Tapas

“What do you think of this rabbit?” he pointed to the remains of the carcass on the deep blue glass plate, surrounded by scrapings of mashed potato and rich gravy.
“It’s amazing, isn’t it. We had it last time we were here. It’s the best thing on the menu. Do you want that piece of chirizo Tanya?
“Thank you but I’m not going to eat any more. You go ahead” Vera skewers the slice of chirizo and, moves her fork to include a piece of Manchego and a grape.
“Andalusian, it says. Probably caught outside Belgooly. Scrumptious though. Great choice. I’ve never had rabbit. All those cute little furry things with big eyes. Did you try the duck?”
“Don’t worry, these Andalusian rabbits are really ugly.”
“So say again. You want to invite only people you want, and no family? Then you’re talking about finding somewhere for sixty people. I can’t hear more than one person at a time.”
“I organized my 50th and that was a great venue, and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg. You should decide who you want first. That’s what makes a good party, not the venue or the food.”
“The mini- burgers are great”
“I’ve had one. You have that half.”
“No, I’m stuffed. The thing is we need to think about this. It’s a year off and can’t we just elope?”
“Darling, you know I would be happy to keep this between us, but… Can I have another glass of this wine?”
“Sorry sir we don’t do that one by the glass.”
“OK, we’ll have a bottle then.”
“No, Dan, we’ll never get through another.
“How about the Malbec, sir. It’s similar and we do that by the glass. I’ll get you a taste of the Malbec. It’s very popular.” The waitress, or is she the owner, returns with a small wine glass a quarter full of red and Dan tastes the wine in an exaggerated gargling, swirling it from cheek to cheek.
“I’ll have another glass of that. Adam?”
“No, thanks, I’m driving.”
“We can get a cab”
“No, it’s fine. I’m fine. I’ve only had a glass.”
“Can I bring you the desert menu?”
“Not for me. Vera? Dan?”
“No.”
“No thanks.”
“I think we’d like a moment, if that’s OK?”
The waitress reaches between Adam and Vera and her perfume cuts through the not insubstantial aroma of rabbit and duck and she tries to get her thumbnail under the edge of the slate serving dish without success. Adam smiles up at her and reaching across the slate, pulls it from the far side towards him and to the edge of the table so she can lift it by its edge. He wonders why restaurants use slates for serving. They must be so impractical, unhygienic and easily damaged, and their only redeeming feature is that they present the food well. Tapas somehow looks more generous.
“Can we have the bill please?”
They barely see the total before it’s whisked up and split. They’re drunk enough to make round numbers of everything substantially higher than the specific, just so that the four-way split is easy to calculate. They all drop €50 notes onto the small silver dish while focusing on the free custard tartlets which have been brought on a separate dish to the table, as a substitute for desert, a freebie from the grateful restaurant owner who’s finally getting full houses and profits, and recognizes the value of regulars over tourists. They had the table in the corner by the window, even though this time they hadn’t remembered to ask. The problem has only been that Vera, sitting next to the restaurant door, is the one most susceptible to the cold and every third customer doesn’t shut it after them. Adam has been up and down like a bloody yoyo throughout the meal, closing the door. Being solicitous. He feels it is incumbent on him to be responsible, given that he’s the driver, the least drunk. The host.
Returning from the toilet, Adam realizes that the party for a year hence, in his and Dan’s joint honour, has been planned and booked by Tanya, the party organisation expert. It’s a game.
“I don’t like the sound of that.”
“It’ll cost you”
“I’m not going to be organised. Can’t we just change the subject? It’s a year away. Let’s leave it.”
“You’re just so negative. All I was doing was talking.” They often row like this. It’s not about the party. It’s about control. It’s always about control and power and respect and each other’s share of the limited attention span Dan offers.
“Maybe we can do several different things spread out over a few weeks?”
“All year I was thinking.”
“Maybe you should elope.”
“I don’t fancy him.”

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