Posted by Elliot Steingart
On a quiet Sunday night my girlfriend hinted she had something important to tell me. “I'm not sure how to tell you this,” she began.
“Tell me what?” I asked, somewhat concerned.
“I want to become a pastor,” she said.
Upon hearing the P-word, I spit as though my mouth was full of water. “You want to become a pastor?”
“I want to lead people and inspire them” she told me.
“Yea, but isn't that kind of extreme?” I asked spitting out more water.
“I want to deliver sermons, and give people advice,” she explained. “I love directing people on a path to something good. It makes me feel like a million dollars.”
“How about becoming a teacher? You would be a great teacher.The best.”
“I know but I really want to be a leader in the community. I want to give people purpose.”
“Yes, but pastors don't wear Uggs.”
Her heart is in the right place, but I would find it hard to introduce my girlfriend as “the really cute pastor.” Maybe I'm a little jealous. I know she likes Jewish guys, but I didn't think she liked Jesus that much.
“Religion isn't something I talk about with you, but it's important to me. I want you to come to church with me on Christmas Eve,” she requested.
The only time I've stepped foot in a church was to vote for Barack Obama three weeks ago. I was bored waiting in line and there was no air conditioning. That was not a favorable impression of church. The thought of celebrating Christmas in a church and not at China Palace saddens me.
“Hey, you aren't a pastor yet,” I shouted.
“Seriously, it's my favorite day of the year and I'd like you to come. You won't be the only Jewish person there. There are Rabbis that come. You can sit with them,” she laughed.
“We can talk about this at a later date” I stalled.
That later date was dinner. “I don't know if I could be with someone who wouldn't join me on my favorite day of the year,” she began to guilt trip.
I left my chair and crawled under the table to hide. I hoped taking shelter would save me from any further bombshells.
“You don't have to eat the wafer or drink the wine.”
“Good. I was planning on bringing my own anyway.” I assured her.
I could tell she was losing her patience with me. As a way of compromising I said, “I'll only come if I can dress as Santa.”
“It will be fun, trust me. You will love my pastor,” she said.
“Who is he?”
“Ed Bacon,” she told me.
His name is Bacon? You cannot get any more Gentile than Bacon. Fortunately, I love bacon. And I do love the Christmas spirit. If it means taking one for the team, even if it's another team, I might as well try out one church service. I'm sure there is a table at the church I can hide under.
11.25.13 at 8:30 am | Learning code of conduct
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8.2.13 at 9:12 am | Guest blog written by my dad
7.24.13 at 9:38 am | Going home
6.25.13 at 9:36 am | The longest day of the year
5.24.13 at 11:43 am | Taking the Socks off
November 14, 2012 | 11:10 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
While on a date night with my girlfriend waiting for a drink at a hip Los Feliz restaurant I made the comment “I don't think I like restaurants.”
“What?” she asked.
It was one of those moments where I wasn't sure what I just said. It's not like I concocted this brilliant idea “Before we go to the Clipper game I'm going to take her to Umami Burger, one of our favorite restaurants and gradually tell her, hey, I don't like restaurants!”
Did I really dislike restaurants or was I just upset that we walked from Los Feliz Blvd all the way down the hill to Hollywood Blvd before I realized I forgot my glasses and would not be able to see Blake and CP3 from the 300 Level at Staples?
“It's fine. I'll still be able to hear the cheering.” I said.
The bartender was singing along to Jack and Diane and I reacted. I still loved restaurants, right? It's fun eating food from all over the world and having someone else clean up after me. It's the same reason I love visiting my parents.
I looked again at the bartender/waiter wearing a faded vintage tee shirt searching for something other than basketball on Direct TV and it clicked. It's not that I don't like restaurants. It's that I don't like waiters my own age. This bartender, who seemed nice enough, had the disposition of someone I would have smoked with in high school. Now he is winking at my girlfriend and recommending that I eat a “Smash Burger.”
I have worked as a waiter so I know it's not an easy job. In 2008 I was one of many recession era waiters who served his peers with dignity and humility. We made small talk here and there, but we served with integrity. When I take my girlfriend out to dinner it's my time to shine. I don't want to compete with waiters who look and act just as goofy as me.
