21 June 2008

Steel Belted Radials

One of the ways that parents have been known to torture their children is to drag them along on blatantly non-child-friendly errands.

Unless you’ve managed to successfully repress such memories, I’d venture that if you dig deep, you’ll recall at least one really terrible experience as an unassuming, angelic child cherub standing in some patently adult venue waiting for time to stop its stand-still so you can get on with your child life.

If you had a particularly cruel parent or two, you may have even been subject to such trauma in an habitually or tag team fashion. Some parents just can’t seem to help themselves.

One friend of mine said it was the fabric store.
Long, torturous, brutal sessions of textile HELL.

I can see the face of this child as the mother debates this red fabric’s qualities against the characteristics and virtues of this other red fabric which, by the way, looks EXACTLY like the first bolt of RED fabric.

Now this may be a gender thing, but I, personally, didn’t mind the fabric store, at all.

My mother or grandmother, would shop and select cloth for really practical and mundane purposes (like making me a homemade dress, which is a completely different form of child abuse if you were raised in the sixties/seventies, pre-Martha Stewart era and obviously homemade clothing was the curse of social death at your grade school). I would take their dreary intent to purchase fabric and turn it into Barbie Fantasyland.

The gold satin fabric draped across the top of my head became my luxurious long pretend princess hair.

The glittery, opalescence of pink velvet became my pretend cape/gown.

The heavy deep burgundy fabric was my pretend royal bedspread and pretend matching drapes for the pretend master suite of my pretend country castle. (Not to be confused with my pretend city castle.)

Pearly, silver white tulle was my royal, pretend princess bridal veil.

You get the picture.

Yes, in fact, in many ways I was a predictable girly-girl. Shut up. I was six, give me a break.

No, for me it was not the fabric store.

It was the . . . . . . . tire store.

My dad was a tire obsessive. Probably still is, I wouldn't know. I ran away long ago.

Why I was required to go to the tire store with my Dad, I'll never know. I do know that it was torturous each and every time, but there was this one particular day that probably violated some or all of the Geneva Convention.

I was sick: cough, cold, earache, scratchy sore throat. I felt terrible. Now I believe I let him know how bad I was feeling, (as any responsible, considerate six year old would) and his response was "It'll just be a few more minutes." He was already there and was all-in with this tire sales man and wouldn't dream of leaving now.

It was terrible.

How long did I have to endure this tire store agony?
The number FOUR comes to mind.

Now it may not have been that I had to wait there, with my completely non-interactive father, for four full hours.

It may have been the stack of four tires I sat on, while I had to wait.

It may be that it took four days to get the new rubber smell out of my hair and jacket afterward.

FOUR? It may be the number of times the sales person wanted to shoot my father for being such a jerk customer.

It may have been how many meals I missed in the time I was there.

It may be the number of years I lost from the other end of my life after inhaling those toxic tire fumes. (Four, count them. Four good years!)

It was probably the number of criminal codes my father violated by making me go with him that day.

Hard feelings? More than four, I can tell you that much.

This week I was driving up to Edmonds with my daughter, when I noticed my car was feeling funny. Now my car is like fifteen years old so it has a few noisy, rattly parts and it takes a discriminating driver to notice such nuance.

I pulled over for a quick visual inspection and besides a large screw sticking out of the tread, there was a bulge in the side of my tire.

Now the screw actually looked pretty cool. Like an automotive fashion statement. A piercing.

But the bulge? This was a bit worrisome.

The trip to Edmonds was off. My daughter and I spent a good part of the morning tire shopping. (Will the cycle of abuse never end?)

I kept telling her how sorry I was. To my parenting credit, my daughter is a high school senior and it was the very first time I had ever subjected her to the tire store trip, so she looked at me with confusion. I wore this proudly.

And I continued to wear it proudly as I, immediately after leaving the tire store:
  • took her to lunch at Red Robin, onion rings, pomegranate lemonade
  • took her shopping at her favorite clothing store, two Ts and a pair of jeans,
  • and bought her a new car on the way home, to make up for the tire store exposure.

I'll spend the rest of my life trying to make it up to her. Well, all except the last four years.

13 June 2008

The Phantom Restaurant

Who hasn't thought about how great it would be to be a restaurant critic? Oh, to be paid to eat out and then to be paid to give opinion.

With the wave of blogging, now I too can be a restaurant critic. But there must be thousands, millions of people (read and unread) who are busy eating, than blogging about it. So how am I to set myself apart? Hmmmm, let's see.

How about "Name that Restaurant!"

Here are your hints. This is an independent, one of a kind establishment. It's in Pierce county, not far from I-5. It's in an inconspicuous store front location where a Mexican restaurant used to be. The 'genre' is diner, greasy-spoon-esque in nature. They are closed Sundays & Mondays. And they are only open for breakfast and lunch.

The atmosphere was a bit plain. I couldn't help thinking that it was almost cool. I could imagine a few small decor changes that would help tip it over into the world of cool.

I ordered the biscuits and gravy with both kinds of potato: hash browns and home fries. Letting the server know that I was researching the local potato situation. She was a good server: friendly but not bothersome with a good sense of humor and not so pretty that I had to hate her. Whew! I never ran dry of water or coffee. And she asked which potato version I decided was my favorite.

The gravy was about as good as sausage gravy gets. But even so I always wish it were more sausage-flavored. (Alas, kind of like always wishing the chowder part of clam chowder had more clam flavor.)

The potatoes were unspecial but not terrible. They both needed salt and I am not a big salt user. So all in all the food quality was okay. Nothing bad, nothing great.

I breakfasted alone and read my book (The Red Tent) through out my meal. But the seating arrangement of the restaurant made it hard to concentrate on reading and lent itself, instead, to people-watching. No terribly interesting ones to watch, but even so.

As I was finishing up the 'way too much food' that I ordered, I noticed standing between the salt & pepper shakers, the room temperature ketchup and the paper menus on my table was a thin junior paperback. Something by Cynthia Rylant. I thought this was a nice, unusual touch. Just in case someone needed some light reading.

I looked around and noticed there was one paperback or another on each table. I liked this. Sweetness. Then I noticed on one of these other tables a small spiral style notebook standing next to the paperback. This struck me as odd. Did a customer leave this behind one day? My curiosity is piqued.

Then I notice there is a small, inconspicuous notebook on my own table. With a pen sticking out of the spiral binding. Wow, this smells of coolness.

I picked up the notebook and flipped through. There was notes of thanks to the restaurant and the servers. There were illustrations drawn by small fingers. There were notes to other customers. Notes sent out into the universe. There are notes of people marketing their various local retail establishments and such.

I didn't choose to write anything on this visit but realized that my initial impression of the place only verging on coolness was probably a pre-judgment. It's coolness may not have been instantly obvious but here it was waiting for me to notice. I knew it was a good place when I kept thinking of who I wanted to bring back with me next time. This is a pretty good sign, I've decided.

Can you guess what restaurant this is?

Happy Friday June Thirteenth!