Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Pompatus of Love

Dan and I had our 9th wedding anniversary just a few weeks ago!  It's hard to believe that so much time has gone by...and also so little.  9 years, 3 kids, 4.5 moves (I count moving to my parents' house as a half move), 1 deployment--that's a lot of stuff to cram in.  Dan really wanted to celebrate while we were at the beach with my family--our anniversary was the week after our beach trip, but it was mid-week of Dan's first week in his new job, so the options for celebrating were going to be limited.  He talked with my mom to make sure it was okay if we slipped out after the kids were in bed one night for a late dinner, and researched restaurants--he was pretty motivated!  We've been to the same beach in a previous year on my birthday, so we'd done a little get-away once before.  That year, we grabbed lunch and a movie while our kids were napping--we tried to find a nice restaurant that we had read about online, but ended up in some sort of office we wandered until we came upon a hole-in-the-wall sub place called Stu's Surfside.  You know what?  I loved it!  Dan and I had a nice, relaxed lunch and a totally chill atmosphere (there were surfboards on the wall--you can't get any more chill than that).  Dan even got me a t-shirt from the restaurant to commemorate our random fun outing--I still wear it as a sleep and exercise shirt all the time.

Stu's Surfside--I highly recommend!

This year, Dan wanted to go somewhere nice, so he found a restaurant that had good reviews and appeared fancy, and booked the reservation for 8:30pm on our second-to-last night at the beach.  I was excited for our date night, but nervous when he told me the name of the restaurant--Red Fish.  Just so you know, I'm not a seafood girl in any way.  Meaning I don't eat it.  Meaning I usually steer clear of restaurants that specialize in seafood.  Dan assured me that they had more than seafood on the menu, and offered to let me check out the menu online if I wanted to--but I trusted him when he said I could order a burger, and pushed my nervousness down.  I hate nitpicking him when he's trying to do something nice--besides, he knows me better than anyone, so it couldn't be so bad, right?  Just in case, I also researched places to get ice cream afterward...because if I couldn't find anything to eat, I would want some dessert!  I told him that I wanted to make it to The Salty Dog Cafe for their ice cream, but they closed at 10pm, so we would need to keep aware of the time on our fancy date.

We arrived at Red Fish right on time for our reservation, and it really was a beautiful restaurant.  One entire wall in the entry served as a giant wine rack--which is probably super exciting for a lot of people, but since I don't drink, not so exciting for me...but it was pretty to look at.  We opted for an indoor table because the humidity was high outside and I had just the hint of a headache starting--I figured if we enjoyed some air conditioning and I got some good food in me, my head would feel better.  8:30pm is pretty late for dinner for me, so I figured I was just hungry.  We were escorted to our table, and I was immediately aware of the white tablecloths...we don't usually pick places with white tablecloths, because we almost always have the kids with us, and that would be a disaster!  This place was definitely fancy by our standards.  I also noticed that the dining room had a number of empty tables (again, it was a late dinner), but that the hostess placed us at a table directly next to an 8-top in full swing--drinks flowing, loud conversation going.  Not exactly what I had in mind for our romantic anniversary dinner.  Then I saw the menu, and my attempts at being optimistic about the place began to lose footing...  I had been looking forward to a good burger all day, and yes, they did have a burger on their menu just like my dear husband promised--but it was a $28 burger with fois gras, truffles, and a port demi-glace.  Um, I'm not a dumb person, but I wasn't entirely sure what all that stuff was (fancy is not really in my vocabulary), and I wasn't paying $28 to order it plain.  Surely most of the cost was the fancy toppings??  I wanted to make the best of our date, but now my head was really pounding--the cost of the food and those ridiculously loud drunk people at the table next to us were not helping in the slightest.  Not kidding, we learned how many cups of coffee one of their friends drinks every morning (so early, too--how rude to be noisy in the kitchen when everyone is trying to sleep!), and we also got to hear their crude, crass take on the Steubenville rape...they were from Ohio.  One of the guys at the table was either unfortunately named (or horribly nicknamed) FUBAR.  Seriously.  No, I don't know that family personally and have never talked to them directly, but I learned a lot about them from practically sitting in their laps for an hour.  They were cursing, and there were kids in the restaurant--other tables were turning around to stare at them as well, but they were totally oblivious.  No wonder my head was hurting.

