I have bad Brokeback Mountain karma. The first time I wanted to see it, it was sold out. The second time, I couldn't find parking at the Grove (aka the outdoor mall). Yes, I realize it is the frantic holiday shopping season, but for the love of cowboys, how hard is it to see one gosh darn movie.
Unable to cope with it all, I decided on the spur of the moment last Wednesday to go to an Indian restaurant. Yes, I was going to eat Indian food and not think about critically acclaimed movies or that awful holiday on the 25th. I was going to eat Indian food and rice and those nice sauces and drink a light golden beer. Yes, yes, yes, Indian food for me.
There's an Indian restaurant next door to Ye Coach and Horses, a red lit true drinking bar on Sunset Blvd. The restaurant and bar share bathrooms and a young hip crowd. When I got there, only two other tables were occupied. Two guy dudes were in the front, and a guy and lady couple were in the back. I settled into a booth between them and promptly ordered a Kingfisher and lamb curry.
The two guy dudes got their cards back and figured out their separate checks (‘Dude, do you like to make your tip an even dollar amount or do you like to make your bill an even dollar amount.'). They left shortly after that.
I was left with an empty restaurant, prompt service, a decent curry, and one of those conversations that I swear I could not make up.
The guy and the lady sat across from each other in the booth next to mine. The guy had his back to me, and the lady sat across from him, so I could see her. She wore a black turtleneck, makeup, and had her hair pulled back.
The prompt service kicked into gear, and food and beer started arriving in front of me. Restaurants are truly the universal miracle of civilization. You go to a place, order food, and you get food. Pay when you're finished. I've been in foreign restaurants where I don't speak the language, have no idea what I ordered, yet end up with a truly spectacular meal. If the world became a giant restaurant, there might just be peace.
Meanwhile, the guy and the lady were finishing a very abundant meal. I figured they were on their second or third date. They were past ‘oh you like that, I like that too' and had moved into epic stories from their past lives. They were past the romantic, impressive, and candle lit and had moved into casual Indian food. After all, it was a Wednesday night.
As my lamb curry arrived, the lady told the epic love story of her life. She knew this guy in college. They were good friends---almost soul mates, but they didn't sleep together because he slept around and was an alcoholic. College ended and they went their separate ways. She got married and then divorced. She kept mentioning that she had been married as if she still wanted that part of her past to be her present. Then, she was in Chicago and heard from him again after eight years. I mean, EIGHT years (insert wide eyes as well). Apparently, he had stopped drinking and his mother encouraged him to contact her. He contacted her just as she was moving to LA. They met up in LA, but didn't want to get anything started because it was weird. Then, he moved to Florida, and they IM everyday. Then, he moved to a Carolina and didn't IM her and she then learned he had moved in with his girlfriend. Can you believe that??? He moved in with his girlfriend and didn't tell her. But it's good between them.
I ate my curry very slowly and hoped the Lady wouldn't get self-conscious. I tried not to look in her direction. It was all about the curry. Yum.
I wished Fergus was with me. He always appreciates people who unknowingly turn private comedy into public melodrama. How could I not hear her? The restaurant was empty. Her voice was echoing off the walls.
The check came for the guy and lady. The guy discretely placed his plastic on it. As the waiter whisked the check away, the lady reached her arm out to stop him.
‘Wait! I have a card too. We'll split it.' She said as she reached into her carry-on-luggage sized handbag and gave the waiter her plastic.
‘Whatever.' I heard the guy say as his shoulders sagged.
Ouch. Ladies, sometimes it's okay to let the guy take the check. Just flash a killer smile and say thank you. Feminism won't die, and the guy will feel just a little more in control of his universe. Besides, it's Indian food, not cause for a second mortgage. Poor guy.
They had food left over, so the waiter brought over two Styrofoam containers for them. The lady even controlled the food division.
‘No, no, you should take that chicken. I ate two pieces and you only ate one. Go on take it.' Poor guy.
The poor guy got up and went off to find a restroom. While he was gone, the lady pulled out her cellphone and held it to her ear. Was she checking messages? I wasn't sure. She wasn't pressing buttons.
The poor guy came back from the bathroom. For the first time, I saw him from the front. He had on a white collared shirt cleaned and ironed and untucked over jeans. Neat but casual. He had a good build and he looked like a younger softer Ewan McGregor. Yum.
The lady told him she was trying to reach her sister and didn't know what to get her for Christmas as she snapped her cell phone shut.
I paid my bill and left the guy and lady in the restaurant. I felt good as I walked toward the car. A good meal can solve all one's problems. Yes, I was on a food high.
Later that night, I told Fergus about the lady and the poor guy in the Indian restaurant. He theorized that maybe it wasn't a date. Maybe they were friends, and the poor guy was the lady's bitch boy. I asked him to explain further.
In this world, there are sensitive guys that women can talk to. They can be either gay or hetero, but they are definitely in the friend category. A lady can pour out all her troubles to a sympathetic male ear who reinforces her reality usually in stunned silence.
Fergus has had the bitch boy dinner and firmly believes that such dinners are his ticket into heaven. I asked him why he never became involved with his dinner companion.
‘Are you kidding? She's nuts.' He said simply as if explaining simple mathematics.
Fergus then made an observation that made my brain go pitter pat.
‘That's kind of sad. There she is in a restaurant eating a great meal with someone who sounds really nice and she's bringing up the past. Why can't she just enjoy her present?'
‘Maybe she wanted to be a heroine in the great romantic drama of her life.'
‘But why? Isn't right now enough? Can't we just enjoy right now?'
‘Sure Fergus, after the holidays.' I said, and he smiled.