Note from the editor: Having finished the Malaysia posts, I’d like to now go and fill in the bits in between. This post should directly follow my Halloween post, and after a few days I think I’ll use to magic of the Internet to put it there. More catching-up posts to come, including a Taiwanese Thanksgiving. Stay tuned.
After our late night playing the Flintstones at the Indian Beer House, Colin woke me up at 10:30 with a “We have to leave in 45 minutes.” Ugh.
Paul, who had taken us out to Lulu’s, was expecting us for lunch at a swanky Japanese restaurant in his neck of the woods. His wife, Tina, was there again, and their 18-year-old son made the party five.
It may have been the slight headache, but everything seemed to be going a bit too fast. They had procured us English menus and were pointing at all the different platters of raw beef I could choose from. Stomach turning, I explained my diet, and Paul and Tina chose both a seafood platter and a chicken platter for me. The waiter arrived, and I selected my salad, soup, sorbet, dessert, and drink after a quick skimming of the options.
I would have been so happy to just have my fruit and passion-fruit yogurt salad for the whole meal, but then a seafood tomato soup appeared, and then of course the platters. Across from me, Colin’s eyes widen at the pillow-sized plate of thinly sliced slabs of beef. My seafood platter had all manner of things I could not identify, and the chicken on my plate looked suspiciously like pork.
We go to this fancy restaurant, and then we’ve got to cook our food ourselves? The empty pit between Colin and me was replaced with hot coals and a grill, and Paul and Tina showed us the ropes. “Cook that meat last; it’s greasier.” “You have to turn the corn this way [cob-side down] or it’ll explode like popcorn. Very dangerous.” “That’s not cooked enough.”
“Do you need a fork?” Paul offered me helpfully. “Oh no, I’m fine, thanks.” I must have looked horribly awkward.
In between courses and bites of food, Paul engaged Colin in snatches of conversation. Happily left to myself, I concentrated on eating a shrimp with chopsticks. Never have I tried so hard to eat something I don’t particularly care for.
While we waited for dessert (the best and only panna cotta I’ve ever had), the conversation turned to Paul and Tina’s son, a second-year university student studying chemistry. Colin asked him something in Chinese, and he responded in English, then sheepishly asked if he should be responding in Chinese.
Colin looked like he needed a wheelchair to get out of there, stuffed to the gills with more beef than he’s had in… ever, perhaps. I was certainly full, but my fare of fish and chicken left me better off than Colin, though still a bit nauseated.
But there was little time for that! In but a few hours, we were scheduled to meet Jeffery’s brother Roger for dinner. Yes, Colin did that thing that girls with too many suitors on a Friday night do: date stack.
The drizzly weather drove us underground to a MRT Metro Mall, where countless Taiwanese shoe store stall attendants drove me away with a “沒有大的”—“we don’t have anything larger.” Frustrated, I rejoined Colin, who had started his homework in a quieter hallway. How strange we must have looked dressed up and doing homework in the mall on a weekend. Oh, and the foreign thing.
Roger picked us up outside the MRT station and drove us to his apartment building (yeah, the one he owns with his brothers). From there we walked (I can’t think of a time when a walk was more necessary than then), first to an electronics store, then to get pizza, and then to another electronics store.
Pizza? Yeah, pizza, which I’d been craving just the day before. Roger took us to Café Grazie, a mid-range Italian restaurant that was pricey mostly for its novelty. Four cheese pizza, veggie pizza, smoked salmon appetizers, and a bottle of California cabernet. There was even room for dessert (always), and my crème brulee was light and delicious.
After the second electronics store, which was more like an electronics super mall, and for which I wore a practiced smile of interest in whatever is in front of me, we caught a cab to Ximen, where all the Taiwanese high schoolers go to hang out. Roger thought he was introducing us to the area, although we’d been there twice before, but he wasn’t intending to just leave us there, because I was shuffled into the MRT station after just one pass through the area. He took us into the station and made sure we knew which train to catch before resurfacing to catch himself a cab home, and I’m not sure how he thought we’d been getting for the nearly three months previous.
Despite the unnecessary mothering, Roger is the easiest of Colin’s contacts to spend time with. Lulls in conversation didn’t feel as awkward, but that may have been the food coma setting in.
Lesson of the day: Don’t date stack. It will make you bloated.