Think Unicorns

Pretzels, potato chips & goldfish (sushi’s cheesy cracker cousin), all foods I thoroughly enjoy. However, one life event made these delicious foods, a forbidden fruit. Let’s back track. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon in the East Village. I wandered around First Avenue, pondering life deep philosophical questions. Should I have Indian for lunch? Or Thai?

There was a tingle in my mouth. Wow, something just doesn’t feel right. I called my dad. “Antoine, have you not been wearing a scarf over your mouth?” he asked with a stern tone. ” No, I never do,” I replied. ” It’s bad for your teeth, wear a scarf. It’s too cold out there,” he replied. I didn’t believe I could actually get frostbite in my mouth, especially after being quite accustomed to New York winters.

The next night, the temperatures dropped dramatically. As expected, the Polar Vortex had become a part of New York daily life like the deli or a metro card. Regardless, of the Polar Vortex, I took advantage of the empty sidewalks. I had a most magnificent walk on Manhattan Avenue in Harlem. Everything was quintessentially adorable and bursting with character. Sadly, the beauty didn’t diminish the pangs of pain, which worsened. “Ouch,” I said.

I convinced myself, it was nothing, just an unrealistic case of frostbite in my mouth. When I rose from slumber, the pain woke me like an alarm clock. “Shit, I think I am going to have to see the dentist.” With the pain worsening with every bite of a croissant sandwich, I successfully made a same day, dentist appointment.

Arriving at the dentist’s office in Union Square, it screamed, hip and cool. There were plenty of Rolling Stone magazines to read and good people watching

My dentist walked in. He looked more like a recent art school graduate than a traditional dentist, which put me at ease, since I am in the creative field.

He brought me for an X-ray and as expected, bad news. ” Yeah, you have a wisdom tooth, which needs to be pulled out. This going to be harder, since you’re 30. The tooth typically gets more imbedded within the gum, as time goes by. Oh and you also have an infection from this. You need to this tooth out now, he said.”

While numbing my gums for the archaeological dig, I braced for madness. Also, I prepared myself for a voyage into a mystical land, which mirrored English countryside. It had unicorns and jellybeans blossoming from the ground. “Okay, kiddo are you ready? He asked. “Oh yeah,” I said terrified, but said with great confidence. The digging began.

The dig for the tooth intensified. I could feel the pressure as he strategically dug for that precious relic. A few minutes later, I experience a tug and surprise, my wisdom tooth came out. “Congratulations, do you want to take a picture for your friends to see?” he asked. Naturally, I pulled out my iPhone and created a memory. Then, I went on my merry way to Walgreens for some fun medications.

After my adventure in the pharmacy, I took the N train to Times Square (where I transfer to the West Side trains). Naturally, I was in terrible pain, as the N, Q & R trains stopped running properly. Feeling loopy from surgery, I tried to take a cab home, which didn’t quite work out for me. In the middle of chaotic Herald Square, I schlepped it to Seventh Avenue and got on a 2/ Uptown train.

The subway was itself typical sardine can. I desperately wanted a seat. The thespian in me had an idea. Back in 1988, when I was four. I faked a dizzy spell, playing to my unsuspecting cousin’s emotions. All I wanted was a soda and I knew I could get it by being dramatic. I was ready for a Tony award worthy performance, but no need. The subway emptied at Times Square and I sat on my royal throne.

Arriving at my apartment in Harlem, I opened up the fridge and ate cheese. I had to consume the cheddar like a mouse, since I could barely move my jaw. Two pills went down an elusive black hole (my throat)  and the pain was gone. Eventually, I started feeling normal. However, booze and crunchy foods were out of the question.

Until the next episode of dental surgery, I will jam out to “Geek Stink Breath” by Green Day. The music video reminds me of my journey into the land of dentistry and teeth pulling. Oh and if you feel tooth pain, by all means, go to the dentist.

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Experimental Art

For a few lucky residents in Riverside (CA), their backyard is an old cemetery. It’s not the typical, bland cemetery. Instead, the antique houses face marvelous tombstones and lush green grounds. It screams character and utter quiet. This is an ideal location, if you’re an honorary member of the Addams Family, of course.

