The Student Becomes the Teacher

We’ve been compared often, Brenda and myself. My attitude-full aunt has been my role model these 24 years complete, and I used to be a little afraid of her. She liked it that way. She liked having the power to make someone cry just by looking at them. I coveted that kind of power.

Now, either she’s mellowed or I’ve sharpened (or a bit of both), but the scales balance differently these days.

The coffeemaker, toaster, and drug-drawer all exist in a tight little nook in our kitchen. The other morning, I noticed some tension in the air as I entered. With a single look her way, Brenda announced that “Debbie needs to take her pills and,” looking over her glasses menacingly she continued, “I told her she needs to wait until I finish buttering my toast (which isn’t even toasted yet) before she comes over here.” I nodded. It made sense.

I wanted coffee. I reached around Brenda, elbows in her face, to get a cup from the cupboard. I then changed direction, reaching toward the carafe of coffee. Brenda jumped back and apologized for being in my way.

I’ll say that last sentence again:


Debbie looked on in awe, and Brenda twittered in disgust. A new dynasty is taking hold.

Chi-Town Chill

So, Chicago.

During a record-breaking cold spell.

We had grandiose plans of walking everywhere, seeing everything. And we did, really. The condensed version…the highlighted attractions, if you will…

Well…Starbucks, mainly.

Sub-zero windchills and cappuccino form a couple, I discovered, of a knit closer than both bread and butter and peanut butter and jelly. The relationship might even rival cheese and crackers. Fortuitously, as Nick advised, there was a branch at nearly every corner…hell, we visited three of them on the same avenue alone.

And, speaking of which, our hotel was located right on the Michigan Avenue. Nice. Particularly with all those Starbucks. I typically take my coffee with a packet of Splenda, which Nick noted from our first meeting. Shortly thereafter, he purchased a box of Splenda packets to keep at his condo for my coffee-drinking pleasure. In a quiet moment there in the earlier days or our acquaintance, he feathered his fingertips along my jaw and said, “I don’t know what I’d do without you.” At a loss for words with which to reply, I remained taciturn and became glassy-eyed. “I have all this Splenda,” he continued, by way of explanation.

Ok, ok…so sometimes, he’s humorous. Just not when he beats me to a punchline.

It was a beautiful hotel, getting back to topic, and it managed to incur joy on the part of my companion. I had worried that Nick would be depressed all weekend due to unfortunate timing with the Ticketmaster in charge of scouring Chicagoland for weak-minded individuals whose arms could be twisted into exchanging currency to see BB King perform live at The House of Blues that weekend. It was a sore point that his weak mind had been passed over.

But, and don’t let this spread too rampantly (or do, and just don’t let him know that you have), Nick’s easy: the plush terrycloth robe provided with the room perked him considerably. That, and other little touches. I’m sure that inside of 5 minutes he was thinking, “BB-who? Forget that! The end of the toilet paper is folded!”

Dinosaur Dynasty

Sunday, at the Field Museum, we walked through a display of Chinese dinosaur remains, the little packets of soy sauce having not survived. Imagine my delight, or look at it for yourself if you click the above picture, when I stumbled upon Laurasia on the map. In theory, this is how the Northern Hemisphere looked before America dissed China’s fortune-filled after-dinner treat as a hoax peddled by one stale cookie, and citing better results with The Psychic Friends Network…this, naturally, led to unflattering Dionne Warwick parallels which could be neither defended nor denied, so the land masses decided to part ways, never to cohabitate the the same continent again. Thank goodness we’re at least on speaking terms again, but there are times when it still feels as though we’re oceans apart.

But, back to Laurasia: once upon a time, I was a big clumpy mass!

(That seemed a lot more prestigious in my head than it does out.)

Nick managed a spot of amusement, as you can see. The skeletons of super-sized lizards entertained him substantially more than college basketball, as I could note from his state of “awake” throughout the exhibit. I have a theory, actually, that he only owns such a staggering collection of Wisconsin Badger apparel for the sole reason of distracting his acquaintances from his altogether froufrou interests. He is a little too overzealous on his fanaticism for it all to be real, you know what I mean? Me thinks he doth protest too much—but in reverse. I am waiting for the day that I uncover the entire DVD collection of A&E’s Romance Classics in his condo. I’ll out him yet…if it’s the last thing I do.

