Monday, September 26, 2016

Another Day Closer to Dressing Like . . .?

Okay - time for a flashback. Who remembers "sister dresses?"

Yep - those were a thing. And definitely a better deal for the older sister, who endured the dress only 'til outgrown. (My baby sister, "Blondie," is cringing - black velveteen bodices and striped skirts, right?)

Admittedly, my view of dressing alike is a bit off-center,. The result of personal trauma. Read on.

My childhood friends included kids from huge Catholic families (think Kennedys - without money). Our parish had several, each one filling a whole pew. (On time! Maybe that's how you get a whole pew.)

Anyway, one year Mrs. de Vout, mother of eight (or nine?), must have scored a deal on a whole bolt of fabric. Spring-y colors - hot pink, and sunshine yellow - not exactly understated - but it was spring. The de Vout sewing machine must have run nonstop.

And one Sunday morning, in they came. Pink-and-yellow, genuflect. Pink-and-yellow, genuflect. Pink-and-yellow, genuflect. A sea of pink-and-yellow. A-line dresses. Poufy dresses, Matching kerchiefs. Mr. de Vout and the boys? Pink-and-yellow ties.

Okay, I should have been praying but it was straight out of the "The Sound of Music" - only brighter and in church. Still, it was on trend at the time.

Fast forward to my law firm days. Also known as the "Princess-Diana-loves-polka-dots" era. Yep. One day every female in the firm - lawyers, paralegals, administrative assistants, and yours truly - unintentionally showed up in polka dots. Black with white, Every. Single. One. (Luckily, this was before "who-wore-it-better.")

Lives in shambles! Like the young male intern who worked a summer in the Legal Dept.with me. One Casual Friday he wore a black shirt and khakis. Good choice, right? Unless you are dressed like every FEMALE in the Department. Awkward!

But lately, a too-close-to-home, scarier trend has surfaced. First, only Sundays. Mr. Wonderful and I do a mad dash for church. Feed dogs, showers, breakfast, dogs out, dogs gated, go! We don't see each other until we get to the car. Dressed alike. Week after week. Coincidence,,  right? You be the judge:

Perhaps not. (Cue the "Twilight Zone" theme.) There's this. We pay no attention to spousal packing (clothes, not the spouse) when we travel. Never have. And yet - recently - at our destination, we are dressed alike. Every single day. Khakis and navy. Jeans and burgundy. IU shirt day.

So it might be time to apologize to my brother for a certain birthday card. On the front, "Another year older?" Inside, "Another year closer to dressing like dad!"

It was funny at the time..

Oh, and Blondie - about making you sing at school in those horrid sister dresses . . .

Monday, September 5, 2016

Chronic Hosting Disorder

If there is ever an Olympic event for tripping over your own feet, I will medal. Regrettably, I have also been known to inflict crazy on others. Company coming? Look out!

My social fails started small. I planned a surprise birthday party for Mr. Wonderful. The guests gathered quietly in the front room of our little Indiana house. I just needed to figure out how to get Mr. W. in the front door, which we never used.

"The dog threw up here! Go to the front door!!"

In hindsight, a bit weak, but it was the best I could do at the time. So, after he mushed his bootless feet through the deep snow to the front door, his grand entrance sounded something like "$@#%&& *!@$# bleep #*+$@ SURPRISE!!!!!" 

Not exactly what I was going for. Still, he was surprised!

Through the years, I have served guests chicken so overdone that it looked like roast sparrow, set a peach cobbler ablaze, and made clam chowder every Christmas Eve for years until we noticed D2 was always covered in hives as she hung her stocking.

But things got out of control when we invited friends to dinner at our California house. Although we would eat indoors, Mr. Wonderful hosed off the patio, just in case. All went well until termites - driven from their tiny homes by the hose - swarmed the dining room table. And our food. And my friend starting picking up little critters off her plate. And talking to them, No one died, of course. But recovering from this goes way beyond twelve steps.

Thus, if company comes, I obsess . So when dear California friends (nope - not the termite people) said they would like to eat some Maryland crabs and visit us during their D.C. vacation, I immediately began to plan the assault, er, the visit.

First, the concerns. My friend, "Law & Oscar," is an attorney and serious movie buff. She and her spouse effortlessly host Academy Awards viewing parties for over 100 guests every year. Okay, I will just block that out!

Law & Oscar is recovering from an exploded femur. No stairs. We need accessibility. One son's special needs include an entree from his short list. Also, wifi. Oh, and D3 would be driving from Pennsylvania to surprise them. With her two-year-old. Need high chair and kiddie menu.

Also, the Bay Bridge. Extending four miles over the Chesapeake Bay, it is a marvel. Until some knucklehead has a fender bender on the span on a weekend. Then it becomes a parking lot with a lovely water view.

So we would need crab options on BOTH sides of the Bridge, just in case. There was consensus on a crab house on the Eastern Shore. So I mapped it. And looked up the menus. Confirmed accessibility. And wifi. Kiddie menu. High chair. But no reservations on Saturdays. And it would be packed.

Annapolis was more challenging. Oddly, no one seems to cross the Bridge from our side to eat crabs. No alternative except to consult experts: the Internet, the Washington Post, and some total strangers at a quilting class. I mapped the options. And looked up the menus. Confirmed accessibility. And wifi. Kiddie menus. High chairs. No reservations on Saturdays. And both would be packed.

Meanwhile, our fantastic neighbors wrapped their table in brown paper, pulled up their crab pots, got out the Old Bay and provided Crab 101 to us over lunch, complete with hammers and miles of paper towels! That's right - despite living here five years, Mr. W. and I had never picked crabs!

Finally the big day came. The weather was hot and sunny. The Bay Bridge traffic was moving. All three cars arrived at the Crab House simultaneously. Right after a huge bus.

After hugs and greetings, we went up the ramp (score!) to claim a waterfront table in air-conditioned comfort. Um, no. Someone (from the bus?) was having a private event in our dining room. And enjoying our A/C. And our view.

That left two options, We could climb many stairs to the second floor. No ramp, no elevator. The view? The sky. Just the sky..

Or, we could head back down the ramp and look for a spot on the waterfront deck . Luck was with us. We actually found one. With umbrellas. And we located a high chair.

Did not know we would not have the full menu  - just a short deck menu. But with three lawyers among us, we were able to shake down - er, convince - the server that we would be needing a few things off the main menu. (heh-heh)

The service was more relaxed (okay, slow) on the deck. Especially the food from the main menu took a bit longer. Much longer, actually. And it was our special needs buddy and our two-year-old grandson who were waiting. Still, the wifi was working and there was a duck walking under the tables (amusing, if you are two). There was a lovely breeze from time to time.  Otherwise, it was very warm.

So are you waiting for details of the latest disaster???  I got nothin'!

No one went into anaphalactic shock. Or put an eye out with crab shells. Or fell into the water. No one had a meltdown from the sound of hammering or the wait. No one succumbed to heat exhaustion. No critters swarmed our table. No one tripped Law & Oscar. The wifi held.

And as I think about the day, the crazy kind of fades. Leaving the friends, their teens (who are ridiculously tall), the water view and the food. And singing the birthday song to Law & Oscar. And messing with D3 to start the song while we pretended not to join in. And having ice cream and cupcakes from scratch at our house.

It was a great time. Maybe the curse is broken!!

And my last thought before I lapsed into a coma on the couch?

"Um - were the cupcakes a bit dry?"