Friday, October 28, 2005

Store Front.

I was reading about where to find pumpkin-flavored ice cream (duh, everywhere) on, and noticed that my local ice cream shop was not mentioned.

This made me glad, because I hate my local ice cream shop. I am convinced, in fact, that my local ice cream shop is a front for terrorism or drugs. I do not say this just because the guy who runs it appears to be of foreign descent. I say this because I have never seen such indifference to customer satisfaction in my life. You can walk by the Connecticut Avenue establishment on the brightest, sunniest weekend day and there will be only a 50 percent chance that it is open.

Let us say, for the sake of argument, that it's a day they've decided to open. When you get inside, you are met with middling ice cream, surly service and overpriced product. The last (and I mean last) time I was there, the cashier said to the guy I was with, "How did YOU end up with HER?" referencing the fact that I paid. It was not cute. It was mean. And we had paid like $10 for two cones.

When I lived in New York on Second Avenue at 27th Street, I used to go into this convenience store on Second all the time. I would go in there to buy Little Debbie Snack Cakes. I always thought it was weird that there seemed to be no other twentysomething girls buying snacks in the store -- indeed there were no other females at all in the store. It was almost always full of men, seemingly of Middle-Eastern origin but honestly I couldn't say. Then I saw some TV segment about how "fake storefronts" are set up to "sell heroin." You can spot them, I was informed, by the fact that the windows are always blocked by boxes of cereal and detergent, and by the fact that none of the foodstuffs for sale ever seem to get bought.

This is how I figured out that the Tide-adorned store where I had been buying my dusty Nutty Bars was probably a drugstore in the literal sense. I felt really dumb, just like I felt for patronizing my local ice cream store after I realized what a sham it is. Potbelly, on the other hand, sells a nice, cheap, generous cone.

Monday, October 24, 2005

New York.

A few years ago, I decided I'd had it with New York and was moving to D.C., because I could finally admit to myself that I just liked living here better.

Upon hearing this, people generally regard me with the same polite stare they would give someone who said she really enjoys needlepoint, or who perhaps has gone too long without a diagnosis of some kind. People move to D.C. because they got a job, or because they want to be involved with government, or because they are going to school. Nobody moves here because they like it better than someplace else, especially when that someplace is New York.

After all, New York is Radiohead; D.C. is Kelly Clarkson. New York is Jon Stewart; D.C. is Jay Leno. New York is Brooklyn; D.C. is Fairfax. New York is Tiffany; D.C. is Kay Jewelers.

I'm not going to sit here and type up how D.C. is "cool" or the ways in which New York sucks. D.C. is not cool, and New York doesn't suck, much as I'm tempted reflexively to say that it does. The fact is that I could not enjoy living here without having lived in Manhattan. New York was my fantasy town from about 12 years old and I love many things about it.

This year I have had five personal ties of varying significance vanish in some way, and two of those were friends who joined girlfriends in NYC (p.b., I ain't mad atcha). They're psyched. Why wouldn't they be?

Still, I reserve my right *not* to be jealous, and not to particularly care about New York anymore. Wow, I lived there for seven years of my life... do I miss it? Do I visit a lot? Well, no and no. I miss very much my friends who happen to live there. But the first time I went back, months after leaving, was surreal: Had this really been my home for so long? I felt shame mixed with a sense of unworthiness. It was like running into someone with whom you had a serious love relationship, and feeling absolutely nothing. Who was the me who lived, worked and thought there? I couldn't channel her anymore. Now, the Sunday Times (if I even read it) is like People magazine to me.

You could explain part of my allegiance to D.C. by pointing out that I am "from here," but that wouldn't quite be right. I am from Potomac, Md. -- a land of McMansions, chain stores and bar mitzvahs -- and ventured into D.C. only occasionally during my time at home. Still, I'll admit that's part of my having developed a comfort level here. This weekend included trips to the Target on Rockville Pike, a concert at the Black Cat and a corn maze in Fredericksburg, Va.: aka big-box retail, a middling rock venue and provinciality supreme. It's home. For a change I'm not ambivalent, but grateful.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Note to Self.

I am not alone in my car.

I am not alone in my car. When "Nasty" by Janet Jackson or "Somebody Else's Guy" by Jocelyn Brown comes on, it is not okay to belt it out and do an upper-body running-man. It is not okay to talk out loud about the traffic or what I have to do when I get home, when it is clear I have no ear bud attached to me and my scratched-ass minicar is not outfitted with a speaker phone. It is not okay to talk back to the radio deejays, to gyrate, or to yell at other drivers and make gestures.

It is not okay, because my windows are not tinted and I forget. People, being nosey and intrusive, are liable to look at me in my car and shame me with their judging glances so that I cannot safely commit these behaviors. It is not alright to be illegal in the car, which is a lot easier in D.C. now that one drink could mean you are rolling peril. It is not okay to talk to my friends because a police man might yell at me "THAT'S A $100 TICKET" like one did today, a comment I found startling, not to mention unnecessarily true.

When I am seen flipping someone off or talking to myself or having my own private "American Idol," that is when I become not only me in my car but also, a travesty behind glass. I must remember this in order to avoid becoming a source of entertainment or revenue on the streets of Washington.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Cheese, Pate, Whine.

I can explain my blog delinquency by saying that the last week has constituted one long uncomfortable moment, being that I was sick. It started last Thursday, when I met friends at the venerable sinkhole Fox & Hounds. Keeping it "light," I ordered a salad with blue cheese dressing and some onion rings to go with my two drinks. Then it got ugly. We convened to a back patio, where our hostess had an inspired idea: since we were drinking red wine, why not get out the cheese she had, along with some other gourmet goodies? We put all the comestibles out on a board: stinky, stinky cheeses, some truffle-oil-infused honey (as Lil' Jon would say, WHAT? Yay-yes!), pate de foie gras and apple slices.

As far as I was concerned, this was great. I thought not of the other fats commingling in my tract and dug in, thoroughly enjoying the fare. It wasn't but a half-hour before I found myself pretending to nod along with the patio conversation but only able to listen to one voice, which was coming from my stomach: It was saying, "I am in grievous distress and you are not going to get away with this."

All of a sudden I was greenly proceeding to the hosts' bathroom, where untold dollars in pricy goose liver were deposited. When I came back after too shaky an exit and too prolonged an absence, I felt like Olivia Newton-John as Sandra Dee in Grease, after she smokes her first cigarette. Everyone else, having pulled more or less the same digestive stunt, was fine and looking at me with pity and concern. I, on the other hand, was a gastronomic Urkel.

Depending on whom you ask (well okay, just ask my mom), this was not a "real" reaction but a precursor of what was to follow, which was congestion, pains, sneezing and overall misery. I, the person who scoffs at the flu shot, who waves off Purell, who "never gets sick," was SICK. We're talking not just sniffly but laid-out, bring-out-the-hazmat-suit, hack-up-a-lung, NyQuil sick. The upside is, instead of working, I got to catch up on my New Yorkers and watch Collateral along with just enough director's commentary to ascertain that Michael Mann is a disappointingly earnest and self-indulgent guy (darned if he isn't talented though).

Be sure to check out the random link at right if you haven't already, it's pretty good.