Beloved received a rather hefty bonus from his employer. He knew it was coming, although he was unsure of what the amount would be. He started making mental lists of what he planned to do with the money. The last chunk of cash that came our way was spent on my Wii, so I told him to get or do whatever he wanted.
He schemed and read and planned. When the bonus arrived he narrowed down his choices and decided on several tools that's he's been needing since we moved into the little green house on the corner. He also announced that he was taking me out to dinner.
Now, I'm a simple girl. I like to get dressed up like any girl, but basically I'm a cheap date. Or maybe I'm just frugal. I don't know. All I know is that I've never felt that a person had to spend a lot of money to have a good time.
I told Beloved that the money was his and he didn't need to take me out. He disagreed. I told him we could go down the street to our favorite Mexican place and I'd be perfectly happy. Again, he disagreed. He spent the better half of one evening reading restaurant reviews before making his selection. Reservations were made for Saturday night, downtown Portland.
I hate Portland. I hate the traffic and the parking and the weirdos, but what's a girl to do when her guy announces he's taking her out on the town? She gets all gussied up, dusts off her heels, and wears perfume, that's what!
We didn't have much trouble finding parking and walked only a couple of blocks to the fancy restaurant. The doorman opened the door for us and bid us a good evening.
Once we were seated and our menus opened, the reality of the situation washed over us.
Fifty dollar steaks
A bottle of wine for several hundred dollars
I looked at Beloved. He looked at me. I suggested we have a drink and an appetizer and move on. He smirked that as long as we were there we might as well stay. I looked around at the other diners and noted that they looked like regular folk. In fact, one dude was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Others had brought their children...their children(!) to this fancy pants joint.
We settled on our meal, our server was so kind, I'm sure she could read the sticker shock on both our faces. I ordered a pomegranate martini, a rare treat. We both ordered the steak and shrimp. I joked to Beloved that the steak would be the size of my fist (which is fine since that's a serving size anyway). My asparagus and palm heart salad was amazing while Beloved's seafood gumbo was dreamy.
Our main course arrived and as predicted the steak was tiny...but so amazing. I have never had a steak that melted like butter in my mouth. We ate slow and savored each bite.
Throughout our dinner we kept laughing about the cost. Beloved pointed out that when it comes right down to it, our meal was still only meat and potatoes. I looked around the room and noted that each time a meal was served, regardless of the size of the table, that there was a waiter to serve each dish (five diners - five waiters). Empty dishes were quickly and quietly whisked away and water glasses were never drained below half full.
A well groomed man appeared at out table and asked how our meal was. When Beloved replied that it was very good, the manager intoned, "As it always should be," before he nodded and moved on. We looked at each other and blinked.
Holy cow are we out of our league or what?
I felt rather guilty about the extravagance of it all.
We paid our tab and walked out into the dampness of the evening. I thought about the people in that fancy restaurant. I replayed the conversations I overheard. I considered the life that most of those people live.
And I realized that there is a huge gap between the haves and the have nots. I noted that for some, money is taken for granted and that there may have been folks in that restaurant who dine there regularly. I thought about the children I'd seen devouring fifty dollar steaks with string potatoes (really? they were french fries folks!). I recalled the jewelry of the woman who sat next to me.
Beloved and I agreed that, while the meal was wonderful and we've got a great story to share, that type of dining isn't for us. We discussed how the money we spent on that meal could have been spread around and used to help others.
Our evening out was an adventure, that is for certain, but I hope we never lose sight of the fact that we are simple folk with simple desires.
And considering we are blue collar people, I don't think we'll have to worry about it any time soon!