Friday, May 25, 2007

What to do when…

…you’re alone, starved and have accidentally walked into an Expensive Italian Restaurant.

Imagine yourself on Valentine’s Day alone, but blissfully oblivious of your status. You’re happy to be single even on this day, of all days. You’re ready to spend the day wandering aimlessly in a huge mall, left only to your own thoughts. You’re only visiting so you don’t really know your way around. That’s the whole point, though, because you want to get lost. You have all the time in the world.

You meander your way through alien corridors, unaware of time passing. You pause once in a while to browse in a bookstore or admire a beaded necklace in a window. Sometimes, you encounter googly-eyed high school couples making their way to their favorite perch. You giggle in spite of yourself. You’ve been in high school too. Now, you marvel at how one-hour lunches always seemed to be enough for quality socialization. It’s what you’re thinking as you watch these teenage pairs slightly hurry to their romantic destinations. Somehow, you all know that they’re still going to make it to their first afternoon class.

Then you realize your own hunger. You’d been walking for hours and you hadn’t had a bite in a while. An hour ago, you cleverly decided to keep an eye out for a good place to eat. There were the usual mundane choices like the convenient fast food restaurant, where you can never get your money’s worth (because that’s the price of convenience) or the food court, where you would be at risk of getting caught under a smelly man’s armpit. You quickly veto these options. Today you’re a tourist – you might as well live it up. You suddenly feel a craving for Italian food. The thought of pasta and fresh garlic bread sends gastronomic tremors down your spine. You remember a glittering sign somewhere near the interior design stores. It was an Italian Restaurant. You retrace your steps and arrive at the door.

By the entrance, you notice a small podium you didn’t see the first time you passed. A concierge appears, just in time to assist a woman with a tight-assed smile. You take a closer look at the restaurant. Outside there are flower boxes resting on artfully welded metal stands, meant to imitate those on a Tuscan sidewalk. Inside, there are sepia photographs supposed to take you out of the mall and into a Roman holiday. The waiters and waitresses are dressed elegantly in black and white, their uniforms probably taking after a classic Armani look. The customers already seated are Rich Folk. You can tell by their lazy drawl and half-lidded eyes. You are actually looking at an Expensive Italian Restaurant, but your hunger and low blood sugar have slowed your mental processes. You don't realize the significance of your observations and you walk in.

The doorman and servers all look at you in puzzlement, but smoothly recover. They show you in and ask for how many. You tell them “for one,” and they find you a seat. It’s at a cramped little table squeezed in next to a flower box divider, mercilessly in full view of the other diners. Your server introduces herself and hands you a menu. You cannot refuse their attention because all you can think about is nursing your hunger. You open the menu. Ridiculous prices jump out of the page, taunting you. All food items are in the triple digits. Panicked and starved, you scan the list for something more reasonable. You get to the last page and find no beacon of hope. The ambient heat becomes stifling and already you are beginning to have second thoughts.

What do you do?

Get up and WALK AWAY. Leave that place. Forget your damned pride. Just get outta there. Who cares what they’ll think of you? Put on your best sheepish smile, nonchalantly shrug your shoulders, and for the love of god, get your butt out of that chair. Never mind the condescending looks and bemused stares. You have more personality than them. Embarrassment lasts for as long as you let it. You know you can afford a meal at the Expensive Italian Restaurant, but you can spend your money on better things. There are books to buy, presents to find. Think of the children!

Who wants a 360-peso baked ziti when you can get a heartier 90-peso serving at a Cheap Italian Restaurant? Use the last reserve of strength to get to a Cheap Italian Restaurant. Use your hunger as motivation. You owe it to your stomach to find a more satisfying meal. The kind where you won't want to puke out every bite because you know you would never spend that much on one dish. You need to find food you'll actually enjoy swallowing.

The only bright side you get eating in the Expensive Italian Restaurant is that when you burp four hours later, you still taste the baked ziti.

15 seen below:

lei said...

treating yourself to an expensive meal is healthy once in a while. pero not everyday.

gosh i suddenly remembered sbarro! i miss sbarro waaaaaaa

the philosphical bastard said...

conio restaurants give me just the nicest adventures in the world. here's a random sampling:

paolo: (walks in a restaurant)
waitress: sir, table for?
paolo: for take out, pls.

you should try it sometime, it's a freeing experience!

Poli said...

Wow. I really like the way you write.

I agree. There are lots cheaper Italian restaurants out there who offer very good and filling meals.

400 pesos for a baked ziti? Teka saan ba gawa yang pasta at sauce nila at ganyan kamahal?

Alternati said...

Poetic.

Is this fictional or autobiographical? :)

kubiyat said...

lei: sbaaaarrrroooo!

paolo: noted. it *is* liberating when you mess with people who take themselves too seriously :D

poli: hey, thanks :) and for taking the time to comment, vastly grateful.

pero onga, wild talaga ang kamahalan ng mga bilihin dun. siguro yung pasta, gawa pa ng mga monghe sa italya.

alternati: hullo there :) thanks for dropping by! been stalking your blog for a while, hehe.

it's an account loosely based on real events. loosely :D

utakGAGO said...

artistic. you did a great job here.

in my case, i don't care how much I eat as long as it satisfies my hunger. eh kung busog ka eh - wala nang brand-brand.

^_^ daan.

utakGAGO said...

*how much my food costs is what I mean. sorry! :p

kubiyat said...

actually, the first comment sang to me too. i also don't care how much i eat :D

utakGAGO said...

sure! i'm linking you up! ^_^

Nash said...

eat and eat..

I mean spending for yourself is not bad as long as u know your limit..

piggin' out is one of them.. kasalan ng mga food kung bakit sila masarap!


:p

wanna ex link? hihi

Poli said...

Hey Kubi, I already linked you up! Hehe!

Jhed said...

OMG!

I'm such a wimp, kaya I'll just sit there and eat.. without thinking kung may pamasahe pa ako pauwi. Haha!

Kudos to you for standing up.

--

Nabasa ko comment ni Lei. SBARROOOOOOOOOO!

kubiyat said...

utakgago: yey! consider yourself linked as well.

nash: exactly. limits must be recognized. and when i spend for myself, i certainly want to be in control of it.

poli: thanks! linking you up here too.

jhed: hm. how do i do this without revealing so much...i so do not deserve that kudos. why do you think i wrote such adamant advice? :D

fruityoaty said...

Wow, I enjoyed reading that. You're a terrific writer! I felt like I was there...

I enjoy treating myself to a good meal, once in a while... when I can spare the money.

kubiyat said...

thanks! hehe, me too. just that, i want to be ready for the spending. my pocket can't handle a sudden onslaught :D

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