A Night at Peter Chang’s

I was covered in poison ivy, giant welts that covered my legs like bubbles. My legs burned, pulsing, on the minute. Everyone who looked at my legs winced. But we had already booked a sitter and my son Henry kept asking, when are you going to go, go, go?

Francis and I sat in our bedroom for a while with the door shut, listening to opera. We looked at the water and shared a beer, one then two. I thought, I just want to stay here. Where it’s cool and no one can see my terrible legs.

When are you going to go, go? Henry asked.

We walked to the restaurant through Scott’s Addition at sunset. There were no sidewalks and only scrubs of grass. My legs were on fire, like a living, breathing thing. But it was a free dinner at Peter Chang’s, the storied Sichuan chef.

We got to the restaurant and there was only one table left. Right next to the hostess station and the bar.

We sat down awkwardly and tried to catch drinks and failed and I thought: we should have stayed at home. We’re spending money we don’t have on a sitter and I’m tired and itchy and everything is a mistake.

But then they started bringing out the food: spicy lotus root with cilantro, steamed buns, cold Szechuan noodles, cumin chicken skewers, shredded duck, smoked salmon in cucumber boats.

We ate and ate, plucking appetizers off platters, licking our fingers.

At the end, we were so happy. We didn’t care that we had a lousy seat. We were out and we were eating amazing food! We were alive!

A beautiful woman in a white dress and a designer bag flitted around the front door. She went out and came back in. I think she was drunk. I didn’t know what she was doing. But she was fascinating to look at, like a young Diane Keaton.

Finally she passed our table. “What a crappy table,” she said. “So sorry for you.”

And we laughed and laughed.

We got home and I made pancakes for the boys who were still up and hungry. We listened to more opera. Everything felt epic and special. We watched a documentary called “Welcome to Leith” on Netflix. And it was so good.

And now it’s all I can think about: Peter Chang’s, Peter Chang’s, Peter Chang’s.

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