Saturday, October 6, 2012

Mom and Knives

I make pancakes in a cast iron pan. Two cups of brown sugar and water makes better syrup. Stuffed peppers and chili are two favorite meals. Chili I make regularly, but stuffed peppers not at all. I'm not sure what day of the week was what, but fish, chicken, pork, pasta with a vegetable and potatoes or rice was dinner. She cooked anything the first time by the book, then it became rote. She made a Marsala dish with veal, pork or chicken.

The weekly line up was regular. Potatoes over/under cooked with Parmesan and too much/little pepper. Chicken that bounced and fish with the texture of cardboard that got wet then dried was the curse of time bake. The one dish I looked forward to was stewed tomatoes and pork chops. Dad was home at seven, then dinner together. I want to recall the long meals we laughed and chatted, but there were those filled with grunts and my day was fine.

Dippy eggs are sunny side up. Peanut butter and honey is preferred. King Arthur flour because that's what her mother had on hand, and a coffee cup of bacon fat for the same reason.

She made Texas sheet cake for my birthday, but once you've had one why would you want another cake? She made brownies and apple crisp in the same pan, but not together. She made a brown sugar pie with left over pie dough. They were better than most of her pies. We couldn't find the lemon square recipe, but we have found something adequate, even though we're not fond of them.

My daughter and son indulge me. I teach them to cook dippy eggs. They mix the pancake batter and flip them. They use the big tongs on the grill. My son cracks eggs like he was born to and my daughter is fearless with a knife.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Lesson in Customer Service

I get anxious when I pull up to the gas pumps and my tank is on the wrong side. I have dyslexia when it comes to its location. I didn't have to work for it.

I'm out of regular, all I have is special.

That is what he said, but not what I heard. I heard blah, blah, blah, I'm not a fixer, the special is at regular price.

Things got bad. The gas tank, my commute, and a frenetic day of spinning wheels at work came together at that time and place to bring the worst out of two human beings; except he swore. Also, I was listening to sports radio. The Red Sox are having a notorious season, the Patriots lost on Sunday, and Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs just signed a number of Bruins free agents to long term deals then turned around to call the vote for the NHL lockout over player salaries.

I nod, smile and say yeah, then pull out my clip, run my card, punch in my PIN, and set the regular pump. As I do, I look at the special pump. Indeed, the price is the same as the regular. It was coming together, but still in my unconscious.

I have a mild case of OCD. I used to own a Saturn, anything more than regular and I was Luke Perry in "8 Seconds." I eat oatmeal out of orange Tupperware. I have certain things in a certain pocket when I play golf. My clothes drawers are organized in a particular way. And I don't microwave anything unless all the numbers are the same: popcorn takes three minutes and thirty-three seconds.

The attendant says something else, but I can't hear him. I don't want to understand him. I want regular gas. They are out of regular gas. If I want gas, I need to get special. If I was listening, I would have said, thank you young man talking with a wad of bright green gum in your mouth with all those teeth in your unshaven face with crazy hair. Instead, I had a moment.

Regular or Special. The choice was Special. Oh, really? Special gas is the same price as regular, because you're out of it? Steal! [Then I cross myself and big ups to heaven to all those that went before me. My life's a movie.] I didn't say that. I don't remember what I said. It was rude. It was unnecessary. I made the remark.

Why are you giving me attitude? What!?! Why are you raising your voice? What, are you serious!?! What is this bullshit? Where is this coming from!?! There's no need to yell. I'm not yelling!?!

He lost his mind. He had that look in his eyes. He put me on the defensive. I sputter my responses. I replay what he said prior to the mushroom cloud of anger. It all comes together. He said he didn't want to lose the sale, so the special gas has been reduced to the same amount as regular. I didn't hear him, because I didn't understand him, and I was focused on getting the gas. All I had to do was ask him to repeat what he said. Instead the conversation or yelling degenerated into a day before Christmas scene as two fathers hoot and holler over the last toy every child must have to live a life of happiness.

Now, I am raising my voice in the confusion to be heard and to offer an apology, but he isn't going to hear a word I say. Touché. Then he used the eff dash dash dash word and then I heard the word: rich. I drive a Mazda3. If I was rich, don't you think I'd at least drive the Mazda6?

What do you think of my story? Has it happened to you? What would you have done?

