Sunday, July 09, 2006

Extra Cheese Please!

It was an educational weekend. I learned a lot.

Thursday: Extra white cheddar popcorn topper

I pick up a movie. They have a really decent foreign section at the Blockbuster Video at Mavis and Eglinton. I really appreciate that on account of Hollywood's 38-year streak producing predictable fluff.

Ouch! That was a bit harsh, eh? Alright, alright. I'll withdraw the comment but for the most part that's how I feel.

The foreign section includes such gems as Gas Bar Blues. Can you guess which foreign country produced this delightful little flick? No? I'll tell you. Canada. It's true. Canada. I've been there once or twice.

I choose a holocaust movie called 'Fateless'. I never miss a holocaust movie because it's good to be reminded how perfectly despicable humans can be to each other. It's good to be reminded how we once were outraged in the face of barbarism and genocide. How we carved "Never again!" at the gates of Auschwitz and figured we meant it. Of course, "Again and again," is the real motto, isn't it? It's good to be reminded 'cause then it makes us ask ourselves - what happened to the outrage?

But pardon me. I didn't intend to preach today.

I nuke two packages of microwave popping corn.

Lesson #1: Don't nuke popcorn for a full 4 minutes when the package reads "2 to 3 minutes." Bad. Just bad. Burnt popcorn tastes like a dead rat's butt.

I've already piled the two batches - one good, one bad, into the same bowl before I notice the disturbing scent of sulfur - or baked formaldehyde - or whatever chemical nightmare has resulted from my latest kitchen boner. Not wanting to waste $1.60 worth of pseudo-food product I just heap on mounds and mounds of white cheddar popcorn topping powder, hoping that'll disguise the taste. It works. Sort of. Well - kind of.

Up in my bedroom, watching the movie, I eat my way through the spoiled section unharmed though mildly repulsed and then I really enjoy the good portion beneath. But after a while I stumble upon a rogue party of burn-outs and that just puts an end to things. I abandon the remainder. I write it off and put the bowl aside.

Friday: Extra parmesan is only one of the seven sins

I manage to get away from the office at 2:45 PM and start the weekend by flying down the 407 to Burlington where I meet Captain Vino at his picture framing shop. We hang out until 6 when the shop closes. While there we make plans to meet the Captain's co-breeder and get a look at the new baby. While hanging out, he gets a bit of framing done; makes a few sales to customers who are picking up their finished artwork; goes searching for a missing length of frame following a mysterious clattering noise that emanated from the back room while we were in the front showroom; finds said piece lying in a corner - the path between that and it's previous resting place with the other three matching pieces being a physically impossible route for said piece to have fallen and tumbled with only the source of gravity to help it along; and reveals anecdotes of their ghost's previous hauntings. You know - the usual stuff.

Mamma has announced a seven-thirty bedtime so we delay dinner and visit her first. We make it there for seven. It's mamma's first day home from the hospital and Brynn's first post-emergence day at home. Brynn is the adorable kidlet, one of Earth's most recent arrivals.

'It's a pretty scary place,' I warn her - telepathically - as we cuddle in an armchair. She doesn't understand English yet. 'But it's also a place of incredible joy and wonder - if you learn how to find it. Yes, Brynn, I know it sounds cliche but It's true. I know from experience. I don't know your mamma very well yet but I know your daddies real well. They're clever guys. You're lucky. They'll help you find the way.'

Neighbors and family are omnipresent and mamma's early-to-bed scenario goes out the window. It's about nine before we get away.

"Argggh!" I cry, now in the privacy of Vino's Honda. "Get me to a restaurant before I die!" There's nothing like hunger to bring out the sensationalist in me. He takes me to Macroni's in Westdale. It's a marvelous restaurant and they surely deserve better than to have their name misspelled by some half-assed unpublished fantasy writer but I'm sure that's what I've done. Their Ziti Tagliatti is worth waiting for. And I've misspelled that too, I'm certain. Ultimate Pasta Euphoria is a more apt name.

We both order the Ziti and split a honkin' big ring of bruschetta bread and a bottle of Little Penguin Merlot. This is a cheap wine, I know but it's a good bang for the buck. Besides, their Chianti selection is a Remole and a real letdown. I know to steer clear of it.

A small group gathers at a table nearby. We're the only two parties in this wing of the dining room.

"I'm not sure whether to try the pizza or the baked Ziti," says one fellow. Vino and I, the eavesdropping good Samaritans that we are - fall all over ourselves leaping to his rescue.

"The Ziti!" we cry, almost simultaneously.

"Oh, okay," he says. "With the parmesan sauce or the tomato sauce?"

Stunned, we gently inform him that the parmesan cream sauce is very strictly the only way to go. Boy, some people live a sheltered life.

Our Zitis arrive and we're taken aback. The appearance is troubling and the first nibble verifies that all is not right with the Ziti. The Ultimate Pasta is less than euphoric tonight. The sauce has not thickened properly. It's too thin and thus does not coat the pasta sufficiently. The flavor is diluted.

Lesson #2: Don't make recommendations to strangers in restaurants. It's bad karma. You're just begging to be made an ass of.

