Open Letter to a Few Women in DC

27 August 2009

I understand that there is a not insignificant portion of the men in this city who seemingly strive to harass, objectify, and verbally abuse you.  I get it – I really do.  The best I can express is sympathy as I am not a woman and empathy is not possible.  My understanding, however, does not grant you or anyone license to display rudeness in the face of civility, hostility in the presence of cordiality.

A few of you deserving of special mention:

To the redhead at Starbucks this morning, despite your protests about my motivations and desire to “check out [your] ass,” I assure you I was simply holding the door for someone I mistook for a lady.

To the power suited woman rocking the red pumps in Kinkos, if a gentleman says “I love your shoes,” then a thank you is a more appropriate response than “I’m not interested.”

To the Plain Jane married woman at the seafood counter at Whole Foods, when I asked what you were planning to do with the Skate, sneering “Making it for my husband” only makes me doubt the existence of a man who would marry you.

To the past her prime platinum blonde who I encountered sitting at my local, it had been a really long day for me.  I had just finished working/cooking the bulk of the evening and had endured the indignities and accusations from the aforementioned women throughout my day and I still found enough civility to offer you a light without speaking a word.  I know that you “can” light your own cigarette, and can state the obvious.

None of you, however, can change me.


Loose Lips

24 August 2009

My dear friend, the Only Slight Sleazy Lobbyist, and I were at the tail end of the best kind of late and lazy summer Sunday.  Our unplanned day included top down driving around the city, a farmers market, a spin through Haines Point, a trip to the batting cage, and a couple of beers on a patio.  We went back to his place to watch the end of the Giants game on the massive porn machine that adorns his wall.  It didn’t take too long for us to realize that game was a replay from the previous night so we switched to the latest episode of Entourage.

E, my favorite character on the show, was having a conversation with his sort of girlfriend when he accidentally called her by his ex-girlfriend’s name.

OSSL: That ever happen to you?

Refugee: Once.  In bed with a woman too.

OSSL: Are you serious, what did you say?

Refugee: I didn’t know it happened… in my defense, we both had been boozing for a while.  I woke up the next morning and she was on the couch and really frosty toward me.  She and I were in a generally weird place, so I just thought she was in one of her moods.  I left.  It wasn’t until much later in the day that I got a text from her that asked “Do you have anything to say for yourself?”

OSSL: How did you respond?

Refugee: I still had no idea what happened so I replied “Inasmuch as I haven’t a clue, what are you talking about?”  Then she told me that I said another woman’s name while we were in bed.  There really was no recovery from that, but that’s not the worst part for me.

OSSL: Oh god, what’s worse?

Refugee: I really just wanted to ask her what name I said.


You Can Give That Person My Number… or, The Longest Missed Connection Ever

17 August 2009

I like Bar X in a conceptual and cognitive sense but don’t truly feel it as my place for unquantifiable reasons.  I still get there randomly because my friend K, one of my favorite people on this planet and my favorite bartender, keeps one shift a week there.

I had just found a stool at the mostly crowded bar when K found me with a beer and a “So get this!” “A few months ago I did something I never do, answered a call from a number I didn’t recognize” she continued.  “It was around the time that I was looking for a new gig, so I thought that it might be from a job.  It wasn’t!  It was from some guy that I dated long ago and now he won’t leave me alone.  He keeps texting and calling me and just sent me one right before you came in.”

“K, have you had the blunt conversation with him yet?”

“No, I guess I have to now.”

Other people needed K’s attention, but as she set my second beer before me, I told my slightly related story.

“So… I had finally forgotten the number of a woman whose number I used to know by heart and haven’t had a reason to call in a long time.  I had deleted her from the phone, and my number changed so she didn’t have mine either. A month or so ago, I was drinking at a bar near her house.  I had just enough booze to mistake calling her for a good idea.  I got a wrong number and I was delighted to have been saved from myself.”

“Go on” K said warily.

“Two weeks later she runs into an old mutual friend who GIVES HER MY NUMBER.”

“Oh, that’s a major party foul” K said, her empathy showing.

It became a needed foul as I recently needed to ask this woman for help (for a friend) regarding an area of her professional expertise; but I still don’t need the temptation.

As my third beer arrived, I heard the familiar “Dooo, doo, do, do, dooo” that opens Stevie Wonder’s As from his legendary double album “Songs in the Key of Life.”  Bar X has a nice jukebox; and As is not a terribly obscure song.  However, I doubt that many people in the room where born when it was released, 1976, suspect even fewer knew the song, and was just shocked that someone would play it.

