As a pre-Valentine’s Day surprise for my husband, I planned a wonderfully romantic dinner for two. The highlight of the meal was the stuffed pasta shells which he adores but that I rarely fix because it makes a mess of the kitchen. In addition to the candlelit ambience, I had devised a beautiful centerpiece ironically inspired by the 2006 movie “The Break-Up” starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. In the movie, Jennifer’s character asks her boyfriend (played by Vince Vaughn) to bring home 12 lemons for their dinner party centerpiece. Unfortunately, we never get to see the citrussy main attraction because he only brings home 3 lemons. (Apparently, he never listens, which is one of the factors leading to the break-up.)
So, I was left to my own imagination to figure out what a lemon centerpiece might look like. My only clue was that it would require 12 lemons. (Not 3, but 12.) I put 12 lemons in a bowl and it looked like—well, 12 lemons in a bowl. So I added some yellow flowers that I bought on my third trip to the grocery that day and voila!—a bright, cheerful centerpiece was born.
And it was a good thing that the centerpiece was so cheerful, because what happened next did NOT make me happy. With T-minus 45 minutes, I raced to take a bath and get dressed. In the 10 minutes that I was in the tub my dog managed to steal a purple pen from my purse and eat it on the orange wool entrance-way rug. Then, with ink-covered paws, he walked on the hardwood floors to the living room rug, then popped up onto the sofa and later trekked to his water bowl. It didn’t take advanced sleuthing skills to determine the sequence of events. The track of purple doggie prints, ink splattered everywhere, the remains of half a pen and the fact that my once yellow-looking lab mutt was now sporting purple paws and lips told the whole story.
T-35 minutes: Panic ensues. Dripping wet, and naked except for a towel, I dash across the living room praying that the blinds are closed and cursing my dog who looks utterly un-phased. I quickly wipe the ink off the hardwoods. “Thank God, it comes off!”
T-33 minutes: I frantically grab my phone and Google “How to remove ink stains from carpet”. First suggestion is rubbing alcohol. I looked in the medicine cabinet and we don’t have any. “Crap!”
T-31 minutes: Second recommendation on the list is to dab a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar on the offending stain. In my panic, instead of dabbing, I dump. Now there are mounds of white baking soda scattered from the front door to the living room, and when the vinegar is added they bubble over like little volcanoes spewing purple-tinted lava. I begin scrubbing furiously. (Which is exactly what Google said not to do.) The stains remain and the damn dog is smiling (laughing, actually), “Bugger off, Hooper!”
T-10 minutes: I’m freezing. I’m still naked and wet! Shit! “Please God let my husband be running late.” After insisting my husband be home promptly at 8pm I was now wishing for a small traffic jam or an interstate construction hold up. I spend my few precious remaining minutes recovering all the stains with baking soda. I prefer the “Pompeii ash-covered look” to the “my dog slaughtered Barney the purple dinosaur” crime scene.
T-5 minutes: Fastest getting dressed and made-up in the history of womankind. “Maybe he’ll assume my heavy breathing is in anticipation of our romantic evening?” Not a chance. My tear-stained face will give me away not to mention the powdery mounds throughout the house.
The dog is barking like a banshee. My husband is home.
After a quick explanation of the day’s crazy events, several more ineffective scoldings to our dog, and a few very large glasses of wine, we did finally sit down to a great meal and a relaxing rest of the evening. It’s just ink-stained stuff, and in the grand scheme of things, not that big of a deal.
By now you are probably thinking that this is a “making lemonade out of lemons” story, and you are right. Literally. My centerpiece flowers finally died several days ago and now I am left with a bowl full of 12 lemons and nothing planned for dinner tonight.
T-3 hours: Time to Google, “Recipes using lemons.”