The Negress's Mom at college graduation

The Negress. The 10. Family codes.

You may have noticed that the Negress spruced up the blog a bit, which is why the list is a little late this week. Hope you like it. Anyway, every family has some secret phrases and words that they understand and convey meaning without letting the rest of the world in on things. Sometimes they can save a family member from public embarrassment. Other times they can provoke laughter.  Some are straightforward but a little weird. So, without further ado, here are 10 of the Negress’ favorites.

1. “Village.” A signal that you are slack-jawed and about to drool on yourself. Origin: The Negress’ mother saying, “Shut your mouth. You look like the village idiot.”

2. “Thumbs out from the waist.” Expression of joy. Invented by the Negress on a cruise ship for no good reason.

3. “Spiders where you have to. Spiders where you may.” The Negress has no idea what this means.

4. “Take a cold potato and wait.” Get over yourself. Nobody cares about your pitiful personal issues.

5. “No matter where you go, you’re still po’k and beaners.” Do not put on airs and get above your raising. Thank the Negress’ maternal grandfather for this one.

6. “I have other plans.” The Negress’ father in response to admonitions to “Have a nice day.”

7. “Chamber of Horrors.” Used by the Negress to torment her sister after a visit to same in London. She suspects it still might work, but she’s gotten nicer over time.

8. “You are getting on my one last nerve.” Said by the Negress’ teacher mother more than once.

9. “Red China.” Putting obscene amounts of ketchup into the mashed potatoes served with the weekly presentation of the dreaded beef liver.

10. “When I’m gone, you can say I dug my grave with my dick.” Said by one of the Negress’ uncles. She would not dream of identifying which one. Both are dead.

The Negress. The 10. Overrated.

The Negress has been around. She’s well aware that a lot of people yearn to be very cool and such. Those people hear about things and think that if they could do them, the experience would be awesome. Trust the Negress here. No a thousand times. This s not a hipster thing where coolness depends on obscurity, aggressive facial hair and waxing of same. This is regular people don’t-bother stuff.

Herewith a small sample of the overrated:

1. Backstage. At one well-known rock club in DC said area smelled like the broken sewer pipe that ran below it. The Negress also remembers a mouse falling out of the rafters at an offshoot of Madison Square Garden. The mouse barely missed plunging down the outfit she was wearing.

2. Anything bespoke, artisanal  or curated, loosely translated as overpriced, annoying and hoarded.

3. Radicchio.

4. A salon (not hair, but banter)

5.  Uni

6. Oysters (in the interests of full disclosure, the Negress is allergic. But they also look kind of like snot.)

7. The New Yorker (eight pages on Joe Biden? Really?)

8. Vanity Fair (How many Princess Di and Kennedy covers can the world stand? Not to mention the story every issue on some European industrial magnate or down-at-the-heels royalty with bastard children and mistresses all over the place).

9. Molecular Gastronomy. If you are Ferran Adria, Grant Achatz or Wylie Dufresne yes. Everybody else, out of the pool.

10. Brunch.



The Negress. The 10. Dating

The Negress retired from this pastime a while ago and she’s not the only one. Her colleagues at the Cube Farm, all half her age, went on and on at the company picnic about how miserable the concept of dating is. So herewith, some observations and advice:

1. If you meet someone on either Grindr or Tinder, it is not a date. It’s heeding nature’s call in a way.

2. Chris Rock once knowingly said, “When you go on a first date with someone, you don’t meet them. You meet their representative.”

3. If you must date, try to find an activity that will alleviate either long silences or long-windedness. The Negress strongly suggests bowling.

4. Put away your phone unless you have a pre-arranged  with a friend to call you after you surreptitiously text that you think you might not get out of this alive.

5. Try to avoid saying things like, ‘”I’ve been on a wonderful journey of self-discovery lately,” “You gonna eat that?, “My mother is the only woman for me” and “Check out that hottie over there.”

