On Saturday night, Mitch and I fancied ourselves up and went on a date. We hadn’t been on a true date since August, unless you count our friends’ wedding — and even if you do, it was in October. It’d been way too long.
Here’s what you should know, right up front: Mitch and I are so much more about the journey than the destination, so to speak. So, to us, we had an extremely successful date night. However, there are those who might consider our experience to have been offensive and it might deter them from going to this particular restaurant– and since we LOVED the food and LOVED the mission statement of the restaurant, we do NOT want that to happen at all. So I am not going to name, confirm, or deny the name of this particular eatery. But I will tell you that if you live in the Omaha area– you should eat there. And get the strip loin. MMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……
So, we got a babysitter and everything. I actually took a second shower in the afternoon– which was the tip-off to Maren that something was up. The blowdryer was the real giveaway. She turned away from her toys so fast that the movement almost didn’t exist, looked at me putting product in my hair and howled– HOWLED– “Mousse? Nice-smelling lotion? A SECOND APPLICATION OF DEODORANT? WHAT’S GOING ON???”
Now, Mitch is the type of guy who can really clean up right nice. I can’t really say the same for myself, since I generally always look like I’m in some stage of being dragged onto the shores of an abandon beach. Really the only change in my appearance is due to whatever the weather is doing on that particular abandon beach, how long I was in the ocean before being spit up onto it, and how primitive the peoples of that particular island happen to be– maybe the natives on the next island over have created mascara, for example, in which case, look out!
But Mitch? Now there’s a handsome man. All it takes is a shower, a button-up shirt, and some 1.99 hair gel to make him look like he invented the Internet. But on this particular night, mostly because Maren was deciding to be the human form of a chastity belt, wherein we are unable to conceive mostly because we are unable to be alone, he wasn’t able to spit-shine himself up to his normal shiny penny status. We were trying to make a movie at 730, but then didn’t even get out of the house until after 600. We ended up leaving the house in nice jeans, nice shirts, Mitch hadn’t shaved– but to be fair, neither had I– but at least– at LEAST I got to put on some sex-me-up heels before Maren decided that under no circumstances was she about to have a sibling. The words ‘Depo Provera” meant nothing to her, no matter how soothingly I said them. Even when I tried to explain to her that my left butt cheek is perpetually sore JUST to ensure no regime change in her Queen Baby status, she still howled and held onto my leg, right up until the babysitter got there.
We went into the restaurant– which I knew was fancy– but as soon as we came in, I felt like breaking into that song from Sesame Street: “One of these things is not like the other one; one of these things does not belong….” As the Big Lebowski would have put it: “Donnie, you’re out of your element.”
There was a little guy behind a podium, in a three piece suit and little half-circle glasses. And when we walked in, he looked at us like maybe we were there to ask for directions. (“At least,” Mitch pointed out, “He didn’t ask us what we were there to deliver.”)
Mitch had to say, “Um, two, for dinner.”
The little guy repeated, “Oh, for dinner? Do you have a reservation?”
We looked around at the empty restaurant and I said, “Um, no.”
He seated us at the bar, apologizing for reservations that were on their way– but it turned out better that way because the bar was an opening into the kitchen, so Mitch could watch everyone make the food while I awkwardly tried to find the best way to sit in those tall ass chairs.
We had a sigh of relief, having masterfully navigated our way through embarrassing situation Numero Uno, when the little guy stepped towards us, arms outstretched. Like he wanted a hug. And I’ll tell you, this particular restaurant is so new-agey and nouveau-hippie that I actually thought…. maybe we’re supposed to hug.
“Your coat, sir?” He said finally, and I couldn’t help it– I laughed. Mitch handed over his coat as I took off the knock off pea-coat that cost me fifteen dollars two years ago and handed it to him, stuffing my scarf in the sleeve on the way. Then he had to get our attention again to hand Mitch the ticket for the coats– as if there could be a mix-up. I was dying to see a mix-up. He comes to the rich couple in the corner with our beat up, baby-puked-on coats and the rich people think, “Oh, yeah, I guess these could be ours…. oh WAIT this isn’t the right number! Thank God we have a ticket!”
I know, I know. The ticket system is actually to protect the bourgeoisie from the rest of us, who may be accidentally handed a coat made out of diamonds and run, without paying our bill or tipping or anything.
Something I hate about fancy places is when they don’t list the prices on the menu, as if seeing money next to the food would cause their patrons to lose their appetites. We did not have this problem at this restaurant– oh no, the prices were right there. They suuuuuuure were.
Mitch and I are on a pretty tight budget– like most parents. But more so, because as of August, I will literally be working for free, instead of just telling people that I work for free because I’m a teacher. So I’d been saving for this date for over two months. And there were those nice little numbers, staring up at me impassively. Then I swear, one of them– one of the bigger ones– stuck its tongue out at me.
So, we gave up on the idea of going to a movie, and decided just to enjoy our dinner.
And friends. Let me tell you.
Mitch ordered the bison (BISON!) and I ordered the strip loin (and yes, by the way– we’re meat eaters). This food was so good that I’ve been dreaming about it all week. We also had a cheese tray for an appetizer– I’ve been told this is called a charcuterie tray– and it was so good that I asked Mitch how bad it would be if I licked the plate. He dared me to. This is why we can never go anywhere nice.
We finished the meal without further incident, and then sat staring at each other. I finally asked him the question we were both thinking:
“How do we get our coats back?”
Turns out, part of the job of the little guy with a three piece suit is to just notice when people look around at each other with a dumbfounded look on their face. When we saw him coming towards us with our coats, I panicked and said,
“Are we supposed to tip him? All I have is a twenty! What are you going to do?”
Mitch smirked– letting me know that he definitely noticed me abandoning ship as soon as the situation got sticky– and said, “I’m going to do what I always do. Bull shit my way through it.”
The little guy showed up and I shrugged into my coat. And then he held up Mitch’s coat. Not– handed it to him. Not– put it over his arm and held it out to Mitch to take it. He HELD IT UP– like he was going to put it on Mitch the way he had just put my coat on me.
Delighted, I offered no help and stood back. Mitch glared at me and turned around, doing his best to lower his 6’5 frame so that the man could complete this task. He had to do a most impressive back bend.
Then they handed us some little pastries for us to share the next morning. It was so classy I felt like I should be growing a tuxedo and something made out of fur. I checked Mitch to see if he had sprouted a curly mustache.
We ran across the street to the neighborhood bakery for a latte and chocolate cake. We spied on high schoolers that had brought their girlfriends here to try to impress them– because where else can you go in high school?– and found ourselves fitting in much better among other members of the proletariat.
But. Once we can save up enough money again– perhaps early 2012– we will be venturing back. Until then, I will be dreaming dreams of bison.