Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Italian Wedding Soup Story - A Cautionary Tale

I used to love to put things off until later. I could have won awards for it. I still procrastinate, but not nearly as much as I used to and I’m ashamed to admit how long I delayed even writing this very story. I can find a million distractions from all the things I have to do and the distractions are always far more compelling and entertaining than whatever it is I am trying so hard to avoid. Once I even drove around for an entire year with a bag of clothes for the Salvation Army in the trunk of my car before finally dropping it off. I have no idea why I’m like this. Sometimes I think I’m fueled by stress. I need the anxiety of a deadline to force me into action. Other times it’s probably as simple as that I just want to do what I want to do when I want to do it and the things I put off are always things that are unpleasant or not fun. Of course, in life you have got to do a lot of things that are unpleasant and not fun. If you always avoid doing things you don’t want to do you end up making gigantic messes which turn into major catastrophes involving exponentially more unpleasant and not fun things until you become overwhelmed. This is no way to live.

I learned my lesson about procrastination, at, of all places, The Bubblegum Kittikat. You may ask, how on earth do you learn a valuable life lesson about procrastination while working the door at a strip club? Well, you’d be surprised at where you can learn a good life lesson. Sometimes you have to look at things in a different way. You’d be amazed at some of the places and ways you can learn things. It’s best not to limit yourself.

Because this lesson about procrastination is so important, I implore you to please learn from my mistakes. Don’t do this yourself. I’m serious. I suffered so you don’t have to, and this is the story of how I made a very big, very bad mess.

The house mother at the Kittikat and I became great friends. She was a larger than life, exceptionally glamorous, 500 pound woman with flame red hair, who wore aqua, glittering eye shadow and hung around with gay men who were in theater. Valeria herself, had majored in theater at NYU and because of the two of us, the Bubblegum Kittikat now contained more IQ points than it ever had or ever would.

As House Mother, a job I swear Valeria took, precisely because she loved theater, Valeria had to tend to the dancers and all of their constant issues, fights, tantrums and tirades. Additionally, she did their hair and makeup, snipped off their tampon strings, called their emergency contacts when they OD’d on stage, and even cleaned their still bubbling, champagne puke. To me, it was a thankless job. Valeria loved it.

I loved Valeria because she was the only witty, cultured and intelligent human being I had met since arriving in South Florida five months prior. Whenever I got a break or the door was slow, I headed on over to the back of the house so I could hang out with Valeria, who would have me literally falling out of my chair laughing over some tale of stripper or customer debauchery. We ordered dinner in every night and sat in the back attempting to eat manicotti while the dancers picked toilet paper out of their crotches beside us. That mental image alone makes me thankful I got an education.

Valeria was Italian and prided herself on her traditional cooking. Often, she cooked decadent pasta dishes running with mascarpone cheese, fresh mozzarella and truffled cream. They were wonderful. It was like having a party inside my mouth when I ate Valeria’s food. One day Valeria made enough Italian Wedding Soup, swimming with ditalini, tiny pungent meatballs spiked with cheese and garlic, and ribbons of escarole, to feed all of Rome. I think it had thirteen chickens in it and the pot this woman must have owned to make this volume of soup would have had to have been the size of a kiddy pool. As luck would have it, Valeria gave me my own large, Tupperware container full of Italian Wedding Soup because she thought I was coming down with a cold.

I ended up getting off work at five in the morning. Normally I was home by around 3 or 3:30, but on this occasion Crisis got into a fight with Turmoil because Crisis said Turmoil was looking at her man, who was one of the bouncers. Turmoil said she wasn’t looking at Crisis’s man because he was ugly and she had a rich boyfriend who could kick the bouncer’s ass. Crisis ended up taking off her eight inch Lucite heel and going to town on Turmoil’s face with it because you can’t just sit back while some bitch bad mouth’s your man like that. Hell no. We had to call 911. Both girls wanted to press charges. Turmoil had to go to the hospital. It was a disaster. I had to tell the police what I saw five different times and by the time they let me go and we got everything all cleaned up, I was delirious. Valeria made sure I did not forget the Italian Wedding Soup in the fridge.

By the time I got back to my parents’ house, the sun was rising and I could barely stumble inside to fall into bed.

After that I had two entire days off in which I went to my other job at the pottery shop where I made mosaic hearts and painted plates. I also did a million errands, went to Marshalls, took some shoes back, made a raspberry trifle and had a generally good time all around.

I got back to the Kittikat on a busy Friday night. Turmoil was still out and we learned she would have to get plastic surgery for the scar. The manager bailed Crisis out of jail and she was back at work but wouldn’t speak to anyone and no one would go near her because they didn’t want her opening up a can on their faces with her shoe. I don’t blame them.

