I adhere to a strict schedule while home in western New York for Christmas. All those months away from family and childhood familiarity are compressed into six days of eating, drinking, laughing, eating and basking in the elements of small-town life. Six days seems like enough time, but it never is. There is always one or two activities (or sandwiches) that didn’t fit.
1) Eat a Snowcap ham and cheese sandwich from Sprague’s on a blustery night.
2) Order one cheeseburger and milkshake from Red’s and Trudy’s.
3) Take parents to Angee’s. Order an Elephant Ear sandwich, all the way.
4) Hot roast beef sandwich from Beef n’ Barrel. It must be snowing outside.
5) Have at least one beer at AJ’s, at the bar, while catching up. (This is difficult because AJ’s gets rowdy)
6) Play beer pong in someone’s apartment while listening to music we thought was good years ago but now realize it completely blows.
7) Drink Guinness at the Village Green. Talk to Milo about the Dolphins. Admire autographed photo of Jim Kiick.
8. Walk home from the bar at least once, taking the back roads as to further enjoy the quiet.
9) Take approximately one lap around the Olean Center Mall to catalogue just how many stores went out of business and were replaced with makeshift arts and crafts stores.
(a) Eat at Renna’s. I will run into at least two people here. Guaranteed.
(b) Play the newest version of “Time Crisis” in the arcade. Question whether the Token Guy behind the counter is the same guy who handed over my birthday tokens at my 11th birthday party.
(c) Peruse the book store and leaf through books I have no intention of buying.
10) Following Christmas lunch, nap on Grandma’s couch. Swindle children out of the room through manipulation and/or bribery.
11) Drive around town in Grandma’s Cadillac while listening to Frank Sinatra.
(a) Drive by old apartments in Olean and Allegany. Scoff at current tenants. Admire the occasional broken window.
(b) Consider stopping in WalMart for a lap but think better of it.
(c) Admire the 15th Street block, whose residents go ballistic each year with their Christmas lights.
(d) Drive around the Bonaventure campus, expect to see dramatic changes but find that everything is in its right place. Feel content about this.
12) Take one lap around Lincoln Park because it really is kinda beautiful lit up like that.
13) Walk Union Street to Don’s Music Shoppe.
(a) Play a guitar I have no intention of buying.
(b) Feel guilty upon leaving the store after spending an hour there and purchasing nothing. Not even a guitar pick for 25 cents.
14) Get a lunch special from Tasta Pizza. Required company: 4 to 12 friends.
15) Mighty Taco, if possible. To-go bag includes: One El Nino Burrito, One Super Might Burrito and One Mighty Taco.
16) Force obscure “Christmas Vacation” quotes into regular conversations.
(a) “I was just blousing…browsing.”
(b) “Why is the floor all wet, TOODDDD!!!” “I don’t know, MARRRGOO!” (This one’s awkward.)
(c) “It’s good. It’s good. It’s good,” with sinister laugh throughout.
(d) “Save the neck for me, Clark.”
17) Spend one dollar on Van Halen’s “Panama” and Van Halen’s “Panama” at the AJ’s Bar jukebox.
(a) Get pissed after hearing “Tonight’s Gonna Be a Good, Good Night” for the 43rd time.
(b) “Panama” x2 plays at 2:33 a.m.
18) Eat a Bona Burger at the Bonaventure Clubhouse.
19) Dred going back to work.