Sunday, August 31, 2014

some people

There should be a common courtesy test among humans, and if you don't pass it, you shouldn't be allowed in public.

Some things people should just know.

Don't have your phone on speaker when you are on a bus.

Don't plop your towels down directly next to another bathing group when there are miles of open beach to choose from.

Don't sit in front of someone if the movie theater is mostly empty.

Don't put someone on hold to take another call unless it is really really necessary.

And when you check-out at a grocery store, be ready!

Today I am at D'Agostino, in line to buy one item. 

In front of me is a young woman dressed for late fall.  Today is 80 and muggy.  She is wearing sweatpants, a sweatshirt, and flip-flops.  Her nod to summer, I guess.

She waits for the cashier to ring up her items, and then bag them.  Then she opens her purse and begins searching through it for her debit card.  It takes time as she searches through the side pockets and wades through her balled up kleenix.  I almost say, "Why didn't you do this when the cashier was ringing up your items?  Or later when she was bagging them?  But I don't.

The cashier then asks, "Do you have a D'Agostino Rewards Card?"

Now the woman begins a new search.  This time I blurt out, "Just give the cashier your phone number."  That's what I do; I don't even carry the Rewards Card.

The woman takes forever punching in a million numbers.  I can't imagine what is taking so long.  Meanwhile, the line is growing.  It's Sunday and the Express Line isn't open.

Finally the woman realizes she has insufficient funds for her $18.51 purchase.  Next, she goes through her bags trying to decide what to take out.

She chooses a frozen dinner.  Now the manager needs to come over to void out the order.   I'm not the only one getting impatient.

The manager sees the cashier roll her eyes. I feel like I'm in a Seinfeld episode.

The manager opens another register and the entire line races over to the new one.

When I finally am done, I see that the woman is still punching in numbers and pulling out items.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

my private food taster

I am not famous.  I do not rule a kingdom where I have enemies who want to take over.  I am not a public figure who fears being poisoned.  And yet today, quite remarkably, I have a food taster.

After six consecutive days of exquisite weather, I am leaving the Cape under cloudless skies. 

On the way to the airport, my mom stops at Mashpee Commons and I run into Bleu and get one of their chicken salad sandwiches on a croissant with a side salad. It’s around noon and my flight leaves at 1:45. I figure I'll  eat at the airport as we’ve of course allowed plenty of extra time to get there.

My mom drops me off around 12:45. Barnstable Airport is small, and has only one terminal. I check-in. I have no luggage.  The check-in agent says, “You better hurry.“ Huh?  I swear, my mom must have hired this person to be sure I left plenty of time to get to my gate, around 100 feet away.  Maybe less.

I check in.  Eat my small spinach salad, and then hear, “We will now begin boarding.”   Security here in Hyannis is far more stringent than it is at Kennedy.   Here I have to go through a serious scrutiny of my boarding pass and license to insure they match, take off my sandals, and unload my computer (which is in a computer case which is in a bag stuffed with a couple of T-shirts, my Kindle, my wires, a piece of pie from Crabapples, and other random items).  I did none of this in New York. 

We board the small jet, and take off 20 minutes early because, as the flight attendant explains, “Everyone is here.” 

I arrive in New York 39 minutes after takeoff. But getting into Manhattan is a pain. The E train is messed up because it’s the weekend and there are schedule changes.

Finally, around 4, I’m near my home.

So, how long can I keep an unrefrigerated chicken salad sandwich before it goes bad?

The plane is air-conditioned. The subway is too.  But the platforms aren’t. And AC isn’t exactly like being in a cooler or refrigerator.

I decide it’s not worth the risk. 

I stop off at Sables to buy some of their fresh tuna salad, and figure I’ll keep only the croissant from my Bleu’s lunch. 

Somehow I find myself asking the guy behind the counter at Sables  if he thinks chicken salad will go bad after four hours of not being refrigerated.  He doesn’t think so but he’s not sure.  Then he says, “Ya want me to test it?” “Sure, “I say.

I hand him my sandwich, which has been packed in a styrofoam container and taped to avoid spilling.  He carefully opens the package and for an instant, I think he is going to place a small forkful of my chicken salad under some kind of food analyzer to determine its edibility.

But he doesn’t do that.  Instead, he takes a small spoonful of the chicken salad from the sandwich and puts it in his mouth.    His fellow workers are even watching, eagerly awaiting the results.  He smiles and nods his approval; the chicken salad is safe to eat.

Tonight I have it for dinner.  If I don’t post again, you’ll know my food taster didn’t do a very good job.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

the chart room

My dad never much liked this restaurant.  He had one major complaint:  it’s too loud.

