An Anniversary, An Eggplant Plan

After the phone calls, after dinner, we settled into our comfortable spots.

During a commercial, we started talking about where we’d go for our 5th anniversary dinner. There was no contest, really. Sal’s Italian Restaurant in Tecumseh. Close to our almost-in-town townhouse, it had been a great favorite Friday night, take-away spot for us.

It was the first place outside of New York, I’d ever had a good Italian Wedding soup. The garlic bread was perfectly garlick-y, beautifully buttery and sublimely sprinkled with parm. The red sauce was perfectly saucy, from an East Coast perspective.

Sal’s eggplant parmesan was wonderfully and deliciously authentic, too.

Not so long before Jeff brought me to Sal’s, I made this dish for him. We’d been dating about a month, and it was supposed to be our first stay-in, dinner-in, at my Okemos apartment.

It was awful. Bitter and mushy; with raised forks, we watched each other watching gooey, grayish globs weeping through the tines.

He asked me how long I’d salted it before cooking. I accompanied my dumbfounded look with the teary explanation that I had just winged it. “Gotta salt it,” Jeff sagely advised. “Even then, it’s not so great, sometimes.” We went out for Mexican.

I was so enthralled by Sal’s version, that Jeff happily tried a bite. Even though he’d been down that road before. Even though he wasn’t fond of that particular nightshade. Even if it had been salted, fried and layered with cheese, his aversion to eggplant rivalled my aversion to cauliflower, even if it had been salted, fried and smothered in cheese.

Sitting in Sal’s, I watched Jeff contemplatively chew for a bit, and laughed when he decisively summarized, “I’d rather have the chicken.”

Jeff mentioned Evans Street Station as an alternative. Because we’d already be dressed up for our church photo, I considered that. It was so sweet of him to mention the fanciest restaurant in town. A few years after opening, it was still on our to-do list. We just hadn’t made it there, yet.

“Maybe, some other time,” I smiled. “I’m really missing Sal’s. It’s the first place we ever went to dinner in town. So, that kind of makes it ‘our place’, too.”

“You won’t get any arguments from me!” Jeff grinned.

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Dog Gone, Repeat

It was more than a little bit my fault. I was going for the mail, when our mischievous little bit darted through the door on a Saturday afternoon. She silently slipped behind me, which was amazing, as she was an unusually heavy-footed pup. Stealth really wasn’t her style.

Sadie had slyly wedged herself against me as I  turned the door knob. I looked down at her adorable face and foolishly said, “Stay.” I don’t know why I thought that would work. Never had in the past.

She took it as an invitation to tag along. Sadie pushed through the slight crack, pranced down the drive, t turned a hard right without hesitation.

By the time I got to the street edge, she was out of my sight. I forcefully bellowed her name, hoping she’d hear me. It’s safe to assume most of the neighbors heard me, because Jeff showed up at the door.

Coming out of the house, he called down to me. “Why’re you calling her? Is she with you?”

I wailed the obvious. “No! She ran away!” Then, quickly requested, “You try calling her!”

Instead, Jeff did an about-face and headed back inside. “Let me get my shoes!” he tossed back-over his shoulder.

“Ugh! You don’t need shoes to shout!” I shouted, as the door closed behind him.

Left on my own, I started scouting for Sadie. Within seconds, I spotted her sneaky spots squeaking between two houses on the other side of the street. I headed that direction, only hesitating to glance toward the house when I heard the front door slam, again.

Jeff had wandered back outside, with a firm grip on his car keys and slippers on his feet.

Sadie heard the slam, too. She took off at a sprint, again, heading around the curved corner of our street.

“Argh! I think she’s just gone around the corner!” I informed my husband, assuming he was going to track her down by circling the neighborhood.

He didn’t. Instead, he just stood there next to our old beige Buick, repeatedly hitting the lock button. I surmised he was just having some sort of bumble trouble. But, I was wrong.

The car horn beep-blasts served as a Sadie beacon. She showed up panting and smiling. Just sat her cute little butt down by the driver’s door. Ready and waiting, eagerly watching Jeff.

“Whelp….’ Jeff tossed the keys from one palm to the other. “We need to go for a ride, now.”

“Um, no, we don’t.’ I countered. “Let’s not reward her for running away.”

“Oh, no.” Jeff shook his hands and head. “We’re not rewarding her for running away! We’re rewarding her for coming back!”

When it was obvious I wasn’t immediately following his train of thought, he clarified. “It’s happened before.”

Narrowing my scowl, I put my hands on my hips preparing to ask how it was that I didn’t know of this before, even though I knew the answer.

Before I could formulate an appropriate scorn, Jeff added an addendum.

“Besides,” he reasoned. “It’s a good day for an ice cream, anyway.”

I processed his Jeff-logic and realized the rub. Sadie knew what would happen if she wandered. Jeff knew what would happen if she wandered. That explained her carving a familiar path, and matched his lack of concern. They both waited patiently.

Of course, the ice-cream tricked worked on me, as well.  I laughed at them both, then headed inside to get my purse.

Those two were made for each other, and made for me, too.

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