PB, B & J

It may shock you to hear that there are many things I find morally abhorrent.  I know. I know. I threw you a curve ball there.  Get off the floor and keep reading.  Very high on the list of those things I find morally abhorrent is when “they” invent a new delicacy by molesting a classic.  (See my Sweet and Sour post of April 2008.)

Sadly, this happens all too often nowadays. But one of the few things that has managed to remain pure and good in this world is the peanut butter and jelly sandwich (assuming you do not suffer from a lethal peanut allergy). This is something I have loved and enjoyed several times a week for at least the last 30 years. It’s got protein, it’s got fruit (kind of), it’s got saltiness, it’s got sweetness.  It can be ingested at all standard meal times and any time in between.  It tastes the same as it did in 1977.  The ingredients are still made by the same companies.  Its creation requires no special planning and no culinary skill. You simply ask yourself a few vital questions and you’re good to go. White or wheat? Skippy (if you’re an Annette Funicello fan), Jiff (if you’re a choosy mom), or Peter Pan (if you like salmonella)? Strawberry (if you’re weird) or grape? Desired ratio of PB to J per bite? Triangle or rectangle halves?  Oh and hey, fat America, if you’re too lazy to get up from the couch and prepare your own during “So You Think You Can Dance,” you can still enjoy it. Smuckers sells frozen, pre-made PB & J sandwiches with the crusts already cut off.  Pathetic? Yes. Brilliant, albeit freakishly round? Also yes. (Side note – I am very proud of the fact that I figured out how to add a poll to this post. Please take it when you’re done reading!)

In other words, it ain’t broke, so don’t fix it.

Now, Keith is a man of few issues.  He doesn’t keep track of when he last barfed and he doesn’t stop wearing certain shirts or ties because he associates them with a really bad day at work. He doesn’t lie awake at night having theoretical arguments in his head and it doesn’t offend his sensibilities when plain nougat is replaced with mint nougat or almonds appear where previously there were peanuts.  So it makes sense that he would feel comfortable experimenting with the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The other night, we both came home late from work and had an unsatisfying dinner of soup (don’t feel bad – it was posh gazpacho from the upscale market Citarella).  Keith decided he was going to supplement the meal with peanut butter and jelly. I sat at the table picking my cuticles while he prepared said item in the kitchen. It occurred to me that it was taking him a long time, but he’s conscientious, so I assumed he was just spreading the ingredients in a loving manner.  Finally though, I started to hear the sound of a knife against a cutting board. That didn’t add up, so I went to see what was going on.

“We didn’t have any jelly, so I’m making a peanut butter and banana sandwich,” Keith informed me as he applied the top slice of bread (wheat, in case you care).

A tidal wave of guilt and self-loathing came over me. Did we really not have jelly?! I was sure we’d had it a few nights earlier … What kind of person didn’t even keep JELLY in the refrigerator?!

Frick on a high-fructose corn stick.

I should be arrested or at the very least reported to Social Services.  I should change my name to Neglecty McNeglecterstein.

It turns out though, that we did have jelly.  I pulled it off the refrigerator shelf and held it up to Keith (and myself) as proof.

Big fat PHEW.

At this point, I, of course, might have taken my peanut butter and banana sandwich out of the kitchen and eaten it with a hint of disappointment, thinking to myself that jelly just wasn’t in the cards for me that night.  I might have surgically removed the bananas and applied jelly in their stead.  I might even have stashed that sandwich in the refrigerator and made a second one with jelly. I would never, in a million years, have considered doing what Keith did.

He looked at the jelly in my hand. He looked at his peanut butter and banana sandwich, newly cut in half.  He looked back at the jelly. And before I could say, “Care for a frosty glass of milk from cows not treated with RBST?” he was squeezing a thick line of jelly … onto the TOP of each sandwich half.

I was SPEECHLESS.  Peanut butter and jelly, GREAT. Peanut butter and banana, GREAT. Peanut butter AND banana AND jelly … ?!  On TOP of the bread, rather than within it, no less?! It can’t be done! It breaks the laws of nature! It’s just wrong!

But Keith didn’t seem to think so. I stared at him as he enjoyed his creation.

“Is it good?! I mean, is it okay with the … [shudder] … jelly [shudder] …AND the [shudder]… banana?” I asked him.

And again, I would have replied with something along the lines of, “It’s totally gross and I’ll probably puke, but I’ll eat it and then worry about it for a few hours.”

But Keith replied, “Of course. Why not? They’re all friends.”

They are all friends. Sigh.

Editor’s Note: It turns out that JIFF is actually spelled with one F. My apologies!

