Monday, June 24, 2013

Fancy Dining and Fabulous Hats

This past weekend, I took my friend, Marlene, out to dinner for her birthday. I let her pick the restaurant. Letting someone pick the restaurant where you will treat her can be tricky. For example, my mother preferred a birthday lunch, and she would either pick a pizza parlor with peeling lead paint and sagging ceiling tiles or a Chinese buffet with no sneeze guard. I would reluctantly eat at these establishments and sit around all afternoon waiting for a sudden attack of explosive diarrhea. I was never disappointed.

While I share Harryette’s cheap taste in dining choices, I draw the line at places with bathrooms that look like a postcard from Calcutta or open kitchens with cooks wearing bloody aprons while they have a cigarette dangling from their mouths. I had salmonella poisoning once, and I lost thirty-five pounds in four days. Then again, maybe it would do me good to lick a raw chicken.

I have nothing against fancy restaurants, but after spending more than a decade in Washington, DC, I came to realize that just about every expensive restaurant in our nation’s capital was just an expensive restaurant. The food was terrible, and the portions were so small. DC is not known for its dining, which may be why all the tourists here look for food courts.

I am also not a fan of chain restaurants. For some reason, they put balsamic vinegar on everything. Does anyone realize balsamic vinegar is for cooking not for salads? Is there a nastier substance on earth than balsamic vinegar? It burns my mouth. Oh yes, Swiss cheese … and green bell peppers. Ycccchhhhh.

The other kind of restaurants that bother me are the ones with seven-thousand items on the menu. Once you make it past page nine, you realize they only make two things and four sauces, and every item is just a variation on either. Have you ever noticed you can look at one of those spiral-bound menus and still not find anything you want?

Restaurants with foreign language menus also irk me. French restaurants are famous for this. I think they get great joy in watching you struggle over the menu then ordering “closed on Sundays.” (The I Love Lucy fans will get that one.) Now, fancy Italian restaurants have jumped on this band wagon. You can’t sit down and order a pizza anymore without an interpreter. Every time I see formaggi di dino, I imagine two penises rubbing together. Think about it.

Anyway, Marlene, dressed in a lovely black dress complete with Bella Abzug red hat, picked a restaurant in Cleveland Park. By the way, if she were not my friend, I were still doing drag, and I saw her walking down the street in that outfit, I would have snatched that hat off her head and run like a mugger. The hat once belonged to a mutual Black friend’s mother. It was beyond fabulous, although she couldn’t see past the brim, so I acted as her seeing eye dog.

In honor my lesbian friend’s birthday, I picked her up in my AMC Eagle Wagon complete with burgundy plaid seats. When chauffeuring a lesbian, it is best to drive a lesbian magnet. Not that she needs a magnet; she is married. She and her wife were among the first to get married when DC made gay marriage legal. My invitation was apparently lost in the mail.

Anyway …

The restaurant was described as upscale Italian with casual dress. Now to me, casual dress means slacks and a nice shirt, but apparently, I was born forty years too late because to everyone else casual means shorts, T-shirts and flip flops. I fucking hate flip flops anywhere but the beach! We were the best dressed couple in the restaurant, which says a lot.

While the wait staff were wearing jeans, white shirts and aprons, the runners and busboys were in all black. The busboys looked better than the waiters.

We were seated and handed our menus – three each. That is another thing that I don’t get. Why do I need three menus? Also, why do you need a complete menu devoted to cocktails? In my day, you ordered a Manhattan, martini, or Tom Collins. If you need seventy-two varieties of martinis, you need not be drinking. The cocktail menu was larger than the special menu and the regular menu combined.

Marlene and I aren’t big drinkers, so we were just going to order a glass of wine each, but then we had another dilemma. The wine list was all in Italian. Our waitress explained they were listed in order of heaviness from light to robust. Whatever happened to house burgundy? Does anyone drink rosé anymore? Even I wouldn’t order white zinfandel. Oddly, this Italian restaurant did not have a Chianti on the menu, not even by the glass. Surely, someone makes a fancy Chianti. They make fancy kosher wine for Passover after all, which I personally do not like. If it isn’t Manischewitz Concord Grape, it isn’t a Jewish holiday. We might as well be goyim.

While perusing the menu, which took longer than expected, they seated a middle-aged couple next to us. Funny, they were probably our age, but everyone looks older to me. Apparently, they were used to perusing the Menu Britannica because they ordered quite quickly.

After having the waitress translate half the menu for us, we were ready. I still wonder where she learned to speak fancy Italian. With her bleach blonde hair and dark roots, she was more white trash than I am.

I must say the meal was restaurant quality. Seriously, it was superb. I had an artichoke appetizer that was melt in your mouth fantastic. We picked a wine called Terra Elima {Nero d’Avola}; it was fourth down the list and described as “explosive.” I immediately thought of my mother’s restaurant choices and my hour-long drive home after dinner. I drank it anyway. It was delicious, probably the best red I ever tasted. Considering I drink a lot of Manischewitz, that isn’t saying much.

