"You're the steak. He's just the cupcake."
- incredibly sage advice I gave to a millennial last night
"You're the steak. He's just the cupcake."
- incredibly sage advice I gave to a millennial last night
Note: The events in this blog post happened over a month ago. Various versions of it have been sitting in my drafts folder for ... over a month. Better late than never, right? Is it too late to sneak that in as a New Year's resolution? No, it's not too late! Because it's better late than never. (We could do this all day, couldn't we?)
It should be no surprise that I'm a big fan of fried chicken. We're not just friendly -- we're downright intimate. I briefly had the fried chicken at Willie Mae's Scotch House in New Orleans as my cover photo on Facebook, until I replaced it with the steak from Peter Luger. Once, when I was two, I asked my aunt to make me a dish consisting solely of fried chicken skin. Just writing this paragraph makes me want to run over to Popeyes immediately.
But it appears that even I might have my limits. Recently [note: now "not that recently"], my love of fried chicken would be put to the test, taking me down a winding path and back up again, questioning my tastes, the mysteries of the universe, the... Oh, let's just say I ate a heck of a lot of fried chicken.
FRIED CHICKEN #1: THE REDHEAD
Not long ago ["months ago"], my friend Alexis was in town, and we made plans to have dinner with some former coworkers. One option I suggested was The Redhead in the East Village, which is known for its fried chicken -- so much so that it was named New York's best "fancy-pants fried chicken" by Serious Eats. Since Alexis and I share a love not only of bad romantic comedies, Penny Can, treating yo'self and things Liz Lemon says but also of fried chicken, this was a no-brainer. Redhead it would be.
The chicken (which I'd had before) at Redhead is, indeed, awfully good, though it doesn't surpass my favorite fried chicken at Brooklyn Bowl. Maybe because the Redhead fried chicken has a bit more batter and loud crunch to it, whereas I like mine with a tad less. Also, since this is a nice-ish sit-down restaurant, I ate the chicken with a fork and knife -- daintily, like a grown-up. It comes with a great kale, apple and walnut salad that provides a nice counterbalance to the heaviness of the fried chicken. In fact, this may be sacrilegious to say, but I almost found that salad more memorable than the chicken itself. Still, I wouldn't kick this chicken out of bed for being fried chicken.
The moment I got home, I found a message waiting for me from the host of the dinner party: The party was being canceled.
FRIED CHICKEN #2: GEORGIA'S EASTSIDE BBQ
Well, here I was, all dressed up with a $45 Crack Pie and nowhere to go. And believe you me, if I were left alone with the Crack Pie, there was every possibility I would eat the entire thing myself. It would be more or less like eating six sticks of butter and downing it with half a bag of sugar. (Except more delicious.)
I needed someone to save me from myself. The next day I texted Annah, who loves Momofuku and has two kids and a husband (read: enthusiastic mouths to help me eat the pie). "Of course, we'd love to!" she responded. Relief. I headed over there, pie in hand; and she asked what kind of food I wanted to order. "How about Georgia's?" she suggested. "I don't want to build you up too much, but they make my favorite fried chicken in the city."
More fried chicken. I hesitated for about half a second, then felt guilty for hesitating. I'd never eaten at Georgia's and had wanted to try it for a while -- plus, after all, she'd said the magic phrase "favorite fried chicken." Them's fighting words.
Georgia's fried chicken oozed juiciness; it was crispy, but the batter was lighter than Redhead's. This was the kind of fried chicken you eat with your hands, and oh, I did. Delicious. The pieces seemed curiously small, not because they necessarily were small, but because I wanted more. I ate the chicken so fast, I forgot to take a picture (and I can't find a good one on the Internet -- oh well, will just have to eat there again).
As for the Crack Pie, Annah's four-year-old was unimpressed, and didn't want to finish his slice. (Annah and I, meanwhile, had two each.) But her two-year-old devoured hers, then delighted my Crack Pie-loving heart by asking for more and yelling out, "Pie! Pie! Pie!" Sweetie, in the future, when you're addicted and wandering the streets looking for more Crack Pie, please be sure to include the "pie" part.
