Dysfunctional Mom’s Christmas Saga. Part Four. The Battle of the Philly Cheesesteaks!

Christmas turned out to be ridiculously dysfunctional and overly-dramatic—thanks to yours truly. And in the end, it managed to be one that will go down in Dysfunctional Mom’s history as one of the more “unforgettable” ones. But the Holiday Season is still upon us.

Christmas Day 2017 may have passed, but I’m still celebrating in my ever-present dysfunctional way!

The day after Christmas, Jake had to fly back to Los Angeles for work. Which, after being with Dysfunctional Mom for almost five days, I’m sure he was welcoming the flight back to the West Coast ,and being far from me in his new home across the country, with inner joy.

The house was still full of activity because Oona’s boyfriend, Sam, was arriving early in the morning.  His flight got into Philly at 8:00 AM.  I asked Oona if she wanted me to accompany her to the airport.  Still suffering the emotional trauma of her arrival at the same airport and the drama that Dysfunctional Mom caused, (See Part One)  she declined my generous offer.


This guy. Sam.  He fit right in!!!  

Our plan for the day was to drive to South Philly before dropping Jake off at the airport for his return to California.  The kids were on a mission and they asked me to come with them. The mission—to see which of the two-iconic popular Philly Cheese steak institutions was the better—Pat’s or Geno’s?

No!  We be Philly Cheese Steakin’!

Now at this point, not only had my muffin top of fat overflowed from the waist of my jeans, presently and officially making it a cake top, but the tightness had traveled down to my thighs.  I’m a human sausage stuffed into a casing of skinny denim—so I may as well gorge on a cheese steak or seven.

Bonaparte was working and my big choice was to either stay at home and pick through the leftover mac and cheese……..

Leftover cold mac & cheese. Why even bother to reheat it? It’s going straight to my belly, hips and thighs anyway..

Taki Fuego Chips, Flaming Hot Cheetos, rescue the biscotti that I hid from everyone, bake more cookies, stick my fingers into dip, lick the dip off and then follow it all up with an Alka-Seltzer chaser or accompany the kids into Cheese steak country.

Flaming Hot Cheetos?  Yayuh!!  With a glass of milk it’s just pure junk food heaven.  Weight Watchers starts January first!

I opted for the Cheese steak.

Since nobody is too fond of my driving prowess, Roman got behind the wheel.  He welcomed the chance since his mode of transport is the NYC Subway system and driving allows him the practice he needs—just in case he needs to rent a car any time soon or if he decides to follow Jake to L.A.

Street parking was a challenge, but not as much a challenge as being back in New York.  We found a spot a few blocks away from Geno’s and Pat’s and hoofed it in the sub-zero weather.

This is why I’m so happy to wear wigs!  In the winter, wigs are extra security to keep my head warm and toasty! The five of us, me, Jake, Roman, Oona and Sam ventured from the heat of the car and into the great outdoors of the row homes, wrought iron fences, concrete sidewalks and spectacular sunshine of this glorious day after Christmas. And not a power outage in sight made me even happier!  Ahhhhhh.  It was so good to walk the city streets!

Ahhh..the joys of fake hair!  It’s basically a wig hat and keeps that gray matter even more warm and protected than ever! BTW–I’m wearing what may quite possibly be the greatest true pink lip color of all time.  NYX Butter Gloss Number 4, Merengue. 

We arrived in front of Geno’s.  It was cold as balls.  Luckily our arrival was well-timed.  At just before the Noon crowds arrived, the lines at both establishments were not yet too long.

We split into teams.  Standing on the line at Geno’s were Roman, Oona and Sam.  Sam, might I add, has made the segue into the family very smoothly.  In other words, he fits right in.  Luckily for Oona, he was not traumatized or emotionally affected by my dysfunctional behavior of the past few days as he arrived but a few hours before we ventured into South Philly.

Jake and I were the other team and we headed across the street to Pat’s.

We arrived just in time.  The line, still short, was growing by the second.  Everyone coming to Philly wants a cheese steak! And they also want to text to the world that they ARE getting one!

