A weekend this good deserves another "weekend in pictures".
Marissa took a spot at the counter beside me while I was wiping up some crumbs into a paper towel. "I learned something about Rodney today," said Marissa. Looking over her shoulder, she gestured at Rodney, who was sitting contently at the table. He sat completely still, fixated on a little mound of shiny orange goop on a white dinner plate.
"That kid will sit in front of some slime for hours," said Marissa. "He's been fascinated with that stuff all day."
Celebrating the mask mandate being lifted, she and Rodney took a their first in-person trip to Target in over a year. Marissa and Rodney have become so accustomed to wandering the aisles together, after a whole year off they were barely rusty.
"We made it rain at the dollar aisle," said Marissa.
Taking a break in the middle of the work day, I met Alex and Rob for lunch at the Brass Ring. We had the whole outdoor cafe to ourselves. We all ordered the exact same dish - the fish fry. We scarfed it down and kept the beer flowing.
"Hey I hate to be this guy," I said. "But I can I take a picture of us?"
Alex and Rob shrugged. "You want me to go get the waitress?" asked Alex.
"Nah, we'll just do it selfie style," I said.
"Ah, you definitely got the reach for it," said Alex.
"It's so nice seeing you guys - like for real," said Alex. We shared a comfortable, quiet moment, nodding and exchanging smiles.
"Here, slow down," said Marissa. She and Rodney pressed their faces up against the car window. I changed to the right most lane and slowed to a crawl so we could take in the Madison skyline. Marissa held the button on her door and her window slid open. She dug her phone out of her purse.
"I'm going to try to get a picture," she said. Holding her phone with two hands, she held it out in front of her out the window. She nervously pressed the camera button on her phone and quickly placed her phone back in her lap.
"I was nervous I was going to drop my phone for a second," she said. "Ah, and the picture doesn't even look that good."
"It's a good thing you didn't drop it, because I wouldn't have turned the car around," I teased.
"I want to do a photo booth," said Marissa. Carrying Miles on her hip, she pointed with her shoulder to a big white photo booth in the corner of Dave and Busters. We pushed the curtain aside and climbed into the capsule.
"Our power card doesn't work - it only takes cash," I said.
"I actually have a dollar," Marissa replied. She handed Miles into my arms, and knelt down by the machine, carefully slipping a dollar bill inside. The machine whirred. The screen blinked.
"Please insert $4.00." I read off the screen. There were no buttons on the machine, and no foreseeable way to get our dollar back. We all began to chuckle. "This thing is stupid, let's just take our own picture. OK, everybody smile."
"Show me her teeth," said Marissa. She leaned across the breakfast table to where I was cradling Minnie in my lap like a baby. Delicately, she peeled back her lip.
"Oh, they're just a mess," laughed Marissa. "She doesn't have any front teeth left."
We had just left the ski ball booth, and I was following Rodney deeper into the bowels of Dave & Busters. We passed by a giant claw game. The glass maintenance door was propped open, and two employees were standing around inside beside the giant mound of stuffed animals.
"Are you giving those away for free?" said Marissa, smiling at her own joke. Without hesitating, the heavy set employee grabbed a giant stuffed duck off the top of the pile and flipped it to here. "There you go, lil' guy," he said.
Miles flashed a toothy grin. He buried his head into the giant stuffed duck and squealed.
"Minnie just loves Rodney," I said. "She's just hanging out in his bedroom with him. It's like both the babies are in quiet time."
Marissa, took a step back from cleaning out the bathroom closet. "Oh she did that the other day," she said. "She was in bed snuggling with him for like an hour."
"Maybe she really is his puppy," I remarked.
"Gimme that thing," said Marissa. "I really feel like beaning that dumb clown." We swiped our power card and the game whirred to life. Marissa threw each ball at the neat row of blinking clown dolls. She only managed to knock one of them down. We continued to wander down a row of carnival games in the back.
"Let's try our luck with this one, dude," I said. It was one of those games where you throw ping-pong balls into a glass vase. The game started. Rodney threw a handful into the back.
"Watch this, dude," I said. I put some backspin on the ball. It took a short bounce and rolled right into the bottle.
"I'll do it again," I sneered, trying to sound even more cocky. The ball took another funny bounce and it rolled right into the bottle.
"If this were at a carnival, you'd own two Goldfish right about now," said Marissa."