The $28 Salad

17 Dec

While I was in grad school there were many restaurant follies and the following tale is no exception. I have pondered these incidences and have come up with reasonable explanations for most of them. This particular one just boils down to karma. I got what I deserved.

I had met this guy at a good friend’s wedding. He, as they usually do, came with at least one mildly positive recommendation (“He’s very tall with quite large feet”) from someone I didn’t know who was lucky enough to draw a seat directly adjacent to me and my plus zero. This +0 is unfortunately not a rare occasion in my life. Bringing a date to a wedding can be a semi-rigorous commitment. Sometimes you end up the babysitter (“I swear everyone was doing shots of tequila while you were taking bridal party pictures.”). Sometimes you end up the entertainer (“But I don’t know any of these people”), and sometimes you end up the chaperone (“Is that your date with his shirt off standing on the groom’s family’s table?”). In addition to the responsibility of a date for better or for worse there is the unfortunate rising costs and militant structure of the magnificent entity that is the stylish “to die for wedding” limits the likelihood that you will even have the option of date-age or even any free will associated with that  day/weekend. To quote a friend that recently got married, “How long have you been dating? 6 months? Look I am not going to pay for some guy to come and eat that I have never met.” Most of us have experienced this phenomenon in one way or another due to the rise of Bridezilla television. “It is my day and therefore you will wear canary yellow hoop skirts, puce eyeshadow, and ringlets, lots and lots of ringlets.” Maybe I will understand if I ever morph into the mythical creature that is “The Bride”.  Although I can’t imagine ever exclaiming “$100,000 for a few hours and a bunch of food I don’t have time to eat, sign me up,” if Justin Bieber can sell toothbrushes that sing, there isn’t much these days that is outside the realm of possibility.

Oddly enough, even though I was in my mid-20s at that time  and so were the bride and groom, the two of us were the only single people. I am from the south, so it makes a little more sense. At the end of the night this gentleman jumped in my cab bow tie and all (Note to any

readers that are male or give male fashion advice: If you are not wearing a tux, suffering from a particularly cruel Bridezilla attack, 80 years old or older, or in a barber shop quartet and you are wearing a bow tie you are downgrading any potential hotness you may possess by at least 300%). The cab ride was likely disappointing to him. He attempted to make a bow tie-type slobber kiss move and got a mouth full of hair that I had to wash immediately upon entering my hotel room due to the copious amounts of saliva he left me as a parting gift. At least he paid for the cab. I left somewhat relieved that I had escaped basically unscathed and may have even directly benefitted from the spit shower due to saliva’s multitude of nutrients and acid fighting ability.

Much to my dismay and despite his failed attempt at slobberfest 2006, he procured my digits from the Bride and groom when they returned from their honeymoon.  I was hesitant to go secondary to my lack of attraction to him when I had imbibed several glasses of champagne (if they are not attractive A. at a wedding when even Where’s Waldo might look kind of sexy or B. after multiple glasses of quickly swallowed bubbly… Warning bells that sound like a Tornado Alert or worse should be screaming.) combined with the unexpected super unappealing bath. As it turned out, he knew my schedule better than I did because he had discussed it at length with the groom, a classmate of mine. When he initially called I thought maybe I was wrong at the wedding and I should give him a chance, plus he was suggesting a pretty great date. Shouldn’t all people get a second chance? My intuition screams, “Negative Ghostrider!” Every friend I have that wants me to join the world of serious coupledom says “Of course.” Some of these misguided individuals even believe that every guy deserves a turn in the sack, this is after all the 21st century right?. So our first post wedding date we went to a nice place which was admittedly the final reason that I accepted. The date was bland. Vanilla to use a common description (although I really enjoy Vanilla from a gustatory perspective so I am not sure that this is fair to this magical taste). At the end of the date I was spineless at best, “Oh I had a good time (at the time omitting the word “really” was my code for boredom) but I am so busy for the next several months with school (playing the grad school card was usually my ace in the hole).” His response, “I am available whenever. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, I am game.” Arrggggghhhh!

So what did I do? I wish I could say I manned up and told him that I was not a worthy investment because I felt nothing and was just honest. I didn’t do that. I would guess most people out there do the same thing even though when it happens to us it is the worst feeling in the world. How many times have I just wished someone would just say what they mean and mean what they say?? “I don’t like you in

that way” surely wouldn’t hurt so bad if  all of us practiced this never before tried idea of honesty.  However, I should leave this imaginary land of sense and sensibility with open communication in relationships, stop talking nonsense, and continue with the story. The quick and dirty: I got talked into another date.

Now I had a choice. I could be honest on the second date or I could do anything and everything to get him to tell me that he didn’t think it was working out with me. The 13 year old girl that still occasionally hangs in the depths of my soul reared her ugly head and picked the latter. The first “end the attraction” tactic was maneuvering so I could choose the date location. So I got to pick because I was “busy”, and had to of course “study” so I could continue my purely selfless goal of saving the world.  My choice: A grocery store with a salad bar and limited fluorescent-lit seating.

We arrive at the store and it turns out that he thought I was joking, a valid idea. Who goes on a date in a grocery store? Point me. I smiled, acting as the gracious hostess, directed him to the salad bar, pointing out the sneeze guard and the dressings exclaiming, “I have an idea! Let’s go Dutch!”

I then proceeded to race through the bar serve myself very little food, sprint through the line, pay for my own and find us a table for four in the very center of the seating. To my credit, I did wait for him to start eating (if eating a few edamame doesn’t count, after all he was taking a quite a long time).  Eventually he appeared sans nourishment, explaining he had forgotten his credit card and he only had a 20 dollar bill. Since my salad had only cost $4 I was somewhat confused. I followed him back to the register with my wallet to see what the issue was and alas

his salad cost $28 (at 7 dollars a pound). Me: “You got a 28 dollar salad? Can you even lift it?” He: “Yea I don’t get it I only got a little bit of lettuce.”  Me: “The fact that it weighs 4 pounds emphatically argues against that.” He: “What is emphatically?”

I pay for the salad making sure I don’t use any more large vocabulary words in yet another caper of  a Walletless boy. Point him. After we are finally seated he takes one bite of the most expensive salad in the history of grocery stores that are not named “Whole Foods” and says, “Wow! I really don’t like salads.” Picks up his tray and dumps the whole thing in the garbage. 1000 points him.

The Player:  “28 dollar salad” guy.

Take home message:  Eating in a grocery store is about as unromantic as you can muster on the fly (unless there is a dirt bike race during the day time (stay tuned for more on that adventure). Use this mood killer wisely when you are too weak to refuse a date. Best case scenario you don’t even get to this point and you actually find your spine, stick to your guns, and very politely tell a guy how you really feel in a gracious unmalicious way.


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