Thursday, July 31, 2008

Seasick

I'm fairly certain I'm either getting sick or I ate something last night I shouldn't have. Either way, I suffer from a malaise.

There are those who would blame the hours I spent last night drinking beer on a boat in the hot sun. They are wrong. That was a balm for my damaged soul.

There are others who would blame the time I spent this morning reviewing potential medical and disability plans for my employer. While that did not help, my misery predated that particular horror.

No, I am quite sure I am once again being smited by external forces. The only question is whether it's a food-borne illness.

I suspect it is. Dinner was at a lakeside restaurant that worries more about the looks of its waitresses than the cleanliness of its cooks. It didn't help that I have a tendency to order the weirdest thing on any given menu, which in the case of last night's glorified sports bar was a barbecued bison sandwich. I'd bet the restaurant doesn't sell a lot of them. The meat probably came from one of Buffalo Bill's original victims.

I've gotten in trouble this way before. It's not uncommon for me to end up poking at a plate of unidentifiable material, trying to decide whether I like it, while my companions happily eat their steaks and chicken.

I even had a waiter refuse to serve me once. It was at a Thai restaurant, a little dive tucked behind an old storefront.

"I'll have that," I said, pointing at the menu, which thoughtfully contained photos of each of the entrees.

"That?" asked the incredulous waiter.

"Yeah. It looks great," I said.

"You're an idiot," said the friend who had joined me for lunch.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because it looks like it came from the Mariana Trench," my friend said.

It may have. I'm pretty sure it was a fish and it had lots of teeth and something protruding from its head.

"So?" I asked. "I bet it's delicious. Plus I can bring the head home to show my kids."

"You can't have that," the waiter told me.

"What?" I asked.

"Americans don't like that. I won't serve it to you."

"Really, I'll like it."

"No you won't," said the waiter, looking to my friend for support.

"He's right," my friend told me.

"You're both nuts," I said. "How could something that disgusting not be tasty?"

"Try this instead," said the waiter, pointing to a photo of a normal looking fish.

"That looks like a bass," I said. "What's the point?"

"It's very good," the waiter assured me. "And they're quite fierce."

"But I want the other one," I whined.

"If you like this dish, next time you can try the other one."

"That's fair," said my friend. "Don't be stubborn."

"Please?" I said.

"No. Next time," said the waiter.

"Alright," I said.

"You won't be sorry," said the waiter.

"I already am," I said.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

To Serve Man

My mother took me to lunch today. Not because she wanted to, I suspect, but because I complained so much the last time she took the Lovely Bride to lunch.

"You love your daughter-in-law more than you love me," I said.

"That shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who knows both of you," she said.

I was understandably hurt and only partly soothed by the lovely pork rillette in front of me.

"We need to talk," she said after my first bite.

It's rarely good when one's mother says that. At this age it usually means: 1) One's mother has a horrible disease; or 2) One's mother and one's wife have made a doctor's appointment for an innocent son and father. Today was an exception.

"Why did you tell your children I am being hunted by cannibals?" she asked.

"You probably are," I replied.

"Of course I'm not. Where do you get such ridiculous ideas?"

"You were the person talking about the Huli tribespeople you met on your trip," I said.

"The Huli are not cannibals. They are warriors," she said.

"Six of one," I said. "I bet you made eye contact with them."

"So?" she asked.

"It's a patriarchal society," I told her patiently. "That would be a grave offense. Some night you'll get home and there will be a Huli waiting for you in the lobby. If he's hungry enough he'll make a meal out of you."

She glared at me.

"You should starve yourself to reduce the temptation," I added, stabbing at the chicken on her plate.

She batted my fork away. "I have never done anything to deserve this sort of treatment," she said.

"How about the family portrait?" I demanded.

"What about it?" she asked.

"You insisted on it."

"So?"

"It was hellish," I said. "Do you know what's it like getting my kids up and nicely dressed on a Sunday morning? And my sister's family is even worse."

"They were certainly more pleasant than you were," she said.

"You know I'm right," I said. "There are better looking families on the internet. It would have been much easier to download a photo of one of them."

My mother ignored me, much as she had at the time. "Why your niece likes you is beyond me," she said.

"Because I'm funny," I said.

"Not as funny as you think you are," she said.

"It's all about knowing your audience," I said.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Winners

We lost tonight. A championship. To a team to which we'd lost three times in the last two weeks. We lost 2-0. There aren't Little League games anywhere that are 2-0, but we had a bases loaded shot down the third base line, called foul, and what can you do?

"What, you sacrificed a goat?" I asked the other coach.

"Two," he said. "I wasn't giving this one up easy."

These All Star teams are different. We only have three weeks with the kids and then they go their separate ways. One kid camping. Another, he's moving two hours away, his family staying here until the last out of the last game. He's been a rock and Coach P. and I offered to adopt him next year. Another to bible camp, even though I offered to teach him religious philosophy in the dugout.

We only gave up twelve runs in six games this weekend. I'd put our defense up against any team in our state. Against any team in our region. Damn, they played some ball.