Our day at the Field Museum was done in place of a shopping spree at Ikea, a place I have heard of in myth, and, well, budget-conscious home decorating television programs…but a place to which I have never been. Another time, perhaps. Before another outing with Nick, I must reconcile myself to the fact that he conjures punchlines (Although inferior to mine, I must say!) at a much quicker rate, and any utterance of my version would seem pat and overdone.


I’m funny, dang it—even if it is pathetic that I had to look in the mirror and tell myself so no less than 7 times after I returned home from our trip. Granted, my humor often elicits groans in place of laughter, but I am perfectly adjusted to this happenstance. There is but a select group who “get” my humor, and now that my mother has left the ranks, I must continue to amuse the rest of us, namely myself, in her absence.

But Nick!—Nick doesn’t even afford me the respect of groaning audibly! Come on! What is that!? Like it takes any time at all to groan! We were walking from the parking ramp to the Field Museum elevators, and, noting our parking area, he said, “It’s 1-B.”

    “You’ve just answered the age-old question,” I replied.
    “What’s that?”
    “Well, it’s definitely not ‘to be’.”

That so deserved something…but no. Dead silence.

So yes, this reconciliation is a precursor to adventure number two with Nick to the land of all things inexpensive—and whoa, my heart just skipped a beat there…reconciliation may be quick. I really am funny. Really. Aren’t I? At least a little? Somewhat?

I need a hug.

The Field Museum though! The Dinosaur Dynasty! Yes, that’s what this post is about! (Fooled ya, didn’t I?) There were stations situated this way and that, outfitted with a red button that, when pushed, correctly pronounced the station’s spotlighted dinosaur, along with its region of origin. After Nick pressed the button at a particular site the eighth-ish time, I was fairly certain that he was being irritating, not interested. It took the ninth depression to lock in my suspicions, however. The kicker is that I remember neither the dinosaur nor its home. You shoulda gone for an even ten, Dear.

And what I learned from the exhibit? Mostly that Nick is in his element with the non-responsive…but also that the Chinese are very sensitive about their fortune cookies.

Religious Experience

Now, I’ve heard of Better than Sex Cake, Better than Sex Chocolates

I’ve even heard of Better than Sex Girls’ Night with a pint of Moose Tracks Ice Cream and a Golden Girls Marathon…but it wasn’t until today that I stumbled upon what had to be a Better than Sex Ice Scraper.

It snowed here today. I know this might come as a shock to some of you…I mean, snow, in February, and in Wisconsin, no less…it practically has “falsehood” stamped all over it, but I lie to thee not. I drove Brenda’s car today, a comely Pontiac she’s christened “Honky”…because:

  1. It’s a car. It honks
  2. It’s white.

I made the executive decision not to drive Ernie—that’s my car, and I won’t bore you with why he is named Ernie, perhaps enacting you to ask why in comments, but either way this tangent is already way too long and distracting and it’s time to get back on task so quit nagging me for details until I’ve finished with my current train of thought…is that really so much to ask? JEEZ—today, as I am still waiting for parts to patch a mysterious boo-boo and I have one headlight that isn’t so very illuminating. I thought dual functioning headlights to be the way to go in this altogether unexpected day (I mean, seriously! How often are meteorologists actually RIGHT!) of wintry bluster.

So, Nen’s car it was. This idea had several pluses above having a second headlight, pluses including and possibly restricted to its reservation in the garage. Mmmm…garages. Anyway…

Poor little Honky was all but lost in the dizzying whitewash of storm! As I was digging him from the parking lot, thigh-deep in drifts, and cursing the one day I forgot to bring a pair of gloves in this weird winter that saw a mid-fifties day on Tuesday, I applied Brenda’s ice scraper to the windshield.

I made special note of her ice scraper this morning. I wanted to make sure she had one. She acquired the car less than 2 weeks ago, and who knew if it was Wisconsinized enough for a freak-February snowfall? “Looks sorta pitiful,” I mumbled to myself, but at least it was something.

But it was more than just something…it was everything. In that moment, it was my everything. It warmed in my grip as though it held a heat. I touched the windshield meekly, transiently even, and a flower bloomed, a fountain overflowed, and an angel sang…I blinked and the glass was clear. I blinked and my chore was over. I blinked and looked to the tool in my hand…I blinked and knew I would have one of my very own. I’m still tingly about it…

(or maybe that’s my hand thawing.)