I Ordered The Summer Reading Book

It’s almost August, so I finally broke down and ordered the book my daughter, who is a rising high school sophomore, has been assigned for her required summer reading. I didn’t assign it. Her school did, and I’m not gonna lie…I resent it.

First, summer is my time. I’m not complaining. I love our daughter’s school, but summer is my time. I don’t want to receive school emails. I don’t want reminders. I don’t want to see her schedule or her school supplies list. I don’t want any of it, because frankly, I don’t even want to think about school. This is summer. It should be free time… and I’d appreciate it if I could keep it that way.

Alas, I can’t. Every year, we have to do health forms. I took her for her physical early this year, in June, so I wouldn’t have to keep seeing the emails from school, requesting the information. I got her physical done, got the forms signed by the doctor, and sent them in early! Done! I eliminated those weekly “reminder” emails about the health forms. Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful our school requires them. I’m grateful that they want all her health info, in case they can’t reach me when something happens. But I want to do it all while school is in session. I don’t want to ruin the peace of summer with health forms.

Recently, apparently, there was an email about high school students at our daughter’s school picking up their iPads before school starts. A mom came by my house today, and while she was here, she asked if my daughter is picking up her iPad tomorrow. I hadn’t seen the email, because it is summer, and I don’t check my email very regularly in summer….so ummm…no, she won’t be picking up her iPad tomorrow. It’s July 28th. School doesn’t start till August 21. She would likely misplace the damn thing before school starts if she picked it up now. Aside from that….I don’t want to think about the school iPad yet! Truth be told, I wish she didn’t even have a school iPad.

It’s times like this I wish the whole world could be more like the 1980s. When I was in high school, we had cheerleading practice all summer, but we didn’t talk about school stuff till school was about to start. Summer was for lounging by the pool; eating French fries in the clubhouse; going to the beach, where we walked to Dairy Queen every afternoon; family vacations; watching soap operas (Dr Noah Drake, anyone?); and just hanging with friends. And we never had summer reading!

It is a pain in my butt every…single…year. I know some people have kids who love to read. They love any book they can get their hands on, and I admire that. But mine isn’t that kid. She would rather be running around a field hockey or lacrosse field, hanging out with friends, going to the beach, eating French fries at the club…or other stuff I did in the 1980s. I ordered the book today, though, and it will arrive by the weekend, and she will read it when she reads it. And I will resent it.

I just want her to be a kid while she can be a kid! These kids have so much more pressure on them than we had as teens. As early as seventh grade, parents at her school, in meetings, were asking about curriculum paths for their kids to get into the “right colleges.” Honestly, I don’t give a crap where mine goes. She will go somewhere. But I don’t want her worrying about that, because guess what? She is in 10th grade. She doesn’t know squat. And do you know why she doesn’t know squat? Because she is a kid, and she shouldn’t be having to make life decisions at 15. She should be thinking about teenager stuff and enjoying the lazy days of summer.

Plus, I think kids learn a lot in summer, in a different way. I think they learn about scheduling. If they travel, they learn more about the world in which they live…even if they just travel to a neighboring town. They learn that the world is a big place. They meet new people and hang out with people with whom they don’t go to school. They grow. They play. They learn how to do things on their own. When our daughter was a toddler, any time we traveled…even just for a weekend…I noticed she was different when we got home. She had learned something that made her a little different. Has she ever been changed like that by a book? Maybe, but this was every time we went somewhere…she came home different. Being exposed to different places and people is a different kind of education.

So, am I going to badger her about her required summer reading? Nope. I’m not even going to “remind” her. She will get it done on her own terms, but mostly, I hope she enjoys the last few weeks of summer. I hope she hangs out at the pool with friends, goes to concerts, hangs out some with me, listens to music, eats as many French fries as she wants, floats around on a giant inflatable pink flamingo, and doesn’t even think about school.

Maybe I’m the slacker mom, but I know she is going to be OK. I know she would be OK without summer reading, and she will be OK with it too.

But most of all…I hope she enjoys the last few weeks of summer…like kids are supposed to do.

