Monday, September 24, 2007

Seven Things You Probably Don't Know About Me

Michael tagged me for this some time ago, and I'm just now getting around to it. (See number 2.)

Okay Bob B, I'm tagging you.

1. I started dating my wife in 1973. We broke up when I went into the military following high school. We reunited and got married in 1994. Our son was born in 2000, twenty-six and a half years after our first date.

2. I'm not one to rush into things.

3. I enjoy trading emails with folks, but I'd rather take a beating than chat online.

4. I'm apparently known by friends and coworkers as an easy-going, affable guy, but I have a decided mean streak. I control it, but it's there.

5. When I was fourteen, I signed up for roller derby training school. I did it because I had a crush on one of the skaters in L.A. Her name was Peggy Fowler. I had to drop out before I even started when my parents found out I'd forged my dad's signature on the release form. Life was not pleasant for me for a while after that.

6. I took my first flying lesson in a Cessna 150 when I was thirteen. I ended up getting about fourteen hours of flight time before the money ran out. My instructor back then, a gentleman by the name of Bob Gililand, had been a nineteen year-old civilian instructor for the Army Air Corps during World War II, flying Stearmans. For years, I was the youngest student he'd ever had. During the eighties, he had a couple of eleven year-old students, so my "record" with him fell. I still hold another record with him, though. At the age of thirty, I started flying with Bob again, and seventeen years after my first lesson, I got my Private fixed-wing add-on rating. Thus, of the thousands of students he's had since World War II, I hold the record of the one who took the longest to get a rating.

7. I'm eligible to join the Sons of the American Revolution, but since I'm not planning to look for a job in D.C., I haven't.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Dreams About No Smiles

I've had some funny dreams this week. One was about the guy who always worked the meat counter at Ken's Market, the place nearby our home in Oxnard where my parents would occasionally send me to pick up meat for a barbecue. The guy would never say anything more than necessary; he'd hand me the package of meat and go back to what he was doing. He never smiled. I never had a conversation with him.

I flashed from age twelve to age twenty. I was stationed at Fort Ord, and visiting my favorite place to pick up lunch, a German deli near the airfield in the town of Marina. It was run by a German couple and the wife's sister. The women were friendly and outgoing, but the husband just carved the meat and made the sandwiches. He never smiled. I never had a conversation with him either.

I was puzzled as to why I'd see those two guys again in my dreams, but then it came to me: there was magic in those places. Ken's Market had the old fashioned type of meat counter, where you'd give your order to the guy and he'd prepare it and wrap it just for you. The German Deli in Marina had the magic, as evidenced by the number of guys in military flight suits waiting in line at lunchtime. Maybe that's why those two taciturn men were featured in those dreams: it was my week to revisit magicians.

Soon after Rhonda and I got married in '94, we spent some time in Monterey, and I took her to look for the German deli. Although Fort Ord had closed down, the deli was still there. The German couple and the sister were still running the place. I told them that I hadn't set foot in their place in fifteen years, but that I'd been a regular in the late seventies. The wife smiled. "We get a lot of people coming by who were customers when stationed at the base," she said. I wasn't surprised. I took my first bite of the Reuben, and I knew the magic was still there.

The husband? He still didn't smile, but I did get a nod from him. I would never ask more of a guy who works magic.

It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to make an eating establishment a long-running success, to be sure. But the most important ingredient, I'm convinced, is magic.

Damn, now I'm hungry. I wish it wasn't a five-hour drive to Monterey.