That last post? You're all off the hook. Almost all of you, anyway. You other two know who you are. Send chocolate.
Bella had a "sick day" today, and while she wasn't really "sick," so to speak, she did have an upset tummy, which is the genteel Southern way of saying diarrhea. Except we don't say it. She came and crawled into bed with us around 5:00 AM, complaining that she "didn't feel good," was "sick," her "tummy hurt," and that she'd had TWO bad dreams. Well, that's just a pile of yuck all at once when you're four. Add that to the fact that I am a colossal pushover, and you've got a kid staying home from preschool. I don't think it will affect her college applications.
So we had a pleasant, low-key day that effectively wiped away a lot of my angry from yesterday, and involved a lot of reading, role-playing, singing, eating soft foods, and hugging. Lots and lots of hugging. She's good therapy, is that child. We didn't turn on a television or computer until after 4:00, at which point we played a little Peggle and watched some Ninja Warrior. Bella not only enjoys watching Ninja Warrior, she fully intends to become "a little Japanese girl" and compete on Mount Midoriyama herself.
Alex called on his way home, giddily announcing that he'd won $188.20 from a radio-station giveaway. So even though he had a hectic day, he was now in a good mood. I may have mentioned it before, but sometimes, the only thing worse than Alex in a bad mood is Alex in a good mood. Same thing we used to say about my dad. He went on at length about his windfall and his new upcoming lifestyle as a hundredaire, until he stopped at the feed store.
A few minutes later, he called back, and said, "Well, I just had a conversation of several minutes with UNCLE DEAN!" I knew immediately who he was talking about, even though it was someone we'd never met before, because we've been passing by Uncle Dean's place of business every day for a while, said place of business being inside a truck-stop near where we live. "Uncle Dean's Catfish & Such 2." We have no idea what happened to Uncle Dean's Catfish & Such 1, or why every restaurant in this area has to use the phrase "and more" or "and such" at the ends of their names, or the identity of other person on the Uncle Dean's signs and fliers.
Uncle Dean's is one of a handful of eateries inside the local gasoplex, at least one of which is run by a family of panthers. We have long joked about the gas-station restaurants, and honestly, I blame my father for this. When Andrea and I were just kids, we used to travel up to the north part of the state to visit his family, and we had to pass through Bald Knob on the way. That's right, there's a town in Arkansas called BALD KNOB. Just a few miles from the exit for Possum Grape, I kid you not. Anyhoo, in Bald Knob there was a giant Texaco station. That sold fried chicken and all the fixins. This cracked our whole family up, as the concept of gas-station food was relatively new back then, at least around here. One day, we happened to be in the Bald Knob Texaco at exactly the right time to see a grey-haired woman behind the counter battering chicken pieces to fry. Dad waited until we got back in the car to inform my mom that she'd missed getting to see "Granny Texaco" whomping up some of the secret Texaco Family Recipe fried chicken, and Andrea and I dutifully laughed until we cried for the next 20 miles, and from then on any time anyone mentioned "Granny Texaco." Dad always threatened to take us there to eat, but that was never going to happen during the glory days of Kelly's Restaurant (although as far as Andrea and I were concerned, we might have been better off with Granny Texaco).
Turns out that Granny Texaco is real, and her name is Uncle Dean, and he makes catfish. Or something. Alex had stopped for gas, and got into a conversation with Uncle Dean, and the guy was just excruciatingly pleasant, so end result? TRUCKSTOP CATFISH FOR DINNER. That's right. All you urbanites living in your fancy-schmancy "Restaurants Bring Pizza Right To Our Door Anytime We Want" neighborhoods aren't feeling so cocky now, are you? Why, we can get deep-fried fillet of bottom-feeding river-fish just a few miles away during reasonable business hours on certain days. Seethe with envy, all of you.
Alex reports that the catfish was actually on a par with what we had during our vacation, at a much fancier place than the gasoplex (as fancy as catfish places get, anyway). Alex is the catfish arbiter around here now that Dad's gone, and I take him at his word, because catfish ain't my thang. The hush-puppies and green beans were good, though, and Bella ate a good portion of her weight in baked beans. I guess you could say that Alex ate catfish, while Bella and I had "and such." Most importantly, no one got sick, and we made a new friend in Uncle Dean, who was beyond thrilled at Alex's patronage.
Come on, city people. You know you want to visit. Uncle Exxon is waiting, and we have $188.20 burning a hole in our pockets.