Because You Can’t Spell Asparagus Without Ass

I’m a firm believer in never saying “no” when people ask you to attempt new things. “No” limits your ability to have fun, experience an adventure and – in essence – live life to the fullest. Tina Fey put it best when she said, “Start with a YES and see where that takes you.”

That being said … I should have emphatically said “OH, HELL NO!” when my bestie Dre tried to drag me to the Stockton Asparagus Festival over the weekend. At the time it sounded like a perfectly respectable afternoon of seeing and being seen.

A couple things to note … 1) this festival has died a couple painful deaths only to be unduly resurrected and 2) if you’re trying to picture a monolithic stalk of asparagus rising Phoenix-style from the ashes – well, you’re nuts.

When we arrived yesterday at 1:55pm – the line to get in was a half a mile long. The doors were supposed to open at 2pm, mind you – yet there wasn’t anyone up front to sell tickets/wristbands/secret decoder rings to get you in the gates.

Chaos and asparagus … an unlikely duo. Who knew?

Once inside, I desperately tried to get my bearings and meander my way around. Several worker-bees told me go to Asparagus Alley – as that’s where most of the activity would be happening. Turns out they were wrong. The only thing I found were sad, lonely food vendors holding court. I tried to purchase an old-timey Sarsaparilla only to find out it was $17. No, I’m not kidding. Yes, I’m for realz. And the gal at the sarsaparilla booth didn’t seem to appreciate my comment, “Is this carbonated product spun with gold?”

After the disappointment of Asparagus Alley, I wandered around some more – hoping to find a more upscale Lima Bean Lane or Cantaloupe Court. Alas – it wasn’t meant to be.

I’m sure, like any festival, there were probably rides, shows and attractions that catered to Stockton-ites. Before I left, the only exciting thing I could find were eleven different places selling beef jerky. And when I did finally find a place selling something called Asparagus Lumpia … I was put off by the weird name.

One good thing that came out of yesterday? This blog. I guess not saying no does have its advantages – along with some funky smelling pee.

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Tough Old Bird

I came down with a nasty head cold on Monday that has gotten progressively worse over the last few days. I’m muddling along, but definitely feel like I’m functioning at about 20%.  It’s times like this that I wish The Bevinator was still around. Whenever I’m sick, my first instinct was to call Mom. I’m pretty sure that’s par for the course for most anyone – but I could be wrong.  The Bevinator was far, FAR superior to WebMD. She could ascertain exactly what was wrong with me before I even had gone through all of my symptoms.

She called it the “crud”.

The “crud” was a catchall for any sort of ailment I might have. First she’d admonish me for approximately twenty minutes for catching the crud in the first place. “Well, it’s no wonder you’ve come down with the crud, Michael!” she’d chide. “You clearly aren’t taking care of yourself and you probably just need to slow down and stop partying.”  To her partying meant not going to bed when the streetlights came on.

I don’t do well when I’m under the weather. I’m whinier than usual. I’m more dramatic than usual. Heck, I remember one time I nearly went to the ER because I had an infected hangnail. “FOR THE LOVE, JUST POUR SOME BENZOYL PEROXIDE ON IT!” Mom would yell over the phone.

Come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time The Bevinator was felled by an illness. If she was ever sick, she certainly didn’t show it when I was growing up. She had an entire medicine cabinet filled with magical elixirs, salves, ointments and creams – you know, just in case.  Whether you were suffering from poison oak or Tuberculosis … she had you covered.

I’m not sure if The Bevinator was ever pro or con when it came to modern medicine. I recall watching some Discovery Channel program with her – and the subject was menopause.  Color her unimpressed when the patients on screen were complaining about hot flashes. “They just need to suck it up!” she barked at the TV. “It’s all mind over matter!”

Even in her later years, Mom couldn’t be bothered by shortness of breath or heart problems. She’d do as much as was humanly possible – and then stop to take a much-deserved catnap. She was a workhorse right to the very end. I remember being in the ICU when the nurse asked Mom if she needed more painkillers for her broken back. Mom shot the nurse a look that defied logic. It was as if she were superhuman. The ICU nurse turned to me and said, “I’ll tell you this much … if I were in her shoes, I’d be high as a kite right now. Your mom is one tough old bird.” That seemed to appease The Bevinator – as if her whole life had come down to this moment.

If truth be told, I am feeling a bit better today. I’m sure that writing this blog had something to do with it.  Well … that and I went to bed last night at 6:30pm with Vicks VapoRub slathered on the bottom of my feet. And I may have said a little prayer to St. Bev-erage — the Patron Saint of Really Strong Cough Syrup. Just sayin’.

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