How Christian Bale Single-handedly Ruined my “White Guy on Wall Street” Fantasy

ImageWhen I moved to NYC for the first time back in ‘05, I was single and ready to mingle (that didn’t last long but whatever)  New York is a melting pot of people of all cultures, occupations, etc., so my friend Susan and I had this plan to go on dates with guys across the board, all in one city. However, there was one group I was leaving off my list: white men on Wall Street and it’s all Christian Bale’s fault. Let me explain…

One fall/winter night back in 2001, I sat down to watch American Psycho. I’ve always had this fascination with serial killer movies because for some reason, sociopathic and murderous intrigued me (I’m prob the only person that has made Dexter Morgan my best friend in my head). At the time I didn’t know Christian Bale by name or face but the artwork on the DVD (that’s it above) was captivating so I was like, “hmm, this looks mysterious. I think I’ll watch it!” I get the movie, some popcorn, candy, soda, settle in/get cozy and press play…I was NOT prepared.

For those of you who haven’t seen the film, it tells the story of a young successful investment banker, Patrick Bateman (Bale) in Manhattan, working hard, playing hard and killing even harder. There are fantastic underlying themes of consumerism and yuppie culture but when I watched it back then, I had never lived in New York so I wasn’t familiar with that lifestyle. All I saw was this gorgeous man who lived this secret life at night that  involved killing folks with nail guns and chopping up the ladies…all on his white furniture, which he carefully covered with the style section of the newspaper. JEEZUS! While the film is a dark comedy, I was traumatized by the fact that this well-accomplished, strong jaw-line having, sexy man could be taking women back to his apartment on 81st street and storing their heads in the freezer!

I love a sharp-dressed man, especially one with nice accessories and skin that screams, “I get monthly facials!” However, thanks to this film, when I see a gorgeous white man rocking a sleek, tailored look on the sidewalk, subway or in a bar, I can’t help but look at him and wonder, “is there a body hanging in your closet next to your Armani suits?” Call me crazy, call me paranoid, categorize me as having an overly active imagination but hey, like I’ve told you all before, I am an artist and God gave me this brain to use it specifically for things like this. You may laugh at me but I’m quite sure my paranoia has saved my life on many occasions.

With all of that being said, Christian Bale, I love you. I think you are a fantastic actor and you are gorgeous to look at but even covered in the heroic cloak of Batman and catching the bad guys, you and every white guy on Wall Street will always be Patrick Bateman to me. On the other hand, the upside to all of this is that Jon Hamm has given me high hopes for white guys on Madison Avenue.

*Just a little disclaimer: Before anyone gets offended, just know this is all out of love and comedy. I am a comedic actress/writer and this is what I do.  If Will Smith had played Patrick Bateman then black guys on Wall Street would have been marked off my list equally. I love men and people of all races :)

Hidden Life Lessons on the NYC Subway

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It’s the middle of the day, sometime between 2:30 and 4:00, in underground New York City. In my opinion, this is the WORST time of day to get on the subway. Yes, the morning and evening commutes can be hell because you’re packed in the train like unfortunate sardines and there’s a good chance the man next to you isn’t wearing deodorant (or made a New Year’s Resolution to use more “organic” products and try Tom’s deodorant) but at least it’s packed to capacity and there’s a REASON to fight your way through to get on the train. What I hate about the 2:30-4:00 hour is, the train is only semi-packed but for some reason, there’s a crowd of people that get on the train and huddle by the door, leaving a TON of space in the middle and THEN, they look at YOU like YOU’RE crazy when you fight your way through to that open space! This happens more often than I care to complain about but for some reason, yesterday  it sparked something in me and I started thinking:  “I wonder if this is a metaphor for how these people live their lives? Instead of fighting their way through to get to the space, they stop at the door and stay there because having to fight their way through is just too bothersome?” Don’t they realize that by blocking the door, they’re not only cheating themselves but making it harder for the people coming behind them?”

