Maxwell has been taking drum lessons from an old friend of mine.
My friend the jazz drummer lives way the heck out in North Portland, almost to St. Johns, which is a very long way to go at 2:30pm every Sunday, for a half hour lesson.
He's a good drummer, that much I know for sure, and so far he seems to be a decent teacher. Maxwell has taken to practicing once in a blue moon, even, which makes all the driving a loitering around during the lesson seem worth while (for what it's worth, we could probably sit in my friend's living room and wait, but that feels overwhelming to me, since I am not a fan of loud noise).
On a recent Sunday, it was just the three of us, Freyja being away on a trip with my mother, so I suggested that we all go to the lesson, Mark and I would speed grocery shop, then we could have a late-lunch-early-dinnerish thing after.
I had this fantasy of eating barbecue brisket at the place near the drum lesson.
My mouth was all set for it, as my grandfather used to say.
On the way to the lesson we encountered traffic, the result of a crash on I-5, which made us very late.
A half hour late.
Both Mark and Maxwell were hungry when we left the house, because I made them skip lunch, in favor of this barbecue fantasy I'd created in my head, that was to happen at 3:00pm sharp.
We dropped Maxwell off for the lesson, and went and did our shopping, and encountered even more traffic, and were quite late picking up.
Mark and the kids all suffer from crankiness brought about by low blood sugar, or hunger. In fact they need to eat rather often, for such slim and trim people.
This is a very alien concept to me, who despite being quite plump, can go long periods of time without eating a bit, and feel perfectly shipshape. In fact, I prefer not to eat all day and just have dinner (which I know is TERRIBLE and possibly makes me the worst person ever).
So here we were in the car, with me merrily thinking I was going to get my brisket, and Maxwell and Mark feeling all woozley and peaked from hunger, when we noticed the barbecue place was closed.
There wasn't anything to speak of nearby, so off we set for Alberta St. in search of something special.
I was merry.
I was in search of something special, they were in search of immediate sustenance.
As we drove the conversation turned to Mark playing in a band in high school and he might have mentioned playing A Flock of Seagulls cover tunes, and I might have said
"WHAT!? I wouldn't have given you to time of day!"
and he might have not been in a very festive or jovial mood and said
"Yeah, Max, Mom was really cool and alternative"
and I may have run my mouth a tiny bit, talking some good-natured smack, thinking we were joking, because I totally was and all of the sudden everyone was in a terrible mood.
The traffic was awful and the mood was terrible and no one was laughing at my hilarious barbs, and the afternoon was just spoiled.
We did manage to find a parking spot, in an area that appeared to have a cluster of cafes, but when we got out of the car, nothing seemed to be just right.
That's when Maxwell suggested that we go into a taqueria he'd noticed when we drove past.
I wasn't really in the mood for tacos, since my whole vision involved having something Freyja would hate, since she wasn't around to limit my choices to tacos and pizza, but it seemed like a bad idea to push the more exotic options, at that point.
I could tell straight away that this was not going to be a good kind of hole in the wall taco place.
This was a bad, not very clean taco place.
To make matters worse the menu was one of those wall mounted jobs, with print so small that I couldn't read it, without my glasses, which I lost when Freyja was in 1st grade.
Both Mark and Max, with their enviable vision, had already ordered, by the time I managed to ask the sullen lady at the counter for a printed menu, and then wander around searching, while she barked vague instructions from her perch behind the counter.
At that point my good humor was completely warn thin and I was furious at Mark for being such a baby about my teasing over his terrible taste in music, when he was in high school, and I was further furious at them for ordering without me and not helping with the menu problem.
I noticed one of the photos on the menu that hung far above me, looked like a soup that I often have at our neighborhood place, so I pointed at it and said,
"I just want #8"
"You want birria?"
"B I R R I A?"
and I went to sit down.
As I joined my cranky family, it dawned on me that I had just ordered goat soup.
Soup of goat.
I'm not a vegetarian, but I am a goat enthusiast and I was just horrified by my mistake.
My mouth was in no manner set for goat!
"Goddamn it you guys, why didn't you help me? I couldn't read the menu and I think I accidentally ordered GOAT."
"Let's just GO, this place is almost guaranteed to suck."
"There is no way I am leaving and giving that woman the satisfaction of thinking I didn't know what I ordered!"
"Mom, you didn't know what you ordered! You ordered goat!"
"She doesn't need to know that!"
Then the goat arrived.
Unadorned, in a Styrofoam container.
While my family ate tacos, I sipped at my goat broth.
I got up and asked for a lime.
The woman pointed from her stool at a sad pile of juiceless limes on a sideboard, that I'd overlooked (she was not moving from her seat for love, or money, as my father might say).
When they were finished eating we packed up what was left of the goat, and took it home with us, for Rolf to eat in the morning.
I made up a little song about the mistaken goat, in a Styrofoam tote, and Mark apologized for being a dick about the new wave music ribbing, and Maxwell sang a little harmony and added a bit to the verse, and said that it was one of my very best songs, close in quality to "I have my cat in my hands", and we drove back to SE with very little traffic.