Monday, July 16, 2007

New Jersey....only the stong survive

Thursday night was date night with “Swim Boy”. Note “Mr. Rebound” is still in the picture, but he travels so much for work that I figure I am entitled to play the field. Anyway, Swim Boy is the cute, funny, athletic, All-American boy that I met while swimming at the pool (see prior blog post). He had never explored Hell’s Kitchen (aka my hood) so our date was tour del HK. We started off the night at Port 41 which is this dive bar tucked right beside the bus terminal. The area around the bus terminal is super sketchy, so you are probably wondering why that particular bar has appeal. Two words….skee-ball! Okay that may be one word because of the hyphen…whatever, I’m an engineer, not a writer. After two rounds of drinks, I challenged him to a game. Now this guy is super athletic and I am wearing high heels and a dress (hey gotta look cute when on the market), so you could guess who would have the upper hand in the game. Wrong! I smoked him! Seriously, I finished up with 270 thanks to a very erratic ball that magically dropped into the 100 slot and the poor boy only got a measly 160. Hurrah! He demanded a rematch to reclaim his man hood but I refused because I wanted to savor the glory.

Our next stop was the local fav Rudy’s. Not only can you get $3 beers (super cheap), but you can enjoy them out in the beer garden (more like someone’s small Chicago back yard). At Rudy’s, I introduced him to the oh so classy booth seats that consist of duct tape over pleather! He told me he was gearing up for the literature GRE breath test because he wants to attend Yale grad school and eventually teach at some university. Hmm, brains and brawn….gotta go out and get a lotto ticket because my lucky streak is in full force! First Mr. Rebound, now him….dag! Okay okay, not quite everything was perfect. He was the captain of the chess team in high school (ah ha ha) and he lives in Brooklyn (ugh…leaving the island…boo).

Friday night I ventured into the great unknown….New Jersey. Okay the only time I had been in NJ before was when I went to Atlantic City, and I don’t even know if that counts as truly visiting NJ. Anyway, a co-worker was having a BBQ at her newly finished condo out in Jersey City. There are a few towns (Hoboken) along the coast of NJ that are just one or two train stops from the city. My work friend Rob and I left from work and hopped on the PATH train. Being jaded by Chicago and NY subway, I figured there was one train line that went into NJ and it had multiple stops on the same line. Wrong! We ended up dead ended in Hoboken and had to take two more trains to work our way to Jersey City. The train platforms did not have signs that say where the train was heading, so it was a crap shoot to which train would pull in where. Plus the trains only had small lighted signs (dating from 1950 I suspect due to their appearance) above the doors. We must have looked super lost because an old lady walked over and asked us “okay, you surely have never been to NJ before, where exactly do you want to go?”.

The work BBQ was as expected. The highlight was talking to a random real estate Jersey girl (yeah she fitted every Jersey stereotype to a T). She would blurt out things like “feel my guns, I am so buff, yeah but I have a big ass, but I’m tight, feel it come-on feel it”. Plus she had lost her volume control so she was shouting these things out for the world to know. Makes me wonder if I tend to loose volume control when I drink…oh well, could be worse.

Around midnight, I left the party to meet up with Josh in the Village. Little did I know that New Jersey is really Alcatraz and that I would have a hell of a time escaping! Walking the four blocks to the train station was the scariest experience of my east coast tour sofar! Seriously, Jersey City is the sketchiest place on earth, and that says something since I live in a very sketchy area of Chicago. I waited on the train platform for 30 minutes before the train arrived. When it did, I sat on it for another 15 minutes because it was having mechanical problems but would move shortly (yeah shortly my ass!). I finally gave up figuring it was NJ’s way of further annoying city people, and hailed a cab (I got so lucky that there was a cab in the area and it was willing to go to Manhattan). By the time I got into the city, I was fed up and not in the mood to party. Thankfully, Josh had met up with Jeff and Laura in my absence.

Saturday was running and shopping day. I started off the day by waking up early to run 9 miles with my running friend Aimee. She signed up for the half marathon, and I promised to run with her. Little did I know the training would cut into my sleeping in time. Oh well, since the race is in three short weeks. After the run (and a glorious cold shower), I stopped in a newly opened Indian buffet in my hood. I was starved from the run, so I went through three heaping plates and two desserts! Poor guys were probably thinking, how could I go through that much food (I wonder if they thought I was a competitive eater or something). Anyway, I got my $9.99 worth….mmmmnn love Indian food. Later, I headed down to Canal street in Chinatown to score gifts for the family and friends since I would be heading back to good ole Nebraska next weekend. Of course I hit up my favorite basement room of purses for a selection or two. I also checked out the Louis bags from a West African man who told me “stand next to me instead of in front of me so you look like my girlfriend and I don’t get arrested by the cops”. Nothing beats dealing with “cash only” transactions.

Saturday night was low key with Rob, Ali and I lounging out on Rob’s rooftop (see pride parade post). Rob had just returned from a peace corp/structural engineering trip to Guatemala where he volunteered to design/construct a bridge. He goes two or three times a year….yeah ultimate boy scout. Anyway, each time he goes to Central America, he comes back with bottles of moonshine. He says the beer there is so expensive (equivalent to $8 a beer) that everyone just drinks moonshine. You evidently go into a general store and ask for the Coca-cola Blanca and they will pull out an empty two liter bottle and run out into the woods. A few minutes later, they return with the two liter full of clear moonshine. He claimed that they enhance with age (what is this…wine), and he had vintages dating five years back. Well we sampled all the vintages (actually Ali just tried the last one because he said the last time he drank moonshine…Kansas moonshine mind you…he couldn’t see right for a week). They probably would have been better used to remove paint or polish silver, but we sipped them anyway. By 2am, my stomach was fighting with the spirits, so I headed home.


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