Sun scorching my retinas. Faint smell of pot wafting around my head. Little kids playing in a questionably sanitary puddle. Muffled sounds of indie rock band performing on stage. Hipsters patiently waiting in line for beer.
WHERE AM I?
On Sunday I went to Pool Parties at McCarren Pool for the first time this summer. I went once last year to see Of Montreal, after which in a state of severe bodily fluid expulsion ("sweating") I asked myself, "Jesus, did I really travel 2 hours to roast in the sun and feel like a overly wet, leaky sponge and smell like...[sniff]...oh my god that is not human."
Yes, yes I did. And then I did it again to see last week's Pool Parties because Diana, Patty, Annie, John, Pete and Alex were going and seeing people who stimulate happiness as opposed to trigger nightmare-ridden panic attacks is always a good thing. But if I wasn't sure before about whether my former penchant for attending concerts was being sucked out of this universe, I was now. After standing around the pool with friends and...that was pretty much it, I didn't really feel like watching the bands, even the headliner Band of Horses (who I really do like, as long as I don't have to watch them from the pit of a decaying pool with the same area as a Walmart while being attacked by ultraviolet rays).
Instead of stationing my stubby self in front of the stage (a novel idea at a concert), I mainly stood in a small grassy spot shaded by the pool's encompassing brick wall to the side of the stage with Diana, Patty, Annie and John. The lone metal barricade and burgeoning garden of weeds told us that this area probably wasn't meant for loitering (although it would've been pretty cozy without the barricade or weeds, even better with a few pillows and a hammock thrown in...and an air conditioner and a free ice cream truck), but we stayed put because moving would grant some other overly heated soul the gift of shade, something that none of us was willing to give up.
Besides, the main reason people came to this spot by the pool was to grab a drink or salty snack, not to enter our precious 10 cubic feet of semi-darkness. Whisky and ginger beer...hm, nah. Annie was interested in trying a whisky-ginger beer concoction though, so I grabbed us a cup in case they carded. Which they didn't. Funny how the first time I decide to see what perks being 21 will bring me, it does nothing. This age, IT DOES NOTHING.
I took a careful sip of the mix drink amounting to a teaspoon or less, all I really need for my brain needs to know whether or not it dislikes something. My dislike radar went off, prompting my tongue to peek out and my face to scrunch up in confused horror, which is my natural reflex expressing...confused horror. Oh, and dislike. The other part of the reflex that people can't see is how my inner tubes (the ones that food flows though) suddenly feel like they're being violated by a river of some dead, molten, conscience-less substance, first killing everything in its path (old ladies, infants, badgers, nothing is safe) and then magically poofing or something so that my tubes feel uncomfortably sharp and clear before feeling dead again and...I might be exaggerating a bit, but if you know the feeling then you might agree with one of those things I just babbled.
Annie took a sip. "Whoa, that's bad."
"So it's not just me?" I asked.
Annie took another sip. "Yeah, it's pretty bad."
"You don't have to keep drinking it!..."
And yet another sip. "Actually, it's not that bad."
After having tried whisky-ginger-beer for the first time, I figured I may as well infect myself with the other drink of Pool Parties choice: Red Bull. Don't ask me why a bunch of people smoldering in a pool would need an energy drink designed for "increased mental and physical exertion," not much of which seemed to be happening as most people were standing or sitting, not pulling all-nighters, exhaustedly driving cabs, performing 10-hour brain surgery, rescuing crying babies from burning buildings, or whatever the other suggested uses of Red Bull are.
Patty donated a sip of her Red Bull to my knowledge bank of beverage experiences. The first sensation was a blast of candy. Then fizziness. Then tartness. Then, "Oh my god what the heck did I just drink," a question that wasn't answered any better after looking at the ingredients listed on the can. If it were actually called "Liquefied SweeTarts" the taste would've made more sense to me, but the brand never seems to advertise the tastes of its miracle drink. And why should it; you don't drink it for the taste, you drink it because it repeatedly pokes your brain with stimulants.