As around the sun the earth knows she’s revolving

And the rosebuds know to bloom in early May

Just has hate knows love’s the cure

You can rest your mind assured

That I’ll be loving you always

“K, I need to know who played this” I almost demanded.

“It wasn’t me.  Maybe it was T [the other half of one of the city’s best bartending tandems]”

“T, did you play this” I asked him with the same level of urgency.

“Nope” T answered with a hint of curiosity about the origin too.

As now can’t reveal the mystery of tomorrow
But in passing will grow older every day
Just as all is born is new
Do know what I say is true
That I’ll be loving you always

I turned to face the bar looking for someone who displayed an indication of ownership of the GOAT* of love songs.  Surely someone would be bopping a head, dancing a little but nothing.

“K, I really want to know who played this” I almost pleaded.

“I wish I could help you, Refugee, but do you really think that she’s in here?”

“Probably not; but I am so I can’t rule it out” I replied repeating one of my long held beliefs and turned to scan again.

Did you know that true love asks for nothing
Her acceptance is the way we pay
Did you know that life has given love a guarantee
To last through forever and another day
Just as time knew to move on since the beginning
And the seasons know exactly when to change
Just as kindness knows no shame
Know through all your joy and pain
That I’ll be loving you always
As today I know I’m living but tomorrow
Could make me the past but that I mustn’t fear
For I’ll know deep in my mind
The love of me I’ve left behind Cause I’ll be loving you always**

No one offered a clue. I got my tab resigned but hopeful simply because someone played a song.

“Thank you, K.  Love you lots; and if you find out who played that song you can give them my number and I won’t be any part of upset.”

___________________________

What obscure to slightly obscure song do you love so much that you would cross a room to talk to the person who played it on a jukebox?

___________________________

* Greatest Of All Time*** for those who don’t know, and yes it is the GOAT in my mind, if only my mind.

** For a full reading of the lyrics, click me.

*** Yes, I know that the acronym doesn’t hew to grammatical standards, but I dig it anyway.

___________________________

If you haven’t checked my new blog – dedicated to recipes that I make for my clients and friends – go here.

___________________________

For anyone who notices and likes the slightly changed look of the place, the pictures are courtesy of LiLu


A Brand New Baby Blog

16 August 2009

I am a sufficiently good cook that people pay me, happily and handsomely, to make food for them in their homes, but I suck at writing down recipes.  Often my clients will ask me for a recipe and I will give them some bullshit excuse explanation about giving away trade secrets and a wink.  The fact of the matter is that most of them exist only in my head and I am often too lazy busy to write them down.

To give me some direction in an effort to change my shiftless-ass habits a place to structure this effort, I started a new blog.  Recipes from the Restaurant Refugee is designed to force me to record dishes so I will have a compilation of things I have created when my booze addled brain can no longer recall them.  Having them handy for clients is a nice bonus too.

Currently there are very few pictures of my food as I neither posses a digital camera (have I ever hidden my happily Luddite nature?) nor the time when I am cooking to stop and take pictures*.  I will do my best to remedy that in the future.

I will be migrating recipes listed on this blog to the new place, and my goal is to post at least three original recipes per week.

Thanks for visiting.

Eat well, drink well, be well, my friends.

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* In early September, I plan on having a “Media Dinner” with the express purposes of having a great time with friends and taking pictures of some of my cuisine.  If you are a good photographer, interested in trading a good meal for photos, and most importantly interesting (I care more about the quality of the dinner party than the photographs but only a bit more,) or you know someone who is, send me an email – restaurantrefugee(@)gmail.com.


Kryptonite Is Only Dangerous If You Want It

12 August 2009

“Fancy running into you here” I said to Kryptonite (formerly known as AB) as I alighted from the car I borrowed from an old friend.

“Good to see you” she replied with a hug hello.  “When did you get this Jeep?”

“I didn’t; it belongs to an old friend.  I am doing an after work dinner/bbq thing at his place for the people in his office, so I have been tooling around all day getting supplies.”

“Well you look great – I mean it’s nice to see you not in a suit for once” she noted with a bit of sarcasm.  “So what’s on the menu?”

“The crowd is a mix of people who need to be impressed and a bunch of junior staffers who need to be fed and given copious amounts of cheep beer, so the menu reflects that.”

