December 15, 2006


The title of this post is the sound that the candle makes when both ends, both furiously aflame, meet in the center. I discovered it last night. I mean, I absolutely heard the sound. But first, a little background.

It has been a long week. My normal routine has my alarm bleeping at 4:40 to catch the 5:16 train to be at the gym at 6:30. This is my every work day routine. So, I kind of like to be in bed by no later than 10 at night. If I cannot be in bed because I have some obligation or another, I tend not to cut myself any slack on the next morning side of the equation. I just tough it out.

Tuesday, I was taken out by my old college room mate. It was in celebration of my birthday past. We dined at Cafe Boulud. It was yummy -- wild mushroom soup, venison, a chesnut mousse Mont Blanc -- all washed down with a very nice Mersault. We dined a bit on the early side so we could make the 8:00 lecture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where the architect Richard Meier was speaking about his career, illustrating his talk with slides, of course. He was very good, very interesting and very patient with the uniformly insipid and vapid questions that followed. All in all, a wonderful evening, the kind of evening you kind of take for granted in New York City sometimes. I managed to catch the 9:37 train home and was in bed by 11:30. The baby, teething, was up seven times before the alarm went off.

Wednesday was tired. The whole day. I was supposed to have dinner with a very good client that night but I am happy to say that he cancelled. I arrived home normal time to find the Boy Child happily expressing surprise at my unexpected arrival.

BC: Pappa! You're home! I thought you were out for dinner tonight?

Me: Well, I was supposed to be but it was cancelled.

BC: Did you call your friend and tell him, 'Fawget about it! I want to go home and see my chillwen!'?

Me: Almost exactly like that, sweetheart. Almost exactly.

But Thursday, last night, was going to be the bear of all nights. I am on the boards of two organizations. Both had their parties last night. Same night. The first one I made sure to be at early because the Club serves, for the Member Christmas Party, all the end of bin yummy wines. I drank five glasses in about an hour -- a Fronsac (a red Bordeaux) and four white Burgundy's (2 chassagne montrachet and 2 pouligny montrachet). White Burgundy is sunshine made liquid. The Viking Bride joined me in time for one or two glasses.

Then we beat feet up to the Harvard Club to attend the other party. I chose not to drink any of their wine. Typical party Chardonnay. I mean, can you blame a guy? To go from liquid sunshine to sucking on an oak barrel? But we only stayed for a bit because we had to join our friend who kindly included us in his invitation to join him and 10 others for a private dinner party following the Christmas party. He took us all to DB Bistro Moderne. Yes, if you are keeping count, that means Daniel Boulud fed me dinner this week as often as I will have eaten at home. My friend gave us lovely wines -- more mersault and a Barolo. I ate way too well -- the house smoked salmon, the DB Burger Royale (that would be a burger made from sirloin and "filled with braised short ribs, foie gras, black truffle" and "layered with shaved black truffle"), and the milk chocolate mousse. Dinner was lively and entertaining and went on a bit long.

How long?

We missed the 11:22 train home. We ended up taking a car.

I bet you are still wondering about the popping sound I led this post off with; assuming you are still reading.

The popping noise came when my bon vivant friend leaned across the table and asked: "Don't you think we should have a bottle of Champagne with dessert?"

*POP* The candle exploded when I agreed with him. Just blew up.

I turned the bedside light out at 1:05.

The alarm went off at 4:40 and I made my tired way to the gym where I did make the full workout.

I just think, maybe, I left everything out on the gym floor. Because that candle? It is not giving off any more light today.

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:46 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

July 17, 2004

Last Night

Last night was what our nanny calls, "date night". My wife and I try to go out once a week and engage in adult pursuits. And no, I don't mean s-x clubs (the "-" is to hopefully avoid those searching for just those kinds of references). I mean, at minimum, an adult beverage, grown up conversation, and dinner without cutting up the food of the person sitting next to me. It can be very relaxing and is important. It's important to remember why you enjoyed this person's company before you had kids.

