467. Half and Half Coffee Wars: A Nation at Risk

Image result for pole vaulter  picturesLast week was a pivotal moment in Coffee Nation’s illustriously foggy imprint on the mirror of roasted bean history. After repeated shoddy service at the original site of the founding of Coffee Nation circa 2009, we the people, in order to reform a more perfect atmosphere and croissant, moved north along Main Street until we came to the Brussels Cafe. Their sign outside says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free coffee fumes… The wretched refuse of your teeming shore…” (Okay, that’s enough of that.) Service was friendly and owner-driven, though slow. It’s a European thing, I guess. He asked us at least three times if we were completely satisfied. Mostly we were as we sent a big, small town, caffeinated shot over the bow of the Coffee Barge. Our message?  “Don’t take us for You Sissy’s S. Granted.” If you cut us, do we not bleed? (Let’s not drill down too far on that last bit of hyperbole. It’s just a dramatic flare not an invitation to maiming.)Image result for statue of liberty pictures

I hate to say “the tipping point” came all at once. It did not. It came over and over again in these words, “No half and half again. Sorry.” From the beginning of the Nation we were founded on the free exercise of half and half flowing into a stout cup of smooth java. In rare emergencies and acts of God whole milk was tolerated, never skim, which everyone knows is simply food coloring or drywall dust dissolved in water. Upon desperate requests the barristas would top off the mix with whipped cream, but that was always on the down low, like a dairy product drug deal. (“Pssst. Gimme your cup. You watch for the cops. Shhhhhhhhhurrggg. Yeah, don’t tell anyone about this. It never happened.”)

Image result for milk delivery man with hand cart We even know the milk delivery guy’s name, Mike, and cheer him on delivery days, “Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike.”  Our resident consigliere even helped Mike resolve an out of state speeding ticket.  We’re thick like that, a melting pot of common men sharing a common purposelessness and lack of meaning. But come to think of it, Mike has not been seen for weeks!! The conspiracy goes to the highest levels of the deep roast coffee state, so it seems.

Image result for brussels cafe pictures

We enjoyed our leisurely visit at the Brussels Cafe, especially the outside alley seating; it was somehow wide open yet simultaneously intimate . Pleasant as Paris, New Jersey. As I walked back to my office with a to go cup of Belgian coffee in hand, I passed the Java Barge’s owners. Furtive avoidance of eye contact stared back at me full force. “Okay”, I thought, “the rockets’ red glare has been seen.” I imagined gun smoke in the humid air, though I knew it was just a breeze from the Boro’s sewage treatment plant. The cup is in their court now.Image result for rockets red glare pictures baltimore harbor

The next day I received a lengthy email from the owner imploring me to bring the Nation back to its historic home. Promises of endless half and half were made. A gift card was offered as an incentive to return. I pondered what I should do: either way I had the upper hand in this milky situation.Image result for hand in milk pictures

I picked up the card and began reducing its value immediately. Joel was so impressed that he uttered, “I wonder how much I could get if I boycotted the Java Barge?”  I thought briefly, at least a nanosecond, and responded, “Um, if you left right now, they’d probably give me another gift card. But I don’t want you to embarrass yourself.”

“Ouch! I have feelings too, you know.”

“Joel, of course you do. That’s why I waited so long to tell you.”

Image result for corleone brothers picturesTentatively we have begun the Coffee Nation reconciliation process. We noticed dairy products full and at the ready in shiny silver carafes. A freshness was in the air which could be attributed to a good cleaning or the absence of us stinky men for a week. Not sure. In any event we sat together again like the Corleone brothers after Michael got back from Sicily. Godfather references were easily made,

“You come to me on the day of my daughter’s wedding without half and half?”

“Forgive me, Godfather. I do want your business.”

Image result for corleone brothers pictures

“When I offered you my business, you did not want to dignify it with half and half. Now you want me to whack you daughter’s no good boyfriend with a frozen quart of dairy products?”

