I grew up in a list family. My mother wrote her numbered lists carefully on a journalist's pad, a True smoldering in the ashtray. My father scribbled his lists everywhere --- on napkins, torn legal paper, oversized graph pads. No task was too large or too small. He'd write: "Wake up. Meditate. Eat breakfast. Read paper. Clean out attic. Paint porch. Eat lunch. Grocery shop..." Of course, none of the things after "read paper" ever got done.
For Christmas we exchanged lists. My brother and I wrote "Dear Santa" lists, begging for Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots, Marblehead, bikes, skates, yo-yos, and, in my case, a pony. When we were older, our parents gave us their wish lists. My father's came complete with purchasing information --- book titles, authors, and sometimes even ISDN numbers; clothing sizes, colors, and often brand name. A typical list would read: "L.L. Bean flannel pajamas (red), size L; Old Town fiberglass two-man canoe (dark green); Tai Chi Handbook by Herman Kauz (Doubleday, 1974); six-piece acrylic prism set (Edmund Scientific catalog, p. 31, $29.95)."
The geek doesn't fall far from the tree, so here's my list, complete with purchasing information. Don't get me anything on it --- I'm a big girl now and I can buy whatever I want. Except the pony.
1. Barbie dolls weren't a big part of the unisex '70s of my childhood, but I'm fascinated by them now. Apparently I'm not alone --- on a recent SNL, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's Barbie-doll reenactment of the Tara Reid nip slip ended in a make-out session with a Barbie Paris Hilton. I'd like to see what Fey and Poehler would do with these two new dolls: Bobbie Doll and Juicy Couture Barbie.
The 12-inch-tall Bobbie Dolls --- named Rockabilly, Diesel Dyke, and Doc Holiday --- are dubbed the world's first lesbian action dolls. Like any decent action figures, they have great outfits and, yes, strap-on accessories.
Juicy Couture Barbies, made to look like the two women helming the Juicy design house, are shipping to stores this week, just in time for little fashion-lemmings-in-training to receive them for Christmas. With their hot-pink Uggs, terry track suits, and Chihuahua in a tote, they're just asking to be dominated. (www.dykedolls.com, www.barbiecollector.com)
2. In this South Beach Nation, where everyone from the porcine to the skeletal is on some sort of diet, normal foods are vilified. White bread is the new cocaine --- whole grain bread just doesn't provide that forbidden glucose rush. And pasta is considered a form of self-abuse, according to The Vagina Monologues' Eve Ensler. Lucky you, I found an ice cream that will fit into everyone's diet --- Brian & Johnny's.
Don't get me wrong, it's sinfully high in butterfat (18 percent). But the flavors --- extraordinary vanilla made from vanilla beans, chocolate from Callebaut bars, and mesmerizing blood orange, to name a few --- are so intense that you only need to eat a few mouthfuls to feel like you've really indulged. I also dig that it's made right here in Rochester from fresh, local ingredients --- Pittsford Farms Dairy's cream, Java Joe's coffee, and fruits from local farms. (Buy Brian & Johnny's Ice Cream at Pittsford Farms Dairy, Baker Street Bakery, and Fare Game Foods in the Public Market.)
3. As we all know, Christmas isn't just about getting things. It's about getting off. Oh, wait; I'm thinking about something else. Christmas, we're constantly reminded, is about caring and sharing. I'll share this with you: Some things on my list aren't things at all. They're experiences. Like spraying Chloraseptic, the sore-throat spray, all inside my mouth and trying to talk. The spray is an anesthetic, so it numbs your mouth and makes it feel all tingly. Try saying "Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi" three times fast. Or grab someone you like, spray Chloraseptic into both your mouths, and make out. That crank will make your cakehole explode.
4. If the Chloraseptic is a hit, you might want to give your friend-with-benefits a ring like mine. It's called a "Numbering," and it's made by local artist Doug Withers from a combination-lock wheel. The punky black-and-metal band has the numbers 0 through 9 stamped on it in a retro industrial font. My kids like to follow the numbers around the band, doing something called modular addition in base 9. I just think it's purty. ($25, email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
5. I grew up eating pomegranates, chewing on the fibrous seeds while the blood-red juice ran down my chin. My father's passion for the difficult fruit was either a holdover from his Old-World Brooklyn upbringing or just another item in our wacko-biotic diet, so I ate them even though they didn't seem worth the trouble. But as it turns out, they are. Pomegranates have come full circle from Freaky Fruit to It Food.
Heralded as the hottest, bestest, healthiest thing since blueberries last year, pomegranate juice reduces heart attack risk, is high in antioxidants, and is loaded with vitamins. Plus, the pomegranate is packed with symbolism and mythology. In various cultures it has been a symbol of birth, longevity, and death. The Iranians think it was a pomegranate, not an apple, that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. And Pom, the juice made from pomegranates, comes in a cool bottle.
6. A couple of years ago my sons and I stumbled upon the Kidrobot store in San Francisco. At first I thought it was for children. Au contraire. Kidrobot's collectible, artist-designed toys are way too slick and expensive for most kids. Conceived under the heady influence of Manga, Anime, Disney, and other pop-culture icons, these "urban vinyl action figures" may just be the Hummels of my generation. I can't get enough of them. (www.kidrobot.com)
7. It's a noun. It's a verb. It's my favorite magazine. Bitch Magazine is a bright and entertaining look at pop culture from a feminist perspective. In recent issues, Bitch looked at TV crime shows' hard-on for cold female corpses; talked back to Chris Rock's comedy diatribes against marriage; and pointed out gender stereotypes in American Baby magazine. Past issues have covered eating disorders and the celebrities who love them, girl bands, and fame vs. obscurity. One drawback: Neither the front nor back cover can be considered quote-unquote family friendly. With the "B" word on the front and perennial dildo ads on the back, this magazine is best kept off the coffee table. (www.bitchmagazine.com)
One thing I learned growing up in a list family is that lists reveal a lot about the author. Take my kids' letters to Santa. The polite introductions are longer than the lists themselves. One three-item list my older son wrote a few years ago reads, "Dear Santa, if it's not too much trouble and you're not too busy, here's my list but you don't have to get me all of it." That poor kid; what kind of crappy home life does he have? And my dad's lists --- talk about compulsive. I don't write lists often but I'm glad that when I do write one, like this one, it's not at all revealing.