FRIED CHICKEN #3: HENRY'S END
On my way home, I got a text from my friend N. agreeing on plans to have dinner the next night. She asked if I had thoughts on food, and then she texted: "I have to admit I have been thinking about fried chicken."
Pause. Laugh. I may consider myself a fried chicken-phile, but at that very moment, two dinners down, I could not fathom eating fried chicken again. Then I thought some more. Hmm. Fried chicken, three nights in a row? Would consuming that much fried chicken be the equivalent of locking myself in a closet with a carton of cigarettes, killing my love of a glorious vice forever? Or was this, perhaps, my Mount Everest, my White Whale -- a feat that most mortals would never attempt, but that, having been conquered, would cement my status in some mythical Fried Chicken Hall of Fame*?
CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. "Sure," I texted back.
At first I'd suggested Seersucker, but at the last minute, I changed my mind and asked N. if we could instead go to Henry's End, a neighborhood restaurant I'd been meaning to try; its chicken was lauded on message boards as an unheralded treat. She was game.**
Henry's End describes its "Southern Fried Chicken" as including "garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove." Taste-wise, the chicken lived up to its billing. More than anything, the cinnamon flavor came through strongly and cleanly, and it was certainly unlike the previous two nights' fried chicken.
But it was unlike the previous two nights' fried chicken in other ways that didn't do it much favor. The batter was dense, not light and crackly; and the chicken itself was cooked fine, but not oozing with juices. This was another fork-and-knife affair, and the pieces were intimidatingly large (why do fried chicken breasts always look so massive on a plate?). It wasn't, I have to say, the most inviting plate of fried chicken I've ever had.
My fried-chicken marathon complete (if someone had suggested fried chicken for the next night, I would have politely declined, though with a pang of regret -- well, maybe unless they had suggested Korean fried chicken, in which case I could convince myself it wasn't the SAME kind of fried chicken), I took a few moments to reflect on what I'd learned along my clucky journey. And that is
1) I like eating fried chicken with my hands
2) I like fried chicken batter that tends more toward the light and crispy, rather than the dense and hard-crunchy
3) I prefer it when the meat is so juicy it runs down your hands and your chin,
4) I'm not a fan of big, bulked-up pieces of chicken that look like they've been training with Lance Armstrong***
5) I can eat fried chicken three nights in a row. Maybe I was fading at the end a bit, and perhaps that affected my judgment; but I emerged from the Fried Chicken Closet not repulsed by my former love, but instead appreciating all the more that it has so many versions of itself to offer.
All that said, I don't know that I can make a habit of this. On the other hand, steak -- hmm...
*There should totally be a Fried Chicken Hall of Fame.
** Pun not intended, given that the restaurant hosts a wild game festival. Well, pun maybe a little intended, after the fact.
I did have a lovely Thanksgiving, thanks for asking.
My family converged and there was lots and lots of good food -- of the high-quality variety, no "sweet potatoes with toasted marshmallows on top" here. (I kid. I have great fondness for sweet potatoes with toasted marshmallows on top.)
There was a deep-fried turkey (which my older brother made), arancini (younger brother), mashed potatoes (yours truly), brussels sprouts Momofuku-style (Mom), cranberries (sister-in-law), salad (sister-in-law), stuffing (sister-in-law/older brother), cornbread (Trader Joe's), gravy, chocolate pecan pie (Mom), pumpkin pie (store).
I was a little overly proud of my mashed potatoes. Normally, when I make mashed potatoes for myself, I am too lazy to bother peeling them, and too timid to add a lot of butter or milk. But mashed potatoes being my only assignment here, I worked hard on them -- I made them Robuchon-style, and laid on the butter like nobody's business. Added some creme fraiche, too, per my mom's advice. Creamy deliciousness. I wish I had the time and motivation to spend on cooking like this every day.
Of course, my mashed potatoes paled in comparison with the fried turkey and the arancini and everything else on that table. I made a collage of all the food, just because. Some things -- namely the mashed potatoes and the turkey -- show up the twice, only because I took more than one picture of them and I needed nine to fill up the square. (Yes, this is how the artistic process works. Reminds me of when the novelist Ishmael Reed came to speak at one of my English classes in college and someone asked him what was the significance of his not using quotation marks for dialogue in Mumbo Jumbo. His answer: "I thought it looked cool at the time.")
