Padma and such

So Saturday was my wife’s 39th birthday. Unlike most couples I know, long ago we replaced birthday gifts with Fun Days. Meaning, the spouse not celebrating his/her birthday plans an adventure (of sorts) for the other. We both love it.

Oftentimes we base the whole thing around our proximity to New York City, and that’s what I did this time. First, the grandparents came and picked up our kids. Then, we drove in and parked (took forever). Then we tried finding a flick, and settled upon Love & Other Drugs with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway. Personally speaking, I love when you walk into a cinema and have no idea what the film you’re about to see it about. That happened here—only, we both agreed, the flick sorta sucked. Not the worst thing ever, but rambling and cliched and kinda dull. Oh, well.

When the film ended we made a quick stop in the Union Square Barnes and Noble, then headed to a massage parlor in the Village. The wife is an enormous fan of massages—a genuine luxury that we get once or twice a year. This time was, ahem, memorable. The woman who gave my massage literally jumped on top of me from behind. Like, she sorta, eh, mounted the table (and, in a sense, me). It was weird, and not very good. The wife’s was even worse—and stranger.

When that ended (happily), we had a dinner reservation at Shang, a supposedly fantastic Asian bistro on Thompson Street. Shang’s chef is Susur Lee, known apparently to millions from his time on reality TV. We entered the joint at 7 pm, and it was 80 percent empty. Our waitress was a dingbat who knew neither the menu nor Lee’s name. Save for a really kick-ass sushi roll, the food was cold and lame. The plates were dirty. The waitress stopped by one time. We were offered neither coffee nor desert, and at the end our waitress said, “Thanks for making this so easy on me!”

That’ll be $91.

For The Wife, the night took a huge upswing when we went to Spin, this extremely cool pingpong bar/club to meet up with a bunch of family members. We drank, played much pong, etc—and then The wife noticed something amazing. Shocking. Jarring. At the adjacent table was one of her heroes, the lovely and unambiguously gorgeous Padma Laksmi from Top Chef fame. I failed to recognize her, but The Wife did. For her, it was a genuine thrill. Which made it a genuine thrill for me. Which is why the above photograph was taken. Which is sorta funny.

Anyhow, we proceeded to another bar afterward, where I actually did my first shot in, oh, 16 years. Felt nothing, shot some pool, played some darts, went to bed at 2:30.

Some things didn’t work out, but it was an evening. A memorable evening.