I spent my evening selling and cutting cigars, cashing out the dancers and calling cabs for drunk people. My dear manager, whom I adored, would not let me have a break because we were just way too busy. Then some young kid threw up on the floor, three buses pulled up with three separate bachelor parties and all hell broke loose when Temper got a $30,000 tip. $30,000 is a lot of money, even in a strip club where $10,000 tips were fairly common place, so it caused a major ruckus. All the other girls were jealous and were trying to steal it from her, because it was in cash. Do not ask me where this guy got $30,000 in cash. I don’t want to know, but it can’t be good because normal people don’t just go out for the evening carrying the down payment on a house in their money clip. Actually, I think he had about 50 with him because he also tipped his waitress a few thousand and he had to pay his bar tab. Then he had me order him a large meal involving steaks, lobsters and ten dollar baked potatoes from the fancy steak house place. I got a $200 tip just for that. Anyway, the 30 grand caused the entire place to go into a state of hyper-chaos. Everyone was fighting. Two of the bouncers had to escort Temper home but then she was scared because everyone knew where she lived, so they had to take her to a hotel and stand guard outside the door while she counted her money. Temper ended up not coming back to work for several weeks and when she returned it was in a BMW and with a new and improved set of boobs.

So the point of that story, besides its obvious entertainment value, was to demonstrate that I was too busy to get back to see Valeria until it was one ‘o’ clock in the morning. The first thing she asked me was how I liked the Italian Wedding Soup.

OH MY GOD. No. I did not just leave the Italian Wedding Soup in the car for the past three days in the blazing hot Florida sun. No I did not do that. Yes I did leave Italian Wedding Soup in the car for the past three days.

“Umm. It was great!” I said. “I loved it. Best Italian Wedding Soup I’ve ever had.”

“Did you bring my container back?”

“Oh, no.” I said, messing with my fingernails. “I’m not done with the soup yet.”

Shit. I left soup in the car for three days. It would definitely be a poisonous bacteria ridden mess. So what did I do? I forgot it for two more days because soup in a hot car for three days was not long enough. I had to leave it for five days.

By Sunday my car smelled like thirteen dead chickens and a mountain of rotten onions which had been crapped out of an ogre’s butt. I rolled down the windows, sprayed it with Febreeze and planted an entire forest of tree air fresheners. There was no avoiding this. I had to bring the Tupperware container into the house and clean it. Except it was gross.

When I pulled the Tupperware out from under the seat it had become suspiciously swollen from fermentation and the top threatened to fly off , which would then shower me with botulism and I would die, writhing on my parents’ driveway. I held it very far away from my face, carried it in the house and placed it gingerly on the kitchen counter, because I really meant to throw its contents away and run the bowl and its lid through the dishwasher to sterilize it. I really meant to do that. Except it was gross.

So I left it on the kitchen counter for several more days and proceeded to avoid Valeria at work because I didn’t want her to ask me where her Tupperware container was because that would mean I would have to face the mess inside the container in order to clean it out and return it to her and the mess had gotten so putrid that I would have done anything to avoid having to open it up and deal with it once and for all. Anything. I even contemplated just quitting my job there altogether, never calling Valeria ever again and just throwing the entire container in the trash. Then I thought, well no. Maybe I could just explain what had happened and just buy her a new Tupperware. Maybe I could make up for my mistake by buying her a whole entire new SET of Tupperware to show how repentant I was. But then she’d know that I forgot her generous gesture of making me soup and she’d know I lied to her about enjoying it. This chain of thought went on and on until it somehow ended with me homeless and dead on the streets, as all my chains of obsessive thought eventually conclude.

This could only have happened in my parents’ house. Nowhere else in the world could one leave a bloated Tupperware of fermented, spoiled, week old, unrefrigerated Italian Wedding Soup sitting in plain view on a kitchen counter without someone immediately noticing. But at Casa Azul, no one noticed for quite some time. Several people came and went. Everyone just kind of did what they needed to do around the Italian Wedding Soup, but no one thought to move it, open it or otherwise inspect it in any way.

Another week passed. I still avoided poor Valeria who thought I was mad at her, ungrateful and having attitude. She also thought I was a Tupperware thief, some awful, treacherous rat who connived to run off with her quart sized, orange, circa 1975 round container with the pleated lid. And I couldn’t bring myself to just go to her and explain what I had done because I was so ashamed of my misdeed.

