Sunday, April 20, 2008

Steak Night Part Deux

Last weekend my wacky friends ventured to Elizabeth NJ once again for steak. Again, the fact that we willingly choose to take a half hour train ride out of MANHATTAN to get food is confusing (outrageous?) to some, but please just trust that we’re not entirely off our rockers. It's just that good. With the 70 degrees and sunny that was happening this particular Saturday we thought that it might be pleasant to walk the 1.1 miles from the train station to the restaurant. So as it turns out, 21 whiter than white white people are not altogether a common site in this town. Much to our surprise (shock?) the commentary of the locals as we merrily walked along MINDING OUR OWN BUSINESS was… colorful (no pun intended). We decided that maybe it would be best to acquire some sort of transportation other than bipedaldom for our return journey.

Aside from generally wanting to have an adventure, this steak night was partly in celebration of the return of our dear friend Rob, who was preoccupied with chemotherapy the last time we had our steak night outing. We drank, we ate, we laughed, we basically alienated every other person in the restaurant who thought they were going to have a nice quiet evening of steak and sangria. Typical evening.

When we all had our meals, Wes stood up to make a toast. Given that it had to be loud enough for all 21 of us to hear, it was also loud enough for the most of the rest of the diners to hear. It went a little something like this (read this with a thick Southern accent):
“I would like to make a toast to all of you. When our plane crashed in the Brazilian Amazon, we didn’t think that we would make it out alive. But… we banded together and made a raft out of twigs… and rowed ourselves out of that jungle!! And now here we sit to tell the story, reunited at last. Oh, and Rob’s here now because he don’t have cancer no more. Enjoy!”

Now, Wes generally tends to be really over the top in life, and this was certainly one of his finer (crazier?) moments. When he started, I foolishly thought he would say a sentence or two and laugh it off. Oh but I was wrong, and there we were, survivors of Brazilian Amazon plane crash. The rest of the people in the restaurant either thought we were really obnoxious or really incredible. I would not place a bet on the latter.

I rarely see my guy friends as happy as when they’re eating large quantities of food. And not like a REALLY BIG SALAD, but like… steak. Or greasy pizza. Or juicy burgers. They pretty much continued this trend, relishing each and every tender bite. I even have to admit, this steak is just unbelievable. My mouth may or may not be watering thinking about it.

Our waiter brought out a free round of port for all of us during dessert, and Wes once again stood to make a toast. Continuing with our “remarkable” story:
“This toast is for our pilot. He flew that plane well and though he died, we made it out alive because of his sacrifice, so we can thank him. Cheers!”

AWKWARD TURTLE. We cut Wes off after that.

Fully filled with sangria and steak, I talked to the waiter about how we could get to the train station. Apparently our waiter’s cousin works for a local hotel (HUGE tourism industry in Elizabeth, HUGE I say) and drives their shuttle bus, so as it turns out we were able to utilize this service for free. Several people left in their cars (Jersey dwellers who can do things like have cars), and the 13 of us remaining were taking the train. The shuttle held 10 people, so 3 of the guys decided “Oh, we’ll just run.” I missed the conversation wherein this BRILLIANT decision was made, but apparently at the time it seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea to run a mile filled with 50 ounces of sangria and 20 ounces of beef. Through the ghetto. At night.

Trains back to New York at that hour come at the :02 and the :11 of the hour. That is all. The 10 of us in the shuttle bus arrived at the station at 10:08, entirely reasonable for the 10:11 train. We searched to find Wes, Brad, and Nye (the three running) and found Brad and Wes… who, by the way, look completely unphased by their 7 minute sprint. But no Nye. Where’s Nye? What happened? Confusion. The two guys were running and then looked back and he was gone. Just gone. But they knew they had to make the train, so they just kept running and figured he would catch up. They figured wrong. The train arrived and we debated. 12 imbibed people trying to make a decision is a truly special thing to witness. Do we go? Do we stay? The next train isn’t for another hour…. But he’s our friend… We don’t want to leave him the in ghetto… but we don’t want to STAY in the ghetto either. Dilemma.

So we stayed. All of us. I think the whole “Do unto others” thing may have trumped in the end.

And watched the train back to civilization fade into the distance.

Making the best of situations, as we are often known to do, we remembered that there was a bar in the train station courtyard. Excellent way to pass the time. We walked downstairs and across the courtyard and what did we see? A sign on the door of THE ONLY BAR that read “Private Party. Sorry.” We weren’t really certain house serious they were by this “private” part and whether this excluded us from partaking in any alcohol from their facility, so we decided to venture in, en masse, to assess the situation. Well, really, the guys just made the girls go in and use our (ahem) womanly charms to gain entrĂ©e for the whole crew. As it turned out, this was a party filled with Polish twenty-somethings, many of whose English was, shall we say, not excellent. They were not so willing to share their vodka with a band of strangers, but we assured them we were not interested in THEIR alcohol, just SOME alcohol. Nope, sorry, we just can’t have it.

Their loss. Because their music was loud enough that our guys could dance like the whitest of white boys right outside the windows of the bar, partying like it’s 1999. The Poles really regretted not letting us in, I’m certain of it. We took some group photos to document our long hard stay, courtesy of my new friend the Policeman from Elizabeth. We all yelled en masse (we do everything en masse, clearly) to try to help Nye (still lost somewhere) find his way back to the train station. He couldn’t hear us. Not. A. Good. Sign.

But eventually long lost Nye showed up. So the friendly Policeman took another round of photos to celebrate that Nye was alive. Then joined in himself, since he kind of took a liking to our ragamuffin bunch. Then listened to Wes tell stories about his teaching adventures in an unnamed Williamsburg middle school. Somehow with all of that, the hour flew by like it was merely minutes. Seconds even. And lo and behold, the mythical 11:02 showed up right on time, enabling us to get the hellz outta Jerz.

A night we will not soon forget and one that makes me laugh out loud sometimes (invariably in public places, because really, what place in NYC isn’t public, giving my neighbors in the subway/park/book store/coffee shop cause to think I’m that wacky cracked out girl) just thinking about it. Here are a few pictures to capture the ridiculousness of the evening.

Me and the Vandy Girls.

I love these girls.

Red. Meat.

Remember when I had hysterical guy friends?

Toast #2. Wow.

The whole gang reunited in the courtyard of the Elizabeth transit station.

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