Love

weddingrings.jpgAn age-old motto employed by wise women everywhere when their 60-something husbands return from the work wars to create projects from their home office.

My best friend's grandmother used that ironclad rule for the whole of her fifty-year marriage. Most especially after her adored husband retired from the illustrious law firm that bore his name, took to writing legal thrillers in the den and padding around her kitchen five times a day.

"My darling, let me miss you," she'd purr, as he asked yet again what they were having for lunch." I want to see you at the beginning and end of my day and all weekend long. To renew our otherness and share the excitement of two separate lives made one."

"But I'm hungry, " he said, yanking last night's tuna casserole out of the fridge, "And I don't want to eat alone."

"Then my darling," she implored lovingly, "go out to your club or a cafe or a friends home -- ANYWHERE but here, so that we can keep our love alive!"

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rathachauwhites.jpgAlex and I have been dating for almost four months now.  We have shared several meals and conversations together beyond Casa Mono.  As our relationship has settled into a ‘monogamous’ place, we have both expressed fears about reaching a ‘monotonous’ place, – when your boyfriend lives in the same neighborhood, in my case the West side (Chelsea/West Village), every date begins to take place within a twelve block radius – emphasizing the potential for “monotony” (not be confused with monogamy).   And, while the dining options are both vast and enticing, you start to feel like you are placing your relationship under quarantine.  

On a recent Wednesday night, we ventured out.  We took what to us was a somewhat lengthy cab ride to a restaurant on the Lower East Side (Allen and Rivington) and as soon as we stepped out of the cab, there was a breath of relief.  I thought to myself, “We’re not old or boring…we just underestimate taxis.” 

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barbaosummerrolls.jpgIn New York for a brief visit, my wife and I wanted to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary with a special dinner. After a beautiful day walking around the city, we decided to find a restaurant near where we were staying at 70th and Amsterdam. For our anniversary dinner, we wanted a restaurant where we could talk and hold hands. And we wanted a meal prepared by a chef who cared about making interesting food, but we didn't want to spend a fortune.

The New York Times said a new restaurant was opening nearby that sounded interesting, so we called. On the phone the maitre d' described the menu at Bar Bao as a "modern take on Vietnamese food." The restaurant was opening that night and luckily a table was available.

When we arrived we were greeted warmly. That friendliness continued throughout the evening. Our waiter, Matt, accommodating both Michelle's desire to be meat free and my own unrestricted eating, suggested the Vermicelli Noodles and he would bring the pork belly on the side. Rounding out the meal, we decided on the Vegetable Summer Rolls, Sizzling Cuttlefish, Bean Curd Glazed Black Cod, and Asian Eggplant.

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emily_fox.jpgCongratulations, you’re pregnant – and for the first time since you were eight, you can eat whatever you want! Because you’re with child and therefore eating for two! And you are supposed to be a little insane from the hormones! So when you decide you must have half a jar of peanut butter for a snack, you only have to shrug helplessly and say, “I can’t help it – the baby loves peanut butter!” as though the kid were tapping out some kind of Morse Code on the inside of your belly.

juliet_scott_sm.jpg
 Juliet Maeve Scott,
December 28th, 2007
6 lbs 2

Everyone smiles indulgently at you and touches you kind of inappropriately on your belly area and tells you what a blessing the whole thing is and you agree because it is indeed nothing short of a blessing to be able to order rice pudding after lunch with no pangs of guilt whatsoever.

Sure, you can’t have sushi, but there are so many other perks: cookies and pizza and macaroni and cheese (for the calcium, of course) and real soda and cupcakes, glorious cupcakes, which you can even have for breakfast if you want and nobody bats an eyelash. I was thrilled for many reasons to learn I was pregnant, but I cannot deny that chief among them was the Get Out of Jail Free card that I’d been looking for my whole adult life.

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bambin8.jpg At some point during college, probably while I sat drunk moribund glued to a booth in a club birthed by a pomade-slick headed Philadelphian, a forgettable hip-hop jam shivering my sternum, at some point I realized this is not the best arena to showcase whatever it is I have to offer women. Now, a couple of years later and back in Los Angeles, those clubs and plenty of overcrowded, overloud bars in my rear-view mirror, the thesis hasn’t changed.  I have friends1 who, god-bless them, don’t require that (trivial) intermediary step of exchanging coherent words in between seeing a girl and kissing her.  Some sort of atavistic ceremony played out to the new Kanye.  I don’t know.  Maybe I should let more chest hair peek out of my button-down shirts. 

The point is—I know I’ve missed the generational hover-craft—if I’m trying to win over a girl, I’d much rather go on a date.  Like, take her out to dinner.  Talk to her. Impress her with my knowledge of wine.2  Which defense of an increasingly archaic3 form of courtship is probably making you think either a) what a chivalrous young squire or b) kids still watch Woody Allen movies? What you aren’t considering is how many variables have to be weighed when deciding what place of repast will translate into the appropriate setting for a first date.

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