At The Argo Tea Cafe

Going home always instills feelings of being home.

If you know what I mean.

In this case, going home meant comments from my parents and my sister about my appearance and grooming habits, obligatory letting my grandmother hold the crook of my elbow and, of course, dressing up in clothes I would never wear for others’ amusement.

This was a favorite game of my sister’s and my mother’s for as a far back as I can remember. Everyone would get very excited about “Let’s see Nick in that!” and I, who have always hated “clothing” in the aesthetic sense, would protest and squirm, maybe have a tantrum or run out in a huff, differing from which point of my childhood or adolescence this was happening in.

It was always at some sort of all-family gathering though, where the social pressure is highest and this time was no different.

It was my grandmother’s birthday, the night before Halloween, and in her attempt to constantly pawn clothing off on me, she had brought a top hat and “two different capes!” (her emphasis, not mine) for me to try on, presumably for some sort of halloween experience. My friends, Rob Malone, Matt Chao, Chadd Harbold and Frank Orio had all gathered as well (at my mother’s request) and they joined in on the pressuring which had a particular pervasive take this time.

First it was my grandmother just mentioning that she had brought the aforementioned hat and capes to the room in her up-tone excited voice as if she was saying “I have a great i-dea!” which then stayed in the room like germs from a lingering cough infecting the air as my parents heard, my friends heard and eventually my sister who, of course, was entirely enamored of the idea.

As I helped my mother set up the very nice dinner she had cooked for everyone, I heard my friends talk with my sister from across the room, feeling the onset in the back of my mind. As my sister continued to inflate the idea like a hot-air balloon, I grew more and more tense as I pointed out the almonds that could be toasted for topping the couscous, building to that moment in the back of my mind.

Slowly, my friends were infected by my sister’s charm and enthusiasm for the idea. Matt Chao, with his penchant for nerdy ideas and general geekery, was, as expected, the first to fall.

“You know what we should do?” I heard from across the living room. “We should see Nick try on that top hat and capes!”

“Yeah!” My sister instantly seconded.

“Oh, that would be won-derful!” My grandmother exclaimed.

“Damnit Cec.” I replied. “You rigged this.”

“I didn’t rig anything.” She said, putting on a faux-shocked face.

“Come now, dearest Nick.” My grandmother told me grabbing the crux of my arm.

“Goddamnit.” I told myself as the traitor Chao and my sister continued cackling from the back of the room, because now if I didn’t do it, I would be disappointing my grandmother at her birthday celebration.

My friends gathered round and Matt Chao took the picture with an iPad 2 that was definitely going to destroy his life (he already found an MMORPG to play on it) as we filed into the other room.

There I was getting dressed up again. I think I even called it out.

It didn’t look too bad.

And I hadn’t bought a costume.

I took it with me in a bag home at the end of a nice dinner with my friends and wore it the next day at the Magnet Theater’s Halloween party.

I hadn’t done any other work on it or changed my clothes, so I just told people I was a magician.

I had a pint of whiskey that I kept taking out (diet, folks) and people asked me if my costume was drunken magician and I said, yes, that seemed appropriate.

I made sure to take good care of it, like my mother texted me and said.

Magician Nick, the end.

***

I asked my therapist today a rhetorical question. Or maybe not a rhetorical question, maybe just a want or a desire.

I asked: “When is therapy going to help me improve my love life?”

I’m coming up on a year since I’ve been in anything really meaningful.

I weighed in yesterday at 182.4.

The Accutane seems to be working even though it’s making my skin dry as hell (the doctor told me this was to be expected and was not permanent).

I even perform some funny comedy and people are starting to agree that the stuff I do doesn’t suck. Scott Adsit sat it on the show I did last week and people seemed to like my sketch I brought in on my Magnet team.

I look at myself in the mirror and see someone who could be with somebody, see someone worthwhile, someone worth at least a date or two.

I feel like people keep speaking past me, like they’re unable to connect, like they’re interested in observing me or looking from a distance or having my acquaintance.

Several times in the past week, I’ve had young ladies tell me “I’m a big fan of your blog” seeming to mean both “I really enjoy your writing” and “Nothing will ever happen between us”.