Okay, I know what you’re probably thinking: “Stephanie, you think WAY too much!” Hey, I am an artist/writer and that’s my job: to examine the deeper meaning of things, even if it does sound like I’m high when I interpret it. Stay with me…

When I had this thought, I was proud of myself. Why? Because I ALWAYS push my way through to the open space. I never settle for standing at the door and to me, that means a lot when you apply it to your life. Let’s say I was one of those people who stood at the door: I probably would have never moved to New York City, would have never taken a chance on Los Angeles and I definitely wouldn’t have made it through some of the tough times I’ve had, especially over the last 3-4 years. I’d probably still be in Kentucky, working a job that I hated, wondering what could have happened if I had pushed my way through. Now, don’t get me wrong, things have not been easy and I feel like I’m STILL pushing to get to that space that I desire. However, the fact that I’m actually pushing is what makes life fulfilling.

I also feel like I have an obligation to those who are behind me, whether it be family, friends, co-workers, whoever. I was blessed with the desire to encourage and cheer other people on but how could I possibly do that if I stopped pushing? Let’s take my little cousins for example: (I’m an only child so they are like my little brothers and sisters) I talk to one of my cousins in particular, about making certain life decisions all the time and she actually values my opinion, (No matter how ratchet it may be at times) but what kind of advice could I possibly give her if I’m not living my life to the fullest and going after the things I want? How could I suggest to her what I think she should “do” if I’m not “doing” myself? You can’t speak on what you don’t know.

Now, you could also look at this whole scenario and say, “Um, duh Stephanie! People stand by the door because they want to get off the train first and don’t want to have to fight through people to do so”. Ummm, to me, that’s the same thing. You mean to tell me you’d rather stand in an uncomfortable space, annoyed because the person standing in front of you just ate an onion bagel and has the audacity to breathe, just so you can avoid having to fight your way through? No thank you. I’d rather go through the struggle and keep moving forward than stand still miserably, passively waiting for the ride to end.

So, with all that being said, I’m curious to know: how many of you feel like you’re standing at the door? How many of you feel like you’re pushing or have pushed your way through? Well just know that I’m pushing right along with you and if I happen to see you struggling, I’ll be quick to reach out and help pull you along. Hopefully you’ll do the same for me :)

To My White Sistas: Why Your Black Girlfriends CANNOT “just throw a hat on and come out!” After Washing their Hair

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It’s Saturday night and like any other single female who lives one mile from the subway station deep in Brooklyn, I have nothing to do. I mean, I have plenty to do inside the house, things that I don’t want to do and should but when it comes to leaving the house, I have no reason to so why not wash my hair? I usually reserve this ritual for Sundays and since I’m going natural, it IS a ritual. But hell, since I’m in the house and have no plans to go anywhere, I’m just going to collect my towel, part this mass of dry cotton on my head into four sections and get into it.

And that’s just what I did. I parted my hair into four sections (because it’s so thick that trying to wash it all in one pile should be illegal in all 52 states) and proceeded to wash away, (with a nice sulfate free shampoo of course). Now that that’s taken care of, on to the deep conditioning… and then it happens…I get a text. The conversation goes as follows:

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I love my white friends. I love how they have this universal “we are all one and the same” mentality when it comes to hair care. They don’t see race/ethnicity when it comes to the mane. “Just throw a hat on!” If only the world could view racism through the eyes of people with types 2a-3b hair (http://www.naturallycurly.com/hair-types).

To my white sistas, I appreciate your open mindedness and childlike view when it comes to dealing with this stuff on my head but unfortunately, it just doesn’t work like that. Let me explain to you why we can’t just “throw a hat on”, or at least, why I can’t.

I am in the process of what they call “transitioning” from chemically relaxed hair to my natural hair state. I am only two months in which means, the hair growing from my scalp is a completely different texture from the hair that has been chemically straightened and therefore, I must take extra special care of it in order to prevent breakage. Not to mention, this is a time where deep conditioning is crucial to maintaining the health of my hair. So, once I stepped out of the shower from washing my hair, I had to apply a deep conditioner because my hair is extremely dry. After working that deep conditioner through all four sections of my washed hair, I place a plastic shower cap over my head and let the conditioner sit in there for a good while. Now see, this is where the “going out” problem comes in. Deep conditioning, especially for dry, damaged hair like mine, is a lengthy process. Sometimes I sleep with the deep conditioner in overnight or sometimes I let it sit for at least 4 hours. Either way, it HAS to go in there. If i were to throw a hat on and meet you out for the night, by the time I returned home, my hair would be a semi-dry matted, sour mess that I would have to step back in the shower to correct. I mean, I could throw that deep conditioner in my hair and meet you out with a hat on but that would mean I’d have a hat, a scarf tied around my hair underneath the hat to cover the plastic conditioning cap and conditioner running down my neck quite possibly because everything on top of my head is squeezing the life out of it. That’s not cute. And that’s just a COUPLE of steps before actually getting to the finishing point!

