Friday, September 01, 2006


So I think I see the light at the end of the tunnel. The Tiny-Bug Tunnel. I think this because my exterminator has told me that I must sleep in my bed in order to "bait" the bugs so that they cross his poison spray and cease to exist. Okay, this is somewhat akin to psychological torture -- I mean, how can I go to sleep with the knowledge that the only purpose of my body is as a warm, carbon dioxide-exhaling lure for invisible blood-suckers? How? By being psychologically prepared. I tried to pretend I was going camping, and that, like most camping trips where one sleeps in the Great Outdoors, one can expect to wake up with a couple of mosquito or spider bites. No biggie, right? Yeah...I'm camping. Bear with me: until some genius invents a Body Bait (a tiny baby one can strap into their bed, or a kitten, or some adorable endangered species), I'll have to provide my own.

So Wednesday night I did it. I was exhausted by the time I got to bed at 2am, so falling asleep wasn't especially difficult, but staying asleep was. I'll admit to some moments of prayer. In the morning I woke up, checked my bed, checked myself, and...NO BITES! Hooray, right? Well, there would be no celebrating for this former optimist; I know better now than to think that things are just going to work out so "easily" in my favor. So last night, my second night as bait, I needed a little help to get into "camping" mode. So here is where I'd like to give a Shout-Out to God and to Trader Joe's Chardonnay. Because after some prayer and two glasses of that liquid fool's gold, served with crackers spread with goat cheese and drizzled with honey (I am a classy camper, folks), I was ready to pass out and be bait. Alcohol, when applied correctly, really does work.

As I was dozing, though, I got a text from my friend who has been forced to bear witness to this fiasco, which, in turn, has turned him into as much of a paranoid freak as I have become (seriously, guys: Prevent, Don't Panic. Buy some Steri-Fab and spray your shoes and bags when you walk in the house. And vacuum. And get rid of clutter. And, if that doesn't work, shoot yourself in the face). So anyway, my friend texts me to let me know that as he rinsed some grapes in a colander (the most innocent task in the world), he found a dead moth. What to do? I told him to give the grapes a good re-wash and then eat them. In my alcoholic daze I also told him that, "A moth is a butterfly, a dandelion is a flower." What. The. Fuck? I think I was trying to make the point that a moth is only gross because of its semantic distinction, but that in fact, it's as harmless as finding a dead butterfly in your grapes. Why are dandelions weeds and not flowers? They're still pretty, right? Anyway, I am a maniac apparantly, because my poetic response did nothing to soothe him. He was grossed out. Justifiably. I fell asleep before I could finish the text-convo, but I hope he ate the grapes because, come on, grapes are delicious and moths are harmless as long as they're not in your closet.

And here's the thing. About the bugs. They have forced me to ask way too many existential questions, and one of them is: What is gross? My tolerance for disgust has increased, I think, because of their presence in my life. Time was I wouldn't eat grapes if a dead moth appeared among their branches. But now I will. Hell yeah! I remember finding larvae in some instant oatmeal I'd been eating at work, only after I'd eaten half the package. I literally dry-heaved for 20 minutes after that discovery, but was I physiologically harmed in any way? No. Not at all. And yet I was so thoroughly disgusted. Disgusted by something HARMLESS. What I should fear are the pesticides being sprayed in my room, because though they may seem benign today, there's a possibility I will feel their bite much later in my life, and if I do (and here's hoping I don't) it won't be a little welt. So what is scary and gross? The possibility of a little bite I feel today? Or, I should say, DON'T feel. Because this morning, after the second night as bait, I woke up bite-free. I was pleased!

But I will say this: eat the grapes. Get close to "filth". We're all in it together, it's us and the bugs...and the birds, and the fish, and the frogs, and the worms. And we all need food. And ultimately, we all become food.

That doesn't mean I'm totally cool with certain kinds of bugs, though. I'm allowed to have preferences. Two nights down, the rest of my life to go...

