I went on a date
November 15, 2007
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July 29, 2007
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The night before I left for a week in Maine, Jake (haha, that’s not his real name! And I wish I could think of a better pseudonym, but there’s really no closer analog to the ‘hot Jew diminutive’ aspect of his actual name. So we will just have to ignore the Amy Sohn/Glamour mag associations we have with the name “Jake” and carry on) and I ate at the Queen’s Hideaway, my declared favorite restaurant. It’s tiny, it’s in Greenpoint, and the food they serve is like food I cook except more inventive and slightly (only slightly!) more profesh. In all realms — music, food, people — I love amateurish, small-scale things with grand ambitions. Rough edges are fine by me. But there are some things about my favorite restaurant that have always bothered me.
There’s this one waitress who is clearly a token-connection-to-the-neighborhood effort on owner Liza Queen’s part. Here is the thing, Liza Queen: congrats on giving a fat Puerto Rican teenager a job. Big of you. But? People shouldn’t have jobs that they suck at. And this kid not only sucks, she’s aware of how much she sucks, and that means she’s always overcompensating by being either supercloyingly fake-nice or studiedly mean and neglectful. Jake’s charm brought out her fake-niceness. She didn’t counsel us against both ordering the tasting menu. I don’t know whether her decision was based on an attempt to double her tip, or just based on cluelessness and not caring. In any case, it was far too much food. It was probably too much food for one person. And you know, the Queen’s Hideaway can be pretty hit or miss, because of its focus on inventiveness (new menu every few days!) and homemadeishness. I think Christine, who owns the new bookstore Word that’s further down on Franklin Street, is right about how Liza should maybe expend some of the energy she puts into coming up with a new menu every night into figuring out how to completely nail some signature dishes.
Actually that’s kind of wrong. It’s not like the QH doesn’t have reliable staples. Fritters are consistently light and ungreasy and not too veggie-intensive — I mean, mega bonus points for making okra appealing via this format. Popovers are fantastic, mostly because they’re on the menu at all — it’s easy to nail a popoever, as long as you’re able to serve it right away. Anything smoked is usually good. Green salads are green salad best case scneario. Slow-roasted pork, chicken confit, and skirt steak are never disappointing.
But it was somewhere around the salad of sugar snap peas and small multihued sour-sweet cherries that things started to unravel. Everything til then — the okra fritters, the clean crisp corn on the cob ingeniously served with a little pat of butter on a quarter-slice of toasted Wonder bread for use as an applicator sponge, the smoked skirt steak, our conversation — had been, you know, delicious. Tantalizing. All of it left me wanting more.
Wanting more, though, turned out to be the problem.
We had been talking a lot up until that point about my innate tendency towards being “divulgey.” Jake’s philosophy in re: divulgeyness was shaped, he says, by his parents’ divorce. He was eight. They both told him a lot of things they shouldn’t have; used him as a weapon against each other. Classic. So: I guess I admire his restraint vis a vis keeping things to himself. Or maybe there’s nothing to admire? After all, if you’re not naturally inclined to spill, restraint doesn’t require much effort.
(By the way, I love that I’m writing a blog post — anon.! but still– about my divulgeyness.)
I don’t know that it’s true that Jake isn’t divulgey, though. I mean, he’s a WRITER. Maybe he’s growing out of it? I think of an essay he wrote once about buying his ex-girlfriend Parisian lingerie. And then, you know, I make myself stop thinking about that immediately.
Anyway, just because Jake isn’t divulgey doesn’t mean he doesn’t say things he shouldn’t. Like, for example, the conversation we had over the cherry salad. The mix of sour and sweet was a nice surprise at first bite. But the second bite was overwhelming — the black sesame seeds in the vinegar-intensive vinaigrette were the only thing I could really taste. And also at that exact moment Jake was all “I don’t want a serious relationship.”
He didn’t say exactly that! I forget what he said exactly. I was too busy staring two feet to the left of his head and chewing the cherries that were suddenly mud in my mouth. But whatever he said was something along the lines of: we’ve both recently gotten out of big things and we both obviously genuinely want to be our own people, to be grown-ups in the world alone. I DO ACTUALLY WANT THIS. But? I want him to want more? Why wouldn’t I? I mean, I know I’m being overdramatic, wanting this to be some big Love, and that if I put too many expectations on it (on Jake, on myself), it could crumple under the weight of them. I do want to move slowly. And I do want to be independent. Above all, I don’t want to get hurt.
But here’s why I will maybe almost certainly get hurt. I’m fa … mph. Takes so much effort to say this, even anonymously. I’m falling in love with him.
I tried so hard for so long to stop myself feeling this way and yeah, a lot of it is physical, circumstantial. That doesn’t mean it isn’t real and maybe sort of important? If I were going to spin this in a way that has more to do with psychobabble and less to do with the lyrics of every cheesy pop song ever written, I’d say that no matter how this Jake thing ultimately shakes out, it’s good that I’ve been able to like someone who’s, like …. the best aspects of me. Who genuinely brings out the best in me, who inspires me not towards acheivement and excellence for its own sake but who inspires me to take more pleasure and pride in what I do, who inspires me to have more fun. He forces me to experience more and analyze less, which by extension means that when I do analyze, I’m better at it. He seriously does these things for me. Oh and um yeah, his lips, his tongue, his eyes, his hands, his arms, his legs, uh his entire body really and how he’s so in charge of all ot it but how also it just all seems to have been expressly designed for sex and adventure? He’s right when he half-seriously asks how I could have been expected to resist.
He says I’m the best and maybe he’s only half-serious about that, too. Maybe he’s never fully serious about anything.
Right now I’m listening to the funny song he wrote me. The title of the song, which I didn’t realize til I put it on my iPod, is “I Love You.”
Seriously, WHAT THE FUCK. What kind of a person tells someone he “doesn’t want a serious relationship with [yet] [?!?!?!]” that he “loves” her? IN SONG?
What is love?
Jesus H. Christ.
Also, that night very very late the last thing I said before collapsing into a dead sleep was “Oh my god that’s so easily the hardest I’ve ever come. WHY?”
Fuck. I’m so fucked. Okay, no more analysis. Oh! I was writing about the Queen’s Hideaway, wasn’t I. You know, the one thing they really can’t do and maybe shouldn’t attempt is dessert. The last thing on the tasting menu that night, which we each only managed a few spoonfuls of, was this custard-soup with berries floating in it. It tasted like how a vanilla Glade scented candle smells. Next time we should have ice cream at that new Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory place. I wonder if it’s open yet.