In The Details

Today we embraced the full Upper Midwestern experience: in the morning Steve drove his tractor around, the children played in the hay barn and I worried about mice ticks mosquitoes and flies. Then we drove twenty-five minutes to a small town pool where the teenaged keeper of the door spent ten minutes sorting through the world's most complicated tiered-pricing system (Are you from the campground? No. Where are you from? Town Closetohere. How many children? Three. Will everyone be getting into the pool? Probably. How old are the children? Et cetera) before charging us $12.50.

By the way, you know that you have been married for a long time when you look down at your foot at the pool and say, "Aw damn it, I have a butter bruise"

[Exhibit A: Butter Bruise; see also: foot comma wide comma womanly]


And rather than question you, your husband assumes an expression of super human intelligence and says, "Oh! A stick of butter fell out of the freezer and landed on your foot, did it?"



After the pool we went to Cabela's to buy Patrick some hiking boots; an experience which gave me a whole new empathy for, well, anyone who has ever gone to Target with me because I have never been so bored in my entire life. It took an interminable hour for him (and by 'him' I mean Steve) to adequately assess every freaking boot in the store. Good grief. I could understand it if we had been looking at small kitchen appliances or face cream but BOOTS? Even with live fish swimming in the walls it was the single-most tedious shopping trip of my life.

Then we went to a supper club and I ordered a Brandy Alexander 

(a Wisconsin Brandy Alexander is a giant vanilla milkshake, sometimes swirled with caramel, always laced with brandy and properly dusted with nutmeg)

which I regretted after about five seconds because, really, what grownup in their right mind wants to drink that before dinner? But there is something about supper clubs that leads to that kind of nostalgic excess. I don't know if you've ever been to one but they are invariably dark, dated and the menus are straight out of the 1960s. If you ever find yourself craving shrimp cocktail served in a margarita glass on a bed of shaved ice with a lemon wedge and cocktail sauce, hie thee to a supper club. That said, the food is usually excellent and if you are ever lucky enough to be in Wisconsin on a Friday, get the fish fry.

Meanwhile, back at my Brandy Alexander, Steve was laughing at me, "You take a sip, shake your head, sigh, and then take another sip."

And on my end of our cozy, pitch-black, upholstered and curved booth, Edward ordered an elaborate salmon dish but was suspicious of the bearnaise sauce and therefore requested it on the side. When his dinner arrived he poked a tentative pinkie into the sauce and then licked it.

"Well?" I said and was amused to watch his face transform like the sky at dusk. I was less amused when he proceeded to pick up the sauce cup and try to drink it - civilized people only say they like X so much they could drink it; no one ever actually puts maple syrup into a cup to chug it.

At the end of the evening I started a game of telephone (which I am pretty sure I have not personally played since kindergarten - I swear it was the hypnotic effect of the supper club) whispering a message in Edward's ear and directing him to repeat it to Patrick who then conveyed it to Steve who gave it to Caroline, who mangled it like a wurzel.

We repeated this process multiple times as we waited for the check to arrive and

1. I highly recommend it as a way to pass time with more than three people at a restaurant; and

2. You would think that we would have been close to the actual message at least once but no. I suspect that Patrick was acting as the fifth column but I am not able to prove it.


In the long run, Caroline and Patrick will be very good for each other. On a daily basis, however, they...

what. What is it? I guess I could say they challenge each other, although that sounds a bit too euphemistic for my taste; like saying Edward is "tired" when I mean "obnoxious".

Patrick is a nature made ringmaster. A Pied Piper. A creator of games, teller of stories, revealer of mysteries; the phantasmagorical Narrator. 

Caroline is... I don't know. Caroline is the warrior witch queen. The original pioneer; a born explorer. Where some toddlers see a shut window leading onto a roof, she saw untapped opportunity. This morning she took my face in her hands and said, "I really really want to learn Greek. Any dialect. I know they have a different alphabet. So... whaddya say?" And then she released my face and lightly punched my shoulder.

I told her that she could use my Rosetta French (author's note: Rosetta Stone is fun, I think, and slightly more useful than the programs that let you play old Atari games on your Mac but in terms of actually learning a language? nah. there are cheaper ways to familiarize yourself with how a language sounds) and if she actually committed herself to studying every day for a couple of weeks I would consider researching how she might learn some rudimentary Greek.

Anyway, when the two of them get together (i.e. every day) there is usually a lot of jockeying for position and it is draining on those around them.

So today was a lovely exception.






 PS I have no idea why she is wearing swim goggles on her head.