(In case you missed Part I, we’ve saved it right here for you)
DECEMBER 27th: Jordan’s Furniture
It’s that week between Christmas and New Year’s and Maggie is off from school. While I’m sure she would be perfectly content spending all day in the house reading, watching television, or playing video games (or perhaps some combination thereof), I am insisting that we get out of the house.
If it were summertime, we would be going for a hike or walking on the rocks down at Red Rock Point (no, not the one in Yellowstone.) Unfortunately, none of these conveniently free activities are really workable in late December, global warming or no. As such, I was left kind of grasping at straws. This is how we ended up at a furniture store as a diversion.
To be fair, Jordan’s Furniture isn’t exactly a bunch of couches being sold out of the back of a truck in a parking lot on Sundays. The guys behind these stores had the foresight to make them more than just a place to buy furniture. They figured, presciently, that by making their stores a destination for the whole family, you’d be more likely to buy a recliner from them than Big Lots or the local barcalounger shop.
When you walk into the front of this particular location (through, by the way, the largest revolving door I have ever seen) you’re greeted by, in left to right fashion, a Fuddruckers, a jelly bean shop, a two-story tall Wally the Green Monster that may or may not be holding Derek Jeter, a bridge over a river of jelly beans, an ice cream stand, a lighted series of synchronized water fountains that, every 30 minutes, put on a show set to music and, finally, a three story-tall trapeze school. They call it (in reference to all the jelly beans) “Beantown”. There is not a single piece of furniture anywhere, at all, visible when you walk through the front door. You would have to walk down the hall and up the stairs, by the way, to find the massive 3D IMAX theater. You also would have to, grudgingly perhaps, walk by some sofas to get there.
These stores, each of which is different in its diversions, proved to be so successful that the brothers Tatelman (better know in these parts as Barry and Eliot) eventually sold the business started by their grandfather to Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway for an undisclosed sum estimated to be well into the hundreds of millions. Barry grabbed his cash and took off for Hollywood where he hasn’t been heard from since.
So this is where we went.
Maggie, new camera from Christmas in hand, set about photographing every piece of furniture for the first ten minutes we were there. She sat in every one too. We walked through the children’s bedroom section where Maggie picked a $3000 bunk bed for three. Then we made our way to the leather furniture area where I picked a $3000 sectional for, at least, three. We made our way through adult bedrooms, dining rooms, office furniture, and the special television section featuring one screen size in excess of 100” inches. Somewhere in there is when Maggie posited that she might like living in this store. This is something I had privately considered myself.
After a couple hours in the store, we decided it was time to move on. We were going to head home for a bit before going out to another family style lunch place.
We were headed down Lynnfield Street (which is entirely in Lynn but still named for the far snootier town next door. This is akin to say, a football team being forced to play all their home games in a stadium named for another, more successful football team. That would never happen, would it?) We were one mile into our three-mile journey on said street when we approached Dartmouth Street.
Now, I have been in a few car accidents in my time though, and I say this without sarcasm, none were my fault. That said, I never hopped out of the car angry at the other driver. None of these drivers, regardless of the circumstances, set out to cause these collisions. They’re called accidents for a reason.
I didn’t really have time to consider much of this as, while I was approaching the aforementioned Dartmouth Street, a white car started to pull out onto Lynnfield Street, which is, in every sense of the idea, the main road. I have the right of way as indisputably as you can imagine. This car nonetheless kept pulling out to the point that it was fully in my lane.
In the last second before I plowed right into said car (you knew that was coming, right? I didn’t ruin it for you?) I could clearly see the lady behind the wheel clearly looking the opposite way.
I will concede that it is difficult to make a left turn on to Lynnfield Street. It is a busy road and to find that moment where there are openings enough on both sides of the road takes some patience and skill.
These are traits that the driver of this white car apparently did not possess.
So, yeah, I went ahead and drove right into her. I couldn’t avoid it, really. Not that I didn’t try but the more I moved to the left, the more she did.
She seemed a nice enough lady but, the friendly policeman informed me, was more than willing to lay the blame for our collision on me?
Her story was as simple as it was illogical: the road was clear.
Now there was a time when minivans were minier than they are now. At the same time, our Toyota won’t be mistaken for one of those twenty passenger church vans anytime soon. That said, it is certainly bigger than, you know, nothing.
I haven’t the faintest notion why she thought the road was clear when she pulled out but even more confused at how she could be sticking to that story. I mean, the crushed front end of my big maroon van would certainly indicate that the road wasn’t nearly as clear as she seemed to think it was. I think the evidence was weighted in my direction. No matter, I knew that insurance would handle all of this.
After I had filled out the proper paperwork, I let Maggie know she should gather her things and get out of the van.
“Do you not realize we were in an accident?” I asked incredulously.
“Umm. Yeah. I know.” I’m not sure she did.
“Well, why don’t you come on out and take a look at the car and then you can tell me if you think we’re driving it home.”
She was surprised to see the state of the automobile.
In the end, I chalk it up to both the quality of the crash-tested cars of today and her newfound love of reading that she barely realized that we were involved in a reasonably serious accident. We both walked away completely unhurt.