When I took my girlfriend to a French restaurant in Echo Park we were greeted by another waiter our age. He greeted us by saying “Voila.” Even if he was not fluent in French, “Voila” is not even close to how you say hello in French. When he brought us our Charcuterie he once again said, “Voila.” We had already said hello. How much longer would this continue?
“Is there anything you would recommend?” I asked.
“We are known for our pommes frites.” He responded.
They are known for their french fries. Are they? I wondered. Or was it that he knew how the French word for French Fries? I gave him a big tip because he was funny and I would have also definitely smoked with him in high school or now.
At a nicer Italian restaurant in the neighborhood a waiter our age with slicked black hair and black framed glasses asked us, “How are we doing this evening? Is everyone good?”
“We're fine, thanks.” I responded hoping to order a drink.
“What were we up to earlier?” He inquired. “Anything out of the ordinary?”
When he left to bring us wine my girlfriend asked, “Why aren't you being friendly?”
“Because I feel like he is waiting to do Improv.” I explained.
His improv skills were put to the test when he fudged through the specials. Linguini Scallopini...like that's a thing.
The larger problem is that these are the same waiters who serve me food that hurts my stomach. At a restaurant I want to order something I normally would not have. I end up paying $50 for a stomach ache.
Because of my relentless IBS, my new doctor has put me on a low fat diet. It's balanced by lots of chicken, turkey and green vegetables. My girlfriend and I have been cooking over at my new favorite restaurant, a local diner called “Steingart's.” There is no set menu but we have already made a big pot of wedding soup. "You just made the meatballs of your life," I told my girlfriend.
It's a work in progress at Steingarts. We don't always have ingredients, but there's always Tapatio.
Cooking together is a nice way for us to eat healthier meals and save money without having to make small talk with waiters in their late 20's. I feel at ease, and my girlfriend seems okay that every time I serve her a dish I look at her and say, "Voila."
November 1, 2012 | 10:47 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
Relationships are about compromise which is why I gave my girlfriend a night stand. She spends enough time at my place that she deserves an end table. While I accept her nightstand is hers to decorate, the chaos on her nightstand looks like it was caused by Sandy.
My nightstand is clean and uncluttered. I house my glasses, keys, and pocket change along with Charles Grodin's 2009 memoir, “How I got to be Whoever it is I am.” It's a 60 year old man's nightstand. The key essentials are within arms reach. Beyond the promise that stories of Charles Grodin's Bar Mitzvah will put me to sleep, I require nothing else but an an appropriate temperature to doze off.
My girlfriend does not sleep as well, and her nightstand is a reflection. Next to her bed she keeps Melatonin, a hormone to make her sleepy and two bright pink ear plugs. Sleeping next to me is clearly a challenge. I appreciate that. I snore a bit and make jokes in my sleep. I tried to help her fall asleep better by placing a framed picture of me and my late Golden Retriever, Cody Boy on her nightstand. In response she stuffed a red flower inside an empty beer bottle. It took me a while before I even realized where the flower came from.
“You took a flower from the Korean BBQ buffet?” I asked her.
“You weren't going to buy me any,” she sassed.
I believe there is a better place for a red flower growing out of beer bottle. That place is her apartment. There is more to her nightstand than sleep medication and arts and crafts. She has reading material on her nightstand, a hard bound copy of “365 Days of Salad.” It took me a moment to figure out how “365 Days of Salad” found it's way into my apartment.
“Did you take this from the fundraiser?” I asked.
“You don't buy me books,” she retorted.
“So you saw '365 Days of Salad' and thought to yourself, I have to have that. I need that much salad?”
I like salad fine, but what would be achieved by having this salad bible bedside? It's a glorified cook book, an index of exotic and organic greens. The author describes “A medley of corn with glossy black beans, pale gold quinoa and red tomatoes and bell pepper make a colorful, eye-catching salad.”
“Eye-catching” but not before bed. A fall salad of apples and walnuts of stilton cheese? This book makes up its own cheeses.
For someone who reads so much about salads, it would be nice if she actually made one from the book. Her salad of Blue Moon and sleeping pills is not featured in “365 Days of Salad.”