“You know, this whole ‘Casual Refugee’ look with the khakis and flip flops and the top down Jeep thing really suits you.”

Actually, it suits Kryptonite and maybe her idea of who she’d like me to be but these are runaround clothes for me (not the Jeep, I’d rock that anytime and in any attire.)

“So come on, tell me what you’re making” she persisted unmoved by the thought bubble over my head.

“Slow Roasted Pulled Pork Sandwiches with a Memphis BBQ Sauce, Capresé Skewers, House Made Guacamole some with bacon some without, Five different types of sausages and brats, Tomato and Gorgonzola Orzo Salad, Asparagus wrapped in Prosciutto, Asian Style Skirt Steak, Jerk Chicken Satay, Lemon and Dill Roasted Sockeye Salmon Smoked on Cedar Planks, and Grilled Pineapple for dessert”

“Wow, that’s some kinda BBQ.”

We exchanged a few more pleasantries.  I asked about her folks, she inquired about my writing.

In what I can only presume was an exhaustion related fatigue, I said “If you’d like, you’re welcome to stop by tomorrow; some of the heavy hitters there would be good people for you to meet.”

“Really, you know how I love your food!  Just send me a text with the place and time.  I’d love to come.”

“Send me one now, please, so I have your number.”

“You don’t have my number?” she said with a pout that I cannot believe I once found charming, and am mystified that I could find it that way again.

“I had to delete it… text messages and emails too.  I didn’t trust myself not to call you.” Kryptonite feigned shock with a tinge of hurt but I knew that it just masked the smile she was suppressing.

A couple of text were exchanged, a couple of promises too.  She promised to show, and I promised myself that it didn’t matter if she did.  I promised myself that I could see her for what she was for me and what I never wanted her to be.

Less than a day later, the cooking was largely done, the masses were fed and watered, the uppercase names impressed, and Kryptonite didn’t post.  The best thing about my new Crackberry is that it makes it really easy to delete the entire history of someone from the device.

I don’t need to delete Krpytonite’s history from my memory… it reflects it very accurately these days.


Blog Reader Bingo

11 August 2009

Blog Reader Bingo

Simple rules: when blog posts appear in your reader that have the following themes or contain the items listed, mark your box and include a link.  The first person to send me an email or comment with their winning card has way too much time on her/his hands but will receive a gift to be named later.

B

I

N

G

O

Navel gazing Post Ended a relationship Started a relationship “Dude, I was so wasted!” Link to a major newspaper
Bi-curios or bi sexual experience I just got a new ________ and I look fantastic in it Use of the word blogosphere or blogiverse without irony A weekend summary that’s not navel gazing Contains song lyrics
New post from someone who hasn’t posted in a month or more A meme so interesting that you want to do it A post so mind numbingly dumb you are forced to end the relationship with the blog Tear jerker Includes an invented word that you plan to include in your vocabulary
Contains a link to a new (to you) blog that is dipped in awesome sauce TMI and not on a Thursday Cheating partner Guest post Post from a blogger you used to date and whose blog you really should have stopped reading
A post that makes you want to date the author A conversation that is written in script format A blistering rant about an intractable problem An annoyingly high number of multiple posts on the same day Contains a flaming comment

Wanna play along with readers at your joint? Feel free to repost, but please give a courtesy link.  The person for whom that statement was written knows exactly who he is.


Happy Hour Updates

7 August 2009

I know where you and your drink should be tomorrow.  We have worked out an arrangement with the owners of Evolve such that people attending the Happy Hour will be getting the HH discount well after the normal 7pm cut off time for their HH.  I can hear the wheels turning in all of your pretty heads right now.  You’re wondering how the staff will know that we are all in one crew, right?

Three words: Mardi Gras Beads.  It’s an idea so fraught with potential for rapid descent into debauchery that it carries just a touch of brilliance.

Find me, or LiLu, or Lemmonex to get beads or bring your best beads from your closet.

mardi_gras_beads


Karma: Sometimes Instant, Sometimes Delayed, Sometime Mistaken

6 August 2009

“You don’t know me, but it would be my pleasure to get your next round for you” I said to a gentleman at one of my favorite watering spots.  It was an effort to fulfill a promise I made to myself several months back.

“I’m not one to turn down a free drink, my friend, but I don’t know you.  I, I, I, I’m not saying that you are, but just in case you should know…”

“That you’re straight? Taken? Not…”

“That there’s anything wrong with not being straight” my slightly flustered but quickly recovering stranger replied.

