I'm thankful for warm lemonaide and chicken.

Somalia

A four-day trip the week of Thanksgiving took me to Columbus, Ohio. Seeing as I was to spend the holiday alone in the hotel, Susan decided to drive up from visiting her Grandparents in Pittsburg. She had our cousin Troy with her so we figured we'd play in Ohio for the night and let him see what a glamorous life in a hotel is like. A friend in Columbus was going to take out for dinner until the 'what do you plan to do for dinner' conversation started up in the cockpit with my first officer. He also had some friends in Columbus and said he planned on meeting up with them for dinner. My co-pilot was from Uganda and the friends he mentioned were also from Eastern Africa and they planned on eating at a Somalian restaurant he knew about that served goat. I could think of no better way to celebrate the holiday than with my vegetarian wife, some goat and a bunch of Africans. I asked if we could join them and did we need to wear anything special. Our other friend in Columbus was up for the plan would meet us at the hotel.

The restaurant was advertised as a ‘coffee shop’ on the outside and looked like more of an old butcher shop. The parking lot was quiet and there wasn’t much in the way of foot traffic in or out of the place. In we went.

Aside from a few people scattered about there wasn’t much going on inside – nor was there much in the way of decorations. Just a relatively empty room with some standard diner-like tables and chairs. It did look like it could have been an old butcher shop. Pointing to Susan, the owner asked if I wanted the lady to sit with us or ‘over there’ looking to the section of restaurant on the other side of the dividing wall?

Apparently this was a women sit away from the men type establishment. I did think for a second that I wanted to sit with the ladies but figured just asking if Susan could sit with us would be a stretch. He said here in the United States he let the decision be made by the man of the family but back things weren't this way. So the only white girl in the restaurant ate in the men’s section with us. She did drive most the day to have Thanksgiving with us and making her sit with women would go over about as well as if I asked to sit over there. Looking at the dividing wall did make me wonder what was going on back there. It took me back to grade school and all the stories about what went on behind the wall near the convent. "I hear the nuns have a pool back there and they all were black bikini's."

The menu was delivered in his terms, “high talk and low tech”. He gave us the options personally. “Chicken steak with rice.” “Chicken steak with spaghetti.” “Salmon steak with rice.” “Salmon steak with spaghetti.”

Susan asked if there were any vegetarian dishes? “We have lettuce.” “No goat?” I asked. "We sold all the goat today already. The chicken steak is very good though.”

We all ordered the lemonade, which he said several times was made fresh. “It is Somalian lemonade.” He said, again.

I’ll tell you what that means. Anytime a drink is served “Somalian” it is served warm. We learned there isn’t much ice in Africa. My first officer told us when he went home to Uganda they all accused him of being an American after he kept insisting on having ice in his drinks. This is one of the many reasons why we are spoiled. That and Tivo.

And then came the banana’s. Again, my first officer explained.

“They are crazy about banana’s there. You get them with everything. And they are better there. They are fresher. You don’t eat them until they are ready and you don’t pick them too soon. You know you are a Somalian when you eat too many banana’s.”

Although there weren't any yams or turkey sandwich’s, it was what Thanksgiving should be, dinner with friends old and new. We learned about life in Africa from actual Africans and heard their stories of immigrating to the United States. After dinner, one of the men invited us back to his house for some Sudanese tea with his family. We met his children and played with their babies. They took us in to their house for our holiday. Again, it was a great thanksgiving.

I was a Nintendo Fanboy at Five AM

I got to Walmart at 4:30 am armed with a large coffee and my hacked PSP ready to play an hour and a half of ExciteBike on a nintendo emulator until the store opened. The Wii was to go on sale at 6am and I was number 11 in line. Rumor had it there were at least 20 to go around and only one purchase per person. I was feeling pretty good except for the fact that it was too cold to play my psp and soon my coffee would be gone with nothing to keep me warm but the glow of the Coke machine I was leaning against. By the time the store opened, there were more than sixty in line. A few in line were there to buy ‘x-mas gifts’ but upon further questioning we all learned the game was for them. All the crowd was over twenty except for one kid that was with his mom. There was a mix of guys and girls in the line and not all the girls were there with their boyfriends/husbands. I was wearing a nintendo hat. I was there for myself!

