jcrew has promised to take me out to dinner to thank me for six-some solid years of unconditional friendship. she clomps onto my floor and we begin the arduous process of determining where to celebrate. selecting a restaurant, for jcrew, is a mental triathlon. much like some people store pots and pans in the oven, jcrew's lobal real estate is filled with menus.
"lake avenue cafe?" i ask, despite a bad experience with chicken parmesan from the early 2000s. she makes a face.
"do you still want to go to new scenic?" she asks. i make a face. i've still not recovered from a fondue clog in my digestive system that happened in the late fall.
"nah," she agreed. "i don't even feel like just crossing the bridge to go to the boat house."
"can't we just lay here on the floor and order a pizza?" i ask.
she rolls her eyes.
"i'd say bennett's, but ..." she gives me a look. "i'm not sure you're dressed for it."
american eagle jeans rolled to my shins. brown tank top. hooded shirt from abercrombie. it's not like i have to wear my green converse low tops without socks. i can deviate. i can class this act up.
"perkins?" she asks.
"the embers in superior?" i suggest. "they serve alcohol."
other nos include: bellisio's, pizza luce, brewhouse, olive garden, sammy's pizza, pickwick, india palace ... eventually we're back to:
"screw it," she says. "we can go to bennett's."
i've never been. i'm anticipating a place where old money goes to compare cuff links and 22 year old wives and geriatric failings. a place that smells like scotch and mint-flavored tooth picks. a place where old women look down their noses at women in american eagle jeans and messy pony tails and literally utter the phrase "pooh pooh" disapprovingly.
"okay," i agree.
but first, jcrew has to negotiate a digestive situation of her own:
"i have to shiss," she says inventing a word to properly explain her ordeal.
"what if they gave me a sport coat to wear?" i say as we're led to the table. "or worse yet, what if they threw me in the coat room and made me take a shower?"
bennett's, i quickly realize, is a good place for a surreptitious romance with someone you are ashamed of. i see now why she has brought me here. we are led to a table by the window and it is painful for me to not say, within earshot of our waitress, "i'm glad you finally agreed to date me." then pull out a stopwatch and time the rumor as it makes a beeline for proctor.
when piano music wafts in from the next room, jcrew snorts.
"hee hee," she says. "there's piano music and you look like that."
"these people don't know me, maybe this is how i dress up," i suggest.
"yeah. dressed up for a bag lady," she says.
"i feel like being inappropriate," i tell jcrew.
"i have so many bullets," the man at the next table says.
i'm not sure what that means.
i order salmon roulade. jcrew orders a three-seafood meal. both are globs of goodness floating in a bowl of creamy gluttony. behind us is a couple that is clearly painting the town. the woman has squashed herself into formalware, the man trimmed his handlebar mustache. they bring in drinks and shrimp cocktail from the bar, and spare no expense in ordering lobster and more drinks.
"what's that bar called on london road?" the woman slurs. "we could go there. ... the rustic. no, no. the reef. we could go to the reef."
then later ...
"we could go to dee's. or the gopher. or dee's ... my gal friend works the pulltabs at the rustic ... no, no, the reef. that's right down on london road. we could go to the reef."
the man agrees. "it is a classier kind of place. but not tooo classy."
jcrew snorts. we begin referring to them as nouveau riche.
"it's not even the first day of the month," jcrew says.
i give her a look.
"i mean, its really cute how they've saved up to have a big night on the town," she says.
"no its not," i say.
"i like how i was trying to be nice," she says.
"transparent," i tell her. "friggin' siran wrap."
then our waitress asks us if we want separate checks. "yes," jcrew says. i experience heart failure. shit. i guess i can write a check ... "oh wait," she says. "no. just keep it together."
"phew," i say.
"wouldn't that be so funny if i did that to you?" she asks.
"that would be the meanest joke," i say.