The thought of separating chick peas from leafy greens is enough to keep me up at night. Not too mention the time Lovebirds in Pasadena placed their fruit tray atop shreds of romaine. Lettucey cantaloupe, the stuff of nightmares. And looking at “365 Days of Salad,” the flowery beer bottle, the bright pink ear plugs, that might soon keep me up at night!
My hope is that a new day will rise when the nightstand will return to its original state. The Melatonin will find itself in the medicine cabinet and "365 Days of Salad" will be donated to Lovebirds. Maybe not before feasting upon potato salad with fava beans, green garlic and creme fraiche to be served on her clutter free night stand.
October 24, 2012 | 10:25 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
I take my role as an uncle seriously to the point that I never act serious around young Dylan, my baby niece. At this point, Dylan probably does not know who I am which is even more reason to make an impression. Plus, aside from tweeting vulgarities and goofing with my girlfriend, I’ve abandoned my passion of performing comedy, at least for the time being. For now it's enough that I make cracks at at the office and write a weekly blog that captures the same tone as an early episode of Scrubs. The limited time I see Dylan is when I can let go completely and try to make her laugh.
I was a little bummed that Dylan was asleep when I arrived. I forgot that Dylan goes to bed at 7pm. She can’t even stay up for Jeopardy. That did not stop me from presenting Dylan’s first Halloween costume to her parents, Ariel and Brian.
“That’s so cute.” Ariel beamed upon seeing the little ducky costume.
“We’ll need to dress Dylan up before we go the pumpkin patch,” I demanded.
Around the dinner table Brian shared that Dylan weighs 28lbs putting her in 98% percentile in size for her age. “You should see her polkies,” said my mom.
“Why does she weigh so much?” I asked.
“She has big appetite,” said Ariel who chewed her food loudly next to me.
“Ariel, if you chew any louder you are going to wake up Dylan.”
Dylan would wake up shrieking and crying well before 7am. I can’t blame her. No one likes to get up that early.
I jumped out of bed and ran into my parents room to greet Dylan who I saw cradled in my mom’s arms wearing polka dot pajamas. “Dylan,” I yelled. “Cool jammies!”
At breakfast I asked to sit next to Dylan. “Okay, but you have to feed her,” Ariel instructed.
I spoon fed her beef flavored baby food. “I’ve tried all her food,” said Brian. “It’s not that bad.”
I swallowed a tiny bit and gagged. “What did Dylan do to deserve this?”
Dylan seemed to like her baby food, but nothing compared to pizza crumbs. Sitting next to Dylan at lunch Ariel flicked the crumbs at my direction. I placed a crumb on my finger which Dylan lunged towards and pecked at like a piegeon. Crumb after crumb. One time she bit my finger not realizing there was no crumb. “That's just my finger,” I told Dylan.
With Dylan fixated on pizza crumbs Brian shot a thin device into Dylan's tiny nostrils to collect boogers. “Give her a break.” I said.
Dylan might be baby but she'll have to learn how to pick her nose.
Any uncle would want to accompany his niece on her first visit to the pumpkin patch. This was a special pumpkin patch with pumpkins big and small and even a bounce house. The patch was charging $6 per child to play in the bounce house. I was standing guard so the proprietor would not see the Steingarts sneaking Dylan into the bounce house. I watched dutifully as my dad played on his droid and Brian asked the proprietor about his trailer out back. My mom took my place on guard so I could crawl around for a moment next to Dylan. Just as quickly I bounced up to my feet guiding the tresspassers safely back to the patch.
A little girl no more than three approached Dylan near the exit. She turned to me. “I have a baby sister too.”
I walked over to her sister's stroller and looked inside. Dylan was cuter.
There was no way I was leaving without seeing Dylan in her Halloween costume. “We'll put it on tomorrow.” Ariel said.
When I heard Ariel's tip toeing down the stairs and Dylan shouting I knew what was coming. I spotted a tiny little duck unleashing her toothless smile while squirming in Ariel's arms. We all clapped and cheered and laughed and laughed some more. “Let me hold her,” I said as I lifted Dylan. Our eyes locked and I kissed her beek.
I wanted Dylan to have the last laugh. Later when everyone was upstairs I sat Dylan on the couch grabbed the remote control and began speaking into the remote as though it was a microphone.
