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   gun show in Saratoga Springs
Saturday, January 12 2013

location: Gideon Putnam Resort and Spa, Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga County, New York

The coffee maker in our room made coffee using small coffee bags that looked like feminine hygiene pads. That coffee wasn't particularly good, but it didn't stop me from making myself several cups of it.
For lunch, Gretchen and I took the shuttle into Saratoga Springs, and Gretchen had our driver go out of his way to show us the long string of mansions along North Broadway (where did the money come from?). On the way there, we passed the Saratoga Springs Convention Center which happened to be having a gun show. Guys with camouflage hats, faded tats, beer guts, and bad haircuts were queued up to buy boxes of ammo and assault rifles and whatever else they were sure Obama was about to ban (in response to a ceaseless series of mass shootings). It was a grim crowd on a grim mission. I'm by nature a pessimistic person, but it's hard for me to fathom the selfish nihilism (and stunted emotional development) that drives people to seek psychic solace in killing machines (and no, not the kind that kills fascists). There was a heavy police presence due to the volatile combination of heavily-armed nihilists, anti-gun protestors, and anti-government tea party counter-protestors, some with bullhorns, tricorner hats, and that familiar yellow flag that advises strangers not to walk over the person flying said flag (symbolized by a coiled snake).
Gretchen and I had our lunch in the buffet area of Four Seasons Natural Foods. You load up your plate and then wonder what to do, at which point an employee comes out of the kitchen to weigh what is on it. Everything was good except for the black bean soup, which had a weird sweet spice in it for some reason.
While Gretchen was at a hair salon getting a haircut, I went into the non-chain downtown coffee shop (Uncommon Grounds) for a cup of coffee and some WiFi, where I accidentally posted something on Facebook as if I were Gretchen.

coincidentally in saratoga springs at the same time as a big gun show. lots of white people with beer guts and camo standing in line. if these are the people who are going to foment revolution against our marxist muslim atheist president who wernt evin borned here, it looks like he doesn't have much to worry about.

Catching my error, I logged in as myself and posted:

oops that was supposed to be my post. gretchen is in a saratoga springs hair salon getting her hair ironed or something.

Once Gretchen's hair was cut and we'd checked out the sad tail end of an estate sale at a downtown hotel, we walked over to the convention center, where Gretchen heckled the tea partiers with something like, "I hope some little part of you is ashamed," to which the reply was, "Yeah, well I hope you're ashamed." Because, you know, the policies Gretchen supports leads to kids getting mowed down in schools. Or something.

Somehow we made our way to the Saratoga Springs public library, which is a very nice library indeed. It even contains its own coffee shop, which on this day seemed to be a big hangout for middle-aged women. Gretchen was not impressed with their coffee, though I couldn't say one way or the other because I'd ordered a flavored coffee for some reason.
After catching a shuttle back to the Gideon Putnam, we eventually set out on foot for the Roosevelt baths, where Gretchen had ordered a mineral soak for herself and where I could get a complimentary steam bath. It turns out that the ground of the Gideon Putnam are actually a large campus centered on a vast green. It dates to a time when no expense was spared on retreats within a several-hour train ride of New York City. We had a little trouble actually finding the Roosevelt Spa because it was at the distant end of the vast green.
The steam rooms were segregated by gender, and the locker room where I had to change out of all my layers was surprsingly cramped. There was a guy in there already and he pretty much took up the whole space, so I had to undress in the entrance to the shower. By the time I had gotten naked, put on a robe, and walked down to the steam room, I'd more or less lost interest in the whole thing. The steam room was cramped and brightly lit, and, though it was empty, I didn't want to have to take a chance of being in there with some strange guy. So I took a prolonged shower instead. It warmed my core up enough that it felt like a balmy spring evening as I traversed the snowy green back to the hotel.

Later we took the shuttle into town and had dinner at the Living Room. Before our largely-apportioned waitress could get to us, we got some attention from the bartender, who was very excited to learn we were vegan (high fives are apparently still in fashion amongst the hipsters of Saratoga Springs). He said he'd been vegan for five years and the diet had pretty much cured his Crohn's disease. The food we ordered was a black bean burger and a vegan take on poutine, the national snack of Quebec. Neither were actually all that good. Part of the problem was that the fries were the kind one encounters in fancy restaurants, the kind that tend to be limp and not that perfect fusion of crisp outside and creamy center. Also, Gretchen seemed to have a personality conflict with our plump waitress, who (among other things) made the mistake of overcharging us for something.
One of the stories I told during our dinner conversation concerned my first experience with poutine back in August of 1989. I'd taken a bus to New York City to visit my then-girlfriend Beth at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Eventually I grew tired of hanging out with her, so I called in my friend Jason, then living in Trenton, New Jersey. He picked me up in his big white Cadillac and we drove up to Rhode Island to visit some friends of his from the Berklee College of Music. I think we continued from there to Berklee itself, in Boston. From there I hitchhiked to New Paltz, New York, where I stayed with my friend Kristin and her many delightful 19 year old girlfriends (one of whom I wound up performing a number of [REDACTED] sexual acts with). Once I'd inevitably worn out my welcome in New Paltz, I hitchhiked up to Montreal to meet up again with Beth, who was staying with some older friends from Isræl. (The rides from New Paltz were bad and I was forced to take a bus north from Albany, which I walked to from Schenectady.) Beth had been angry about being abandoned at the JTS in Manhattan, but soon enough all was well and we were hanging out with her waifish friend Debbie (whom I'd known from Harkness, my coop dorm in Oberlin). After a few days (which included watching the August 17 lunar eclipse from the top of Mount Royal), I had the idea that we should hitchhike to Quebec City, and somehow I convinced both Beth and Debbie to do it with me. We weren't out on the Trans-Canadian Highway long before we'd been picked up by a swashbuckling young man named Denis who drove us to Quebec City and back, treated us to multiple meals, and let us stay with him in his apartment. ("We" repaid these favors with sexual favors from Debbie.) Among the many things we learned from Denis was about the existence of poutine. But Denis had a dark side that none of us knew about. When he tried to drive us to Burlington, Vermont, border authorities quickly discovered his parole card. It turned out that Denis was a convicted bank robber (and had taken advantage of insider knowledge gleaned from his father, a high-level bank executive). So Debbie stayed behind in Quebec with Denis while Beth and I went first to Burlington (I remember Lake Champlain and factory-reject Ben & Jerry's icecream) and then down to Somerville outside of Boston. When I'd had all I could take of the northeast, I hitchhiked back to Virginia. That was how I spent August of 1989.


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