While I think Mr. Owens doesn’t need little ole big ole me defending him, I still feel the need to stand up for him, for me and for all my fellow actors who also have day jobs and who are PROUD to work…including when it’s not on set or on stage.
My shy dog won’t come up to you and give you instant approval. That doesn’t mean she’s not like a regular dog.
My shy dog isn’t like a regular dog.
My shy dog wants me to let you know there’s nothing wrong with her just because she’s shy.
My shy dog speaks in a raspy voice. Of course.
My shy dog was kept caged in a puppy mill for seven plus years. So, that could explain why she’s shy.
My shy dog does something we call “creeping” when she’s scared. My friends have a shy cat who does the same thing and they call it “racooning”. Both equally accurate and appropriate terms.
My shy dog had a fur brother who helped give her confidence. He crossed the Rainbow Bridge and now she’s navigating how to cultivate her own confidence.
My shy dog eats like a beast. She’s not shy when it comes to food.
My shy dog can kick your dog’s ass. Only kidding. She can’t. She would never. She just wanted me to throw in a joke.
My shy dog comes up and noses my leg. That’s her way of saying, “Hey girl.”
My shy dog loves when I sing to her. Especially Broadway show tunes and Christopher Cross’s greatest hits.
My shy dog eats her poop.
My shy dog loves going bye-bye in the car.
My shy dog doesn’t mind going to the vet.
My shy dog loves building forts.
My shy dog never barks…except when I go upstairs to the bathroom.
My shy dog has a smile that could light up Vegas.
My shy dog likes the pre-party setting up but chooses to hide in her fort when the guests come.
My shy dog is my greatest teacher.
My shy dog is my biggest cheerleader.
My shy dog is a star of the small screen.
My shy dog is my personal trainer.
My shy dog is my fellow yogi.
My shy dog is my best friend.
My shy dog sees the best in me.
My shy dog is learning the whole owner coming home let me get excited and greet her thing. And it’s priceless.
My shy dog also recently learned how to wag her tail. That’s also pretty priceless.
My shy dog learned how to walk on a leash and now she can’t get enough of going on a W-A-L-K.
My shy dog may or may not let you pet her. But, she definitely loves it when you tell her she’s beautiful.
My shy dog might tense up when excited kids run up to her. Can you blame her?
My shy dog will look back at me and smile after she does something that she has deemed brave…such as dealing with said kids.
My shy dog dislikes fireworks.
My shy dog dislikes basketballs dribbling and tennis balls bouncing. In fact, she doesn’t like balls at all.
My shy dog dislikes my printer most of all. I don’t blame her. It’s a pain in the ass.
My shy dog doesn’t want you to attach any stigma to her for being shy.
My shy dog doesn’t want you to attach any stigma to “bully breeds” either.
My shy dog loves her cactus bed.
My shy dog loves to be petted on the forehead.
My shy dog would smile at that rhyme.
My shy dog may not fetch, roll over, sit on command or greet strangers with enthusiasm but it doesn’t make her any less of a cool dog.
My shy dog was rescued by Pawsitively Poms Rescue in Pennsylvania.
My shy dog wasn’t adopted quickly perhaps because she’s shy. But, I actually think it’s because she was waiting for me.
My shy dog isn’t always keen on photos…unless it’s a selfie.
My shy dog isn’t a good candidate for Rover or those other pet walking apps. Who needs an app when you have a Debbie Deb?
My shy dog wants you to know she’s taking it all in. Slowly. In her time. On her terms.
My shy dog wants to show you she loves you.
My shy dog wants to be accepted for who she is.
My shy dog wants a treat. Ideally yogurt or peanut butter related.
My shy dog is officially becoming my brave dog because she recently welcomed a new friend into our home who is even more shy than she.
My shy dog is like all of us- just trying to do her best navigating through this big scary world every day.
My shy dog is like none of us- she doesn’t know there is anything wrong with her just because she’s a little different.
I want to thank Pawsitively Poms Rescue and Sad Eyes Little Guys and all the animal rescue teams out there from the bottom of my heart for giving dogs like Annie (and Kibbles and Archer also pictured above) a second (or sometimes third, fourth, or fifth...) chance at having a good life. Please feel free to visit their websites by clicking on the names of the rescue groups above.
