Archive for May, 2009

Tom’s Shoes

There’s a lot of discussion in the blogging world these days about people using their blogs to promote products without revealing to their readers that they are being paid or compensated in some way to do that. Like, that last post that mentioned Lynne’s fabulous chicken purse? Well, if I put a link to where you could buy one and I told you that the chicken purse could make you taller, younger and skinnier and that God told me that if you didn’t order one right now you might or might not get struck by lightning… And then after you ordered about 7 of them in a big panic– because who wants to get struck by lightning, right?– then you found out that the Chicken Purse Corporation of America was actually paying me a frillion dollars and giving me free chicken purses for life, except I didn’t TELL you guys that part, just the ‘God might kill you if you don’t order one’ part? Well, of course if that happened then all of my hard-earned blogging integrity and street cred that I have painstakingly built up this last year would go right down the crapper, wouldn’t it?

OK, stop laughing. I do TOO have bloggy integrity, ya big weenies.

Well actually you never have to worry about that happening, dear readers, because so far the lovely folks at Disney have not offered to give me a free vacation if I blog about it, and no one is flying me all over the country to sample their latest products and critique their new line. Dang it. I’d love to be a big fat sell-out, people, come on, give a girl a chance! Nah, seriously, for whatever reason I just really haven’t ever gotten into product reviews, but if I do, I will start a separate blog just for that. I can’t really pull off “sneaky” very effectively, my eyes always get shifty. BUT– having said all that, I do want to mention a product here that I really believe in, that you might not be aware of.

There’s this company called Tom’s Shoes, and they have this commercial that shows this curly-haired hippie-looking guy who tells you for every pair of shoes you buy they will give a child in need around the world a free pair. I thought that was kind of a good idea, but never checked into it until a blogger I read and admire ( mentioned that she bought a pair and they are the most comfortable pair of shoes she owns. She has a cute pair of polka-dotted ones, and I absent-mindedly followed her link to the webpage and started looking around. The shoes were kind of cool, and I was thinking they might be good walking shoes for the summer… then I clicked on this, and I was sold:

So I ordered these:

They came yesterday. They’re made out of burlap, and they are totally comfortable. Nobody has paid me squat to say this, but you know what? Buying a pair of really good shoes that help support a really good cause is a really good thing.

(And if you think these are as butt-ugly as Lynne’s Swiss/African/Rocking Chair shoes, let me assure you that A) they’re NOT! and B) They’re not nearly as expensive and C) Hello! That curly-haired guy is actually giving pairs of shoes away to children in South America, for crying out loud!)

Case closed. And that’s my totally unsolicited product placement of the day!

(P.S. I’ve got my eye on some of those cool linen wrap boots for next winter…)


How My Friend Lynne Is Just Like Rosa Parks Except In Her Case It’s Not So Much About The Right To Ride In The Front Of The Bus and More About The Right To Wear Bermuda Shorts In Commander’s Palace Restaurant.

OK, I pretty much just wrote this whole post in the title.

Anyway, so you know I went to New Orleans with my friends Lynne and Cary, right? We had a wonderfully lazy, relaxed time and it did all three of us a world of good. Here’s what our (belated) Mother’s Day Getaway looked like: On Wednesday, after we checked into our hotel (and it’s a good one at a good rate, so SCORE!), we had a wonderfully elaborate brunch at The Court of Two Sisters restaurant, then wandered around the Quarter a little bit, went back to the hotel and napped/read a book, then met in Lynne’s room and watched some of “Grey Gardens” on HBO (which is so very well done, btw), walked right across the street to our favorite restaurant, Bayona, and had an absolutely perfect dinner. Afterwards we went back to Lynne’s room to lounge around for a while and talk (her room is extra-spacious and has a couch and a little courtyard, so it’s our gathering place), then off to bed. Ahhhh… Can’t you almost feel our collective mother-brows unfurrowing?

