Alexander’s Graduation Dinner


Some days, no matter what you do, your days just don’t go the way you think they will. I got up, sat at the computer and told myself a dozen times, “I won’t be spending all day on genealogy. I won’t be looking over my grandparents and great grandparents’ files and fooling around.” This ploy of mine didn’t work even the tiniest bit. Instead, I looked up at 3:45 and I was *still*, after eight hours, plodding along with “hints” on ancestry.com. The trouble is like my old friend Mike, playing Civilization. At three in the morning, his wife calls him to come to bed. “But Joyce, my people *need* me,” he complained. Yeah. They don’t need me all that much.

Today was Alexander’s High school graduation dinner. About 2 PM, I realized we had this planned, and that we had completely forgotten this was happening. He wanted to go to a place called Memsahib, up in Rockville, Maryland. we got there in good time, considering we left during rush hour. It took about 45 minutes to take a spin up the beltway. If Highway 495 is the clock circling Washington DC, Rockville is at about 11:30. We had reservations but were early.

The bonus was finding a used bookstore, a quite good one, in the strip mall where the restaurant is. People may not know this, but I adore bookstores. I love the smell of them. I love the chatter of the staff with the customers. I love how you can buy 400 pages of paper for $2, and feel like you’ve got the better side of the deal. I love that you aren’t online when you walk into a bookstore, and I love most that the rest of my family loves them as much as I do. If we didn’t have to get back for our reservations, I would have spent another hour there.

But alas, Daniel’s bladder was full. We walked in at seven PM and the restaurant was empty, except for the staff. They ignored us while they talked for a couple minutes, planning their night or whatever. There was a sign that told us to “Please wait to be seated” even though, well, we could have sat anywhere we liked. Daniel made a bee line for the men’s room and the rest of us sat on couches honeycombed around low tables. The woman explained that the meal is *prix fixe*, five courses were served, and that she washed our hands with an ewer and a basin. Fingers are our utensils, you see. All the food was served on gigantic (3′ diameter) plates and the only silverware we encountered were nutcrackers and big serving spoons for the entree. We ate goat for dinner. And tandoori chicken. We had a rice pudding. we enjoyed a fruit and nut course, and three cold salad appetizers (eggplant, carrot, and cucumber). There was lots of bread, and I had a gigantic bottle of Indian beer. It was quite a night, and we left the restaurant stuffed and gassy.

Here is a part of the night’s conversation. Alex asked me “Dad, what are the three unities that Aristotle talks about that makes perfect drama? There is unity of place, unity of time and… what is the third one?” Daniel said: “Nobody cares. Aristotle was wrong. Besides, he thought vultures had three testicles.”

Bollywood dances were showing on the big screen television. Swirls of greens and reds and oranges and whites. I am pretty sure there is not any sort of plot in a Bollywood song; although the videos *want* you to believe there is one. Just lots of swirl and improbably cute dance moves and fast cutaways to make sure you never see the dancers sweat. Extremely hot women and men spinning around in loose-fitting clothes. Except the women. They get midriffs bared and generally tighter fitting clothes than the men. It’s addictive to watch them dance. I admit, I am the sort of guy who, if cricket is playing on the television at a restaurant, I will watch, even thought I know nothing about cricket. We all noticed a dark haired actor/dancer with a white goatee, who seemed both young and old at once. He was in about three of the videos. His eyebrows were jet black, like Daniel’s. we noted that Alex sports invisibrows, and is rapidly getting an invisible hairline as well.

Daniel was pleased to find that someone put a pine tree air freshener in the bathroom urinal.

Alex complained when, back in his high school days, he used the word “divergent” in a paper and the teacher circled it, telling him he used it incorrectly. He used it precisely right, of course, in the mathematical sense of the term. When a curve nears infinity but never quite reaches a line, this is divergence. He used it to describe Apple’s profit margins. He also talked about asymptotes, that sicko.

We lasted until 9:30, an entire 2 1/2 hours from the time we walked into the restaurant. It was fully dark when we left, and it rained off-and-on as we drove back.  Everyone was too full to talk much so we listened to 80s music to help our digestions.

Moments before we arrived home, Daniel announced to everyone in the car “You know? Skeletons can’t play trombones, because they don’t have lips.”

And truer words were never spoken.

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