Two weekends ago, I went to Cape May with my buds Dan and Paul. I was so busy this summer preparing for the move, moving, and unpacking from the move—and going out to the Pacific Northwest—that I hadn't gotten to the Shore with the fellows. A summer without a Cape May jaunt with my guys? Eff that all the way to F-Town.
And how could I visit Cape May without making something to share? So I made some Blueberry Muffins With Crumb Topping. And they turned out splendidly. And they were even better after being split in half and topped with some of the raspberry jam that Mark and I made out in Portland and that I picked up at the post office before I left on the train for Trenton. (I'll add a photo of a jam-topped muffin, plus many others, at the end of this blog post.) Mark included some of his Tomatillo Salsa in the care package. We had that on a frittata for breakfast Sunday morning, and it really kicked the eggs up a notch.
We spent Saturday at the city beach. I didn't go in the water because the surf was rather rough, and it wasn't so hot I felt like I needed to cool off in the ocean. Sunday was so overcast, and eventually slightly rainy, that we didn't bother going to Higbee Beach, much to the disappointment of Missy and Claire, who'd camped out in Dan's truck on Saturday, demanding we take them to the beach. Poor girls, they never get to have any fun.
We had lunch in town, at the Ugly Mug (my hamburger was really good), and went into a few stores on Sunday afternoon. Saturday afternoon, we had lunch at Oceanview Restaurant, so I could have my usual pork roll sandwich. We split a bowl of tater tots, and by "split," I mean I scarfed down most of them, with Paul not far behind, and Dan getting only a couple.
Dan and Paul were nice enough to make a vegetarian pasta dish for us for dinner Saturday, so I could retain my usual practice of eating meat once a day maximum. It was tasty, and they used the leftovers in the frittata.
On Friday night, we had dinner at the Bayshore Inn. The food was so Souf Jersey, in a decidedly bad way: I got the fried chicken special, which turned out to be a fried chicken cutlet topped with a white gravy and canned green beans—in August!—on the side.* I enjoyed the Duck Fart shots we all downed. Paul and Dan have gotten friendly with the owner of the BI and his partner, and they seem like good guys.
I was on a pretty good comedic roll that weekend. Even Dan, who usually likes to make fun of my attempts at humor (as does Paul), had to admit that I was getting in some good zingers. His exact words were: "You were spot on this weekend." The only line I can remember throwing out among the barrage of jokes is: "Who do I gotta drink to get a f()ck around here?"
Sometime over the weekend, Dan coined a term I plan to use when an appropriate moment next comes up: "double no chin." That's a description of what a person is sporting when he's got no chin to speak of and has a roll of fat under where his chin should be.
On the drive back to Trenton, we had fun singing along to some old hits, including Barenaked Ladies' "If I Had a Million Dollars" ("But not a real green dress. That's cruel.") and "One Week" ("Chickety China, the Chinese chicken. Have a drumstick and your brain stops tickin'."), Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" ("Let's look 4 the purple banana 'til they put us in the truck." WTF!?!), and the B-52s' "Private Idaho" ("You fell into the water and down to Idaho. Get out of that state. Get out of that state you're in.") and "Rock Lobster" ("Red snappers snappin', clam shells clappin', mussels flexin', flippers flippin'.").
This past Saturday, I had a ball hanging out with the 'phews. They turn 12 on Thursday, and holy shite, does that make me feel older than dirt.
Tracey and David had a pool party—with a rented inflatable water slide—for the boys' friends, and Mike and Matt asked me to come too. And that makes me feel so cool—that they want their uncle to hang out with them when their friends are around. They're the best guys, and I love them so much.
I didn't make any treats to take with me because I knew there'd be a cake of some kind, of course. Twin ice cream cakes from Dairy Queen, it turns out.
David grilled hot dogs and slider-sized hamburgers. And Tracey made St-Germain, prosecco, and club soda cocktails for herself, her friend Susie, and me. So who was really doing the most important work? :-) At Blend (warning: music plays at the link) in Ridgewood, that drink is called a Shooting Star. At the St-Germain website, it's called simply the St-Germain Cocktail. And over at Kitchen Princess, it's drunk with a meal that includes a salad dressed with St-Germain Vinaigrette. Awesome.
