Monday, March 27, 2006

My poor enchiladas

Tonight George and I dined in a new Mexican restaurant. We ate about half of what we ordered, and I planned to take the rest to work for lunch tomorrow. We gave it to the busboy and asked him if he'd wrap it up.

The busboy never brought our food back.

Finally, when the waitress came over, I told her the busboy took my enchiladas (about half of our dinner) and never came back with it. She said "oh, he's in training, he probably threw it out."

Oh. Well. That was about half of our dinner.

"Well, I'll go check for you."

She came back about 5 minutes later. "Sorry, he threw it out."



Do you think, like, maybe you could find some more enchiladas back there and, like, just put them in a box for me?

It's a Mexican restaurant. I don't think they were lacking in tortillas and cheese. You order enchiladas from a Mexican kitchen and they're usually on your table in about 5 minutes.

I don't blame the busboy for making a mistake. But now I blame the fucking waitress for not getting off her ASS to try to make amends.

I understand he threw out my enchiladas. I understand it was a mistake. I also understand he works for this restaurant. Last I heard, business establishments take responsibility for the employees' honest mistakes. Just bring me some enchiladas. In a box. I paid for them. This should not be difficult.

Ok, so you could care less that the busboy threw out my enchiladas? You could care less that I paid for this food and you just threw it out?

Damn mad. Mommie Dearest mad.

George is like "Tom, calm down, it's just some enchiladas. Who cares?"

I agree, it's just some enchiladas, but it wasn't my mistake! I paid for them! I don't have to have the exact same enchiladas he took back to the kitchen! It was a mistake! But I'm not the one running the business here! Why should I have to fork over another $12 to get the enchiladas? The kitchen can absorb this error. It will cost the kitchen maybe $1 to replace my enchiladas. No one seems to care. This annoys me.

So I approach the gentleman at the host stand. I tell him that the busboy accidentally threw out my enchiladas and that I'd like the waitress to get the kitchen to give me some to take home.

"Well, English isn't their first language, so you should try to remember that."


"Ok, I'll remember that, and I don't want the busboy to get in trouble. But I'd still like some enchiladas. I already paid for them. Is the kitchen out of tortillas and cheese? Can't they make me some more?"

"Ok, I'll see what I can do."

Meanwhile, George is chatting with the waitress now, saying "god, I wish he's just let it go already."

So I left, because a) my boyfriend could care less that the restaurant is screwing me out of my enchiladas, and b) the host, by this time, is surely digging something out of the garbage for me to take home.

I heard George say "hey, where are you going?"

To find someone who understands. It's the enchiladas. All I wanted was another plate of enchiladas.

I paid for them.

I liked them. I wanted them for lunch.

And now I'm sad.

I bet that if a busboy at Uniquely Yours Pastry accidentally threw away my petit four, Jennifer would give me another one. In fact, I bet that even if I dropped my petit four by accident, and it was all my fault, that she would still probably give me another one. That's why I will be a repeat customer.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Random Blog of the Week: Casper DC

I've been cyberstalking Casper for several months. I stumbled across him during my random "View Next Blog" clicking exercise (which, as you may recall, is the only way I'm allowed to find a blog to post in my RBOTW series.) I was treated to pictures of some nice looking men at a pool party.

So I did the only logical thing, which was to launch a "straight or gay?" cyberstalking quest in which you examine other posts in an attempt to determine an orientational leaning. (Yes, I know I'm married, but it's always prudent to keep abreast of one's surroundings.)

Verdict: Casper is probably gay, but possibly just French.

I'm fascinated by Casper's blog because it's just a picture blog. He posts no commentary, so the only way you can tell what the f*ck is going on is just to keep checking back for more pictures.

These pictures make me wonder "who is Casper?" and "what is his story?" From what I can tell, he is a gay-or-just-French guy living in a tastefully minimalist apartment in DC who sometimes goes to IHOP, Rehoboth and weddings, and who recently underwent an extensive and lengthy search for a new car.

He once posted a picture I didn't understand, so I posted a comment. His response was to remove the entire posting, picture and all.

