Monday, January 25, 2010

Love Means Having To Drive Past Monterey Park

With all due respect to the late pop novelist Eric Segal, who penned the ridiculously inaccurate yet often quoted line, "Love means never having to say you're sorry," I submit the above definition, which proved its validity last night.

Late Blooming Mom, Dad and five-year-old twins were driving on Interstate 10 around dinnertime, heading back to Los Angeles from an overnight trip to see visiting relatives in the Palm Springs area. The drive between L.A. and P.S. is pretty much a culinary wasteland of Denny's, TGI Friday's, Mickey D's, the slightly more tolerable In-n-Out Burger, etc. But after you get through the strip-malled communities of Pomona, West Covina, El Monte, etc., you come to a culinary mecca for some of the best Hong Kong-style Chinese food outside of Hong Kong. It's called Monterey Park, and even the most casual reader of the Pulitzer-prize-winning L.A. Weekly food writer Jonathan Gold knows that a u-shaped segment composed of Atlantic Avenue, Garfield Avenue, and San Gabriel Blvd. contains a large number of excellent Chinese food establishments.

Sadly, Late Blooming Mom does not get out to Monterey Park very often, even though it is, traffic permitting, maybe 10-15 minutes east of downtown L.A.
That's because we live pretty far west of downtown, we're very busy between work and ferrying the kids around to and from school, activities and the endless calendar full of preschooler birthday parties. Also, one of our kids is about as picky an eater as they come. His major food groups consist of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pizza, Koo Koo Roo's mac n' cheese, plain roast chicken, roast potatoes, the occasional minibox of raisins, and the blankets part of pigs-in-blankets, the latter which must only be made with Applegate Farms mild Italian chicken sausage from Whole Foods, even though he only nibbles at the sausage. Oh, and add to that list anything involving sugar. The other child, while more adventurous in her tastes, still insists she doesn't like Chinese food, though she was witnessed devouring several bowls of wonton soup and dumplings during our traditional Jews-Eat-Chinese-Take-Out-On-Christmas meal (AKA the 11th Commandment).

Despite the kids' tendency to veto any dinner choice I make the mistake of mentioning, I was hoping against hope to force them into enduring an authentic Chinese meal last night, figuring I'd bribe them with the promise of fortune cookies at the end of the meal. (This promise has worked before.) Late Blooming Dad was fully supportive of this idea, and had even been plotting where we'd go (Ocean Star) on the drive out to P.S. the day before, when we zipped past the appropriate exit.

But we'd deprived the kids of their afternoon nap time/rest time on Saturday AND Sunday to cram in more activities and time with the visiting cousins. Saturday afternoon, they'd had several hours of floating with us in plastic oversized innertubes down and around the river pool known as Splashtopia at Rancho Las Palmas, courtesy the cousins (thanks again, K & J).

They'd happily fed ducks around the hotel grounds without getting their fingers nipped, had several meals out involving treats, and enjoyed a trip to the Living Desert Zoo, complete with a ride on the Endangered Species Carousel. It'd been an action-packed couple of days. So by the time we'd made a stop in Cabazon, on the way out of the Palm Springs area to check out the giant dinosaurs I'd once seen in PEEWEE'S BIG ADVENTURE, the kids were pretty bushed. (RE: The dinosaurs, I must digress. I can't resist pointing out that this onetime innocent roadside attraction has, we inadvertently realized too late after paying admission, become a Creationist museum with signs aplenty attempting to refute evolution, and featuring a costumed Medieval Crusader coming upon a giant T-Rex, which prompted Late Blooming Dad to remark, "That's a special kind of crazy." Just try to explain to your five-year-olds, who are already-terrified-of-giant-robotic-dinos, that the museum has made a "mistake," since people and dinosaurs did not inhabit the planet at the same time. Really. No fooling. You could look it up. Please, please look it up! And then tell your children.)
Before pointing the car east toward our hoped-for destination, Late Blooming Dad couldn't pass up the chance to buy two pairs of Rockports for less than the price of one at the nearby outlet mall. So by the time we got underway in earnest, it was already five-thirty. An hour later, still a good 15 minutes or so shy of Monterey Park, the boy had fallen asleep, and the girl was barely keeping her eyes open watching MARY POPPINS with her headset on. By the time we approached the Atlantic Avenue exit, both kids were snoring.

I turned to Late Blooming Dad as he was about to get on the exit ramp and said, "Am I being cruel to insist on this dinner?" He paused before answering, so I knew the answer. "Let's just head home," I said... and Late Blooming Dad, god bless him, promised to cook me a consolation prize with what little we had on hand when we got home: spaghetti carbonara, made with turkey bacon (we're a pork-free household, but really, it's damn good with turkey bacon).

As Atlantic Avenue and the promise of dinner at Ocean Star faded behind us, I realized that these are the kinds of sacrifices one makes day in, day out, for love. But I'm determined that one day, the boy and girl will learn to love an excursion to Monterey Park for dinner just as much as I do. Until then, for all those who can, have a dumpling for me, will ya?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Now THAT'S sacrificing for your kids! I'm impressed.

--Uncle Bill