Older, if not wiser

By Mir
August 20, 2012

This weekend Licorice and I had our birthdays. That’s how I knew she was meant to be my dog, you know—the rescue had assigned her a birthdate, I guess, and it’s the day after mine. She is now maybe-six (really, they’re just guessing on her age) and I am now forty-none-of-your-damn-business-but-trust-me-I-feel-old. Or 41, if you insist.

Otto and I ran away for the weekend and left the dog at the kennel. Because we’re both so much older and more mature, now, this morning Licorice proceeded to prance around our bed a full hour before the alarm was set to go off, and later this morning—after I’d prepared breakfast and packed lunches—I set about making some mango salsa to go with the fish tacos I’ll be making for dinner, and on the VERY LAST ITEM I needed to cut up, yes indeed, I used all 41 years of my brainpower to cut towards myself and of course the knife slipped and I sliced open my finger.

So the answer to “What’s for dinner, Mom?” will be “Fish tacos with mangled fingertip salsa.” I wonder if Monkey will have seconds?

Anyway. I have been on something of a cooking tear since we returned yesterday afternoon. We were gone for a mere 36 hours or so, and already it’s clear to me how much my current stress management routine relies on puttering around in the kitchen. We got back and I immediately went to the grocery store and bought All The Things and then came home and made granola, planned out the week’s menu, and otherwise resumed ensuring that I can sublimate all of my feelings in tasty, tasty food.

Otto had a speaking engagement this weekend in North Carolina, and because the kids’ dad was coming to town, for once when Otto cracked his standard, “You should come with me!” joke, I said, “OKAY!” We passed Monkey off to his dad on Saturday morning, took the dog over to the kennel, and then began our lovebird getaway the best way two nerds know how—driving to the hotel to the dulcet tones of several “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” podcasts. Don’t be jealous of our romaaaaaance!

The tiny town we ended up in was having a fine arts festival, so before Otto had to go do worky things we went and walked around various booths hawking everything from hand-knit items to giant hunks of driftwood made into sculpture. This was a perfect way to spend a few hours before we are huge fans of independent artisans kettle corn. Mmmmm… kettle corn. Also we bought some incredibly overpriced zucchini pickles, as one does.

Later, we selected our dinner destination based upon a raving Yelp review which lauded the establishment’s gluten-free hamburger rolls, and of course we arrived only to discover that they were out. No matter! I still had my hand-groomed, organic, free-range, coddled right up until the moment of slaughter cheeseburger, I just didn’t have a bun. Also it came with a slice of tomato that nearly made me weep. It was so good I made Otto taste it, and the next day when we stopped for salads at Wendy’s on our drive home and I said “These tomatoes are NOTHING like the one from last night” Otto quipped, “That’s because the one last night had just been cut from the garden out back, and the ones you’re eating now were grown three years ago in Chile.” Yum yum good.

After dinner I lolled around the hotel room watching Shark Week programming while Otto went and did Work Stuff, and then later he returned and we met up with some of his colleagues for drinks.

Now. We’re not big drinkers. But our hotel room was overlooking the “Tiki Bar” at the head of the hotel’s pool, and since the moment of our arrival we had been joking about how it would be a truly memorable vacation because we would go have a drink at the Tiki Bar, and how often do we do THAT? Little did we know that by the time we actually went down there to have those drinks, the Tiki Bar was… closing up. But the bartender helpfully pointed indoors, saying that we were welcome to go to the main bar, get our drinks, and bring them back out to sit with our friends.

We went inside, which was when we discovered that the saddest, most depressing wedding in the world was taking place in the “ballroom” (I use that term loosely). Seriously, if not for the bridesmaid dresses, I would’ve wondered if it was a wake. There was music blaring, but people were just sitting around awkwardly, looking embarrassed. Nice. We walked past the ballroom to the bar. And then we waited. And waited. And waited.

The bartender appeared to be a little drunk, herself. Also, there weren’t many people in there, but she seemed completely overwhelmed. We watched her mix maybe two drinks in the space of the 10 minutes we stood there waiting for her to even acknowledge our presence, and eventually we just went back out to the pool area to socialize.

“Where’s your drinks?” someone asked. We explained about the bartender and said it was fine, we didn’t need drinks. But then someone else produced a little cooler of beer (it was one of these, which made me laugh and laugh), so Otto had a beer, and I said I couldn’t have beer because of the gluten, and then there was a flask offered. Otto’s colleagues know how to party, is my point.

We sat outside chatting until the wedding reception began breaking up and drunk people started wandering by. Eventually there was quite a bit of commotion, and a hotel staff person came by to tell us there had been some noise complaints and we should please keep it down. We pointed out that there were several parties of screaming drunk people around us, while we were simply sitting at the table talking, and she admitted that maybe we weren’t the people making the noise.

Eventually Otto and I went up to bed, remarking on what a thrill it was to be childless and dogless. Otto and I understand each other so well after all these years that he didn’t even have to ask me not to blog about the rest of the evening. Except this: As we were trying to fall asleep, a loud and drunken group of people stopped right outside our door so that someone could say, repeatedly, “Dad, it’s just the girls. Just the girls, Dad. Dad, it’s only the girls. Just the girls! Dad, let’s go.” I don’t know what “just the girls” were doing or why Creepy Dad was so insistent on following them, but just about the time I was toying with throwing open the door and telling them that the next person to holler was getting dumped over the railing, they worked out this difficult logistical issue and dispersed.

