Saturday, February 04, 2006

It's February in Ohio...

… and February in Ohio means the return of the Friday night all-you-can-eat fish fries at the area Catholic churches. Note to my Catholic friends before moving on – this is in no way an insult to the Catholic church. Just wanted to make sure we were clear on that. These events are unbelievably popular in the sprawling metropolis of Dayton, OH among Catholics and non-Catholics alike. For usually $10 in advance, or $12 at the door, you can sit for 3-4 hours on a Friday evening and eat all the fish, fries and cole slaw you can handle. Not a bad deal. They also have games and silent auctions of items donated by people in the parish. We used to all go - the in-laws, brother & sister-in-law, K and I. We'd make a Friday evening out of it. One Friday night a few years ago, my sister-in-law went ga-ga bidding in one of the silent auctions... and that night she and my brother-in-law went home with a lovely red kayak for the reasonable price of $250. Do they kayak?


I haven't been to a fish fry since. But K still goes to 2 or 3 each year with his dad and brother.

Now… have I ever mentioned how frugal my father-in-law is? (You had to see this coming… you must know by now that I will take each and every opportunity I can find to blog about the oddness that is my in-laws.) How can I put this nicely? The man knows how to pinch a penny. If pinching a penny would turn it into diamonds, my father-in-law would be the man to see. He rarely buys anything that isn’t on sale, and every time I see him, I get to hear about his latest shopping victory. When we went to his place for Christmas, there were 12-packs of diet Sierra Mist stacked in two rows in his garage – no joke – about 8 feet high. That’s a lot of Sierra Mist. But, what a deal! The store had them on sale 4-12 packs for $10, but you could also pick up a coupon for a $5 mail-in rebate, which meant you were getting them at 4-12 packs for $5, which meant you were getting them for $1.25/12-pack. We regularly get rebate checks, coupons, or gift cards in the mail, because he’s used our address to get an additional discount/rebate/coupon/gift card in some kind of promotion that is restricted to one offer per household. I’ve told him there’s a 10% handling fee for this, but he has yet to pay up.

And he loves fish.

So put 2 and 2 together here…

You’ve got it.

What’s the saying? In Spring, young men’s fancies turn to thoughts of love? February in Ohio turns my father-in-law’s fancies to thoughts of the fish fries. It's like an obsession.

He has a no-fail system to get the most value possible out of your fish fry experience:

Don’t eat anything the day of the fish fry.

Buy your ticket in advance, so that when you get there you don’t have to waste valuable time in the ticket line before getting into the fish line.

When you get to the fish, take two plates. If necessary, tell them one is for your wife/mother/uncle/whoever that’s already sitting down.

Fill your two plates only with fish. Don’t fill up on the unnecessary side-items such as French fries, cole slaw or baked beans.

If possible, get a beer from the beer table without giving one of your beer tickets to the person working the table. This way, you can get more beer without having to pay for additional beer tickets.

Bring and empty bread bag with you, but leave it in your jacket pocket (I swear on the graves of my parents, I am NOT kidding on this. I wish I were.). This bread bag will be used throughout the evening to sneak pieces of fish into, to be taken home and eaten the next day.

Does this leave you speechless? Staring at your computer screen thinking 'These people are absolutely nuts'?

Me, too...


Teresa said...

Oh Ruth, You made me spew on my computer screen!!! How stinking funny!!!

They are totally off their rockers!

I really needed that laugh! thank you!

Ruth said...

I had no idea how deep the insanity ran when I married into this family. Thank God I got the normal one...

PaxRomano said...

Oh man, A fish fry?!?! Does it make me a nerd if I said, I love those events? (as well as Beef and Beer nights).

OK, I am coming to Dayton and going to follow you father-in-law's system; when I get back to Joisey, I won't have to shop for a week .

BTW, did you know that I got a four pack of Dr. Pepper Cherry Vanilla Diet for a buck? If you bought ten then they only charged you nine bucks ... so I ... well you get the drift.

Ruth said...

Ack! There are more of you out there!?!?!? I always chalked it up to my father-in-law being retired and not having much to do. He also has a card-file box that he organizes his restaraunt coupons in... sections for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and then sub-sections by geographic location from where he lives, such as 'Breakfast - North, Breakfast - Local, Breakfast - South'. It's something to see!

Teresa said...

it boggles the mind!! LOL