weight to geographic availability
Wednesday, December 10 2003
This evening Gretchen and I drove out to restaurant known as New World Home Cooking east of Woodstock to attend a party for Catskill Animal Sanctuary volunteers. Most of these volunteers do things such as shoveling manure out of pig pens, building fences, and plucking ticks off of horses. To animal lovers raised in the city or suburbia, these activities might seem like a wonderful way to spend unpaid hours, but to me it would be too much like the chores I was assigned as a child. Thus I'm one of the few CAS volunteers who manages to keep my hands clean when I do what I do for them.
My only knowledge of New World was from the one time I ate here before, when they served me a pathetically undersized calamari dish for a brunch we ate outside. I'm always annoying Gretchen with this recollection every time she mentions New World. She absolutely loves the place, partly because the staff there are all in love with her, or so she says.
New World is a huge place, something I hadn't previously noticed.
On this Wednesday night, the entire front yard had been transformed into a massive and somewhat muddy parking lot. It was so crowded that I had trouble finding a place to park.
Inside New World, there are several large dining rooms, an open kitchen, and a huge rambling bar. In the back are at least two separate party rooms, and the CAS party was happening in the more dilapidated of the two. (One can't expect a non-profit to spring for the fanciest party room.) Gretchen and I arrived an hour late, which meant we wouldn't benefit from the open bar, which was open for only an hour. But the crowd wasn't exactly a heavy-drinking crowd, so Kathy (the woman who runs the CAS) decided to extend the open bar indefinitely and pay for the drinks on a case by case basis.
Food was a series of vegetarian hors d'oeuvres, including New World's trademark hot & spicy string beans and a delicious stuffed mushroom.
For most of the party, Gretchen and I sat at a table by ourselves joking with each other that we were like the kids who sit at the geek table in a high school cafeteria.
At some point Kathy climbed atop a chair and began her speech by mentioning that her long black dress (which featured a long leg-revealing slit) had cost her $2, Then, with increasing emotion, and apologies for that emotion, she told us how much we all meant to her.
Later a very old gentleman stood up and said something brief about how wonderful Kathy is. Kathy had told us that this gentleman, now in his 80s, had only recently married his high school sweetheart. The sweetheart was there as well - she looked exactly like the woman with heavy black eyeglass rims you see in Old Navy commercials. Apparently there are many stories about her - the kind that lead most people to conclude "Wow, she sounds like 'quite a character.'"
Gretchen and I stayed at the party until it dwindled down to just us, Kathy, and one other guy.
Somehow Kathy finally got around to asking Gretchen how she and I got together, and so Gretchen got to tell that story, which everyone always thinks is terrifically interesting. But I still want to know the story about those two childdhood sweethearts who only married once they were in their eighties.
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