Thursday morning after our complimentary breakfast (I’m telling you, this hotel is a find!), the talk turned to our most pressing subject of the day, which is where we were going to eat lunch and dinner. Now at this point I feel compelled to modestly admit to all of you that I am kind of AWESOME when it comes to planning trips. Seriously, some company should hire me for an obscene amount of money and harness my mad trip-planning skillz.  I would be such a valuable asset, except for the fact that I’m more than a little disorganized and my mad skillz might better be described an unhealthy obsession with all things Google. I can flat Google, ya’ll. It’s like my ministry. Anyway, though Lynne and Cary are both quite well-traveled and savvy in their own right, they do have the good sense to bow to my obvious superiority in this area and ask for my input re: the day’s dining plan. Either that, or they know it’s almost impossible to get a bad meal in New Orleans so they’d just as soon humor me. At any rate, we decided to hop the St. Charles streetcar and head up to the Garden District to have lunch at Commander’s Palace, a venerable old New Orleans favorite. In the interest of full disclosure, I will also add that part of the appeal of this particular choice rested in the fact that this lovely restaurant, which specializes in a world-famous version of Creole bread pudding, also has the added attraction (at lunch time only) of offering a few signature martinis for only 25 CENTS. No kidding.

Now look, I’ll be honest here: I am not a big drinker or anything–I have a tendency to get sleepy way before I get rowdy– but I DO occasionally enjoy a glass of wine or a nice girly martini. And by ‘girly’ I mean one that has all manner of exotic-flavored stuff added to it to make it a color that does not occur in nature and would cause a true martini purist like, say, James Bond, to turn up his nose in disgust. Yeah, that kind. I do stop short of a cute little paper umbrella in it, but that’s only because I’m usually too shy to ask for one. No, I don’t get drunk and no, I don’t hang out in bars (though this would be such a better story if it ended in a drunken brawl with cops and reporters, wouldn’t it?!) but hey, I’m not gonna pretend that liquor never passes my lips. All that to say? I was kinda happy at the thought of a 25 cent martini, because I’m not just socially responsible, I’m also cheap.

Cary and I languorously got dressed in our sundresses and capris and wandered down to Lynne’s little courtyard. She joined us, wearing some beige cotton shorts, a cute little summery top and some weird, African Masai/Swiss sandals that I’ve been giving her a hard time about. Apparently they are some fancy-schmancy specially designed walking shoes that cost a ridiculous amount of money and are supposed to do all kinds of miraculous things for your body. Here, read about them yourself, then come back here and TELL ME those are not the butt-ugliest shoes you have ever seen! They also have a tendency to make a person tip over a little, since they appear to have rockers of some sort on the bottom. Lynne doesn’t care, she just shrugs and tells me I’ll be laughing out of the other side of my pie-hole when I see how fabulously toned and gorgeous her legs become.

As we got ready to walk to the streetcar stop, Lynne casually asked Cary and I if we thought she’d be OK in shorts, and we both assured her that she would. New Orleans is a tourist town for crying out loud, not to mention it is seriously hot and muggy outside. None of us had ever been to Commander’s Palace before, but we’d all walked past it plenty of times and it didn’t seem any fancier than any of the other brunch places.  Here’s a picture:

Fine, right? So the three of us hopped on the St. Charles streetcar and headed uptown towards the Garden District, happily ready to enjoy a sumptuous lunch and a discount martini…

Until we saw the brass-plated sign on the door that said, “No Shorts.

Lynne visibly blanched and could have cheerfully killed Cary and I on the spot. Lucky for me, my cell phone rang right at that very moment and I stepped out of the line of fire to talk to Madi until the coast was clear. Lynne was ready to turn around and leave but Cary stepped up to the maitre’d, boldly pointed out Lynne’s fashion faux pas before he had a chance to and asked if this was going to be a problem. The nice gentleman regretfully informed us that yes, it was– and even though they were perfectly lovely and appropriate shorts, unfortunately Commander’s Palace had a very strict dress code. Undeterred, Cary told him that perhaps while we were waiting for our table, we could step outside and see if we could find a nearby shop and BUY her a skirt. The poor man looked flustered and by the time Lynne helpfully offered to take a white table cloth and turn it into a sarong, we could tell he was weakening. Finally he surreptitiously looked around and quietly told us that we could wait in the courtyard until a table was available and he would have a waiter come seat us. We lavished our thanks on him, and Lynne slunk through the kitchen into the courtyard where she collapsed into an iron chair and announced that she was absolutely mortified. At first Cary and I were laughing too hard to pay much attention to her, but as we settled down and began sipping our tall frosty glasses of fresh-squeezed limeade with hibiscus syrup (HEAVEN!), it became painfully apparent that Lynne was obviously scarred for life by the experience and was not going to shut up about it any time soon. It didn’t help matters much that it started sprinkling while we were sitting in the courtyard, not to mention we kept getting joined by various young 20-something local swells all decked out like they were going to the dang Kentucky Derby or something, which further fueled Lynne’s ire.