We shared a brief and mutually acknowledging laugh as I motioned to the bartender for another round.

“I’m Refugee.”

“Tony” my new friend said as a scotch arrived for him and a bourbon for me.  “Now I’m really curious about this drink.”

I’ve had a couple of “there but for the grace of god moments” since this recession began.  When I first saw Tony, however, it was different – affirming.

“About six months ago, I was in line at my bank.  The guy in front of me went to the teller and did something truly extraordinary.  I watched as he explained to the teller that when he was depositing his unemployment check that teller gave him too much cash back.  I watched a guy receiving unemployment return a hundred bucks to a bank that would never have known he got it.  An ethical man will do the right thing when no one is watching, a truly exceptional man will do that thing even when it also costs him something.”

Tony was nodding in affirmation and familiarity.

“I was stunned by this act of morality in an frequently profane world.  I wished I had done something to acknowledge it right then and there but I just went to the teller and handled my transaction…”

“And now you try to ‘Pay it Forward’ by buying drinks for random people?”

My memory for faces (and too many other things) can be shaky, but I am pretty sure that I burned that face in my mind.  I was determined that I would remember him and buy him a drink, or a coffee, or just say thank you for giving a quick recharge to my battery of faith.”

I don’t know whether Tony was too embarrassed to admit that he was receiving unemployment benefits, being too modest about something he considered ordinary, or I just remembered the wrong face.  The odds of the last option were pretty thin; but maybe discretion was more valuable than my thanks or admiration.

“Yeah, I just pay it forward some days when I’m feeling flush.  Nice to meet you, Tony.”


Placesettings & Holders for Dinner

4 August 2009

“We kinda suck as bachelors” my dear friend, the Only Slightly Sleazy Lobbyist, remarked this weekend as we sat on his patio an hour or so before dinner.  It was a “Guinea Pig Dinner” – me trying some new recipes on friends prior to cooking them for paying clients a week later.  The other two guests, one of OSSL’s high school mates and his girlfriend who is blisteringly bright, exceedingly attractive, retired army colonel and could kill you six different ways with a demitasse spoon*, had yet to arrive.

“OSSL, how easy is it to meet women if all you want is to meet a woman?”

“Very easy, I guess.”

“Do you not think that there were at least a half a dozen women who could have filled the other two chairs if either of us had really tried?”

“Let’s go with four instead of six.”

“Fine Four then, the larger point still stands.  Some might call us poor bachelors; but I just think that we make more careful choices. I don’t want to cook for just anyone in a skirt, and this is a dinner party at your place… would you really want some placeholder in the chair next to you?”

“Depends on how hot the placeholder is” OSSL says with a smile.

“Fine, you have a point, but really? I mean really?”

Over the next four hours we dined, imbibed, conversed, laughed, cleaned blood spewing from my middle finger after I got careless with my new mandoline, and laughed some more.

Sweet Corn Velute with Lamb Sausage & Mini “Loud Puppies” was a hit but the spiced hush puppies need some work.

12 Hour Pork Roast rolled in Potato Pancakes tasted amazing but isn’t pretty enough for primetime yet.

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Spinach and Potato Cassoulet was a monster hit and I somehow avoided getting blood in any of the dishes.

Mini Apple & Cinnamon Spring Rolls with Caramel Dipping Sauce would have been great but given my injury we passed on this course in favor of continued drinking.

Throughout a glorious evening on a lovely midsummer night I didn’t miss the placeholder not sitting next to me, I did miss the woman I have yet to meet and for whom I would love to cook.

* What is it about a woman who can really kick my ass that is such a turn-on?


My Last First Date

1 August 2009

I had my last first date today.  For those of you who know of my whorish ways, this may be a shock that’s larger than a bread box; but I am officially off the market… and she’s the one.  I know it with the certainty of my own name.

Ours was a chance meeting – I was just passing a store that could pound a nail I didn’t know was sticking out until I saw a place selling hammers.  Sydney seemed to be waiting for me.  Almost six feet tall with a crown of dreadlocks draped just past her shoulder, her look was almost regal.  Words were a melodic mélange of Caribbean, British, and Spanish flavors that reflected her Jamaican upbringing and British prep schooling.  I could sit for hours just listening to that voice.

Courtship moved so quickly – within moments of our meeting Sydney was massaging my neck and shoulders.  And that was before she really started to work on me.  Forty-five minutes later I knew I was in love…with the best haircut I can remember and I was off the market for a new barber.


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