Guest blogger Norman Anderson is married to Marjorie and is a Catholic father of high schoolers Kevin, Marybelle and Hazel. He works as a claims adjuster at Skinner’s Insurance Incorporated. He attends St Martha’s Catholic Church in Adam’s Falls, North Carolina. Norman is a suburban hermit.

Jeannine at the office said yesterday that I had the death wish, and I haven’t really been able to get it out of my mind since. Strange that she should say that since I generally feel that I enjoy life. Perhaps it was because I didn’t wish to attend the celebration of her birthday with the other office workers at Honkers. I went there once and found the music to be very loud. You couldn’t really have a conversation, and I couldn’t understand why the waitresses were wearing such short pants and skimpy tops. I suppose it is what they call a themed restaurant.

I also did not enjoy the food very much. It seems that in many of the restaurants the menu is the same except they give different names to the same food. For example I have noticed that in one restaurant which is themed around monsters the cheeseburger was called a “Frankenburger” while in another restaurant which was themed around hiking the cheeseburger was called “The Trailblazer.” I suppose having a themed cheeseburger must make the experience of eating more exciting. I have not found it so, but I expect it must be or the restauranteurs would not continue naming their foods with themed names.

The fact of the matter is that I have come to the stage in my life where I really do not enjoy eating very much. I think this is because I am expected to have such a wonderful experience while eating, and there is something in me which dislikes being expected to have an exciting experience whenever I have a meal. I am somewhat worried that if I eat a “Frankenburger” or a “Trailblazer” and only have a rather ordinary cheeseburger experience that I have somehow let people down. Will my waitress be disappointed if I do not have the Frankenburger experience?

When we ate at the themed monster restaurant for Kevin’s birthday the waitress was called Mercedes. At first I thought it odd for a parent to name their daughter after a car, but on reflection it seemed to be a pleasing name. As she went through the “monster mash specials” I thought of other female vehicle names. “Hello, I’d like you to meet my daughter Chevrolet.” “Have you met my girlfriend Kia?” I think “Buick” would not be so euphonious.

Mercedes was rather large up top and had lots of wavy hair and a very cheerful smile. Marybelle said she used to attend St John Neumann, but left for some reason. She kept coming to the table asking cheerfully if “Everything was alright.” It was as if she was wanting me to exclaim with pleasure that I was having the Frankenburger experience, but I could not do so. It simply wasn’t in me, so I smiled and assured her that everything was indeed all right, but I don’t think she was satisfied. This caused me to wonder if everyone else was having a wonderful eating experience and whether I was letting them down. Was that man who was eating the Wolfman Ribs having an extraordinary dining experience I wondered. What about that woman who was making her way through the Saladzilla?

Perhaps Jeannine is right and I have the death wish, although I am not certain what that means. What I do realize is that I not only have less and less interest in eating food, but I also have less interest in going out and doing things. Why do people go out and do things? I would rather stay at home. I have a perfectly nice study with my books, and if I want to go out and do things I will go into the yard. I have my roses and I have taken to spending a considerable amount of time in the treehouse. The children don’t use it anymore. They are always out doing things with their friends, so it makes a very pleasant place to sit and read. I pull up the rope ladder and say the rosary there quite often too.

St Martha’s is the church we go to. Father Randy is the priest now. He is very popular and is making great efforts with the young people. I usually attend the 7:30 Mass on Sunday mornings. I prefer there to be no music. Perhaps that is the death wish in me again. I suppose Jeannine is right.

I had better go. One of the things I do go out and do is my weekly hour at the adoration chapel. Marjorie goes on Wednesday nights and I keep to the graveyard shift: Thursdays from 3:00 to 4:00 in the morning. It’s usually only me, so that is pleasant enough.