Mother Mary, home schooling the Christ....if you ever are in need of good food, don't hang out at a nurses party.
Yesterday, I was one of the few guys that tagged along with their wife/girlfriends that attended the MOPHA going away party for one of their nurses who was moving away to Arizona.
The party started at 3 p.m. which rests smack dab in the middle of a guys day off, so I just decided to flow with the current and do whatever I was told.
Of course I was ready to leave at 2:30 but Sue McGleno still wasn't home yet, she was at the grocery store deli, buying items for the pot luck.
At 3:17,as she emptied cardboard boxes of General Tsao's chicken wings into a fancy looking plastic receptacle, Klecko started to laugh.
Upon noticing this, my Russian/Jew wife didn't start throwing eye daggers at me, but I could hear the infantry in her head starting the loading process.......
"What's wrongs with you?" I was asked.
Sometimes I can't help it, It's not that I am being a smart a**, its not that I am trying to shame, but seriously.....deli chicken wings at a work related event?
"Sorry Mr. I Feed the world, but not all of us have time to cook wonderful dishes. Some of us have more important things to do!"
While I tried to figure out exactly what those things of higher importance were, I could tell that baby doll was stressed so I actually did keep my mouth shut and even agreed to drive.
Sometimes I think the thing that astonishes me the most is we are all given the exact same time to do what we gotta do in a day, we each get 24 hours right?
So as I steered our ride on the crosstown, I pondered why Sue McGleno has had to apply her make up in mirror of a bread truck 9 out of 10 times that we go out.
We do have a vanity ya know.......
Of course our street cred shot up because we got to the destination fashionably late.
The party took place in the back yard on an elevated deck the lorded over a series of bird feeding stations in the back yard.
Along the garage door were lined up 11-12-13-14 coolers.
Can you believe that? Only 33 people were currently in attendance and that meant there were "drinks" for all, in fact a full coolers worth for every 2.5 people.
Sue McGleno ditched my a** immediately, and just like getting stuck at an airport, or waiting in the doctors office, I was going to have to find a way to entertain myself.
In husband terms, we call this floating, and the formula for surviving social events like this is trying to determine how long you are going to be there, and then you just try to set up an itinerary.
OK, we'll be here 3 hours, so if I spend 45 minutes shooting free throws in the driveway, 30 minutes talking to cute nurses, 1 hour watching a "den" TV....and so on.
But there was no basketball, there was no TV available, there were really no ancillary recreational outlets.
Apparently I would have to actually socialize.
Anne, the host, a woman in her mid 70's (?) set the pot luck dishes up in her kitchen so people just had to cross the patio threshold and grab their eats w/o fear of bugs, rain or cold.
So I figured would go and observe how ashamed Sue McGleno would/should be for bringing Cub Food Deli wings, sure there might not be any caviar present today but.......
But nothing!!!!! LOL, O-M-G.......I have never seen more cracker plates and pre made deli chicken wings and meat balls in my life.
Dude, these people didn't have deviled eggs, they didn't have a fruit bowl, nobody even brought the obligatory vegetable plate.
Crackers and chicken wings.................
Part of me wanted to laugh, but then part of me was sad.....so I walked over to the sliding glass door and stared into the crowd.
I guess for those on the outside looking in, I might have looked like a caged gorilla.
In some respect's I'll bet that was an amusing sight, but as I surveyed the party guests wondering who was it that didn't have time to cook, I spied a large group of women.
Many of these ladies were young, and many of these kids were holding kids of their own.
Not 2 or 4 years old kids, but I'll bet there was 1/2 dozen babies under 6 months old being passed around the crowd like bobbers on a windy lake.
Now I got it.
These women work more or less the same shift as Sue McGleno....8 a.m. till they are done. More often than not, that is 6 p.m.ish, and by the time these women get home....they are exhausted.
Remember, these beautiful lasses haven't just been away from their homes for 12 hours, they've been fighting people cancer.
So even as I mentally gave these chicks a red carpet of retreat in my mind, I couldn't help it.......I kinda got flummoxed.
You can't even do something a little s-e-x-y with potato salad?
You can never-ever-ever go wrong bringing high quality potato salad to a life event.