Though, I adored the charming neighborhood with it’s creepy views, I didn’t think I would ever have any fascinating memories there. Until, one day, my perception changed. At that time, I was dating a budding artist. We met in art class. I admired his talent. He also had great style. At first, I wasn’t quite sure if he was gay.

Instead, I started talking about Sex & the City and somehow, he was mesmerized. “Surprise, he came out of the closet.” We spent a significant amount of time together. He always had wild music playing. His room was a tribute to 60’s pop art and colorful collages. He also had pet rabbits, which typically smelled fowl.

At that time, we both lived at home. It made dating rigorous, since his parents didn’t support the gay thing. One day, we decided to go to his favorite make-out corner. He had me drive up a hill. The winding roads led to the old cemetery. I parked the car and we made out. I opened my eyes and there was reality again. The place was slightly eerie, but left a memorable moment.  On the upside, it was a quiet place for a kiss.

I drove him back home. Eventually, we lost touch, but found each other years later. I was happy to know he was dating and pursuing his love of art. As I sit in my New York apartment feeling nostalgic, I giggle. In old fifties films, there was always that make out corner. Mine will always be remembered as the cemetery in Riverside, Ca.

Sh*t Polar Bears Say

Hibernation is for bears. Rather, than hibernating like an ordinary bear, I decided to make every day a New York adventure. I channeled my inner polar bear and made the most out of the abnormally cold temperatures.  Initially, I was also seeking a Boo-Boo to compliment my Yogi (looking for a date).

Luckily, I found the perfect sidekick via okcupid. My previous dates with Boo-Boo (his nickname) were quite wonderful. Therefore, I was delighted to plan another riveting outing. This time, I organized a museum trip, which would follow with an authentic Chinese dinner in (you guessed it) Chinatown.

I bought my museum ticket and sipped on a cappuccino, while watching hipsters being (well) hipsters. As I amused myself in the world of hipster lingo, my date ran quite late. I glanced at my watch and he was nowhere to be found. I went upstairs to tour the exhibit, “art from the Eastern Bloc.

When I returned to the lobby of the museum, Boo Boo was nowhere to be found. He didn’t even respond to my texts. Hence, I had a first. Within all my years dating in New York City, I hadn’t experienced being “stood up.” Rather than returning to my apartment and to wallow in rejection, I marched to the dive-y noodles restaurant for a “foodie’s day out.”

Snow fell from the sky. The Lower East Side faded into Chinatown. The streets were more bustling. While crossing Canal Street, I glanced at the Manhattan Bridge to my left. As car horns serenaded my eardrums. There was something comforting and even charming about that non-shalant moment.

“I maybe single, but I am not alone. At least I am in New York City, where dreams come true.” After that sappy moment, I gave Boo-Boo a piece of my mind and felt so much better telling him off . In the wise motto of New York across the five boroughs, I yelled a big old ” fuggedaboutit.” I then filed that moment under, “another edition of dating in city.”

A Night-owl’s Romance

“You are now entering the Polar Vortex,” said New York, while welcoming me back home from sunny Southern California. Upon my arrival, the city was bracing itself for a massive blizzard. Like any good New Yorker, I weathered the larger than life snowflakes for a trip to Trader Joe’s.

While, I anticipated a bit of cabin fever, I picked up all my favorite foods (prosciutto, hummus, crackers, English toffee and meat loaf). Standing in line, I noticed all the adorable gay couples, shopping for their bit of winter comfort foods. I thought to myself, “geez, they must really enjoy cabin fever.” On that note, I headed back home on the subway.

Upon exiting 135th street station, the darkened skies above New York turned hazy from  intense snowfall. I reveled on the sweet sounds of snow crunching against my feet. I finally reached my tiny fifth floor walk-up apartment, which I think rivals Buckingham Palace, in my humble opinion.

Instead of psychoanalyzing War & Peace or finally starting up that Kurt Vonnegut novel, I went on okcupid. I met a boy instantly, which doesn’t happen often on that side. He was an art history major with a minor in creative writing. Via email, he asked quickly, “Hi, wanna go on a date? I replied, “yes,” naturally.  I was excited. The next day, I stepped out of my humble apartment building.

