I had lunch today with a friend. I had lunch with this friend last year. Let me put it another way: it's been a year since I had a childless lunch with not just this friend, but any friend. It's been a year since I have had to muster ninety minutes of attention span and personal anecdote in conversational (i.e., non-blog) format, whilst simultaneously keeping a linen napkin on my knee.

I couldn't do it last year. I was out of practice. I had about thirty-five minutes of grownup talk in me and then my eyes fogged over and I didn't hear from her for six months, probably because it's really creepy to watch the life force drain from someone's eyes over a moldering plate of red beans and rice.

But today, I did it! I even used hand gestures. Twice I did the "Cover Your Eyes In Horror While Hearing About Something Stupid That Your Idiot Old Boyfriend Did" gesture.

Somehow we got our names on the Most Godawful Catalogues in America mailing list. Here are some of my favorites so far:

Toscano, home of the three-foot-long garden unicorn, gargoyles riding motorcycles, ugly gnomes aplenty, and a screaming "Torment of Technology Computer Topper" that looks less like a tormented soul than it does a small plaster cast of Ben Franklin yawning.

Betty's Attic, where you can purchase yourself some Speed Racer lounge pants, or a "delightful animated goat" that "sings the original 1965 recorded version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's 'The Lonely Goatherd.'"

Art & Artifact: Venetian glass maraschino cherries, a 53% acrylic tapestry map of Middle Earth, and $69.95 (each) figurines of dogs dressed like the characters in Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," including Ebeschnauzer Scrooge.

Last night we were eating take-out sushi (I know it seems like all we eat is take-out sushi, but actually? We eat other things that I don't write about? So don't freak out about it, okay?), and Jackson, Boy of International Cuisine, starts demanding things. First he wants the soft-shelled crab. Then he starts getting pissy because Jack won't give him a whole one of those things with roe and a raw quail's egg on top.

You know how people spell things they don't want to say in front of their children? Things about Ernie and Bert having A-N-A-L S-E-X? Well, Jack was getting a little steamed at Jackson, but he didn't want to yell at a little boy who's brave enough to eat cooked eel, so Jack very pleasantly says, "Hey, you little M-O-T-H-E-R-F-U-C-K-E-R, if you don't quit poaching my sushi I will most assuredly K-I-C-K your F-U-C-K-I-N-G A-S-S into next week."

It's the same with kids and dogs; it's not so much the words you use as the tone.