Boomer Twilight

Mostly Humorous Observations of Most Anything, with a Boomer Slant

Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Ding a Ling a Ling . . . “Wait a Minute . . “

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“Marco! Polo!” is to swimming pools what “Wait a minute . . “ is to ice cream trucks. They are universally interpreted to mean whatever they mean, and all children say them the same way (you’re probably hearing them in your head right now).

Oh, the sound of those bells and the kids singing, “Wait a minute,” as they rush into their houses for some change. “Mom! Mom! The Ice Cream Man is here!! Hurry!!!” I like to remember chasing down the Good Humor truck with my friends, but the best memory was driving one.

In 1973 my discharge from the Air Force came through. It was exciting, until I thought, “Now what?” My skill was reading and delivering secret messages. There weren’t an abundance of jobs requiring cryptographic training, and I planned to attend college in the fall, using the GI Bill. I needed something quick to take care of my 3-year-old family. Having a wife and two kids, with no income, can cause anxiety for everyone involved, so I had to find work. Any work.

After a month attempting to sell Ecko Hope Chests on the streets of Washington, DC, and not even sniffing the possibility of a sale or income, the time seemed right for a different venture. My parents’ apartment was closing-in on us, so I began a relationship with the Washington Post classifieds.

I can’t quite remember how the advertisement read. There was mention of Good Humor Ice Cream and driving; two things I like. So I hopped into my new 1973 red Chevy Vega (don’t laugh) and drove to the plant in Hyattsville for the job interview. It was a short question and answer session, which included inquiry about my driving record (having been out of the US for the last four years, I didn’t really have a chance to soil it) and a quick run of the mirror under my nose to see if I was breathing. They gave me the job. Whew!

The truck you see to the right was the typical style of the late 60s – early 70s. Mine was slightly different. It required dry ice (good for entertaining when a puddle was nearby) for the freezer, rather than being plugged-in overnight. And, I got out of the truck from the driver’s side, since it was a two-door cab. But, the chimes worked great. Ringing those bells while driving around the neighborhoods gave me the chance to be an inspiration to the children and a screen-scratching irritant to the parents. I yanked on the chain as rhythmically as possible. The louder and sing-song jingly I could make it, the more ice cream that was sold. I got “Jiggy wid it,” and pulled in a pretty decent wage.

Ice cream-seeking children are disciplined. They have an internal clock that notifies them it is time for the Good Humor Man. After one or two weeks of conditioning, they knew where and when I would be stopping. At the designated corner, they fidgeted excitedly with money in hand, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Lord of Frozen Treats. It is one job where being late means lower income, because if Mister Softee is lurking nearby and the Good Humor Man makes a habit of not arriving on time, soft serve will be sampled (my family’s Sheltie loved it). A child’s loyalty only survives one or two disappointments.

Most of the Good Humor drivers had their first names on the side of the truck just over the freezer door. Mine read “Menjie.” Usually the kids would ask, “Is that your name?” I would answer, “Yes, I am Menjie Rovasfringle.” Their heads tilted slightly like a puppy, while they wondered if it was true. My answer always remained the same, “That’s my real name.” A little white lie, but it entertained them, as they forked-over their nickels.

The favorite part of my route was the end. I always finished-up at the Fort Belvoir barracks in the evening. The soldiers ate dinner about 4:30, so by the time 7:30 came around, they were ready for pints, quarts and half-gallons; all packed away at the back of the freezer to be sure there was a ready supply. Young GIs, with the munchies, usually emptied the truck, which made for a good drive back to the plant, carrying lots of cash and having plenty of room for tomorrow’s wares.

School started for me in August, ending the experience as a Good Humor Man. Many of the drivers drove taxicabs in the off-season, and I was directed toward Yellow Cab in Marlow Heights for weekend work, while going to school. The parent company, Unilever (Lipton Tea), made a decision in 1976 to abandon direct sales, opting to distribute Good Humor® through grocery chains. By 1978 all the official company trucks were parked, and eventually sold to other ice cream distributors. The Good Humor Man was no more.

Although, I only worked for the company a few months, it is a memory that will live on forever. Hold on a second, that sounds like the Mister Softee truck. I have to go.

“Wait a minute . . . .”

