It’s the lazy part of a Sunday afternoon, the overcast, dreary conditions making me almost want to hibernate, but I want to feel productive. Time to “write” a letter then.
To one degree or another, we’ve all been busy this weekend, some more than others. Andy had his usual basketball practice Friday evening. JoAnna attended a performance of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journal Into Night” at the Madison Civic Center. She's attending with the wife of one of her staff members, who wasn't able to get back to Madison in time. Lance and Sue are good friends of ours. We watched the recent Super Bowl fiasco at their house, and, for the past two years, they have hosted an all-day Fourth of July wing-ding of a party at their house, which has one of the most spacious back yards within the city limits of Madison. They live just a block from Warner Park, where the spectacular “Rhythm and Booms” annual fireworks display is staged.
While Mom was out, Eddie worked on one of his extraordinarily detailed drawings, occasionally looking up from his work to watch TV, while I reviewed some journal notes I had written in early 1990. These jottings reminded me of how much fun, just how precious Andy was when he was a 2 year old.
We were up at our usual weekday time on Saturday. In fact, the boys were in front of the TV by 6:30. (Never on a schoolday!) Half of Andy’s eight basketball games t his season have started at 8:00 a.m. I guess the coach didn’t have much clout as far as the scheduling was concerned. The Wildcats, the mascot Andy and his teammates chose, ended their season, soundly beating a team (30-18) that they had defeated by a single point, a real nail-biter, earlier in the season. Although he scored only two points, Andy played very aggressively. Last week he played one of his best games, and, naturally, neither JoAnna nor I were there to see (all of) it. Mom had an out-of-town commitment, and Dad had to drive Eddie to a birthday party at a roller rink, a 20-minute drive from home. Andy proudly told me after his game that he scored 11 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and made 5 assists.
“What’s a triple double?” he asked me as we walked to the car.
“Well, Andy, if you would have had 5 more assists, you would have had one,” I answered.
Once we returned home, Andy changed his clothes to get ready for his First Reconciliation. According to the postcard we had received earlier in the week, the service was scheduled to begin at 10:00. When we entered the sanctuary at a quarter of, we were surprised to find the priest in the middle of his homily. We quietly and unobtrusively filed into an empty pew behind everyone else.
“I wonder if there’s a second service at 10,” JoAnna whispered, almost mouthed, to me.
I didn’t think that seemed too likely.
“There’s probably a voice mail message waiting for us at home,” I offered. Sometimes we forget to check.
Throughout the week, JoAnna had been preparing Andy for this event, giving him a clear idea of what he should say to the priest.
“Father, forgive me, for I have sinned.” (Why quibble with the original?)
And she shared with him the following specific examples:
· Lying to my parents.
· Fighting with my brother.
· Not doing what my teacher tells me to do.
She continued her prompting right up until our arrival.
“Don’t go into too much detail. The priest doesn’t have all day,” I teased him as we were driving to the church.
It was an assembly-line version of confession, as about 40 children waited in two lines waiting for their turns. As one who grew up as a Lutheran, this service had a very unusual feel. Lutherans are content to repeat a general “Confession of Sins” each week as part of the church liturgy. Individual confession is not part of the denomination’s religious practice, with maybe one exception. I vaguely remember having to confess my sins to my dad prior to the rite of confirmation when I was in 8th grade.
After the service, JoAnna left for Whitewater where she was to give a presentation on 1st Congressional district politics. I forget all the details. Who? Why? Etc. From there she traveled to New Berlin to attend a political forum at the public library with her State Senate candidate Brian Manthey and his opponent Mary Lazich. (Good news and bad news. Thumbs up for Brian. Mary was stiff as a board. The New Berlin Public Library doesn’t have Internet access yet.) The boys and returned home from church for a short interval, Andy immediately picking up the phone to find someone to play with. It took two phone calls. He left a message on an answering machine during the first call but was too impatient to wait for a callback. He always has to keep his social calendar as full as possible. Once I dropped Andy off at a friend’s house, Eddie and I went to Target to buy a classmate of his a birthday present – and numerous other items, as it turned out. First of all, I let Eddie use his Christmas check from my Uncle Ed and Aunt Gen in Massachusetts to buy a toy – Beast Wars transformers, three animal characters that have since occupied much of Eddie’s time this weekend. (Beast Wars is an animated show broadcast on the Fox Kids’ network.) I took advantage of Target’s amazingly low prices – why do I all of a sudden sound like a TV commercial? – and stocked up on a variety of household and personal goods. For example, the saline solution in which I store my contact lenses is priced 70 cents less than what I usually pay at our local Walgreen’s, and Walgreen’s has a pretty strong stranglehold on the regional drug store market. I would have thought their prices would have been more competitive. (Of course, that’s not what monopolies are all about.) I found a huge box of Corn Flakes for $1.998. Eddie picked a slightly smaller box of Chocolate Frosted Flakes for the same price. Gotta make sure the boys have a healthy breakfast!
