Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Just take a second.


    PARKING LOT -- Don’t look at me, it wasn’t my idea to be here. I’ve got to remember to bring a book when I go to town with Kay. She’s a tricky girl, this one.

Each time Kay and I head for town I’ve got our itinerary mapped out perfectly in my mind. Yet, somewhere along the way I hear, “Oh, can we stop at the office for a second? I need to drop something off.”  Or “Oh, would you pull into Hobby Lobby? I’ll just be a second.”

Fifty-three percent of all lies have the word “second” in ‘em. Or, minute. They’re one in the same. They can mean anywhere from 20 minutes to a couple of hours. “Just be a second.” Some lies have both. “Oh, just a second. Do you have a minute?”

Look, just tell me. Don’t ask and don’t try to flower it up for me. -- “Hey, Sweetpea, I need to go to the office to see the girls. You do what you do. I’ll be 40 minutes.” If you tell me something like that I don’t feel quite so violated.

The worst place is Hobby Lobby. That parking lot is about 16 acres of heat reflective concrete. You’ll have to go to Willis before you find any shade.

Of course, I could go into Hobby Lobby with Kay, but after I’ve fingered all the balsa wood rockets and model airplanes, I’m ready to leave. Kay can graze in that place for hours. Do you know how many beads and buttons there are to touch in Hobby Lobby? Nobody does.

That’s why I was so disappointed about not bringing a book. And then a thought hit me. Bonk! Why don’t I get you involved? No use suffering alone. Hey, I’ve dragged you to a lot worse places. 

Besides, I’ve got something for us to do. I call it noticing-how-people walk. No, don’t you dare get out of the car. This will be fun or else I wouldn’t have asked. Well, that last part was a lie, but still stick around.

Let’s all focus our attention on the bank entrance just across that grassy area over there. We’re minutes away from noon and that place is hopping. Right now we’re just focusing on men. We’re going to profile men by their walk. I don’t think anyone has ever done that. Probably because it’s stupid.

But, who are we? Right, we’re the trapped ones. Okay, look at the guy who just stepped up to the sidewalk. He looks near death. Slouched over; he’s got short, foot-dragging steps. He’s barely alive and hating every minute of the time that remains.

But, wait! The lady isn’t going to hold the door for him. It’s about to close and—Look at him! Perked up and almost ran to catch the door. But, then… He’s back to his slouch. How sad.

You don’t want to start a conversation with this guy. He’ll suck the joy right out of you. Take my word. I’ve used that walk. Two days ago, in fact.

And, here comes mister fast walker guy. Get out of his way, lady! Oh, my word, that was close. He walks with his arms away from his side. Like a weight lifter or uh, what? Gorilla. He walks with a purpose, but he doesn’t really have one. He has no reason to hurry, but you can’t tell him that. You don’t wanna be around the guy when he’s driving. Especially on a two lane road. If he can’t go around you, he’ll go through you.

I’ve pretty well summed up his life. I’ve used that guy’s walk a time or two, also. Something in the ol’ brain just says, “Hurry up! I just wanna get this over. Out of my way, people!”

You know, this game isn’t as fun as I hoped. Don’t know why you thought of it. Let’s do something else. Tell you what, let’s play what-book-would-you-read-if-you-had-one. I’ll go first. No, I don’t wanna hear another word from the backseat. I’m going first.

At the moment I’m reading two books. I hate it when I do that. I start one and somebody comes along and tells me I “must” read something else… immediately. I was almost at an interesting part of a book suggested by Tracy. That’s the lady from “A Novel Idea” bookstore out on 105 West. They sell used and new books. Mostly used. Those are the kind I like best.

Tracie suggested “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” She said that after the first 100 pages, it supposed to get really good. At least that’s what her customers have told her. She’s yet to try it.

What agent or editor, picks up a manuscript and sticks with it through 100 pages of bad beginning? They wouldn’t do it for me, but they’ll sure do it for Stieg Larsson.

