Thursday, June 28, 2007

Old Friends and Black-outs

Today I saw a friend of mine who I have not seen in absolutely ages. Far too long. I met Maria when we worked together here in New York. I believe it was the first day we met that she taught me how to shoot rubber bands with precision. She is one funny woman, and has pulled some very entertaining stunts but my favorite Maria-Hall-of-Fame moment was the way she quit that job - via fax. This was in the pre-email days (yes, we were breaking child-labor laws, shut up!) and the fax machine was a thermal paper fax. You remember those rolls of awful paper that would fade out almost before you could finish reading them? It was a very appropriate way to leave a soul-sucking job where she was over-worked and far too under appreciated. I remember waiting to hear that the fax had been received and practically wetting my pants laughing when the shitheel guy she worked for asked if I knew about THIS. Uh. Yeah dumbass. He was such a schmuck.

Of course when I saw her today I just rambled on and on - she's terrifically kind and laughs at my shtick. Unfortunately all I need is the slightest encouragement (i.e., a laugh) and I will milk it for all its worth and she barely got a word in. Hopefully we'll get together again soon so SHE can actually talk!

When we worked together we also lived in the same general direction so we would take the bus home together. It was the long way home, the train would be faster, but the bus was more fun. Because we were very mature women we played the seat switch game on a regular basis. We'd get on the bus and there would typically be no seats, so we stood. But we wouldn't just accept the standing - no. We would scope out the crowd and stand near people based on their appearance, we could guess where they would be getting off. You can tell. You really can. So we'd hover over these poor folks and when they got off we'd snag their seats. Then when other 'better' seats became available we'd rush to take those. It was silly, but what's great about Maria is that while she gives off a very competent-business-type, no-nonsense vibe, at heart she is a big goofball - and that's FUN! Maria is one of the few people who has seen me eat on the street. I know, I know. I do not enjoy doing it, but I admit that at the San Gennaro Festival I have had no choice: zeppoles are best when fresh and that means eating them out of a greasy paper bag while maneuvering through throngs of people and getting confectioner's sugar all over your black clothes. I don't do San Gennaro with just anyone. But Maria's good and keeps me from being overly self-conscious about the whole eating/making a mess thing.

From time to time we would walk through Chinatown and catch our slow-bus home further uptown. It gave us a chance to explore the shops. On one of these walks we were examining Thousand Year Eggs (or as we would refer to them: rotten eggs, YUM!) that were displayed outside the shop when a man inside tapped on the glass. He was waving a duck foot at me and beckoning us to come inside.

Um. No thanks. Gonna pass on that tasty duck foot for now!

I love Maria and she makes me laugh and she sees the silliness around her. Not everyone does that. I really am blessed with such great friends.

After this fiesta of reunion, birthday and vegan chow I did a little grocery shopping. I was near Trader Joe's and they have the best selection of CHEAP frozen veggies so I was compelled to stop in and stock up before I headed home. I got a great haul, but it was insanely hot today so shopping for frozen vegetables at a store that is a good 1/2 hour away from home might have been risky: but I'm just that kind of dare-devil. By the time I got home I was a dishrag. I'm not kidding: HOT out there today. So I threw the veggies into the freezer (they had survived the trip) and hopped into the shower. When I came out I turned on the computer to start this very post when I heard thunder... then the lights flickered... the computer clicked off and my entire neighborhood went into full black-out. I just bought enough FROZEN veggies to feed an army and the electricity went off! YES, good times.

Despite the fear of the possible loss of the veggies - or the horror of having to eat 14 lbs of haricot verts before they go bad - it really was good times. My block becomes a regular party town when the lights go out. Normally it's a pretty friendly block, lots of dogs seem to make chatting with the neighbors more acceptable, but when we lose electricity people are hopping to bring out the candles and booze. It's kind of sweet actually. So I wasn't really upset with the loss of electricity, but I had no idea what was going on and I do NOT like that. Luckily I got some information from Lori who was in non-blacked-out midtown and knowing it was just a Con Edison problem was a relief. The lights popped back on less than an hour later and all was back to normal. But later, when I took Basil out, I ran into several neighbors and we all agreed that we had been a little disappointed when the lights came back on.

New Yorkers: we have such a rep for being brusque or cold. Truth is we're the nicest, friendliest people you'd ever want to meet. We're just busy. But when the electricity fails we're off the hook. We can't work. Can't be 'doing-doing-doing' and it's like we have permission to chill and hang out, and just be. Even with the lights back on, we tried to hold onto that 'black-out' feeling.

Old friends and black-outs: just a couple more reasons to be happy to be alive. Oh... and LOTS of frozen veggies!


whimsicalnbrainpan said...

You make a blackout sound like such fun. I wish I could see one for myself.

You have an award waiting for you at my place.

Bella said...

I think your block should start having un-blackout parties every so often, just to keep the fun going, at least in the summer evenings.