Friday, August 13, 2010

Mel's Totally Excellent Cheesecake Adventure---Part Two

As you may or may not know, I have been given the ability to face huge challenges head on...most times without a second thought.  But the little things?  You know...the little piddly, day to day irritations?  Those I tend to push down and let bug the snot out of me...until there are so many of them they boil over and explode.  That's what landed me in the ER so many times over so many years.  Eventually, the shit is going to get to you.  Deal with it now, don't let it build up.

Sooo...that first night, by myself, in the hotel, away from home I realized I had forgotten my hairbrush.  Yes, I know...you're holding your sides and laughing hysterically.  My hair?  Like I'd miss a hairbrush?  Well, I knew there was a Target but a mere spitting distance away but I had just gotten out of the shower and I really didn't feel like getting dressed and going to Target for just a hairbrush.  The fact that I had that thought immediately after, "How the hell am I going to dry my hair in the morning without a hairbrush?", I think shows amazing progress.  I decided I'd use my fingers instead and see what happened.

I woke up at 4 a.m. the next morning.  I have no idea why.  It wasn't storming...there wasn't any noise other than highway noise and I like that...it wasn't too hot or too cold...the alarm didn't go off.  I got up, looked out the window, saw it was still pitch black, put my glasses on to check the clock, muttered a few choice expletives, and crawled back into bed until the alarm went off at 6 and promptly slept through it until 7.  Hey!  I'm on vacation...leave me alone!

I got up, got dressed, and started to work on my hair.  After about 5 minutes with the blow dryer my fingers seemed to be an adequate substitute.  Check.  I pulled out my hairspray to finish the deal and...it didn't work.  I could've pumped that sucker until Republicans and Democrats hold a mutual lovefest for each other on Capitol Hill and still been left with nothing.  I shook it...I took the assembly apart...blew into it...ran it under hot water...and finally the thing decided to work.  I can do this.  ; )

I grabbed my purse, my room key, and my nook and headed downstairs for breakfast.  Ok...you know how I love Aerosmith...right?  Every single time I got into the elevator and pressed the button for the first floor a computerized female voice would say, "going down".  I'd giggle to myself as a certain song would immediately start playing in my head...no...it wasn't "Crazy"...smart alecks...

The dining area was empty for the most part.  I grabbed a bagel and some cereal and sat at a table near the window.  Before I fired up my nook I went back for some juice...and a banana...and a blueberry muffin.  See?  I was eating.  I finished my breakfast, read a couple more chapters, cleaned up my table and headed back upstairs to plan my day.  I got off at the 6th floor, turned right, stopped at my room, put my keycard in the slot and...nothing.  Dear Lord...it was the hairspray thing all over again.  After about a dozen failed attempts I headed back downstairs to the lobby.  The nice guy at the front desk was beyond helpful...and apologetic.  He made me a new card plus a spare.  When I got in the elevator to head back upstairs, I started to laugh, thinking about the guy who had ridden up with me the night before and felt the need to inform me, "I can't wait to get out of these pants...it's so hot out there!"  Thanks for sharing...good to know buddy...good to know.

I had planned on spending two days at the "shopping village" but one day was more than enough.  I had seen all the stores...most of them were undergoing renovations...those that were open were jammed into a "temporary" location.  One of them didn't even have adequate lighting...just a string of some type of industrial lights that turned everything a sickly shade of yellowish green.  I had absolutely no desire to deal with the traffic around that area again either.  I decided to head to my mall.  Now, that statement in and of itself is something else.  You see...I hate malls...and as far as I'm concerned, they're pretty much all the same.  But, this one, my mall, holds some pretty special memories.  Maybe it's because that's where I go on my getaways...maybe it's because it was the first place I ventured out to on my own after a lot of years...maybe it's because nobody knows me...or maybe it's because I can just be Mel there and I like who Mel is there.  In any case, that's where I headed for the day.

