Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Dreaming of a White December 27 - Christmas in South Jersey

Christmas cookie, yo

So when I say I went down to meet my girlfriend's family in Jersey and lived to tell about it, I'm only about 89% joking.

But anyway, here is my weekend. [click here to continue]
  • Maureen's folks were quite nice to me, believe it or not. I couldn't have felt more welcome.

  • For whatever reason, grown up folks enjoy feeding me, possibly because my body resembles a a matchstick. I probably had a couple of pounds of the not-exactly-Kosher ham, and that was before Maureen's grandmother fed me an additional pound of ham and some chicken cutlets.

  • You might find it odd that an agnostic boy visited his girlfriend's Jewish family to celebrate Christmas. My justification is that exchanging gifts and the Christmas tree are pagan traditions and the religious associations are simply matters of convenience. I'm happy to be heathen - you really get the best of all worlds this way.

  • South Jersey - lots of open spaces. It's nothing like North Jersey - this, I approve.

  • I got Maureen a bathrobe, a knit hat and a daruma as a "good luck" gift for her upcoming bar exam. I think she liked it overall. Well, I hope so. She got me a really nice sweater, a pair of Christmas-themed boxer shorts and coffee mug she painted. I like them all.

  • Two words: Trader Joe's. Two more words: Awe. Some.

  • This was my first time riding a Greyhound-style intercity bus to a non-Ikea location. Not exactly Queen Mary II, but still, I've heard much, much worse. You see, people who ride the bus are crazy. No, not all bus riders are crazy, but there is a higher percentage of crazy people than other forms of public transport. At least with air travel, fear of flight and security check seem to filter out some of the craziness - with buses, people can simply walk up to the gate and hand a ticket.

  • Case in point:
    We left New York the morning of Christmas Eve from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. We get there about an hour ahead of the 10 am bus, and there are already a few people waiting already, but we'll get on the next bus for sure.

    As we're getting settled in line, this lady's bag bumps into mine, and I say "sorry", expecting her to do the same. Nope. She gives me a dirty look because I had unwittingly obstructed her attempt to cut in the line. But undeterred, she pushes her way up the line. Maureen and I were like "Eh, what's one person." Actually, I didn't realize she was cutting in line because, really, that's not something I expected. Anyway.

    A not too much later, the line is getting longer by the minute and a Port Authority guy comes and asks us to squeeze in and make the line tighter. Easy enough. Except we notice the line cutting lady has left the line to get coffee and leaves her bags (only in New York can you leave a bag unattended and no one calls the bomb squad. Nice to live in such a safe, laid back city). Her loss, we figure, not being too sympathetic to someone who cut in line to get there in the first place.

    Five minutes later, the lady comes back with coffee, dismayed that we did not have the courtesy to move her bags when we squeezed takes matter into her own hands. She mumbles her way past us, well actually, she stops right beside me because he path is blocked. She tries continue mumbling way up the line but the guy in front of me is a little less generous than us.

    He is at first quite calm about it, but when the woman offers no response other than to continue her mumbling, he says to her, as any good New Yorker would, "Fuck you." At this point, her mumbling becomes a little more coherent, with a "fuck you" and a "stupid" peppered here and there. Bus terminal staff tries to get involved to no avail and the woman refuses to move.

    This gets a not-so-subtly racist comment from the guy, "You're stupid when you want to be stupid. All you people know how to do is count money," and the back-and-forth continues. Now, from a distance, this exchange must have sounded one-sided, as the guy was much louder and a younger Hispanic dude yells from further back in line, "Why don't you leave her alone." Now, the guy in front of me starts yelling at the other guy, and at one point uses the not-at-all-subtly racist phrase "fucking gook" (wait, I thought I was a "gook" - they use that word for Latinos now?), and a heated exchange ensued, "why don't you shut the fuck up", "you fucking pussy" and "why don't you come take me?" being the key phrases.

    Again, a bus terminal staff has to intervene. His insistence that they keep their peace since it was Christmas Eve fell on deaf ears, but things did calm down after he informed them that if they were arrested, they would have to stay in jail for two days, what with Christmas falling on Saturday. Ah, the spirit of Christmas prevails. After that, the exchange was reduced mostly to glaring and mouthing "fuck you".

  • The ride down was pretty uneventful. It helped that I fell asleep while the bus was still in the tunnel and I slept for a good 90 minutes of the trip.

  • Why do New Yorkers wait "on line"? That's the stupidest shit I've ever heard. A queue of people form an imaginary line and wait in that imaginary line because the queue is that line. Waiting on line requires one to draw an imaginary line beneath the already existing imaginary line created by the queue. It's redundant and repetitive. The phrase "wait on line" should be outlawed.

  • Saw the end of Sound of Music. I remember the Von Trapp Family Singers' singing voice being more believable. Ditto for the painted backdrop of the mountains.

  • Caught Closer at the local multiplex. Nice little movie - Natalie Portman was great, as was Clive Owen. Little disappointed with the lack of chemistry between Julia Roberts and Jude Law, but overall, enjoyable film that moved along pretty fast despite the talkiness. Still, $6 for movies? And you don't have to get there 30 minutes in advance? I suppose suburbia has its appeals.
  • That's all I can remember for now.
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