You know how some people can be together for a decade+ and still want to swathe themselves in sequins and put on matching UNDERGARMENTS for Valentines Day? Henry and I are not that couple. In fact, I can’t remember the last time Henry wore sequins. :( So I don’t even stress over February 14th anymore. Especially after I baked him a cake one year and painted him an adorable ode to our polarizing feelings on music festivals, and he never does anything for me. NOT BITTER. Not even a little bit.
This year, my Valentine is Chooch, and we’re spending it with Never Shout Never at Mr. Small’s.
But then yesterday, Chooch ended up having his own pre-Valentines play date, so Henry was like, “Well, do you want to go to dinner or something?” SUCH ROMANCE!!
I decided that since this was the best he was going to do in the Valentine department, that we should go to Zenith since it’s my favorite and he never wants to go because he has it in his head that it’s a breeding ground for “pale, peaked* vegan hipsters.”
*(Pee-kid, not peeked—don’t get it twisted!)
His exact words. I have rarely encountered this human subset at Zenith, but full disclosure — I’ve never been there for their Sunday brunch so for all I know, that’s when all the vampire-complected Bon Iver fans come out to play, half-decapitated on their infinity scarves.
It’s almost as though I majored in Stereotyping.
We got there sometime after 5 because we’re nearly at earl-bird status, and I was smug to point out that there were only three other tables of patrons there, and none of them were boasting any offensive air of pretension about them.
One Man, Four Cups.
I’m not a big tea-drinker, but one of the things I always have to do at Zenith is order from their extensive tea menu. It’s part of the process! Kara will tell you. She knows. If I had spent half the time studying textbooks as I do that fucking tea menu…well, I’d still be in the same position I’m in now. Never mind. I forgot that I didn’t get far in life because of a different kind of stupidity. Hahahaha. Oh god.
I was torn between the Earl Grey Lavender and Maple Vanilla, so I asked the waitress for her opinion. She got all stressed out and called over to the proprietor, Elaine, for help.
“I don’t do anything lavender,” Elaine brusquely called over, scrunching up her nose. “So yeah, Maple Vanilla.” Elaine is my homegirl so I went with her choice, and it was a smart one because I’m currently chugging my Sunday morning coffee and crying that there’s no maple.
Elaine brought the pot over to our table. “Now, don’t pour this right away,” she said. “I mean it! I tell people all the time that it’s not ready, and then I go back in the kitchen and I can SEE them pouring it! I’m like, it’s gonna taste like crap!” God, I fucking love her.
This was right around the time that I found out Henry doesn’t put sugar in his iced tea anymore?!
“I stopped doing that over a year ago,” he said, face all twisted and stuffed into a corset of disappointment that this was yet another example of me not caring enough about him to notice.
“Well, did you announce it? Did you put it on Facebook? Because I sure as hell don’t remember you telling me this.”
“I told you,” he sighed. “Even Chooch knows! I literally only drink water and unsweetened tea.”
God, I don’t even know the man I share a bed with. So alarming.
OMG it’s a salad. You’ve never seen a salad before. Henry had to finish mine because I’m really picky with salads.
“Look at those lamps back there,” Henry casually pointed out, and I gave myself whiplash in my attempt to beat all of the invisible people around us in a race to see it first. Up in the corner, there were two majestic holy lamps dangling like carrots, begging me to buy them.
“YOU HAVE TO ASK HOW MUCH THEY ARE!” I cried, to which Henry responded with his patented “get real” smirk. I mean, why else would he point these out to me if he didn’t secretly desire to furnish our home with them!?
“I bet they’re $100 a piece,” he quietly guessed, before stabbing the rest of my salad with his fork.
“Well, you could be wrong!” I frantically said. “I thought that our wheelchair was going to be $500 and it was only $40!”
“Why would you think that wheelchair was FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS?” Henry asked in disbelief. Because I’m an idiot, OK? Is that what you want to hear?! The value of the dollar confuses me.
Meanwhile, on Facebook, Kara was 100% encouraging this purchase. It’s a wonder that Henry hasn’t tried to get me to stop being friends with Kara yet. (Jokes: No man controls my life.)
Our waitress reported back that the lamps were $80 for one, $150 for the pair. Henry thanked her and kept shoveling food in his mouth without giving me a definitive answer and I was losing my mind.
I was annoyed that Henry ordered the Moroccan stew, because that’s what I ordered and I wanted him to get the seitan so we could share. He’s so fucking selfish. He apparently didn’t “feel like seitan and asparagus” on this night. At least he ordered a different kind of vegan cake though, so we could share the chocolate blueberry and strawberry almond. Seriously, there are times when I consider stopping by just for tea and cake. Their actual food is always good, but those cakes. Those goddamn cakes.
Maybe I should have my birthday party there this year.
Meanwhile, guess whose puppy-dog eyes won the war of the majestic holy lamps!? I think once I cried, “IT CAN BE THE FIRST FUCKING VALENTINES DAY PRESENT YOU’VE GIVEN ME IN 10 YEARS,” he was overcome with guilt and decided that $80 was a small price to pay for an evening free of me pouting, slamming doors, and breaking glass objects.
So this guy came out with his ladder and Henry was all upset because he didn’t want the man to have to do this during dinner hours and kept saying, “I’ll just tell him we can come back for it” but I was like, “You shut your face, he looks very happy to be shoving tables out of the way and untangling wires.”
(He kind of didn’t.)
But I needed to leave with that lamp that night. I had already imprinted with it.
“Where the fuck are we even going to put this?” Henry asked, the regret of pointing the lamps out in the first place rising up in his eyes like mercury in a thermometer.
“In our bedroom, duh.” It’ll be the perfect complement to the crucifix collection I’m starting on the wall behind our bed. Sometimes he just doesn’t think.
Here’s Henry acting like a Big Help by doing nothing more than standing with arms akimbo.
“Now you screwed us all up!” Elaine joked, standing by the kitchen door as Henry walked back to the table with one of the lamps. Now they had to find another lamp for that corner. But that’s what happens when everything in your restaurant is for sale, I guess! Anyway, they said it’s from Woolslayer in Bloomfield, whatever that means.
My favorite part of Zenith has always been the post-meal store perusing. This was way less fun with Henry. He wouldn’t try any of the vintage dresses on for me like Kara does. :(
On again, off again.
I don’t think there has ever been a time I visited Zenith and left without taking a picture in this bathroom.
There were other things that I wanted to buy but Henry had that steely look of DON’T EVEN etched all along his weathered face, so I just figured that I’ll wait for the next time I’m there with Kara.
“You should have bought them both,” I said on the way home, knowing as soon as the words came out of my mouth that it was going to stir the pot in a big way.
“You’re never happy!” Henry cried. “You get one, you want two. If you got two, you’d want three!”
He’s not wrong.
I started writing this post last night, but then I was interrupted by an evening of violent vomiting. Henry thinks it was food poisoning since I woke up feeling fine; not food poisoning from Zenith though, because we both ate the same things. “It’s probably whatever you had for lunch,” he suggested with a tinge of accusation in his tone. This is a strong possibility, considering I made my own lunch and god only knows what goes on when I step into a kitchen.
However, what I think actually happened is that I brought something home with that lamp, some type of holy spirit, and it literally was exorcising me last night. Thank you, lamp. I feel less demonic than usual today.