Eat, Drink, Sweat
After following Pauly's
every word as the WSOP wound its way thru June and July it was disturbing to disconnect from the Web for even a few days. I watched ESPN and CNN's crawl for news as we got ready to leave our hotel, but didn't learn until Sunday morning who won. My friends didn't want to know who won, preferring to leave the surprise until November, when the champion will be crowned on TV, and so they did the fingers in the ears and the "LA LA LA!" chant as I saw Joseph Hachem posing with the bracelet and 800 pounds of cash. The secret didn't keep--we saw the ad Harrahs posted in USA Today.
Had a good time up at Watkins Glen. Drank a lot of wine, bought a lot of wine, and sweated like a showerhead. When you drink wine, especially red wine, you don't normally consider 90-degree temperatures with 98% humidity to be the ideal ambient conditions. Which is what the enviroment was like as we sampled the Finger Lakes' best under tents in the pit area of Watkins Glen Race Track. It was hot, it was humid, and then you add a few thousand people jammed together.. Thirty minutes in I was pouring sweat, rivulets running down my face and back.
I stopped at one booth to sample their port. When you imagine people enjoying port they're usually stiff-upper-lipped English gentry gathered around the fire while discussing the results of the most recent fox hunt. It isn't a rapidly dehydrating moron who's hoping he wore enough deoderant while also resisting the urge to smash his glass over the head of the jackass who just cut in front of him. There's a reason you don't see port sold at baseball parks. It's not a warm-weather drink. It just isn't.
I don't like white wine much, which meant I was drinking blood-warm reds most of the first day. I wasn't driving and I wanted to get nicely drunk, but it was pretty much impossible. It was far too crowded to quickly horn in and get 7 or 8 quick samples down the gullet, and I was forced by what could only be described as "a case of the vapors" to drink lots of water. We paused to eat, and to drink more water, but while I was able to drink a lot of very good red wine (McGregor Vineyards, Black Russian Red, good stuff) I wasn't even able to get buzzed.
After a swim that redefined "refreshing", we went to Corning for dinner at our usual spot, the Market Street Brewing Company, a very nice brewpub indeed. Here I had three or four beers, I think three, which both restored my tissues and got me so relaxed that I was sound asleep ten minutes after we got back to the hotel.
Sunday was the day to buy wine. It was much less crowded, and while Saturday mimicked the surface of Venus it was only murderously oppressive on Sunday. I think I only lost 11 pounds on Sunday.
First a bunch of our gang signed up to take a ride around the race track in a 2-seater Indy car. I passed, not out of fear...well, partially out of fear. Not of the speed or the curves, oh no. I was afraid that I'd get stuck in the cockpit. Turns out I needant of worried--while the fit might've been snug, I could've managed it. But $25 for a 60-second whirl seemed a bit much, tho everyone who tried it said it was well worth it. Next year, for sure.
I also knew--feared--that we'd be spending a lot on wine. Last year we went nuts, and I was determined to keep things sane this year. Well, we didn't go barking mad, but there probably was at least one white-coated man carrying a net following us around. In our defense, we bought a case of wine (or thereabouts) for my mother-in-law, and my wife bought a few bottles for friends, so we'll probably end up with about 2 1/2 cases for ourselves. Which isn't ridiculous, except for the fact that we still have 2 cases in our den from last year. Gotta drink more wine.
Most of the wine was my wife's responsibility, I think only 10 bottles can be considered solely my responsibility. Most of them came from Dr. Franks, which makes some really good red wines that are almost ludicrously inexpensive. I loved their meritage from last year, and as I wound my way through the tents I compared what I tasted to that wine and almost always found them wanting. McGregor Vineyards also does nice things with red wine, though most of theirs are more expensive. I didn't buy anything there this year, deciding to wait until I drink the expensive bottle I bought there last year. I got another bottle from Widmer Brickstone, which I also guzzled last year.
And so, loaded to the gills with wine, we headed back to the hotel. What for dinner...I knew what was coming. I knew Frank and Heather would want to go to the Chinese all-you-can-eat buffet right next to our hotel. We went there last year, and I watched with a sort of morbid fascination as Heather, who weighs about half as much as me, dirtied three times as many plates as I did. My friend Matt and I sat there for a good 45 minutes, our bellies refusing to consider so much as an additional fortune cookie, as Frank and Heather made a serious dent in the restaurant's profit margin. This time there would be eight of us digging in. I was hungry. I was wicked hungry. I hadn't been to a Chinese buffet since...last year. I wasn't afraid.
More fool I. We all did a quick reconnaissance of the buffet, and there was lots of good-looking stuff to choose from. I resisted the urge to load up on the yummy-looking macaroni and cheese and stayed with the usual offerings. A variety of chicken dishes, some lo meins, dumplings. It was all pretty good. Went back, got more. Yum.
All was not well with the other diners. Everyone else wanted snow crab legs, and the bin was empty. And it stayed empty, even as Frank and my wife inquired about when the next batch would be available. I got up to get one last dumpling and saw Frank and my wife standing there scowling at the empty tray where the crab legs should be. My wife gave me a look I'm all-too-familiar with, and the fact that it wasn't directed at me for anything I'd done didn't mean I didn't scurry away with my tail between my legs.
When the crab legs arrived our crew hit them hard. Here's where the madness began--I was pretty much full, and 2/3 of our table hadn't even started yet. And you can't eat crab less quickly, it just isn't possible. It's labor-intensive, lots of gripping and ripping and yanking and dunking. "Yeah, you're taking another shower tonight" I mumbled to my wife as she fractured a leg in a shower of butter and crab juice.
I got some ice cream. Frank got a big bowl of ice cream, and then some cake, and then some fruit...I started having flashbacks to the "Frying Dutchman" episode of The Simpsons
. I like to eat, but I've noticably slowed down the last few years, so far as raw tonnage consumed goes. But when Frank came back with the plate full of fruit, that's when I idly considered getting sick.
I always feel guilty going to buffet places like that, you always eat too much, way too much, and when you're done you wish you'd just a slice of toast. And then you have the countless jokes about what exactly you're eating at Chinese restaurants. But it wasn't bad. At least I got out of there without wishing I'd packed a stomach pump.
So now I'm back home, cats are glad to see us, I have about 400 posts to go through in Bloglines. Here's something depressing--I didn't get a single interesting email while I was gone. Well, as they say, no news is good news. Wish I was in the mood for a glass of wine, though.