Yesterday morning when my boss asked if I wanted to go with her to check out our company's new restaurant after work, I shrugged and said sure. By the time 6:00 rolled around, however, I had forgotten all about it. I was looking forward to stopping by the library on my way home, picking up my three books on hold, and calling it a night, but my quiet night in was not to be. "Ready to go?" my boss asked, keys in hand, and I played it off like I hadn't forgotten. I was hoping for just a quick walk-through and then home, but when she mentioned stopping for a drink in another of our restaurants after, and then popping across the street to a third, I knew I was in it for the long haul. We got into her car and crawled through DC's rush hour-congested streets.
I had never seen a brand-new, never-been-used restaurant before. Finally, after months of construction the finishing touches were being put into place in preparation for its soft opening this weekend. The design was clean, modern, gorgeous. The subterranean kitchen sparkled with shiny aluminum counters and floors that would never be that pristine again. The cooks were practicing on the new equipment, mixing up batches of this and that. They fed us sweet naan and spicy, Indian tea, and then we were on our way.
At our next restaurant the manager greeted us warmly. In comparison to the cavernous and empty restaurant we had come from, this one buzzed with activity, subdued conversation, and piano music. A glass of red wine and a cocktail between us, more naan, and again we were on our way.
We crossed the street to our final destination of the evening and once again made the round of hellos to the managers and waitstaff. Through the glass wall of a private dining room I spotted the cute waiter I'd had my eye on, who later came by to say hello and chat a bit. They only had cocktails at the bar, we were told, and so I ordered a gin and tonic. My boss (not that boss, but my other boss) told the manager to ask the kitchen for "a snack." And she meant it, too, wanting only something to nosh, something leftover from the party, perhaps. We had no idea what would follow. Two courses in with no end in sight and I started regretting filling up on the naan. There was shrimp in a delicious garlicky, buttery sauce to be sopped up with bread. Then truffle pasta with hazelnuts, a flavor combination I had never before considered, but at the first bite realized just how right it was. (My boss took one bite and spit it out, clawing at her tongue. "Blech, mushrooms!" she said, and after I had finished mine insisted on doling out some of her uneaten pasta on my plate, so the chef wouldn't know she hadn't eaten hers.) Then it was beef, cooked perfectly medium-rare (my boss took hers well), the softest most melt-in-your-mouth meat I had ever tasted. Crispy round nuggets of something on the side--"Falafel!" I cried out happily upon splitting one open. I tricked my boss into trying one by telling her it was "mostly just bread," and again, into the napkin it went. By this point we were stuffed; I had nothing left to give, but how could I turn down a deconstructed hazelnut Twix bar for dessert? I couldn't. I ate it; I ate it all. A bad-idea gin martini later and conversation turned to my love life. Because if there's one thing my sixty-something boss enjoys, it's hearing about who I'm dating.
"So whatever happened to your Not-So-Secret-Admirer?" she asked.
"I told you, he stopped talking to me."
"But what happened?"
"I don't know. He blamed it on the boss, said he didn't want to make things awkward for me."
"I know, it was just an excuse."
"I don't understand. He was practically in heat over you every time he came in the office." I let the dubiousness of her metaphor slide and simply shrugged. "Ok, well what about that other guy?"
"We went out a few times, and then he stopped talking to me."
"Hmm. Ok...what about the cute waiter?"
"He said he'd like to see me outside of work sometime, I said definitely, and to let me know when he had a night off, and then I never heard from him about it again."
"Well...damn, girl," she said, squinting at me in genuine befuddlement. "What are you doing wrong?" I shrugged. "You must be either coming on too strong or not strong enough," she said. "So which one is it?"
"I honestly don't know."
Dear armchair analysts: Please do not take this as an invitation to tell me every single thing I am doing or have ever done wrong. Unless you are a guy I have gone out with, in which case, enlighten me. I dare you.