I left the house this week. In fact, I left Long Island altogether and ventured into Manhattan (the island that is to the leftof the Isle of Long, likewise adrift off the east coast of the United States).
I know. So unlike me. I would happily never leave the house, and have the world would come to me, which by the way it already does because: Internet. But I had a problem that the internet couldn’t solve within the necessary time frame, so I had to go to the city. To Koreatown.
In Koreatown, all the signs are in Korean. Also, it was a misty, dark afternoon, and with the neon lights flickering in Hangul and the cold fog, I felt as if I had become a Blade Runner. Only, instead of tracking down and killing Nexus-6 replicants, I was hunting down Korean chopsticks.
I needed Korean chopsticks, and I needed them ASAP.
Korean chopsticks are very different from Chinese or Japanese chopsticks in that they are shorter, and flat, and made of metal. They are harder to use than Chinese or Japanese chopsticks, the rumor being that this kind of chopstick is better suited to eating Korean food. But I think the real reason Korean chopsticks are so very different from anything you would be more comfortable with is because everything has to be just slightly weirder in Korea.
Korean chopsticks are usually sold along with a long-handled metal spoon, because Koreans do not use chopsticks to eat rice. They use a spoon. OK, that spoon does make life a bit easier, but it still proves my point that Koreans are the Tiggers (Winnie-the-Pooh reference) of Asia.
So I got my Korean chopsticks (수저) and then I walked half a block to meet Top Cat for the start of our date night.
We went to New York City’s only vegetarian Korean restaurant, where we had to take off our shoes and pad to our table in our socks and sit on the floor.
Then our handsome young Korean waiter knelt at my side and asked me if I wanted a soju cocktail.
The last time a man knelt to ask me a question was when Top Cat asked me to marry him, so I did what I always do when a man kneels to interrogate me: I said Hell, yes.
I ordered the spiciest Korean vegetarian dish the menu (rice and kimchi with other plant stuff) and it came to the table sizzling in a stone bowl set inside a block of wood that served as a tray of sorts, so not to burn the diner. The handsome waiter knelt and cautiously took one and half spoonfuls of pepper sauce from the side dish and stirred it into my stone bowl before he placed it in front of me.
When the handsome waiter left, I dumped the rest of the pepper sauce into the bowl and it was still not as spicy as I would have liked it. But it was very good, and I used my new Korean utensil the whole time (I had an alcohol wipe in my pocket to sanitize it) and yes, I did get a cramp from how tightly I had to clutch the slippery and thin chopsticks. I need to develop my 수저 muscles.
We left the restaurant and headed uptown via Herald Square and ran into a huge anti-Trump march! It was several city blocks long and it was noisy and exciting and stopped traffic, and was one of 600 protest marches from Hawaii to Maine organized by MoveOn on the eve of impeachment. Top Cat and I marched with them for a few minutes, but we had theater tickets and had to bustle to Broadway.
We proceeded to walk across town on 34th Street and came upon a throng of people on the sidewalk, taking cell phone pictures of a woman standing inside a big shop window. She was wearing a glittery gold evening gown and throwing kisses.
“Who’s that?” I shouted to one of the thongers.
“Mariah Carey”, the guy said.
And then I realized that oh yeah, she did look a lot like Mariah Carey. Her song from 1994, All I Want For Christmas Is You, is No. 1 this week and she was celebrating. Some people can’t stand that song, but I like it.
We got to the Nederlander Theater with ten minutes to spare until curtain time. I watched Bob Costas pick up his tickets at the Will Call guichet.
Harry Connick Jr. is a wonderful performer: smart and charming, and from New Orleans, our favorite American city. But this wasn’t a simple concert show — he had a solid, two-hour concept with very clever staging, and he did a “class” on Cole Porter’s compositional genius (projected onto the back wall of the stage) that made me grateful that I was only learning Korean, and not musical notation.
We took the 9:42 home and were tucked into bed by 11.
And that was our Date Night in New York City. The evening was a lot for me to process, since my life is more about crappy used books and cat care than cross-cultural experiences, political street marches, Mariah Carey, and Harry Connick Jr. taking his shirt off (Harry Connick Jr. takes his shirt off on stage). I forget how many other people there are in the world, tucked up as I am in my own little.
Maybe because of this radical departure from routine, I have been in an extremely good mood this past week and to top it all off, the merriest Winter event of the year is approaching, so I want to wish everyone a Happy ChrisHanuKwanSoltice!
ChrisHanuKwanSolstice is the holiday that I made up so us atheist could join in all the fun of the most pagan holiday of all, but I also want to send traditional greetings to all you who are more observant of the time-honored practices of the season:
She must have been a goddess to get cats to work?!
Have a happy weekend, all you badass goddesses. Note to Australia — it gets hot here in summer on the north shore of Long Island, but not that hot. Still, here’s my tip: take a cold shower with all your clothes on, then walk around until they are dry; repeat as often as necessary.