It was all Rosie and Paul’s fault. Lisa was off-island and our exquisitely wonderful neighbors had invited me to a small dinner party at their house. Dinner at their house isn’t just dinner; it’s a celebration of community. I met their friends Matt and Rudi over the pre-dinner drinks. Ultimately we moved to the dining room, where we started with nachos, including home-made guacamole. Then came the “Chili Con Coction”, rice, salad, and garlic rolls. The chili was delicious, but loaded with cheese and other evil ingredients. “Time for dessert!” shrieked Rosie. You see, my contribution to the evening was a home-made carrot cake, thus:
By then, I was pushing the envelope, but if I do say so myself, it was a pretty damn good cake. I ate a small piece.
Then came “cheese and biscuits” – 5-6 kinds of cheese with crackers.
Throughout the meal, I’d consumed three Coke Zeros, and glass of delicious red wine with the chili. When the cheese and biscuits came out, Paul said, “How about port?” Uh-oh. He produced this bottle:
A 30-year-old tawny, nectar of gods. Well, a wee dram of that would be just the ticket. When Matt and Rudi asked them to sort a cab (they’d taken full advantage of the wine and gin and tonics), I noticed it was 11:30. Somewhere during the conversation, laughter, and wonderful food, four and half hours had slipped by.
I allowed myself a second small glass of the port and we settled into the inexcusably comfortable couches in their living room. I stayed only half an hour more and then begged their leave. Paul offered to call a cab for me, and we chuckled at the idea of my giving a cabbie my address – exactly three doors away.
My alcohol consumption was nothing, but I’d eaten more and richer food than I’d consumed in a sitting for the last 6-18 months. I knew waking up would not be pretty.
Somehow I made it out of bed at 9:30 and decided that I had to do penance. I thought about going for a run, but I was pretty sure that the best outcome from that would be my throwing up; I didn’t want to consider the worse outcomes. Which meant hoisting my laptop bag onto my back and walking into Douglas for a healthy bowl of porridge at Jabberwocky. Three miles each way. As if to amplify my pain, the espresso machine was broken, so no cappuccino to go with the porridge. I deserved it.
By the time I started my walk back, the porridge and walk into town were bringing me back around. And the Manx community was taking full advantage of a beautiful fall mid-afternoon twilight, knowing that good weather such as this will be in short supply for the coming months. Old, young, and in-between were out along the Prom walking, running, biking, and just sitting.
You see, people in (e.g.) California take the weather for granted; it’s beautiful basically all the time. But folks who live in the northern climes have full appreciation for the relatively rare November day when the seas are flat calm and the sun is giving a valedictory good-bye for the season. So smiles are ubiquitous, ice cream consumption is high, and life is good.
I plugged the headphones in and listened to Angelique Kidjo and Lorraine McKennitt as I made the walk back up the hill. Rather than cut inland up Summer Hill, I took full advantage of the ocean, following the sweep of King Edward Road up around my office, enjoying the long shadows of 2:30 pm across Douglas Bay. One of the things that you notice here is that people (even young ones) will sit on park benches and simply enjoy the view – something I just don’t recall seeing in California. I took this as a hint to stop and appreciate the views too:
Unrelated postscript: two really fine pieces of writing have come from friends of mine in the last two days. Both are peripherally about poker, but non-poker geeks will appreciate them too:
Terrence Chan on the bizarre world he inhabits.
Brad Willis on how he got into the poker business (hint: I had a small hand in that).