Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine Adventure with a Knight on a White Horse

Being single until I was 33 years old added up to a lot of lonely February 14ths. Now, there are plenty of single people who have a healthy, positive attitude toward the day, but I was not one of them. I had some good Valentine’s Days, sure.  I had some boyfriends along the way who spoiled me with flowers and love letters and the like. But most February 14ths were gloomy for me. I won’t bore you with my sob stories, but literally, my chest used to tighten when I would walk into a Target or Wal-Mart after Christmas and see that heart-shaped things were being stocked on the shelves.

In 2006, all of that changed for me. Let’s just say I was very interested in someone special in the early part of that year, and had pretty good reason to think he was equally interested in me. That “someone special” turned out to be my husband, Chip. We had shared hours of deep conversation, a long walk back and forth across the Arthur Ravenel Bridge, and had even prayed together. So when he called me in early February and asked me out for “February 14th,” I said I thought I was probably available. Then I tried not to breathe heavily into the phone, since I was bouncing up and down with excitement.

When I left work on February 14, 2006, I raced home to get ready. Because Chip was working into the early evening, we had agreed that I would cook dinner for him at my condo. Simple enough, right? I’m not sure how, but somehow I managed to char the stir-fry in my fancy Le Creuset pan. (See my earlier post about a small fire that was later set in this pan.) The stir fry was still edible, just a bit on the well-done side. But the smoke that filled my condo was overwhelming, setting off the alarm. It smelled awful. Well, this was a dilly of a pickle. Chip had never been to my place before, and his first impression of it was going to be clouded by a stench and a fog so thick you could barely see your hand in front of your face. He was due any time, and I panicked.

Throwing open the sliding glass door, I placed a box fan in front of it and tried sucking the smoke out of the house. I sprayed Lysol. I opened my front door and stood there swinging it back and forth like a madwoman. The freezing cold air rushed in from outside, and toasty heat disappeared. Cold and stinky. My home was now cold, stinky, and made my eyes burn. Well, he’s a fireman, I told myself, so maybe this will make him feel right at home. I changed my smoke-tainted clothes, sprayed perfume on my hair, and prayed for the best.

Thank the Lord, Chip called to say he was running late. He had been detained at work.

So by the time he arrived, I am pleased to report that the condo was back to normal. Warm, decent-smelling, and non-allergenic, at any rate. I was able to open the door calmly and play the hostess who has it all together. He came bearing a big bouquet of flowers and sincerest apologies for being late.

I had chosen a Pinot Grigio to accompany the meal, and pulled it from the fridge. I smiled to myself. Just a couple of hours earlier, I had noticed that I had inadvertently purchased a bottle whose label pictured a knight on a white horse. I hoped that this was God’s way of foreshadowing that my knight on a white horse had finally arrived. I knew one thing . . . this was already the best Valentine’s Day I had ever had.

We chatted in the kitchen as I opened every single drawer and fumbled through them all . . . unable to find a corkscrew. Chip began helping me look. “Maybe you don’t have one?” he offered. But I knew I did. I had more than one, and told him I had just used one recently. After a few minutes, I handed him a good, sharp knife and he proceeded to dig, pull and push at the cork. He was successful, and we had our Pinot.

As we sat down to eat, I told him why his late arrival worked out perfectly, describing in full humor the reason I almost called to tell him to bring an oxygen mask. Then I found out, to my delight, that there are some foods he actually *likes better* when they are slightly charred. Stir fry qualified. He cleaned his plate, emptied the pan for seconds, and proceeded to eat what was left on my plate, as well. Count me starry-eyed. I was impressed by his good table manners, and he by my collection of baseball cards. We picked little pieces of floating cork from our glasses of wine as we drank. We talked and laughed. When he said it was late and he should go, we walked to the door. There, we ended up sitting on the floor and talking for another two hours.

In the weeks that followed, we would find six corkscrews in my kitchen. We still laugh about that.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Mouse's House! Tomorrowland Speedway Lives On.

We made a trip to Walt Disney World last week.  Out of the four times total that I have been, it was the best, by far.  My four-year-old son's excitement was like nothing I have ever seen.  He knew where we were going, but he had no idea what it would be like.

So when we arrived at our hotel (one of the Disney properties) with its giant statues of Mr. and Mrs. Potatohead, a Mickey telephone, and Baloo and Mowgli, he thought THAT was IT.  And he would have been perfectly happy if we had never left the hotel.  Had we known that, we could have saved hundreds of dollars on passes to the parks.  But we had the passes, so we decided to go ahead and use them.

Of course, a lot has changed since my first trip down there as an eight-year-old in 1981.  Magic Kingdom was the only thing there back then, and the Contemporary Resort with the monorail running through the lobby was the only hotel "on property."  But the Disney property has so many parks, attractions and hotels now, it is like its own county.  Forget about zip code.  I'm pretty sure our hotel (with over 3,000 rooms and about 4 pools) had its own zip code.

But a few things remained the same from my very first visit over 30 years ago.  The Tomorrowland Speedway has the same little race cars.  I was entertained, while waiting for my husband and son to make their way around the track, by watching the people finishing the ride.  A teenage boy, in particular, edged up behind an old man who was alone in another car.  The boy was making small surges in his advances, peering carefully over the front end of the car.  He would get very close, then the old man would move up.  They danced like this for a bit, until suddenly the boy went pouncing forward like a cat and gave the old man's car a good BUMP.  The old man's car jostled forward and his head whipped back a tad.  A smile crept across the boy's face.  He laid back for a while.  But when the cars started moving forward again, he leaned up and began peering over the front bumper again.  Reprobate!  The sign clearly says "No Bumping."

Stay tuned . . . more Disney vignettes to come in the near future.