Magnificent!

This year, we gave up.  No one was willing to host a holiday meal for the entire clan on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Rather than completely throw in the towel, we went for neutral territory – one of the local All-You-Can-Inhale buffets.

Timing was critical – to avoid crowds, we targeted 2:00pm.  Not only between the lunch and dinner crowds, but also during the telecast of a major college football rivalry that was sure to keep many folks home and glued to the sofa-television combo.  It worked.  Plenty of room to accommodate a crew of ten.

Originally, Mom had picked her favorite restaurant – Golden Corral.  Nice enough, if your idea of fine dining involves a metric ton of breading and vats of hot oil.  On Wednesday, she changed her mind and had us assemble at an “upscale” Chinese buffet.  The use of the word “upscale”, however, is relative. 

For the most part, it was a pleasant meal.  i’d reminded my Mom and sister, S, that if they really want my brother T and his wife to come around more often, perhaps they shouldn’t bitch at them to call and visit more often.  Often before saying “hello”.  Much to my complete amazement, neither Mom nor S said a snarky word about it… 

My brother noticed.  As Mom, S and their crews piled into cars and headed out, the first thing he said to me was “It was really nice not to get yelled at for a change!”  Progress, perhaps…

The big buzz at the table was all about the most exotic item on the salad bar – the pickled baby octopi.  “Gross!”  “Yuk!” and “You’re not going to eat that, daisyfae, are you?”*

While chatting with Mom last night, she acknowledged that it was very pleasant for a family gathering.  Seemed that no one had hurt feelings, no overt drama, and there were no tears involved.  But she brought up the exotic fare on the buffet one more time for good measure…

Mom:  The food was good, but the octopus on the salad bar hurt my appetite!  I don’t know why they don’t keep those separately!  I might have been able to eat a little more if those things weren’t sitting right out there when I walked by…

daisyfae:  Ummmm…  You still ate three plates full of food, plus two bowls of ice cream and a piece of cheesecake.  i think you got your money’s worth…

Original illustration from “Charlotte’s Web” – image found here 

* i ate the sushi, which grossed out the entire table except for my brother’s wife.  She decided to try some after seeing the enthusiastic response by the rest of the clan to my ‘bait plate’… i did not, however, eat the octopus.  i like my meat and seafood processed beyond all recognition, thankyouverymuch.

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Travel Games – Trailer Park Style

Dreading the road trip to The Park last Friday, i was a bit cranky when i rousted my 20-something sprogs off to the car.  Definitely grumpy, edgy and not looking forward to what might lie ahead, we piled into The Girl’s car – which is the newest in my fleet of shitmobiles, and has an actual back seat (uncluttered by sk8erboy shrapnel).

The Girl called “shotgun”, which brings with it DJ responsibilities*.  This left The Boy – bored – in the back seat.  About halfway into our 60 minute funerary commute, he asked her if he could smoke to help pass the time.  “No”.  End of discussion. 

Following the path that we all instinctively know**, he proposed a travel game: “Bitch or Dude”.  The rules are simple.   As you approach a car, each of us had to “profile” the vehicle – looking at make, model, color as well as other “tells” (custom plates, stuff hanging from the rear-view mirror, stuffed animals in the back window, etc).  We’d then call “Bitch” or “Dude” to tag the gender of the driver.

Several elements made this game harder than it might seem.  For example, it was December 26th – a busy travel day.  We quickly realized that most of the Minivans were being driven by men.  Which led to the call of “Emasculated Dude” upon approach. 

The other challenge?  To make this fun, you pretty much need to be passing everything on the road.  Good thing i was driving… not a problem.

We would occasionally get more specific – for example, when i’d see a little souped-up wiener-mobile – a “Too Fast, Too Furious” wannabe, with spoiler, rims, and other trappings – i’d call “Douchebag”.  Or if it was a 1998 Oldsmobuick, seatbelt dragging and sparking along the pavement, with a turn signal blinking itself into oblivion?  That’d be “Old Dude”.

As we headed out after the family visit from hell, we didn’t play for about the first 20 minutes.  Post-processing the family bullshit was a bit necessary.  But once we started playing again?  Good, happy, mindless fun… chock full of discussion of stereotypes, racial profiling and gender bashing. 

God bless us everyone…

The Family Truckster

The Family Truckster

* She’s got great musical taste… and an ex-boyfriend who cranked out some killer mix-CDs.  While The Boy and i can agree on some of the classics (Doors, Bowie, Stones), i’m not a huge fan of one of his favorites, Leftover Crack… He is patient with the “Indie” stuff…

** We have other games.  For long trips?  We play “Who Sucks More?” – a game pitting all female drivers against male drivers.  If you spot someone doing an asshole maneuver, you need to ascertain gender.  On a 8 hour roadtrip with The Boy, it was “Chicks – 5 1/2, Dudes – 4”.  And the “1/2” was on me – for changing lanes in an intersection.  But since i signaled, we only counted it as a half point.  Roadtrips in autumn?  That’s when we play the “Dead Bambi Game”, counting the deer corpses along the interstate…  22 1/4 on our last drive from central Ohio to Washington, DC for a college visit a few years ago…