Monday, November 29, 2010

Rock 'n' Roll Romance

Our very first date. Cold Stone Creamery. March 21, 2007. On the juke box: "Just Can't Get Enough"

Ruthy: bobbing head and unconsciously singing along
Ryan: You know this song??
Ruthy: (embarrassed to have been caught singing): Um, Yeah. Depeche Mode?
Ryan:  You know Depeche Mode! Do you like 80's music??
Ruthy: Ah...Yeah!  (big exaggeration. I really don't care for most 80's music)
Ryan: Me too!

Later, in the car:  Ryan pulls out his ipod and cues up some Depechde Mode. I am already regretting my lie. Ryan "accidentally" (we still debate this) drops his ipod on the passenger seat.  With one elbow on the steering wheel, his left hand holding his birthday-cake flavored milkshake, his eyes on the road, and his right hand feeling around for his ipod, his hand brushes my thigh.

Ryan laughs nervously. I blush.

Fast forward to date # 2:

We are at his apartment, eating a deliciously simple pasta he made (recipe below), and thumbing through his music collection. I was exposed to a few bands I had never heard of, but grew to love (Billy Talent, Fugazi, The Strokes) and some that I still haven't come around to (Dead or Alive, most David Lee Roth, etc).

We listened to the entirety of Elephant by the White Stripes as the midnight curfew came and went. It was already 1:30am when he pulled out an album whose presence in his collection blew my mind: Where Have All the Merry Makers Gone? by Harvey Danger. Being from Maryland, I grew up believing that my brothers and I were the only Harvey Danger fans on the face of the planet. Ryan was the first person outside of my family I met who had ever heard of anything other than this band's single MTV-aired hit, much less owned their best album.


I would later learn that Ryan wasn't incredibly unique in being from Washington and knowing of this group. (It was a Seattle-based band after all, that had retained some popularity in the area). I guess I was more of the outlier for being a HD fan from Maryland.

Anyway, I was instantly impressed, and even as our relationship progressed and I at times questioned whether we had enough in common to make it work, Harvey Danger kind of became our Breakfast at Tiffany's.  (Except, in this case, unlike the Deep Blue Something song, we stayed together). I thought, How could I NOT give my Harvey Danger soul mate a chance?

It was kind of like this comic by XKCD:

Despite my original attraction to him being based mostly on his cooking skills and taste in music, we built an actual relationship and entered into holy matrimony in 2008 (and his cooking still keeps me coming back).  But, unlike eternal marriage, some good things must come to an end.

In 2009, Harvey Danger announced their breakup. Hectic school schedules, and full-time jobs aside, we knew that we had to make the trip to Seattle to see them play their penultimate show at the Vera Project.

Ryan pretending to be a cheesy tourist at the Space Needle. Me, actually being a cheesy tourist.

We were excited about it, but my older brother David definitely took the "Biggest Fan" cake. He made the transcontinental flight from MD to be there for the show.

Was it worth the trip? It was simply everything you could ask of a rock concert: a stellar set list,  a relatively small group of dedicated fans, and venue so intimate we were practically necking the band. We even got to ask questions and make song requests!

After the show, David and I got a picture with the lead singer, Sean Nelson. (Ryan is dutifully behind the lens):

Between the show, the delicious teriyaki and bubble tea, and hanging out with a couple of my favorite guys, it was a great day.

By the way,  if you've never listened to Harvey Danger, you should check them out. They were offering their music for free download before Radiohead made this practice cool.

And, of course, here is the dopamine-inducing pasta that first made  my brain associate Ryan with its internal reward system:


Spaghetti Aglio, Olio, e Peperoncino:  (Spaghetti with oil, garlic, and red pepper)

1 lb box of Spaghetti
4 med-large cloves of fresh garlic – minced
1 small dried red chili pepper – seeded & minced (or about 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes)
6 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 med-large cloves of fresh garlic – minced
at least 1/2 C grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Optional: Parsley.

Into a large pot, add enough water to boil pasta and generously season with salt. When boiling add your spaghetti & cook until al dente. While the spaghetti is cooking, into a saute pan (large enough to accommodate the pasta once it has cooked) add your olive oil, garlic & pepper flakes. Cook over low-med heat until garlic starts to turn golden (do not allow to burn). When pasta is ready, drain well & transfer pasta into pan with oil. Toss together and allow to heat through for approx 1-2 min. Sprinkle with plenty of shredded Parmesan and fresh or dried parsley. Serve immediately. Devour.

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