perfect social cocktail
Saturday, June 1 2013
Since Gretchen would be going to the City tomorrow, we decided to do our weekly coffee ritual today. And for the first time in weeks, I made us a french press of the 100% non-decaffinated stuff, and was my first substantial caffeine intake in a month. The coffee ended up having a slightly unpleasant taste (too many klinkers?), and I never really got the wave of euphoria all this caffeine abstinence was supposed to make possible. But it was nevertheless a good time. I like what caffeine can do to me socially when I haven't had it in awhile. This morning it made me talkative; for example, Gretchen and I had a long conversation about the moral limits of memes, an idea that I would like to flesh out further.
In the afternoon Gretchen had to do a shift at the bookstore in Woodstock, and I was liking the caffeine so much that I just kept drinking it, though only in the form of black tea (something I hadn't had in over two weeks). Today was the first time in over a week that I had felt completely healthy; the caffeine had somehow erased that nervous twitchiness in my esophagus that I'd thought was acid reflux, and without that one problem nagging at me, I had 100% of my brain potential to devote to anything I wanted to. This seemed to be convincing evidence that my body still hadn't completely adjusted to life without caffeine.
I'd be meeting Gretchen later and riding with her to the first Saturday art gallery scene in Kingston, and the caffeine was making me jittery, so at some point I drank a Mountain Brew Beer Ice and then prepared myself a beverage containing gin. I was still working on that when it came time to meet Gretchen at the intersection of Zena Road and Route 28, so I poured my drink into a travel mug and hit the road. Drinking & driving is one of the simple pleasures of contemporary life, and being able to do so freely is perhaps the silver lining of the Republican deregulation end game. I should say that drinking and driving is particularly pleasurable after spending five days not drinking either caffeine or alcohol.
There is an abandoned building catty-corner from the Stewarts at the Zena Road intersection, and it was in front of it that I left the Subaru and climbed into the car with Gretchen. I'd managed to spill my drink onto my crotch, so on the drive to the Rondout, I found myself doing the rituals one does when one is trying to make crotch wet spots disappear.
Our first destination was KMOCA. We arrived late, well after the crowd had dwindled down to dead enders. I quickly went inside to check out the gallery, which was empty (everyone was out on the sidewalk). The show consisted of both paintings and collages of people falling from the sky. Most of which didn't do much for me except for a gorgeous painting of a dead deer by Chad Ferber.
Abeel Street on KMOCA's block is still torn up, though brand new sidewalks have been installed. They're unusually fancy for a city as marginal as Kinston. The new sidewalk is paved with large sheets of bluestone, and the curb appears to be carved granite. The thinking among the people hanging out on that sidewalk tonight was that this project is a late-starting example of Obama's stimulus package.
A group of us decided to go check out the opening happening down at the One Mile Gallery further out on Abeel. That gallery attracts a younger, somewhat hipper scene (mostly because it doesn't attract anyone older than 50), and there's always copious amounts of wine. The show today was called Tommorrow Forest, an exhibit of huge linoleum prints stitched together into a marvelous psychedelic Sendakian midground of fantastic creatures, including an owl with human legs and an accidental Thylacine. The artist, Aliene de Souza Howell, was a youngish red-headed woman dressed in chroma-contrast blue. She was humble and matter-of-fact (if a bit tipsy) as she responded to our barrage of questions (by our, I mean KMOCA Michæl and me). When I said the Thylacine was "accidental," I meant that the Howell had intended it to be a wolf with zebra stripes on its rump, but it ended up looking exactly like the extinct Tasmanian marsupial.
As at KMOCA, the scene at One Mile is mostly outdoors. But One Mile has several tiers where people can congregate, including the top of steps leading up the steep embankment in the back. At some point I saw a guy wearing what appeared to be a Barbie doll whose hair had been cropped into a page boy and then dyed green. Wait a minute; I'd seen such figures before in the documentary Marwencol. And didn't its subject Mark Hogancamp live down here somewhere? Confirmation that this was indeed Mark Hogancamp came later when I saw his shoes: silver high-heeled women's shoes (see the movie!). He didn't seem to be interacting much with anyone, though I did see him grazing from the cracker tray.
Meanwhile I was being so gregarious and talkative (even with complete strangers) that Gretchen commented about it. She's used to me either being a wallflower or only talking with friends. Something about today's cocktail of caffeine and alcohol had transformed me into a perfect socializer. I had an unusual calm in my body and none of the usual discomfort that comes with having to hold up my end of a dialog.
I was also unusually assertive. When the time came to leave One Mile and get dinner, I expressed a strong preference for Mole Mole over Yum Yum (I've decided I only like Yum Yum as a lunch place). And so in the end, that was where the seven in our contingent decided to go.
I surprised Gretchen yet again during the meal when our third basket of corn chips proved stale. Nobody wanted to say anything, so I volunteered to inform our waitress, saying, "We've determined that the chips are stale." This compelled Gretchen to rhetorically demand, "Who is this man who has replaced my husband?"
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