Now, depending on how I decide to wear my hair once the deep conditioner has been rinsed out, it will still be hours before I could meet you out. Let’s say I decide to blow dry my hair. Once dry, my hair would look like it was scared into submission and in order to get that tamed, I’d have to flat iron it, another hour plus process.

Now my white sistas, to all of you I say: read this, meditate on it and when you call your black sista to hang out with you and she tells you she’s washing her hair, you better not ask her to throw no hat on and come out! You have been lovingly warned. If you choose to ignore my warning and ask anyway, may all the drinks from that point and forever more, be on you.

Idris Elba and his…Bowtie

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It has been proven that when Idris Elba talks about his penis, the world listens. It was the tweet heard around the world when on Jan 4., while on his way to the Palm Springs Film Festival, Idris Elba shocked the ladies and took the shine off of NFL football when he tweeted:

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As several people have said on Twitter, the thirst levels of lady fans of Elba’s were severely high after this tweet, mine included. Of course, on the flip side, there were some people (media peeps specifically) who felt his tweet was in poor taste. One person even tweeted that he should “act more like his role”, referring to his recent role as Nelson Mandela. I mean seriously, Idris Elba is one of the sexiest pieces of man candy alive so to hear him SPEAK about his hoo-ha…um, YES PLEASE! The man is a bonafide sex symbol and the media has heavily assisted in making him into one. Which brings me to my point: why is it so shockingly inappropriate that a grown, sexy, fully capable man that you constantly splatter across billboards and magazine covers in the name of sex, would tweet about his penis?

I, for one, am so sick of these fake restrictions that we place on ourselves in this society, especially when it comes to sex. I think that America…wait, let me rephrase that: I think Hollywood is a country full of walking juxtapositions (and yes…I said country. I’ve lived there, trust me, they have their own set of rules). Sure, we can have television programs that we target to teens full of sex, sexual tension, hell, even murder but it’s okay because it’s implied and not spoken. I mean, God forbid we show you sex and actually tell you that’s what it is or talk about it. GASP! Our inability to just be REAL here puzzles me.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I understand social responsibility. I understand that when you’re in a position of influence and you have the eyes and ears of many people on you, you may want to be careful of what you say and do. However, at the same time, I also understand life and reality. I understand that while I may look up to a certain politician, leader, entertainer, I am an adult with my own free will and my own mind to do what I know to be morally right for me. Therefore, I cannot hold another grown up responsible for what I may or may not be influenced by. When it comes to kids and young adults, yes, they may be impressionable and influenced by certain things in society but it is not Idris Elba’s or any other public figure’s responsibility to tell your child not to tweet about their man/lady parts. You, as a parent, are the sole responsible party for guiding your child when making right and wrong decisions. You are responsible for explaining to them why it’s right/wrong for Miley Cyrus to twerk her non-booty meat on a stage/platform in front of millions of people. You are responsible for the parental controls to be set to “hell no, you can’t watch/read this” via your cable/Internet service provider. You can’t expect grown, paying their own bills individuals to assist in raising your children. And no, I do not have children but I, like all of you, have been a child. I remember what it’s like and I remember that my mom and dad did a kick-ass job of teaching me right and wrong. I also remember that when I left their home and went to school everyday, I was surrounded by peer-pressure and images in the media but again, back to my parents, because of them, I knew what I should and shouldn’t be doing.

Now back to Idris Elba’s peen. Look, the bottom line is this: he didn’t tweet anything that can cause any physical harm to anyone. Nor did he say anything that was disrespectful or insulting about anyone else. He tweeted about his penis…HIS penis. Was it bold? Yes. But he’s an adult and In terms of social responsibility, he more than fulfilled his obligation to benefit society at large. He put thousands of women to bed with positive, sweet dreams and probably increased the sale of bow-ties by a significant percentage.