“Who here is nervous for pre-k?” I asked Dylan who look bemused. “Hey, I don't blame you. You'll probably shit your pants!”
“It's not easy raising a baby. “ I continued as Dylan crawled towards a stuffed animal. “You're dad is losing his hair. Not because of you. Because he's married to your mother!”
“But seriously, you and me, we have a lot in common.” Dylan looked up. “We love to suck on breasts!”
I made Dylan smile as only an uncle could. And Dylan made me look forward to getting back on stage and telling these same jokes the next time I see her. I'll be waiting with open arms.
October 10, 2012 | 10:45 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
Every time I put something in my stomach is a roll of the dice. Most of the time it's craps. While I would usually take the odds on a #2, sometimes it's a simple pass, a gift of chance. Needing a vacation from my stomach troubles, I figured my best bet was taking my girlfriend to Vegas.
“You're not taking me to Vegas. I'm paying my own way.” She reminded me.
Before we would go I would need to train for our big trip. I would need to eat foods that might upset my stomach in order to prepare for the buffets of Las Vegas. I also wanted to learn a new game we could both play in the casinos. We settled on Craps, the most appropriate game for me.
My first official day of training I ate a Philly Cheesesteak and lost $200 of fake money playing craps while on the toilet. My girlfriend waited patiently for me to teach her the game. Ready to teach her, my stomach erupted again. “Sorry, might need a few minutes!”
“You should lay on your stomach. It will help.” she advised.
Taking her advice, the pain remained. “What's this supposed to do?”
“It should help you pass gas. Put your legs up.”
I farted once. “This is great.” I farted twice. “I think I'll go back to the bathroom.” I shared.
“Sounds like you are well on your way,” she said.
When I returned we watched Youtube tutorials on how to play Craps. The concensus was to bet on the pass line and take odds on come bets. I took another bathroom break before our trip to Taix, a French restaurant in nearby Echo Park.
“How are you feeling?” she asked as I got in the car.
“I should be okay,” I bluffed.
Taking the left from Hillhurst on to Sunset is when my stomach began to rumble. I breathed in and out and rolled down the window. I continued to drive and tempered my thoughts by thinking about how much money I would win in Vegas. Continuing past Sunset Junction is when the cramps intensified.
“This is going to be tough,” I said.
“Poor guy,” she empathized.
The thought of eating rich French foods began to nauseate me. “I'm going to make an executive decision and turn this car around.” I said flipping a bitch back on to Sunset.
I felt bad that our romantic Saturday night dinner was derailed, but I did not want to use a W.C. We stopped to get Pepto Bismol and rotisserie chicken. Not the dinner we initially had in mind. After nibbling on a chicken wing, I re-entered the bathroom and felt constipated. I pushed like I was giving birth to a farm animal. I leaned back. I leaned forward. I seasawed each cheek off the toilet. I pulled a leg back and extended an arm to mimic the Heisman pose. I was either performing yoga or channeling an ancient tantric spirit before I could drop a few pellets into the once clean bowl of water. For the night I was cured. We would drive to Eagle Rock to go my soccer buddy Scott's house where he and his wife Stacy presented an incredible spread of food out on their deck.
“Please eat,” Stacy said motioning to the bacon wrapped figs.
“I probably shouldn't my stomach is a little sensitive,” I said.
My teammates empathized. Mike admitted that his two year old son, Sam pooped on the sidewalk and his parents took pictures. Carlos's wife was at a book store with her son who she rushed to the bathroom. Everything was fine until they walked back through the book store and she saw his shoes were covered in poo.
“Was this at Bowels and Nobles?” I asked.
“No,” she said as she went into the final details of the story.
I looked at my girlfriend and shook my head as if to say, “Please don't tell them about 4th of July.”
She looked back at me and smiled. “Elliot recently pooped in the woods” she began. “It was 4th of July and he made hamburgers and we decided to hike up to Griffith Park to watch the Fireworks. Looking out into the Southland at dusk we could see the fireworks just start shooting into the sky from downtown and all over the city, but he began moaning 'Ow. My stomach.' We walked down the mountain making it all the way to a residential street and there goes Elliot running dropping his pants ducking under a tree butt naked.”
The worst was behind me. I cleansed my shame and looked forward to Vegas. “It will be a nice test for me and the girlfriend,” I told Mike before our soccer game.
