Monthly Archives: October 2011

The Ghost of Fraulein Schweiger

Ok, it’s time for another comedy piece.  This one is brought to you by the 1965 classic, The Sound of Music with Julie Andrews and a little steakhouse in my hometown called “Schwamkrug’s”.

Well, let’s start with The Sound of Music.  As we know, my mom is German, as in born and raised there, so as you can imagine, my childhood home was a mix of German goods along with a healthy dose of Texan from my Dad.  Ok, besides all of the good German food and culture in our house, you have to know that growing up, my father was an encyclopedia of everything western.  My father can name every single horse ridden by the Spaghetti Western cowboys of the 40’s and 50’s.  Ask him the name of Tom Mix’s horse and what does he answer without skipping a beat?  Tony.  Who’s horse was named Scout?  Tonto on The Lone Ranger.  You get the picture…if there is ever a Jeopardy category called “Famous Horses” my father could sweep it hands down.  But with all of the country western goodness of my Dad, my mom always but always had us sit down every year when the networks would play The Sound of Music.

Now, what you don’t know is that my mom is a dead ringer for Julie Andrews, as in she could easily be Julie Andrew’s stunt double without a problem.  To boot, and even though my mom hides it like crazy, she’s also got the voice to match.  So, as you can guess, she sang along with the musical when she thought we weren’t listening.

Ok, I think everyone but everyone has seen The Sound of Music at one time or another in their lives.  Well, I dug around on YouTube like mad for the clip, but unfortunately, the singing competition at the end of the movie isn’t anywhere to be found so I can show you, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.  In the awards scene at the end of the film, the third place winner, a woman by the name of Fraulein Schweiger, goes out to accept her award and bows not once, not twice, but 16 times.  Oy veh.  It’s a total bowfest with Fraulein Schweiger and it’s very funny, all 16 bows.

Here’s where we add in Schwamkrug’s Steakhouse (or “Schwammies” as my parents liked to call it).  Schwammies, back in the day, always had great food and usually very good service.  Well, you know what’s coming, you do!  Admit it…you know what I’m about to tell you.  Well, son of a gun, wouldn’t you know it, but Schwammies had their own version of Fraulein Schweiger.  I couldn’t tell you the real name of that server for all the tea in China some 30 years later, but I will tell you without hesitation that we’ve called her “Fraulein Schweiger” since the first day she served our table.  And you guessed it, she bowed just the same.

Well, some 30 years ago, we had gone up to Schwammies for some special occasion, I can’t remember for the life of me what it was, but we got seated at Schwammies and sure enough coming around the corner to take our orders was who?  Fraulein Schweiger.

I remember the meal quite vividly.  Steaks cooked to perfection, enormous baked potatoes, good corn on the cob, salads done just so with really good dressing, you know, the normal works for a steakhouse.  Like me, my mom’s palate when it comes to some things, is just as picky as mine.  My mother and I are the only two people in the room that when our family of over 50 people get together for a reunion, we’re the only ones that don’t drink iced tea.  “Foul concoction” is all I can say about iced tea.  Everyone I know loves the darn stuff, I can’t stand it and neither can my mom.  Overwhelmingly you can say that if my mother and I agree universally on ANYTHING it is our revulsion towards tea.  Hot, iced, chai, you name it, if it’s tea, we don’t drink it.

So, back to Schwammies and  Fraulein Schweiger.  In all of the time we went to Schwammies, my mother was really at odds with her because well, Fraulein Schweiger always seemed to screw up some part of our meal every time we went in there.  The incident I am about to relay to you goes down in the all-time great Mom moments.

My mother is a coffee drinker.  She loves it.  Mocha ice cream, flavored coffees, Bailey’s and Coffee, you name it…she loves to go up to the Lodge at Mount Charleston to get one of their good Mt. Charleston Coffee’s every winter.   So, way back when, as Fraulein Schweiger came around to check if any of us wanted dessert after our meal, Mom ordered her standard cup of coffee.

I don’t know about you, but when I order something with a very specific flavor, my taste buds are really looking forward to that specific taste.  When you’re ready like that and what you put into your mouth tastes nowhere NEAR what you were expecting, it goes south really (and I mean REALLY) fast.

Well, sure enough Fraulein Schweiger came back with a cup and saucer full of hot liquid and placed it in front of my mother.  The dark liquid inside of the cup sure did look like coffee to me, but um, well, as my Mom took a sip of the liquid in the cup, her face immediately contorted.  Her mouth pulled together in a very pursed and unhappy sort of scowl.  With her mouth still full of the contents of the cup, her hand became a pointing device with her four fingers pressed into her thumb, reminding me very much of a very early version of Kermit the Frog.  Well, that hand of hers started to point, in a very stabbing like motion at the cup, pointing twice.  Then that hand went back up to her mouth, pointing twice.  Then that same hand went over the cup making a giant imaginary “X” above the cup.  Dad, Nan and I looked at Mom like she had seriously lost it.