“Yes, Godfather. Forgive me. I will repay you faithfully when you call on me.”

“But you are an undertaker, Pasquale. In order for you to repay me, someone I know must die.”

“True, Don Corleone, but what a discount I can offer. No embalming fluid for you. Only half and half, my friend. Nice for the complexion.”

“Can I get a dozen cannolis with that?”

“Of course, Godfather.”

Image result for perplexed faces

467. Half and Half Coffee Wars: A Nation at Risk

Image result for pole vaulter  picturesLast week was a pivotal moment in Coffee Nation’s illustriously foggy imprint on the mirror of roasted bean history. After repeated shoddy service at the original site of the founding of Coffee Nation circa 2009, we the people, in order to reform a more perfect atmosphere and croissant, moved north along Main Street until we came to the Brussels Cafe. Their sign outside says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free coffee fumes… The wretched refuse of your teeming shore…” (Okay, that’s enough of that.) Service was friendly and owner-driven, though slow. It’s a European thing, I guess. He asked us at least three times if we were completely satisfied. Mostly we were as we sent a big, small town, caffeinated shot over the bow of the Coffee Barge. Our message?  “Don’t take us for You Sissy’s S. Granted.” If you cut us, do we not bleed? (Let’s not drill down too far on that last bit of hyperbole. It’s just a dramatic flare not an invitation to maiming.)Image result for statue of liberty pictures

I hate to say “the tipping point” came all at once. It did not. It came over and over again in these words, “No half and half again. Sorry.” From the beginning of the Nation we were founded on the free exercise of half and half flowing into a stout cup of smooth java. In rare emergencies and acts of God whole milk was tolerated, never skim, which everyone knows is simply food coloring or drywall dust dissolved in water. Upon desperate requests the barristas would top off the mix with whipped cream, but that was always on the down low, like a dairy product drug deal. (“Pssst. Gimme your cup. You watch for the cops. Shhhhhhhhhurrggg. Yeah, don’t tell anyone about this. It never happened.”)

Image result for milk delivery man with hand cart We even know the milk delivery guy’s name, Mike, and cheer him on delivery days, “Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike.”  Our resident consigliere even helped Mike resolve an out of state speeding ticket.  We’re thick like that, a melting pot of common men sharing a common purposelessness and lack of meaning. But come to think of it, Mike has not been seen for weeks!! The conspiracy goes to the highest levels of the deep roast coffee state, so it seems.

Image result for brussels cafe pictures

We enjoyed our leisurely visit at the Brussels Cafe, especially the outside alley seating; it was somehow wide open yet simultaneously intimate . Pleasant as Paris, New Jersey. As I walked back to my office with a to go cup of Belgian coffee in hand, I passed the Java Barge’s owners. Furtive avoidance of eye contact stared back at me full force. “Okay”, I thought, “the rockets’ red glare has been seen.” I imagined gun smoke in the humid air, though I knew it was just a breeze from the Boro’s sewage treatment plant. The cup is in their court now.Image result for rockets red glare pictures baltimore harbor

The next day I received a lengthy email from the owner imploring me to bring the Nation back to its historic home. Promises of endless half and half were made. A gift card was offered as an incentive to return. I pondered what I should do: either way I had the upper hand in this milky situation.Image result for hand in milk pictures

I picked up the card and began reducing its value immediately. Joel was so impressed that he uttered, “I wonder how much I could get if I boycotted the Java Barge?”  I thought briefly, at least a nanosecond, and responded, “Um, if you left right now, they’d probably give me another gift card. But I don’t want you to embarrass yourself.”

“Ouch! I have feelings too, you know.”

“Joel, of course you do. That’s why I waited so long to tell you.”