I think Casper wants to remain anonymous. Or maybe he's afraid of being cyberstalked.

Casper, if you ever decide you want to open up and let us know the whole story, we'll be here for you.

By the way, if I had a son, I would not necessarily rule out naming him "Casper."

Mindy is going to hate me so much

I think I might change the name of my "Cuter than Heck" series to the "Mindy is Going to Hate Me" series. For those of you just catching up, Mindy hates kittens and puppies. (I know, isn't that evil of her?) Me, I can't resist them, much in the same way I can't resist a snarky comment.

Oh, and for the record, Mindy REALLY hates squirrels. So this one's going to send her over the edge.

This photo went around on an email chain a while back. There is a whole series of pictures of this injured baby squirrel, Finnegan, who was being taken care of by a lady with a dog who was about to have puppies. The mama doggie ended up adopting Finnegan as part of her own litter.

I'm afraid to Google this story in fear that I may find out the whole thing is a hoax, or that something bad ended up happening to Finnegan. So I'm going to assume that everything turned out happily-ever-after.

Monday, March 20, 2006

My Trader Joe's Shopping List

We now have a Trader Joe's in Manhattan. Trader Joe's is perfect. There is nothing bad about Trader Joe's. Only good things can happen at Trader Joe's.

There are a lot of happy New Yorkers now that Trader Joe's is finally among us. I went there for the first time tonight, and it was packed to the gills. You could hardly move. Still, people were very polite even as they rammed into each other with their baskets & shopping carts. It's only proper at Trader Joe's that everyone would just get along. We were all so happy just to be there that minor inconveniences (such as it taking over 20 minutes to get down one aisle and the line for the cash registers wrapping all the way to the back of the store) seemed inconsequential. It only meant that we all got to spend more time at Trader Joe's. And that can only be a good thing.

It was all I could do not to genuflect upon entering. Then one of the store attendants ran up to me because I had mistakenly taken a basket that was partly broken. "Sir, here, let me get you a better basket than the one you took." I almost hugged him.

Margaret was our checkout clerk. She was so nice. She said "gentlemen, did you find everything you needed?" I replied "Margaret, all we needed was to be here with you. All we really needed was Trader Joe's. The rest is just icing on the cake." She giggled.

I believe that when good people die, they go to a place much like Trader Joe's.

I had no shopping agenda when I went there tonight. This is what I came home with (and in no particular order):

Whole Grain Salsa Fresca Tortilla Chips made with Stone Ground White Corn

Pita Chips with Sea Salt

Chocolate Raspberry Sticks

100% Wild Blueberry Juice not from Concentrate

Multigrain Crackers

Nuts About Raspberries & Chocolate Trek Mix

Refried Black Beans with Jalapeno Peppers

.75 lb Ghiradelli Milk Chocolate Square

Woven Wheats Wafers

Organic Multi Grain Bread

Organic Brown Rice Spaghetti Pasta

Saint Andre Triple Creme Soft-Ripened Cheese

Organic Whole Wheat Penne Pasta

Turkey Sausage Stromboli

Spicy Italian Fully Cooked Gourmet Chicken Sausage

Madame Chevre Creamy Fresh Unripened Goat Cheese

Carnitas Burritos

Colossal Olives Hand Stuffed with Jalapeno Peppers

Prepared Horseradish

Hot & Smoky Chipotle Salsa

George's New Word

George has not been happy with some of my recent blogging activity.

"That was really mean spirited, what you wrote about my friends."

"What was mean about that? I said they were lovely people."

"Yeah, lovely people you usually like."

"Well I usually like you, too. And I didn't use any names. They don't even know I have a blog, so why should they care? Besides, it wasn't my fault they were annoying."

"You're annoying."

(Insert picture of me sticking my tongue out and looking petulant.) "And anyway, I was nice to them while they were here. I just trashed them later in print, which is perfectly acceptable behavior for a writer. Everyone knows that. Look at Truman Capote & Gore Vidal."

"A writer?" (Insert picture of George smirking, and me looking indignant.)

"Ok then, a blogger. It's perfectly normal for a blogger to release his or her frustrations in his or her blog entries. "

"Honey, you're no blogger, and that's not blogging you've been doing lately. What you do should be called blitching. And that makes you a blitch."

