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I’m making chicken roulade for Megan and I. I hate Tuesdays with the fire of a thousand suns and I’m exhausted from work, but I made this bed and now I’m going to lie in it. I wish I had scheduled this date for a Thursday or Friday night, but I feel bad about being as drunk as I was last weekend when I met her at the bar so I stick to my word.
I text her the morning of to make sure she’s still coming over and an hour later she confirms with a one word answer – “duh.” I love a little sarcasm during the texting phase. She seems fun. I rack my brain for details of the conversation we had at the bar when we first met but they don’t come. I tell myself as I walk to buy myself lunch that I need to stop drinking so much when I go out. I’m not 22 anymore and no one thinks browning out is funny anymore.
Chicken roulade is not a difficult dish to make, but it looks intricate when plated next to a bed of asparagus and a dollop of couscous. I’ve planned out the dinner so that Megan will arrive while I’m still finishing things up.
This is all on purpose, of course – I don’t want her to think that I faked this meal in any way (i.e. ordered out from a nearby restaurant and then thrown the to go boxes in the trash). I’m not cocky enough to think that my cooking is on par with anything from a decent restaurant, but I feel like it’s important to show the person that you’re cooking for that the process was done with care.
Strangely enough, I’m not all that nervous as I finish tying my roulades up with cooking twine. I throw them onto a skillet with a bit of olive oil to cook for a few minutes. The bottle of pinot noir I’ve opened cost me 30 bucks and as I wait for the chicken to brown up I pour myself a glass. Megan arrives as the couscous is finishing up and she asks if I have any whiskey. I tell her I have some brown available – Dewar’s or Maker’s. All she says is that her dad drinks Dewar’s.
“So Maker’s then?” I say a little bit confused.
“Mmm nah I’ll just have a glass of that wine you’re drinking,” Megan says back while she paces around my living room. She’s picking things up and looking at them. Books on my shelf, a candle from Anthropologie, a tennis ball I squeeze sometimes while I’m on the couch watching TV. She asks me if I had fun the other night and I tell her that I don’t remember all that much.
Our conversation keeps stalling out after a few cursory questions and dinner hasn’t even been plated yet. Megan sees a copy of Infinite Jest on my bookshelf and asks if I’ve actually read it. I smile as I take my roulades out of the oven. I cut them up and place a few on each plate with the asparagus and couscous. I tell her the truth.
“Everyone just has that book, ya know?” I set down the two plates on my coffee table and we eat on my couch. I don’t have space in my living room for a dining room table and I’m momentarily crippled by this fact.
“I tried reading it on vacation last summer and got through the first hundred pages before I gave up. The footnotes were just too much to handle.”
“I cut mine in half with a saw from my dad’s garage so I could carry it around with me on the train. I’ve read it twice. Not to brag or anything.”
“Impressive. I should probably put that somewhere more out in the open so people think I’m some sort of intellectual,” I say to her half-joking.
“Whatever,” Megan shrugs. “This is good, though. We should go to bar after this. I really want a whiskey.”
Ten minutes later I throw the dirty dishes in my sink and we’re out the door, on a mission to get a couple glasses of whiskey on a Tuesday night. I guess she doesn’t like Makers Mark or cheap scotch. I’m going to hate myself tomorrow and I come back to the original thought I had when I woke on Tuesday morning -I really should have scheduled this for a Thursday or Friday..