Friday, March 27, 2015

Helping Little Girls Become Ladies: Charlotte's Tea Room

Charlotte's Tea Room in Warwick, New York
For what it's worth, I consider myself a gentleman. I open doors for women and children, and I stand when a lady enters a room. I know the difference between a salad fork and a dinner fork at a formal meal. I usually don't chew with my mouth open or put my elbows on the table. Most of the time, I know when locker room talk is appropriate and when it's not. Generally speaking, I refrain from breaking wind in mixed company. As a father, I feel fairly comfortable and confident that I can pass along my lifetime gentlemanly experience, suggestions, and tips to The Favorite Son.

Joanne Graney's Charlotte's Tea Room:
Porch View
However, as my readers know, I am also the father to two beautiful, motherless daughters. Frankly, when it comes to being a lady, well, I know what I like in a woman, but since I'm not a woman, I really am not able to help much.

While there are certainly other ways to fill the numbers for which a single father doesn't have the brush or the paint, I've supplemented with my own appropriately gentle ideas about manners and lady-like behavior with the assistance and reinforcement of some great platonic female friends. I also use a secret weapon: Charlotte's Tea Room.

The reception space at Charlotte's Tea Room

Time for "Thanik You's?"
Charlotte's Tea Room is unique eatery located on Oakland Avenue in the charming village of Warwick, New York. As the name suggests, Charlotte's Tea Room specializes in, well, tea. The tea selection is extensive for folks who enjoy that sort of thing, and the menu includes traditional English "afternoon tea" edibles including a variety of sandwiches, scones, pastries, and quite a bit more. It's not the menu, however, that has been my secret tool to assist me in instilling sophistication in my beautiful daughters. Frankly, it's not only the Charlotte's Tea Room standard and professional formality, but Charlotte's Tea Room also offers parties during which an etiquette consultant can be enlisted to provide a fascinating and practical history and use of manners.


That's just what I did for The Second Beautiful Daughter's 10th birthday a few years ago. In addition to the spacious second-floor reception room that Charlotte's Tea Room boasts, tea, sandwiches, sweets and more are served in a formal manner to the guest of honor and her party. For a reasonable additional fee, an etiquette consultant can provide the context and practice of ladylike behavior at such events.

A Happy Birthday Girl
Look, I know my limitations as a single father and, in truth, I still strive to find answers to some of the questions I face every day. When I find an answer, though, I share. Although many readers of The Single Father's Guide Blog do not reside within driving distance of Charlotte's Tea Room, I'm sure the owner of Charlotte's Tea Room, Joanne Graney, would be happy to point any single father in the right direction. Call her for a referral or reservations at 845-988-9499.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Favorite Son Saga: First Broken Heart

So, there was a little girl with whom The Favorite Son, who by now know as TFS, had gone to kindergarten. Let's call her "Sallie." I'd volunteered weekly at TFS's elementary school and I knew the little girl a little and had a tertiary, but friendly relationship with Sallie's mom. As years passed, TFS developed a very sweet and innocent friendship with Sallie. Even TFS and Sallie weren't always in the same class, they often played together and even had lunch together sometimes.

Fast forward to 2015, Sallie's parents are divorcing and Sallie and her mother are moving out of state. When TFS heard about it, he was heartbroken. He asked, "Dad, Sallie's moving to ________, and tomorrow's her last day."

I answered, "You mean Sallie from kindergarten?
He said, "Yes."

My heart broke for him because I know how much Sallie meant to him. So, on the Thursday night before Sallie's last day, TFS and I went to the store and bought her a nice and appropriate going away card and a bag of locally made, organic chocolate chip cookies. He even asked me if I'd help him write a personal note in the card, which was something like:


Thanks for being a good friend and good luck in ________.


He also wrote his phone number and email address in case Sallie wanted to write or call after she'd settled into her new house.

When I suggested that the spelling of the name "Sallie" might not be right, TFS answered, "It is, Dad. That's how she spells it."

The next afternoon, I asked, "So, how did it go with Sallie."

With quivering lip, TFS answered, "I don't like Sallie anymore."

"What happened, Bud?" I asked.

"She said she already had a boyfriend and she threw away the card."

"How 'bout the cookies?" I asked, incredulously.

"She said she was allergic to gluten and gave them away," he answered.

I tried to explain that she might just have been really sad about having to move and didn't know how to react to such a nice thing that he did, but it didn't help much. Inside, though, I was angry that Sallie walked on such a pure heart's beautiful gesture.

TFS bounced back pretty well and, I think, learned a lesson. I'll leave it to you to figure out what that lesson was.

Friday, March 6, 2015


No, I will not write a 500 word review of Hot Tub Time Machine 2 like I will eventually write for Boyhood or Birdman. However, I will give you the what-you-need-to-know about the sequel to a pretty cool original.

As I've alluded, Hot Tub Time Machine was a pretty cool original. It will never have been confused with great cinema, but it included time travel, pretty girls, one of my favorite living actors, John Cusack, and a fun and happy ending. No, not that kind of happy ending, although it did earn its "R" rating. Bear in mind, the sequel is almost never as good as the original - the only exception that comes to mind is Godfather II. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is no an exception.

Why isn't it as good? Well, the story, in which three of the original characters, Lou (Rob Corddry), Nick (Craig Robinson), and Jacob (Clark Duke) travel in the hot tub time machine to the future to save Lou's life after being "shot in the dick" during a party. Solving Lou's murder in the future before it happens is the premise of the story.
Bianca Haase

Unfortunately, John Cusack didn't participate in the sequel and Chevy Chase's character, the Hot Tub Repairman, makes only one scene. However, Lisa Loeb makes a cute cameo and Bianca Haase as Sophie, coat check girl and Jacob's future wife, is probably worth the price of the ticket.

Still, there are some pretty funny lines as well as time travel, pretty girls, and a sort of fun and happy ending. Just not that kind of happy ending.