Well, if the pump fits....

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Lulu's Pizza

A few weeks ago my friend Steve was here with his sister & nieces from California, and George & I met them all for dim sum in Chinatown. As we were breakfasting together, the nieces started talking about their sister who goes to Tufts. Then Steve's sister started talking about her husband who invented this very cool giant frisbee (which is the reason they were in town - to attend a big toy industry convention.)

Anyway, a strange feeling started awakening in me during this breakfast. I kept thinking "Steve's nieces .... Tufts ..... giant frisbee....." and I knew I was getting rather excited about something that I couldn't quite put my finger on.

Steve's niece + giant frisbee

Then Steve said something about his wife Jane having visited the Tufts niece over the summer, and everything clicked into place.

It was the pizza. That blog entry of Lulu's about the pizza.

Although I was able to hide it pretty well from the rest of the table on accounta I'm so used to it and all, I went a little psycho in my head for a few minutes. All I could focus on was that pizza Lulu had written about. Pizza with fresh clams, garlic & bacon. I silently went all Jimmy Stewart for about 5 minutes. "My mouth's bleedin' Bert, my mouth's bleedin'.... Lulu's pizza....Lulu's pizza......Lulu's pizza....."

Lulu's Pizza

Last summer my friend Lulu participated in an NEH seminar at Amherst. One weekend Jane came to visit her, and the two of them took a roadtrip through New England to visit the Niece with the Giant Frisbee among other things.

One of those "other things" was New Haven style pizza with fresh clams, garlic and bacon. The theory was that although Lu had been eating New Haven style pizza for a number of years, she could not be sure she *actually* liked "New Haven style pizza" because she had never *actually* been to New Haven. So they hightailed it to New Haven to find out, a decision I respect.

They ended up at Frank Pepe's Pizzeria Napoletana, a very famous old pizza joint, and supposedly the place where New Haven style pizza was invented.


I've been lusting after that clam & garlic pizza since I saw the picture on Lu's blog back in July. We had a lot going on at the time, so I put the idea of a road trip in my vault.

Well, yesterday I got up early and did car maintenance and cleaning as pennance for having drugged one of our house guests with my margaritas. When the car was all freshly oil-changed and sparkling clean inside and out, I returned to the apartment and said to George "get yourself cleaned up, we're taking a road trip."

"Where to?"

"New Haven."

"Why New Haven?"

"Because that's where they have Lulu's pizza."

"What are you talking about?"

"Lulu's pizza. It's got clams & garlic. We need to go there. Today."

"We can probably find pizza like that in New York."

"I don't care. I want Lulu's pizza."

"Tom, I can probably make whatever pizza you're talking about. Why do you have to get so obsessed sometimes?"

"Mind your own business. Just wash your face and change your clothes, NOW!" Clearly, he was not understanding the urgency of the situation. He went into the bathroom while I looked up Frank Pepe's on the Internet so that I could call just to make sure they were open. (They were.)

I changed my clothes & got some personal effects together. At one point I walked into our office area to get something and discovered George playing solitaire on the computer instead of getting ready to go. I thought I might have to kill him or go to New Haven alone.

"OK, OK!! God, calm down! I'll be ready in five minutes!"

So off we went to New Haven! I was very excited. I called Lu from the car and we chatted for over an hour while George valiantly weaved in & out of Manhattan traffic to get out of the city & on the road. Lu was very sad she would not be with us to experience our first bite(s) of her pizza. But she would be with us in spirit.

Approaching the Mecca

I had warned George there would be a line outside, but he was crabby after the horrible traffic and wasn't looking forward to the wait.

George, crabby at the line

While waiting in line, we struck up a conversation with a family from Long Island who had travelled even farther than we had for this pizza (although while in Connecticut they were also busy buying half a cow and a pig, but that will be another blog entry.) I asked them if they were going to order "New Haven" style pizza. They were puzzled.

"You know, the white pizza with fresh clams, bacon & garlic."

