Friday, January 30, 2009

Silver Diner

I will not go into the tedious logistics of how I managed to get myself roped into a blind date on the same evening that I flew into the DC area last week. It was both a favor to a friend and a means to an end. But I will let the story speak for itself:

It is not that I necessarily have anything against the selection of The Silver Diner as the venue of choice for meeting, greeting and eating. While I have never actually eaten at this establishment, I reluctantly tacked it on the list of 4 possible places in the area to meet for a meal. Among the other possible venues were two privately-owned American grills with menus that caught my eye and the Cheesecake Factory chain, which is generic enough to never fail. Generic American cuisine is far from the top of my personal list of choices, but, let's face it folks, this date was never about me in the first place...

Underscoring the list of choices were two matters of red-flag importance: First, he lives in Maryland and was admittedly not familiar with the Tyson's Corner area, so my 4 selections involved easily-accessible places from the highway. Despite the fact that he has lived in the area for over a decade (and maps are readily available?) he claimed to "never leave home without a GPS in hand". Second, when I suggested a cheap and tasty Vietnamese place close to the highway, he revealed that he does not eat spicy or "exotic" foods due to an irritable bowel issue, so it had to be "real American food or nothing at all". (Holy shit, I thought to myself. All...pun... intended.)

On both counts (as one might imagine) a few red flags entered my veritable line of vision. On the matter of the GPS (and no doubt his making a substantial issue of it), I realized that I am by comparison a self-reliant sort of traveler. I take real pleasure in finding my own way, and only occassionally use a map. Out of necessity, I will just memorize the directions I need and work from memory. To this end, I truly think that anyone who relies on a GPS beyond the tracking of Osama Bin Laden in the mountains of Afghanistan is a somewhat of a self-proclaimed idiot. Following suit, the matter of the bowel issue was definitely too much information far too soon, but not entirely something I could blame on common sense, and I certainly cannot punish the guy for lacking a photographic memory on this one. So I rightly accommodated his food issues by supplying him with a list of places that could serve his needs. Yet, what surprised me the most is that after the small mountain of time he spent in pursuing me through our mutual friend, after the countless (and admittedly highly effusive) emails and phone calls, and ultimately getting me to agree to this date in the first place...he...chose...(drum roll please)...

The Silver Diner?

Eyebrows raised, I reluctantly agreed. With the map of restaurant locations in my mind, I knew that the location of the Silver Diner was the nearest to the highway and, thus, the easiest to locate. Not that this earned him any points in my mind. After all, we're talking about Northern Virginia here. Navigating on his trusty GPS from the suburbs of Baltimore is not rocket science. It is not like locating a friend of a friend in the middle of the Greek islands with no phone, no email and just a rough sketch (in transliterated Greek) on the back of a menu from two years before. It is sure as hell not using the sun and one's own senses to get out of a forrest of landmines at the Syrian border. Even though it seemed to me that he was looking for the path of least resistance (location-wise) by choosing this particular venue, the act of doing so rang flat for me. Very flat. The choice was deliberate, yes, but also deliberately generic. And, yes, I will say it--it was cheap. Extremely cheap. Not only unambitious, it was uninspired.

But it gets better...

After the meal, the question was asked about how I liked the Silver Diner? Tongue in cheek, I truthfully replied that this was actually my first adventure into the Silver Diner, like, ever. (Keeping some sense of perspective, it was honestly not so bad at all. It was certainly far from the worst place I have ever eaten, but again, this is not about me.) Obviously looking for some sort of affimation for his decision making capacity, he stated that he chose the Silver Diner because of its extensive menu. He added that he liked the Silver Diner because it is so laid back. Then, without pausing for air, he said:

"I figured that there is a time and a place for getting dressed up for a really nice dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. But since we're just getting to know each other, I wanted to save that sort of date for when we do something really special--like celebrate an anniversary or something..."

Then, out of nowhere, he started singing. Across the aisle from us, a private juke box began to play. He began singing and snapping his fingers to the music, and said, "See what a fun, laid back guy I am? I just like to keep it happy and simple, you know?"

Much to my personal amazement, I stayed upright in my chair. I did not fall over or slide down to the floor in an attempt to flee as quickly as possible. I even politely refrained from laughing at him, at this, at everything. Yes, I stoically refrained from bolting out of there, inducing myself to vomit on the sidewalk surrounding the Silver Diner, and getting myself to my favorite Vietnamese place down the street for something spicy, decent and actually healthy to eat...

While the endless possibilities of what I could do rolled through my mind, I smiled and endured this extreme amount of insipid stupidity, knowing that in 15 more minutes, I would never have to see this guy again. Ever. In fact, what got me through the moment was a rolling recollection of memories from the number of awesome dates and amazing meals more recently shared with my guy friend in New England. From haute, local cuisine to our fast and furious evenings of "slumming it" in places that only serve drinks in plastic cups, there was never a hang up over our pretentiousness, or lack there of.

Perhaps not ironically, the conversation never managed to get around to the part where I bring up the fact that my father worked as a chef for years. Accordingly, it never crossed my lips that my brother is also a product of one of the world's leading culinary schools, or that my own cooking will knock your boy boxers off. I left my culinary snobbery on the highest shelf, and left aside the fact that I consider eating at the Cheesecake Factory an average, if not an extremely sub par way to spend an evening out when the mood strikes. Moreover, I did not reply with the thought that I don't prefer to celebrate relationship anniversaries outside of marriage in the first place. Instead, I watched him prattle on about the first and only time he left the continental United States for a recent work-related adventure in Asia. Not only did he bring all of his own food to eat (because you apparently can't trust Asian food, you know...um...where is that Vietnamese place, again?), but he also specially purchased a webcam to keep in touch with his parents for the whole two weeks he would be on the road, and he reportedly missed his cat "a whole lot" while he was away...

