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Cheesecake Race 2007: The Touching, Thrilling Conclusion
Peter Tatara - January 4, 2007

When last we left our hero, Tatara, he was preparing to sojourn to Boston to spend New Year's Eve with his girlfriend. And his girlfriend's parents. And to show his girlfriend's parents he was a good, wholesome guy who they could trust alone in the same room with their daughter, he was bringing cheesecake. Of course, he was uncertain if the cheesecake would make the trip or if it'd turn to soup and have to be hastily downed by Tatara prior to stepping onto Massachusetts soil.

Well, I'm happy to report the cheesecake, frozen overnight and surrounded by ice packs last used to keep the swelling down after the last meeting of my local Muay Thai club, arrived intact and delicious. Warmly received, it was everything I hoped it would be -- a cakey manifestation of my mature, sophisticated feelings for the daughter of a kindly, traditional, not-entirely-trusting-of-a-white-boy-dating-their-little-girl Chinese couple.

Huh. That wraps up the cheesecake story with a nice, little bow. How'd the rest of my New Year's go? A marathon of A Chinese Tall Story, Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior, and Nana. Puzzled looks as Rocket Slime, Feel the Magic, Cooking Mama, and Kamikaze Girls were unwrapped. A stack of the further adventures of Vampire Hunter D. Sea lions unable to nap. My first, fledgling words in pidgin Cantonese. Old friends, new friends, and a pile of tempura bigger than my head.

I've been told my writing is a hoot to read while drunk, and while I take that as a sublime compliment, I have no doubt that the intoxicated among my audience will fail to pick up on the minutia of my words. For apropos example, I above mentioned a heaping helping of deep fried Japanese vegetables, and while the readers currently resting one hand against the cool curves of a Sam Adams likely read my bit about tempura and moved on, I have not even the slightest hair of hesitation that the rest of you immediately pondered why I didn't mention the other two components of my New Year's Eve dinner -- which I clearly stated in Cheesecake Race 2007: Will It Survive? was to be Tempura Soba Curry. The answer is that I didn't enjoy a plate (or is it a bowl) of Tempura Soba Curry. Gasp!

We were originally planning on doing dinner at Fugakyu, an establishment Google tells me is the best Japanese place in Boston, but when I tried to make reservations for myself, my girlfriend, and nine of our New England friends, Fugakyu promptly hung up. Apparently getting reservations for 11 on New Year's Eve is difficult.

I next attempted to get us a table at Fire and Ice, a fusion noodle joint my girlfriend wanted to try. They, too, had some difficulty making room for a party of 11 for New Year's Eve with all of two days notice. Going back to my girlfriend, she shook her head. Other than Fugakyu and Fire and Ice, there wasn't anywhere she could think of. I proposed a Thai dive we ultimately had dinner at last New Year's Eve because of -- well -- identical circumstances, but she -- although she couldn't name any other options -- didn't want Thai. She wanted Japanese. And I wanted to make her happy.

As I've said, Google ranked Fugakyu as Boston's best. Going back to Google, I investigated the remaining restaurants on their list. I thought any establishment in their Top 10 should do the trick, although I feared they'd also all be booked straight through to January 2.

I picked up my phone and called Ginza, the second restaurant on Google's list, and explained my situation. I spoke of my girlfriend, describing her. Ginza thought I was talking about a mythological pixie. I insisted she was real. Ginza gave me a table for 11 people at 7 PM.

The restaurant, located in the heart of Boston's Chinatown, was one of the city's first Japanese eateries and had a long line of accolades hanging from its rice paper walls. The food was good and plentiful. The waiters were all in smart suits and waitresses in traditional kimono. The music was an eclectic blend of Japanese, Castilian, and Bossa Nova. The prices, especially when compared to what I normally pay in New York City, were a steal. And the conversation -- spanning making Brett Ratner cry, why the sunshine and happiness of LA ain't got nothing on NYC's dreary fatalism, the milk-fed puppy dogs that live in Heather's ass, and who'd live and who'd die in a zombie pandemic -- was priceless.

But all that's over now. I'm back in Manhattan and getting ready to head out to a company dinner at Taj Lounge, a posh tapas and cocktail place with Indian accents, and then home to watch a neighbor play Star Trek: Legacy. That's it? Well, while my drunken readers have long since slouched into unconsciousness, I'm sure the straight edge crowd's still at the edge -- I'm so clever -- of their seats. Why? No doubt, there's some deeper significance to this essay's title. Cheesecake Race 2007: The Touching, Thrilling Conclusion? What does that mean? Clearly, Cheesecake Race 2007 is a nod to 1975's definitive film, Death Race 2000, but what of the rest?

Well, allow me to talk briefly about my girlfriend. She's effortlessly beautiful. From the first moment she wakes to the time she drifts off to sleep, and even in those dreaming hours in-between, she's a gorgeous being with a face and form frozen in the full bloom of sterling youth. And she's kind, and generous, and dreams of being a writer.

Speaking more of her kind and generous nature, I entered 2007 with a DS Lite my mythological pixie pulled from magic. And while I've composed and begun a quest for a list of exotic games to feed my DS, this isn't going to turn into a pathetic recitation of said list. No, instead, while I'm eager to play Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan and Mega Man ZX, I've been most captivated by the DS's built-in chat program -- Pictochat. I'm enchanted by sending squiggly little notes to other DS owners and the very simple act of tapping and touching its screen. The thing's sold over 27 million units worldwide, and after just a moment of poking at it, I completely understand why. After touching the DS, you don't want to put it down.

And now you understand the Touching part of The Touching, Thrilling Conclusion. What about the Thrilling bit? That's just bullshit.

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