You know you’re guilty.
We all are.
At some point in all our lives we’ve secretly wondered what it’s like to be someone else.
Imagining yourself in the operating room of a major hospital saving the life of another human being, while putting a Band-Aid on your kid’s boo-boo.
Singing Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” into a hairbrush in front of your mirror, eyes closed, dreaming of the thousands of adoring fans screaming your name.
Texting a friend while wearing your sunglasses and pretending to be a super-spy sending a secret, coded message to HQ (I know I’m not the only one who does that..)
Now, I’m not talking about the kind of “I hate my life and want to be someone else” wishing. That kind of wishing requires soul searching, work and occasionally, therapy. I’m referring to the kind of fun daydreaming that we all occasionally indulge in.
Until one day, the daydream takes on a life (and name) of it’s own.
I’d like to introduce you to Sally Ruiz.
If you’re looking at this picture and thinking, “Uh, Annamarie, that’s a picture of you… “, you are correct! If you’re also thinking, “There’s gotta be a story behind this…” you’d be correct again!
It all started Thursday of last week when my hubby, Gary, got one of those flyers in the mail. You know the kind. The ones that car dealerships send out. Splashy and colorful, advertising “UNHEARD OF DEALS!” and “ALL INVENTORY MUST GO!!!” Sometimes there’s the “enticement” of “FREE LUNCH!” and “EVERYONE’S A WINNER!!” They speak of all the “GREAT DEALS!” you’ll get and the “ENORMOUS TRADE IN ALLOWANCES!!” And they all contain one thing.
A “key” which just might be the key that starts….
“A BRAND NEW CAR!!!”
Now, everyone knows that no one actually ever wins the car in these promotions (if you happen to be someone who’s won a car in one of these contests, email me). It’s just a marketing ploy to get folks in to the dealership in an attempt to sell cars. But for some reason, we decided to check it out and see what “prize” we’d won.
Maybe it was because we were feeling optimistic.
Maybe it was because we were feeling lucky.
Maybe it was because we decided to hit up Panera Bread for brunch before hitting up the Restaurant Depot for supplies on Saturday and the dealership was right around the corner.
So Saturday came and we were off, flyer and key in hand. We walked into the dealership and I brightly smiled at the receptionist, then took the lead.
I should preface this story by letting you all know that I am one brutal Badass when it comes to car salesmen and dealerships. I had the good fortune of growing up in a family of men who really know about cars. And I paid attention to them. So when a salesman tries to give me the “ooh you’d look so good in that car” BS or worse, talks directly to my husband (and totally ignores me) when I’m doing the buying, I show no mercy. My mother, who’s witnessed the havoc I’ve wreaked throughout the years, swears that one day a dealership is going to fax my driver’s license picture to all the other dealers in a 200 mile radius to warn them about me. Since I always get crazy-amazing deals on the cars I’ve purchased for myself and others throughout the years, I stand by my tactics (and the “Negotiator Red” lipstick I always wear when car shopping) Plus, I’ve been told that I’m pretty entertaining in action.
OK, back to the receptionist!
I smiled at the receptionist, held up the flyer and said brightly, “Hi there! We got this flyer in the mail and we wanted to see if we’ve won!” She smiled back, pointed to a gentleman seated at a table toward the back corner of the room and said, “That’s the guy you want to see.” I thanked her and we walked to the table. Gary just kinda followed along, amused. After 7 years together, he just inherently knows when he’s getting ready to see a show…
The salesman had that “hungry” look on his face as we approached. “So, do we have a winner?” he said with a sharky smile. I smiled sweetly at the salesman and said, “I hope so!” He asked us to check the number on our flyer to the “winning number” on his sheet. “Aw, we didn’t win!” I said with a little pout. Sharky smiled again, “That’s OK, you still won something!” When we checked the second number on the flyer, we found out that our “BIG PRIZE” was a gift card to Subway. “It’s at least $5.00, but it could be worth up to $100!” he said cheerfully.
But five bucks is five bucks and we were cool with it. Until Mr. Sharky went in for the kill.
Of course, this was an event to spur sales, so he tried his pitch. “So what kind of vehicle are you driving right now?” “Well, I drive a Jeep”, I said. “And I drive a Frontier” chimed Gary. “So…what are you looking for in a new vehicle? We’ve got some great deals here today!” Leading with a question that couldn’t be answered with a “no”. Well, played, Sharky, well played. Someone paid attention in Sales 101. Unfortunately for him, he was talking to someone with over 17 years of experience in experiential marketing and used to using the same tactics. I smiled sweetly again. “Well, we’re not in the market for a new car right now. Probably in the next year, year and a half.” He was undaunted. “Well, let me get a little information on you so we can give you a call. What’s your name?”
You asked for it, mister. Time to pull out the big guns.
Without missing a beat I replied, “Sally. Sally Ruiz. ”
At this point, I have to give total, mad props to my hubby. I just pop off some random name to an unsuspecting salesman and the G-Man didn’t even bat an eyelash. “And your phone number?” Again, without a pause, I said, “704-333 —-” For the life of me I can’t remember the last four digits I gave him. Sad, huh? Can’t even remember my own phone number. Oh wait…that’s not my phone number…
The salesman looked over at Gary. “And your name?” he asked. Gary lowered his voice and head and said, “Gary.” What can I say, he’s a lover, not a fighter.
