Once you go Midwest, you never go back.
Public Service Announcement:
Like Alaska tries to reel in the ladies for its many eligible bachelors, New York City needs men. Not gay men (In Jerry‘s voice: not that there’s anything wrong with that). Not effeminate men. Men who worry about accessorizing, hair care products and ironic facial hair patterns need not apply. We already have too much of you. Wall Street sharks with M.B.A.s and fraternity affiliation, no thanks. Woody Allenian headcases and those bizarre by means of unnatural effort, try Los Angeles maybe? But men, real men, from points West (but not too West), we need you.
I surveyed my demographic, conducted a needs assessment on the dating pool of twenty/thirty-somethings, and the results are shallow. Signs point to New York City being overrun by personified American Apparel advertisements and other seriously mistaken versions of “cool” and “hip”. Men should not snap like twigs but brim obstreperously with a mysterious virility and hearty sustenance of the interior-exterior kind.
On that note, I spent the long and laborious weekend with Wok Man in his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After a slow descent into Chicago’s O’Hare from J.F.K., two of the busiest airports in the country in terms of air traffic, a pit stop at the employee-owned Woodman’s Food Market was necessary. We’d be cooking a four-course vegan meal for his family and needed some ingredients. I also needed some food that wasn’t cheese, fried or fried cheese. I mention Woodman’s here because it was a wonderful, albeit warehouse-size, grocer with a huge selection and aisles wide enough for 4 lanes of cart traffic. Here I purchased liquid smoke and a frozen Amy’s dinner while Wok Mom and Wok Grandmom shopped for visiting son and his vegan girlfriend essentials. The store was daunting and exciting and I wished I could return. Wanting to catch Obama’s speech from the DNC, we continued onward to South Milwaukee. Pictured is said frozen Amy’s meal and Wok Man’s excitable dog, Chase.
The following morning we drove a few hours to Winona, Minnesota to visit Wok Sister in her campus aptartment. The small college town offered us a full day of recreation and sightseeing. Between tequila shots, Wok family filled my desensitized neurons with fresh air and greenery. Taking a scenic drive to the top of the Sugar Loaf bluff, we saw all the way to the Mississippi river…which you can’t quite see in this picture. That water is Lake Winona.On the way back down we visited the Garvin Heights Vineyard for a wine tasting. After enjoying the tastes Upper Mississippi River Valley, two bottles en tow, we hit the city center’s thrift shop, Grace Place, to find kitchen items were buy one get one free! I purchased a vintage olive green toaster oven (pictured) in spectacular condition for $3.00 and grabbed a free Belgian waffle maker. For lunch, we hit a sandwich shop in downtown Winona called Blooming Grounds that, despite what its name implies, had measly vegan pickins. I managed with a cucumber-lettuce panini with a delicious olive and artichoke spread. That’ll do!
After a lot of driving, the young ones needed a bit of physical activity. And so I learned there is yet another sport that I am throughly bad at: disc golf. The scenery more then made up for my Frolf flinging inadequacies. Our visit to Minnesota ended with dinner at the ubiquitous “Hunan Restaurant” which had a satisfying tofu dish but not much else.