Welcome to Chucksville

Mom & Linda Come to Visit

By Charles Reuben

       My Mom and my sister recently visited me during the second week of September 2003.
       This was not a particularly good time to take a break from running the engineering copy center at the University of Mexico. Textbooks, syllabuses and reading “packets” were in the process of being distributed to students. I would have to close the shop for a few days and this would probably upset some students.
       The visit was scheduled around my sister Linda’s time off from her job as an ESL instructor in Ottawa, Canada. Her academic schedule does not mesh well with mine because her vacations start a week after my school year begins.
       Taking off from work causes confusion in my little world but since I see my sister so rarely, I decided to take the high road and ask for a few days off anyway. My new boss OK’d my plans and when the time came to leave, I had all the reading packets neatly organized.
       I posted a sign saying that if anybody needed to buy anything, they could go to the dean's office, have the receptionist open the copy center and then they could get whatever they needed.
       The plane carrying my Mom and sister touched down on the scorching tarmac at the Albuquerque Sunport at 2 p.m. on a Wednesday.
       Security was tight at the airport and I had to wait by the metal detectors until Linda and Mom emerged from the gates. I was a bit irritated by how difficult it was to read the arrivals sign. The red letters were easy enough to see but the green lettering was impossible to decipher. A security guard helped me and I asked her how on earth anybody could possibly understand its message. "Takes a lot of practice," she said.
       I was delighted to see Mom and Linda finally emerge from the gates. Mom always looks so timeless at this stage of her life. Going on 90, life at the Pasadena residential home has been good for her. With a schedule packed with activities and my other sister Selma nearby, Mom's life was much less stressful than living way out in the middle of the Riverside corridor, far from family in a mobile home that always seemed to be falling apart.
       We all walked through the airport to the parking garage and I settled Mom and Linda into my very clean car. I had spent a good hour vacuuming my '84 Volvo and cleaning its exterior prior to their arrival.
       First stop was the University to check out the copy center and introduce everybody to my co-workers. It was a hot day and the Engineering building was well air conditioned, unlike my car whose system abruptly failed the week after I bought it.
       Mom and Linda marveled at my copy center and particularly admired the neon signs that I have hanging on the wall. One reads “Copy Center” the other, “Color Copies” and the third says, “Open.” The manager at Mailboxes, Etc. (a local copy center) gave me these signs for free when after they had been bought out by United Parcel Service and were in the process of remodeling.
       It’s hard not to notice these neon signs, with their bright fluorescent messages. Such signs help reinforce my services to the public and they certainly weren't cheap to make!
       After a brief tour of the copy center and my little office, I introduced them to my boss who was extremely gracious. Mom sang my virtues to the heavens and even bestowed me with a kiss in front of my boss that made me blush.
       We then headed back to the car and I drove them to the hotel, where they were staying. Because I live in such a tiny space, it has become an established tradition that visitors will stay at any number of nearby hotels or motels.
       La Posada Hotel was one of the first hotels that Conrad Hilton built and is an important part of Albuquerque history. With its fine wood paneled lobby accented with a gushing tiled fountain, La Posada is located right in the middle of Albuquerque’s downtown, one block north of old route 66 (Central Avenue).
       Although just about everything in La Posada looks old (it was one of the first hotels that Conrad Hilton built), I was thankful that the elevator happened to be super fast. Mom and Linda's room was located on the 9th floor, designated the non-smoking floor. The room was spacious and airy with a nice view of the Central Avenue and the distant Manzano Mountains.
       Regrettably, I was not aware that Linda could have registered my car when they checked in, so I had to search for a parking space after I dropped them off at the Hotel's ornate doorway. Fortunately, I was always able to find a space nearby.
       While Mom and Linda were settling in to their rooms and freshening up, I called Jennifer. We chatted for a bit and then I hung up. A few minutes later I called her back and asked her if she wanted to come with us to China Star for dinner. I didn't think she would come because Jennifer is very particular about the food she eats, but she surprised me by saying that she had a change of heart and wanted us to pick her up. And so, after about an hour, we all packed into the car, swung by my house and picked up my love who was waiting outside.
       I took a roundabout way to get to the interstate, along the frontage roads, because I wanted to show off the new I-25/I-40 interchange. The “Big-I” as it is called, was completed about a year ago and is a masterpiece of civil engineering. With its magnificent flyovers, grand columns and soft adobe colors (accented with sky blue trim and bas relief of mountains cast into the sound walls), the Big-I gives me a thrill every time I pass through it, under it and over it.