I didn't set my alarm for 5:00 on 19 May 2018 like many Royal Wedding fanatics because this girl needed her beauty sleep. (Note, I'm now going to start writing all dates Euro style to really confuse the Yanks. I did it like that for a few months in high school and it really did my teachers proud, I'd like to think).
Perhaps because I didn't watch the wedding live, I now find myself in a rabbit hole of news, news and even fake news. I am searching like hell for pictures of the after after party which my Momma says I will NOT find.
I am having so many thoughts and feelings about this Royal Wedding. So much so that I thought I might share them with you in a random stream of consciousness of my thoughts in no order of importance...or relevance.
I wonder if Harry and Meghan are fans of Walker's shortbread. Or, does the Royal Family have a preferred private brand of shortbread? In this case, if I said, "Do they have a preferred private label" would that mean store brand as it usually does or would it mean just a private royal label? I'm not sure. I wonder if I could whip up a decent gluten and sugar free shortbread cookie myself. Maybe not. I'd have to use real butter though, not some Earth Balance substitute. It probably wouldn't be as good as Walker's.
I wonder if Meghan Markle prefers Lady Grey or Early Grey tea?
Prince Harry strikes me as an English Breakfast tea kind of guy.
I wonder if Princess Diana drank Irish breakfast tea to really shake things up. God love her.
I remember where I was when I found out Princess Diana had passed away. I was with an actual British person, a British exchange student to be exact. He was hot. It was a high school and a small group of us had snuck into my house, well it had become my dad's house at the time, so we snuck into my dad's house to get some wine. And, we turned on the TV briefly. I remember the hot British exchange student taking it all in. He seemed to have such sadness for his country and the people's princess all in one. He cried. He was even more hot. Then, we all cried. And, I thought then and there, I'm sure as an American I won't ever have this much love for one of my country's leaders as these Brits do for Princess Diana. And, 20 something years later, that is still true.
I love both of Meghan's dresses. That boat neck. Just timeless. And classy. Some may say it's nothing fabulous. And, I will say she's a class act you judgmental bastard.
But I really love her Stella McCartney dress. My mum didn't know Stella is Paul McCartney's daughter. Shows ya how much my mum knows! I'm going to find those damn after after party pics even if you say I can't, Momma!
Could I wear a replica of that Stella McCartney dress? Would it look flattering on me, a girl with a plus size shape and overly skinny legs? I'm not so sure. There is this movement where the bigger girls don't give a F*ck if what they're wearing is flattering or not. I'm not part of that movement. Because, I proudly admit I have decided that I DO give a F*ck about wearing something flattering. I think Meghan Markle would be proud of my decision. I think twelve year old Meghan Markle who changed some shit at Proctor and Gamble would be proud of my decision too.
Nope. That dress would NOT look flattering on me. I need to stick to a plunging V-neck...wait is Prince Harry kind of pulling Meghan ?!?! No, Prince Harry. No. I love you, you sweet Ginger, rugged man. You're not pulling her, right? I'm over analyzing your body language for the benefit of my 10,000* and counting blog readers.
*number may be altered
I need to take my mind off this for a second. Okay, this helps.
I don't think any of us can forget Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie at William and Kate's wedding. These are my kind of girls, now y'all. They'd win a hat contest at the Kentucky Derby Day party at our local bar any day of the week! But, the Queen Grandmother must have said something to them because their looks were MUCH more toned down this go around...
However, I still want to be their best friend. Or, portray Princess Eugenie in her biopic, if that ever happens. I just love these guhls. Yes, say "guhl" like a British person and like the way my late great Pomeranian Precious would say it, "guhl." We're already besties, I can feel it, guhls.
And, how about Meghan's mom Doria? In my humble opinion, if you want to know the definition of bittersweet, look up Doria Ragland in the dictionary. She is one proud mum. But, I do feel a sense of loneliness. Maybe I am empathizing too much with my own mum (who was the traitor who said I wouldn't find any after after party pics) because I am crying for how Doria is going to manage in the States without Meg?!??! Did she have a good time at the wedding? Did she feel welcomed? But, how about that mint green on her, y'all? Gorg!