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Written by Bake My Fish

June 21, 2008 at 11:42 am

Confessions of a Hallowed Wiener

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My favorite holiday is Halloween. It’s not even a holiday. No government offices close, banks and other companies conduct their normal business, and all schools remain open. Yet, it’s considered to be a holiday. That’s what you think, right? It has that celebratory feel. Maybe we should just label it a Cause For Celebration, since it doesn’t get the official holiday treatment. I’m not even sure I should capitalize Halloween.

Regardless of whatever the plan for decorating my house happens to be, I usually take the day off in anticipation of all the little tykes soon to be scared half-to-death. I probably shouldn’t confess playing hooky on an unholiday. Please don’t tell anyone. Yeah, I’m the guy in the neighborhood children either can’t wait to encounter, or the house they stroll past nervously. The candy I give is the good stuff, but they have to work for it. If it’s a really good night of fright, there is a lot left over for the office.

My parents started it. It’s all their fault. On Halloween they put on a show. The best year I remember, Mom took out her teeth and played a Witch, and Dad got up on the roof and dropped a sheet-covered broomstick on a rope in front of the kids as they ascended the steps. They gave the best treats, so all the kids wanted to make the stop. That particular year my father was a driver for Rock Creek, and he gave out bottled sodas to the costume-clad loons. Glass bottles. If anyone gave me a glass container of pent-up fizz, it would be tossed in the air to watch it break in front of me. That would be cool. So, my father unwittingly probably contributed to bad behavior. Nevertheless, receiving a sugar-infused soft drink is a nice treat. Fortunately, when my Dad drove for Sinclair Oil, he didn’t give away bottles of gasoline.

So, I was hooked. Now, Halloween can’t come soon enough. I want each year to be more outrageous. The creepy music, screams, shrieks, blubbering, chimes, bells, howls, cackles and other haunting tracks blast out of the upstairs windows, probably making a few neighbors hate 2034.

Although, it is really neat to be the house treat-seekers want to hit before the end of the night, my most successful gig was in 1983 while living in an apartment in Columbia, MD. I had this really hideous, horse-faced mask of Richard Nixon. The picture (not my mask) you see here does not do justice to the fear my face-cover extracted. During that day in the office where I worked at the time, the mask was worn for our Halloween celebration. I popped up from behind a cubicle in front of one of my bosses, and got him good. The fright on his face was priceless. And, he was a Republican. If he were a Democrat, he probably would have made a quick trip to the bathroom.

Then that evening, the haunting began. It was a perfect night. Monday Night Football was on and the Redskins were playing. A bottle of tequila (the last one ever) was my friend, and my children were with me.

We tied a cord to the handle of the door of the apartment and rigged the knob so it could be opened without turning. I stood in the foyer under a green light, with my head covered by the mask and wielding a plastic Psycho-style knife. My kids took turns yanking the door open at the sound of a knock, and I did my best Norman Bates impersonation, while shrieking and thrusting the blade downward. It never failed to do the trick. The only time I regretted the prank was when a father, holding his infant, screamed like a girl, then laughed. The baby did not think it was funny and cried pitifully. Causing seven-year-olds to crap their pants was good. Scarring a child for life is not. My divine punishment was too much tequila. Eventually, I just pointed to the television and said with an idiotic slur, “Rrredshkinz,” then slowly shuffled sideways into my bedroom, got sick and passed out. To this day my son and daughter rag on me about the episode. “Tequila, you are no longer my friend. Be gone, and take that silly worm with you.” One good thing that happened was the Redskins beat the Chargers 27 – 24.

Some people might think at my age being obsessed with Halloween is a bit odd. I’ll never stop. We’ve lived in this neighborhood for 22 years. The kids expect the crazy guy at 2034 to do something goofy and weird. I have a reputation to uphold. Several months ago, while getting my hair washed before the cut, the shampoo girl was talking with me about where she grew up. She was referring to my neighborhood. We started discussing Halloween and she mentioned the fear of walking up the driveway of the house with the loud eerie music, and the man who always dressed up, and usually jumped out from behind something. I probed a bit more, and guess who? We had a big laugh. Endorsement by unsolicited testimonial.

My life is now complete.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Written by Bake My Fish

June 3, 2008 at 4:58 am

A Coked-up Wedding

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Our wedding took place on July 7th, 1984, in the basement of Towne House Restaurant in Media, PA. It was an event that revolved around the usual exchange of vows, ceremonial preaching and linner (in between lunch and dinner). It was exciting, because it gave me the opportunity to have a side helping of Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, for which I developed a taste while Bartending at Anna Maria’s in Washington, DC. It gave me chills just knowing I would soon partake of the world’s best noodles. Being the Groom, special attention was mine.

