Date: Wed, 25 Dec 2002 16:19:33 -0600
From: Tushar Samant <scribble@POBOX.COM>
Subject: Re: No wreathe (sic) but

On Fri, Dec 20, 2002 at 08:45:28PM -0500, bonniev wrote:

> Why? What are you doing for Christmas, Tushar? Did you give
> your Secret Santa gift yet?

Sorry I missed this. What I am doing for Christmas is sit on my FATASS[tm] and look at the abundant snow on the ground and the lake beyond. I cannot watch TV since it's brimming over with lameass movies or singing, and hence I am taking it out on the list. Nobody should think I am being deprived of something wonderful, because I am not.

Yesterday I walked around a bit, in consideration of the fact that it snowed seriously for the first time. It was lovely. As I walked past my favorite Thai place I gave in and walked in and got food to go. It was lovely. I discovered later that she had packed in *my favorite damn dessert* for free. What a lovely discovery. It may be because of a mistake, but I think the innkeeper's daughter has got it for T Bone. That was a lovely feeling. T Bone always tips for good treatment.

Then I drank a lovely half-bot which I felicitously discovered around the house, had a lovely night's sleep and am drinking coffee right now. I spent some time learning some lovely new programming techniques and later I think I will go for a longish walk.

About Secret Santa: that was on balance a success. I had deliberately picked out a bar which was Christmassy beyond all reasonable expectation, and it was hence accepted as "very nice". Not only did I get an excellent gift, but my own gift was well-taken. In fact the bar lady herself said in a cigarette-hoarse voice (to the recipient) that it was a beautiful necklace honey.

After a few drinks we stepped across the street since some people wanted food. This second bar and restaurant is even more German. In fact it is so authentic we immediately felt we had crossed the border into Wisconsin itself. I instantly got hungry after seeing the menu, but other people could not find anything vegetarian on it. This was surprising to all. Nor was there anything in the nature of "bar fare", which was apparently the theme of the rest of the evening. Hence we walked drunk from one spot to another, each place directing us to the next, until we reached the heart of genericville and found what we wanted.

Despite my dislike, I ate almost all of the food they ordered and was chomping on the jalapenos others had cast out when they cleared the plates and restored dignity to the table. Thereafter, I drank three more pints in protest, or was it for rejoicing in a resting spot for one's FATASS[tm] after pushing mechanic feet, a threadless way, from blank to blank.

After toiling through a slight headache in the morning, I remembered our abandonment of the Brauhaus and made a note to go there myself with no vegetarians. I had the opportunity only a day later. This is because my long-decided-upon plan-A fizzled out.

After walking a distance and getting to the restaurant Ixcapuzalco, conveniently located in the heart of the north side Polish village, I discovered they were closed for the time. They would only open after two hours. Though hungry and expectant, T Bone was not fazed even slightly. But when I walked up to Czerwone Jabl/usko, and saw a line outside, I lost some of my hope. One cannot fight through this without knowing the language. Orbit and Barbakan were "smote on the ice" last year--to make an ethnic joke.

This is exactly the kind of emergency when inspiration strikes, and carried by that I hopped from bus to bus until I was back at the Brauhaus, only two days later.

No matter how much you resist it, you are forced to admit: the place has a few "German" characteristics. Compare it to the other great beer-drinking culture in the city, and many, many points of contrast force themselves on your consciousness. It is well lit. There is gleaming glass and gold wherever you look. The bar chairs and the even formica bar are comfortably upholstered. The chairs do not have uneven legs, nor does the floor deviate from perfect planarity. They put a "bar table" on the bar if you are going to eat, and it is engineered to fit perfectly into the shape of the bar and remain solidly horizontal. The beer glasses have ugly Sure-Grip surfaces. (A Guinness pint-glass ensures a grip by a far subtler and not always reliable technique. Ah, "not always reliable" can have no place here, sorry ...) The place is climate-controlled and warm.

More to the point, these are the people who form the backbone of old-school America. There is no counterpart of paddyism in this place. So little of a problem does "assimilation" pose to the spirit that the reality of the problem often goes unnoticed. Yes, you might hear lame accordion music, but it will be followed by a Cuban bolero or an R&B song. No problem. The bartenders are mostly Croatian females--no problem. There is no "personality" anybody has interest in imposing.

Naturally, I consumed two big ass bratwursts and a mountain of sauerkraut, and drank two liters of beer, and walked out into the cold in a contented frame of mind. Sheboygan style, baby!

This would have been an unacceptable episode of inebriation within so short an interval of another, but it was extraordinary circumstance. Under the infuence of food or drink, of course, you can't think contrary thoughts. If you are buzzed on something you just ate or drank, you will have only one general sentiment: Germany is great. Or: France is great or England is great, Ireland is great, Italy is great, Belgium is great, Greece is great, Sweden is great, Poland is great (pretty much, Israel is the only nation to hate). Oh, right.

After that, I got kind of terrified of the extreme comfort of the place I had left, and so I took the train to the pub off Ashland and slammed some pts sitting on a rickety stool at a hard knotty bar, in darkness.

This has been This American Life, dumb monologue number 143.