Sunday, April 25 2004
By recent standards the weather today was unpleasantly cold and dreary. This was unfortunate, because our new neighbors up the street (the folks who live in a repurposed meat locker) had invited us over for an afternoon barbecue that would have been perfect, say, yesterday. I was not in an especially social mood as we headed over because my mind was stuck on other things. I'd just noticed that my expensive brown corduroy jacket was missing (the last I'd remembered seeing of it had been at Gretchen's nephew's bris). Nothing ruins my mood like an unexpected loss.
The Meat Locker people live only a few houses away, but we had to drive anyway as a means of leaving our dogs behind. We couldn't bring our dogs because the Meat Locker's dog, Sadie, is unusually antisocial.
As repurposed meat lockers go, the Meat Lockers' abode was reasonably pleasant. It featured a huge living room and a big kitchen. You could tell that the floor had once been designed to collect the drippings of carcasses, because it sloped sharply upward at the base of each wall, making the floor a large, low basin. In the kitchen the floor was covered with linoleum tiles which had been bent to accommodate this slope where necessary. The rooms were all filled with light from the numerous large windows that had been punched through the concrete block walls.
I've been pretty good about finding ways to enjoy myself in social situations in the absence of alcohol, but with my mind constantly returning to the topic of the missing corduroy jacket I really could have benefitted from a beer. But this was, of all things, a beer-free barbecue. Mind you, it wasn't that way on purpose, it's just that Mr. and Mrs. Meat Locker don't drink, and Gretchen doesn't really drink either. And it's never fun to be the only one at the party with a beer in your hand. (Occasions like these can really make me pine for those days before I was all grown up. I know that there are people who continue drinking after age thirty, but none of them hang out with me.)
Over seltzer water we sat around and talked about various things, particularly psycho house sitters. For the first half of the afternoon we kept being interrupted by Sadie's anti-social growling; these always escalated to the point where she was forced to take a time-out in the bathroom.
The barbecue itself was conducted over a small grill and mostly featured familiar vegetarian items like portobello mushrooms, meatless patties, and squash. But Mr. Meat Locker also fixed himself a genuine hamburger. It was so cold outside that we ate most of our food in the kitchen. There was a Newsweek on the kitchen table featuring an article about Christian Dance clubs, ones where there is no booze or "slow dancing." The article made like these clubs were the wave of the future, but it didn't take much reading to discover that they were, like the Washington Times, being operated at an enormous loss.
Later for dessert we ate a tart Gretchen had baked. It was from a weird Sicilian recipe and featured an abundance of cardamom. I'm not usually a big fan of dessert, but I was still hungry after eating two barbecued vegetarian sandwiches.
Later this evening, after Gretchen and I took a several-hour break back at our house, the four of us went to Rosendale Theatre to see the Coen brothers movie Ladykillers. The funniest thing about watching this movie was that Gretchen and I thought it was hilarious and kept laughing at the screwball humor while our friends the Meat Lockers kept killjoyishly silent. They hated the movie! They hated the cartoonish characters, they hated the cartoonish interactions between the characters, and they weren't impressed by the casual use of stereotypes. It wasn't the best film I'd ever seen, but it was nicely paced and the cartoonish qualities seemed necessary for the goofy way the story was being told. Besides, I'm a sucker for any movie about breaking into a vault. It's also hard not to be entertained by fat black women nattering on and on about "hippity hop music" and the offensiveness of lyrics about leaving one's wallet in El Segundo, all while writing checks to Bob Jones University, a college so racist that even George W. Bush apologized for having visiting there.
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