Monday, May 30, 2011

Smoke and Mirrors

We've all heard of "buying the farm", but smoking the farm was a new experience.  I lit La Finca from the citronella candle and puffed carefully on the clipped end, careful not to allow the thick smoke to travel past my tonsils.  It didn't taste like cow dung, but perhaps it smelled like it--it's hard to tell when you are guppy-mouthing the smoke, creating neat patterns in the air like a contemplative dragon.  This was the third cigar (or the fourth) I'd ever smoked in my life, and it provided a great distraction from the impressively angular cheekbones of the uber-Presbyterian deacon (a retired Air Force officer, of whom I've been terrified for years--he looks like something from the eighteenth century, a fiercely proper and rigorously catechised Church of Scotland stereotype down to his bones--except now I know he can laugh, and he does have braces, which somewhat infringes on the unapproachable affect) who was sitting on my left. 

Three friends, the deacon and I celebrated Memorial Day with a late barbecue of bratwurst and hotdogs, and then watched the sunset from the back porch of our host's lakeside condo.  Dean'd decorated the railing with two little strings of LED Chinese-lantern lights, and when the sun was down asked if anyone minded if he smoked a cigar.  The deacon, and the other two said, "Go ahead."  I said, "No, as long as you bring me one, too."  I relish the idea of shocking the deacon with my wild-living ways.  And I can't stand to have cigars smoked around me unless I am partaking as well--"either everyone does, or everyone does not" to quote Robin McKinley.  It's funny, I've only ever indulged in cigars with other Christians, particularly Presbyterians.

I had another evening of high revelry with my friend Hermione, who accompanied me on Saturday night to the Russia House restaurant in Dupont Circle.  I had a Groupon for 50 bucks, which covered a third of the cost of our meal (H and I split the remainder of the check; she picked up the tip), and the experience was worth every last kopek.  Great service by the young Russian staff, we were encouraged to linger at our table (we stayed three hours, which was as long as we needed to finish off six dishes, two desserts, and a whole bottle of good Georgian red wine), and the food was superb.  Mushroom sauce to die for.  Rabbit sausages with cherries.  Pirogi in puff pastry.  The richest creme brulee I think I have ever spooned onto my tongue.  Heavenly.  And, no doubt, entirely fattening.  I am developing what the Brits would call a "tyre" around my middle, and it's not making me happy.  But for a glorious evening I chose to overlook this unpleasant development and let gastronomic hedonism rule.  And Hermione and I simply had a good time talking--she'll be abroad for the summer, and so this was the last opportunity we'll have had to get together until probably the end of September.  She plans to spend the summer getting in shape--though, given that she runs marathons, how much more fit can she be?!  I, on the other hand, am becoming increasingly pear-shaped.

Reflective images of one's less-than-toned physique are not pleasant to behold.  I am resolved to go to the gym more frequently and lay off the snacks.  And I've also started praying for an exercise/walking partner.  I've so little motivation to get out and move my ever-broadening buns without company, and I sorely need it for accountability, too.   Being flabby feels very unpleasant, particularly in 95+ heat.  And how can I launch what Hermione terms an "all-out dating offensive" if I'm not looking and feeling my best?

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