February 16, 2004

tamping rod

“I’m going to order desert, just so you know,” Lauren said as if I planned to put up a fight about it. She makes this statement with confidence and without making eye contact, so that my response won’t affect her resolve. As my employer had decided to detain me on February the 14th, we agreed to go out to dinner the day before, California Pizza Kitchen being our destination.

My dad’s father worked at a heavy machinery dealership while my mother’s father worked as the manager for the produce department in a grocery store, so neither of them really went out for dinner all to often and desert, well… desert was not in the cards. So it’s understandable that my parents view getting desert as an extravagance on par with personally embroidered toilet paper. On the other hand Lauren’s family has taken to looking at me as being a little bit “funny” when saying strange things such as “I’m full” when the desert menu comes around.

“Just so you know, I AM going to order desert,” she says, again without eye contact, preferring to keep her eyes on the prize, reading and re-reading the descriptions of the Apple Crisp and the Chocolate Souffle on the menu hung on the window as we wait to be seated. We were already hungry when we left the apartment and the drive over in addition to the half hour wait at the restaurant had us half way between ravenous and cannibalism.

We agree on tortilla soup as an appetizer as waiting for food was not an option; I’m sure that we are entering stage 3 of starvation, our fat reserves completely gone and our bodies beginning to digest our muscles as the only remaining source of energy. Consumed by hunger we down the soup, the complimentary Pita bread, and several refills of Strawberry Lemonade and Arnold Palmer tee, respectively. Our cravings are only sharpened by this tease of a meal, and upon their arrival I begin to barbarically inhale my Shitake Mushroom Pizza with a honey wheat crust while Lauren lay siege on her Fettuccine with shrimp and garlic sauce. About three quarters through our respective meals our will begins to falter. We try to force each other to finish what was too small to take home in a box, “Here, you need to try some of this, it’s amazing.” Gradually, painfully, sloooowly we finish each others meals in an exercise that becomes more and more akin to packing gunpowder into a musket.

Content, I lean back in my chair and enjoy the afterglow of a good meal as Lauren sits hunched over the menu again, her eyes lacking the confidence they once carried. She reads aloud the descriptions of the deserts, after each one asking “Doesn’t that sound gooood,” her eyes pleading, begging me magically remove the last three fork fulls of pasta from her stomach and make room for what she could no longer back down from. “It’s not that big…” she tried to convince herself, referring to the size of the chocolate souffle a la mode, her preference in portion size having reversed in the past hour.

She orders the Chocolate Souffle and makes me eat half.

On the ride home, I just made sure my chair was leaned back. I am uncomfortably full to the point that I can’t get to sleep till two in the morning.

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