P.S. If anyone in Hollywood seriously considers breaking off and making it a country, there’s a wiki-how doc on how to do so: http://www.wikihow.com/Start-Your-Own-Country Gotta love the Interwebs!

Porsha Stewart and the MARTA train to Freedom

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Porsha Stewart-Photo Courtesy Bravotv.com

Yesterday I had a really good conversation with my roommate. I was explaining to her how, as a black kid growing up in a small Southern town, we’re not taught about our black leaders/heroes in school and even during Black History Month, we’re given the basics: Martin, Harriet, Frederick but definitely not Malcolm. He was way too radical for my part of the south or any part of the south for that matter.  I was explaining to her that as an adult, I want to be able to educate myself more on my history but at least I know the basics. Included in those basics would be the history of the Underground Railroad. However, what’s basic to some may be way too scholarly for others. Enter Porsha Stewart…

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Porsha Stewart, she’s one of the black cast members on The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Last night on the show, the ladies took a trip to Savannah, Georgia and they went on a Freedom Trail tour. During the tour, the tour guide pointed out a set of holes in the floor in the shape of a diamond. These were air holes that served as sources of oxygen for the slaves hidden beneath. Well, this puzzled Porsha beyond belief because she said to the tour guide:

“There has to be an opening for the railroad at some point,” she said. “Somebody is driving the train. It’s not electric like what we have now.”

Ms. Porsha thought the Underground Railroad serviced an actual train that the slaves just waited for at the nearest Atlanta city block, hopped on and rode into freedom…GIRL!

When I heard her utter these words, it was almost as if her moment of ignorance was confirmation of the conversation I’d had with my roommate earlier: when it comes to learning about our history, no matter what we learned (or didn’t learn) in school, we’ve got to assume individual responsibility and do better.

I remember going to Social Studies and learning only the “good facts” about history. You know, like, Christopher Columbus discovered the earth was round and ate turkey with the Indians or George Washington chopped down a cherry tree. It’s like the people who adapted Grimm’s Fairy tales for Disney were the same ones who wrote our history books.  Of course, my parents did what they could to give me info about black history and sent me to the annual church march for Dr. King in my faux rabbit fur ear muffs. However, I grew up in a working class family and everyone was so busy working to pay the bills that they didn’t really have the time to teach me. Besides, that’s what they sent us to school for, right? Therefore, I could understand how the ball may have been dropped on my lesson in black history as a kid.

Which brings me BACK to Porsha. As she’s made the audience aware of several times, her grandfather was the late, great Hosea Williams. Williams was among many things, a civil rights leader who was part of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s inner circle. So my thing is this: if you have a grandfather that was such a crucial part of history, HOW could you not be up on your stuff? HOW could you not have been sitting at this man’s feet hearing stories of protests, sit-ins, marches? It’s like living with a chapter of black history right at your fingertips and you think the Underground Railroad is a discontinued MARTA service?!

Porsha’s public self-humiliation made me stop and ask myself: when it comes to history, how many of us have truly taken the time to educate ourselves on where we come from and how could it improve our lives to know the past, even if it’s just the deep roots of our family history? Are we so stuck in a bubble and daily routine of surviving that we don’t have time to better educate ourselves or do we just simply not give a shit? At the end of the day, I’m really not trying to judge Porsha at all because I could definitely be better myself but, damn. I have no more words for this. Oh, wait, yes I do. Porsha, even though our trains today are electric, someone STILL has to conduct them.

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Photo courtesy Vh1.com

The Return of Beyoncé: “Slay”-Bells Ring, are you Listening?

