Friday, June 17, 2011

Don't Get The Stove Dirty

Don’t Get The Stove Dirty

“We need a new stove”, my wife said.

“Why?” I asked, “It works fine and is hardly used.”

“It’s old and dangerous”, she informed me.

“What are you talking about” I asked?

“The pilot light goes out (we have a gas stove) and we could be killed by a gas explosion,” she answered.

“It doesn’t go out unless you pour water on the pilot (which the cleaning lady sometimes does), and even if it does, our sliding glass doors are not leak proof so there is no dangerous build up of gas” I tried to reason with her.

“I smell the gas and it’s dangerous”, she said trying to be logical. “Besides, it’s more than 30 years old and we need a new one”.

“We never use the damn thing.  It’s practically brand new if you consider how often we use it.  You don’t cook, we use the oven maybe 4 times a year, and I don’t even boil water for coffee on it anymore since Ronni (our daughter) got me the one-cup coffee maker.  So why do we need a new stove?” I tried to counter.

On a weekly basis, the stove is used maybe once.

Monday and Wednesday nights we have been eating with my daughter-in-law and the youngest of our grandchildren while my son takes Spanish lessons for his job. Tuesdays and Thursday’s Barbara works with me, so she says she has no time to cook, and Friday, Saturday and Sunday is the weekend and she expects to go out to dinner.  If my math is correct, there are no other days in the week to cook.  Ergo, the pristine condition of our stove.

Barbara kept insisting we needed a new stove because it was dangerous and old.

“It costs too much money and we don’t use the damn thing anyway.  Tell the cleaning lady to be more careful (in my defense the pilot had only been blown out 4 or 5 times with no ill effects, and always caused by the cleaning lady or water from a boiling pot of pasta, the only meal we ever eat at home.  It was quickly relit)".

That argument had no effect.

I resorted to my most logical and effective counter argument, “I don’t want a new stove”

Barbara would continue to bring up the new stove idea over the next few months and I would do my best to ignore her.  I find “selective deafness” to be the key to a good marriage.

We went to visit our daughter and her family.  She has a new almost professional grade gas stove. 

Barbara sought to bolster her argument with support from my daughter and her husband. 

My daughter, probably not wishing to offend her mother agreed with her.  Her husband, having lived with us for several months and knowing the condition of the stove and its use history, initially sided with me.

I’m not sure what prompted him to change his mind (I suspect my daughter threatened him) but he threw his support to Barbara.  A change reminiscent of a certain American Colonial General at West Point.

We returned home and the pleas for a new stove, bolstered by our daughter’s and son-in-law's support continued.

At that point, we received a $1500 rebate from the State of Florida for buying a new energy efficient air conditioner that fall.  It came in the form of an American Express Debit card.

Barbara now made the argument that “we” wouldn’t be paying for the stove, the State of Florida would.  This of course ignores the other USEFUL things we could use the money for.

Barbara was determined, and despite my very logical, objective reasoning, she persisted.

More to shut her up than anything else, I agreed to look at stoves.

I went on the Internet and looked up gas stoves and their rating. 

Armed with some knowledge, we went to the store.

A friend of ours worked at the store and helped to explain the various features available on different models and the manufacturers reputations.

Barbara had now promised to cook more, and to take some cooking lessons (a bald faced lie as it turned out, she says marketing technique)).  In light of that promise, I figured we should get a model with decent features.  I wanted a double oven and one that had a griddle top feature.

We chose a GE Profile.  I won’t tell you the price since it will make you nauseous considering the use it has seen. 
The store had no floor model for it so we picked it out of the catalogue and ordered it, having first checked the measurements listed to see if it would fit in our space.

Two weeks later the stove arrived.

It fit in the space exactly, except for one unforeseen detail.  Our top and bottom drawers would not open.  They hit the handle.  The measurement did not include the handles, which stick out about 2 inches.  In order to open the drawers, we would have to open the oven.

To her credit, Barbara came up with the idea of switching the top and second drawers (we don’t use it often) so the former top drawer would open.

This I know is a stopgap measure, as we constantly forget to use the “second drawer” instead of the new top one.

I feel like the man with the new vest.  Eventually I, like the man with the vest, will have to replace everything to match the new acquisition.  An expensive and messy proposition.

Barbara has been biding her time about it but I know, like the Sword of Damocles,  it’s coming.

Since getting the stove, approximately a month and a half ago, we have used the stove exactly no times.

I view it as an expensive kitchen decoration and people (usually husbands) have been very sympathetic.

The other night I proposed to make French Toast, using the griddle feature.  Of course, the idea of actually using the stove was met with stiff opposition if not downright horror.

“You can’t use the stove, you’ll get it dirty” Barbara said, ignoring the fact that whatever I used would get dirty.

“Why did we buy the stove then?” I asked innocently.

“Not for this, you’ll get it dirty” she retorted.