       From our perspective, we could see all the concrete flyovers looming overhead, beneath a crystal blue sky. Linda was amused by my excitement and was grateful to share in what I considered to be one of Albuquerque's major and overlooked attractions.
       There is an old saying that anything that is successfully accomplished anywhere in the United State will fail in New Mexico, but I must say that the interchange was well planned and properly executed. Although it took a good two years to complete, it is definitely something we New Mexican can be proud of.
       After passing under the Big-I we merged back onto the freeway into one of the biggest traffic jams I have ever seen. An accident had caused all the cars to slow down to a crawl and for a good five minutes it felt like we were stuck in something that is quite commonplace in Los Angeles but rarely seen in the Duke City. The traffic finally cleared and we were soon breezing east down I-40 on our way to Tramway Blvd, a good ten-mile drive.
       By now it was 5 p.m. and we were all very hungry. We arrived at China Star and, after Linda paid for the buffet, we were seated in a pleasant booth seat by the window. Although my favorite waitress, Zhu, was not there, I am a well-known “regular” and my generous tipping habits are legendary.
       Although China Star is a buffet, the waitresses work very hard keeping the tables clean and orderly by removing your plate after you have finished and also keeping your drink filled to the brim. I prefer iced tea and I really like the way they make it, brewed and not powdered.
       I also like to be served a bowl of lemon slices with my tea and my waitress always obliges. For these services I am willing to consistently tip $2 for an $8 lunch or $10 dinner. I have seen other diners tip much less, even when there are three or four people to their party and I find this barbaric. On this particular evening, I shelled out $4 in tips for our meal and I'm sure that was appreciated.
       Mom and Linda absolutely loved the food. Between the coconut shrimp, ribs, veggies, calamari, soups and a myriad of other selections, there was definitely something for everybody to enjoy. Jennifer put together an interesting pile of stir-fry that she made at the Mongolian bar-b-que. She came to dinner penniless and begged a dollar from me so that she could tip the Mongolian chef for his efforts.
       We spent the next hour or so in delightful conversation, occasionally getting up every now and then to get seconds and thirds. I was dutifully complimented for my restaurant selection and before we departed, the attentive manager greeted us and, referred to me as “a regular” and engaged Mom and sister in friendly banter.
       After dinner we I treated them to another ride underneath the Big-I.
       It was starting to get dark and my guests were looking a bit tired so it was clear that the evening was drawing to an end. I dropped Jennifer at home and we drove to the hotel.
       I dropped Mom and Linda off at the curbside and the swank doorman escorted them into the lobby. I parked the car and made my way to the ninth floor. Mom and Linda had comfortably settled themselves into their new digs and my sister suggested that she and I take a walk before we call it a night.
       We made our way down into the lobby and hung out for a bit on the overstuffed leather sofa while a lady set up sound equipment in preparation for the evening's entertainment. We never did get to hear her perform but actually it was nice to talk to Linda without musical distraction.
       Linda and I walked up and down the length of Central Avenue at about 7 p.m. There was still plenty of light and the weather was not too hot. We decided to check out Maisels, a well-established shop that sold Indian pottery, drums and other knickknacks. A nice saleslady sized us up as being big spenders but soon realized the error of her ways. We ended up buying nothing and wasting a good deal of time just looking at pots and rings.
       I was impressed by the quality of the store’s merchandise as well as its authenticity and was also amused by the store's pricing structure. Everything was half the marked price. After getting a taste of the kind of prices they charge in places like Santa Fe and Taos, I actually found the prices on the tags to be quite reasonable and made a mental note to definitely come back when I needed to buy a gift.
       We walked back to the Hotel and after settling Linda back in her room I went home and enjoyed a good night's sleep.
       Thursday arrived and I was up at 5:30 from force of habit. I made good use of this time by pulling out the automatic bread maker and the coffee maker and thinking about breakfast.
       I had purchased the bread maker from K-Mart for $20 on clearance a couple years ago. It was an extremely high tech device, with digital programming that accommodated all sorts of baking contingencies. I recalled feeling all sorts of doubts about the bread maker when I bought it so I also purchased an extended warranty for $5. As it turns out I only used the bread maker once and then put it in storage for a couple years.