“I think the woods was your test. You seemed to have passed.” He reasoned.
The Billagio Buffet in all it's decadence stood before us. We enjoyed Soup Plantation from time to time but this was something special. And because it wasn't our first date, I had no shame in handing my dinner date a tray. To start we each had a plate of everything with a side of something and another side of something else. Shrimp pizza, heirloom tomatoes, pork ribs, broccolini, sushi, and sashimi plus a neopolitan and cheesecake for dessert. We left the Billagio and walked for miles to the Luxor. My stomach was fine.
We played Wheel of Fortune on the slots losing our fortune before spinning the wheel. A good night and a sound stomach motivated me to lead us three miles on foot to Casino Royale, for our first round of Craps at a $3 minimum table. We played the pass line and took odds on 6. The dealer stared at my girlfriends breasts which I did not bet on. Luck did not find us until our second buffet, the Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan which trumped the Billagio in visual display, selection, and taste. Root beer helped me keep pace with my girlfriend as she ate the rissoto and short rib I was too fearful to touch.
Down to our final $100 we rode an escalator down to the casino to study which Craps table would suit us the best. I watched a terrific streak shooter, a Brit who admitted this was his first time playing. We stepped up after which a new stickman arrived and we lost all our money in 10 minutes, along with the shooter.
It was only 7:30pm, but we were tight on cash and had pressed our luck. “I might need to go back to the hotel.”
“Buck it up,” said my girlfriend.
She made me use facility at Blondie's Sports Bar and Grill. So what if I was down $400 and shitting in a bar bathroom to the sounds of Gagnam Style? I survived. And so has my girlfriend who has patiently stuck by my side despite my IBS. We played beer pong, ordered room service pizza and watched Erin Moriarty host 48 Hours Mystery. The victim didn't survive but we did. And we're still going strong.
September 27, 2012 | 10:44 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
It's never easy meeting a boyfriend or girlfriend's parents. I introduced my girlfriend to my parents the weekend before Yom Kippur. I just couldn't wait for judgement day. I experienced anxiety before meeting her parents and that was just for dinner. Our day would start at 11am and last well into the night. What did we do all day? What did my girlfriend think of my parents? What did my parents think of my girlfriend?
Here's the recap!
---Negotiating at yard sale for night stand for girlfriend and then asking dad for money to purchase night stand
--Girlfriend walking up after negotiation took place and shaking parents hands
--Deciding we should walk down to the hill to Hollywood Blvd to try on eye glases
--Girlfriend feeling shy about holding my hand in front of my parents marking first time in history of our relationship she has felt shy
--Searching unsuccessfully for Monopoly at Goodwill
--Girlfriend and parents ganging up on me to buy a microwave
--My mom holding up a Malbec at Cap N Cork Liquor shouting “This is $5 more than what we paid in San Diego”
--Hearing my mom say, “it's not this hot in San Diego”
--Sampling each others beers at Umami Burger. “This tastes like a Banana,” said my mom
--Girlfriend recalling that during our beer tasting she realized that her favorite beer was wine
--Trusting girlfriend's directions to the Grammy Museum
--Spotting ABC 7's George Pinacchio on Red Carpet at LA Live rehearsing for Emmy's and thinking of asking him to interview my girlfriend to see what she thought of my parents
--Pointing out Beach Boys exhibit and showing girlfriend handwritten lyrics to “God Only Knows.”
--Dad rapping along with Jermaine Dupri in interactive Grammy Museum Exhibit
--Girlfriend crying after hearing Whitney Houston sing Star Spangled Banner at 1991 Super Bowl
--Mom, girlfriend and I ordering mixed drinks at Mohawk Bend, the best beer bar on the East Side
--Narrowing our dinner options down between Mess Hall and Home
--On way to Home announcing executive descision to dine at Farfalla
--Executive decision to dine at Farfalla shot down by girlfriend and parents
--Seeing girlfriend's roommate and her friends at the table behind us at Home
--Girlfriend explaining her Norwegian ancestry to my parents. My dad saying he knows someone who is married to someone from Norway
--Girlfriend explaining she is a quarter hispanic
--My dad almost ordering shrimp appetizer so he could give girlfriend final shrimp
--Restraining myself from asking my mom and dad “So, do you like her?” when she went to the bathroom
--Opening bottle of wine that girlfriend and I selected at our wine tasting. Hearing my mom and dad agree that it needs to breathe.
