Monday, February 28, 2005

Dinner and a Movie and Some Other Stuff

It certainly seemed like an extremely long weekend, but I'm fairly sure that's because it was so up and down – I shall cover the highlights.

Three grandkids hanging wtih Grandpa. Actually three generations of the family as well.

The Dinner Manifesto:
On Friday, we had a typical family dinner for my family - that is, two (or more) of my family talk about dinner—talk for a long time--there's miscommunication, and problems arise - problems that always involve a lot of travel, a lot of waiting around, and very little food, at least initially. This leads to crabby toddlers, which just makes everything that much worse. I apologize to my sister for being crabby about the whole thing - I was not crabby at her - I was crabby at myself for once again falling into the "where should we eat" trap that I only seem to encounter on my side of the family (I know it's unusual, because it never happens on Pooteewheet's side). The horrific nature of these incidents has led me from what was previously a selected family member ban about dinner planning to a now pan-family ban regarding arranging dinners. And I do mean pan-family: siblings, parents, aunts and uncles (specifically the ones that want me to discuss dinner for a while before we're led back around to their initial decision about the Peanuts Steakhouse at the Mall of America), cousins, nieces and nephews - anyone that isn't Pooteewheet, and I'm not 100% sure about her. If there is discussion about location or genre or anything else required, I refuse to confer. That's right, I'm plain out - just tell me where to go and when, and I'll be there. Smelt in Duluth at 3:00 a.m.? Bugs and bile at the Fear Factor Theme Restaurant in Seattle on the 29th of February at 1:32 p.m.? Just fine, at least I know there's an end in site, where and when it is, to leave Pooteewheet and Eryn at home, and to pick up a burger or two on the way. If a family member doesn't want to deal with dinner arrangements (and I expect this to generally be the case), I actually agree to handle them - all of them - any percent between 0% and 100% that needs handling. I need simply to be told no one wants to deal with it and I'll take care of it - however, everyone loses all rights for me to care when you complain about where you end up (you don't lose your right to complain - complaining is one of your inalienable rights), just as I give up all rights to have you care if I complain if I'm not doing the arranging.

It all seems very crabby and misanthropic on the surface, particularly given the night turned out pretty well - sure, we didn't get into Bucca's, but we had a very pleasant meal at the Old Chicago in Eagan, I got a nice big mug of the newly released Summit Mailbox (7.1% alcohol) that mellowed me right out, did a post-dinner tour of the guinea pigs, hundreds of fish (all named "Nemo") and a cricket-eating lizard with my daughter, and my friends' kid (Conner) kept me entertained with his new words (all of which sounded like "more"), coloring and fervent demand for additional crackers. But we could have had a pleasant time without the initial part and it would have been just as pleasant and closer to home for my relatives from north of the loop.

A Movie:
I went to Constantine with my Dad while he was in town (from Tucson). Sure, it was supposed to be crap, but lately pretty much everything that isn’t Sideways is supposed to be crap. If you want to criticize me, you have to consider my upbringing, after all my Dad went to Constantine a second time with me just to go to a movie. I didn’t think the movie was as bad as the bad reviews of it I had read. I didn’t think it was as good as the good reviews I head read. What I thought, more than anything else, was that it had already been done. Sure, The Prophecy isn’t an exact story match, and you sure as hell shouldn't watch the sequels, but it’s darn close and, if anything, the back story is a little more interesting (note that it scored a 41% on Rottentomatoes and Constantine scored a 45% - coincidence?). It even seems to have the same climax, although I submit that Christopher Walken as Satan, announcing that on earth “I’m Elohim” is far better writing than anyone in Constantine imagined – two words summing up the complete hubris of Satan, brilliant. And The Prophecy has Viggo Mortensen - Constantine has, um, Tilda Swinton.

What I liked more than the movie itself was bumping into a Westie at the theater. Not at Constantine itself; I’m sure most Westies have better taste than me in movies, but in the concession area before the show. I don’t know her name, but she’s in a wheel chair and I frequently meet her on the elevator on my way up to coffee or down from coffee. What was so nice about meeting a Westie (and I’ve met them at the Eagan 16 before) was that she seemed so utterly happy being at a movie. When I see her at work she’s very somber and has her work face on, and at the theater with her friend (or family, not sure which), she was all smiles and laughter and having what looked to be the time of her life. I hope I look that cheerful when people I work with see me.

The Sinus Infection:
It's not dinner and it's not a movie, but it occupied more of my time than any other activity this weekend. Saturday, 6:00 p.m., I'm supposed to go to Joe the Povert's apartment for a party. Instead, with Eryn banging away on metal bowls, I promptly passed out, and with the exception of staggering outside to let the dog pee, slept until just about 8:00 a.m. the next morning, right before it was time to go meet Dan and Kyle for breakfast at The Louisiana Grill. I think it's been a very long time since I slept more than thirteen hours in a row.

Irish Cajun Sunday:
Well, breakfast was Cajun - I had the Cajun omelet with andouille. Gaming in the afternoon wasn't cajun at all - it was more Irish, primarily because of all the Guinness and Harp. Half Time Rec was very Irish, because there was Guinness and the traditional Irish sport of boccee ball on the clay courts in the basement. But when we came upstairs after drinking more Guinness to play a few games of pool, it was Cajun! Truly. There was Cajun music, free jumbalaya, and a whole bunch of older people dancing Cajun style. Dan and I stuck around for a bit of the music and were asked no fewer than three times if we'd like to dance. I'm adventurous, but that's just asking for a pile of embarrassment, even if it looked like everyone was having a great time. Instead we sat and drank and I chatted with the three middle-aged women next to us who were out looking for a good time (Jennie was the good dancer). It was a doubly weird experience because I bumped into one of my wife's classmates, Maureen, and I had actually called Pooteewheet to verify the classmate's name because I had a suspicion I'd be able to find her - after all, how many Cajun dancing clubs are there in the Twin Cities? Fun, but I'm pretty sure all the smoke didn't do my sinuses any favors.


Anonymous said...

I do not remember it happening the way you put it! Then I have a short term memory problem as I am the Father, Grandfather. It was appreciated that you tolerated dinner. Next time I will make the reservations and not leave it up to the children of the clan. It did turn out ok after the disaster. I had a good time visiting everyone and bonding with Oliver, Eryn and Amelie. Then if the typical family dinner was not typical then what would their be to wright about and the experience learned. I have learned onething being retired that life goes on even with disorentation and to go on with plan 2 and not be crabby or upset. The piece you missed was your Dad getting lost after Dinner and finding his way back to your house. With the help of a new acquired cell phone and directions from a daughter-in-law Pooteewheet I made it in time to accumpany a Nod to Nothing to the show. A second time at seeing the show was a better experience. Life goes on and the typical family get to gether goes on and will be a good topic of discussion for future generations. Now it is time for chasing of the child as she has wheels which move at 41/2 mph. This should be intertaining and exercise for the parents thanks to Grandpa John. Eryn give them ____, and stress your new found freedom.
Dad, Grandpa John, John Thanks for the time I spent up North.

Scooter said...

It wasn't about tolerating dinner with my family - I LIKE going to dinner with my family - I simply dislike the traditional debate and problems that accompany the beginning. That I could do without. I'd rather spend the time hanging out with Eryn and my nieces and nephews than driving to the next place on the list.