Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Damn You Yankees

UntitledIt seems it's necessary for me to sound the annual alarm bells. People, Yankee Swap/White Elephant parties are mean! The premise is getting together with people you like and taking stuff that makes them happy away from them. Please stop the madness. My full diatribe is here.

Instead let me direct you to a kind of swap that isn't mean. It's just to show you that two born and bred Yankees like me and Our Janet can be reformed while staying frugal.

So, Janet messages me before Thanksgiving and asks if I'm anywhere near this. I am not, in fact, any nearer or farther away from that than I am to anything else in New York City so I say yes. It turns out that if you go to the Chobani yogurt parlor they serve you in cute glass dishes and you get a discount when you bring your dish back for a refill. Janet didn't want a refill, she wanted some cups so I said I'd work on getting them for her.

Untitled This yogurt parlor is in Soho. Soho is fancy. It used to be a mix of very fancy with kind of downtrodden and I used to spend a lot of time in the latter establishments back when there was a truly fabulous theatre there that used to let me play in it. Now it's all fancy. I felt weird crossing the old streets and seeing store after store filled with stuff that cost my life savings. I nurtured that weird feeling until I started to get anxious about ordering my yogurt. How expensive would it be? Did I need to ask for the glass dishes? Would it be so complicated that I'd make a mistake?

You're a fucking 43-year-old woman of sound mind and body and also it's yogurt! Buck up.

So I bucked and went in and, while the clientele was all skinny twentysomething women in cashmere languishing on bench seats, the employees were beautiful, normal-looking, helpful, and kind folks. They handed me a menu (of yogurt, I know) and took my order and told me to take as many pictures as I wanted, even urged me to belly up to the pass through window so I could see my concoctions in progress. They lovingly packed my glass dishes full of fresh ingredients into a recycled materials paper bag and waved me on my way back to cut-rate-cashmere, non-fancy life.

Untitled Home in Brooklyn I happened upon a perfect shaft of light cutting across my imperfectly clean dining table and snapped a few pics for the record. Eddie quickly grew bored but Anna stuck around to supervise. She likes to see if I'm going to accidentally leave food unattended.

I ate the Pomegranate and Power one, first. I love pomegranate and clearly after my crisis on the way to buy yogurt I need to look into getting my power back so it was an obvious choice. Pomegranate and yogurt is food of the gods. Power apparently comes in the seeds of flax and hemp. I could do without seeds in my teeth but they don't taste like anything and I know they're good for me so that was fine. For my Greek yogurt cravings I usually apply Fage so I was interested to find that Chobani has a slightly looser texture and is sweeter. Now, I didn't read my menu closely so maybe they added honey or maybe the yogurt is naturally slightly sweet. Does anyone know? It was a perfectly delightful snack but then I was full so I put away the other serving for later.

Untitled I was afraid that my second snack would suffer some tragedy of flavor melding after a day in the fridge but fortunately that did not come to pass. This one was Pistachio and Chocolate and I got it because, duh, chocolate. There was a whole bunch of other stuff in there, too, the same seeds but also some fruit, maybe slightly dried pineapple, and mint leaves on top. The chocolate was good and dark and there was enough that you could have some in every bite. If I ever braved the fancy yogurt place again I'd be hard pressed to choose between these two.

A week and a half later when I'd finally cleaned the dishes I mailed them off to Our Janet nestled in a box engineered by Mameres out of free items we found at the Post Office and the roll of tape I brought. Miraculously (not a miracle, Mameres knows his shit) the dishes arrived unscathed and Janet's Dave started on my half of the barter. You see, Dave is an artist (among other things) and when Janet asked if I wanted anything from New England in return for the dishes the first thing that popped into my head was, "Will Dave draw me a picture of Eddie?" Without consulting Dave at all she said yes (Thanks Dave!) and asked, "Do you want a standard portrait or Dave-style?" Dave-style all the way. I've never had anyone do a portrait of any of my animals and I'm really excited for this. It's something I've wanted for a long time.