I rest my case.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lack of a Sense of Direction is Genetic

Lack of a Sense of Direction is Genetic

Barbara, as I have mentioned before has no sense of direction. 

She never learned to read a map and never pays attention when I drive her places.  As a result, she never knows what direction we are traveling, what street we are on, or how to get back from where we are.  She’s not even sure which way to turn out of the parking lot we just entered an hour ago in order to get home.

With practice, she can find places we go to a lot.  Any place we don’t go to a lot she hasn’t a clue.

I mention this because this lack of directional trait seems to have been passed on to my daughter and her cousin, my niece.

One time, when they were 16 or 17, my daughter and niece left the house to buy bathing suits at a store near the beach.  My daughter was driving and my niece was navigating. 

They managed to find the store (it was a straight ride with no turns) and bought some suits.  Now they were going to come home.

They, like Barbara, hadn’t a clue how to get home.  All that was required was reversing direction and going back the way they came, a straight ride.

They couldn’t figure out how to do that.  

They seemed to go in circles. No matter which way they went, they always seemed to wind up back at the beach near the bathing suit store. 

Like the Israelites wandering the desert, or the Flying Dutchman endlessly sailing the seas, they were doomed to continue their journey.

After a while they called us for directions. 
We tried to help them, but they remained in an endless loop of streets for another hour.  They kept turning East when they should have been turning West. 
They eventually made it home, but it is the stuff of Family Legend.

My daughter has gotten better, or so she tells me, I don’t think my niece has improved at all.

She is famous for making “U turns” whenever she is going places.  For those of you old enough to remember, the name “Wrong Way Corrigan” comes to mind.

Her mother and father have just returned from visiting with her.  She was driving them around during the visit and had to make numerous U turns to correct her directions.  At one point her dad insisted on taking over the driving as he feared they would never make it to their destination.

My mother was like this as well.  For her driving test she tied different colored ribbons on her hands so she could remember right from left.

One time she and my aunt drove from Delray to my house to stay for the weekend.  They figured out how to drive south to my house with very explicit directions from me.  When it came time to return to Delray I tried to give her directions back, but she insisted she could find the way.

Inevitably she turned right when she should have turned left and wound up in Miami.  It took her hours to get home.

Now that I think of this, perhaps it’s not a genetic thing as much as a gender thing. 

Since I don’t wish to get in trouble with the “Politically Correct” crowd, I will leave it to science to decide.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dancing With the Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs

Dancing with the Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs

I like to dance. 
I learned to dance when I was twelve, approaching my Bar Mitzvah.  My aunt, with the help of my cousin Rocky who was 20 at the time, taught me to dance the Lindy, Cha Cha, Waltz, Rhumba, Merenge’, Foxtrot, and even a Tango. They and my mother felt I should be able to dance at the Bar Mitzvah.

To that end, they gave me lessons in my aunt’s apartment in the Bronx.  I was probably an ok student and still remember how to do the steps they taught me with the exception of the Tango.

My wife also likes to dance these dances, and we do so every chance we get when we go to parties such as Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs.  

At these types of celebrations, the band or DJ will play music that suits these dances in between the current music such as hip hop, currently favored by people with no musical taste (am I sounding like my grandparents here?).

We try not to miss a chance to dance, and we make quite a good couple doing it.  People who know us expect us to dance the Cha Cha, Foxtrot, Merenge’, Lindy, etc, at all Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs.  We put on a show.

My parents also loved to dance and they specialized in “The Peabody” which was a dance from the 30’s that no-one now remembers.  It was a showy dance that propelled them around the dance floor.  As time went on, no band or DJ had the music for it and my parents resorted to having to dance to music that could be adapted to the dance.

At one time, I was afraid that would happen to my wife and me.  No-one would play the music for these dances that we could perform.  I no longer fear that happening.  

“Dancing with the Stars” has changed all that.  

That program has revived the typical ballroom dances and made them popular again.  We are saved.
The drawback is we don’t know the carefully choreographed versions shown on that program.  We also lack the costumes that seem to be necessary to dance these steps. I’m willing to wear the costumes if my wife is.  I’m not sure how these costumes might fit into the Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs we attend, but on a cruise they might be fine.  Not easily embarrassed, I’m open to the possibilities.

My wife who is an avid fan of Dancing with the Stars wants us to update our dancing repertoire.  To that end she decided one year to get us dance lessons.  She called around to check out the cost with the idea of presenting the dance lessons to me as a birthday gift.

The day of my birthday arrived, and she gave me a card with the notation that her gift was saving me $600 by not booking the dance lessons.  A gift I greatly appreciated.  Barbara brags about this gift (savings) as if it were a real gift.  Since it did save me the $600 I go along with her version and she gets credit for this gift.

Never the less, Barbara is watching the show avidly and taking mental notes of steps we could incorporate into our dance routines.  So far we have not acted on her ideas; perhaps because of a lack of costumes.

