On a street in Williamsburg that a gal from suburbia might call “seedy”, we showed up for our 10:00 reservation at an oyster bar. We had ubered over from a rooftop bar ten blocks away and were relieved to take off our heavy coats in exchange for the warmth of a dimly lit room and the clatter of diners and their absinthe induced laughs. In a corner booth beneath an oil painting we were sat with a view of the room so perfectly tailored you might find yourself thinking you were transported to the 30’s, and that the noise of the clinking dishes and flirtatious banter around you was all that existed in the world.
Then, we were judged, well I wasn’t…but.
We were there for my friend Annette’s birthday and this place came highly recommended. We had looked at the menu the night before because our friends Sarah and Heather are the chicken and spaghetti types and they’ll be very upset with me for saying that. While I had just a few nights previously been given a quick education on absinthe thanks to a bar tender in Fullerton, we were able to pick one from the menu so we didn’t look like the complete newbs that we were. So Annette and I ordered absinthe and the chef’s choice of oysters ready to indulge in some of life’s most obscure delicacies.
Then, our chicken spaghetti friends ordered, and thus began the judgment. They had to ask for regular butter because the seaweed butter tasted like it was infused with essence of ocean. They then preceded to order one absinthe to share as they weren’t big fans. The one non-fish dish at the restaurant was a big slab of pork for which they had to bring out the only steak knife in the restaurant, and like a scarlett letter it was placed on our table to be viewed and silently scoffed at throughout the evening. The server brought the meat out with disdain and a pretentious smirk as he asked with half hearted enthusiasm, “who ordered the pork?…enjoy”.
Annette and I were giddy with laughter over our fabulous oysters and the cloud of judgment that hung over our friends like an American in Paris. We fell prey to the pompous environment as we slurped oysters like we were the real adventurers, the true experiencers and our friends watched with disgust over the air of our elevated joy and the gelatinous look of our dinner.
We finished our meal hysterical over our polarized experiences and walked out of the restaurant where the spell broke. It was not 1930, we were all just tourists in New York, we'll always be Americans in Paris, sometimes we'll have to order the pity dish, and it’s really funny if you laugh about it. The moral of the story is that you should go eat oysters, and if you don't like them you should be like Sarah and Heather, who although they would never dream of eating such grotesque cuisine, would go to an oyster bar anyway and take delight in the snobbery of others. I now deserve to be taken to a steak house in Texas where vegetarian is not in their vocabulary and they throw some iceberg lettuce and ranch on a plate for their costumer who eats rabbit food…how embarrassing.