Archive for February 2007

Ruby

February 28, 2007

(My friend Chris in San Diego mentioned a person we knew from High School that I’d not thought about in years. She deserves a post.)

Summer nights in Batesville, Arkansas offered more options to entertain one’s self than you might imagine.

We rode the predictable fun trend waves—roller-skating (big in the early 80s) and video arcades (early mid-80s). Some of our friends passed the time at the river numbing their senses on Bud Beach or over at Barnett Farm.

As the tail of the video arcade comet trailed from sight a group of generous parents decided that the area’s youth needed a few more alternatives to these last venues. In a gesture of sweet concern, they purchased an abandoned 1920s furniture store on freshly depressed lower Main Street and turned it into a dance club for us.

Madonna’s Like a Virgin album was a hit machine at the time. Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Midnight Star, Chaka Khan, early Janet-there was no shortage of music to keep us moving. Dancing in this abandoned storefront made it all the more obvious that downtown Batesville lay perfectly still all around us.

Once the clock struck midnight even the dance store closed, snuffing out the last bit of light on Main Street. Or so we thought until one night one of us noticed a light on at a little cafe even further down the street.

It never occurred to any of us to wonder what kind of cafe on an abandoned street stays open after midnight. From the window we could see there wasn’t a customer in the place. We peeked in to find out if they were still open.

A woman shouted out, “Oh yes, Honey! We’re open ‘til 2! C’mon in.” She ended her sentence with a burst of laughter that sounded like Ann Richards channeling Burgess Meredith’s Penguin, “Aahh! Aaahh! Ahhhh!” She had cropped, fried and dyed reddish hair and wore purplish red lipstick popular with TV preachers’ wives of the time.

Six of us squeezed into a wooden booth made for four. “My name’s Ruby. Y’all look hungry! Aah! Aaaah!” she laughed as she passed out laminated menus. “What can I get for ya?” From this distance I could see that Ruby had replaced her eyebrows with graceful thin lines the same color as her lipstick. Her melon-colored polyester tank top covered most of her enormous breasts. They lay comfortably on top of her round stomach. She looked like she was standing behind a giant porterhouse roll.

“Are your hamburgers good?” I asked.

“Oh, yes. Don’t serve ‘em on buns though. Aaahh!! Just toast. But they’s good,” then hollering back over her shoulder to another waitress leaning against the counter, “Ain’t they Vonda?”

“Oh,” Vonda took a drag on her cigarette and with a raised eyebrow and a sweet smile, exhaled, “They’s real good.”

“I’ll take one, with lettuce, tomato and mustard. Oh, and some fries.” Everyone else ordered, too. When the food came, Ruby pulled up a chair, lit a cigarette, and with a loud “Aaahh! Aahh!!” opened up to us a side of Batesville we never knew existed.

(Ruby deserves two posts. I’ll write more later.)

Oscaroporosis

February 26, 2007

Ellen was funny. Will Ferrell, Jack Black, and John C. Reilly, too. Some of the gowns surprised. Yet somehow the show still managed to blow.

My friend Sally has been suffering with insomnia lately. I think the cure may be 20 too many montages and a bunch of interpretive dancers performing behind a backlit screen.

Maybe it got more interesting after the first hour and a half, but I needed a shorter take-off time to keep me awake. I hope Jennifer Hudson’s win was sweet. That’s the one thing I’m sorry I didn’t see. What else did I miss?

Ash Wednesday

February 23, 2007

John and I went to Ash Wednesday services last night. In the liturgical year I guess it marks a kind of back to basics in terms of understanding our human nature, neediness, and ultimate hope.

I also use it as a time to mark the beginning of spring (for Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferers like me, any mental exercise that will help is welcomed). Week by week we meet and eat together to get a grip on our place in the world and to listen to what new thing God has to say to us.

There is something so reassuring to me about Lent. Each week, the sun stays out a little longer, temperatures get a little warmer. A little more green, my winter stuff starts to look out of place and I go digging for Spring decorations.

During the service we had to come up with a word that described what our expectation of Lent this year would be. John’s was “silence” Mine was “joubt”–a combination of “joy” and “doubt” (I suck at Scrabble by the way). This seems to describe my spiritual life right now–a joy in the truth that is shaded by doubt about whether or not we’ll get to see many of the good things that are possible in this world. Is there such a thing as joyful pessimism? I hope it isn’t the same thing as cynicism because I was kind of hoping to give that up for Lent.