So now I splashed back into the crowd. I raced up next to Sue McGleno, held her hand and mentioned how striking she looked in a voice that was loud enough to embarrass her, but also remind her that she was lucky enough to be in that 10% of women that had a date.
The second I witnessed her eyes register my quick witted praise, I headed to the corner of the patio and started talking to the young mothers.
The thing that I'm finding out recently is today's young mothers aren't 21 or 23 like when I was a kid, now days they troll around the 30 years of age.
So none of them knew me that well, but most of them had heard stories, so within minutes I began erasing my boredom by talking about babies.
One young woman named Emily, I think she's a chemo nurse, she was leaning back hard into a lawn chair and holding her bundle of joy as if he was a football.
I quietly laughed, because Sue McGleno LOVES to come home and share experiences with me about her colleagues and their personal lives, but c'mon.....I'm a middle aged man.......I don't even want to hear about my friends, let alone her workmates.
But it was funny, because Emily was adorable, and in some ways reminded me of my daughter. Sue had mentioned to me on a couple of occasions that "M" had-had a newborn that was colicky and never slept.
Poor Emily just sat there with this non descript attitude and eyes of a 3rd shift baker at 10 a.m.
Her baby was 12 weeks old and his name was Landon.
"You named him after Landon Donovan the U.S. World Cup striker huh?"
"Well kinda..we wer"
Klecko interupts -
"Kinda means yes. you know....I'm not sure anybody has told you this, but when somebody has a kid, we are compelled to tell you how attractive they are, even if they are really ugly, but I give you my pledge, that's one good looking kid!"
Like all mothers, even though she viewed her kid as the most handsome, you could tell that she would never tire of 1st baby compliments.
So people are rotating, and Sue McGleno so seldom asks anything from me socially, so even though I was bored I tried to look like I wasn't.
I mean, she doesn't so much mind me being bored, but if her friends pick up on it, that's when a husband will feel the wraith.
Typically I would go in the kitchen and clean things up, or stir pots of whatever....and if nothing else, I would even wash dishes, but it's hard to do much with cracker plates. They sit there and nobody touches them.
For a brief moment, Klecko didn't know what to do.
But then all of a sudden, out of the blue came this cannon shot, this bomb shelter siren.....well actually it was baby Landon, and that kid was screaming like he meant it.
All the women smiled as if to say......
"See, that's what Emily has been contending with. He certainly is an active fellow."
But then 5 minutes passed, then 8, and finally 15.
I am not a baby expert, you've heard me say it before....Klecko doesn't dig kids until their 4th birthday, but even I knew this kids fit of rage was extraordinary.
Typically a baby will get pissed off and drop fire on you, but usually around the 15 minute mark those demonic cries will dissipate.
Not Landon, and I think that's why I liked him.
I'm not kidding you, you could honest to St Peter see it in the eyes of all the gray haired women, they were looking at the baby wondering what the "H" was wrong with it.......he was getting louder, and louder and LOUDER!
Poor Emily looked defeated, and the second I saw this, and I'm not kidding....I looked to the heavens and told Polish Christ......
"If you recall Sir, my daughter is in Omaha, I can't always be there for her. But for what it's worth, I'll fix this kid, but if you could throw some attention my daughters way, I would be grateful."
So now I walk over to the table where Emily and 4 other women are circled and they all look perplexed.
So enter stage left, the baker swoops in and says.......
"Give me your child, I will fix him with prayer, song (and then under my breath) or exorcism."
Emily was ecstatic, Sue McGleno didn't believe it, and the other women were silently thinking that there was no way in heck that they'd carry a womb child for nine months just to hand it off to the delinquent baker.
But people do crazy things when they are sleep deprived, but hanging with Sue McGleno offers some street cred for a thug, but I'd be lying if I didn't mention that I was just a little disappointed when I overheard my wife say......
"I think he might be able to do it, but I'll check up on his in a few minutes "M", so don't worry.
Then over the next 30 minutes, Landon kept screaming, and screaming, his head was vibrating and you could tell he was more than a kid in a diva mood, something was wrong.
I noticed earlier outside that he was barfing up milk like babies do, so I figured he just had extra gas.
As I patted his back, the kid burped, not once, not twice but thrice.
While I tried to extract all this air out of him, all the blue hairs came into the living room and circled me like vultures.
