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October 6th, 2010

Originally published at Big Ugly Man Doll. Please leave any comments there.

Operation Wedding:  1200 Miles in 5 Days
My cousin’s getting married in Chicago.  Game on.

So there we were, exiting the Waffle House in Frederick, Md.  Thus fortified, and for some of us thus horrified, we moved people and things into the rain and into the cars, and then moved things and people again, still in the rain, until we had a good sense that we’d reached an equilibrium.  This involved me, my sister, my father, and Number One Son in my father’s car, and the rest of the girls in SOBUMD’s minivan – with my mother driving, embracing her inner yuppie and indulging her need for speed.  We followed along in the Toyota Sienna-sized hole left where the rain wasn’t falling anymore as my mother created a tunnel of “not rain” while trying to see if it would really hit 130 miles per hour. 

In the back seat of Dad’s car, my sister was exchanging ideas with Number One Son, who having been fed was promptly medicated.  One of these ideas was “read a book,” whereupon he mentioned not having a book in this car.  She, of course, had a book in this car, in fact she had two to choose from – Neil Stephenson’s Snow Crash, and Christopher Moore’s Fool. 

If you’ve never read either, I can recommend both.  Are they “appropriate” for a 10-yr-old?  Probably not – this just became a “lesser of two evils” question.  Right, Snow Crash – it’ll hold his interest.  She handed it to him and we lost him for about 30 minutes until he started giggling.   “What do you think of the book?” 

“I like all the swear words!” 

My sister wondered about my choice, which I maintain is still better than letting him read “Fool.”  Snow Crash has conversational swearing.  Fool uses it as an art form.  Snow Crash is about computers and hacking; Fool is a game of Grand Theft Auto mashed up with Shakespeare at his pornographic best – medieval porn and gratuitous murder, yeah baby!  At least he’s reading.  Me, it’s email, email, email on the Blackberry – plus a great example of technology in action:  Dad mentioned he’d like to hear Pat Boone singing “The Old Rugged Cross” and in 90 seconds it’s coming off some YouTube hard drive in the ether, over an IP network, to a wireless network, down the airwaves to my Crackberry, and into sound in the car, with my Dad singing along – all at 75 miles an hour, in the driving rain.  I love technology!

We collectively decided that we liked Ohio better than Maryland and Pennsylvania, because it wasn’t raining in Ohio.  They have sun there.  Quite a relief.  We drove past Youngstown, got to Twinsburg, and headed for the hot tub.  After a dip, we retired to our rooms, I plugged in the McGuffin, er, Blackberry charger, and headed for the local restaurant.  (There’s only one.)   After some food at a table lit by the largest television screens known to man, we returned to the hotel.  As we retired to our rooms, I determined that there was Scotch in the lobby.  I bought one for SOBUMD, then let my dad know that there was Grandpa Juice available downstairs.  He allowed as how he knew that, he and my sister having acquired same before we left for dinner.  I mentioned the (low) price and was instructed in how the pros do it: “You gave them money?  I just said “Room 425” and we pressed on.” 

Clearly, I don’t stay at hotels often enough.  Eager to test this new lesson, I went back downstairs and got another glass of Grandpa Juice, this time charging it to Room 425, just like he said.  That I was in Room 423 was not really relevant. 

In the morning, we found something very much like breakfast, loaded everyone into the cars again, and pressed on. 

Next, miles 293-613 – Destination: That Toddling Town.

Yep, looks like another post from the Big, Ugly Man Doll!

Originally published at Big Ugly Man Doll. Please leave any comments there.

Operation Wedding:  1200 Miles in 5 Days
My cousin’s getting married in Chicago.  Game on. 

In what I can only hope, for your sake, is the very remote chance that you ever stop for lunch in Sturgis, Michigan, be sure to stop at Dan’s Family Restaurant.  If you’re over 80, I’m sure you’ve heard of it already.  Word gets around on The Facebooks, you know – Dan’s Family Restaurant has a discount for seniors that can’t be beat! 

