dinner at versailles

Roommate just got the new job he’s been vying for so he calls me at the end of my shift to say he wants to celebrate and he asks if I’ve eaten and I say no and he says, “Let’s go to Versailles.” A big Cuban restaurant down the street. I tell him sure and hang up. 

Last night was the Art Basel party where I spent too much money. The idea of spending twelve or so dollars on dinner makes me squirm. I’ve avoided looking at my balance cuz I’m getting paid tomorrow and would rather just not look at it ’til then.

But now I need to know. I open my banking app and check the balance.

Negative thirteen dollars.


My colleague looks up.

“All that vodka” (he knows the story), “I’m broke.

I’ve got $60 in cash back at the apartment, though. Small pockets of money here and there: Paypal, checking, savings; the $200 I invested in Ethereum last year has dissolved to an unflinching $34 in my Coinbase account. Few dollars in Venmo too.

I get to the apartment an hour later and take the dog for a walk and then grab twenty dollars off my desk and the roommate drives us to Versailles. He’s chatty in the car, excited. Starts an eight-day vacation tomorrow and he’s talking about the fortuitous timing of the offer. “I’m gonna rage,” he says, throwing wide-eyed glances at me. “Gonna be Crazy Chris, motherfucker. Crazy Chris!”

When we’re seated at the restaurant and a server brings us menus the roommate shakes his head and smiles and says that when he comes here by himself he gets the Spanish menu but now because of me they’ve brought the English menus.

“Do I look that white?”

“You look that gay.”

Francisco Goya, Two Old Ones Eating Soup

I order chicken with rice and a Corona. $8 for the meal, plus $4 for the beer, equals $12, plus a $3 tip.

$15. Perfect.

When the food comes out I’m done with my beer and after a feverish few seconds of mental math as the server approaches I decide I can almost definitely afford another beer. Just to be safe I squint at the carpet and do the math again. The math checks out (I think). I ask the server for another beer and he brings it.

The roommate and I drink and eat. Every time there’s a lull in the conversation I tally up the bill in my head again to make sure I haven’t fucked myself. Seems fine.

The roommate’s got two girls coming over shortly so they can hit a Basel event so he asks for “la cuenta por favor” and I probably tug at my collar or change colors or something cuz as soon as the check shows p he snatches it. 

I reach, argue.

“Dude,” he says, shaking his head and waving me away, “I won today. Believe me. I’m getting this.”

I try not to be too effusive with thanks but I’m…swooning. Relieved, puzzled.

You spend so much time in your head, poring over your flaws and lametning your mistakes, and then somebody buys you a meal cuz I guess they enjoy your company and it’s…a little disarming.

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