I’m sitting at a two-seater in Les Halles, chatting up a high school friend who’s moved to Texas. She’s unimpressed with the food and service of this celebrity-chef-tied-restaurant, and utterly disappointed in the Park Avenue location. I nod at her disapproval and offer her a lamb chop; they’re cold, and I can’t remember if they were served that way or if they became that way.
Just an hour ago, I broke the 6-month silence that existed between my father and I. The news of his impending grandfatherhood must have struck a chord, because he instantly softened from his usual grizzly countenance. He asked how far along I was and when I told him, he said, “Ok. That’s good. Everything’s good.” There was a hug and a few tears of joy on my part.
But now I’m here, in Les Halles, breaking the crisp upper layer of a creme brulee. Rice and I have talked about work, money, family, all the things that we’ve accomplished since the last time we saw each other. It feels good. Our conversation is organic and real, without the pressure of trying to persuade each other of our worth or validity. Our food is gourmet, although without the flair and emboldened flavors that we’ve come to expect from New York restaurants. And the shift from the everyday rat race does not go unnoticed. I am grateful for this experience: eating a $100 meal with an intelligent and beautiful human being should not go unacknowledged and unappreciated.
After two and a half hours of running our mouths and quenching out palates, Rice asks about the location of the powder room. She stands from the table and for the first time since the morning, I take a look at my cell phone. There are several text messages and missed calls, but the one that stands out is a call made 50 minutes ago. It’s from Rob, aka the man I’ve been seeing on and off for the past 3 years, aka the father of my child. He and his best friend, Justin, were supposed to clear out my mom’s basement earlier in the day, and I bet he called to confirm that they were indeed at my mom’s house. I press “Talk”, raise the phone to my ear, and when I’m greeted with silence, I chirp, happily, “Hi, baby. What’s up?”
“Hi,” a voice replies. “It’s J.”
“Oh!” I laugh. “Hi.”
“Hi.” There’s an ease to the way Justin talks, as if nothing bothers him. He is perpetually non-plussed by events. “We were at your mom’s place,” he begins in the same easy tone. “We brought up all of the heavy gym equipment from the basement-”
“You guys rock!” I interject. “Thank you so much!-”
“Wait. There’s more.”
My spoon is making ripples in the smooth, creamy custard and I am coveting each luxurious swoop into my mouth.
“So Rob and I are taking the heavy gym equipment to the garage, and your neighbor sees us. Your neighbor thinks we’re robbing your house, so he calls 911. The cops showed up, pat us down, and found a pocket knife on Rob. They’re arresting him now.”
I’m incredulous, unbelieving. “Which neighbor?”
“The one you share the driveway with. He came out to get a shopping cart, and I waved to him and said hi.”
Justin must sense my dismay, because he tries to cut through it with facts. “There was a knife on Rob. A knife. A pocket knife. Rob’s being arrested right now.”
I hear Justin yell to Rob, “Yeah, I’m talking to her right now.” His voice is even, controlled, relaxed.
The hormones in my body can’t take the strain of emotion. I can barely form cohesive thoughts. “I’m gonna call my lawyer,” I say immediately. “And I’m gonna call my dad and have him go to the police station.”
“They’re taking him to the 106th precinct.”
I nod, forgetting that he can’t see me. “I’m high-tailing it out of the city right now.”
We hang up and I make my calls. My lawyer isn’t picking up his phone and my dad tells me he’s on his way. I explain the situation to Rice, and become anxious when she takes too long to add up her end of the tab. Then we bolt out of Les Halles, say our goodbyes, and I hurriedly run to the subway station.
An hour later, I’m in Queens and on the phone with my dad. He’s telling me that he just came from the precinct, that Rob’s in a holding cell, and that no one can see him. I promptly call Justin and get the same story. But I don’t care; I want to see Rob, or at least, I want to try.
I go to the precinct and ask to see him. The officers give me the once-over and immediately size me up: I’m too young, they think, too professional, and too attractive; what the fuck am I doing, dating some low-end criminal?
“I’m sorry,” the tall, clean-shaven officer says. “He’s already in central booking. He’s not here.”
I nod my head and ask if it’s possible to see him in central booking. I remember that Rob barely ate anything for breakfast, and I wonder if he’s eaten anything all day. Maybe I could bring him some food? Or at least some soda or juice? When I’m told that it’s out of the question, my face falls. I hate cops.
“So you’re saying that there’s no way anyone can see him?” I ask, raising an eyebrow. “Even if I bring legal representation?”
“Yes,” I say, obviously aware that he’s not the brightest crayon in the box. “A lawyer.”
“Sure,” the cop says, creasing his brow. “He can talk to a lawyer.”
I open my mouth to say something about how watching Law & Order reruns is preparation for real life, but instead a tell-tale waft of vomit exits my system.
“Where’s the bathroom?” My voice is just above a demanding whisper.
The female cop points and I make my way to the first clean stall, where I promptly puke into the toilet. There’s my lamb chops and my creme brulee, all splattered against the toilet seat. I leave the stall without wiping after myself or flushing the toilet. I fucking hate cops.