When Mom saw that Dad, Nan and I couldn’t figure out what the coffee cup induced charade was all about, she placed the cup back up to her lips and deposited the liquid contents of her mouth back into the cup that it came from.  With a very contorted face that looked like she had just tasted the world’s most foul concoction, and mouth still pursed in disgust, she said, “That’s not coffee, that’s TEA!”   Dad, Nan and I burst into laughter because we had never seen my mother handle something like that before, and with her arm waving like that and the face she made, it was damn near hysterical.  My mother, who I am sure was ready to rip that “ditzy broad” in half,  in a very calm voice, traumatized tastebuds and all, called for our friendly Fraulein and had the tea whisked away and replaced by coffee, with Fraulein Schweiger bowing and apologizing the whole way to the kitchen and back to the table again.  My mother, on the coffee’s arrival, was very tentative with the cup, she took a strong inhale of the fragrance of the coffee to confirm that it was indeed coffee and took a sip.  As she swallowed the coffee, her face relaxed and her tastebuds calmed themselves.

After 30 years, we’re still talking about that damned cup of tea that Fraulein Schweiger brought to my mother and how funny the whole scenario was.

Well, you have to know what’s coming.  I was at dinner with Ace tonight when the waitress came by and asked me what I wanted to drink.  As is the norm, I ordered a Coke with lemon.  (It’s good, try it.  I learned about it in Europe in 1985.  They mix a little bit of orange soda with their Coca-Cola and it’s called a “Spezi“.  Sometimes they do it with lemonade, so ever since 1985, I’ve always had my Coke with a lemon slice in it.)  Well, apparently the Ghost of Fraulein Schweiger was sitting on the shoulder of that waitress because guess what, as my very dark cup was placed on the table and at seeing the two lemon slices that had been squeezed into the glass, I took a sip.  My face contorted, one of my hands went up to my mouth while the other pushed the glass away.  By sheer guessing what on earth do you think was in that glass?  ICED TEA!

Ace looked at me as I grimaced and told him what was in my cup.  He was very sweet to offer me his beer to kill the taste of the foul liquid that had invaded my mouth.  I turned it away at first, but as he flagged down the waitress and informed her of the mistake, my hand shot out and grabbed the longneck beer in front of Ace and downed half of it.  A few minutes later, my Coke with Lemon arrived and like my mother, some 30 years ago, I was very tentative as I took a sip.  As the taste of Coca-Cola and Lemon washed over my palate, I relayed the story of Mom vs. Fraulein Schweiger.  He looked at me like I was nuts and I did agree with him that I guess it was just one of those things you had to be there to see.

After telling Ace about all that, I looked at the clock, it was 9 p.m.  I usually don’t call my parents very late as they usually go to bed early, but in this case, it was one for the ages that I had to tell them about immediately.  So, after texting Nan to see if Mom and Dad were still up, I just said to heck with it and called my mother.

Lucky for me, Mom and Dad hadn’t gone to sleep yet, and as I said hello to my mother, she hollered at Dad to get on the line because I was on the phone.  It only took a few words…

“Mom, you’ll never believe what just happened.  I was just visited by The Ghost of Fraulein Schweiger.  She brought me iced tea.”

You should have heard them laughing.


I’ve made a new friend.  He’s 77, blind in one eye and has a skin condition that makes him look rather speckled. His name is Lucky and he is Ace’s 11-year-old Dalmatian.

