Unexpected Duet

Last month, we visited Minnesota as we do every summer to see our extended family. This trip included attending a minor league ball game with GranMary, welcoming my sister-in-law, Nelle, and her family back to Minnesota (they’re moving home! Woo hoo!), spending time with our hilarious and awesome nephews, visiting with Gigi and Grandpaw Ray, and getting to meet and hold and hug and oooooh and ahhhhh our new nephew (baby of my other sister-in-law, Emi), who is an absolute shoe-in for the CUTEST BABY IN ALL THE UNIVERSE OMG WITH THE CUTENESS award.

It was a superb week – family-filled, relaxing, fun – and although we were sad to leave before the state fair (and Baby O’s 100 days party), we were looking forward to meeting the girls’ teachers when we got back home. We arrived at the airport relatively early; it was crowded but not too crazy. After getting the girls some breakfast at one of the to-go restaurants, I decided to grab a coffee for myself before we headed to the gate.

Although it’s no secret that I’m a Starbucks devotee, I try to patronize Caribou Coffee whenever we’re in the Twin Cities. I like the local-ness of the chain, and the Caramel High Rise is particularly delicious. The line at the airport Caribou was fairly long; they were brewing more decaf, which caused a bit of a back-up, so there were a lot of people milling around. Factor in that the patrons were, you know, due to leave on airplanes soon, and you get a relatively tense and impatient atmosphere.

The cashier asked for my order in a no-nonsense manner (not rudely or brusquely, but she was definitely trying to just move things along) and I was about to reply when one of her coworkers – standing behind her – leaned toward her (and me) and sang, with a tiny, sly grin, “Whaddaya want from me?”

I haven’t watched American Idol in years, but I was quite the fan many seasons ago and immediately recognized the barista’s query as a line from the chorus of (season eight runner up) Adam Lambert’s pop hit, “Whataya Want From Me?” (I never knew before right now that it was spelled like that. Hm.)

(If this makes absolutely no sense, check out Adam’s video…)

The barista looked pleased with her sing-song joke but seemed positively stunned when I sang right back, matching my new words to the melody of Lambert’s tune: “I’d like a coffee, please!” Looking up, she grinned back at me without missing a beat and crooned in kind, “I’ll get that right a-way! I’ll get that right a-way-ay!”

No one else seemed to pick up on the barista’s attempt at humor (and song); we didn’t care. Neither of us really knew the melody beyond a few lines of the verse (or, if she did, she preferred the verse because that’s all she mimicked), but it didn’t matter.

“I’ll take it with caff-eine! I’ll take it with caff-eee-eine!”

“Right now she’ll give you change!”

“Hey, I ap-prec-i-aaaate that!”

Nick had asked me to get him a decaf (which I had to wait for), so our “conversation” lasted longer than it otherwise would have. The cashier – the one who was actually taking the order – looked mildly annoyed at first that her coworker and I were slowing down the transaction… by singing… but as we escalated our back-and-forth duet, a slight smile began to tug at the corners of her mouth.

“Would you like a muffin, too? Or maybe a croi-sa-aaannt?”

“No thanks, I’ll be okay! Don’t want the cal-or-ieeeees!”

When I moved over to allow the person behind me to place their order, the cashier could no longer hide her smile. By the time I finished adding sugar and cream, she was laughing out loud at the goofy audacity of the barista’s and my exchange. SINGING. MADE-UP WORDS! ABOUT COFFEE!! AT THE AIRPORT, FOR THE LOVE!!!!

“I’m going to add some cream!”

“Hope that your flight’s on ti-iime!”

“Thanks, have an awesome day!”

“You too! I hope it’s grea-aaaat!”

In a moment, Nick’s coffee was ready and it was over; I was walking to my terminal, backpack on, coffees in both hands. There were planes to be caught, miles to be traveled, bags to be unpacked, dogs to be petted upon our return.

But for that moment? In that moment? It was awesome.
I mean, does it really get much better than an impromptu, ridiculous musical exchange with a complete stranger about coffee? No. No, it does not. 