See how nicely this all worked out? A straight swap of things we each have access to. Nothing expensive to provide. Most importantly, nobody gets to steal anything! Seriously, if you try to steal my Dave-style portrait of Eddie I will fucking cut you...probably with some shitty gift someone stuck me with at a Yankee Swap!


Don't forget that the world premiere of my new cabaret show, Back Where I Belong, is coming up December 12, January 9, and January 17. Details are here. I hope you can make it and bring all your friends! Please spread the word and use the hashtag, #KizzCabaret.  


  1. You may be right but I don't think so.

    1) A Yankee swap for a bridal shower is WEIRD.
    2) They work better when you encourage people to regift and repurpose and recycle things from their houses. Some people just can't do that, so they can buy a crappy $10 gift, but we always ended up with wonderful stuff. I remember rollerblades one year, and an oriental rug once, and I still have an odd folk-art tricycle that I got in one.

  2. Ooo, nice. Grammy Fern would be so proud of you.

    I maintain that you have to be the George R. R. Martin of gift giving to make a Yankee Swap work.

  3. A Dave-style portrait of Eddie would be the most stealable item ever!

  4. Step off, woman! I have a cheap plastic Hulk mug with ragged unfinished plastic seams that could cause you grievous bodily harm!

  5. What a pal! You tell Janet that if she needs any more yogurt cups, we'll send her a couple. Can't wait to see the Dave-style portrait!


  6. I LOVE the cups! Thank you, Kizz (and Amy@Chobani!) I'll be mailing Eddie's portrait tomorrow, and will put it in bubble wrap and cardboard so it doesn't get bent. (Get bent - there's a old New England [or possibly just a Boston] way of saying eff you, did you know?)

    ANYWAY! We had a yankee swap at the company holiday party (owner is Jewish, hence holiday) and know what I ended up with? Something called Molly's Pumpkin Spice Irish Cream. It's described as: A delicious blend of fresh dairy cream and smooth Irish whiskey, Molly's Pumpkin Spice Irish Cream combines rich pumpkin flavor with notes of cinnamon, clove, vanilla and brown sugar. Hmmm...sounds pretty good! But I'm giving it to my boss as a hostess gift when Dave and I go to her Christmas party LOL!

  7. Hey Amy, is there honey in the yogurt concoctions or is Chobani naturally sweet? Thank you for offering to be our cup connection!

    Janet, I absolutely know Get Bent! It's the perfect expression. Regifting, a time honored holiday tradition. Frugal and neat all at once.

  8. Suzanne9:17 PM

    At my last place of employment, my colleagues began doing a Yankee Swap at the holiday lunch. After 2 years of enduring that horrible and painful process of watching people give others the worst of their own junk and then STEALING IT BACK, I decided to say no. In a very polite and rational way, I said that I would no longer participate. I would be happy to participate in another kind of gift giving (Secret Santa, donations to charity, etc), just not the Yankee Swap. I mean, there were only 10 employees, and most of us had worked together for over 5 years - it wasn't like we wouldn't know what to get for anyone. I even offered to not participate myself, with no hard feelings and simply be a spectator.

    I was put under tremendous pressure, but refused to back down. To me the Yankee Swap represents all that is wrong with our callous, material-centered world and I refuse to support it. At last, we agreed on a Secret Santa exchange. So for the last three years I worked there, I purchased and received several very nice, useful and thoughtful gifts that I remember and still use today (the reusable shopping bag is my favorite).

    My current workplace does the Yankee Swap gig and with over 300 employees, it's hard to push the Secret Santa idea. So I don't participate, and no one judges me. Sometimes I spectate and sometimes not. But each time reminds me that I have made the right choice.

    Thanks for standing up for non-Swappers everywhere!

  9. And that, my friends, is how you're SUPPOSED to do it!