So, Saturday Carlos had made dinner plans to celebrate my birthday, and he was pretty mum on the whole idea, which I [a] rather enjoyed because usually I’m the one who makes the plans, or [b] rather terrified me because usually I’m the one who makes the plans.
When I asked where we were going to dinner, he’d say, “The Restaurant.”
When I asked where was The Restaurant, he’d say, “Restaurant place.”
I was [a] amused, or [b] annoyed, or [c] an odd combination of both.
Now, earlier in the week, on Thursday night, my Tia Gloria, Tia by ‘marriage’ as she is Carlos’ aunt who lives in Mexico City, called to wish me a Happy Birthday, and then she asked to speak to him–or as she calls him, The Other One. I could hear her on the phone asking him what he was doing to celebrate my birthday, and then he said it, “He’s getting a party.”
A party? I was [a] terrified or [b] horrified. A party? Carlos doesn’t do parties, or at least not in the last almost-eleven years that I’ve known him has he done parties. So, I began to think. Dinner? Okay. Restaurant? Yes, that would happen. Party? He probably meant that he invited Round-the-Way Gays, Neal and David, to join us.
Of course, I kept this to myself.
On Saturday night, as we were leaving for The Restaurant at Restaurant Place, I kept asking, Who and Where and Where and Who, and he was playing sly dog. But that didn’t last long, as I soon realized we were leaving Smallville–which has just three restaurants, so i erased those from my list of choices.
And then rather than get on the highway, he opts to take US 1. The highway heads into Columbia and since we weren’t taking that route, I wiped Columbia from my mental list of possibilities.
I suddenly knew. We were headed to Sandhill, a mega-shopping area just northeast of Columbia where there are all sorts of shops and restaurants. Restaurant Place!
Restaurant Place. Now, I also knew which The Restaurant, and as we neared Sandhill, I began telling Carlos where to go. Turn here, I said, and he gave me a look that said [a] You think you’re so smart, or [b] You’re so smart.
We ended up at a Mediterranean restaurant called al-Amir that we have been dying to try. and it was just the place I wanted to go. And, of course, upon entering the restaurant, I saw Neal and David, who, well, let’s just say that, if they were actors, they’d be the kind of actors who never win awards for acting; they said, “What are y’all doing here?”
Anyway, we had a lovely dinner, with good friends, and a happy birthday. There were Stuffed Grape Leaves, and Feta Salad, and Lamb and Chicken Kabobs, Almond Torte and Arabic Coffee. I ordered Chicken Curry, with the option of mild or spicy; every time I go to a place with that option, the spicy is really mild and the mild is, well, just sad. But al-Amir came through with the spicy. It was verging on too spicy, but so so good.
David and Neal presented me with a bottle of fine Chilean Carmenere, one of my favorite reds, and a pair of gorgeous wine glasses, along with these chocolate-y bath fizzer things. It was all I could do not to speed home, pop the cork, fizz my bath, and jump in the tub with Carlos!
That was Saturday. Sunday, I went to church. I know!
But I went with Carlos, who was giving a presentation for the health care company with whom he works, to the Hispanic congregation at a local Presbyterian Church. And I was very impressed seeing Carlos in this work element, speaking before the group, and then talking with people individually. So may of the Hispanic population in South Carolina–and it’s quite a sizable group–don’t have health care, and, with the language barrier, don’t have a way to get affordable health care. Carlos has opened up this new client base to his company, because he’s bilingual, and is helping the Hispanic community at the same time.
I was quite impressed.
I also, however, impressed myself, with myself, because an older Spanish gentleman came up and asked if I spoke Spanish–and I don’t, really. I mean, I could curse you in Spanish; I can taunt you in Cuban Spanish. But I get a little tongue tied trying to speak it perfectly. I told the gentlemen No, but then I asked him, in perfect Spanish, if he had a question for Carlos. He looked stunned, and then he smiled and said, ‘Si!’
As I said, impressed myself. But then I hoped no one else would ask me anything, because all I could say was, Tienes una pregunta para Carlos?
Or, El burro sabe mas que tu. Which isn’t very nice.
After, ahem, church, where we also ate some really good tamales, we drove up to Winnsboro to hear our friend Jeanie play in a band. The band calls themselves The Halfway There Band, and mostly, as they say, play in each other’s living rooms. But they went onstage at the 145 Club–a funky little bar–and really entertained the crowd. it was a little folk, and a little country, and really quite fun. They played songs I’d never heard of, some they’d written themselves, and some I knew and just loved.
All in all, a fun day, even with church.
All in all, a fun birthday weekend.
How was yours?