An Extremely Belated Lesson from Montgomery Brewster / Since I didn’t send Holiday Cards

31 December 2008

As I was g-chatting with my favorite Canuck last evening, we began to discuss our respective options for New Years Eve.  Neither of us was enthused about the options before us.  Considering options A through D it took a moment for me to realize that Option E – None Of The Above is always on the ballot even if not explicitly.

Considerably later in the evening/very early this morning, my insomnia hindered mind began to consider the metaphorical implications of voting for None of the Above.  Besides the obvious reference to the movie that inspired the title of this post, I started to view it as a philosophy for daily life.  For too long, I have consider mainly the opportunities afforded me or those I created as the only candidates on my mental, physical, emotional, intellectual ballots.

How would my life take shape if I checked the metaphysical None of the Above box?

How many dates would I have skipped?  How many parties might I have ignored?  Are there jobs I never would have worked, conversations I never would have had, mediocre blog posts never published?  Not that I would take anything back – regret is a wasted emotion – because I largely am a fan of the man that my experiences have shaped, but as simple as it seems, it was too rare that I considered not doing things.

I am going to a couple of parties this evening convinced of the likelihood of having a good time if not a toe curling midnight kiss, but I feel better in the  knowledge that I considered checking the box unseen and have a head start towards achieving at least one tacit resolution for the year.

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To all of those who spend some of your time reading my ramblings, missives, advice, and stories, I am humbled by and unspeakable grateful for your time, comments, and friendships (real, virtual, unspoken, or otherwise.)  I wish you all a New Years Eve filled with good cheer, good company, better booze, and an even better 365 days until we all do it again. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t send extra thank you’s to:

Lemmonex – somehow you became my blog rabbi, most frequent counselor and occasional drinking partner in the infancy of this place.  Thank you for your counsel and friendship.

Shannon – you were for a while the funniest woman I had never met; now that I am lucky enough to count you as a friend you make me laugh harder, and smile wider.

Katertot – I never would have thought that a silly contest idea would have yielded a relationship I value so much in such a short time but I do and I am grateful for it.

LiLu – whether it is over the interwebs, from adjacent bar stools, or g-chat, you have become so dear to me despite the cringes you induce on Thursdays.

Fearless – it’s not just that you keep my virtual company in our mutually insomniac moments, but that you make virtual feel so real.

Lisa – there has been no place on the interwebs that was the source for greater singular optimism for me than yours.  You have made me snarf coffee/wine on more than a few occasions when I have really needed it. 

The Blogger I will not Name but Must Mention– our conversations made me want to be a better writer and I will never take our letters lightly.

The Blogger I Would Love to Name But I Have a Feeling Wouldn’t Want the Attention – you deserve the urgency you seek (just a reminder) and thanks for speaking softly, being the grand dame you are, and not spreading it around that I am a cheap date.

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 As it is Wednesday, I took my turn as contributing editor at DC Blogs.  Go on – check out that which moved me more than most this past week.


Finally Sitting At My Own Table

29 December 2008

When I started this blog, I asked one friend for advice.  He told me the first thing I should do was buy the domain because “it has such caché and potential” he promised to help me get the whole thing working in exchange for booze (see I’m not the only one who work for liquid payment.)    

I followed instruction and purchased the domain.  Even though he completely flaked on me we were unable to coordinate our schedules I  finally got WordPress to make it work.  From this day forward, you can go to restaurantrefugee.com.  Feel free to change your links or readers, or not, they will still work*.  And yes this post is a blatant attempt to sprain my elbow while patting myself on the back for doing something surprisingly simple, but I never pretended to be the sharpest instrument in the drawer.

*Edited to Add: To further establish that minor technical achievements are meritorious for me, I am mistaken – you will need  to update your blog readers… I think.


What Are You Doing New Years Eve?

29 December 2008

Maybe it’s much too early in the game…

“I’ve been thinking about Frank Loesser all day.”

“Who is Frank Loesser” asked the woman with the perfectly painted lips and great watch who was to my left.

“Frank Loesser was a composer from the late 30s until he died in 1969.  He died young but he wrote prolifically during his life.  He was responsible for almost as many standards as Gershwin.  Luck be a Lady might be his most famous, but What are You Doing New Years Eve is the song that’s been moving through my mind all day.”

“How old is that man who inhabits your thirty something soul?”

The question makes me smile.  “How long have we known each other now?”

“Ten years has a nice ring to it.  You ever talk to Eva?”

Oh but I thought I’d ask you just the same.

 “Ha, I think you know the answer to that – it’s not in either of our interest for us to talk.  And speaking of loves from way back when, when is Jason going to make you an honest woman?”

“We haven’t really talked about a date but you’ll get an invitation… I know that look.  Your about to be an arse, aren’t you?”

I’ve never been very good about keeping my cards close to the vest when I was around Lynette so I stare at my beer and pretend I didn’t hear her.