We went to dinner by ourselves after some friends bagged on us. They had a good excuse. He was admitted to the hospital with a an irregular heart beat (and should be just fine). We are, however, the harbinger of doom for dinner companions. This is the third couple in a row to cancel dinner based on health emergencies. One other person tore her achilles tendon playing tennis and another person's father died. I feel like in all good conscience we should not be permitted to make dinner plans with anyone else without first warning them and giving them a chance to reflect on the risks. That said, no one who ever actually made it to dinner with us has been injured in the dining itself, hangovers the next day excepted.

So we went out by ourselves to a lovely little place overlooking the Long Island Sound. Breezes off the water made for a comfortable outside dinner. What made the evening so memorable, for now, was the quality of the light. The light was so compelling as it changed with the sundown. The water looked different, of course, but it was the land that captured my attention. There was a little peninsula and cove across from my seat and the light on the trees and rocks was downright painterly. It made me think of chiaroscuro, the Italian painting technique by which you contrast light and dark to produce depth. The changing light from the sundown and the reflection of that light off the water made the trees look as if they were rendered by an expert hand with the shadowy bits throwing the sunlit bits into greater relief and contrast. It was very peaceful to sit there, cooled by the breeze, sipping from a bourbon and soda, and chatting companionably with my wife, who is a very interesting conversationalist.

All in all, it was a lovely night. Until the nanny rang my wife's cell phone to say that the alarm at the house was going off and they couldn't get it turned off. So, we went from relaxed to not in 2 seconds, rushed home, and fixed the problem. I think it was no more than a dying battery in the smoke detector. Harmony restored once more.

Until 5:17 this morning when I had an attack of the killer leg cramp in my calf. I actually found what sounds like a reasonable explanation for nocturnal leg cramps. That's why I'm up so early and writing a bit.

Have a great weekend, y'all!

Posted by Random Penseur at 07:02 AM | Comments (9)

July 09, 2004

Oh, the pain, the pain (to be read in fake falsetto)

Late night out last night with friends who we had not seen in a couple of years. Too much cheap Spanish red wine. Stayed up way too late on a school night. Ate too much excellent Turkish food. Came home to collapse in my bed only to be awakened three hours later, at about 3:30 a.m by a request from the girl child for a tissue. She needed her nose blown. I, of course, stumbled out of bed and immediately complied. I told her to go back to sleep and she sang, "ooookaaaay", at me. And wonders of wonders, she actually did go back to sleep. I settled happily back into my pillow and still warm duvet and began the process of going back to sleep. Then, from the other monitor, I hear, "da da da da da". A pause. Then more chatter. My wife, deciding that there must have been a Three Mile Island type incident in the vicinity of the boy's PJ's, valiantly dons the Hazmat suit and rides off to investigate. No hazmat incident. Just a little boy who's up and wants to play. He wants to play really badly. He delays for a long time accepting our kind invitation to return to his untroubled slumber. You may wonder, however, was your hero (read: me, the author) daunted by this yo-yo sleep/not sleep night? No, I shout triumphantly in return and thank you so much for asking. I am made of sterner stuff than this! When my alarm bleated its anemic electronic whine at 5:30, I promptly, without undue delay, jumped out of bed at 6:27. There's a lesson in this for all of us, somewhere. I think it might be that there's always going to be a later train you can take.

Speaking of going out late on a Thursday, by the way, when I was young and childless and living in New York City, Thursday night was considered connoisseur's night out. Then I think it became Monday night. Friday night was strictly for amateurs and the B 'n T crowd. Ever hear that somewhat offensive expression? It refers to those who need to avail themselves of either a Bridge or a Tunnel to get into Manhattan. There are a ton of social stereotypes bound up in that three letter expression. Some of them may even be true. But, I am so out of touch now that I don't know what night is hot anymore nor if anyone even use the B 'n T expression.