We thanked the salesman and left. We were about 3/4 of the way to the truck and well out of sight and earshot of any stray salespeople when Gary, still looking straight ahead, said, “Did you plan that?” I also kept looking straight ahead. “Nope. Total improv.” We got into the truck and I looked at him and said, “Dude, I seriously cannot believe you held it together like that. You’re awesome! But was ‘Gary’ the best you could come up with?” He smiled sheepishly and said, “I had “Stevens” ready to go, but he never asked for my last name. And where the hell did you come up with Sally Ruiz, anyway?” “I don’t know, ” I said. “Just came out. I pass for Hispanic so it worked.”He smiled at me. “That was great. A little too great, actually. Now I’m gonna wonder if you’re lying to me about stuff…” I gave him the same smile I gave the salesman and shrugged, “Comes in handy when throwing you off the trail for Christmas…”
A few minutes later, we were at Panera, giggling about the whole thing. Gary left me waiting for my green tea to search for a table. A couple of minutes later, I hear: “Hey, Sally!” I looked up and saw Gary about 10 feet away, smiling. “Didya think you were gonna fool me?” I said with a smirk. To quote Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder” “I don’t break character till the DVD commentary.”
We settled down with our food, talking and laughing more. “This is gonna make a great blog post!” I said. Gary started to laugh, “You can title it “When Gary Met Sally!” That sent us both over the edge and we started laughing uncontrollably. The folks at surrounding tables must have been wondering what was in our sandwiches. Then a thought struck me. “Uh oh..” I said in between bites of Greek salad. “What?” asked Gary. “I kinda feel bad for whoever’s number I gave…Poor sucker is gonna be hounded by the dealership looking for Sally Ruiz…”
Oops. That marred the moment for me.
But only a little.
Since I figure I have a little Karma to pay for giving out an innocent person’s phone number, I’d like to share my recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup. It’s flavorful, full of character and spicy-kinda like Sally. Try taking a bowl of this with you the next time you go car shopping. You’ll have the salesmen eating of your hands and you may get a sweet deal on a new ride. “Negotiator Red” lipstick is optional, but recommended.
Rockin’ Chicken Tortilla Soup with Avocado Crema
The Badass says: “Nothing beats a nice hot bowl of homemade soup on a chilly day. Adjust the heat in this soup by adjusting the amount of chiles you use. This recipe does make a huge pot, so you can halve the recipe or make the whole darn pot-it tastes even better the next day!”
Here’s what you need:
4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (if you prefer, you can use boneless skinless breasts)
For the marinade you will need:
1 TBS chili powder
1 TBS Spanish paprika (not smoked)
½ TBS chipotle powder
2 TBS granulated garlic
2 TBS ground cumin
1 TBS dried Italian seasoning mix
½ TBS Kosher salt
1 cup lime juice
1 TBS olive oil
That’s it for the marinade, but you’ll need a few more things:
3 Poblano peppers, roasted , skinned, seeded and chopped (roast peppers at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes, remove peppers then place in a bowl, cover and let steam for 15 minutes to easily remove the skins) ***NOTE: If you prefer a tamer soup, use just one pepper***
4 medium onions, chopped
3 TBS fresh garlic, minced (about 6-8 cloves)
1 cup white wine
4- 32 oz containers of chicken stock
3- 15.5 oz cans Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well
4 large potatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes
2- 12 oz bags frozen corn
4- 4.5 oz cans chopped green chiles
2 cups buttermilk, heated (optional)
1 TBS ground cumin
1 TBS granulated garlic
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (one bunch should do the trick)
1.5 cups crushed taco shells
For the Avocado Crema you’ll need:
12 oz sour cream
2 ripe avocados
Kosher salt to taste
You’ll also need:
A gigantic soup pot (this recipe makes about 10 quarts of soup, so you’ll need at least a 12 quart pot)
Some vegetable oil
And here’s what you do:
In a large, non-metallic bowl, whisk together all of the marinade ingredients and add the chicken. Toss to coat evenly, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
After the chicken is finished marinating, heat a little of the veggie oil in the large pot (high heat). Carefully add the chicken pieces and cook for about 4 minutes on each side. Remove and set aside to cool. Add the chopped onions and garlic, lower the temperature to medium and cook for about 3 minutes, until onions start to get soft. Add the wine and cook for 1 minute, scraping the bottom of the pot to make sure you loosen up all the good bits from the chicken and onions. Next, add 3 of the containers of chicken stock, cubed potatoes canned and roasted chiles and give it a good stir. Take the 4th container of chicken stock and the Cannellini beans and puree until liquefied. Add to the pot along with the cumin and granulated garlic.
Now it’s time for that chicken…
Chop the chicken into medium pieces and add to the pot, along with the frozen corn. Heat the buttermilk for 1 minute in the microwave then, yep, add to the pot, too. Simmer on medium-low for 1-2 hours, or until potatoes are soft. Add salt to taste, if needed. To finish the soup, turn off the heat and add the crushed taco shells and cilantro. Top with the Avocado Crema…
To make the Avocado Crema, peel and seed the avocados and blend with the sour crème until smooth, add a pinch or two of salt to taste and top the soup with it.
*DBA tip alert! To make this vegan, use veggie stock in place of the chicky stock, leave out the buttermilk and use tofu in place of chicken (use the same marinade). If you’re not into tofu, use black or Cannellini beans (whole beans, in addition to the pureed beans)
So the next time you find yourself in a situation that requires quick thinking and a new identity, remember these helpful tips:
- Make sure your partner in crime has a great poker face.
- Make sure you use a name that is somewhat believable (If I’d have said my name was, oh, Olga Staalgarten, I think I might have been busted).
- Confidence goes a long way.
- Don’t give a phone number that might actually belong to someone.
And most importantly…
Have Fun, and Be Fearless!