Image result for corleone brothers picturesTentatively we have begun the Coffee Nation reconciliation process. We noticed dairy products full and at the ready in shiny silver carafes. A freshness was in the air which could be attributed to a good cleaning or the absence of us stinky men for a week. Not sure. In any event we sat together again like the Corleone brothers after Michael got back from Sicily. Godfather references were easily made,

“You come to me on the day of my daughter’s wedding without half and half?”

“Forgive me, Godfather. I do want your business.”

Image result for corleone brothers pictures

“When I offered you my business, you did not want to dignify it with half and half. Now you want me to whack you daughter’s no good boyfriend with a frozen quart of dairy products?”

“Yes, Godfather. Forgive me. I will repay you faithfully when you call on me.”

“But you are an undertaker, Pasquale. In order for you to repay me, someone I know must die.”

“True, Don Corleone, but what a discount I can offer. No embalming fluid for you. Only half and half, my friend. Nice for the complexion.”

“Can I get a dozen cannolis with that?”

“Of course, Godfather.”

Image result for perplexed faces

466. The contract

Related imageWell, it looks like the deal of a lifetime is coming to an end. It was a vaguely worded verbal contract we had. Back in the fall of 2016 my Tucson daughter asked if she and her family could relocate East and live with us for a few months, as her hubs Stu went through flight school to be a  commercial airline pilot.

“We’ve decided to sell the house. Then we’ll be debt free. I’ll be able to stay home for a couple of years. Stu’s going to flight school. He’ll fly out of New York City. We’ve both resigned our jobs. We just need a place to land for a few months.”

Image result for deliriously happy faces picturesDelighted is not a strong enough word to describe how my wife and I felt hearing those words. Elated. Ecstatic. Delirious with joy gets closer but does not capture the rapture in our hearts. For the past few years, actually since my four year old grand daughter was born, we’d been trying to figure out how to live closer to each other. Could I get a job in Arizona? No. Could we just retire a bit early?  No. Could we start cooking meth in a rolling Winnebago lab?  No. Lottery win, gun running, numbers games, computer hacking…. no,no,no,no.

Image result for sundial picturesIn the end it all came together in the most unimaginable way. After a month in San Diego Grace and the kids and dog Kermit moved in with us just before Christmas. Wow!! Our quiet and orderly days were immediately over. Max was crawling, then walking, then dare-deviling all over the place. Miss Leah Bideyah was off the leash with her four year old attitude. Challenges were met with lots of hands on deck as three generations began to coexist under one roof. I’d never experienced this generational stacking before, but now I am a big fan of the Big 3. Sure, there’s more food, utilities, cleaning, dishes, noise, wear and tear, etc. But there is also more fun, energy, zest, joy, and snuggling.

“How long will it be?  ”

“Just till we get a contract on the house. We should be out by the end of May for sure.”

Related imageNo rush from grandma and grandpa. We were thrilled to have the novel chaos erupting around us like a freshly fertilized mushroom farm on a warm summer night. I mean stuff was popping up and falling over, creeping, dripping, tripping, stinking, bouncing, screaming, crying, giggling, snuggling, and on and on in the glorious minutes. Ear infections were numerous. One trip to the ER for a choking incident. Multiple dingers on Leah’s head, making her preschool teachers suspect that the absent pilot father was abusing her on his sporadic trips home. I think the injuries occurred because she happily whirled like a dervish whenever her daddy was home, and then fell over her tuffet.

March came and went. Grace started working in an empty room at my office. It was nice to have a coffee and lunch buddy after years of solitude. No hurry to lose that benefit. The void of absence filled in firmly with smiles and hugs and funny conversations.

Image result for baby godzilla destroying tokyo picturesApril rolled over into May. No change, no problem. Though the living room and downstairs were filling up with plastic Little Tykes toys, and the back yard had a trampoline, a blow up dragon pool, a sand box, and many other monstrosities, it was all good all the time. Nothing a like an alarm clock made out of little feet pitter pattering overhead at 6:00 a.m. Nothing like a whispery voice telling you “I love you, Granpa.” Nothing like watching a little boy crawl, then walk, then run, then terrorize a major city like Godzilla. So many lessons were taught both ways as our grandkids grew up before our eyes, making every day pretty darn special.