Dan's Family Restaurant, Sturgis, Michigan

Dan's Family Restaurant, Sturgis, Michigan

Obviously the waitress, on the other hand, can be beat.  I say this not because the service was slow, or bad – it was fine.  I think our waitress had been beaten far too often, though – every other sentence was “I’m sorry!”  She apologized for everything, regardless of whether or not it was something she could control, up to and including the weather.  I think it was a defense mechanism built in from getting beaten too often by cane-wielding Q-tips wondering about the discount.  She held her own behind the counter, though:  “Mike, this says Chicken Tenders, not Chicken Wings – do I need to buy you a pair of glasses?  I’ll go buy you a pair of glasses if you need them!” 

It’s easy to get to Dan’s Family Restaurant, though.  All you need is a Betty. 

It’s also easy to tell when your kids have been hanging out with their Grandfather – anything with an automated voice system, like a GPS, gets named Bitchin’ Betty.  This stems from the early automated aviation advisory voices in Viet Nam-era aircraft (and continuing today) that would tell a pilot “Low on Fuel” or “Watch out for that Mountain.”  These days the iPhone will do the same thing, so in our car we had Dad’s GPS, in SOBUMD’s van we had her iPhone set for MapQuest, calling out the same set of

“Recalculating Route”
“Turn left, 2 miles” 
“Make a safe and legal U-Turn” 

All of which cause the kids to want to tell Bitchin’ Betty to shut up.   They figure poor Betty gets pretty tired of “Recalculating” every time we turn around.  We all got out of the cars at Dan’s Family Restaurant and the HTR piped up with, “Daddy, Bitchin’ Betty sounds pretty depressed.  I think she should try Cymbalta.”  Number One Son doesn’t miss a beat:  “Depression hurts, Daddy.  Cymbalta can help.”

Dear god, I *really* need to monitor what the hell they’re watching on television.  Also, I need my ears checked again; at first I thought they said she needed to take Cialis.  Which would probably also take Betty’s mind off recalculating the route for the 478th time, but I’d rather not explain that to the kids.

The best part of Bitchin’ Betty is the pinpoint accuracy of the iPhone/MapQuest application.  SOBUMD excused herself to the bathroom (“Excuse me, where’s the bathroom?”  “I’m sorry, it’s just down that hallway.”) and took her purse – I never know why, and I don’t want to.  In this case, though, she reports that as she was walking out of the stall, Betty piped up from her purse unexpectedly:  “Recalculating!” 

Now that’s an accurate system.  

We said our sad goodbyes to Sturgis and our lovely and apologetic waitress and climbed back in the saddles, driving through the settling lunch and setting sun until we reached our destination – Uncle Dan (no relation to the Restaurant) and Aunt Mary Ann’s house, which has Ivy.  Not ivy, Ivy.  Ivy is a Wheaten Terrier, which makes complete sense since they live a in suburb called Wheaton – I assume she came with the house.  Ivy and Number One Son, to the surprise of pretty much everyone including themselves, became close pals.  

A Dog and Her Boy

Ivy Meets Number One Son: A Dog and Her Boy

We had a wonderful time eating pizza and visiting with family that we never get to see often enough.  Number One Son met a dog who wasn’t too scary, jumpy, or annoying, and a great time was had by all.  I looked all around the house, but was unable to find the “Dorian Gray” painting of my Aunt, who looks like I’ve always remembered her – I don’t know how she does it, but she has not aged a day in at least 20 years.  Maybe the dogs do her aging for her.  Uncle Dan just looks more like himself; I’ve seen pictures of him when he was younger, and he looks like he’s waiting to grow into how he looks now.  My cousins look good and married well too – maybe there’s something in the genes; it’s just a good looking family all around.  Of course, they’re all related to me, so certainly that explains part of it. 

The next morning dawned with coffee and breakfast yummies, including pancakes that even the Reigning Queen of Pink couldn’t be allergic to, which was very sweet.  Mind you, she still didn’t eat them, but she *could* have, and that’s the point, really.  We eventually got dressed, loaded the car, and headed to the Death Star.

Next up:  Saturday:  Operation Wedding

Yep, looks like another post from the Big, Ugly Man Doll!