Dig, if you will, my first pre-birthday get-together.
My friend dubbed it the same for him, mocking me with his December birthday. Mine's next week, yet some people try to make it sound like I milk it by getting a slight early start.
I'm just not sure why this is frowned upon.
In any case, we weren't actually meeting to fete me. A friend was in from out of town, so I was invited to be the fourth - I'm also quite good at being the third or fifth when asked - at dinner, a role at which I excel.
At the opening pow-wow, we decided on Rowland.
Unless you live in the neighborhood, it's easy to forget about Rowland's understated but reliable charm and on a drizzly Spring evening, it was completely welcoming with low lighting, Hopper-esque people at tables and bar and a soundtrack that swung from Marshall Tucker Band to vintage soul.
Rowland, it's been too long, and if you want to know precisely how long, just ask the owners, who informed us exactly how long it had been since each of us had last been in.
I've heard some mothers think it's good to start a meal with guilt.
And impeccable taste. Because where else are you going to get a chilled salad fork except Rowland? Take your time, I'll wait for your answer over here.
The manly one was eager to try the special of softshell crab over corn pudding, but it was when the visitor ordered the Joe chop, a bone-in beauty, that the lovelier of the two owners expressed disappointment. One of her frustrations as chef is that her regulars so often order the exact same dish while she longs for them to branch out.
So you can imagine when a customer who hasn't been in for years still orders her usual that there may be some chef eye-rolling, albeit while acknowledging that the customer is always right. Boring, perhaps, but right.
I got no such look because I ordered the lamb sliders with curry yogurt beside four massive yucca frites riding shotgun, a dish I'd never laid eyes on. Just don't tell her I'd happily eat them again.
On the subject of years passing quickly, a man refers to a couple's trip as having happened "a couple years ago," but the woman quickly reminds him that it was, in fact, six years ago.
In no universe does six equal a couple of anything.
Case in point: I have five sisters and at no point in my life did anyone ever refer to the six of us that way. A brood, yes. A budding sports team, sure. A couple? Nope.
This turns out to be an excellent jumping off point for a discussion of the discrepancy in how men and women perceive time, how I can have a female friend who thinks a proposal is overdue while her hapless boyfriend is still adjusting to the fact that he's now in a real relationship.
It's some time during the chocolate chess pie and ice cream that a Beatles geek-fest begins between two Fab Four obsessives who not only sing the words but the horn parts on "When I'm 64" and debate whether or not it's possible that a young rapper could have absolutely no idea what Paul McCartney looked like, much less who he was.
Or maybe the rapper just didn't want an old guy at his party.
It seemed prudent to point out that someone at our table would not only not recognize Sir Paul, but would most certainly not let him into her party. She confirmed it, looking up his picture on her phone for reference.
Pshaw, I'm not so choosy. If someone wants to celebrate my birthday with me, chances are I'll let 'em in.
Those Beatles fanatics would've loved that one.