       For some inexplicable reason, I figured that this visit was as good a time as any to bake another loaf of homemade bread.
       A couple days before, I bought some bread mix from Wild Oats, the organic supermarket chain up the road. The mix, made by a company called Arrowhead, contained healthy, unprocessed ingredients and cost $2. I had expected to see a variety of mixes at the store and was disappointed to discover that they only had one to choose from. So I settled on whole grain but would have really preferred sour bread.
       At that time I also bought coffee beans, both decaffeinated and regular. The coffee I selected was of the fair market variety at $8/pound, produced by small local farmers in Columbia. Jennifer had a small coffee grinder so I didn't have to grind the beans at the store.
       Amost immediately after waking up, I began baking the bread. I had cleaned up the machine the day before and Jennifer had dealt with the coffee machine (both were covered with a nasty layer of dust and grime). Then I opened the box of bread mix and dumped it into the machine, along with a teaspoon of olive oil and a cup of water. I switched on the machine and then turned to Baby Ruh. “Go for a walk?” I asked her.
       Baby Ruh, my miniature greyhound-mix started spinning around and doing flips so it was clear that she was receptive to the idea. We piled into the car and drove to the nearby park where we played fetch with a few tennis balls. I bought a device called “ChuckIt” at REI, the local outdoors shop that allows me to throw a ball much further than I could otherwise. The device is a basically an extended arm with a scoop at the end that securely holds the ball. When I bring the arm backwards and then thrust it forward, the ball flies about three times further than it would if I threw it unassisted. It is really a remarkable toy and Baby Ruh loves it.
       In order to have a perfect session of “fetch” with the Baby Ruh, or Ruh for short, you need to come equipped with at least three tennis balls: One ball to throw and another ball with which to distract her. The distraction ball is vital because once she catches the ball, she won't necessarily drop it at your feet, or even bring it to you. I need to approach her then tell her to drop the first ball and then throw the second ball. If she isn't instructed to drop the first ball, she will chase the second ball with the first ball in her mouth and then the whole game gets complicated. A third ball is necessary because it inevitably happens that she (or I) will lose a ball and a quick replacement is necessary.
       In addition to having balls handy, as well as a ball thrower, it is of course necessary to have a proper place to play the game. Up until very recently, we used to play at the nearby Tiguex Park and I would get up at 6 a.m. so that we could have the field all to ourselves. This got to be a bit of a drag because getting up at 6 a.m. on a weekend morning is not my idea of a good time. Also, as of late, other people have been showing up at that hour. Since the Baby Ruh can be very aggressive when in the company of other dogs (particularly old and infirm dogs) the session of catch can easily turn into a nasty and unfair dog fight.
       Well, as it happens I found a huge park last week that seems to have absolutely no visitors, has a fence around most of it, is huge and well manicured. This park is located by the freeway. It's the sort of place that a commuter would drive past day in and day out and never notice because of their urgency to get home.
       About a couple weeks ago, for the very first time in ten years, I suddenly noticed that park. The problem was actually getting to it. Although the park was huge and literally right next to the freeway, there was, until very recently, no place to park one's car.
       In order to find a place to park, I had to negotiate a huge maze of quiet low-income residential streets where people look at you with a “what are you doing here” expression. The Ruh and I have shown up at the park so many times that we're starting to become accepted and even welcomed. The fenced-in dogs that live right next to the park no longer bark at us and a neighbor actually waved to me the other day.
       After about a dozen throws the Baby Ruh is pooped out and good for the entire day. I can tell when the Ruh is tired; she lies on her belly on the soft grass with the ball in her mouth, totally uninterested in engaging in another toss. Oh, she will chase the ball if it is thrown, but you can tell her heart is not in it. Instead of running like Sea Biscuit, she pokes around like a tortoise.
       After running the Ruh, I returned home to find Jennifer up and rummaging around the kitchen. The bread maker was doing its thing and everything seemed in order so I decided to jump back in the car and make my way to the La Posada Hotel.
       Mom and Linda were already up and preparing for the day. I threw myself onto the bed and watched the cable TV while they attended to their morning rituals.
       9:30 a.m. arrived and we drove to the house. It was a lovely day; the oppressive heat of the summer was starting to subside, leaving in its wake the promise of a perfect day.
       Mom and Linda were quite impressed by the progress I had made on the house. The last time they had seen it was before I had re-stuccoed it and put on a new roof. The admired the new cedar fence in my backyard and enjoyed meeting Baby Ruh.