Believe it or not, even with my allergy to animal dander, Lucky and I get along famously.  I never really understood why people have pets, but after being around Lucky, I now understand why.  He’s my pal.  When I’m feeling down, he comes to cheer me up and otherwise he’s a serious attention sponge who needs affection as much as I like to give it.  For how tactile I am, Lucky is a great fit for me because for how much I need to touch things to give affection, he just laps it up.
On Wednesday night, Ace remarked that I’ve seemed happier since I’ve started taking an active role in taking care of that speckled old man.  I’ve given him a bath, brushed him, walked him, ran with him, he’s snuggled with me while I read for school and just been a really good companion while Ace is busy.  
The only downside to Lucky is that well, to quote Jeff Dunham, “Saddam’s mustard gas is nothing next to a Lucky fart.”  Lucky reminds me very much of a large dog by the name of Cedric in James Herriot’s Dog Stories. The dog can clear a room with one very inhumane foghorn-like blast.  Many a time I’ve fanned my nose going, “Jeezus dog!”, “Eat some roughage!”, “Go outside and clean out!”, “Good gods, what died?”, “Jeezus Lucky, light a match.”, and the usual, “Ace!  Lysol!  Now!”  Oh, the pure stank that can come out of that dog will even send the olfactory-challenged running for cover like they just got smoked out of a burning building.
But, tear-bringing farts aside, I’ve never had a pal like Lucky.  For all of the rumors I’ve heard about Dalmatians being very high strung, Lucky’s not like that, he’s extremely sedate because of his age, the fact that he has arthritis and a severe case of hip dysplasia.  However, when he’s feeling spry, that mooch pooch will play, run and goof off unlike any dog I’ve ever seen, and to be honest, he’s the first canine friend I’ve ever really had outside of my sister’s dearly departed Bo.  Bo was my favorite dog of all time.  He was so incredibly smart and beautiful, but as my sister tells it, he got to be one heck of a codgery old man.  Lucky’s no different.  At 11, he’s an old codger, but he’s also what I term as a “face dog.”  He’s got one of those great faces that begs you to love on him.  He’s very much Pongo from Disney’s animated 101 Dalmatians…
But he is a real sweetheart, just like his Doggie Daddy.  The one thing that makes Lucky stand out to me away from every other dog I’ve seen is that he has a woobie.  Yep, he’s got a security blanket.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  I mean, Carl takes his Doberman “Reese” and turns that miniature horse into an ottoman, and both of Nan and Carl’s doberman’s have their own oversized ottoman as a bed, but not even Zoe the fox terrier has a security blanket.  But, like a young child, there’s Lucky with his woobie.  It’s great.  There is nothing more fun than covering him up and watching him toss the blanket around until he gets it just right then flops down with a satisfied sigh and a face that says, “You may love on me now…”
Gee, I think I will.
Ace adopted Lucky as a last-chance dog.  He was on his third strike when Ace picked him out at the pound and I have to take my hat off to Ace because he not only saved Lucky’s life, but he’s done a brilliant job with Lucky, he’s snap trained, he listens and when the pit bull mentality that was bred into the Dalmatian line long ago rears it’s head, he can be a real stubborn so and so…
But I will tell you without a shadow of a doubt, I’m the luckiest of them all, I can say I’ve got a canine pal who pours as much love into me as I do into him.


Ok, well, it’s taken me long enough, it’s only been three weeks since my birthday and I still haven’t posted about it.  I know, shake your head with me, but think of it this way, I’m juggling a full-time job, 12 credit hours and a boyfriend…not easy to squeeze a blog post in between all that.

So, I’ve hit the big 4-0.  Ok, it’s not much different from 39 or, for that matter, 38.  The big difference between 38, 39 and 40 is that I got Ace for my birthday this year.  It’s the first birthday I’ve had with a man around in two years.  It’s like the rest of the adjustments you make when you have a new influence in your life, you just have to be ready to tackle it head on.

Ok girls, help me out.  How many times in your dating life have you heard a man tell you, “I’m different than any guy you’ve ever met”?  If you are anything like me, you know they ALL say that.  Guys should really be told “don’t ever say that” because it’s one of the oldest lines in the book.  Well gals, stand up and cheer because I’ve found one of the few guys in the universe that is actually different from any man I’ve ever met, and guess what, he never said he was different, he was just himself, said nothing and let his actions do all the talking.  Ok, guys like Ace need to be cultivated so there are more like him out there.

After 39 years of frustration, disappointment, mess cleaning, distractions and whathaveyou, I finally found someone I can stand toe to toe with and enjoy every minute.  But, let’s talk my birthday:

Ok, I won’t lie, my birthday wasn’t the most banner of days.  It just didn’t want to go there for me.  However, thank goodness for my chrome plated knight and his diesel-driven steed, he really fought for me hard.  The night of the 24th going into the 25th, Ace decided he wanted to have oysters.  Ok, y’all know me.  Oysters?  Really?  Well, yeah.

You first have to remember that I’m not adventurous with my palate.  I’m pretty much a picky eater from hell.  However, since Ace has shown up, I’ve made the conscious decision to try something new every day.  Ace was a chef at one time, so he’s fantastic in the kitchen.  Yep girls, he loves to cook.  I know, “shut up…”, right?  Uh huh…and oh is he a good cook.  He is so masterful with a chef’s knife…I can’t wait for my nephew and niece to meet him.  I told y’all already that he grows his own tomatoes (that are so floral that they could seduce whole countries), his own bell peppers (which he made a special trip to deliver some to my dad) and his own jalapenos (ok, I got lost around the jalapenos, those are just a “no” for me, but who am I to judge?  If he likes them, more power to him.)