The cold was the biting kind that hits you in the face and after a few moments of conversation, your chin becomes too numb to speak.  Your nose freezes and God forbid if it runs, you ain’t gonna be able to tell.  Thankfully, I didn’t have a cold so the only thing running was my mouth–which eventually ended up being to frozen to open and close.

Thankfully, before the deep freeze of the atmosphere completely numbed our mouths, we were able to discuss the kinds of cheese steaks we would order.  Since we were, for the most part, still “fooded out”, we went with “wit-out” (without onions) and cheese steaks with provolone and others with Cheese Whiz. (My personal favorite).

If I had any balls, I would have frozen them off.  But—I’m a trooper and Jake and I stood on the line at Pat’s, which was growing longer by the second, anticipating the joy that we would be experiencing when we finally had our warm and gooey cheese steaks in hand.

Jake, giving me the side eye because I’m taking a photo of him while he’s freezing his balls off! because he didn’t wear a heavy enough coat!  Only a dysfunctional mom can get away with that!

Ordering these logs of delight at Pat’s was akin to Seinfeld’s The Soup Nazi episode.

Yup. This is pretty-much how you order the cheese steaks. If you waste too much time, no cheese steak…….

A tongue-in-cheek sign was in place just before one approached the window to order the cheese steak.  And you order how you want your cheese steak.  No fussing around.  No special orders. No credit or debit cards.  Just cash. And cheese steak orders.  If you want soda or fries, you must order separately at a different window, which was just steps away.

For tourists and food snobs–read the sign. OK???

After placing and receiving our orders, Jake noticed that Roman, Oona, and Sam were across the street—but not at Geno’s.  They were loitering in front of a bar and they had their wrapped sandwiches in hand.  We kept motioning to them to come over but they refused.

Roman, Oona, and Sam. Loitering in front of the bar which proved to be a saving grace–just like church!

The outdoor seating gave me cause to want to run back to the car to eat.  But Sam saved the day.  He noticed a worker at the bar where they were now standing in front of.  Sam asked the guy if we could bring the cheese steaks into the bar if we order drinks.  Guess where we ate?

The crew is mighty happy now!  Cheese steaks and drinks and the warmth of a bar.  What could be better?  I’ll tell you what could be better.  If perhaps there were a few NY Giant’s jerseys hanging off the walls of this place!  Seriously–the bartender here was the greatest and she was adorable too!

Ensconced in the warmth of the bar, we attacked our sandwiches like a pack of wolves out in the wild—only we were indoors.  Drinks ordered, we sat down to discuss the nuances of each cheese steak.  It was decided that the best  was the Pat’s, wit-out and with Cheese Whiz.  It was also decided upon that the Geno’s bread fared better than Pat’s.

Pat’s–the winna of….

…our Cheese Steak Competition.  This is my cheese steak.  Oozing with the fake golden goodness of an overabundance of cheese wiz and wit-out the onions.  Trust me, if I had the onions, I would have ended up in the ER with a gallbladder attack!

Although, in all fairness, the kids voted that Geno’s had the best bread.  I still went with Pat’s on the bread though.

And both establishments had stellar paper for wrapping the cheese steaks.

Geno’s wrapping–cute and colorful..

..While Pat’s takes on a more pragmatic wrapping. But both wrappings are strong AF and nothing will leak through! Perhaps I may be able to use them as a Depends one day!

With full stomachs you would think we were finished with any further consumption of food for the day. Not so.   As we passed an Italian bakery next to Geno’s, we had no choice but to stop in for cookies and cannoli.  $36.00 worth of flavorful fat and sugar.

Cafe Crema Cannoli–because at this point, why the hell not??

It was at this moment that I started thinking about the Half-Yearly sale at Nordstrom because my bra  cup just went up a size from all the food that was ingested over the past five days.  I’m not kidding.  Just call me Hoover! My underwire cups runneth over.  And over.  And over!

Back in the car, we made a rather cozy group as we drove through Philly and upthe I-95 corridor back to the airport.  The Holiday crowd of travelers had subsided.  The make-believe airport police were nowhere to be found—especially on this freezing day.  The traffic was minimal to none.

Bye Frankie.  Bye Bobby.  Bye Fabian Forte. Watch over Pat’s for me. OK???

And just like that—Jake exited the car, with me after him to kiss him goodbye.  He picked up his luggage from the trunk and faded into the afternoon sun as he made his way to the terminal.