6. Assuming you get a relationship out of this, everything that will happen in the relationship plays out on the first date, e.g. guy coming over and asking for your number while he’s on a date with someone else and you’re out with the girls. This does not bode well.

7. Instead of putting a ring on it, put a vibrator near it. You make sounder relationship decisions when you’ve spent an evening stacking up orgasms like cordwood.

8. Guys not so much. They get hungry again immediately. Trust the Negress. Plus, longer recovery interval, which may be a question of blood flow.

9. While online dating is pretty respectable these days, remember the New Yorker cartoon adage that, “on the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.” Words to live by.

10. If you do meet someone who feels like a keeper, you are not dating. You are trying to see if you can hang out with them for an indefinite period. If you don’t like who they are now, do not wait for them to change. Not gonna happen.



The Negress. The 10. Moving

The Negress moved recently to a smaller place and, after thinking other people might want her excess stuff, is donating pretty much all of it to save on storage space rent. She’s moved about 10 times in her life and she’s getting very tired. But some universal truths do attach themselves to the process. Here they are:

1. Don’t.

2. No one is going to want your crap after you’re dead. Behave accordingly. If someone says they want something, consider giving it to them now.

3. You will find as you unpack that 30 percent or more of what you have, you can do without. Especially books.

4. You may find some things in unexpected places, e.g. underwear in with the cookbooks.

5. Avoid using the worst movers on the planet. Furniture as kindling is not a good look.

6. Try not to spend 36 hours straight moving stuff up and down three and a half flights of stairs on one end and  two and a half on the other. The Negress was actually hallucinating at one point.

7. Don’t move. The Negress will say it again, especially if you do not get paid time off.

8. Towels and a suitcase represent an excellent way to transport wine for short distances.

9. If a contractor from a cable and internet provider well known for its shoddy customer service arrives at your door, send them away after complimenting their tattoos. Then wait for the nice, polite actual employee from said entity to address the problem in less than an hour, He also tells you the contractors are idiots.

10. Take a leaf from the Negress’ mother who said, ” I don’t want y’all coming in here after I’m gone and saying, ‘Why in hell did she save this?'” Words to live by. They should ringing in your head as you pack.

The Negress. The 10. Kids just don’t understand.

Thanks to the diversity of her friends, the Negress has received a lot of suggestions for topics for these listicles (yes, somewhere someone is actually using that word for reals), but one that’s trending among her demographic is conversational references about pop culture that various youngsters don’t grok to (that might be one). Take away their smart phones, and watch the gears grind to a halt.

1. Ferrante and Teicher. This duo has not made anyone’s hipster list of so-bad-it’s-good stuff.

2. Marcus Welby. the Negress’ doctor mentioned him to a drug rep to make a point about how primary care physicians live in a whole other world. The drug rep had no idea who that was.

3. Mantovani. See No.1

4. Choosing your long-distance carrier.

The sports model in all its canary glory

The sports model in all its canary glory

5. The sports model. Back in the days of Walkmen and Discmen, there were usually bright or yellow versions with an allegedly waterproof seal. To the Negress’ knowledge, there has never been such a thing for MP3 players.

6. Charo.

7.  Queen For A Day (think a more masochistic version of  “Real Housewives” where women debased themselves for household appliances.)

8. Shopping at Sears for just about everything. Well, maybe Montgomery Ward now and then.

9. Girl Scout shoes in all their un-ironic orthopedic glory.

10.  Who is Art Fleming? If you know, you know.



The Negress. The 10. Advertising

The Negress doesn’t watch “Mad Men” but she loves advertising. She doesn’t really care about the products particularly, but she delights in unseen narratives existing in 15- and 30-second bursts. Thanks to DVRs, you’re seeing a lot more type in ads since words can stay static on the screen while adds are being fast-forwarded. The Negress no longer has a DVR so she watches all the ads. Because for  every “Sons of Anarchy,” there’s another iteration of “Friends,” she’s dividing up this list into five thumps up and five thumbs way down.

