Tuesday, October 2, 2007

"BEST OF" Begins . . . BURNIN' DOWN THE HOUSE

So, I thought I would try posting a few of the pieces I used to do for St. George Magazine. . . Over a year ago, I had this "sex in the city" type bit I used to write for them about anything and everything going on in the world.

While the column was primarily about life as a singleton, they ended up being pretty well received, and I somehow had a piece of an entire community routing for my love life as I reported the ups and downs of navigating the singlelife in (Southern)Utah and beyond . . .

After I met Danny, the pieces changed a little bit -- even more so once we were married.

The following piece is from the December 2006 edition . . . it shows what happens when I try to be a sex-kitten of a wife . . . sometimes LOVE just ain't enough. My plans -- up in smoke (figuratively and literally.)

Let me know what you think . . . I'll add few of these now and then for the SLC crowd that may not have read them. (If you have already seen this stuff, sorry . . . skip along, skip along).

ssm, aka Sabrena Suite-Mangum


I am not a domestic goddess. While I come from a long line of bread-baking casserole-creating homemaking extraordinaires, admittedly I’m much more comfortable typing press releases or chatting with CNN than baking cherry pie. However with the kitchen pioneers in my genealogy, there had to be some genetic predisposition that would make me handy with a whisk/garlic press. Apparently I just wasn’t trying hard enough.

So I tried. I thought I would pair two things that seemed to be a win-win with men – food and seduction. Since, on this particular occasion, there was no way I was making it to the lingerie shop before dinner, I thought the next best thing would be one of Danny’s button-down collared shirts au natural. You know, a little Risky Business paired with feminine wiles?

I’ll just pair them with some sassy black stilettos, I thought. Crap! I just remembered I broke the back heel last week in a dreadful battle involving said shoe verses a very temperamental moving sidewalk at the Salt Lake City International airport. Score? Moving sidewalk: one; fabulous black shoe: zero.

Hmm. What’s left? Flip flops? Not exactly the beacon footwear of sensuality. Plus I’m so short I’ll look like an Oompa Loompa if I don’t add a little length to my legs.

This is ridiculous! I have more than 40 pairs of shoes and all I can come up with is a pair of flat soled 1995 Doc Marten Mary Janes?!? What are these doing in my closet anyway? Perhaps they would work if I was trying to seduce Kurt Cobain in the grunge era, but presently the shoes in question seem to be spouting more of a "geriatric" correctional vibe than Victoria’s Secret supermodel.

I grab a pair of 4 ½ inch red and white checkered heels from my closet that have a striking resemblance to a 1950s pin up doll – or at least what I imagine one would look like. All I need is that black line up the back of my hosiery. But I actually despise wearing socks of any kind, so I just stick with the shoes – no nylons.

Man, these heels are kind of hard to walk in. I’m scooting around through the apartment taking tiny steps in a gait that looks like “Peggy” from that Married with Children sitcom. I’m a bit off balance; and the carpet, though not exactly “shag” in length, seems surprisingly harder to navigate through than I remember.

I head to the kitchen. We received this fabulous cookbook for our wedding. It’s a *Julia Child’s “How to Cook Everything,” She’s got a no-fail super easy recipe for pork chops. And it’s fun to do impersonations of her while your reading through the recipes, so it’s a win-win in the kitchen.

I take the bible of cooking down from the shelf, but after that point, the details of the rest of the evening are all a little fuzzy. I don’t know if it’s selective memory, or because the kitchen literally got cloudy with giant wafts of smoke from the pork chops. But plumes of it billowed from the sizzling pork chops on the stove. Who knew olive oil could spark such pandemonium?

Next thing I know, I’m running through the house trying to open up every window in our 850 square foot apartment because the smoke is going to hit our detector any minute . . . Crap! There it goes!

It’s screeching and beeping, and being and screeching. It’s piercing my ears and the sound is giving me a panic attack. I can’t get it to turn off! Oh, my poor neighbors! Did I mention we have really thin walls?!?

I run to the patio door, and just as I’m pulling the sliding glass open I realize two things. Number one, my husband is walking across the street and already looks puzzled about the sounds coming from our apartment; and two, I am not exactly a hallmark of modesty in this little “outfit” I put together for my Suite-Seduction. Instead of looking like a sex-kitten, my wobbly bits are bouncing too and fro like a chubby adolescent belly dancer in training for their recital. Forget that I don’t like socks! I should’ve gone with control top pantyhose.

I can’t decide which emergency to take care of first. The smoke is in my eyes and I’m starting to cough. The pork chops keep burning, along with everything else on the stove, and the scream of the smoke detector has me on the verge of a migraine. And yet, I can’t take the burning pan out side #1, because I’m scantily clad and the neighbors could see me; and #2, because I’m scantily clad and Danny will see me. Obviously, I saw this all going down a lot different in my head.

“Darling, is that our smoke detector?” Danny says, clearing the air with a wave of his hand back and forth.

Dang it! I’m discovered. I run outside in a last ditch effort to rescue the pork chops. Though it appears I’m too late.

“Yes!” I say, smiling sheepishly as if this is not any thing unusual, like I set off the smoke detector every time I cook.

Danny looks around smiling, takes the searing skillet from my hand and makes a comment laughing under his breath about the place resembling “a scene from Backdraft.”

A few minutes later, he’s repaired the damage in the kitchen. The smoke detector has stopped screaming at me, he’s turned on our ceiling fan, opened the rest of the windows and I’m referencing our dinner as Cajun (or blackened) pork for the night.

“It’s all a tragedy!” I explain, almost on the verge of sobs, but mostly through sniffles and a bit of laughter.

“Nah,” he says. “A tragedy would be if you spent all day slaving in the kitchen and we end up sitting around eating (Little Caesar’s) Hot-N-Readys.”

Brilliant! I think “Take-out” is probably Victoria’s real secret.



*The book is actually written by Mark Bittman (not Julia Child. But it was a "Julia Child Cookbook Awards Winner" from the International Association of Culinary Professionals.