Monday, August 28, 2006


Avoiding one's domicile forces one to eat out. A lot. Yesterday was quite the splurge day, increasing the size of my midsection in direct proportion to the thinning of my wallet.

It started with a brunch at Norma's, in the Parker Meridien. I treated my friend Matt because he is always treating me and also because he had never been there, which is a shande considering that he's as much of a food fag as I am. We had to wait an hour for our table, but it was completely worth it because Norma's brunch menu is outrageous in all the best ways. Nevermind the expense of "hotel" dining (coffee is $5, a side of bacon is $7), because there is a gourmet chef with a charming sense of humor in the kitchen. Matt ordered Duck Shepard's Pie, which was a new menu item, and I had Berry Brioche French Toast, which is an unusual choice for me (I generally prefer savory over sweet, but I've had a rough week.5 so I decided it would be okay to have dessert for breakfast).

Matt's dish was a reasonable portion and really yummy. Can't really go wrong with creamy mashed potatoes and luxuriously fatty duck meat. But my dish was out of control, both size and taste-wise. The kitchen basically sent out an entire loaf of ridiculously thick slices of brioche, like, unecessarily huge, drenched in a pool of warm berry compote. And they didn't skimp on the berries (straw, blue, rasp, and black)! I made a promise to myself before I dug in that I would not finish it, but I guess I am not that good at keeping promises because all of a sudden the obnoxious loaf was inside of me and my plate was practically clean. "Well," I thought, "there is no need to eat anything else today. I can't imagine ever being hungry again."

Guys, I am not smart. Especially when it comes to anticipating how I'm going to feel in the future based on current feelings. I am a TERRIBLE predictor of my own later behavior, even though I'm not a terribly spontaneous person. Why would I ever think that eating the equivalent of an enormous seven-layer-cake in the mid-afternoon would satiate me for the rest of the day? Is it because I'm in denial that my stomach is a hedonist? Yes.

Later that evening I met up with my college friends Nate and Luke. Luke lives in LA and I see him about once a year so I took it upon myself to make sure he ate well during his little NY visit. As we shmied around the West Village, we walked by Roll and Dough, a new bing stand off 6th Avenue and 3rd Street. Bings are flattened, sesame-encrusted Chinese "hot pockets," and are as delicious as a fresh Krispy Kreme donut. Bings are also incredibly cheap, so even though nobody in our party was especially hungry, I bought a spicy pork bing because it was only $1.75. And also because my stomach needs an intervention. All three of us shared it, biting into its chewy dough and making a mess on the street as its oily, fragrant meat juice burst out.

A brief sojourn for some happy-hour pitchers got us thinking about dinner, and Luke wanted Malyasian. "To Nonya!" I declared. I don't often make such dorky declarations, but when I do they are truly humiliating. The boys let me order for them, which was great, because I love being in charge at a restaurant with which I'm familiar. We got a spicy curry noodle soup, some Roti Canai (that awesome flatbread bread with the curry dip), a "room temperature" chicken with salty-spicy sauce, and, 'cause Luke was pushing for it, Mee Grob, a spicy noodle stir-fry. Aces all around. The boys were psyched. Luke ate like a bird and Nate and I cleaned up. Even though, at that point, it was completely unecessary for me to consume anything more that day. "Why don't you eat more?" I said to Luke, because I knew he liked the taste of the food. "I want rice pudding after, and I'm saving room," he said. It made sense. On our way to Nonya we had passed Rice To Riches, and Luke got excited. Like, REALLY excited. I'll say no more about that.

So: we went to Rice to Riches. At this point I was stuffed to the gills -- I mean, my body was still negotiating its cake-breakfast, but Nate wanted to share, and I didn't want to NOT share because that would be selfish. So we split a marscapone/cherry flavored rice pudding. Luke got chocolate chip. I ate a lot of his, because it was delicious and seriously: Luke eats REALLY slowly and I hate to watch good food oxidize. At this point I got the sleepy feeling that comes from eating too much and also sleeping fitfully on one's brother's couch to avoid having one's blood sucked, so we said our goodnights.