Sunday, April 19, 2009

I Live in an Alternate Universe

Napkins take flight

It's friday night and La Cholita is loud and packed and quivering with activity. Enormous cuts of steak and french fries and bottles of cheap malbec fly from the waiters hands as they move throughout the top floor of the restaurant, taking orders they don’t write down and don’t appear to listen to, pouring the wine into water glasses and shouting over the already shouting masses.
Our table is covered with white paper and there is a basket of crayons in the center. My companions and I chat as we wait for our beef, sketching, leaving evidence that ‘we were here,’ that we too were thrilled by the ambiance.

Mid-meal a paper airplane, expertly folded and made from a napkin makes its descent on to our table. A series of numbers scrawled in blue crayon peak out beneath the wings. We ignore it and promptly hear hooting from the table of Argentines across from us.

Napkin #2 is hand delivered via the waiter, to me personally, asking that I please read the first napkin. I unfold it and see that it says “call me.” I go back to my steak.

Napkin #3, this time rolled up and scrunched into a ball, goes skydiving and falls to our table. I laugh and open it. It reads: “if you want I can sing a song for you”…

Suffice to say, a stranger has never offered to sing to me personally. Not in a restaurant. Not in Argentina, not in Spain, not in Connecticut, certainly not in New York. So I look in the direction of the airport across the room, shrug, and finish my glass of wine. He gets up, pulls out a guitar (yes, really) and comes over. Everyone in the restaurant turns to look. Perhaps I've been drugged. Perhaps i'm hallucinating. Perhaps this is actually that chick flick that came out last valentine’s day, the one I didn’t see, didn’t have to see because they’re all the same, all utterly, mockingly unrealistic.

But no. I’m at La Cholita and so is the young blonde argentine who serenades me, as my adreniline surges, and my companions and i exchange glances that assure me that yes, really.

He plays well. Really well.

I take a blue crayon from the basket and write my number on a napkin.
I fold the wings back,
the way the boys taught me in the third grade.


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