I may be a dysfunctional mom, and my drama knows no boundaries.  But my heart just gets a bit weepy when any of my kids leave me.  It’s like that empty Sunday night feeling—only this was a Tuesday. And I realized as I watched him walk into the terminal that I won’t see him for a long time.  And no matter how old your kids are, when they leave you, you still see them as they were when they were children.

It’s true. Jake may be 34 years old, but this is how I still see him…

Roman went back to New York yesterday and Oona and Sam leave tomorrow.  Yes. I’ll be sad, but when I want a dose of happiness, I’ll read this post because it was one fun adventure!

I can’t stop thinking of this song by John Lennon whenever my kids leave. “Watching The Wheels”.  It reminds me of life as a dysfunctional mother!

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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9 Responses to Dysfunctional Mom’s Christmas Saga. Part Four. The Battle of the Philly Cheesesteaks!

  1. Juliet says:

    Our kids may grow up and move on, but really us mums don’t. They get to a certain age and we stop, at some stage they progress beyond us and start fussing and parenting us – the 22yr old has definitely assumed the mothering role. I do like the controlled clinical trial of cheesey steak sandwich, very scientific 🙂 As for junk food – well basically I am one giant salted nut, I have NO resistance to a salted nut, that or a wotsit (bright orange cheese puff fluffy thing – the dirtiest of junk snack and utterly sublime). Weight watchers starts next year, after the Christmas bug I dropped 9 pounds, I suspect I have put it all back on again – but quite frankly right now I don’t care as I KNOW there are still some giant salted peanuts somewhere in the house

    BTW, Patsy and Edinas alter egos (Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley) had a tv programme on over Christmas about champagne and it filmed them in France getting somewhat squiffy – I hope you get to see it as they have the loveliest friendship. I suspect your little gang of us would be kind of like that if ever met up

    • Catherine says:

      Juliet. I swear we are sisters from different parents. I’m going to research the Saunders and Lumley tv program right now. Perhaps I can get it on my laptop!!!! XOXOXOXOX!!!!

  2. hipchick66 says:

    I love reading other’s impressions of the whole Pat’s vs Geno’s steaks, and you make the story even more enjoyable with your observations and humor! But this Philly girl likes neither. Give me some Jim’s Steaks on South Street, Steve’s Prince of Steaks or Gearo’s up here in NE Philly, and lots of little corner steak places all over. 🙂

  3. Rita says:

    I wish I could say it goes away after a while. But it doesn’t. So long ago my son rented an apartment 10 minuets from our (then) house. He had to endure my tears for a long time when he came home. Or visited. Depends on how you look at it.
    And when my daughter would visit us in Florida before she moved here they had to bring mops and buckets to the TSA area. This may be the reason she moved to Florida.

  4. Debbie says:

    Just love reading your writings. You make me laugh. So happy you had your family home for Christmas. They all are so good looking. Have a wonderful new year Cathy filled with lots of blessings. You rock cuz.

  5. Miss Bougie says:

    Thanks for this lovely post. I agree that we, as Mums, tend to see or children as the young ones they once were.
    Your colourful report on the cheese steak was very funny. Thanks for posting a pic at the end, because, as you were only mentioning cheese, I wondered whether there was any real meat in said sandwich. Actually it looks like a burger (bread, beef, cheese) minus the tomato and salad. I hope I’m not getting hit over the head by saying that. 😉 I’m sure Philly Cheese steak is a local delicacy.
    I’m with you on the overflowing muffin top. We’ll encourage each other on our weight loss journey staring…..tomorrow!

  6. Deb M. says:

    My mouth is watering looking at that cheese steak pic! I live in L.A. now but grew up in South Jersey and when i go back to visit I usually don’t make it home without stopping for a cheese steak or hoagie! The family came out here this year which RARELY happens and you can be sure we soon got to debating who makes the best cheese steaks and hoagies! Thanks for the trip down memory lane and GOD BLESS your poor son for having to deal with both the Philly Airport and LAX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Happy New Year, sweetie darling!!!!!

  7. angie says:

    that cheese steak looks and sounds absolutely delightful. I want one of my own. So super yummy
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