It starts with a reminder from my roommate by way of a confirmation email he received: “Yo, we have Eleven Madison Park next Saturday.” I didn’t forget about the reservation as much as I didn’t pay any mind to it. Reservations can be made without consequence or any exchange of money; they’re meaningless in of themselves. But the confirmation is like the scheduling of an execution after all the appeals have failed. In seven days, you’ll be given your last rights (the menu), eat your last meal (the meal, obvs), and then it’s death (the check). The confirmation might as well have said, “You know the monthly pay check you’ll be receiving on the 15th? Well, four days later, ten percent will be gone.” Ten percent is a lot of percent. I need to do something.
It should be noted that this meal isn’t a celebration of any kind. I didn’t graduate or get a new job or do something for a year that would necessitate an anniversary. The meal is a celebration of itself. My friends and I agreed we were childless grown-ups and we should be able to spend money on things we want to do. And eating at Eleven Madison Park is something I want to do and have wanted to do for years. More specifically, three years, ever since Frank Bruni’s New York Times 4-star review that touted the restaurant’s rare level of quality, precision, and, maybe most importantly, of-the-momentness. We felt this was a place worthy of our hard earned money. It wasn’t until the confirmation, however, that I realized the meal would demand a larger portion of my hard earned money than my friends’. They each make at least three times more than I do, which is not their fault or problem—it’s a fact. Some friends just make more money than others, but I didn’t want to be Joey or Phoebe or, god forbid, Rachel not going to the Hootie & the Blowfish concert with Chandler, Ross, and Monica. So I start to plan.