Image result for treadmill coat hanger imagesI began to make my smart aleck comments in June, I believe, not to motivate exodus but to deal with the stress of imploding chaos. “Hey, has anyone seen the treadmill?  It was in the sun room last week, I’m sure of it. Who would steal a treadmill?”  Actually the treadmill was buried beneath a landfill of wedding decorations and unopened Amazon boxes.

Image result for cluttered basement  picturesIn July I thought I was in the scare house from a carnival, the one with the shrinking room. As I walked across a shrinking downstairs family room, I uttered, “Didn’t we used to have a wood stove on that side of the room? Where can that have gone?”  Honest to exaggerations, toys and boxes of clothes, poofy chairs, yoga mats, and a big doll house surrounded by 1,000 plastic figures were/are stacked floor to ceiling. Behind that is my bride-to-be daughter’s karaoke system with big speakers. I fear the arrival of the fire marshal as much as I do my own premature death.

Last week good news came that the Tucson house had finally been rented. Apparently no one wanted to buy it… which is not really bad news. I’m still holding out for some weird relocation or witness protection residence program in Tucson. Anyway, that freed up the cash flow, so the immigrants could emigrate. On Saturday last we drove up to Hershey, PA for a look around at rentals Grace and Stu had previewed on line.

Image result for old run down rambling brick house picturesThe first one was adequate, in a hodge podge tolerable sort of way. “We could stand to live here”, Grace voiced. We almost cancelled the second appointment.
“I can’t imagine a house with only 1400 finished square feet meeting your needs. House number one was over 2,000 funky feet with all the wonky rooms.”

“We have to go look at it.”  So we did. Up a lovely tree lined road we climbed, past very fine homes. I kept reading the address numbers as we got closer. When we finally arrived at 1150, I thought there had to be a mistake. It was too nice. Wonderfully landscaped. A half million dollar house next door, and endless back yard, not your typical rental. And it wasn’t. The owner’s daughter showed us around the property. Truth be told, it’s a nicer house than the one I live in. Solidly built in the late 1960’s. Sure, there are drawbacks, one bath. Three bedrooms that cannot be reconfigured. An unfinished basement that is also unheated. The upside, however, far exceeded the down. Gorgeous floors, a patio, granite counter tops, solid wood doors, and more.Image result for 1960's raised ranch house with landscaping pictures

It seemed hardly a contest as we drove away, with an application in for both properties. Before we got back on the major highway, renters’ remorse kicked in and Grace called the owner, left a message, sent a text, and then emailed her intentions to lease the place. “I hope they like me, us, the dog. All that.”

Apparently they did since the deal was closed today, two days later. The old contract is gone; the new is in play. It’s been a wonderful journey. Gratitude like happy ink tears drips all around the signed deal.

Image result for drippy ink images

 

 

465. The Ump

Image result for major league umpire picturesThe umpire is supposed to be neutral when calling balls and strikes as well as plays on the field. He/she should be very knowledgeable and experienced in order to ump in the Big Leagues. He can’t become emotionally embroiled in every little reaction by prima dona ball players who make millions more a season than the ump. Authority is his as long as he upholds it ruthlessly and objectively.Image result for bryce harper arguing with ump pictures

A good umpire does not become a deciding factor in the games he calls. He is never the show. Instead, due to his competence and management skills, the fans and players and media can focus on the players in the game, being amazed at great athleticism or ingenious strategies. Good players and coaches and fans know when they have a good umpire with integrity. Such umps are not constantly attacked for each call they make. They are given any benefit of the doubt because they leave little to doubt to start with. Their strike zone is consistent. Their game management is fair to both sides. Safety and fairness never take a back seat.  The only preference they demonstrate is a laser focus for the integrity of the game, not for a player or team.

