“Okay, class, we’re going to have a little contest,” said Ms. Hart, my elementary school art teacher. “We’re going to vote on who looks the MOST like Mona Lisa! Whoever wants to be in the contest, raise your hand.”
A gaggle of girls started to giggle and raise their hands. I sunk into my seat.
She pointed around the room, “Okay, you, and you, and you, aaaaaand…” She looked directly at me. “Why don’t you join the group, Stephanie?”
I went from pasty pale to beat red as I stood in front of the class for “evaluation”.
“Hmm, hmm, hmm, let’s cast a vote. So, here’s what’s going to happen – I’m going to paint a picture of Mona Lisa, and you get to stick your head through it.”
One of the girls got a shocked look on her face, likely due to the social implications of sticking one’s head through a painting. “I think Stephanie should do it – she looks the most like Mona Lisa.”
“Uh, yeah,” said the other girl, “Besides, she’s the only white girl in the whole class.” A few people snickered.
Of course, everyone agreed, and I was selected.
“Alright, do you need me to do it now for a photo or something?” I asked.
“Oh, no,” Ms. Hard replied. We’re going to prop you up in the lunchroom for A, B, and C lunch so the entire school can see you.”
“Oh, gee…I don’t think I can do that. I have gym class during-“
“Don’t worry, I’ll get you out of gym.”
I evaluated what would be more humiliating – getting blasted in the face with dodge-balls or get tossed into a medieval torture stock painted to look like Mona Lisa.
I chose Mona Lisa.
Initially, it wasn’t that bad. Most people didn’t even notice me. Until a young girl walked up to me.
“It is real?” she said, as she poked me square in the eye. I screamed. She screamed. It was a huge mess. It was at that moment that the local newspaper showed up.
“What a maaaarvelous little girl in a maaaarvelous painting!” The reporter started to take 1000 photos. Most of the lunch line laughed at me. After three periods of that (keep in mind, that’s a whopping 2+ hours), when the ordeal was finally over, I tried to extract myself from the painting and discovered a massive amount of paint stuck in my hair.
About ten years later, I was at my old dentist’s office. My mother just had some type of awful procedure, and I needed to pick her up because she was a little woozy.
“Stephanie! Boy, I haven’t seen you in a while!” said Dr. Lorch. “Well, actually, I see you every day…”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
He led me to a cork-board where he had the newspaper photo pinned, for all of his patients to see.
“BAH! That is so embarrassing – why do you have that?”
“My patient, featured in the paper for Mona Lisa’s smile. That’s good advertising for a dentist’s office!”
My mother groggily chimed in, “Yah, you looked good in dah picture, very sexy.”
Anyu always knows exactly the least helpful, most inappropriate thing to say. I guess that’s how I know she’s proud of me.
Photo Courtesy of the Home News Tribune. Gee, thanks. Thanks a lot.
March 19, 2011, 9:25 p.m. Less than 20 minutes after the No Moon incident.
My phone rings. It’s Ilka.
“You know, I vas tinking….is today Matt’s burstday?”
“You should half told me before! Vhat are you guys doink? You at a bar?”
“No. We’re just playing board games and video games.”
“Like half a dozen close friends…a friend who is in from LA…and the neighbors I told you about.”
“NO, not Benino!!!”
“Vhy don’t you invite him over?”
“Mom, I told you before, I can’t talk right now!!!”
“Oh, ok, den can I talk to Matt and vish him a happy burstday?”
I looked over and Matt was merrily playing Mario Kart GameCube. “Um, I don’t know if Matt is available…”
“Yeah, I’ll talk to her,” he replied, “blue shelling” an unsuspecting Birdo before tossing his controller in my general direction. “Here, take over for me.” I immediately drove off a cliff.
Matt gave me the stink eye from across the room for ruining his perfect score. “Hi, Ilka….yes, thank you. What? Oh. Okay. Yeah. No problem. Okay. Okay. Okay. No problem. Yes. Okay. I understand. I promise. Okay, bye. I promise. Yes, I understand. Very good. Thank you. Okay. Okay. Well, bye then. Okay. No, that’s fine. I will. I promise. Okay. Okay, bye.”
He came back with a smirk on his face.
“What did she tell you?” I asked.
“Well…she said, ‘Happy Birthday‘…and then immediately went into a rant about how I should go look at the moon.”
“HEY! But she said-”
“AND…she said how she had just finished leaning out of her front door to catch a glimpse of the moon and that it was beautiful, and how I should totally see it, and how I should make sure everyone at my party saw it, and if you were going to see it, I had to promise to not allow you out of my sight or let you wander off…”
“THAT’S IT! I’M GOING TO GO LOOK AT THE MOON AND I DON’T NEED ANY OF YOU PEOPLE AND….oh…”
All of the guests, having heard the ruckus about the moon, had already left to go look at it. I stomped outside with Matt and looked up.
The moon looked totally normal.