So if any Red Bull virgins out there wondered what Red Bull tasted like, I'd describe it as SweeTarts in soda form. I like SweeTarts. I like eating them. But I'd like to ingest SweeTarts in fizzy liquid form about as much as I'd like to drink melted gummi worms or Skittles or have holes poked into my brain by microscopic caffeine-powered leprechauns. Just my opinion, of course. (if you like Red Bull, that's fine with me. I heard it tastes good mixed with alcohol...not that I really want to explore that option.)
If I drank enough of anything, whether that be whisky-based slosh or Red Bull, I'd probably learn to like it. That's how I learned to like water...that, and I cut out all other drinks. But methinks it's a little more worthwhile to get used to drinking water, the most basic thirst quencher, than other beverages. And it's calorie free! (Of course, you can like water and other beverages; I've just stuck with water. And the occasional milkshake.)
I still remember the discussions I had with some of my alcohol-loving classmates during our trip to Rome about how to acclimate oneself to the bitter taste of fermentation.
"Oh, you just have to chug it. Drink it and drink it until you like it."
"...Oh...um..." My skepticism was difficult to hide. Not that I was really trying.
"It's great! After you get over the nausea."
I loved my classmates. It probably would've been funny to see them drunk, but I never got the chance.
Anyway, back to my story, if I was indeed telling one.
We left our shaded enclave and moved maybe 10 feet to watch Band of Horses from behind the barrier on the side, meaning that we didn't watch as much as hear. Diana, who had all-access privileges, informed me that it wasn't very interesting to watch anyway, so I took her word for it. And then the tummy rumbling set in and we left the show early to grab some foodstuffs. (But I do recommend Everything All the Time, which was one of my favorite albums of 2006.)
We walked to Sea, a huge, spacious Thai restaurant with a shallow rectangular pool in the center flanked by tables on two sides and overseen by a statue of Buddha. The decor is trendy, semi industrial and semi Asian-y (don't ask me what that means; I'll figure it out later), but sometimes that's what you want. To sit at an oblong, somewhat triangular black table by wood paneled walls with rectangular boxes of light jutting out of them, you know? I had seriously been interested in checking it out every since I passed by it once a few summers ago and was like, "OOH GIANT BUDDHA AND STUFF, looks nice." There was also a balloon half-floating around our table, probably not part of the decor. It wasn't heavy enough to sink to the ground, but it wasn't light enough to float in the air (this balloon totally failed balloon school), so it eerily hovered around like a ghost...made of yellow latex. That's one way to annoy the hell out of someone—shove a bunch of half-floating balloons in their direction.
Sea is a nice place to eat at for its reasonable prices. But I defeated the purpose of not spending much by ordering Mummy Fish, one of the more expensive items on the menu at $16 (most entrees are under $10). However, I'm a sucker for whole fish and that stuff usually costs a bit. Mummy Fish is, "Roasted red snapper marinated with lemongrass, cilantro, garlic, pepper. Served with chili-citrus sauce." And I had to copy and paste that description because I otherwise wouldn't know what to tell you besides that the flesh was soft and meaty (yes, meat is meaty last time I checked), not flaky like some other fish but not flaky, more like...mashed fish. Mashed fish with bones in it. Uh. You...you know? Nevermind. Although the fish was seasoned enough to be eaten on its own, I coated most of the fish chunks in the thin spicy and sour chili-citrus sauce because sometimes I like assaulting my taste buds. Overall, a tasty fish. I ate everything except for the bony tail bit and head.
Patty, Diana and Annie also ate food. And THERE IT IS! I don't have much to say about them since I didn't eat them. And lookie there, I didn't even deliver nice photos. Bah.
