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5:34 a.m. - 2007-03-05

"...AND THIS IS MY SON, AL CAPONE"

So Friday we take Andrew for his fourth appointment to his latest therapist.

He's going here to correct his eating habits. The therapist says he has sensory issues in his mouth and that's why dinner at our house consists of three popcorn kernels and a Tic Tac.

This lady's good. Everyone says so.

But she's also tough. Everyone says so.

So we take Andrew there and we're supposed to bring food he likes and food that we want him to eat but he won't eat.

The foods he won't eat that were brought were a banana, peanut butter sandwich, raisins .... ummmm ... some other stuff I can't remember ... oh ... carrots. And apples which he'll eat, but for some ungodly reason Susie's convinced herself he doesn't like them.

We get there, he's all excited (because up until now it's been tests and playing) and he takes a seat in his chair.

His therapist gives him one each of his favorite foods.

A cheese curl, a Pringle, a graham cracker ... once again ... other stuff I can't remember.

She has him eat each of these, but he's not eating fast enough so she forces his mouth open and puts the whole cheese curl in his mouth and keeps his mouth shut physically until he swallows it.

Oooooookay.

No offense, Doc, but I coulda done that.

However, all the research I've done on this clearly states that with kids like this, you DON'T force food into their mouths.

So all the good food's gone and Andrew's a happy camper.

Then the plate with the banana, peanut butter sandwich, etc. comes out.

"I don't like that stuff," Andrew says warily.

"I know," the therapist said. "But you're going to eat it."

She then put him in some sort of headlock, death grip, pried his mouth open with her fingers and jammed it all in there in a ten minute period.

I have no idea what good this did.

None.

Now he hates bananas, peanut butter and carrots even more.

He was fine once this was done and she allowed him to play for the last 15 minutes of his session which equals about $75 worth of playing time which I'm not bitching about, but c'mon. He could swing at home for free ... when I'm paying $300 an hour, I want things being done.

I guess I am bitching.

Anyway, it wasn't easy watching my kid squirm and scream as regular food was put in his mouth.

And I fought saying "ENOUGH'S ENOUGH! I'M A PICKY EATER TOO! WE'LL BE PICKY EATERS TOGETHER!!"

But this lady practically guarantees results.

She's got a great track record.

Sorry Drew Boy ... but I see a helluva lot more bananas in your future before we're through.



Saturday I did a wedding reception in this beautiful location.

I had never been there, it was about three hours away from here.

The bride was Chinese.

Which is fine. I speak Chinese almost fluently.

Which, of course, is not true.

But I can do some uncanny impressions of the waiter at the local Chinese buffet that Mattie Gee and I frequent.

Here's some of my better ones ... ready?

"More water, sir?"

"Take your plate, sir?"

"Tank you! Come back!"

Luckily, I didn't have to bust out any of my Chinese, because the gal was raised in America and spoke perfect English.

But that doesn't mean all of her ancestors did.

And here's something about Chinese people I noticed at the wedding reception.

Either Chinese women never die or they age really really quickly.

Because they had some women there that looked older than the Great Wall of China. I'm guessing they were between 200 and 400 years old.

Either that or they were 40 and looked 400.

Which is why I can eat my weight in General Tsu's Chicken ... if these people eat it and never die, then by God ... it's good enough for me.

Anyway, I get there and the bride tells me that instead of a buffet (the original plans) they're having a sit-down dinner.

I have mixed emotions on sit-down dinners at wedding receptions.

First, these things take FOREVER.

You have to have everyone find their little placard on their tables to determine who sits where.

Then they all get soup.

Thirty minutes pass.

Then salad.

Another thirty minutes.

The main entree.

Forty-five minutes.

Dessert.

Thirty minutes.

The first hour of the reception was spent with me playing soft jazz music while everyone hung out in the lobby in a receiving line.

At 7:00, everyone's brought into the dining area where I'm set up and my ears are bleeding from too much Kenny G.

After the extended blessing (which featured a long prayer for the victims of the tornado last week ... good ... and an oral essay about James Cameron and his blasphemous attempt at trying to prove some bones were Jesus), the food started coming at about 7:15.

I was told to play smooth jazz while people ate.

No problem.

People ate until 9:25.

At that point ... toasts.

Then the couple's first dance followed by bride and her father dancing.

After that ... garter and bouquet toss.

After that ... more toasts from the groom's drunken brothers.

It's now 9:45 and I had literally 15 minutes to play dance music.