As protocol dictates, my Bride and I arrived after everyone else. Being late is OK, because we were the beautiful couple. Our guests eyed us while descending the staircase, but my attention was directed to the bar, where my twelve-year-old son, Sean, was downing another Coca-Cola; his favorite beverage. As a parent, I attempted to regulate the sugar intake of my tots, but in this case it was too late. “Open bar” means infinite Cokes to my son. By the time we arrived, he had several, because his drinking could not be monitored.

Soon we began the ceremony. Sean was my Best Man, and my daughter, Pamela, was a Flower Girl. It seemed an exciting time for them, too. We went through the wedding procedures, eventually sitting down for our meal. The waitress took my order, with an emphasis on Spaghetti Aglio e Olio. “Bring it to me now, Fair Maiden,” I thought. “I am the Groom and shall have whatever desired.” I felt like Henry VIII. Shortly thereafter the meal arrived, followed by a distressed son with a belly ache. “Dad, I feel sick,” he moaned. “My stomach hurts.” So, we walked outside to kill the gas pains, caused by the indulgence of unlimited soda on an empty stomach.

It felt good being a dutiful parent and helping my son with his difficulty. Walking around the streets of Media with my little pal by my side was a parental thrill. I was doing a good thing. After what seemed like a short stroll, he felt relieved enough to return to the affair. I went back to my table, gave my new wife a peck on the cheek and sat down to enjoy my meal.

The Spaghetti Aglio e Olio had been removed. My walk down Main Street apparently took longer than I thought. The food was gone. They must have assumed I wasn’t coming back. During the excitement of all the people talking with my lovely Bride, it slipped everyone’s mind I ordered vittles. The untouched plate must not have alerted the server. I could have made a big deal out of it and screamed at her, but the loss of my pasta was so devastating, it didn’t occur to me to complain. The funk of not having my favorite dish cleared my mind of any other thoughts. “Olio? Olio, where are you?”

I’m not sure of everything that took place after my traumatic experience. We went to a nearby hotel where we were staying before our morning flight, with our relatives and wedding guests for drinks and dancing. The loss of Spaghetti Aglio e Olio weighed heavy on my mind. After a few cocktails, disco and heart-felt kisses from my Bride, my interest in Olio waned. We were beginning our honeymoon, so food was not as high on the list as usual.

The loss of my side dish was not the end of the world. It’s just that it isn’t on the menu at Towne House, and they made it special for me because it was my day, too. It’s not as if I can use another bowl of pasta, carrying with it about 700 calories, but for them to go out of their way to cater to me, and then for me not being able to enjoy it, left the eventual compliment unuttered. How could I rave about food uneaten?

I probably should have ordered the Baked Fish.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Hurling at the 7-11

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On my way to the office most mornings, I stop at the 7-11 in Randallstown, at the corner of Offutt and Liberty Road. They have the energy-fusioned coffee (and there are no Wawas around), so I get a 20-ounce cup and continue my journey to work. I would consider this routine.

Two really nice African-American fellows are usually hanging out in front of the store. They appear to be in their mid-to-late 50s. Maybe retired. They greet me every time I stop with a sincere, “How are you this morning?” Very friendly and personable. Many people stop to chat with them, and they seem to know everybody.

Lately I have been bothered by nausea. It comes and goes. Sometimes it is enough of a problem to cause me to rest more than preferred. The other day, on my way to the office I decided to stop at the 7-11 for a cup of coffee. After parking my car, I got out and waved at the two guys as they greeted me. Then I leaned over into the grassy knoll and heaved. I’m talking Blanch! It came on so quickly I didn’t know what the hell to think. But, the 7-11 Greeters were concerned. “Are you OK? Is everything all right?” Man, this was embarrassing. I was blowing my breakfast-less entrails in front of someone who knows me, and is not family.

My purging did not cause me to nix the coffee. I went inside in a somewhat shaky State of Being and continued my routine of huddling around the coffee station and preparing my beverage. “Excuse me. Pardon me,” I droned on with my drink-mixing maneuvers, meandering my way around multiple hands reaching for the sweeteners. While stirring my container of caffeine, I eyed the donuts nearby. They looked good, but evil. My better judgement forced me to pass.