So, I was almost up to the interesting part of the Dragon book when Kay comes to me in tears and hands me “Same Kind of Different as Me.” You’ve got to read this book. Did I mention she was crying?

Her friend Linda -- somewhere in the office building behind us -- loaned her the book. Kay cried practically all the way through it. Handed it to me and said she wanted to pass it on to Virginia, but that I had to read it first.”

So, I’m between books at the moment. I haven’t cried yet during “Same kind of different” but I’ve been on a roller coaster ride of joy and depression. How can people be so mean to other people? Pre judging. That’s what it is. It’s kind of like categorizing people by the way they walk. Which one of you came up with that lousy idea?

So, if I had a book right now, I’d want it to be “Some kind of Different”, so I could get through it and get back to the Dragon tattoo. Of course, by the time I get there, I will have forgotten all the Swedish character’s vowel-free names and I’ll have to start over. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to do that.

Okay, that’s it, people. I can see in the side mirror that Kay is now leaving the building. Everybody out! No shoving and don’t leave anything in here. -- “What? No, Sweetie. They’re just fellow roofsitters that I called on to help me pass the time. A couple of ‘em said that you have a nice walk.

“Okay, where to now? Oh. Hold on. – Hey, everybody! Meet me at Hobby Lobby! We’ll only be a second!”


To watch Mark and Brad's review of Shmo's restaurant, click on pic. 


Friday, May 27, 2011

Too wise for your own good

Wisdom can be a pain

You wanna know the truth, a little bit wisdom can make your life miserable. Too much of it can be excruciating. Me, I’ve got just enough to make me cranky.

This morning I was drinking my coffee while reading the newspaper. Next to bedtime it’s the best part of my day. So, all’s right with my corner of the world until Kay gets up from the table and announces that she’s going to make some Creamy Italian salad dressing.

I have no idea where that came from. She could’ve said “I’m going to go dig for grubs” and it would’ve made as much sense to me. But, I didn’t comment. Not immediately. I thought things over for a few seconds. It’s the wise thing to do.

While pondering, I remembered how upset Kay was when we first learned that Seven Seas quit making Creamy Italian dressing. Kay always used Seven Seas brand for her much heralded cole slaw. She had many heralders of that stuff.

When Seven Seas baled on Creamy Italian, Kay tried every other brand on the market. Her cole slaw (pronounced “
cold slaw”) just never turned out right. After about three seconds I had landed on the why of her impractical, doomed-to-fail attempt at making salad dressing at 8:30 in the morning. It was now safe to comment.

Ease into it, my voice of wisdom suggested. “So, you’re planning to make some cole slaw?” I said. Kay said, No. She just wanted to make some Creamy Italian. That info weighed in heavy. Kay only used Creamy Italian for “
cold” slaw, yet she wasn’t planning to make any. She just had a lark to make Creamy Italian.

“Keep your mouth shut!” That’s what the wise part of my brain screamed. It’s no big de
al. The Mississippi River is flooding, the price of gasoline is obscene, and there are riots in Syria. Don’t mess with the salad dressing bomb. “Pick your fights. This is a little thing.” I said nothing.

The first batch came out too sweet. I could discern no sugar at all in the Seven Seas brand. “Do you think I should try again?” she asked. “Yes! Of course!” Is what I should’ve said. But I didn’t. Wisdom was elbowed aside by the testy part of my brain. “I don’t think you should’ve tried the first batch,” is what came out of my mouth.

The kitchen got silent. Negative sound coming from there. “Quick, regroup! Regroup!” wisdom screamed. “Uh, you know, what I’d do?” I said. “I’d make another batch, and put no sugar in this one and then mix the two together.” I thought it Solomonesque.

Kay thought it a good idea. Brilliant, even. So she did as I suggested and ended up with a dressing t
hat was still too sweet. “So, what do you think?” Before my brain could scream anything, my mouth immediately shot out, “Hokey Smokes, woman! Cut your loses and stop the madness!” Then I started shaking and wheezing. After about two minutes, Kay handed me a paper bag to breathe in.

