Days 7 and 8.

Last night was the most I’ve ever paid for two drinks.  My boyfriend, Alex, and I both dressed up and started the evening with cocktails at the Green Russell in Larimer Square, an underground speakeasy fronted by a nondescript pie shop and kitchen-style swinging doors.  Dark low ceilings, exposed brick, purple and red velvet armchairs in intimate corner tables, tiny green lights hung and glowing like absinthe – swanky, lush, and full-bodied like jazz.  Our cocktails – his a Manhattan and mine something deliciously reminiscent of a half sweet half sour orange creamsicle in a Martini glass – were exquisite.  Before us, bartenders crushed ice in a velvet bag against the wall with a hammer while another whipped up rainbow colored creations studded with lime.  Mmmm… said the senses!  I felt the need to honor our surroundings by talking about something important.  So our conversation drifted to what we want out of life: where we’d like to travel, the kind of lifestyles we desire, how we envision serving others, and whether or not that could be together.

Dinner was no less extraordinary.  For our first date of Restaurant Week (where all the city’s fancy-shmancy restaurants offer multi-course meals for only $52.80 per couple), we chose Tag.  I chose to temporarily forego eating pescatarian in favor of that 3% mentioned in my last post.  He paid, like a gentleman.  My cocktail: sailor jerry, applejack, fresh lemon, clove-cayenne syrup, smashed gala apple.  His cocktail: old forrester bourbon, campari, cocchi sweet vermouth, luxardo cherry.  First course: steamed buns/duck tongue/cucumber/scallion/apple.  Taylor Bay scallops/meyer lemon/chinese five spiced fennel/sriracha pepper puree.  Second course: grilled arctic char/leek fondue/black trumpet mushrooms/crispy brussels sprouts.  Roasted pheasant/pheasant confit/pheasant tortellini/pistachio puree/pomegranate gel.  For desert: peanut butter/chocolate/marshmallow/sea salt caramel gelato.  Yuzu raspberry tart/coconut meringue/vanilla mascarpone.  We shared it all, including happy smiles, laughter, and silly bets over whether the painted artwork on the walls reminded us more of the childhood storybooks about Tikki Tikki Tembo or Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.

Here is the sweetest part: afterwards we went home, made frozen pizza, ate popcorn, and fell asleep watching The Office.  Small fancy plates, while delicious, do not fill a hungry working man’s belly.  Nor mine, to be honest.  Throughout the evening, my sociologically-trained mind had been looking around and considering the context of social class in the midst of our surroundings, even as we discussed our aspirations and the people we want to become.  In the end, I discovered that I will always be someone who eats pizza and popcorn.  It was a conclusion that needed no velvet seating for comfort.

Tonight continued at home with my friend, Amanda, stopping by.  Two summers ago, Amanda volunteered with the summer program that I’m on staff with, and she now interns locally at the Boys & Girl’s Club.  The funny thing was, my face was broken!  Right after work I had a date with the dentist to fix a filling, and apparently that meant numbing the left side of my face until I looked like a sad stroke victim.  So while Amanda talked about her job and time here so far, I mostly tried to keep food in my mouth and avoid water dripping down my face.  It was not quite as fun.