a Cheap Holiday

Cheap Holiday

Welcome to a cheap holiday in my life. At least you get to go home at the end of the day!

Sunday, October 06, 2002

The weekend in Philly has been gorgeous! Sunny, almost clear blue skies, and just enough chill to make outdoor activity comfortable. I've tried to get out some on both days and I've found myself drawn towards Rittenhouse Square. For one, it's a fairly quick walk from my house and secondly, a fair number of shops and restaurants have sprouted up in the last five years. Having been to Gramercy Park in Manhattan not long ago, I find myself being reminded of it when I visit Rittenhouse Square.

Yesterday, I walked over to Rittenhouse to check out what's new on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. I'm somewhat happy and appalled to see that Hayden Herrera's biography of Frida Kahlo has been reprinted, in anticipation of the new movie about Kahlo starring Salma Hayek. It's wonderful that Herrera's magnificent biography (one of my favorite books) has been released to a new generation of readers and Kahlo's work will reach a new audience. I'm somewhat disturbed to see that the original cover art (Kahlo's "Self Portrait with Monkey") has been replaced with a photo of Hayek in character as Frida. I must admit to not being terribly thrilled with the choice of Hayek for the role. I'm terrified that the casting of Hayek represents a "prettification" of Kahlo and seeing this new cover art on the book does little to allay that fear. While I've always viewed Frida has possessing physical beauty, hers was a defiant beauty, almost a beauty in spite of itself. Herrera's biography depicts a Frida both fragile and fiery, both soft and almost monstrous. I have a hard time seeing Hayek with enough range to accomplish this.

I take a turn by the periodical shelves and stop to browse the tattoo magazines. I'm still contemplating getting a second tattoo and while I'm already decided on the design, I like to look at the photos in the magazines. A man that I'm peripherally aware of standing beside me moves behind me as if to walk away. Then I hear:

"I hope you're not thinking of getting any ink, because you're perfect as you are."

Uh? Whu?

I'm having a "Taxi Driver" moment. ("Are you talkin' to me? I'm the only one here holding a tattoo magazine, so you gotta be talkin' to me!") I look up from the magazine and see a man, probably in his mid-30s, definately overweight, and not well dressed. His insufferable rudeness and judgementalism has already poisoned me, as I find myself flashing onto hypothetical scenarios of this man's life - no girlfriend, premium cable TV in order to get the porn channels, too much beer, and trying to pick up chicks at the Barnes & Noble. Of course, there is no more justification for me to entertain these images than he has to pronounce my "perfection" - or to assume I don't already have a tattoo.

I give him a look. I know I'm giving him a look, I can feel the death rays shooting out of my eyeballs at him. With just a tiny bit of smile curling one side of my mouth, I respond:

"I already have a tattoo."

Though he's standing well out of my proscribed personal space, he now knows he's transgressed. The verbal backpedaling begins.

"Well, I just think it's a trend that's going to die soon."


"Well, have a good day."

You could practically see the smoke from the heels of his shoes as he beat a retreat.

However, he did leave me with a good lesson to reflect on and that is the nature of judging by appearance. I have to admit to being guilty of this on occasion and I'm now reminded of why this is an unfortunate practice.

Afterwards, I cross the street to Devon. The restaurants have not been open long and, as usual, most people are flocking to the cafe tables at Rouge next door. Devon has cafe tables too, but Rouge (and its sister restaurant Bleu) are more considered the places to "see and be seen." (Just in case you were wondering, there used to be a clothing store on Rittenhouse called Beige and a few blocks over is a bar called Bar Noir. I'm mad to have someone open a bar or restaurant there and call it Tartan.) I'm the only one in the restaurant, so I sit at the bar and have a lovely Bloody Mary and a delicious bowl of lobster bisque.

Sunday began with a bit more ambition. Because I don't have heavy curtains, the morning sun tends to wake me up early, even on the weekend. I find myself waking up naturally around 8am, a touch of chill filling the apartment. Realizing that the weather is probably perfect for a skate, I strike out at 9am for inline skating on Kelly Drive. My skating is somewhat hampered by the presence of a fundraising walkathon for scleroderma, but I do manage to make about 40 minutes of actual skating effort. The weather is perfect, sunny, not too breezy.

Afterwards, I shower, dress, and walk to Rittenhouse Square again. This time, my heart is set on a Bloody Mary and the cheese and fruit plate at Bleu. However, once I get there, I'm so hungry from my morning exercise that the description of the croissant sandwich on the menu becomes irresistable. I order a Bloody Mary and the croissant sandwich (scrambled egg, applewood bacon, and provolone cheese, YUM!), which comes with a huge mound of shoestring fries.

As I'm finishing up my lunch, a cute and obviously athletic blond man comes into the dining room and asks to squeeze in next to me at the bar. I strike up a pleasant enough conversation using the deliciousness of the croissant sandwich as an opener. I discover that he originally went to UPenn, but now lives in SF. We politely discuss the absurdities of living in SF and I bring him up-to-date on all the new hot places to go in Philly. We both have a cup of coffee, after which we part pleasant company. Like someone newly hatched from a decades-long coma, I feel proud at my increasing ability to comfortably interact with attractive strangers.


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