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Friday, September 25, 2009

A Cruise & A New Car....Kinda

I got home from the shop and stood in the quiet house. Ellie, as usual, greeted me happily at the door. After receiving her "welcome home" lovies, I surveyed the kitchen; the sink full of dishes from hit-and-run meals by college kids on project deadlines. I sighed. I'd just spent the day cleaning nearly bare shelves and listening to people tell me how sorry they were that we were closing. I was in no mood to clean up dishes only to dirty more.

As I pondered dinner preparation in front of an open freezer door, my darling husband, probably sensing the vibe from his frustrated wife, called from his car on the way home.

"I'm about to pull into the driveway. Come outside and let's go out for a bite. I know you've had a hard day and neither one of us wants to cook..right?"

I love that he knows me. I grabbed my purse and waited on our porch for my knight to pull up in his old white steed named Buick. Two blocks away from home, we drive into the parking lot of a favorite restaurant; Karl Strauss Brewery. It's valet parking, so we approach the kiosk, our young friend gives Charlie a ticket and we head inside. We always chuckle at how all the nice luxury cars are parked right out front. Charlie's poor old car (formerly his mother's) is usually delegated to a space a bit farther away from the restaurant entrance.

We're enjoying our dinner while my sweet husband lets me lament my way through a couple of Bourbon & Cokes (yeah, I'm hitting the hard stuff). We talk about the countdown of the last few days left in the life of House of Tiki. I cry. He reaches across the table to hold my hand and he allows me to grieve. When I've come to a place of resolve, at least for the moment, he smiles and says;

"I have a surprise for you. Really, it's for both of us. I think we deserve it.

I look at him and cock my head, much like Ellie does when you say "Cookie?" to her. He tells me that he's booked us a little 3-day cruise in November, after all is said and done at House of Tiki, and after his October 30th project deadline at work. What? You did what? He squeezes my hand.

"We deserve it, and it's only a couple of days. We don't ever have to get off the boat if you don't want. After all, we've seen Ensenada. Been there, done that. We'll just lounge on the boat, eat, drink, and let someone wait on us. How's that sound?"

He can tell right away that I'm running dollar signs through my head. He knows I'm thinking about money.

"Stop. It cost us a pittance. It was nothing. I got a good deal. It's off-season. Besides, we spend more on kids books, and keeping kids cars running. It's our turn. It's just a couple days. Let's just do this and not think. Let's debrief. Let's leave all these cares behind on the land while we sail on the sea. Let's rock and roll Baby!"

He winks at me from across the table. A good effect. I'm sold. And grateful. I adore this man.

We pay the check and go outside to collect our ride from the stable. It's a one valet place, but he's a bit backed up with two Mercedes to park, and so I sit on a nearby bench to wait. He sees Charlie and runs to get the car. My view of the parking lot is obstructed by a palm tree, but Charlie snickers and I hear him say;

"He's bringing us a Lexus, Honey."

I laugh.

"That's a good one Charlie. A cruise and a new car all in one night."

He looks at me quite seriously.

"I'm not kidding."

Sure enough, our young page has brought us a shiny, spanking new black stallion of the Lexus variety. Through the driver's window, he sees my jaw drop. He opens the door, and Charlie says:

"Well, that's very nice, and I'd love to take it off your hands, but I'm afraid the owner might have a coronary when he comes out and sees you've brought HIM a 1996 Buick."

Our startled friend responds; "Not your car?"

"While the temptation to lie right now is overwhelming, no, that's not my car."

The embarrassed valet returns the beautiful car to its parking space and retrieves Charlie's nearly vintage vehicle. We laugh about the "possibilities" and "what ifs" had we simply got in and took a quick joy ride.

"Well." Says my still-shining knight. "I may not be able to give you a land yacht right now, but I can give you a Fun Ship for a couple days."

And off we drove into the sunset.