Monday, April 13, 2009

I wonder if he'd wanna be a manta ray

So then. I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. I hear there was a holiday of some sort yesterday, but it's hard for me to get particularly worked up over any holiday that does not involve a free day off of work, so it was pretty much just an average Sunday to me. Well, average except for the late morning brunch with friends, which perhaps should be a routine part of every weekend, but is not, given that it conflicts with both my desire to stay in bed as late as I feel like on weekends and my desire not to spend any more money than I already spend on social plans with friends.

Regardless, I had a fine time yesterday. Our urban orphans and heathens Easter brunch gets a little more top shelf every year. The whole tradition started four years ago when my sister and I were at Nye's Polonaise (best bar in America!) with some friends for my birthday and she spotted the Easter brunch flier on our table. Neither of us planned to go home for the holiday, and we decided it would be fun to gather our friends for the sort of traditional old school supper club buffet we would be partaking in if we were making the six-hour drive to attend church and dinner with our parents. In my mind, it was exactly what a holiday meal should be (or rather, for better or worse, what a holiday meal always has been, and as such, it had a homey and nostalgic appeal), but a certain foodie friend of mine who shall remain nameless (ahem) to this day cannot get past the cheese cubes and deli slices served on the appetizer table, and hence, we've sought out swankier digs in the years since.

This year took us to Vincent (sorry; Vincent: A RESTAURANT! That subtitle is obviously important, as it is everywhere, including in the outgoing voicemail message that plays when you call to modify your reservation), where I correctly predicted all of the choices the aforementioned foodie friend would make from the prix-fixe menu, while I, on the other hand, thwarted the efforts of anyone who might have attempted the same guessing game for my selections by choosing both eggs(!) AND fish(!) with my meal. If only I had ordered the mushroom-heavy buckwheat crepes as well, my entire table might have passed out from the shock (or at the very least, examined the base of my skull for evidence of some type of alien implantation). Alas, let us never assume I am always a creature of habit, too set in her ways to entertain the idea of trying new things. Despite my life-long hatred of eggs, I discovered last summer that Eggs Benedict is actually quite tasty, so I chose that over the fruit-topped waffles for my second course yesterday. And for my third course, I bypassed the safe-sounding spring vegetable risotto and went out on a limb and ordered the pan-seared skate wing instead. Skate is a fish, in case like me, you didn't know that. And no, fish don't have wings, but apparently skate is a member of the ray family, so essentially I ate something akin to the wing-like fin of a stingray or manta ray for brunch. According to my friends, it was spectacular, but apparently eggs and skate in the same meal is a bit too far out of the comfort zone for me, because for the rest of the day, my stomach felt a bit off. You know, sort of like I'd just eaten runny egg yolk and rubbery manta ray. No long-term harm done, of course. We'll call it a learning experience. Yesterday I learned I don't like skate wings. Knowledge is power, friends.

All that said, for the most part, our entire brunch was delicious, and I really should revisit Vincent (A RESTAURANT!) for their much-hyped happy hour sometime soon.

A few hours after brunch, I was off to the Varsity Theater to cap off the final part of my three-concert week. Both Lily Allen and Mates of State put on an excellent show, by the way. I still sort of can't believe the latter played to a sold-out crowd in a respectably sized venue. I am about to sound like one of those high and mighty music fans who says "Well I saw Nirvana back when they opened for... [whoever Nirvana opened for when no one had heard of them yet]" (See? Totally not that kind of music snob at all. And yet...) The first time I saw Mates of State was over another Easter weekend, probably close to ten years ago now. I'd made plans to go out with my friend Kristina that Saturday evening. If I remember correctly, we were headed to First Avenue for a Mason Jennings show. (Mason Jennings, by the way, married a girl who was at several of the same parties I attended my senior year of high school. That would be a more impressive bit of trivia if it were Mason himself and not his now wife, or if there were actually any chance whatsoever that said wife might actually remember who I am, and yet for some reason I bring it up anyway.) We were headed to see Mason Jennings in First Avenue's main room, but the band playing later in the much smaller adjacent 7th Street Entry was one Kristina had heard on a new music sampler that came with a magazine she subscribed to at the time, and she decided that for an extra five bucks, we should check out that show while we were there as well.

