Thursday, May 05, 2005

A bottle of red. A bottle of white.

And so the two sit down to their break-up meal. The meal that will set into motion the process of becoming one and one. Such a mundane event: sitting down at a table together; something they’ve done probably hundreds of times before. But this. This is a first.

So much thought and consideration have led up to this moment. Do they do it at a restaurant, where they will be forced to restrain themselves, remain calm, and what’s more, remain at the table? Or do they do it in the privacy of their own home, where they can really let loose? Will the presence of others within earshot act as a catalyst for mature, reasonable conversation, or will it stifle true, honest communication? Is either option an emotional cop-out?

In the end, it was decided that they would go to the neighborhood Italian place. A place where they’d spent countless other moments, both good and not-so-good. But none quite like this one.

And suddenly here they are, white pressed tablecloth between them, wine bottles standing vertically along the stark white walls. So clean, so civilized. The menus are presented, the orders taken. And so it begins.

To start, a glass of red from the I’m Not Feeling So Great About Things How About You region of southern California, and a glass of white hailing from the cooler, more enigmatic climes of the I’m Feeling...Well...I Guess...Uh-huh region of New York State.

But despite these differing varietal preferences, wine always proves a decent stimulant for honest communication in this relationship.

And so the appetizer of one-of-the-last-things-we-will-ever-share fried zucchini is delivered to the table, and more than the wine has begun to flow through the veins of the two seated there. This was always one of their favorite neighborhood dishes—something they’d never eaten before at any other restaurant, in this neighborhood or otherwise. It occurs to them that they should have realized before ordering it that after this particularly memorable night, neither of them would be able to stomach eating it again.

Cut to the entree course, of which neither of the two can now remember what they ate, or even if they ate at all. In fact, they probably ate very little of whatever it was they ordered. It can be said for certain, however, that they did not have dessert. Dessert always seemed like an indulgence, enjoyed rarely when eating out, and then only under happy or celebratory circumstances. This, clearly, did not meet those criteria.

And so the meal ends, and they are presented with what seems like the most costly check they’ve ever received. One of their greatest joys has always been eating out together—whether in total dives, the most elegant and expensive of restaurants, or any of New York's fun and fascinating places in between. The sharing of food always seemed an integral part of the sharing of so much else.

And they both realize that now, at least for the foreseeable future, eating will return to being much more about the sustenance, and much less about the sharing.


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