After about 15 minutes of Lynne’s kvetching and plotting (“Maybe we could just eat in the kitchen, they had some tables in there…”), coupled with soothing assurances from Cary and I (“The maitre’d said it was fine, anyway NO ONE CARES!!!”) she finally sighed loudly and declared in a Joan of Arc fashion, “Never mind, I am willing to make a complete fool out of myself just so you two can eat at Commander’s Palace and have a stupid martini for a quarter!” Because she’s a great friend like that. To which Cary and I promptly replied, “Great! Now shut up about it!” Because we’re great friends like that, too.

By the way, this would be a good time to mention another small detail concerning Lynne’s outfit. She was carrying a chicken purse.

Seriously. A purse shaped like a chicken. See, even though she and her doctor husband and their three charming children live in a elegant old neighborhood around Vanderbilt University which is decidedly ‘residential only’, she raises chickens. Her backyard is large and leafy and she got it into her head that if Martha Stewart can raise chickens in the Hamptons, why couldn’t she, so she had a beautiful little structure built which I like to call the Chicken Palace. It has an antique Dutch door and a chandelier for crying out loud, what else are you gonna call it? She has about five exotic-looking, apparently blissfully happy hens which lay a prodigious amount of organic eggs– healthy-looking light brown ones and even pale green ones. So people always give Lynne a lot of chicken-related items as gifts and one of them was a chicken purse, that is made of some kind of rubber with bright red handles that at a casual glance looks disconcertingly like a real bird. And she actually carries it. Everywhere. Check it out:

(Are you starting to see why I just love Lynne?)

So add the chicken purse to your visual image of Lynne’s outfit including those bizarre rocking chair/Masai warrior sandals and you’ll have an idea of just what we were up against trying to fast-talk our way into Commander’s Palace! Anyway, at long last a nattily-dressed little waiter with a pronounced French accent arrived to escort us to the dining room. As Lynne stood up, Cary and I offered to sandwich her between us and walk reeeeeealllyclose, like in a Marx Brothers movie, but she declined. There was a brief moment when the waiter spied the forbidden shorts and not only looked askance but appeared to be on the verge of fainting, but his waiter training and innate European manners kicked in and he just swallowed hard, quickly averted his eyes, then weakly fluttered his hand in our general direction and said, “This way, ladies.” Lynne started to hunch her shoulders and scurry, but I leaned in close and stage-whispered, “Lynne Shaw, you are the pride of McMinnville, Tennessee so straighten up and act like it–walk proud, honey!” Honestly, she would have punched me in the face if she wasn’t already on the verge of getting thrown out.

We walked through the elegant dining room like a sheepish little chicken purse parade, and were finally seated at a beautiful table right in the middle of the action. The waiter presented Lynne’s linen napkin to her with a flourish and she promptly opened it to its full capacity and tried her best to cover every square inch of her lap all the way down to her knees. Cary and I were still laughing our heads off, and by the time our glorious food and those highly anticipated 25 cent martinis arrived, even Lynne was seeing the humor in the situation. When Mary our waitress brought the check, she spotted Lynne’s purse and was completely entranced with it. “I have never seen anything like that in my life,” she exclaimed with a pronounced Brooklyn accent. “Yeah, well, it gets better,” Lynne said. “I’m also wearing shorts!” Mary peeked under the table to verify that Lynne was telling the truth and was absolutely flabbergasted. She looked at us in wonder and said, “They actually let her in? They haven’t let anyone in the dining room with shorts on in twenty five years!” I immediately tried to cover by saying, “Well, they are really nice linen ones,” but Lynne piped up and said, “No, they’re not– they’re just tacky ol’ hiking shorts!” At that point Cary and I began applauding and clapping Lynne on the back and Mary just kept shaking her head and saying, “Seriously, I’ve seen them come in here and actually escort people out if they managed to sneak by the front desk! How in the world did you do it?” When we told her that the nice man had obviously taken pity on us and made an exception, Mary laughed and said, “I can’t believe he did that, I can’t wait to give him a hard time about it…” Before she even finished the sentence all three of us yelled in unison, “NOT UNTIL WE LEAVE!!!”

So that, dear readers, is the story of how my friend Lynne broke the shorts barrier at Commander’s Palace restaurant. Yes, she bravely faced down hoity-toity maitre d’s, disapproving waiters and shocked diners just so each and every one of us could exercise our God-given right to wear whatsoever we wish in our quest for a good meal and a cheap martini. Yea, even our inappropriately-clad children’s children shall rise up and call her blessed.


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