Dear Friends, by 3CVp5o2Z


									Dear Friends,

Because you’ve come to expect it, here is the latest installment in our continuing saga. You
probably remember us as a pair of pious vegetarians, obsessed with cholesterol counts, fat
content, and power walking. I’m happy to report that that phase is now over. This ungodly
regimen started to unravel at our “Millenium Party.” One taste of a bourbon dog, and our teeth
began to lengthen. The scales fell from our eyes, and we could see our daily ration of brown rice
and black beans as the pale imitation of life it really was. This party left us with a new zest for
life and a refrigerator groaning under the weight of heavy hors d’oeuvres. Happily, this solved
the problem of “what’s for dinner?” for weeks to come. The children were delighted. THEM:
“Mom, can I have a lemon square?” ME: “Not until you finish up those mini-quiches and that
artichoke dip. Please pass the cheese cubes.”

This brings me to an important topic: our refrigerator, that living museum of Gaver history. Yes,
of course we still have items from the New Year’s Eve party. That’s no surprise. The real
importance of this crypt, this final resting place, this mausoleum of gone, but not forgotten
culinary greats is the story that each has to tell. The Morninstar “Better ‘n Burger” that no one
will eat anymore because – let’s face it – it ISN’T. The flax seed that does something really
good for you, but no one can remember what. Container after container of orange juice, because
some want pulp, some want calcium, and others will only drink sunny delight. The skim milk,
the chocolate milk, and the soy milk. The chunk of tofu that was bought with dreams of exotic
stir fries, only to be faced with the bleak reality that it’s nothing but a block of bean curd. The
horror of discovering that said tofu needs to have its “water” changed daily. I have to be honest
here - this is more commitment than I’m willing to make to an inanimate object at this point in
my life.

I’ve found that the key to good refrigerator management is making quick selections from items
of known origin, and taking a live and let live attitude with everything else. This strategy can
only be followed for so long, however, before the E.P.A. starts taking an interest. At this point
the only option is to leave the country. Finding ourselves in just this situation, Ken and I decided
that the time had come for our “grand tour” of Europe. Well, first foray. Quick jaunt? Anyway,
we left for two weeks in England in France in July, and were allowed in, despite our passport
pictures. Somewhat uncharacteristically for us, it was a great trip. We were quite taken with the
grand cathedrals, the priceless art, and especially the adorable micro-scooters that were
everywhere. They were obviously just the thing to take back to John and Anne, who were
having a great time at home with Aunt Margie and Uncle Charlie. Something you may not know
about Ken Gaver is that he views shopping with the same degree of deadly seriousness as
Arthur’s quest for the Holy Grail. We didn’t see the Louvre or Versaille, but we did score two
scooters at the Bon Marche. And let me tell you, they are much better than the ones you got at
the Toys R Us next to the Mall. Ours are so FRENCH. The fact that they were temporarily
confiscated by officials at Air France (who thought they might be pipe bombs) only adds to their

Those of you who correctly surmised that the ascetic diet of last year was not a stable
equilibrium would have been chuckling smugly if you had seen us in Paris. There seems to be
an unwritten law there that foie gras has to be consumed at each meal. Our pinnacle of gluttony
was a lunch at a three-star Michelin restaurant called L’Arpege. Here we wallowed in the
hautest of haute cuisine. I still get queasy thinking about what we ate, or maybe it is the memory
of “l’addition.” That’s French for “thank God this is in a foreign currency because I don’t want
to know what this is really costing me!” You know the trouble with a lunch like that? Thirty-six
hours later you’re hungry again! Please pass the foie gras.