(Not that I am equating myself to Ishmael Reed.)
(Oh, never mind.)
Not pictured: pear-gorgonzola tartlets, crudite with Green Goddess dressing, cornbread, chocolate pecan pie (soooo good), pumpkin pie
I just saw a woman get hit by a car.
Correction: I saw the aftermath of a woman getting hit by a car. I was walking toward the intersection of Atlantic and Smith when I heard a loud "thunk." I turned to see a woman about 50 yards away from me, crumpled on the ground in the crosswalk, a cab stopped at an angle in front of her.
I am ashamed to say that my first reaction was not to run toward her and see if she was all right. Instead, my first reaction was to stand stock-still, stare at her and think, "Oh my God."
I would like to think that that's a normal reaction, that the brain needs time to process something so extraordinary, and that I am not, in fact, a coward with no morals. Then slowly, out of the corner of my eyes, I saw other people having the opposite instinct I did—running toward her, phones out, yelling, "Are you OK?" Something in my brain moved, and I thought, Oh, I'm supposed to be doing that, too.
I headed toward the intersection, and by that point the woman—who was wailing out in pain—was surrounded by a few people, at least one of whom was on her phone trying to get help. At that moment (I think perhaps coincidentally), an ambulance came screaming down the street and pulled over alongside us, the EMTs hopping out to bend over the fallen woman as the rest of us stood there stupidly.
To his credit, I suppose, the cab driver didn't cut and run but stayed put, standing next to his cab and looking at the woman with a penitent expression on his face. The woman standing next to me said that she had been right behind the woman as she crossed, and that she had had the light, not the cab, who had turned into her without paying attention. As a cop arrived, I asked the woman next to me if she'd talk to the police about what she saw, but she seemed uncertain. She still had one of her headphones in. I'm sure felt she had someplace to go.
Me, I hadn't seen anything. I hadn't done anything. I felt useless. I saw the EMTs finally strap the woman to a stretcher as she groped next to her for her phone, which had fallen on the floor. She put it in her pocket and I was glad, at least, to see that she could move her arm.
Every day, we pedestrians and drivers play a game of cat-and-mouse, worrying that something like this will happen to us. Most of the time, it does not. I remember the first time I ever visited New York, with my family; our cab driver hit another car—just a gentle tap in the rear bumper—and kept driving. Once, in Washington DC, I was exiting the train station when a cab inching forward hit me in the leg, then drove away. I turned to see an attendant looking at me. "Did you see that?" I asked. "I sure did," he said. He seemed to be on my side, but what could he do? (Once I got to the conference where I was going, I mentioned the incident to the women there, who shrugged and laughed. "Happens all the time!" they said.)
We aren't invulnerable. Far from it. There are lies and truths we tell ourselves every day just to get out of the house. If we didn't, I suppose we'd never leave our couches. As I looked at the woman, crying out in pain, now surrounded by medics and cops, I thought, I hope she's OK. I thought, I wish I could do something, but I can't. I thought, I hope someone calls her family for her. I thought, I'm glad it wasn't me.
Then I turned and walked slowly home.
This car was sitting outside the place where I had dinner last night. I have no idea ... what exactly happened here. Was this hurricane-related? Or not? What the heck is that white stuff? The car was at a crazy angle to the curb, with the driver's-side door open, as though either the owner or the thief had to take off in a hurry. The front fender was on the ground. It was like a crime scene, and the victim was the car.
As my friend Kevin and I stared into the rusted, stripped-out shell and walked on, a guy behind us laughed. "It's like Brooklyn in the '80s," he said.
I'm not sure I agree with the headline-writer that Obama "nails" Beyonce's signature dance move here: I don't see any hip-twisting or head-moving. Really, there's no dancing here at all. Disappointing, Mr. President! (But still, awfully cute.)
Bond: brooding yet sharp
"M" having mommy issues?
Overall, great fun.
