Sunday, August 30, 2009

Coffee With Your Cream?

It's a question I hear often. For those of you who've never had the pleasure of sharing a cup of coffee with me, know that if you do, it will never be black.

I tend to think lattes were invented just for me, but someone told me that's not true. (Like how would they know?) In Germany, it was the milchcaffe - a pile of warm milk with just enough coffee to turn it that beautiful creamy brown. At IHOP, its a minimum of 4 little half and halfs for each small cup of coffee.

Last night at the Bay 101, after cashing out with over a 30% profit in my few rounds (and the husband carrying RACKS and RACKS of chips, lucky bastard), I went to grab a cup of coffee before heading home, while the hubby went to powder his nose.

The floor man standing next to me laughed as I poured cream in my coffee cup, commenting on the quantity of cream I use, like everyone does. I smiled and said "you can thank my grandfather."

* * * * *

I was 12. My favorite cousin was 11. We loved to spend summers on the farm with Grandma and Grandpa. It was somewhere away from our parents. And we loved our grandfather. He was the kind of guy who let you do things that your parents would never encourage. Looking back as a parent, they are small things, but things, nonetheless, that made us feel like we were really getting away with something.

He let us go in the creek in our underwear when we forgot to bring swimsuits. Built us hay mazes in his barn. Hung a rope swing each summer in the hay mow for us. Started water fights at family picnics until all the grandchildren (and some of the adults) were drenched. Slipped us candy and quarters when Grandma wasn't looking.

Grandma worked at the local hospital, so each morning, she made him a fresh pot of coffee for breakfast before she left for work. He'd enjoy a cup of coffee with breakfast before he did his morning chores. But it was his lunch routine we were most fond of. He was always back at the farm house by noon sharp. We'd have sandwiches or whatever leftovers Grandma left marked in the refrigerator. And at 12:25, we'd rush through the dishes with him, so that at 12:30, he could grab a second cup of coffee and settle in front of the TV to watch "his stories". "Days of Our Lives" was his standard.

That summer, we fancied ourselves grown up. We asked if we could join him in a cup of coffee. He looked at us sternly. "Coffee will stunt your growth, you know." We weren't sure if we should believe him or not. But he reached up and grabbed two extra melamine cups . . . faded blues and greens and yellows, aged and coffee stained. "Bring me the milk."

We brought the pitcher and he filled our cups half full with milk, and then let us fill them the rest of the way with coffee. And we sat on the floor in front of his chair drinking our "coffees" and catching up on the evil exploits of Stefano, the evolution of Bo and Hope's romance, and all of the other juicy things daytime drama had to offer in 1980. We'd never felt more grown up, though it was weeks before we'd confess to our parents that Grandpa let us drink "coffee".

* * * * *

Four years later, I'd get off the school bus and Grandma's house most nights during the week, give her a quick kiss as she headed off to the late shift at the hospital, and then head to the kitchen. I'd grab those same melamine cups. Same awful faded colors. Same coffee stains. Only this time I'd pour half a cup of Ensure and get a straw for Grandpa. I'd sit with him watching afternoon TV, trying to make sure that he drank. The cancer was eating away at him slowly, his frame growing thinner each day. He was losing interest, but some days, he's still give me the recap of Day of Our Lives. And some days I'd still pour myself half a cup of milk, and fill the rest with coffee from the thermos that Grandma still made each day. Just in case.

We lost him the following summer, after a stay in hospice. But the memories are still there. And if I happen to watch a soap opera, I usually only watch Days of Our Lives.

And when I'm feeling grown up, I still take a little coffee with my cream.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Life Lesson #34

Scene: The Chako family, sitting at the Cheesecake Factory, in the middle of a round of fried zucchini and stuffed mushrooms. Conversation has turned to Ferraris. No surprise. Conversation unedited.

Dr. Chako (to Son #1 and best friend of Son #1): Well, you see son, when there are things that you want, like Ferraris, you have to plan for that.

