The traffic to West Hartford can be sketchy at times.
In particular, the turn toward Worcester and later toward Connecticut can get backed up, but people must not be out this Saturday morning, because we get to Suzi’s parents’ house without any trouble.
We’re there for a pre-Thanksgiving visit, including the shopping Suzi and her mother used to do the day after the holiday.
At the faux neighborhood/shopping plaza near their house, Suzi and her mother go to Talbots while her father and I head toward the bookstore.
Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” is playing as we get out of the car and go our separate ways. I never particularly liked the song — or Paul Simon in general — but the song has gotten mildly less annoying over time.
“If you’ll be my bodyguard
I can be your long lost pal
I can call you Betty
And Betty, when you call me, you can call me Al.”
Once we’re in the bookstore, Suzi’s dad ensconces himself in a corner by the sports books while I browse.
I’m not shopping for gifts, and won’t be until I get people’s lists after Thanksgiving. Instead, I’m contemplating items for the list that lives on my phone and will eventually be the wish list for my Amazon Kindle.
I find a couple promising books right away, then come across “Mox,” the autobiography of pro wrestler Jon Moxley. I enjoy his work, so I turn to a random page and read a story about he and a friend making a special delivery on behalf of “anonymous friends.”
It doesn’t make my list, but I’d consider reading it someday, which is more than I can say for Joe Lieberman’s “The Centrist Solution.” Since he’s a former senator from Connecticut, it’s displayed so I actually notice it, but it gets a hard pass from me.
However, I find a bunch of books to add to my list, on top of several I had forgotten were there.
It’s a lot of books, which is a reminder that I have to be better about reading my books. It hasn’t been a time problem, but more of a there’s-always-something-new-to-see-on-social-media problem.
I need to bring that ratio back into line.
Everyone’s shopping done, we go back to the car, Glenn Frey’s “You Belong To The City” playing.
Because the people who program the music for the faux neighborhood/shopping plaza are apparently on a mid-1980s kick.
Going to Friendly’s was a big deal when we were kids because it was a rarity, something that only happened when my brother and I convinced our parents to go for ice cream after grocery shopping.
Then I went to college with a Friendly’s right across the street, and later lived near restaurants where my best friend, Chuck, was the manager. He never comped me, but it was a good way to visit if they weren’t too busy.
In later years, we always lived fairly close to a Friendly’s, so we could go every so often, but now we don’t, and between that and business not going well, trips are once again a rarity.
We have to wait for a table when we go for lunch, not because it’s crowded, but because like a lot of other restaurants, they’re short on staff, as there are only two servers.
At least I have the good sense to realize it this time, unlike when Suzi and I went out to eat a couple weeks ago and I was shocked — and briefly responded accordingly — at having to wait 45 minutes at a restaurant that was mostly empty.
They do their best, and I enjoy my chicken tenders, fries and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup sundae, because no matter how rarely we go to Friendly’s, it’ll always be a place for good comfort food … and ice cream of course.
We’ve seen it so many times over the past 20 years … the Connecticut women’s basketball team gets it going and turns what’s supposed to be a contest into a performance, the opponents turned into little more than props.
This is not one of those days. In particular, they seem to not understand that when the other team has the ball, it’s a good idea to keep them from scoring.
They still win by 15 … against an Arkansas team that beat them last year.
If they play like that starting March 14, maybe their season ends early. On Nov. 14, it’s a nice win against a good team to start the season.
We’re still getting used to seeing games with fans again, and being fans at games again.
Because we couldn’t go to games last year, it’s the first time we see Paige Bueckers — the latest UConn best player in the country — play in person.
She doesn’t score at all in the first quarter. In fact, I think she only shoots once.
She winds up with 34 points, a career high.
It’s so interesting to see in person … how when she has the ball, the game goes as fast as she wants it to go … the way she just finds spaces in the defense to get her shots.
At one point, I say to Suzi, “It’s like she doesn’t realize the game is supposed to be hard.”
With baseball and NASCAR over (although the latter is strictly my interest), college basketball — Connecticut, Syracuse and whatever else looks interesting — will give our sports fix through the winter.
Before the shopping …
Before the Friendly’s for lunch and pizza for dinner …
Before the game of Parcheesi that Suzi’s mom wins …
Before the walk around the neighborhood while the sun’s still out …
Before the better part of a “Seinfeld” marathon that fills out Saturday night …
Before the basketball game …
Before we even leave our house in Massachusetts …
I grab my comb, shaving cream and razor out of the medicine cabinet after showering, and I realize “I have to take some of this stuff with me.”
It feels like forever since we’ve gone anywhere overnight, to the point where I have to remind myself to pack my toiletry bag and all the other travel essentials.
Suzi and I try to figure out when our last trip was. There was my father’s 70th birthday in March, and we’re pretty sure we must have gone down in May, around her mother’s birthday.
We’re both wrong.
It was in July. You’d think watching soccer in a monsoon would have left more of an impression.
I don’t do too badly packing, only forgetting a pill that I take every night. Suzi forgets her glasses, which just means she puts her contacts in as soon as she wakes up.
I always enjoy our trips either to West Hartford or where my family lives in New York, but I’m especially looking forward to this one.
I think I’m particularly excited this time to put life aside for a couple days. There will be another opportunity coming up the weekend after Thanksgiving, and then, of course, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
After the game, we head home. We hit a little traffic.
Back to life.
Monday arrives … we go again.