Once everything was put away and a soup-and-sandwich lunch was digesting in my stomach, I stretched out on the couch in the family room with an unfinished crossword puzzle form Friday’s New York Times, the TV tuned to the NCAA college basketball playoffs. I watched the Princeton-Michigan State game with great interest, torn between rooting for the Ivy League underdog, wondering if I should feel racist because the starting five players were all white, and a representative from the Big 10. Once this game concluded, I found myself dozing in and out of a pleasant dreamland.
At 5:30 I started to worry about JoAnna’s return. We had plans to go out for the evening, the sitter arriving in another hour. I got myself ready – washed, dressed, and “perfumed” – before the grinding sound of the opening garage door announced Jo’s return shortly after 6:00
We were invited to attend a birthday party for Dorothy and Ted Shannon, both of them turning 80 this year, Dorothy on the 17th of t his month and Ted in May. (I’m sure you’ve met them before, either at one of JoAnna’s victory parties or our Bastille Day celebrations. The Shannons are icons of the state Democratic party.) The event was held at Otto’s Restaurant, on the west side of Madison, one of the area’s premier dining establishments. Once we realized the company we were in, we felt extremely honored to be invited. Among the big names in attendance: Ed Garvey, Democratic gubernatorial candidate; Rick Phelps, former Dane County Executive and candidate for the 2nd Congressional District; Attorney General Jim Doyle; Senate President Fred Risser; Senate Majority Leader (and our good friend) Chuck Chvala – in essence, the current elite of the Democratic party leadership. The part was hosted by the Shannon’s three children, the oldest of whom is my age. It was held in a large private room on the third floor of a converted cream-brick mansion in which the restaurant is located. The food was excellent, the wine flowed freely, and consequently, so did the conversation and laughter as the evening progressed. In fact, at one point, a small group of us marveled at the noise level in the room. We expected o return home before 10:00, but it was closer to 11:30 by the time we pulled into the driveway. I still had another hour until bedtime, as our sitter, the daughter of a woman who works for JoAnna – we’ve used her in other emergency situations – lives in McFarland, a half-hour’s drive away. With Middleton High School basketball playoffs this weekend, our usual sitters weren’t available. JoAnna was sound asleep when I slipped into bed after my hour’s road trip.
JoAnna lectured at St. Bernard’s 11 o’clock service today. Although feeling a little bit out of sorts from her busy Saturday – and perhaps from a little too much win at the Shannon’s party – she walked to church. Both boys had “engagements” at 11:30: Eddie, a birthday party – is there a party e doesn’t get invited to? I wonder – and Andy, his team banquet, using that word in its very loosest sense. Andy’s event was held at a Rocky Rococo’s restaurant in a large meeting room with a movie-theater-size screen. The boys and parents watched videos of two of the team’s recent games – both highlight and lowlights – while feasting on pizza. Andy’s plate was heaped high with four pieces of overcheesed pizza, a serving size that seemed to be fairly typical, as I scanned the room. Not just the kids, but moms and dads too. Maybe I wasn’t hungry. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood for pizza. I could barely eat the one piece that I had plopped onto my plate. I used to think that Rocky’s made a really good pizza, but my opinion has been revised after today. They must daily unload the mozzarella by the truckload.
As I introductorily mentioned, it’s the lazy part of a Sunday afternoon. JoAnna’s asleep on the couch, well into the second hour of her nap. Eddie has been moving between his artist’s table in the family room, where he’s working on a war scene (looks like something we’ll have to send to Uncle Albert), and the kitchen, where a bowl of popcorn sits on the table and the TV is tuned to Nickelodeon. Eddie must remember yesterday’s overheated reprimand about eating popcorn in the family room. Sometimes Dad gets tired of picking up kernels of debris on the carpet.
Where’s Andy? Extending his precious playtime. After the “banquet”, some of the team adjourned to Tony Martinelli’s house for some outdoor activity. Andy brought along a sled and the appropriate outdoor wear. He’ll be home in plenty of time to do his homework and practice the cello later today, but perhaps not without some prodding. When it comes to schoolwork, we really need to crack the whip with Andy.
Here it is the middle of March and we still have 5-6 inches of snow on the ground. In fact, right now, a very light snow is falling, probably not enough where I’ll have to pick up the shovel later today. Once I complete this letter, I need to outline a preliminary itinerary for the upcoming spring-break trip to Pennsylvania. Packing. Motel reservations. Return trip stayover in Chicago. We’re leaving Mom behind as she is just too busy at work to get away for a week.