Diana and I were the only ones to spring for dessert. I immediately went towards the molten chocolate cake with pistachio ice cream (a Thai favorite, I'm sure) because how could I not go for a cake with a burning core of raging chocolate goo with some pistachio ice cream on the side to cool your tongue, which you accidentally burned from eating the cake too fast? Oops, did I do that? Oops. Well. The cake goes from warm to, "OH SHIT, MY TONGUE, NOW PARTIALLY DEAD," so be careful, kiddies. Perhaps this shouldn't be eaten under anyone 21.
...Just kidding; I'm just stupid and my mouth moves faster than my brain. If you pace yourself then you can painlessly enjoy a not burninatingly hot core of chocolate goo within the lightly fudgey, not overwhelmingly sweet or chocolate-y cake. Sadly, my stomach was nearing the explosion point and with only a few bites left I—in a strange act of willpower—decided to put my spoon down. Aw. I didn't finish the ice cream either, as it's main function in its partially frozen life on my plate was to sooth the dying cells on my burnt tongue. It's probably a better idea to share a dessert with someone else.
Diana liked her apple tart, but I think like me couldn't finish it from lack of stomach space. She did a good job on it though. THAT'S MY DIANA, YEAAH, YOUR STOMACH IS EXPANDING!
I forgot to mention that Diana and Patty got drinks of less than stellar taste. Diana's guava flavored Thai iced tea looked like tea but tasted like sweet guava juice. Which would've been fine if that's what she was expecting. I'm sensitive to the taste of tea (aka BITTER DIRTY LEAF SQUEEZIES) and I couldn't detect it in this glass. I didn't try Patty's lychee flavored tea, but I figure it had the same problem of not tasting like tea, or the tea just didn't mix with the lychee. Or I don't know. Her tea and Diana's tea were the same color...the color of all the tea leaves that had their lives squeezed out of them.
Fun times. Williamsburg is a neat little place, strangely run down and new at the same time, although not a place I could imagine living because 1) probably couldn't afford it and 2) too many young people. Or too many people within a 5 year range of my age. Which makes me wonder if I'll just end up disliking people in their 40s when I turn 40. Young people, geddof my lawn (waves imaginary cane towards the sky while failing to rise from imaginary lawn chair on imaginary lawn).
And now for your Potter update
I didn't mention how tired I was on Sunday morning.
I was really tired on Sunday morning. For good reason.
Actually, staying up until 7AM to read Harry Potter probably isn't a good reason, nor something I should boast because it's kind of sad, but there it is. I received the book Saturday afternoon and told myself I wouldn't read it until I had a huge chunk of time where I wouldn't have to pull myself off my bed. Except I did pull myself off a few times to eat snacks and make popcorn (one of my favorite things to cook lately, if popping it in a pot counts as cooking). Had to keep my energy up, you know? Reading Harry Potter can be draining when it's blow after blow of bad things happening...
I won't give away any spoilers, although I figure anyone who really wants to read it would have read it by now and anyone who half-cares would've looked up what happened (who dies, who lives, OMG). Like every HP book, I loved the 7th volume, although it's not my favorite. Yet. I'm going to start reading it a second time to make sure.
A little background about my HP reading history, if anyone is still reading this [pokes your bored slumped-over body with virtual stick]. The first time I cracked open an HP book around the end of 8th grade (1999), I had never even heard of him. My mum bought the book from Costco and gave it to me, saying she heard it was good, which was kind of an odd gesture since she rarely bought books for me. The goofy looking cover and storyline of witches and wizards made me skeptical (up to that point I didn't like fantasy novels about magic and things...and I actually still don't aside from HP), but starting off with book 2 (because I didn't know there was an order, yet it still made sense not having read the first book) I was instantly hooked. Like reeeaaaally hooked. So I guess this is one of those things you either love instantly or don't get. I mostly known people from the latter set, but a handful of friends are like me and have..um, already finished the 7th book. Woohoo!
I love Harry Potter. A lot. The books, not the movies.