Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween in Metuchen

Caption: From left: Maggie, Theo, Kara, Luke and Natalie

Halloween has many charms. Neighbors open their doors to their neighbors. Gifts are exchanged to promote social harmony and general happiness. People look beyond the profit system, some of them skip work altogether. And everyone turns his back on conventional fashion.

I ask you: Why can’t every day be Halloween?

Theo and Natalie certainly enjoy Halloween. At school, Theo’s first Halloween parade was a graveyard smash – the children beamed with pride in their costumes on the stage as parents snapped digital photographs.

When Daddy returned home from work, a dozen children were tricking and treating on Voorhees Place, including Kara and her brother, Kyle. Theo and Natalie milled about, carrying candy containers filled to capacity. “They’re done,” said Mom.

A word about Natalie's kitty-kat costume. This black-and-white classic has seen more tricks than any Halloween costume in Clark family history. Madeline Clark Davidian wore it for two Halloweens, Theo wore it for three, and Natalie has now worn the family heirloom twice. Kitty-kat costume, the Clarks of New Jersey salute you!

Several waves of children came to 56 Voorhees Place during the evening. The prize-winning costumes were those of two boys, about 11 or 12, who dressed as old ladies, with canes and gray hair. Theo watched from the safety of the living room as strange children crowded our tiny front porch, which is ill-designed for tricking or treating. On one occasion, a witch and Edvard Munch’s The Scream were momentarily trapped between the storm door and the front wall, effectively blocking several other gouls and princesses. No one was injured, however.

After the excitement, the children returned to their nightly ritual – books upstairs in Theo’s room, moderate rough-housing with Dad, then a song and milk for Natalie downstairs, then a reading from “Charlotte’s Web” for Theo, then good night.

# # # Recurring Feature: Reader Participation # # #

The best Halloween costume I ever saw was that my brother, Dan, when he dressed up as Tiger Woods a few years ago. What was the best Halloween costume YOU ever saw?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Waiting for Mimi

Caption: Mimi, on the night of the St. Mary’s High School class of 1957 reunion.

At about 11 a.m., the interrogation began. “When is Mimi coming?” Have patience, Theo and Natalie. Your grandmother will be coming later in the afternoon, sometime around 3:30 p.m. Theo had a follow up question: “When is Mimi coming?”

At 2 p.m. on an unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon, the children and Margie are standing outside, looking hopefully down the street. At 3 p.m., Kevin Donahue from across the street comes across to visit. The children are pre-occupied. “When is Mimi coming?” they ask.

Finally, we get the call from Mimi: “I’m on Amboy Avenue, and I’m about to turn into your street.” By this time, though, the children are reading a book with their mother in the living room. Only Daddy is outside to greet her.

Mimi is visiting Metuchen in advance of her 50th High School Reunion – St. Mary’s of Perth Amboy. She’s coming to spend the night, and she’s bring bags of gifts, a matter of great excitement for the children, who peek out the door at their grandmother and her treasures.

(We will pass over Mimi’s reunion, the bulk of which occurred while the Clarks of New Jersey slept. Perhaps you will learn more in one of her mass e-mails.)

On the following day, the children were excited to bring Mimi to Edison’s Skylark Diner, where our waiter Ehab’s professionalism ensured that Mimi’s eggs would be loose, just as she likes them. Later, while Margie engaged in group meditation, Dad took Mimi and the kids shopping for Theo’s Halloween costume. Ever-generous, Mimi plucked a pumpkin placemat off the shelf for little Natalie – “It’s only $2.99,” Mimi said. Natalie developed an inseparable attachment to that placemat by the time we got in the checkout line. That’s when we discovered the actual price of the placemat: $12.99!

Still, Mimi paid for the placemat. Generous Mimi, the Clarks of New Jersey salute you!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Friday Night on the Train

Caption: Theo and Natalie play no part in the following narrative.

On Daddy’s train ride home from work late Friday night after a long day at the office, the train suddenly jerked to a stop just outside of Secaucus station.

I and my fellow passengers – mostly New York Ranger fans wearing Ranger jerseys returning home from the Garden – waited a few anxious moments, then slowly rolled on.

Then the conductor’s voice came over the train’s audio system. Here’s what he said, word for word:

“Attention passengers do NOT push the buzzer. Pushing the buzzer is a federal offense. You will be incarcerated and fined. Pushing the buzzer can cause harm to you and to every single passenger on this train and to every member of the crew. And if you push the buzzer button, the train will stop and police will board the train and ARREST EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON THE TRAIN.”

That last bit caused a bit of a chuckle, and Daddy recognized the conductor as a genuine comic talent.

A few minutes later, the conductor was back on the loudspeaker.

“Passengers, if you look out the right side of the train you’ll see the finest hockey stadium in the United States of America.” It was the shiny new Jersey Devils stadium in Newark. The Ranger fans groaned in protest.

Conductor of the 10:11 Trenton local, the Clarks of New Jersey salute you!

# # # CNJ READER POLL # # #

Which topics would you prefer to read about in this Web site:
a) Daddy’s commute
b) Hockey news
c) Theo and Natalie

# # #

Monday, October 01, 2007

Special Report: Aaron Clark Turns Three

Caption: Aaron (foreground) collects candy from the pinata.

The Clarks of Metro Denver - Dan, Tedra, Aaron and little baby Elena - celebrated Aaron's third birthday Saturday with presents, games, candy and a late-night trip to downtown Commerce City for Mexican food regarded as the best in the area by readers of the Denver Post.

Here are some of the highlights:

• Rapid response weather planning: The party was set up as an outdoor gathering at a park near the Clarks’ home, but the winds began to howl – knocking over full 12-oz. cans of soda and sending party favors and plates across the central plains states. Undaunted, the Clarks of Metro Denver led the troops indoors where the party played out happily. A good time was had by all.

• Cute kids: Little baby Elena is an adorable child with a happy attitude toward life. And Aaron is a sweet boy who loves his family, and looks just like his dad looked back in 1974. “Angelic” is a good word for him.

• Memory lane: Yes, dear reader, there was also time when Dan Clark, all 6-3, 230 pounds of him, was angelic. I remember those days well. My sister, Diana, and I were about 9 or 10, and we competed aggressively for his affections. Sometimes one of us would bribe him for his precious gifts of time and attention. Now, golf brings the two grown brothers together naturally, but back in the mid 1970s, Diana won more battles than she lost.

• Architecture note: The Clarks of Metro Denver live in a remarkable house – a classic mountain-style wood and stone design with hardwood floors, a semi-circular staircase, views of the golf course plus all the modern amenities. Of special interest is the high-definition television. Here’s an actual comment from Dan about the quality of the picture: “If it’s not high-definition, I don’t even want to watch it anymore.” That’s high praise!

The Clarks of Metro Denver hosted me for four nights as I attended the Ace Hardware Convention. They treated me like family, even better. Dan, Tedra, Aaron and baby Elena: the Clarks of New Jersey salute you!

# # # Reader interaction; sponsored by Mucinex # # #

What’s your favorite Dan Clark story?

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