To Clark something up is to dream up an improbable fantasy situation for an event of special importance and then, when it doesn’t work out the way you fantasized, you do not accept the reality but put even more effort into it to try to achieve the fantasy at all costs until multiple disasters have transpired as unintended consequences of the overboard actions. The special event that would have probably been very enjoyable if left as was has now been ruined or at least made to be much less enjoyable than it would have been.
I have named this after Clark W. Griswold from the National Lampoon’s Vacation series of movies, of course. We’ve seen him do it to vacations and holidays. It probably would have been great until he tried to make it perfect. And now, it’s not exactly ruined, it’s just… all Clarked up.
I find myself guilty of this behavior frequently. So often, in fact, that I’ve thought of this expression for it. Common uses are as follows…
“I’m Clarking this whole day.”
“No, baby, I’m not gonna Clark it up this time.”
“Well, I’ve Clarked this whole situation beyond repair.”
Today, it was the special dinner I wanted to make for Terra’s birthday.
I decided to make her favorite – chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and green beans. I’ve never made chicken fried steak before. And I’ve never pan fried anything breaded that came out good. That should have stopped me. But, rather than back down to reasonable expectations, I wanted to give her a GREAT birthday. She even suggested we go out. But, no.
With that attitude, I had taken the first step in Clarking it all up.
What followed is typical of what I described above…
I waited until little more than an hour before dinner to read the recipe, realized this was going to be much more difficult than I thought and I didn’t even have the cookware to pull it off right. But, I had a dream and would not be discouraged by reality. My baby would not have to settle for anything less than my best.
All the pans didn’t even fit all at once on the stove. But, I tried to work with that.
Then there were fresh green beans. I don’t think I’ve ever even eaten anything but canned or frozen, let alone ever cooked them. When I saw the trouble I was in, I should have just cooked them in water. But, no, it’s my true love’s birthday! I said I’d sautee fresh green beans in butter and garlic and that’s what I’m gonna do! Wait, I don’t have another pan. Well, I’ll use a pot. It doesn’t fit on the stove because it’s already too crowded? Rubbish, I’ll make it work somehow.
Btw, she also has probably never eaten fresh either. And she likes the canned or frozen. Especially the way I always make them. What she thought of as best wasn’t good enough for me in full Clark W. Griswold mode.
Et cetera, et cetera…
I’m still kind of clueless about cooking and this was one of my most ambitious meals I’ve ever tried. (I’m not even gonna talk about the gravy – also a first attempt ever.) The idea of trying such a feat FOR A SPECIAL OCCASION should have sounded like a bad idea. If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that I should cook what I am good at for special occasions. I should try new recipes on a regular day. Especially when I’ve never successfully cooked anything similar.
Dinner wasn’t totally ruined. I did a lot of angry yelling at myself and the food and the grease splatters and burned food and stuff stuck in the pan. So, the mood wasn’t exactly festive when I finally served it. And it was better than just edible. But, it wasn’t great. It wasn’t worth the huge greasy kitchen mess I now have to clean up. It wasn’t a total disaster. It was just… all Clarked up.
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