I just hate episodes like that. The moment Kay mentioned the salad dressing, I knew it was wrong. I can just see things that other people don’t. Yet, what does it get me? Heartache! When I see somebody doing something stup—uh, unwise, I feel bad if I don’t say anything and bad if I do. By the way, I thought she took way too much time handing me the paper bag.

Life would be so much easier for me if my wisdom index was just a whole lot lower. But, no, I’m stuck with what I’ve got. And, what I’ve got has upset not only Kay, but most of my friends and all of my fa
mily members. “I wouldn’t do it that way.“ or “You know you’re opening that jar wrong, don’t you?” Or “By all means, if you want to wait in line for a couple hours, let’s go eat there.”

People have very little patience with the wise. One can only imagine what Solomon had to put up with. For those of you who attended Sunday school at one time or other, you may remember that it was mentioned that there was no one before nor would there be anyone after Solomon who would be as wise.

It must’ve been terrible for him. And, to make it worse, do you know how many wives he had? He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. I imagine that after your fortieth or so wife, the line between a wife and concubine becomes somewhat blurred.

Here’s the wisest man there ever was or ever will be, and he’s got 700 to 1000 wives. Oh, the horror.

“My Lord, Barinna would like to see you.” -- “Barinna?’ – “She’s one of your wives.” – “You’re gonna hafta do better than that. – “She’s one of your 38 Hittite wives. Green hair, tattoo on her left shoulder, gripes all the time…” – “Oh, yeah. Tell her to go ahead and make the salad dressing. Make a pool full of salad dressing. But, she’s sadly mistaken if she thinks it will match the
Queen of Sheba’s vinaigrette. Oh, and don’t tell her the last part. What else?”

“Let’s see, Orpah, your 468th child would like to date Noadite the Edomite.” – “Seriously? Has she even heard the jokes going around about the Edomites? Forget it. Tell her I’m cool with it, and don’t ever bring stuff like this to me again. Next?”

See what I’m sayin’? Wisdom can be a real pain. So much so that many people would just as soon you not share yours. They want you to share your love, time, money… But, wisdom? Pretty much keep it to yourself. I’m just saying.


To see Mark and Brad’s review of Brio Tuscan Grille, click below.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Don't assume... uh, sometimes.

e risk in assuming”

Do you have any idea how many assumptions you make in a day? It’s a lot. In the millions. I checked.

When you’re on the highway, you’re assuming the silver Hyundai Sonata coming your way isn't going to swerve at the last minute and hit you. Could happen, but you’re assuming it won’t or else you’d pull over on the shoulder of the road.

When I order a hamburger, I’m assuming the 14 year-old fry-cook didn’t stick the meat patty under his arm while picking his spatula up off the floor. I’m fairly sure it happens, but I like to assume that it didn’t. Helps me digest better.

Each night I assume that Kay is not going to sneak out of bed, grab the cast iron skillet and crack my skull as I sleep. The girl has elbowed me, kneed me and stole my covers, but in 39 years, five months and 11 days, she’s yet to crack my skull with a skillet.

So, I’m assuming she won’t. Obviously she could’ve spent four decades making me feel safe enough to drop my defenses, so some nights I climb into bed with just a smidgen of reasonable doubt. What husband doesn’t?

But, let’s not go off on the how-to-protect-yourself-while-sleeping tangent. We’ll never get back to the topic at hand, which is the assumption that your spare has air.

That’s right. That’s what I’ve been leading up to. Spare tires. I got the idea, yesterday, while vacuuming the back of my Highlander. I wash and vacuum Kay’s car about four times a year. Religiously. Usually, I vacuum first and then wash. This time, I washed and then vacuumed. I don’t know what got into me.

After vacuuming the hatchback part of the car, I decided to lift up the carpet. I hadn’t done that since we bought the thing back in 2002. Beneath the carpet was a hidden compartment. I looked around to make sure no one was spying on me, and then raised the lid on that bubba.