Son #1 (to BFoS#1): Mom said if Dad buys a Ferrari without Mom's permission, he has to sleep in it.

Dr. Chako (rolling eyes): Like I was saying . . . I became a doctor for many reasons, but one of them was that so someday I could buy a Ferrari.

Son #1 (without missing a beat): And then you got a wife.

Cue comedic rimshot.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Should I Be Nervous?

Today I dropped both boys off at their first day of their new schools in CA.

Son #1 is the more confident of the two and jumped out the car with a quick hug and a smile. By the time he got home he was able to name off 4 guys he was pals with.

Son #2 is more reserved, and I walked with him to class. Attended his first few minutes of class, and his opening day flag ceremony. Gave lots of hugs. Tried to be reassuring.

When he got to his classroom, he found his seat. Between two nice looking kids. The teacher had given them an assignment - draw a picture of ANYTHING.

The little girl on his right was engaged in an intricate drawing of an apple tree, with sunshine and rainbows. Little girls love rainbows.

I looked over at the little boy on the left. Unassuming kids wearing a little navy poly and light blue shorts with little embroidered lobsters. He had drawn a black skull. Sheesh.

I looked up at his parents. His dad quickly said "Hey, this drawing isn't indicative of some deep rooted problems or anything." Nervous chuckle.

Yeah, right.

On the premise of making more room for the parents, I scooted Son #2s chair closer to Little Miss Rainbow. Can't be too safe these days.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Massage. Check.

Nail are done (and look great). Check.

Met up with out of town friends - covers me for a while. Check.

Got kids off to first day of school. Check.

Submitted my ordinal rankings of directors for tomorrow's 7:30 a.m. conference call. Check.

Problem is, the list on the other side keeps growing. Buy more school supplies. Follow up on why Son #1 didn't get his electives. Get Son #1 signed up for sports. Get Son #2's last dresser assembled. Clean out garage. Pay bills. Find new au pair (long story, and sad for her). Train new au pair. Book more flights for the husband. Remap my 97 person department for the next two years. Write fiction. Finish my book. Blog. Insert random unexpected thing here.

Only bright spot on the horizon? In two day, I get to dump some of this crap on the spouse. Welcome home, honey!

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Free Mrs Chako's Inner Blogger

Please, I beg you. Talk to this woman.

I'm trapped in here. Every day - fine-tuning blog posts on life's little mysteries, the general quirkiness of people, or her latest shoe fetish.

Problem is, Mrs. Chako isn't letting her inner blogger out. You got it - me, trapped in here like a hamster trapped in one of those little plastic balls - I can see out, but I can't get anywhere past the plastic - running in circles. Or like the boy in the bubble - watching all the other kids play on the blogground, while I sit in my hypoallergenic chamber and sigh.

She's always got some excuse that ends with "I'm tired."

"We just closed the books on one of the top 10 companies in the world - I'm tired."

"I just unloaded and put away 400+ boxes and items from the move - I'm tired."

"I worked on our press release and audit committee presentation until midnight and had a conference call with tax at 1 a.m. - I'm tired."

"I haven't had a massage, a manicure and pedicure, or set foot in a DSW in a month - I'm tired."

"I'm behind in reading everyone's blog and I'm trying to catch up - I'm tired."

Vice-presidents. Sheesh.

Anyhoo . . . hope one of you can talk some sense into her. Doesn't someone want to hear about the treasures she's found moving? Or her new found fear of 7th grade girls? Or about the one box the movers refused to unpack and what was in it? Or her attempt to teach Betty how to use the Chako children to pick up eligible single dads? Or how she can't wait to go to Vegas and watch Steel Panther with her favorite pals?

If the words keep piling up, she's gonna suffocate me.

Get on her case - oh, and tell her to get a pedicure. Her toenails look like shit.

Thanks, all!

The Wife's Inner Blogger