Monday, February 19, 2001

How I Lost Out on $1,000

I meant to ask the one who appreciates words so much to explain to me the difference between an instinct and a reflex because I really need to know. Lately Max the Cat and I have been experimenting on distinguishing between the two. I've discovered that when I hold Max belly side up on my lap and grab his front two paws behind his head his back two paws immediately point toward the sky. It's rather amusing.

I've also noticed that sometimes when I touch behind his cold felt like ears he will instinctively (or reflexively?) scratch his ear as if my touch was like itching powder. The other night I did this but before his back paw could reach up to scratch behind his ear I began scratching it for him. His back paw stopped around his belly and continued scratching in midair. I was in stitches but Max had the old blank stare past me look on his gray face. His itch had been scratched, albeit in a whole other manner than he was used to, so the world seemed right side up once again.

Attending the annual Cheapo party to me has become if not a ritual than something rather instinctive (or reflexive?) to do. It is one way for me to feel a little bit more a part of the company and it presents the chance for me to see people I don't get to normally see and see other people I've never seen before in my life and probably will never see again.

Last Sunday's fabulous gala celebration was no exception. For those of you who unfortunately did not attend let me be the first to tell you you missed the bash of the millennium- plenty of fine food (man those chicken wings was tasty), trivia, pool, and dart games, hearty conversations, the ever entertaining Cheapo child Eon Trainor, and prizes galore!

After I humbly lost a game of darts in a rather embarrassing manner I headed to where the majority of the people were congregating. To my surprise I actually recognized many of the people. I caught up on Buffy with a fellow Buffyholic (glad to see we both still agree that the show is the highlight of the week); heard some horrifying past job stories that would make anyone appreciate their current job much more; was educated to a theory about coffee being the drink of the devil from one who had just won a gift certificate to Caribou Coffee; and had somebody literally fall at my feet as we were discussing the merits of different Sandra Bullock films (made me wish I talked more). You tell me that's not a great party?!

I also somewhat regrettably learned that part of the not to be return trip to Japan that I could have attended last fall included a last night dinner of extremely pricy fresh salmon flown in from the shore packed in ice. This was fish the quality I'm sure the Iron Chef could base an entire program around.

I can almost taste that salmon yet I also have no idea what that salmon could have tasted like. It brought to mind my affection for that "other" seafood, shrimp, and how when I was growing up my Mom would fix for us kids our dinner of choice on our birthdays. Without fail my request for every year was a shrimp dinner. Didn't matter how she fixed it, I loved my shrimp like Bubba in Forest Gump. It was during my selected birthday dinner however that Mom would make Dad a salmon dinner and the little taste I got of that fish dish made me kinda understand that the more I opened myself up to unusual experiences the better off I'd be.

On one of our family vacation trips somewhere in Iowa (or was it Nebraska?) a kindly country waitress was entertaining the family with a conversation that included that always hilarious bit of wisdom of how we are what we eat. She began to take our orders and without missing a beat, and without any intention of entertaining a stranger, when she asked me what I wanted I said, "Shrimp and Squirt." Oh the howls of laughter that followed. And as I told a new friend about all and the sum of this, it was a rather substantial moment when we got to the part about my Mom. I'm glad she smiled.

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