Image result for bad umpires in movies picturesNow imagine, and it hardly requires any imagination these days, that a highly unqualified ump should be thrust into the limelight of the playoff runs in August and September. Purists of the game, how it used to be played before Jackie Robinson arrived, back this Ump and he is promoted beyond any sane competency standards because he is a new kind of umpire from outside the union. He promises to drain the diamond of heresies that ruin the holy sport. He taps into old anger and insecurities among armchair athletes and spectators.  He’s a celebrity umpire. When he yells, “You’re out!!”, his backers howl and catcall like the good old days, when white men were men and all others could only wish they were white. It’s like Christmas in the summertime with each syllable The Ump gushes out. “Ball. Steeerike!! Foul Ball.” Even when his calls are clearly wrong, his groupies erupt with lavish praise for his “telling it like it is” instead of being accurate. He seems to encourage pitchers to brush back batters and to enjoy on field melees. He gets to throw out more players and demonstrate his manliness in this way. Chicks dig it.Image result for jackie robinson arguing with umpire pictures in 1940s

After a great deal of backslapping and self congratulatory rallies that take him through like minded states, the ump finally gets settled behind the plate. Tension rather than hot dogs sizzles in ball parks around the country. Reasonable folks anticipate that the ump will eventually cave in and realize the game is bigger than he is. Others think not. He’s thinks he’s the big Hot Dog. Like all other achievements in his life, he did not earn this one either. (He made millions selling used cars previously in Russia.) Real baseball men like to say he was born on third and told he hit a triple.  His reputation precedes him like an ice covered ski slope that can only lead to a wicked wipe out.Image result for icey ski slope pictures

As soon as the All Star break is completed, the Ump bans all unauthorized immigrants who want to play or attend pro ball. All employees of Major League Baseball who may be Moslem are forbidden from MLB venues until he figures out what the hell is going on. Loyalty pledges are extracted like impacted wisdom teeth from the Commissioner and President of the league. Dew rags and dreadlocks are banned. Uniformity in uniforms is enforced, with socks and waistbands being measured for any discrepancies. He is a stickler for appearances. All remaining foreign players are required to register as foreign agents and subjected to very invasive searches.Image result for airport screening pictures leaked

The Umpander in Chief ramps up the drug detection program in the MLB with an eye at catching and exiling bad hombres who use any substance stronger than chewing tobacco. His lily white base beer cheer him on and set attendance records at whatever venue he umps. The rest of the umps realize that something beyond their control has erupted in this season. Fans are coming to stadium after stadium for the governor of the game and not the game itself or any favorite players. No one has ever seen anything like it. Instead of challenging the Governor Ump, the other umps smile around him at photo ops. They turn themselves into human logic pretzels trying not to contradict his inability to master the infield fly rule. After all they “reason”, he has no experience in umping. His heart is in the right place, according to the Governor’s fans, who look like they’ve been taking LSD. Also, the fans are now armed and wear umpire gear like The Governor Ump, made of kevlar and titanium. They come to the stadiums beating drums and shields as if on a Rosicrucian Crusade.Image resultIt’s all too, too much.

Regardless of the game’s proceedings, cheers break out– “Lock them up!” “Where’s their birth certificates?” Then the call and response that goes “Who’s gonna throw out the ball?” “You are.”

And who’s gonna pay for it?” “Mexico!”

In early August The Governor Ump issues a ban on all transgendered ball players, claiming they cause an undue burden on the fans with all their surgeries from men to women and back again, and the nearly impossible engineering problem of figuring out where these players should pee. Despite the fact that no player has ever identified as transgendered, the order is implemented and followed by gossip and rumor about who might be a tranny and how disruptive that would be to the game. The home side yells “Tyranny” and the visitors yell “Tranny”.

“You say Tranny, I say Tyranny.”

“Tranny.  Tyranny.”

