted to play Scrabble and then remembered a funny story from last year.”

I wait.

“I wanted your Dad to play but he wasn’t interested so I said, ‘I’ll trade you two games for sex’.”

“Mom!” I shriek. This admission gobsmacks me. An occasional raunchy joke is the most I’d ever heard from my mother. Until Scrabble. “Don’t explain, no more, or I’ll never be able to face another tile!”

She tilts back her head and lets out a belly laugh, revealing a row of strong white teeth. From her eyebrow-raised expression, I’m quite sure they carried out this sex-for-board-game barter.

“Why are you telling me this?” She shrugs and then I start to laugh. My father shuffles outside, awakened by our noise, and asks what’s up. I can’t look him in the eyes so point to my chair for him to take it, and I disappear inside. I felt oddly hopeful for my parents.

Paul glances over. “What are you grinning about, your Coco Chicken or your new vibrator?” I shrug like my mom and smile. “Can we stop at Canadian Tire for a minute?” he continues. “They have a sale on drills.”

“Sure.” We both want our toys.

I’m pickin’ up good vibrations, he’s giving me excitations. For some reason I feel like listening to the Beach Boys

Audio story music
“Bounce House”
by Silent Partner