The dance lessons of my aunt and cousin paid off.  I can dance adequately those ballroom dances they taught me.
Whenever my wife and I dance, someone usually comes over and asks us where we learned to dance.
“Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs”, I always answer, “Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs”, the key to good dancing.

As an aside, let mention that a family friend filmed my Bar Mitzvah. 

At the Bar Mitzvah, my cousin Rocky danced a very energetic Mambo with her then current boyfriend.  She was wearing a very tight, low cut dress with fringes that accentuated her every move.  The two of them put on quite a show (there was also kissing at the table).

I have the film and converted it to VHS some years ago.  Whenever I can, I show that scene to Rocky’s grandchildren.  They seem to feel they can use it against her. Rocky usually shows her displeasure with my innocent airing of the tape in a creative verbal manner that often refers to the legitimatecy of my lineage and family relationship to a female dog.

I once sent the tape to another cousin of mine who had also attended my Bar Mitzvah.  She had a group of cousins, including Rocky, over for a party or dinner.  She showed the tape to everyone. It was reported to me that everyone really got a kick out of watching the tape.

An added Bonus was Rocky’s embarrassment. 

What more could I ask for?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fun At the Boat Show

Fun at the Boat Show

For many years Bob, our friend Richard and I would take a booth at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show.  We would offer lights for boats, boat repair, boat cleaning, stereo systems for boats and various other items.

We loved the boat show.  It was hard work but fun.  The show occurs over the last weekend in October and last from Thursday to Monday.  It was long hours and we would set up schedules when each of us worked the booth.  We usually were in the 2nd tent opposite the main bathroom.  We figured eventually everyone would pass by.

We always included something fun to sell for cash at the booth.  Whatever we made on this item would pay for dinner and add some fun.

To that end we offered 12 shot rubber band guns for a few years.  The first year we did that we hired a pretty young woman to dress up in shorts, halter, boots and a cowboy hat.  We figured she could attract people to the booth and sell the guns.

Unfortunately she had no personality or salesmanship.  She stood there like a lump.  We eventually told her not to come back.

We, however, set up targets and held contests with people walking by.  I once beat the Broward County Sherriff in a target shooting contest.  We sold a lot of guns.

At one point, I got on a local radio program and presented one of the DJ’s with a 12 shot gun.  He proceeded to shoot his co-host and everyone else in sight.  He mentioned our booth and we got some free publicity.  I also got him to mention my niece’s birthday on the air in return for 2 more guns.  Her friends couldn’t believe it when her name was mentioned on the radio.

Another item we sold was a “Water Balloon Cannon”

This was basically a large elastic tube with a pouch.  Two people held each end while the third person pulled back the middle of the band where the pouch was.  A balloon filled with water would be placed in the pouch and then the pouch would be let go.  The water balloon would go about 150 yards, and split open drenching anyone beneath it.

The Coast Guard eventually banned them on Biscayne Bay when a water balloon hit an 8 year old girl during the Columbus Day Regatta.

The Columbus Day Regatta is ostensibly a Sail boat race from Dinner Key to Elliot Key in Biscayne Bay.  It really is an excuse for a hedonistic, drunken party.  The boaters, sail and motor, anchor off Elliot Key, get drunk, get naked, have a wild party and stay overnight at Elliot Key.  The 2 or 3 Sail Boaters who care about the race and who wins it, stay sober and race back the next day.

We once took the family to the Regatta and had to leave quickly because of all the naked people cavorting around.  Our first inkling was when we passed a sailboat crewed by naked women.  My son and his friend became very interested in sailing for the next ten minutes.  If you are interested you can Google “Columbus Day Regatta” and see what I am talking about.  It’s like those “Girls Gone Wild” videos.

The boat show has a rhythm to the type of people who go there on different days.

On Thursday, the serious buyers who had been invited by the dealers came.

Friday was Bimbette Day. 50-60 year old rich guys would come with their 20 something girlfriends.  The girls would wear stiletto heeled shoes (FMP’s) short shorts, skin tight pants or tight skirts, low revealing blouses, big hair, enhanced bodies and lots of jewelry.  Not really the type of outfits to go on boats where heels are not allowed.  They didn’t really care about the boats but were along to provide their “boyfriends” status with other “boys” like themselves.

Saturday and Sunday were family days and Monday the serious buyers returned to actually purchase something.

We all enjoyed Fridays.

One of the legitimate items we sold were stereo’s for boats.  We would bring music to play and have a little party with the people passing by.

I would occasionally stop traffic going by and make everyone do the Electric Slide.  People seemed to enjoy this, I know I did.

Another thing we would do was make someone a star.

Our booth was usually next to a company that sold electric components for larger boats.  They brought big search lights that mounted on the bow pulpits.  We co-opted them into helping us.

We waited until some attractive girl went up the steps to the bathroom which was opposite our booth.  When the girl came out, we would turn the search light on her and play “Pretty Woman” at maximum volume.

Without fail, Bimbettes and non-Bimbettes all reacted the same:

The girls would all stop, pose and preen. It was fun to watch.