Chicken Grease

Never, ever, accept a dinner date just because you’re hungry… 

I’ve debated whether or not I should write about this on my blog for the past few weeks. I hope that readers not only find this story incredibly hilarious but also deeply instructive. I’ve slightly changed some information to protect his identity. I hope he never sees this…

I, admittedly, made a terrible decision. I accepted a date just because I was hungry. Homeboy, as I will refer to him in this blog post, was nice enough. He was attractive enough. He seemed pretty chill. But, to be completely honest, I never would have accepted his invitation had he not offered to treat me to dinner at a restaurant that I really wanted to try but was too broke to afford. Listen, I live in one of the most expensive cities in the UK; most of my income goes to rent. Is it so wrong that I just wanted to enjoy a (free) nice evening out?

Homeboy is earning a DPhil. Like me, he studies in the Social Sciences Division, although we’re in different departments. We run into each other fairly frequently in the library and graduate student lounge. Broadly speaking, his dissertation is about the politics of development in Angola. We’ve had conversations about the Angolan Civil War, the corrupt Angolan president (or, more precisely, dictator), my Brazilian Portuguese accent, the 2016 American presidential campaign, and the stressful nature of archival research. None of these conversations, however, was particularly illuminating or insightful. At no time did I sense any interest on his part, nor did I think that I’d indicated any interest on mine. So imagine my surprise when homeboy asked if I was free one Thursday night. He wanted to go to this Indian place I’d heard great things about but hadn’t visited…

My thought process went something like this: “Why is he asking me out? Is he attracted to me? That’s kind of awkward because I’m not really into him. He seems nice enough, though. It’s all about potential, right?  I don’t know him well enough to know whether or not I’m feeling him (?), so this could be a good opportunity to get to know him (?). Also I really want some chicken korma. And I really want samosas. And I’m pretty sure I spent all the money I’d budgeted for eating out this week a week ago when I went to London…” 

So I told homeboy yes.

We met at the restaurant later that week. We had that awkward exchange in which you’re unsure whether or not you should hug the other person or just smile and wave hello. I smiled and waved. He leaned in for a hug. He’s taller than me, but not that much taller, so my neck ran into his shoulder. It was so painful.

After we were seated, a waiter took our drink orders. Homeboy doesn’t drink, and I didn’t want to drink alone, so we both ordered mango lassis. As we sipped the thick yogurt drinks, homeboy offered his thoughts on the U.S. presidential election. In previous discussions, we’d only talked about the ridiculousness that is Donald Trump. We hadn’t talked about any of the candidates in a detailed fashion. I, wrongfully, assumed that he, like me, was left leaning. I thought that, like me, he wouldn’t seriously entertain any of the Republican candidates. I was wrong.  “Jeb Bush,” he starts off,  “really isn’t all that bad if you think about his policies. I think he’s my guy.”

Crickets.

NOPE. Right then and there I knew that the night was going to go downhill. I was far too tired to entertain this conversation. Also, who discusses politics on a first date anyway? Strike one.

The waiter returned at just the right moment and saved me from responding. He described the night’s specials and told us that the portions were pretty large. As such, he recommended that we share one entrée. In retrospect, we never should have done this. Each of us should have ordered our own entrée. But we listened to the waiter…

Homeboy suggested I choose, so I ordered the chicken korma.  For the next 15 minutes, we talked about homeboy’s background and upbringing. Then, the waiter finally returned with our chicken korma. This was what I’d been waiting for. This was the reason I was even on that date. The food smelled wonderful. I was living. I put some rice on my plate and then served myself about 1/4 (yes, the serving size matters) of the chicken korma. Homeboy did the same. The food was delicious. Homeboy asked me a few questions about how I was finding England as we ate. Things were going alright…

And then they weren’t.

Not even 10 minutes after serving himself some of the chicken korma, this dude picked up the main entrée and proceeded to put the other half of the dish onto his plate. Let me repeat that. He picked up the bowl of chicken korma–which was about half full–and just dumped the rest of the food onto his plate. And he did this within 10 minutes of first serving himself. And no, he did not ask me if I wanted more chicken korma before he did it.