The mission started the night before at 9:30pm. The Wii was to go on sale at midnight and after some searching online I found the nearest 24hour Walmart to be 30 miles away in Aberdeen, MD. I told Susan, “I’m going to Walmart, with or without you.” She said I had to drive. Off we go.

Ipod - Check.

PSP- Check.

Cellphone - Check.

Digital Camera - Check.

The line was already sixty deep when we got there. As I surveyed the situation I listened to the rumors circulating through the line.

“I hear they only have 30 Wii’s.” One said. “The cops are on there way, apparently this line will be considered null and void. The real line starts at ten.” Came from a little deaper in the pack. “Someone got shot in line for the Playstation 3! I think it was at a Walmart.” Near the back. More cop rumors were floating around and I did see some commotion bubbling at the front of the line. Although I felt pretty certain I wouldn’t be getting a Wii from this store, I was interested to see what was going to happen. It was a few minutes before ten and if this line was to be dispersed by the authorities I wanted a good view - from a distance. I told Susan things could get ugly.

The cops did come but not to disperse the line as suggested. The guys in the first twenty spots had been there for days and had self labeled stickers on their shirts identifying there place in history. Number one had a cleverly labeled note, “ONE”. Some guys had come in and started their own line with their own labels at the entrance to another door and the cops were called by the first pack to sort things out. Not the excitement I was hoping for but I did get to hear a fanboy say “those guys are cutting in line” to a Maryland State Trooper. I was hoping for a “no cuts, no butts, no coconuts”.

We left Wii-less.

Plan B was to hit the Walmart down the street from the house that opened at 6am. Back at the home I set my alarm and laid out my clothes and gear. I was out the door four and half hours later and in line!

Approaching the crowd of only ten I asked “Is this the line for the new elmo doll?”

He who had been waiting the longest (number one) had the strongest opinion of the joke. “F#@K OFF and go tickle this!” Soon he relaxed when we talked about Zelda and I gave him a piece of gum.

With less than half and hour to zero hour the manager came out and told us how it would go down. Although there were over sixty in line he told us up front there was only twenty units for sale. He counted the pack, (me at 11!) and told those over number twenty to leave unless they wanted to stay and shop for something else. Number one told them to stay and buy some pantyhose and toiletries.

The back of the pack slowly dispersed and a girl in front of me started feeling guilty that she would get one but a few moms in the back wouldn’t. Her friend, much like General Patton but in a zelda stocking cap, gave her support.

“You’ve earned this! We’ve earned this! We’ve waited! We haven’t slept! We’ve got a right to play Zelda from now until we have to pee or not pee - maybe poo! Don’t leave me now! Never leave a man behind! Never leave a woman behind in a line at Walmart with a bunch of nerds! Now get your money ready and lets buy us a Nintendo!”

Number one feeling guilty himself stopped to rethink his position as number one. Maybe the moms deserved a Wii more than him? “Hey lady, do you want my spot?”

“Of course!” She said turning back from her walk to the car.

“Two thousand dollars! And you gotta buy me some toiletries and a Tickle Me Elmo!” He yelled back and laughed until the manager walked back and suggested he keep quiet.

A few minutes to go. The manager told us this would be done real orderly. He’d let two in at a time and the consoles would be on sale at the front of the store. One per person and if you wanted any games or accessories you’d have to go to your car and leave the Wii there and come back. None of us felt this would be a good idea agreed we’d come back later for games.

I played the bundled sports pack until noon and went back for Zelda. For the few minutes I was there the phone rang non-stop in the electronics section. “We have no Wii’s and don’t know when there will be more” the clerk would answer without listening to the question. She told me she was ‘telapathetic or what ever you call it’ and then asked me if I could believe there was a bunch of ‘wierdo’s’ outside all night waiting for this thing?

I said, “What a bunch of nerds. Can you get me a Wii ‘Zelda’ from the counter?”