Good Old-Fashioned Discipline (part two)

July 11, 2011 at 12:17 pm (On the road again..., Sweet sticky things)

Saturday morning, the house creepy-quiet. The cats were passed out, the dog slept in the hallway, guarding my nephew’s door. Behind that door Mizelle and Lily were reading stories targeting the preschool crowd. They spoke in hushed, whispering tones. I tapped the door. “Anybody alive in there? Someone promised to buy me breakfast!”

The previous day at Indian buffet, while Mizelle had taken Lily to the restroom to ‘cheat the cook’, I’d paid for lunch. Another tradition. Mizelle comes back, gives me endless hell for paying her share, then insists on getting even. In the old days, we would go to Grand Buffet. Usually for dinner, after Indian buffet for lunch. Then a movie at the Eastport 16 to digest it all. Grand Buffet is no more, and getting Lily to sit still for ninety minutes?

Good luck with that.

I hadn’t been out to breakfast since my time with ThatGirl, which was the day after Michael Jackson died. It was time to break that streak…

At 10 AM on a Saturday morning, a bunch of neighbors were piddling around in their yards. Dogs barked, making Lily nervous. “Not nice doggies!” she’d yell. Good neighbors make good fences. Fences with dangerous dog warnings posted. Ah, the charm of Felony Flats.

We rode the MAX downtown, unsure of our destination. Along the way, Mizelle shared some private information. She and the Frenchman had inherited a substantial sum from a relative, and they were planning to move to Hawaii. The Frenchman decided two years of operating a vineyard was plenty, and he much preferred tossing bags for the airlines. Flight benefits! Hawaii would be far enough from the relatives, yet flight benefits could bring them together in a few hours. Woohoo! I may get to visit Hawaii yet. Just call me the jowly haole.

Being out of the breakfast loop, my mind raced trying to come up with something kid-friendly yet Mizelle-approved. I’d contemplated Mother’s Bistro, but it would be insane-busy on a Saturday. As we deboarded MAX, I had a brainstorm.

“Wanna go to the Roxy?”

Mizelle grinned. “THAT sounds perfect.”

For the uninitiated, The Roxy is a 24-hour diner smack dab in the middle of The Pink Zone, Portland’s unofficial gay district. The walls are decorated with posters (autographed) of Quentin Tarantino movies, photos of celebrities, action figures from before there were action figures. (Star Trek Barbie and Ken?) It’s a visually busy place. The crowd? Three girls in a booth, and two flaming fellows caffeinating. A three-year-old wouldn’t be too disruptive, and a quiet brunch on a Saturday in Portland? It is the stuff of legend, because you never encounter that.

I ordered The Big Fat Heart Attack Special: Chicken fried steak, four eggs, hash browns and toast. Since my date is now independently wealthy, I also ordered bacon and chocolate milk, which I shared with the cutest blonde in the room. (No offense to Mizelle. She would be the hottest blonde in the room.) The waiter brought extra plates, portions were divvied, and it became a breakfast smorgasbord.

Toward the end of breakfast, Lily became restless. Mizelle spoke to her, and when that didn’t work? “Am I gonna have to take you to the bathroom and swat you on the butt? Because I will, you know…”

Wh-wh-what? Did someone just threaten corporal punishment?


While I’m not a hitter, the threat of a spanking is an effective parenting tool, and it was refreshing to hear something I’d not heard since my childhood. Lily put up a mild protest, but behaved. Mizelle: “So far I’ve only had to threaten to beat my child. So far so good!”

Finished with breakfast, it was time to find a park to let the little one burn off some steam. I suggested waterfront. We slow-rolled down Stark to the edge of the water, jammed to Hare Krishna music, dodged bicyclists, ogled the leggy park patrons. (Confession: I was the only ogler.) After a bit, Mizelle reminded me, “Didn’t you want to buy some hot sauce or something?”

Oh, yeah. Secret Aardvark Habanero Sauce, sold at Bigass Sandwiches, a cart across from Voodoo Doughnuts. Two birds with one stone?

We stopped to rest, sitting on a ledge in front of subsidized housing on 2nd Avenue. With Mizelle’s child-carrier backpack, and my all-black military surplus attire, we could pass for panhandlers. Unfortunately, we had no cardboard sign, and we’d both bathed within the week. (You need to have six layers of dirt to be an official Dirt Urchin/Garbage Pail Kid.) Still, one woman gave a disapproving cluck, as though we were using Lily to score spare change the way Dirt Urchins use their pitbulls. We laughed about it and forged on.

The line at Voodoo was stupid-long. I scored the hot sauce, and we decided to head back to my house. Mizelle had a backpack to retrieve, and I had laundry to do. All good things must come to an end.

The house was up and running when we got home. Laundry was waiting on me. I put things together, and showered quickly. As I came from the bathroom, Mizelle asked, “Did you just take another shower? That’s three since yesterday…”

I guess it was. No Dirt Urchin status for me!

We bid adieu, I watched wistfully as they hiked off into the sunset. It was reassuring to know that she’d be back sooner than later. Hawaii with flight bennies is way better than France with no flight benefits. Otherwise, it could be years before I saw her again.

While I know we’d still be close at heart, and when we see each other it’d be just like yesterday no matter how long it had been, I feel better knowing that I won’t have to wait that long.

Laundry done, company gone. 4 PM. I picked up the phone and texted Clairissa: “I suppose it’s folly to think a pretty girl like you wouldn’t be busy on a Saturday night, but on the off chance- Wanna get together? Bzzzt me if ya do.”

No immediate response. I curled up in front of the fan and relaxed. About 7 PM my phone went bzzt. It was Clairissa: “Just got your text, been up in a tree for the last three hours. Going to a birthday party tonight, getting ready for that. Still on for Thursday?”

“Yes indeed. It’s going to make for a never-ending week, but I will be there.” It will be like the cherry atop a sundae.

And I *will* behave. Or else she might have to spank me…

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