Monday, July 12, 2010

All things in moderation (including moderation)

Another weekend in the rearview mirror, and this one had its shares of ups and downs. There was (to fall back on an overworked-almost-to-the-point-of-meaninglessness buzzword) DRAMA. But other than acknowledging its existence, I’m not even going to get into it here. It certainly wasn’t my drama, it was something along the lines of third-hand drama. Although, really, isn’t that pretty much the worst kind? When the drama impinges on you to the extent that you can’t help but be aware of it and affected by it, yet doesn’t belong to you, so that you have absolutely no capacity in the face of ye olde rising sea of troubles to oppose and/or end them? In any case, definitely not worth revisiting in the cold cubicle-fluorescent light of Monday.

What is worth revisiting is the fact that my wife’s birthday was on Sunday, and so on Saturday night we went out for a night on the town, an occurrence which does not happen as often as I suspect it should. The steep drop in carousing was understandable when my wife was pregnant, and then nursing, and then for some time after that it was at least theoretically possible that we could arrange for grandparents to act as overnight babysitters and nothing untoward would happen to our little guy, but it would have involved something very untoward happening to the grandparents who would be subjected to a baby who refused to sleep through the night without squalling madly every couple of hours. Now, though, all of that’s behind us and the little guy sleeps ten hours a night like an angel and a night away from home feels more attainable.

Of course, that attainability hasn’t translated directly to doing so with any great frequency. Every other weekend my wife is working and disinclined to do anything other than rest and recharge at home in between shifts (and in this regard I support her fully and do not blame her in the least) and on the work-free weekends we often find ourselves with enough other things to do during the days that adding on nightlife exploration just seems to not be a big deal. But birthdays only come once a year, after all, so we were determined to make the most of it. In fact, we arguably crammed about three or four date-nights into one 14 hour period.

There are a couple of restaurants in Glover Park, one sushi place and one Indian place, which both seemed like good candidates for my wife’s birthday dinner-for-two because they do their respective cuisines extremely well, and my wife is a big fan of both as well. As the big weekend approached my wife was having trouble deciding between the two, and finally I prevailed upon her to choose both. It would be one thing if we had promised a teenage babysitter that we’d be home by 10:30, but with the grandparents staying the night and a hotel room reserved in the city, dinner could be a somewhat more luxuriant affair than the norm. And when in doubt, I always advocate pushing right through luxuriant and on into decadent. With a little persuading, my wife agreed that a sushi appetizer course, followed by whatever intermezzo activity seemed appropriate, followed by an Indian main course, would be a delicious way to go between the horns of the dilemma.

Japan, you make the world a more magical place.
One of the many, many things I love about my wife is that she doesn’t ever want anyone to feel ill-used. (In general, if everyone felt it was important to be as non-abusive as possible to everyone else, oh, what a world this would be.) And ultimately that was probably the final hurdle in convincing her to adopt a two-restaurant approach to dinner. She wasn’t averse to the idea on aesthetic grounds, incorporating such disparate areas of Asian gastronomy into the same evening. Nor was she concerned that the plan would become a wasteful misadventure wherein the sushi would fill us up and render the Indian half of the meal moot. (We’ve been asked “What’s the occasion?” by the hostess of a sushi bar when picking up a to-go order which the hostess assumed was for a party but was really just for the two of us. We can pack the sashimi away!) The primary objection was simply the notion that going to a restaurant and taking up a table and the server’s time only to order an appetizer and then leave was in some way rude, an ill use of the proprietors and staff of the sushi place. On the one hand, I disagreed with that assessment on pure principle, because opening a place of business to the public means agreeing to meet the needs or expectations of a wide range of clientele. (See also, the following morning, when we went to Starbucks for coffee and the gent ahead of me in line ordered a cup of hot water. Because he had brought his own tea bag. OH YES.) But on another hand, while the plan as it existed in our minds was “sushi for an appetizer, Inidan for the main course” the fact was that to all observers at the sushi restaurant we were there for our entire dinner. We actually ordered something off the restaurant’s appetizer menu, and then three plates of sushi to split. Even amongst corpulent Americans, that qualifies as an everyday meal. We made it a birthday dinner prelude, but combining that with a beer for me and wine for her, there was absolutely nothing suspicious or offensive about it.

(Incidentally I almost always order Kirin Ichiban with sushi but on Saturday night I order an Orion and I may have become an instant convert to Okinawa’s very pleasant contribution to the world of beer.)

Nor did we hold back over the second half of our dinner either, unless you count not ordering an appetizer at the Indian place. Instead, we ordered the samplers of chutney and pickle with papadams, and then two entrees and dal and naan, and it was most satisfactory. One of the excellent pickles was mango, much more tangy than sweet, and for a brief moment I thought I might finally have hit upon a good blogonym for my dear wife in that I could refer to her lovingly as Tangy Mango, but then I remembered that grossly annoying Mango character of Chris Kattan’s from SNL in the 90’s and had to let that one go.

The intervening activity ended up being a bit of luxury shopping at Whole Foods because (and this is one of the things I love about the city) Whole Foods was basically right next to the sushi place and right across the street from the Indian place. And after dinner we made our way to the hotel where we enjoyed the comfort of a fresh king-sized bed, which is one of those little pleasures that just puts a perfect bow on an enjoyable evening (and inevitably makes us wonder if we’ll ever be able to have some contractors increase the size of our master suite at home and make room for a king sized bed that we could take to on a more regular basis).

So yeah, two restaurants (oh, and a bar later on) and some shopping and a hotel stay pretty much met a seasonal quota for fun activities, and all between leaving our house around 6 or so Saturday evening and getting home by 8:30 on Sunday morning. Which is not to say that we won’t be doing anything else until November or so. We just need to remind ourselves that a little excess now and then is perfectly fine, even without a special occasion attached.

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