Anniversary Dinner

My sister once told me that I am the most interesting person she’s ever known.

          She told me that when people ask about her siblings and she gives names, ages, and that something about them, that something about me is that I once fell in love with a potato.

          It was years ago now but I remember it well.

          As is tradition, for the twelfth wedding anniversary, my mother and stepfather pretended that they were rich one Saturday evening and took all five of us out for a special dinner.

          My mother, Max (my stepfather, I call him by his first name because my real father is in prison), my sister Yvette who was about eight at the time and loved pictures of horses (not live horses, we’d never seen one of those) and my brother Ajax, who was only one year old at the time and loved smearing the contents of his diaper on things—we all got into Max’s red Mustang GT, brand new that year, and went down to the Met (which is what you call the Metropolitan Grill if you want to sound like a dick).

          They paid for valet parking. We sat down and our waiter brought my parents wine. I had root beer.

          My brother indicated that he would like the rib eye for dinner. Noticing that he was only a year old, the waiter suggested macaroni and cheese. My mother immediately saw to it that this man was fired and our new waiter brought us all the steak we wanted.

          My parents ordered the Chateaubriand, which is a two-hundred-dollar steak. If you’ve never had it, you should. They wheel it to your table on a little golden cart in front of the whole restaurant. Then they make a special little sauce for it right there, cut it for you and they feed it to you. They put each bite in your mouth for you, it’s worth every penny. Everyone should try the Chateaubriand at least once. I’ve had it three times. “Chateaubriand” actually translates to “look at me, I’m better than you.”

          But I digress…

          I was always very concerned with my parents spending, even at thirteen. Since I was the oldest, my mother would ask me, “How will we pay for the phone bill this month?” and cut up her credit cards in front of me and take lots of St. John’s wort and ask me if I thought it was working.

          Anyways that’s why I ordered a New York strip. And this is when I fell in love.

          The waiter put the plate in front of me and I saw the biggest baked potato I’ve ever seen right next to the steak. With green onions and butter, sour cream, salt and pepper. And cheese sauce. Beer cheese sauce. I had no idea what that meant at the time, but the waiter poured it on my potato and I took my first bite.

          There are no words to describe how good it was. Delicious. Delicious works.

          I became so emotional part way through the meal that I stopped making eye contact in order to conceal my tears and blotted my face with the tablecloth between bites.

          I kept thinking, “I love you, potato. I love you.”

          I couldn’t finish, so it was boxed up and the remains of my potato came home with us.

          The next day, around lunch time, my mother asked if I’d like to have my leftovers.

          I immediately burst into tears and said, “Yes.”

          I sobbed and I ate the rest of the potato. It was just mostly brown skin left and flecks of sour cream or cheese sauce lingering on its edges. Still just as tasty.

          I wept. And in between sobs I knew this was the end; I was eating my wife and I would never see her again.

          My therapist is telling me that I’m developing an unhealthy attachment to ‘things.’ But she doesn’t understand. How could she? She didn’t eat the potato. I did.

Beholder Magazine 2020