I’ve decided to rethink the image I’m portraying to the general public and tweak it a little. Oh, sure, the Patrick McVay you spend hours pondering late at night, in bed, with the lights turned way down, is fine and all, but I’m worried that people have gotten bored with me and I think it’s important to give my personality a facelift. Several options I’m considering:
Old Yeller: The scheme will be to enter a room and immediately overwhelm it with volume, causing people to laugh (nervously) or driving them right the hell out of the place. The biggest problem with this plan is that everyone will assume I’ve been drinking, even though I haven’t.
Strong, Silent Guy: In this case, even when I speak it will really just amount to breathlessly moving my jaw, the only noise being the quiet squishing of saliva sticking to all the mouthparts as I form the word “hello.” The main advantage is that people will assume that I’m assessing what others in the room are saying and quietly analyzing, as many smart people do. Also, I’m less likely to say something stupid, and when I do, no one will actually hear me.
Indoor Dark Sunglasses Wearer: based on the number of hits this website doesn’t get, it seems that I’m flying under the radar. However, I have dark, prescription sunglasses that I believe could make me seem famous if I wear them indoors all the time. Sometimes, you just have to create your own fame. Maybe I’ll get season tickets to the Celtics or Bruins and become one of those people who sits up close and is easily recognizable on TV for how ridiculous he looks.
I’m going to try these ideas out on my family this weekend and will decide which way to go based on the reactions I get.
Each year, my wife and I attempt to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life in chilly New England and jet off to some island in the Caribbean where warmth and rum drinks abound. This year it was Puerto Rico, which, unlike our Turks and Caicos visit last year, promised not only warm waters, but also the lush, forested geography of the central mountains. T&C has Grace Bay, the unparalleled beach of fine white sand on arrestingly turquoise waters, but inland, whatever isn’t irrigated by a hose turns to scrub.
Provo: Look Out!
In the San Juan area, we gave ourselves a few days to lie around and hide from the sun’s UV rays at the resort, then managed to put some energy into renting a car and heading inland to take in the “Ruta Panoramica” – the series of roads that wind across the center of the island from east to west. One always has high hopes for these sorts of quasi-foreign road trips, imagining the startling vistas that await the adventurous soul, despite the fact that all the books say don’t look at anything but the road in front of you and drive around 25 mph.
The first bit of trouble on our escapade came almost immediately: we had been advised by Enterprise Rent a Car to use the electronic lane whenever we came upon a toll booth, and every time we did red lights flashed and buzzers went off. Once off the highway and heading up into the hills, we found ourselves stuck behind a huge garbage truck for mile after mile. Soon, we encountered more trucks, and eventually road work in the middle of nowhere. Once past the construction, we took the first wrong turn we could find and ended up in the unremarkable southern town of Guayama. We made our way back to the highway and through more flashing and buzzing toll lanes, and finally reached our lunch destination, the town of Aibonito, which had worse traffic than downtown Boston. We dumped our car and sought out a lechonera on foot in order to get a plate of the legendary Puerto Rican suckling pig; failing that, we landed at a so-so lunch spot outside of town called Tio Pepe’s. By then, it was just about time to head back to Isla Verde lest we hit serious rush hour traffic in San Juan. Too late, as no matter which back road we took, we were confronted with more traffic, including this noisy fellow:
The laughter you hear is mild bemusement borne of fatigue and exasperation. Thankfully, we had one more day to lie around and read our books, which was the reason we’d gone on this trip in the first place.
The various "cleanse" diets out there have got me to thinking about developing my own diet, which I am dubbing the “Chow-Down to Triumph” diet. This diet is a little hard to follow, particularly when you get into day 3 and you know you’ve got another 7 to get through. Time to bite the bullet. With a little effort you can do it!
Each day of the Chow-Down to Triumph diet is separated into 11 distinct mealtimes, as follows (with examples of the kinds of meals you’ll be expected to consume in each instance):
Pre-breakfast: Steaming concoction of equal parts espresso and whole milk, sweetened with a heaping teaspoon of sugar, in bed, while reading the paper in a leisurely manner; French cruller for dipping into coffee.
Breakfast: egg yolk, feta-cheese, and caramelized onion omelet; beef carpaccio; 2 rashers of bacon; black and white pudding; heavily buttered sourdough loaves; Extra-Salt V-8.
Post-breakfast: hot coffee; doughnut holes.
Ten-minute period of fasting.
Pre-Lunch: artisanal cheese board; sparkling cider.
Lunch: fruity shake consisting of pineapple, orange, mango, kiwi, whatever else is lying around, blended with freshly whipped cream. Side of hummus and pita (as much as you’d like).
Post-Lunch: artisanal sausage board; sparkling hard cider.
Rest Period: smoky tea; meerschaum pipe by the fire; bowl of artisanal chocolates.
Snack: artisanal chips and guacamole.
Pre-dinner: Mini martini to whet the appetite; fried pork potstickers and a tankard of ale.
Dinner: Oversize spicy maki with tempura flecks; more tankards of ale; braised short ribs over mashed accompanied by a well-breathed 2001 Ribera Del Duero that you’ve been aging in your cellar for 4 years; hot pie with a huge scoop of ice cream; 10-year old port; espresso.
Post-dinner: peaty, single-malt highland scotch; artisanal jalapeno poppers.
At the end of day 1, you realize that you just have to sleep off such a huge intake of food and liquid. Your body will demand that you settle into bed for the next 36 hours. Call in sick and steel yourself: the process repeats itself 4 more times, starting on days 3, 5, 7, and 9.
I went out to get the paper the other day (yes, I still get the paper thrown at my house, the way most people used to get it “back in the day”) and found that the tattered rattan love seat out on my front porch was wet, the torn sisal rug was soaked across a 3-foot wide diameter, and a steady drip could be found emanating from the porch ceiling in several spots. I had a leaking roof.
This leak had been brewing for many years. Our home inspector told us 10 years ago that the rolled roof over the porch wasn’t new and would need to be replaced at some point, and 5 years later, when we had the slate roof that covers the bulk of the house entirely re-coppered, the roofer, Paul Ladd, informed me that our rolled roof had a few years of life left, but not much more.
I watched Paul’s employee Ian work up there on my roof and was completely convinced that he’d done excellent work. Especially interesting was to watch Ian remove slates one-by-one, number them, and later, after having installed a foundation of some sort of tar paper and 20-ounce copper flashing into each of the 8 dormer valleys, put them right back where he found them. Modern roofing may require less expertise to install, but the shingles don’t get reused a century after they were originally mounted when your pony-tailed Scottish roofer goes up there to re-copper the valleys.
They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To
I would like to have Paul and Ian return to my house to fix my porous rubber roof as well, but, alas, soon after the crew worked on my house, Paul was deported back to Ireland. This had nothing to do with roofs (nor rooves, as my father would point out is the correct plural form), but was the result of his apparently illegal US status, which became known when he was pulled over for a traffic infraction. I don’t know all the particulars, but I do hope that Paul and his wife Jenny landed on their feet back in Ireland and can be found repairing rooves there (slate, thatched, or otherwise).