Yes, I get that "Petraeus" isn't that easy to spell -- all those vowels! -- but this guy's name is all over the news right now, so it wouldn't hurt to, you know, check that sort of thing. Maybe the writer was thinking of Harry Potter's patronus? Not that anyone would want, as their protective energy animal, a former CIA director who cheated on his wife and had to resign in disgrace. Just a guess.
From the Atlantic Wire:
Welcome to Day 2 of the "blog every day" era! Technically, today will be two posts in one day, since I didn't publish yesterday's until after midnight, which now makes me look either prolific or lazy. Take your pick.
I love brunch. I realize that most professional chefs hate it, because customers want the same type of thing all the time, and there isn't much creativity involved. I do not care. Give me some coffee, a Bloody Mary, bacon or sausage, and an egg with a runny yolk on top of something -- and I'm sorry, chefs, though I respect your high-level skills and talent, this is all I need to make me happy. Display some panache with these ingredients, and I'll get a little swoony-eyed on top of it. It's cheaper than going out to dinner, too. These are all things to inspire loyalty.
Had brunch today at Clover Club, which has divinely delicious maple bacon on its menu. I ordered the braised pork over cheddar grits, with a fried egg and crispy onions on top. The service was not terrific (my first water glass had lipstick on it -- yeesh), but who cares? Because BACON.
I'm going to try to do a better job of doing something in this blog, whether it's writing or posting a video or picture or quote, every day. Every day. Ha! You say. I counter your "ha!" with a ... well, you're probably right. But stranger things have happened.
1. Gobama! I'm thrilled that Obama won the election, obviously. Perhaps even more than I was in 2008. I won't go into politics here except to say that a few months ago, I tried to explain to a friend's husband why I supported Obama. It was at a bustling party, there was lots of chatter about, and I didn't know this guy's personal politics; so what I came out with wasn't Obama's stance on abortion, or gay marriage, or civil liberties, or any of that.
What I said was, "I genuinely believe he's a good guy." And I know it sounds crazy and ill-informed, but I do believe it. He's not perfect and I don't agree with him on many of his positions, but at heart -- unless this is the biggest snow job in the history of the world -- I truly feel that he is a good person who wants to make this a better country.
He believes in community and helping others. He makes mistakes and he acknowledges them. He makes tough choices and it never feels as though he's taking them for granted. He tends toward diplomacy and compromise rather than stubbornness and shouting. He works hard and he tries hard. He's funny and he's warm and he loves his wife and kids. (And he drinks beer!) He's flawed and he's human, and he makes me believe that people can work together for the common good -- and though I haven't agreed with everything he's done or hasn't done so far, I am proud that he'll be my president for four more years. Hell, I'm proud of this country for electing him.
The election is over so I don't want to belabor what we just went through, but let's just say I didn't feel much of that about Mitt Romney. I do think he loves his family, and at the root of it he is probably a decent, even charitable guy. But I don't think any of us know who he is or what he stands for, what he would have done as president, or whose interests he would have had at heart. In fact, based on things he has said both in public and private, I'd have to assume the people whose interests he would have had at heart would not have included large swaths of the population, least of all me.
I had an argument with a friend about which was worse, a true believer (George W. Bush) or someone who will do or say anything to get elected (Romney); I picked the latter and she picked the former. I realized in that moment how fundamentally I dislike liars. Trust is a basic thing for me. I don't expect politicans to be totally honest -- I'm not that naive -- but bald-faced lying is a bridge too far for me. That combined with his seeming contempt for, and misunderstanding of, people whose backgrounds don't match his own put me over the edge, such that the thought of him as our president filled me with dread. I don't wish him ill, and I hope he has a pleasant, productive post-election life, but I'm immensely relieved that he didn't win.
Sorry, I said I wouldn't belabor it. Just had to get that out.
I love this video of Obama tearing up as he addresses his staff after the election. Whatever you think of his politics, this shows him being nothing more than a compassionate (and maybe exhausted) human being. Which was sort of my point in the first place.
