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‘Tis the season to give and receive deals

By Staff | Dec 24, 2010

“I got a deal!” I told my husband when he opened the freezer for martini-shaker ice and found it packed with shrink-wrapped meat.

And I mean, packed. I had to take everything out that was in there, then restack it from back to front, to fit in every piece. There’s enough sirloin in there to feed the two of us for a year. But it won’t take that long, because the meaty mother lode arrived just in time to precede the arrival of my son on Christmas break. And the boy likes his steak.

I hadn’t planned a meat marathon for his arrival. It just worked out that way.

An unexpected knock at the door one afternoon introduced me to Capital Meats, a Winchester, Va.,-based company that was begun in 1999 with a single small roadside stand. Today, a fleet of freezer trucks delivers steaks, chicken, pork and seafood from 11 distribution offices as far north as Baltimore and south to North Carolina and Tennessee. Next year, New Jersey and Pittsburgh will be added.

It was inhumanly cold and windy when Doug Sylvester knocked on my door, and before I knew it, he was in my kitchen, opening cases of boxed ribeyes and filets, displaying what looked to be exceptionally nice cuts of meat, individually portioned and wrapped. Another case produced chicken breasts, bathed in marinades and flash-frozen.

Sylvester was ready to make a deal. It was so darn cold out, and he wanted to empty that truck as quickly as he could. He offered me prices far below what were listed on the company brochure, and was even ready to throw in a stand-alone freezer for my garage.

Wait, wait! Slow down! No freezer, please. Normally, it’s just the two of us empty nesters in the house, and there’s only so much meat we can eat. But with our teenager due home, a voracious appetite would soon be arriving. So I accepted a case of beef and one of chicken, and then I offered a deal of my own.

There’s a behemoth in my backyard: a skateboard half-pipe, about 20 feet long and six feet wide, about as tall at each end as I am. My husband constructed and installed it when our son was a preteen skateboard whiz. Instead of being a soccer dad or a marching-band parent, he said, he’d follow our son’s interests and become the dad that built the best ramp around.

With plans pulled from the Internet, he hammered together two-by-fours to build a skeleton in six large pieces, that were later joined together and clad in plywood. He added metal bars at each apex, to make the required stops on which boarders balance before pushing off. Then he dug six holes, filled them partially with sand, and sunk thick shafts into the earth, on which he then leveled the ramp. It couldn’t have been built any better.

My son and his friends used it for awhile. I attempted invisibility when a gaggle of skateboys would arrive; nothing undercuts a young man’s aura of skater cool like a flesh-and-blood mom.

Anyhow, those days are gone and now the ramp is like an aging battleship, after the war is over. It has survived its hard use and is now drydocked. I’m ready to have it towed away and reclaim the very dead grass under it as my back lawn.

As she unloaded cases of meat in my kitchen, Doug Sylvester’s delivery partner spied the ramp and said her kids would love to have something like that. To which I told her, “If you want it, you can have it.” I told her the ramp comes apart and can be hauled away in pieces. I told her my husband can tell her how to take it. What a deal!