I went out tonight to shore up a friend who is having a career crisis. Oh yes, and a new relationship crisis (that part's a bit tough for me to relate to, but that's fine). She was feeling down about the negative possibilities of both and needed someone to listen and tell her everything is going to be all right.
And the fact is, I do think both issues will resolve themselves and she'll be just fine. That may be why my friend Danny calls me Pollyana, but I'm okay with that. Worrying never solved anything.
So we went to Six Burner because she hadn't been there in a couple of years. It's not really her kind of place because she's an incredibly picky eater, but it was her suggestion.
Mike, the new bartender greeted me warmly and introduced himself to her, and then was cut because it was a slow night ("I'm the new guy...last in, first out," he shrugged). He looked pretty disappointed to have finally gotten some company only to lose it.
But we soldiered on with a bottle of the Allan Scott Family Sauvignon Blanc (her choice), although the only thing she could find on the menu that appealed to her was the squash gazpacho. I don't even give her a hard time about her finicky taste anymore; she's the one who's missing out.
I ordered the crispy pork belly, slaw, and Thai-style BBQ sauce with no problem whatsoever. I gave her a bite and she actually liked the BBQ sauce, but was appalled at the layer of visible fat. Of course, she's the same person who'll eat an entire rib-eye without batting an eye about fat. And just to be obnoxious, I followed that with chocolate mousse (the bowl was larger than the soup bowl. It was an enormous chocolate mousse).
After a while listening to her predictions of doom and gloom about the wonderful-sounding new guy she's seeing, I decided she needed a distraction. Or maybe I was just tired of hearing such negativity.
So I did something I rarely do. I started offering up information about my past. We've been friends for a year or so, but we usually talk about her life . So I decided to tell her about my first adult relationship (okay, I was nineteen but I thought I was an adult...and he was 28).
On our second date, this boyfriend-to-be showed up with three sets of tickets. One pair was for the National Symphony the following month, the second pair was for the Washington Ballet the month after that and the third pair was for Equus at the Kennedy Center three months out.
How brilliant was that? By getting me to accept, he'd ensured that I'd be seeing him for at least the next few months.
Telling this old story to my friend tonight transformed her. According to her, it was the most romantic gesture she'd ever heard of, unimaginable even. Not only had he paid attention well enough on the first date to ascertain some of my interests, but he'd gambled on offering the tickets as a way to establish that we had some sort of future, at least short-term.
Well, this story so enthralled her that she stopped her descent into Sadville and asked for more, pointing out that I hadn't exactly been forthcoming about myself during the course of our friendship. It's true and it's a complaint I've heard before, but I hate to presume people are interested in that kind of stuff.
After a couple more anecdotes from my past, we looked up to find that we were the last customers and paid up so the staff could leave. My friend's mood was so much better than when we'd arrived, so I felt like I'd helped her in some odd way.
Or maybe I'd just given her something new to obsess about. The last thing she said as we stood outside saying goodbye was, "Where is this guy now? Do you think he's available? I think he might be my soul mate!"
And of course, I have absolutely no idea where he is anymore, although it occurred to me as I walked away that today is his birthday (making him my first Virgo).
So to Curt, wherever you are, happy birthday. And nice job on those second-date tickets. I'm not sure the 19-year old Karen fully appreciated the romantic brilliance of your gesture.
And if you're single, I have a friend you might want to meet...