I’m Not Supposed to Be Here

I speak Italian. There, I said it. With a name like Lorca Damon there was a really good chance that I spoke something, but I cleared that up in case you couldn’t pinpoint exactly which variety of mutt I identify with.

I also have a kick ass job that sends me to New York from time to time, and after a brief period when I didn’t realize I didn’t have to stay in a hotel that was technically located in New Jersey, I came to enjoy my trips. They’re one of the few times when I’m guaranteed both a dose of culture and an armadillo-free few days.

This most recent trip was last week, and a strange phenomenon occurred. I went to New York, did the whole “I’m really supposed to live here and not in a place that still accepts live chickens in exchange for medical care” (totally not kidding on that one, look it up) thing, and even ordered food in a restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen in Italian (see note above about speaking a foreign language). But then I started to identify with “my people,” and not necessarily in a good way.

First, the restaurant went something like this:

HIM: Buona sera, signora. (Good evening, madam)

ME: Buona sera. Di dove sei? (Good evening. Where are you from?) (Incidentally, isn’t this whole thing reading like your high school Spanish book?)

HIM: D’una citta’ vicino di Venezia. (From a city near Venice.)

ME: Da’vero! Anchio! (Really? Me too!)

HIM: Si? Di dov’e’? (Yes? Where are you from?)

ME: Da’un villagio si chiama Caldogno. E’ vicino di Vicenza. (From a village called Caldogno. It’s near Vicenza.)

HIM: Bene. La mia e’ piu di nordest. (Mine’s from farther northeast.)

ME: Ah, vicino Iugoslavia, se era’ ancora la’. (Oh, near Yugoslavia, well, if it was still there.)

HIM: Si’. (Figure it out)

Then the rest of the dinner started. Only it went like this (I shall henceforth drop the Italian because I got all nostalgic about Italy while typing that part and started drinking. No, the Italian still works just fine under the influence of wine, it’s the English translation that’s kind of throwing me off.)

HIM: Would you like to see the wine list?

ME: Oh no, I’ll just have a glass of merlot.

HIM: You don’t want merlot! I bring you something special.

(Later, after a glass of non-merlot…)

HIM: Have you decided on a first course?

ME: Oh, the bread is fine.

HIM: You can’t live on bread! I bring you something special. (“Something special” turned out to be cold tomato soup with a basil reduction. Oddly tasty, but it wasn’t actually bread.)

(Later…)

HIM: And for your second course?

ME: I’d like the grilled lamb with the insalata caprese. (Incidentally, if you’d paid attention during high school Spanish, you could at least be kind enough to insert the Spanish translation here for me. After all, I’ve been drinking. And I’m now weepy.)

HIM: Very nice. How do you want that prepared?

ME: Well done, please.

HIM: No! You don’t want it well done! I bring it medium rare.

Fortunately, the special wine took the edge off the fact that I was eating a plate of raw meat swimming in its own blood, served on a bed of NOT insalata caprese (sliced tomatoes with mozzarella) but on a bed of goose livers instead. The entire affair was very elegant and very home-like, but all I could think was, “I could be eating a fully cooked cheeseburger from a drive-thru, washing it down with a slushie.”

I’m back among my other people and I’m thankful, even though there is no wine list because they’re Baptist. And grape-intolerant. Luckily, they also don’t speak standard English so I still get to use my mad Berlitz skills. English-Redneck subtitles to follow.

I Got Mugged on the Train to New Jersey

I have spoken about my trip to New York for so long that the rest of you have probably grown a little tired of being jealous of my awesome life. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s not all White Album martinis and library cards. No, I made the mistake of falling asleep on the train ride back to my hotel and when I woke, I realized I’d been robbed.

One of my contact lenses was missing.

Somehow without the other passengers noticing (or maybe they did notice and they all fell prey to Awkward Bystander Syndrome), the thief pried my eyelid open and took my contact lens. Fortunately, the approach of the train conductor scared him off before he could get the other contact lens.

Here is an artist's rendering of my contact lens in case you see it. REWARD: the other contact lens.
Here's what it will look like if my contact lens develops Stockholm Syndrome and helps the bad guy kidnap other contact lenses.

I know you might be wondering, “Is there really any street value in used contact lenses?” And I would have to say the answer is: “I don’t know.”

And though you might doubt my story, I will tell you that this HAS to be the truth. The only other explanation is that the contact lens migrated to the back of my eyeball and is permanently stuck there, melting into the surface at this very moment and causing eyeball cancer. Somehow, I would rather believe that a street person actually stuck his fingers in my eye and took it to wear like an invisible monocle.

I’m Going to New York and You’re Not

Don't worry, while you're staying in Newark these gentlemen will watch your car for you.

Thanks to this really cool website who lowered its standards enough to let me write stuff on their news feed, I’m going to New York. More specifically, I’m going to this really cool, really hip, NEW part of New York called Newark. I’ve heard really awesome things about it.

According to everything I’ve heard, they’re really into safety there, which is why there’s barbed wire all over the place. The vending machines even have barbed wire around them, and it’s to make sure that when you go to get yourself a soda, it doesn’t just take your money and not give you a drink because someone has stolen all the sodas from the machine.

There are these really cool parking lots all over Newark, and people are paid to just stand around the parking lot and watch your car for you. All kinds of different people, which makes me really appreciate their sense of equality. The parking lot owners don’t discriminate on the basis of looks, because even the most hardened of criminals can find gainful employment working for the parking lot people.

It’s really cool how all the women feel super safe in the city, because there are always women just walking around. They’re not even doing anything, they’re just walking up and down the sidewalks, talking to people in their cars, calling out to each other. It’s really great.

I am a little bit concerned that I haven’t been able to find any libraries or museums in Newark when I looked on Google, but that’s okay. They’re so close to New York that there’s probably no point in building ANOTHER opera house. They choose to spend their money on these really quaint buildings called Shelter. Shelters are everywhere in Newark, which is practically like that poem on the bottom of the Statue of Liberty, where it says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.” The whole freakin’ city is one big welcome hug!

Probably the best thing about the whole new part of New York is the name. NEWARK. Like, New Ark. It’s Biblical! It’s the New Ark, like the one where Noah rescued all the animals, except New Ark is going to rescue all the people who wear all of their clothes at the same time and push their groceries in shopping carts everywhere they go.

It’s got to be just the bestest city in the whole world, and I get to go there this weekend! It’s okay if you’re jealous, I’ll bring you back a souvenir. One place I saw even sold friendly balloons in the bathrooms and syringes are available, like, EVERYWHERE, just in case a diabetic shows up and forgot their kit. It’s gonna be so neat!