Over the holidays, however, I used my pasta boat in the family $5 white elephant giveaway.
My brother-in-law, seeing the large box in the middle of the pile, went for it immediately. And when he opened it…omg, it was awesome, you guys. His face crumpled as he unwrapped the thing, and he could hardly hold in his disappointed tears. He knew nobody was going to try to steal it. He was stuck with that godforsaken thing.
I could almost hear the thoughts running through his head: “The holidays are so busy…when the hell will I have time for a fcking trip to Goodwill to drag this thing off? Bitch.”
Ah, it was priceless, you guys. And so here’s the story that I had originally written about my pasta boat—an item with which I was at first quite smitten:
I’ve been really blessed in my life to be surrounded by people who, when I’m feeling really good about myself or something I’ve done, take any opportunity they have to smack me right back down and make me feel like a complete asshole.
Ah, family and friends. What would we do without them?
Take, for example, what we’ll call Pasta Boatgate 2013.
I was feeling really fancy one day, so I decided to take the kids and hubs on a little family field trip to Big Lots. I’d say Big Lots is almost as good as the Dollar Tree with all of the cheap, useless shit that they sell that I go crazy over. You can find me there, coffee in hand, strolling the aisles in what I will always consider the epitome of a perfect day.
It doesn’t take much, my peeps.
That afternoon, I happened to walk past an end cap (amazing the terms you’ll learn spending years of your collegiate life working in retail) and then, my mind catching up with what my eyes had just taken in, screeched to a halt and backed up.
There they were, my peeps: Pasta Boats. Glorious, beautiful, lickable pasta boats. Pasta Boats everywhere. I’m talking As Seen on T.V., make-your-pasta-by-throwing-it-all-in-the-boat-with-water-and-shoving-the-whole-kit-and-caboodle-into-the-microwave dandies, all boxed up and priced to sell at the amazingly low amount of $5.00.
Five dollars?! I’ll take 25. (By the way, Tupperware can suck a ball because they had the same thing in one of their catalogues for somewhere closer to $29.95.)
But really, I was only able to grab one since I had the hubs with me. That’s why I normally don’t take him shopping: He’s too level-headed and rational with money. As I tried to clear the shelves of all of the pasta boats that Big Lots had in stock, he sighed, rolled his eyes, and then started scooping them back up out of the cart and stacking them back on the shelves.
“Hey, what are you—"
“One,” he said, holding up an index finger for emphasis. “You can have one.”
“But they’re only 5 bucks!” I responded, pouting like a child. “And we could get them as fun, random gifts for people. Christmas gift exchanges, retirement parties, baby showers, bachelor parties…”
“One,” the hubs reiterated, calling over his shoulder as he sauntered down the aisle with the kids.
Whatevs. I let him have his way, planning to come back for the other 24 one weekend he was out of town or something.
A couple of weeks later, I had a little dinner party. “Dinner party” sounds so classy, doesn’t it? Basically what happened was, my dad was driving through town and made the mistake of calling me and saying that he’d like to stop by and see me, the hubs, and the kids for a few minutes. Then he made another mistake that went something like this: “Do you need me to pick anything up for you before I get there?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” I responded, suddenly noticing my stomach rumbling in hunger. “Maybe like, ingredients to make something nice for dinner for the fam?...and a few friends? And then you could maybe go ahead and make it when you get here?”
Let me let you in on a little secret about my dad. He loves to be a smartass, and he’ll let you have it when you need to hear about something stupid you’ve done, but really? Really, he’s the sweetest, most generous guy in the whole world.
And we kids, well, we kids love to take advantage of that. In fact, I could almost smell dinner being cooked already, and he was still 20 miles away.
Dad got there, followed closely by 4 of my closest hungry friends and their kids. Dad got to work at the stove while my friends and I sat in the living room, sipping coffee while the kids played. The conversation soon turned to my new pasta boat. I grabbed it out of the closet where I had stored it, prepared to regale my friends about the magic of it.
“Just look at it,” I said, wielding it this way and that. “Only $5 at Big Lots!”
At that moment, the hubs happened to walk through the living room where I was showing off. “Holy shit, the damned pasta boat again? Nobody else gives a shit, Shay.”
I rolled my eyes as he continued down the hall, then turned my attention back to my friends as I held the pasta boat in each of their faces in turn, much like my Kindergarten teacher used to show the class the pages of the book she was reading to us.
One of my friends, Ann, piped up. “Is it made of plastic?”
I could tell by the high, nasally, patronizing asshole voice that she’d used to ask that it was a judgmental question. And I was in no mood for someone to judge my sweet, innocent pasta boat.
“Well, yeah, I think, but I heard from the Tupperware lady at that party I went to awhile back that they don’t make plastic the same way anymore. That it’s safe to microwave now…?”
Nobody was affirming this, and in fact, they were all looking at me like I was a dumbass. I took this as my cue to go on, so I leaned in conspiratorially and dropped my voice to a whisper. “The hubs wouldn’t let me buy 25 of them, but I’m thinking of going back and getting the other 24 to give out as gifts. I mean, who wouldn’t be all excited to step onto her porch one morning and see a pasta boat sitting there?” I leaned back and smiled at my thoughtfulness.
My neighbor Nancy gave me her best grimace. “You’re not supposed to put plastic in the microwave. It alters the chemicals and you can get cancer. I’d better not find a damned pasta boat on my porch one morning.”
“But—but—“ I stammered, sensing another situation in which I would come off looking as an idiot and desperately trying to save face “—you just have to stick the dry pasta in with some water and microwave it for 10 minutes!”
My friend Kim furrowed her brow. “Doesn’t it only take, like, 12 minutes to make pasta, anyway?”
I would have been happy with my buddy Christina’s response had she not given it solely to join in the pasta boat roast: “Yeah, but think of all the things you can be doing in that 2 minutes. You could, like, walk to the other side of the room…do a few jumping jacks…read a sentence out of your novel…”
“…suck a ball…” I added, knowing full well that I used that phrase so much that it was going to lose its bite, but finding it the only fitting thing to say to her at that moment. It had no effect on her, anyway, because she raised her eyebrows and nodded in full agreement. “…suck a ball…” she added to her list.
Wouldn’t you know that the dinner my dad had chosen to make for all of us was mother-effing spaghetti. At that moment, we heard him pipe up from the kitchen like the smartass that he is: “Oh, man, my fingers hurt from all of this holding the spoon and stirring the spaghetti noodles! And the steam that’s rising from the pot…it hurts my eyes! I wish I had a pasta boat and two extra minutes so that I could really accomplish something in my life.”
My friends squealed with laughter. I scowled.
“Seriously, Shay,” Dad called, “If I get one of those damned cancer-causing pasta boats for Christmas, I’ll kill you!”
Alright, peeps. I know when to throw in the towel. I grudgingly started laughing and joined in the fun.
Just before we sat down to eat, I grabbed the Big Lots bag from where it had been in the recycling tub and gingerly placed my pasta boat box back into it, wiping away a tear as I bade it good-bye.
“What are you doing?” Nancy asked. “I thought you loved your pasta boat.”
“Hell, no, not anymore. I don’t want this asshole cancer-causing boat. I’m taking it back.”
They were all satisfied with that answer, patting themselves on the back for a job well done, saving Shay and her family from potential death by pasta boat. (Seriously, who the eff has even heard of that? Hippies.)
But after we’d all eaten and they were filing out the door one by one, I smiled to myself. What those assholes didn’t know was that I wasn’t really going to take my pasta boat back—and, in fact, I planned to return to Big Lots the next day and buy 4 more pasta boats.
They’d all have one waiting for them on their porches by this time tomorrow night.