Now I'm getting emotional again and I'm thinking about Princess Diana and how she must be so proud of both of her boys. Those gents are stellar. I am trying so, so hard to not use the word amazing. That's an overused word. Brits don't overuse words like Americans do. I think Harry did a standup act to have an empty seat by Prince William yesterday in honor of his mum. I wonder how William must have been feeling, as well. Even though I am a bit frustrated with my mum for saying I won't be able to find after after party pics, I still love her to pieces.
Queen Elizabeth reminds me of Mardi Gras y'all !
And, then there's Oprah. Of course, there's Oprah. There will be an apocalypse. And, there will still be Oprah.
And, then there's Victoria Beckham, Posh Spice, looking like she's going to a damn funeral.
And, here's the real party people. Harry's ex girlfriends. Funny move, you salty chap! (salty chap? Do they even say that?) But, these look like the guhls I would want to hang with. I mean because let's face it. I don't think I'd be allowed to hang with my top fave guhls, Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice. The short skirts, the fun colors, the gays. These are MY peeps, y'all.
Actually, who am I kidding? I think of any of the wedding attendees, I'd want to hang with this guy MOST of all.
I'm talking about that horse on Harry's side of the carriage, of course. That salty chap (yeah, I've made that a thing) was loving up on Meghan's horse the whole time. Check him out now. He's whispering sweet nothings into Meghan's horse's ear. I wonder if that salty chap likes Walker's shortbread or if he prefers to have a gluten free diet like I do. But, for the whole carriage ride, y'all, this horse, let's call him Snowball, Snowball was prancing and also loving up on Meghan's horse. And, I just fell in love with him.
While my mum may have been right...I may have NOT found the after after party pics (YET), I did find some good pics of Snowball doing his thing. Here's another. Loves DOES prevail. But, all jokes and satire and random thoughts aside, I do wish the Duke and Duchess of Sussex a wonderful happy life together. Just please, make sure Meghan's mum is included. And, remember Snowball is gluten free.
I had a dream I was driving Drew Barrymore around town. And, no I wasn’t an Uber or Lyft driver or even a Shyft* driver (*shameless plug for our comedic short film. Check out more about it here.) Nope, I was a “picture car driver” which, in the movie biz basically means you’re an extra...and so is your car. Though, please don’t tell my eighteen year old autumn bronze pearl Infiniti G20t Trixie that she was an extra. She’s only meant for true stardom.
We were working on some low budget film or a film that has a really big budget but was trying to cut some serious corners. They had a very sparse and shitty craft food services table complete with flies swarming all over the sticky grocery store donuts. However, they also had a very friendly crew which almost made up for a craft food services table stocked with nothing but bottom of the barrel brand processed foods.
Because the film crew could also tell that my car Trixie was destined for stardom, they decided to put Drew in my backseat. A non-descript crew member handed me a walkie-talkie which may have been pink or purple and just instructed us to drive around. Because it was a dream, I don’t remember seeing a camera actually capturing any footage of Drew. But, she didn’t seem to mind. She was as friendly, laid back, cute, personable and effervescent (yes, that’s a good word) as I remember her.
Quick pause, y’all. I will even change font so we don’t get confused between the dream and the flashback sequence. I actually did meet Drew Barrymore once in real life. I worked on the film Music and Lyrics in which she portrays a regular girl just watering a washed up pop star’s plants. Come to find out, her character (Sophie?) just so happens to be a phenomenal writer. Drew’s character and washed up pop star (portrayed by Hugh Grant, naturally) join forces both in the music world and in the love world, like a good romantic comedy. You may remember the song Pop! Goes my Heart (and if you need a refresher you can catch it HERE ). I sure as hell do. See by “worked” I mean that I was an extra at an amusement park and Hugh Grant’s Pop! Goes my Heart was on repeat. I was a non-union extra at an amusement park way out in Long Island with two of my good friends in the middle of the summer. And, I had the time of my life.
