After that, we took the “T” to the Museum of Science to let the boys “burn off some of their excess energy” (their own words). We headed back downtown for dinner at Oishii, the best sushi and sashimi restaurant in the area. The food, presentation, and service were all very good, if also very pricey. Janice didn’t join us because she doesn’t like seafood.
After dinner, we hiked back up to No. 9 Park on the Boston Common for dessert. Zoe took her kids back to their hotel, and Thomas and I shared several tasty cheese courses. Unfortunately, service was slow, and even with Thomas giving me a lift back to my car in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I didn’t get home until midnight.
After Janice’s usual shift at the animal shelter on Sunday morning, we went to historic Lexington, Mass., for American food at Lexx. Although most towns in New England have an ice cream parlor, I was pleased to find a few shops in Lexington that serve frozen yogurt because of my late-onset lactose intolerance. We even picked up a container at Rancatore’s to bring home.
On Labor Day 2012, Janice and I returned to Central Square, Cambridge, to meet Thomas & Kai-Yin, Stuart & Zoe, and rambunctious Sammy and Benji for an “Asian-style tapas” brunch at Moksa. Since Stuart and his family had gone to Harvard Square on Sunday, Janice and I headed to the bookshops there while Thomas, Stu, and company went to tony Back Bay.
On Saturday, 28 April 2012, Janice and I went to Gore Place in Waltham, Massachusetts, for the 25th annual Sheepshearing Festival. I was impressed by the size of the event and the number of attendees. We enjoyed the herding dog demonstration, fair food, craft tents, and bluegrass music. Janice and I also took a brief tour of the early 19th century home of one of Massachusetts’ governors.
We caught a matinee of The Pirates! A Band of Misfits, the latest comedy from Aardman Animation, the studio responsible for Wallace & Gromit, among other things. We enjoyed the movie, which follows a hapless pirate captain (named “Pirate Captain” and voiced by Hugh Grant) in his quest to win the “Pirate of the Year Award.”
Along the way, Pirate Captain and his eccentric crew — even for pirates — meet Charles Darwin (voiced by Martin Freeman, also known as Arthur Dent, Dr. Watson, and Bilbo Baggins) and an entirely unamused Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton). Also important to the plot are a dodo, a dirigible, and Darwin’s monkey butler.
If this sounds delightfully chaotic, it is. The Pirates! has a lively Anglo-American voice cast, sight gags too numerous to catch in a single viewing, and good use of modern music (the Clash’s “London Calling” is most memorable). The movie, which combines stop-motion and computer animation, also alludes to real-world literature and science of the 19th century.
The next morning, Janice, her parents, and I met Janice’s middle sister Shelly and her children Laura and David for breakfast at the Denny’s across from our motel. Janice and I then visited high school chum Damon F.P. at his apartment in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. We got to meet his cat Caesar, and we watched a little of That Metal Show, before going to check in at the Courtyard Tarrytown Greenburgh, where we have stayed before.
Carlo R., who was two years ahead of the Class of 1986, joined us, as did Frank J.D. We hadn’t seen Frank, who was also my first roommate at the State University of New York at Binghamton, in many years, so we were excited to catch up. After checking out the lacrosse game on a field that was much nicer than the one we remembered, we walked the halls of our alma mater.
Janice was patient as we recounted various adolescent misadventures, including a bus riot, assorted teachers who scared us or whom we drove to tears, and the pranks of our classmates. I was thrilled to reconnect with Frank, who was from Yonkers like me and now lives with his family in Connecticut.
We perused old yearbooks together. It’s hard to believe that it has been nearly 30 years since we first met! Carlo reminded me of our shared interest in DoctorWho and our space opera screenplay for “The Zarkonian Bomb,” which later evolved into the short stories of “The Adventures of Jason Delmar” and the “Vortex” role-playing game setting. We also noted the passing of our collaborators Bill B. and Ray C., among others.
Damon and I once sparred over politics, and we’ve been in regular contact — I’ve served as best man at his weddings, and we met other friends at a 40th birthday bash a few years ago. His impressions of our former teachers, including several priests, were hilarious. Frank was just as interested in sports, cuisine, and good times as I remember, and it was like finding a long-lost brother.
From Stepinac, we went to Executive Billiards, where we met classmates Steve M. and Sean F., as well as Brian D.H., who knew Frank at SUNY-B. and was my housemate right after college when we worked at NYPIRG in Queens. Hockey goalie and painter Steve lives near Frank in Connecticut, and Sean, whom we hadn’t seen since high school, lives and works in White Plains. I’ve been away for long enough to find that city’s growth is impressive.
I saw Brian and several other college friends in Manhattanlast summer, but it was nice to catch up with him and everyone over friendly games of pool with beer and munchies. Damon, Frank, and I had tracked down a few other Stepinac alumni, but they couldn’t make it. Maybe next time.
All of us but Sean had a late dinner at Hacienda Azteca, a nice Mexican restaurant near the pool hall. Were it not for family obligations and travel plans, we could have talked even later into the evening. We may have matured somewhat, but I was pleased to find that our bonds have changed little. Unlike the promises scrawled into our yearbooks, I expect to stay in touch as our friendships are renewed as adults.
The next morning, Janice and I met Damon, Carlo, and Ron J.K. for brunch. Ron is another Binghamton alumnus and a core member of the “Westchester crew.” Unfortunately, we couldn’t eat at the City Limits Diner as planned because it had suffered a kitchen fire just as we arrived! Fortunately, we found Highridge Bagels 2 nearby.
In the past month, Janice and I have started exploring our new neighborhood in Waltham, Massachusetts, and I’ve gone out to lunch a few times with co-workers.
I still miss the inclusive menus, unpretentious cooking, and all-hours convenience of the diners and delis in metropolitan New York. We occasionally ate breakfast or brunch at Fresco Café in Needham, and there is a Friendly’s near our new apartment. I’ve been to Wilson’s Diner, and I look forward to eventually checking out In a Pickle and Arcadia in downtown Waltham.
On a related note, since there is no Chipotle nearby, I’ll be checking out the various Latin American eateries on Waltham’s Moody Street for tasty, filling, and cheap burritos. Ixtapa Mexican Cantina in Lexington, Mass., is similar to Acapulco’s in quality, and I saw that there is a Border Café near the Burlington Mall. I found that the drinks at Margarita’s were better than the food.
I’ll also have to find a decent Chinese restaurant, hopefully one that delivers. There is no shortage of promising Indian restaurants in the area, including Waltham India Market, which has a small food court in its basement. I’ve enjoyed “fusion” Asian cuisine at Tom Can Cook, Elephant Walk, and Ponzu (I ate at the last of these yesterday with Beruk A.).
Speaking of dairy, I look forward to stopping by Lizzy’s Ice Cream as the weather gets warmer. Every town in New England has an ice cream parlor. I prefer gelato, sherbet, or frozen yogurt, however, because of my lactose intolerance. Janice and I will also have to find a decent bakery. So much to eat, so little time!