It Was On Amsterdam

"I can't remember if it is on Columbus or Amsterdam . . . "

I am staring into a puddle on the street.

"I'm pretty sure it's between Columbus and Central Park West," Brandon says, peering at a gargoyled building in the skyline.

"Wait, on a cross street?"


"What are you talking about?"

"The Texas BBQ?"

"Oh. I'm thinking of that chicken place with the red and white checkers . . ."

I can't remember what it was called, but it looked good that one time when we walked past and it was dark out, and there was that cute family sitting there, and where were we at the time, exactly?

"Oh." Brandon looks up and down the street. "Is that what you want for dinner?"

And then we stand around looking at each other, and at the people bustling around us who know exactly where they are going, and then I shrug. Is that what I want, I wonder? I've never eaten there, and BBQ could be pretty great, too . . . and then I realize with a frown that this is quickly becoming one of those evenings.

When Brandon and I lived in Moscow and had a rare night out on the town, this is usually what happened. Twenty to thirty minutes of aimless driving about, rolling past restaurants, searching our souls for a spark of gastronomical inspiration, entertaining endless hypothetical questions about what sounded good before we'd finally pick something. This fancy little ritual caused such stress unto my being. Some nights it felt like we'd never eat dinner. Ever ever again.

"Is this the place you were thinking of?" Brandon asks near a red awning.

"No, but let's see what they have anyway," I say. I am always looking to end these jaunts as quickly as possible. Being hungry, while being pregnant, while also having a bummed out left knee . . . it's not going so well.

"Hmm, burgers start at $9.50. You really want a burger?" Brandon ins't willing to commit.

I do really want a burger, it's true.

"Try the chicken place?" I say with a deep sigh. I am playing the game, I hate playing this game. I stare wistfully into the menu board.

"Besides, these burgers come with a side of rice," I say, and I make a face. That settles it. Burgers and rice, that's weird.

Ten blocks later, still no chicken place.

"Well, it's not on Columbus," I say definitively, my left knee buckling every other step. I am not waddling! But yes, there is some . . . limping. Last week my left knee decided it was finished being pregnant, and to please let it know when the baby is out, and until then it is on vacation in the Bahamas, sipping fruity drinks or something and reading trashy novels. The rest of my joints carry on in silence while my left knee is a diva. I understand where she is coming from, if I could go to the Bahamas until Huck was born I think that would be great. Instead, I carry on in (relative) silence too.

"Maybe it's on Broadway?" Brandon says but I know it's not on Broadway, and I remind him that we saw it on the way to Cafe Lalo, which is between Columbus and Amsterdam, and so why would it have been on Broadway, I just can't remember the cross street, it could be 74th, it could be 84th . . . Where even is Cafe Lalo? Did we pass it already?

Finally, there it is. On Amsterdam. Brandon spotted it first after passing two Newsstands where he had to stop and ask his requisite two questions: 1. What is your price for a soda? (Some places are $1.50, some are $1.75,  it is this great mystery), and 2. Do you carry Mountain Dew? (Nobody carries Mountain Dew.)

"The Chirping Chicken? That's what it's called??" I feel a sense of outrage. No wonder I couldn't remember where it was, it is a fried chicken place masquerading as Chinese food!

We get on line and order our burger and our chicken and while we eat Brandon announces his chicken is good, he'd come back again.

And then I think, as I eat my burger and rub my bum knee, I guess I'd come here again too. 

Now that I know how to get here.


  1. ugh. i hate date nights that feel like this. and also when there is limited seating and you're forced to sit where someone made a nasty mess of the table.

  2. Isn't it crazy when a seemingly boring-night-to-be turns into something of an off-beat adventure?

  3. Hey Natalie

    I love the way you write,and reading your blog has now become a daily ritual. I am (relatively) new to your blog, so on post-less days I can fall back on the archives.
    Thank you for the stories.

  4. Awwww, date night strikes again! I loved the posts about you and the Holds driving in circles around Moscow trying to agree on dinner, trying to rent a movie, trying to drive each other bananas! Glad to see the mayhem still works in the Apple, but sorry for your knee.

  5. I hope your knee returns from the Bahamas soon. How did you even walk so many blocks like that? You're brave! But at least you found some place that you and Holbs can both enjoy. I know it's not always easy to please two people... believe me, I know. :)

  6. PS... Very smart to put the correct location on your blog because now you will not forget.

  7. Your post made me hungry for a good, cheap burger and maybe some chicken in a pita. Mmm!

  8. The mysterious cake/mousse was my favorite part. :-) When I was pregnant, my right thigh joint went on an Alaskan cruise without me, and I was highly perturbed to be left behind, as you can imagine.

    But, would you please read this comment to Huck?


    (I had to shout on account of all that amniotic fluid in his ears, you know.)

  9. Hilarious! Thanks. I needed a chuckle this morning! =)

  10. Our date nights are typically the same.

  11. your iphone could've found it in a jiffy. especially with that street view. it's awesome.


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