Ok, I thought. I will not only go to Valeria and tell her the situation, but I will also confront the bubbling, possibly oozing, definitely extremely poisonous Italian Wedding Soup. Except it was gross and very unpleasant and certainly not fun. Tomorrow, I told myself. I’ll do it tomorrow. But tomorrow came and I didn’t tell Valeria and I didn’t clean up the mess.

Enter my mother – the eternal voice of reason.

“Could you tell me what in the Sam Hell name of Jesus you’ve got festerin’ in that ugly assed orange Tupperware?”

“Italian Wedding Soup.” I said.

My mother gave me a look that is very particular to mothers who don’t take crap off their children ever. If you have one of these kind of mothers, who can be identified by the fact that they never ever put their children on time outs, but instead threaten to skin them alive if they are bad, you know exactly what this look looks like. It is not pretty.

“You mean to tell me that you’ve had a quart of soup sitting on the kitchen counter for damn near two weeks now?”


“And what purpose does this serve?”

I went through the whole ridiculous mess and my mother became more and more worn out with me until finally she demanded I clean it and announced that after hearing such nonsense come out of her only blood child’s mouth that she needed to go outside and chain smoke for an hour.

But did I clean the Italian Wedding Soup and end the story?

No I did not. Because I am an idiot.

Instead of just doing it and having the great relief that the story was over, I decided instead to make the situation yet 300 times worse. While my mother was outside chain smoking to comfort herself from the anguish I caused her with my stupidity, I decided to hide the Tupperware container under the kitchen sink. My mother should have disowned me.

I continued to avoid Valeria. She continued to think bad things about me. Going to work began to cause me stress. Instead of looking forward to the antics of strippers and those who loved them, I began to dread sitting on my stool at the door because I could not go back to visit Valeria. And all because of soup.

By and by, a bad smell appeared in my parents’ kitchen. They believed a rat died inside the walls. A rat had not died inside the walls. A stupid daughter hid a container of soup under the kitchen sink. They called the exterminator, who was wildly in love with my mother and took this as an opportunity to stay at our house for seven hours looking for the dead rat. The exterminator traced the smell to its origin under the sink and found the soup. My mother hit the roof. The words she uttered are not fit to print and would make blood come out of your eyeballs if you read them.

“CLEAN UP THIS MESS!” she yelled.

She also made me pay the exterminator for his wasted visit chasing phantom dead rats.

I could not bring myself to clean up the mess because I am such a germaphobe and have such a weak stomach that the only way I could go near the soup was if I were wearing a Hazmat suit and could go into a decontamination chamber afterward. Obviously those things were not possible, so I opted to throw out the entire container. I put on rubber gloves and tied a scarf around my face.

“You follow her out there and make sure she does it.” My mother ordered the exterminator and of course he did it because he was in love with her.

I carried the Tupperware outside to the big trash cans, exterminator in tow. The soup inside had become solid and heavy. If the lid opened, a Pandora’s box of toxin would have immediately erupted killing everyone on our block and killing all of the fish in the Intracoastal canal, so I was very careful. When it was over, and the soup was gone, I had to figure out what to do about Valeria and her now destroyed container.

I procrastinated telling her for another three days. Finally I went back there. She eyed me suspiciously and I told her the entire story. During my endless tale of bacterial reproduction, Valeria looked at me like I was the biggest moron alive. She blinked her green eyes which were ringed with sparkling magenta shadow and she reminded me of some magnificent sea creature. Something about Valeria always made me think she belonged in an enchanted ocean with lots of mermaids waiting on her.

“I’ve heard a lot of stupid things working in this place.” Valeria sighed. “But this is truly in the top five. Now give me a hug you idiot!!”

So of course this whole disaster had been created in my own mind. I made it all up, every bit of it about Valeria hating me and thinking I stole her Tupperware. No one really cares that much about a Tupperware container. They’re meant to be lost. I made up all of the anxiety and I made a gigantic mess out of what would have just been a little mess, quickly forgotten. In doing so, I caused myself a tremendous amount of worry, not to mention that I created a disgusting task for myself out of something that probably wouldn’t have been all that bad if I had tackled it early on.

The more I put it off, the grosser it got and the more I didn’t want to face the problem. The longer I avoided the situation, the more disgusting and poisonous it became. I see people doing this all the time in life, not with Italian Wedding Soup, but with other things – jobs, relationships, important tasks and all sorts of things that if not just dealt with, simmer for years getting worse and worse and more overwhelming.

