I went to a monthly Girls’ Night Out dinner tonight that I’ve been invited to for many months, but never attended. I know one or two of the women who go, but am not close with all of them. But tonight, they went for Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food, and despite my introvert’s nightmare of a week (haven’t had a night entirely to myself in about 10 days, and don’t know when that’s going to change), I sucked it up and kept my RSVP.
I’m glad I did. It’s my very favorite kind of food, and it occurs to me now that it’s been almost a full year (10 months) since I had chicken shawarma, my favorite.
As I savored it, I wondered why, when I’m surrounded by good Middle Eastern food options, I’ve been denying myself. And then I flashed back.
It was last fall, the night before I flew to Orlando for a conference my employer puts on. I’d met a nice guy online, and although our first date was kind of neutral (he was late, it was in a sports bar, I couldn’t tell if he liked me), our second date (at a great Italian place with a mob history, at which I wore my best retro black and white fit & flare dress) was pretty stellar, including a very nice good-night kiss, and I felt myself working on a pretty good crush. He’d been travelling, I was about to be travelling, and the idea of waiting however many days to see him just seemed like torture.
I never go out the night before I travel. I always wind up working late and stressed out, can’t sleep, double-checking my packed-for-days bag 47 times and deep cleaning things to manage the pet-sitter’s impression of me. I also usually have to get up about 3 in the morning for my flight. But for him, I made an exception.
He knew I was coming from work and travelling the next morning, we picked a fast-casual Middle Eastern place near my office. I wore jeans. The fast-casual place’s shawarma was not as good as I’d remembered it. But I was still crushing on him.
I swear, I avoided the creamy-white garlic paste they always serve with shawarma. I knew I didn’t have gum or mints or anything, and I had my sights on making sure he was well-and-truly kissed before I hit the airport. There was a little that I ate by accident. It was strong. Like after I’d brushed my teeth several times, I could still taste it strong. I started to panic.
When he leaned in for a kiss at the end of the night, I took a “no guts, no glory” attitude. I hoped that the chemistry we’d built to that point, plus some confidence and enthusiasm would be enough. The kiss ended abruptly. I was disappointed. I texted him when something funny happened, that connected to something we had talked about at dinner. His response was polite, but we were done before my business trip was over.
I’ll never know for sure whether it was the garlic sauce, but I figure, it can’t have helped. And apparently, it scarred me for life.
Tonight’s shawarma did not disappoint. And though I only took a little of the garlic sauce, I ate a little of it and thought of him. He was a nice guy. But if it was him or shawarma, I have no regrets about my choice.