Take, for instance, the gingerbread house. If you've been a reader of this blog for more than a few minutes, or if you've ever spent any time with me at all, you know I'm definitely not the kind of person who trots around the kitchen in an apron, baking delicious treats for my family. In fact, I've made exactly one cake in my entire life, and that was from a mix. I've made cookies a total of 3 times, also from mixes. My strategy thus far has been to take the considerable time and effort that I know is required to learn how to be good cook, and instead devote that time and effort to perfecting my drinking skills--which I have to say, has paid off. I'm excellent at that. But we make choices in life, and inevitably, when we choose Thing A, Thing B necessarily suffers. Thus, while I was out modeling myself after Dudley Moore in Arthur, my skills in the kitchen shriveled and died, along with two-thirds of my liver. That's the best explanation I can give you for the horror you're about to see here.
My neighbor bought two gingerbread house kits; one for her and one for me. Her idea was for the two of us to hang out together at one of our houses and assemble our gingerbread houses while her daughter and my son played underfoot. Quaint, no? Charming, even. I thought it was a very sweet idea, and really nice of her to think of me.
I should have known how it would turn out. My neighbor is good at everything. Everything! She's a great cook, an excellent host, she's crafty, and she can successfully grow all manner of flowers and vegetables without killing them in a matter of a week like I would. It's not easy living mere feet from such an overachiever, and I'd probably hate her if not for the fact that she feeds me from time to time, and brings me desserts or glasses of wine now and then. Instinctively, she must know the secret to keeping bitter, underachieving neighbors from gutting her with her own lemon zester is to ply them with food and booze. Smart girl.
At any rate, the Great Gingerbread House Fiasco netted me a few of the saddest photos in the history of photography. Below, see her adorable little specimen on the left, and my post-Hurricane Katrina model on the right.
Need a closer look? Here's Bree Van De Camp's house, zoomed in for your inspection and admiration: And no, it's not done yet in these photos. I'm only showing you how far each of us was able to get in the given time. I'm sure it got even more picturesque and fabulous when she added the final touches later at her own house. Look, she even remembered to put a doorknob on the front door!
By shocking contrast, here's my own Keebler Elf Haunted House:
I know it looks like I put it together one-handed in the shower while I shaved my legs with the other hand, but I assure you, we completed our projects under the exact same conditions. And to answer your question, I was indeed stone-cold sober at the time. Maybe that was the problem.
The next day, when my son, almost two years old, would amble around the kitchen and point to this new addition sitting on the countertop, looking inquisitively at me for the word to identify it, I would hang my head and mutter, "Uh...gingerbread house," and then quickly distract him, ashamed of the lie I was telling the impressionable, trusting boy. Because it's really not a gingerbread house, is it? It's a fucking monstrosity, a slab of iced shit, but it's not nice to say things like that to a toddler, so I lied and let him think that gingerbread houses all look like they've been peed on belligerent, fairy tale giants. One of these days he's going to see a picture of a normal, perfect gingerbread house in a book or on TV, and he's going to swivel his head to glare at me, and shout accusingly, "You lied, mommy."
A day and a half later, I did the right thing: I chucked it in the trash, putting us all out of our misery. Well, after I ate half of a roof panel. Fairy tale giant pee tastes better than you'd think.