“Mmmm, that is good,” I said, after taking the first sip of a grapefruit and basil martini.
I felt the tension in my shoulders let go as the alcohol eased its way into my bloodstream. Too much time spent in front of my computer screen reading hundreds of poems submitted to our latest poetry contest had left my back stiff and my shoulders inching their way up toward my ears.
With a sigh of contentment and wink at my husband I sat up straight and made a conscious effort to look less like a hunchback and more like the type of sophisticated woman I imagined would order such a cocktail before dinner. I even slipped off one shoe and playfully tickled his shin with my toes just like they do in the movies. Deciding to play along, he wiggled his eyebrows in return and leaned in to give me a kiss across the table. That’s one of the things I love about him. He has no problem with discrete public displays of affection. I would have encouraged a second kiss if the hostess hadn’t seated two couples at the table directly to my left. Rather than take a chance of scandalizing them I lifted my menu and began to read. I wonder what goes with grapefruit and basil.
Scanning the list of entrees, I considered and then rejected the lacquered salmon and the filet mignon. The chef’s special of meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes and sautéed green beans was very appealing. Good old fashioned comfort food prepared by skilled chef can be little bit of heaven on earth. Then I thought about the extra time I’d have to spend on the treadmill to burn all the calories in a meal like that and decided to order a dinner salad instead.
My husband ordered spinach ravioli and a bowl of crab bisque. I didn’t feel deprived by the disparity in our orders. I was pretty sure he’d offer me a taste of his and I’d have the pleasure of enjoying a bit of rich food without the guilt of eating an entire portion. Isn’t he great?
When the food arrived I was intimidated by the size of the salad and immediately pushed part of it aside knowing I would be full long before I could clean my plate. I also knew that Italians usually eat salad at the end of a meal and my husband would be more than happy to finish whatever was left.
While we were eating I shifted my gaze from table to table watching the other diners and making up stories about who they were and what brought them together at that time and place. Looking for odd habits and subtle nuances in behavior is a quirk of writers, I think. If not, I’m just an inveterate snoop and eavesdropper trying to justify a bad habit by using writing as a cover.
Everyone was behaving correctly so I didn’t discover anything interesting to include in my next story but I did notice that most of the women had ordered the dinner salad and most of the men had ordered either the meatloaf or the filet mignon. I wasn’t surprised. I see it all the time. When dining out men go for the gusto and women go for the salad. What struck me on this occasion was the ugly little secret hidden in the women’s choice.
This salad was not only huge, it was a salad in name only. For on my plate and that of every other woman who’d ordered it, was an underlying layer of assorted greens and little bits of chopped tomato and cucumber to validate it’s claim to saladhood but … all of that healthy sounding stuff was smothered in generous helpings of sweet potato fries, slices of flank steak and deep fried tobacco onions with a smattering of goat cheese on top.
I don’t know for sure but I suspect that my meal had a lot more calories than that of my husband. It was just too damned tasty to be anything other than a calorie and cholesterol laden feast. Not that there’s anything wrong with that when one is opting for an occasional treat. It’s just that the next time I order an indulgent meal I’m going for the meatloaf and garlic mashed potatoes, treadmill be damned. Care to join me ladies? I’ll even buy the martinis.