I figured we would walk home from here after the flatbed made away with our crippled vehicle but the very friendly police officer strongly suggested that the trip would probably be longer than we thought. He offered up a ride home in his police cruiser, which I decided was an experience worth having. It would be my first time in a police car during which I was NOT sitting in the back.
When we arrived back home, we checked in on a dozing Amy who was home sick. She sprang to life when I suggested to Maggie that she tell mommy how it was we got home:
“We rode in a police car!”
DECEMBER 30th, The Mall
Maggie and Amy did some Christmas shopping for me at The Gap and, bless their hearts, thought I would fit into something that came with a tag that said “slim fit.” There was a time, sure, but that time is way, way past.
I was reading a Bill Bryson book the other day and he had this line in there:
“After spending the first twenty-five years of my life looking as if my mother had mated with a stick insect, I am still shocked by these sudden reflected glimpses of rolling blubber.”
I’m not that bad. At least, I don’t think I am. I do know that I look at pictures of myself from high school and can’t help but think that I was painfully skinny. Then one day that magical thing called my “metabolism” down shifted dramatically. Now I’m not painfully skinny; I’m not even comfortably skinny. I’m no sort of skinny or, in this case, slim.
So, Maggie and I packaged up a couple shirts and, because she had helped pick them out in the first place, we set off for the mall so she could help pick some new, slightly roomier, garments.
We headed into the store and Maggie knew right away the section where the shirts had come from. She rifled through some of the things on the rack and alternately picked things that either Glee’s Kurt Hummel or Modern Family’s Cam would wear. I didn’t say that straight out but did suggest that maybe we look around some more. I really enjoyed how much she enjoyed trying to find something for me but, in the end, it wasn’t to be at the Gap. As it turns out, I’m more of an Old Navy kind of fella.
So we headed over there, picked some stuff out and were on our way. I may or may not have ended up with a pink shirt that I like to claim is a very light red. There may be more Kurt and Cam in me than I want to admit.
The best part of the trip to the mall was a game that I will now give a name to: escalator race (real creative right?) This particular mall has a bevy of resplendent escalators, each of which I would board first. Maggie would slowly try to ease her way around so that she would reach the top (or bottom) first. This game was played without any words such that, when we got to the top of one level, she would hesitate to see if we were getting on the next escalator or not.
The most enjoyable moment, for me anyway, came when I leaned heavily to one side, as if I was getting ready to sprint off the escalator to the next. What Maggie failed to realize was that I was leaning toward the one headed in the wrong direction. She, predictably, went running in that direction ahead of me while I walked the other way to the one headed down.
“AAAHHH!” she exclaimed when she realized I had fooled her. By the time she got on the right escalator I was reaching the bottom and victory was mine.
Yes. I enjoyed beating a seven-year-old at a simple game. Sue me. She would have her revenge.
It was time for lunch again and, after having let her choose the last time, it was my turn. We went to one of my favorite casual restaurants – a Mexican place called Border Café. It’s very casual inside with lights strewn about the ceiling and wood everything. It’s the kind of place that if everyone weren’t worried about peanuts now, would have peanut shells on the floor.
I ordered my regular (“gulf coast” seafood enchiladas with fries in place of the rice and beans. I recommend it) and she went with chicken fingers and fries. What was most notable about the lunch was that our waitress (can I still say that or do I have to use “server”?) referred to Maggie by some term of endearment like “sweetie”, “honey”, or “princess” during every trip to the table. I can only assume this was because, during her inaugural visit, she opened with “what can I get for you gentlemen?”
If only she knew how happy that would have made Maggie had she even heard. She was more or less buried in her 3DS.
After lunch we had one more activity planned before we went to get the boys.
It was time to play basketball one more time.
Two things had changed:
- We now, thanks to an earlier trip to the B.J.’s, owned a basketball. Did you not know that most serious sports enthusiasts get their equipment at wholesale warehouses?
- We were not going to play HORSE (or “cookies” or “space alien” or whatever other words we’d played before.)
I told Maggie we’d play just a straight up game of basketball. I even let her choose what we’d play to. Her decision was quick and as firm as it was inexplicable: 44.
Fine. Off we were.
She beat me. Yes, I know. But she beat me fair and square. The final? 44-65.
Oh yeah, one thing. When she picked 44 as the final she explained (when I was ahead by about a 35-8 score) that I had to score exactly 44. I lucked into one three-pointer early on and, as I may have mentioned earlier, don’t actually have the requisite skills to hit another. This would explain both why I gave up trying and how, before that, she managed to close the gap as well as she did.
So while it may have been in our first game, weeks prior, that she didn’t care whether she won or lost, she definitely found a way to win this one.
After a month of basketball games, retail stores, family restaurants, and car accidents I’m not sure that I know Maggie any better than I did before. She likes a lot of things she knows and is open to others she doesn’t. The basketball playing is a new thing, but she’s into it. Her love for Justin Bieber unconditional and, I’m willing to wager, transient. She was completely willing to try the Mexican place and loved it. Sure, she had only the chicken fingers, but still. She was completely unfazed by the car accident and very happy to chat away with the police officer. The ride in the police car may have been the highlight of the month, for all I know (aside from Christmas, I suppose.)
I’m left in the end looking forward to the chance to explore more things, not only with her, but each of my three sons when they are of age to do the same. I am also here to encourage and help Amy to make sure she, too, has time for travels with Maggie.