John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

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My brother and his family took me out to dinner this evening to celebrate my birthday. I have one firm rule when it comes to birthday meals: it must be at a restaurant to which I have never been. New locations of chain restaurants don't count. I have violated this rule only twice in recent memory. In 1999 (I think), Lori took me to a Don Pablo's in Alexandria, which I deemed acceptable since we had just come from seeing a movie at a theatre I'd never been to. And in 1994, I went to the L&N Seafood Grill at Pentagon City with my friends Kevin and Mark and my roommates Lisa and Kristen. I don't think I have an excuse for that.

Andy and Charity like to add another level of interest to tradition by taking me to restaurants in other states. One year they took me to the Cozy in Thurmont, Maryland; another year, to Mrs. Gibble's in Greencastle, Pennsylvania. Last year went to a place called the Cincinnati Cafe, which is here in Virginia but is at least named after a city in another state. This year, they chose a restaurant in West Virginia, the only nearby state we'd not yet visited. Our destination: John's Family Restaurant in Rippon. Nice little place. Not fancy, but the food was good and the service was friendly. And it's the only restaurant I've ever visited that keeps big stacks of free bibles near the door. On the way out, I jokingly offered one to my two-year-old niece. She repeated "bible!" happily as she grabbed it from me, and held on to it all the way home. Strange.

Once we got back to Leesburg, I opened my presents. And what great presents they were! I got a genuine talking Dalek, with five authentic commands and flashing lights. It says "Destroy the Doctor" and "Seek! Locate! Annihilate!" and "You are an enemy of the Daleks!" and "Daleks rule supreme!" and, of course, "Exterminate!" It could not possibly be any cooler. I showed it to my nephew and explained that in the 1960s, the Daleks were the scariest thing ever shown on TV, and that kids his age had been terrified of them. I think he thought I was putting him on. Kids today are a little harder to scare, I guess.

I also got a vintage Celozzi-Ettleson snow globe. Celozzi-Ettleson was a Chevrolet dealership in suburban Chicago which was famous for its hilariously cheesy television commercials. Every ad ended the same way: with Celozzi and Ettleson looking directly at the camera, waving huge wads of cash, and saying in unison, "where you always save more money!" The snow globe features Messrs. Celozzi and Ettleson in their trademark pose; when you shake it, little dollar bills fly about the globe. It's cute! Charity, concerned that the name of the dealership on the base was very faded, asked if I knew who they were. It was sweet of her to ask, but it just proves she didn't grow up in suburban Chicago.

Lastly, I got a CD called Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits. It features alternative rockers performing covers of songs from old cartoons. Highlights include Liz Phair and Material Issue performing "The Tra La La Song" from The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, Matthew Sweet covering the Scooby-Doo theme, and a rocking rendition of "Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah" by the Violent Femmes. It's kind of uneven, but fun, and superior to the similar Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks collection, for what that's worth.

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