The mess devolves into violence all over these stadiums as the Governor Ump smiles that fifteen foot canoe smile of his and tosses his hands up, as if to say, “Hey, it’s terribly egregious on all sides. What are you gonna do?”

Image result for mean umpire face pictures

Our great American past time limps toward decline, hit by a pitch.

464. Attachments

Image result for computer screen image of attachmentsIn computer speak an attachment is a document added to an email. It’s an add on, and very helpful at that. However, there are other definitions of the word. John Bowlby pioneered a special definition as follows.

Image result for mother and baby images

Attachment is a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space (Ainsworth, 1973; Bowlby, 1969).

Attachment does not have to be reciprocal.  One person may have an attachment to an individual which is not shared.  Attachment is characterized by specific behaviors in children, such as seeking proximity with the attachment figure when upset or threatened (Bowlby, 1969). Image result for postpartum depression mother infant pictures

Attachment behavior in adults towards the child includes responding sensitively and appropriately to the child’s needs.  Such behavior appears universal across cultures. Attachment theory provides an explanation of how the parent-child relationship emerges and influences subsequent development.

Attachment theory in psychology originates with the seminal work of John
Bowlby (1958).  In the 1930’s John Bowlby worked as a psychiatrist in a Child
Guidance Clinic in London, where he treated many emotionally disturbed
children. 

 

This experience led Bowlby to consider the importance of the child’s relationship with their mother in terms of their social, emotional and cognitive development.  Specifically, it shaped his belief about the link between early infant separations with the mother and later maladjustment, and led Bowlby to formulate his attachment theory.”  (McLeod, 2009 Simply Psychology)

Image result for micro filament picturesWe all have varying degrees of attachment that are less robust than parent/child connectedness. Think of that annoying kid who sat behind you in middle school who poked you with his eraser relentlessly. (Whoops. That was me. Sorry, Marsha Humphries.) Um, in any event you have a lasting memory or attachment across time and space with this person, no matter how microscopically thin. Thank God you are not connected today beyond the neural pathway that harbors his voice or face or smell and welds it finitely to your early adolescent girl’s discomfort.

Image result for steel cable picturesThen think of your Grandmother or your Mother. For better or worse, if you had a close relationship with either, that attachment might resemble a bridge cable, thick with reinforced neural wire networks. Each wire contains hundreds and thousands of words and smells and smiles and winks and touches. Countless lessons course through these fibers. Values and attitudes oxidize like some mildly corrosive patina on the cable, etching atmospheric style on your essence. Whatever that means mingles with the faint scent of closeted mothballs mixed with wafts of chocolate cake.Image result for chocolate cake images

When you hear that the kid from middle school died, you might feel a tiny twinge that a face from childhood no longer exists, like a play house on your childhood street burned. However, when Grandma passes on, look out!! Paul Simon’s lyric comes to mind, “This is the powerful pulsing of love in the veins….” A fire hose volume of tears may gush uncontrollably from your lacrimal canaliculus. Gasps of grief. Convulsions of agony echo the ripping of that attachment. Like Carol King sang, you might “feel the earth move under your feet and the sky tumbling down”.

Related imageDetaching is the unwanted but necessary task of grief. In your unconscious mind a blue plumber mime with no torso hands you a hack saw and gestures for you to cut ties: the billions of ties that make up the fibers, that make up the million wires, that make up the massive cable of your attachment to Grandma. Related image You keep dropping the saw in your convulsed state. After hours alone you pick it up and hate the tool, curse its function while knowing what must be done. Like sawing the legs off the deer you shot and gutted. Then peel off  its fur. It must be done. Survival depends on such cruelties.Image result for hacksaw pictures

Part of you dissociates in this trauma, watching your hands saw back and forth at the suspension cable from the top of the bridge tower. The bridge of interpersonal connection back into Grandma’s lap. The distance allows for quiet objectivity. No emotional engagement. You wonder why the guy doesn’t just use a cutting torch. Wouldn’t that be more efficient?Image result for bridge welder pictures

