Half Baked on New Years


New Years Eve 2009. It was a Thursday. We were expecting moderate snowfall throughout the entire weekend and it had been flurrying since about noon. Jason and I both had to work, but our plan for the evening was a lovely dinner, a bottle of White Star I’d had in the fridge since last year and a cozy evening watching the snow fall and maybe a movie. I couldn’t think of a more romantic and perfect New Years Eve. Just me and the light of my life. Bliss.

I had a massage scheduled for 5:00 pm, so Jason was in charge of procuring the main course for dinner. I’d seen lobsters on sale a few days earlier for $4.99 a pound. How much more perfect could New Years Eve be than adding freshly cooked lobster to the aforementioned scenario? I felt truly blessed. I asked him to get three and planned on making a pot of lobster stock the next day.

With a winter storm expected over the weekend, traffic and retail was completely insane. Jason hit the grocery store at about 4:00 pm and there was nary a lobster to be found! He had to go to another grocery store to achieve his goal…and people were stacked up at the seafood counter ordering lobsters by the dozen. The woman in line in front of Jason ordered 7 lobsters. And the man behind him, a desperate restaurant employee sent on a critical mission, ordered 42 lobsters.

In the middle of winter, the classic lobster accompaniment of fresh corn on the cob and sliced tomatoes is simply unavailable. I planned on some kind of potato dish and a fresh vegetable. Roast potatoes were an option, cubing them, tossing them in olive oil and roasting them in a hot oven until crispy. Mashed was also an option, always a soothing side dish for a snowy winter night. Then I remembered a potato preparation from my childhood that I’d recently begun to add into my own repertoire. Mom always called them “half baked potatoes”. Now, you might think I’m referring to twice baked potatoes, where you’d bake them, scoop out the innards, mix it with a bunch of butter and cheese and restuff the skins for a second baking. But half baked potatoes employ a similar technique to roast potatoes. You slice the potatoes in half long ways through the thickest part, creating the most surface area possible. Then you butter the cut side, place them butter side down on a cookie sheet and bake them at 400 degrees until the cut side is GBD….golden brown & delicious. The cooking goes much faster if you microwave your potatoes for 5 minutes each on high before you bake them. They would go perfectly with the lobsters.

When I got home from my massage, we started our New Years Eve festivities. We popped our bottle of champagne and started dinner. Jason pulled up his favorite playlist on ITunes and we turned on the wireless speakers we have hooked up to our computer. A speaker resides right in the dining room so we can enjoy our favorite music when we dine together. Dinner didn’t take long to cook and in about half an hour, we were sitting at the table with a platter of steamed lobsters and our half baked potatoes, clinking our champagne flutes in celebration.

As we started to tuck in, a strange sound began to emanate from the speaker in the dining room. Interrupting the Matisyahu song was a female voice in conversation. “He called her and told her he’d been in an accident, that his shoulder was in a sling, that he couldn’t walk for three days, some bulls**t like that…” What in the name of New Years Eve was going on here? We figured that our wireless speaker system was picking up the frequency of someone’s cordless phone and we were inadvertently eavesdropping on their conversation. We stared at each other for a moment, trying to decide if this was completely annoying or mildly entertaining. We settled on the latter and opted to stick with this weirdness, at least until the end of the conversation.

A man’s voice joined in. “That f***ing liar”.

She retorted “I know, can you f***ing believe this, so she said no, you didn’t, I saw you yesterday at Walmart. He was so f***ing busted.”

“He’s a habitual f***ing liar”

“No s**t, and she caught him in a lie. He tried to get out of it, he made up a bunch a bulls**t about someone else drove him, s**t like that.”

“That f***ing lying f**k”

It went on like this for a few more minutes until she said she had another call. So, apparently, it was the woman’s phone that our speaker was picking up. She clicked over to her other call, this time from a woman.

“Hey, it’s me. Guess who just f***ing called me just now?”

Chew chew…she was eating dinner, too. “I don’t know”

“Wally. He says ‘I got a bone to pick with you.'”

Chew chew…”What bone?”

“He said he heard I was selling my truck and that I promised to call him if I decided to sell it because he might wanna buy it.” This conversation went on for a while as well, back and forth about how much she was selling the truck for, how this Wally person didn’t have the money, how it needs parts replaced, how she wants to buy a new truck, and through the whole conversation we could hear a man’s voice in the background confirming everything the caller said.

We kept eating and listening to this person’s phone conversations. She took a third call that night. We learned that her name was Pat, that she’d ordered Chinese food for dinner the night before and was planning to eat the four portions of leftovers throughout the weekend and that she is working on a few small interior home improvements. Apparently, Pat is somewhat of a bitter person and her friends like to use the f-word a lot. We debated turning the speaker off. Eavesdropping on Pat is a little creepy, a lot unethical and probably all kinds of illegal. But dammit, we just couldn’t stop! The voyeurs in our heads got the best of us and we kept listening. By the time we’d finished our lobsters, Pat was hanging it up for the night. We made a resolution not to spy on poor Pat anymore and to move that speaker first thing in the morning. It was one of the most bizarre, surreal and memorable New Years Eve experiences I’ve ever had and I know we’ll share this story for many years to come. I hope 2010 is a good year for all of us, including Pat and her potty-mouth friends.

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About radioabby

I'm a broadcast professional and home cook who loves music, travel and exploring unique, distinctive things, places and ideas. I love to cook, discover new flavors and improvise in the kitchen.
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6 Responses to Half Baked on New Years

  1. berry says:

    that was a really funny story! we had a nice, calm evening at home. i am planning a trip (yeah, yeah, yeah, i know…) to Connecticut the end of this month or first of next. is it feasible to reroute toward you guys for the weekend? i will let you know more as soon as i get the final info.
    love to you both & happy new year!
    Berry

  2. kimberlyksmith says:

    Lobster and half baked potatoes, that sounds wonderful. I hope you figure out which neighbor that was!

  3. Beth says:

    Very funny story. Wasn’t there a thriller made with that same concept? Except the eavesdroppers heard about a murder being planned. And then the eavesdroppers had the murderer after them. You better watch out or Pat will be at your door with a kitchen knife.

  4. radioabby says:

    Yeah, its like the Hitchcock film Rear Window…except we’re listening instead of watching.

  5. Herb says:

    I cut the baked side of the half-baked and put some butter,cheese, and /or sour cream.

  6. Joan Mirantz says:

    Happy New Year to you both!
    We stayed in too! I did up some fancy appitizers (baked brie,and a Mexican and a veggie dip) and little ham and cheddar biscuit sandwiches.
    Geoff fell asleep at 10:00. I woke him at 11:30 to keep him honest!
    Funny story!!
    Joan

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