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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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Like my brownhouse:
   dull dinner in New Paltz
Friday, October 24 2003
Gretchen made Frank and Lisa an elaborate breakfast this morning before they left for the City. This breakfast consisted of, among other things, several fat pieces of French toast. Unfamiliar with the American notion of French toast, I explained that in this country is is typical for quintessentially American dishes to get the word "French" prepended to their names, particularly if they contain obscene amounts of grease. Gretchen, who herself doesn't actually eat any form of breakfast, managed to cook far more French toast than even Frank and Lisa could eat, and when they turned down her final serving of it, she explained that making too much food was typical of Jewish hospitality, at which point she launched into her "Jewish housewife from Long Island" routine. "What, so you don't want any more? That's okay, just tell me you don't like it! I can take it! I'll just put it back on the stove and hope someone else comes along who likes my cooking!"

After Frank and Lisa were gone, we had to start getting ready for this weekend's guest, Gretchen's friend Dean from Manhattan. Like Gretchen, he's a poet and a writer. He's gay and Gretchen recently tried to set him up with Larry, the realtor who sold us our house, but it didn't really work out.
Dean is good friends with Suzy down in Gardiner, and she would be picking him up from the New Paltz bus station and then the four of us would be meeting for dinner at the Bistro in New Paltz. Despite my preferred desire to do nothing social at all today, it was sort of incumbent on me to go. So I went.
The food was good, but for the most part the dinner conversation was a huge bore. The others mostly talked about writing and the ordeal of submitting work to various competitions. Dean also talked some about his recent success with oriental medicine in treating his Hepatitis C, but the way he was talking about it gave me the uncomfortable feeling that he was insufficiently skeptical of its limitless potential. Then Suzy brought up something about how I'd been on the phone with her when I'd answered one of her phone calls, and this gave Gretchen the impression that I'd been rude, which hadn't been true at all. So Gretchen felt the need to say something about how I'm no good on the phone, which seemed like an unnecessary put-down, particularly given the reality that it had been Suzy's poor hearing that had caused her misunderstanding, not any rudeness on my part.
Then, after the meal, as the boring conversation limped relentlessly onward, everyone but me said they wanted to have dessert, thereby extending our time at the Bistro. For me, the only good thing about this was that it gave me the chance to extemporaneously quip, "Dessert is wasted on the well-fed." Just looking at the asphalt-black fudge bread pudding that everyone ordered made my insides squirm - I found myself psycho-somatically experiencing the liver complaints Dean had been mentioning earlier. I stared off into space in disgust, feeling both bored and alienated. Gretchen kicked me at one point and whispered that I was moping, which I certainly was. I couldn't imagine having my face form anything but a scowl. Dinners like this remind me why it's best for Gretchen to go out by herself when having dinners with friends.

Dean rode home with us and Gretchen gave him a full tour of our house, and he made all the appropriate noises. Somewhere in the meal I'd mentioned (in a way that I could tell Gretchen was unprepared for) that Gretchen likes to spend part of her afternoons watching Law and Order (and, more recently, Judging Amy). This had led Dean to volunteer that he loves to watch a show called Diagnosis: Murder. At first I thought I'd achieved something by getting Dean and Gretchen to admit a mutual non-intellectual indulgence that they might not otherwise have shared with one another, but then Gretchen and I tried to watch Diagnosis: Murder with Dean and found it absolutely dreadful: poorly-acted, sickeningly-sweet, and (at least in this Halloween episode) full of hokey references to the paranormal.

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