purplish poorly-masticated mix
Friday, February 16 2007
Gretchen made me a breakfast of homemade pizza in bed and even wore a special costume catering to my Catholic schoolgirl fetish to deliver it. This was how my 39th birthday began. Later Gretchen presented me with two birthday presents: a coffee table book showing the marvelous natural art of Andy Goldsworthy and a book by Jared Diamond called The Third Chimpanzee (which I didn't even know existed).
Originally we'd planned to drive up to Saugerties to have Mexican food at a favorite (though long-neglected) eatery there. But by the time we set out it was late and I decided we should just hit the Mexican place in Uptown Kingston instead. But then that place proved to be closed, so we wound up at Stella's, the unassuming Italian place with the inexplicably-delicious salad. The place is popular on a wintery Friday night, and we had a forty five minute wait. We spent that time drinking hard liquor at Stella's bar, which is basically just a hallway that has a bar on one side of it. The bartender there, and I've never seen anyone else doing his job, is a kindly older gentleman who pours big drinks and exchanges low-key but warm banter with everyone, even strangers like us.
Someone at the bar mentioned it being someone's birthday and this caused Gretchen to volunteer that it was my birthday. Somehow this led several people at the bar to befriend me. We were having such a great time yucking it up that I lingered for a few minutes after our table became available. With Gretchen so much more social than me, I've let my extrovertism atrophy, and so the discovery that I still had friend-making skills was something I wanted to prolong and explore. I felt affirmed that total strangers were liking me for who I am instead of because I happened to be Gretchen's husband.
Later those people I'd befriend at the bar sent us a round of free drinks, which Gretchen and I converted into another bowl of salad (since we had plenty of wine).
I guess those tall drinks at the bar were catching up with me, because I wasn't making good progress on the wine. When Gretchen wanted to leave I saw a massive wine crime was being committed, so I chugged down some gulps from my full glass. That's never a good idea, as I was soon to discover.
From then on, my memories of the evening exist mostly as grainy snap shots. I remember saying goodbye to my new friends at Stella's. I remember sort of lying across Gretchen's lap as she drove us home. And I remember the beginning of the final game of the Jeopardy! Teen Tournament, with a rematch of the same three white boys from last night and their scores from yesterday being dramatically reset to zero. [Gretchen would later tell me that the best contestant appeared to throw the game by answering, for example, "Cloak and Gun" instead of "Cloak and Dagger"].
As I lay in bed I remember feeling terrible and moaning until Gretchen fetched me a trash can. Into this I sprayed a purplish, poorly-masticated mix of spaghetti & anchovies marinated in red wine.
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