Saturday, February 16 2008
Lordy, lordy, today I turned forty. Gretchen actually bought a 1/3 page ad in the Woodstock Times and then had to buy a copy (since we don't have a subscription) so I could see it. She made a ruse about how I was supposed to look for something for us to do this weekend, but I was on to her. For years I'd been joking about the crappy little "Lordy Lordy, look who's forty!" classified ads that rednecks had run in the crappy little redneck newspaper of my youth back in Redneckistan, so I knew it was coming. What I hadn't expected was pictures, which were of me and Gretchen in the Amazon Rainforest and the Louvre in Paris.
Since I don't like cake, Gretchen always bakes me a pizza on my birthday. Today was my first birthday under the new vegan regime, so the pizza was, naturally, vegan. Vegan cheese technology isn't quite there yet, but it's a lot more advanced than the way it was the last time I had a slice of vegan pizza, at my hippie college co-op twenty years ago. (In all fairness, the state of the art microprocesser back then was the Intel 80386 DX.) Gretchen's pizza was delicious, featuring all my favorite toppins.'
At some point Gretchen gave me my birthday present, which was a no name electric bass she'd bought on Ebay. She'd actually bought me two such basses somehow so I could pick the one I wanted so she could resell the other. One of them came with a tiny 15 amp amplifier. I'd mentioned in the past how I'd like to have a bass, if only because the strings are more compatible with my crude peasant fingers. Now that I had one, there was definitely going to be a little groove to my midlife crisis.
The pizza Gretchen baked. You can also see a tomato plant I've been growing indoors since November, which recently started flowering and (more troubling) wilting.
My funky new bass.
Getting my groove on.
I was still hacking up phlegm and blowing my nose until it bled, so for a good chunk of the afternoon I planted myself in front of the television.
This evening a small group of us had plans to celebrate my birthday at El Coqui, the fun little Puerto Rican restaurant in Kingston's Rondout neighborhood. This group was to include Penny and David and our friend Susan (the one who wrote a popular memoir about her relationship with a horse). Susan refers to me as "Gus the Wonder Husband" because of my creative use of household machinery.
Penny and David picked us up at our place and we drove to the Rondout, but when we got there we found that El Coqui no longer exists. Such is the curse of Kingston. If you live in this town long enough, all your favorite businesses will eventually go away, and they'll do so completely unexpectedly. We'd had in our mind that El Coqui was as permanent as the Hurley Mountain Inn, that it was a place we could go to whenever we had a hankering for spicy food and strong margaritas. In its place was a bar that claimed affinity somehow with "soul," though all the people there were white. Nevertheless, that was the place we found Susan, since she had to wait for us somewhere.
We made a tour of the entire Rondout looking for a suitable replacement, but the new chainy Italian place full of old farts didn't cut it, and neither did the smaller, more artisan places that hadn't bothered to include vegetarian options on their menus. We ended up driving back out to Broadway, where a new Indian restaurant had opened near UPAC. It was a typical Upstate Indian joint, with stark decorations and no liquor license. So David walked to a gas station and came back with a bag of beers for everyone but Susan (who doesn't drink for reasons you'd learn about if you read her book).
By this point Penny and David had given me an oddly flounder-shaped bottle of tequila with some hot peppers floating around in it, in lieu (it seems) of a worm. And Susan had given me (well, Gretchen actually) a painting Gretchen had liked of some Pit Bulls gleefully performing circus tricks.
Gretchen wasn't all that impressed, but I thought the food was good. It was unexpectedly spicy, which I took to be a good sign: these people hadn't had much experience serving gringos. (I use the term "gringo" to refer to Americans klutzily wading into any exotic culture, particularly those of third world countries.)
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