***If you’re wondering, the required summer reading book is called A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of A Boy Soldier, by Ishmael Beah. I’m ordering one for myself too, just so I can see what makes it special.***

woman lying on pink flamingo bouy on body of water

Photo by LRM Exterior on Pexels.com

Advertisements

Cruisin’ The Highway With The 80s

I love Sirius XM Radio. And I especially love a channel called 80s on 8. It plays the music of my teenage years. Most of the time, when I’m in my car, I have a teenage daughter in the car with me, and she plays her music. Yeah…sometimes I pull rank and tell her she has to listen to my music in my car, but most of the time, I don’t care.

But when I’m in the car alone, it’s all 80s, all the time. Seriously…SiriusXM is one of my favorite things. If you don’t have Sirius XM Radio in your car or in your home, you’re missing out. You can see their website for more information here.

Last week, I drove to Duluth, Georgia, from Charlotte, NC, for a Harry Styles concert. Originally, my friend, Mary Ann, was taking her 8-yr-old daughter, but the daughter decided she had “outgrown” Harry Styles, so I went. I offered to purchase two extra tickets for my 14-yr-old daughter and a friend, but they didn’t want to go. (Now she wishes she had gone.)

That meant I got to drive to Duluth alone. It’s a 3 1/2 hour drive. I’m rarely alone for 3 1/2 hours. I left Charlotte around noon Monday. It took me about 20 minutes to get from my house to I-85 South, but when I hit the interstate, I was ready for some of my tunes…the tunes I never get to listen to in my own car.

I could say I listened calmly all the way to Georgia, but I’d be lying. I was so excited to get to listen to 80s music for a few hours. I pretended I was a teenager again. The songs on the 80s on 8 channel are introduced by the original MTV VJs, so it’s easy to feel like I’m reliving my youth. Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, and Alan Hunter introduced and gave me the background on songs on my whole drive. Martha Quinn chimed in every now and then with some trivia. I cranked up the tunes and opened the sunroof. In the first two hours, I was transported back in time with tunes from Loverboy, Van Halen, Rick Springfield, Madonna, Def Leppard, and J Geils Band, to name a few.

I’m sure a few truckers were entertained as this crazy 51-yr-old lady drove past with the radio blaring through the open sunroof. Maybe I shouldn’t mention I was singing along as much as I could. That means I was probably singing a lot of “misheard lyrics.” I’ve never been good with lyrics. I’m the person who, at the age of nine in 1976, thought the Eagles sang, “He was two-timing naked; she was too tired to fight about it,” in Life In The Fast Lane. How did a nine-yr-old come up with that?! The actual line is, “He was too tired to make it; she was too tired to fight about it.” Either way makes sense, though. Someone could have been two-timing naked.

There are some song lyrics I definitely know, but I’ve always had trouble with the lyrics to songs by the Gogos. Somehow, they just don’t enunciate clearly in their songs, so I end up making up a lot of lyrics…or humming along. I recently saw a book titled, “Hum If You Don’t Know The Words,” and I loved that title, because I do that a lot with songs. My daughter hates it.

But I knew the words to Lovin’ Every Minute of It (Loverboy), Material Girl (Madonna), Jesse’s Girl (Rick Springfield), Panama (Van Halen), and Love Stinks (J Geils Band), so I sang along, and I sang loudly.

When some of the songs came on, I laughed or smiled, because I remembered some story that went along with the song…something that had happened in high school or college. Any Duran Duran song makes me immediately think of my friend, Jill, from high school. The girl was obsessed with Duran Duran, and for good reason…they were an awesome band. Even my daughter and her friends like them now; in fact, tonight, one friend wanted to hear Union of the Snake while we were going to Target. Duran Duran videos were all the rage on MTV. I remember rushing home to watch the world premier of the video for The Reflex. Ooh…and Michael Jackson videos…we all went crazy over those too. Back in the 80s, Jill and I even had MTV t-shirts before everyone else. Her mother worked at the local cable company, and she had access to MTV paraphernalia when other people didn’t. I wore mine till it was threadbare. And don’t we all remember the slogan, “I want my MTV!” Lots of those t-shirts could be seen all over the US in the 80s.

