May 2007

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Yesterday, Calvin went outside (without permission, I might add), and started conversing with our elderly neighbor from across the street. Calvin and Zeeb both love Brother Barker, a physicist who provides compelling conversation to my two small boys, and who takes walks up and down the street every single day with his rolling walker. The walker has fancy wheels, hand brakes, and a cushioned seat that flips up to reveal a secret compartment where Brother Barker keeps his gloves, clippers, and bean seeds. Calvin and Zeeb take turns riding the seat while Brother Barker drives.Well yesterday, Calvin went out and walked with Brother Barker. I knew he was out there, but went first into the backyard to find Zeeb and make sure he hadn’t gotten swallowed by the sandbox. Calvin came sauntering into the backyard and said, “Mom, Brother Barker fell in the gutter and I’m going to get him a band-aid.”

His tone of voice was calm and neutral, so it took me a few seconds to process what he had said. When it hit me, I ran out to the front of the house, where Brother Barker was crumpled in the very deep ditch. A woman who had been passing by had stopped to help, but it took both of us to lift him onto the curb to sit. He was bleeding from his hand and from his forehead. I surveyed the wounds and was alarmed by the very large, protruding welt on his temple. It stood out about and inch, and appeared to be full of blood under his translucent skin. As I tried to determine if he was lucid, I watched the blood drip from his hand.

I ran across the street to find Brother Barker’s wife, who did not seem alarmed. She came out and we all helped him to his feet. A neighbor girl went to fetch her father, and just as we got across the street to his house, Brother Barker’s grandson arrived. As soon as I returned to my own house, I gathered my boys in my arms and cried.

Later, Sister Barker called from the hospital to ask how Brother Barker had fallen. The doctor had questioned him, but he couldn’t remember how he fell. I gave my best estimation, that his walker had gone over the lip of the sidewalk as he tried to navigate his way around a gigantic pine tree that partly obscures the way. That section of the sidewalk and curb are old and crumbling.

This morning, Sister Barker called again to tell me that Brother Barker stayed in the hospital last night, and is expected to stay another night. He has some bleeding in his brain that needs to stop before they discharge him. He is expected to recover fully. Sister Barker then asked how Calvin was taking it. She worried that he would be traumatized. I am amazed that she could have the presence of mind, and the charity, to worry about the 5-year-old neighbor child, when her own husband of many, many years had had such an accident.

I am also so proud of my sweet boy, who, without hesitation, tried to help a man who was bleeding. I am so glad he came to find me. I am grateful there was someone else on the street to help lift him.

I’m such a snob. I have so many snobberies they are hard to count. Many of them involve food. Sometimes I wish I weren’t a snob, so I could sit back and enjoy some of the things other people seem to enjoy, but I just can’t do it. I have converted Derek to the dark side, so at least we don’t have conflicts of interest when it comes to dining out, which we do often. I’m not aware of any cure for snobbishness.

1. I cannot abide a restaurant that calls itself something it’s clearly and blatantly NOT. I won’t go to any place that claims to be Mexican if it has no corn tortillas, soft tacos, Sidral Mundet, black beans, or fresh cilantro, or if everything on the menu has at least four pounds of cheese on it. I lived in Mexico for a year, and I love real Mexican food. There are many, many offenders in this category. Usually, they are chains. I also hate the two ubiquitous and tasteless “Italian” places that everyone seems to love, and will stand in line for an hour to dine at. No squishy bread for me, thank you very much.

2. Which brings me to my next. “Italian butter” comes from Italian cows, just like American butter comes from American cows. It is not green, you cannot pour it, and you don’t mix it with vinegar at fake Italian restaurants. I love a good olive oil, that has a flavorful, fruity taste, and bright green color. Not gray, green. Not yellow. GREEN.

3. Every restaurant, except awesome Asian ones where the menus are in Engrish, should spell-check their menu before printing it. And a little editing is never amiss. Whether or not it’s a typo from a crappy typist (like poor little me), or blatant disregard for the rules of the English language (or whichever language dominates the ethnic region of origin for the food), I can’t stand reading menus that are full of mistakes. My favorite is the place where you can get cremé brùleè. Why put in a bunch of random accents? Why not just learn which ones go where?

4. Also, please teach your waiters how to pronounce the items on the menu. I was at an Italian place once, and ordered bruschetta. The cute little waitress said, “Oh, you mean bruSHetta?” I couldn’t believe she would correct the pronunciation of a customer without knowing herself what was correct. I haughtily responded, “Yes, and it’s brusKetta, by the way, not bruSHetta.” My poor Derek was mortified.

5. When a waiter comes to the table and crouches down so as to be level with the people at the table, I cringe. Unless it’s a restaurant with red and white checked tablecloths that specializes in grilled cheese sandwiches for 4-year-olds, I think waiters should take orders, and not try to be best friends with their customers.

6. I also think waiters should occasionally scan the table to see if anything is amiss. For instance, if one of the customers has clearly not been served while everyone else at the table is half finished, I think the waiter should try to notice, rather than waiting to be questioned, and being surprised that he had missed anything. I say “he” because this happened yesterday, and “Chief,” as one of the other ladies at the lunch called him, looked so confused when it was pointed out that someone had not been served. He also asked half of us if we would like refills on our drinks, but neglected the other half. Maybe it was his first day.

7. And speaking of waiters, I will not want to return to a restaurant if the waiter tells me I’m making a mistake by not ordering the all-you-can-eat meat-fest. I choose what my “money’s worth” is, and it has nothing to do with the amount of food I can stuff into my belly in a short period of time. Especially if it’s all meat. Ugh.

8. Another one about the menu. I think things are easily misrepresented on menus to people who are not familiar with a certain cuisine. A good example is the wonderful experience Derek and I had recently while trying what we thought would be exciting authentic Peruvian food. A french fry by any other name…

9. I’m sad when a restaurant uses ingredients that are clearly inferior. Derek and I went to an Italian place for our anniversary once, and ordered Chicken Marsala, which can be fantastic, unless you use the cheap, disgusting supermarket cooking wine, and the cheapest, oldest chicken you can find. It was dog food. It looked, smelled, and tasted like dog food. I’d just as soon stay home and eat cold cereal for dinner, than order something that comes out and resembles dog food.

10. I can only think of 9 of my snobberies about restaurants. Or maybe… I’m just quitting before you think I’m too snobby to even call an acquaintance. I usually only bring up one or two snobberies at a time, so as not to drive anyone away. Everyone has a few, right? Do you have a restaurant snobbery that deserves the #10 spot?

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