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Sunday, Nov. 11, 2001
There are some who deserve and will have acknowledgement.

That is, if I have anything to say about it.

TalleyHo, my good pal, had an entry here which is so funny, so classic. I knew it was coming and I still woke the dog up laughing.

And Heckafresh managed to put into words something that I've been musing about for years. "Carpenters know everything, and we get to build stuff."

There is nothing in printed form having more salient truth.

There was a time when I didn't have three teen-agers lounging in the den, watching satellite TV and plowing through a Sam's Club sized tub of Dorito's every hour. When life was more self sufficient. And a darn sight more scheduled.

Call it the plight of the oft-borned. Ally and I managed to produce three offspring in quick succession before finding the shut off valve (out by the street, takes a funny wrench to work it). Two in diapers at a time, all the spare shelves loaded with baby food, bottle liners, broken car seats, animal crackers in the circus boxes with the little string handle. I could nuke up a bottle of formula or milk, test it for temperature, change a diaper and jiggle a stick-clown. At the same time. With one hand bound behind me. You think I'm kidding...

Every now and then, in our defiance of all things rational, we would elect to go out to dinner, a sit down restuarant. Not a McDonalds now, that's too easy. They cater to young ones there, have playgrounds and bright colors. Corporate America with a team of crack analyists who can discern a safe and happy place for the child to munch on a stale burger or give that milk shake a flight test. Oh no, not for us.

We would go to a family style place in our small town. Lemmee see, Beth would have been about 6, Maggie 5, Ben 3. Outfoxed would have been...well, that's hardly the issue, is it now. Suffice to say that I was old enough to know better than to do this but sometimes you just find yourself (starving)ready for a good meal (get me out of the house by God) prepared by other hands.

We went to Bunny's. Local. Knew most of the folks there by sight. On a Friday night, they had an organist playing golden oldies. Waitresses who were not less than 60 years old. Buffet style feed line, lots of meat and potatos. Three dozen large round tables in the eating section. Dark paneling, old decor, been there forever. Comfortable, in a small town family sort of way.

We'd go in there with 3 small kids and raise hell.

The waitresses were torn between wanting nothing to do with us and allowing themselves the treat of a big tip from me, because after we were done, all I could do to salvage some respectability was to tip like Donald Trump. I'd see the waitress cadre, huddled in conference, flipping a coin, arguing in shocking tones about who would get the table of the Outfoxed brood. And they weren't shy about it, either.

The bravest of them would sally forth with two menus. She might as well have saved the effort, because there's only one place we were headed. Buffet line. In shifts. I'd take the girls and get them started. They were generally accepting of the arraingement, if just a bit too quick for me. They could blow through the line, darting under arms of unsuspecting adults and filling a plate in nothing flat. There was little to do short of scolding them for rudeness, this was the maw of a child awaiting nourishment we're talking about now.

Ally would follow with Ben on hip, two plates in one hand, counting on me to furnish the condiments and silverware for all the gang with my free hand. It got a little dicey if I had 5 forks, sugar packs, napkins and spoons in one hand, plate of food in the other and then was faced with a 'chase the errant child' scene.

Small wonder I gained not a pound in those years.

With all 5 seated at one table, the battle was engaged. The waitress would stash whole bath towels nearby in anticipation. Food flew, plates broke, tablecloths were ruined. One night, they all spilled the complimentary glass of ice water. Sort of a baptismal pool at Bunny's. By the time we had sluiced the pond out from under the table, the waitress was looking at me for the cur that I was for bringing this upon her. Again, tipping was my only ticket to re-entry to this place.

After all, it was just about the only place in town that would put up with this stuff. The organ blared in the background as Miss Lou leaned into another night of "Moonlight Seranade"...

I've thought about a reunion party of sorts. Take the family out to Bunny's. I wonder if they'll remember the place, now that their sophisticated taste buds have graduated to crab stuffed seafood items and filet mignon.

Just to make sure, I'll ask the waitress for extra water. And bring plenty of cash.

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