If not, then what's the explanation for all the giant inflatables in the big Thanksgiving Day Parade?
The night before Thanksgiving I met up with my friend Debbie (who, as mentioned in an earlier post, I had been surprised to bump into the previous Sunday) and her friend Nancy at an immense, three-story Italian restaurant in Times Square called Olive Garden, where we had some fantastic gnocchi. I think the Olive Garden owners should consider expansion; they could probably do quite well all over the country.
Here we are at the restaurant. Yes, it looks like I have glitter in my hair. No, I'm not going to say whether or not I actually put glitter in my hair.
This has actually been a surprisingly frequent occurrence: me, out on the town with two foxy ladies. What's my secret? Not having anything better to do, and inviting myself along. Thanks for allowing me to bask in your reflected beauty, ladies!
After dinner, I wandered along the parade route a little and watched the balloons being inflated. Which is about as exciting as it sounds. The next morning, it took a while for me to find Debbie and Nancy, and when we finally met up we weren't able to find a great spot to see the parade from. Debbie is small, so she was able to sneak up to the front and get some good pictures, but we didn't stay for very long. Parades aren't too interesting to me. We did see the American Fork High School (go Cavemen!) marching band. Or maybe it was the Scooby Doo balloon. It was three months ago, I can't really remember.
The three of us had Thanksgiving dinner at the home of Doug and Tamara Hall, who have a nice home and an entertaining blog (thanks for all the comments, Tamara). Doug is in the bishopric of my singles ward out here (although I'm probably older than him), and they very kindly invited a bunch of people over who had no other place to go (this was my first Thanksgiving ever in the United States but not in Murray). There were probably at least 20 people there at one point.
But there was plenty of food, which is what Thanksgiving is all about. All the stuff I'm used to having at home, plus some sweet potato-based dishes that Mom doesn't make (I still missed you that day, Mom. You're the best). I got to watch a lot of football, and Tamara and I cheered for Brett Favre, because we both had him on our fantasy teams.
I met a bunch of people from my new ward, and was somewhat surprised that almost everyone is from Utah or went to BYU, or both. (I now know almost everyone in the ward, and am only aware of three native New Yorkers. And one of them has actually moved to one of the other singles wards.) I met Shaundra, who called a friend of hers to see if he could get me a job with Baseball Prospectus, but with no luck. Which is too bad--working for them might be even more of a dream job for me than being Stephen Colbert's warm-up comedian. I met Marcella, who I've hung out with a couple times since. I also met Ed (he's the native New Yorker who is no longer in the ward), with whom I talked hoops. He's been to Rucker Park and seen some of the great players who congregate there. If I'm ever in NYC in the summer, that's something I'd like to do.
That night, I actually created my blog. It took me over a month before I actually posted on it, which is why you're reading about Thanksgiving as we approach Leap Year Day.
A good Thanksgiving Day led into a great Thanksgiving Weekend. On Friday I met Debbie and Nancy for lunch at Peanut Butter & Co., a restaurant in Greenwich Village that specializes in--you guessed it--barbecue. I mean peanut butter. I had the Elvis, which is a grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich, which you can get with or without bacon. (Guess what I chose?) It wasn't quite the Fool's Gold sandwich that made me more of an Elvis fan than his music ever did, but it was good and fattening. They have a spicy peanut butter there too, which I didn't think was very good.
Nancy and Debbie left early the next morning, but I wouldn't have been hanging out with them anyway. Saturday was a sports day, and it nearly ended up being the best day of my life as a BYU sports fan.
I managed to get a live feed of the big BYU-Utah football game on channelsurfing.net, a great website my brother Derek told me about that I've been using several times a week out here to get my sports and wrestling fix. It was a poorly played game, but one of the most dramatic games I've ever watched (the most dramatic game in the rivalry since--well, since the year before). If you don't already know how the game ended, then you probably don't care, so I'll just say this--Collie is STILL open! My postgame joy was slightly tempered by the fact I wasn't at the game eating a brat and storming the field, but it felt so good to beat Utah--again.
The euphoria was also dampened later that night, as the BYU basketball team blew a 2nd-half lead and lost to North Carolina, the country's top-ranked team at the time. Had the Cougs won that game, they would've probably broke into the top 10 in the polls, which is something I've never dreamed was possible. But they're playing great, and I have full confidence that they'll win a couple of games in the tournament next month--so confident that I'll probably take a day off work and camp out in the ESPN Zone to watch their game. (The ESPN Zone will feature prominently in my next holiday blog post; stay tuned for that.)
So, if you didn't know already, you should now be able to name some of the things I'm most thankful for: friends, food, sports...and I'm also thankful for any of you who actually read to the end of this super-long post. Muchas gracias. Could you pass the cranberries?