There were snow banks everywhere. Snow turned sidewalks into an unrecognizable sea of ice. At that moment, I found my favorite and most romanticized image of Manhattan. The romanticized image mirrored my optimism. However, a day before meeting my potential new boyfried, I had a different kind of date.

” I have the stomach flu,” said I to my father. I rely on him for medical advice, even though he’s not a doctor. “You need to take it easy and just ride through it,” he said. In the grand tradition of fathers, he ended the conversation with ” please, no booze or coffee till you feel better. Love you.”

It was a most stressful weekend. I didn’t want to cancel the date. Instead, I showed up. Wearing my best cardigan, I stepped into the candle-lit restaurant on the Upper West side. He appeared like a prince rescuing a princess from a gilded tower. His scruff was utterly endearing, as were his glasses. As we sat down, the conversation grew into a feast of delightful topics.

” I think, I lost a few pounds from this stomach flu,” said I. He looked away and I was mortified. I shook my head and bursted into laughter, “whoops, you can’t count this into an awkward moment.” He laughed as well.

We finally glanced at the menu. His forehead was covered in sweat. Grabbing a napkin, he said, ” I can’t stop sweating, guess this is my awkward moment.” During the date, I still didn’t feel wonderful from my case of the stomach flu. However, I did enjoy having a proper date. Afterwards, we took the subway home and he planted a kiss on me. I walked out of the train, feeling quite delighted.

Eventually, my stomach flu went the way of VHS tapes. I focused my energy on the following romantic question. “Does he love? Does he love me not?” He texted and we planned another date. This time, we locked eyes over Thai food in the East Village. It was magical. We found ourselves on the subway late night.

He was heading home a few stops before me. Prior to exiting  the train, I told him, ” text me when you get home.” He glanced over and laughed ” really?” I replied, “yes, please text me.” Finally, as I prepared for bed, he did indeed remember to text. I smiled. After that, we didn’t become a romantic item. Instead, the experience was simply a  lovely memory of going on date.

The Traveling Beard

A bearded man can’t live off berries and leaves of the forest, alone. Hence, I was getting my carbohydrate fix at the local Latino diner. It a most wonderful place with a long counter top, telenovelas playing on the TV & salsa music whisking diner patrons to exotic locations.

In the midst of traditional Latin foods, such as Mofongo (fried plantans smashed with different fillers), beef stewed, empandas, Moros y Cristianos (black beans mixed with white rice), I ordered the spaghetti (granted I usually go for a more traditionally Cuban/Puerto Rican dish).

After indulging with a bit of guilt, I ordered a tres leches cake. Inevitably, I experienced food coma. Therefore, a long walk was needed. However, I longed for a bit more people traffic.

I took the C train to Columbus Circle, for an after dinner walk around Ninth Avenue. I love my walks around Hell’s Kitchen. It’s New York reigning gay-borhood. The tall buildings, eclectic restaurants, car horns, neighboring bright lights of Times Square and narrow sidewalks, feel quintessentially Manhattan.

As I cut off slow pedestrians on the northwest corner of 53& Ninth, I made eye contact with a cute guy with red hair. I kept on walking, but really wasn’t sure why he was starring my direction. While walking toward Eighth Ave, I happened to make eye contact with another guy. This time, it felt like attraction at first sight, but the shy part of me kept walking. Then, I strolled back towards Ninth Ave and surprise, more eye contact.

I wouldn’t say I was a Casanova or a pretty boy in any sense. However, I wondered, why out of all nights am I suddenly a Casanova? I touched my face and realized I was scruffy. “Oh yeah, I had let my beard grow,” said I. In a sense, I was rebelling against appearing overly well put together. However, guys were responding more to the “I don’t care kind of attitude.”

Since, I was still a singleton in New York, I decided to keep the beard. Armed with a slight beard, shoes, which need to be polished and a little tummy, I still went out and enjoyed life. Even, if I hadn’t caught any attention that night, I’d still proudly strut my stuff.