The next morning, Otto went and gave his talk and I looked at birds and read a book and then we drove home and retrieved the dog and the boy and the necessary groceries because the kettle corn we bought is running low. Today it’s back to school and work and real life. Truth be told, we didn’t even make it the entire 36 hours not talking about the kids (we tried, but failed)—by breakfast, yesterday, we realized various Weighty Issues follow us wherever we go. Still, I’m glad we had a night away to just be a couple. Hopefully it was enough of a recharge for us to keep things going until we can sneak off and do it again. You know, in five years or so.


  1. Kelly

    So glad you got some away time!

  2. Kate

    I’m so glad you got a bit of time away! Here’s hoping the next one isn’t too far off. Keep cooking! It’s a pretty good vice. Have a good week, Dear Mir. You are loved!!

  3. Debbi

    Well happy birthday! Or, under the circumstances, birthday! It’s gotta be hard to be happy with all the carp going on, but it does sound like the little getaway was a good thing.

  4. Julie in Colorado

    Happy Birthday Mir! I’m glad you got some nice relax time!

  5. Tracy B

    I need one of those weekends. Happy Birthday, Mir and Licorice!!!

  6. victoria

    Happy Belated Birthday!! So glad you 2 got away and what book were you reading? – if it is worth recommending….

  7. Arnebya

    Oh, drunkards. How fun we (wait, they! I meant they!) are. I’m glad you were able to get away, glad that you have a partner in podcastnerddom to get away with. What makes me happiest, though, is that I read this hearing your smile (even though, yes, various Weighty Issues are there, I can still hear your smile through your words).

  8. Aimee

    Well, happy birthday again! It sounds like you guys had a nice weekend. As far as I’m concerned, “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” is romantical.

    Dude, did you see that “Shark Week’s Impossible Shot” thing where they floated a camera over a breaching great white? And then the part where they showed you the inside of the shark’s mouth? Yikes.

  9. Jill W.

    If you alternate those WWDTM podcasts with a few Car Talk episodes, you would have the perfect romantic roadtrip soundtrack for DH and me. Nerds unite!

    Glad you got a little time away. : )

  10. Katie K.

    Happy birthday! Glad you had a nice break. If anyone deserves one, it is you!

  11. karen

    Happy Birthday!!! ..

  12. Melissa

    Happy Birthday!

  13. Chuck

    Glad you had a good time in spite of the lousy bartender that one night. There is some gluten-free beer out there if you miss beer although it’s a bit hard to find.

  14. Susan

    Happy belated birthday! So glad you were able to squeeze in a little get-away!

  15. heather

    Happy birthday to you and Licorice.

  16. Chris

    Happy belated birthday! I am glad you went away and did the grownup weekend to celebrate.

  17. Another Dawn

    HA! Many moons ago, I happened to be in a local hospital emergency room (not for a captial E Emergency) when a young man dashed frantically into the ER, looking about himself in a somewhat freaked out kind of manner. He was carrying a large Coleman cooler. I fully expected to see a “Human Organs” sign on the side of the cooler when he turned around, but instead, he went up to the reception desk and asked who ordered the Chinese food. D’oh!

    One should never go to a hotel with me. I always, without fail, get the room across the hall from the Door Slammers. At 3 am, what need is there to traverse back and forth between two rooms letting the door slam each time? Seriously? Who is unfamiliar with the concept of sleeping during the night? Who is unaware that one can prevent the slamming of the door by holding it while it closes? EVERYONE WHO HAS EVER HAD A HOTEL ROOM ACROSS FROM OR ADJACENT TO MINE. I cannot open my door and say anything because it would result in murder – either mine or the Door slamming people.

    Glad to hear you got a weekend away as A Couple. Important stuff, that.

  18. Leah

    Happy birthday! Glad you were able to get some time away.

  19. 12tequilas

    Another Dawn, I had a business trip hotel stay in a room next to the stairwell door, which slammed loudly whenever the person who delivers the USA Todays was going from floor to floor delivering them: VERY EARLY in the morning. And I’m a heavy sleeper so you know that was loud.

  20. liz

    This –> “the ones you’re eating now were grown three years ago in Chile.” made me snort water out my nose.

  21. Flea

    Mir, KETTLE CORN. *drool*

    Sounds like a lovely weekend away. :)

  22. ccr in MA

    It does sound like a great getaway. And happy birthday to two-fifths of the household!

  23. Lara

    Happy belated birthday Mir! Glad you got a little break from it all, even though the weighty issues were following, sounds like you managed to ignore them for a little while :) Your writing, as it often does, made me chuckle out loud several times so thank you :)

  24. Kristi S

    Happy birthday to you and Licorice!

  25. Demery

    Happy Birthday, dear Mir! Here’s to good things in the future for you and your family!

  26. elz

    Happy belated birthday, dear Mir (and Licorice too). Better wishes for you this year!

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