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Operation Dessert Storm

It was Friday night and I was at Harvest on Brattle (white tablecloth, jacket required, average age = respirator) with my visiting aunt, cousin and his wife. About halfway between Montreal and Boston, somewhere in New Hampshire, my parents, sister and grandmother were settling into a B&B for the night with the intention of finishing the drive the next morning. While they’d already seen bits and pieces of HBS when they’d helped me move a month ago, their desire to exploit my relative proximity before my inevitable flight back to New York is what had prompted this Second Coming.

Back at Harvest, I was consuming all the things I hadn’t seen since my Spanglerization while animatedly describing my new life to my favorite aunt. As I defined technical terms such as section, skydeck and study group, and elaborated upon concepts like The Library’s Been Torn Down But It’s Okay Because We Don’t Use It, the waiter approached to ask if we’d like dessert. I distractedly declined. But evidently I’d forgotten my audience: while I was accustomed to the ensuing Grafton-or-Straight-to-the-Kong conversation at the dessert juncture, at this table my mild “no thanks” was received with a What? I didn’t want dessert? My aunt (105 pounds, VIP at Maison du Chocolat, personally responsible for keeping Godivas in business) was stupefied by this startling revelation that her own niece might commit Judaism’s response to the sin of Gluttony. Look, I said reasonably, if you want something, you should just get it. No no, I didn’t understand–she didn’t want anything.

She just wanted me to have something. Maybe she’d have a teensy bite.

Ah, the classic It Doesn’t Have Calories If I Didn’t Order It strategy.
A few hours and several inspections of the NY driver’s license later, I traipsed across the footbridge, envisioning my beautiful bed, the love of my life, waiting, just waiting for me to climb in it. It was 1:30 a.m. if I went to bed now, and they arrived around 10:30, I might even get nine whole hours of sl… CRAP! I froze in the doorway, unable to process what I was seeing. My God! How had this happened? I stood panicked for several moments before forcing myself to take a deep breath. Must triage: They’d notice the kitchen floor first. I fumbled through the closet, searching for the Target broom I vaguely remembered buying during those ambitious first days. No wait–the bathroom! I scurried in: no time to survey, just spritz, scrub, spritz, scrub, around the soap dish and toothpaste holder, forget the floor–the checkered tiles mask the dirt anyway, no time to Windex the mirror, Go! Go! Go!

Saturday, 9:30 a.m. and I lay glaring at my phone, knowing that at any moment I might be startled by Samsung’s moving rendition of Fur Elise. Would it be cost-effective to expend mental energy attempting to resuscitate a Scorpion Bowl-corroded Circadian rhythm, or were they going to arrive any minute? Now, why didn’t I simply call them, you ask?

Oh dear, na‹ve reader. Don’t you know cell technology still hasn’t overcome its weakest link – my “What’s double-clicking?” parents who aren’t yet convinced of the advantages of pressing their phone’s power button.

11a.m. and we were walking through Spangler, as my hurt and confused brain wondered what it had done to deserve the onslaught of Starbucks/Coke/Snapple. They were enthralled by the oak desks, plush couches and our very own post office, but my mother was concerned: where were we going to have lunch? While Spangler’s “European Castle” feel certainly impressed her, there was no way the Grille was going to feed her. Perhaps I could Use The Internet to find a restaurant? “I’m not hungry at all,” piped up my father (shuns elevators because of the opportunity cost of lost calories burned climbing stairs/Manischewitz Incident at age 12 convinced him he must be allergic to alcohol and hasn’t had a drink since): he’d eaten a full breakfast at the hotel, which automatically disqualified him from wanting lunch. My sister (12, Mickey D’s beats Nice Restaurant every time) was all about the Grille’s pizza, and she wanted it NOW. Then there were the varying states of the appetites of my aunt, cousin and his wife to truly render this a problem of LSATish proportions. As I quietly mustered the energy to lead this group to a consensus (… la Gassner; this was no time to be Swanish) a sectionmate walked by and innocently said hi. Poor guy–he never saw it coming. They swarmed. Did he know a nice lunch place? Better still, did he know a nice dinner place? My mom immediately articulated her requests to her adopted walking Zagats: no steak, not dingy, no Italian; French or seafood ideal, but oh–since my dad hates seafood, likes Italian (but not pasta), and only if they make a good straciatella soup and Caesar salad (but no anchovies, no cheese and dressing on the side), maybe somewhere that might also throw a sirloin on the grill to keep him happy.

9:30 p.m. and a boisterous table of nine occupied a table at Sandrine’s, which had been decided upon after carefully considering the advice of neither my sectionmate nor The Internet, nor myself. The meal was winding down, and I thought I’d made a lot of headway covering topics like There Are Grades Here But We Can’t Disclose Them, and Movies Don’t Count As Going Out. As the conversation turned toward where we were going to have Sunday brunch, and my dad, recognizing my intense fatigue, excused me in advance from attending, the waitress approached with dessert menus. What the hell. I had all week to Kongregate. Tonight I’d revisit the roots of my People.

September 29, 2003
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