As soon as I arrived I headed to The Disney Store hoping to find something for the girls.  Nothing...all of the Disney Stores close to us have closed, and all the ones left open have nothing.  It's sad.  I meandered around for a bit and ended up finding a store chock full of Silly Bandz.  Yes, my girls are as obsessed with them as everyone else.  Why didn't I think of making colored rubber bands in all manner of shapes?  I bought several packages and decided to get down to business.

One of the major reasons for this trip was to locate something to wear to my 30th High School Reunion.  I didn't want to go...seriously.  But that friend?  Yeah...him again?  It was about this time last year he encouraged me...no...pushed me...no...pretty much ordered me to go.  He told me I'd regret it if I didn't.  You'll hear more about said reunion later.

I had already decided I was going to wear jeans...you know...my Buckle jeans from a previous trip? ; ) I just wanted a cute top to go with them. I planned on starting at Macy's on the upper level and then going into every store, on both levels,  that I thought might have a certain style I was looking for.  I was going to look at all of them before I started trying any on.

As I started for Macy's I passed The Comfort Zone, an acupressure massage place run by Asians.  Every single time I've been to this mall they are standing out in front of the place trying to get people to come in.  This time the woman came over, took my arm, looked me straight in the eye and said, "Free sample!  FREE!"  I don't know what it was about her...how quietly she said it...how beautiful her voice was...how very much she looked like Hope's ayi...but I said, "Where are you from originally?"  She said, "China!"  I said, "So are my daughters.  In that case, I can certainly take the time for a free sample."  Still holding my arm she took me inside to the waiting area and seated me in a chair.  There were three men there in addition to the lovely woman who lead me inside and between the four of them they spoke just enough English to get by.  She would say something in Mandarin, (I'm guessing it's Mandarin, could've been Cantonese...what do I know?) they would reply...occasionally with one or two words of English thrown in.  While one of the gentlemen worked magic on my neck and shoulders we all managed to communicate what parts of China my girls were born in.  I was handed a price list, I pointed to what I wanted and was treated to twenty minutes of heaven.  Wow...the stuff I've been missing people!!!  This guy had magic fingers...he was finding knots that had been buried for years.  When my time was up I walked to the back of the shop, paid Mr. Magic Hands, thanked him profusely and then walked out into the mall.  The woman and the other two men were out in the mall talking. Before I left I pulled out my wallet to show them pictures of my girls. All three of them made a huge fuss, no English of course, then she grabbed my wallet and they started looking at all of my pictures!  She kept pointing to one of the pictures and saying, "Ai ya!  Ai ya!"  I said, "Ai ya!?  That's the only thing my youngest daughter said when we brought her home!  Ai ya!"  She handed me my wallet and as I was putting it away she was trying to teach me something in Chinese. I just smiled and shook my head. At the same time, one of the men spotted my tattoo. He was tracing the characters, reading them and then saying, "yes...yes...". I looked at the woman and she had tears in her eyes and was smiling from ear to ear. She grabbed me…and hugged me! It was one of the sweetest  and most natural things I’ve ever experienced.  I said, "xie xie" and promised her I would be back.  By the time I got to Macy's I realized I was shaking...not just from the wonderful emotional experience I had just been through but also because for the first time in decades I was completely relaxed and had no pain anywhere!  I dropped into a chair in front of the store and just sat for awhile enjoying the feeling!

Once my legs didn't feel like rubber any longer I started my Tour For The Perfect Top '10.  As is always the way?  I ended up back at Macy's after being in every other store in the place.  I tried on six or seven different choices, narrowed it down to two...ended up buying both of them  ; )  Next I needed earrings and bracelets to match...yes I needed them!  I took the tour again, ended up finding the perfect bracelet set at Charming Charlie but never did find any earrings that spoke to me...and it was time to eat!  I wonder where I should go...

