I do have a fresh guest report to write and hope to write all its installments in a reasonable time, unlike my July experiences, and so will write at the natural-feeling length and not worry about my roughly 450-word natural average.
Matters began the day before New Year's Eve with bunny_hugger arriving, at a light-rail station just a few blocks from the office where I go to sit nervously many hours each day. She was coming to see me most of the holiday-interrupted week after a professional conference, and was able to take a train --- actually, two trains --- to a spot very convenient for me to pick her up and to take her to a hotel near my home. To some frustration and only modest worry it turned out there were problems on the rail lines, and one of the links running much less frequently than the posted schedule dictated, so that she arrived about a half-hour later than we anticipated. (And on the other set of tracks than I figured because my understanding of relative geography is shockingly bad for someone who finds it so important to follow.) But she arrived, safe and sound. And I was able to wait for her in the adjacent McDonald's, buying two hot apple pies as symbolic rent for the parking lot space I had to use.
The big, exciting planned event for that night was dinner with my parents, who were growing more anxious to meet bunny_hugger while also trying to not look anxious, which offered the chance to amuse me by pretending I didn't realize they were looking for so many details about her life. We did have to rush a bit to get back across the state and to her hotel, then to return to the Mexican restaurant where we'd agreed to meet. The choice of Mexican restaurant was because it's usually straightforward to find something vegetarian and acceptable there, although this particular restaurant's location lead to a bit of nostalgia --- it was next to a Jersey Mike's where we'd eaten back in July --- and confusion as it's also next to a Taco Bell.
I can't speak for how bunny_hugger felt about the experience, but I thought the dinner went very well with my mother swiftly seeing her many charms, and my father doing a rather good job at keeping roughly up to speed with our conversation. He was at the time between his old hearing aid that he never turned on, and his new hearing aid that he doesn't wear. So conversation with him is an approximate affair. Still, my mother got to hear confirmed the things I'd said over the months about where she teaches and what she hopes to do, and about hobbies like roller coaster riding (in reality and in simulation), and my father was sure that everyone was happy. And I kept getting distracted by a kid at a neighboring table who'd brought a portable video player and seemed to be watching some bizarrely almost-familiar cartoon that I couldn't figure out.
Come the end of dinner, and leaving the restaurant, my parents returned home, and bunny_hugger and I thought to go to a nearby bookstore where we'd be able to talk and wander around somewhere warm and undoubtedly stimulating. As it happens we got caught up on talking in the parking lot, and didn't get out of the parked car until we noticed that it was getting uncomfortably chilly and we could really appreciate going to the bathroom. Thus motivated to get into the bookstore we discovered the curious person who'd gone to the store's front doors and tugged them in an odd fashion had been, most likely, an employee locking them for the night.
Well, no problem there, right? There's the Target to which I go regularly in the hopes of buying something and coming away with a Cherry Coke Zero and a peanut butter cup. It turns out that Target closes at the same time as the bookstore.
But there's also a Stop and Shop supermarket, which it happens I'd never been in, but they often have different hours and we walked rather hastily as it was getting colder yet and windier. The supermarket was open and enjoying that latter-evening emptiness that happens when the only people around are employees stocking the place and members of the public looking for a bathroom.
Since we were there, and chilly, we started walking around the supermarket, comparing it to the supermarkets of Michigan and the supermarkets of upstate New York and of Singapore, and we discovered things like at that hour of night they lock up the DVD section. Railings right across the aisle, so that we couldn't hold up any movies or even books or magazines to express an amused opinion. We carried on, though, noting such things as the sadness of cereal boxes that were still running their promotions for whatever that animated movie that came out in August that nobody saw was. You know the one I mean. I think they still had some Bee Movie Honey Nut Cheerios too.
Where we hit a real and delightful surprise was in the international foods aisle. We did talk about what we might find, such as Singaporean candy bars, and then discovered that they consider English candy bars to be International Foods too. I haven't had digestive cookies in a while, for example, but I was able to hold off my urgings for them when I discovered that they had Aero bars, and MilkyBars, and other similar snacks I'd gotten into in southeast Asia. And it turns out there were some of them under five miles from my home. I had no idea. We stocked up a bit on these proper British-style candies and headed back into the cold night, to return her to her hotel and me to get to bed.
Trivia: The Aero bar was debuted by Rowntree of York in 1935. Source: Sweets:A History of Temptation, Tim Richardson.
Currently Reading: Shakespeare: The World As Stage, Bill Bryson. My proper office `pollyanna'' Christmas present, incidentally. For the record.