2. I made it through Hurricane Sandy unscathed -- despite a night of howling winds, a few fallen trees and a few hours without cable or Internet, you'd barely know anything had happened in my neighborhood. (Well, there was that whole "no trains between Brooklyn and Manhattan" thing, which was super fun.) Given that many neighborhoods still don't have power, heat or water, I've tried to do my part, however tiny and insignificant it might be.
That first week, I backed up two bags full of supplies I'd bought to prepare for the hurricane: water, candles, flashlights (I don't know how I'd ended up with four flashlights, all of which I managed to dig up before the storm hit), batteries, toilet paper. I walked down to Red Hook, where many of those affected are lower-income people living in public housing, and some nice folks at the non-profit Red Hook Initiative took my bag while an assembly line of people made sandwiches and others organized the piles.
Yesterday, I saw a retweet on Twitter that someone was making a trip to Red Hook and wondered if anyone in my neighborhood had supplies they wanted to drop off. I'm not a huge fan of Twitter, but I've accumulated a fair number of followers thanks to my former job, and I've tried to check in occasionally just to keep up my "brand." Also, Twitter is great for events happening in real time, such as, say, a hurricane or a presidential election.
I'm not great at talking to strangers or venturing outside my comfort zone to do so, but I asked this woman where she'd be, and she told me she'd be at such-and-such corner in 15 minutes, so I hustled to put another bag together. This time I packed all those non-perishables: power bars, cereal bars, fruit cups, applesauce, crackers, tuna and sardines. It's not as useful as a hot meal or even money, but it's got to be something, right?
At the last minute I took another glance at one of the volunteer websites and was reminded that there was a need for blankets. I have extra blankets. I hesitated for a moment, then hauled out my stepstool to pull down the Mexican blanket I've had since college. Over the years I have sat on that thing, read under it, taken it on picnics, slept with it wrapped around me. A neighboring stranger at the Monday night movies in Bryant Park once spilled red wine on it. I looked at it and felt pangs of nostalgia for a time when I thought Mexican blankets were the coolest thing ever, partly because a guy I liked had one. But for the past year it's been sitting in a zipped bag on my closet shelf.
I put it in the grocery bag. I walked up to the designated corner and waited for a while until the woman tweeted exactly where she was. I crossed the street, handed her the bag, thanked her, told her about the blanket. She nodded and said she'd "let go" of a lot of things in this relief effort -- she'd given one of her favorite sweaters to someone who'd picked it out in particular. It reminded me of when I moved away from my last apartment in college, and put my roommates' and my garbage bags full of discarded clothes on the curb of People's Park, only to look back and see a homeless woman holding my beloved leather jacket up to the light.
It's just things. Someone else needs it right now more than I do. I have to wonder, though, whether the relief effort ended up not taking the blanket after all, since it was used. The woman who took it to Red Hook for me was kind enough not to reveal what happened to it, one way or the other; she tweeted to me later in the day that my goods had been distributed. I was grateful to her, this stranger, both for the acknowledgement and for making the trip. That's the thing about New York, I guess. We may seem cold and tough to everyone else, but we pull together when it counts.
If they didn't take my blanket, I hope it still ends up somewhere it can do some good. At least it had the chance to go out into the world, freed from the zipped-up useless existence it had been known all year. I hope it went on an adventure. I hope someone will love it as I did. I hope that tonight, somewhere, my blanket is keeping someone warm.
Waiting for Hurricane Sandy to hit, which is supposed to happen early this afternoon. Most of us are calm but ready, given that meteorologists are making only mildly hysterical pronouncements such as, "History is being written as an extreme weather event continues to unfold, one which will occupy a place in the annals of weather history as one of the most extraordinary to have affected the United States."
When I woke up this morning -- having dreamed of being in a hurricane with, well, my friend Sandy -- I knew that the 30 mph winds were no match for my need for coffee.
I hit the deli and it was full of people, with just one guy manning the grill; the man I always took to be the owner/manager bustled in, taking off his jacket, crying out, "I'm here, I'm here!" People were still buying pallets of water and canned goods. I splurged beyond my coffee and got an egg, sausage and tomato on a roll. Looking around, I thought, this is the last time I'll be out in the world for a while, which is ridiculous, as the storm is going to last at most two days. Still, I eyed the shelves, feeling as though I ought to be buying something else. I finally settled on a bottle of orange juice and a bunch of bananas.