First thing in the morning, we're ushered into a tent for breakfast. While slopping runny oatmeal into a paper bowl at breakfast, I met a friendly Lab mix. Off white in color and very friendly, laid back, cute, personable and effervescent. I ran back to my friends and said, “Oh my GOD y’all. I just met the NICEST dog ever.” And, my friend said, “Turn around. There’s Drew Barrymore.” I turned around and saw Drew also slopping runny oatmeal into a paper bowl. JUST LIKE THE REST OF US. And, standing by her, was the Lab mix. I screamed, “OH MY GOD. THAT IS FLOSSIE! THAT DOG IS DREW BARRYMORE’S DOG.” My friends told me I should calm down just a little or else I’d get kicked off set.
Well, we didn’t get kicked off set because thirteen hours later of riding a carousel, listening to Pop! Goes my Heart on repeat, and sneaking into the union crafty to have Twinings tea (instead of non union Lipton tea), we are all pretty much shit for brains. Drew Barrymore, still looking fabulous and cute as ever comes up to the stage and takes a microphone. She says (I’m paraphrasing, it’s been a while), “Thank you all so, so much for coming today. You are all doing an amazing job. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And, Brooke Hoover? You can have Flossie if you want. I can tell she really loved you at breakfast.”
Okay so that last part may have been a lie. But, that’s the dream within a flashback within a dream short story. See what I’m trying to do there?
So, back to the tale about my dream. When you go to the city parks, you are told DO NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE. When you do extra work, you are told DO NOT APPROACH THE PRINCIPAL ACTORS. (Principal actors, to the layperson, means actors who actually speak.) I disobey the former all the time. The squirrels at Madison Square Park always smell my pumpkin seeds and I coming off the PATH train. But, because I also am a principal actor (during a lucky year), I don’t want the lowly extras speaking to me, either. Perish the thought. Therefore, I understand and respect that rule. Today I am an extra (even though my car Trixie might get upgraded to principal) and I have to honor the #filmlife caste system.
Drew gets into the back seat of my car. I don’t remember any of the introductions or pleatries. It’s a dream. While driving Drew around, I break rule numero uno. But, it’s because she’s already been so friendly and nice to me (even though I don’t remember the pleasantries, there were a LOT to get us to this place, okay?) I ask Drew if I can ask her some advice. I really don’t even know what I want to ask her. But, I’ve got a lot on my mind and a lot to unload. So, much like I’m doing with this tale, I open the flood gates and let ‘er rip.
I spend SO much time prefacing my advice questions. I tell Drew that I’m just doing background work as my “day job” to make money and work towards my union health insurance and pension.. I whine about my former agents and managers who never got me enough auditions. I tell her I have written a screenplay and I also have a webseries. Basically, I spend so much of my preface time by sounding like a “basic actor bitch”. She’s heard it all before. I sound like a stereotype...the bad always seeking never reaching actor type. But, no! I’m more than that. I’m Brooke Hoover! I’m different.
Drew kindly listens to my whining and rambling. She only checks her phone like twice in five hours and she apologizes when she does as such. I tell her I understand. She’s busy. She’s a mom. And, besides being an actress and producer, she has a well known makeup line that is also cruelty free (Flower Beauty) and not to mention she’s the brand ambassador for Crocs.
At one point she offers me an Utz chip and I kindly decline because it’s not Paleo. Because it’s a dream, Drew Barrymore eats Utz chips. I doubt she would in real life. Not because she’s not laid back and down to earth like the rest of us. But, because she’s from California.
After what seems like an eternity of me just unloading all my fears and worries that preface the actual grass-fed meat of the matter, my pink (or purple) walkie talkie goes off and says, “Thanks ladies. That’s a wrap.” I put my car Trixie into park and Drew asks me to please deactivate the child locks in the back seat and then says, “Great working with you and getting to you know, Brooke.”
I’m speechless. I spent SO much damn time in a car with a CELEBRITY who I have admired since I was a child who was ALL EARS to my questions about the biz and all I did was over explain myself the whole damn time. I even DECLINED an Utz chip from DREW BARRYMORE, y’all.
I wake up in a cold sweat. Like a cold sweat worse than from a flu or from the recurring Alcatraz nightmares I have. Not only did I miss my shot, I didn’t show myself in the best light. It’s MY worst nightmare...being a basic. Being one of “those types”. But what are “those types”? And, who am I to judge? Aren’t we all just trying to make it in this business, in any business, in this life? Wouldn’t Drew Barrymore be the best person to fail around considering she’s so friendly and giving (at least according to my run-in with her on Music and Lyrics ages ago and in my dream last night)? She’s been through hell and back - I mean that childhood she had, come on. Drew’s not judging me. So, why do I wake up in a cold sweat?
