The one good thing I can say about my mother marrying our stepfather Charlie is that he brought into our lives our cousins, Alice and Marilyn.

The four of us spent a lot of time together growing up. 

A lot of that time was unsupervised and we had an inordinate amount of fun.

Linda is the oldest, Alice is 2 years younger than Linda, Marilyn is 2 months older than me (something I thoughtfully remind her of on her birthday each year, because that’s the kind of bitch I am), and I’m the baby of the group (she said with glee).

It has been a very long time since all four of us have gotten together.

But during this trip to Michigan, we all got together for lunch, and then spent some time splashing in my hotel pool. 

Alice could not go in for medical reasons, so she sat on the stairs getting her feet and ankles wet.  Marilyn was not willing to go in, so she sat with her sister.  Linda went in and so did I – however, because of my boo-boo boob restrictions, I could not dip my boob (well, actually I could not dip either one – because I could not figure how to dip one boob without the other also getting dipped) into the water.  Luckily, the pool’s deepest part was all of 4-feet – which happened to be the perfect depth for non-boob dipping.

Linda got a touch of what I had (when your pants are full of foam as you’re sliding into home – diarrhea, diarrhea), and was not able to join us a few days later when Alice, Marilyn and I went to Frankenmuth.  I swallowed some Imodium and braved the world (and put Marilyn’s car’s upholstery at risk).

If you live in Michigan, you probably know all about Frankenmuth.  Home of the Bavarian Inn and Zehnder’s – two restaurants famous for their chicken dinners and owned and run by the same family. 

We voted and 3 of us voted for Zehnder’s.  Linda wanted Bavarian Inn.  Oh well.  Linda claimed that only the Bavarian Inn has orange sherbet and vanilla soft swirl.  Marilyn assured her that Zehnder’s also had it.  Turns out Zehnder’s only has soft swirl chocolate or vanilla (or both) ice cream; and if you want sherbet and vanilla – they only have it by the scoop but they are happy to bring you a scoop of each.  I don’t know what Bavarian Inn has these days – their dinner menu only refers to “housemade ice cream” (how this differs from “homemade” is a mystery I don’t think needs further contemplation – but feel free if you must) and their dessert menu has no mention of ice cream or sherbet at all.  I suspect that Bavarian Inn also goes by the scoops rule.

Linda was missed, but that did not prevent us from having a great time.  Alice had the pot pie (and her favorite cranberry relish) and Marilyn and I had the 3 piece chicken lunch – Marilyn substituted her mash potatoes, gravy and dressing for buttered noodles; and I had double mash with butter –no gravy or dressing (I don’t like gravy and I like a much drier dressing than what they serve in the ‘Muth), and we all shared creamy coleslaw – Delicious. 

We totally skipped dessert because it was a lot of food.  But I did ask the waitress about the ice cream situation.  She could only attest to what Zehnder’s does and, like any good Zehnder’s employee she has no idea what those ruffians across the street do.  (There is a real Left-Side / Right-Side Twix kind of vibe when it comes to Zehnder’s and the Bavarian Inn.)

Then we had to hit the Zehnder’s gift shop (we could have spent all day shopping the ‘Muth, but Alice is going to be having much-needed knee surgery soon – so her mobility is accordingly limited).  I got some chocolate covered sea foam; a Zehnder’s recipe book (which Alice and Marilyn plan on sharing), and some caramel corn (which in Michigan humidity quickly turned to a hopeless sticky pile of goo).  We had coupons – spend more than $25 and get a free loaf of bread.  I gave my loaf to Marilyn, as I had no need of a loaf of bread in my hotel room.  And Alice got the loaf from her and Marilyn’s shopping.

We had to take a spin through Bronner’s (outside only – this place is a slightly smaller version of the Great Mall – only all Christmas crap).  Anyone who has worked in Frankenmuth is well aware of how visitors always ask “Where is Bonner’s?”  You will spend the good part of the year explaining that it is “Bronner’s not Bonner’s” To no effect.  Everyone wants to go to “Bonner’s”.

Then back to Bay City, where we drove around for a bit and then stopped at a truly wonderful ice cream shop called “Cream and Sugar”.  They only use Pioneer Sugar (made in Michigan), make their own waffle cones, which they hand roll; and bubble cones – which are a much thicker version of a waffle cone – made fresh for each order.  Everything is locally sourced and it is sooooooooo good.  A “single” scoop is actually two big scoops!  If you are in Bay City or nearby, I cannot recommend this place enough. 

Just a really time with my cousins.

And then back to the security of my hotel room toilet. 

It’s the simple things.

Alice, Terri, Marilyn & Linda – Bestest Cousins Ever

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