Victorian Post Update

This is just to inform my readers that I have updated the Victorians at the Seashore post with an illustrative diagram. It was drawn hastily, yet with great concern for accuracy.  You may ask yourselves: Why is the chandelier lit under water? What, pray tell, is a great blue whale? Why is the dead kid still clutching a lollipop? Ummm. I think we can only blame the Victorians for such ludicrous errors.

It was nerve wracking, making drawings again. Many of you don’t know that I flunked out of art school. Got in under false pretenses and was asked to leave. I guess instructors found my endless representations of railroad tracks vanishing into the horizon “bizarre” and “uninspired.” They didn’t understand my artistic “choices.”

“It’s called a vanishing point!” I would insist.

Meanwhile, what else is new? Cotton candy magic is imminent. My 1.5 year old daughter is panting and tap dancing and sucking vigorously on her cup of milk. Brian gave me a gift that will insure I never lose my cell phone again. Pirates committed unspeakable atrocities on the high seas which should not be romanticized. And fall is glorious. May each of you partake, behold, and cherish it, etc. For it is vanishing. Poignantly.  As shown by this picture (which someone should really draw):



So some unexpected events resulting in back-to-back interstate travel totally blew my cotton candy plans to smithereens. Well postponed them, anyway. Cotton magic is still nigh.

In the meantime, I need to set the record straight on a few allegations that arose in the comment section of my last post. Beginning with: Was I fired from my first real job at Cornucopia in the Valley Mall? Or did I walk away and never look back? Or did I simultaneously quit while being fired? Well, there’s only one way to find out: my totally unbiased fictional portrayal of something that happened almost 20 years ago.

To set the scene: Cornucopia was a flavored popcorn/smoothie/cotton candy counter in the mall owned by Linda Miller, my best friend’s mom. It was a humble little shop in one of those quiet annexes, the only traffic drawn from the interior entrance of the movie theater. People would stop there, stuff a bag of popcorn or a wad of cotton candy under their clothes and proceed to the theater. Kids with braces, named Billy, would approach from oblique angels and their mothers would shriek, “No Popcorn, Billy! Not for another five months!” Billy would whine a bit and move along.

The year is 1991. This is my best approximation of what happened:

Me: So this place sells carnival snacks and whatnot.

Danielle:It’s going to be so cool to work together! Nothing could go wrong ever!

Me: What the hell is that? (pointing to thing)

Danielle: Oh that’s the popcorn kettle. Each kind of popcorn has a different recipe and is set on a different timer and then there’s this thermometer for the caramel and chocolate and when this bell dings you add the white cheddar or yellow cheddar or sour cream and chives or cajun powder. But sometimes it’s nuts. We have four kinds of nuts. And you’re going to want to stir really fast, but with a light touch. You’re going to want to do a little wrist flick like this but only for 30 seconds and then you just stir regular.

Me:That’s funny. So where’s the recipes?

Danielle: I can’t tell you that. I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you.

Me: Or you tell me and I kill you.

Danielle: Or I tell you and we both kill ourselves in a suicide pact.

Me: Or you could tell some passer-by, kill him, and I would just happen to overhear.

Danielle:Or I could tell no one and we could both live a normal, productive life…

(Eight minutes later:)

Danielle: Or I could mail it to you and you kill the mailman.

Me: Or you could tell me face to face and I shoot at an elk. Why is this clumping together?

Danielle: You aren’t stirring fast enough.

Me: Let’s write a jingle about stirring faster so I remember to stir faster.

Danielle: Let’s draw a diagram.

Me: Let’s write a dramatic monologue about a confused girl working at a popcorn shop named Mimosa Rose.

Me: She was sent here from Bombay and she can’t uncross her eyes.

Danielle: A bounty hunter is trying to find her because she swallowed a very large lapis lazuli as a baby and it is still lodged in her stomach

Me: He just flew over on the Concord from Paris. He is now at JCPenney trying on a pair of pleated pants. He is sticking his gun under the waistband of his newly purchased pleated pants…His name is Vikram.

Danielle: He has stopped at Hallmark, he is looking wistfully at a Precious Moments figurine.

Me: Now he is at Zales…he could just buy himself a lapis lazuli at Zales.

Danielle: Yeah! But still he approaches…closer and closer he comes. His footsteps resound on the newly waxed…

(The popcorn clumps beyond reason. Enter Danielle’s mother.)

(Ten minutes later:)

Danielle: Mimosa Mukergee Rose! You have eluded me for the last time!

Me: I stirring poppycorn. I in America now.

Danielle: You have something I want!

Me: Customers waiting. Six customers.

Danielle: No, there are only three customers!

Me: Looks like six to me, because of my crossed eyes.

Danielle (cornering Mimosa with stirring stick): I must have that precious stone!!!

Me: (earpiercing shriek)

(Customers leave. Enter Danielle’s mother.)

