Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lando's Family Part Deux

The next day I awoke feeling ashamed. I was in one of the most exciting cities anywhere and I had gone to bed at 8:30PM the night before and slept for 10 hours. Orlando grumbled a bit about it which didn’t alleviate my feelings of guilt and shame. However, deep down I was grateful for two things; First- Our bed was very comfortable and Second I was feeling much much better after 10 hours of sleep. There was no longer a hazy corona around lit lightbulbs and other bright areas, and my feet and legs didn’t ache so damned much.

  Our bedroom was small. Outside our room was an ancient kittycat sitting placidly in the hall with interesting markings that gave him the name, “Charlie Chaplin”.  He stared up at us to give us an indifferent good morning gaze. Orlando reached down to scratch his head and chin and he began to purr appreciatively.  He did look like he had a mustache  of sorts and it did have a Chaplinesque look to it. There were three floors to the hotel. The stairway and upper hallway we decorated with Blackglama Ads featuring famous Divas. This must be one of those things that identifies it as a Gay Hotel. I could name all but one. Unfortunately I never learned who she was because the gent manning the front desk didn’t know either. I had never thought to snap a pic of it on my phone to research it. I had fun testing Orlando because his knowledge of actors and actresses from  before 1982 is pretty poor. How he ever got his Gay Card I’ll never know. There were two pictures -one with Liza and another with Judy with the familiar Blackglama motto. “ What Becomes a Legend Most?”, side by side so I asked him, “What do these two women have in common?”  You’ll be pleased to know that he eventually figured it out -and with very few hints I might add.

  On our way over to Elba’s apartment in Spanish Harlem, we did a tourist route. It involved walking through Times Square. I posed ridiculously with my hands up in the air, while Lando snapped a pic and someone walking by was explaining to his two companions that “New York does this to people”. I wondered if he had ever succumbed to a Mary-Tyler-Moore-moment before. We went up 8th avenue because they were having a huge Street Fair. We both bought hats and I found some cute refrigerator magnets shaped like unusual pieces of produce. That wound up being the extent of our tourist shopping in The Big Apple.                        

  As we approached Central Park South I was sooo excited to see the Horse-drawn carriages all lined up on Park Ave. They were so elegant and reminded me of every fairy tale Lifetime movie I had ever seen. The horses were elegant -even when they took a dump or piss! There was like this thing just under their family jewels and it caught it all...except the odor. There was nothing they could do about that!  Regardless - I was terribly impressed with how these non-touching- diapers worked. Orlando said he had always wanted to ride one, ever since he had seen them as a little boy. I looked at him wide-eyed and he got it immediately that I had the same longing. “ Well Let’s go check it out, shall we?” Well I can tell you - it aint cheap. You can expect to pay around $100 for 40 minutes of your “fairy tale romantic horse-drawn-carriage ride”. A very carny-like Australian tried to talk us into it right away. I reminded Orlando of the time and we were due at Elba’s in about 35 minutes. We said no - and we were going to make the dream come true tomorrow. Orlando muttered, “ It’s only money.” about 5 times and then relaxed into the idea.
Dinner at Elba’s was almost identical to every family dinner I had growing up. Mariah was watching some Children’s program but she got distracted enough to grab the Ipad and have her Tio Lando and Titi P.A. read to her about cars. “ Omg!” I squeaked in distress, “ She likes Cars!!!” She was barely 2 feet tall - and she was issuing orders that Lando sit to her immediate left and I sit to her right. Along with her father’s help, she had managed to learn my name pretty quickly. I sat her on my knee and looked at her earnestly. “ Now you realize Mariah, that cars aren’t exactly my thing but your Tio Landito over there could probably chat with you about them. I’ll teach you a few beauty tips and maybe how to handle a man.” Luckily her parents didn’t hear a word of that ,but the ever watchful Elba saw us bonding out the corner of her eye. “ You must like children! “  Orlando and I spoke simultaneously and said offhandedly, “ Not really.” It was if someone had cracked a very inappropriate joke and Jess and Martin looked nervously over at their daughter clambering around my lap. I spoke quickly.“ Mariah is clearly special and not like other children and deserves my full attention.” I didn’t intend to sound like one of the elders from Rosemary’s Baby so I confessed that at one point in my life I had been one of the most successful babysitters at Northfield Jr-Sr High. I owe it to all those theater warm up games I learned and how they were excellent for tiring children out. I have to say Mariah is special and for some reason really plucked at my heart strings. I blurted it out before I had given it much thought. “ In fact Jess - if you and Martin ever want to send her to California for a week when she is a little older-” Orlando cut me a look that kind of shut me up. Martin laughed and said, “ Be careful what you wish for PA.”

