April 01, 2009
Tonight, I asked for something just to see if I could get away with it.
After dinner, Mr. A and I went for a neighborhood walk looking for dessert (again). We stopped in one pastry shop, Eclipse Chocolat, where I had a great cupcake a few days ago. But this time the guy behind the counter was extremely disorganized. It took him 10 minutes just to take the order of the people before us, explaining everything, getting confused, making small talk. Then, he started making their drinks and he told us it would be "a second."
About 29 of those later, we hit the door.
The next stop was Pomegranate, a (Russian) Georgian restaurant with awesome atmosphere. An old piano covered in trinkets and candlesticks. Feisty menu, big wood tables. In thick crayons and markers, people have written greetings all the way up the walls, onto the ceiling, even into the skylight opening. Messages ranging from "A vodka a day keeps everyone away" to "Make love, not good grades" to "She said yes here in 1999. In 2003 we are still married and your food is even more delicious, just like our love" to "assez bon mais beaucoup trop cher" (pretty good, but way overpriced).
The waiter warned us that they only accept cash or personal checks, a management decision which, I suppose, tries to instill a sketchy 1991 post-communist feel to the place. Abundant portions. No credit.
We ordered two pieces of tort, which were unlike anything I've had in the U.S. so far, and as we ate, Mr. A showed me his pictures from Korea.
Meanwhile, I was getting ansy. I hadn't asked for anything and lately I've felt like I've lowered the bar by shooting for things I would have attempted even before this project. I mean, health insurance info? Hardly gutsy.
"Do you think I could ask for a free cup of tea? Say we only have cash?"
"You could try," Mr. A said.
"Do you think I'd get it? I don't just want to ask, I want to actually get something."
"If he's an authentic Russian, he'll say no. If he's Americanized, he'll say yes." Mr. A hails from that part of the world, so he's not being prejudiced. It's accurate if you're dissing your own peeps, I'm told.
As we ate, the waiter wandered over and asked where Mr. A is from, having heard his accent. We made him guess, and finally he gave up. I told him. (I can't tell you, alas, since I'm doing my best to keep him anonymous on this blog). Then, before he walked away, I asked:
"Is there any chance we could get half a cup, or a cup of tea? Because we're low on cash but it would be really nice with these cakes."
"I can do that. I will be right back."
"Spacebo!" I called as he walked away.
He yelled something back. You're welcome, probably. I felt welcome. What a great place!
I was beaming. Mr. A looked skeptical.
"You didn't seal the deal," he explained.
Actually, he was right... I was timid, and vague. Half a cup? I merely assumed he'd understand I was asking for it for free. I never said the words "on the house" or "complementary."
A few minutes later, he returned with two cups.
"One is on the house," he said, smiling.
Gained: $4 cup of free tea, and $4 spent on tea. Net: $0. Or, through some more appealing accounting methods, we could say: Paid $4 for the tea I asked for, and Mr. A got a free cup, i.e. 2 for 1. Net gain: $4. What do you say -- should this count on my tally as a $4 gain, or not?
By the way, I'm feeling roused. Enough of this blogging-about-what-you'd-ask-for-anyway. Time to shake things up.
I have just the idea for tomorrow!