a trap for bored rich people
Monday, April 18 2022
location: upper floor, Apartment [REDACTED], East Watergate Building, Washington, DC
I was up early again this morning doing my thing down in the dining room until the others gradually wandered in, starting (of course) with Gretchen's father, who never really "wanders" anywhere. He made matzo pancakes containing apples and wanted me to try them. I took a bite and was like, "Ick! I can't eat this!" But I just told him it wasn't my thing but that the others might like them. I was liking the matzo-based granola someone had made, and that was fine for a breakfast.
Somehow all this morning stuff lasted into the early afternoon, by which point Gretchen and her sister-in-law were poring over fat scrapbooks that had been made from the pictures and documents of Gretchen and her brother's respective childhoods.
But then Gretchen and I packed up our rooms and moved all the things we'd be taking with us out to our car (which was now fully-charged down in the Watergate parking garage).
Before driving back to New York, Gretchen and I convoyed with her brother's family up to Silver Spring (we took the Rock Creek Parkway/Beach Drive, which made for fast, picturesque motoring). Our destination was Debab, an Ethiopian restaurant. (Given that it was Passover, it was a little surprising Gretchen's brother and family would join us in the eating of injera and, as I'll reveal, another forbidden chametz.) This was to be the first time our niece and nephew (and probably their mother) ever had Ethiopian food. Gretchen ordered a veggie platter for six, as well as a plate of spaghetti (the other chametz) with marinara sauce for experiments I'd jokingly suggested for Italian Empire fusion food. In keeping with this idea, I also ordered a double shot of espresso. The food came out in two enormous platters, each crammed with all our favorite wats on a blanket of injera. The food was great; Gretchen thought it second-only to the now-defunct Meskerem in Adams Morgan. Furthermore, she found that my idea of pinching off some spaghetti and marinara sauce with a piece of injera was a delicious innovation.
Our niece seemed to like the food okay, but our nephew was less enthusiastic, particularly about the injera, which he found too strongly-flavored and the wrong temperature. The platter on that side of the table didn't look like the locusts had hit it (as the one in front of Gretchen, me, and our niece looked like). Normally Ethiopian food is too much of a mess for boxing up the leftovers, but there was so much of it in this case that Gretchen and I had to take it. It filled three large multi-compartment to-go boxes and weighed at least ten pounds. By this point one of the employees was roasting a small pan of coffee beans nearby, I'm not sure why.
Gretchen and I said our goodbyes and then started our drive northeastward with me driving. Congestion and rain generally kept our speeds load, and we made it to Magnolia, New Jersey with plenty of battery capacity to spare. This time we had no interest in eating Indian food, of course, and it was cold and rainy outside, so we ended up spending an hour in the Walmart. Walmarts are not designed to be friendly places to lounge around. There was an in-Walmart Subway with some tables, but Gretchen found a better place over in the aisle where Walmart has furniture. None had been placed on the floor in a place where someone could sit, but Gretchen remedied that, and she could then do a Duolingo Spanish lesson. Meanwhile I was walking around getting a sense of all the things Walmart sells. I even bought a few things: a package of cheap artists' paint brushes and four rechargeable AAA batteries.
Our battery was 90% full when we resumed our driving, this time with Gretchen behind the wheel. Initially she was on the lookout for Dunkin [Donut] so she could get a decaf oatmilk latte, but there were none on our way out to the New Jersey Turnpike.
Somewhere in New Jersey we were nearly side-swiped by a van changing lanes into us without looking. This forced Gretchen to immediately change lanes in order to get out of the way, though without first having a chance to check if anything was there. Luckily nothing was, but the trauma of what could've happened stayed with Gretchen for the rest of the drive.
That 90% battery charge in Magnolia didn't turn out to be quite enough to get us all the way back to Hurley, so we set a course for an Electrify America charging station that appeared to be directly on our route in Paramus, New Jersey. Unlike most of the Electrify America stations, this one was at a shopping mall, the Westfield Garden State Plaza. This meant we'd have nice places to lounge, a food court, and plenty of places to exercise our consumerist muscles. The mall was perhaps the largest one we'd ever seen, and, unlike many other American malls, it was bustling with activity. Furthermore, it featured a good number of high-end businesses such as Tesla (I'm not sure what one buys in that store), Apple, and even Louis Vuitton. Being in there felt like being at an airport, a luxury airport that is. This was particularly true down in the food court, which featured cozy seating in a space surrounded by what appeared to be dozens of food options, including a Thai restaurant. Another airportesque touch was the digitized currency exchange rate board, suggesting that many of the shoppers were from other countries. It occurred to me that this mall was a much better place to have an Electrify America charging station than a Walmart. Walmart never made sense as a destination for the demographic that buys elecric cars. But the Westfield Garden State Plaza seemed like the ideal place for bored rich people to spend their time (and perhaps some of their money) while waiting for their cars to charge. As for us, Gretchen got really excited to see a vendor selling vegan soft-serve, but after buying it, it was so gross she had to throw it away. Then we went to Dunkin [Donuts], where Gretchen reliably gets great decaf oat milk lattes. The latte she got today, though, had been accidentally made with cow's milk, something she didn't realize until after she'd drunk nearly the whole thing. My oat milk cappuccino, on the other hand, really did contain oat milk.
Once our car had a 75% charge in the battery, we were good to go, this time with me driving. Unfortunately now I was driving in a downpour and had trouble seeing the dashes on the road (particularly on the Thruway, where they aren't marked with reflectors). So I found myself mostly following other vehicles that were driving less than 60 miles per hour.
When we got home, the dogs were unusually happy to see us. The house was also immaculate, which is always nice. After drinking some bloody mary mix, I went directly to bed. Oscar, who'd obviously missed me a great deal, spent what seemed like the whole night walking back and forth across my back.
Gretchen (left) and family poring over the scrapbooks her parents kept. This is in their living room at the Watergate.
Someone apparently mocking "LGBT" on his van. This was one of two vans that tried to merge into our lane while we were in it today.
A business called The Floral Escape the Westfield Garden State Plaza. It appears to consist of multiple brightly-colored sets for the taking of selfies and other photographs. Is that really a business? It seemed to occupy a lot of space given how little money people would be expected to pay to use its services.
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