“Please reconsider. This is kind of a big deal,” pleaded Ryan.
I sighed, and said, “I have all these leftovers.”
“Fuck the leftovers. This is a world-renowned chef cooking for about a dozen people, and I have two tickets. You are going.”
Ryan insisted, basically commanded my attendance with him to the restaurant, featuring the new, underground culinary hotshot. I reluctantly pulled myself from the couch and began to get ready. I poured another drink, sipped the brown fluid, and looked for a shirt.
Once on the road, Ryan blared guitar rock and gleamed with joy. He yelled over the music at me.
“I’m glad you are coming. I didn’t want to have to take Phil.”
“How long have you two been roommates now?” I asked, just as loud.
Ryan’s smile melted and he immediately turned off the music.
“It just sort of happened. I can’t really explain it. Once turned to twice and twice to us banging it out almost every night. But lately, we haven’t been connecting. That’s why I didn’t want him to go. Plus, he doesn’t like soul food.”
“Wait, what?” I asked, confused at what I just heard.
“You asked how long I’ve been romantic with Phil, right?”
“No. I asked how long you two have roomed together.”
“Look, I think we’re getting close now,” Ryan said, as the guitar rock blared once again, louder than ever.
We arrived at a small boutique restaurant on the outskirts of town. It was seemingly closed, with very little light visible from the outside. I observed about 15 or so people in line as we parked.
As we walked to get in line, I turned and addressed Ryan.
“Man, about what you told me earlier. You know I don’t pass judgment on anyone, usually. But, I just can’t gloss over this one thing”
I paused slightly, huffed out a breath, and looked at the ground before continuing.
“I mean…who doesn’t like soul food? Come the fuck on.”
We waited in line with neither of us speaking much. Finally, approximately 15 minutes later, the door opened, and we were ushered into the main hall. It was very colorful, yet extremely elegant. As soon as we were seated, our first course arrived almost instantly. The service was outstanding and a true testament to that industry.
Each course they brought, and each bite I took, had flavors I never knew existed until that moment. Everything they sat in front of us was devoured without hesitation. Between courses, we each took turns trying to describe the flavor orgasms that took place in our mouths.
I think that it was between the 3rd and the 4th course, when someone at the table yelled out.
“That’s her in the takeout window!”
Everyone leaned or twisted their necks to see her. I thought I got a glimpse of the back of her head, but couldn’t be sure that it was actually her.
I forget what course it was, but when we had the oyster and oxtail bisque, there was a piece of oyster shell in mine. I wrapped it in a napkin and put it in my pocket as a memento.
Dessert was like nothing I’d ever experienced. A cornucopia of flavors, textures, and temperatures entered my mouth and left me in a state of heightened blood sugar bliss, with many unanswered questions. All in all, the entire presentation made a typically benign eating experience a truly unforgettable happening.
When people got up and began to leave, the chef herself made a brief appearance. She came through the kitchen saloon doors on a pair of crutches with her foot in a cast or something. That didn’t stop her from bowing, as we all clapped and cheered at the extreme rare sighting of her.
This left the entire room in a frenzied state long after her departure. Everyone stood and participated in their new found comradery, as we slowly filed out into the street.
As Ryan and I walked to the car, I thanked him for offering to take me. I couldn’t have imagined not going at that point. Another group of people could be heard, with one on the phone telling details of the night.
“You should have come, bro! It was fucking fantastic! She puts her foot in everything she cooks!”
I froze in my tracks. Of course, I’ve heard the figure of speech, meaning someone did a tremendous job cooking. However, that made red flags and whistles go off in my brain. All I could see in my head was her with that bandaged foot, condescendingly bowing to people who had just consumed pieces of her.
I laughed at myself out loud, realizing that those thoughts were completely absurd. I told myself that it must have been all of the wine that I drank, or perhaps, just my imagination running wild.
Ryan dropped me off and headed back out. All I wanted to do was lay my head on my pillow and sleep. My belly was full of great food and fine wine. At that moment, I finally allowed myself the ability to feel happiness without judgement. It felt good not to worry about outcomes before events take place. A sense of freedom took hold of me and allowed me to shed my superficial concepts of society, if only for a brief moment.
As I finished getting undressed, I remembered the oyster shell. I had a perfect place in mind to display it. I found my pants and retrieved the napkin. I unwrapped it to discover that it wasn’t an oyster shell after all. It was a goddamned toenail.
Fuck! She really did put her foot in it.
Months later, she was arrested for serving herself as a commodity. I’m not exactly sure of the charge, but you get the gist. She was indeed putting pieces of herself into the food. When she was arrested, her entire leg and a few fingers were missing.
Who knows how far she would have gone if she wasn’t caught? Would there be a new figure of speech eventually?