--Leaf falling from tree into my dad's salad
--Sitting outside having gelatto hearing my girlfriend and parents discuss old movies like North by Northwest
--Not sharing as much Gelatto as I could
--Returning to my apartment to play men vs. women Electronic Categories
--Girlfriend giving clue "Something that you slice and toast" and hearing my mom guess "Cake" (answer was cornbread)
--Motioning to my lap during Electonic Categories and having my dad guess, “Penis.” (answer was lap of luxury)
--Mom saying girlfriend has great personality, very sure of herself with lots of interests
--Girlfriend telling me parents are very cute and couldn't believe how much they like spending time with each other
--Me telling my girlfriend and parents what the other said
September 19, 2012 | 10:45 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
Rosh Hashana is the only new year that I have to be reminded of. If my dental office can call me three days before my appointment I would expect Chabad's solicitation letter much earlier in the week. I only found out on Friday that Rosh Hashana would fall on Monday. It's hard calling in sick. It's even harder calling in Jewish. I have two floating holidays which means I must observe selectively. I'll reserve those days for Yom Kippur and the next Jewish holiday someone happens to mention.
You don't have to go to services to celebrate the new year. In fact, I celebrated that I did not have to go to services. My parents didn't go either. They streamed services online. That takes a special kind of patience, especially on their computer which Moses used to publish the Ten Commandments.
The holidays are about spending time with friends and family anyway. Fortunately, I was in San Diego over the weekend where I spent quality time with my family and my parent's friends, Bill and Karen from State College, PA. They are retired and spend their time traveling having recently returned from a trip to Iceland.
“Are there any Jews in Iceland?” I asked.
“The Icebergs,” Said Bill who instantly became my favorite person in California.
He and my dad went to high school together and became good friends after graduating from Penn State. I have memories as a kid visiting the Creamery at Penn State and hanging out at their house watching my dad and Bill drink bottled beer. When they visited us in Pittsburgh Bill would sing songs from the Doo Wop era in our living room and reminisce about hot dog and ice creams shops that weren't around anymore. Now in their mid 60's the two of them were boogey boarding in Coronado. They somehow made it to this decade. I couldn't help but think that's the way it's supposed to be.
While they were in the ocean, Karen told West Virginia jokes like the one about how West Virginia is where the tooth brush was invented. That's why it's not called a “teeth brush.” I was also told West Virginians have a new use for sheep...wool.
Back on land, Bill and I bonded over our interest in stocks and even made an investment together in a $3 lottery scratcher. Our investment team is seeing 125% return which means we are up a $1. Dropping Bill and Karen off at the airport, Bill remarked “This was really a great time. I'd give it an A-.” Hopefully we can get Karen to give us 4 stars on Yelp.
Thanks to Bill, I used my scratcher winnings to re-invest in the lottery. I hit the power spot on the 7's for an instant $20 and continued to scratch and win to the point that I won $86 cash. Some of that money would be used that night for family poker with my Aunt Barb, Uncle Larry and my Cousin Ari, a hero of mine as a kid, now celebrating nearly a year of sobriety. For dinner My mom and Aunt Barb served some flavorful rice and curry dishes. Uncle Larry, as is his custom, toasted without Aunt Barb anywhere near the table.
“Why do you always do that?” She asked.
“Here's to Barbara, the matron of the house!” He toasted.
The six of us played Texas Hold Em' and reminisced about how Leona, my grandma who passed away last June, would say the word “possible” to indicate a flush draw no matter how the flop was dealt. Aunt Barb called me on several bluffs and an All-In call against Uncle Larry was not enough for me or Ari to remain in the game. The two of us played Mario Kart like we were 12 years old while Uncle Larry and my dad took first and second.
On Sunday morning my mom and I skyped my sister Ariel, and my nine month old niece, Dylan who can now stand on her own. I told Dylan I would drive her to middle school. She then crawled onto the keyboard and changed Ariel's network settings.