One of them even said this probably knowing that I had talked about her rejecting me through process of ignoring me on it (Ladies, feel free to comment if this is something that does make you feel good or a fan of something).

There’s something funny about that to me (even if it’s glaringly obvious), the idea that my ability to articulate who I am and what I feel is the very thing that is both what intrigues people and also causes them to make sure they keep a proper distance. I feel like perhaps people wish they could be open or wish they could be honest or unashamed or public with their thoughts. But as have that sanctity of themselves that they choose, that privacy, they don’t want to be dragged into the zeitgeist and who could blame them?

Or they could just not be in to me, that’s fine too.

I still haven’t returned (yet) to OKCupid, though I have returned to going to a party or two and drinking hoping for something dumb to happen, always with disappointing results.

When I told my therapist my rhetorical question, she told me:

“You came to me a few years ago with a strong idea: that you wanted someone who would accept you for who you are, take you or leave you. And that’s good. But you’ve realized that you can change your appearance somewhat, you can put your best “you” forward, without changing essentially who you are.”

But there’s also something to be said for the repercussions of being a public person, it’s a strong choice to live like that, but people may react strongly.

As I was writing this, I got a message from someone on OKCupid, a reply from a message I sent 6 months ago.

 

Well, ladies. I guess I’m still on the market.

***

I apologize for the blurriness of this photo, only vouching in my defense that it is difficult to take a good picture of something when you have an intense desire to eat it immediately.

When I first passed “Za’atar” on Greenwich Avenue it immediately struck me as small and strange and oddly cavernous, a wild, ethnic joint offering 3-buck falafels amidst a string of mid-level restaurants and haute-crap bars.

It’s on my path both of walking to the “Improv Ghetto” (26th-30th sts bet 6th and 8th Aves) from my home and also just a preferred path for general walking for me. I love streets that are diagonals in New York City and Greenwich Avenue is one of the greatest and steepest offenders.

I passed it several late nights where I saw it oddly open with a hijab-clad woman working the back but it wasn’t till I was looking for a meal, running late for a rehearsal I had committed inanely to walking to that I ended up there.

The time I went a skinny, short older man manned the area, while what appeared to be a railroad-style hobo (of the type one used to see in Greenwich Village) sat in the front eating from a plate of kidney beans.

He said he was from “Damascus, Syria” when I asked him and asked me if I wanted “everything” to which I said yes.

What I got ended up as 5, as opposed to the advertised 3 dollars, but hell if it wasn’t worth it.

Light and crisp, but packed falafels, stuffed into a well-toasted whole wheat pita, with non-pickle cucumbers, lettuce, tomato, lightly-pickled onions, tahina, hummus and a potent, but sweet hot sauce.

It was the sort of falafel you wolf down and then spend several minutes after just contemplating the accomplishment.

I’ll have to go back to Taim and do a side-by taste-test.

But this is certainly one of the best falafels in New York City and quite a find.

***

ZA’ATAR

Falafel w/Hummus + “Everything”- $5.00

Greenwich Ave. bet 6th and 7th Aves.

123L to 14th St-7th Ave. ACEBDFM to West 4th St.

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2 Responses to At The Argo Tea Cafe

  1. Matt Chao says:

    Ok, first off, I didn’t suggest that YOU should try on the hat. I said I wanted to try on the hat. You just heard top hat and assumed that I was talking about you in your very conceited way.

    Secondly, I don’t think I fell at all. quite the opposite. I think that coercing you into doing something that you automatically label as bad or embarrassing even when it isn’t necessarily either is always a good thing and not fall in the slightest. I think it’s more floating.

    Thirdly, YOU, of all people, are not allowed to speak to me about my mobile devices usage. At least I actually interact with people around me (which includes providing eye contact when being spoken to, to the person speaking) Mr. “Words with Friends”.

    Lastly, it’s pretty messed up to show ppl’s usernames from OK Cupid. Go blur that out before posting it!

    P.S. You watch my segment on Comic Con yet?

    • cecil says:

      I agree with chao. I casually mentioned the top hat & that I wished you would don it once. Stop making me sound like a jerk

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