We got to the restaurant, and a happy surprise awaited us—hardly any customers. Peace and quiet! Music to the ears of two unhip Gen Xers who hear quite enough screeching in the classroom on a daily basis.
The hostess sported a designer black dress and long, blond, ironed hair. She had the kind of skin and body one can only achieve through a diet of three green drinks a day, a strenuous Pilates regimen, or both. She glided as she led us to our table, like some kind of ethereal robot puppet designed to destroy mortal women.
I watched Randy out of the corner of my eye, without letting on to my insecurity, like every other thirty-something woman with a boyfriend in Los Angeles (competition is stiff here—it is the home of aspiring actresses, after all). Luckily, he seemed not to, or pretended not to notice her.
Getting to the table, I looked at the menu and narrowed my eyes with a focus on price. I love to budget, so when we go to a restaurant I know just how much to spend. Randy, on the other hand, spends like a pirate let loose at Disneyland. I let him, because he makes more money than me, and it’s usually his money we’re spending.
I calculated that if I ate modest food, I could order two glasses of modest wine, which is often more worth it to me than one glass of sensational wine.
We ordered a mix of things, all vegetarian and some oysters (okay, we eat fish). The vegetable dishes seemed to be relying on a simple combination salt and caramelization to impress. I was not impressed. No depth. No element of surprise. I could make this at home! “I’m going to write a scathing Yelp review of this restaurant,” I told myself. No matter that the soup was lovely and the sherry was only $6.
Randy, however, ever the optimist and general good guy, remarked on how good the vegetables are. He’s so pedestrian.
When the time came for my second glass of wine, I obsessed over and over the menu, trying to decide between a Greek white and a California Zinfandel. I’d never had Greek wine, but the red would go better with the remainder of my meal. This is what it’s like to be a wine geek at a restaurant—you feel that every wine choice will be the last time to try something, so you deliberate for 15 minutes like you’re choosing your last meal before the electric chair.
The waitress came by and suggested the Mendoza Malbec.
I didn’t want the Malbec. Every Malbec I’ve ever had has tasted the same. But she was standing there and my head was spinning with the three choices, saying “make a decision, quick! Don’t waste her time!”
“I guess I’ll try the Malbec,” I said. Damn. I thought people pleasing ended when you turned 30.
-to be continued-
(You can read Part III here.)