Thursday, December 14, 2006

Fake snow and a piñata

December 13

On this almost balmy December evening (it was in the 50s) I stopped by the opening party of the heated outdoor terrace of The Wheeltapper, an Irish pub at the (Irish) Fitzpatrick Hotel near Grand Central Terminal. A tame crowd with not many people I knew was milling among two strange machines that were blowing out tiny clumps of soap bubbles that kind of resembled snow, and they looked a lot like slush as they landed on the ground. I guess the hosts were trying to create an ersatz winter wonderland. I don't know why.
I ended up retreating into a corner with some old acquaintances to avoid letting any of the soap land in my Champagne flute, which I'm pretty sure was actually holding cava or Prosecco even if they did call it Champagne. I like cava and Prosecco, but I ended up swapping the flute for red wine anyway.
I stayed until it was time to go to Rickshaw Dumpling Bar's annual holiday staff party. As you may recall, the owner, Kenny Lao, and I have become friends, and he throws a good party. I particularly enjoy the vodka-spiked Meyer lemonade.
This year that party also included a piñata, which was strung up on girders attached to scaffolding outside the restaurant. As in most New York restaurants, a big chunk of Rickhaw's staff is Hispanic, and I guess quite a few are Mexican, because they were very skilled in piñata-attacking tactics.
I had never realized that there were tactics to employ when trying to smack a piñata, which is why I have damaged a light fixture or two in my day, but indeed there are. After being blindfolded and spun around, you should not swing your stick wildly, but rather make probing, tentative strokes in the air. Only when you make gentle contact with the piñata should you strike out with a davestating blow.

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