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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Is Bar Hop a Noun?

One goes barhopping, but then is bar hop a noun?  You know, I mean a compound noun, only where one of the two words is a verb.  This is becoming complicated, just don't dis me because bar hop is two words.  It's like "bell hop," right?  Or it would be if it is a noun.  Anyway, I ask because we have recently taken to barhopping -- an unusual new hobby for us, I concede, but more on that later.  Does going barhopping make me a bar hop?  Such a term in my mind conjures up images of twitching on one foot, perhaps more indicative of a neurological problem than of enjoying an evening out.  

But if not bar hop, then what?  Bar fly?  I think not.  I have clean hands and feet, thank you, and I do not carry a plethora of germs on me.  I have normal eyes, too.  I don’t have to process seeing in all directions at once, even after a drink or two.

One goes on a pub crawl, but I do not crawl.  I am neither a toddler nor a drunkard -- no really, I’m not.   The most I’ll admit to is a tendency to wobble a bit, and I don’t do that all that often. 

But why this fixation on what to call myself?  I’m glad you asked.  It began the evening Steve and I decided to treat ourselves to a fancy meal at Ruth’s Chris.  We wanted meat, and we wanted it right away, so we put on clean clothes and drove up the street to Fairfax Corner.  We were disappointed, though, because, even though it was only 5:30, there was already a long wait for a table.  We were looking sadly at each other when the hostess suggested we take a seat in the bar and order from there.  It was then we discovered their wonderful happy hour menu!  We didn’t take advantage of it that evening having, as I said, decided we wanted big, fat steaks, but few months later I found myself home alone on my birthday having just returned from Steve in Washington State.  (N.B. read last year’s entries if you’re really that interested as to how that came about.)    

I decided to take myself and my Kindle to Ruth’s Chris, and, in their comfortable, busy bar, treat myself to a fantastic steak sandwich and martini for a total bill of $15.  It was so tasty and so cheap, I left an enormous tip for the staff that was so nice to me.  Happy Birthday, me!  Steve and I have been back twice for their happy hour menu, and each time has been as excellent as the time before.  We decided it was time to branch out. 

We had evening tickets to the ballet and headed into DC early, at 2:00.  We walked around The American Art Museum for a couple of hours, then scoped out the happy hour at McCormack and Schmidt (mediocre food, slow, very slow service).  The next ballet included the Spy Museum and Legal Seafood  (better food, slightly better service).  [A quick aside:  a young friend posted on FB that she was bringing cookies to her department’s happy hour.  I posit that any hour with cookies is a happy hour.] 

Great or not so much, happy hour is exactly the way I like to eat.  Because your order is inexpensive and small, you can try all sorts of new things, and if you don’t care for them, just order again!  Of course, I’m in the lucky position that Steve likes almost everything, so if I don’t care for a dish, he’ll happily switch.  This is one of the main advantages of being married. 

Last Friday, we wanted to go to Bonefish Grill because Steve loved their happy hour in Hanford.  Alas, the local one has happy hour only Monday through Thursday.  Bummer!  We settled for a small family restaurant, but that was regular food from a regular menu, nothing to write home about.  A quick google search has now assured us of Friday night happy hours along with our big city ballet happy hours for a good long time to come.

This solves the dinner problem, but not the problem of nomenclature.  Not a bar hop, not a bar fly, not a pub crawler.  Now the delight I take in happy hour is more like my delight in the movement of ballet.  The rotation of the small plates is akin to the divertissement in the Nutcracker.  Cocktail specialties are more like dizzying solos.  Plus our little ritual is, to my mind, bound inextricably with our ballet tickets, so just hand over that tutu:  here’s one dance I can do.  Call me the bar ballerina.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Activist Cat

There was an Earth Rally on the Mall last Sunday, specifically to voice opposition to the Alaskan oil pipeline and to fracking.  Steve, who’s worked in ecology-related fields his entire career, wanted to open our house up for couch-surfing (offer out-of-town protesters a couch to sleep on, or in our case, a bed because I’m way over waking up to people littering the couches and floor). 

Protesters tend to be open, spontaneous people, and I was happy to fill our bedrooms.  Wumpus, though, Wumpus was, apparently, in his element.  Never have you seen an animal so amenable to political activism. 

Laura was the first to arrive and said she was delighted to have her cat fix.  Wumpus was all over her, scooching next to her on the couch and rubbing his cheeks against her purse.  When I went past her door on my way to change into pajamas, he was flopped out full length on her bed.  
“Really?   Really?!” I demanded.  In response, he smiled smugly and rolled over to show his belly.  