"Eeewww! No, we're just getting ordinary old tomato sauce pizza." Ok, I thought, well if they're willing to come this far just for tomato pizza, maybe we'll get one of those too and carry it home. Anyway, I went on & on to them about the clams when it dawned on me - what if George didn't want clam pizza?

I began to panic.

"Um, Georgie?" I said in my sweetest voice. "You do realize we're getting clam pizza, don't you?"

"Yes, that's fine, whatever you want." He probably would've agreed to eat a newborn infant if it would shut me up about this pizza.

We only had to wait about 25 minutes, which was fine with me after sitting in the car for two hours. At last we were at our table.

A very crabby waitress approached and said "are you ready to order?"

"Yes!!! We would like the New Haven style pizza with fresh clams, bacon & garlic."

"No clams today."

Just like that, that's all she said, with the straightest, most humorless face I've ever seen. "No clams today."

"WHAT???? How could you not have clams today? I thought this clam pizza was your specialty! We just drove here all the way from Brooklyn to get this clam pizza!"

"Didn't you see the sign on the door? It said "no clams today."

No, I had missed the sign, although I would not necessarily have jumped right back in the car and gone home. I was kicking myself for not having inquired about the clams on the telephone earlier.

"They tried to deliver us some clams earlier, but they weren't good. We don't really want to serve them."

Oh, well.

"We'll need a few minutes then." She scowled. "But we'll have one beer and one coke to drink."

A few minutes later the crabby waitress arrived with our drinks. This made me laugh - this place is so old fashioned that my "coke" came in one of those tiny water sized glasses. Not that I'm against serving cokes that size, because we drink way too much sugar in our culture today. I just wasn't expecting it.

George insisted on placing the quarter on the table for scale

Ultimately we decided on pepperoni, sausage & mushroom.

Not-quite-Lulu's Pizza

Needless to say, it was delicious. But to be honest I'm not sure this "basic" style of pizza was worth a two-hour drive. I would drive probably 45 minutes for this particular pizza. Lulu's pizza will still warrant two hours, though. I'll just make sure to inquire specifically next time before we get in the car.

Pizza in any form still makes me pretty happy

A reenactment of the face George says I made upon hearing the "no clams" news

George with leftovers, and tired of listening to me

We stopped in at the old Italian bakery next door to Frank Pepe's (at the advice of our new friends from Long Island) to get some cannolli and cookies. Delicious. Then, we took the scenic route home along the coast of Connecticut, and George made sure to point out every seafood shack we passed in case I wanted to try again for clams.

All in all, it was a very nice outing despite my having been denied Lulu's pizza. At least I still have one extra reason to keep living!

Did I mention Jane likes donuts?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Oh, dear

We had two fabulous guests for dinner last night and I ruined everything again by making the drinks deceptively strong.

I was out running errands and going to the gym in the afternoon. When I got back to the apartment George's friend Robert had already arrived for a small dinner party we were going to have. Robert was one of George's professors in graduate school. This man is an absolutely brilliant musician and he likes to talk smutty to boot. He's so much fun to spend time with.

I asked him if he wanted something to drink. He said "well, George tells me you are quite the mixologist." Aw, shucks. But really, what would he like to drink?

"I've heard your margaritas are legendary!" Oooh, I started thinking, I had bought this interesting looking Italian lemon liqueur that I thought would help make a delicious margie. "Yes, I have some new stuff I've been meaning to try out!" I set to work squeezing fresh citrus juice from three different fruits. I added just a small amount of sugar to offset the sourness, added some of the liqueur plus some faux Grand Marnier and tequila (the amount I would normally use.)

The result from my test batch was too sweet because of the lemon liqueur & faux GM. So I ended up having to use almost double the amount of tequila I would normally use.

End result: omigodisthisgood!!!!!!!!!!

"Careful Robert, my drinks go down like candy."

Pretty soon we were talking smutty and having such a great time that I made two more rounds. I had squeezed more juice than I needed, so what the hay!

By the time our friend Oddrun arrived we were pretty well soused while theorizing about the sex lives of various members of the cast of Bewitched. What's not to like about that conversation? More drinks!!