When my dessert was delivered, I was not as happy as I thought I would be. It was supposed to be a bread pudding with gelato. It was a muffin with ice cream. However, the complementary “cello,” lemon liquor, made up for that.
Dinner with Marlene is always fun because we laugh a lot. I wish I could say the same for the middle-aged couple. When their dessert was delivered, they each pulled out their phones. I could see the wife’s, and she was shopping for a dress. Marlene could see the husband’s, and he was reading a book. They did this for thirty minutes without saying a word to each other! When the wife picked out a dress and bought it, she said, “Ready?” He told her he needed to finish reading a chapter, and he did before they left.

I can now say I have seen everything.

The restaurant is called Dino’s in Cleveland Park. When I heard the name, I expected dinosaur meat.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

I Am Annoyed

I don’t know if it is my imagination, or are people getting ruder and more stupid. Or as I grow older, am I becoming less tolerant of people in general? If it is the latter, then I, too, am becoming annoying. Becoming, you ask? For the last few weeks, I have been mentally compiling a list of the people who annoy me.

Since my last few entries have been about cars and the driving experience, let’s start there. Maryland and Virginia drivers annoy me. Why when they see you have a turn signal on, indicating you wish to change lanes, do they immediately speed up, so that one of two things happen? You cannot change lanes, or they end up in your blind spot and beep at you as if you are the idiot. These morons only live in our area. In the other forty-eight states, they would be shot. God forbid anyone should pass them or get in their lane. They also tailgate, then pass you, give you a dirty look, then tailgate the next guy, and keep doing this hoping for a different result – a sign of insanity. Ironically, all of you end up at the next stop light at the same time. The minute the light turns green, I start blaring my horn to make sure they take off immediately. If they fail to pass me and I end up in front, I take off very slowly. They love that. I have seen my share of middle fingers.

Drivers here are also stupid. I was driving my sixty-year-old Hudson Jet home from Western Maryland last weekend, and while driving up steep upgrades, I purposely used the extreme right-hand slow lane –the one that is usually for eighteen wheelers, so I wouldn't cause anyone any agita. In order to go sixty-five miles per hour uphill, I would need flame throwers and a large propeller from one of those Everglades’ airboats. My top speed uphill is fifty – deal with it. There was an idiot who was tailgating me up the slow lane while there was no traffic in either of the other two lanes. He was waving his arms, flashing his lights, and clearly screaming obscenities. He couldn't see I was driving an old car? In the slow lane? I have heard of kanipchen fits, but this was the first time I witnessed one. After a few minutes, this obviously dyslexic driver realized he was in the wrong lane, so he passed me and gave me a dirty look as if I was the bad driver. As he cruised by my car, I flipped him the biggest bird he ever saw.

Teenagers on the Metro annoy me. They congregate on the platform in the worst possible spots, which are already congested, so they can scream at each other, “Oh no she didn’t!” Question: Are all teenagers deaf? They also don't move when you try to pass by them. Are all teenagers oblivious to their surroundings?

Tourists on the Metro annoy me. They stand on the escalators, and when you say excuse me, they don’t know whether to go right or left to get out of your way. Question: Are all tourists dyslexic?

Yes, I used dyslexic twice. Did you hear about the dyslexic cop who gave drunk drivers IUDs?

Mothers with children on the Metro annoy me. This morning as I was trying to exit the train at Gallery Place, a mother and her five children crowded the door trying to board without letting those of us on the train alight from the car. The worst is when you are on your way home and you want to take a nap after a hard day trying to look busy at work while you check everyone’s Facebook status every five minutes, and a mother and her seven kids board your car and make more noise than a group of Irishmen at a soccer game. One day, a mother placed her brat on the seat next to me, and that hyperactive toddler crawled all over the place and screamed in my ear. I got up and changed cars at the next stop. Why can’t we have childless cars? Or touristless cars? Or better yet, special cars with only one seat for me?

The Gallery Place Metro annoys me. They have not had a working escalator in that Metro station since Roslyn Carter fried catfish in the White House. And speaking of bad smells, it is the only metro station in the entire system that always smells like a urinal that has never been flushed.

People who want to hold elevators for conversations annoy me. How many times have you boarded an elevator then the next person, who is engaged in a conversation with someone in the hallway boards but holds the door in order to finish her thought? Yes, this happens more often than you would believe. I once told a woman after she held the door for thirty seconds, “Either step out and finish what you need to say, or ask him to board the elevator.” She had the nerve to give me a look as if I was the rude one. Seriously? She finally finished whatever crap she had to say, and when we reached my floor, I held the door open while I looked both ways and said, “Now, which way do I go? I could go to the right. Maybe the left? Oh the decisions I have to make.” She finally blurted out, “OK, you made your point, asshole.” I will admit I was being an asshole, but sometimes you have to be.

People who hold the elevator for the world annoy me. This morning, I stepped into the elevator then this woman ran for the elevator, so I held the door for her. Then she held the door for seven more people, who were walking very slowly –obviously her entourage. It took them five minutes to get to the elevator. There we were crammed like sardines. We arrived at my floor first, and I had been shoved into the back. As I tried to squeeze my way out, no one, and I mean no one made an effort to make any room or step off for a second. I said in my indoor voice,“What a rude bunch of bastards.” By the way, you can hear my indoor voice in Paraguay.