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As I sit here at 2:52pm, on my second cup of coffee with nothing accomplished but memorizing the dance routine to “Flawless”, I blame Beyoncé. Ever since early morning Friday, December 13th, when I downloaded this self-titled album lined with magical Knowles/Carter fairy dust, I can’t help but wonder, “how does an artist change the entire music game and take a day associated with bad luck and Jason Voorhees and claim it as her own without ANY warning?!”  Not since…well, not ever have I been this excited about the drop of an album…EVER! Let me just tell you why Beyoncé and Beyoncé are SUPERB on so many levels:

1. It came from out of NOWHERE. 2013, in my eyes, was already Beyoncé’s year. From her Superbowl performance to her HBO doc and Mrs. Carter World Tour (that I was ever so blessed to witness at the Staples Center on July 1, 2013), she had already slayed me this year! I had picked out my casket, lined with all of Destiny’s Child’s former wardrobe and was ready for them to bury me a happy woman dressed in Bey’s outfit from Single Ladies (glove and all). THEN, this chick had the AUDACITY, right after Olivia Pope’s mama hopped a plane back to the White House, to just get on Instagram and be like, “hey girl! I’mma sit this down right here on iTunes. Pick it up if ya WON’T to!” WHAT?! And to THINK the naysayers were spreading lies, fairy tales and fallacies like, “she has no idea where her career is going since her father’s no longer her manager”, or “she’s falling off because she hasn’t released one single in at least a year!”. Well didn’t she just hop her happy Houston born and bred ass right along and shut ya’ll the hell up? Not ONLY did she give us a single, she gave us, all in the same year: 1 world tour, 1 documentary, 14 songs, 17 videos and a partridge in a pear tree!

2. She broke OUT…It is NOT easy growing up as a young girl in the south. We are raised to be polite, nurturing lovely ladies who would NEVER say anything to offend anyone, use foul language or put our bedroom business in the streets. We’re constantly in a struggle of trying to figure out who we’re supposed to be when it comes to our public/private selves. We often wonder, “How much is too much in terms of standing up for myself or speaking publicly about sex and other taboo issues?” And “Lord, what is my MAMA gonna think if she sees/hears this?”I feel like ever since Beyoncé began her solo career, she’s been fighting that very battle. I have heard people say things like, “she comes across so fake”, or, “no one knows who Beyoncé really is”. I would always get angry when I would hear people say this about her because being a southern “belle” (and I use the term “belle” VERY loosely) I felt her pain! You are raised to be one way but you are having all of these life experiences that are shaping who you are and molding you into a different person, a woman and if you can’t be vocal about those because you’re worried about pleasing everyone else then why are you here? Well Mrs. Carter (praise GOD) finally just said, “PHUCK YOUR JUDGEMENT!” She took both hands and ripped her soul open for the WORLD to see and I LOVE IT! It’s as if she took the expectations and weight of the world off of her shoulders, politely set it to the side (as only she would do) and said, “I can’t carry this for ya’ll anymore. Now take your sh*t back because who you want me to be and who I am may not add up. Let me show you who I am so that we’re on the same page”. And what’s the result of that? What did she show us? That she’s a loving mother, a sexy wife, a hell of an entertainer and a strong, grown ass woman, ALL while still being sweet as bear meat! Oh, and for those of you who call her “disgusting” for her display of sexuality or an irresponsible role model for young girls, you may want to do one of two things: 1. Stop relying on influences outside of your home and spend more time with your kids so that you can be a better role model for them yourselves and they’re not looking to other grown women/men for guidance. Or, 2. Download Beyoncé, watch the videos, get a pen, some paper and take notes on how to freak your husband off because honestly, she did you a favor, you just haven’t realized it yet. Instead of being in such an uproar about the so-called “vulgarity” of Bey’s delivery and the influence it may have on young people, it’s your job as a parent to point out the positive lessons in this project, shall they come across it. You don’t know what those lessons are? I’ll name off a few just to get you started: amazing work ethic, enough self-belief/confidence to go forward despite your naysayers, talent and next-level thinking. Oh, and don’t forget to add in there that Beyoncé is a grown, MARRIED woman and that the things they see her doing or hear her saying she’s talking about doing to and with her HUSBAND (ahem…Vivienne Pattison).

3. The project is FIRE and she knows it. Only an artist who is 100% confident in their ability to slay the game would drop an entire album without promotion. Beyoncé releasing this album the way she did is equivalent to her skydiving from New Zealand’s Auckland Tower without the chord and expecting to land on a cloud of marshmallows. Now, if she had released this and it was mediocre, this would not be such a big deal and my whole weekend would not have been pre-occupied.  But this album right here…she’s giving vocals, visuals, emotions, art, power, motivation and dammit just…LIFE!