       While Jennifer excitedly showed them the inside of the house, I got the coffee brewing and checked on the bread. It had about 15 minutes to go.
       To fill the time, we spent our time exchanging gifts. I had made both Mom and Linda a framed 8x10 enlargement that was taken during our seven day Mexican Cruise. The photograph is of me and Mom, standing between two elaborately dressed Mayan dancers in Puerto Vallarta.
       Linda gave Jennifer a lovely, hand-painted Russian egg and Jennifer gave Linda a book. I can't for the life of me remember what Linda gave me but I'm sure it was nice.
       The bread machine finally beeped indicating that it was done and I removed a fresh loaf from its little oven. Bread machine loafs are different than what you make yourself or what you get in the store. They look more like fat bricks than soft loafs but they have the right smell. Problem is they need to cool down before they can be consumed and, feeling pressure from my sister, we just didn't have the time. So I placed the loaf on a cutting board and started slicing off pieces of bread onto plates. I also poured cups of freshly brewed coffee and we all say down to eat.
       As Jennifer later put it, “you hit a homerun with the bread" and we managed to eat at least 3/4's of it. There's nothing like fresh baked bread, so filling, so tasty, so nourishing and the coffee was absolutely delicious: Smooth, not bitter, and combined with a bit of organic “half and half” and sugar or, in the case of my visitors, fake blue sugar packets, the result was a fortifying, tasty way to start the day.
       After breakfast, we piled into the car and made our way onto the Interstate and through the Big-I. This time we took the northbound flyover headed to our ultimate destination: The 120,000 sq. ft. Sandia Casino!
       As it turns out, Jennifer was having so much fun with all of us that she decided to join the expedition. Under normal circumstances, a casino would be the last place on earth you would find her but she had tightly bonded with Linda and they were ready for anything, so long as they had each other by their side.
       I am well aware of the fact that Mother loves to gamble since becoming her traveling companion so many years ago. That's why I decided our main activity was to visit New Mexico's most modern Indian casino.
       Sandia Casino is located on the outskirts of Albuquerque off interstate 25. It is a magnificent piece of architecture whose spacious lobby welcomes visitors out of the sun-stroked desert landscape into an air-conditioned oasis for gamblers. My favorite part of the casino is the enormous glass-lined wall that faces the Sandia Mountains. It is an awesome, majestic view that takes in the entire Mountain, unobstructed by houses.
       From the moment we walked into the casino and its 1400 slot machines, we were greeted with unmistakable sound that a person hears when they enter any casino, the sound of coins as they make their way through the innards of a slot machine. Having been through many a casino in Vegas, as well as many a casino on cruise ships, I knew this sound intimately.
       The cacophony of noise is not unlike that heard at the beginning of concert when the symphony begins to warm up, except we were hearing the sound of quarters, not musical instruments. John Cage and Charles Ives probably could have done something with that noise if they had set their minds to it.
       To my trained ear I realized that there was an extraordinary problem. The noise I was hearing really didn't sound like coins at all but instead, the recording of coins. As we negotiated our way through the isles of slot machines I began to realize what must have been going on here.
       Of all the thousands of slot machines that filled the casino, it appeared that most of them did not accept coins at all. Most of them accepted bills and some accepted some sort of credit card issued by the casino. Indeed, although a few of the machines were equipped with a receptacle to receive coins, most had that opening covered up. All this did not discourage Mother of course, she plopped herself in front of one of the few machines that did accept quarters and, after sending me to the cashier to get $20 worth of coin (that's 2 rolls), she started feeding the machine.
       The game she was playing paid out when a person was able to match five symbols in a row. It was very confusing and even though we bugged the lady who was sitting next to us, we weren't able to make much sense of it. And since we didn't have a clue what we were doing, it seemed absurd to feed it money because we were never winning.
       All we wanted was a slot machine where you could line up the sevens or the jackpots and it took us a good ten minutes to find one. Even the guards weren't much help. Everybody had entered into some sort of trance caused by that recording of clinking coins as well as the stinky smell of tobacco that seemed to be everywhere.
       Fortunately there was a non-smoking section in the casino. Linda and Jennifer quickly disappeared to that part of the building and Mom and I settled down to play a traditional slot machine. We assumed our normal stance, Mom sitting directly in front of the machine, pushing the play button and me at her side feeding quarters.