Whenever I get the urge to procrastinate I think of the Italian Wedding Soup. I remember its eventual dead rat smell and I recall how silly and unnecessary it all seemed when it finally ended. Don’t be scared to face things that are gross, unpleasant or not fun. Just do them and get them over with. Face the nastiest, ugliest, stinkiest things first. Clean them all up and set yourself free, because you know as well as I do that you can’t have any real fun knowing there’s an ugly orange Tupperware hidden under the kitchen sink full of rotting Italian Wedding Soup.


Anonymous said...

YIKES. i did the same thing about a decade ok - except that 'it' was a thermos of chai tea. I made it for a road trip where a group of us were going to the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial & Rodeo. We never drank the tea. After the thermos rode around in my car for several days (in August, in New Mexico) i brought it into my kitchen.

Saturday morning came and i went out for breakfast. I came home and my dog greeted me at the door...covered in what looked like blood...and my cat was nowhere to be found.

you wrote the wedding soup story - you know exactly what happened. the tea with all the ginger, milk & sugar - fermented and the thermos exploded. The dog and cat got drenched in fermented tea. The dog busied herself licking herself clean. The cat hit in my bed...

i spent the entire weekend wiping tea off of every single item in the kitchen.

i love your stories.

Eric said...

What a great story. thanks

MP said...

I did the same thing, except it was a co-worker who made something (I've blocked it) in a blue glass pie plate. The mold was fuzzy and went from the car to the counter then god forbid the fridge..
I still have never said ANYTHING.

My Kids Mom said...

THANK YOU! I happen to be excellent in the art of procrastination, having been practicing for so many years. I can so relate! I always look forward to updates from you! You are amazing writer and look forward to walking into my local borders and buying ANYTHING written by YOU! Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

Another story to good to be true.

I am quite the procrastinator myself. In my young and crazy days I had 2 guy roomates and we decided (mentally, not verbally) to see who would take the trash out first. It had been sitting there for about a week, maybe even two, fermenting in a hot California apartment with no air conditioning. More stuff kept getting piled on top. Let's just say I finally know what real live maggots loot like.


p.s. I want to live in a pink castle

amy said...

Oh my gosh. I can so relate to this, except mine got me into messy legal trouble. See, I had let my registration and insurance expire (REALLY horribly irresponsible, I know, I blame being in my early twenties), and I got a ticket.

Instead of just taking care of the ticket and fixing the papers, I just let it keep going... and going... and going... and going... Everyday, I would wake up resolving to take care of it that day, but that day always turned into tomorrow.

FINALLY, my mother found out what was happening because a warrant for my arrest was sent to her house. She hit the roof, as you might expect, and drove me down there herslef and made me take care of the warrant.

I paid the money they wanted, and thought everything was all cleared up until recently when I went to get my licence renewed. Well, it turns out that if you let an expired insurance/registration linger too long without taking care of it, they put a "hold" on your licence. In order to get a valid licence, I would have to pay the county $500 all in one shot. Being poor, I had to take out a credit card to pay it off and get a new licence.

All along, none of this would have happened, over a thousand dollars would have been saved, and endless amounts of grief would have never happened if only I weren't such a horrible procrastinator. I felt like such a moron, but I tell you, I've never let it happen again, nor will I. ugh. Sometimes we just have to learn lessons the hard way, I guess.

ADW said...

Yeah, sounds about right. I have had alternative life forms growing in my vehicle when I was younger from procrastinating about cleaning it out. Now, i ralize that it is just easier to get id over and done with - kind of like ripping off a bandaid.

Leonesse said...

Ahem. Did the Lion King call you or something?

Mine was about 2 cups of leftover homemade veggie beef soup. First, I was going to make a Pupsicle for my dog. (it keeps him busy, cool, and hydrated for awhile when outside) I think you can see where this is going. Then, I thought for about a week that my son had cleaned it and put it all back together. Wrong. By that point it had an interesting bubbly growth on it, but we were running around so much that I couldn't take care of it for a few days. (I might add that we don't have a disposal in our 1900's farmhouse). Lion King finally took it out back to rid ourselves of it, but never brought the crockpot back in. I just spotted it yesterday out in the middle of the xmas tree field. This has been about a month ago now. I guess I am gonna have to go out and clean it because I am not replacing my crockpot.

Procrastination sucks. But at least it sucks later. :-)

Anonymous said...

You're an amazing writer, keep doing it. I love reading your stories

Anonymous said...

Funny Im reading this as i am procrastinating at work! Just 5 more minutes...

Ms Robinson said...

I would have loved to procrastinate and not clean the stiff dead mouse out of the cupboard and then wash every pot and pan 16 times but my husband at the time was out watching the football. When I called him to say I found it, he said "I can't hear you."