As we were going through the lines shaking hands, one of the umpires said, "Your shortstop had the best sportsmanship of any kid I've seen in the five years I've been working here."

The shortstop is my son. The umpire didn't know that. On the way home I told my kid, "Good job."

I'm very proud of him. I'm very proud of our team.

Driving In Cars

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bon Appétit, Volume 10 - Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Møøse

When, like me, you're fortunate enough to receive a whole moose for your birthday, you'll want to use everything but the squeal. Over the years, I've developed recipes to do just that. Try these out for your next party and you'll be the høøstess with the møøsetest.

1. Amøøse Bouche

Pluck and devein your møøse. Carefully remove and homogenize the dewlap and let stand at room temperature. Meanwhile, mix four teaspoons curry powder, a pint of molasses, and one pound asparagus-flavored gelatin. When gelatin is set, stir in dewlap. Scoop into margarita glasses and serve immediately.

Serves 13.

2. Møøsepacho

Preheat microwave to "defrost." While preheating, dice hooves into one-inch squares and add Clamato juice to cover. Mince seven rutabagas and add to hoof mixture. Gradually stir in a dash of mercury and a pinch of snuff. Heat until molten. Season liberally with Adderall and garnish with an onion.

Serves 2.

3. Møøsenpfeffer

Using a meat tenderizer or shovel, pound one haunch until tired. Thoroughly coat with a mixture of equal measures granulated marble, cardamon, and fleece. In a small sauce pan, bring to a simmer three gallons imitation artificial vanilla extract, a handful of wheat, and a cracker. Braise haunch in vanilla sauce until medium rare. Carve against the grain and serve atop broasted flan.

Serves 9.

4. French Apple Møøse

Thinly slice seventeen French apples. Using nonreactive tongs, insert apples into møøse gullet. Carefully seal top of gullet with 8-pond-test fishing line. Chill overnight, removing from refrigerator twenty minutes before serving. Using any standard gullet knife, cut into individual servings. Top with Bactine and accompany with warm cheese.

Serves 52.

5. Long Island Møøse Tea

Stir together two pints liquid møøse, one liter gin, five jiggers kirschwasser, and cough syrup to taste. Shake vigorously until thoroughly blended. Serve over peppered ice with a garnish of Chiclets and roe.

Serves 4 1/2.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Money Well Spent

My oldest started driver's ed. Then I found out he still can't drive without a sober adult in the car.

Kind of defeats the whole purpose.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Never A Dull Moment

During today's game, in which we pitched a no-hitter against another All Star team, our little lamb crushed a double to the outfield and then hugged the umpire instead of shaking his hand at the end of the game.

This is one of the odder dreams I've had.

Friday, July 18, 2008

ROI

"I've got $7,500 worth of accidental death and dismemberment on each of my kids."

"Really?"

"Yeah. Through my bank. One of those freebies they throw in when you have a checking account."

"Nice."

"How much do you think a burlap sack and a shovel costs?"

"Not $7,500."

"That's what I figured."

"MOM!!"

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Shearing The Sheep

This kid on the All Star team keeps trying to hug me. When he's not dancing in right field during practices, singing, "I'm a maniac, maniac on the floor."

That's going to look nice on front page of the paper; "Little League coach caught in embrace with player." Every time he gets near me I run away, to his delight and that of the other players and his parents, including his mother, who I've threatened with the possibility of a restraining order against her son.

Before Sunday's game he told his teammates he'd shave his head if we won.

We won.

At last night's practice one of the dads brought scissors and clippers.

"Are you sure you're okay with this?" I asked the boy's mother.

She responded by getting out her camera.

"Are you sure you're okay with this?" Coach P. asked the boy.

"As long as Coach Snag does it," he answered.

So I did. I've never cut hair before. I tried the clippers on his long blond hair without much success, switched to scissors and hacked away for awhile, then returned to the clippers. All the while his teammates hooted and hollered. Finally I stepped away to eye my creation.

"He looks like a baby bird," said my oldest, who'd stopped by to watch practice.

"He looks like Chucky," said Coach P.

"I look hot," said the boy.

"I'm impressed," I said, extending my hand. "You're a man of your word."

The boy slapped my hand away. "Brothers don't shake hands," he said. "Brothers gotta hug."

I ran.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Peas In A Pod

"You wouldn't believe how gullible my son is," said the father of one of the players on the All Star team. We were having a beer at his house after a game.

"I might," I replied. During that evening's game I'd convinced the kid his stomach was going to be amputated because he'd used it to block a hard ground ball. "Think how much money your parents will save on food," I'd told him.

"No, really, listen to this," his dad said. "When he was in second grade I told him he was black."

I looked across the backyard where his red-headed, freckled son and my youngest were playing catch. The two whitest kids in America. "Like Steve Martin in 'The Jerk'?" I asked.

"Exactly," said his dad. "Then I forgot about it. Two years later his fourth-grade essay was 'My Life as a Black Child in America.'"

The bar has been raised.

Sunday, July 13, 2008