Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Sitting at a table for two. Or six. There are no quiet tables at Chili's. They are all built for groups.
Or just two.
The air is filled with chatter and laughter. Waiters and waitresses skim past each other as they bring food to the table. Sizzling, steaming plates and skillets. Over and over, "Careful, that plate is hot." From the other corner of the restaurant, a group of waiters with an enormous sombrero converge on a birthday table and sing their rendition of happy birthday. I wonder to myself, amidst the clapping, when a new employee learns the song--is it part of their training? And is the whole restaurant expected to join in?
Sitting on opposite sides of the varnished table, my husband and I. Between us, a bowl of chips and a bowl of salsa. He is talking.
I realize how rarely he gets a word in edgewise. How the only time that I really hear him talk like this, about his work, his calling, what he heard on the radio, is on these dates. I feel guilty about that.
I reach out and take a chip and dip it into the salsa, and I watch him...
This restaurant is trendy and small. The settings are eclectic. The wine list is long. We had to get a reservation for our tiny table by the window, a candle in the middle.
Conversation rises and falls, like a wave. The tables are full of couples, although a few have the tables pushed together. Our waiter is wearing black, his arms lined with tattoos. All the waiters and waitresses are wearing black, their shirts expensive. Cashmere, maybe, for the women. Extra starch for the men.
My husband smiles at me across the table, holding the single page menu displayed on brushed leather in his hands. The waiter appears and whisks our wine glasses away, slightly disappointed, when we request only water. With lemon. He runs through the specials of the day, which leave us staring at each other in confusion--did he just say bone marrow with a blueberry sauce?
"We'll need just a few more minutes." my husband says, raising one eyebrow at me. His foot taps mine under the table, and I look down, smiling.
In the end, I order the squash filled ravioli. He orders the bone marrow, making a face at me when it's delivered actually in the bone, with a sprig of sage sticking out of the top. And I watch him...
"This is really good." my husband says, dipping his spoon into his Frosty dessert.
"What do you think these are made of?" I ask, twirling my spoon.
"You probably don't want to know" he laughs.
Back and forth. Back and forth. We're quiet, as we eat our Frosties, and swing on the swings at the local park. I am watching the small group of teenagers, sulking in the corner by the tennis courts. I glance over at my husband, who is gazing at the sunset.
He loves sunsets. Sometimes I forget that.
I scoop out the last spoonful and eat it, then look over at him. I find that he is watching me. And I smile.