By the way, the couple with whom we dined last night? We met them shortly after the birth of the girl child in what feels like it has to be an only in NY story. My wife and I, faced with her impending return to work, placed an advertisement for a Norwegian speaking nanny in the Irish Echo, the newspaper of choice for those seeking domestic employment. We received something like 40 replies. I was thrilled, until I listened to all the voicemails stacked up on my cell phone. Then I realized that cultural diffusion had reached new heights. What else could explain why so many women were calling about the Norwegian speaking nanny position and leaving messages with the beautiful lilt of the West Indies and Jamaica in their voices? I am a big fan of that accent, I find it very musical. But it ain't Norwegian. There was one other message, however. It was from a guy who was also married to a Norwegian woman and they had also just recently had a baby. He said that they had not considered even advertising for a Norwegian speaking nanny and he wondered if I would be so kind as to send over his way the many women we considered and rejected for the position. I called him and explained that we received not one single qualified applicant and invited him and his wife over for a drink. They accepted and we have passed many happy hours with them since and our daughters like each other, too. I love this story. Anyway, they have now also sold their apartment in NYC and bought a house out in Westchester, one town over from ours.

So, here I am. Armed with Advil and coffee, I am off to convince two new potential clients that I am their man for the dispute they are having with their former hedge fund employer. I will not slobber on myself and I will confirm I have put each button of my shirt in the appropriate hole. Hopefully, they won't notice anything amiss. Wish me luck!

Posted by Random Penseur at 08:35 AM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2004

Oh, the fragility of it all

I was overserved last night. I take no responsibility for any of my actions last night and I blame the bartender and my so-called friends. It wasn't my fault. Ok, maybe a little bit.

We took a friend out for drinks and dinner for her birthday last night. We met for drinks at Aquavit. (I am compelled to share with you this picture of the urinal at Aquavit which I found doing an internet search for the restaurant. I had no idea that restaurant urinals was the subject of such fascination and I post this in order to squick you out, too. Share the joy.) Aquavit makes its own flavored aquavits -- I particularly liked the lemon/mint one and we had a couple of those. We then went next door to a private club and had a little bourbon. Then upstairs for dinner, where we had two excellent bottles of wine. One of the best things about dining at a private club is that the wines are not marked up like they are in a restaurant. We drank, at about 1/2 to 1/3 the cost of a similar bottle in a restaurant:

Volnay 1er Cru 1996, Caillerets Ancienne Cuvée
Bouchard Père & Fils


Vougeot 1er Cru 1996
Les Cras Domaine Bertagna

They were so tasty. And the second bottle was even better than the first.

Then, home late, up early, and back at work where I feel somewhat less than my usual sparkling self.

Note to self: drink more water before going to bed after nights like last night.

Posted by Random Penseur at 11:23 AM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2004

"Reeks of late nights and youthful indiscretions"

I liked that phrase a lot. I read it this morning in the NY Times in a restaurant review. The reviewer was describing a dish that went by her on the way to another table. But it got me thinking, what foods do I associate with late nights and youthful indiscretions?

* 3 a.m., French Fries with gravy at a diner.

* Pizza from the place on the corner that used to stay open until 5 a.m. At that time of night, all pizza is good pizza.

* Texas Fries. These were served at a long gone and much lamented 24 hour joint near where I grew up. They were chili cheese fries with minced raw onion on top. It is the taste of heaven.

* Couscous with as much Harissa as you could stand to make up for the night before.

* I-Hop. That's all, just I-Hop.

* The famed Lucky Dog of New Orleans purchased and consumed on the street between bars.

* Long, still drunk, dim sum breakfasts.

* And the ever popular, cold, leftover pizza the next day.

* Whatever you raided from the vending machine in college as you stayed up all night to debate whatever issues impassioned you at that time.

I'm certain there are more, but these are the ones that come to mind immediately.

Posted by Random Penseur at 07:44 AM | Comments (0)