Depositing my innards on morning dew-covered grass is not an activity I relish. But, I love getting my morning caffeine fix.

I’m not sure what to assume with regard to the nausea thing. Being a Boomer, I really don’t want to know. All bodily weird things seem to happen within our Scheme of Age, so I’ll just let it rest.

But, I really do love the 7-11 coffee. Starbucks, you are on notice.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Written by Bake My Fish

May 22, 2008 at 11:48 pm

Posted in Food, Humor

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The Beaten Path To Squid Roe

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In 1997, I discovered the Internet. Like most people at the time AOL was my Service Provider. I liked them. It was easy to navigate through their landscape. Kind of like Internet for Dummies. When I first signed up, they gave me the screen name Philro78@aol.com. Kind of boring, right? After becoming aware of the flexibility of screen name anointment, I began to have fun.

I signed on as BakeMyFish, OnlyOneCannoli, BeefTongue, LOLmyArse, XmasAtKmart, LightsOnNotHome, WeirdGeezer, BagODonuts, TonyToetag, and my favorite . . . BeatenSquid. Entering a chat room (I really enjoyed Men Wit Minds) usually produced a LOL or two from a few of the participants. Occasionally a LMAO, ROFL or ROFLMAO was typed at me. But the best was LOLOL!! because it made me feel like a comedian. Beaten Squid now occasionally hangs out on PokerStars.com, at the 5/10 Play Money tables.

Yesterday I stopped at an Asian Grocery Store in Ellicott City looking for a few items. My favorite station is the Deli with all the different pods of strange foods I know nothing about. Always curious and fairly willing to try practically anything, I asked the nice lady standing behind the counter which of the choices contained squid. She pointed to the extremely large bowls sitting on the table behind me, with cellophane somewhat covering them, flies hovering close by, and sticky tongs to be used for scooping. “The red one,” she uttered. Being polite, I noddingly pretended to understand and turned to see six giant bowls, three of which were “red ones.” My memory of squid is based on a knowledge of calamari, smoked, soup, dried, shredded, and sushi. I do not recall the “red one.”

Feeling foolish, I did the “Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe,” slopped up a healthy helping of the “red one” into the container and handed it to the Counter Lady to be weighed. She gave it back to me, and the label read, “Seasoned Squid Slice.” Whew! I did good. There was a 66.7% chance of being wrong.

Well . . . . this stuff is awesome. I guess it’s an appetizer. Sweet and spicy. Really tasty. Low in calories, high in protein; with reasonable sodium. My wife hated it. She thought it was too hot. More for me.

So, the next time you venture to your local Asian Grocery Store, go to the Deli counter and pick up some Seasoned Squid Slice. The dish looks something like red-glazed pasta. If in doubt, just ask for the “red one.”

With Love,

Beaten Squid
Guest Contributor

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Written by Bake My Fish

April 19, 2008 at 6:08 am

Posted in Food, Humor

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Mr. & Mrs. Popeye Celebrate 91st Wedding Anniversary

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Bridgette and Doyle Popeye celebrated their 91st wedding anniversary on November 12, 2019. Bridgette Squeaky Moonloop was born in Corncob, LA on February 29, 1908. Her husband, Doyle Isakiah Popeye was born in Vegetable Leaf, MO on February 29, 1904. They met at the National Society of Leap Year Babies celebration on February 29, 1928, and just nine months later they were man and wife. On January 17, 1929 their son, Aristotle Ezra Popeye, who became a comedic star using the name Popeye The Sailor Man, was born.

Vegetable Leaf, MO was known for the abundant spinach crops each and every year. During the 1930s and 40s, spinach was a slang word for nonsense (there is no significance for this story, just interesting). Doyle Popeye’s family had the largest spinach empire in the State; just over 27,000 acres of greenery.

One day in the summer of 1937 while visiting his grandparents, Aristotle was chasing the family’s pet rat, Phoebe, through the rows of crops. Becoming exhausted from the frivolity, he rested a moment and witnessed Phoebe gnawing on some spinach leaves. Phoebe perked up with enthusiasm, daring young Popeye to chase her. Aristotle, being not a particularly bright child, decided to chew on a leaf as well. His forearms grew immense, and he developed a hankering to smoke a corncob pipe. His increased speed allowed him to catch Phoebe and they snuggled for hours. Aristotle Ezra Popeye knew he had happened upon a miracle weed (not that kind of weed).

