“Oh no,” she said, looking at her phone. “The babysitter has pink eye.”
We had just been talking about how much we were looking forward to our dinner. My friends don’t get a lot of evenings out; their two-year-old and five-year-old daughters take precedence over amber drinks in sleek glasses, delicate vegetables, and tender cuts of meat served in hushed, dusky atmospheres.
But pink eye is not to be messed with. Pink eye wins all of the everything. Pink eye is like the boss at the end of a video game.
My friends immediately launched Operation Find New Babysitter. They called friends of their babysitter. Friends of the friends of their babysitter. People they’d met at the grocery store. That woman they’d worked out next to at the gym that one time. It was a no-go. There was no one to watch the kids. We were resigning ourselves to ordering pizza when their neighbor offered a small reprieve: She could watch the kids for two hours.
Two hours was plenty of time to get drinks and appetizers. And, with a new-fangled service called Car2Go, we could grab a car, leave it in downtown Portland, and get a cab back. It was a perfect plan.
We all changed into outfits slightly more palatable for drinks and marched out the door, hunting down the Car2Go vehicle. We found it, and all three of us stood staring at the car. The tiny, two-seated Smart Car.
My girlfriend stepped up. “I’ll sit in the back,” she said. We peered behind the seats. It was certainly possible, but not ideal. The space was really meant for two bags of groceries, not an actual person, svelte though she may be. She managed to squeeze in the back, and with her legs twisted beneath her and her back pressed up against the rear window, we were off.
We arrived at the lounge and tumbled out of the diminutive car. “Three, please,” we told the hostess. “There’s a bit of a wait,” she said. “How long?” “30-40 minutes.” We’d already burned 20 minutes. This would not work. We looked at each other, sighed, and were off again.
Not wanting to cram ourselves back into the Smart Car, we Yelped a lounge within walking distance, raced around the corner, and strode through its open door. We took a seat, and only then took stock of our surroundings. It was not what we had in mind. It was dark, foreboding, and vibrating with death metal. A great dive bar if one is in the mood for that. We weren’t. We attempted to make a go of it, but then slunk outside. We were 45 minutes into our two-hour deadline.
The last place suggested was also in walking distance, but in a seemingly deserted, industrial area. The train roared by in the not-so-distant distance. I mock-whispered to my girlfriend, “This is how we die.”
The restaurant came into view, and we slid inside. It was warm, glowing, and smelled glorious; we inhaled the scent of meats, wood, and spice. We’d found our place. My friends texted their neighbor and begged for an extra half an hour. It was granted.
What followed was a 90-minute parade of amazing small dishes, each one unbelievably better than the previous one. Glasses containing cocktails and wine were drained. And the dessert… I still can’t even talk about the dessert without bursting into happy, incredulous tears.
It was all so, so, SO good.
“We got lucky,” we said, but then realized. No. It wasn’t just luck. It was that we didn’t give up. We could have given up at the pink eye. We could have given up at the two-seater. We could have given up at the long wait or the screaming biker bar. But we didn’t. We were tenacious little terriers, insisting that WE WOULD HAVE OUR NIGHT OUT.
As we talked in the cab on the way home (the cab that materialized out of nowhere the second we walked out the door), we understood that the original plan was great. It was lovely. But it wouldn’t have been as nearly as fun (and that picture at the top wouldn’t exist).
Of course, tenacity isn’t everything. But when I look back over this year, I find that the best things that happened were hard-won. Tenacity forces you to examine different avenues and solutions. It makes you be creative, and find new paths to your goal. Tenacity makes you take the road less traveled... and like it.
And sometimes it doesn’t work. But sometimes… sometimes, it does.
And it’s even better than you imagined.