I’ve always lived in Westchester, and I’ve always known people in my days who play to “go big or go home.” They don’t do it unless they can do it right. Great hotels, trendy restaurants, dressed to impress and living large. If I thought I had to go big or go home all the time I’d probably never leave my home. Some of my favorite experiences in life have been at the kitschy, corny outposts of America, scorned by the IPA-drinking, gastropubbing Instagram-snapping mise en scène snobs, and you know who you are.
We took a nice low-key Valentine’s Day weekend trip up to Kingston, New York, to get away and do a little skiing in the Catskills. One of the best things about going on a car trip is the snacks. I had packed a huge canister of Moose Munch, and when it came time to turn loose the Moose, the cardboard top was sealed to its cylindrical base with some type of clear industrial tape. The light in the car wasn’t strong enough to see where the tape ended to dig your fingernail underneath it, so I suggested my wife use one of the keys on my key ring to saw through it. “Doesn’t this kind of thing make you nuts?” I asked. “Why?” She said.
“We’re stuck in the car much longer than it will take to get this thing open.” She thinks this kind of thing makes me nuts, but I find a strange pleasure in exposing random injustices in the world and annoying everyone else with them. All I had on my key ring were electronic fobs for both cars, three bike lock keys and my motorcycle key, between the six of them less teeth than an Appalachian octogenarian, and the thought occurred to me that I might have to call a locksmith to find the right key to get the Moose Munch open, but before you know it we were at the hotel, especially since you’re only finding out about it now.
I often stay at cheaper hotels, not because I’m cheap, but to rail against the tide of the privileged elite. Also because I’m cheap. When we check into the hotel and I go to wash up, the shower head reaches approximately to my belly-button. I won’t bore you with the minutia so I’ll just give you the details: I’m 6-foot two and I had to arch my back like a limbo dancer just so I could almost throw out my back trying to wash my hair. I remember an episode of “Forensic Files” where the guy drowns his wife in a hotel bathtub and stages the crime scene to look like she tried to hold onto the towel rack next to the shower head and it broke off and she fell, causing her causing her husband to drown her. The cops didn’t buy it, of course, and I could imagine my wife trying to explain my sudden demise while trying to take a shower bent over backwards in the “bridge” position holding onto the bathtub spout after I fell and knocked myself unconscious. This is a long story but it shows why I don’t carry enough life insurance to make it worthwhile for anyone to embarrass themselves with a weird tale like that after trying to drown me in a shower.
The skiing went well enough, but I don’t go in for great displays of heroism on the slopes these days. The best conditions you can hope for in the Northeast are what they hopefully refer to as “loose granular,” which is also how people at work refer to my thinking. “Loose granular” is a euphemism for “chopped up ice,” and most of it looks like what you’d put into a margarita glass just before you add the margarita. So I stay on the blue slopes and try to keep out of everybody’s way. Don’t I want to challenge myself? Yes, I want to challenge myself to a milkshake drinking contest, and the winner will be ME.
Nightlife in Kingston isn’t what you would call robust, but all I really need is one serviceable bar that has bad American beer. We hung out at one of those small authentic pubs where at any given time fifty percent of the clientele is outdoors having a smoke, and the other half just got back from one. In fact, while we were there the barmaid shouted, “If anybody needs anything, get it now, because I’m going out for a smoke!” And she left us to our own devices for the length of a Marlboro Light. In Middle School I would have taken the opportunity to write something subtle but ironic on the blackboard, but this time I simply commandeered some darts from behind the bar. I used to be a pretty good throw, but it’s impossible to find a real dart board in a bar these days. No one wants to move the restrooms from the back of the building to the front to prevent dart throwers from using someone’s ear as an acceptable substitute for a bulls-eye.
We had a great time hanging out, upstate-style. Friendly people, nice restaurants, and nothing disastrous to report, I’m sorry to say.
Once in a while I might splurge, and live a little larger than usual. I’ve been to some great restaurants, and I’ve been to restaurants where every single thing went wrong. The food is usually better at the great restaurant, but once the check comes and I’ve gulped loudly enough to show how generous I am, the experience is over. A good horror story lasts forever.
Join Rick and Trillium on Friday, February 28th, at the Katonah Library at 6:00PM for Chili Night! And see you March 13th, 5:00PM at DeCiccos in Somers for happy hour with Trillium! Say hello at: email@example.com