I haven’t been out on a date with my wife in so long that I sincerely can’t remember. Years. For several legitimate reasons, my wife doesn’t like me very much. It’s a broken marriage and we live together for the kids, and it’s mostly terrible.
But my mom is here visiting, and it was her stupid idea. “Why don’t you guys go out for dinner and I’ll stay with the kids…” So, for my mom, we did.
My wife suggested that we go to the closest place, in the spirit of “let’s get this over with as quickly as possible and get back home.” I foolishly suggested we look for somewhere else since we’ve been to that place and it’s not very nice. My friend and his family had been here for a visit in August and stayed in a nearby hotel with a restaurant, so I suggested, insisted, in the spirit of “It’s close enough and it’s different and let’s give it a try,” that we go there.
There were no tables available.
So we got back in the car and I looked on Google maps, and said, in the spirit of adventure, let’s try to find this other place. My wife hated the idea, but reluctantly agreed. Then, within two minutes, we were lost and arguing. We got very lost on very dark roads in the middle of nothing. Time warps. Seething silence in the car. Then, out of nowhere, a rabbit ran across the road and I ran right over it. I assume he or she is in rabbit heaven now. He or she probably had kids. Sorry, rabbit. My wife was shouting, now, very emotional about the rabbit and the fact that we were very lost, and why hadn’t we just gone to the place she suggested, etc., etc. Finally, there was a sign for a village called Cheste, which I think means “toilet” in Valenciano.
It’s a small village, and the main road goes right through the center and there’s lots of people out, sitting outside at restaurants, or just in chairs outside their house. We decide to stop and try to find something, someplace to eat. Time warp. Ten or fifteen minutes later, which felt twice as long, we’re still circuling the main street looking for a place to park. Impossible. We argue about potential parking places. And the rabbit. It gets worse.
I’m illegally parked on a sidewalk, insisting that it doesn’t matter. It’s a stupid shit village, everyone parks like an idiot. We walk into the village on opposite sides of the narrow streets. There’s a restaurant, and we go in.
There’s no available table, everything is reserved.
We move on. Wandering aimlessly, wordlessly, through the streets. Another place has no tables available without a reservation. I start to wonder if everyone in Cheste goes out to eat on Saturday night.
The next place, some ten minutes walking later, miraculously has a table. We sit down and order drinks, and when the drinks come we are informed that there is no food. We drink, try to calm down, and continue our search.
We find a place called El Sol, near the church, in the center of town. The young waitress says, “well…everything is booked, but I’ll put out another table. Wait here.” I have a beer. We wait. It becomes clear she is waiting for a car to leave so she can put a table in the street. And that’s what happens. While the tables outside the front of the restaurant are under a roof, we are seated around the corner, on the street, between two parked cars, with traffic passing nonstop. I order another beer.
For twenty minutes or so, things are better. I drink two more beers. We have some patatas bravas. A woman walking her dog stops to pick up her dog’s shit and engages us in conversation about what a great, cute dog she has, all the while holding the dog shit in a napkin in her hand. My wife tells her all about our great, cute dog. I go in the bar to get my own drink, impatient for the waitress.
When I return, my wife is gone. I suspect she’s gone off with her new friend, but she has gone to buy more cigarettes, but won’t give me one because I’m always smoking her cigarettes and she’s sick of it, and tells me to go buy my own. She gets a message from our son asking how to work the oven, he’s trying to cook frozen pizzas. Then my mom calls me with the same question. Just then the waitress comes with our main course, and at that very same moment, lightning flashes and it starts to rain.
We sit there for a couple minutes, trying to know if the rain is going to continue, and helping my son and mom cook frozen pizzas over the phone. The rain gets worse. We’re getting wet, but don’t mind it at first, and my wife lights another cigarette. But then the rain gets much heavier, more thunder and lightning, and we grab our plates and go inside the restaurant.
It’s 48 degrees celsius, minimum, inside the restaurant. And there are no places to sit. And everyone is shouting. We squeeze into a space at the bar, which is completely filled with dirty glasses and dishes. We are holding our plates, the untouched main course, which is also a bit wet from the rain, in our hands. A space is cleared, and we soon discover that the meat is inedible. You can’t chew it, you can’t cut it…you can’t even stick the fork in it…it is, quite seriously, like a piece of rubber. We try a few different pieces for a couple minutes, but it’s impossible. We have to spit out the small, chewed up pieces of rubber meat and leave them on the side of the plate.
Our waitress asks if everything is o.k…ermmmm…no. We show her the half chewed pieces of rubber meat. I demonstrate the hopeless attempts at cutting it. She asks if we want to have it reheated it. I say no. We want to leave as soon as possible, please bring the check. Almost ten minutes later, she does, and it includes 18€ for the inedible meat. So, now I have to have that converstation with the nice young waitress. But she doesn’t come back. I suggest we just walk out without paying. My wife goes outside to smoke a cigarette. Time warp, again. It’s almost midnight. We’ve been out for over three hours. I’ve had about 6 beers, maybe 8, and had a few potatoes and pieces of lettuce for dinner, with too much mayonaisse. And I’m sweating and everyone is shouting. I finally wave down our waitress, hand her 25€ for the beers, wine, bravas and salad and say, “No voy a pagar por el entrecotte,” and quickly turn around and walk out into the rain, worried that she’s going to follow me, but she doesn’t. My wife just glares at me and walks off towards the car, but we can’t find the car. We walk around, getting soaked in the rain, lost in Cheste, looking for the car. My wife insists it has been towed because of where I parked it, but, luckily, we find it, about a block away from the restaurant.
“How was it?” my mom asks when we get home. It could have been worse, I said. We had a better night than the rabbit, for example. I pour a big glass of wine and sit on the sofa, staring out the window, listening to the rain, watching the lightning bolts light up the sky.