Playing Doctor

Initial Visit?

Tuesday, January 31


Stockholm and I go to a nearby restaurant that has half-price wine on Monday nights. She defers the wine choice to me, I order the Murrieta's Well White Meritage 2003. It’s sweeter than the 1998 bottle I was thinking of and it occurs to me that it was the Vendimia that Murrieta's Well did so, well, well.

‘It’s nice,’ she says, being a good sport. ‘I’m sure it will go fine with the food.’

The menu is curious. I don’t say anything, not wanting to appear a snob, but I smirk when she points out what’s so weird about the menu.

‘The ingredients are everything you’d hope for: deep six arugula, flown-in Wahoo, black-bean sauce, morel mushrooms, red-curry coulis, Maytag blue cheese,’ she says. ‘But, it's like they were put together by a computer. On this menu, they’re a single dish.’

‘You might get away with it on Veal,’ I say, laughing, ‘but how would you even taste the Wahoo?’

‘It’s like using Belvedere to make a Bloody Mary,’ she says, almost apologetically.

I’m staring into the menu, letting her take the lead in this dissection, trying not to mock their creamy French onion soup.

I order the Vichyssoise. She orders the chicken and chèvre pizza.

She tells me she can’t stop listening to a Newcastle band called Maxïmo Park.

‘I haven’t heard of them,’ I say.

‘I’ll burn you a sample,’ she offers.

‘What else are you listening to?’

‘Well,’ she says, grimicing, ‘I’ve heard some of the Liz Phair album that’s coming out soon. It’s even worse than last year’s overproduced piece of crap.’

I have to adjust the napkin in my lap hearing her talk like this.

‘I think the overproduction was part of the point,’ I say.

She leans over the table and whispers ‘bullshit.’

‘I’ll be the first to admit that I’d be her battered husband,’ I say, smiling. ‘She could heap abuse on me and I’d make every excuse for her in the world. But this is my take on the album: she declares herself in the opening verse. When she says “I burn letters that I write to make you love me” the letters are songs and the “you” is her audience. She’s setting the album up as a metaphor: Pretending it’s about her approach to relationships, she’s wrestling with who she is and who she wants to be.’

‘I never thought about it like that,’ she says, nodding. Then she stops, leans forward and, while laughing, hisses, ‘bullshit. It’s a sellout album.’

‘It’s not a sellout if nobody buys it.’ I say, pouring her more wine. ‘More Meritage, cutie?’

‘Are you intentionally quoting Juliana Hatfield?’ she asks, laughing.

‘Did Hatfield sing about Meritage?’ I ask, blankly.

She laughs.

‘If you keep talking dirty to me,’ I say, ‘I will mount you on this table.’

She laughs as the waiter places our food on the table.

We begin eating. My soup is decent.

‘There’s something strange about this pizza,’ she says.

I place my soup in front of her and eat a piece of her pizza.

‘The crust,’ I say. ‘It’s Boboli.’

I explain Boboli to her.

‘I guess,’ I say, ‘we should be grateful that at least the vichyssoise was cold.’


Blogger ~Ainsley~ writes:

Hmm...interesting take on the Liz Phair album. I liked it when it came out but whenever I listened to it and sung along to HWC I'd think, "I really shouldn't tell anyone about this."


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