Hokey smokes! It was the spare tire. A nine-year-old brand new tire. To the right of it was another compartment that housed the jack. I had never even seen the jack. I assumed I had one, but never took time to search for it.

There was also a compartment near the taillight. I hoped it would contain some bottle caps or loose spoons. There’s a rattle in the back of the Highlander that bothers only me. Kay doesn’t mind, nor does our mechanic.

Unfortunately, the compartment was empty. I was thinking of putting a couple of candy bars back there for when I get in a really bad traffic jam, but they wouldn’t make it past the second stop light.

Anyway, before closing the hatch, I mashed on the spare. Another of my wild and crazy moments. That thing was flat. Void of air. It didn’t even make a pssst sound when I pressed on the valve stem. How long had it been flat? I don’t know. May have come that way. When I take the thing in for it’s oil change and 173 point check, I always assumed one of the points is to check the spare. I can now assume it’s not.

We’ve driven the thing for 108,000 miles, give or take, and during a chunk of those miles we might as well have been spareless. All the while, I assumed I was not.

We’ve been in the middle of nowhere in that car. Before we owned a cell phone, even! We’ve driven over hill and dale with the Plilers sitting in the backseat. And, no spare! (Dale is located just north of Scooberton.)

Say we had a flat. “Hey, Kay, get the owners manual out of the glove compartment and find out where the jack is. Freeman why don’t you get back there and find the spare?” Freeman would’ve killed me when he found the spareless air. I mean the—You know what I mean. Virginia has come close to killing me for a lot less than making her walk 47 miles.

This airless spare condition is testimony to the quality of tires that are out there. Back in the day, we got a flat about once a month. Each time we got into our old truck, we’d check the oil and then the spare. A broken bottle could give you a flat tire back then. It might still do it, but I don’t get a chance to run over that much glass anymore.

I ran over a dead bird once and got a flat tire. I’m not making this up. I didn’t intentionally hit it, but boy did I get it just right. The guy who fixed the flat said it wasn’t uncommon. I think he was lying just to make it sound like he had seen it all. “Yeah, you’ve got a warbler flat there. Yellow-rumped looks like to me.

Tires are so much better now. Aren’t they better? As you’ve no doubt discerned, we’ve yet to have a flat in the Highlander. And, that’s a good thing, or else I would’ve written this article years ago and it would’ve been so much more interesting.

Especially if the Plilers had been with us. They would’ve killed me. Assuming Freeman could find the tire iron. I’m assuming it’s hidden under the jack.


To view Mark and Brad’s latest restaurant review click below.

Monday, May 2, 2011

And, here we have a weener dog!

“Pet Parade”

Do you have any idea who emceed the 2011 Montgomery County Fair Pet Parade? No, I didn’t ask if you cared. I asked if you… Oh, just forget it.

I was the emcee. Okay? Are you happy? All it takes is just two rude people to really pooh pooh my parade.

I take that back. It wasn’t my parade. It was instigated by Lisa Hightower. Lisa, is one of those people who work their buns off doing volunteer work, and then stand in the background whenever there’s any praise to go around. Just makes me sick.

Lisa is a wise and wonderful lady, except when it comes to selection emcees for Pet Parades. Before asking me to emcee, she didn’t even check to see if I was a responsible pet owner. Had she, she would’ve found out that while I’m responsible as all get out, I’m not a pet owner. Never have been.

Oh, there were the two gold fish that someone in the family claimed. Seems like it was Larry. I say that, because the fishes were named Larry and Harry. I never got real close to ‘em… emotionally. I took the news of their demise pretty well. “Hey, Mom, where’s Harry and Larry?” – “They died. I flushed ‘em.” -- “Ah, well, uh, can I have a Fig Newton?”

There were also some dyed Easter chicks we got on Valentines. I mean Easter. Mine was dyed yellow. Can you believe that? Why bother? There was a blue, pink, and green one, too. I think Big Al got the pink one. Anyway the chicks didn’t stick around very long. When they got big enough to cluck, they left us. We came home from school and Dad said the chickens flew the coop. It’s weird how all the bad stuff happened while we were at school.

