Notes from the Underground

I have been home for the holidays for little more than 24 hours. Things are happening. Here are some early observations:

  • My father has replaced watching minor college football bowl games with watching cooking shows. His favorite is Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (“3D”), but he is content to view any of these programs. Rachel Ray, who was raised by garbage disposals, now graces our home with her noises, much like a sitcom family’s eccentric cousin or nanny.
  • Mice burrowed into the laundry basket—naively abandoned atop the garage refrigerator—that holds the many makes and models of Christmas cookie my mother and sister produce for friends and family every year. The mices left droppings but were only able to chew into a bag of my mother’s famous “Rolo treats,” (pretzel circle bases that support melted Rolos with peanut M&Ms pressed into the melted Rolo tar pits) and a corner of a plastic bag containing a shortbread cookie. “Is the biscotti okay?” was the first question my father asked. How this issue will be resolved is still up for debate. I suspect an answer will come whence my mother awakes from her midday nap.
  • I have completed or assisted in completing three crossword puzzles.
  • This morning, in breach of the good faith accorded to me by my mother’s free guest pass, I beasted some high school basketballers at the Lake Zurich LA Fitness.
  • Last night my sister and I went for a drink in the nearby village of Libertyville. What a stupidly laid out “village.” Their three-block downtown is bisected by a four-lane highway with no speed limit in place. Pickup trucks with tractor-sized tires carom down the road in hopes that a child runs out into the street, so that they might squish her and be declared heroes of the open road. The Libertyville mayor has awarded many medals to such road warriors.
  • UPDATE: Mother has woken up. In response to Mousegate, she exclaims, “Shit! Darn those stupid mice!” My father then pronounces Rolo, “Rall-lo”.
  • I have drank two cans of Dr Pepper TEN and eaten three slices of poppyseed breadcake, brought over by my parents’ Polish repairman when he came to fix the toilet.
  • I have smoked three secret cigarettes.
  • UPDATE 2: Mother is now in the garage, yelling at the mice.
  • I lost a game of Scrabble to my sister but I couldn’t draw a vowel to save my life.
  • My mother regaled us with tales of attending a sex show in Patpong, where topless women with numbers painted on their chests walked around asking you to buy them drinks and performers on a stage accomplished lewd feats with ping pong balls, darts, and balloons. Mother read in “the paper” that you shouldn’t buy the numbered women alcoholic drinks, because they would just get Cokes and pocket the extra baht.
  • The family is currently debating whether we should get pizza, Italian beef, Italian beef pizza, or some otherworldly combination of the three for dinner. I am making my choice known (Italian beef sandwiches from Portillo’s) from the other room, using as few words as possible. Basically I’m just saying “Beefs!” every time there’s a lull in the conversation.
  • I will be here for three more days. More to come.

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