After years of spinach-induced mayhem, and kicking a lot of ass in High School, Aristotle figured he could parlay his strength into a career. He brought his idea for a hit series to famed Hollywood Producer, Bluto Tandrum, who insisted on a part in any of the movies, cartoons, or other media invented during that time. Since Bluto was a very large, imposing fellow, it made sense he assume the role of villain. Popeye agreed to Bluto’s demands, and a series was launched.

Another son, Doyle Isakiah Popeye, Jr. was born on January 30, 1930. Doyle, Jr. could not stomach spinach. His parents tried hiding it among other foods, like spinach dip, spinach ravioli, spinach juice (they called it lime), and other dishes. But he was not fooled. Eventually Doyle, Jr. refused to eat any green leafy vegetables, and it was he who coined the term vile weed to emphasize his hatred of spinach. Eventually the term was used by Newman in a Seinfeld episode in reference to broccoli.

Although Doyle, Jr. never developed the large forearms and affinity for corncob pipes, he did understand there is a lot of money to be made in the entertainment business. Adopting the screen name, Gene Hackman, he became a famous, Oscar-winning performer. His early success was realized at the age of 41 in the film French Connection, in which he played Popeye Doyle, a cantankerous police detective, bent on destruction of the heroin trade through France to America. He was very tough in the Popeye tradition, even without the spinach.

Bridgette and Doyle Popeye have lived a long life. Both are centenarians, yet they have not been honored by Willard Scott or Smuckers (probably an oversight). Most vegetable authorities attribute their longevity to lifelong spinach consumption.

The Popeye name has been branded throughout the world in products such as Popeye’s Chicken and Popeye Spinach. There is even a club in Chester, Illinois devoted to the Popeye Picnic; an annual event, which includes music, food, games and such; all in the honor of Popeye. Somebody kill me . . . . now.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

Written by Bake My Fish

March 28, 2008 at 8:56 pm

Posted in Food, Humor, Media

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What’s with the Nuts?

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In February I took my first flight since 2000. That seems like a long time between launches, but I like to drive. It’s the Jim Ignatowski in me. I think during my last journey, the airlines still provided passengers with meals. This particular trip was from Baltimore to Florida and back, so not such a long flight. Food was not a big priority. The airline did supply us with a pack of dry roasted peanuts.

After receiving my mini-bag, I started reading the wrapper. Ingredients: dry roasted peanuts, salt. The Disclaimer – “Produced in a facility that processes peanuts and other nuts.” Their italics, not mine. They wanted to place serious emphasis on the statement that peanuts were produced in a facility that processes peanuts and other nuts.

The moment I read it, I knew liability concerns are out of control. Either that, or they really think the general public consists of blithering idiots who don’t understand that peanuts are peanuts. I know some moron will cut his hedges with a lawnmower, and be forced to sign his “x” with a nub. So, yeah they need to put a warning on the lawnmowers for that guy. And some fool will use a bungee cord to smash his head on rocks lining the river bank below the bridge he felt the need to use as a launching pad. Go ahead, print the distance limitations of the cord for that guy. To assume we can’t figure out that peanuts are produced in a peanut factory, brings visions of mindless zombies walking around with ice cream cones stuck to our foreheads.

I ate the handful of nut kernels and chuckled inside, showing the wrapper to those nearby. They thought it was silly, of course. The fallacy was exposed. Do you remember the Wendy’s “Parts is parts” commercial? Well, “Peanuts is peanuts” (I just wanna slap somebody).

Please understand, my whining has nothing to do with a like or dislike of a fine legume. I love peanuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, filberts, macadamias, etc. All nuts are OK by me. No, my complaint is “we have to stop treating ourselves like fools.”

Eventually there will be no name on any products, because the nutrition and warning labels will be the packaging. I know peanuts and other foods do cause allergic reactions. If you are allergic to peanuts, I am sorry. The alert really isn’t meant for you, because if you see a wrapper that reads dry roasted peanuts, you assume suicide is unpleasant.

If the dangerous stuff is hidden within another product and sensible people may not know, then it should be revealed in warnings. I can kind of figure out that milk is produced in a facility that processes milk products. Or that wheat crackers are produced in a facility that processes wheat products. So goes the peanut reference. There’s no need to spend the time or effort rubbing our noses in it. We get it. Nuts is nuts.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Written by Bake My Fish

March 17, 2008 at 5:45 am