Thursday, July 20, 2006

Truck Go Boom Stink Stink Boom

Since I occasionally have to agree with my lovely wife, I bought a new car. She was a bit embarrassed to be seen with me, which didn't present too much of a problem, because we never really drove anywhere together in my car. Plus, she was a bit concerned that catering clients would see me pull up in my "classic" 1989 Volvo with duct tape holding up the glove compartment, and wonder if I was going to serve or burgle them... which wasn't too much of a problem either since I usually used my friend Kate's SUV because of the storage space when there was a job of any consequence. In the end, when I noticed parents holding their children a little tighter when I pulled into the daycare parking lot (and occasionally finding some money on my front seat with "food for Sam and Lily" written on it) I decided she was right.
Long story short, I bought a Nissan Xterra, which is a truck based SUV which will get the kids around in style and carry enough food for a couple of hundred people or so. So far, I love it. Aside from the fact that it is a stick shift & fun to drive, Sam has been telling everyone in the daycare parking lot who'll listen to come and look at his new car which he thinks is 'cool'. Lily is unimpressed it seems, although she has found new and exciting places to spill milk out her sippie cup. Since the Volvo was pretty cramped in the back, she could only throw the milk forward, and I could reach back and retrieve it from the floor without even taking my eyes off the road. With the Xterra, I'll hear a thump, the cup is gone, and odds are I won't find it until I actually stop the car.... which is what she did on Tuesday.
Anyway, I've been gradually moving out of the Volvo. In my grand cleaning I found (are you ready?) stack of catering supplies (cups, plates - dinner and dessert, in several styles - napkins, silverware, two dozen disposable martini glasses, a set of olive bowls, etc, etc...) a pair of crutches, two road atlases, a full load of laundry, a "Wineopoly" game, a ream of paperwork and directions to gigs, and to top it all off, and Santa Suit and a cow costume. Always be prepared, that's my motto. Have you ever needed a drunken Santa bearing martinis at your party or a crippled cow with a board game to show up at the last minute? Friday Night Out Catering has got you covered... why, I can even plot you a course for the Cannonball Run and have you drop off my laundry at my sister's if need be... I also found a mighty web of wires that was my (impressive, I don't mind saying) stereo system, so part of my cleaning process was removing the rear speakers, disk changer & modulator, Fosgate amp and powered Bazooka subwoofer. How old am I, you might ask? Shut up.
Most of the stuff I'll sell because I don't need it in the Xterra, but I couldn't resist installing the Bazooka yesterday while I was waiting for our power to come back on (bad summer storm knocked out power to 350,000 of us in PA, in case you didn't know). It's a bit of a complicated process - running a power line from the battery to the trunk, removing the interior rear panels to tap into the rear speaker lines (scary), running a ground under the rear seats, and tapping into the fuse box to run a switch so that the amp comes on only when the car is running - lest my subwoofer runs down the battery while I'm sleeping. I finished it in record time, but didn't really drive around until today to test it out.
What I noticed when I first started up the car was a nice resounding 'thump' when the music called for it... mental note, disconnect it when Sara is in the car... What I noticed about a mile down the road was that the music had a certain smell to it.
You heard me, a smell.
It seems that my first experience with my improved stereo was paired with my first experience of Lily's rotting milk in the rear passenger cushion. Not that it was a particularly bad smell, mind you, but a disturbing one. It took me a couple of miles, but I think I nailed it - it's a combination of new car smell, the inside of a bag of circus peanuts, and a particularly ripe wheel of Mont D'Or. At first I thought Boucheron, but soon realized that the cheese was a little more complex, and not a goat's milk cheese, but cow. Not a Joux Vacherin, definitely Vacherin Mont D'or. All in all, it could be worse, but I really reeeeally hate circus peanuts.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Mississippi Burning

It's a bit late to talk about it, but the 4th went pretty well... we had a few people, drank a few beers, blew some things up, just a typical happened-all-over-the-country type thing.
For the number of kids we had over for two days, a remarkably few amount of tears too. Just your average moments of freaking out. Just one strange moment to mention though - my friend Ken came a bit late, after some of the crowd had already disappeared, but was able to hang out for a few hours. Sam knows him a bit - we used to work together from time to time on some catering gigs, and a few times Ken caught an hour or two of sleep between gigs in our spare bedroom. Now that Ken took a full time job as head chef of a restaurant in Philly, we don't see him as much (and hardly ever work together) but he is still around every once in a while.
Anyway, Ken and I were outside cooking shrimp and watching Sam scout for insects, having a fine old time. Ken is one of those guys that Sam is totally cool with, and just slips right into conversations with him... "hey Kenny, what are you eating? Hey Kenny, I picked up a bee at school and it stung me right there (holds up ring finger). Hey Kenny, do you like yogurt? I could go inside and get everyone yogurts that have pictures from Disney's hit film Cars on them..." You get the idea. At some point though, Sam went inside to get some ketchup and said to Sara, "hey mom, that brown guy wants some ketchup".
Out of nowhere.
That brown guy.
She told me while we were packing everyone into the car to see the fireworks, and I was blown away. What do you say? He didn't mean anything by it, and obviously likes Ken. Plus, Ken is brown, so it wasn't like he was saying something completely nuts. Have to nip it in the bud though... While I was still mulling it over, Sara found just the thing to say.... "Sam, remember when you said 'that brown guy wants some ketchup'? Its not really nice to call people things that aren't their name. You know Ken's name, you should call him Ken. If you don't know someone's name, you can ask them, because sometimes when you call people something other than their name, you can hurt their feelings". I'm paraphrasing a bit, but not bad right? Sound like a good reason to call people by their name. I like the way this is going...
Without missing a beat, Sam says, "why?".
"Well, your name is Sam, but you wouldn't like it too much if people called you something else, like 'the white guy', would you?"
"Sure," says my bi-racial three year old, "I'd like that. I'm going to change my name to Sam The White Guy."
(moment of stunned silence in the car)
After a few blocks he agreed to call people by their names, but seemed to still like the "Sam the White Guy" moniker.
So it begins... a young mind yearning to be molded... in some mighty white suburbs... with me as a parent... something tells me we're in for a long rollercoaster ride....

Monday, July 03, 2006

Intelligent Design

Lots of stuff to write about this week... a new car... a roto-rooter visit... Sam learning how to swim underwater... yadda, yadda, yadda. I have to tell you that the most amazing thing was Lily's new hair restraint system. She's been growing her hair out, and there doesn't seem to be a way to hold it back properly. One top-of-the-head pony tail and her bangs are in her eyes. Two pony tails at 11:00 and 1:00 o'clock and she pulls them out... Yesterday, Sara devised a whole new system with three bands and two clips that hold up pretty well. Unfortunately, we have to hire a team of no fewer than four day-laborers and one longshoreman (for the knots) to come and hold everything in place while we are preparing her head, but so far it seems pretty secure. I've signed up for a night school macrame class though, so we should be able to at least cut out the longshoreman by summer's end...
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