Because, even in my sleep, I’m judging myself. I can’t escape my constant beating myself up-ness. I’m failing myself by being mad at myself for failing. Instead of asking Drew all the questions I could have asked her such as, “What’s the best way for an unknown actor/writer/producer to get a distribution deal...or even to get over a five thousand dollars to shoot a decent sizzle reel?” “How do you deal with the fat shaming in Hollywood? I mean, Drew, you’re not even fat according to this plus size girl.” (And, if you want to read a great article about Drew wanting to Fat in Peace, check it out HERE.)
I don’t even ask her questions about her hit Netflix show Santa Clarita Diet (WATCH IT Y’ALL), why she chose Wal-mart over Target for her line of FLOWER makeup or about Flossie (who I’m sure is in heaven now, being driven around in cars by Precious, Kibbles and my other heaven pets.) Is turning down this opportunity a signal to the universe that I want help but I don’t really want to open up to receive it? Is turning down an Utz potato chip from Drew Barrymore showing the universe that I don’t want all the potential schwag bags from the Oscar after parties? Did I miss my one and only chance?
The answer to all of that, of course, logically, I know is “no.” I know what I’m doing is just self-sabotaging. And, the first way to stop self-sabotaging is to recognize it. And, I don’t know that by searching in the Dream Moods dictionary*. I know that by answering the question myself.
Check out Dream Moods if you haven’t already, y’all. It’s pretty awesome. Here is the link… www.dreammoods.com However, you won’t be able to find “Flossie” in there. Believe me, I tried.
©Brooke Hoover 2018
Red Beans & Rice Mondays
or, Woes of a Private School Kid & Her School Cafeteria
By Brooke Hoover
As a kid, I wasn't a picky eater. But, when it came to my lunchtime repertoire I got easily bored of cold sandwiches and my mom told me Lunchables were the devil (to those of you who've seen “The Waterboy”, yes, like Kathy Bates’ character, most Cajun mommas really do tell their kids that all temptations are the devil.) So, enter the school lunch time woes. I went to a small school that didn’t have a cafeteria so we had to bring our lunches every day. I put Momma's creativity to the test because of my discerning palate and also my OCD kicking in when it came to color and texture.
I saw other kids at school doing creative things with their lunches. I tried to steal ideas from their lunchboxes. But, those creative ideas involved pickled okra which, at first glance, I thought were pickled lizards. Due to my enormous fear of reptiles, I ran the other way before I could learn more about the delicious briny crunch that was oh so Southern. Besides, I thought okra was only something you put in gumbo. Because, as my Nanny says, “if there's no okra in it, then it's not really gumbo.” The same friend also had soup that she brought in a red plaid Thermos (which is probably worth a pretty penny today with its bad ass vintage self). But I couldn't imagine soup would remain piping hot for five hours nor could I imagine sipping tepid soup (nor was I yet cultured enough to know about gazpacho.) Alas, first world problems.
So, being a creative genius who’s never had much time for bull shit, Momma decided to just start bringing my lunch to me every day. Every single day. Each morning before she’d drop me off at carpool, Momma would say, “Baby, what do you want for lunch today? Hurry up. It’s almost time for you to jump out.” Oh, the choices. I could choose to have her go home and make me something, go to my Maw Maw’s house and bring whatever wonderful Cajun comfort food Maw Maw was cooking that day, get take-out from one of the many wondrous restaurants South Louisiana has to offer or even pick me up some good ole fashioned fast food (Burger King and Wendy's being my drive thru's of choice at the time.) So many choices, so little time in the carpool line.
Before y'all assume I'm a spoiled little bitch who made her momma do everything for her, don't worry. Now that I’m an adult, I've returned the favor. I allow Momma to live with me in beautiful New Jersey (hey, it is the Garden State!) just minutes away from the best city in the world (NYC represent!) where she gets to make my bed, do my laundry and blend my green smoothies daily.
