housewarming the House of Stank
Saturday, October 16 2004
The Meatlocker People, our friends living in a former meatlocker up the street, were to be getting married tomorrow. Today they had an informal gathering at their place, the former meatlocker. Pizza, beer, wine, and (later) a mysterious pink mixed drink, were provided as refreshments. The only people I really knew there were Gretchen and Mr. and Ms. Meatlocker, and I don't usually shine socially in situations where I don't know most of the people. I found myself sitting alone for long periods on the couch, wondering if it might be a good idea to thumb through an old Newsweek from 1993 (I couldn't help myself!). Gretchen, meanwhile, was gladhanding and backslapping like state-level politician. She liked these people. They didn't just look hip - they had interesting things to say too.
Later Gretchen and I found our way back home in time for the arrival of Mary Purdy, our friend from Manhattan. She brought her new boyfriend Bradley with her. After countless green apples and sour grapes, internet dating had actually born fruit worth bringing 90 miles up the Thruway for show and tell. Gretchen and I quickly decided we liked Bradley. He definitely sealed the deal when he professed his profound appreciation of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
We ended up eating dinner at the Landau Grill in Woodstock with Mary, Bradley, and our friend Katie from Saugerties. Conversation quickly took a turn for the wildly philosophical, with various people presenting analysis of the world from three different viewpoints: the possibly-spiritual (Bradley is a Buddhist), the poetically non-spiritual (that would be Gretchen), and the purely mechanistic (yours truly). Gretchen has little patience for those who see "spirits" and even "meaning" in the natural world, but she draws the line at the other extreme, which I'm always advancing, that the world is a system of interlocked mechanisms, that even human beings are really nothing more than complicated robots. Refreshing, for conversations such as this, was the fact that everyone at the table seemed open to everyone else's arguments. One of the most important difference between my friends and the members of, say, the Bush Whitehouse, is the fact that my friends tend to be curious and want to hear the evidence about the issues at hand. That's the distinguishing trait of everyone I've ever been close to - from ignorant to educated, from Josh Furr to Nathan VanHooser.
Later Gretchen and I went to a housewarming party on Eagle's Nest. Larry, our realtor, was finally putting the House of Stank on display to his friends and colleagues. All who were there had to admit he'd done a marvelous job, much better than any who saw it early in its renovations could have predicted. Nonetheless, all the beauty we could see lay in surfaces. Beneath those surfaces lurk malevolent insects, horrifying fragrances, corrosive moisture, and unparalleled ugliness. Gretchen and I didn't stay very long, partly because most of the people there were real estate agents talking shop talk.
We also had a bunch of girls (Ms. Meatlocker's wedding crew) spending the night at our house. Furthermore, Gretchen had more work to do on the wedding cake. As always, it was my job to make the wedding cake's "topper" sculpture, and as usual my materials consisted of copper electrical wire and zinc electroplate made from melted pennies.
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