But my mom, well, she has a different opinion.  Ask her and she’ll tell you, “I like a happening place.”  So for her, coming to the Chart Room is fun, even when the noise level makes conversation difficult.

 “All summer I’ve been dying for a baked stuffed lobster,” my mom tells me soon after I arrive on Sunday.  Surprisingly there are very few restaurants on the Cape that offer a good one.  But the Chart Room does.  Jean is down for a couple of days and this is where we are going to dinner tonight.

We arrive early (we are with my mom, so we must leave 30 minutes to drive to the restaurant which is 15 minutes away).  It is another spectacular day, and though we have to wait, the night, too, is perfect. 

The restaurant sits on Red Brook Harbor in Cataumet, a little Cape Cod town.  We begin the evening with drinks outside, where chairs are set up.  There is always a wait; but the outside bar is welcoming.  With such a gorgeous backdrop, the wait is almost as good as the meal. 

We are seated at a near-perfect table on the porch.  We order, and then a couple nearby at a perfect table leaves. Jean asks the hostess, “Do you think it’d be possible to move to that table?”  The hostess immediately responds, “No, I’m sorry.” Within seconds of her denial, she changes her mind. “Okay, as soon as the table is cleaned, just grab your place settings and move.” We sit at a window table, on the porch, and watch the sun set.

We all get the baked stuff lobster. I am a lobster connoisseur and this is one of the best on the Cape. The very good-sized lobster comes clawless and the meat from the claws has been mixed into the stuffing and placed inside the split open tail.  There is no work involved in eating this lobster.  It’s incredible.

I know that if my dad had come along, he, too, would have loved tonight.  I can almost hear him saying, “Ya know Phyllis, it wasn’t too loud.”  And we’d all smile knowing that maybe it was still a bit loud, but our perfect little table filtered out any conversation but our own.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

reading interuptus

I am reading (the rather uninspiring) What Alice Forgot, my third book by my new favorite author, Liane Moriarty.

It is another cloudless day.  Hot. Maybe 90 but feels like 70.  A perfectly balanced breeze keeps the heat at bay.

I am on Wild Harbor Beach with my mom.  All I want to do is read.  In fact, before leaving the house, I not so subtly ask, “Did you bring your book?”  My mom’s a big reader.  “Yup,” she responds.  “I have it right here,” and she points to her packed beach bag.

The beach mid-week is pleasantly populated (enough people to be social with if you want, but not so many that you’re fighting over sand space).

I settle in.  Beach chair facing sun.  Tilted in the perfect reading and sunning position. Cool drink in hand.

I read about five pages, or more accurately, 1% on my Kindle.

“I love this coat by Eileen Fisher.  Here. Isn't it nice?”  My mom hands me the NY Times Fashion Section. 

“It's great. I love the simple design,” I respond. I try to keep my answers short to discourage conversation.

I read another 1%.

“Have you seen Adam’s apartment since he re-decorated it?”

“No, I haven’t,” and I return to my book.

Less than 1% this time.

“So, what do you want to do for dinner tonight?”

“I haven’t thought about it,” I reply, as I unwrap half a cranberry chicken salad sandwich. It’s 2pm and I’m eating lunch.  I haven't yet contemplated dinner.

“So what’s happening in your office?”  The founder of the company is in the news.  He’s being sued by his partners for all sorts of awful things.  Of course she's interested in knowing about that.  I wish I had something of substance to tell her.

I go back to my book.

“So, when is M going back to Boston?” She has to move her son into his dorm but she’ll be returning tomorrow.

I try to read some more but my interest is waning.

My mom wants to talk.  And she can be pretty entertaining.

My book can wait. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

magical day

Summer is my least favorite season.  But after today, I may have to reconsider.

Today is exactly what summer should be. 

M and her family have rented a home for the week in West Falmouth.  Today only M is around so she comes over and we spent a leisurely afternoon on Wild Harbor Beach with my mom.  The weather could not be more perfect.  Not too hot.  No clouds.  A little wind.

We spent about two hours in the very cool but crystal clear ocean.  We talk. We read. We do nothing of significance.

Around 4:30, M and and I leave to go to her house.  It sits on a peninsula at the end of a long dirt road.  Water surrounds the house on three sides.  It is spectacular.

Later, M's husband T comes home, and my mom brings dinner.  

My mom's made an excellent chicken with vegetables dish and a simple salad with big red tomatoes from her friend's garden.  We sit on the porch and watch the sun set over West Falmouth Harbor. 

It's a gorgeous end to a gorgeous day.