Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Weekend

JV spent the weekend on the West Side, with threefold purpose:
  1. To meet and earn the approval of my good friends Miriam and Alona
  2. To get a decent haircut, since when he goes alone he gets the wrong cut
  3. To take me to Prime Grill
Mission accomplished on all three counts.

Friday night JV and I went to Miriam's. She wanted to show him that not all modern orthodox people are unpleasant, nasty, shallow, and so focused on the trees that they completely miss the forest.

"I already know that," said JV as we walked up Columbus Avenue. "I know there are good, decent people who happen to be orthodox. But they're not good, decent people because they're frum. They're good and decent in spite of being frum."

Dinner was interesting. Two guests dominated the conversation. One was a very idealistic young lawyer who's convinced he can make the West Side a more warm and welcoming place by encouraging people to socialize and be more friendly and connected to each other. To further this lofty goal, he started an organization and called it the New World Order.

"Does he not realize that sounds like 'Aryan Brotherhood'?" I asked Miriam quietly when I helped her clear the salad and serve the main course.

One of the NWO's projects is to make the world's biggest tallis. They plan to do this over the summer. They have a rabbinic adviser and lots of paint. I'm not sure where they're planning to get the fabric. But when Young Idealistic Attorney wasn't talking up his giant tallis, he was expounding on his love for "vanity canes" (Conan O'Brien's term for "walking sticks"). In his quest for fantastic and elaborate (and cheap) vanity canes, YIA plumbed the depths of scary Brooklyn. He's from Los Angeles and thinks New York has an excess of weirdos.

Whatever.... At least he's well-meaning and wants to help people (albeit screening out the weirdos who probably need the most help). The other loudmouth was a very pushy social worker who believed she was doing CBT because she told a depressed client, "You have to make a list of five things that make you happy," and thought she had substance abuse experience because one of her clients used to use heroin.

"How often do you test him?" I asked.

"Test him for what?" she said.

Sometimes I think that some people talk in inverse proportion to their intelligence. Between Pushy Social Worker and YIA, the meal had the opposite effect Miriam intended. It really just reinforced JV's low opinion of West Siders and the orthodox. JV barely got a word in during the entire meal.

JV walked me home afterward. "I can't believe how little I related to PSW and YIA," I told JV. "I don't know if I'm part of that world anymore."

JV smiled. "You have other options," he said.

Lunch at Alona's was much nicer. Batya flirted shamelessly with JV the whole time. I was tempted to say, "See how nice having a little girl is?" but thought that might be pushing it.

Alona and Adir are unusual among the modern orthodox in that they are committed Democrats. Somehow President Obama came up, of whom JV is not a fan. I'm not a huge fan either, but JV was quite disparaging.

"What kind of message did he send to Poland and Czech Republic by withdrawing the missile treaty?" JV demanded of us.

Alona and I looked at each other blankly. We had no idea Obama had sent any message to Poland and Czech Republic.

"What did he do?" I asked. Apparently George W. Bush endorsed some kind of missile treaty for Poland and Czech Republic, to protect them from Russia's gathering power. And Obama reneged on that treaty, showing those nascent democracies that established democracies like the U.S. don't keep their promises. JV was born in Belarus and still takes a lively interest in that part of the world. Alona and I like to think we're well-informed, but clearly we're no match for JV.

Saturday night JV and I went to see "Avatar," which we thoroughly enjoyed. It's not subtle; James Cameron might as well flash a big sign saying "THIS IS FORESHADOWING" at various points, but the special effects were spectacular. On the way to the theater we walked past Magnolia Bakery, which is famous for its cupcakes.

"Why are you stopping?" I asked JV.

"Maybe I'll get you one of these on the way back," said JV.

"Don't toy with me," I warned him. "It won't get you out of your deep-fried Milky Way obligation."

"I know," said JV, as ruefully as Han Solo in "The Empire Strikes Back." After "Avatar" we stopped into the bakery.

"Maybe we'll get two," said JV.

I looked at him quizzically. When JV and I got back together, he'd been on a serious diet and exercise regimen for a few months and had lost about 25 pounds. After we started dating, the exercise diminished in frequency, but he was still pretty careful about what he ate. Now he's as careless as I am. This is not a good thing; no matter how beautiful he thinks I am (and I think it's considerably beautiful even though he hardly ever says anything), I definitely need to lose weight. And I don't want to sabotage his efforts in that area, either.

But it was Valentine's Weekend. We didn't have to diet right then. So we got two cupcakes and split them. If you're going to Magnolia bakery, I would advise you to have the red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting. The chocolate cupcake was dry and crumbly, and the vanilla frosting was bland and much too sweet.

Sunday morning we went to the haircuts I'd booked for us. "We need to look through magazines to see what I want," I told him on the subway.

JV raised his eyebrows.

"What we want," I amended. "But in this case it amounts to the same thing, doesn't it? You don't really have an opinion and I do." Actually, he does have opinions and I don't completely discount them. At the salon we looked through a GQ and an In Touch. He vetoed some of the styles I showed him but was amenable to others. I talked to the stylist and JV got a great haircut.

I got my hair colored. I had been advised by another hairdresser to get a semipermanent shade slightly lighter than my natural color. The hairdresser at the salon advised against semipermanent and even though I asked for a lighter dark brown, gave me a darker dark brown than my natural color.

I'm kind of upset about that, but I think he gave me a good cut -- I won't know until I wash and air dry it. He also blew it out straight very quickly. But we're still not going back there.

"I think this could be one of our rituals," I told JV.


"Every couple has things they do together," I told him. "It's part of how they maintain the relationship, by having fun together. You have to admit that getting your hair cut with me is a lot more fun than getting it cut without me."

"That's certainly true," said JV.

"And you get a much better cut," I said.

"Also true," JV agreed.

"What were you thinking before that first haircut I took you for?" I asked him.

"'Humor her,'" said JV dryly. "'Let her have her fun. It's no big deal.'"

"I had a lot more power over you at that point than I do now," I said.

"You did," JV agreed.

"That's why you were afraid of hanging out as friends all the time, like I said we should after the first haircut," I said. "You were afraid you'd fall desperately in love with me again."

JV thought about that. "True," he said.

"Joke's on me," I grumbled.

JV laughed and kissed me on the forehead. "Isn't it better this way?" he asked. "Isn't it a healthier relationship when you don't have all that power over me?"

"Well, it's a lot less convenient," I said.

"You seem to manage," JV observed. I suppose I do.

We wound up our weekend at Prime Grill, where I had sangria, fois gras, duck, and chocolate lava cake, which I love as much as chocolate souffle. I was afraid it wouldn't live up to the magic I'd invested in it. I was wrong; it was absolutely wonderful.

Although I think $16 is a lot to pay for a glass of sangria, and $12 is entirely too much for a plate of grilled peppers and zucchini. But the foie gras, duck, and lava cake were sublime. And now JV is the only man who promised to take me to Prime Grill and actually kept his promise.

Of course, he still has to get me that deep-fried Milky Way, and we have to figure out what we're doing over Passover. He wants to go to Florida with his children and his parents. Most likely they'd rent a 2-bedroom condo and put me in the living room on the foldout couch.

I can live with that, although I'll need to get pajamas. I didn't get to wear my bathing suits all that much on the Alaska Cruise, so even though I don't really like going to the beach, I think it will be worth it. And I was able to take off from work for all of Pesach and even the day before, since I have 90 hours of vacation time and only until June 11 -- the day I started in 2008 -- to use them.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

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