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« December 2003 | Main | February 2004 »

January 31, 2004
the ranks

Here's a vignette from last week that I've been meaning to share:

It's Friday night. Steve and I brave the frigidity for comfort food at Veselka. We get to sit at the best spot in the house, a corner table against the back wall. Next to us are two gay men, both teachers at the same high school. We can't tell whether they're on a date (taboo!) or whether they're just friends. But they're annoying. The one guy practically orders for the other guy, and they complain about students and "Jewish parents" and other stuff, and Steve and I exchange the occasional raised eyebrow while trying not to lose the thread of our own conversation.

The best part is this: Next to the men is another couple, a woman and a man, who seem collectively frumpy for lack of a more fitting word. Toward the end of our meal, the woman says loudly, "A lot of people die in wars." The man doesn't respond. She then says, "Which war do you think more people died in, World War I or World War II?" The man says, with confidence, "World War I. It was a very bloody war."* I know Steve isn't listening to them, because he's talking about the Lithuanian body type, so I look over at the men next to us and get to see THEM raise their eyebrows at each other.

It was satisfying in a way that made me feel superior, as though I could draw a diagram of the chain of exchanged looks with myself and Steve at the top of a staircase. I usually shun that superior feeling, nowadays -- or really don't even encounter it -- but it felt harmless that night.

* Total deaths in World War I: 8,538,315; total deaths in World War II: 56,125,262.

File under DAILY. Posted at 12:00 AM

January 18, 2004
winners and losers

Leaving a city, I've learned, makes me romanticize it. I complained about Pittsburgh when I was there, but after I left, I missed its architecture and South Oakland's haunts and just, well, it. Today I missed Philadelphia. I have never been much of a football fan, but football means a lot to Philadelphia, and I wanted The Eagles to make it to the Super Bowl. I wanted to sit in Tangier (or somewhere else, it didn't matter -- I'm sure any place with a television had a good turnout) with a bunch of crazed Philadelphians and watch the home team win.

Instead I sat through the boring loss with Steve. We'd weathered the also-boring Patriots game prior, drinking and complaining and exhausting our reserves of humor. We decided that there should be an option on the television to listen to home commentary by other people watching the game, because our commentary was so droll. When the game staled, we talked about our personal lives, and who wouldn't want to hear about those? (Honestly, I do think two people talking about their friends would make an interesting juxtaposition over a football game, at least for a few minutes, and only if they spent time talking about the game, too.)

After the laziness, the losses, and a big bowl of popcorn, we headed to Manhattan to watch Andy's (Pittsburgh Andy) band Arbor Day play. We walked a bunch of icy blocks and ended up in the bar, where a not-very-good but kind of charming band was on stage, using a tap dancer for percussion. Arbor Day was next and sounded strong. Andy played, among other things, a theremin, but we couldn't really hear it.

At the end of it all, we left the bar, exchanged sentiments about feeling old among our fellow audience members, and hailed a cab. I had long since stopped longing for Philadelphia.

File under DAILY. Posted at 12:00 AM

January 12, 2004

Last week was rather unusual, even if I haven't exactly been in New York long enough to define "usual." Let's just say I didn't get enough sleep.

The weekend seemed to start early. On Thursday I saw Dial M for Murder in 3-D at the Film Forum. It's something I never thought I'd get to see, and having seen it, I realize it isn't necessarily something I needed to see. But I wouldn't have known that if I hadn't gone. Lamps and phones jumped out of the screen, often with no particular purpose. I suppose the result was to make the cramped, two-room setting seem more real and more cramped, but again, it wasn't exactly vital to the film. Still, it was fun to watch the movie with an audience.

Friday night, Steve, Litza, Kevin and I went dancing at Rififi. I'd been up until 3 a.m. the night before, hadn't recovered, and seemed to be coming down with a cold, so I felt off the whole time. Steve is going to make me reprise the dance night some time soon so that it can be done right.

Saturday was unquestionably the most interesting day of the weekend. To backtrack, a week earlier I'd begun a correspondence through Friendster with a very cool person. We'll call him Andy. Andy and I wrote to each other (rather a lot) throughout the week and decided that, if we were really going to be friends, we should hang out in the non-virtual 3-D world (you now recognize the cleverness of this entry's title).

Meeting Andy was not nearly as awkward as I feared it would be. We ate dinner at a good but hard-to-find Italian restaurant, then walked to the closest bar that seemed to have seats available. The reason this bar had open seats is that it was a scary bar with an obnoxious bartender woman. We even witnessed a bar fight, during which a gentleman named Bob's head slammed against the wall fewer than three feet from my seat. So that was exciting.

More exciting was to talk with someone fresh and insightful and funny. The internet can work against you, but it doesn't always, and more often than not, it at least makes life more interesting. I am being vague, yes, I know. In any case, I am glad to have made a new friend.

p.s. Photos from the friends' Christmas party at Chrissie's parents' house are here. I used Photoshop's quickie Web Gallery feature, hence the kind of crappy layout. The pictures are pretty stupid, and yes, they do include shots of all of our asses. Clothed asses, though, sorry.

File under DAILY. Posted at 12:00 AM

January 02, 2004
got a photograph, picture of

I have resolutions and ruminations, but I'm not in the mood to post them right now. Instead, I'll share photos from New Year's Eve, courtesy Chris's camera. About ninety percent of the ones of me are awful. Enjoy!

File under DAILY. Posted at 12:00 AM