A Milestone Letter from Camp

Is a picture really worth a thousand words? Are the words true? Can I trust the words? Whose words are they? And is no news good news?

Today, on my son’s fourth day of camp, my husband brought the mail in and announced, “Mail call! A letter from camp!” Last year my son went to camp but did not write to me. Holding the envelope addressed with familiar printing in my hand, I felt a mixture of pride, anticipation and sentimentality. “Oh, my little boy is growing up. I’m going to put this milestone letter in a scrapbook to bring out when he and his wife and children visit me someday.” These thoughts and others predicting the content of the letter flooded my mind in the fifteen seconds it took me to carefully open the envelope. I did not expect to read the following words.

MOM

HELP!

I’m serious.

JACK

I called the camp and waited two agonizing hours for the camp people to locate my son and find out if he was okay. I bathed, got dressed and prepared to drive the two hours to pick him up.

Finally, the camp director called to relieve my fears. Turns out he had transmitted his distress signal on the second day of camp, after his first night of a cold, cold (60 degree) night. (I was excited for him to have “real camp weather,” a relief from the sweltering, sticky 90 degree nights he endured last summer.) “He thought you either didn’t get the letter or figured he was kidding…and was glad you didn’t come pick him up.” WHEW!

So I’ll still put the letter in a scrapbook and hope that next year he writes a more newsy letter. 

Or no letter at all. That’d be fine.

(Fun on the Blob – A thousand words of evidence off the SpringHill website proving that the crisis has passed.)

NOT – See next post – “NOT A LAUGHING MATTER.”

My Wicked Funny Husband

My husband is hilarious. It’s one of the many reasons I love him. Another appealing quality is his natural ability to Get Things Done. He’s a strong, assertive man. Forceful yet smooth.

Take, for instance, our trip to Chicago last weekend. After our “Wicked” matinee, I decided we’d try one of the top restaurants in Chicago, Rick Bayless’s Frontera Grill, seating capacity 65. In a city of close to three million people, to think we could be seated at 6pm on a Saturday night — with two kids in tow — is something only a coupla hoosiers would be foolish enough to think they could do. But we were one five-dollar cab ride away so heck, we gave it a shot.

And speaking of shots, the only alcohol on the menu at the celebrated chef’s downtown restaurant is tequila. My husband, being the vodka man that he is, took one for the team, sucked it up and ordered two margaritas for our two-hour wait.

I should back up. The maitre de (which is French for master of) first greeted our party of four with cool courtesy, telling us to take a walk and try back in a half hour for a pager. I smiled, turned on my heel and herded the fam back out to the sidewalk of Clark Street across from an adult bookstore. We walked a few blocks, grabbed some bottled juice for the kids to tide them over and returned thirty minutes later for our pager. Looking surprised by our commitment to dining at Frontera, the maitre de relinquished a pager which I handed to the husband.

For fifteen minutes the four of us tried to make ourselves inconspicuous and out of the way of the adult patrons, scrunching ourselves as close as possible to the the shelves displaying an array of Rick Bayless cookbooks and Frontera sauces. Dan disappeared into the swankified bar (seats 30) for grown-up drinks and returned with two identical glasses full of tart, pale green, high octane liquids. I sucked my delectable happy potion in under five minutes, and my husband nursed his conservatively. Two chairs opened in the waiting area opened, and we seated the kids with instructions to be on their very best fine restaurant behavior.

Five minutes later, Mr. Bates handed me his drink. “I just don’t like lime.” Oh happy day! Two more chairs opened – our luck continued! The kids were content, we had seats for the next hour of waiting, and I had me a fresh, fabulous, barely dented margarita. One or two minutes later, when the master of the restaurant stepped away, my husband stood and approached the maitre de station. A hostess peeked over at me briefly, and Dan turned to tell us, “Okay. Here we go.” Pleasantly surprised, the children and I followed him to the table where we celebrated with joy the freshest, most flavorful meal we’ve shared as a family.

Over coffee and flan for two I said, “Honey, I’m surprised we got in so quickly.” He smirked. I said, “What? What’d you do?”

“Heart,” he said. I had a heart attack five years ago, which became useful and necessary to invoke in order to avoid lines and long waits in the months during my recovery.

“What did you say?!” I laughed.

