Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Forty Days of Lent: Day Eight

What It's Like, Inside My Head, Sometimes

I'm only posting this journal entry because it's 10:37 and I want to go to bed and I don't feel like writing about Thomas Pynchon's Against The Day, visiting the 911 memorial, or my deceased friends Eric and Dan. Tonight I should have headed home but I didn't feel like making dinner for myself so I stopped at Muggs for something to eat. Oddly enough before getting there I was musing on the fact that after all these years I still feel like an outsider, only to walk in the door and be warmly greeted by one of the bartenders who was hanging out on his day off. Shortly after that, I got into a conversation with a Scottish expat I've talked with before. Some of us will never feel like part of of a group no matter what.

At Muggs, while sipping on beers, I carried on an email conversation with my sister about Cloud Atlas and chatted via instant messenger with my friend K, who was doing sound at a small club nearby. After dinner i headed there to say hello and listen to ear splitting punk rock. I am closer to 50 than I am to 40 (and not just because time only goes in one direction) but I still love going to clubs and hearing live music. However, dinner out and hanging out in a rock club offering my sad job hunting ideas to someone who is currently without work does not get Lenten obligations met. So I'm doing something I said I would never do. I'm posting an entry from my journal. It's not that interesting but I have to go to work tomorrow and don't have time to write anything else.
February 15, 2012

I like a restaurant where the waiter compliments your glasses.

I ate tonight at Allswell, a restaurant in my neighborhood opened by the people who own The Spotted Pig. Spotted Pig had sentimental value for me, despite the fact that I think I’ve only eaten there twice. But it was a place that Karl dragged me to because a friend of his worked in the kitchen. While we were there, we got the royal treatment of nifty little foods the kitchen staff felt like trying out: tell us what you think of them? It was an added thrill after the fact when I began seeing the restaurant listed as one of New York’s best, soon to be followed by one of New York’s most difficult to get into.

Allswell is an off shoot that has opened across the street from Muggs, my favorite beer snob bar. (I admit when I began writing this entry, I blanked out on the name. For some reason, all I could think is that I had had dinner at Walgreens.) For some reason I was ravenously hungry when I left work tonight. It happens sometimes but unfortunately it has a way of completely throwing off my evening plans, which in this case included "do some yoga." I made my usual bargain with myself, ie “if there’s a seat at the bar at Muggs, then I’ll go there for dinner and a drink or two. If not I’ll go home.” A bargain, I should point out, that inevitably ends up with me buzzed.

However, I didn’t see any seats at the bar at Muggs and almost simultaneously with noticing this, I remembered a half serious resolution I had made, though obviously a touch more serioius than my resolution to do yoga more often. I had vowed to not eat at the same places all the time. I keep reading about all the great new restaurants, many of them in my neighborhood, yet I never go to them. This wouldn’t be much of a problem personally, I’m content at the same old scenes, but when people come to visit, it’s a little embarrassing to suggest going to a place that they’ve been to with me a number of times. This was particularly obvious this past weekend when S., J., C. and C. were visiting. Despite the fact that I knew what was coming I still wasn’t adequately prepared for it: the unavoidable questions of “what should we do? What’s cool in the city? Where should we go?” Questions that always make my mind go blank, an almost zen like state, and this is without even considering the fact that I was dealing with four rather different people, each with varying ideas of what is cool and what they wanted to see and do.

Happily it all turned out for the best. We ended up at Arthur’s, a little jazz dive bar in the West Village (this is not an insult at all. I liked Arthur's quite a bit). We were strategically placed close enough to the stage so that we could hear the music but far enough away so that we could talk to each other without disturbing those who only wanted to hear music. C. and C. danced, everyone talked and drank, S. interrupted the called for moment of silence in memory of Whitney Houston by saying “What? Did she die?” An enjoyable night out, unless you were a fan of Whitney Houston.

So tonight, in the spirit of finding and at least trying some new places to eat, I went to Allswell. Nice vibe about the place, which is code for “the staff was cool and friendly, not snotty and pretentious.” Perhaps it says something about my attitude right now that I think this is actually more important than the flavor of the food. Similarly, last Friday night, S. et al and I ate at Babbo. While the food was great, the main memory I take from the evening was how likeable the staff was, from the maitre d’ to the bartender to the waiters and sommeliers. It was the same tonight at Allswell, including the aforementioned compliment on my reading glasses from the lad who brought my food.

It was a good meal considering I ate stuff that I don’t normally like, or more accurately, is the opposite of stuff that I do like. I had a pan friend encrusted pork slices, and a crouton of what I thought was cheese because it spurted when I cut into it with my fork but actually turned out to be a wee potato. Good and a nice change but it’s hard for me to be wildly enthusiastic about it. I miss the hominess of my regular haunt.

From now on, I've got to make sure to schedule time to work on this blog each night, because I am not posting from my journal again.

1 comment:

Iva said...

You said something in this blog which is resounding in my head: "Some of us will never feel like part of a group no matter what." I know that feeling, John, and it gets stronger as I age, but I never consciously put it into words. Wow!