Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Comedy of Errors

I try to feed the missionaries from our church about once a month. At once a month its really not that onerous (even if at times it gets a little pricey), and with a few mainstay menus in my box of tricks its really not that difficult either. Even then, these dinners have turned into a bit of an event. If my roommates are going to be around, I invite them to join. Then I figure that since I'm already going through the effort of making a big meal, I might as well capitalize on it and I invite a few classmates or ward friends who live nearby. But now that we only have Elders, I also have to invite at least one boy. I know that really shouldn't be an event or a burden, should it? Inviting a boy, however, has become the most difficult thing about feeding the missionaries. Okay not the inviting part, that's easy. No, as it turns out the trick is getting a boy to actually be there.

So last night I was scheduled to feed the Elders. I'd chosen that day in particular because I would be fresh out of school for the summer and had no other plans. Of course it was not to be so easy. Obstacle One: my writing group changes days, so I need to be at Simmons by 8:00. No problem, I thought. I talked with the Elders on Saturday and arranged to have dinner at 5:30. Even if I left the house by 7:15 I should be able to get to Simmons on time. Obstacle Two: would having dinner so early make it more difficult to get a guy there? The Elders didn't think so, they had a 6:15 appointment, but they'd bring him to dinner instead. But just in case, I sidled up to my Home Teacher on Sunday and invited him as well. Sure he said, and I like vegetables. Monday I came up with a menu (heavy on the vegetables), divied out some assignments to roommates and friends who were coming, went grocery shopping, and things looked good to go.

Fast forward: its 5:15 pm, the night of the big event and just about all the food is ready to go without any major hitches. The missionaries arrive and their guy isn't coming. "That's okay," I say, "I invited a spare but he's not here so you can wait on the porch." Fifteen minutes later, dinner's ready to go but we've seen neither hide nor hair of Home Teacher. I decide to give him a call, just to check. Straight to voicemail, which it just so happens is full. I send him a text. No answer.

The Steeple Chase begins in earnest. Three phones, three girls calling and/or texting every guy in the ward with a car who we think may be able to show up for a free and tasty dinner. Finally with the text message "Help us, Obi Wan Kenobi, you are our only hope," I get a biter who says he can be there in about 20 minutes, just as soon as he finishes his work day (proof that you have to know your audience). We give the Elders the good news and they decide to go do some street contacting around the Bunker Hill Monument in the mean time. Sounds great.

We put dinner in the oven on warm and sit twiddling our thumbs. About 15 minutes later one Elder returns. That's right, one. "Have you seen Elder so-and-so?" (Elder so-and-so was there on Exchanges so I don't know his name). "Why no, Elder, we haven't. (Pause) Shouldn't he be with you?" Why yes, yes he should. But he's not. So, I ask if the Elder missing is the one with the phone, because then one of us can call him. Nope the Elder in our area, the one at our house, is the one with the phone. So the Elder begins combing the streets for the missing missionary who's never been to Charlestown before. Then my roommate, decides to go help him and she disappears for a bit. I'm beginning to see a pattern.

Finally, by about 6:15-6:20 roommate returns; Elder So-and-So is found; Boy from ward arrives, disappears to park, and then returns (though Elders came in the first time and so have been sitting in our house unchaperoned); and finally at long last we start dinner. 7:00 the Elders are still chatting and I decide to expedite matters by bringing out the chocolate cake and "suggesting" we get the message at the same time. 7:09 the Message begins. 7:18 handshaking and we push the Elders and Boy out the door, I throw a few things in my backpack and bolt after them, roommate who cooked runs out to go visiting teaching, and poor other roommate and ward friend and ward friend's friend-who's-in-town-visiting are left to clean up.

Yep, another successful dinner in Charlestown.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pavlov Works

Case in point:

Yesterday evening I was watching a movie, during the course of which a phone rang. Now that alone is not at all abnormal. What was strange, however, was my reaction. Truthfully, I wasn't paying all that much attention to the movie, but as soon as I heard the phone the words "Dane, Falb, Stone" sprang into my mind. Confused? That is how I answer the phones at work (it's the name of our firm). And here we have proof, at last, that I can be trained.

At least I don't salivate.

PS if I ever answer the phone that way when you call, I apologize. But clearly it's not my fault. It's Pavlov's.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pearls of Wisdom

While researching the life and publishing history of L.M. Montgomery I discovered the following.

Chances a woman has to marry at different ages: 20-25 years, 52 chances; 25-30 years, 18 chances; 30-35 years, 15 1/2 chances; 35-40 years 3 3/4 chances.
The Ladies' Home Journal May 1904

What constitutes a half or a quarter of a chance? If someone asks and then takes it back? At least I have over 37 1/4 chances left . . .

Sunday, June 6, 2010

It was conducted oddly enough in Plymouth

Memorial Day may not be the typical day for visiting Plymouth, MA, so naturally that is when I had to go.

Why do things typically?

I did think it was topical. Memorial Day is for remembering those who have gone before, and I spent all day thinking about my long departed forefather John Howland. He probably looked something like this:
You know, he was a big fan of the color orange.

Are you familiar with John Howland? He is best known for falling off of this:
and believe you me, I was loud and proud of being one of his descendants. I even discussed it with the people working on the ship. I bet they never hear about that story.

Of course there are certain other requisites when you're visiting Plymouth.

1. Try to pet a chicken.
Here chick, chick, chicky . . .
Andrea gave it her best shot.

2. Practice your cannon shot.
Clearly the A girls are either beyond practice or not as dedicated as Carly.

3. Proposition a Pligrim.
Well, hello there, Pilgrim.

4. Look at a rock. No not any rock. This rock.
If you look very close you'll see the date 1620 etched onto the stone.

You can tell it's important because it has its own house.
We'd heard from several sources that the Rock itself was really rather small, but our diminished expectations were blown . . . out of the water.

Maybe for my next venture into family history I'll participate in the annual re-enactment of the skirmish at Lexington. And by participate, I mean I'll stand on the sidelines with a cup of tea and pooh-pooh the colonists for their gall, true to my Loyalist blood.

Anyone want to join me?

PS more points are available for those who correctly identify the subject line.