Dallas with the Fords [Maniacal Laugh]

4 Dec

Even though my mom lives in Texas, she’s about 4 hours away in Dallas*, so we don’t get to see her as often as we’d like. Luckily, I was able to ask for some time off of work and take Zack up to the big city** to hang out with my northernly based familia. We drove up to my mom’s house, which was already adorably decorated for the holidays. Her tree shone in her front window with bright white lights and burnt orange decorations, and a toy train circling the base. Zack said immediately that we needed to film the train for his baby cousin, Ellie, whom we both adore. She’s kind of obsessed with trains.

*Caitlin’s mom doesn’t live in Dallas. She lives in Royse City. It’s like 40 minutes away.

**If you can say the phrase, “We have a Walmart coming and the locals think it will ‘put us on the map,'” you are not in a big city. Even if you’re anti-the new Walmart, you are not in a big city. I honestly didn’t want to go to Dallas, so this was more than fine by me. It was totally relaxing and fun.

We nommed on fantastic pizza from Mandela’s for dinner, and sat around chatting* until it was way past all of our bedtimes. Zack and I then started up my first viewing of Rain Man**, the 1988 film with Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman. We only got halfway through before we were just too tired to go on, but when we finished the story the next morning, I was glad to have finally seen the classic. It’s a sweet story that is very appropriate for a family weekend.

*I can’t believe you left out that we beat your mom and Scott in pool twice. <Maniacal laugh, maniacal laugh.>

**This is one of my dad’s all-time favorite movies, up there with the first two Godfathers, Hoosiers, Cincinnati Kid and Animal House. He quotes everything from “20, definitely 20” to “K Mart sucks” to “uh oh, fart” and every other line in the movie. I smile every time one of those lines comes up.

Zack and I lazed about on Friday, until it was time for me to go in to my mom’s high school. She teaches English, reading and ESL to kids of all ages, but I was set to speak to her senior classes at the end of her work day. Although I used to swear up and down I’d never teach, I can’t deny my love of it any longer. I absolutely love teaching people things. It feels great to watch someone’s face light up with understanding and enlightenment when they get it. So, I was very excited to go in and talk to seniors in high school. 

During my talk, I realized how far removed from high school I am now. Questions about the difference between high school and college made me strain my brain to remember what that transition was even like. It also made me happy to see kids excited about higher education and finally finding their niche somewhere (even if I had to explain what the word “niche” meant). My mom’s drive to her work is also gorgeous. It’s along super bumpy, curvy roads passing donkeys, horses, roosters and cows (although Zack informed me I can’t win “Cow, I win!” without him being present*).

*You’d be surprised how many episodes of “How I Met Your Mother” are on during the day. I also read a bit. But mostly I just enjoyed having access to cable, since we don’t have a T.V. 

That evening, we had tacos and headed to the movies to watch The Muppets. I was worried that the second viewing wouldn’t hold up*, but I laughed just as hard at maniacal laughing, Swedish chefs and other gags, and my mom seemed to love the film just as much, although she didn’t fall for Miss Piggy as much as I did.

*I think Doug Benson scared her away. We saw his Doug Loves Movies podcast the week before and he said he wasn’t a big fan of the movie. He said it was annoying how every character needed to be given a pep talk to re-join the Muppets and wasn’t thrilled that Walter’s special talent was whistling. I think he was just annoyed because he saw it with kids running up and down the aisles, and since he saw it with his mom, he couldn’t be … in his usual movie-watching state.

When we got back home, we played Monopoly on my mom’s Wii. Zack destroyed all of us, even though we made efforts to team up and take him down*. He was unbeatable, and deserves a hearty congratulations I wasn’t able to give him at the time (since I’d eaten so much junk all day I’d made myself sick by halfway through our game).

*Caitlin’s mom traded her the blue monopoly, three railroads, electric company and water works and more for literally $1. It was the most unfair trade of all time, not involving Native Americans. Luckily for me, they don’t know the secret of how to win at Monopoly. I’d tell you, but I’d prefer to just beat you regularly until you no longer want to play with me. 

Saturday, it was time for Zack to meet Grandma Rita* and Grandpa Bill. We heard stories about Grandpa Bill’s lodge friends, Grandma Rita’s shopping excursions, and the pairs menagerie of animals and their adventures. My favorite was how their big furry dog Rusty had come to adopt a male goose, and so they had to hide the goose’s remains when the smaller dog, Inky, accidentally did him in. To Inky’s credit, the goose kept biting him through the fence, so Inky was just trying to say “Lay off, bird” and didn’t know his own strength.

*Grandma Rita is the sweetest woman of all time. I didn’t get to meet her under the best circumstances. I was still getting out of the shower when they arrived, and they were positioned in the hallway between the bathroom and guest bedroom, so I was forced to walk right by them in my towel. Grandma Rita made a sweet joke about it and treated me like she’d known me all my life. It was really refreshing. She even promised to make us a Milky Way pie, that sounds unreal. Those farm stories were wild, too. She needs her own reality show.

We had a delicious meal at Spiral Diner*, the vegan restaurant in downtown Dallas. Even though we had many meat eaters in our midst, everyone seemed to enjoy the food they got, and especially enjoyed our indulgent vegan desserts. I got the Marble Cake, which was moist beyond belief and had the best icing I’d ever tasted.

*This place ruled. I got the “Festivus” sandwich described above. It was basically vegan Thanksgiving on a sandwich, with gravy and sweet potatoes on the side. It was incredible, but oh man, that sandwich came back to haunt me. I’ll explain in the road trip post. The ambiance was really cool. It was a bunch of friendly hipsters serving us, and the music playing in the restaurant included Phoenix, a live Talking Heads song and a couple other of our favorites. I will say that the waiter was only half-in on the Seinfeld joke of the sandwich. I told him I “brought my aluminum pole” and he gave me a nervous laugh. But then when he brought the sandwich, he said “A Festivus for the rest of us,” asking as if he knew the episode. I countered, saying I was excited for the feats of strength. He was so confused. 

Mom and her husband, Scott, shared a banana split that was gone lickity-split* (I know, I know, forgive the pun).

*Sorry. Vegan ice cream is not ice cream. I enjoy a ton of vegan substitutes. The vegan “queso” was pretty awesome, I eat vegan “burgers” and “chicken patties” several times a week, but fake ice cream misses the whole point. I had one bite and that was enough. 

After saying our goodbyes, Zack and I ventured off to the promised land of Dublin, Texas. As I explained to Zack, I always get sentimental when I’m leaving my parents. I know I’m 24 and should probably not be so sappy anymore, but I can’t help it. I’ve always been very close with my family*, so I ache a bit when we part. But I always know they’ll save us a Dr. Becker and a game of pool for when we make it back. 

*They treated me so great, I missed them immediately as well. I hope we get to come back soon.


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