My wife and I aren’t foodies. But oh do we try. Which means that, in the true spirit of our leave-no-stone-unturned Type A personalities, we have made it a point to find great restaurants (Urbanspoon and TripAdvisor anyone?) and spoil our taste buds shamelessly.
No surprise then when my wife made a reservation for my birthday at the Spanish tapas restaurant consistently ranked as one of the top 10 in our city. My expectations were appropriately high. My dress was worthy of the gazes of passersby on the street. My wife’s eyes twinkled in anticipation.
And it kinda sucked.
I say kinda because there was a level of quality that could not be denied. The ingredients and preparation were second to none. The service was professional and courteous. Ambience? Everything you’d want or need on a special night.
And it still sucked.
Despite all of the impeccable parts, the whole was so much less. My mouth was not happy. My taste buds were anything but spoiled.
But you wouldn’t have known that if you’d looked at my smile. Or my plate. Or the take home containers that landed in my fridge and sat for a week, touched only to make room for other, more desirable left overs. I maintained an air of satisfaction with the experience that was just that — air.
Fast forward to last week when my wife and I drove past the restaurant and she remarked off-handedly, “you know, I don’t like that place as much as [3 star, not top 10 restaurant that we thoroughly enjoy].”
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I was inwardly beaming from ear to ear when I, just as off-handedly, replied, “yeah, [lesser restaurant] is more our taste and style.”
What. A. Relief.
I was free from the weight of expected satisfaction! I didn’t have to go back and pretend to be impressed and fulfilled and happy with what had been so completely unfulfilling.
Would you call me crazy if I told you that I felt the same way about my career?
Same setup. A profession that was highly regarded. A firm that was an UrbanSpoon top 10 in its category. Recommended by TripAdvisor for young up and comers. The specialty I craved. The mentors everyone was clamoring for.
And it kinda sucked. (You saw that coming, right?)
And again, you wouldn’t have known it. At least, not at first. Because I stayed at the table. I smiled at all the right times. I oohed and aahed at all the right things. Despite the disappointment and aching of my spirit, like taste buds prepped for Graeter’s Black Cherry and told to make do with mass-produced vanilla, I sat at that table, day after day, month after month, grinning and bearing it.
Until grin and bear was no longer an option.
I think that my initial reaction was how anyone who had become accustomed to a particular cuisine might react. I was shocked. I was confused. I was, quite frankly, lost. It was the right job in the right field at the right firm and I was supposed to like it. And that’s what I had been doing, like a good little diner. What the hell was I gonna do now?
In walks my wife. Again.
“You know, you weren’t really happy. In fact, you were pretty unhappy. And there are other things that are more your taste and style.”
The relief that I felt was almost unspeakable. And this time, the grin that stretched from ear to ear, was worn right on my face.Bhan Voyage Boredom is a gateway drug. Avoid it at all costs.