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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Breakfast with the Great Gatsby

     I think I inadvertently introduced my children to class warfare.
One of the boys, peering longingly at the ChrisCraft collection.
     A friend of mine recently gave me the heads up about a Car and Boat show at one of the local marinas on locally renowned Eagle Mountain Lake. Free admission, free hot dogs, great times promised for all! While I certainly like cars and boats, I really like free stuff.  When faced with the option of either spending Saturday morning doing chores at the house, or being outside doing anything other than chores AND that carried the promise of free hot dogs, the children by extension decided they like cars and boats as well.
     With the wife off playing bride's maid for the day, I loaded the children into the Nissan Urban Assault vehicle and off to the marina we went.  The red-flags popped up immediately, and I guess I should have seen trouble coming.  On the drive over, I had a very enlightening conversation with the blond-headed teenage member of the tribe.  She has decided she wants to go on a trip to Washington DC next year and learn something about the nation's history.  To prevent putting the cart before the horse, we have a chat about her general understanding of US history, and more specifically, about US government.  Within 15 minutes, I was red faced and spewing forth about the failure of the public school system.  (In defense of public schools, my sons who are quite a bit younger, were able to answer or guess at most of my questions.  It could be that the blond headed child has simply entered the early stages of teen age insanity that will grip her and force from her all reason and logic, until she reaches the age that she starts paying her own bills.)
     As I wound down from my diatribe, I noticed that the scenery had changed dramatically.  The houses bordering the narrow road were larger and better kept.  A hint of professional landscaping was in the air.  Children were clean and well-fed, parents were relaxed and happy behind their wrought iron gates, unicorns danced joyously among the pots of gold at the end of the rainbow.
     The "marina" as it turned out, is a private boat club fully stocked with a guard shack, a stop sign, and a golf cart for high-speed pursuit.  Other than the cars set up for the car show, I am pretty sure our Nissan troop transport was the oldest car in the place.
     We made a pass through the cars on display first.  There were the requisite number of American muscle cars, some of which the kids could name from memory.  They suddenly came to a screeching halt though when we got to a pair of vehicles manufactured by Triumph.  The steering wheel was on the wrong side.  There was a seat in the trunk.  I could almost hear the boys snickering, "Silly Brits."  While I tried to focus on the wood paneling and the difference in engineering, the boys were looking at a second Triumph, one appointed as a limo.  The boys pointed to some thing in a cup holder in the back seat area, and asked what kind of drink was waiting its passenger.
     "That is no drink boys, that is fancy mustard called Grey Poupon."
     The cynic inside me rolled his eyes.  Grey Poupon.  Really?  The boys really started snickering at the name.  I grimaced at the vehicle's owner and suggested to him that I was chaperoning underprivileged children that belonged to someone else.  Anyone else.
This was the only boat at the show that we could afford, and
even that with significant financing.
     We quickly moved on to the boats, which really stole the show.  ChrisCraft boats.  Loads of wooden trim.  Stylishly appointed.  Beautiful to behold.  I have been secretly working on a project to obtain a boat for the family, which the kids are vaguely aware of.  The boys suggested I make an offer on one of these lovely gems.  The cynic inside me was crying from laughing so hard.  One of the ChrisCraft did bear a "For Sale" sign.  But it was as old as I am, had no wood trim, and looked like an extra from a 1970's version of Miami Vice.  And it was $15,000.  My inner cynic was rolling on the floor. Er, well, the pier anyway.
     Nearing lunch time now, the kids were looking towards the well-appointed buffet line, having temporarily forgotten the acquisition of a boat.  That's when the day fell completely apart.  Buffet line.  No hot dogs.  Money is changing hands.  Stacks of chocolate chip cookies were at the end of the buffet line, beckoning my children like the finish line at the end of a marathon.  I thought I was going to have to wrestle the three year old to the ground when I saw the sign that said, in brutal finality, "Buffet - $8.00 a plate".  I hadn't stopped for cash, given the promise of FREE HOT DOGS.
     Now we were on the verge of a crisis.  The three year old has her mother's temper, and she had been promised free stuff.  She had seen the cookies and nearly had them in her tiny little grasp.  This was not going to end well.  A hundred dancing bottles of Grey Poupon did a shuffle through my head, taunting me with the free hot dogs that never were.
     Desperate to avoid a confrontation with the security guard, I quietly told the kids we could get snow cones, if we left right that instant.  Snow cones, the elixir of life.  The treat that trumps everything with the exception of home made ice cream.  The children happily chirped out their orders: cherry, rainbow, spider man...  When it came my turn to order, I paused for a moment, and unable to stop myself, asked the little snow cone girl, "Do you have any Grey Poupon?"