I remember an inordinate number of strange details from that evening. I remember Kristina bargaining with the door man, who insisted we were not allowed to leave and re-enter once we'd paid, and yet who let us leave for an hour to visit The Saloon anyway. The Saloon is a gay bar, for those of you not in the Twin Cities and therefore not aware, and I remember that while at The Saloon, we saw a promotional performance by the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus of their newest production, which was an all-Abba review. I also remember using The Saloon's computers and free Internet access to drunk-email the friend who would later become my boyfriend, because I thought he would find the whole evening entirely amusing. And after we'd done all of that (and likely also used the completely empty women's restroom at the gay bar), we went back to the 7th Street Entry, where we saw Mates of State perform in a room barely larger than my living room, to a crowd of fewer than 30 people. They were good, and I wondered if I'd ever hear of them again, and lo, here I am, years later, spending another Easter weekend with the Mates of State, but doing so with a whole lot more company than last time. Also, doing so entirely more sober than last time, as one more thing I remember about that evening was crashing on Kristina's futon and waking up on Easter Sunday very glad I didn't have to rally myself off to church with my family that day.

Another thing I remember about that Easter Saturday so many years ago is that I received a birthday gift from Kristina that night. She bought me a house plant that, in the tipsy ridiculousness that followed three gin and tonics (which were also a new introduction to me that night--I insisted that gin tasted like pine needles, and Kristina insisted that I give it a chance anyway), we decided should be named Menos. Menos. As in, the Spanish word for "minus," which I believe came up only because Kristina asked me what time it was, and for some reason, I decided to answer her in Spanish. "Son las diez menos quarto," I said. And suddenly, "Menos" was the funniest word in the world to her. "Menos! Menos!" she cried. "You should name your plant Menos!" And so I did. And because not too long after that, Kristina moved away and essentially fell out of my life, that plant is still alive and growing atop a shelf in the corner of my kitchen today. I've realized, you see, that plants from friends who aren't particularly important to me are the only plants I can successfully keep alive. The peace lily from my good friends Dale and Jenny (the one that came with a Last Will and Testament, such is my reputation for bad luck with plants) died within a matter of weeks. The flowering plant my former good friend Julie gave me? It met a similar fate. But the mish-mosh of breeds in a planter from an old coworker of mine? (The strange many-in-one plant that I aptly named Clusterfuck?) That one is still thriving, as is Menos, even though sadly, my friendship with Kristina is not.

I had to mention Dale and Jenny by name in that last paragraph, by the way, because I sent Dale an email last week, wherein I was hesitant to rattle on about any stories from my life of late because I knew there was a chance he'd already read those stories himself. I don't know how regularly he checks in on my blog, but I know he stops by from time to time, and I wasn't sure how recently he'd done so. "I still read your blog," he said in his reply. "But mainly I'm just looking for stories about me or your dad's snack cabinet." No snack cabinet in this post, obviously, but at least you got your mention, Dale.

Speaking of Dale, he really should get his own blog, as I'm certain he has ample fodder for it at home. The other day, his two-year-old apparently proclaimed, "I don't wanna be a robot!" That's a story I'd want to hear the rest of; wouldn't you?


-R- said...

You really need to write more frequently because there is too much here to comment on. Plus, I like reading what you write, so more posts would be good.

Anyway, I have met vincent (THE OWNER) twice, and he seems like a really good guy.

Is the title related to The Simpsons?

Lara said...

Stefanie, I love you. I giggled through most of this post and it is just so YOU. ANyway, I suppose I should be embarrassed about not knowing who Mates of State is/are, huh? I think you should make me a mix tape (er, CD) and put them on it. Yes!

3carnations said...

