Monday, July 26, 2010

Harry Connick Jr Part I

This past Saturday I got myself some massive get-outta-jail points from the wife. See, she’s a huge Harry Connick Jr fan, and me, being a normal red-blooded male, well, not so much. She’s seen Harry twice before, both times with girlfriends. These tickets were a gift from her parents, and, for some reason, none of her friends could go with her. So I volunteered.

All in all, it was an evening of good and bad.

First, as you may know, the New York area has been going through a hellish July temperature-wise. It’s ten degrees cooler down south in Hilton Head, where we spent the first week of the month. Anyway, Saturday was in the mid-90s all day, still so when we left for the city around 5 pm. Fortunately, the Impala has a phenomenally quick and highly efficient air conditioning system, but that doesn’t stop you from getting sopping wet with sweat walking from the front door to the car in the driveway.

Hit no traffic going in, which was good, as we were a tad late in leaving. We had reservations for Becca, a foodie mecca on west 46th. New York City was, as ever, jam-packed on a hot Saturday night. We drove around trying to find the best parking-till-midnight, and wound up at a garage near the theater for $35. Walked six blocks to Becca in the swelter, only to find I was entering my personal nightmare.

I enjoy eating out at fine restaurants. With reservations, no pun intended.

But there are things I don’t like. I don’t like being packed in like proverbial sardines, whether waiting or eating. Nothing’s worse than having a stranger dine immediately on your elbow. I don’t like restaurants with highly-reflective-acoustically walls, ceilings, and floors. I’ve been to eateries where the cacophony of a roomful of conversations leaves me with a headache. I don’t like menus written in a foreign language or sprinkled profusely with orgasmic foodie terms. I don’t like places that don’t print the specials. Some may lean forward in eager anticipation of the thickly-accented waiter reciting a twenty-piece special menu. I don’t. I like to slowly consider my choices, and understand said choices.

Whew. I’m really not that much of a pain going out to eat. In all fairness to Becca, the preceding paragraph does not entirely apply to it. Yes, we were packed in tightly, but thank God for good air conditioning and ventilation! And, yes, the menu had too much Italian verbiage for my taste. But though I had a nice woman twelve inches diagonally from me who wasn’t my wife, there were thick rugs on the floor and hanging on the walls that dampened the din.

Most importantly, though, the food was absolutely delicious! We had Caesar salads for starters, nothing special there, but our entrees! The wife had perfectly cooked scallops, shrimp and polenta. The sea scallops were some of the best I have ever tasted! We even formulated expressing love in terms of how many such scallops she was willing to give me. In this case, she loved me one scallop (out of six, but man, these were big, big scallops).

I had their three-dish pasta special (which was printed on the menu). A shrimp and bow-tie combo in garlic sauce, some mushroom stuffed ravioli, and some spaghetti in their “homemade” tomato sauce. I’d eat pasta three times a day if I could, seven days a week. Best of all the servers kept coming around asking if I wanted more. It was an all-you-can-eat special. “Yes, please!”

There was one strange choice of décor at the restaurant. After ordering, I had to relieve myself, so I went down a flight of stairs and hooked a right and another right. Since real estate in New York City is astronomical, Becca is built like the inside of a nuclear submarine. Seriously. The corridors connecting the three main dining areas are about thirty inches wide. I negotiated my way down to the bathrooms, right next to the kitchen where busboys squeezed and bobbed in and out. Then, the confusion.

One door had a red chicken, the other a white chicken. That’s it. No words or anything else indicating the gender of the bathroom beyond.

Hmmm. I guessed the red chicken was really a rooster, but on close examination I really couldn’t tell anything physiologically different between the two. So I rolled the dice and turned the handle of the red chicken door. It was locked.

Do I wait, or do I try the white chicken?

No matter – the door opens twenty seconds later, and an older woman forces her way out. In the narrow corridor I almost have relations with her. No, not really, but I almost take out a half-dozen servers backing up to let her through. I also catch a glimpse behind her in the dark bathroom of a urinal.

Now I’m really confused.

I ask a nearby busboy if the room I’m standing in front of like a dork is for men or women. He mumbles something in a Hispanic dialect. I no longer care about protocol, so I shout “What?” He no longer cares about customer service, so he mumbles whatever he just mumbled even more mumbly. “Screw it,” I think, and I go in to the red chicken room and take care of business.

Becca management, however, knows its stuff. One lady who my wife says is running the place that shift or that night, comes up to us and asks us how everything is. Fine, just great, wonderful, all those things my wife routinely replies in such situations. Ever and always my mouth is full when I’m asked “How’s everything” by a restaurant employee. The wife says we’ll skip dessert and need the check as we’re going off to a show soon. And wouldn’t you know it – not two minutes later the check arrives! Even better, we both had superb meals and two drinks apiece in a New York City restaurant – all for under a hundred bucks including tip!

Wow, my night is starting off exceptionally well! Now, off to see Harry Connick Jr. I’d rather clean out toilets at the Port Authority, but it’s a night out and the wife is happy.

Tomorrow: my review of Mr. Connick on Broadway!


Brooke said...

What happened to you at the restaurant is very funny. Something similar happened to me when I travelled to Argentina. Next to the apartment in Buenos Aires I had rented, there was a restaurant whose bathroom´s signs were not clear enough. I ended up on the men bathroom and the waiters laughing at me, it was fun though.

LE said...

You can't fathom the absurd existential conundrum presented to you when you have to go real bad and can't tell the gender designation beyond the locked door of the bathroom before you. Sartre could write a 600-page book about it.

Thanks for stopping by!