First off? If you came here from LinkedIn, this is my PERSONAL blog… and this character, Max Scott? He has no filter and no boundaries. Read at your own risk. I’m not remotely joking. Also? He might be my favorite character. Judge me if if you will. And with that…
I try to maintain a neutral expression as I look over the menu. I never pay the check when Callen and I go out. Ever. And when I go out with Trey and Coley, it’s a casual thing. Nothing fancy. But with Callen, normally with the pricier places, they don’t put the prices on the menu. He just knows the prices going in, like it’s given to rich people with their birth certificates at the hospital. I guess he researches online, but whatever. I’ve seen the totals from time-to-time, and never have I thought any piece of food, no matter how tasty, was worth the money he’s spent on it.
Unlike other places, Per Se is proud of their products and what they charge for them. My eyes can’t seem to leave the numbers beside the Prix Fixe at the bottom of the page. It’s absolutely insane.
“Do you know what you want?” he asks, sitting in the seat next to me. “Or have any questions?”
Are you fucking out of your mind?
“Uhhh.” I scan the menu, seeing multiple items with the word supplemental beneath them–and what appear to be prices. “Does the word supplemental mean what I think it means?”
He laughs lightly. “Yes, Max. Get over it.”
“Oh, this is sooo shit’s not happening. Pinch me. Get me out of this… weird purgatorial dining hall, where the food is amazing but every entree is served with a side of immense remorse and the memories of your poor and unfortunate childhood and all the friends you left behind in Queens.”
“Funny, I’m having carrots with mine.”
I glare over at him and scan everything, doing some quick math. Leaning over and whispering to him, I ask, “So, you’re telling me that one of us–one of us–could end up spending 725 dollars on one meal?”
“That will probably be me, yes. You’re welcome to, but I know you don’t like foie gras.”
“I don’t even know what that is, so I’ll save you another 175,” I tell him, nodding my head in disbelief. I hold up my menu to shield my mouth from the rest of the dining room. “Wasteful,” I mouth silently.
“Worth it,” he says, taking my menu and holding my hand. He looks up at the waiter, who I didn’t even know had approached our table. “Max, did you want to start with the oysters or scallops?”
Knowing the scallops were supplemental, I feel immense guilt when I respond. “Scallops.” Oysters have never really been my thing.
“Two scallops. We’ll figure the rest out in the meantime.”
“Yes, Mr. McNare.”
“Babe,” he says, leaning in. “You know I don’t feel an ounce of guilt spending money like this. Just let it go, okay? Forget the prices. Forget the chef’s ego, because it’s obviously huge, right?”
“Tell me you won’t remember this night.”
I run my fingers through my hair. “The shock has left a mark, yes. The way you look,” I tell him, giving him a once-over. I swallow, shake my head and sigh. “Very memorable, too. You look… like someone I shouldn’t be dating, that’s for sure. I mean, I finally get the Adonis thing. He’s definitely here. In the flesh. Let’s get you codpiece and call it a day.”
“Why the codpiece? In the statue, he’s completely nude.”
“Then…” I reach for his tie, but he stops me, laughing, before I get my hands on it.
“Behave.” He takes my hand again and holds his menu up in front of me. “Figure it out.”
“Already know.” He points out his guesses, nailing them all. “I’m too predictable.” I dip my head in shame.
“Just because I know what you eat doesn’t make you any less spontaneous. You keep me guessing all the time. Believe me. I wish I could do more of that.”
“I think you have lately.” I nod. “My birthday present? Come on. No clue.”
“Gifts don’t count. They’re supposed to be surprises.”
Our waiter delivers our first course and refills my water. “Thanks,” I tell him, smiling. Curiously, I compare my dish with Callen’s.
“Did you order a supplemental oyster?” I point to the offending shellfish on my plate that’s somehow arranged beautifully among the rest of the food.
He shakes his head.
“You want it?” I pick it up with my spoon and fork and start to pass it over to his plate. He stops me with his hand.
“No!” he says. “Don’t. Put it back.”
“Okay.” I shrug.
“Eat your scallops.” He points at my food with his fork just before he takes a bite. “Man. They’re amazing. Taste.”
“Maybe worth 50 supplemental bucks, but I don’t know about 60,” I tease him after eating one. He rolls his eyes. “Fifty-five, tops.”
“We can take it off his tip,” Callen says, looking at me with a straight face.
“Fuck that, he’s been super nice.” I take a drink and choke on my water, realizing the tip situation. “Do you tip 20 percent on top of the total bill?”
“At least, yes, Max.”
“Why am I doing social work when I could wait tables at a swanky place like this?”
“Well, you needed the waiter’s help putting the cloth napkin in your lap to eat; how many other etiquette rules do you think you’d have to catch up on?”
“Ahhh, fuck that.” Etiquette-wise, I know to speak softly and close to my boyfriend when I feel the need to curse. I can control it; but in context here, it’s definitely needed. “I didn’t need to do that with my napkin. I can feed myself with a 98 percent success rate of getting food into my mouth. Plus, my customers could behave how they wanted.”
“Then you’d lose all the other customers who come here expecting a certain level of decorum.”
“And fuck them.”
When I’m finished with my scallops, I put my knife and fork on my plate properly to signal that the waiter can take my plate–both at 4:20. Like that was hard to remember.
When Gerald comes, though, he only takes Callen’s plate. “Didn’t I do it right?” I ask.
“I guess you didn’t finish,” he says. “That supplemental oyster is still there. I know you hate for things to go to waste. Maybe Gerald knows that about you, too. You’re pretty outspoken with your environmentalism.”
“Seriously? You eat it. I don’t want it. I’ll gag.”
“How can you gag over an oyster when you can take me so easily?” he asks. I glare at him. “Open it and I’ll take it. It’s already cracked. You just have to pry it up.”
I pick up my utensils again and stick the fork into it, expecting a little bit of a struggle. There’s really no prying; it easily lifts.
And there’s no oyster.
Read the rest on May 1! Preorder now! Make Waves ©2019 Lori L. Otto