       We played $20 worth of quarters before we decided to quit. Whatever we happened to win, we lost (of course). I have read that Indian casinos set their slot machines to lose more frequently then those machines found in Vegas and judging by our luck, I suppose that's true. But we managed to occupy ourselves for a good half hour so I suppose it was all worth it.
       Mom would have played longer but I managed to drag her away from the machine without too much of a fight. We found Linda and Jennifer and, after visiting the bathrooms, decided it was time to go. We checked out the buffet but it really did not look very appetizing so after a bit of negotiation, decided to eat elsewhere.
       In the end we had to decide between Greek and Ayruvedic food. Linda has an aversion to what she referred to as “overly healthy food” so we were able to eliminate the latter.
       As much as Jennifer likes Annapurna, an Ayruvedic restaurant that caters to alternatives that are wheat free, dairy free, egg free and sugar free, she is also passionate about visiting the Greek restaurant across from the University regularly. “Not only is there food good,” she says, “But they also add a lot of love to it and that makes all the difference.”
       It was about 2 p.m. and we had worked up a good appetite. I took the long, scenic way home on Tramway Blvd. and then met up with the freeway. After driving through yet another portion of the highway interchange I got off at Martin Luther King Blvd. and drove the requisite three remaining miles to Olympia Cafe on Central Avenue.
       We arrived at the Olympia cafe during a slow period and all walked directly up to the counter, without having to wait in line. I had the leisure to introduce Mom and Linda to Spiro, the owner, as well as Spiro's wife, his daughter, his son-in-law, his grandkids, the whole family. The food arrived in a flash and we all dug in with great enthusiasm. While we were eating, Spiro came to visit and told Mom what a swell guy I was and that I was an “honest man.”
       It was such a lovely, reasonably priced lunch, with gracious hosts and a relaxed atmosphere: Whitewashed walls covered with posters of Greece while music from Zorba the Greek was softly playing in the background. We left the Olympia Cafe feeling well-fed and very content with the world. It was now time to go back to the Hotel to let my guests rest for a bit, clean up and prepare for the evening's festivities.
       I dropped Mom and Linda off at the Hotel and went home for about an hour or so to take a shower and put on some fresh clothes. Then I drove back to the Hotel. At this point I was getting quite good at finding parking spaces. It's not as hard as New York or Chicago but you definitely have to know where to look.
       For some reason there always seemed to be an open space on Third Street, just a block away from the hotel. I always come prepared with a pocketful of quarters. It cost half as much to park on the street than in the mammoth parking garage.
       It's strange the way a hotel starts to feel like home after a while, even if you're just visiting somebody who is staying there: The dark paneling, the fountain in the center of the hotel, the murals, the vast lobby and the overstuffed leather chairs and sofas all started feeling quite intimate.
       Even Mom and Linda's room on the ninth floor had started to feel like a cozy place to visit, let alone hang out. Unlike most modern hotels or motels, every nook and cranny of this room perched high above the city was filled with history and mystery, from its ancient brass locks that wiggled a bit and were covered with a black patina, to the Spanish tiled bathroom and countertops.
       The windows open wide and use an old sash mechanism that allows for ease of operation. The shutters were a bit worn and needed a touch-up job and the carpet looked at least 50 years old. But aside from that, the mattresses were hard, the linens were crisp and clean and the cable TV worked great. What more can a person ask for about $60 a night for two people?
       It took a while to get everybody out of the hotel but we were eventually rolling down Lomas Blvd. to my home and the evening's festivities.
       By this time we were all ready to relax and unwind after a busy day of gambling and running around town. When we arrived at the homestead the first thing we did was marvel at Baby Ruh as she did flips and cartwheels, delighted to see Mom and Linda yet once again.
       Mom gravitated to the chair in the corner of the living room, the same chair that I grew up with when I was a boy in Chicago. This same chair (reupholstered a couple times) made its way to California after we moved out of the windy city. When Mom married Harry and they combined their stuff, she gave me that chair and its identical twin. I threw them on the back of my red Ford Ranger pickup and drove them to New Mexico.
       Hauling those chairs was uneventful except when I had to drive through one heluva rainstorm in Hatch, New Mexico. It ain't easy to preserve the things of our youth and the water damage sustained by the chairs' fabric was minimal.
