February 20, 2014

An Restaurant Outing and Other Commentary


So last week was a big social event of February: our outing to Ruth Chris's Steakhouse in downtown Cincy with two other couples.

Alan thankfully drove, so I was grateful not to have to deal with that headache. It's the first time I met Alan and knew Tami only from a 30-second conversation when she dropped something off this summer. They are in their 30s, at least she is. He comes from Costa Rica and spoke only Spanish when he immigrated here about ten years ago. She majored in Spanish in college and was a translator. They met at a bar not too long after he arrived and they spoke the universal language of love.

Randall always puts me at ease (and Carrie as well) so it was nice to have him next to me at dinner. Couldn't resist bringing up politics, asking him if his parents were liberal Democrats. He said they only had a 5th and 8th grade education respectively and never talked politics. He comes from the back, back woods of Eastern Kentucky. Carrie's grandmother is buried out in a holler such that she has to walk through someone's property to get to the site and the property owner came out with a gun one time and asked what she was doing on his land. She said she “my people are buried up at that cemetery” and he says, “who your people?” and she said the names and he said okay, he knew the name and so she could proceed. Sort of like the set of Justify television show back in there.

Randall had a good line about a girl “so ugly she could make a train go on dirt” or words to that effect. He also fell in the snow and ice out on the street and had trouble getting up. He regaled us with stories spent on the third shift at a Speedway, about the crack pipes found in the parking lot and about druggies buying antifreeze extractors and using as pipes. One addicted woman sent her son in to buy one and Randall intentionally sold him a plastic extractor rather than a glass one, knowing what the deal was. The woman came back in all huffy and Randall said, innocently, “that will work for extracting antifreeze”. Ha.

I asked him if he had enough of Obama yet and he was noncommittal but later quoted someone who said that taxes are the price paid by a civilized society. He called George W. Bush dumb and I said Bush reads voraciously, and not just “see Jane run” books, and that anyway a leader doesn't have to be brilliant but just pick good people under him.

Alan was circumspect and soft-spoken and didn't say much but he did light up when we were talking about which TV shows to watch (he favors the CSI-types). He also said he can't understand the fascination this country has with guns given that Costa Rica has no guns, violence or army. A kind of Switzerland in Central America. (Tami visited Costa Rica with Alan after they were married and she said it's amazing: thick jungle before, all of a sudden, a private beach. She saw an anteater walk by and eat some insects off a tree. Wild.)

Randall, on the other hand, always has a John Wayne thing going on. Attracts trouble and he's larger than life. Even this very morning he was taking his friendly dog for a walk without a leash and a couple folks came up and said they'd seen his dog somewhere earlier and he said no, he'd just begun walking the dog three minutes ago. And they said he'd better use a leash if he knew what was good for him. Well he goes back to his house and gets a gun to show them (“you don't mess with my dog”) but they were gone. Colorful stuff. He's got a lot more to write about than me. (He says everyone should work the third shift at Speedway to see the full gamut of humanity and I thought to myself every writer should work the third shift at Speedway).

I was touched by Tami confessing that she didn't have kids because the responsibility of their care terrifies her. So many shouldn't have kids do and those who should aren't.  Apparently Tami recalls an incident in a swimming pool where she saved the life of a child from drowning. It might've scarred her it seems. Faith is the only answer to everything I guess.

Later, at the end of the night after they dropped us off at our house, I walked towards the garage but then came back when it appeared we were doing the new(ish) hug thing. Enthusiastic hug from Tami without much room for the Holy Spirit as the saying goes.

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Local priest gave a homily in which he disdained complainers/whiners by referring us to the first three chapters of Genesis where Adam and Eve are stripped of everything. That's life in these post-Fall days.  I'm still haunted by the line in a Bible commentary on the punishments that Adam and Eve endured as a result of their sin: “of course, the most devastating was the loss of intimacy with God.” Oh, yeah, ouch. Here I was all worried and concerned about work as the primary male penalty, and lo and behold the commentator put things in the proper godly perspective. What is pain to intimacy?

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Tempted to read the biography of St. Augustine I got some years back even though it's written by a typically modern, secular revisionist. You always want to know what the non-hagiographers are saying. You can't take them too seriously though, much as you can't take the hagiographers too seriously. What the former lacks in perspective/world view the latter lacks in candidness.

Kind of disappointed that a family member read the huge bestseller on Jesus called "Zealot" since it seems like reading their books only encourages the bastards. I at least hold out hope that she read it via the library instead of enriching his coffers. It feels sort of personal when non-Christian authors use Jesus in order to make a buck by saying something that will “tickle ears” (2 Tim 4:3). But on the other hand you could look at it the way the old vaudevillians: there's no such thing as bad publicity. Perhaps a few will at least think about Christ who otherwise wouldn't, even if through the flawed lens of Mr. Zealot.

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