Tuesday, October 07, 2008

My birthday present

So Aviva really dislikes musicals. Being that I love musicals (at least the few musicals that I have seen, such as Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera), so this is one of the rare points of contention in our relationship, not even a minor issue, but something that we bicker about occasionally. So it really meant a lot to me that this year for my birthday Aviva got us tickets to Avenue Q, a broadway musical starring a variety of muppets that has been running all over the world for a number of years. It meant the world to me that she was willing to try doing something she didn't really like so that we could enjoy it together. I feel so lucky.

So last Sunday we got up and headed down to Manhattan to see a matinee performance. I was pretty excited, as I have not been to a Broadway show since I have been in New York. We got to the theatre on 45th at about 1330, and got in to sit down around 15 minutes later. Apparently, being early has its advantages, as we were upgraded to better seats as we were sitting down, presumably because the better seats had not been filled. The show was about 2 hours long, with a short break, and it was great. It is basically about a guy who just got an English degree and moved to the fictional Avenue Q, in New York, where he finds an apartment, gets to know the neighbors and looks for a purpose in life. And the landlord of the neighborhood is Gary Coleman. It was a very funny show, and we both enjoyed it quite a lot.

Now if you remember, I mentioned that it starred muppets. Not every character was a muppet, as Gary Coleman is played by a black woman and there is one other human couple, a dorky white out of work comedian and a faux Asian therapist with a strange accent. Well, these are not Jim Henson, ABC 123 type muppets. Nor are they crazy swedish chef type muppets. These are long island ice tea swilling, internet porn surfing muppets having graphic sex and joking about racism and how much life sucks. These are muppets like lucy the slut and Trekkie Monster, whose solo consists of the song "The Internet is For Porn".

It was this very strangeness which I think is a major part of the charm of the show, because seeing normal people have these discussions and interact in this way would have been more like a bad TV show, and probably would have been remarkably uncomfortable to watch in person. But show how, seeing the seemingly innocuous muppets act this way was actually quite funny, adding cuteness and humor to the semi-edgy content of the show.

Anyway, we had a great time, and after the show we headed uptown and met a friend for a drink at small cafe on 85th and broadway. Nice place, although I cannot remember the name, but much better conversation, as we talked about the prospect of setting up some kind of financial information program from kids and/or adults. It was just really exciting to talk about the prospect of educating people about our financial system as I have recently been spending so much time learning about it myself. And my learning has gotten me to thinking that everyone should know a lot more than they do.

After the drink we headed back to the Bronx for the last phase of the present, Ghanaian food. See Aviva spent a month in Ghana while she was at RISD, and ever since our first date, getting Ghanaian food has been on our list of things to do in NYC. So we drove over to Ebe Ye Yie, a Ghanaian place on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx. The place was small, just a single room with a bunch of plastic furniture, a small buffet behind the kind of glass wall that bank tellers use, and a giant flat screen hanging from the front wall belting out CNN.

As we walked up to the window, the only white people in the place (well, there was another white girl who was clearly with three other black guys), the woman behind the window said, "Are you sure you want to be here?" Aviva replied, "Yeah." "You know what kind of food is here?" Aviva again, "Yeah, we want Ghanaian food." The woman, "This only African food. We have rice, yellow rice, rice and beans and fu fu." Aviva said, "Like we said, Ghanaian. We want fufu."

And as soon as it was apparent that we knew what fufu was (we being Aviva. Fufu, for those of you like me who are unfamiliar with this food, is a thick, substantive paste made across central and west Africa by boiling starchy root vegetables) everyone was very welcoming. The woman asked us to sit down and brought us a variety of dishes, and when we had trouble understanding her another of the patrons helped out. We ended up eating fufu with a stewish red sauce full of meat, bones and fat, a fish head covered with a similar red sauce, and a plate full of rice, yellow rice, yams, bean and covered with the same red sauce. It was actually delicious, and really cheap.

And it was all a totally new experience, my favorite type of birthday present. All in all, a fantastic birthday.

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