Showing posts from January, 2010


--There it is, gleaming in the sun. --Rio has Surgarloaf Mountain and a huge statue of Christ. We have the World’s Biggest Stainless Steel Cross. --It sort of goes with the World’s Biggest Bust of Jesus. --The bust is for the northern part of our trip, this is for the southern part. --To beat the devil at both ends. --This isn’t the only place you see them. I’m sure I’ve seen others. --Yes,but I think they’re on I-95. --First comes the huge cross, then right next door a We Bare All strip club. --In Dante’s Inferno, among the damned are the souls of people still walking around on earth. Even though they aren’t dead yet, they’ve committed sins so terrible that their souls are already in hell. I like the concept. I think you have to assume the souls of people in a We Bare All club overshadowed by a one-hundred-foot-high metal cross are already among the damned. --I prefer the cedars on the embankments in Tennessee. --We agree on that. Tennessee is beautiful. I never knew it before


In the last DBD, Barbara and I were reminiscing about eating steak in a motel room that had been adapted for the handicapped. It conjured up thoughts of adaptations now needed during the holiday season in our own household. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Meat has always played a big role in my life, and I am the first to admit that “meat withdrawal” can’t be a pretty thing to see. Not if seeing it is anything like living it, which is what I am faced with during the holidays. The condition, or symptom as some would have it starts with the restlessness seen in heroin addicts. At least those depicted in movies. I haven’t personally known any heroin addicts, although it’s quite possible that at faculty parties I unknowingly met several users who weren’t just then in the throes of withdrawal. As with drug addicts, the growing need for meat is manifested in me when a roaming, aimless foraging takes over. Christmas cookies, crackers and chee


When we stop on our trips to and from Florida, we always try to stay at a Red Roof Inn. We have our dog Chelsea with us, and the Red Roof franchise is pet-friendly. Only once were we disappointed, but that had nothing to do with the motel. It had to do with the couple in the room next to us. The ones traveling in an oversized van with two Great Danes, and something small that never stopped barking. But this isn’t about that. --Are you going to trust me to carry in the document box? --Well… --Come on. It’s been nine years. I safely drove us hundreds of miles today. --I drove, too. --Yes, I know. I just mean I can be trusted to drive hundreds of miles without incident. It should mean I can be trusted to carry in the document box. --And please also bring in my black bag, and the laptops. --This is pretty good, don’t you think? I always appreciate the absence of art in a Red Roof. --Yes, but this one has no table. --We’ll just sit side by side on the bed and eat off the dresser.


At some point on our way south, one of us always remembers something important left behind in Michigan. This year, it wasn’t the favorite slotted spoon, or the backup memory card for the camera. --I miss _____. --Is that what you’ve been thinking about all these miles? --No, but I think about her. Do you want me to drive? --I’m fine. I think about her, too. Mostly in terms of disappointment. --I just miss her, that’s all. --Yes, that’s the word. She’s gone missing. Our oldest granddaughter is now somewhere else. In her place is a beautiful, fifteen-year-old lanky redhead who looks just like her. The one who comes to visit now is no more present than the one who’s gone missing. All I see of her for the most part is the part down the center of her hair. Always bowed over some piece of technology, fingers flying. She doesn't have to be with us at all, now. Or any adults. She can e-mail or text-message her likewise held-hostage buddies wherever they they may be. --Remember


Generally, Drinks before Dinner is true to its name: it recounts conversations that take place at the end of the day. But when Barbara and I are on the road, these confabs are what keep us going. After driving for nine or ten hours, we are out of words and ready for sleep. That is, until the lively couple next door start throwing each other against the wall, or the quaint heating/cooling system resumes operation. If anyone knows, please tell us how so many of these units have survived since the beginning of the twentieth century. ------------------------------------------- --Did we pass it yet? --No. It’s closer to the state line. --Mustn’t miss the world’s biggest Jesus. --Well, anyway, the world’s biggest bust of Jesus. --It’s big all right. How tall would you say? --Maybe twenty-five or thirty feet. At least that, if you include the beseeching arms. --You have to include the arms, that’s the main thing. Is it blessing or beseeching? --The Solid Rock Church. Well named, consi


Following Christmas, Barbara and I load the van in preparation for our annual trip to Florida. We’re snowbirds, and spend four months there. The process of leave-taking—packing, loading, unloading and reloading, attempting to remember what was left behind last year—involves many animated discussions. Largely because my memory is no longer fully reliable, these exchanges can sometimes get heated. Our solution is to go on packing in silence, knowing there will be ample time in the days and weeks to come for payback related to that favorite slotted spoon or extra camera memory card now spending the winter back in Michigan. But many hours later than planned, we at last coax our dog Chelsea to hop in, slide shut the van's panel door, and take off. We’ve made this trip once or more times a year since 2001. As we move south, we watch for signs of milder weather. We eat junk food (Chelsea prefers McDonald’s), stay in pet-friendly motels, and drink lots of coffee and little shot bott


More taxing matters (we got a little carried away) --Do you think our new tax preparer is Jewish? --With a name like Zimmer? Of course. --She didn’t look Jewish. --Be politically correct. You mean Semitic. --OK, she didn’t look Semitic. But she was smart and funny. --There you go, Jewish. --I was always flattered in college to be taken for Jewish. --That happened to me a couple times at the union. Norman Schwartz in the elevator once asked me, “Kosnic. Is that a Jewish name?” I told him it was Polish Catholic. --How’d he react? --What do you mean? We were in the elevator, going to work. Kosnic sounded like a Jewish name to a Jew, that’s all. --Kosnicastan. That could be where your ancestors came from. --You mean that’s my family’s mother country? --The Old Sod, The Homeland. --Kosnicastan. --Yes. Lost in the shuffle of the other ‘stans’--Tadzhikistan, Uzbekistan. This tiny little wedge of real estate is in there. --Full of Kosnicastanis. --In need of assistance. --Kosnicasta


Why do so many blogs concern themselves only with information—with things and services, and giving advice? Does anyone really think all the hot tips for investing, and choosing the best buy in technology, and making sure to move to one of the Ten Best Cities actually means much? Isn’t it perfectly possible the CEO at the company whose stock you are urged to buy will turn out to be Bernie Madoff’s twin? Won’t your brand new laptop still become obsolete on the seat next to you when you drive home with it? After moving to one of those Top Ten Cities, are you sure the neighbors on either side won’t turn out to be barking mad? Most bloggers are well intentioned, and people do need information. But at the end of most days, it’s little things that make the difference. No matter how discouraging or humiliating or annoying it’s been, if you somehow managed to connect or be amused in some way, your day hasn’t been a total bust. This is the place Drinks before Dinner proposes to go. More o