Regular Life

Regular Life

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

Ben, Chicken, and Mister E in Michigan


This is the only picture I took while trying to get a night shot of the atrium, and I lucked into capturing two people getting into the elevator.

Atrium Elevator Detail

Wednesday at lunch, the restaurant hostess said, “Elton John, party of four.”

I looked around, but did not see Sir Elton.

A few minutes later, she said, “Tim Allen, party of two.”

She was calling for me and my lunchmate, of course. You knew that Tim grew up in a Detroit suburb, right?

No, I wasn’t with Tim Allen. Mr. E and I were at a place called Red Robin, where instead of asking your real name for the waiting list, they hand you a card with a celebrity’s name on it. Seems like a good way to do it.

I had the best chicken sandwich ever made, after eating onion rings that were in the top three. It’s called the Ragin’ Cajun Chicken Burger. Mr. E had the pot roast burger.

Speaking of food, Shannon has been feeding me little nuggets of Benglish as I while away the hours in Michigan.

I was thinking that I’m as far north as I’ve ever been, but our 10th anniversary drive to Wyoming beats it. The scenery certainly was better and, all respect to Mr. E., so was the company. Don’t visit that link unless you want a detailed description of that trip. Many pics, too, of course.

But back to Ben.

He narrates his life as if he’s doing a voice-over for his own A&E Biography special. On the phone with me today, he told me exactly what he and his mommy had in the shopping cart. There were no dramatic pauses. “We have some cereal and some applesauce and some bananas and some chips.”

Last weekend, when he was on the phone with Shannon one day, he walked around the living room telling her about everything he was touching. “This is my plant, and this is my candles.” He paused, presumably to listen to his mommy. “This is mommy’s and daddy’s and my candles.” That conversation, the longest he’s had on the phone, lasted almost 10 minutes.

The following is second-hand, but I trust my source (because she’s my wife).

Today at the store, after I talked to Ben on the phone, he spoke to every person he passed on the way to the checkout aisles, but they acted as if he didn’t exist. Surely people who have kids of their own couldn’t do that. I always respond to kids who talk to me.

At the checkout, Ben said, “Man. Maaayun,” to a man standing one spot ahead in line. Again, he said, “Man.” The guy didn’t say a word.

Still, the kid persevered.

In the parking lot, he spoke to an elderly fellow, who grunted out a half-assed “Hi.”

Ben saw his opening. Like many human males before him, he was proud to introduce the woman of his life. “Hi. This is my friend — Mommy.”


Tonight, Mr. E and I went to Royal Oaks, another Detroit suburb. On the downtown sidewalks, we had to squeeze our way between locals enjoying the amazing weather. It was about 75 degrees.

After walking up one side of the street and down the other, we decided on an Italian place called Amante. There, I had the best chicken dish I’ve ever eaten. I’m seeing a trend here.

Michigan — we do chicken right.

I had to chase it down with some gelato, so we walked to a place just down the street. Of the more than 50 flavors, I settled on English Toffee. Yum-yum good.

Not one of the 15 people waiting to get their dessert was fat. How do these people do it? They must know the meaning of the word, “exercise.”

3 Responses to Ben, Chicken, and Mister E in Michigan

  1. Red Robin makes some of the best burgers anywhere.

    And that line, “Hi, this is my friend – Mommy,” is just about the best I’ve heard in a long time. Very cool, that.

  2. Sometimes, being away and hearing “Ben’ism’s” is better than being there!

    I know… I did a lot of travelling as my kids were growing up.

    Have a great weekend bud

  3. Simon – It’s one of my favorites, too (Red Robin or the Ben quote).

    Dave – I’ve never been one to miss people much (I think I learned this because I moved around so much between 6th and 11th grade), but I miss Shannon and Ben terribly when I’m away. You and your kids seem to have pretty good relationships still, so you’re an inspiration to guys like me who hope that we can hang on to at least some of what we are enjoying right now.


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