 

Listening to those VJs also reminded me of how much I wanted to be a VJ when I was a teenager…a funny thought, because I have limited music knowledge. I guess I thought I’d grow up, get an audition, and once I got the gig, I’d meet every rock star who came through the MTV studios. You have to admit, though, it would have been fun. Of course, MTV already had a southern VJ, as Alan Hunter is from Birmingham. But Martha Quinn had it going on…boys wanted to date her, and girls wanted to be her. She seemed like a nice girl who could actually be your friend, and she had the coolest job ever.

As I arrived at the hotel, Milli Vanilli came on. The song? Baby, Don’t Forget My Number. I love that song. In fact, I loved Milli Vanilli. Yes, there was the scandal. I guess those two guys were just pretty faces, but I sure liked watching those pretty faces on the video. Sadly, Milli Vanilli fell apart after the lip-sync scandal broke. I have no idea who was actually singing on those songs, but I like Baby, Don’t Forget My Number; Blame It On The Rain; and Girl You Know It’s True. When I think of Milli Vanilli, I think of my friends, Chris and Susan, from college. I introduced them to each other, and they later married. They really liked Milli Vanilli.

So I got to Duluth safe and sound that afternoon and met Mary Ann at the hotel. We met my other friend, Meredith, and her daughter at the arena, and a good time was had by all. I knew a few of the songs Harry Styles sang, and I faked it on the others. I have to admit it was a good show. It was pretty tame, aside from the screaming, but he is quite the entertainer, and he seems to enjoy what he’s doing. He was also grateful to the fans. I like performers who seem genuinely grateful. Plus, he’s kind of dreamy looking, even if I am old enough to be his mother.

 

After the concert, Mary Ann and I tried to go to Waffle House, but it was too crowded. We ended up, instead, at a place called Georgia Diner on Pleasant Hill Road. We weren’t expecting much, but we were pleasantly surprised. The service was outstanding, and the servers were very personable. The food was really good…Mary Ann had an omelet, and I had the Ste. Marie Chicken…delicious. I strolled over to look in the dessert case, and the cakes looked incredible, but swimsuit season is here, so I didn’t get any cake. You can see their website and menu here.

We went back to the hotel and slept a few hours before I headed back to Charlotte. It was time for some 80s tunes again, and I loved every minute of it. If only they had played some Bobby Brown; then, my 80s journey would have been complete for the day. And maybe some New Kids On The Block. I liked them too, back in the day, even though I was really too old to like them.

The 80s were a great decade. MTV actually played music. We made mix-tapes. We passed notes in class. The Rubix Cube came along. Arcades were awesome gathering places. John Hughes films echoed the lives of teens everywhere.

My daughter said to me the other day, “I wish I had lived in the 80s.” I told her it was certainly a great decade, but then said, “But you are living in a great time. We didn’t have cellphones or laptops back then, and you couldn’t rewind TV shows with the DVR. If you missed a line, you just missed it.” She nodded, but I could tell she still thought the 80s were great.

This decade is great too, but still…I WANT MY MTV!

Wings & Things

When I was in college at The University of Alabama, way back in the 1980s, I fell in love. While I enjoyed dating, I was introduced to something I’d never had before…Buffalo wings, and it was love at first bite.

the-best-buffalo-wing-sauce_43411

 

I don’t remember hearing about Buffalo wings when I was growing up, but then I didn’t spend a lot of time in the Buffalo, New York, area. In fact, I never went to Buffalo till I was an adult.

So, when I started college, I’d never heard of the spicy chicken wing. I learned about it soon after I arrived, though, and I never looked back. How could I have been missing out on that wonderful flavor my whole life?

According to the website for the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, the original Buffalo wing was served at their restaurant in 1964. The website says, “On March 4th, 1964, Dominic Bellissimo was tending bar at the now-famous Anchor Bar Restaurant in Buffalo, NY. Late that evening, a group of Dominic’s friends arrived at the bar with ravenous appetites. Dominic asked his mother, Teressa, to prepare something for his friends to eat. They looked like chicken wings, a part of the chicken that usually went into the stock pot for soup. Teressa had deep fried the wings and flavored them with a secret sauce. The wings were an instant hit and it didn’t take long for people to flock to the bar to experience their new taste sensation. From that evening on, Buffalo Wings became a regular part of the menu at the Anchor Bar.” You can order online from Anchor Bar, and they will ship Buffalo Wings to you anywhere in the United States. Click here to order.