The guy is you, you remember, and now feel his exhaustion. Grief rages through your marrow like chemotherapy, killing to cleanse and give life back to you. Existential wrestling erupts in your belly: is the vermilion pain of this present reduction worth the mint green joy of the earlier construction? Then a meteor of guilt hits from outer space– “Of course it is, you block of marble!! Love is carving you into David, grinding away the burrs and imperfections; sanding your integrity till it gleams.”  This is the powerful pulsing of love in your living veins. Blood smells like wet iron rust, right? Stop whining!

Image result for statue of david pictures

Grief is the exit tax on love. In Honduras the government is so poor that they do all they can to attract visitors or investors, but they charge an exit fee for you to leave. It’s maybe thirty bucks, or a five gallon bucket of lempiras. Fifty five other countries either charge you to enter or leave (mostly via airline tickets), like they are huge amusement parks. But you get the point, right? You had a good time and now it has to hurt to leave the Tunnel of Love. Otherwise everyone would stay there and no new folks could snuggle and kiss and fall in love on a swan boat. The human parade would end if no one ever vacated space.Image result for tunnel of love swan boats pictures

Origin of attach

Middle English (in the sense ‘seize by legal authority’): from Old French atachier or estachier ‘fasten, fix’, based on an element of Germanic origin related to stake; compare with attack.

If you follow the word back to its origins, there is often a story that resonates with the ringing bell of truth. Our loved ones are hearts we have staked, laid claim to, fastened and fixated upon, whether they agree to the legal authority of love or not. The stake is driven in our own hearts by eager little hands.Related image

So there you go. Attach at your own risk.

463. Three Sues/ Three Tuxedos

Image result for bridal shower picturesThe recent bridal shower for my youngest daughter was the occasion for extraordinary generosity by friends of ours. You may have stumbled across these folks in previous blog posts such as The Christmas Party or Croquet Anyone? or Navel Dancing Tonight, 7 to 9.  I wrote facetiously then. Psychedelically maybe, anyone? Yes, the shoeless man in the box in the back row, sir? A big Amen to you too.  I know this will shock some of you that I might gild the truth with spray paint and glitter, cherry bombs and bombast, hot glue and confectioner’s sugar. However, it’s not lying if the goal is entertainment and no laws are broken in the process.

Lying is an untruth told in an attempt to avoid negative consequences or gain advantage. By this definition Burritospecial is truth of an alternative kind. Like a zebra is not a horse or a donkey or giraffe, but it’s like them in that they all share four legs. Write that down or at least cut and paste it for future reference. It’s a fact, sort of.Image result for zebra next to a horse pictures

Some background is necessary, I think, to fully appreciate the gift of the Sues.

Image result for female triplet picturesThe three Sues are Susan M., Sue B., and Suzanne P. They are stars from our Sunday School class, called Feet to Faith by those in the know. Along with my bride they have bonded over the last few years in a weekly prayer and Bible study small group with delicious snacks and shared intimacies. They rotate among their houses on Tuesday nights. Often my youngest daughter Jess joins them in their spiritual explorations. (I work Tuesday nights, otherwise I would be much holier, believe me.)

Image result for single blue egg in robin's nest

Once Jess’s engagement was set and fluttered over like a new blue egg in a robin’s nest, Suzanne announced her intention: “Y’all know how I love to entertain. How about if I host Jess’s bridal shower at my house? It’ll be fun! We can all get involved in the party.” Well, what are you to say to these statements but yes, yes, yes and yes? She is a great hostess. Of course she can host it. Of course it will be fun. If Suzanne says it, by golly, it will be done. Just ask Gary her husband. She is the Norman Schwarzkopf of entertaining, a force of cultural nature, a diva of delivery systems, a dervish of deviled eggs, a… wonderful woman who may hurt me if I continue this list.