I played "Vogue" (Bride's brother requested it), "Sweet Home Alabama" (bride requested it), "Mustang Sally" (bride's father) and "Let's Get It On" (bride and groom).

That's it.

I need to add that people were leaving in droves rather than dancing because the wedding started at 5 and they'd given the bride and groom four and a half hours of their lives and that's really all you can expect out of people.

Still got a $100 tip at the end of the night and an "Atta Boy!" from the bride and groom.

Now I had a three hour drive home and was trying to get out of there as quickly as possible because after tearing everything down, loading it up, gassing up the van, finding some fast food joint still open with a drive thru (God bless Krystal), it'd be 10:45 before I got on the road, meaning I'd be home at 1:45 a.m. ... making it a 20 hour day.

So I'm tearing down as fast as I can when a gal who's supposed to be working there and picking up used plates and glasses wanders over to me.

"You're a good DJ," she says.

"Thanks," I said. "I wasn't really able to show my real good side because it was mostly smooth jazz music all night and only 15 minutes of dancing."

"Do you do birthdays?" she asked. "I want you to DJ my birthday party."

Oh, here we go.

I get this a lot from the wait staff when I do parties. Inevitably, someone will come up and want me to do their party.

But when I tell them how much I charge for a party, they try their hardest not to recoil in fear and scream "You charge HOW MUCH?!?!"

So they're still trying to pretend that they have that kind of money to hire a DJ when they don't, while I'm trying to pack my stuff and get out of there quickly.

It's very awkward because I know they're not going to call me and I know I don't want to drive three hours for any less money than I just quoted her.

So that went on for about 10 minutes.

And finally I said "When's your party?"

"April 14th."

Goddammit.

I coulda been on the road and my weary head could have hit my pillow ten minutes earlier if I had just asked that question first.

"I'm sorry," I said "I'm booked every Saturday through October."

(Which is almost true. I think I have three Saturdays where I'm not booked but I'm sure they'll either get booked or I'll have a rare night off which I truly appreciate these days).

So I finally get packed up and leave and promptly get lost in this huge fancy subdivision with traffic circles and unlit street signs everywhere.

By the time I made it home it was 2 a.m.

I was asleep at about 1:45 a.m.

I don't even remember driving in to town.

Total blur.


This is getting long, isn't it?



Yesterday we go to the grocery store.

Andrew wants a manual hand mixer as a toy.

The kind where you turn the crank and the beaters would mix up some cake batter.

One of those things.

We convince him it's not a toy even though it's fun to turn the crank and watch the beaters spin around.

So we're checking out.

And he's just standing there staring at us.

No big deal. At least he's not throwing a fit.

We get outside and he's got his hand in his pocket, just grinning away.

Susie senses something's up.

"What do you have in your pocket?" she asks.

"Nothing" he says.

They go back and forth with this until I get tired of hearing it and I say "He's got a few marbles and that little plastic chick from home. Now help me load the car."

I had seen him put the marbles and the chick in his pocket.

Susie, with her Mommydar working overtime decided that wasn't all he had in his pocket.

And, for once, she was right.

My son ... my cherubic little angel ... shoplifted some Tic Tacs out of the store.

Susie decides to march him right back into the store to pay for them.

Which leaves me loading the car up by myself.

I'm not complaining.

Because I'd certainly rather be doing that then having to admit to some minimum wage pimply faced customer service drone that my son was a thief.

They were in there at least five minutes.

And I started thinking ... this may be one of those stores who prosecutes shoplifters to the fullest extent of the law no matter WHAT the age of the shoplifter.

I started adding up court costs, lawyer costs, and those goddamned trips to the juvenile center to see my kid once a month.

While I'm thinking about how much time I'll miss from work thanks to my son's kleptomania, the two walked out of the store.

"What took so long?" I asked, scanning the parking lot for any police cars screaming into the lot to arrest my son.

"We just went through the self-checkout lane and I hate those things," she said.

So then I calmly admonished Andrew for being a thief. And how stealing's not right. And the repercussions of stealing.

"...and in some countries, they'd cut your hand off for stealing Tic Tacs," I finished.

Silence from the back seat.

"Are you going to cut my hand off when we get home?" he asked quietly.

"I'll think about it and decide when we get home," I said. "I'll have to find my big knife."

Truthfully, I couldn't be too upset with the kid because we had never really touched on the subject of shoplifting and the repercussions it has.

Never thought we needed to really.

Shit.

I'm more focused on getting the kid to eat a banana.

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