The hits:

1. Google. All right, the Negress knows that Google may be more involved in our lives than the NSA, but their ads for Google Work (or whatever they’re calling it) are keepers. The videoconference one is the delight of cube farms everywhere. Also, the Hall and Oates is pretty fab as well. Amusingly enough, the ads are not on YouTube. Maybe the Negress will ping them later.

2. Sprint’s Framily. In the interest of full disclosure, the Negress has been a Sprint customer since you could choose your own long distance. She suspects that, although Sprint probably wasn’t going for this, that the Framily ads reflect how the definition of family has changed in the past few years.

3. Real Men of Genius. The radio versions of these were so funny that the Negress nearly ran off the Pulaski Skyway laughing one morning. Thanks to YouTube, here’s an hour of genius. The beer is crap, but these are funny as all. Also, note that the singer is the “Eye of the Tiger” guy.

4. Although the Negress it tethered to high-speed Internet with a Very Large Company She Refuses to Name, these ads are priceless. Like the aforementioned “Real Men of Genius,” one concept can lend itself to a lot of things.

5. Farmers University. Because you gotta love Perry White/Emil Skoda, a giant blowtorch and dryer lint.


The Misses

1. Any McDonald’s commercial. Until very recently you might have thought eating at McDonald’s required African American customers to, well, coon it up. The company now has a black CEO so perhaps they woke and smelled the cheap coffee.

2. Hooters. Even dragging Jon “Chucky” Gruden into the picture cannot make the concept any more alluring. Especially since the whole premise of the ad is American ignorance of soccer.

3. Victoria’s Secret. The Negress surmises that it isn’t only Red Bull that gives you wings. Huh?

4. Commercials for the egregious summer drama “Black Box.” Being bipolar is not a sexy music video.

5. Jake from State Farm, especially if you have Hulu. Enough said.

The Negress. The 10: Cycling,

Since it’s National Bike to Work Week next week (which is part of National Bike to Work Month in case you weren’t aware), the Negress wants to throw out a few things about her fellow cyclists. Unfortunately most of them are annoying and potentially deadly. With that said, let’s go on:

1. If the Negress cannot drive a car with a cell phone jammed to her ear, you should not steer a bike with one hand in traffic while yammering away.

2. Ditto having earbuds in while riding in traffic. Remember Stop, Look and Listen. Very good ideas all.

The Negress' trusty steed of steel; the car it's attached to is long gone.

The Negress’ trusty steed of steel; the car it’s attached to is long gone.

3. Fixed gear bikes aka fixies should never have left the velodrome. All you hipster assholes riding them here in flat Illinois need to get over yourselves.

4. You are not wearing a helmet. Here in Illinois, you don’t have to. The Negress values what’s in her head so she wears one. Helmets could be designed better, but she can’t do anything about that.

5. Reserve the full European Spandex team kit for a training ride with an actual team. Nothing screams “wannabe” like a beer belly and the whole US Postal mufti. Did you not read the news?

6. Although the Negress loves “Breaking Away,” the correct thing to shout at cyclists when you wish to encourage them is “Allons y.” These days, alas, Italians are to cycling what Silvio Berlusconi is to leadership.

7. Shouting to be mean? “Dope’, Dope’ (can’t do accents here but you get the idea). Think Lance and the late Marco Pantani. However, doping in the Grand Tours has been going on since their inception with amphetamines being the substance of choice in the early19th century. This makes professional cycling resemble professional baseball in the ’70s and ‘

80s (and probably now for that matter).

8. Every cyclist, whether they’ve climbed a three-foot rise on the way to get groceries or have blown through 50 miles of  base building, hears Phil Liggett in their head at some point.

9. Executing an Idaho stop (that is, ignoring a red light due to momentum and a modicum of foolishness) is not uncommon but it is unwise.

10. Ditto riding against traffic unless it’s a very sleepy one way street.

Motorists, you have one to thing to do for the Negress and her fellow gearheads; Don’t open your car door on a busy street without looking to see if a bike is coming. It hurts.