For my birthday dinner this year Brooke took me to a Brazilian steakhouse. Ever since I first learned about the Brazilian steakhouse (or churrascaria, for Brazilian people or annoying know-it-alls), I’ve wanted to go. And it did not disappoint.
If you’re unfamiliar with the awesomeness that is a Brazilian steakhouse, congratulations on being a vegetarian. How’s that vagina working out for you? (Note: Disregard sarcasm if you are a woman; I hope your vagina is working great.) Basically, a Brazilian steakhouse is a temple to all things meat. There’s no menu. There’s no pasta special. There’s a huge salad bar and an army of men who wander the dining room with various hunks of meat on skewers, their sole mission being to feed you so much meat that it’ll take weeks for your digestive tract to get back on schedule.
You “order” using a wooden disk at your table. One side is painted red, the other green. When you want meat, you place the green side up. When you don’t want meat, you place the red side up. “Simple enough,” I think to myself as we sit down at the table. “It’s like a game of “Red Light, Green Light, 1, 2, 3” but with meat. Oh, I could call it “Red Light, Green Light, 1, 2, MEAT”! People would think that’s hilarious. I should write that down; I’ll never remember it. Maybe I’ll just tell Brook, she has a good memory. But then it’s kind of wasted on her. Not that things are wasted when I say them to her. She’s awesome. It’s just that I have a blog to think about . . .” My inner monologue gets long-winded when I am hungry.
The waiter comes to our table to explain the procedure and I give him a look that says “Yeah, like I would come to a Brazilian steakhouse without A PLAN. Asshole.” The way I see it, an all-you-can-eat buffet is a battle between me and the restaurant: They want me to fill up quickly, I want to milk them for all the food they’re worth.
I tell Brooke I have a plan and she reminds me it’s a restaurant, not an action movie. Whatever. The idea, I tell her, is to whet your appetite using the salad bar. This means eating small portions of delicious food, but also eating medium sized portions of not so delicious food. In this way, you properly whet your appetite for good food while tricking your stomach into thinking that it has to absorb as much of the good stuff (i.e. meat) as possible, before the mediocre stuff comes back. This procedure is in line with how my mind normally relates to my body (through deception and trickery), which is also how I conduct most personal relationships in life. It’s complicated, but effective.
My first plate contains mozzarella, asparagus, mushroom caps, lettuce, hard cheeses, and pasta salad. I eat in a rotating fashion: two good bites (mozzarella and cheese), one bad (lettuce). (Readers should understand that I don’t hate lettuce, I just fundamentally disagree with, and will never trust anyone who says they like lettuce.)
Brooke is going to town on her heaping plate of appetizers, but I know better. I eat slowly, purposefully. All the while, I am watching the waiters stalk the eager diners with their hunks of meat. (Ed. Note: Great line for a suspenseful chapter ending in my next romance novel.)
Finally, the time comes to flip the disk from red to green. And the second I do, it’s like chumming shark infested waters – except I’m not the prey, I’m the hunter. And the waiters are carrying my prey, so they’re more like a school of smaller fish who are incidentally attracted to the bloody scene. So the shark metaphor might be a reach. But the point is, I haven’t had this many men offering me meat since that time in college when my friend Scott and I got caught in a torrential downpour and accidentally ducked into a gay bar soaking wet.
And once the floodgates opened, it was impossible to stop them. Top round, bacon wrapped filet mignon, pork medallions, quail – the only thing more impressive than the quantity was the variety. When one guy came over and thrust a slice of medium rare beef at me saying “Pichana!” I thought he was threatening me. It turns out that’s a type of delicious steak. Which I ate a lot of.
The initial flurry was intense, like a scene out of Harry Potter when Ron mistakenly opens the wrong magical doorway, which is actually a vacuum portal leading to an elongated scene of pandemonium before Harry laboriously closes the door and a random stack of papers comes floating down to the floor – i.e. Brooke reaching over and turning my disk to red.
Instinctively, I shot her a threatening look. But in that moment, she talked me off the ledge: “Remember the plan! Slow and steady!” I took a deep breath and realized she was right. This is what they wanted me to do – to ruin my appetite by gorging on the first wave, leaving me defeated. I looked Brooke in the eye and realized all over again why I loved her.
Because she understands that the way to a man’s heart is through his meat.