What are you doing New Years, New Years Eve?

“Refugee, just spit it out, whatever thought is running through that contorted brain of yours, you need to let it escape.”

“Lynette, we’ve talked about this before and I wish I’d never asked the question because my position is the same and you already knew that.”

“So what about that song has you in such a reflective mood?” she asked in a segue that is her wont and habit.

 “It’s not a Christmas carol, but this is the only time of the year it gets played.  Frank Loesser wrote the song with the intention of it being sung in the spring by a man so taken with a woman that he wants to ask her out for New Years Eve in the March.”

“That is really sweet and the song makes even more sense to me now.”

“Maybe it is just the calendar influencing my mind but I want that level of deliberate, that kind of want, that certainty” I say before taking a healthy swallow of air.  “There is this image in my mind of dancing with the one I brought and moving through wordless conversation while this song plays just before midnight.”

I wonder whose arms will hold you good and tight

“Refugee, fuck you and your beloved romance. In the real world, love is more negotiation than fair tale.  You’ve watched one too many Meg Ryan movies and you have some street scene fantasy about professing love on New Year’s.  Life doesn’t work that way.”

“Lynette, maybe three years of engagement without a date has sapped all your ability to hear the Christmas bells, or maybe I am the fool you say but I am happy to still believe in unicorns, tilting at windmills, and the like.  I still want to feel my toes curl from a kiss when it’s exactly twelve o’clock that night.”

When it’s exactly twelve o’clock that night

“Truce or maybe back to neutral corners?”

“My apologies, love, that thing in my review mirror is a line and I’m sorry I passed it.”

“How do you do it?  How are you such a romantic?”

“I don’t have much choice in the matter, Lynette.  Life might be easier or less painful if I wasn’t, and I don’t enjoy the hurt; but I wouldn’t want to live any other way.  I’ve felt what it’s like to know love on steroids and I want that feeling again and I am willing to risk to get it.  I want an urgent and emergent kind of love, and, no, I have no idea what makes a man profess that he wants to spend the rest of his life with a woman and yet be thoroughly incapable of setting a date for that life to begin.”

“I thought we agreed on neutral corners?”

“We did, sorry about that.”

Welcoming in the new year, New Years Eve

“So where is this mythical woman you want to dance with on New Year’s? You have any prospects?”

“So far she exists only in my mind, though I did make a promise to kiss a friend at midnight.  What about you and Jason, where will you greet the baby new year?”

“My parents are having their party of course, we’ll be there.”

“And how are Betty and George? They throw one helluva a party.”

“They’re great.  Dad finally retired this fall.”

“I’ve always really liked your old man, and the two of them are adorable together.  The way they still hold hands just makes me smile.”

Maybe I’m crazy to suppose, I’d ever be the one you chose

“You’re more than welcome to come, they always loved you.  I can’t promise you anyone to kiss besides my older sister though.”

“Her husband might have some objection to that.”

“I’ll distract him.”

“Won’t you have something else to do?”

“You’re not coming anyway.  I’ll tell Betty and George you said hello though.  Good luck with your kiss.”

Out of a thousand invitations

You’ll receive

Oh but in case I stand one little chance

Here comes the jackpot question in advance

What are you doing

New Years Eve

I don’t really know.


Opportunity in Disguise

28 December 2008

One of my first bosses in the restaurant business had a favorite phrase: there’s no such thing as a problem only opportunity.  If you went to him in the middle of a shift and said “We have a problem at table 24,” he would correct you with a smug “What do we have at table 24?” repeating it until you understood that he wanted you to rephrase the situation describing it as an opportunity.  While he was in fact as big of a tool as you most likely imagine him, he was correct in asserting that most problems present opportunities rather than calamities.  It reinforced the veracity of my inner optimist.

When my Christmas Day Dinner client cancelled (with barely two days notice) the five course dinner* I had already started preparing, I looked for the silver lined opportunity.  I found it in the form of a reasonable flight to the Florida Keys.  It was a trip I needed after a year that has presented me with multiple, ahem, opportunities.  Unable to cajole any friends to embrace the logic of Ferris Bueller, I went solo to the airport on Christmas Eve with a suitcase filled with linen, sandals, and the one pair of flip flops I own.

I suffered the indignity of airport security and boarded the plane with knowledge that Hemmingway’s bar stool and a cold margarita was only a couple hours away.  After the first motionless hour, grumblings of discontent began to move through the cabin.  After a second hour on the tarmac, passenger complaints were as thick as the stale air inside the plane.  As we moved into the third hour, traveler mutiny was afoot.  Finally, the powers that were confirmed what we all had suspected – there would be no tropical breezes or margaritas for any of us this night.  Four and a half hours after arriving at the airport, I traveled only the distance to the gate and back to a cab.

