Real Cooking

Once again I found myself driving home from a weekend softball tournament a little sunburned, slightly exhausted-if one can be just slightly exhausted-and covered in a layer of sunscreen and grit.

Our team hadn’t won any accolades, but the girls had had their moments of inspiration and had-I think-a lot of fun just being together.

OK, Erica did catch a ball in the throat and Amber took a shot that split her lip. Jenesa injured her shoulder and Amanda, who was really hustling in full catcher’s gear, suffered from the heat.

And then there were all the bumps and bruises that came from wild pitches and sliding into base. Oh, and the bee stings.

But other than that….

Anyway, Sunday evening, after a stop at the Brookville Hotel Restaurant in Abilene, I was once again driving home accompanied by Tina King and a van load of girls. Girls who smelled of summer sun, baseball diamond and fried chicken, who giggled-except for Suzy, whose laugh came joyously exploding out of her-over the funny stories Tina told about sleep walking brothers.

But somewhere north of Durham, the chatter in the van turned from the silly to the scary.

Now, you have to remember that these girls are from families who are pretty selective in what their kids see and do, so we’re not talking “Silence of the Lambs” here. But it was fun to hear them talk about old reruns of “The Twilight Zone” and Fox Family Channel’s “The Scariest Places on Earth.”

Suzy really caught my attention when she recounted the plot line from the “oh, oh guys…there’s this great movie” that she had recently seen. “Rear Window,” the cinema classic directed by Alfred Hitchcock, had captured her imagination.

Oh, how I love Hitchcock, too. It’s not what you see, it’s what you don’t see that gives you the tingle on the back of your neck. It’s the building of suspense and the formation of character and how the plot line gently unfolds that gives you that unsettled feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Fear, creeping fear. The fear of the known and the unknown. What will happen next?

I think it’s NBC that’s been touting a new “reality” program it is planning to bring to the American viewing public. The name of the show is something like “What Do You Fear?”

From what I’ve picked up by seeing a commercial or two, contestants participating in the program have to confront those things they fear most. Snakes, heights, claustrophobia.

But this is by no means a therapy session. This isn’t someone trying to be in the same room with a snake or an individual trying to touch a snake while a therapist murmurs reassuringly. No, this is being left in a pit with 100 slithering reptiles.

This is-in my opinion-sick.

I’m all for confronting fear. Phobias, in particular, can be paralyzing and should be treated by professionals. But being thrust into the middle of a terrifying situation for the sake of television ratings is-let me repeat-sick.

I have a fear of deep water. I don’t know why. I’ve considered seeking help in trying to overcome this problem. I’ve seriously thought about finding a swimming instructor who could help me work through my anxiety.

But let me tell you, I wouldn’t for the world place myself in danger of a heart attack for a television network.

What do I fear besides water?

Something happening to one of my children. Losing my husband to death or devastating injury would be horrible. Financial ruin wouldn’t be fun. Loss of health would be difficult. Yet, I can’t say I truly fear any of these situations. But I am vulnerable where my kids are concerned.

Maybe that’s why I’m cautious-maybe too cautious-about where they go and what they do. I still don’t like turning them loose in a big crowd or even letting them go to a public bathroom alone in a strange place.

When my daughter came home from ball practice with a goose egg on her forehead the other day, I was quick to recognize she wasn’t seeing double or slurring her speech.

“No problem,” she said. She was all right. Her coaches and teammates had taken good care of her.

Inwardly, every time I see the lacing pattern that the softball left on her skin, I wince. But to her I say, “You’re one tough cookie.”

Never let them see you sweat.

I fear their fear. I can read my son’s face across the table as he tries to figure out how to handle a social situation he’s finding difficult. I can see it in my girl’s body as she tenses up as a softball pitch comes zipping past her.

In the end, I know they’ll work through these situations that seem so troubling now. They are both growing into strong, capable, loving individuals who are going to be able to handle whatever life throws them.

But in the meantime, I’ll be there to help guide them through. I’ll be there to try to ease the pain and to keep them as safe as possible. And I’ll hide my fear-my fear of the known and the unknown-the fear of what might happen next.

Because I’m a mom.

* * *

Fortunately, it did work for us to stop by Brookville for some of their famous fried chicken on the way home last Sunday. Here’s something I learned that evening from Luke Lindsay, my daughter’s softball coach. If you ask for a carryout meal, the restaurant will pack up a complete dinner for you for about $4 less than if you stay and eat at the restaurant. Not only that, but each dinner, which includes four big pieces of chicken, can usually feed two people.

We all ordered carryout dinners. After just a short wait, we went to a nearby park for a picnic. I had purchased three dinners to feed two girls and myself that evening and had enough food to bring home for Keith and Alex, too.

And we still had leftovers for lunch the next day.

I thought I’d pass that tip on to you. Sometimes, especially for families with small children, eating out at a good restaurant can get pricey. This might be a good alternative to try sometime if you’re in the Abilene area anyway.

* * *

Here’s one of those copycat recipes that author Todd Wilbur produces in trying to duplicate a restaurant’s signature entree. One of the keys to this refreshing drink is to make sure all of the ingredients are as cold as possible.

Houlihan’s Houli Fruit Fizz

1 (12 oz.) can cold Sprite

1/2 cup cold pineapple juice

1/4 cup cold orange juice

1 cup cold cranberry juice

Combine all of the ingredients in a pitcher and pour into two glasses over ice. Makes two servings.

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