(Start with "Monday" if you can. Being that Valentine's Day is the topic this week, it is customary to eat one piece of chocolate with each daily post. And "a piece" according to the Webster's dictionary is defined as: One Reese's peanut butter cup, one Hershey's kiss or one five pound box of anything that comes in a heart-shaped box. How can you go wrong?) So, what were we talking about? Oh right. The humongous importance of celebrating Valentine's month for infertile couples. Infertility, to me, is a crowbar. And if you let it, it will wedge itself between you and your partner. Think of the two of you as your backside and infertility as a relentless thong. (On second thought...Maybe you'd better not.)So yesterday I dug deep into my past and told the heart-breaking story of one shambles of a Valentine's Day involving a restaurant manager/owner with slicked back hair and leather pants and an intimate liaison between my elbow and that of another woman. I must confess. That wasn't the only year our plans fell short...There was another incident a year later at another Italian restaurant in fact.
I called up this restaurant two weeks before Valentine's Day to make reservations for the special day. We'd been there several times before and thought the food was pretty good.
So, here we arrive, with eggplant parmigiana on the mind and we're handed a new, hot off the presses, one page menu that read like this: "Prosciutto something something we don't eat, with something something else we don't want, plus vegetable choice of cabbage or nothing."
We called over the server: "We came here for the eggplant parmigiana. Where's it at?" She explained that this was a set-price menu for Valentine's Day. Okay, so this was an Italian restaurant and there's nothing on this three choice menu with sauce.
This was a quaint restaurant where, if you didn't find the conversation at your table interesting, not to worry- one of the adjacent tables was bound to have something worth listening to. And so they did...
As my husband and I are scoping out the room, waiting for other Valentiners to be rolling their eyes and huffing in disdain upon perusing the menu so we can be among the first to jump onto the mob-mentality bandwagon, we can't help notice that our neighbors at table six are offered the grown-up menu: The one we usually get. And there they go rattling off their orders: Garlic knots, minestrone soup, eggplant parmigiana....
So I summon over the server, who, since I summoned her over with a different finger than is typically socially appropriate, summoned over the manager.
The manager stated that we had made reservations for Valentine's Day and what we got was the Valentine's Day menu. But the people who had no reservations could order whatever they wanted. (Yeah, I know. Imagine if you had to hear it in person.)
Well, we didn't want any of the entrees on the lush three entree menu and how is cabbage the "vegetable of the day?" It's unfinished cole slaw; tasteless at best, a room clearer at worst. So I repeated my mantra: "We came here for the eggplant parmigiana. Where's it at?"
The manager went on and on about the chef's wife being pregnant and they were down one cook so (to paraphrase for time's sake) the day before, they basically pulled this short menu out of their collective asses because they couldn't handle the number of reservations they'd made. Okay, so I quickly filed that whole rigmarole into my "W" file for "Who gives a ----?" and stuck with what I knew: "We came here for the eggplant parmigiana. Where's it at?"
Then the manager--brace yourself--gave us the regular menu saying: "I know it's hard making ends meet nowadays." Implying, I think that we couldn't afford the set-price menu and that's why we wanted the regular menu. She wasn't even being snotty. I think she really thought she was being empathetic. She even touched my hand when she said it. I wanted to say: "This isn't about money you dope. It's about lousy business and mostly, above all, it's about the undeniable power of eggplant parmigiana!"
So my husband and I took twenty minutes scrutinizing the menu. We read everything from "Restaurant hours" to the warning about undercooked meat...Then we ordered the eggplant parmigiana.
And my husband and I left the restaurant hand in hand. And for every Valentine's Day since I've met him...the good, the bad, and the ugly... that's the only part that ever really matters to me. And that brings us once again back to the reality of why we're here...the ol' infertility thing.
You enter into it hand in hand and. together, go through mild annoyances, big nightmares, huge challenges. The trick is: No matter what happens while you're in that dark tunnel, you've got to make sure you're hand in hand when you come out the other side. Which you will. We all do eventually.
Listen I gotta go. It's my birthday, so I gotta go. It's the one day a year I can get away with such a lame line.
I'll talk with ya again on Monday.