“I just told her, ‘My wife had a heart attack. If she has to wait too long, she drinks too much,'” he said. (That’s when the hostess peered over at two-fisted me sitting there holding two margarita glasses.)

I laughed harder and more loudly than I have in, I’d say years. Though the alcohol had mellowed in my system since those earlier cocktails, my son said, “Mom’s smashed!” I was smashed on giddy joy, and as we sauntered down Wacker back to our hotel, I laughed all the way at my husband’s hilarious resourcefulness. I love him.

With all my heart.

Elitists Talk Good

Last night as I headed out for my writing class, my husband stopped me in the entry hall with a grave tone. “Honey, I have some horrible news.” 

Me: What?! 

Dan: This morning, Meredith Viera interviewed Michelle and Barack Obama. When she asked them how they felt about the Reverend Wright debacle, Barack answered, “You have to understand, you’re talking about a man who married Michelle and I.”      ŒξÞ≥¥Å↔♣◊♦♥ω?????!!!!!!!!

WOOP WOOP WOOP WOOP! DANGER! DANGER! 

Is it just me or is that not disturbing? 

I LIKE Barack Obama. I WANT to see him in the White House. But I don’t want to hear a president ending sentences in prepositions, with the first person singular subject as an object  or generally sounding like an sloppily educated guy I met at a party! 

I shared this story in my class, and the professor (wearing an Obama pin) said, “Yeah, but you have to understand. He didn’t have the advantages. I mean, he went to Columbia.” And then he went on to tell how in his MFA program he had a classmate who ended up being functionally illiterate. How did THAT happen?!

In the words of Jon Stewart on the subject of the bru-ha-ha over the candidates being elitists, “I want a candidate that is embarrassingly superior to me.”

You know, doesn’t “elite” mean good? Is that not something we’re looking for in a president anymore?

I know elite is a bad word in politics, and you know, you want to go bowling and throw back a few beers, but the job you’re applying for? If you get it and it goes well? They might carve your head into the side of a mountain! If you don’t actually think you’re better than us, then what the &*(% are you doing?!! 

In fact, not only do I want an elite president, I want someone who is embarrassingly superior to me. Somebody who speaks 16 languages and sleeps two hours a night hanging upside down in a chamber they themselves designed! 

http://blog.indecision2008.com/2008/04/15/jon-stewart-barack-obama-makes-elitism-the-new-liberalism/

(If someone can help me figure out how to insert the actual video, I’m all ears.)

What a difference forty years make

Wow. My heart soared when I read this snippet in my inbox moments ago . . .      Breaking News Alert   The New York Times Tuesday, March 11, 2008 — 8:26 PM ET—–A.P. and Television Networks Project Barack Obama as Winner in Mississippi  The Associated Press and television news networks project that Senator Barack Obama will win the Democratic primary in Mississippi, the last Democratic contest before thePennsylvania primary on April 22. Read More: http://www.nytimes.com/?emc=na   I mean. WOW! The justice of it all swells my heart and makes me cry.

 Addendum: I mean really. Regardless of political affiliation, an African American man winning the state of Mississippi is nothing short of a poetic. 

Thoughts

Tomorrow we’re headed to a Presbyterian church in a part of the city with the highest crime rate. From an area with the lowest crime to an area with the highest crime. I asked Dan if I should drive his car, since my minivan is new. He suggested we ride in Traci’s car. In church yesterday Dave Rod preached on faith, from the story of Abram/Abraham whose faith was “credited to him as righteousness.” What does that wondrous phrase mean, I wonder? What does it mean now? One thing that stuck out from the story, which by the way was expertly and hilariously depicted on a flannelgraph video montage, was Abram’s response to God telling him to leave. “He left.” He didn’t mull. He didn’t stress. He didn’t ask all his friends what they thought. He didn’t pray. He didn’t ask God. He just went. He took a leap of faith and waited years and years for the result he expected. Hm. *******On other note: I’m feeling thankful today. I exercised and spent more time offline, out in the real world, which was life-giving. But then this evening I felt irritable. I wonder if it was due to cyber-withdrawal. If you’re reading this post, thanks, feel free to comment. But then go outside and take a long hit off the cold winter air, or warm winter air depending on how close to the equator you are. Look at the stars or the clouds or the blue sky. Take a quick walk around the block. And breathe.