Cooking Lessons

February 21, 2007

A couple of weeks ago Joel, a boy from down the street called to ask John for some help with a science fair project. Joel is 14. His mom died when he was younger and he can’t be with his dad right now so he lives with some of our neighbors.

I got John to the phone and pretty soon Joel came over to show John how far he’d gotten on the project. I was cooking dinner (spaghetti with Tante Lucia’s sauce). They worked for awhile in the basement and then came back up. I asked Joel if he’d eaten and he said he had, but then he just stood there. I asked him if he’d like to eat again, and he said he could probably eat a little more. So I had him call his foster mom to let her know where he was and he joined us for supper.

As we ate he talked about how he liked his school and about his cool friend who wouldn’t be going to his school next year. He told us about his foster brother who he was worried about and his favorite metal band.

Joel came by again that week, worked a little and had supper. John said later that Joel mentioned to him while they were working that for his last science project he studied growth hormones to try to figure out a way to make himself grow taller. At dinner Joel went on about the food, which is a sure way to get you more of it at our house.

Last night he came by to drop off the last of the supplies he’d used. I was frying bacon, slicing a bunch of onions and consequently crying buckets when he came to the door. It was a tricky point in the recipe so I had him come back to the kitchen rather than rushing him out the door.

I explained why I was crying. He said he hadn’t noticed.

“I’m thinking about taking cooking classes,” he said. “Anne Marie does all the cooking at our house, I think she took some classes. Did you take classes?”

I told him that I’d learned by helping my mom and by cooking food for potluck suppers at church on Wednesday nights when I was a kid.

“Cooking’s a great thing to know how to do, though. You’d be good at it, too because you’re arleady good at science and cooking is basically chemistry.”

“Is it hard?”

“If you learn a few things like how to cut vegetables and follow instructions pretty well it isn’t. And you can’t be afraid to make mistakes.”

“Yeah, I think I’m gonna take some classes. Hey, you guys can come to my science fair. It’s next Tuesday, 12:30-ish in the gym. That smells really good.”

“Frying onions with bacon makes any kitchen smell good. We’ll be there. You want to stay for supper?”

“Anne Marie’s cooking something for us so I can’t.”

After he left I could have kicked myself for not offering to teach him to cook myself. I was too distracted. I think I’ll see if he can come over this weekend and help me make Gumbo for his family so we can all celebrate his science fair on Tuesday.

Open House at ‘Good Home’

February 20, 2007

I’ve looked for a long time for a blog just about home stuff–design, entertaining, family, fun. Couldn’t find one I liked so I decided to create one. It’s called Good Home–I don’t know exactly what it will be like yet or how often I’ll post. Content will probably be mostly pictures of stuff I like with just a little writin’ I think, and hopefully opportunities to hear other people’s opinions. Probably won’t be for everybody, but feel free to pop on over.

Dave and Claire Win the Highland Park Iditarod

February 17, 2007

New snow today. Dave wanted to walk Claire so I took my camera and monkeyed with the video.

Face of a champion
Face of a Champion

Tim “I Hate Gay People” Hardaway is a Comic Genius

February 16, 2007

Anne Curry and the Today show crew succumb to the audio-taped homo-hating-hilarity of former (heavy on the “former”) NBA player Tim Hardaway. And I have to admit, it is pretty funny.

I think the photo of Hardaway and the way he makes his voice sound like Tim Meadows’ The Ladies Man are especially inspired.

And is there anything funnier than a homophobe actually admitting, “I’m homophobic,” (or “homo-phobic” as Hardaway says it)? Though I suspect he thinks homophobic means “I hate gay people” rather than it’s actual meaning, which is an irrational fear of gayness. (He may not be homophobic after all, since after his recent comment I would call any fear he has of gay people perfectly rational.)

Despite the permission to hate (and to God knows what else) this “role model” just gave to the nutballs of the world, I kind of appreciate his honesty, in the same way any member of a minority might appreciate knowing who the klansmen in a crowd are. At least he’s not stabbing us in the back the way a lot of the “hate the sin, love the sinner” folks do.

Typically people who hate the way Hardaway does believe being gay is a choice, and they get mad when words like “bigot” get attached to these kinds of comments. Of course, I have no more of a choice about who I am attracted to than you do, but I’ve given up trying to convince brainiacs like Hardaway of this. They’ve got the “Bible on their side,” at least in the way slave-owners and Jim Crow ass-heads did in the last two centuries (“slaves return to your master” and all that). Frankly, I don’t care if they ever get it. I no longer feel the need to justify my existence. People usually have lots of reasons for holding on to stupid ideas anyway.

I wonder which clinic Hardaway will head to for “rehab.”