Back to the car to stow my purchases, grab my nook, and cross the parking lot to...yes...The Cheesecake Factory!  I had already decided what I was going to order, as usual, before I walked in...or so I thought.  I was seated in a section I'd never been in before...not a whole lot of traffic.  I was slightly disappointed...I am an observer after all...but I had my nook and I was at The Cheesecake Factory for crying out loud!  I was a happy girl...about to get much happier.  As I powered up my nook I saw a hand resting on my table and heard a male voice say, "I'll be right with you miss!"  (miss!!!)  I looked up, smiled, and said, "Not a problem."  Seriously people?  What problem could I have with this?  My waiter was excruciatingly good looking.  Think...oh...Justin Timberlake but darker...and leaner.  As I was soon to learn, Ryan was also as personable as he was good looking.  We talked about food...and cheesecake...his mother...his childhood...what?  You don't have conversations like this with your servers?  Maybe you should try it sometime!  He kept prefacing his statements with "When I was a kid...".  I finally said, "When you were a kid?  What...last week?"  He blushed...he actually blushed!  He said, "Well I thank you but I'm no kid!  I have a ten year old.  I'm thirty."  I laughed...not a giggle...not a chortle...not a chuckle...but a full out, cover your mouth with your hand and look around to make sure nobody is looking laugh.  I said, "Oooo!  Thirty!  I've got seventeen years on you kid!"  He started laughing...we started talking about our children...he said that since he has a ten year old and mine are both under ten, he's ahead of me on that one.  Ohhhh...he was fun.  So was lunch.  Food you say?  Ok, this was my lunch, and of course, dinner again that evening.


That delicious looking mound of mouth watering goodness is The Cheesecake Factory's Chicken and Biscuits.  Notice I got another hearty portion of world's best mashed potatoes as well.  And for dessert?  Well, Ryan didn't have just one favorite to share.  He had at least five favorites...and this is the one I chose.


Doesn't *that* look yummy?  That would be a slice of their Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake.  I want another one...now...

So after my tummy was full, and I'd read a few more chapters, Ryan the 30 Year Old Boy Wonder (dear Lord...born the year I graduated high school) boxed up my leftovers, brought me my bill and asked me when he was going to see me again.  I said, "Tomorrow?"  He said, "I'll be here!"  Yes...I left him a substantial tip.  ; )

All right, it was time to head back to the hotel before traffic became a nightmare.  As I walked across the parking lot and crawled into the Jeep I got nailed by an unexpected case of the giggles.  I actually said, out loud, "God he was CUTE!"  Yeah...I did!

I was a bit later than the day before and it showed.  I had to sit in traffic for a short while...and was sure I missed my exit at one point...yeah, a brand new chorus of, "fuck, fuCK, FUCK!".  But this time?  Those choruses were interspersed with "God he was CUTE!"  Hey...working on balance here folks.  I do have it tattooed on my back after all!  ; )  I realized I was exactly where I needed to be as soon as my exit came into view.

Ok, back at the hotel, crank up the air conditioning, check my email and just enjoy not having anything I have to be doing.  I eventually went downstairs...grabbed myself a root beer (I know...I'm scandalous) and then hit the treadmill for an hour.  After that?  Leftovers of course!  I had just finished my dinner when Hope called.  I flipped open my phone and said, "This is Mama!"  She said, "Hi!"  I said, "Hi baby Hope!"  There was a pause...and my oldest child...my angel...the strongest human being I know...who never cries...sobbed, "Mama!  I miss you!  Why are you gone?  I want you home!"  It took everything I had not to collapse on the floor in my own pool of tears.  I promised her I would be home the next afternoon.  Oh...how I love that child.  I talked to Claire for a bit...and The Spousal Unit...told everybody I'd see them the next day.  It's good to be missed y'all.