(Thirty minutes later:)

Me: You again?!

Danielle: Yes it is I. Vikram of the Brahmin class. My face was scalded with hot caramel but I still have the use of my left eye.

Me: But last time you said that the time before that was last time I eluded you.

Danielle: No that was the last time.

Me: You lied!

Danielle: Yes and there is plenty more dishonesty where that came from.

Me: I makey the cottoned candy. Please come back after business hours.

Danielle: Not without my precious lapis lazuli!

Me: But it is part of me now. It has grafted to my stomach lining.

Danielle: Well, then, I will have to remove your entire stomach.

Me: You mustn’t! I need my stomach for digestion!

(Paper cotton candy stick grazes motor and is shredded to confetti. Enter Danielle’s mother.)

One day later: I receive word from Danielle that her mom has made the new work schedule and I am not on it.

One week later: I receive a paycheck, my one and only paycheck, for $34.78 which I never cash because I lose it.

Two weeks later: Vikram finally gets his lapis lazuli.

In hindsight,  it would seem like I was fired. Except does it count as being fired if you were hoping beyond all hope that you would be fired? Because the job was way too difficult? Because you knew you would never again be allowed to work the same shift as your best friend? Because you were now freaking terrified of the cotton candy machine? Because you were never really hired in the first place other than a very flimsy verbal agreement that you would “try it out?”

Gray. It is all very hazy and gray. But we can certainly not say that I was “fired” in the traditional sense of the word. And now that that’s settled, let’s never talk about this incident again. As long as we all, all of us reading and writing this blog, shall live.

Spoiler Alert: Forthcoming Cotton Candy Blog!

Okay, I’m going to be the first to admit that my blog is already boring. I just blogged about water density. Why did I do that? I don’t know. Too late now.

But, dear readers, you should know that my next blog will be written on the subject of that most decadent and evanescent of earthly delights–cotton candy!

My friend, here known as Heggsie, just bought herself a home cotton candy machine. Why? I don’t know. I guess she has a lot of expendable income. Psyche, she doesn’t! That’s what’s so great and magical about it.

Sometime next week we are going to make cotton candy magic and blog about it.

I first made cotton candy magic with my old friend Danielle. Her mom owned a cotton candy machine as part of a business venture. I am no stranger to cotton candy magic. Do you wish I would stop saying cotton candy magic? Okay, I will, but only till next week!

Victorians at the Seashore

Is it wrong to make fun of an entire era? Say the Victorian era?

If it’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.

There is going to be a lot of Victorian bashing here on spartanholiday. The subtitle of this site could be: “In Which the Author Ignorantly, Repeatedly, and Unjustly Ridicules Several Generations of The Queen’s Subjects.”

But look at them. They went swimming in frocks, and pantaloons, and hats. They had a funny way of talking, walking (as evidenced by the above picture), and fainting (from hysterics). They were stiff, starched, yet perishingly dainty–not all of them of course, but the funniest ones. I don’t think there is any one era I would rather mock out than the Victorians. Maybe the ancient Egyptians…

So, Victorians. I could start with their drafty parlors.  I could start with cultural artifacts like Waterloo teeth (early dentures made from the teeth of convicts, war dead, raided corpses, etc). We have the Victorians sugar cane empire to thank for our everlasting mania for sweets. Jam on their toast, sugar in their tea, cookies at every clock chime. Surprise–their teeth rotted out. Let’s go borrow some teeth from our criminal friends… But I think, instead, I’ll start with a particular oceanic belief of the Victorians, as told to me by Simon Winchester, author of Atlantic.

Like its subject, Atlantic is vast, and billowing, and epic, and kind of smoky blue in color. There are pictures—all manner of boats, and lighthouses, and seaside precipices. Printed across the inside cover is a photo of great steam ships coming into port—thick hawser ropes in the foreground, tinny water, onlookers in their rain slickers and porkpie hats—that sort of thing, which is the sort of thing I like.

Simon Winchester finds Victorians hilarious too, citing their belief that at great depth, water compresses…so that as you descend through the ocean, the water becomes more viscous, moving from light and splashy water, to syrup, to marmalade, to sludge, to plaster until the ocean’s bottom where the water is impenetrable, thick as concrete. The heavier the object, the deeper it can sink. This meant that there were different strata of sunken objects of different weights–a sunken object parfait, if you will. Like this:


So there you have it, the first in a repeating series about fanciful Victorian notions. It’s okay to laugh, we here in the information age know pretty much everything about everything. That is the truth to which we modestly cling. Okay, we don’t know what happens to the energy and mass sucked into a black hole, but we have some pretty good hunches. Or at least I do. And we know to swing our arms normally, casually, when we stroll on the beach.

Hence our magnificent confidence.

Note: The HMS Victoria was accidentally rammed by another British battleship and sunk off the coast of Tripoli. This happened for no good reason at all. Just Victorians being funny.