Then Robert & George started playing piano/clarinet music for us, and we were in heaven. Robert kept jumping up between movements to grab another nice swig of margie. Oddrun & I were in heaven and practically in tears listening to the music.

Then we sat down to our first course of the night: George's salmon chowder - yuuuummmmm, one of my absolute favorites of his.

Unfortunately, by the time we were done with the chowder, Robert had to go sit on the couch. George cleared the soup bowls and began preparing the main course, flounder in livornaise sauce. Oddrun & I sat at the piano playing & singing scholocky pop songs. Next time I looked over at Robert he had passed out. We were unable to rouse him for dinner.

George, Oddrun & I had a nice time together enjoying the fish, and Robert actually did get up at one point to use the facilities - but was unable to sit back down at the table with us. The rest of us proceeded through desert (homemade coconut custard pie) and tea (camomile for Oddrun and PG Tips for Georgie & me.) More yum.

Oddrun had to leave about an hour later, so George & I cleaned up a little and went to bed. The dinner party ended almost as suddenly as it began.

I got up at 6:15 this morning to check on Robert, and he had left.

I feel really bad - we were having such a good time, and I was just trying to be a nice host. I'm going to have to start pacing people until I know their tolerance level, because this is about the 4th dinner party I've ruined with this kind of behavior. Sigh.

And to think, I took the day off work yesterday to avoid the drunken Irish!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Diary of Not a Rice Person: 101 Rarely Useful Chinese Phrases

My Cantonese class finally started, so I'm not going to have to kill Johnny and collect my $288. I've had two classes so far, and I'm enjoying it despite it being, oh, a bit odd.

The teacher is this diminutive woman named Daisy. She's from Hong Kong, so I like to joke with George that I'm learning "proper" Hong Kong style Cantonese, and not the peasant version from Southern China. Of course it pisses him off, which is the point.

There are three other students. Our "classroom" is just about the tiniest room I have ever encountered. I have seen broom closets larger than this room. There is room for four of those metal chairs with the fold-up writing table attached. (No room for your bag inbetween the chairs, though - you have to cram it under a chair.) There is one metal chair up front for Daisy (no writing table attached) and if someone wants to leave the room, the guy closest to the door has to move his chair.

And there is a chalk board about 12x24 inches. That's it.

I hope that when the weather gets warm we don't get roasted out.

The textbook we are using is odd, to say the least. The examples it uses are either very stereotypically Chinese, or exceedingly bizarre. It's like some college students got together to write a textbook and then smoked grass while they were doing it.

Or maybe it's a ploy. Like they were thinking "let's charge people $288 to teach them Cantonese, but then only teach them very bizarre and rarely useful words & phrases. That way, they'll have to keep coming back for more classes to learn things they might actually need to say."

Every other time I've studied a language, the first chapter in the book teaches you things like "Hello Alice, how are you? I'm fine, thanks, how are you? I'm also fine!"

On the other hand, now that I think about having lived with a Chinese family for a while, maybe the authors weren't so far off the mark. It could be that the authors snuck into the home of a typical Chinese family and made notes on some of the more commonly used expressions.

In any event, as a result, here is what the authors feel you need to learn in Chapter 1. And I am not making this up.

"Who the hell is it? All night long, bothering people!"

"They've been making me angry all night long."

"He always talks mean about people, and there's definitely no reason for it."

"Although there's no reason for it, he just blamed you."

"We've already opened the store, but there's no business."

"Let me pay no matter how much it costs."

"Three small bowls of tripe, please!"

"There are too many people in the hospital."

"It's not easy to recover from athlete's foot."
(Isn't that pleasant.)

"This fried chicken & vegetable has absolutley no flavor!"

"You can buy milk at the perfume counter."
(Having lived among the Chinese for a while now, this one just doesn't surprise me.)

And my personal favorite......

"It's not normal for a cow to be able to climb a tree."

I'll keep you posted and will let you know when we (hopefully?) get around to discussing the weather & ordering dim sum.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Random Blog of the Week: Ask the Pope

I realize I'm a few days late with my new RBOTW, but people were just having so much fun with Ms. Boring Blogger (and yes, it appears to be a female - if you read the commments you'll see that a cyberstalker-in-training opened enough of her archive links until she found an entry discussing menses.)