Well, let's see...I still needed to grab a shower and get things packed up...and I still had more than half of that slice of Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake in my mini-fridge calling to me.  When I got out of the shower I started thinking about telling my friend Dave the day before how I was going to walk around naked.  I giggled...and then I thought, "Why the hell not?"  So I did!  HAAAAAAAAAA!!!  (Yes Dave, I stayed in my room!)  Not only did I walk around, but I packed my suitcase, got everything out and ready for the next morning and then...yeah...this one was the good one...I ate the chocolate cheesecake.  I highly recommend it...all of it...should you ever get the chance.  ; )

To say I had mixed emotions the next morning was an understatement.  I missed my kids...but I didn't want to leave my own private little vacation spot either.  There were tears when I drove away from the hotel.  I headed back towards my mall.  I had planned on getting another henna tattoo and then grabbing a quick lunch...you know where.

The girl who does the henna wasn't working that day...and I had at least an hour to kill before The Cheesecake Factory opened.  Sooo...guess where I went?  Yeah...I went back for another massage!  One of the gentlemen was out in front of the shop.  He said something to me which I didn't hear.  I stepped closer, he put his arm around me and said, "Free sample?"  I said, "How about if I just go ahead and pay you?"  We walked into the shop and the woman from the day before actually shouted when she saw me.  She ran over to us, gave me a huge hug, and I said, "I told you I'd be back!"  She put her arm around me and said, "Table!?"  The day before I had had a chair massage, apparently I was to have no more of those...I was going straight to the table!  It was blissful...but in a different way.  This one was downright painful.  Again, he was working out knots that I didn't even realize were there.  Every so often he'd say, "Ok lady?"  I'd just squeak, "yes!" and he kept doing what he was doing.  Now...does anyone find it as paradoxical as I do that me, the one who hates to be touched, lets some guy who I normally wouldn't even allow to share my airspace, put his hands all over me and then I sit up and say thank you, hand him money...and come back for more the next day?

I thought about buying another bracelet...but there were too many choices as to what I could put on it to commemorate this trip. "God he was CUTE"..."fuck,fuCK,FUCK"..."I can do this."  Actually folks, the "I can do this" is seriously being considered for the next tattoo...it means that much to me.

As I made my way towards my own personal restaraunt nirvana, I realized that the service alley beside it, that is usually gated, was wide open.  I also noticed someone was back there having a cigarette.  Any guesses who it was?  I yelled, "You realize that's bad for you...right?"  He looked at me like I was certifiably insane and then, his face completely changed...features softened...smiled from the inside out.  Ryan yelled back, "HEY!  How ya doin'?!"  No, he didn't wait on me that day.  But it's ok...it's nice to be remembered!

These were my choices for my last meal.  It was early, I had a long drive ahead of me, and I figured I should put something in my stomach besides cheesecake beforehand.  Yes...even their salads are huge.


Again, the choice for dessert had been made before I even left home earlier that week.  This flavor was making its debut the very next day, but since I'm a fan of TCF on Facebook, I had a coupon to try it for just $1.50 one day early.  Yeah...the Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake was incredible. 


I ordered a slice of Adam's Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple to take home for The Spousal Unit and headed for home.

The drive home was almost as exhilarating as the walking around naked stuff.  I had chosen AC/DC for my return trip and kept turning those boys up louder and louder until I could feel the bass line in the driver's door...and my seat...and the steering wheel...and the floor.  At one point I glanced at the speedometer and noticed I was going just a tad over the speed limit...by about 30 or so m.p.h.  What?  I corrected it...shut up!

You know what else was pretty cool?  Seeing the expression on my Hope's face when she spotted me peeking into her bedroom.  You know what was even better?  Having both of my girls jump me and smother me with hugs and kisses.

I can do this.


P.S.  Stay tuned...next post?  My 30th High School Reunion

1 comment:

Carol said...

Lordy Lordy Mel...my only request is that next time you take me with you. I'll meet you ANYWHERE!!! Glad you had so much fun....and 'gladder' still that it was good to go home~

xoxoxoxoxoxox

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