Dearest Rachel –
Since I woke up this morning with little to no memory of last nights dream (which, come to think of it, is more how things used to be when you and I were together nights), I figure I might as well instead relate the events of last evening to you as part of this morning’s letter. It isn’t as if they’re terribly remarkable, but you might find them of some interest and amusement.
So yesterday afternoon’s weekly game session was canceled; Erin, as far as I know, was still in Door County with her parents, and Kevin just sent me an email in the morning telling me it had been a long, difficult week at work, and he needed the rest. That just left Ellen, and I informed her of the situation. She seemed amenable to writing off this week’s session, but then…
Well, you’ll remember what I was saying about the things she and Daniel accomplished while I was away in Iowa last weekend. As much as I want to do something to thank her for all her time and effort (and I’ll point out, that most of today’s letter is about all that), she wanted to make it clear that a fair amount of the work done in the house was done by Daniel, and with very minimal prompting. Part of it may have been in an effort to get her to help him repair the standing fan (which I should mention I have replaced with a similar one from Costco – which even includes a remote control!), that he’s convinced the two of them can restore to working order, much to Jan’s frustration. Even I don’t know what to make of it – I have read somewhere just recently that if an appliance costs more than half its replacement value to fix, it’s not worth it. Of course, Daniel and might contend that, with a metal base and stand, the old fan would cost more to replace if I actually tried to get one that was built like it. As it so happened, there wasn’t anything like that available for sale, and really, what kind of a difference does the material the stand is made out of make?
She informed me that she would be most likely free either Wednesday (which I had to dismiss out of hand, due to it being the night of our weekly Zoom Bible study with Pastor Joel) or Monday evening for Daniel and I to treat her to dinner, and suggested a local Thai restaurant. I agreed, albeit rather reluctantly. You know the story, but I might as well tell it here, because while I generally tend to enjoy Asian cuisine, my introduction to Thai food was… less than pleasant. In fact, it was something akin to being punked.
Part of it may very well have been my own fault. This was part of the Asian business class trip I took when I was a junior at Wesleyan. All of which is to say that my first exposure to Thai food was in Thailand itself.
At the time, I was making an effort to try and go with the local customs. Some things were easier than others – I always had a problem accepting the obsequious bow that the Thai people would make as a greeting; it always struck me as so subservient. And I know I sound like one of those liberal whites who claim to see racism (and how would they know, not being part of the victimized/marginalized group?) in literally everything; but that was how I saw it at the time.
One night, our group was taken to a fancier restaurant, complete with entertainment that including Thai dancers in native dress. Picture the fancy costumes of old Siam, and you’ll just about get it. Anyway, our tour guide pointed out that it was customary to eat all the food presented to you before ever taking a drink of water.
Well. Challenge accepted. I took it upon myself to do exactly that. And for a typical American who had never tasted Thai food, this was a lot more of a challenge than you would think. Or maybe it was exactly the challenge you would expect. Long story short, I succeeded, but my mouth was on fire by the time I was done. It was not pleasant.
It was at this point at the entertainment came out, and our guide dismissed himself. Understandable, since he had seen it time and again with many other groups before. Honestly, I don’t blame him. What I do blame him for what is parting shot to us: “You guys enjoy the show; I’m gonna go to this other place for my meal, as the stuff they serve here is pretty bland.” It was basically calling me a worst for all the pain and suffering I was going through for trying to keep up with the locals. It was a good thing he left; I would’ve punched him.
And that, as you know, is why I don’t like Thai food. I get that what gets served here is Americanized to the point of palatability: it is to Thai food what Taco Bell is to Mexican food. I still would rather not deal with it. However, this was Ellen’s selection, and I felt I needed to bring myself to deal with this. After all, who knows? Maybe it will turn out that Megumi will be into Thai food.
However, Ellen sensed my reluctance, and offered a way out. She actually responded with “well, I was going to suggest Texas de Brazil, but isn’t that a little pricey?” Well, yes it is, but quite honestly, it was worth it to not have to go to a Thai restaurant. Besides, I like me a good Brazilian steakhouse now and again. And in all honesty, we never got a chance to do that as often as I’d have liked, mostly because neither you nor Daniel were that much into steak. Not as opposed to it as I was about Thai food, but there you are.
Ellen indicated that she would be free a little ways after seven. So, 7:30 it was. I went online to make reservations… and found the only time I could get for the next day was nine p.m. That’s a little late in the evening to be gorging oneself on meat.
I let Ellen know. She probably fired back with “next week, then?”
And that’s the story of how I’ve made reservations to thank her for her help last weekend. A lot more involved than you would expect. I imagine I’ll have more detail in another seven and a half days.
Until then, I’ll keep in touch. Love you.
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