Saturday, April 15

Adventures of a picky eater

Yesterday evening Amber and I took to the Long Island Expressway and made our way through the hazy rain into Queens. Craig was already busy cooking and his apartment -- a large three-bedroom flat -- smelled wonderful as we trudged up the curling marble stairs.

There were steamed clams* for appetizers. I tried one -- first time for everything -- and had a bit of trouble chewing it because I kept imagining it was just a chewy hunk of fat. It tasted good -- nice and garlicky and buttery -- but there's just something about the consistency and the potent saltwater essence of seafood that puts me off.

We went onto the balcony as Craig grilled some portobello mushrooms. Across the street, the congregation of the (largely Hispanic) Catholic church was spilling onto the street, many of them holding candles. An SUV with a huge speaker strapped to the roof, covered by an umbrella, started playing funeral procession music. Two police cars blocked each cross street flanking the church. Several men came out of the church carrying a clear coffin with the church's crucifix inside, followed by another group of men carrying some other lit-up important religious item I'm not familiar with. The whole group -- there had to be more than 50 of them -- took off around the block, their sad music blaring, carrying Jesus' coffin through the neighborhood.

By that time I was working on my second glass of Beaujolais and the salads were ready, so we quit staring and went inside. I tried a grilled portobello mushroom and decided I'll stick to my lifelong "don't put fungus in your mouth" rule, though they smelled wonderful while they were cooking. (To my untrained tongue, mushrooms of all kinds taste like death.)

Our salads devoured, Craig took to the stove again to finish up the main course. He and Amber had scallops and asparagus (both of which I tried and decided not to add to my regular dinner rotation) and I had grilled chicken. Everyone had some yummy boxed macaroni.

One of Craig's roommates, Will, came home with another friend of theirs, Nile (sp?), who's an NYPD detective, which was sort of funny for reasons I won't get into here. They played online poker and yelled intermittently at the TV (the Mets, who play literally down the street from Craig, were on). Then we switched to some chardonnay and watched From Woodside, Queens, which was actually really funny and sweet and well-done. We also watched the final cut of Putz, the golf movie, which is also excellently done. And then we saw perhaps the most ridiculous (possibly unintentially) racist movie I've ever seen -- an independent film done by some crazy woman and her child star son called My Valentine. It was terrible. I wish I could find a link. There's no way I could explain it.

But I'll try: Middle-aged white woman with explosively wispy bangs gets dumped by her abusive, alcoholic black deaf boyfriend. Woman is particularly depressed because she was hoping said boyfriend would be a "father figure" for her child. Making the whole situation more regrettable is that it's Valentine's Day. Woe! So woman goes to self-help group, where she breaks down and makes clown faces, and her fellow women suggest throwing a party. Woman acquiesces and throws party that night, a mere six or so hours after the breakup. It turns out to be a swinger party of some sort, with people from ages 12 to 95 in attendance. Man from woman's high school is at party, and they recognize each other. Immediately woman announces to group that they can go mingle while she and the dude head to the creepy-ass basement for some awkward groping. Crazy ex-boyfriend peeks into the door and sees his ex- slutting it up. Man comes in and confronts the son (for whom he was a supposed father figure) and tells him he's going to kill everyone. Or something. I don't remember this part because I was drunk and it was so bad. Mom and her sex interest come into the tiny, dusty, dirt basement, and crazy ex stabs man once and it makes a popping noise and suddenly there's blood everywhere. Mom screams. Someone else dies. Then the little boy picks up a gun and shoots the black man. The end?

Yeah.

Anyway, Queens was fun. We woke up around noon today, ordered a pizza, and sat around until it was time to drive back in time for Amber to go to work. Craig was super hospitable and nice and told funny stories and the whole bit. We drove back down the island and I dropped Amber off at the Lobster Inn and came to her house, showered, and managed to find my way back out into town and to Target. Yes, Target.

And now I'm hanging out here, waiting for a call to go pick her up. I'd venture out some more, but it's dark and I'm notoriously bad with directions, so here I am. Maybe I'll catch SNL. Pearl Jam's on tonight.

* I can't think of steamed clams without thinking of "steamed hams" like Seymour Skinner's family used to make. I know 85 percent of the people who read this need no further explanation. For the rest of you, here.

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