Kate and I went out to dinner last night, despite it being Valentine’s Day, a holiday I don’t hate so much as nearly utterly disdain. If you’re not in a relationship, there’s nothing like having your nose rubbed in singlehood dressed up in pink hearts and dumb candy as promulgated by Hallmark & Co; if you are in a relationship, shouldn’t every day include an R.D.A. of affection for the other person? It seems a crappy marketting ploy, to me, aimed primarily at making men feel guilty for not giving flowers and cunnilingus often enough. Jerks.
Anyhow. We recently found the Hidden River Cafe , which isn’t as much of an accomplishment as it sounds, as it’s literally three doors up from our house. Stopped in on a Saturday night to find the place empty, quiet, and well-lit. We were the only people there just then, and after Cedric turned the jazz back on, we had a relaxed meal, chatted with Sabina (who owns the building, is a freelance photojournalist, and was wearing excellent slippers while we talked) and her mother Sandy (who has her PhD in Nursing and decided to change careers and start the Cafe). Sandy’s passion for what she’s doing is infectious, and she and I compare psychoses and pleasures about being foodies, while she and Kate talk about nursing. We’ve been in there twice, since, once for brunch and once for last night’s dinner.
The place was nearly full when we arrived, most of the tables filled with late-middle-aged couples and quartets. Sandy’s husband played piano intermittently most of the evening, perfect mellow jazz standards: My Funny Valentine, Tea for Two, Satin Doll. He hit the changes perfectly, the piano was just to the shy-side of too loud, so still okay in the bright room. As we were coming in the door, we walked in past a jovial man in his early sixties, who kindly held the door for us. After we sat down, Kate leaned over to mention that he was the former police commissioner for Philadelphia. This led to questions about how she knew this, which led to our discussing our (few, paltry) brushes with the law, as we drank an entire bottle of 2001 Riesling Auslese and had one-of-each down the entire V-Day prix fixe menu – salad/mushroom tarragon soup, lobster raviolis/chicken in saffron cream sauce, chocolate noir framboise cake/sticky toffee pudding. Between the rich food and the empty wine bottle, we stumbled home the 40 feet to our door and collapsed, sated and aglow.
We’re just right for each other, every day, and especially nights like these, and I’ll be damned if I need the Hallmark company to say it for me.