She hadn’t seen him in more than a week. He had been busy opening the restaurant; working 16 hour days. She had also been busy; preoccupied with work and family. They had stayed up late the night before talking, listening to music and drinking wine. It had been fun for her, even though she’d been tired from the long week and he hadn’t even made it to her place until about 1am. That morning she made some food; an egg scramble with asparagus and other miscellaneous items she’d found in her fridge. She was still nervous about cooking for this classically trained chef, even though she was a very good cook herself.
He’d eaten the meal with a mildly annoyed expression on his face. When she asked what he thought if it, he’d said, “The green beans have a weird texture.” “That’s asparagus, not green beans,” she shot back, also mildly annoyed.
She had just finished washing up the breakfast dishes while he lounged on her loveseat, sipping a good Napa Cab she’d picked up the day before. She asked if he wanted to watch TV. “No. I think I want to listen to some jazz”, he said. She turned on her Bluetooth speaker and asked, “Coltrane or Miles?” He liked Miles Davis over John Coltrane. Everyone has their preferences.
She poured herself a glass of wine to accompany his and joined him on her loveseat. She was excited he had come over last night and about the possibility of spending the better part of the day together. She knew he didn’t have to go into the restaurant until later in the afternoon. Turning to face him, she noted a look of pensive musing.
Her inquisitive nature – sometimes it served her well and other times it screwed up everything. She loved getting into deep, intimate conversations with all sorts of people – friends, co-workers, strangers. She had a thirst for stories; human stories. And so she asked, “What are you thinking about?” What was it that she expected to hear? Maybe, “Oh I was thinking about how wonderful that breakfast was and how sweet you were to cook for me this morning.” Or possibly, “Well, I was just thinking I’d like to take you out for a nice dinner tonight. Where would you like to go, baby?”
At her question, he puckered his lips a little and replied, “Charcuterie.”
“Charcuterie?”, she wondered aloud.
“Yeah,” He answered. “I was thinking about making myself some chicken pâté later. And having some good cheese and crackers and a couple of bottles of good wine.”
“Chicken pâté?”, she repeated, more than a little perplexed by his answer.
“Yeah,” he said. “I have this friend, a chef. I remember one time we were at his restaurant and then he invited me to come over to his house. He brought out a few really good bottles of wine from his personal collection. We had some chicken pâté, some charcuterie and cheese, and drank wine and talked about cooking and food all afternoon.”
“Oh”, was all she could summon the sense to say.
“Yeah, I wonder what he’s up to today”, he said.
For better or worse, she tended to be rather ‘head in the clouds’ when it came to her men. She fell in love with the best parts of her suitors and tended to ignore the yuckiness about them. With this particular beau, she found herself forgetting that he could be selfish, mean-spirited, and dishonest at times; choosing instead to focus on his intelligence, wonderful cooking, and intense conversation.
“So that’s what you were just thinking about?” She asked, becoming more irked with each passing second.
“Yeah. I think I want to hang out with some of my chef friends today – have some wine and charcuterie.”
“You’re really serious, aren’t you?” This, evidently said with a twinge of anger because he replied defensively, “What??!, What’s wrong with wanting to hang out with some of my chef friends today?”
“Nothing”, She countered, feeling deflated.
“I like talking to my chef friends. We talk about cooking and wine and all the funny stories about running a kitchen.”
“No, it’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with it.” She said. “I have some stuff to work on. I’ll be upstairs.”
She rose from the sofa and walked upstairs to her workroom to work on a project she’d started the previous week. And just in that very instant, she decided …she was done with The Chef.
She could deal with the long workdays, the inability to make solid plans, not seeing or hearing from him for a week at a time. She wasn’t needy. But she did need certain things from a relationship; from a man.
Women are so often groomed to compromise, to be understanding, to put their own needs and desires behind those of partners, children, parents – anyone else, really. What she’d decided in that moment was that her needs would come first this time. The Chef would have his day with his chef friends. And she would have a man who enjoys her company enough to want to spend his prime off-time with her. Or she would have no man at all. Either way, she wasn’t giving any more of herself in return for leftovers and runner-up ribbons.
Having come to this decision she felt a wave of contented freedom wash over her. “Shouldn’t you take a shower and start getting ready to go in?” She called downstairs. “What time are you planning to open the restaurant today?”