November 5th, 2018
I have never felt so useless in my entire life.
Karin and I participated in a baby shower on Sunday afternoon. The shower was the main reason for our journey down to Texas. The baby shower was for Gabi, Hans’ fiancée. Karin went shopping on Saturday with Gabi and her mom to buy decorations and some food for the party.
I did some cooking in preparation for the shower. I made a quiche, and a herring salad. Both of those were rather quirky choices. I made them, first o all, because I know how to make those dishes. They generally turn out well. Also, Hans loves herring, and that has to be attributed to his Milwaukee upbringing. Pickled fish is an acquired taste. Hans, perhaps alone in all of Texas, enjoys herring. The salad itself consists of herring, green apples, raw onions, dill pickles, and mayo. It is crisp, crunchy, send incredibly sour.
On Sunday morning, Karin and I went to Mass, while Hans and Gabi bought more food. The plan was for Hans to grill burgers, and then to have the quiche, herring salad, and deep-fried jalapeños as side dishes. Karin planned to make spaetzle too. Spaetzle is a homemade noodle dish from southern Germany.
It was just after noon that Hans and I realized that we were superfluous to the rest of the operation. Gabi’s mother and sister showed up, and with Karin’s assistance, they took over the decorating process. Hans and I went to Kroger to buy more beer.
Gabi did have one more chore for Hans to perform prior to the arrival of the party guests. Gabi and Hans have three dogs. They spend time in the backyard, where they do their business. Gabi wanted Hans to clean up the dog poop in preparation for the party. He had gone to Home Depot and bought a rake, but he was dragging his feet with regards to the actual yard clean up. I had offered to help Hans, but Gabi was adamant that Hans, and Hans alone, rake up the dog shit.
Gabi gently reminded Hans of his responsibility.
She said sweetly, “Haaaaans, when y’all gonna clean up the backyard?”
He replied, “Let me just finish my smoke.”
There was an eye roll. Gabi said,
“C’mon Hans! The people will be here soon.”
Hans gave a deep, heartfelt sigh. “Oooookay.”
He took the rake out back, and made a feeble attempt at raking dog poo.
He said, “Ooh…this is disgusting.”
Gabi told him, “Well, yeah….that’s why I want you clean it up. I gave you just one job to do, and…”
“Okay, okay, I’m doing it.” Hans gave her one of his patented pouting faces.
Another eye roll.
Hans managed to clear a zone near the patio that was biologically safe. That’s a good thing, since the grill is on the patio. He muttered darkly that wasn’t going to rake any more. Then he lit a cigarette and cracked open a beer. I opened one too, to show solidarity.
I think about fifteen people showed up. Gabi’s mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother arrived. Gabi’s sister and a high school friend came. Hans’ old boss from the oil fields and his wife showed up. Then Hans’ buddy from work, along with his wife and daughter, drove up in their huge pick up truck. Gabi’s brother came. Hans’ cousin, Rosie came with her daughter, Lani, in tow. The house got pretty full.
The women gathered in the living room. The guys stayed outside and kept their distance.
Hans and I stood on the driveway with Jim, Hans’ old boss from the oil fields. Jim has worked in the oil fields all of his adult life. Jim thinks of Hans as his son. Jim is a couple years older than I am. He’s a good, solid man. He’s conservative in good ways, and completely trustworthy.
As we all stood there with our beers, Jim said in total seriousness,
“Do y’all think we should send the military into the schools to stop these shootings?”
Hans replied, “I think we should just better utilize the law enforcement resources that we have available.”
I said, “I think we need to convince folks that killing people doesn’t solve any problems.”
Jim gave me a hard stare.
Jim said, “I don’t remember this sort of thing from when I was young. Hell, these kids ain’t got any discipline. You can’t even smack on the behind any more.”
Hans nodded. “Parents are afraid to teach their children right from wrong. That’s why they don’t respect their elders.”
Keep in mind that Hans is thirty-one years old. I find it amusing when he bitches about those “young people” not having respect for their elders.
I asked Hans, “So, was I afraid to discipline you?”
Hans shook his head, “You put the fear of death into me.”
Good to know.
All three of us agreed that gun control was not the answer, for differing reasons. Hans is always a bit impressed that I oppose gun control, since he considers me to be a hippie-style liberal. I like to surprise him.
Hans eventually got around to starting the grill. The women were inside as Gabi opened her gifts. Little Weston is going to be a very well-dressed baby. The guys were standing around the grill. Hans was arguing with Colby, his friend from work. Colby is an enthusiastic Democrat. Hans is not. Also, Hans refuses to vote. Hans has strong political opinions, but he won’t cast a ballot. He considers the system to be too corrupt. He might be right.
Everybody ate well. Hans even grilled veggie-burgers for the Texans who don’t like meat. People stayed away from the herring salad. Texans are no more adventurous regarding food than anyone else. Their loss.
The party broke up after six. I helped clean up the aftermath. I think that Gabi had a good time. She seemed happy. Karin was happy too.
Hans seemed a little lost. He might as well get used to that.