In conclusion I just have to say this: even if you’re not a Beyoncé fan, you can’t take away from the fact that she is unstoppable and personifies hard work, dedication and talent. For little southern gals like me, she’s a shining example of being true to who you are and living in it because at the end of the day,  when you sift through what everyone else thinks of you, all that matters is the question Queen Bey poses in her song, “Pretty Hurts, “are you happy with yourself?” Thank you for this amazing gift, Beyoncé. You stuck your Instagramed toe off in this album!

I Prefer Soy Sauce

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No, my title isn’t a metaphor eluding to my preference for Asian men. That would be racially offensive and I don’t do racially offensive.  Although, I’m sure Asian men are lovely. My title has to do with an incident that occurred with my favorite Chinese restaurant the other night.

Friday eve, I visited my favorite Chinese restaurant in the Bronx. Nobody makes chicken w/broccoli better than this place…wait, there is a place: Chui Fai  Restaurant in my hometown of Mayfield, KY., population of probably 10 Asian people. Who knew?! I order my chicken w/broccoli from said restaurant in the Bronx and let me tell you, my taste buds were throwing a party in my mouth just anticipating all the MSG I was about to consume. They’re really quick at this place so it took all of 5-8 minutes to get my order. They handed me the bag, I paid and set off (at a rather rapid pace) to my friend’s house so I could be the greedy heifer that only I know how to be.

I walk in the door, take off my shoes (shoes in the house in NYC, to me, is a no-no) and make a mad dash for the kitchen, food in hand. I grab a plate, knife and fork (I have to chop my broccoli and chicken into small pieces because somewhere in my mind, I have convinced myself that small bites make the food last longer…even though I eat faster). I pull out the container of piping hot chicken w/broccoli in brown sauce with vegetable fried rice. I skip the egg roll because I’m already doing enough damage so let’s not go overboard here. I pour a nice serving on my plate and cut it up into bite-sized pieces. Now I’m ready for the soy sauce, it makes everything taste better. By this time, my mouth is watering. I take my hand and reach down into the bottom of the brown paper bag and pull out my two packets of… hot sauce?!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?

Now, for those of you who know me, you know I am a picky eater and I have to have everything exactly the way I want it or I won’t eat it! It is highly unlikely for me to eat Chinese food without soy sauce but I was NOT going back around the corner just for that. This annoyed me. However, the main thing that really chapped my ass about this whole ordeal was the fact that they gave me hot sauce! Hell, I had an egg roll in the bag. Couldn’t they have put duck sauce in the bag at least? Why hot sauce? Is it because I’m black?!?

At first I thought I was being sensitive. I thought maybe I was reading way too much into it so I let it go long enough to eat my food…sans soy sauce. Later on however, something just kept nagging at me. It kept saying, “Steph, Google ‘black people and hot sauce’ and see what comes up”. I did it. These were the top 5 searches:

-11 Things Black People Love to put Hot Sauce On

-#4 Hot Sauce: Stuff Black People Like

-Why do Black People Eat Hot Sauce With Everything?

-Things Black Folks Do That White People Don’t Understand

-Why Do Black People Love Hot Sauce So Much?

A HA!! They totally stereotyped me! They put two packets of hot sauce in my bag because, according to the top 5 Google searches, that’s what I prefer! Well, I have news for you, my used-to-be favorite Chinese restaurant and Google: I AM BLACK AND I HATE HOT SAUCE! I mean, come on! How would they like it if they visited a soul food restaurant and they stuck soy sauce in the bag with their fried chicken and macaroni and cheese?!

As angry as I may sound about this whole soy sauce-less situation, you have to know my personality to know that deep down, I find it quite hilarious and the first thing that popped into my head was: “comedic fodder for my blog”. So I’m not really mad about it. With that being said, when I do go back to this restaurant to order my usual chicken w/broccoli, I’m going to let them select which sauce they think I should have, check the bag before I leave and if they give me hot sauce again…I’ll go for the best 2 out of 3 because, let’s face it, that’s some good chicken w/broccoli!

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