Step Away From the Chocolate

Various types of chocolate.

Image via Wikipedia

I had a bad week. You know those types of weeks: the ones where anything and everything can go wrong—the type of week where if you can imagine it happening, it will?  Well, for the sake of keeping this story short, I’ll just state for the record, it was a bad week.

Now, if you’re anything like me, when you’ve had a bad week, or a bad day, or are feeling down, lonely, or unappreciated, the first thing you’ll do is head over to any store, preferrably one that’s very close, and buy a bag, or box, of chocolates. For me, it has to be milk chocolate, with the exception of York peppermint patties, and it could be ANY BRAND OF CHOCOLATE. Hersheys, Godiver, doesn’t matter. In fact, let me go and get the box that I’m currently pigging out on. Be right back.

Okay, I’m back. So I was thinking. Why chocolate? Why do we go to chocolate when we need comfort? I know it tastes rich, sweet, and creamy. I know it releases endorphines, which calm us. But why do we eat so much of it? Read this to find out why.

The other day, after one of my numerous incidences, I jumped into my Mentley and headed over to Target and bought the king-size bag of York peppermint patties. I didn’t even get in my car when I ripped open the bag and popped four of them into my mouth. Talk about eyeballs rolling to the back of your head. Wooooo—wee. Those little patties are to die for. Of course, once I got home and tried to eat another one, my boyfriend came into the kitchen, watched me for several seconds, and then yelled, “Step away from the Yorks! I repeat. Step away from the Yorks!”

Damn it. Busted.

They can make a pill for every ailment. They should definitely make one for chocolate addiction.


Mr. Editor, can I place my comma here ?

Question. And I want you to really give this fair consideration.  Why are there so many grammar rules?
I know when I speak, I pause. We all do. Now. If I want to write what I speak, I will place a comma where I would be pausing. Right? You with me so far?

I was taught that when I write, I should place a comma where I would naturally be pausing so that the reader of my writing would get the gist of my personality and intention.  Let me give you an example. Below, I’ll write two sentences.

I went to the store and I bought candy and ice cream and cake because those are my favorite things.

I went to the store, and I bought candy, and ice cream, and cake, because those are my favorite things.

The commas in the second sentence are where I would be pausing if I was telling this to you face to face.  BUT the comma before “because” is a no-no, and the reason it’s a no-no is because someone, somewhere, in some point in time said so. Who? Who made up the rules? Some of these grammar rules are so ridiculous that it’s my belief that they were created to separate the college scholars from the middle class. The scholars of yester-year wanted to feel superior and decided to make rules. Those who could follow the rules were considered intelligent, and those who didn’t were deemed “regular”.  

Here’s another question. Tell me why semi-colons and colons were created? I know the grammar books tell us why, but why? Below are examples using colons according to the grammar rules and according to the rules that should be.

My mom gave me a grocery list of: apples; oranges; pears, and milk.

My mom gave me a grocery list of apples, oranges, pears, and milk.

The second example looks fine to me. It sounds fine to me. Why the damn colon and semi colons? Because the grammar books say so. But why? Who gives a $hit about colons and semi colons? Who needs to clarify that there is a list being made and because a list is being made that it HAS to have a colon. Is anyone reading this getting my point? Why all the hard work? Why the all the confusion? What is the purpose? A person reading my way of writing the sentence gets it perfectly. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that a person reading both sentences would feel more connected with my way than the other way and that’s because the majority of humans don’t write professionally. Who gives a rat’s ass if a colon is used or if a comma is placed before the word “because”?

Here’s another crazy rule. Don’t place a comma before the word “that”.  Example below.

There are so many people in the world that it’s just become impossible to count them.

If I were telling you this to your face, and I was trying to relay my concern about over population and it’s affect on the world, my pause would be right after the word “world”, and that’s because I would be trying to express the emphasis on the second half of the sentence.

So if I wrote the sentence with a comma, There are so many people in the world, that it’s just impossible to count them, you’d know that my concern is relayed in the second half of the sentence. But that isn’t the way we’re allowed to write it. Allowed!! Do you get me? We aren’t allowed!! The grammar police say we aren’t allowed, and if we do write like the way I just did, they will ban you to the isle of STUPIDOS where you shant never write aGAINE!


And last, but certainly not least, is one of my favorite rules. Do not place a comma between a sentence that has an independent clause and a dependent clause. HUH????? Example below.

I went to the city and got lost.

A comma after the word “city” is sooo wrong that if you dare to place it there, you shall be whipped and hung out to dry. Why you ask? Because the second half of the above sentence is incomplete. It doesn’t have all the good stuff, like a noun, object, and verb—together. Yeah I know. It’s nuts.

I believe that spelling should be perfect just so we can all understand the meaning of what is being written but if I get going on spelling rules then this blog will be a book and I’m in the middle of trying to get one published well, you know . . .

Are you reading me, sweethearts?

when to admit that you’re no longer cool

Something very scary happened to me the other day, and I feel that it definitely deserves mentioning. While adventuring through the town of East Hampton, New York, I heard a loud, “Val? Val deFrancis?”
I swiveled my head in ten directions and then I spotted a friend whom I hadn’t seen in years, who had gotten married and moved away. As we hurried toward each other, laughing and screaming like a bunch of valley girls, two really, really, I mean really, hot guys walk past us. With one eye on them and the other on my friend, we embraced and jumped up and down as we jibbered our hellos.

“Oh my God, it’s been forever. How the hell are you?” she says.

“I’m doing great,” I say, “and you? Gosh, I cannot believe that I’m seeing you here. Are you alone? Where’s the hub?”

“No, I’m with my twin boys.”

I could actually feel my eyes stretching beyond their normal limits. “You had twins? And you never called to tell me?”

“I know, I know. I’m so bad. What can I say? Life just got in the way. Forgive me?”

“Yeah, I forgive you. It did the same for me too. So, where are your boys? Is Josh watching them?” Josh is her husband.

She waves her hand at me and laughs. “No, silly. They’re over by Babette’s. I’ll call them over.”

I turn to see where she’s looking, and I turn back. “Where?”  I’m expecting to see two little boys with their nanny or grandmother or something.

“Right there”, she says, pointing her finger. “I’ll call them over.  Cody? John?”

Remember those two hot guys that I mentioned earlier? Well they’re walking across the street and heading directly toward us. They’re now in front of me. “Val, these are my boys. This is Cody and this is John.”

Okay. This is where I have to stop. Did you ever have something so embarrassing happen that you knew your embarrassment was giving you away? I could feel my face getting really red, as though they could read my mind. These guys were so hot that warning signs should have been tattooed on their foreheads.

“Hey,” they both say in perfect unison. They’re twins, remember?

“Hey, nice to meet you,” I try to say casually.

Then one of them gets a thought. “Hey, Mom, isn’t she the one who was in those pictures you showed us a few weeks ago?”

My eyes shoot a beam of WTF into her face. “Pictures? Which ones, Donna?”

He answers for her. “She took out pictures from when you guys used to go clubbin’. Man, you used to wear your hair really high. How’dja get it to stay up like that?” His gorgeous twin laughs.

“Let’s just say that Tresemme stayed in business because of me . . . and her.” I used my head to point to his mother.

“Tresemme?” he asks, totally clueless.

Donna and I just rolled our eyes.

After exchanging a few more words, we exchange cell numbers and went on our not-so-merry ways.

Okay. I explained this to you because this little episode had an impact on me. Later that night, after coming out of a restaurant, I get the urge to call Donna. She answers the phone all bubbly. I suppose she knew it was me; caller ID. “What are you doing now?” she wails into the phone.

“Nothing, that’s why I’m calling you. Feel like company?”

“Yes, yes! Come over. I’ll make drinks and we can look at pictures and . . .”

The rest is history. After leaving Donna’s that night, I did a lot of thinking. And when Vallie thinks too much, it’s not good. I want to know one thing. When the hell did I get old? When did it happen? I used to be young, adorable, and so freakin’ cool. Did I fall asleep under a tree for a century?

Looking at Donna’s pictures, and seeing how high I wore my hair, and how freaky I used to dress, brought back so many great memories. Where did those days go? Back in my day, the song 1999, by Prince, was numero uno on the charts, and my friends and I used to say to each other, “Shit, could you imagine the year 1999? What the hell would it be like?”

And now it’s pushing into 2011! Good grief? But here’s the thing. I don’t feel old. I don’t look old. I don’t dress old. I don’t think old . . . or do I?

How do you know you’re getting, let’s say . . . mature?

1)      When you hear thumping rap music coming from the car next to you and you close your window because you find it totally annoying.

2)      When you fall asleep during Grey’s Anatomy, and it just started.

3)      When you keep referring to your younger years as ‘back in the day’.

4)      When you really dig hearing an oldie come on the radio and you crank it up.

5)      When you incorporate prunes and apples and wheat germ into your diet to keep ‘regular’.

6)      When you wear a hat, a scarf, boots, and a long quilted down coat and it’s only 50 degrees outside.

7)      When you watch someone twenty years younger than you make the same mistake that you’ve already made a hundred times and know they’re really going to pay for it.

8)      When the trip to the dentist requires taking full mouth impressions.

9)      When you’re told it’s almost time for a colonoscopy.

Guys, when did I get old? Or, is it that I’m just getting better? Oh, and one more thing; Sunsweet Pitted Prunes really do work. Just sayin’.

Toast with gobbs of salted, melted butter


I love toast with butter. Don’t you? I can eat a dozen slices of that salty, buttery yumminess. And the bread? It can be any type of bread–makes no difference to me. If it wasn’t for the fact that it was so damn fattening, I’d eat it every day. Picture it. When the toast is done, it pops up from the toaster–all golden brown and hot. You grab it quickly so you don’t burn your fingers. Then you throw that bad-boy onto a plate and slather it with gobbs of creamy, salty, softened butter. And as you spread the buttery wonderment, you watch it melt . . . and ooze . . . and drip onto the plate. You have to eat it right then or else you will die. Two bites! And then it’s gone.
You look back at the toaster, and then you look over to the bread–the butter is sitting between the two, minding its own business, and you have to fight off the temptation to make four more slices. Dear God, help me!

I have a confession. Some days, I get out of control, and I smear on raspberry jam, too. The saltiness of the butter combined with the sweetness of the jam should be outlawed. Dear Father, why did you make me a fat-mobile?

But then something occured to me. As I stare at the bread, I begin to wonder if toasting it reduces the calories. I mean, does toasting do something to the molecular structure of the bread, which in turn, disintergrates the glucose; whereby, making it carb-free?

It does, correct? Okay then. I think I’ll have another slice.