While the other kids at school were forced to eat soggy PBJ sandwiches and processed meat, I had the luxury of getting fresh, made to order take-out served up by Momma. Anne Olivier Hoover basically thought up Uber Eats before Uber was even conceived. I got to eat like a king. Food that was never tepid, always piping hot: from Magnolia Cafe’s baked potato soup to Momma’s famous roast and green beans to Maw Maw’s shrimp etouffe with sometimes the occasional Burger King chicken tenders served up in that little cardboard box that the graphic designers in the mid 1980’s thought would look extra wholesome in a faux basket weave design with a fat folk art looking chicken on the front (does anyone remember that? Anyone? Bueller?) It was also a perfect excuse for me, an only child with severe separation anxiety to make sure I got to see her momma mid-day, every day.
Until one day when Momma and I royally screwed up. I forgot to tell her that we were having a special presentation (not to be confused with the extra special presentation where two rangers brought in two boa constrictors from the Baton Rouge Zoo and let them slither around on the floor, hence my insane fear of snakes on the floor.) Well, the special presentation happened during our regular lunch hour, moving our usual lunch hour forty five minutes ahead of schedule. So, while all the kids eat their pickled okra, tepid soup and soggy sandwiches, I'm sitting there lunch-less and having anxiety worrying about Momma's whereabouts...and my soup du jour. A friend offers me her Lunchables Andes mint and I say, “Thank you. But, I can't have it. It's the devil.” With a growling stomach, I am ushered off to the presentation (I forgot what it was about. It clearly wasn’t as memorable as the snakes on the floor.)
Mid-presentation one of my favorite teachers whispers for me and I really think I'm in trouble for not remembering what the special presentation is to this day. But, she sneaks me into the teachers’ lounge and says my momma brought my food and left it in the lounge for me. I eat my baked potato with chili and cheese from Wendy’s (healthy fast food, y’all). I am happy to finally eat but pissed I didn’t get to see Momma. My piping hot, ready to order lunch doesn't taste quite as good without getting to hug Momma before digging in.
I must take a quick pause to say bless all those teachers and the principal’s hearts (and I don’t mean that in the usual Southern facetious way. I mean it from the heart that I’m blessing theirs from) for allowing Momma and I get by with our special lunch-capade for five plus years.
However, when sixth grade hits, because my parents are great parents but also horrible people, they make me go to a new fancier more rigid school that has uniforms and a cafeteria. I am now forced to wear gingham polyester and a white collared shirt instead of my usual fashion show of my beloved Gitano, Espirt and Spumoni brands that all the girls wore in the mid 1980's.
And, even worse, I now am forced to deal with the dreaded "where do I sit at lunch?" conundrum. To this day, I am still traumatized when I have to find a table and eat solo at Panera. Worse than finding a seat at lunch was the food at the cafeteria. Even worse than that was that I couldn't bring food in from the outside...or see Momma. Now, there was a time in high school where I did a fad diet and snuck in Slim Fast and carrots. Some of my friends sat with me in solidarity while I quickly chugged and chomped my lunch in the locker hall. But, this wasn't that time.
People from all over Baton Rouge - and from all over I mean the Junior League of East Baton Rouge Parish - talked about how my new school had the best school cafeteria around. Probably because all those diamond clad bitches volunteered there to feel like they were doing good for the world. Well, I wasn’t buying it. Literally. My parents were. School lunch was paid for in full upfront with tuition. I think that was a money making scheme and a crock of shit (which probably tasted the same as the Crock Pot of food they were feeding us). Even at the age of eleven, I knew a scam when I saw one. But one advantage was that I never had to carry around lunch money or get bullied to give it to other kids. But don't y’all worry. I got bullied for things other than lunch money.
Louisiana culture fact: Mondays are the day to make red beans and rice. Why, you ask? Because Monday is washing day! (By “washing day” I mean it’s the day we do laundry. I just thought washing day sounded more authentic.) Laundry takes so damn long and takes so much of your time (because all of us Cajun people have to use a washing board to clean our drawers, of course) what better to cook then a set it and forget it type of dish like a pot of red beans and rice with sausage?!?!