In my mind, I’m thinking “Who is this man? Did he just take the rest of the chicken? Homeboy up and took the rest of the chicken. Who does that?!” My irritation must have shown on my face because homeboy stopped eating and asked if something was wrong. Instead of screaming “Are you kidding me? You just took 3/4 of the entire big-ass dish! Of course something is wrong!” I calmly replied, “I was actually looking forward to a second serving of chicken korma.” He looked at me for a moment–unembarrassed I might add–before picking up his plate. “Here, just grab some off of my plate.” Huh? Where they do that at? You expect me to just eat food off of your plate? NO. So I said, “You know what? That’s ok.” Strike two.

I was hella salty. I’m from southern California, so I don’t even say hella. That’s NorCal talk. But that’s just how upset I was. Homeboy had me using language that wasn’t part of my vocabulary. I couldn’t even tell you what we talked about afterward because all I could think was “He ate the rest of the chicken. Who does that without first asking if the other person would like more?” And it’s not like there was a really small portion left. Y’all, the bowl was half full…

By this point, I was ready to leave. It had been an especially disappointing night because I didn’t even get any samosas. I turned down homeboy’s offer for dessert so I could get out of the restaurant and start heading home. Part of me knew that it was irrational to be so upset over chicken. Part of me knew that I was (potentially) overreacting. But I couldn’t even reason with myself…

As we stood to dress ourselves for the cold, dry night air, I noticed that his lips were chapped. To be honest, chapped is a generous word. His lips were ashy. And since homeboy ate all that damn chicken, I was lowkey surprised that the chicken grease didn’t moisturize his lips.

I started to head out of the restaurant, but then homeboy called my name. I turned and noticed that he’d taken off his coat and scarf and laid them across the back of his chair. Why is he taking his jacket off? We’re leaving. “Sarah,” he said, “do you have any vaseline?”

I. Am. Not. Joking.

This dude asked me for vaseline. Petroleum jelly. On a date. Granted, I’d long ago decided that this night was a lost cause, but, who was this dude?  To be fair, his lips were kinda dry, so he needed it…But also, who asks someone for vaseline on a first date?

I told him that I didn’t have any vaseline (true statement–I didn’t), but I offered him some of my hand lotion. “Cool,” he replied. This dude squirted a giant dollop of lotion into his hands and began to rub the cream all over his lips, face, and neck. I kid you not. And I watched him do it. What was happening?  We were standing in the middle of a really nice restaurant, and this dude was rubbing lotion into his skin with gusto. “Do you mind if I put some on my arms?” he asked. I wanted to yell “What planet do you come from? Why are you this person? Why did you not moisturize yourself before you left home?” All I actually said was, “Nope. Go ahead.” And then I watched him rub lotion into his elbows and down his arms. Strike three.  

Eventually he put on his outerwear, and we left the restaurant. We were (luckily) headed in opposite directions, so we parted ways. “We should do this again sometime, ” he said. I replied, “I’ll let you know; work is really about to start picking up for me.” (Sidenote: that was a true statement–my schedule was about to become more hectic).

I was disappointed as I rehashed the evening on my walk home. How did everything go so wrong? Better yet, how was I still hungry?  

And then I remembered that I’d only accepted this date because I was hungry. Maybe the goddesses,  gods, and spirits were chastising me. I  hadn’t been feeling this dude at all, and I’d only said yes because I was excited at the prospect of a free meal…

Was the evening  worth it? Of course it wasn’t worth it. I should have skipped the night out and waited until I could afford to try that place on my own with friends. It wasn’t fair of me to accept homeboy’s invitation when I wasn’t into him. Or maybe it was. Who knows?

All I know is that I watched an ashy Jeb Bush supporter stuff his face with food.

Did I learn something? I sure did: Never, ever, accept a dinner date just because you’re hungry. But, if you must, make sure you get your half of the chicken korma… 

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