Landon was now officially the star of the party.
3 or 4 of these senior women meant well, and I get it, I don't know squat about babies compared to them, but I had this under control.
But when results weren't immediate, the mothers of yesteryear took turns bumrushing me and taking their best shot at pacifying the kid.
Lay him on his stomach, lay him on his back, put a pacifier in his mouth, check to see if he is teething, check his diapers for acidic poo.
No-No-No-No and No.
Now the Old Guard collectively exchanged looks of fear.
I'm not kidding ya, this is no embellishment to make an average story a little more readable.
Old women were freaked out, Landon was shrieking.
But now that they left, I walked him into the front room where we could be alone.
So now I cradle him in the fetal position facing face up looking at me, and I rocked from left to right, singing him my guaranteed "Knock Out" song that pushed my unwilling kids into slumberland thousands of times.
And while I did this, I softly pumped his knees into his chest, playing his baby torso like an accordion...
And may your dreams
And if the thunder cloud
Oh let it rain
Rain down on me
So let it be
So let it be
And may your dreams
And as I did this, that little kid stopped screaming, but I could see in his eyes that he was still terrified.
When you are a dad, you learn quicker than anything else that you should never show your fear, instead you exude confidence, against whatever odds.
So as we rocked, and rocked, and rocked, Landon starts flapping those heavy eye lids.
And we rocked, and rocked, and rocked, and then I started to look around Annie's home. I've never been there before, and at the moment my feet were nailed to the floor.
She lost her husband several years back and now inhabited this large home by herself.
As my eyes scanned from left to right, I spied clocks, and mantel photo's of people wearing dated fashions that make a young person laugh.
To be honest, even a couple of years ago, I would have chuckled at some of these photos and wondered why they weren't put away in boxes or albums and replaced with some more fashion forward photos.
But then like a lightening bolt that comes out of the sky....BANG, not only did it hit me, it struck me in the a** as if to tell me what a fool I had been.
When you are young, you look at seniors homes and view them as outdated, but their not....they a memory vaults.
I got goosebumps thinking about this and I rocked, and rocked and then finally, on about the ten thousandth time of pushing that kids knees to his chest.......
It was like the kettle drums of heaven exploded, little man dropped a 26 second fart.
That fart had a might foul odor to accompany it, but I couldn't have been more thrilled.
All the tenseness left that 12 week old body, and little baby Landon laid happy in my arms, the fear had gone away.
I think as I am getting older, I am getting soft.
For years all I worried about was kicking tail and crushing skulls, but now that I am older, and my role in society has changed, I am seeing certain things for the first time in my life.
As I continued to rock the monkey boy in my arms, i really-really wanted to suspend time. I know how life works, we have epic moments and like cigarette smoke rings they vanish, not just the content, but unfortunately the deep feelings that we have attached to them will eventually lose their luster too.
At this point I could hear the girlios stirring and I knew it was just a matter of time before somebody came and swiped baby Landon from me, and rightfully so.
Hopefully in 25-30 years Emily will be in a similar situation where she will hold somebody elses kid, and it will make her mind race back to Landon like my mind was now brought back to an era where I held my own babies.
I miss this days.
But with that said, if you are going to a pot luck, there's no excuse for store bought, so just take a minute and toss this together..........
Klecko's Curry Potato Salad
* 5 pounds potatoes, peeled and chopped
* 10 eggs
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 1 (24 ounce) jar sweet pickles, drained and chopped
* 2 cups mayonnaise
* 2 tablespoons curry
* 1 Tablespoon white pepper
1. Place the potatoes in a large pan of water and boil over medium-low heat until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain the potatoes, and place in the refrigerator to cool.
2. Place the eggs in a saucepan of cold water over medium heat, and bring to a full boil. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and allow the eggs to sit in the hot water for about 15 minutes. Cool the eggs thoroughly under cold running water and shell them. Chop the cooled eggs and place them in a large salad bowl.
3. Stir the onion, sweet pickles,curry, white pepper and mayonnaise into the eggs, and let the mixture chill in the refrigerator at least l/2 hour to blend the flavors. Mix in the chilled chopped potatoes, and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour. Serve cold.
Its a lot better than a cracker plate....trust me.