dinner, two years ago
in june 2002 i went out with my friend to celebrate her 25th birthday. we've known each other for most of our lives and are dear friends but have taken very different paths through life, she that of the corporate lawyer and i of the librarian. the dinner party consisted of myself and her lawschool and medschool friends. i should say that i absolutely adore my friend. since that night, we've had many conversations about the whole experience and she was also somewhat horrified by the scene. it was, uh, a laugh riot:
the dinner. we ate at Butterfield 8, a new hyper-trendy Chicago restaurant/bar (emphasis on the bar) in what is undoubtedly the tackiest neighborhood in the city. i think we were the only people in the entire place who were not coked up. everyone was freakishly thin, 'beautiful,' wearing more make-up than i had worn in my entire life, and, of course, in High Fashion. they had excruciatingly fake tans and frosted hair. the owner of the place is a dead ringer for Rod Stewart. i hate rod stewart. these people weren't yuppies. they transcended yuppie-dom. so, whatever. i order my $12 martini. we sit down in a booth in the corner of the restaurant, me, thankfully, facing the wall and, therefore, not able to see the restaurant/bar fill up with even more make-up and plastic surgery-laden coke fiend wanna-be-L.A. midwesterners. our waitress approaches the table and, within thirty seconds of opening her mouth, makes it very clear that she was hired not because she has any abilities whatsover but because she looks like a supermodel. my right leg weighs more than her entire body. perhaps she is coked up too? we order more drinks and forty-five minutes later(!) she comes to take our dinner orders. the only vegetarian option they have is spaghetti putanesca, which i despise (and, anyways, it has anchovies in it!), so i end up ordering a "platter of sides" (their selection) and a salad. some thirty minutes later, she brings out salads to the three people who ordered them and, two minutes later, she brings out one entree ("Sorry. the kitchen finished this really fast."). the rest of the entrees come out about thirty minutes later, after the bussers have tried, unsuccesfully, to clear our salads several times, many times mid-bite. to say that my entree was awful is being generous. creamed corn, butter-soaked spinach, a baked potato, potato strings and butter-soaked mushrooms. um. ew. we eat, we get cake, we talk about how difficult it is to maintain curly hair. we talk about the fact that jamie does all of her banking online, except for the checks that she writes to her cleaning lady. we talk about a guy that sarah met on j-date (www.jdate.com --good for hours of entertainment!). we talk about people who are so beautiful and thin and we discuss their weddings. i excuse myself to go to the bathroom. in the bathroom there is a woman whose job is to squirt soap into your hands and then hand you a towel after you've rinsed it off. the woman in the stall next to me is puking. when i go back upstairs and tell my friends, they ask, "Do you think she was drunk or just bulemic?" at this point, two women sit down at the table across from us. one has a very large louis vuitton bag from which she pulls out a SMALL DOG! she places the dog on her lap as if it is the most normal thing in the world. when i point this out to jane and she asks me which table i'm talking about, i kind of nod in the appropriate direction. the women with the dog are, with the exclusion of the woman squirting soap in the bathroom, the only two black women in the restaurant. becky rolls her eyes and says, "i figured it was them." i squirm. the check comes and the total price is divided equally among all of us minus the birthday girl. this is after i, as a budgeting tool, decided to not get any wine. i have to help pay for the $100 bottle anyways. it is $60 a person for the dinner. i have $56 in my wallet, having thought that this should more than cover any dinner expenses. my friend the birthday girl begins whispering frantically at me that she feels horrible that i have to pay for my dinner and can she PLEASE help me and PLEASE let her pay and everyone there makes SO MUCH MORE thank i do, etc. etc. i refuse but feel, suddenly, like a pauper. "I may be poor, but, goddamnit, i still have my pride!" i squirm. i assure her that although i am not yet making a six digit salary (unlike everyone else at the table), i can still afford to pay for my own dinner. we get ready to leave and she insists that i take money from her so i can take a cab home (after all, i have no cash in my wallet at this point). i say fine. i take the cab as far as $20 will take me (i shared it with someone who got out first and was not exactly on the way) and trudge the rest of the way home, trying to figure out why it is i feel like crying.