Friday, August 31, 2012

Those Eyes

I went to work with my dad when I was five. He drove a blue Buick Century. We were on Airport Road. I stared into the sun. My first pair was Oakley Frogskins with purple frames and orange lenses. The last pair I lost is at the bottom of the North River near the rope swing. I don’t remember the view from behind them. I looked good. Then I found a pair of Ray-Bans on the counter at the Paperback Booksmith. I worked there. They looked like stretched out Wayfarers. I threw them down on the stairs outside Clark Athletic Center. I was ineligible to play soccer. Their hue was dark. I looked good. I owned Oakleys, Arnettes, Diesels, Black Flys, and a few off the $2 to $20 rack. 

I own three pair of sunglasses. I keep one pair because I didn’t lose them. This pair has a silver frame with maroon arms and maroon lenses. I wanted to look good. That’s the worst. Another pair is Arnettes. These are my shooting glasses. They have a silver frame with blue lenses. Their shade makes a blue day happy. I bought Oakleys to go skiing at Stowe. They hurt my head. I wear them when I ride the bicycle I borrowed. My eyes water at 13 miles. My head hurts at 14. This pair has a dark orange frame with an orange lenses.

Clark Rockefeller
They have a limited function. I hang them on my collar. I push them up with my pointer finger. I take them off in tunnels. Inside too. And at night. I take them off when I talk to you. My look doesn’t need them. I don’t wear sunglasses anymore.

The handsome devil is responsible for the Ray-Ban Wayfarer trend.

Tell me about your favorite pair.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Laissez Faire - Dos Partes

Part I - Be the Beacon
You can read everyone else's tips and tricks and crib a list of to do's or you can do it yourself, which is what you have to do anyway. Those you rely on for insight and innovation aren't the leaders or beacons of light. I am the leader and beacon, but not yours. You have to wade through the bullshit to get to the worthwhile. Its January 3, 2012, and I am con resolutions this year. I failed last year. I've been bitten to post something, because all I have read are convictions that your goals would suit me fine if I'd like to piggy back on your three words, 12most tips, 5 simple steps to not look like a fat ass, or don't make resolutions, set goals. I don't have a link to the last one, (and is a goal all too different from a resolution?) but I saw it, and it stunk just like the others.

Then there are the other retrospective posts and articles. These are no good. I'll make a comparison rather than pointing you to a number of DULL entries of someone else's recap of 2011. Follow this link, I'll wait. Do you like those songs? I do. We have heard them dozens, hundreds, or thousands of times. We can agree they are a collection of greatest hits. Here is a question: Who compiled that list? That two cassette collection (you read that right) was a launching point for my love of music and the Rolling Stones.

I tend to chase crazy - see the two paragraphs above or the link. I would like to change this. I am a proposal writer, I am a husband, and I am a father. I am good at these things, but not good enough that I can't get better. If I were, I would be advising people with the aforementioned classifications instead of being one. I hope you can expect positive responses, rather than rants. I hope you can learn from my experiences, like what I observed on my Christmas vacation: fathers are different than mothers, and both personalities are important to raising a child.

Part II - Let Them Eat Cake
I have a healthy boy and girl in the first and second grade, and I spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s off. My wife is a personal trainer, and sometimes when I take time off she doesn't or can't. While she was at work, the three of us lived in harmony...for the most part. When she came home the dynamic changed, and not for worse even though there were tears on occasion and a meltdown attributed to the blues. I parent out of necessity. I didn’t feed either child until they asked for something to eat, then we made breakfast together. They set the table, broke eggs, and mixed up daddy-waffles.

I didn’t ask them, I directed them. I let them live in squalor and PJ’s until I was tired of the mess or needed to get out of the house. I helped with Legos, tough spots in video games, and minor disputes. I tolerated hooting, laughing and hollering. In turn, I played video games, watched movies, and read Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King while they bothered each other elsewhere or were with me. There were moments of rough housing, throwing things, chasing one another, wrestling, kidding around, and tickling; general horse-play. We did our own chores. They changed their beds, and we helped each other.

I like being a dad. My wife doesn't always agree with my methods, and I'm ok with that, because compromise is important to do and to witness. One thing I've learned as a parent is there are many approaches to developing a meaningful relationship with my wife and my kids. Take the time and listen to the advice, and try it, because what works one day, doesn't always work the next. My method of parenting is take what you want, then ask for what you need. An ample supply of new gifts from Christmas to occupy their minds assisted in this I am sure, but I need to eat something, versus I need to watch TV is certainly different.

The missing paragraph is about my wife's parenting skills. When she meets people and gets to the question about children, she tells them she has three.