I met Melissa and our new friend Avrielle for dinner last week at Gitane, which is a Moroccan restaurant I've been hearing a lot about lately. In fact, when making plans with these two ladies, I believe I was the one who suggested Gitane.
I arrived early and sat at the bar, admiring the sultry ambiance and wishing I wore more dangly earrings. I ordered my standard Diet Coke and received a pilsner glass filled with 4 gigantic, diamond-strength ice cubes and three fingers of Diet Coke.
So, you know, that was weird.
Getting more Diet Coke at the bar, by the way, was impossible. Everyone else was kept in martinis and Manhattans, but I just had to stare at glaciers in a glass until my friends came.
The hostess seemed to have us down as a party of two, and according to her sighs and pained looks of confusion, went to great lengths to find us a table for three.
By table for three, I mean of a course a table for two with three place settings. But this was all fine. We didn't care. Our server came over and presented us with menus.
"Welcome to Je-tahn. Have you dined with us before?"
"No." We said. But I added, "I understand we're supposed to order the radishes."
The server looked down with sympathy. "Alright, well it's a little complicated. Have you figured out how to open the menu?"
He said this. He actually said this.
The menu is basically a 8x11 piece of paper folded over once, and then again. So you just unfold it. It's paper. Folded twice. I've covered this terrain before.
Once the origami of the menu had been unraveled, he started to go over the dishes. So, as with any new dining experience, particularly one where we're made to feel like we're eating on the fucking moon, it's so beyond our sheltered experiences, I asked, "Are we supposed to share?"
"Well," He said, his eyes kind and patient, "you can certainly share the first courses and the small plates. But I recommend ordering your own entree."
Melissa didn't look up from her menu, "So basically this is like a regular restaurant?"
"I'll give you some time with the menu. I know it can take a while to digest." He said, going on to explain the proximity of Spain and Morocco and how it's reflected in the menu. Then he offered, "We're on your side. I swear!"
Melissa and Avrielle ordered glasses of wine, and I attempted another Diet Coke.
"The only thing weird about this place is what a big deal they make about being weird."
"I've been to Morocco, motherfucker."
"If he brings a globe to the table and re-explains the Iberian peninsula, we're leaving."
"I've seen Casablanca. I think I can handle this."
In the midst of our venting, two glasses of wine appeared. "Do you need some more time?"
Mind-bendingly enough, we'd managed to order three appetizers to share, two cods and a chicken.
Then time passed, pages fell off the calendar, we chatted innocently until Melissa offered a toast. Except that I had nothing to toast with. "Maybe he went all the way to Morocco for your Diet Coke?"
"It's quite near Spain, you know."
"It's actually called the Iberian peninsula. And I had the same problem at the bar. I'm telling you, it's because I'm not drinking."
When our tour guide finally came back, I politely said, "I ordered a Diet Coke?"
"Oh!" He threw his head back and laughed, "You're being punished for not drinking alcohol!"
Three women stared down this poor man with the heat of a thousand suns.
"I can't drink alcohol." I smiled back. "I'm a recovering alcoholic."
Lo and behold, Diet Coke couldn't come out quickly enough. Our food was fantastic, the ambiance was right up my alley. I'm only sorry I had to drop the rehab card in the middle of our geography lesson.
But you go two years without a drink and see how laid back you are about this shit. Seriously.
Speaking of which, save the date! My second annual soberversary is on November 16th. I'm looking for a place to hold it, so lemme know your brilliant ideas. Gitane? Maybe? No? Maybe not...