My mom made me a strong cup of coffee and told me that she wants more Jewish babies. “It's up to you to teach your kids about Judiasm,” my mom said.
“Mary-Katherine and Christopher will both be sent to Hebrew School,” I assured her.
They'll spend the Jewish new year with family and friends. I'll just need someone to remind them.
September 12, 2012 | 10:23 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
Relationships evolve over time. I recall when hope and change brought my girlfriend and me together. She was the new girl in my office. I promised hope when I offered to drive her to work without knowing I would inherit the disaster known as her driving.
We've had enough successes to get us past the bumps in the road, enough to stay the course and see what else we can accomplish together. I'm now the President Obama of our relationship. I'm simply trying to move things “forward.” But, you see, to ensure a brighter tomorrow, I must secure the approval of the swing state, her parents, Dawn and Eric.
In June I drove to meet them for the first time at Damon's Steakhouse in Glendale. On the way to Damon's I felt like I was going to have a heart attack and she wasn't even driving.
“My parents hated my exboyfriend,” she told me. My palms were sweaty and I was out of breath.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence!” I exclaimed as I begged for ice water.
I downed a Mai Tai to help me to relax as we waited for Dawn and Eric. Each time the door opened I nearly jumped to my feet until I finally saw a 6'4 man accompanying an attractive blonde woman. When I shook Eric's hand I marveled at his height and remembered how my exgirlfriend's dad, Joshua was also 6'4. I'm attracted to girls whose dads can easily reach for tupperwear.
Dawn and Eric had just come back from France to visit their other daughter, Mari studying abroad in Paris. I asked them all about the food and their visits to museums. In return, Dawn handed me a special gift wrapped box of French chocolate.
“Wow, thank you, Dawn. That's very nice of you.” I accepted graciously.
Eric ordered coconut shrimp as an appetizer. The shrimps were fresh and delightful. I ate three. We ordered another round of Mai Tais.
“Elliot, why don't you have the last shrimp?” he suggested.
This was no small gesture. A father giving his daughter's boyfriend the last remaining prawn is a sign of acceptance. Though I felt like a shrimp next to Eric, this made me feel like a big man. Our entrees and the next round of Mai Tais gave way to an easy and already familiar rapport that lasted the entire dinner.
I was excited to hang out with Eric and Dawn again. I pretended Eric and I had already made plans. When my girlfriend would invite me to do something I would break the news that her dad and I had dinner plans at our favorite made up Mexican restaurant. “I cant, sorry. Eric and I are heading to Don Chachi's.”
After attending a festive poolside meal at their home where I met Mari for the first time, Dawn and Eric invited me to a pig roast. I was free that night since Eric and I were not going to Don Chachi's.
“Should I bring a pig?” I asked them. No one laughed, except for me.
We each brought a bottle of wine to the pig roast for what became a 14 bottle blind wine tasting. After sipping each wine we shared our thoughts and then wrote down notes. My notes included “rich and floral” while my girlfriend scribbled “taste like dog poo.”
I was most vocal about wine #6. All I could taste was a bitter and sour grape that scratched my throat. “Leaves me unhappy,” I wrote.
“This was the wine I brought,” said Eric.
I tried to reverse course. “That said, it's a great party wine.”
Dawn pointed to the hipster baby boomer talking to my girlfriend. “His name is Phil, but at parties he tells people his name is Phillippe.” She whispered. “He's such a poser.” Plus he was in the way of the wonderful blue cheese crustinis that I told everyone that I had made.
After the wine tasting we made our way outside to see the pig get flipped over.
“This pig lived a good well nourished life. He was fed local almonds and fresh grass,” our host declared.
I didn't know pigs ate almonds. Seems like something Philippe would feed a pig.
As we drank more and more wine, I asked Dawn if she read “50 Shades of Grey” and told Eric I bet against his alma mater, UCLA. By this time we were old friends who enjoyed another remarkable meal highlighted by the deliciousness of the roasted swine. Eating pig with my girlfriend and her parents was another special get to know you, something I will not be able to do with my parents when they meet my girlfriend in two weeks.
I'm starting to feel like I am earning the respect of Dawn and Eric. I feel safe around them, safe enough that I can even invite Dawn to mine and Eric's table at Don Chachi's. I'll save them both a shrimp.