Image result for scarlett ohara pictures“Sara, bless your heart, you don’t need to do a thing. Let us Sues do it for you. You’ll have enough on your plate with all the wedding planning.” (Suzanne is from Charleston, and “Bless your heart” is an expression that sounds deeply sincere and connective, but when parsed means something like “you are the village idiot”. )

With more relief than reluctance, my girl sort of complied. “Okay, but let me know what I can do…”

“Nope! We got this. You have a dress, a cake, a ceremony, a d.j., invitations, photographer, menu, music playlist…”

“Okay. But let me…”

“Now, what did I just say?”Image result for scarlett o'hara pictures

Stung with tough love, my girl put on the little sister saddle shoes and agreed, let go, and surrendered the shower burden to these loving ladies. Good move. Opposing Stormin’ Norman never worked out in the past. Just ask Saddam Hussein.

Image result for a s tring of honeybees picturesNo words, texts, phone calls needed to be exchanged on the business of the shower. The Sues swarmed like honeybees to flowers, flowers to nectar, and from nectar to honey back at the hive, i.e. Suzanne’s lovely home. See, bees have to chew nectar for a while before it turns into honey. And isn’t that a nice analogy for lovely women processing beauty and sweetness into a perfected product? After all, honey and love are both labor intensive products.

Now these ladies have a sense of humor. Over time they came up with the idea of having their available men be the butler wait staff at the shower. It was agreed that we– Gary, Dan and I — would be the un-jacketed tuxedo crew  to wait on the whims and cares of the assembled females. Without a lot of planning we decided not to wait in wrestling singlets or biker shorts (Gary’s first two ideas) or tear away Chippendale dancer outfits (his third). Instead we planned on starched white shirts and black pants, preferably tuxedo attire, along with swanky bow ties and linen tea towels held aloft by sharply angled left forearms. And we killed it. Bulls eye. A spectacle. Bingo. Holy Schnikes. The swagger in our pantalones alone was worth all the Jagger in the Rolling Stones.Image result for three downton abbey butlers picturesImage result for three downton abbey butlers picturesImage result for three downton abbey butlers picturesImage result for butler images

(Number four is gratuitous eye candy and did not attend.)

We reacted as professionals. “Martin. Where did you go to Butler School?

“Quincy, sir.”

“Isn’t that near Yardley?”

“Why yes it is, sir.”

“Did you attend the front yardley or back yardley portion, Martin?”

“Alas, the back yardley, sir.”

“I thought so.”

“Piper!! Is that a singlet tan I see under your crisply starched white shirt?”

“Yes, sir. I wore the singlet proudly at West Chester.”

“Go wash it off or finish the spray tan before gentle company arrives. Bloody pugilist!”

Image result for party platters table picturesWe were ready to take the Sues’ marching orders to the mat if need be, but since our women were supremely prepared, it was not necessary. Like great athletes, they made it all look easy– the fresh lemonade and tea; the hor d’oeuvres; the cheeses and wines; the confections and lovely sandwiches. It was a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.

Pictures were snapped. Presents gathered up and recorded. And then the bonding activity of weaving a bridal head dress out of toilet paper, something so Pinteresting, came later. Three teams of ladies competed for the best head dress made with toilet paper and any other available materials. After twenty or thirty minutes it was left to the three butlers to judge the finest head dress. After several rounds of paper, scissors, rock, we reached a conclusion, announcing it to great fan fare.Image result for head dresses made from toilet paper pictures The first was the finest by a sheet or two, nipping out the competition by a whisker.

Altogether it was a fine time enjoyed by anyone capable of joy. Even the butler washing up was a good  time as Dan nearly wiped out a freshly washed stack of china as he rushed to answer his duty bell.

“Martin, steady as you go, son. A good butler must be seen and never heard. Like a good mime barber.”

Good Show, All of you.

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