The other night--like on so many nights--my boyfriend R___ and I went out to dinner. It was not an extravagant affair; we spent most of the evening hemming and hawing over what we wanted to eat, and then finally at 8pm, we peeled ourselves off of the futon and walked to a restaurant less than two blocks away. When we arrived and sat down, I took a good look at R___. He was wearing approximately the same clothes as he wears to work every day: a striped button-down shirt, navy blue slacks, and sandals (which, when going to work, he substitutes with dress shoes). I, meanwhile, was wearing dirty sneakers, gray sweatpants, and a T-shirt from a basketball camp I attended back in 2000. That is when the full realization came to me: my boyfriend dresses better than I do. I still haven't decided if that's good for him (he dresses very well!) or bad for me (I dress very pooly). Then again, it could also be bad for him (he dates a slob) and good for me (I date a fashionable dude). I haven't decided yet.
Another realization came to me this morning, on the subway. As often happens, the train i needed to take was operating on a delay, which meant that when it arrived, I and the nearly hundred other commuters waiting on the platform faced the ever-pleasant task of jamming ourselves into an already-overstuffed train. As I mashed myself between suited shoulders and looked for the nearest railing to grip, I made eye contact with a young, petite Asian woman who happened to be pressed up against my chest. She was also looking for something to hold onto, but whereas I merely reached over a few shoulders and took a hold of the metal ceiling rod, she had nothing. Stuck like she was, in the center of the train car, she could not reach from her 5'2" height to grasp any of the surrounding railings. And that's when I realized: on the subway--in spite of how much greasy hair I might have to smell--taller is better.
One more realization came to me out at dinner the other evening. I ordered miso soup as an appetizer, and when it arrived and I began to slurp it up from my Chinese spoon, I started to think: what was really in this soup? Three or four tiny little cubes of tofu (each smaller than a cube of sugar), three lonely pieces of seaweed, a few chopped pieces of scallion, and a bowlful of broth. I happen to have my own container of miso paste at home (which is what you use to make the broth), and that cost me four or five dollars. If you go to the right bodega, scallions can be fifty cents a bunch, and even tofu is not that expensive. Yet, here I was in this restaurant, drinking down the dregs of a two-dollar cup of soup that probably cost twenty-five cents to make. If my soup was marked up 300%, how much must the restaurant be making on a tuna roll, or shrimp teriyaki, or cabbage stir-fry? Yet going out to eat gives me a destination, even an "event," if you will; it makes me feel as though I accomplished something, simply because I left my apartment. This was what I suddenly realized: when I go out to eat, I'm not really paying for the food; I'm paying for the experience.