“It’s just, like, how dare she?”
“Right?” Todd responded.
“The audacity to come to my birthday dinner with him.”
“Totally,” Todd nodded.
“Can you even imagine if I did that to her?”
“I know, crazy,” Todd despondently replied.
“It’s, like, at least ask me if he can come.”
About having enough, Todd put his hands through his hair and took a deep breath before grabbing his glass and topping it off with the second-cheapest Pinot Bay & Basil had to offer. She continued on while he turned his attention to playing with the wine’s cork between his thumb and index finger. Dropping it slowly onto the table from about two inches, he distracted himself trying to bounce it off the table cloth only to perfectly bounce it upward landing end-over-end. When a waiter approached their table with a tray containing two dishes, Todd refolded his napkin in preparation for the duck that was on special for Valentine’s Day.
The waiter put his hand on the table and crouched slightly before saying, “Your food will be out in a just a few moments. Pardon the wait.”
The conversation on the other end of the table continued while Todd began chewing ice out of anxiousness.
“Are we seriously going to spend our entire Valentine’s Day discussing Alex and Tripp?” Todd finally shot back.
Her eyes grew wide as she took her elbows off the table. She reached down to her lap and grabbed her napkin, dropping it onto the table with two fingers.
“Okay. I’m feeling very attacked right now,” she responded, mouth opened. “Are you… are you serious?”
With sweaty palms and an even sweatier brow, Todd immediately regretted his decision to interrupt her venting. “Okay, Okay, I’m sorry,” he began, “That was unfair of me. I just wanted to have a nice evening out with you, just the two of us.”
The five seconds it took her to respond felt like an eternity. He wondered if she was going to stand up and leave, throw her glass of wine in his face, or just sit in silence for the duration of the meal.
“It’s just… never mind.”
Todd looked to her side of the table puzzled as she continued to struggle getting the words out.
“It’s just… you do realize this is the anniversary of our first date, right? Like, it’s been a week leading up to this since my birthday and you haven’t so much as mentioned that we’ve been together for a year.”
“Oh, fuckkkkkkkkkk,” Todd thought to himself. She was right — Todd did not, in fact, realize that it had been a year since their first date. After all, this wasn’t significant to him for any reason other than that he knew it would be significant to her. The cashmere scarf he gave her might have been, instead, a watch. The dinner at the upcoming-yet-modest Bay & Basil would’ve been scheduled at the more upscale Flower & Meat. Hell, he would’ve even gotten an Uber Black Car instead of simply calling a Lyft. But all of those thoughts had to fly out the window, because he had to act fast in order to salvage the night.
“Baby, I didn’t forget!” he reassured her with a huge smile on his face. “After dinner I thought we’d go to Alembic for some night caps or some champagne, but I wanted it to be a surprise.” Alembic was known for their craft cocktails that ranged from $20-$30 depending on the ingredients on the chalkboard that night. Their champagne selection featured nothing after 2004, causing Todd to cross his fingers that she’d be too tired to finish an entire bottle at that point. In an effort to deter her, he asked the waiter for a bottle of prosecco as he served their entrees.
She smiled coyly, feeling stupid about her outburst only to realize Todd had planned out the rest of the night to surprise her. “I’m sorry, Todd,” she comforted him. “I didn’t mean to jump down your throat like that. It’s just, you know how much we mean to me. But one second, can you smile while I take a photo of this dinner in front of you?”
Todd took his fork and leaned down towards his plate with a fake smile on his face praying that the flash wouldn’t go off on her phone. It did.
“Okay, one more,” she told him, with Todd again hoping that the flash would be off for the second photo. The flash went off just before she assured him that the picture was, “Perfect.”
Over the next five minutes while she edited the photo and posted it to Instagram with the caption, “Can’t believe it’s been a year with this guy,” Todd transitioned the conversation to planning a potential couples vacation to Napa with Katie and Finn for the spring. It was the perfect distraction from the beginning of the night, and carried from dinner to dessert to, finally, two espressos before paying the $189 check.
“Will you call an Ubes, Todd?” she asked while checking the likes on her photo, only to edit the caption and add “#bemyvalentine” in an effort to eclipse the 80-like mark with the photo only being up for an hour. But Todd had already called an Uber while paying the check. Sitting perfectly covered in snow at the end of the awning in front of the restaurant, Todd opened the door to let her in.
“Can you put in a location?” the driver asked, only to hear the notification that Todd had already put in Alembic. “Oh, never mind,” he corrected himself.
Arriving with about an hour and a half until last call, Todd checked his watch and remarked that they had plenty of time. Giving a nod to the valet as they walked by after getting out of the Black Car, Todd opened the door revealing an empty bar apart from a couple sitting at the end sipping two old-fashioneds in champagne cups.
Squinting to see who they were, Todd felt her hand grab the back of his left arm and instantly paused to look at her reaction.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” she remarked. .
Image via Shutterstock