the pains of being pure at the bar

(I wrote this yesterday, FYI)


I’m going to tell a story-within-a-story in pictures. Vegans, take note: it’s not a happy story. People who loved my old hair style: ditto. (But please know that the picture of it below doesn’t showcase its awesomeness fully. For one thing, it looks best when it’s not behind my ears. For another, it usually doesn’t look so…Egyptian!)

So I went to the new New Paltz Farmer’s Market outside Robin’s.

The problem with being an aesthete, a perfectionist and a giant, giant snob (in my head I pronounce it the French way: “snoob.”) is that the deeper you get into how amazing things could be, the worse you realize things are. I don’t want to stereotype, but 95% of all the gay men I’ve ever met understand this deep in their bones (Carmen who used to live in Teaneck NJ, you are the exception that proves the rule.), which is why decent awesome straight women tend to immediately like decent gayboys.

This is neither here nor there.

IMG_0416My pal Billiam was there along with Anne and her husband Dave (not pictured) and it was all Billiam-style: prettiness and flowery and just gorgeous.

I just wrote a long post about how annoying this day has been (a truffle scammer, annoying emails, a weird flirty dude, all starts and no stops with nothing to show for doing chores all day—the standard stuff), but you know what? I’m not even going to post it. It was a bundle of curse words and negative energy, and there is just no reason. Instead, let’s talk about tonight. It is 5:30 PM. In the next 2 hours, I am planning on doing one of those magical TV-style stopping time things so I can mow the lawn, change my clothes, answer 30 emails, pay a stack of bills, make my shopping list for the weekend farmers markets and about 100 other things, then I am going to take the night off and go to dinner with a pal, then a girls’-night-out sort of a thing.


And Billiam brought two of his goats, newborns just five weeks old: Salt and Pepper. As I was petting them and inviting them to my place to eat all my poison ivy (goats like poison ivy!) Billiam tentatively sidled up to me. “So….um…I’m a real farmer now…the goats just keep having babies, you know, and…” “AND WHAT? And you’re going to spay and neuter them, RIGHT?????” “Well, um, actually….Iwasgoingtoeatthem HEY! Your hair looks SO GORGEOUS! Did you get a hair cut?”

I’m excited to see my awesome ladyfriends at the bar tonight. It’s not my typical scene, but it’s so nice once in a while. I’d love to seriously drink, too. It feels like a night I should drink just the tiniest bit more than I should, which for me means one Manhattan. Instead and because I have to drive home, I will drink one granny smith hard apple cider when we first sit down then will sip water for the next two hours like the lightweight that I am.


And anyway, I can’t get the sort of Manhattan I want at any bar in New Paltz. I don’t blame the bars in New Paltz: except for a handful of ultra fancy places in big cities, no one really cares about quality drinks. So bars can’t afford to literally pour money down the drain on people who don’t care about or know the difference (of course, all this applies to food too). What do I mean by a quality drink?


“You know how I keep my hair so healthy, Billiam?” “Um…you don’t eat your pets?” “YES. How did you know? Oh Billiam! Salt and Pepper! Really.” And we kidded (with the kids) and I tried not to be sad or to be that annoying vegan everyone hates, but what can I do? Billiam clearly feels how he feels, and he clearly feels what I feel too. And we’ll still be friends, and he’s not running a factory farm or anything, and blah blah.

Let me write a dream sequence inspired by an actual dream I had a few nights to explain:

I walk into a bar. (It is exactly the bar in the season two finale of Mad Men.) I order a Perfect Manhattan.

The bartender is sweet yet serious and about my age. He pulls an old-fashioned glass from a shelf behind him.

“Oh man,” I say, “I’m so happy you’re using a rocks glass. Most of the time people make Manhattans in martini glasses, and I can’t stand martini glasses.”


A lot of the farmers I buy produce from kill and eat their animals, though I of course give preferential treatment to the veganic ones. I survive. We mostly don’t talk about it.

“Well, I really believe most drinks are better in old-fashioned glasses,” he says, all businesslike and proud. He pulls out a big, clear, crispy block of ice from a lowboy freezer and begins to crush some to put into a shaker.