Guys who wear their tight pants below their asses annoy me. Seriously, can we ban this practice once and for all? And speaking of which, Justin Bieber annoys me. Can we ban this talentless piece of shit, too? Would you hire someone who arrived at an interview with his ass hanging out of his pants? Maybe if you produced porn.

Birds annoy me. Why do they always shit on my car after I wash and wax it? I wish birds drove cars, so I could return the favor.

Lastly, I annoy me because I thought I was supposed to become more tolerant with age. Although I ammore patient, I am still annoying.

Are you annoyed? Are you a lousy driver? Follow me, join me, get on my email list or just visit my website,

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Moron on Board

This morning, as I was leaving the gym, I noticed a mauve ribbon magnet on a Japanese car that said, “Secure Our Borders.” They have a ribbon for everything now. The car belongs to a guy who wears an Arizona State T-shirt and has a Mexican workout partner. I guess one workout partner is enough.

Bumper stickers and the like amuse me. When I was young and we got around in Conestoga wagons, the prominent sticker was “Honk if You Love Jesus.” We were Jewish, but that didn’t stop us from honking. The looks we would get. Why ask people to honk if you don’t want them to honk, you stupid honkee? And what is the meaning of the fish with Jesus in the middle? If Jesus does come back, will he be rounding up all the Chevy Malibus with Jesus fish on them?


My favorites are the vegans. They always have twenty or thirty bumper stickers that make no sense, but none of them are on the bumper. They plaster them all over the back of their Priuses. Speaking of Priuses. What the hell kind of name is Prius? It sounds like an infection of the female genitalia. "What did the doctor say?" "I have antibiotic-resistant Prius. I was scratching all night."

However, I do like the word genitalia. Fanny Flagg once got in trouble on Match Game because she used the word genitalia. It wasn’t a match. It is such a nice word. He had the most perfectly formed genitalia, setting the standard for all genitalia now and in the future.

The ones that really get on my nerves are these: “My Kid is an Honor Student at the State Penitentiary.” If the school were any good, they would realize “is” is a linking verb; therefore, it needs to be capitalized. I taught school in the 1980s, and that was when the trend to put any kid who showed up on the honor roll started. Did you go all day without pissing in your pants? Good, here’s a sticker. At fifty, I would love to get a sticker on the days I don’t piss my pants.

Here is the funny part about those honor roll stickers. Burglars follow those cars, and they know when school is in session, so they rob those houses! Your kid may be an honor student, but the sticker you really need is “Moron on Board.”

Speaking of morons. Why are there so many on the Metro this time of year … wait that is the subject of another blog entry.

Why would you put a “Baby on Board” sticker on your car? One, you are inviting every kidnapper in your proximity to try and snatch your offspring; and two, it doesn’t make you a better driver. Chances are you drive a minivan, and that alone ensures you are a menace on the highways. My brother drives a minivan, and I wonder if he will laugh at that?

The new one is the group of stick figures representing how many members your family has, what gender they all identify as and the species of your pets. Again, burglars love you. The more stick figures, the bigger your house and the more stuff they can take. And if you waste your money on stick figures, so you don’t forget you have two boys, one girl, a pot-belly pig, three goldfish and a rabbit, you probably have more money and things than you need. Don’t even bother locking your doors.

Another one from my days as a chariot racer with my friend Ben Hurowitz that you don’t see any more is “My Other Car Is a Rolls Royce.” Of course, the best one from that genre was “My Other Car Is a Piece of Shit, Too!” These days, they should print one that says, “My Car Has No Personality – the Other One, Too.”

The most annoying are the political stickers, especially the old ones. Last week, I saw a lady who had a “Ford-Dole ‘76” sticker on her car. The scary part is that it was a 2009 Cadillac. I thought Alzheimer’s patients were only allowed to drive in Florida?

I used to have a 1982 AMC Spirit, and I had rainbow stickers all over it, which as it turned out was redundant. The only people who noticed that car were lesbians. The car screamed gay! This is why I didn’t bother putting them on my AMC Eagle wagon. Again, redundant.

Funny thing about rainbow stickers. When I lived in Mount Pleasant, which is neither a mount nor pleasant, discuss, the owner of our building used to send workers who violated the border ribbon from the guy at the gym with the Japanese car and the Mexican workout partner. One of them drove a Taurus wagon with a rainbow sticker on it. I asked him about it. Apparently he bought the car used by someone who chose the homosexual lifestyle … much as I choose not to appear in unflattering light. The next day, he arrived to finish working in my apartment sans rainbow sticker on his wagon. That was too bad because he was cute, and we would have had adorable children.

One last note. I am getting a sticker that says, “My Winter Home Is a Trailer, Too.”

If you have a Jesus fish, honor roll sticker, rainbow flag or an AMC, follow me, get on my email list or just buy my books at