The average temperature for this time of year is upper 70s. It's not that we would know that by stepping outside or by looking at this week's forecast, but so the weather experts' average normal temperature for late May tells us. I will take their word for it and pray for sunny and hot while I scour the horizon for a warming trend.
The good news is the Tristate stands poised and ready for summer. Paramount's Kings Island is open, and last week I spied a parking lot full of yellow school buses. In fact, there were so many buses lined up headlights to flashers, row after row, I could have mistaken it for a school bus factory. It appears the academic curriculum in southern Ohio includes the velocity and G-force of the Son of Beast. Surely those students weren't crazy enough to try water rides when the temperature was barely 60, but then again I'm reminded that area high school students routinely pierce their noses, tongues and, God forbid, other unmentionable places.
Unfortunately, The Beach Waterpark was a lonely sight on Sunday with only a few employees' cars in the parking lot. It probably was great for the new lifeguard staff. They had almost all weekend to check each other out without many swimmers to monitor. Oh, how much fun I could have picking the best six-pack guard and casting my vote for least likely to succeed the summer's wicked sunbeams, especially in the absence of screaming gremlins splashing water on me.
Over at the Grizzly Golf Course the weather wasn't much of a factor. The golfers seemed oblivious to the cool temperatures and gusty breeze. The carts and the walkers seemed piled up on the hole directly behind the practice tennis courts of the ATP, where area junior players competed for the opportunity to advance to upcoming district tournaments. Both the golfers and the tennis crowd sported sweatshirts and warm-up pants but seemed determined to play on. One foursome got absolutely hysterical on the tee closest to the ladies restroom. I figured there must be more to golf than meets the eye -- or else they frequent the beer cart more regularly than most. But it was fun to see them having so much fun and just what I needed to warm my heart on a way chilly Memorial Day.
As the clouds gave way to sunshine midway through Monday, it seemed time to head down to Taste of Cincinnati on Central Parkway to see if something hot and spicy on a stick couldn't be found to assuage my stomach growling. Parking seemed to be price-fixed at $5 just about everywhere. I opted for the shade of a garage on Main Street feeling optimistic the heat was just about to set in and the car would remain cooler undercover. Hope does spring eternal.
The crowd seemed to be primarily focused in front of the B-105 music stage, when my teenage daughter and I first made our way inside the closed area. We waited for Sarah and her daughter, Eben, to meet us and could barely wait to grab the first sample of Dewey's Pizza
Sarah and I chatted about how her recent Saturday night date had been polite if not earth-shattering. We agreed that a gentleman who plans an evening and then executes is indeed as rare as a Taste of Cincinnati crowd without tattoos. She was treated to dinner at Dee Felice Cafe in Covington and dessert at York Street Café in Newport, which was creative on his part. When he mentioned he'd like them to go out to dinner with some of his friends next weekend after the Contemporary Arts Center grand opening party, she was downright shocked. I assured her that a man willing to bring friends into the picture early is as good a thing as an award of merit by the Taste of Cincinnati food judges.
The best thing I found on the food front was the catfish with tomato sauce offered by Soon Long of Roselawn. It had the right amount of saltiness and sweetness with just a little kick of heat in the sauce. Plus the white rice was hot and balanced the fish nicely. That's exactly what a good date is, too, as Sarah and I had surmised what was missing from her latest suitor. He was definitely worth seeing again, but next time she'd be looking for the little bit of spice that was tempting without being frightening. Sort of like the rows of Harley Davidson motorcycles parked at Race and Central Parkway -- we liked looking at them, but the jury was out on whether we wanted to ride one.
Friday night I went out to dinner with my friends Bob and Christen, their parents and about 15 of their closest friends at Cincinnati's newest drinking and eating establishment, Hofbrauhaus across from Newport on the Levee.
As I was sitting waiting for my dinner and finishing my third half-litre beer of the evening, I was reminded of a mental conversation I had with myself during work on Friday. The question going through my mind was, "What will be the freakiest thing I'll see this weekend?" The first thing I thought of was an albino transvestite. The waiter serving the table to my left completely blew that away. It's not every day you see a 4-foot-tall guy wearing lederhosen.
I noticed my friend Dave was also staring at the waiter, and I asked him, "How do you not stare at a midget wearing lederhosen?"
He just shook his head and said, "You can't help it."
If you like loud German music, frat boys with sorority girls and former middle-aged frat boys with former middle-aged sorority girls, you'll love going to Hofbrauhaus. It just wasn't the place for me. Plus the place has a fundamental design flaw -- it's massive, sells large sizes of good beer and has a gigantic beer garden outside, but there are only four urinals and two stalls in the men's bathroom. I bet at least one poor drunk pisses on himself every weekend. They should put port-a-potties outside so it really feels like Oktoberfest every day of the year there.
During dinner I convinced Mary to go with me to The Southgate House to see Enon with Shesus and The Not. We got there in the middle of The Not's set. I told Mary I'd probably be drinking a lot of beer since she drove but to not let me start mixing drinks. I just didn't want to spend part of my holiday weekend with a wicked hangover.
In my humble opinion, The Not has the best-looking rhythm section in Cincinnati. Shesus once again blew me away. Heather, the lead singer, is a ball of barely controlled hyperactivity.
During Shesus' last song, my friend Jen, who works at the Southgate House, motioned me down to the front of the stage. I went down and made it just before the song ended. She told me that she needed my help in getting the band a round of tequila. Next thing I knew I was at the front of the stage, downing a shot of tequila with Shesus and heading to the bar to get a beer and Jack and Coke to wash it down.
From what I can remember, I really enjoyed Enon's set. They played most of my favorite songs, and I was so drunk I actually danced. After Enon finished, the second and third best thing to ever come out of Middletown -- after Chris Carter, of course -- Fudgie and Fufu played their strange mix of Rock/Rap. The best part of watching Fudgie and Fufu is actually not watching the band itself but watching the people in the crowd. Very few local acts can get the audience participation these two guys get. Halfway through their set, the crowd that was left decided to join them on stage and help sing "Africa" by Asia.
The message light on my answering machine was blinking when I finally made it home at 11 a.m. on Saturday. It seems that Shannon had just about as much to drink as I had and had to leave her car in Newport. She offered to take me out to brunch if I took her to get her car.
She picked the Proud Rooster, a classic greasy spoon in the heart of the Gaslight District on Ludlow, as our dining spot. I was stunned when I first looked at the menu. The prices were so cheap. We each ordered omelets, hash browns and a cup of coffee. The total bill was not even $10.
It was the perfect meal for both of us after a night of excess.
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