“You make your own ice, too? That’s really wonderful.”

“We got rid of the ice machine about a year ago. Most commercial ice is just too soft, as well as cloudy.”

I just beam at him. He measures Tuthilltown Manhattan Rye Whiskey into the shaker and adds a practiced amount of both sweet and dry vermouths (thus making a Perfect Manhattan). He gives the mixture a few stirs (not shakes!) and pours everything but the ice into the glass. He skates just a bit of Fee Brothers old-fashioned bitters and a twist of orange peel over the top.


But a vegetarian always feels that disconnect with their meat-eating friends, don’t they? I mostly pretend not to think about it, but it often drives my mother crazy. She will go out to eat with a new friend or something and report back: “Isn’t it weird? You think you like someone…but then you see them eating a chicken piece or something, and you just think—why am I friends with them? How can this be happening?”

“Oh! I have those same bitters! My sweetheart bought me a set for my birthday, they are so tasty.”

“They really are. We use artisanal products from small companies whenever we can. And,” he says as he carefully unscrews a jar of brilliantly red cherries, ” we make our own brandied cherries from local fresh fruit in season. These have pits, though, so be careful. Not pitting the cherries means that—“

“That the flavor doesn’t all leak out into the jar!”

“Yep. Here you go, enjoy.”

And I so do.


9 Responses to “the pains of being pure at the bar”

  1. Ruby

    That made me so very, very, very thirsty.

    Plus one on the meat-eating friends thing. I try to ignore what just ordered, but my brain is angrily mumbling, “What the fuck? How hard is it? Think about what you’re doing for one fucking second. Also, that’s disgusting.” Luckily, most of my core crew are vegan or vegetarian, but I probably know more meat-eaters in Chicago than any other city I’ve been to, so I’m right there with your mom. (I’m inarticulate & hungover-but-happy, I should have just stuck to the “+1” part.)

    Although as a child, I loved to pet baby goats the more than anything and curried stew goat was one of my favorite foods. I realized the error of my ways around ten, but still.

    Come to Chicago, I know some great bartenders.

  2. Dustin Rhodes

    That’s the best story-within-a-story I’ve read in a long time.

    I have the same thoughts as your mother all the time. A few weeks ago, we went out with new friends—gayboys whom I actually like very much–and they ordered dead animals. Ultimately, when the waiter came to pick up the leftovers, I noticed that neither of them had eaten a single vegetable on their plates. They only ate the dead animals, and I remember clearly the thought running through my brain, “we’ll never be friends,” even though I have many friends who eat animals. It was the combination of eating them in front of me (which actually really does bother me) and not eating the vegetables (which I just thought was obnoxious and cliche) that got to me.

    I am an obnoxious bastard, but thank god all of these stories play out only in my head, and in real life I just sit staring at people with a blank glare.

  3. Donna

    I too have those same thoughts – thankfully, I hardly ever go anywhere. It’s so hard to sit there and not think about what’s on someone else’s plate. How about those who say ” I hope you don’t mind that I’m ordering ….. (whatever dead animal it is). What can you really say – you know that they’re just pretending to be concerned but that whatever you say won’t stop them.

    • lagusta

      Yeah. I always do the “No, I don’t mind” thing, but of course I do, and I always think: “How can they possibly think I wouldn’t mind? Clearly meat-eating bothers me, otherwise I would eat meat!!” Happily, it’s a rare occasion for me—both going places (I feel you, Donna— small business owners! –also, I’ll contact you soon for a shoe trade!!!!) and going out to eat with nonveggies.

  4. brittany

    awww i like it but will always have a special place in my heart for the marie antoinette! (besides, the whole egyptian thing opens up even more opportunities to talk like the kittens inspired by kittens girl in her explanation of WWII).

    • lagusta

      Don’t worry, I can still do the Marie!! And I think it’s getting cuter by the day–especially when I wear it up, so it doesn’t look so square. But anytime you want to come discuss her awesome explanation of WWII, please do!

  5. korn

    I would like to kidnap salt and pepper and keep them safe forever.

    • lagusta

      Yeah. Me too. But how many animals can you kidnap, you know?


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