Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Forts for all!

I’m a big believer in omens, even though I know I probably shouldn’t be. After all, what are they really but random events translated to reflect one’s hopes or fears? Nonetheless, I pay attention to omens. The problem comes when I can’t decide how one or the other should be translated, or if I should be paying attention at all.

In the land of chain restaurants, Ya-Ya’s was one of the few good ones (I don’t know if it’s a chain or not, but I think it is). Never mind that the name conjures thoughts of a lame sisterhood trying too hard to grasp onto invented Lilith-goddess powers. There was always a problem in the back of my mind with the name, but the good food inspired such great relief I put it to the side. Last year Rachel and I went there for Valentines Day and had a wonderful three course meal. Each course had its own wine, and the whole thing only cost $90 for both of us. I was flabbergasted, and since I’m Mr. Positivity I foolishly expected the same this year.


We called and Valentines Day was booked. That’s cool. Neither of us really wanted to be out on a weeknight anyway, so we made some reservations for the weekend. A nice meal was just what the doctor ordered since I was still in job news limbo, and everything seemed just fine as the hostess took us to our table. Until I saw the chairs, one of which was a folding chair of white persuasion. A white folding chair in a restaurant full of brown leather, in an environment where the word “folding” should be never be said aloud. Don’t tell me there’s no such thing as an omen. Both of us were so initially shocked we simply sat. I recovered quickly as the server came and was appropriately indignant as I asked just how long it was going to take to correct this disgrace. The server just looked confused as she walked off to find a decent seat—another omen I should have paid attention to. It would be one thing if they had squeezed us in on short notice, but we had reservations for Chrissake.

I ordered a Guinness to drown the steam that was steadily building.

The lamb pot pie with the rosemary crust sounded good. When it came out, it looked even better. When Rachel broke through the top, her face told a story exactly the opposite as she took a tentative bite. Without a word, she speared another piece and gave it to me. Oh, HELL. NO.


I tried remaining calm. A small part of me thought it was funny as I wondered just how many silly Wichitans (Wichitanians?) they had successfully passed this shit off on. The server stopped by to see how everything was and Rachel conveyed her dismay about being served mutton. The face of the server told us everything we needed to know--she had no idea what the difference was. I tired making the comment that Taco Bell serves better quality meat in the hopes that some light would dawn, but to no avail. She took the shitty 4th-class meat dish back and Rachel ordered the pork chop. It finally came as I was finishing my own dish, a steak of negligible quality.

Another omen I shouldn’t have ignored.

The pork chop looked great when it came out. It was huge and I had high hopes, especially since the manager (who looked suspiciously 19) had been by our table three different times and was very solicitous. Rachel and I thought that everything would be properly corrected and taken care of on the check. When a good establishment makes a mistake (or multiple mistakes in our case) it’s reasonable to assume that something will be comped on the bill. Rachel took one bite, it was okay. Then she cut a little deeper, only to find another in a long line of travesties for the evening. The chop was raw in the middle. You’ve got to be kidding me. Thanks for trying to give my wife worms.

Time for the bill.

We didn’t get charged for the mutton, but nothing else was comped either. Evidently, they didn’t think that comping even one or two of the cocktails was necessary. I mean, after all, coming to a restaurant to eat our meals separately is something every couple looks forward to. This wasn’t the biggest problem, though. Under the “lamb” pot pie was the word “dislike.” While that was true, it wasn’t the reason. IT WAS FUCKING MUTTON, YOU TWATS! The server still couldn’t understand the difference. At this point I was simply tired and wanted to leave, so I just paid the bill. What a damn waste. I should have gone Jesus vs. The Temple Moneychangers on their ass.

Mostly, I’m pissed at myself for not walking out when I saw that folding chair I don’t care if they’re real or not. From now on, omens will get my full attention.

Touchy-feely just doesn’t seem appropriate this year, so here’s what I propose. It should work regardless of your personal situation. Gather your toys, build a fort in the living room, and don’t come out.

It works for kids, why not us?