One can only endure so much of “la dolce vita” before thoughts turn homeward. Ah, the sweet,
slow pace of life in the deep South. Let’s see; Monday is violin, Tuesday is brownies,
Wednesday’s the skating party, Thursday’s her tennis lesson at 4 and his is at five, Friday is boy
scouts, Saturday is piano, Sunday is catechism and etiquette classes. Yes, we still have those
two blonde children. John is in fifth grade, which is middle school at Athens Academy. He’s
that rare ten year old who prizes his anatomical chart of the foot and ankle above all else. And
yes, he’s still following his dream of becoming a podiatrist. He’s also working diligently to hack
into the Athens Academy computer system in order to change all the grades. We’re nudging him
towards the business office instead, so he can alter a few select accounts receivable. John’s
learning classical violin, but his real interest is Papa Roach and Limp Bizket. All I can say is
that if your musical acumen started to wane around the time the Allman Brothers broke up,
you’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

Annie - at seven - has turned into a baby Liberace. She started taking “piano” lessons last
March, but the teacher got a little snippy about our $200 keyboard. She actually threatened to
quit if we didn’t come up with a real piano. I don’t know if you’re aware of what a new piano
costs, but they’re pricey. Let’s just say you’d have to skip a few L’Arpege lunches to pay for
one. But, we dutifully trotted out and bought one anyway. “Honey, could you pick up a few
things on the way home? Not much, just some milk, applesauce, a few cans of Chef Boy R Dee,
and a Yamaha upright. No, we better skip the foie gras tonight.” The fact is that Annie is
tearing it up on the piano. We feel like we’re living in a Nordstroms. Don’t be surprised if I call
you up and make you listen to her play. This is how we find out who our real friends are.

This brings us to Ken. At 60, he is the somewhat bemused assistant scoutmaster to a bunch of
rambunctious ten and eleven year olds. He even has a uniform. Our house has turned into a
repository of insect exhibits, coin collections, first aid supplies, and all manner of merit badges in
various stages of completion. I don’t know if I’m supposed to throw out the dead beetle on the
bedroom floor or dedicate it to science. Turning 60 has made Ken start to think about retirement
in the next few years. He’s making a lunge for the Mr. Mom spot, which casts me in the unlikely
role of Mrs. Dad. Actually, we’re both holding on until then. The basement? Don’t worry, Ken
will clean it up when he retires. That rotting around the windows? No problem. Ken will fix it
eventually. The funny sound the furnace is making? Put it out of your mind. That light bulb
that needs changing? Not to worry. That pile of ironing? It’ll keep. The refrigerator? Call in
an expert.

We’re also facing a professional milestone: that elusive promotion to “full professor.” For you
non-academics, let me explain that this involves clandestine candlelight ceremonies, secret
handshakes, reciting silly verses, swallowing goldfish, and other types of the really useful
activities that academia is known for. Actually, the process is not nearly this dignified. You
simply claim that you’re “full professor material” and assorted groups of people get together to

vote on whether they agree with you or not. So far all of our votes have been favorable, but there
have been rumors that some of the older geezers were confused by the ballot and are going to
demand a recount. Stay tuned.

I know, you want to know about the backyard. Well, we haven’t been able to go back there that
much. You see, I had the bright idea that if one vizsla was exciting, two would turn every day
into a party. Enter Duke, an actual Hungarian vizsla, direct from Budapest with a brief layover
in South Carolina. You’re probably asking, “Why can’t you be satisfied with a nice poodle or a
golden retriever, the kind of dog that normal people get?” Well, I don’t have a good answer for
that. Duke was a cute puppy, but it didn’t last. He soon exploded into a canine behemoth, a four
footed menace to life and limb. True, he didn’t have a mean bone in his body, but then again,
neither did King Kong. We couldn’t let him inside, and he’d maul us if we ventured outside.
We were prisoners in our own home. In desperation, I finally enlisted him in the Navy. On the
day that Duke shipped out with a family from the Navy Supply School, the sense of relief that
descended upon the household was palpable. Annie’s not too happy about the Duke’s
banishment, and I think she’s started work on her version of “Mommy Dearest.” For the rest of
us, there’s still Delta, and the hard won knowledge that there is such a thing as too many vizslas.

Well, must fly. There’s just enough time to change the water in the tofu before the Hungarian
translator arrives. We’ve just had a letter from the Duke. Say, are we on for New Year’s Eve
this year? There’s plenty in the fridge!

                                                     All the best from the Gavers -

                                                     December 2000


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