"Are you leaving early?" I asked the owner/manager guy. "Or riding it out here?"
He shrugged. "We'll see," he said. "Next!"
I did most of my shopping Saturday, and it should be no surprise to learn that I went overboard. For one thing, this is me we're talking about. For another, when you're surrounded by hordes of people at Trader Joe's clutching eight containers of yogurt to their chests, you tend to get swept up in the panic. (Though apparently Sunday was much worse. Amateurs.) If my unofficial survey of grocery store shelves is any indication, people are going to be eating well on black beans and popcorn during this storm.
Seriously, though, I have enough food right now to last me through the zombie apocalypse. I kept throwing things in my basket like I was on some survivalist game show. In the end -- over several trips, as I was also doing laundry -- I bought: Luna bars, Clif bars, cereal bars (fig), two kinds of crackers, peanut butter, pumpkin butter (impulse purchase), strawberry preserves (ditto), trail mix, cashews, sardines, tuna, fruit cups, applesauce cups, canned corn, tortilla chips and salsa, black beans (hey, everyone else was buying them), candles, toilet paper, water, beer, two bottles of wine and those Trader Joe's seaweed snacks they always display right at the front of the line before you hit the registers. Also a steak, a whole chicken, brussels sprouts and blackberries. And then, Sunday, a loaf of bread, turkey, a tomato and lettuce.
This, for example, isn't even close to being all the water I bought -- I have more in the freezer (I read that freezing bottles of water is a good way to keep your food cold if the power goes out), and a couple bottles in a "go bag" I put together even though there's no chance I'll be evacuated. Think I'll have enough? The two bottles in the front left, by the way, are not drinking water. I just filled them with tap water because everyone says you need lots of water. Maybe to brush my teeth and flush the toilet?
Last night I filled up a bucket, too, just in case. And my teakettle.
The drugstore only sold scented candles. In a blackout, my living room is going to smell like cinnamon and nutmeg; my kitchen like pumpkin nutmeg pie; my bedroom like apple cinnamon crisp. At least I went for a savory theme.
For some reason, late yesterday, I worried I didn't have enough alcohol. No, this was not necessarily logical. In my head I think I still see myself holed up in my apartment growing a beard, wearing rags and talking to my floor pillow until the authorities come and find me. (In my defense, they did say that if we lose power, it could be for as much as ten days.) So I headed down to the wine store, where there was a huge line of people, all looking sheepish.
"I need a California pinot noir that's cheap," a woman in a knit cap and sweats asked one of the staff. He pointed her toward a bottle of 2011 Hanging Vine. I grabbed one, too. Then, feeling that a situation as dire as this one called for something stiffer, I went and stared at the whiskey shelves for a while. Not knowing much at all about whiskey (and damn, some of that stuff is pricey), I finally grabbed a bottle of Jameson.
"Huh," the woman at the register said. "Everyone seems to be going for the Jameson."
Well, come what may, I'll be here with my several varieties of crackers, my toilet paper and my whiskey. Hope we don't lose power. Good hurricane to all of you.
Winds are picking up ... oh wait, that was just a truck.
Knock on wood, but for the most part in my life, I haven't suffered any major health issues. (Knock. On. Wood. A lot.)
Or at least, the health issues that have cropped up, I've been able to ignore -- such as getting an upset stomach after I drink alcohol or eat fatty foods. When I first met with my current primary care doctor and mentioned that, I laughed and said, "But it's not like I'm going to stop drinking." This caused her to furrow her brow and ask all sorts of questions about my drinking habits, such as, "What's the most you've ever drunk in a night?" and I'm sorry, but I can't exactly remember the most I've ever drunk in a night, for reasons that should be obvious. Anyway, the moral of that particular story was, never joke about drinking to your doctor. Or food, really, or else then you'll find yourself being told to cut salt out of your diet.
