Saturday, January 11 2003
It used to be that there were so many things in need of doing in this house that I could pick the ones that appealed to me and leave the others for later, Gretchen, or the contractors. Now I'm left with the irritating little details that I've been putting off, unsexy tasks like cutting customized planks for protecting the hydronic pipes. But today I figured out a way to postpone such boring jobs for a few more days. I began installing drywall on the wall separating the garage from a nearly-undifferentiated room beyond it called "the shop." This served two purposes: it disposed of remaining sheets of drywall (thereby opening up garage space for the storage of one or two vehicles), and it began the process of making a usable shop, one that I could theoretically keep heated and make extreme messes in (the sorts of messes I wouldn't want to make in my otherwise mess-friendly laboratory).
This evening Gretchen and I had a night out on the town in Woodstock. This started with dinner at Mountain Gate, the one Indian restaurant in the area. The first thing we realized upon being shown our seat was that the restaurant's heating system was broken. There were several electric space heaters going, but they were no match for the penetrating chill of an upstate January. Our waiter was perhaps the least-Indian waiter I've ever seen in an Indian restaurant. He had blond hair, translucent skin, and a extremely flaky demeanor. He got me a Kingfisher when I'd ordered a Taj Mahal (I didn't complain, but I did take note) and then he completely failed to get us our Mulligatawny soup until Gretchen reminded him upon the arrival of our main courses. As for the food, it was mostly flavorless and half-hazardly prepared, requiring lavish application of the mint sauce, which was the only condiment worth using. Unexpectedly, though, the chick pea and spinach entree was excellent. This meal would have cost about twelve dollars on 6th Street in the East Village, but here in Woodstock it was nearly $40. If anyone wants to start up a new Indian restaurant on the Rondout in Kingston, I'm sure you'll be able to give Mountain Gate a run for their money. The key to the success of such a restaurant can be summarized with a four letter word, heat: either a reliable central heating system for the restaurant or else some flavor, any flavor, for the food.
Next we crossed the main drag and walked to a hip and expensive Manhattan-style bar. We were already cold from dinner in the unheated Indian restaurant, but the streets were hounded by a far more miserable arctic gale. I was reminded of the one time during my childhood when it was so cold that I started crying on my walk to school. That was back in Maryland. In Virginia, I rode a bus to school.
We'd arranged to be meeting Katie and Louis at the bar. We realized that the bar really had the authentic Manhattan thing figured out when we ordered two shots of straight up whiskey and the tab came to ten dollars.
Originally the plan had been for us to go with Katie and Louis to a dance club, where we'd be dancing to some band. At first I'd assumed it was going to be some interesting indy rock band, but of course nobody seems to like rock and roll anymore, not even people my age. It turned out it was going to be a funk band, and (this being Woodstock) it would probably be a lame hippie whiteboy funk band at that, the sort that made the Charlottesville scene so reliably mediocre. By now Gretchen and I had decided to just hang out awhile at the authentically-overpriced Manhattan-style bar and then go home. We all sat at the bar with Katie, Louis, and Katie's charismatic sister Becka. Also present was one of Becka's several boyfriends (he was short, dark, and more elflike than handsome). I couldn't really hear much of the conversation over the authentically-loud Manahattan-style bar din, so I mostly gazed around the room in boredom, as did several others at other tables (again, this was very much in keeping with the authenticity of the Manhattan experience). After Gretchen and I got home, I found that my clothes had the authentic cigarette aroma one gets when one hangs out at a genuine Manhattan-style bar.
Bumper Mentality - A fascinating article about the psychology of a typical SUV driver (contributed by REA senior executive correspondent Matt Rogers).
For linking purposes this article's URL is:feedback
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