Sunday, August 16, 2009

Maybe we should've gone to Curley's.....

Twelve gallons is a lot of blood. That's how much Mark (the boyfriend formerly known as Big Hands) donated over the last few years to receive a gift certificate for dinner at his choice of several local restaurants. He chose Moonstone Grill and invited me to go with him. Actually, I chose Moonstone Grill and invited myself if you want to get technical, but that's not important.

We arrived in the parking lot yesterday evening just in time to see a young woman dressed in white walking into the restaurant. I tried to replace the good luck with that that was forming inside my jaded mind with beautiful day for a wedding. It was so gorgeous on Moonstone Beach that I almost succeeded.

Inside we enjoyed the view as we began our meal with oysters and smoked albacore wontons. At the table directly across from us, a couple in their fifties was sitting with a couple in their seventies. As the older woman raised a glass of water to her lips, her hand shook badly, and a small stream spilled down her sleeve.

Imagining the blood bank issuing a Hometown Buffet gift certificate next time for ordering too lavishly, I went with the bigeye tuna instead of the abalone I really wanted. Mark had the filet mignon. We passed the time waiting for our food by checking everyone else's out.

The meal arrived at the table across from us. The older woman had ordered my second choice, the pasta with asparagus and mushrooms. The dish was served with, not a fork, but a gigantic spoon, and as soon as she started trying to eat with it, she began to have trouble. The spoon was too big for her mouth as well as her hand which was shaking so badly she couldn't hold the spoon steady. She couldn't get the slippery food to stay on it, and it kept sliding off onto the tablecloth. Soon there was a pile of mushrooms and noodles on the table beside her plate. She then began using the fingers of her left hand to try to pick up the food on the table and put it back on the spoon, which more often than not resulted in it falling right back off.

My throat ached as I sat there conflicted, trying not to stare. Should I walk over quietly and help cut her dinner? Should I slip her a fork? Should I say something to the waitress? In the end, I couldn't decide whether taking action would help or embarrass her further. I cowardly remained silent and cheered inside every time she succeeded in getting a tiny bit of mushroom or a small piece of noodle into her mouth.

The others at her table were either completely oblivious, wrapped up in their own food and conversation, or were avoiding the fact that perhaps their own frightening future was sitting before them, until suddenly the older woman's husband glanced over and saw the food that had accumulated on the tablecloth. He pulled her plate away from her and scowled. "Just look at the mess you've made." He pushed her plate back while shaking his head in disgust.

The younger woman looked up. "Maybe we should get her a fork." But nobody did. Eventually the older woman just stopped eating, although I was happy to note that even though she had to hold the glass with two hands, she continued to drink wine. She certainly needed alcohol with such assholes for dinner companions.

After a finish of cheesecake and creme brulee, we went for a much needed walk. Moonstone Beach was alive with energy. Laughter tumbled from one end of the beach to the other, and the sweet smell of pot smoke wafted from the bushes. As the sun started to set, we saw a large group of people, most of whom held cameras.

A stunning dark skinned woman in a silk wedding gown stood with her husband on top of a small sand dune. A bagpipe player stood a few feet away. Around them danced several women and one small girl wearing dresses of magenta. The vibrant hue against the dull gray of the sand made for a shocking, albeit quite lovely, contrast.

The newly wedded couple put their arms around each other. They smiled as the cameras erupted in loud manic clicks. And then they kissed. Surrounded by hot pink hope.

What will happen to them? I wondered.

Will their marriage be like mine, which would have been two years old this very weekend, but instead failed miserably nearly out of the gate?

Or will they stay together long after their laughter has disappeared, and his kindness is replaced by disgust because her hands have become weak and her dinner has turned wayward?

Or will they, sixty years from now, find themselves standing on a small sand dune on Moonstone Beach one evening while the sky turns pink above them? "I remember how beautiful you looked 60 years ago," he'll say. She'll look at him and grab his hand. "And I remember how awful those bagpipes your mother insisted on sounded, " she'll say. And then they'll laugh until the sky turns dark.

As if he could read my mind, Mark leaned over from behind me and pressed his warm cheek to mine. "Maybe they'll make it," he whispered. I leaned back against him and closed my eyes.

Indeed. Maybe they will.

Wondrous and amazing photo of Moonstone Beach at sunset is by Rambling Jack.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Champipple Therapy

My friend Renee is a licensed therapist. She spends her days listening to all kinds of people and helping them to fix their lives. She is also one of the most practical, down-to-earth and calm people I know. Nothing seems to faze her. If there's ever a gigantic code red disaster near me, I hope Renee's there too. All of these qualities make her really good at listening to her friends and giving them helpful advice.

A couple of days ago she and I were talking on the phone. I was rambling on about an influx from out-of-town family members this week and all of my concerns and anxieties revolving around the visits. The feelings of inadequacy. The apprehension about past transgressions. The embarrassment of now being twice divorced. Renee listened patiently to my stream of pure melodramatic angst, and then she gave her best therapeutic advice.

"Oh, just drink a lot. It's not like they'll think any less of you."

Genius. My worries dissolved, I decided to start right then. This recipe is brought to you thanks to Renee and her very wise counsel.

I give you: Champipple.

Champipple was a drink favored by Fred Sanford from the t.v. show Sanford and Son. He loved to mix his Ripple, which is super cheap fortified wine like Thunderbird, with various other drinks. Mix it with Cream Soda? You get Cripple. Mix it with Beaujolais? You get Beaujolipple. My favorite combination is a classy little number of Ripple mixed with Champagne, also known as Champipple.

These days I don't use Ripple anymore. That's just oh so there's-nothing-to-do-in-Fortuna-when-you're-a-teenager-so-let's-go-get-drunk-at-the-cemetery-and-make-out-with-boys-in-black-eyeliner, and I'm over those days. Mostly.

So instead I use a cheap red wine, usually leftover from a few nights ago and forgotten on the counter, and an even cheaper champagne.

First pour the champagne into a great big goblet, and then pour the wine on top. I like to use about 7/8 champagne and 1/8 red wine because I really just want a blush of color and a hint of merlot flavor. Big Hands prefers more of a half-and-half mixture because he's sophisticated that way.

Toast, sip, gulp. Gulp. Gulp. Repeat.

Proceed to making prank phone calls (Don't forget to hit *67 to block your number from caller i.d. first. It's not the 80's anymore, damn it.), doing the Thriller dance and making out at the cemetery of your choice. I highly recommend the one on Rohnerville Road.