By A.J. Llewellyn
One of my best female friends called me late last night, crying. My first instincts were to get dressed, jump into my car, find the man who did this to her and beat him to death. I'm a protective guy, especially when injustice involves one of my peepettes.
My brother, who is still visiting me from Paris has been in an increasingly surly mood because he is missing French table wine and the filthy, stinky cigarettes he can't buy here in the US.
He thought the idea of beating up a total stranger was also a fab idea...and then my gal pal told me her tale. She'd had a date via Match.com and the guy seemed to be everything she wanted... After several lengthy phone calls, they made a date. He actually showed up! He rolled up to the Beverly Hills restaurant they chose in his shiny red Maserati, he was as hot as she'd hoped and their conversation over dinner positively sparkled.
She was in the middle of a hilarious anecdote (I believe her take on the quality of her adorable social skills) when he dabbed his lips with his napkin, smiled, and excused himself. My friend took advantage of her companion's absence to squaff a few bites of food. They were in a very expensive restaurant and the food sublime, but she was doing that girl thing, not eating much in front of him. She sipped at her red wine and happened to glance out the window.
Her date was jumping into his horrible little sports car and zooming off! Without her! Sticking her with an $89 check!
My brother who has been boring me stupid with his endless, "Well in France...everything is better" crap look stunned when I told him the guy was French.
"He can't be a proper Frenchman," he scoffed. "They don't do things like that." I stared him down. "Well, all right, maybe they do. What's with people who like to eat and run, anyway?"
And this is the reason I am relating all of this.
We attended a friend's birthday dinner on Saturday night. I don't mind saying the name of the restaurant because it is the most pretentious place I have ever entered and never will again. It's called JGelina and it's down in Venice.
First of all, the place is so dark and such a maze, you need a tour guide to find your table. The dishes are expensive and minuscule. My $16 shrimp dish had exactly three shrimp in it. Ka-ching! I almost wept when we'd agreed to eat "family style" and I was forced to take only one pass on the plate. There were 12 at dinner and dishes kept coming out, but most I couldn't eat because I don't eat meat or chicken. I did get two [tiny] pieces of squid and felt like a food hog. All night long, forks danced in the air at our table and one of the guys ordered bottle after bottle of wine. I was worried about how much all this was costing us, since I was a designated driver and couldn't drink.
Then the restaurant staff started hassling us to vacate the table because it was the only large one and there was another party waiting for it.
My half-starved Francofile brother gave the hoity toity hostess a piece of his mind and she backed off. A couple of people pleaded early mornings and left the table, not dropping down a dime for their share. Two other friends arrived late, ordered fresh dishes and another bottle of wine and suddenly vanished. It was hard to tell at first since the restaurant was punishing us by refusing to bring candles to our now very dark corner. It was only when they didn't reapond to questions that we knew they'd gone.
I stabbed a few fingers in my starving quest for a bite of food before the waiters took everything away. By the time the check arrived, there were eight of us left, seven of us picking up the tab to include the birthday boy. To say it was the most expensive meal I never ate is an understatement.
When I left JGelina, I was absolutely famished and broke. We drove by the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, those wonderful, lovely sexy golden arches.
My Hawaiian friend Kel, who was nuzzling his wife in the back seat screamed, "Shit! food! I want dinner!" We hit the drive through and Kel and his wife thoughtfully purchased me a filet of fish sandwich and large fries.
"This is even better than French food," my brother said from the depths of his chocolate shake. The absurdity, the sheer irony of having to stop for fast food after an expensive restaurant dinner was not lost on any of us.
The old "eat and run" routine did bring out some funny stories about the protocol of paying and we convinced each other that one day, this story too would be funny.
It already is.