Cafeteria at my school lunch fact: they have a genius plan to serve red beans and rice every Monday. Red beans and rice is usually a wonderful dish. Especially when my Maw Maw is making them. But, when you’re walking to home room at 8:00 in the morning in humidity that’s already reached one hundred and ten percent, the smell of Teen Spirit and red beans and rice cooking in the cafeteria are enough to make you want to hurl. And, by “you” I mean me. And no, this nauseous feeling wasn't because I was pregnant. I was a frizzy haired fat chick, no underage pregnancy opportunities for this girl.
The red beans and rice at the school cafeteria compared to my Maw Maw’s my momma’s or even a Damn Yankee who never set foot in the South were like prison food at the end of the month. And if you must ask, I do know a thing or two about prison. I’ve binge watched Orange is the New Black. And, in high school we went on a field trip to Angola prison. But, I’ll save that for another short story. (Give y'all a lil' something to look forward to!)
School cafeteria red beans and rice went like this: the rice was hard and mushy at the same time. The rice texture is supposed to be like clouds - as if angels cooked every single grain themselves. The beans were completely flavorless and the hull had the texture of eating a piece of candy with the wrapper still left on it. And the sausage wasn't Andouille. If you don't know what Andouille sausage is, Wiki search it, I'm fixing to get to the point and I can't stop now. I will just quickly tell you every single restaurant I’ve ever been in outside of Louisiana always spells it incorrectly and that really makes Momma mad. The school cafeteria sausage looked more like inverted nipples than spicy, delicious pork by-product.
One extra hot and humid Monday morning as I walked by the cafeteria stench on the way to home room, I threw up in my mouth a little. I'd had enough of this. That afternoon Momma picked me up at carpool with an Evian and a hand carved smoked turkey sandwich (smoked in my uncle CJ’s own smoker) waiting for me, I told Momma it was child abuse and Fascism for me to be expected to eat that cafeteria shit or even smell it for one more day. So, Momma unzipped her car phone in a briefcase (reserved only for emergencies) and got on the phone with the lady who ran the cafeteria. We will call her Madame M - yes, “Madame”, I’m trying to be an authentic Louisiana person. Yes, there was a lady who ran it. And, now that I think about it, she may have resembled Red from Orange is the New Black. If you don’t watch OITNB, why do you hate females paving the way? But, also, if you don’t watch it, Red is a very tough Russian woman who takes her food very seriously...and she has red hair...if you hadn’t guessed.
Madame M said Momma was more than welcome to join us for lunch one day and try the food herself if I thought it was so damn bad. Momma got off the phone and told me that Madame M sounded offended. For a second, I thought Momma was going to side with Madame M. But, then she said Madame M also sounded like a Damn Yankee (which meant she was probably from North Louisiana not South Louisiana and hence a sub par chef to our Cajun relatives...or she was the devil.)
Momma said, “Baby, I’m coming for lunch tomorrow. Let me go pick out a jewel colored shirt and matching leggings for the occasion.” I squeezed her and said, “Momma I'm just glad you can join me for lunch.” Momma may have looked at me suspicious-like. Or, she may have had fluff from our Pomeranian in her eye.
The next day 11:55am rolls around and all the kids are so excited because Momma is coming to visit. Aside from the bullies, I'd managed to win over a decent amount of the student body with my jokes, my hair bows and my beautiful singing voice as the lead in all the school plays (okay that last part is a lie).
See, Momma helped me gain popularity because she was the quintessential cool mom who cursed, allowed kids to curse around her and road around town with a parrot on who shoulder who, of course said “shit.”
So, Momma arrives and has to get in line with all the rest of us plebeian middle schoolers. Madame M just happens to be walking around the cafeteria wearing a smile instead of her usual smirk and hair net. She spots Momma. Madame M asks Momma and me along with the six friends who deemed me worthy to sit at their lunch table to skip the line. We are served by smiling women in Talbots blazers the entree of the day: chicken nuggets (peasants compared to the royalty on the Burger King menu), mashed potatoes (instant, therefore basically gruel), rice pilaf (from Mondays left-over red beans and rice. I spot an inverted nipple in there) and peas and carrots (clearly from a can.)
