“If only men back then knew how much easier things were women made their own decisions,” Mike wrote in an email as we went back and forth about the dinner challenge. He labored over this for over a week, checking Yelp reviews, debating khakis vs. jeans and generally fretting himself into a mess. “Can’t you give me a hint?” he demanded on more than one occasion.
Nope. I want to be smart by Arlene’s standards, and she says that the man makes the decisions.
Mike is my oldest guy friend and one of my closest friends, even if he did kick off the evening by telling me my new haircut was “Very Paul Dano-esq.” (more on this tomorrow). He makes me laugh, he knows what to say when I’m sad about my writing and tricks me into thinking he’s listening when I talk about Walton Goggins.
He didn’t tell me where we were going, and so I got sort of worked up myself. I bought a new sweater, got a new haircut (more on this tomorrow) and wore my Betsey Johnson booties. Mike said he was wearing jeans, so I wore my black skinny jeans. Even in jeans, I wanted to look date-worthy.
Mike chose Boudreaux ‘n’ Thibodeaux’s, a Cajun place I’ve never eaten at before but had heard it was good. He ordered hush puppies, sweet potato fries and jambalya for us to split, which erased the points he lost by making fun of my haircut. He also complimented me on my new sweater, which is nice, because it’s brand new.
I’ve never had Cajun food, because I’m scared of the spicyness. The hush puppies were good, a little dry, and the sweet potato fries were great. But the jambalya was amazing. The spices blossomed on the tongue rather than burned it off. It was the ultimate in comfort food, and I was glad I had leftovers to take home and have later.
It’s a small joint, mostly take-out, but there was another group having a series of very random conversations, including yelling out RECTANGLES! at one point.
Now Mike is one of my dearest friends, but he had a little trouble grasping the concept of this project. He’s one of those people who is always right in his opinion, but doesn’t take his own advice to heart and couldn’t quite see why I didn’t take his compliment about my haircut as such. “Paul Dano is awesome!” was his defense, which is fair, except that women generally don’t like to have dude haircuts.
In another instance, I mentioned that I was done with Kevin Smith movies, because Kevin Smith is a pop culture junkie idiot loudmouth, and he told me to “get over it” and see Clerks 2, the way you’d tell a child to “get over” not like asparagus.
This from a guy who won’t see movies with Julia Roberts in them–not even Closer with Clive Owen and Natalie Portman, both who he really likes–because Julia Roberts beat out another actress he liked for an Oscar. Bear in mind she didn’t beat out his mother or his cousin, just another actress.
But if you tell him to “get over it,” well, it’s different, of course, because Mike is always right in everything he does. But part of him being one of my best friends is loving him in spite of his faults because he loves me in spite of all mine.
So when I told him about some of the projects, he had advice for how to do it better or why I shouldn’t do it at all. This project is a way for me to explore not only the world around me, but myself. Do I get more done when I get up early? Do people treat me better when I smile? If I stop swearing, do I have more fun with words? But for him, that impeded on my individuality, and he couldn’t understand why I would do any of this and not just say “screw you, I’m ordering my own dinner.” Because I wouldn’t have ever tried Jambalya, that’s why!
It ended with me yelling WHY CAN’T YOU JUST SUPPORT ME AND NOT CRITICIZE EVERYTHING I DO?!?!, which, under normal circumstances, is a pretty bad way to end a date. He just sort of stared, and then I apologized for yelling, and the evening went on as usual.
As for a date, well, Arlene would probably not approve of me yelling. But I had a good time, and I hope Mike did too. I’m two for two on great food. Nice job Mike. Rectangles.