Anyway, here's another gem I stumbled across. Fitting for St. Patrick's Day, coming up tomorrow (and which I'm dreading since I work on the parade route - a guy threw up in front of my building last year....)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

George People

For the past 8+ years, I've been coming to the sickening realization that if left to my own devices, I run the risk of repeating the patterns of my parents' own marriage.

Those of you who know me are already cringing in horror.

But take heart - it will never be that bad, partly because I tend to be hyper aware of things like this, which lessens the chance that I will succumb totally to that biochemical urge to imitate my parents. And it pays to be vigilant, believe me.

Over the past 8+ years I have refined the concepts, in my own twisted mind, of "Tom People" and "George People." George and I are different on so many levels that it can be challenging for us to find mutual friends who appreciate both of us. With the occasional exception rearing his or her head, our social life as a couple tends toward spending time either with Tom People, who appreciate my peculiarness and find George to be slightly abrupt, or George People, who adore George while not-so-secretly wondering what value I could possibly be adding to the relationship.

I hate to be identifying with my mother in this respect, since I am in almost complete disagreement with her on how she handled the personality differences between her & my dad. Yet, since both my dad and George are professional musicians, I do sometimes find myself complaining about the same sorts of things my mom complained about when having to spend large amounts of time with his musician cohorts. Many artists can be self-centered at times, and hard to converse with unless you stick to topics that are of paramount interest to them.

Needless to say, we have a lot of George People artists around us. We hosted a dinner party for some of them last night.

These are actually lovely people that I usually like quite a lot, but they are undeniably George People.

Everything started out nicely enough. I mixed some cocktails (clearly the value that I add, although once everyone is drunk my importance tends to diminish substantially.) We chatted. We sat down to dinner.

Then the conversation turned to opera.

The conversation never got off opera, except for when it turned briefly to symphonic music.

They were here for almost 5 hours.

I don't currently possess the ability to discuss anything about opera or symphonic music for maybe more than 10 minutes. I've seen the major Puccini works. Know a bit about the Ring cycle. And sure, I've heard a lot of the major symphonies. The point is, I just don't really have much to say about any of it. It's just never really taken hold of me as is has to some.

Like to George People.

I felt like such a rube amidst these highly cultured folk. Surely I have enough education, and was well brought up enough, that I should have enough interest in these things to learn to say something intelligent about them. Right? (Nope, guess not.)

At one point, one of our guests told us he had walked out of a perfomance of Parsifal at the Met when he was 12 because he just didn't appreciate the staging.

Another guest commented that he's just never been satisfied with anything presented on stage since he attended a production of Alban Berg's Lulu. (And no, he was not talking about the singer of To Sir With Love, which actually took me a minute to figure out.)

Still another guest took it upon herself to change the CD I had put on only five minutes before, afterward sarcastically commenting "loved it!" in reference to the pseudo-jazz recording made by my Finnish friend Kati. (At one point, while our literati were discussing Sibelius, the subject of the Finnish language came up, and I thought it would be interesting to hear some actual singing in Finnish. I guessed wrong, apparently.)

I was virtually silent for about 2 1/2 hours during this. I simply had nothing to add, and they weren't about to open the floor to other topics.

And then the piece de resistance.

I'm sitting there like an uncultured rube all night. All night long these people are discussing every composer ever born. Wagner, Hindemith, Bruckner, you name it. I have nothing intelligent to add to anything all evening. I make one attempt to present something of interest to the group and I'm publicly rebuked and humiliated in turn.

I'm basically feeling like a total loser. And then George says it:

"Tom, did you remember to tape American Idol?"

It's official now. I'm going to kill him.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

American Idolatry

Min started a blog for those of us who want there to be an appropriate American Idol winner this season. Currently the panel consists of Min, George and me as commentators, but you are welcome to join. Just visit Melinda June and email her a comment asking to join in the discussion. You may need to explain to her why you feel you deserve to sit amongst us as we tear the hopes and dreams of America's Least Talented to shreds.