Of course, I haven't mentioned that the guy doesn't drink alcohol but claims to "always have fun", even though he admits to hating to go out. Nor has he ever voted in a single election, local or otherwise because he doesn't "believe in it", but could not explain why he pays taxes. I might have overlooked the fact that it took him 6 years to graduate from college, or even that he received his Master's degree from an on-line college. On the voting issue, I found some difficulty digesting his argument that he did not want to vote for Barack Obama in the first place because "black people were voting for him just because he's black, and he's not even really black anyway." But the matter of the GPS was what nearly made me want to call the whole thing off...

And don't get me started on the Silver Diner.

Just don't.

Namaste

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I stoically refrained from bolting out of there, inducing myself to vomit on the sidewalk surrounding the Silver Diner, and getting myself to my favorite Vietnamese place down the street for something spicy, decent and actually healthy to eat..."

Hilarious.

I-66 said...

Hell on a hotplate, that seems awful. And really? Silver Diner was the place to be when I was in high school. Now? Not so much. Extensive menu? Really?

Where was your emergency escape plan? The text or the phone call to get you the crap out of there?

SeanG said...

Hilarious! Welcome to my world of dating in DC.

Namaste said...

I-66: The escape plan was to beat the dumb out of him with his GPS. Kidding. Yes, Silver Diner was so high school. Point certainly well taken.

SeanG: Is this REALLY dating in DC? I guess I have been out of the loop for a while. Although come to think of it, my last adventure in the Beltway area was even more tedious.

Michael said...

Lord, I will marry you myself (sight unseen) if that is what it takes to keep you from more experiences like this. I love Vietnamese cooking, I vote faithfully (Obama!), Virginia is not a foreign country to Montgomery County, I've seen a lot of the world, and my cat sleeps fine without me. So, on behalf of D.C. men, I sincerely urge you to ... try again! With another man. An adult man.

--Michael

hannahjustbreathe said...

Wow... Newly back on the dating scene myself here in Boston, this story both makes me laugh (ohhh, the kooks we come across in dating!) and cringe (is this what I have to look forward to?). Regardless, awesome story.

Kim Ayres said...

I am soooooo glad I'm happily married :)

freckledk said...

I prefer to celebrate all of my special occasions at a little hole in the wall called the Olive Garden.

He would have lost me at first mention of the IBS. Yikes! Holy shit is right!

SeanG said...

I can't say this attitude encompasses the entire dating scene in DC, but it is a major navigational hazard; people who think like your would be Knight of the Silver Diner.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading you since you first started writing way back in the DC blogger heyday. It was stuff like this that got me hooked on reading you. Glad to see that your dry wit is still there. This is the Namaste that we know and love! F-ing hilarious!

Namaste said...

Michael--Is that a marriage proposal? Ha. Yes, I like adult men. A lot. I just wish all of them weren't already happily married. But don't worry I have no plans to lock up shop just because of one bad case of the IBS at Silver Diner...

Anonymous said...

wow. worst. date. ever. glad it inspired humor and you shared that with us so we too might firstly, gasp, then laugh out loud, for what else can be an appropriate response?

:o)

zed

VJ said...

Just lovely as usual N. And they know how to pick you too. More grist for the fodder.

But you're quite wrong on the GPS issue of course. No sense being too snobbish about it, it's a booming business, and they're now standard on many cars and hand held devices. How folks use it, (not for new& novel situations, but to just survive the drive to work & dinner perhaps) says the most about their ability to navigate life.

I swore off them as I had one of those early 'uncorrected' models that was off a wee bit by several 100's of yards. Took the Pacific coast highway up from SF one time and was shown somehow strangely boating constantly & significantly off shore in the Pacific as I did so! None too accurate back in those days. They had the CEP 'error' built into the commercial (non military models) and so were by turns slightly less than a mile off in some instances. Not all that helpful in the city. But they corrected all that, seemingly, but only many years later by convention & agreement with the milsat owners. It's the annoyance factor that usually gets me on them. But it's a very successful business for all sorts of other businesses & companies with all kinds of new strange & useful applications. Well not quite as strange as your date, but you get the picture.

And of course I'm with Kim here too. We typically go out to a dinner near work as this is the only place nearby where you can sit down & eat well prepared adult food reasonably comfortably & cheaply, especially after 9-10PM or so. It's also probably one of the last places in Atlanta that does not have to worry about an immigration raid on their chefs & 'cooks'. (Although many of their staff are immigrants). Old time dinner cooking & classic fast 'short order' stuff from way back when. Good & dependable & very tasty too. And of course then & now if I started singing at the table the wife would have stabbed at me with a fork soon enough. Repeatedly if necessary. Sensible woman that she is & remains. But an adventure for the ages no doubt! (Did you at least catch the inauguration?!) Thanks for the post! Cheers & Good Luck, 'VJ'

Brave Astronaut said...

I'm with Kim, I am so glad not to be in this boat. I just can't believe that guys think the Silver Diner is going to impress someone of your caliber (or any caliber for that matter). Was the line at the McDonald's Drive-Thru too long?

And I won't get into the fact that you were here and didn't call. [sniffle].

Somedays I am ashamed to be a man.