The Great Tzatziki Sauce Adventure

I’m just now beginning to clear out the mountains of flotsam and jetsam that have washed ashore in my home the last couple months (it has been an epic couple months – enough said). In the tidying (“tidying” is surely the wrong word to use – but I don’t know if there’s a strong enough word for what we’ve got going on here), I came upon the brochure for the Pompeii Exhibit my sons and I attended at the Seattle Science Center during Memorial weekend. The Pompeii Exhibit had been a last-minute thing – I’d managed to buy three of the last tickets for the night before the exhibit closed down and went back to Naples. Ever since I’d read a story about Pompeii in a National Geographic years ago, I’d been fascinated by what archaeologists found there, and was pretty excited to have the opportunity to see it all for myself.

But when I came upon the brochure, the first memory that came to me of our time in Seattle wasn’t of the exhibit – but of an observation my eldest son had made about two hours into our adventure – and I started laughing out loud.

Background: The day hadn’t gone as I’d expected. The roads to the Science Center were unusually crowded, there was road work going on which led me to turn where I don’t usually turn, and finding a parking spot seemed surprisingly difficult. I remember thinking that the Pompeii Exhibit must be really popular.

We’d finally managed to find a parking space in a parking garage and walked over a pedestrian bridge into the Seattle Center. As we entered the Center I noticed official-looking people handing out fliers – this was my first clue that we’d walked innocently into a major event – and then, as we stepped past the gates into a colossal mass of humanity I remembered – duh! – Memorial weekend is the annual weekend for the Folklife Festival at the Seattle Center. Folklife is HUGE!!! – a zany, eclectic extravaganza of dancing, art, and music – bagpipes, rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, and folk music blending together and filling the air with a lively (and kind of weird) cacophony of chords and non-chords. And people EVERYWHERE!

Okay. Soooo…..

We were all hungry and decided that, instead of going to the Cheesecake Factory – which had been our original plan – we’d just buy something to eat at one of the Folklife kiosks. We decided to get gyros. Once we got our gyros we started to look around for a table we could sit around while we ate – but there was no table space anywhere – so we began looking for somewhere to, at least, sit. After we’d been walking for maybe five minutes, one of the sons pointed to my shirt and grinned – my gyro had leaked out its white sauce all over my front. I am not exaggerating. I was covered in Tzatziki sauce.

Desperate now to eat my gyro I plunked down, cross-legged, onto the lawn near the Seattle Center fountain and began to eat my oozing, dripping dinner.  I was so obviously in need of help at this point that a kind young father noticed my struggles and, laughing with me at my predicament, handed me a wad of baby wipes from his family’s stash. I tried to wipe off the gyro juice, but I just seemed to be embedding it deeper into my shirt. Finally I threw what was left of my gyro away, and went in search of some place I could hose myself down. I held out my shirt in front of a faucet in a restroom and washed out the Tzatziki, then looked around for a dryer – but this appeared to be one of the few restrooms left on earth that had paper towels instead of dryers.  So I tried to brush myself off with a paper towel – but the little tan fibers from the towel stuck to my shirt, looking something like… well… puke.

I came out of the restroom. I looked at my sons. They looked at me. When we’d found we were in the middle of Folklife Festival we’d decided not to go to the Cheesecake Factory, but now I really wanted a piece of cheesecake. That half of a juicy gyro just hadn’t done it for me.

I thought I knew where the Cheesecake Factory was from the Seattle Center. We boarded the monorail and alighted near Fifth and Pine. I knew the Cheesecake Factory was on Seventh. I began marching up Pine, the sons following behind me. And this is when my eldest son said the line that had me laughing out loud in remembrance a month later: “So we get to the place where the Cheesecake Factory is supposed to be, and it’s been blown up and demolished, and Mom looks at the vacant lot for a minute, and then moves on to the next thing.” And just as he finished saying that line, we got to the corner of Seventh and Pine and I looked across the street – to the place where I thought the Cheesecake Factory should be – and found myself looking at a vacant lot. I looked at it for a minute – in a sort of stoical acceptance – and then wondered if maybe the Cheesecake Factory was at Seventh and Pike instead of Seventh and Pine. Our little troop turned right, walked a block, and found the Cheesecake Factory.

The rest of our evening went without a hitch – we had our just desserts at the restaurant – and it was great! – and then went back to the Seattle Center for the Pompeii Exhibit – which was also great!

But a month later, when I found the Pompeii brochure, what I remembered first was my son making me laugh on the corner of Seventh and Pine.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Bagpiper in Hawaiian shirt at the Seattle Folklife Festival (photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell).

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