On Friday, November 21, 2014, my son Michael turned two years old.
He had a rough start on life. Those of you who know me personally, or see me on Facebook, know about the trials and tribulations he endured during his first year. The invasive surgery, the physical therapy, and so on. For a long time he needed to use an oxygen pump, but he hasn’t needed that for a few months, and it looks like that big machine will soon be out of our house. Hopefully before Christmas, because we’ve got a busy month coming up.
All the difficulty he endured in his first year seems far away, now. Michael is a tough and resilient little guy. When presented with a difficult situation, he either shrugs and keeps going, or he finds another path. That’s a pretty good model to live by.
My nephew and godson, Connor, just celebrated his ninth birthday, and his party was held at an indoor miniature golf course and arcade called Monster Mini Golf. Functionally, it was like a lot of indoor playground venues. This one had an indoor mini-golf course, a suite of arcade games, and accommodations for a disc jockey. What set it apart was the theme. The place looked like a set from the Hilarious House of Frightenstein, and the staff were dressed like stereotypical mad scientists and “Igor” types. The decor was predominantly black, with splashes of day-glo paint everywhere. The private party room looked like it was pulled from the set of the old Addams Family TV series, with all manner of tacky and hilarious decorations. And finally, the bad puns that were incorporated into the murals and other artwork would send most English majors into cardiac arrest.
It was a totally zany and fun place to have a children’s party. Near as I can tell, everyone had fun. My daughter likes one of the place’s mascots, a ghoul-girl named Stella Skellarella (pictured above), who looks like a recent graduate of Monster High.
I hope this place lasts for a while. I’ve been to a number of places like this over the years, and sadly, they don’t last very long. They are often set up in response to a particular fad or pop culture trend, and do very well for a while. But once the fad runs down, the business goes down as well. Sometimes the owners of these places see the changes in the wind and react accordingly. The business may close for a month, then re-emerge with a whole new look and theme. Or they find a creative way to re-invent themselves anew. Or, sadly, they fall off the radar and quietly vanish. I thought this place was rather fun, so I’m hoping it does not suffer that unpleasant and all-to-common fate.
But I must make one confession regarding those hideous puns. I wish I had thought of them first.
As many of you know, there was recently a death in my extended family. Namely, my dad’s kid sister Mary Pat.
My strongest memories of my aunt Mary Pat involve her singing voice. In particular, the musical prelude she sang at my uncle Tom’s wedding in 1979. She had a mezzo-soprano voice that was almost opera level in power and control. Another time, at another family event, we were all singing in church, and she overpowered everyone within a twelve-foot radius. And she was holding back!
I didn’t spend much time with her (that I can remember, anyway) until the mid-1970s during a visit to Dayton. Unfortunately, what I remember most of that trip was an ear infection that had me flat on my ass for several days. We spoke many times at family events over the subsequent years, and created some good memories. She had a very sweet, outgoing nature, and a vibrant, razor-sharp sense of humor.
Born Mary Patricia Pugh, July 28, 1941, Charleston, WV. (Father: Harry Lee Pugh; mother: Barbara Evans Pugh)