Too bad I didn’t hear about them till 1985! Or maybe it’s better I didn’t hear about them before. I had a full appreciation for them in 1985. At 18, I knew good flavor, but if I’d had them at 13, I might not have recognized the greatness of them.

So, the first place I had Buffalo wings was far from Buffalo, NY. The first wings I had came from a little place on The Strip (a few blocks along University Blvd) called Wings & Things.

By my junior year, ordering delivery from Wing & Things had become a Sunday night ritual for me and my friend, Angela. Every Sunday night of our junior and senior years of college, Angela and I ordered the same things. I had the mild wings, extra wet, with hot sauce on the side, extra bleu cheese, and curly fries. Angela had the hot wings, extra wet, with hot sauce on the side, extra bleu cheese, and curly fries. We didn’t even have to discuss our orders.

il_fullxfull.585002454_kx7y

We would decide what time to order, and one of us would pick up the phone, a landline since it was pre-cellphone days, and call Wings & Things…a number we didn’t even have to look up. We even knew what our total would be. When it arrived, we would run downstairs, pay the delivery guy, grab the boxes, and hurry back upstairs to Angela’s room to enjoy our wings. Why the rush? Well, if anyone else on the hall saw us with wings, they would want one or two, and as far as we were concerned, wings were “no-share items.”

We always locked the door and sat in the floor to enjoy our wings.

Even with all the rush, the wings were aromatic, so after a few minutes, we would hear someone in the hall, saying, “Who has wings?!” We would look at each other, wide-eyed, and giggle silently, but we never answered. People would even knock on the door, and we would pretend we weren’t there…sitting silently, enjoying our wings. Because we ordered them “extra wet,” we always wore old clothes we didn’t care about, because we knew that orange-colored “wing juice” would drip and run all down our arms while we ate.

After we’d had our fill of wings, there were usually a few left. We had a ritual for that, too. One of us would pick up the landline phone again and call our friends, Lisa and Angie, down the hall, saying, “We have leftover wings. Want them?” In about two seconds flat, we’d hear footsteps coming down the hall. We would unlock the door and hand them the styrofoam boxes containing a few wings, and they would run back to their room and lock the door to enjoy the leftover wings.

Ahhh…the memories. In 1992, Wings & Things became Buffalo Phil’s in Tuscaloosa, so you can still get them if you visit. Since then, I’ve actually had wings in Buffalo, New York. I don’t know if they were from Anchor Bar or not. I was working as a flight attendant right after college graduation, and on a quick turnaround flight to Buffalo, the captain called ahead and ordered Buffalo wings to be brought to us on the plane between flights. I’m not gonna lie. They were good. They were darn good. I see there is an Anchor Bar in the Buffalo Airport, so maybe they were from Anchor Bar. I need to place an online order and try them again!

Now, whenever Angela and I get together, we almost always have wings. Since the 1980s, places that serve wings have popped up all over the country. I almost always order them the same way I ordered them in the 1980s, but Angela varies her order a little. Sometimes she’ll get different flavors, depending on where we are, but we still love our wings.

I guess when we’re old and living in the same senior living facility (my husband will be there too), we’ll have the same Sunday night wing tradition. For now, though, Angela lives in Montgomery, Alabama, and I live in Charlotte. We have favorite wing places in and around both places, so we’ll be OK. I don’t think any of the places deliver, so I’m hoping UberEats or Postmates will still be delivering food.

Eat more wings.

Here are some of our other favorite places for wings:

CharBar 7 in North Carolina (see website here)

Coaches Corner in Wetumpka, Alabama (Their “chicken chunks” in Buffalo sauce are good too. See facebook page here.)

Hickory Tavern with various locations in NC and Alabama (see website here)

Hubee Ds with a location in Charlotte and one in SC (see website here)