I tied a teatowel around my nose and mouth, put on two pairs of gloves and still nearly threw up.

Being Australian I have dealt with all manner of insects, including big, big spiders without drama but I live in fear of another stiff mouse.

Your stories are delightful.

Working Girl said...

wow -- champagne puke still has bubbles?

Miss Kitty said...


SNM, that story takes the cake!

I'm going to start writing on E&P about my days as a dancer. I learned so much and finally grew up at age 28...although my years on the pole were tough, I'll always be grateful to my own Bubblegum Kittikat for helping me become an ass-kicker.

SJ said...

So mine is putting away laundry. I kid you not that pile of clean clothes stares at me from the laundry basket and I can't bring myself to put the dang stuff away. I actually ended up buying a second laundry basket to hold my dirty clothes because I had no where to put them because the clean ones were still in the first basket.

When I was much, much younger I also had the bowl of spaghetti o's that had dried up so much the spoon was cemented in. My mother still reminds me of that one to this day....she took pictures. My mother is an evil woman :)

DrinkingTea said...

I did something very similar, except I had cooked it and it was spaghetti with meat sauce. I managed to save the container by throwing the whole mess in the freezer and throwing the resultant block of ice out a few months later in the dead of winter. It still reeked, but nothing like it would have in liquid or solid form.

Anonymous said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this story...probably because we had a very similar situation with a crock pot that no one wanted to clean.

Joanna said...

I laughed so hard I started crying! A great morality tale. :-)

I love your stories, thanks for sharing them with everyone!

Elizabeth said...

Back in college my roommate and I were the proud owners of "antique milk": A container that stayed in the fridge for more than an entire YEAR because we were too afraid to touch it.

We finally got rid of it when her visiting mother berated us for the old milk. The thing was she thought it was bought last month... not a year an last month ago.

Now that I think about it, if only Antique Roadshow was still around it'd make a great joke to take it to them for an expert appraisal on our rare Antique Milk!


Anonymous said...

I so needed to read this today, since I'm about to face some unpleasantness in having to move, soon. Many calls to make, many arrangements, much cleaning and packing ... you get the point. It wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't already dealt with some fairly nasty things in the last two weeks, but I keep convincing myself that I can "take a break from dealing." Ain't gonna work.

Q said...

This has been your best post yet - both pre- and post-SW tales.

And now, I think I've got a mountain of laundry and a shower that needs cleaned. :)

Vixen said...

I needed this today. I left dealing with some money paperwork all summer because I had procrastinated about telling the company about a change in circumstances last year. I thought I would be in a mountain of debt.

After a horrible night last night, when my boyfriend sat me down and went over most of the forms, I called the company first thing this morning. Turns out my Uni had told the company about the change for me and there's no problem at all.

If I hadn't procrastinated last year, or even just this summer, I would have saved a lot of tears and a horrible sleepless night.

Keep up the great writing.

Tere said...

Dude, we had that same Tupperware!

Kore said...

Once I left a gallon of milk in my mom's minivan. This was in Phoenix and it was summertime. It got so hot that the milk exploded all over the interior of the car. You can imagine the smell.

Pumpkin said...

Lmao......and I thought I was the only one that did that kind of thing!!!
Fantastic post ! I've just came across your site by way of Violent Acres and I'm so so glad, been howling with laughter for past 10 minutes now!
I procastinate as a way of life and have done ever since I was a teenager....infact I once, whilst sharing a flat with a cousin of mine, left our dishes for so long (we ate take-out for 2 weeks solid) that I eventually threw our entire dishware/cutlery and pots and pans out and bought an entire new set............okay so you could add lazy-assed bitch to 'procrastination' for me.....I blame it on being 19 at the time.
I'm so coming back here, you have the gift of telling a tale and I'm already booking time in tonight to scour the rest of your posts.

Elizling said...

Ha ha! The Salvation Army bags. I currently have one sitting next to the door at my house that's been there for 6 months. Pretty soon, it will finally make it's way into my car where it will reside for about 8 months, and then I may finally drop it off.

Cheers from a fellow procrastinator (who is also trying to mend her ways).

Green said...

Next time, just throw the whole thing out, tell the person that their Tupperware somehow melted in the dishwasher and you're so sorry, but here's a new Tupperware, oh and the soup was GREAT!

Robin said...

So I'm kinda silly too and I'm reading through your archives and I just have to say... I have a goodwill bag in my closet, I have some old leftovers in my fridge and my dishes are ones that I bought when I was young, dumb and too busy partying to do some nasty dishes.

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