I was disappointed. And then…a brilliant idea. “Leave me….” I said.
“Go away, I need a moment.”
The guests went back inside and I snapped this photo:
Caption on the back: Stephanie. Looking at the moon. Unattended.
I think I’ll give it to her for Mother’s Day
Moon Photo by Ilco
Steph Photo by Me. Tee hee hee.
My Nagymama also made this recipe all of the time. It’s the “Ramen Noodles” of Hungarian cooking – yummy, but it’s easy enough for any first-year college student to make (and afford) in a pinch. It’s quite delicious, but not for those on diets.
From Steve O.
-Noodles (Any kind you like really. Steve likes linguine or spaghetti, but Nagymama always used egg noodles or bow tie pasta)
- Salt, pepper, paprika
-Fresh parsley (Optional, only if you want to be fancy)
-Boil the noodles according to directions on the box.
-Get a frying pan.
-Put the noodles in there.
-Use one metric sh*tload of butter (not sure what the standard conversion is, an ass-ton, maybe).
-Add a bunch of breadcrumbs.
-Mix together and pan fry until a little bit crispy.
-When I’m not feeling lazy, I like to add a pinch of salt, pepper, paprika and fresh parsley. It’s also delicious plain.
-Eat. Be fat and happy.
With permission, I’m posting Steven Ormosi‘s story about his “Goulash” experience:
Your videos and stories remind me of my own Grandmother. She was always Grandma to me, not Nagymama, though naggy might describe her well:
“Where is your girlfriend?”
“I don’t have one.”
“Here is more chicken.”
“I’ve already had two helpings!”
“You have to love your brother.”
“…What? I do.”
My Grandmother would dote on us, which was great because mom wouldn’t let us drink soda or eat unhealthy cereal at home. She once gave me so much food while I was over there that I puked…ugh, I still can’t eat sour cream and onion potato chips. I think I gained about 100 lbs as a direct result of them moving to NJ.
She was just as anal about everything being in the right place as your Nagymama is. She would constantly rove the living room and kitchen, fixing any little inconsistency, picking up bits of lint or string or what have you. Clearing dishes, as soon as the last morsel was picked off the plate. She was a whirling dervish.
Grandma would make all kinds of Hungarian food. Grandpa would grumble from his easy chair that he couldn’t hear the game. He watched sports any time he wasn’t sleeping. They would yell at each other in Hungarian. I could never tell what was going on, but they just yelled all the time, for them it was like normal conversation. My Grandpa would call her stupid, she’d call him an animal, after a while I found it all to be quite hilarious.
There was so much love and history between the two of them though. I’ve never seen a man so sad as when my Grandma was dying. He cried all the time. His world was just gone. I’m getting a little depressed just remembering it. Now they are both gone and I can’t ask the questions I’d like to anymore, I think about them a lot. It makes me glad you’re doing what you’re doing. Keep on keepin’ on.
Thanks for the amazing story, Steven . It just goes to show you, not every family is like those ABC made-for-tv movies – but that doesn’t mean there is any less love. Take a hint from Steve – get off your fanny and talk to your granny! – S.Y.
Whirling Dervish photo by Karen Blessen
March 19, 2011, 9:05 p.m. My phone rings. It’s Ilka.
“Hey, mom, I can’t talk, I’m at a birthday party. Is everything ok?”
“Ok, I vas just calling to alert you about dah moon.”
“Oh, yeah, it’s a super moon, right?”
“So you’re avare of the situation? Your aunt told me dat dah moon is the closest it has ever been…”
“Yah, okay, well I can’t talk right now, I promise to go look at the moon later.”
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! DON’T LOOK AT THE MOON!”
“It’s not a solar eclipse, mom. You can look directly at it-”
“No, Stephie, promise me you vill not go outside and look at the moon!”
“Wait, what the heck is happening? Did you seriously just call me to tell me about the moon so I don’t go look at it??”
“Stephie, are you drunk?”
“What?” I look down at my half-finished can of 4-Loko. “Uhhhh, noooo,” I lied.
“Promise me you vill not go outside all by yourself. Do you have someone to vatch you.”
“I’m 28, I don’t need anyone to watch me.”
“Ok, fine. I will not look at the moon unattended.”
“Okay. Tell somevon whoever it is ‘Happy Burstday.’”
“And don’t look at the moon either if you’ve been drinking. You could valk into the road or fall over and den vhat?”
“You know, I only half von child…”
“Vhat are you buying Nagymama for her burstday?”
“I don’t know, I really can’t talk right now.”
“YOU’RE LOOKING AT THE MOON RIGHT NOW, AREN’T YOU?”
“No, mom, I’m next to my friend April.”
“Vhat? Who is dat? I don’t know her! Is she a nice girl?”
“Yes. I gotta go, seriously.”
“Okay, Stephie, bye. NO MOON!”
“Ok, no moon.
See Also: No Moon: Addendum