Friday, March 23, 2012

So, Welcome.

I wasn't sure what to call this blog.

I want it to be about life. which means its going to be a gumbo of a blog, cause if life isn't a gumbo, I don't know what is.

(Gumbo, if you've never had the pleasure, is a stew with a little bit of something and a little bit of everything in it.)

I didn't want to limit myself by being too specific,which meant that the first title, the title that I really wanted to use, wouldn't work. (It's in the blog towards the end. Keep reading.) And most of the really good, non-specific titles (The Agony and the Ecstasy, The Help, The Bible) were already taken. And that meant I had to rely on my own mind, wit, and creativity.


I'm always surprised by people who say that they're bored by life. How? With everything that goes on, just in the course of a twenty-four hour day, how do you manage to to be bored? I would pay good money to be be bored sometimes, which leads me, finally, to the event that I wanted to name this blog after.

A few years ago, my husband and I were eating dinner at a small Italian restaurant in our city, the grand and glorious Pittsburgh. The restaurant, now gone, was the old and great kind where meals could and did take three hours to get through, and the conversations between the diners took even longer. the restaurant's area was small, long rather than wide, and, this is a key point, dear reader, had only one door open to the public.

The husband and I were enjoying our meals and talking quietly when, at a family reunion behind us, the family matriarch, an extremely elderly lady who had been possessed of joie de vivre, a walker, and an oxygen tank, suddenly and without question passed way face down in her linguine. Her family, of course, was frozen between shock and despair, and wailing became the order of the day.

Everyone did what they were supposed to do in that kind of a situation. The owner of the restaurant offered his condolences to the family, dialled 911, and comped their check. We, the other diners, all tried to give the grieving family respect by scooting our tables that one extra inch further away that the restaurant's space would allow. The waiters all brought the bereaved an extra helping of garlic bread. The ambulance arrived fast, bringing with it a crew of dedicated workers and a slew of life-saving medical equipment, which with they proceeded to block the door.

The only exit out of this house of pasta and death was gone. The owner wiped his brow for the hundredth time and comped espresso for the house.

My husband was starting to panic. While nobody in the restaurant was too far from the department, we were the closest, and getting to see up close how a start-you-heart-up-with-those-electric-paddle-thingies isn't his idea of a good dinnertime activity. "What do we do?" he whispered urgently. "We're trapped!"

I thought fast. "Order dessert."

"What are you talking about, order dessert? There is a dead-"

Not for the first time in our marriage, and or the last, I interrupted. "Honey, I know there is a dead lady over there face down in her linguine. But we can't do anything about it. And we are trapped here until the ambulance guys are done. So, I'm having tiramasu. And espresso. And probably wine."

"You don't drink."

"I can't think of a better time to pretend that I do. And look, if I get to choose how I die, I would choose this way. In my late nineties, surrounded by family, just had a great meal, giving a bunch of strangers a night they're never going to forget...."

He nodded assent. "Sounds like you."

"Sure does."

So we ordered dessert, and drank some wine. And all of us got out of the restaurant that night, some of us in better shape than others.

So at first, the title of this blog was going to be "what to do when somebody eating at the same restaurant that you're eating in dies and other quandaries", but it was too wordy. Nobody would ever email their friends to tell them to read this great new blog, because it's simply too many words.

Plus, it wouldn't look good on a tee-shirt. You always have to consider the merch angle.

Some people thought I was cold for ordering dessert when there was a dead lady face down in her entree' less than five inches away from me. I choose to think of it as a cheerful willingness to carry on, for which I thought the French word was sangfroid. My friend Kristine, who speaks French fluently, snorted with laughter at this interpretation of the French word. Sangfroid, she informed me, actually means in French something more along the lines of "icy indifference".

Tomato, tomahtoe, ya know?

So the blog is called That Auld Sangfroid Again. Which means either here comes more cheerful willingness to carry on in the face of adversity, or an icy indifference to human suffering.

And there will be more of it. So stay tuned.

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