Max asked me out to dinner, casually dropping the name of one of the more exclusive restaurants in town. He definitely had good taste, picking the newest five-star brasserie rather than one of those cold aspic joints where the Beef Wellington isn't going to scare grandpa. On date night I put on my best clothes, nearly shaking from excitement, and I felt the first twinge of emotional attachment when I saw his big black Maserati at the curb.
He seemed a bit reserved in the car, which further drew me in. I inhaled the scent of leather, listened to the rich sound of the hidden speakers and subwoofers that surrounded me, and adjusted the support of my lumbar. It seemed like seconds later we were sitting at the best table in the restaurant. The tuxedoed waiter was saying something, but between the crowd din and my nervousness it was like I had clouds in my head. He never offered me a menu, instead reciting a list of items that only occasionally sounded like food.
And then all eyes turned toward me.
"It all sounds so good," I said to Max, hoping for intervention. "Doesn't it?"
He nodded. "There's a four-month wait for reservations."
Well, that didn't help, I thought. I turned to the waiter: "What do you recommend?"
Max shot me a glance like I'd just shot his dog. "I'm sure everything is good," he snapped.
I inhaled deep. I fixed my eyes on the waiter so I'd miss Max's reaction and said, "Could you recite the specials just one more time?"
I heard a sigh emanate from my companion before the waiter complied. I struggled to parse the words into recognizable chunks, but it was fruitless. Finally I braced myself for the leap into the freezing pool. "I'd like the Saute Deal," I declared.
Max went white, and the waiter hid his face behind his hands. I knew my order would be an incomprehensible mess: I just didn't know how incomprehensible. Max's chair scraped the ground as his whole body rebelled at my idiocy, and it took forever for the waiter to regain his composure. "Do you mean the Sautéed Eel?" he finally said.
I wanted to sink into the ground as a soft breeze sent Max's woodsy cologne past me. What a total moron I was. Max evidently agreed, as he finished the conversation for me. "Yes," he said, "that'll be fine. Roman is a new friend of mine, and he's not used to fine dining. I thought I would broaden his horizons by bringing him to your establishment."
"Very good," said the waiter. "And what can I get for you?"
Max thought for a second as I said goodbye to his strong jaw, his shellacked hair, his Maserati. "I'd like the Braised Bee Fart," he declared.