PB, B & J

Sole Mates

As I take stock of my vast but largely useless footwear collection, I can’t help but notice how much my pre-Keith relationships with boys have mirrored my relationships with shoes (and vice-versa). As a result, just as I have been shaped by countless boy woes, so too has there been permanent scarring (both literal and physical) from the various shoes in my life.  (You didn’t really think you were getting a post with no mention of childhood trauma, did you?!)

It started with the black patent leather Mary Janes everyone else in my kindergarten class had. Even the boys, I am still convinced.  One girl even had them in pink and white too. I remember thinking of her as “super lucky ducky.” Which is 5-year-old-speak for “total beeyatch.”

Would YOU want this on the bottom of your shoes?

How I longed to see them smiling back at me in the mirror, their shiny ebony goodness sparkling against pristine white ankle socks trimmed in lace ruffles. Sigh. Jan deemed them “impractical” (aka boy who was cute but not marriage material). So, in my class picture that year, you can see me sitting pigtailed and buck-toothed in a sailor dress and … dull red Buster Brown lace-up shoes (aka the dorkuses with names like Elliot and Howard who liked me … and who were in turn hated by me but of course, adored by Jan).

There were the clogs our slutty babysitter wore that I had to have. Dangerous to walk in (aka super-cute junior and lead singer in a band who, by some miracle, actually liked me, but whose failure to do well in French class earned him a reputation, in my house, as a bad seed).

The uber-cool lavender Kangaroo sneakers we were only allowed to wear twice a week.  Bad for your feet (aka self-centered, egomaniacal boyfriend who was totally unsupportive).

The Frye boots that another slutty babysitter and someone’s even sluttier older sister sported. Not available in kiddie size 12, which I was until approximately 7th grade (aka boy who was a senior when I was a freshman/ was way too old and mature for me).

The Minnetonka and later Bass moccasins that were too wide for my narrow feet (aka any number of boys who were just overall bad fits).

The faaancy satin kitten-heeled pumps that were beyond appealing in their natural pearly white state.  Forced at gunpoint to dye pink for use with heinous bat mitzvah dress (aka boy from the next town over who might one day be date-able, but who was in his current state a disheveled mess with no social skills).

Complete and utter lack of appropriate weekend shoe other than white canvas Keds in college (aka the duller-than-doornails boys I went to school with).

The backless Charles David stilettos that I refused to stop wearing on Saturday nights even though they left me almost paralyzed the next morning (aka the long-term hook-up I couldn’t walk away from even though his refusal to commit caused me a year of pain and suffering). I could go on.

Modern Vintage "Willhemena" boot -- aka Keith

Now that Keith is in my life, thankfully, it’s just the shoes I have to worry about. And I do worry. Just because I was eventually able to fit into shoes whose soles were not adorned with a creepily winking, giant hat-wearing blonde kid and his evil-looking dog (who clearly has canine Graves’ disease) doesn’t mean my shoe life is complete. The last few winters, it’s been a constant struggle to find boots that would work over skinny jeans and under non-skinny jeans. That had a heel, but were walkable. That could be worn with long-sleeve t-shirts or going-out tops. That didn’t cost $400. That didn’t have an 18″ calf circumference.  It’s a lot to ask for, my friends. I happened to find this very pair (thanks, Modern Vintage) within days Keith’s proposal. Coincidence? I think not.

With the warm – or equatorial Africa-like, I should say – weather upon us, it’s now the quest for perfect sandals that keeps me up and searching Zappos at night. I have the flats covered. The metallic Dolce Vita gladiators, the frosty brown Havaiana flip-flops, the faux crocodile-skin Sam Edelman thongs. It’s the heels that torture me. I’ve accepted that a platform wedge of some sort is the way to go – when done right, it’s the most manageable and versatile of the summer options. But all my research has come up short. Everything is either way too expensive, way too wrong colored, way too covered in S&M-ish studs and/or, most often, way too high.  So what’s a smurf-sized girl to do when she craves a little height but doesn’t want to end up in traction?

Frick on a cobblered stick.

Hello Luella. I so wish we could be friends.

On the subway, along Broadway, in the Times Style section, I watch as fellow ladies gallivant off to work or dinner in beautiful black and camel-colored four- and five-inch hoofery. They seem to walk effortlessly, their ankles unbroken, their knee caps still in place. They are not limping. They are not holding the stairway railing for support. They are not moving at an abnormally slow pace. I don’t get it. So my question to you, heel-wearing ladies of New York, is this. Are you simply anatomically better equipped than I am to walk in these shoes? Are these shoes really the ones for you? Or are you settling – faking it – like I did for so many years, suffering in silence for the sake of having a boyfriend fashion?

Sole Mates