The Starting Point

June 19th, 2006

Perhaps no film better summarizes popular culture’s dueling concept of The Weekend than the new classic, “Old School.”

The Bed, Bath & Beyond vs. Mitchapalooza Conundrum, as it’s come be to called in Academia, is revealed in this one, hilarious scene.

Frank: I told my wife I wouldn’t drink tonight. I got a big day tomorrow. You guys have a great time.

Harrison College Student: A big day? Doing what?

Frank: Well, um, actually a pretty nice little Saturday, we’re going to go to Home Depot. Yeah, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I don’t know, I don’t know if we’ll have enough time.

You know where it goes from here … “Ok, just one … Once it hits your lips, it’s so good … We’re going streaking!!!”

As a filmic representation of the emasculated, married man, Frank The Tank could be Everyman. His struggle with friendship vs. relationship, love of beer vs. lawn care is practically universal.

But I’m here to tell you, you can have it all.

I mean, listen, I wanted to go to Bed, Bath & Beyond on Saturday. I like that shit. Given unlimited resources, I’d have shoe holders in my closet. If I won the lottery, I’d have 600 thread count sheets. If my music became huge in Japan, I’d buy three mixing bowls and a colander. I would. What can I say? I’m a Virgo.

But let’s be honest: it’s not the driving range or the batting cages. The place is emasculating. What if I got caught shopping for duvet covers? A year ago, I didn’t even know what a duvet cover was! Now I need a heavy one for winter, and lightweight one for summer.

Yunno what, though? It’s just a whole different kind of fun. The best part — and I mean this — came about an hour into the excursion. Abbi said, “I’m looking for something but I’m not saying what.” After fifteen minutes following her around the kitchen wares section, I got it out of her: a juicer. “So we can take our margaritas up a level.”

This was a project I could get with 100%.

As it ends up, there are numerous juicers. Cuisenart makes one. It’s motorized, and runs about thirty bucks. There’s the traditional plastic one in which the user provides the motor. It costs four bucks. And some innovative “As Seen On TV” company makes one that looks like two ice cream scoops with holes. It runs about fifteen bucks.

Abbi and I stood there in the fluorescent glare debating the merits of each. I was advocating for the Cuisinart, despite having balked at forty-dollar pillowcases. She was lobbying for a side trip to Crate & Barrel. I had to laugh. Cuz on the surface, the venue was lame. But the dialogue was key: better booze through technology.

We ended up with the entry level juicer.

The purchase transformed our day. I brainstormed a late-afternoon lunch inspired by our juicer: grilled shrimp marinated in limejuice and ground pepper, with coconut jasmine rice. And, of course, hand-crafted margaritas (three parts Patron, two parts fresh-squeezed limes, one part Triplesec).

At this point, it’s approaching five o’clock. The sun is still blazing, baking the streets and rooftops. We’re feeling good: full bellied, and a little swimmy in the head. But as much as we’d like to sit on the couch in the AC, we’ve got another late-afternoon engagement: Chris Abad‘s CD release.

You know Chris. He’s the former front man of Dough, current singer/songwriter, and sometimes lead guitar in my band who contributed tracks to both “Love & Other Indoor Games” and “Heartland.” Talented guy. Writes great songs. Has a great voice. And he’s a heckuva guitar player. I can whistle a guitar solo to him, and he’ll nail it in one pass. Kind of infuriating (yunno, in a good way) for a hack like me. Anyway, Chris was celebrating the release of his new CD, “The Starting Point,” with a show at Rockwood, followed by an after party at White Rabbit. The show was at five. The after party started at seven. I mean, people, the sun doesn’t even set until nine o’clock these days! And we’ve already got margaritas in us!

Chris’ show was outstanding. Tony and Walker backed him up, and — because they’ve been performing together for years — were in complete synch. The three of them perform with me at most of my shows, which makes me a pretty lucky musician. At one point, I turned to Abbi and said, “Check those guys out! I’m in a band with those guys!”

Ok, so I was a little buzzed.

And the sun hadn’t even set.

I’m not quite sure what happened next. I don’t think a beer bong was involved, but it might as well have been. I remember laughing, and yelling over music, and taking lots of photos. And I remember the cab ride home from the Lower East Side. My head was in Abbi’s lap, my feet were dangling out the window, and I was smiling.

Maybe those concepts aren’t so mutually exclusive after all.