It was a painful day and I was hungry but I had lunch plans with Isabella at three o’clock at Yusho — one of those teriyaki places that keep popping up — and I was to see Burton at five. I was too lazy to make a snack, so I starved.
Isabella picked me up at two-thirty and we arrived within exactly one minute of our reservation that we didn’t really need. The restaurant was empty save for a couple at a table at the front of the room. The host was someone who took hipsterdom to new heights. He teased out his hair so he looked like a white guy with an afro with a set of giant vintage spectacles resting on his nose. He was nice enough, despite his ridiculous appearance. He showed us to a booth toward the back of the restaurant.
We sat down and Isabella filled me in on the latest drama with her boyfriend.
“So you broke up?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Well,” she said dramatically. “For New Year’s he was going to a party and asked if he could stay at my house so he wouldn’t have to go all the way home. But I had to work so I offered to get a key made for him so he could let himself in whenever.. and he freaked out.”
“You’ve been together a year and a half and he’s refusing your key?”
“Yes. But really, I think after his unwillingness to move to Iowa with me, I sort of checked out,” she said adding “Buuuuuut. I dunno. I guess he came over last night. And now he’s kind of interested in the idea.”
“Well, I think it’s too late for that. But wait just a second so we can order and you can tell me the rest. What cocktail are you going to get?”
“I was thinking about the Camino.”
“I was going to do the same.”
We browsed the menu.
“I’m kind of curious about the Logan Poser Ramen. What are you going to get?”
“I want the Ramen, but I think I should do something outside my comfort zone so I’m probably going to get the Somen with beef tongue.”
“Should we get an appetizer?”
“Yes. What sounds good to you?”
“Tofu doughnuts or the chicken skin. But let’s ask the server what’s best.”
The server came over and made his suggestions.
“The steam bun and the tuna are the best.”
“Interesting. He didn’t mention the ones we were interested in. Tuna?”
I wasn’t terribly impressed with the food. The beef tongue was tender, but I didn’t like the flavor of the broth. The noodles were fine. The cocktails were fantastic.
“How’s yours?” I asked Isabella.
“Is that an egg?”
“Did it say hen egg on the menu?”
“A hen’s just a chicken egg. Why didn’t they just say chicken egg?”
“It sounds fancier than chicken. And maybe to differentiate it from the quail egg on that other noodle dish. You’re so nit-picky about menus.”
We continued to chat over noodles and another cocktail I didn’t need. I was relieved that she was opposed to having Charlie move to Iowa with her. She would do big things with her letterpress business and he would continue to stagnate, only instead of being in Chicago, he’d be in small town Iowa.
As we finished, I texted Burton to tell him I was on my way.
“Bring something to drink and cigarettes, please,” he responded.
On the way back to West Town, we stopped at Rothschild’s Liquor store. It was a slashy (a bar/liquor store) filled with elixirs that get the job done quick in the front and the never-ending party for toothless old men with no home and no job in the back. I picked up two pints of Jameson because they didn’t have the big bottle and a pack of Parliaments.
Isabella dropped me off in front of Burton’s apartment. I knocked on the door and I was greeted with a kiss by a very tired looking man.