So now that you know all that, I realized that I couldn’t just stick to my boring diet around him, I needed to try new things if I’m to keep with him, so I stepped up to the Oyster Bar at Palace Station and tried my very first raw oyster on the half-shell.

Here’s me before the oyster…
Here’s me after the oyster…

Before I swallowed it, Ace whispered in my ear…”Don’t chew.”  I had been told that before about oysters, and kind of knew the drill, but that was the first time I ever swallowed one of those slippery suckers.  For those of you who are chicken and just won’t do it, I’ll tell you a secret:  With the way Ace doctored the oyster, all I tasted was lemon, cocktail sauce and horseradish, I didn’t even taste the oyster, so all in all, it wasn’t bad at all.  After digesting the fact that I had eaten an oyster, I got daring and went for another…and this is where it all went south.  Oysters have beards.  Didn’t really know that, but the experienced oyster eater will tell you that they do have them…and well, on my second attempt with an oyster, I ended up with the beard doing funny things in the roof of my mouth and it was disgusting.  So, my oyster adventure ended there.

After the oysters, Ace had ordered us a creole pan roast which was filled with Andoulle sausage, shrimp and a few other things.  What makes it funny is that when the waiter took our order, he asked Ace how spicy he wanted it, and since Ace knows me pretty good, he ordered it very mild, to which the waiter replied, “Whimpy.”  Ok, that didn’t help, but when it came out, it was spicy!  Oy!  Yeah, I’m the world’s largest wuss when it comes to spices, so to Ace it was like dishwater, to me it was burning the roof out of my mouth.  But, I ate well, I embraced the burning sensations and just went with it.

Later on, as we were walking back out to Duke, Ace’s diesel-driven steed (a beautiful blue Ford F-350 diesel that’s lifted about four feet higher than stock), I got a case of the giggles, BAD.  What Ace failed to mention up to that point is that the reason people eat such spicy food is because of the endorphin rush that it gives.  Ok, didn’t know that!  I sat cackling my butt off over nothing!  I didn’t even have anything alcoholic to drink yet, and I sat there just a-gigglin’!

I had so much fun with the oysters and spicy food that I went to sleep thinking that 40 had been my best birthday I ever had…well, until the next morning.

The next day, I couldn’t get comfortable in my own skin, even if I had paid to be able to do it.  It just wasn’t a good day.  My sister, mom and dad put together a beautiful birthday dinner for me including brisket, green bean casserole, potato salad and all of my favorite foods, including a beautiful strawberry cheesecake…

My family was so awesome for my birthday and I can’t thank them enough for everything they did for me and for the gifts they gave me.
But then, as is tradition, we left my sister’s house to head to Spago for my ritual birthday dessert…and guess what…they didn’t have it.  No Créme Bruleé.  Ok, while you may think it’s no big deal, to me it’s a major tragedy.  12 years of Cremé Bruleé brought to a halt.  While I did have my regular glass of champagne, my dessert was replaced by “Coconut,” a Coconut Pot De Crème with chocolate ganache and shortbread cookies.  How very delicious, as coconut is my favorite flavor in the world, but still, it had no zip or classicism to it, not even a “Happy Birthday” written on it, so I was extremely disappointed.

Now, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it or not, but Ace likes to make believe he’s blue collar when really he’s a white collar guy who likes to dress up as a blue collar guy.  Backwards?  Maybe.  Different?  Heavens yes.  Ace is the original rich bum.  He just exudes it.  The guy can bend wrenches under the hood of a car and get filthy and two minutes later he’s decked to the nines with his CEO attitude to carry with him.  Yikes, what a unique mix, right?  Well, I took him to Spago in the way he loves to dress, a gorgeous flowing silk shirt with denim cargo shorts and birkenstocks (that show off his gorgeous feet, what can I say, he’s got great feet…how many men can you actually say that about???).  He sat sipping a Bushmills while I took in my dessert.

All day long and into the night I had emotional trouble, not being able to be comfortable in my own skin and Ace really went to the ends of the earth for me.  He really did make my birthday special, and what topped it off was what he got me.  Talk about a guy who knows his girl…he got me a 2 terabyte external hard drive for my computer.  AWWWW!  How sweet!  (He’s so awesome.  I love it!)

So, while not the greatest day in the world emotionally, Ace and my family really came through, from oysters to champagne and coconut.

Many thanks to all that posted birthday wishes on my Facebook wall, I really do appreciate it.

So that’s it for the big 4-0.  I’m over the hump, it’s all fun from here.

For the song of the day, I’ll send this one out to Ace with a fat wink…Newton Faulkner’s “Gone in the Morning.”