The Pork was delicious and Elba shared with me the method to get the skin the same crispy texture that Orlando loves so much. Apparently it involved a cup of water but I imagine it also had to do with the cut of meat too. When we ate pork I typically bought very lean cuts which didn’t tend to get that nice crispy skin that he craved so much. She also made the pre-requisite rice and beans which normally I am not a fan of. I found that -however she had seasoned the beans it was very nummy. I decided not to tell Orlando because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Many times I skip eating his recipe because he puts lots of bacon fat in them and it gives me the indigestion from hell. I found Elba’s to be lighter -almost like a well cooked lentil in a mild Indian Dal. I LOVE lentils. I liked Elba’s so much, I had a second portion! Lando DIDN’T miss that . “ Hey!! What’s up with that??? I thought you hated Beans!” I just tried to make my eyes as big and as blue as I possibly could and shrugged.” I dunno...I didn’t want it offend your Aunt.” The blue eyes worked. They always do by the way. “ You like Elba’s cooking don’t you honey?” I nodded enthusiastically and stuffed another mouthful of beans and rice in.

  More people arrived. Elba’s son and his family but they didn’t intend to stay to eat. They were just going to pop in and head over to the gym. Orlando and Jess properly guilted them because it had been years since they had seen this particular cousin. Elba scooted over on the couch next to me. I told her the meal was great. She spoke again about Orlando’s Mom, Elsie and she said she had spoken to her on the phone and Elsie had said I was so nice and good to her son. There was almost some relief to her voice. I suspect it had to do with the fact that I was far more age appropriate than Orlando’s last partner but hey that’s just me speculating. I am still the old man in the relationship by a few years. She patted me affectionately on the leg. “ Your family now baby! You got that!?” It almost had an Italian Mobster feel to it but I liked that thought. You give me any shit? My Titi Elba will take your ass OUT! You got me Baby? Hugs and promises were made. I wanted to come back next year.

  Now the goal was to head back to the hotel - freshen up and head out for a night to the THEATEH!! Priscilla Queen of the Desert was the Broadway Show of choice. Times Square seemed more like Vegas to me at night. Sardi’s which used to be a fabulous hang out of broadway stars back in the day, now seemed like a vaguely tired tourist stop. The onions in my Gibson were unforgivably soft. There was a large tub of cheddar spread and Ritz crackers that apparently is communally shared during Happy Hour. Yuk! We did strike up a conversation with some legitimate New York Theater goers who were enraptured about this show in which  performers did these uncanny interpretations of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and I forget who else. They were blown away and assured us that we would love it if we got the chance. I somehow doubted that. Orlando asked them what they thought of “The Book of Mormon” and they gave us this world weary “ Yes - ok entertaining but haven’t we all HEARD this story before??”. I should mention they were clearly heterosexual and somehow that comment raised my hackles a bit, but I felt I might travel into a territory where I had no idea what I was talking about. So I chose not to. I later regretted it when we told one of the women we had tickets to see Priscilla. She all but patted us on the head and encouraged us like grade school children to enjoy our day at Disney. Again the thing with the hackles...

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