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Oh! How Awkward!

29 Jan

January 29, 2014

I was very disappointed watching the State of The Union address tonight. No, I don’t mean the usual disappointment all of us have in the President, I mean that in all the years of my life, watching live political addresses, I have not once, not ever, seen a politician let out a wicked fart live on television. This opera singer may be as close as I get.

sing1

For some reason, all I can think of is Margaret Dumont. She would have made the perfect diva for this story. Prim, proper, and never, ever prone to flatulence.

groucho fart scene

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A Table For Six. No More, No Less. Must Be Six.

7 Jan

January 7, 2014

Saarah and I are running out of diners in Brooklyn. This one has lousy food. That one has lousy service. The other one insists on putting pork ribs in its vegetarian salad. Very frustrating! So last Friday we tried The Bridgeview Diner in Bay Ridge. It has a view of (care to guess?) the Verrazano Bridge. Had it been called the Cesspoolview Diner I never would have gone.

We were there around 9:30 and the place was nearly empty. It is divided into two sections. One, the larger, is the dining room, with tables of all sizes and booths ringing the walls. The other side has the counter and booths, no tables. The booth side was about half full, at best, and the dining room side had three tables pushed together to accommodate a party of 10 and there was also one couple in a booth. It was nearly empty. When you walk into the diner, you are in the reception area, which is in the middle of both halves. We specifically asked for a table. I am not a small man (in the pants! Sorry, sorry, had to write it. ) and sometimes a booth is a little bit of a squeeze. One day they’ll make a comfortable booth for men like me, you’ll see. Or maybe I’ll just lose a few pounds.

fat guy nachos

Anyway, the guy in the suit (Greeter? Maître d? Receptionist? What do you call the guy who seats you in a diner?) led us to a table not two feet away. Literally. Without so much as shuffling his feet he grabbed two menus off the counter and dropped them on a table right against their Christmas tree, smack dab in the middle of the floor, in the direct line of the draft from the front doors, and in the way of anyone and everyone walking in any direction. It was a bad table.

“This is a bad table,” Saarah said. Nothing gets by her.

We asked for another and he led us into the dining room, past four or five empty tables to the back. We assumed he was leading us to the last table, so we sat down. But no! We had to get up. You see, that was a table for six. And in fact, so were all the other tables. (The tables for four or two had been pushed together for the party.) Now as I said, it was nearly empty. If we took a table for six, and a party for six entered, there were five more tables for them. And if a second party of six entered, there were four more tables for them. And if the odds were defied yet again and a mind-blowing third party of six entered, there were still three more tables they could be seated at, and if, in a cosmic coincidence on the level of Godzilla sporting a tiny chapeau leveling Tokyo, a fourth party of six entered there would be yet two tables for them. And if another entered? Still another table. But no. So, with no other tables, I sat in a slightly uncomfortable booth.

We argued a bit but to no avail. The guy in the suit was adamant that those tables had to be ready in case a large party- or this case, six of them- came in.

After we were there about ten minutes, a party of three women came in and wanted a table. The guy would not give them one. One of them, with disgust dripping from her voice, asked him if he really thought a large party would come in at that hour of night and take up all the tables.

“Yes. Yes.”

He led them to a booth on the other side of the diner and that woman had a look on her face that said that she was about to leave but her friends talked her into staying.

By the time Saarah and I left, the large party had also left, the other couple had left, and the dining room was totally empty. If a party for 136 came in by God they were ready.

Saarah and I had already decided that we were never coming back to The Bridgeview Diner. Plus the fact that the French onion soup was really just chicken soup with cheese melted on top, and our waiter was really just a pimply busboy in an ill-fitting jacket who didn’t speak English (asking for cream cheese with my English muffin was a Herculean task) meant that they would not be getting a second chance.

Saarah and The Editor’s and Staff of Mr. Blog’s Tepid Ride give The Bridgeview Diner two thumbs down.

Grandma’s Semi-Sorta-Swedish-like Meatballs

4 Dec

December 4, 2013

Grandma on my father’s side was an interesting character. I never knew what she was thinking. I assume she loved me only because I had no real evidence to the contrary. When I was around 13, I used her phone to call a friend of mine and she said “now you owe me a dime.” I wasn’t sure if she was serious or not, and to this day I may still owe her that dime. There were times when she would remind me that I owed her the dime, and another time when I tried to give it to her and she got upset with me.

Grandma was not a good cook. At best, her food could be described as edible, bland, and tasteless. At worst it was burnt and raw (at the same time) and awful. One year, when the whole family was gathered for the holidays, she made meatballs. They were, I think, some sort of Swedish meatballs. They were little grey lumps about an inch across submerged in an awful brownish-grey sauce. I assume they were beef, but they didn’t look appetizing like, say, a Kobe steak. If gray has a taste, this was it. In later years I came to discover that they looked a lot like Ikea meatballs, just greyer. Of course, Ikea (home of the build-it-yourself bookcase with three missing Swedish pieces) was found to put horsemeat in their meatballs. Even given that Ikea made them with a cut of meat most Americans will never taste, Grandma still did not come up to Ikea’s culinary standards.

Like these, but much, much greyer.

Like these, but much, much greyer.

We all hated them. Looking down the dinner table, I saw at least two or three nearly untouched meatballs on everyone’s plate. And we all only had two or three to begin with. After the first no one wanted a second. Looking back, it is a good thing we didn’t have a dog. All of us sneaking the dog our meatballs under the table might have killed him.

At some point during the meal, Grandma asked how the food was. Everyone answered with the usual lies, (“everything is great” was mine) but for some reason my brother (and being two years younger than I was no excuse for this), in a fit of love, or politeness, or maybe out of a mental disorder brought on by gastric distress from grey meatballs, declared, right at the dinner table in full earshot of all his horrified relatives, that he loved the meatballs. “Love them!”  You could hear a pin drop. The looks of shock and disbelief that were etched on my cousin’s faces sitting across from me will never, ever leave me. I hear that people who survived serious danger, when others died, like soldiers in combat, have the same thing. But Grandma beamed. She loved the compliment. And because my brother loved them, every single year she made her “delicious” Swedish meatballs just for him. We hated them! And we weren’t too happy with my brother either. From that day forward we were forced to forever eat her meatballs. What usually happened was that my brother would eat most of the meatballs and everyone else would make some excuse like “I filled up on rice,” or “I had Swedish meatballs for lunch” or “I ate three when you were in the kitchen.” I’d force down one or two because as the years went by, although the meatballs didn’t get better, I built up a tolerance for them, like you would if you took a small amount of arsenic every day. The meatball recipe died with my grandmother, immediately making her death look like a suspicious homicide.

SwedishChef

Just this past week I was telling the story to my brother’s new wife. As the story went on, a look of disbelief grew and grew on my brother’s face. It turns out that for all these years he thought we all loved the meatballs. For real! He was almost as shocked as I was when I found out that he wasn’t really simply complimenting Grandma, he really, really did, love the meatballs.

That’s family for ya.

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