We went ahead and ordered calamari for an appetizer (the one seafood item I will eat, oddly), and they brought us the most delicious bread--I'm a huge sucker for restaurant bread baskets, and this one was tremendous.  We had put in our order for our entrees, but I started thinking that perhaps we should just get going--the table next to us showed no signs of stopping (or getting the hint, even when Dan and I loudly interjected our thoughts into their conversation), my head was really hurting, and I didn't feel like eating the $23 chicken entree I ordered instead of my desired burger.  I told Dan I wanted to leave, and I could tell he was pretty crushed--I felt bad, but I was ready to take off.  Dan didn't feel right about cancelling our entree order, so we stayed--I told Dan to go ahead and eat, but I was not up for a heavy meal right then (I was totally full from all that bread).  Dan asked the waiter to just box up our meals (although he did eat some of his chicken--we both ordered the cheapest thing on the menu!), and while trying to subtly explain that the table next to us was making my head hurt, Dan somehow implied that we had to leave because I was massively hungover.  That actually made me laugh--the waiter was like, "Oh, I've so been there--I understand."  Ha!  The manager came by to check on our experience, and said that the offending party would be leaving soon, but we were already prepared to go--nothing could make me stay in my seat longer!  She did offer to move us to a different table, but I was so over the experience--we had wasted an hour at a type of restaurant where I don't think either of us is the most comfortable, with an ambiance (on that particular night) that pretty much sucked, and I wanted to just get out of there and go get ice cream.  The manager gave us two miniature bottles of champagne on our way out, saying that she had planned to order free dessert for us in honor of our anniversary, but couldn't since we were leaving...  Oh well.  I'm sure the place is quite nice any other time--it just wasn't the right place for us that evening.

Dan was apologizing to me all over the place, and I felt guilty--it wasn't his fault at all, but I was so glad to get in the car!  We drove over to the area of the island where The Salty Dog Cafe is, and Dan parked--we had been there once before on a previous beach visit, and in the dark, I wasn't sure we were in the right place...  We walked around all the shops and restaurants, but alas, there was no Salty Dog--we were in the wrong area, with no time to get to the right one before the 10pm closing time.  This was shaping up to be a total Dan-and-Jill comedy of errors.  We were feeling defeated, but I saw some people with ice cream and asked them where they got it--I was determined to salvage this date with ice cream!  We stood in line and paid $14 for two double-scoop cones, and heard a guy playing guitar at a nearby restaurant's outdoor seating area.  He was playing "The Joker" by the Steve Miller Band, and I managed to get my husband to dance with me for the last few lines of the song, while our ice cream cones melted onto our hands.  We played that song at our wedding (I picked the playlist!), so it felt really fitting.  The ice cream was really good (I don't know about $14 good, but it was worth the mood boost for me!), and the guy with the guitar kept playing good song after good song (including some Counting Crows, which is my favorite band--the guy was talented!).  We sat down in these oversized outdoor rocking chairs, ate our ice cream, and held hands while singing along (okay, I was the only one singing!)--it was perfect.  The right vibe for us, definitely--I'm way more of a burger-and-ice-cream girl.  Maybe without me, Dan would be a white tablecloth restaurant kind of guy, but the two of us together have a much better time when the place is more relaxed and we can just have fun.  As a bonus, the guitar player was giving away free cds, so we got a keepsake of the pleasant end of our evening (not quite a Stu's t-shirt, but it will do!).

Dan and me on our 9th anniversary date

We definitely had a memorable evening out, and were laughing about the whole night before we even got back to the house afterward.  I think the best times are the ones that become a good story afterward--even if things don't go as planned.  Oh, and don't think we wasted that super expensive meal from Red Fish--we both ate our chicken for lunch the next day, and it was delicious!  :)  The miniature champagne bottles, however, now reside in our idea when we'll have occasion to drink them, but now it's just kind of a funny reminder.  Bottom line, despite his sometimes-questionable restaurant choices, I'm so glad I married Dan 9 years ago--and I wouldn't have wanted to spend that weird night out with anyone else!

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