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Candy cake, pork platters and the Red Menace

Good evening everyone, and now it’s time for Birthday Report.

That’s right, folks, today’s my birthday. Born on April Fool’s Day. I’m like the Ron Kovic of comedy.

Anyway, the day started out good enough, with PRESENTS. Then, it was off to work, and the train was only ten minutes late, which we are now officially considering “on time”. Late in the afternoon I was treated to CandyCake II.

CandyCake II

See, I don’t really like cake or pies. This causes the chocolate-heads in my office no end of grief. So last year, my boss created CandyCake I, a huge success with my dentist. Basically, you create a retaining wall out of jellied fruit slices and fill it with gummy bears, gum drops, skittles, and pure cane sugar. This year, my friend Steve added a custom birthday message in gummy worms, a nice touch indeed. And Sarah went with an aviation motif, fashioning a propeller out of red licorice.

After the inevitable sugar crash, it was off to dinner with friends at Blue Smoke. You walk in this place and you’re hit with a smoky barbecue aroma that has you ready to eat some meat, man! I had the pulled pork platter, which in addition to tasting great, has an alliterative name.

All too soon it was time to go home and here’s where things got really interesting. Rutgers University, a New Jersey institute of higher education, was playing Michigan for the NIT basketball championship tonight. I knew this because Brenda told me all about it. She knew this because the train she rode into the city to meet me for dinner was loaded to the ceiling with a bunch of face-painted, drunken screaming idiots from the aforementioned institute of higher education. They were were shouting things like “YEAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!”, “Whooo hoooooooo!!!”, and “Fuckin’-Ayyyyyyy!!!’. (I believe there were one or two CPAs from the class of ‘91 that actually filled Brenda in on the key details.)

The NIT championship was played at Madison Square Garden. Madison Square Garden is located directly above Penn Station, where Brenda & I catch a train outta the city. So when we left Blue Smoke and noted that it was a four point game with 3:48 to play, we knew it could go either way. Either we’d get there just as a train was leaving and we’d ride in late-night, empty-train bliss, or we’d just miss one and have to endure a packed train of rabid basketball fans, possibly coming off a win high.

Yes, I ride these trains every day, and no, I do not have a schedule.

We arrived at 9:12. At that point, the 9:10 express was probably about 200 yards out of the station. Next train out doesn’t leave for half an hour. My phone winks at me; I have a text message from Steve, who I left at the bar at Blue Smoke (he’s a Michigan alumnus): “Melissa says Happy Birthday. Rutgers just lost, good luck.”

Cue Rob’s scream, camera in close on Rob’s mouth, then rapidly pulling back to infinity.

At first, they came in threes and fours. Wearing red, the red of their beloved losers the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers, they seemed mellow and despondent. But as their numbers grew, the concourse became a sea of red, and they started to realize that even though their team lost, it was Thursday night and few had class tomorrow. It was time to party.

When the track was finally announced, one of the reds yelled “hoooooo”, which of course caused all the rest of these idiots to yell “Hooooooo”, united in a common goal of getting on the one train headed toward campus. We were literally swept in a red sea toward the gate. Brenda grabbed my arm, while I skillfully threw my shoulder at people pushing too hard. But we quickly realized that even if we got on this train, it was pretty much the last place on earth we wanted to be. I made like Moses. Hanging a sharp left against the tide of idiots, I pushed my way through with Brenda hanging on tight, parting the red sea of stupidity.

We decided to take a different train, one that was not going to our station, but going close enough to catch a cab from there.

Our cabbie was an inventor and drove with a laptop computer with GPS uplink by his side, but he still got lost on the way to our car at Metropark station. But it was a fun ending to a fun and interesting day, and now it’s over.

Thirty six years old today.