       Now one chair sits in the living room and one sits in my basement. No doubt these seats retain the subtle smells and vivid memories of over 50 years of use. Mom seemed quite at home sitting on that chair and seeing her there, for that brief period of time, made the hassle of transporting them form the city of angels to the duke city, all worth while.
       For the past year or so I have been trying to organize the thousands of photographs that I have collected, or have been given to me, throughout my lifetime. My sister Selma once gave me a large accounting ledger that was made in Mexico. I decided that would make a wonderful photo album because the lines would make it easy to place the photo squarely on the page. I bought little plastic adhesive corners to secure the photos to the page and have been working on this project intermittently.
       At this point I have well over 200 pages of photos pasted up and the ledger is literally bulging. Mom and Linda poured over the photo album for a good half hour, admiring my hard work.
       One thing I am very good at is pasting pictures on a page. I used to do this for a living when I worked at The Albuquerque Journal. I would paste in the headlines, the body copy, the pictures and I would do it on a grid sheet, according to an editor's dummy so that everything would fit perfectly. Those were the days when "cut and paste" really meant "cut and paste."
       I showed Mom and Linda my photo-album-in-progress and they were impressed with my efforts. Although the book lacked any rhyme or reason from a purely chronological standpoint (I pretty much pasted up photos as the spirit moved me) I do believe it does have its own aesthetic and sentimental value.
       Their approval was ample reward for my efforts and gave me the inspiration I need to complete the project, that is if photo albums every really do get finished.
       The assembling of that photo album is exhausting. It's hard on my back and hard on my soul. Each photo brings back such memories, both painful and pleasurable. To experience them by oneself is one thing but to share them with one's family is quite another.
       After we poured over the photo album, Jennifer went into the kitchen and started to prepare dinner. Linda wanted to talk to me so Mom went into the kitchen and settled down on the sofa bed and watched TV. This evening just happened to be the evening of the great presidential debate where all the Democratic candidates for the 2004 election gathered in the auditorium of Popejoy Hall at the University of New Mexico to debate the issues. Mom became glued to the set while Linda and I talked about the family.
       Before long dinner was ready and we all sat down to eat. Jennifer had pan-fried some Atlantic salmon with a nice helping of salad on the side. We sat around the table and ate like one big, happy family.
       The rest of the evening went all too quickly and soon I was returning them to their hotel for a well-deserved rest.
       My original plan was to go to Garcia's for breakfast but Linda thought it might be nice to patronize Conrad's instead. Jennifer chose not to join us, since she likes to sleep late and also wanted me to have some time alone with my family.
       Conrad's is located on the ground floor of the hotel and I didn't know much about it even though I passed it every night on the bus when I returned from work. I figured it was probably too expensive for our tastes but it turned out that was not the case.
       The first thing I noticed about Conrad’s, as I entered the restaurant through the lobby of La Posada, was the light pouring through its expanse of crystal clear windows: Window space so vast you almost feel as though you were part of the hustle and bustle of the street outside, yet insulated from the suffocating heat and homeless people.
       We sat down at our table and were given menus by the attentive waiter who spoke with a foreign accent. Mom and Linda ordered a traditional American breakfast of toast and eggs and a side order of sausages. I ordered a breakfast burrito smothered with both red and green chili. We all ordered coffee.
       Not only was the breakfast tasty but also it felt good to enjoy the convenience of an eatery that we could reach without driving. It felt good to be served our meals instead of having to wait in a buffet line. And it felt good to enjoy our meal in the relaxed atmosphere of a truly classic restaurant named after the hotel's founder, Conrad Hilton.
       As I said, the meal was very reasonably priced. Lunch is also reasonable but dinner, whose specialty is Paella seems a bit pricey but is probably delicious and generous enough for two.
       After breakfast we went back up to the room where Mom and Linda finished packing and then I loaded everything into the trunk of the car. It was time to head back to the airport.
       I took the long way to the airport, through yet another untried flyway of the interstate and before long we arrived at the Sunport. I removed the bags from the trunk and signaled a porter to get a wheelchair for Mom and also to help me with the bags.
       And then, all too soon, the visit had come to an end. I hugged and kissed both of them re-entered my car and drove off, back to school and my job.
       I felt satisfied that it had been a good visit and was glad that they had come to see me. There is a certain satisfaction to be found in showing off one's job, one's house, one's girlfriend and one's dog to the family. And to win their approval is by far one of the best feelings a dutiful son can experience.
       Thank you for visiting Chucksville.

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