After a whirl-wind, last minute, packing frenzy last week, Angie and I boarded a plane and flew to Springfield, our undergrad alma mater, for our short vacation and Saturday night engagement party. Naturally, we stayed with Rex and Rosemary, Angie's mom and stepdad, in their house at the country club. Not surprisingly, the house is the stuff dreams are made of. We could probably fit our entire home into Rex and Rosemary's front room. It is an extraordinary house for extraordinary people. It is truly the kind of home one expects to see in Better Homes and Gardens. I was impressed, to say the least. And not only is the home simply amazing, Rosemary has exquisite taste, not surprisingly, and everywhere one looks in that home is like a snapshot of "the perfect home" in my mind. The truth is, the very house itself intimidated me.
In addition to it being a wonderful home, it is situated on, I believe, the eleventh hole of a beautiful golf course. Angie and I would sit on the back downstairs patio every morning and watch the golfers (and there were a lot of golfers this weekend because there was, unbeknownst to us, a PGA tournament this going on) stroll by as we had our coffee.
Rex is a retired pathologist and as smart as a whip. We both have a blazing curiosity about The Civil War (nerd that I am). Oddly, he has never read one of my favorite books on the subject, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Killer Angels. I plan to send it to him today.
So Rex and Rosemary picked us up at the new fancy-schmancy Springfield airport (gone are the pig feet in a jar and in their place one can now purchase a candy bar) and then took us to eat steaks at a great cowboy restaurant not too far away. After chowing on Flinstonian-sized beefsteaks we drove to the "house on the lake." It's one of those houses so large and beautiful it really should have a name like "Loch House" or "Tara" or "The Compound." Not only was Rex a very successful doctor throughout his career but also a savvy investor with an eye for real estate. Angie's parents, of course, are unimaginably humble and gracious and pretended not to notice how in awe I was of my surroundings.
The only drawback to the trip was the heat and humidity. Oddly, we left the usual heat-infested west coast of 70 degree weather and flew into a freakish heat-wave in Missouri. With the exception of our last day in Springfield, the heat index tipped the scale around 110 degrees while we were there. Incidentally, we flew Allegiant, which takes the concept of "no frills" flying to a new level. If you ask the stewardess a question it costs five dollars. The answer itself costs another five.
So Angela and I finally got to bed and slept like the dead after our day of traveling. We awoke to Hiroshima-like temperatures and started planning for "the party." I kind of had an idea that we would stick a keg of PBR in the middle of the room, blow up some old balloons that said, "World's Greatest Golfer" that were tucked away in the attic, put some of those celery halves with peanut butter in the middle on a folding card table and that would be it. Oh, dear God, no. Obama's inauguration party looked like a day at the bowling alley compared to the preparation that went into this thing. I loved it.
We rented a karaoke machine for the party (which ended up being a total disaster...more about that in tomorrow's blog) and began gathering food stuffs from all around town. Angie had five or six of her closest friends come in the following day to spend hours in the kitchen preparing exotic and tasty tidbits.
The temperatures soared all day Friday and we braced ourselves for Saturday and the party itself.
One amusing moment came on Friday when Rex and Rosemary decided to take us to "the club" for lunch. As I mentioned, a PGA tournament was underway the entire weekend so security was tight. We just wanted a sandwich or something. The Golf Course Clubhouse is right around the corner so we drove over and walked into the dining room. The lady in charge of keeping ne'er-do-wells away from the event stopped us at the door. She demanded to see our "passes" and our identification (our "papers" in NAZI parlance). For a moment it appeared she might attempt to tazer Rosemary. She was a deadly-serious woman, stocky with a lot of upper body strength, and I prepared to throw myself in front of her while the others made a hasty getaway. Fortunately, Rosemary produced the required documentation and we were allowed to eat a sandwich. Still, the SS lady was none-too-pleased about it and I kept a wary eye on her during lunch. Although she didn't appear to be armed, there were a lot of blunt objects around and she still had the mean look of a trained German Shepherd in her eye. It was touch and go there for a bit and I think if we had ordered desert she might have snapped.
But it all turned out okay and Angie and got to bed late and braced ourselves for the Saturday preparations.
More on that tomorrow.