Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sine Qua Banjo

I am unfamiliar with "The Manhole" in New York City, but when the phrase "you have lovely meatballs" came up at today's annual Valentine/Mardi Gras Brunch, the response was "there's a compliment you don't often hear outside The Manhole in New York." (So I think it means...high praise? I'm sure going to use it in conversation every chance I get.)

As hostess, I try my best to mix and mingle and greet, but what that means is, I overhear a lot of snips and snatches of a lotta things I don't understand. At one point, for example, my BFF seemed to be moderating a discussion about Bernoulli's Equation and memory patterns as it relates to traffic, while an engineer, doctor, and various politicos weighed in. It should maybe be pointed out that I don't know what Bernoulli's Equation is, and I most definitely couldn't analyze it in terms of traffic patterns.

Another conversation (part of it anyway), seemed to hinge on the five stages of grief, but stalled out when nobody could remember anything beyond Anger, Denial, and Nekkid.

There was something about a Fifth Go-Go (and I think a consensus might've been reached that I had been one, before I could intervene or even suggest otherwise; for the record, I did not write 'We Got the Beat.').

No less than ten minutes into the meal and one fire had been started (that was me), and one injury had been sustained -- that was my grad school pal, and the reason I know that was that I walked into the kitchen as someone was saying "hey, Greg just bled through that bandage again... and he's getting blood all over everything" My answer was to point him in the direction of the TideStick (which is in the mug next to the toothpaste; who knows why he couldn't find it there on his own?), because -- as I pointed out -- I'm a Writer, not a Doctor for chrissake. (It didn't occur to any of us for some reason that all our doctors were just outside smoking on the back deck.) He evidently recovered, because as soon as I heard somebody ask "hey has anybody cracked into those red velvet cupcakes yet?" he answered, through a mouthful of cupcake crumbs, "why no, no I haven't. I wonder what they taste like."

(I thought there was another medical crisis when I overheard ChefTom say "thyroid medication," but he was just looking for something that would give us a steadier hand for our smartphone photography.)

And despite the fact that there was an ample supply of those cupcakes (and 16 main courses) -- with emergency backups in cold storage on the deck -- I was not surprised to be interrupted by my gay husband on a quest for extra spoons. "Why?" I asked, for no real reason, other than maybe I was frazzled by the fire and bloodshed. "So we can eat Rachel's cupcake frosting outta the bowl," he answered in a tone that kinda suggested "Idiot" -- and the next thing I saw was him and a half dozen of our closest friends huddled over this community bowl of icing, like something out of Quest for Fire. (They are, at least, to be applauded for not just using their fingers like Animals. And frankly, I'm surprised they restrained themselves.) This, despite the fact that the dining room table was, at that point, groaning under the weight of: caprese lasagne; meatballs; a spanish potato tortilla with sofrito; butternut squash soup with roasted prosciutto (which was clearly supposed to be a garnish, but we nearly gave ourselves gout); celeriac soup with chipotle cream; red beans and rice; and a few gallons of authentic New Orleans Hurricanes (all of which were, admittedly, quickly and summarily dispatched by the rest of our friends). The drinks were courtesy of our master mixologist, Jupe, and made me think (in RobertEarlKeen fashion), "Man, I hadn't had a Hurricane since Fifth Grade."

Because I don't smoke, but Chef Tom does, we were all fortunate to learn that one of the Hot Sorority Visigoths next door came home midday in an apparent walk of shame and "did not look happy." Ahhhh, Youth.... or as Greg observed, "we're all in here oblivious, and Tom's out there on the deck, seein' Life."

I overheard a few complaints about the directions ("it was a goddamn short story" -- that was Ian of course, because he's from Boston) -- which caused me to go back through my texts to see what I had sent out -- and wow, it turns out that was the LEAST of anything I texted post-Ambien, and I have no earthly idea of how or when I had time to pull that off because this place has been like a scene out of Noises Off for the last week --and I'm not sure where that reference came from because God knows I don't know a thing about Broadway, but apparently The Gays are rubbing off on me, which is, I suppose, what Fox News has been threatening all along.)

Which, of course, brings me to Party Favors (some of which, might've come from this "Manhole" place for all I know). It's not every mixtape that could pull off Berlin and Johnny Cash and Psychedelic Furs and Siouxsie and the Banshees and Chris Isaak, but this one did, and it juxtaposed nicely against Joe Ely's Love and Danger (which is an ultimate Valentine CD if you didn't know, and was a major soundtrack for The Ghost of 94.

Ol' Spud didn't make it to this one -- the sequel to his birthday brunch -- but Chef Tom said, "yeah my tribute to that was to put nuts and seeds on everything."

And yet again, I revise my opinion of PotLUCKs. They make me wanna change my word for 2010. Gone are the days of Durkee onion rings and the ubiquitous green been casserole and 42 bags of potato chips.
March's will include Chef Baby Brother -- in town for a short stay -- circa St. Patrick.

But I'm as Irish as Paddy's Pig, and as God is my witness, the mix tapes will be back.

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