Sounds like a lovely Easter, and a lovely RESTAURANT!

lizgwiz said...

I don't want to be a robot either, for the record. What use would a robot have for the yummy pile of noodles I'm currently plowing through?

I don't know who Mates of State is/are, either. Am I uncool? (Okay, I know the answer to that is both yes and no, depending. Hee.)

Jess said...

OK, Torsten spent pretty much all of Easter complaining that a) I hadn't hidden eggs for him to find, and b) in Europe, they all got yesterday off, and the Friday before, too. To be honest I kind of agree with both his complaints.

flurrious said...

This is a lot of information. I don't know who Mates of State are either. I would say that makes me uncool except I already proved that back in the early '90s when my friend Marianne told me Kurt Cobain had died and I asked if that was someone in her office.

Sauntering Soul said...

I'm cracking up at Flurrious. Oh and at you too, Stefanie. Add me to the list of people who have never heard of Mates of State. But I've never even seen a James Bond movie either so it's probably not so surprising.

-R- said...

I looked back at the old snack cabinet posts, and you never explained why your parents have 4 refrigerators.

3carnations said...

I should have mentioned that I also don't know who Mates of State is/are.

We have two refrigerators. We wanted a freezer, and friends had an extra, extra fridge (they had two for themselves), so they gave it to us. We keep extra meat and such in the freezer, and extra drinks and things in the fridge.

courtney said...

I know who Mates of State are! And I like them. I'm so cool. Not as cool as you, of course, because you have seen them TWICE, but knowing their music has to get me some pointers.

I think everything should come with a parenthetical, exclamation-pointed description after it. For example: Stefanie (THE BLOGGER!), Mates of State (THE BAND!), carrots (A VEGETABLE!)

Stefanie said...

R--I know; that post did get a little out of hand, didn't it? Sorry about that. And no, I just couldn't think of a title, and when I got to the end, about my friend's kid who doesn't want to be a robot, I thought maybe he'd want to be a manta ray (or a skate wing?) instead. Eh. It was a stretch. I hate titling most posts.

Lara--It seems you are not alone, so no need to be embarrassed. I'll have to see what I can do to remedy this.

3Cs--It was. (IT WAS!) :-)

Liz--Apparently being a robot is totally overrated.

Jess--I don't care about the eggs, but I am definitely on board with the European approach to paid holidays.

Flurrious--You crack me up. Let's just say you're above the mainstream, not uncool for being unaware of it. :-)

SS--I've never seen a James Bond movie either, but I fail to see the correlation between the two. Also, I am sort of not seeing a James Bond movie on *purpose* at this point. If I haven't seen one by now, that's a record I should hold on to, right? Sort of like never having a Diet Coke or hearing a Britney Spears song. (Don't worry; I've actually done both.)

R--I could give you lots of answers to that question. They hate the earth. They want an astronomical electrical bill. They are exercising their Republican right to pretend natural resources are unlimited. Sorry. Making this about politics was probably uncalled for, huh? Anyway, they are packrats with food just as they are with other things. So when their freezer was too full of Schwan's chicken breasts and ice cream treats that they weren't eating anyway, instead of getting rid of those items, they bought an extra freezer. And when my great aunt died, instead of selling her refrigerator, they brought it to their house and put it in the basement to hold extra sodas and beer and such (for all that entertaining they don't do). The weird thing is, they already *had* a refrigerator in their basement filled with beverages they weren't serving or drinking. This is a very long way of saying I actually have no idea why they have four refrigerators. And I haven't even mentioned the mini fridge in my dad's office yet, either. Sigh.

3Cs--I think that's the basic logic for my parents' extra fridges, too, but it's a little unnecessary and out of hand in their case.

Courtney--I should clarify that the added emphasis was my own. They do indeed use the "a restaurant" subtitle, but without the capitalization and exclamation point. It *is* more fun that way, though, right? Also, I would have pointed out that I've seen Mates of State THREE times, but this post was already too damn long as it was. Sort of like this comment. :-)