Other than that, I’ve not been responsible for a single animal… other than bugs. Yet, Lisa still asked me to help out with the pet parade. And, I’m so glad she did. It was a blast.

The pet escorts had to be eight years-old and younger. Their pets were placed into three categories. There were large dogs, small dogs and miscellaneous. The last category sounded way scary to me.

Oh, and you need to know that this was not a professional pet show. My involvement should’ve told you that.

There were two judges, though. James Hemphill owner of Tractor Supply Co. in Conroe, and local Veterinarian Dr. Michael Brown. They were judging pets based on looks and manners. If the animal didn’t spit on or bite the emcee, that was a plus. The children were also judged on… uh, cuteness. I just made that up. That’s how I would’ve judged ‘em. I don’t know what James and Michael were looking at. If a kid was afraid of his pet that would likely work against him.

Turns out the only thing that scared any of the pet owners was the emcee. When Li’l John took one look at me he must’ve thought I was Santa Claus, ‘cause he started bawling. Li’l John is 18! That’s a joke.

Oddly enough, none of the pets acted the least bit leery of me. In fact, one or two might’ve liked me. The hermit crab even smiled. I think. It did something weird that looked like a crab smile.

Bottom line, I have never been around that many well-adjusted animals. That may be because there were no cats. I blame the absence of cats on the prominence of dogs. Hey, I’ve seen the cartoons.

The most well adjusted animal was one of the five gold fish. (I think that’s a rock group.) Four of the fish seemed bored, but one of ‘em was a real cut up. Doing the shark impersonation and playing dead. Hard for the audience to see all that, but up close it was cool.

Oh, and dogs. There were plenty. One of my favorites was Lady Bug. Lady Bug is a Teacup Yorkie. Had she been an Oil Drum Yorkie, she would’ve been much larger. She was just a little thing. Looked like Toto. I think that’s why Mackenzie, Lady Bug’s owner, dressed like Dorothy. By the way Lady Bug got first place in the Small Dog Category. Now, it’s on to Kansas.

Sprite, a black and white Border Collie won the Best Large Dog award. Smart dog. Would’ve tied your shoe had you asked. And, get this, Sprite is a rescued pet. Brooke is the dog’s proud owner. Brooke is a doll.

Back to the miscellaneous entries. I feared there might be a snake or a spitting llama or maybe a big lizard. None of that. There was a spider dog. I had never seen one before. Looked a little like a toy poodle with four extra legs strapped to it. I couldn’t be sure, ‘cause I kept my distance. The Spider Dog’s owner was dressed like Li’l Miss Muffet. Get it? The dog was the spider that sat down beside her. Imaginative as can be.

I did get to hold that crab I mentioned before. Princess was its name. I didn’t want to hold Princess, but Lesa West, Hightower’s friend and assistant, made me. Lisa with an “e”. She was invaluable when it came time to announce the winners. She had to sort through a load of entry forms, while Helper-out Girl Madison handed over the ribbons and trophies. Do you know what color a tenth place ribbon is? Taupe… I think. So many ribbons.

Chester won first place in the miscellaneous category. The longest legged and skinniest rooster I’ve ever seen. Chester wore a leash and walked out on stage leading owner Colton. Roosters don’t follow. The only other time I saw anything like that was in a Seinfeld episode. Chester wasn’t really all that personable, but Colton was a prize. He’s one bright kid.

Can’t say that for the emcee. I didn’t know breeds of dogs and in some cases specie of animal. When there’s just fur it’s sometimes hard to tell.

Obviously, those of you who missed this year’s event will want to show up next year about this time. In fact, you youngsters need to start grooming your pet for the big event. No spitting or biting animals, though. Or, cats. – Hey, that’s a joke! Dogs, fish and cats. Oughtta be interesting.
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Princess, the hermit crab


To View Mark and Brad's latest restaurant review, click below.