The restaurant was full even though it was a Monday night. Or almost full. It being Chelsea, there was a Eurotrash section in the back, but the rest of the place was boys, boys, boys. And I guess the old confusion about the difference between Eurotrash and gayboys is true, because somehow they put us in the wrong section.
Are we that obvious?
Next to us, a British couple were mooning over their food, and on the other side a table of three kids of indeterminate orientation sat on the banquette side of the table, all facing the same way.
"They're high," the husband said to me in Swedish, smirking a bit and sucking on his mojito.
Swedish is handy that way, although you can get burned. You never know when that table next to you is actually undercover Swedish. Swedes are everywhere.
So we sat in the Eurotrash section, watched the boys in the rest of the place whooping it up, gossiping and laughing and having a gay old time.
It was in the middle of the main course - chicken in Pipian sauce for me, lamb for the husband - that the husband saw, out of the corner of his eye, a mouse run down the corner of the banquette on the other side of the Brits. The female member of the couple caught my husband's eye, astonished.
"It was a mouse," the husband said.
"Are you sure it wasn't a cockroach?" the woman asked.
"I thought it was a spider," her companion said.
"It was definitely a mouse," the husband said.
When they came to ask us how everything was - the service, as always, is astonishingly good compared to Stockholm service, which is blunt and perfunctory at best - we told the waitress we'd seen a mouse, but discreetly. Within 30 seconds, the hostess was sitting between our two tables, apologizing at length. She went back to her post, we went back to our meal and the mouse reappeared, this time at our end of the banquette. And this time I saw it. It was definitely a mouse.
The hostess came back, with a letter for each couple giving us 40 dollars off the meal or a later one if we wished.
The kids at the banquette, who had not seen the mouse, squirmed. "What is that, Is it because of us?" the cute boy with his arm in a cast asked. "Are we being too loud and obnoxious?"
"No," the husband said. "Are you high?"
They broke out laughing. "How could you tell?" the boy asked, sotto voce and almost flirting.
The husband just gave the boy a look.
The Brits next to us, non-plussed by the mouse, told us to order the Valrhona chocolate cake. "It's delicious," the woman said. "You know he proposed to me three years ago at this very table, this very day."
We congratulated them, and the kids at the banquette congratulated them, and then I suddenly realized that it had been nine years ago to the day that the husband had proposed to me, which I shared with everyone.
Our engagement anniversary and we hadn't even known it.
"Congratulations," the kids sang out again. "Congratulations."
Yes, yes. Congratulations to us.
As we walked out the door, drunk on wine and bloated with food, we stopped by the hostess and told her all was well.
Pshaw, I said. It's not like it was a rat...
The Swedish word for the day is förlovningsdag. It means engagement anniversary (well, and engagement day, too).
- by Francis S.