Last night I went out with the Pewter Knight. On our last outing he fessed up to a deception. Namely that he hadn’t served in the Vietnam War. When he's among mutual friends, he has many stories to tell about his illustrious military career. He acknowledged his deception to me and he admitted the reason for the honesty purge was because he found me so “admirable”. (A-hem) He fully expected after his disclosure for me to immediately end all contact.
I congratulated him on his honesty and told him I thought the friendship could remain intact. At the same time I took the opportunity to let him know that it would remain a friendship – with no romantic possibilities. He quickly said no problem, and then continued to talk about how sure he was his deception would be the ending point of our association. I think he was so relieved I didn’t say, “You’re an asshole, take me home now and never call me again!” he didn’t hear “friendship – with no romantic possibilities", part of my speech.
Since then he has persistently tried to contact me – and I’ve avoided him for the most part. Now you see, even before agreeing to go out – I was already feeling …deceitful and cornered. There are so many things I can and do confront head on. Why can’t I do the same with this?
It came to pass one morning this week, he drove down the street I live on as I left for work. I failed to recognize him (on purpose) as he drove by. Shortly after the office opened, he called on the phone to speak with me. Reluctantly I took the call. Quickly he told me he’d seen me that morning on his way to his mother’s house. He was driving a car I wasn’t familiar with and he was sure that was the reason I didn’t see him. Even though he did a u-turn at the end of my block, drove back up my street, past me backing out of my driveway, and waved at me as he pulled out of the parking lot of the neighborhood bar at the OTHER end of my street. The change in car MUST have been the reason I didn’t see him as he continued to follow me for another 3 miles on a portion of my daily commute! I am a coward and agreed that MUST have been the reason.
Quickly he inquired on my schedule for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights. I reeled off commitments for Monday and Tuesday, but floundered on Wednesday night. Seizing the opportunity he claimed me for drinks and dinner. I agreed, mentally promising myself I would clearly set the record straight AND pay for my own meal to emphasis my point.
We agreed to meet at my neighborhood bar. When I arrived home from work last night there was a business call from Arizona on my answering machine. I quickly returned the call before walking up to the bar. But! But! Wait! Who pulled in front of my house as I was on the phone? Yes, yes, it was Knight Pewter! He waited a few minutes on the street, then pulled into my driveway. I don't know if he couldn't tell I wasn't home, or was reluctant to climb my steep steps. Still I didn’t make my presence known – because I was on the phone and NOT dressed appropriately.
After a few minutes he pulled away. I ended the business call, changed my top, brushed my hair, gathered up my keys, and prepared to walk down to the pub. As I started down my front steps there he was!, pulling back into my driveway. *sigh* Not even a few minutes to form the words for the night in my mind as I walked toward the meeting.
I entered the car – and asked if we could go somewhere besides my local hangout. It’s a great little bar, but I don’t care if I never eat their food again. He asked for a recommendation – and off we went to a newly opened German/Hungarian restaurant.
As we drove toward the location he asked me to reach into the backseat and retrieve a package. A package for me. I was very uncomfortable. I tried to decline the gift, but he had a valid reason for purchasing it. There was no gracious way to decline. He insisted I open it then and there – and I did, as I was certainly NOT going to open it inside the restaurant.
It turns out the gift was a book I’d been wanting for my work on Josiah. It’s called, American Alchemy: The California Gold Rush and Middle-Class Culture. To say I was pleased and touched was an understatement. (Also? I was a total book geek unable to hide my pleasure. I sat there opening it up – flipping to the index to look for a couple of references – and turning from chapter to chapter – exuding little cries of pleasure as I read a sentence here and there.)
Some how THAT did not seem to be the proper moment to say more than, “You shouldn’t have.”
Dinner – the meal, was delightful. We had a cocktails and an appetizer of Crab, Mushroom and Sauerkraut Pierogi served in a Lemon Browned Butter. Pierogi’s are like Chinese dumplings or Italian Ravioli. They were very good. The pasta was tender, almost translucent – and the stuffing – crabs, mushrooms, and sauerkraut worked well together. Bright flavors, separate, and distinct from each other tucked into the little pockets.
For the main meal he ordered Braised Beef, Pork, and Rice Cabbage Rolls with Sauerkraut and Spicy Paprika Sauce. I had Pork Schnitzel with a Lingonberry compote, a side serving of Austrian Potatoes and a Dill/Cucumber Salad. A 2004 Neckenmarkt Blaufränkisch (Red) wine from Austria accompanied the meal.
His cabbage rolls were good. Although I was embarrassed that he kept insisting they were really Russian and calling them by their proper Russian name. Which the waiter was totally confused about and didn't understand.
I was disappointed with my Schnitzel. It was over cooked and dry. Why does Schnitzel have to be pounded and cooked within inches so it resembles prefab sawdust? Such a thin cut of meat should be breaded and quickly cooked – like maybe one minute on each side. *sigh* But the flavor was good. The salad and potatoes were good too – but the side order of Spaetzle was what kept me smiling and satisfied. Such plump little dumplings of flavor nestled in a butter and parsley sauce, just sitting there in a little dish for Moi!
We ended the meal by splitting a apricot-glazed chocolate Sachertorte. Throughout the evening there were long pauses in the conversation. Painful pauses if you ask me. I, I who never shuts up floundered for a topic I wanted to discuss with him. At one point – as he was pontificating on some subject - my eyes glazed over. When he noticed I blamed it on the setting sun.
Still, I never had the gumption to say, this is very nice, but our relationship will NEVER be more than a friendship. Never once, before ordering, did I make it clear I expected to pay my own way. When the check arrived I tried, halfheartedly, to offer money. The Pewter Knight, as one might expect such a personage to be, was highly offended. and I – I with my rapier wit and acerbic tongue, who routinely hurts peoples feelings with my tossed off remarks – sat there unable to utter a single word.