Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Edition - Birthday Cakes & Czech Halls

It's Saturday night of the Easter weekend.

My family has all headed towards Omaha where Easter camp will be set for the Klecko clan.

In addition to not being there.....Klecko is on day 3 of the flu.

My friend Dr Frazin is turning 60 today, and she has a big bash planned.

the Doctor spends 1/2 of her life doing medical stuff in remote Alaskan villages, and the other 1/2 back home in Saint Paul.

I'm glad she has chosen to spend her special day with us.

Her husband Mike has rented out this wonderful Czech hall that must have been built over 100 years ago.

Being a baker and a Pollack, my job was to bring a cake and set up tables.

Holidays are the only time I enjoy driving in the city, because everything seems so ghost town.

I'm the first person to show up. I call Mike on his cell phone and he's still stuck in line at the liquor store.

So I take an elevator to the second floor where the auditorium is, I walk into this space where everything is wooden, and you know what?

I didn't even set the cake down. I just stood silently and observed the craftsmanship that must have been involved in putting this marvel together.

There just isn't a strong Czech population in Saint Paul anymore. My initial thought is to fear for how this treasure will become a relic.

But, then thanks to the NyQuil, my mind goes soft, my analytical side dissipates, and Klecko can almost see the multiple generations of ghosts dancing across this antique ballroom.

Mike shows up now and talks to the building contact person who is quite elderly. He is going to remain on site throughout the duration of the event to make sure all of our needs are met.

To be honest....Klecko is feeling banged from having Flu Head, but since all of my family is out of town, it was important that one of us was there to represent.

The doctor has done some work with the Minnesota Opera, so at some point in the evening, she with present herself on a tall stage that has multiple backdrops, rumor has it that she has selected a Prague town square during spring time, back drop.

When everybody starts filing in, I of course head towards the kitchen and make sure wine bottles are open, stacks are stacked, garbage is organized. These are the things that I feel comfortable doing when other people get together.

There is a guy named Leo who shows up, he was the man in the 70's and early 80's in the Twin Cities Food Writing world, and he showered me with stories of menu collections around the world to interesting tid bits like how the comedy night club guru Dudley Riggs was the 1st person to bring espresso to the Twin Cities.

The doctor and her husband have the most diverse set of friends of anybody I have ever met in my life, and I think part of that is because they are the most loving couple I have ever met.

Everything from PHD's to Punk Rockers cross the threshold of their home in Capitol City. Everybody enjoys their presence because they know they are going to be welcome.

At a certain point in the evening, I realized that nobody was officially assigned to gather the empty plates and bowls from the pot luck tables, so I started to gather them and took them into the kitchen where I washed them.

If you ever want to give somebody a present, humble yourself enough to serve them and their guests. Often times they won't notice it at the time, but I'll tell you this, when the bash is over and everything is already cleaned up, that certain delight of "I don't have to jerk with this" will make its self known.

When the food was gone, everybody was circling the birthday cake like vultures. The entrees and snack were vanquished, now we were down to booze and cake LOL.

I interrupted the good Doctor, knowing that she had a million other things on her mind and explained there might be a riot if she doesn't start cutting.

Cakes are weird. They are just another item in a bakery, but they hold so much more power than a coffee cake, or a muffin.

Cakes represent celebration. Cakes stand for accomplishment and achievement.

Every time people assemble around a cake, the moment is pinnacle, you get to see each one of these individuals in their best light. How cool is that.

So the vultures swoop in, I go out into the ballroom to gather up plates, cups and cans and place them into the proper recycle slots.

I've been here now for 3 1/2 hours, but Flu head is kicking in, and I'm starting to get that sweaty film across my body. If your eyes were closed and you touched me, you would have sworn that I was a walleye.

So now I say good bye to my hosts, and with that done, the big debate starts........

"Do I go pee now, or wait till I get home?"

It's funny, because I enter this debate often, and you'd think that the result would become typical, but to be honest, I never really know which way this argument will end.

But, last night it occurred to me that I had not seen this buildings bathrooms, and I've always enjoyed how bathrooms are set up, so my final decision was to relieve myself on the premises.

So the men's and woman's rest rooms are on direct opposite sides of the ballroom, along the back wall, as I began to ponder how much more difficult this set up made it for the plumber, I entered into the rest room.

Ladies, I'm sure most of you have seen a men's rest room, but if you haven't, let me fill you in.

Boys either pee into urinals or long troughs. The urinal is a one person unit but the trough usually accommodates 4-20 guys.

However, at the Czech Hall their trough was a 2 person unit. I though "My stars - how creepy is this?"

But, I lined up with said trough, and all of a sudden, I heard a stirring from the toilet stall.

This was odd, because w/o getting gross or graphic, I didn't hear nature taking its course, just minor stirring.

Sometimes in bathrooms people are shy, and don't like you to seem them leave the stall, as if its a bad thing that they had to go to the bathroom. I've seen a world of bizarre bathroom etiquette (especially in the Amsterdam Airport), I could write a book on it.

But whatever, Klecko zips up, heads towards the sink. Turns on the water and washes his hands. As he starts lathering with soap, he hears the stall latch move.

I can see the trough from my vantage point, but the stall is blocked by a wall like partition, then "BOOM" around the corner, from the stall come a trans gender guy.

I was startled, in fact I recoiled, and the second I did, I wanted to shoot myself. I wasn't afraid of trans gender guy, just shocked.

But I knew dude saw that briefest moment where my eyes said "You are not normal, or like the rest of us."

I've never been in a restroom alone with a trans gender person. I don't know the rules. But what I do know is that it was Holy weekend, and I thought how sad my actions might have made Jesus. There is nothing worse than shaming somebody for being themselves....nothing!

so I'm guessing stuff like this happens to this cat fairly often, so all I could do was recover.

Klecko - You having fun tonight?

Trans Gender Guy - Yes, it is a lovely party don't you think?

Klecko - I've had a good time, but you don't have to stand over there, won't you come and share my soap?"

Trans gender guy laughed out loud and both of us smiled.

I'll tell you peeps, I don't know why it has to be around a birthday cake, or on a Holy holiday that we accept and love everybody for who they are.

Maybe that's why I admire Jesus - The Doctor and Mike, they pretty much love everybody - everyday.

Have a happy Easter and please excuse the mispells and edits, I am late for my Holiday Meal.



  1. Smith....that's why I need you in my life. when Klecko rants with 10 000 words, you boil it down to 1.

    Happy Easter Kid!

  2. Great story, K.

    I'll tell you sometime about that girl. She is only 22 or so. She is emerging from years of profound depression. Last night was the happiest I have seen her in 6 years. She is remarkable... bright, kind, engaging, and so earnest. I love her, like a loving uncle must.

  3. I heart you Klecko! :) Happy Easter from Brussels to a guy with the biggest heart!!

  4. Mike, I saw her throughout the evening, and as the night passed, it was as if she finally got settled in and enjoyed herself. Your entire crew of friends were priceless. I am so happy for the doctor! She was stunning.
    @Ms Moxie - I can onlt imagine what delights you entertained in Belgium over the Holy Holiday. I hope you visited at least one Dutch Bakery.

  5. "thanks to the NyQuil, my mind goes soft."


  6. Laurie, don't tell anybody, but sometimes Klecko drops NyQuil Bombs when Flu head is to great to bare..... 1 part NyQuil - 1 part Jagimeister.

    If you tell anybody, I will deny it.