"the time between evening and morning; the time of darkness."
The time of darkness.
It is darkness which I come to speak about today.
A story has slouched towards my blog to be born today, and that is the incident of the scallop in the nighttime.
I was raised in Texas, which, contrary to popular belief, is not in "The South." Is it in the southern portion of the United States? Yes. But "the South" is a bunch of Eastern states more clearly known to Texans as "The Deep South" or those states in which people talk funny, pollute tea with sugar and eat crawly "mudbugs" born in storm sewers. Texas is firmly located between the South and the West. Truth be told, Texans, as children of the Great Republic of Texas, in general do not consider themselves to be a part of any group of like things, because as anyone will tell you, there isn't anything like Texas.
But that being said, Texans are Southerners in the sense that we do have good southern manners. We say yes ma'am and yes sir - even to people in AT&T Customer Service, we open doors for people, we pull over and STOP for funeral processions and fire trucks, and we don't air our dirty laundry in public.
We also accept gifts, regardless of our feelings about said gifts, with a warm and sincere thank you, even if we are shuddering on the inside. The thing about Southerners, unlike, say, Facebook, is there's actually a difference between our INSIDE and our OUTSIDE, and that, at its core, is the essence of being a Southerner.
Hence the scallop incident in the nighttime.
One evening, in THE TIME OF DARKNESS, my sister and I went to one of our favorite haunts in Austin - a very upscale restaurant which I shall not name. At this restaurant, we were such frequent guests that we had a familial relationship with a server who was from a city and state we were very familiar with, as we had family there, and we became friends with this server and requested him every time. We were such fixtures in the restaurant - we always came during senior citizen hour because our favorite dishes were half price - that he always bought us some dish or dessert that he knew we'd love as a gift. He picked out some amazing things that we loved. But it was an extremely busy place, and sometimes he forgot that there were foods that neither of us would eat even if we'd been waterboarded mercilessly prior to the suggestion.
Such as a giant diver scallop, which arrived one night, compliments of our server, and sat jiggling between us like a fishy Jell-O mold from hell.
We. Were. Horrified.
Our faces began to sweat and we knew we didn't have much time to dispose of the body before our beloved server came over and asked us how it was. The problem was, the thing was the size of a chihuahua. This wasn't a small problem.
We quickly decided - cue the Frasier theme music - to put the body in a napkin and take it to the bathroom and flush it.
No, sadly, I'm not kidding.
What happened next is what happens sometimes when you are going out of your way to be polite, and by that I mean complete chaos, followed by embarrassment far worse than just saying no thank you to the scallop would have been, even for two people with manners.
The scallop, which was wrapped in a napkin and on an unnamed lap, ready for transport, fell onto the dark, beautiful carpet next to our booth.
The screaming inside our heads had barely begun when another server came by and said "WHAT IS THAT ON THE FLOOR?" and immediately got the sweeper, which spread the 48 pound scallop into a 4" x 3 foot long white streak of guilt and shame - a HIGHWAY of smashed scallop - next to our booth. A river of stinky, expensive and highly visible good intentions.
Inevitably, our server returned and said "WHAT HAPPENED HERE?" when he saw the mess, to which we feigned obliviousness and changed the subject.
It was at that exact moment that we both started carrying paper towels with us wherever we go. I buy purses now solely on their ability to conceal and transport diver scallops safely to the place they belong - the toilet.
There is some history here too. My sister, who hated milk, nearly since birth, went to great lengths not to drink it. I remember distinctly being at a restaurant on a road trip when I was little, and a waitress coming over and saying "Is that a glass of milk on the floor?"
So while manners might be our forte, we probably both need a little work on subtlety. And for the love of God, please don't ever send a scallop to someone. It's not really a universally acceptable gift.
However, if you DO want to give someone a gift, might I recommend a favorite childhood toy?
Fashion Plates. Did you have these? I LOVED them so much. I'd put this in the box with my Lite Brite, the Spirograph and Super Elastic Bubble Plastic.
I freaked out when my friend Mary Dawn pointed out that you can get them - complete with a super cute carrying case, on Amazon. These are the ones I got:
I can't wait to use the Action Plates one! SO fun!
But for this card, what I did was set up some random plates, and then used my Derwent Inktense Blocks - well, BLOCK - just blue :) - to rub the images onto Strathmore Ready Cut watercolor paper.
Then I just spritzed them with water to blur out the images a bit.
After they dried, I went back in with Mission Gold Watercolor in Ultramarine (on sale on Amazon right now with only a few left in stock) just to add some painted areas and a smooth contrast to the textured areas that preserved the rubbing detail.
Then I used my mini MISTI to stamp the sentiment numerous times to make sure it was solid on the watercolor paper. The sentiment is from one of my fave sets EVER - Feel Goods.
Maybe that's not the right sentiment for my story, but I don't have a stamp that says "she tried to flush an expensive diver scallop down the toilet in a high end restaurant, but she couldn't."
So this will have to do.