A real date, not one of those nights where we order takeout and watch television shows we DVR-ed in 2013, and call it “dinner and a movie.” The plan was to head into the city, walk around a bit, and meet some friends for dinner at a trendy new tapas place called Piccata (Yelp said it had the “best duck confit meatballs south of Houston Street” so it must be good). We got my 15-year-old cousin Alexa to babysit for our two kids, which we were a bit nervous about, considering both our toddler and baby can best be described as “high maintenance.” But Alexa was eager to watch the “cutest babies on Earth” (her words, not mine), and didn’t seem to mind watching Disney Jr. for hours while having endless tea parties. Speaking of which, she had a party to get to afterwards (probably not of the ‘tea’ variety), so if we got home by 11pm, that would be amazing. Since we were about to take the city by storm, that seemed unlikely.
While on the 45-minute subway journey, I felt my phone buzz. I never got reception on trains, so I was initially excited. Until I checked my phone: 10 texts from Alexa.
“The baby’s crying. LOL.” Alexa, like most teenagers, was full of mixed messages and misused emoticons.
“She won’t stop crying. Ha what should I do?”
“She is screaming so loud she woke up your other daughter.”
“My head hurts. ROFL. What time are you coming home?”
“This was a terrible idea, hon,” my husband sighed. “We should just go home.”
“You really want to go home to a shrieking baby?”
We decided to stay in the city. I called Alexa and talked her into pushing the baby around the living room in a stroller while singing Broadway show tunes. Like most couples venturing out after a long hiatus, we were disgustingly early for dinner, so we tried to find a bar nearby. I wanted to Google “fun bars where cool people hang out” but my husband said that a cool person going to a fun bar would never need to use a search engine. Unsurprisingly, we ended up at the bar next to the subway stop.
Ahead of us, there was a short line of twenty-somethings waiting to get into the bar. You could tell they were young because they traveled en mass, were nervously hunting around for their IDs, and wore outfits I wouldn’t ever let my daughters out of the house in.
When we reached the door, we received our first slap in the face- the bouncer waved us in with nary a glance at our proffered IDs. It’s a sad day when no one wants to see your ID except the CVS cashier verifying your credit card signature.
As we made our way toward the jam-packed bar, we were intercepted by a hostess.
“Do you guys want to sit at a table?”
“Nah,” I said, “We’ll just grab drinks at the bar.” Although the bar was encircled by what appeared to be an entire fraternity downing car bombs.
“Wouldn’t you prefer a quieter section?” Oh boy, did I ever! We allowed the hostess to lead us to the back of the bar and I happily plopped down at a table. In a chair with a back. As far as I was concerned, that was good livin’. My husband eyed the lively front bar and sighed the sigh of a 40 year old father of two.
A waiter came by and asked what type of water we wanted: still or sparking. My husband and I paused, but only because we wanted to order drinks, not a meal. The waiter chuckled. “Don’t worry, folks, the water’s free.” We laughed awkwardly with him. Clearly that guy thought we were so old and cheap that we’d rather stick our heads under the bathroom tap than shell out for agua. He eyed me as if I was seconds away from pouring the contents of the breadbasket into my purse. We drank our awful watered-down drinks fast and ran out of the bar (good riddance, since the music was so loud I could feel the bass thumping in the back of my throat).
Now all we needed to do was find Piccata, the restaurant where we were meeting my friends for dinner.
“The address says 434 Bowery. I think we’re on the wrong side of the street,” I observed.
We both whipped out our phones and opened up a map of the area. Because we were super-cool, and not touristy at all, we proceeded to walk with our phones in front of our faces, past a deserted warehouse and a fun-looking place called “Store for Rent,” until we found 434 Bowery, which was not a hip restaurant, but a homeless shelter. “Should I ask inside if they know where Piccata is?” I asked, quickly slipping my phone back in my bag.
“Um, let’s just try the other direction.”
Sure enough, Piccata was located in the abandoned warehouse. You could tell it was hip and trendy because there was no name or number on the building, and because shirtless skateboarders were congregated in front.
The trouble with tapas restaurants is that all the portions are so small that you wildly overcompensate and order 20 dishes. After a few glasses of sangria, you are no longer aware that you are spending $25 for a plate of three duck confit meatballs split amongst seven people (it is always impossible to divide the food evenly and one person always ends up stuck licking confit off the plate).
At this rate, my husband and I realized that we would run out of cash fast. My husband lovingly volunteered to dash out to a nearby ATM to restock.
Five minutes passed. I got a text from Alexa:
“Where do you keep your cleaning supplies? Just curious…Haha.”
10 minutes passed.
I divided an asparagus spear into little pieces and circulated the plate.
15 minutes. Did my husband forget which abandoned warehouse we were dining in? Suddenly he slid back into his chair.
“We’re all set. Got the money.” He nibbled on a goat cheese crostini the size of a fingernail.
“Thanks, hon. You were gone a while. Everything okay?”
“Yesssss.” He got quiet. “…I may have stopped for pizza.”
“WHAT?!!! You left dinner to go eat?!” Mostly I was just pissed he didn’t bring me a slice. To make up for it, he let me eat the rest of his crostini. My phone pinged. Alexa.
“You don’t need to come home. The baby puked on the couch, but I covered it with a blanket. LOL. She sure is loud. What a cutie. You almost done?”
It was time to make our exit. We hightailed it out of Piccata and made it home before 10:30pm. I tucked in the baby, who had fallen asleep five minutes before our return, while my husband dropped Alexa off at a party that was first starting at 11pm (“Drive slowly, I don’t want to be the first one there,” she said).
And then I made myself a giant sandwich.