Determined to find opportunity in this, I visited a few of my favorite bartenders who were working on this holiday eve.  Slow bars on days like this can occasionally produce headache inducing generosity.  Despite the low thud in my head, I awoke Christmas morning with thoughts of leaving on a jet plane, and holding court at a beachside bar.  Forty five minutes on the phone with my airline produced assurances of a seat on an early afternoon flight.  The ticketing agents looked at me like an alien as they apologized for the “miscommunication from the representative on the phone.”  There was no room on the plane for me.  Though if I wanted to fly to Newark, wait two hours, fly to Denver, wait three hours, and then fly to the Keys I could arrive sometime around 1am.  I declined.

There were no waves sing softly against a beach, no sarong clad women next to me, and there were no balmy breezes, but I did have my margarita and kept a lonely bartender company or maybe she kept mine.

                                            

* For the five curious food geeks out there, the menu was:

Cauliflower and Parsnip Bisque with Duck Sausage

Carpaccio of Wagyu Beef Tenderloin with Arugula Salad

Roasted Christmas Goose with Grape and Sweetbread Stuffing, and a Wild Mushroom Terrine

Mini Flourless Chocolate Cake with a Cognac Caramel Glaze

Selection of Cheese from Cowgirl Creamery with traditional accompaniments and warm truffled honey


The Refugee Christmas List

25 December 2008

Early Christmas evening I was standing on a midtown corner waiting for a taxi to ferry me to my unexpected holiday meal at the bar of one of the few restaurants open on this day. I was cranky with the airlines, the world, the forces of the universe, and anyone else on my mental hit-list who I deemed responsible for me not sipping margaritas from Hemingway’s bar stool in Key West, Florida (a story I will relate another time.) In my head, I was mapping the ventapeutic (therapeutic venting) blog post about my solo Christmas when a police cruiser jerked from a parking spot a few dozen yards behind me. The sirens wailed as the officer guided his car round a corner at very brisk clip – that is when I was jerked from my self-involved surliness to think about all of the people who work on this day.

Thank you to all of the soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines who stand a shift today and every other day.

Thank you to the police officers, fire department, ambulance technicians who run towards trouble whenever it occurs as it surely does even on holidays.

Thank you to the doctors, nurses and hospital staff who stand at the ready to repair injuries. Extra special thanks to the doctor who gave me four stitches with baby blue thread to match my Christmas suit after my older sister pushed me into I slipped and fell on the coffee table on my fourth Christmas.

Thank you to the bus drivers, metro operators, and taxi drivers who get those who choose not to drive from place to place and do so safely.

Thank you to the 7-11 clerks, wine and spirit shop operators, convenience & grocery store staff who tend to our last minute “forgets.”

Thank you to the baristas who keep us caffeinated when we need a break from our families, or a place to read the paper for those who don’t celebrate this day. Extra thanks to Carlos, my favorite barista who greeted me with a warm smile and a complimentary Americano after he asked me why I was still in town.

Thank you to the hotel staff who are away from their families so that they can meet the needs of those who traveled to see theirs.

Thank you to the managers, bartenders, servers, bus staff, dishwashers, cooks, and chefs who prepare our meals, serve our drinks, and clean after us on this day. Extra thanks to Cindy, the redheaded bartender, who poured me perfect half and half after perfect half and half, kept my company while I wrote this, and boosted my ego with her flirtation.

As I am sure I am forgetting some, I end this missive with a blanket thank you to all those who work on this day so that we don’t have to.


The Blog of My Dreams

24 December 2008

my-blog-on-bacon

 

Thanks to Julie from Makeup Text, I now have a picture of how this blog looks in my dreams.

Wanna add a slice of bacon to your place or any other website? Click me.

 

Random Update:

I received the following email from the folks at Urban Dictionary:

Thanks for your definition of Multi-Jacking!

Editors reviewed your entry and have decided to publish it on urbandictionary.com.

It should appear on this page in the next few days:
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Multi-Jacking

Urban Dictionary

Multi-Jacking: Noun, The act of pleasuring oneself while doing something else.

 

Katertot, thanks for suggesting I submit it; even though it was something I overheard at a bar rather than created myself; I am still happy to take credit.

 

To all those who will not be reading tomorrow, I wish you an abundance of good cheer, good times with families (be they chosen or inherited,) good food, and better booze.


Contaminating Someone Else’s Corner of the Interwebs

23 December 2008

I was extremely flattered when Kris of Not Yet a Girl, Not Yet a Wino asked me to guest post at her place, flattered and convinced that Kris must have been drinking at work or something.  After she convinced me that she was serious, I struggled to find a topic / waited for inspiration.  Over the course of me distracting her via g-chat, Kris suggested that I give some advice to having good dates in restaurants.  Take a minute to read my advice (geared towards men) if you wish; but more importantly I would highly encourage you to spend some time perusing her blog if you are not already familiar.  Kris is a delightful writer who paints lyrical pictures and has the ability to inspire tears and cheers in equal measure and more often than most she can do both in the same post.


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