Monday, February 04, 2008

Dining at the Temple of Earthly Delights

More reasons why I love this city….

The dinner had been planned more than two weeks in advance for a Saturday night party of six in one of the swankiest downtown restaurants in Chicago. An upscale Mexican place, which amuses me to no end, but I'll do anything at least once, just to do it. I had arrived in the city bedraggled after another week of being on the road with nothing to wear that I thought would merit a dinner in the three figure range so I stopped a shop to try and find something.

I wanted something in red, bright, beautiful, blazing and fiery. Something nice and not subtle. It was how I was feeling.

"We don't carry red until fall."

"How about silk?"

"We only carry silk around Christmas, but you can check the clearance racks."


After an hour of searching and a quickly approaching dinner deadline I finally gave up on the notion of buying something new and nice to wear, as apparently there was nothing new and nice to be found. So instead I headed back to the dressing room and pulled out the only thing that might save my dinner which was a black velvet cross over top. This was about as shanzzy as I could pull off last minute, so I tossed it on, dabbed a little perfume, fingered my hair and headed for the door and a cab, which is almost as easy to come by in the loop as a cab in Korea.

At the restaurant I realized I was early and had to wait a moment for the party but as I looked up the street I could see a group of four of the most lovely people ever created. We had the bard who minxed down the road in black pants that circled off her legs like a dancer, emphasizing her delicate waist, and bringing the eye squarely to the black silk shirt tucked politely under a leather jacket and hiding her most amazing bosom. Next to her strode the Nordic God, in all his blonde haired flowing splendor, fashionably attired in a black trench and slacks and exuding an air of a Dionysian on a school day. Walking almost hand in hand with all of them was Pink Punk Riot sporting the wonderful dress down casual, in rolled cuff jeans, a striped men's blouse, and a tie. Somehow without the tie it would not have worked so well. The final member of the party and the only one wearing a nice pullover sweater vest was the Instigator, who had happily joined at the last minute. He exuded an air of Faust leaving swirling eddies of thought and mystery in his wake as he moved quietly down the sidewalk. Seeing a group like that walking towards you on the foggy snow covered city streets can have a real affect on a girl's sense of decency, but I managed not to swoon. I figured with this crowd there would be plenty of time for swooning later. And we hadn't even gotten to the food.

After short hellos and shivering in the Chicago night air we went in to find tables, get drinks and wait on the Balance who we expected to arrive at some point in the near future. Drinks, it was established, was the first order of business, and so we ended up with all manner of bright pretty drinks on our tables to go with our food, some margaritas and some colorful smoky beer the name of which I've forgotten. The Pink Punk could tell you the ingredients, the preparation method, and possibly exactly how the alcohol would catalyze in your system to turn your taste buds into divine instruments of orgasmic fluctuation, but I'm an artist and a writer. The best I can do is tell you it was red at the bottom, orange on top, and served in a glass that was ringed with smokey salt that flecked in colors in the red range with a few pieces of translucence and black to offset it. It was a beautiful piece of work and exactly what Pink Punk desired. I'm just happy I was sitting next to her when trying to figure out the menu as otherwise I might have been completely lost.

After a few more minutes of waiting and mostly drinking we saw the Balance walk in, dressed in a suit jacket, blue shirt, no tie, and all his beautiful self already worked up. "Tell me to dress up; I almost came in sweat pants."

The Balance ordered a drink. I forget the exact nature of the drink but that it would be strong.

"I'm sorry, the bar only has beer and tequila." Says the waitress.

"What?" The Balance.

"It's the world's most perfect bar." Says me.

The Balance is exactly what we had all been waiting for, the conversation starter and the one who could make it all work out across a table that was too big for the conversation we were going to have.

And that was what we needed; words to mingle with the sensations on our tongues. I shared appetizers with Pink Punk something served in three glasses, that included squid and which could be put on tortilla chips. For dinner I had a vegetarian Mexican pasty thing that was really quite delicious. There were various dishes had round the table and from the oohs, ahs, moans and sudden trips to change underwear I suspect that all of us were intensely satisfied by the arrangement of flavors on the plates and feelings in our tummies.

We passed samples back and forth to mingle the spices and the sauces so that before the dinner was finished each of us had a taste of the other. When it was time to order coffee our desert menus were refurnished. It was to our great amusement that at least three of us ordered the coffee that claimed to have Indian Work Ethic and African Strength, however I may be getting that confused. But who doesn't want more Indians and Africans in their coffee? There were also some alcohol infused hot chocolates to go around, and a few sweet cakes to be enjoyed. It was an evening with a cacophony of varied experiences, elements, ingredients, thoughts, and desires, culinary or otherwise, mixed, tossed, and served to each of us. The menu was designed for each of our own personal tastes, carefully balanced about. It is just our luck that the group, so designed by the Bard, all shared tastes so well.

It's the sort of thing I start to miss first when I head back to Korea, and just one more reason why I love this city.

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