15. Where Did That Year Go?
Oh gosh, where do I start. Three cute kids lined up in front of the letter box all supporting smiles, remember to stick the adjective ‘huge’ in front of that. Greetings with hugs and yet more smiles. An air-conditioned guest room with pictures from the kids on the bed and candy on the side panel. But this is all small talk and remember that Texas does not suffer small gladly. We freshened up quickly and went out for supper.
Sharon, understanding that it was a little difficult for me turning forty without any of my longer-term friends around, had organised a fortieth birthday for me and tonight, in the air-conditioning of Hill Country Texas, was the night to celebrate. So, I walked out into the kitchen and there was a chair with my name written on it. Now don’t get pictures of little gold plaques with sweet italicized names written on them. Oh no, don’t do that ’cause remember this is Texas. What greeted me was a chair absolutely smothered in yellow, green, black and orange balloons. Many of them supported spider webs and words like Happy Halloween, whatever that means! I mean, there were so many of these balloons that when I was eating I practically had to lock my knees into the underside of the table, so that I didn’t float up to the ceiling and give the kids a rather scary Halloween trick. I also had to be very careful, I had been eating Southwest airline’s budget peanuts all day and my stomach was a little wonky. If I had so much as cracked the tiniest tad of wind, there would have been a fair dinkum hurricane in the balloonisphere. This would have caused my knees to lose their stronghold, sending me upwards with the power of over-inflated hot air balloons. There were kids present and this kind of accidental stunt could have been one Halloween trick too many for them.
But it got harder and I mean a lot harder. Because the working mum of the family suddenly dumped a packing pallet on the kitchen bench. At first I thought that perhaps this was a ‘Habitat for Humanity’ kit set house or perhaps, in this case a kit set village. But then I realised that no one would want a house covered in barbecue sauce. It was then that I was informed, and I would have never have guessed it, that these curved 4x2s(58) were indeed Texan ribs for me, for my birthday. Usually at this stage I would be in heaven, but this scared the proverbial heebiejeebies out of me; was I supposed to eat all of that? I mean there were more ribs on that bench than your average American football team could eat in a year.
It was somewhere around here where my host, oblivious to my inner-struggles, stated that if I do not put on ‘X’ amount of pounds before I leave then she will be disappointed. Pounds to me are the currency of the UK, so the amount meant nothing to me, but I clearly understood that if I did not walk out of her door at least twice the size that I was when I arrived, then I was in trouble and probably would have had the emotional breakdown of our host on my hands. How could I live with that?
I guess there was only one thing left to do. Soak my beard in barbecue sauce and let that sweet, hot, spicy pork slither down my throat. Yikes it was good and with the threat of an emotional breakdown on my hands, I ate myself insane. And when I thought that I was about to explode, I knocked back another ice tea, toughened up, loosened my belt and grabbed another rack. By the end of the night I was hallucinating, I could have sworn that The Hulk, Spider-Man and Hannah Montana all came in and had their photo taken with me.
I rolled myself into bed that night and slept like a dead swine and probably dreamt of meat cleavers. I woke in the morning to discover that the fridge was still full of dead, barbecue-sauced sow. Or was that another hallucination, for indeed I am pretty sure that I hallucinated all of the next day? I mean I have never ever experienced an October 31 like this…. Halloween, the puss-filled pimple on the face of America.
I know this was a short chapter and I am not sure when I will post the next. But stay tuned, because next chapter you will be receiving an American history lesson before its acceptance into the school system. One day you will be saying, I read it first at lunch.lt.
For past chapters click here. Or look on the side panel.
You may have noticed some bracketed numbers in this chapter. These numbers correspond with explanations and definitions that are in an accompanying glossary. To read the glossary you will need to by the yet to be released book. Sorry 🙁
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Ta (Kiwi for thank you)