Friday, May 4 2007
setting: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, New York
I dropped Eleanor off at the vet today so she could be put under deep anesthesia, allowing the vet to better investigate the condition of her right knee using mid-tech x-rays and low-tech manual manipulation. Eleanor most definitely did not want to be abandoned at the vet and I felt horrible for leaving her there.
Later in the afternoon Gretchen picked Eleanor up and learn that the vet's initial suspicions were correct and yes, we'd need to have a bionic ligament installed in Eleanor's knee. She would then be the $1200 dog, that is, if one doesn't count all the stitches and quill porcupine removal we've already invested in her. But she's a sweet dog, and we'd miss her more than the money it will cost to fix her up.
While I don't really have friends even here in the Hudson Valley, Gretchen has friends all over the country. One of her friends, Andrew Da!noff, is the cousin of one of her childhood friends. (She and Andrew also violated each others' non-existent abstinence pledges at some point.) E!ght-Hour Father, a play Andrew had written, was to be performed tonight at Williams College in the northwesternmost corner of Massachusetts, and Gretchen had decided to see it. So we went on another of our two hour weekend roadtrips, first up the Thruway to Troy, and then on Route 2 over the Taconic Mountains, the highest point of which seems to coincide almost perfectly with the Massachusetts state line.
The first thing we did upon arriving in Williamstown, Massachusetts (the home of Williams College) was to get a table at Spice Root, the hamlet's Indian restaurant. Unfortunately, though the mulligatawny soup was promising, the other food was bland enough to make us wonder if perhaps the restaurant had named itself ironically. Williams College has a very white student body, without even a sizable Asian component, so I suppose, if stereotypes have any validity, there isn't much demand for spice in Williamstown. I suggested to Gretchen that it might be fun to stand up suddenly and make a big fuss that my mouth was on fire from all the spice and that I needed lots of water immediately.
Gretchen, who knows about such things, could clearly discern that the potatoes in our aloo gobi had come from a can. And the cauliflower had been frozen. One dish, two serious gaffes.
On entering the Williams College theatre, the people taking our tickets (they'd cost $3 each) wanted to make sure that we didn't have peanut allergies, which puzzled us. Gretchen introduced me to Andrew, who was hanging out by the mixing board. He was a nice enough guy, but he'd come equipped with ill-considered facial hair. We went down to the front row to sit next to Andrew's mother, who had come from Ohio to attend every night of her little boy's first feature play.
I'm not the kind of person who likes to sit still for a large block of time, so watching operas, plays, and even movies is usually something of a chore for me. The ordeal is usually easiest for me when I'm watching a teevee series whose characters I already know. Being dropped into some unknown writer's play cold is never something I look forward to, but I can be polite in such situations. This particular play was complicated in that its scenes were organized in temporally-reversed order. The plot centers around a New Years Eve, around which time a young man is told by his girlfriend that he has managed to get her pregnant. Then, in the final scene that we see at the beginning of the play, he ends up in New York City with the girlfriend of his boss, the sister of the girl he impregnated. To give you an idea of how bad I am at following drama, the play was about halfway through before I had the sense that it was unfolding in reverse. But by the end (or beginning), I was interested enough in the characters to be paying close attention.
By the way, the reason for the peanut allergy inquisition at the door was that a recurring scene in the play centered around a bar whose floor was covered with actual peanut shells. This wasn't the case back when I was a kid, but these days supposedly some people are so allergic to peanuts that they go into anaphylactic shock if they walk into a room containing a single peanut. They are the Princesses and the Pea(nut)s of our time, and they have none of my sympathy.
Gretchen once had a close friend-from-Oberlin in the Williamstown area named Sarah the Korean (she's not Korean or even Asian - that was a reference to her last name, which was actually Irish and sounded like the word "Korean"). Despite the internet and free weekend calls, they've fallen out of contact now, but Williamstown still reminds Gretchen of Sarah. In the past when Gretchen drove back and forth between Mass-MOCA in North Adams and Williamstown, she'd pass a little motel called the Redwood Motel and want to spend the night there some time. Tonight she finally got her wish, and we checked in to the place. There was a Middle Eastern guy running the all night desk, and he and the office around him smelled spicy in an unpleasant Middle Eastern kind of way. He also had the look of someone who should arrive at an airport at least two weeks before his flight is scheduled to depart.
But our room was cheerful and clean and there were no mirrors on our ceiling, jacuzzi in our room, or porn available on our television. There was, however, a comfy blanket on our bed, an indication that people have actually used our room for sleeping. We lucked out and had the quietest room in then entire motel, far from the loud room full of drunken teenagers and tucked away behind a building that blocked the surf of traffic on Route 2.
The Taconic Mountains, viewed from the New York State side on Route 2. Beyond them is Massachusetts.
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