I gave the guys books—and boxer shorts from Bonus Pants. The boxers had chimps on them, so I referred to them as Monkey Britches—even though, to be zoologically correct, chimps are really apes, not monkeys. Matt had requested Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Ultimate Guide because he's a huge fan of that series of books. He warned me that there was another guide but he wanted the ultimate one. "Is the other one called The Sorely Lacking Guide?" I asked. Ha!
After I'd bought the book and discovered that it contains magnets to seal the cover shut, I sent him this text message: "There's some mysterious force holding shut the cover of that book you wanted for your birthday. It must be cursed. Gonna hafta return it." Ha! Returned-defective-book jokes never get old!
Michael wanted to be surprised, so he had no request. I got him a book of mazes that you color in after you've found the solution, according to the placement of colored dots along the path, to make some pretty sophisticated-looking pictures. I also got him the latest special edition of Games magazine. When I was wrapping up that and the maze book, I was amused to see an ad for special socks for diabetics and other people with circulation issues on the back cover of the magazine. While I was in Portland, I had teased the boys thusly, via text message: "Hey, buds! I'm having lots of fun in Portland, Oregon. Can't wait to see you for your birthday. I've settled on a sock theme for your gifts. That OK with you? Ha!"
I must have done OK because Mike said he wants to be surprised on his birthday again next year. And I think Matt said he does too. :-)
When they unwrapped those presents, after the party had wrapped up, I told the guys there was another present coming for them in the mail in early September. Later, when I was watching them play Super Mario Galaxy 2, which a friend had given them that day, I said I was surprised they weren't hassling me to find out what the other present was. I said it was a video game that hasn't come out yet, so I knew there was no way one of their friends could have gotten it for them. And I said that the game was mentioned in an old issue of Game Informer I had brought along. Matt looked through the magazine and made a few guesses. (Mike was taking his turn on SMG2.) I finally told them it's a game for the Wii called Metroid: Other M. I said it's rated Teen but I think they can handle it and I think they'll enjoy it even though they're not really into shoot-'em-up games. It's a long-running Nintendo franchise, and there's never been a bad game in the series. And they'll be shooting alien creatures, not people. And they know the main character, Samus, from Super Smash Bros. Brawl and from playing my DS game Metroid Prime Pinball. Mike said they'd give it a chance but asked whether they could give it to their friend Matt, who was hanging out with us and was going to stay over that night, if they really didn't like it. I said that would be OK.
As another part of my continuing quest to get and keep them addicted to video games, I'd also brought along a more-recent issue of Game Informer that had a big article on Nintendo's 3DS. I said it looked cool and that media types who'd gotten their hands on it have said the 3-D effects are impressive. Michael said he wasn't excited about the 3DS. He said—absolutely correctly, I'd say—that the DSi, with its two cameras, was a waste and not worth the money. And he didn't think the 3DS would be worthwhile either. I said I was optimistic about this new DS. If it does turn out to be worthy, the guys can use the ton of money they got on Game Stop gifts cards to buy their 3DSes.
We had dinner at Amano in Ridgewood. I tried the first slice of the marinara pizza, which was cheeseless. "It's so garlicky, it burns," I said. So Matt and Mike tried that pie next, and Matt liked it enough that he had another slice.
And now, a prime selection of photos:
When the boys' friend Brendan's mother dropped him off at the party, she brought their dachshund Buster along so Molly and he could meet. (Those are not Brendan's mother's legs, btw.)
Tracey trained Molly to be a therapy dog. Her first visit—at a camp for sick children—was today, and Tracey said the kids loved her. Of course they did, the little sweetheart. :-) Tracey said Molly isn't all in the kids' faces—like my basset boy would be, with the lickin' and the sniffin'—but she's very interactive and lets them pet on her as much as they want. I'm so proud of her. And my sister and the boys, who went to the camp too.
*I totally realize it was bar food, but it could have been several notches above what it was, ferchrissakes.
UPDATE on Sept. 3: I just realized I told the Missy and Claire story and ran that same photo in two consecutive posts. Oh well.