I hope that barista is still singing to her customers, and I hope at least some of them are singing back. Maybe she’ll still be there the next time we’re in Minnesota. I’ll be sure to brush up on my pop tune knowledge, just in case.

Apocalypse? Now!

I am sticky.

The power went out over 40 hours ago, it is 80+ degrees with the humidity at approximately 400%, sleep has just not been happening, I awoke at 6:00 a.m. this morning *levitating* due to an especially sonic thunderclap, the children have been threatening mutiny, and we are redefining “family togetherness.” I love summer!!

We are in Minnesota to celebrate my father-in-law, Bill’s, milestone birthday. This trip had been in the works for months – all of Nick’s family coming together! Celebrations! Cakes! Gifts! Games! Prizes! An entire weekend’s worth of activities carefully and thoughtfully planned, eagerly and excitedly anticipated.

And then.

While our 2-hour layover turned into a 4-hour weather-related delay, we learned that my sister-in-law had a stomach virus, so she and her family would be unable to make the trek from Denver. Although we understood, we were crushed (we hadn’t even met our 5 month-old nephew yet!), and we got onto the airplane with heavy hearts.

And sat on the runway for an hour.

Once in the air, we learned that all flights from O’hare had been grounded – only minutes after our takeoff – and we breathed a sigh of relief that something was going our way. The flight was 30 minutes longer than scheduled as the plane was diverted around the storms, but we finally landed, ready to rock. Only after navigating baggage claim and collapsing into the rental car did Nick and I realize that it was 5 p.m. New York time and, thus far, we’d fed our children breakfast, popcorn, and a handful of almonds. Seeking to remedy our neglectful parenting choices, we quickly purchased “lunch” for the Ella and Annie, and thus pulled into my in-laws’ house with them clutching Happy Meals as if their lives depended on it.

Plus, they hadn’t exactly dressed up for our flight and, after the 11 hours of traveling, looked a bit like tiny, adorable hobos who had foraged for dinner in a nearby dumpster.
Yes, Annie’s shirt has a cactus and says “Hugz?” and Ella’s reads “I (heart) NICK”.
Still winning.

Happy Meals aside, we were thrilled to be here, and even more thrilled that my sister-in-law had begun to feel better, so she and her family had rebooked their flights and were coming after all.  We ate dinner and changed our clothes just in time for the guests to arrive — Nick (a forever guitar player and singer) had long wanted to perform for his dad, a concert of sorts, and we had prepared several songs as the evening’s entertainment.

We began with our family’s favorite song, “L.O.V.E.” by Nat King Cole.

The Von Trapp Family singers? Not…

Toward the end of song, just after the last of the guests arrived, the winds began to pick up. Mid-second song, the rains came. Ten minutes into the gathering, the apocalypse surely seemed upon us and lights began to flicker.

Apocalypse or not, as performers, we knew that the show must go on, so onward we went,  singing, strumming, and playing in the dark.
Those trees outside the window? Bending all the way to the ground? Yeah. It was like that.

We remain in the dark today. Except with less singing. And more stickiness. And by now, we – all eleven of us – definitely look and smell like hobos.

I’d say that “someday” we’ll laugh about the events of this weekend… except that we’re already chuckling, because my in-laws are generally awesome – and because, really, what else can you do?  Except drink, but we’ve already established I’m not so great at that, and the beer is all warm anyway.

I’ve got plenty more to share, but the car adapter isn’t happy with me draining all of its power, and there are, like, eight more cell phones and i-devices that need charging. Also, it’s time to go bowling (electricity and air conditioning for the win!). Or maybe look for the lost keys to the rental car.*
Either way, it’s sure to be an adventure. And we’ll still be laughing.
I think.

* This post was originally written at 2 p.m. but couldn’t be published until later because the computer died. We did get power back by dinner, nearly 48 hours after it had gone out.
The car keys, however, remain missing. A 6 a.m. tow to the Hertz repair lot has so totally been on my bucket list. Winning!!!