Friday, September 16, 2005

Back In The Saddle Again

Well, you know NFL football season is upon us because I'm looking for fun things to do with the kids while the games are played for about 67 consecutive hours every weekend.

But, most interestingly -- as I found out this week -- the NFL and DirecTV offer a special package where viewers can watch a whole game in 20 minutes. It's just the plays--no color commentary, no sideline reactions, no huddles, NO COMMERCIALS. And the game boils down to 20 minutes. TWENTY MINUTES!!

Only men could dream up a way of turning a 20-minute game into a three-hour odyssey that somehow becomes a national pasttime involving enormous beer consumption, which leads to an endless barrage of beer commercials featuring lusty, scantily clad size-4 models who will run their fingers over the heads of leering jerks, pathetic dorks and bald, fat men in checkered shirts IF they're downing the right suds. Ah, but ain't that America?

Meanwhile, I spent Sunday doing that all-American thing with the kids--attending a food festival. In this case, an Italian food festival in Hoboken, NJ. ...In Frank Sinatra Park, baby.

I mistakenly parked farther away from the park than was necessary, so we ended up cutting through Stevens Institute of Technology, which, VERY surprisingly, has a really beautiful campus with fantastic views of Manhattan and the surrounding towns. I mean, you're walking through an urban neighborhood, and then you're surrounded by rolling green hills, Adirondack chairs, ivy-covered buildings. So we were strolling, and Cara and I were talking when Ryan, who pretty much keeps a running commentary going, became more insistent with whatever he was saying until we finally tuned in to hear him saying, "LOOK, a GROUNDHOG, a GROUNDHOG!" Sure enough, a chubby little groundhog was snuffling around not five feet from us. A groundhog lives in Hoboken. And he wasn't like a country groundhog, scampering off as soon as we came near. He was a city animal. We looked at him, he looked at us. He ran his paw over his head and said, "Yo, how YOU doin'?" Okay, that part I made up. But he DID hock a loogie and light up a Marlboro.

Anyway, we found the park, which is situated right next to the Hudson. What a setting. Sinatra would have loved it--the Hudson River at your feet, Manhattan in the background, sailboats gliding back and forth--and the smell of sausage & peppers and zeppoles in the air. Of course, Ryan got edgy with his food choice and went with pizza. Cara got a proscuitto and mozzarella sandwich --which is a great choice when you have braces--from the Michael's Salumeria stand. We know the owner so he also gave the kids free gelato. Ryan said he was too full to eat the gelato, so he let me have it. Until two seconds later, when he realized what he'd done, yelled that he was still hungry and took the whole thing back.

We watched grape stomping, listened to music, and the kids played some arcade games. Ryan could not BELIEVE he didn't win a prize at either of the games he played. I tried to explain the phrase, "That's how they get ya," but that only made it worse.

Since we'd been festivaling for a few hours at that point, I decided to pull the plug on the day. I got some "butterfly fries," french fries that look like long ribbons, for the walk back to the car. As we noshed on fries, Ryan scared me by almost getting hit by a driver who ignored the police barricades and drove at regular speed among about 100 pedestrians. We noshed some more, and then Ryan made a wild dash for an eight-inch opening in the railing that keeps kids like him out of the Hudson. We walked and noshed some more, and then Cara twisted her ankle on the edge of the sidewalk. Feeling nauseous from the combo of fries, near misses and whining, I chucked the fries and decided to settle my stomach with some Starbucks. Which, of course, didn't work because that stuff could chew through steel cables.

Man, I can't wait for next Sunday!

Catherine Schetting Salfino

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