Saturday, January 22, 2011

Trains, Trains Everywhere

My father-in-law loves toy trains, model trains, train shows, fishing and boats. Not necessarily in that order. But his love for all things that go clickity-clack brought the whole crew to a very special event this weekend. My wife, my son, my father-in-law, my mother-in-law and I went to the local Model Train Swap Shop.

See that picture you have in your mind? It's... well, it's kind of right. It wasn't in a big, cavernous convention center. There were miles of tables. But it was in a Youth Rec Center hall and there were at least thirty to forty tables spread out over two rooms. More on the Rec Center and the patrons in a bit. First, let's get some of the basics out of the wa

There were about sixty people in this place when we got there. A man and his 8-year old son were in front of us as we got to the nice old man taking money for the entrance fee. All the proceeds on tickets went to the local Model Train club or association or something. What they do at their meetings is... well, we're still trying to figure that one out.

You walk in and it's set up just like any flea market. Tables are arranged in rows and merchants are plying their trade and trying to make deals. In fact, the first person we saw was someone you'll recognize simply from his catch phrase:

Ladies and gentleman, we have a Monty hall sighting! No, not really. But it was the kind of place you might run into an old TV personality trying to make money off something just to fund one more run at the top.

On a side note, I did think that I saw one of the contestants from "Let's Make a Deal" dressed as a railroad conductor.

If you can't read that sign, it says: "Fight Poverty, Buy Here!"

Ok, I'll let your laughter die down a bit. Apparently, one of the little-known and under-reported programs started by the giant Stimulus Bill was a new war on poverty, starting with the model train world. President Obama would have been proud.

At least on some level. Remember that I said this thing was held at a Youth Rec Center? Every picture of a sports team in the trophy case or on the wall. was a celebration of some 100% African-American team from the surrounding area. The walls were covered with educational posters of famous African-Americans throughout United States history. Looking at the surrounding wall, each and every train profiteer or collectible connoisseur could learn about Sojourner Truth, Thurgood Marshall, Barack Obama, Rosa Parks and Malcolm X.

Of the fifty or so people there at the train show? One black guy. The rest looked like happy hour in a North Dakota steak house.

One final picture. Don't look at the train. Don't look at the table where the monstrous train set was arranged in a ten-yard-square track where it went through tunnels, over bridges, and through make-believe towns.

No, take a look at the couple sitting on the stage. He's content as a lark, totally in his element. I know because I went by him at least four times. Each time, he smile seemed to either get bigger or perhaps more pleasant. That's really what he looked like, a nice guy who was enjoying the heck out of his life at that very moment. She's holding her nose like she has the biggest train-induced headache in the world. And it got worse. I looked over later and wished I had my camera up. Her arms were on her knees and she looked like she badly needed a barf bag.

Finally, after we walked outside and were ready to leave, three things happened that caused us immense joy. First, two men walked from their cars to go into the show. The lead guy had a doo-doo brown beret on his head; the follower had the worst comb-over I've ever seen. His hair stopped growing at his ear and stretched over his dome to the other ear. And there wasn't much of it. Second, a man got out of his van to go into the train show and his pants fell halfway down his rear end, giving us all a great view of his rather large butt.

The third thing that happened? My son learned a new meaning for, and then used correctly in a sentence, "the moon!" God Bless trains!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Guy's Night In

Yes, I know I haven't written in a while. No, I have no excuse except to say that my job is hectic and, well, it's more fun to spend time with my son than write about spending time with my son. And isn't that the way it's supposed to be?

Tomorrow is Guy's Night In. The Wife is going out with her family, so my son and I are going to be spending Friday in "guy heaven". Which means:

- First up is eating dinner. His meal is supposed to be something healthy set up by my wife. Yeah right, we're having hot dogs, chips, ice cream and whatever else he wants. Yes, I'm going to give him cake if he wants it (and if I can find some in the house). Yes, he can have some of my french fries. But only him, no one else.

- Highlight of the night will be either one of two things. One is playing with his trains. My son got a "Thomas the Tank Engine" starter set from Santa Claus and he loves it. I cannot put into words how much he loves his trains. It's like me when the Browns beat the Ravens. Wait, that hasn't happened in a while, remind me how that feels please.

- The second possible highlight of the night will be showing him a new movie we bought: Cars. The Disney Pixar movies are his favorite, and any kind of car is one of his favorite things to play with. Seems like a match made in parenting heaven. Plus, I haven't seen the movie in forever, so it'll be fun to watch. Even better to watch it with him.

- One thing that will not be played unless it is absolutely neccessary is any episode of "Wonder Pets!" This deserves it's own post and I'll do it whenever I can rationally discuss this. But right now, just the thought of this show on Nick Jr. makes the theme song run through my head and I want to punch myself in the face because of it. "The phone... the phone is ringing..." There, if you know the song, you are suffering same as me. Don't get mad at me, I didn't write the thing.

So that's what's going on in my world. I'll let you know how it goes. But for now, enjoy your time with your kids. Sometime soon, I'll be writing them detentions.