Friday, November 8, 2013

On This Date in 1998

On Friday, we got an early start to the weekend. JoAnna planned to work the morning and then get her hair done at noon, but her appointment was canceled. I went to the library at my usual time and planned to work until midafternoon. The boys spent the morning at home, watching TV and behaving themselves. JoAnna took the boys to the mall to eat lunch and go shopping. She gave Andy $100 to spend on clothes, which he managed very cautiously, she later told me. He bought two sweat outfits, one black and one gray. (The gray one he immediately soiled with quesadilla “juice” when he interrupted the last of my late lunch.) He also bought another pair of “breakaway” pants. Eddie wasn’t ignored. He picked out a New York Yankees t-shirt. (As a result of the just-completed baseball season, the Yankees are now his favorite team. Eddie goes with the winner!) He also got a new hat and a pair of gloves, and a submarine toy, one that opens up to create a cross-section effect. He played with it all afternoon.

Andy had a sleepover at his friend Tim’s house Friday night. After we dropped him off, JoAnna and Eddie and I went to the movies. We saw Pleasantville, a Back to the Future inspired fantasy about a brother and sister who are zapped back to a Father Knows Best/Leave it to Beaver black-and-white world, which, through their influence, slowly takes on the full spectrum of the rainbow. The story is a clever variation of a well-worn premise, although the second half of the movie did meander a little bit too much for my overall comfort level. Eddie behaved like a little adult. The movie is two hours long, with no dinosaurs or guns, but he stayed with it from start to finish. He didn’t even request a bathroom break!

Saturday morning, both JoAnna and I spent a couple hours tidying and organizing our desk areas, stuffing to their maximum capacity two grocery bags of recyclable paper in the process. Now the writing surface of my rolltop desk is completely bare and dust-free. We spent the late morning and early afternoon watching the Badger game on TV. During halftime, I raked the leaves on the front lawn that Andy missed yesterday. As soon as Andy returned home, right at the beginning of the third quarter, he asked us if he and Eddie could go bowling. We gave them permission. It gave me pause to watch our two no-longer-little boys walk off together. Later in the afternoon, the family went on a shopping spree. JoAnna spent $150 on books at Barnes & Noble. Since I already have enough to read at home, I was the only one who left the store empty-handed. At Best Buy, an electronics store, one of many in Madison’s highly competitive retail marketplace, we bought a new VCR to replace the aging and defective model in the family room. The picture quality of the older one is so bad as to be unviewable. It’s like trying to watch a movie through venetian blinds. Our final stop was Office Max, a “big-box” office supply store, where JoAnna bought a notebook and pocket dividers to store our 1998 personal financial information. I bought Andy a zippered notebook for school. He coveted the one I keep next to my desks. He had to have one just like it. We also bought a cordless phone for the bedroom.

After fixing tacos and burritos for supper, the family settled into an evening of watching movies. JoAnna and I christened our new VCR with Hope Floats, a fluffy romance starring Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick Jr. (The boys watched one of their choices in our bedroom.) What a difference in picture clarity. Watching a video at home is now an enjoyable experience, no longer a chore. Right now the boys and I are watching Godzilla, one of the past summer’s special effects blockbusters. It’s not the type of movie I have to give my full attention. Strictly formula stuff. Best line inspired from the movie. A scene shows a cache of automatic weapons being unpacked. Eddie’s reaction: “Now they’re talking my language.”

The ground was covered with a slight dusting of snow this morning, most of it melted off by now, at 9:39. Andy thought his chore of raking leaves in the back yard could be postponed. Wrong answer! he quickly learned. I plan to do some mulching, so most of the leave won’t have to be transported to the front curb. For the first weekend in November, it actually felt mild outside.

What a change in the political landscape since Tuesday. JoAnna’s hard work resulted in the Democrats regaining the state senate. Tommy Thompson was elected to a fourth term as governor . bit not with the 70% of the vote he was arrogantly predicting earlier in the year. All of the other major statewide offices were won by Dems. And on the national level, who would have guessed that Newt Gingrich would no longer be in Congress by the end of the year? This year, the political pundits were as off the mark and out of touch as they could be. I usually read the op-ed pages for comic relief anyway.

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