A few nights ago, along with taking the Barnes circle out to dinner to celebrate the passing of the doctoral exams, I invited my Aunt Helen and Uncle Bill, along with high school senior, cousin Rebecca--out to dinner as well to celebrate the event. I had thought about inviting them along to the first dinner, but decided that it might be one of those occasions where you have two equally-cool groups of people who don't know one another, or the people and things the other group is talking about, and who might mix well given time, but would end up being two un
mixed groups over the length of a dinner. In which case, why try to mix them? Do you know what I mean? If not, bear with me. And so I invited them to a subsequent dinner. This ended up in their
insisting on taking me
out to dinner, with Bill and Helen saying that I could only pay when I had a real job, and so this was their treat. Which wouldn't have happened if I hadn't invited them out to dinner in the first place, which made me feel as though I done something slightly sneaky, even though I hadn't. If you're with me thus far, great. If that didn't make sense to you, even better. You're very healthy, mentally.
So. Dinner tonight at was at a classy and small dark downtown Italian restaurant named Zarletti after its owner/chef (its OnWisconsin review from earlier this year
, if you're the type who likes reading restaurant reviews). As with any gathering of the Sweeneys', the clan alone provides conversation rich enough to feast upon, and this was no exception. The only drawback is that they live a diurnal life, so I'm just feeling warmed up for a good night's talk when they decided it's time to go to bed. Food highlights: Helen went with the Osso buco that she had heard about from a friend, and thought it first-rate. I went with the Chicken Florentine that was wonderfully light given being in a cream sauce (both of these dishes, by the way, are much better described in the review I linked, above). There was a Pancetta and Lentil soup that was much more lively than its name might sound, and would (in vast quantities) would have made a fine meal by itself, to my mind. I don't remember what Bill and Becca had, although Bill, who had picked me up in the mind-numbing blasts of wind that characterize this sudden 25-degree day, ordered a Jack Daniels bourbon on the rocks when we got there. I ordered one, too, just because I realized I'd never tried it myself. I didn't care for the taste, though, and gladly switched to a Chianti for dinner. Naturally there was a great deal of conversation regarding my exams and what my dissertation project was going to be. Helen also asked an interesting question at one point--which I have yet to finish, so that's tabled until I get together with them again--about whether I as a theologian consider the language or forms or conclusions of the Council of Nicaea to be determinative or whether they could be questioned. Naturally, being a college-edjakated person, I said, "Both!" but then distracted myself in dealing with her source for the question being something she had read regarding the Nag Hammadi texts. I got overly wrapped-up in having to dispel the common nonsense written about Gnosticism in the popular press, and thus hadn't finished the question when Bill announced around 8:15 that it was time to go home. So more for that later. Becca got accepted to the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and so that's pretty much that for her, being the chief school of interest for her. She is utterly majorless at this point, except for that she, like older brother Ben in his sophomore year at Ripon College, will also major in Spanish, Helen being a high school Spanish teacher who has already guided them to significant skill at this point in their lives.
And thus ended a night with family. I should grade now. Right?