October 28, 2008

Twin pix (photos)

According to an email, as of this week AOL no longer hosts AOL members' photos. Bummer! However, it was an opportunity for me to download some old photos that have been out there in the ether. Here are a few:

October 20, 2008

Food, Glorious Food

It's probably a good thing I didn't speak or understand the language of my table mates at Pita Inn. It might have turned ugly.

Pita Inn is a local treasure. The food is inexpensive, fast and tasty. Judging by the number of diners in head scarves or salwaar kemeez, the food is the genuine article. It's also consistently crowded. Pita Inn does a brisk take-out business, so the entryway is inevitably packed. To dine in, you must wait until someone vacates a chair, then grab it. This is how Jeff and I found ourselves sharing a table with a young couple and their 2-year-old.

The mother was desperately trying to siphon soup into her unwilling daughter's mouth. Each spoonful was preceded by 30 seconds of loud coaxing, cajoling, threatening, begging, followed by squealing, crying, sulking refusal. After twelve such tries, I wanted to beat the woman about the head with my plastic spoon.

My parents also had old world attitudes about feeding children, although they would not have engaged in such preamble to each mouthful. As a result, I have taken a radical feeding approach with my own kids. To wit: make healthy food available, shut up about it.

After a dozen years of this philosophy and its success--no dinner table tantrums, no weight issues, no waste--I have become fairly strident. Unfortunately, this woman didn't get my telepathic messages. My brain was screaming at her, "JUST LEAVE THE KID ALONE ALREADY!"

October 16, 2008

Go, Jeff, go!

Not too long ago, I spoke with a woman whose daughter has a theatrical background. Her daughter has professional credits onstage and has had minor parts in film. She was her school's film critic and had just been selected to write reviews for an international film festival. "But what she really wants to do is direct," the mother told me. Her child is an 8th grader.

I am not in Akron anymore, I thought. When I was a kid, childhood ambitions were treated like the whims of . . . well, children. We were expected to be good students, go to college and then do something--anything--productive. I was astonished at the matter-of-fact way this mother talked about her daughter's accomplishments and ambitions.

My children are not likely to win awards, go to international film festivals or even college, but once in a while, there is a special achievement which I can brag about!

October 14, 2008

Autumn in New York (photos)

The World's Most Expensive Cupcake*

*or what we have here is a failure to communicate

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. We were barely into the first act of
A TALE OF TWO CITIES and Jeff was already bored. "Is it almost over?" "How much is left?" "Don't you want to see what happens to the characters?" "No." As ever, I started second-guessing myself. Would MARY POPPINS have been a better choice? Maybe I should have explained the plot beforehand.

Luckily, Jeff was able to make it through a long first act and he enjoyed the second act and the surprise twist. "He (Sydney Carton) tricked them and switched places!" With great relief, we left the theater but had several hours to kill before seeing
SPAMALOT. Time for a treat. I had hoped to make my way out of the crush of tourists swarming 44th and 45th Street, but Jeff had seen the cupcakes at Junior's Bakery. He and Meiya grabbed an outdoor table and I made my way to the end of the queue. I dutifully picked out a fancy cupcake for Jeff and a treat for myself.

"Hey, may I have some tap water to take a pill?" I asked the counter man. "No." He gestured to a case of bottled water."

"That's OK then," I signed the credit card slip, balancing my purse, my purchases and dodging the onslaught of American Girl Place shopping bags and their owners.

Looking at my receipt, I stopped. "Did you charge me for the water?" The total was $24.30.

"No water," the counter man replied, turning away to box up a few cheesecakes.

"This can't be right." "It's right," said the second counter man, gesturing me to move along.

"Did you want the water?" First man points to the cooler. "Take the water."

"I do not want the water. I have been overcharged."

All three servers had long since ceased making eye contact and had moved on to the next customers crowding the tiny storefront.

I stormed back across the street, and railed at Jeff for insisting on a cupcake in the biggest tourist trap in New York. Meiya looked at my tiny bag--two pastries and a can of pop.

"Unless this is a twelve-dollar cupcake, I don't think this is right," she said diplomatically. We had already found out that unlike here in Illinois, where one gets an itemized receipt with a purchase, in New York, you are handed a register tape with the total only.

I slunk back to the bakery, emboldened with every step. "Excuse me, Joe. You waited on me. I was overcharged."

Joe was conciliatory. "Go ahead, take the water."

"I don't want water. I want this corrected."

Second counter man came to Joe's defense. "You were rung up at the other register."

The tourist crowd began to shift uneasily in the queue. I stayed put. Joe, possibly sensing my determination, stepped into the back room to summon the manager. I handed over the receipt on which I'd written the three items I had purchased. "Sorry about that." He handed me a new receipt. The amount was $5.29.

October 7, 2008

Legal arguments

Possession is nine-tenths of the law, right? Who knew Jeff was such a legal scholar? By now, I have come to dread the phrase, "look what I found!" Despite numerous reprimands and explanations that things in MY office, bedroom, car, purse belong to ME, Jeff still persists in frequent household treasure hunts. I have started taking harder line, namely that everything in this house belongs to me. All to no avail.

Recent excavations have included:

Mechanical pencils: "Put them back in my office where they were."

Brand-new bottle of rubber cement: "You didn't 'find' that. It was with my scrap-booking supplies.

Toys: "Pay me back for that. I can't give it as a gift after you have opened it."

A diamond engagement ring: I am still trying to figure that one out. I re-found it in the laundry room.
For a while I tried to keep my things locked up or hidden away. But this too, was fruitless. My grandmother's bedroom furniture survived the Nazis, a trans-Atlantic crossing and twenty years in my mother's garage, only to be attacked with screwdrivers a few months ago. I was aghast. "What on earth were you doing here?" I shrieked at the perpetrators. "Looking for Beanie Babies." The reason this drawer is locked is so no one opens it. Secondly, why would I have Beanie Babies in my jewelry drawer?

A rhetorical question, of course. If I understood Hart-and-Jeff logic, I could have spared myself years of headaches.