At the end of the serving line is a multiple-tiered dessert serving area. The only dessert at the school cafeteria ever worth shit were the peanut butter bars. Which I may or may not still think about to this day. But, that strays from my point! And, today the dessert is blueberry crumble - a gelatinous concoction with crumbled granola on top. I'm thinking this is perfect. Momma is already wincing at the entree and sides (she probably just noticed the inverted nipple in the rice pilaf) and now she has to come up close and personal with the blueberry crumble.
The blueberry crumble, much like the strawberry, apple or cherry fruit crumble may sound edible. Heck, it may even sound good to the untrained foodie. But, fruit crumbles at the school cafeteria are notorious for having the consistency of war food. And, if y'all are questioning how I know what war food is, well let's just say my dad is a history buff who was always watching war movies when I was a kid. I know a thing or two about ‘Nam. Okay?
We all sit down at the table and making sure Momma gets to sit at the head of the table. One of my friends, we’ll call her Feather says, “Hey Brooke. Show your Momma the blueberry crumble magic trick!” Another girl (who used to bully me but who's now our friend because I made enough fun of her for her to laugh at me and decide I'm cool) says, “Yeah it's so nasty that it just kind of defies gravity (I'd like to insert a Wicked reference here but that musical hasn't been invented yet).”
All eyes are on me. I flip over the gelatinous blueberry crumble to show Momma that it is in fact made of war food and super glue. The whole cafeteria - or at least table eight goes silent for thirty seconds. Feather, the bully girl and friends start counting down as the blueberry crumble is still holding strong, “ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two…”
SPLAT! The damn blueberry crumble falls on the plate just milliseconds before the thirty second mark. I swear I see Madame M peeking her head out from the back of the cafeteria and cackling her hair-net off.
I expect Momma to say something like “well, Brooke Anne, I guess it's not as bad as you said it was. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.” But, instead Momma looks at the fallen blueberry crumble and she says, “Still, y'all, that is some nasty ass shit”. And the whole cafeteria (or table eight at least) roars with laughter.
It's not like the visit really did any good because the food doesn't change for the better. Because of policy and because the school knows that despite my obsession with Judaism and BaRFTY - Baton Rouge Federation of Temple Youth I'm not really Jewish. So, I can't say I require to bring my own Kosher meals. I'm still forced to eat the cafeteria food and my parents are still forced to pay it with my tuition.
However, I will always remember that day when Momma visited my scary grown up school. It was like the days of yore at my hippie dippie elementary school when I literally got to see her and hug her morning, noon and night. The day the blueberry crumble actually crumbled, I may have been a big bad pre-teen who was finally able to master making friends and finding a table to sit at. But, I got to show my Momma that I still needed her...especially at lunch.
Now that Momma lives with me, I am grateful that as an adult I can hug her mid-day if I so choose. Writing this tale reminds me that I probably should hug her more often. We may grow up, but we will always need our mommas. One of Momma and my favorite things to do is go to Panera for lunch. And, now we can share in our anxiety over finding a table to sit at.
If this story moved you in any way, including your bowel habits, please consider paying it forward and donating food to those who are actually hungry. You can learn more by visiting Feeding America's Food Bank Locator HERE
Yes, NJ ACTORS (AND FILM CREW) ACT (pun intended) NOW ! We just received an email from SAG-AFTRA regarding a Town Hall meeting this coming Tuesday Mar 13 at 11am in Trenton, NJ. Please see below for more details. If you are unable to attend, I still strongly suggest contacting Senators Brown and Weinberg
Just because this particular email came from the union, it doesn't matter if you're union or not. We are all working artists who want more work in our state and to create more opportunities for all of us. Let them know your story. I have so many tales but many have a recurring theme : shooting a film that takes place in New Jersey across the river in New York - so many times. We love New York, I love New York. I support filming in New York. But, it's time we bring the tax credits back to NJ !
You can contact our senators by clicking on their names above.
The times are a changin' and actors are self producin' - I don't know why I'm talkin' in this in' speak. Maybe because I'm an old soul.
I have revamped my website to reflect and easily add in all of the work I have produced through Fluffy Butt Productions, my production company which has produced webseries Pageant Pom Mom, short film SHYFT and solo show Phat Girl Costumes over the past three years.
You may remember my former website...which I loved
I will be forever grateful to YARI who designed my former website (which you may remember). Her link (because I will recommend her till the cows come home) is below: