Happy Happy Joy Joy: Things I Learned from My Mother (in the Kitchen)

A new feature here at kurmudgeon.net, something positive and happy. Contrarian? Yeah, that’s me. Granted, it seems like the life of a grump is nothing but sorrow and disappointment… at my fellow humans, just to be clear… it is not. We do have our moments of happiness. So here we go, things I learned from my Mother in the kitchen…

Toast Your Buns: That’s right, whenever you are eating a hot dog or a hamburger, or something else similar, toasting of the buns is mandatory. It makes all the difference in the world, really it does. An untoasted bun is a drag on the otherwise goodness of your lovingly prepared meal. It’s like putting cold syrup on pancakes (we’ll get to that in a minute)… why would any sane person do that? Do you not love your spouse and kids and friends?

Now, I *can* eat a burger or a hot dog on an untoasted bun, and I will when visiting others, and I will be polite and smile and not say a word, but I will also consider you to be an unwashed heathen for being so gauche. And to subject your guests to that level of atrocity?!? You might as well have horns and hooves, you have slighted my existence that much.

Which brings us to…

Heat Your Syrup: Putting cold (room temperature equals cold in this situation) on pancakes or waffles or french toast is simply an abomination. As with toasted buns, warm syrup makes all the difference. The two go together like, well, peas and carrots.

Think about this. You cook waffles. Cooked, they’re hot. Duh! They’re intended to be hot. Hot is good. Then you slather it in a cold sticky substance that brings the hot food down to some middling barely warm room temperature that is now unappealing and unsatisfying. Congratulations, you have now created a sweet semi-solid version of gruel. (Or grits, po-tay-to, po-tah-to.)

The importance of both of these were taught to me by my mother, and has been reinforced by experiencing the dreary and unappetizing versions of people who are too lazy to do these added little, yet tremendously significant, “extras”.

A third thing taught to me by my step-mother when I was a teen…

An appreciation for mushrooms: I never had a mushroom until I was 14 years old. They simply were not served in our home. Never experienced garlic, either, my Mother would simply leave them out of a recipe if she did not like them. Anyways, a mushroom is a wonderful thing, to be sauteed, or roasted, with some garlic and butter, or whatever. Truly a food from the Heavens.

Some people don’t like mushrooms, though. I often ask people why. If your answer is that you don’t like the consistency and or taste, that’s cool, I can accept that. But some people respond with, “It’s a fungus!”, to which my response is: 😐

Yes, it’s a fungus. Sooooooooo?

As we conclude, let’s reiterate that shortcuts in food preparation is for the uncouth. Be couth.

Equal Time: Yes, Men Have Their Annoying Quirks, Too

I used to live in the downtown district of a very small town. Lived there for 15 years, as a matter of fact. Being that it was literally an old-fashioned small town downtown, I did not have a driveway or a garage. I had on-street parking in which I had to vie for a parking space every single day. I could usually get pretty close to home, but it was no guarantee. Simply put, I hated that.

What was especially not optimal was that I preferred to wash my own cars. I will now do a touch-less automatic car wash, but I do not do any automatic car wash that drags carpet across my vehicle or spins abrasive brushes against it. Washing one’s own car is the way to go, and gets the best results.

Whenever I could get a parking space right out front on a Friday or Saturday night, I would drag the hose and bucket and soap out the next morning and wash my car in the street. Just me and some shorts and a tank top and some sandals and a hose and a bucket and some soap, and… old men.


Just as women have that chemical imbalance that kicks in at middle age regarding their shopping rituals that I mentioned in my last post, men I think experience a similar brain chemical imbalance that kicks in right on their 60th birthday.

Obviously, because I was washing my car on the street, and it was downtown, people would often walk by. Pretty much everyone would look, some would point while whispering to their companion, probably wondering who the hell washes their own car anymore to begin with, but would never say anything. Except the old men.

Always, without fail, some old codger would sidle up to me, and smile in his charming my-dentures-are-about-to-fall-out kind of way, and say… and this is pretty much verbatim, it was like they all had the same script… “How about I pull mine in behind you and you can do mine next?”


Oh, lordy, you’d swear they just made up the most uproariously hilarious and completely original, joke. Wow. I’d never heard that one before, by golly. They’d all get some version of a belly laugh as they wandered off feeling so satisfied with themselves. If they were strolling with their wife they’d re-tell it to them, usually while the wife was rolling her eyes.

And I single out old men for a reason. It was only them. Never kids. Never younger men. Never ever a woman, at all, ever. Just old men. I will strive to never be “that guy”.

By now you’re wondering, “What did Ken do?”

At first I did an eye-rolled laugh and quoted a price of $50 (a couple guys were actually offended by the price, go figure). Then after awhile I just said, “No thanks.” I eventually just gave them a blank stare and didn’t respond at all. That last one was the most satisfying to me, as they seemed to enjoy comebacks, and didn’t know what to do with no response at all.

Fast forward to today, and I have a driveway and a garage, and I used to still wash my own car in my own driveway… and loved it… but the last several years have been using automatic touch-less car washes, instead. I miss washing the car… really, I do… but I don’t miss getting dizzy every time I bent over that came with my own advancing age.

Buttons, and Zippers, and Snaps… Oh My!

Forgive me if I’m being sexist, or misogynist, or some other gender-related *ist, but I can’t help but notice differences between the sexes.  I’m sorry… not really, just being polite… but there ARE difference between the sexes.  It just is.

Younger women don’t do this, so there must be some chemical imbalance that kicks in in women at roughly the age of 35.  Maybe some sudden draining of estrogen, or something.  Beats me, I don’t always get women to begin with… and from what I’m told, neither do other women.  But I digress…

They start becoming obsessed with their pocketbooks.

I don’t mean about the pocketbook itself, necessarily, though they do fawn all over how cute it is.  No, I’m talking about the organizational aspect of the pocketbook.  Their favorites seem to be the pocketbooks with 75 little parallel compartments sized just right for cash, credit cards, and so on.  And it’s not simple like a man’s wallet.  No.  It’s all safely secured behind a mind-boggling series of buttons and zippers and snaps.  Carefully designed to thwart even the most tenacious thief, I’m thinking.  That has to be the mindset in even designing something like this.  Here’s what I observed just a few days ago…

…A 45-ish year old lady is at the checkout in front of me.  She waits until all her items are rung up and is told the total, THEN she decides to pull her pocketbook from her purse.  This delay in starting the process of paying is inconsiderate and bad enough, but then begins the money extracting ritual.  Just shoot me now, it’s gonna be a long one.

She pulls the pocketbook from her purse… she lays it on the counter… she flips it over to the correct side… she unsnaps the little buckle-like snap on the outside… she opens the pocketbook… she flips the pocketbook over to the correct side (again)… she unzips a compartment, which exposes several smaller compartments… she fiddles and thumbs through what must have been ten little pockets… she extracts $10 from the cash compartment… the total is $10.72… she flips the pocketbook around… she unsnaps the coin area… she carefully counts out exactly 75 cents and hands it to the cashier… she then closes the pocketbook and pushed it away from her… (I’m watching all this in awe of the mind-numbing process that I’m sure happens in her life several times a day)… the cashier hands her 3 cents in change… she flips the pocketbook over to access it (at least she did reseal it)… she carefully puts the 3 cents in the coin area… she snaps the coin area shut… the cashier hands her the receipt…. she browses for another as yet untouched compartment… she carefully and precisely folds the receipt and places it in the new compartment… she then proceeds to do most of the same thing to close it all up (I’ll spare you the play-by-play on this one)… ALL WHILE STILL STANDING THERE WITH BOTH ME AND THE CASHIER STARING AT HER IN DISBELIEF!!!  And of course the pocketbook must be replaced in just the right place in the purse.

😐  I can’t.  I just can’t.  The cashier gives me an “I’m sorry.” look, but it’s not her fault.

And God forbid writing a check is involved.  It is also my observations in life that habitual check writing starts for women around age 35.  Not younger women.  Almost never men.  And generation seems to make no difference.  When younger women of any generation who never did this before reach a certain age, it kicks in, out comes the pocketbook and the checkbook.  Now, about a week ago, I did see an older man do something similar with his wallet and cash, but that was a an anomaly.  He was also looking around 70-ish.

It’s got to be a chemical imbalance, or something.

May the 4th Be With You…*facepalm*

May the 4th be with you.


Really, it sounds like it was coined by a 7th grader who thinks he’s way more creative and pithy than he really is. And I specify “he” because, while women use it, women generally aren’t this juvenile to actually make it up. You’re not cute or funny.

People who say this deserve a throat punch. It’s one of those phrases that was mildly cute and earned a chuckle… if not an outright eye roll… the first time you heard it, but grows stale and lame after that.

Of course, these same people will, whenever an annoyance is expressed, purposely do said annoyance… I’m looking at you, Jill… which just adds to the vexation factor. And they know this, of course. That’s precisely why they do it.  People are so special.


2(of an explanation or excuse) unconvincingly feeble.
‘the TV licensing teams hear a lot of lame excuses’

2.1 (of something intended to be entertaining) uninspiring and dull.
‘I found the programme pretty lame and not very informative’


Look, it’s not original. Let it go. It’s been done to death. Let it die.