Friday night four of us went out to blow off steam and usher in the weekend. The idea was a sloppy good time with some wine and Italian food. Despite being a Los Angeles fan boy, somehow my Angeleno track record never included a stop to classic West Hollywood Italian dive Dan Tana’s. Celebrities, cougars and a decor that reminded me of my east coast roots all put my mind at ease when we sat down and started to get loose.
Everything was going very well up until about halfway through my incredibly cheesy and saucy plate of Chicken Parm. Through a miracle of quantum physics, the push and pull of fork and knife discovered what police are referring to as a “underground sauce pocket” beneath the generous slab of chicken. Chicken Parm and a knife and fork work much in the same way the earth’s plate tectonics work. The great opposing forces normally held in a fragile balance by sold contact between the chicken and the plate became wildly unstable when the underground sauce pocket (or USP) increased viscosity below the chicken while minimizing aerodynamic drag between the fork and knife.
The net result was a Vesuvian explosion not seen outside a Hollywood action film.
Sauce exploded up into the air splattering our entire party. What ensued was a lot of checking ourselves to see who was hit. It was like the cops looking for bullet wounds after a shoot out. I felt like we were in a scene from the Pacific. My upper body was hit, but I was wearing black and I think that helped. My fiancee had sauce as high as her forehead. My friend across the table had red tomato pulp sightings in both the shoulder and groin region, the latter of which seemed physically impossible given the location.
But I would not be writing this post if this was the sum of the USP explosion. Across the room a table of Italian guys who looked like they loved beating the shit out of people all turn around looking at my table. Somehow, the instability of the USP had launched sauce clear across the room spraying the better half of the table. Wise guys were turning around looking at me. There was no sauce on the table and the waiter comes to interview me. How do you explain to a man that you aren’t throwing food when you have just witnessed a miracle of culinary ballistics. I was sure this would be one of those times I was just going to accept I deserved a punch in the face. I was going to take my lumps. The waiter has a flashlight now and is checking the woman closest to me’s shoes, which I have possibly ruined. The guys are torn between killing me and discussing the magical shot that just happened. Literally, it is like listening to people break down the Zapruder film.
I decide against buying the guy a bottle of wine, mostly because if the Chicken Parm is so volatile, the thought of a busted cork or some unintended wine carbonation is terrifying. I give the guy an awkward handshake-slash-shoulder rub on the way out and we make outta there faster than a jackrabbit.
Next stop was Roger Room just to hash out the details. I make my second mistake of the night. I have ordered Yamazaki on the rocks and halfway through the drink my buddy asks for an ice cube. Two are fused together and I decide to snap them apart. Bad call. I launch one of the cubes into the booth behind me into the neckline of a mortified Asian girl. I attempt to apologize, but it doesn’t go well for three reasons. The first is that I am not actually sorry. The second is that it was hilarious. The third was that anyone who gets pissed about getting hit with an ice cube is probably going to stay single and own a lot of cats.
It is clear that I need no more to drink and must go home. I had my best friend’s wedding in two short days and more than ever I needed to get my shit straight.