But the one part of my body that has never been "healthy" is my eyes. I've worn glasses since I was six, and I am so nearsighted that I once got an ophthalmologist to admit that I would be considered legally blind , if I were in a situation where I couldn't wear glasses or contacts (and what situation would that be?). It is rather sad that when he told me this, I got kind of excited, and exclaimed, "You mean I'd get to carry a cane?!" (In answer to your question, no, I don't know what is wrong with me.)
For the last couple of months, I've noticed something awry with my left eye. I was having more than the usual number of floaters -- a term I had only learned last year, when I saw my current ophthalmologist for the first time and he casually mentioned somethingsomething I didn't understand about my right eye, and asked me if I had noticed floaters. Why, yes, I said with surprise, not knowing what those had been. They're the little bits of distortion you sometimes see floating by your field of vision when you look into sunlight, and I always thought of them as amoebas or something, or possibly something living in my eye, and I was too grossed out to spend much time thinking about it. When I've told other people about it recently, a good 80% says, "Oh yeah! I have those, and I just thought I was crazy."
(A floater, he told me when I asked, is an imperfection in the gel surrounding your eye -- that gel is about 99% water and 1% protein, so it's not entirely liquid, and sometimes there'll be little imperfections or buildup. What you're seeing is the shadow of that distortion against your retina. And now, like Algernon, I will cease sounding smart and forget all of this information in a week.)
So not only had I noticed more floaters in my left eye, but also, my friend Jason had told me a story in June about his girlfriend getting a detached retina in Rome, and naturally, ever since then, I'd been convinced I had a detached retina. ("She said it was like looking through a curtain. Do I feel like I'm looking through a curtain? Yes! No?") I'd been putting off going to the doctor, though, because a) I hate going to the doctor, b) I had recently learned that I was charged $100 per eye at my last visit for having my eyes dilated, which I thought was ridiculous, c) I was crazy busy with this freelance project, such that I couldn't spare the three hours a doctor visit was going to take out of my day, and d) I was scared. I guess a) and d) are related, more or less.
But I couldn't put it off any longer, so I went a couple weeks ago. The doctor, after giving me a mild lecture, said that though my eye looked fine (phew), there was indeed something going on with it. (Commence fumbling dumbing down of medical explanation here.) He told me that often, the gel that surrounds your eye -- I'm sure there's a more medically correct term than "gel," but that's what he used -- will separate from your eye, which happens sooner for nearsighted people. While it's happening, sometimes you'll get a lot of floaters. Occasionally, since the gel is pulling away from your retina, you may get a tear, which is bad; but once it's separated completely, then you're at less risk for a retinal tear or detachment, which is good.
In fact, that "somethingsomething" he mentioned last year was this separation occurring in my right eye, which is now fine. Now it's happening with the left. He told me that the process takes about three months, and that makes sense, because I first noticed something going on with my eye about two months ago.
After making me promise to come back in a month, he released me out into the world, and I stumbled out, eyes still dilated, to spend a couple hours at the office of the startup where I freelance. Since my eyes were still dilated, I couldn't see much or concentrate on anything, and the only seat free was on the couch near the window, so I had to wear my sunglasses. Inside. I looked like an asshole.
Eventually a couple people came over and nearby, either to eat lunch or talk to me about a project. I felt I had to tell every person who looked at me, "I'm not an asshole," and explain why I was wearing sunglasses, which entailed describing what had just transpired at the doctor's office. I should also tell you that everyone in this office is young -- so young that when I once mentioned the Dr Pepper "I'm a Pepper" commercial, every single person stared at me blankly. I think the median age is probably 27.
One of my colleagues sat down next to me, and I told him the whole story, and he was fascinated and more than a little freaked out. This colleague is right around that median age, that golden 27 years old when you think you're indestructible. He didn't like hearing about these weird things going on with your eyes, or my eye, specifically.
"It happens to everyone eventually, apparently," I told him, to be reassuring. "It just happens a little sooner to people who are nearsighted."
"So it's like a coming of age! For your eye!" he said.
"Sure," I replied.
"It's like," he continued, on a roll now, "... eye menopause!"
"Um.... Suuure. Ha ha. Yeah."
(Dear twentysomething guys: Never joke to a woman who might be older than you about menopause. Thanks!)