But the Cap'n and I are not easily defeated. We know all about hardship. We're troopers. We improvise. We take the jar of grated parmesan provided on the table (a thousand curses on all you restaurants who don't provide such - and all your families too) and we give our Zitis a liberal dumping. I actually unscrew the vented lid and really pour it on. This helps to thicken the sauce somewhat and adds more flavor though the parmesan quotient is now a little too high. But we're hungry as crocodiles and enjoy it anyway.

I can't recall how this came about but for some reason Vino is asking me to name the seven deadly sins. It's not a test. He wants to know. He can't recall them.

"Sloth, Gluttony," I say.

"Yes. Go on," he says, raising his thumb and then his forefinger.

"Overeating, Piggishness, Feedbagging -"

"Wait a minute!" He has raised his driving finger then lowered it again. "They're not all about food!"

"Oh. Right."

"Sloth, Gluttony. What else?"


"Yup." His driving finger goes back up.

"Um. Jealousy?"

"Ah-huh." Ring finger goes up.

"Hmm. Pride?"

Vino considers it, then throws up the pinky. "Sure. Why not."

"What do you mean - Why not?" I demand. "It either is or it isn't. This has all been decided. You don't have any discretion!" I protest.

Vino rolls his eyes and drops the pinky.

"Um. How many we got?" I ask.


"Let's see. You think Pride?"

He shrugs. "Sounds good." The pinky's up again.

"What do you mean - Sounds good? We're not choosing the seven sins based on merit! We have no such authority! I tell you it's been done already!" I pull my ever-present notepad from my shirt pocket. "I gotta write this down." I write:

7 deadly sins

YES..... NO...... MAYBE
Greed............ Pride

"There's something on the tip of my tongue," I say.


"No, no. One of the sins. I can't quite think of the word but it means - something like - something like -" I'm getting frustrated now. "Kinda like coveting. Like to covet thy neighbor's wife. You know?"


"Yeah, you know. To covet something. I know that's not the exact word. It's not even a noun after all but something like that. To covet."

No reaction from Captain Vino.

I write Coveting under the 'NO' column.

At the next table someone is talking and the words 'butt plug' are mysteriously spoken. It catches Vino's attention. He frowns. "Butt plug?" he murmurs. "Did that guy just say butt plug?"

"Huh?" I say. 'No. No way. Not butt plug." I write Butt plug under the 'NO' column.

Our seven sins project is dead in the water at 4-and-a-half deadly sins. Our good waitress appears. We order coffees and a biscotti for the Cap'n and ask her if she knows what the seven deadly sins are.

"Other than sloth and gluttony," I add. "We're all over the sloth and gluttony."

She ponders a moment but comes up dry. We thank her for trying.

Soon she's back with our coffees and desert. She passes them out and then whips out a piece of paper and reads from it. "Greed, gluttony, sloth, wrath, lust, envy and pride!"

"Oh!" we gasp. I grab my pen and add to my notes.

"There's a table full of university profs outside," she says. "I asked them."

"Did they just remember them from the movie?" asked Vino, "Or did they really know them?"

"I think they really knew them," she says.

"It's envy, not jealousy," I say, correcting my notes.

"And pride was right after all," says Vino. "What did we miss?"

"Wrath and lust."

"Wrath and lust!" exclaims the waitress. "How could you forget wrath and lust!"

Now - in hindsight - I realize she was just trying to be friendly and gregarious. But at the time I took it as insinuation that we were wrathful and lustful! I became indignant.

"I'll have you know," I said haughtily, "That I have a very under-active libido." Vino's jaw dropped in shock. "It's true," I continued. "And I don't care who knows it. I tell everybody!" The waitress just laughed and walked away. Vino's jaw still hung slack.

"Well this date is over!" he barked and slammed his palm on the table. We died laughing.

"I heard that!" came the distant holler of the retreating waitress.

On the way out of the restaurant we paused at our neighbor's table and apologized for our recommendation. We assured him that it was an off-night for the Ziti and our intentions were good.

Saturday: Too cheesy for words

Leaving the annual used book sale at the Orangeville Library and stepping onto the main drag where Founders Day celebrations thrived all around us, the first thing I heard was a deep male voice, amplified, talking about the choosing of a red pill or a blue pill. It sounded familiar. There was music in the background. Hollywood tension kind of music. The voice continued and then I placed it. It was the soundtrack of the movie, The Matrix. Weaving through the crowd I came upon a clearing where the speakers were located and mats were laid out on the ground. Young men stood upon the mats dressed in white pyjamas with black sashes.

Now picture this scene, people. Martial arts dudes are demonstrating martial arts moves - live - but in slow motion - to the soundtrack of The Matrix.

Cheeziest damn thing I ever saw in my life. I shook my head sadly and walked away.

Sunday: Lesson three

Remember the movie from Thursday night? And the popcorn - half-burnt and how I hadn't finished it and put it aside?

Lesson #3: Don't leave ultra-cheesy popcorn sitting in your bedroom for 72 hours. It gets a little bit rank.


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