Saturday night I slept alone (well, except for Steve).  Usually Wumpus sleeps on the footsie blanket.  The footsie blanket is a crocheted afghan.  It's light and warm, and is perfect for an extra layer over the feet during cold nights.  Wumpus had pledged his undying -- let’s face it, almost obscene -- love to the footsie blanket.  He hops up on it every night, kneading and purring, purring and kneading.
As far as Saturday night, though, the footsie blanket and I may as well have been chopped liver.  Well, not chopped liver ,because cats love chopped liver and think it’s irresistible.  Wumpus ignored me, ME, the one who rescued him from the shelter; ME, who lets  him in and out a hundred times a day; ME, the hand that scoops his cat food!  I mean, I'm all for supporting political activism, but this led to outright betrayal. 

Saturday night opened with his shameless purring on Laura’s bed.  I thought he’d come to apologize at 11:30 when he visited  the footsie blanket ,but after 10 minutes, he thudded to the ground.  
Dan reported he curled up with him from 12:00 to 1:00.  Eileen was insulted he didn’t sashay through her door until early morning. 

Please note that these people left their doors ajar, if not blatantly luring a kitty in, at least showing a willingness to engage in a secret, dark-of-night snuggle.   However, I realize the choices and main culpability lie with Wumpus who broke my heart with his promiscuity.   It’s one thing for an animal to be gregarious and gentle.  No one really wants a cat who will scratch one’s visitors for looking at them (i.e., a cat like the dear, departed Elaine).  You want a cat who is affectionate and gregarious. 
But my cat Wumpus?  Wumpus is a slut.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Just Desserts

Life is not fair.  I know it, you know it, and the sea gulls by the sea know it.  It is not fair that my sister  and brother-in-law moved to Florida, far away from us. It's not fair that we can no longer have our semi-annual sibs weekends.  And it’s totally not just that she lets us come from the cold north to visit every year.  We have certainly done nothing to deserve the bountiful hospitality she lavishes on us, but we do not complain.  We soldier on.

This year’s trip was lovely, thank you.  My brother and sister-in-law came, too.  We drove down the Keys, walked and bird watched and talked and talked and talked.  And ate.  Because that’s what we do best together:  talk and eat.  I will not bore you with a list of menus and restaurants, but you might like to hear about the wonderful desserts never denied ourselves.

On the first day of our visit, we went to a spiffy hotel restaurant with a fixed price menu.  The fountain spouted serene white noise in the background, and the linen was still with starch.  The food was good. It was very, very good, and although after the appetizer and entree, I was full up, I could not (or, anyway, did not) resist selecting a dessert of chocolate bread pudding in vanilla cream sauce.  I generally don’t go for flavored desserts that are classically served plain.  I like plain cheesecake, plain apple pie and plain bread pudding.  However, this chocolate bread pudding was the only chocolate dessert on the menu, so what’s a girl to do? 

It was FANTASTIC!  Now bread pudding is not a light dessert, and normally I like to think I’d have eaten half and taken half home for later, but, hey, this was vacation.  The fact that as retirees, a good deal of our life is vacation is neither here nor there. This was vacation, and I ate every speck of bread pudding and all but licked the plate after.  I waddled back to the car quite happy and somnolent. 

We ate at home the next night, and I think we actually (gasp!) skipped dessert.  The next morning we drove down to the Keys, staying half-way down the chain.  We had dinner at a little local fish market.  This time I left a little room in my tummy for chocolate almond ice cream pie in a chocolate cookie crumb crust.  I ate it all.

The following day we saw all there is to see on Key West and returned to Marathon in time to have dessert at Sweet Savannah’s.  They serve homemade ice cream and cup cakes.  (Just for the record, I did NOT have homemade ice cream on top of a cupcake like some other people I could mention.)  They make pistachio ice cream!  It is so hard to find pistachio ice cream, and it is my absolute favorite!  Oh, man, it was really, really good.

The week ensued in daily order.  My sister made pear pie (yum!).  We had fresh blueberries with whipped cream (refreshing -- plus there’s the self-righteousness of having fruit).   There was that sadly mediocre chocolate, chocolate truffle cake and the (plain) cheesecake.

Our last day was that one perfect beach day.  The sun was out, the jelly fish were under control and the breeze was light.  The guys walked down the beach to the concession stand.  Steve returned with a Nutty Buddy, not the fanciest dessert of the week, but let’s face it, everyone likes a Nutty Buddy.  He sat on his beach chair savoring each lick, cap pulled low over his eyes to shield from the glare, holding the cone up for philosophical meditation. 

In one swoop, a gull dove in from behind his head, grabbed the cone and flew off.  Twenty gulls chased him, calling him names and bullying him for a shard, but he was off and away.  Last day of vacation -- Steve stared at his empty fist.
Now, I ask you, was that fair?  Was that equitable?  Was that just?