Augh! Valentine's day was a complete disaster! I had a crappy time, and ended up with three (rightfully) disgruntled guys!

The plan was simple enough. I had met two Japanese girls who were interested in meeting some American guys. I also happened to have two American guy friends who were single and highly interested in meeting Japanese girls. For Valentine's day, Max and I thought we could all go out as a group and have some fun getting to know each other. We made the arrangements, the plans were set, everyone (with the possible exception of Edward) was stoked. This was going to be fun.

Or so I thought.

We ate at Hannah's, a Denton-based restaurant that Max and I have enjoyed in the past for special occassions. Unfortuantely, the restaurant seems to be on a down-slide: I am less impressed with the food each time I go. The service is mixed - the hostesses were rude to me both in person and over the phone, but our waiter, Jess (who also waited on us last year for the same occassion) did an impressive job.

Our reservations were at 9.30 (later than I would have liked, but it's my own fault...I made them) and by that time there had been some changes made to the menu. While not a major problem, this still resulted in a slight inconvenience and necessitated a reorganization of priorities. Furthermore, (and this is my ONLY beef with our waiter) all three of the ladies ordered sparkling water. However, they had only one bottle left, so the waiter brought it to me, since I had ordered it first. He explains this dilemma AS he is opening the bottle and pouring me a nice, refreshing, lime-laced glass. The Japanese girls look on thirstily. At this point, I can't send the San Pelligrino back, so I request two more glasses for the Japanese girls and encourage them to split the rest of the bottle. This was a poor solution at best, and I felt guilty and inconsiderate.

Additionally, because it was Valentine's Day, the restaurant was serving a "special menu". While this is common practice, and price increase is to be expected, this menu brought with it a level of price-gouging that none of us could ever have anticipated. This was not a reasonable, modest fee increase to cover the cost of more lavish ingredients and capitalize on the holiday. This was shameless daylight robbery.

But so far, these are trifiling concerns. The real nightmare had nothing to do with the restaurant. It was the Japanese girls. They spent THE WHOLE TIME talking to each other in Japanese! I know for a fact that both of these women speak passable English. The occasional grammar slip-up aside, they are both capable of fluid, natural conversation in English, with very few faulterings or miscommunications. The guys did make some attempt to initiate conversation with them, although I would hardly call their efforts exhaustive. The Japanese girls responded to the questions, of course, in perfect English (which suprised the guys, who had at this point assumed they just didn't speak English), and then went right back to conversing in Japanese. I believe they asked one question of the boys between the two of them all night.

As for myself, rather than having an enjoyable evening with friends, or with Japanese people, or with my boyfriend, I spent all night trying to engage the girls in the guys' conversation, or the guys in the girls' conversation. I spoke partly in English and partly in Japanese, and it seemed all questions between the two parties were directed at me, as if I were some kind of international liason. I should stress to you that I was not doing a great deal of interpreting, here. It was like this:

Japanese girl:
(leans over to me and whispers) How old is he? (points)
Me: Who, Edward? 23 I think. (looks at Edward) I dunno, Ed, how old are you?
Edward: I'm 22, I'll be 23 in March.
Me: Oh, that's right. Sorry!...(searches desperately for a conversation bridge) Um, these two are both 19, right? (looks at nodding Japanese girls) Uh, so (Japanese girl's name), when's your birthday?...

It was TERRIBLE. And in the end, the guys got stuck with a monstrous bill, and didn't get so much as a decent conversation for their trouble. As the organizer of this mad circus, I can't help but feel responsible. To top it all off, I hardly got to speak to my boyfriend (who's a bit of a shrinking violet in akward social situations) all evening! Max went into stealth mode, and I had my hands so full with moderating that I didn't have the chance to interact with the man who is by far my favorite person in the world, and certainly at that table. We couldn't even really see each other because he was sitting right next to me. [sad, pouty face here]

I believe, however, that I did win the "Asian Challenge", as it were (the "Asian Challenge" is in reference to the unspoken competition between women that takes place whenever they go out in mixed company, in this case made more difficult because the other women involved were Asian, and thus at a distinct advantage...), but the victory seems hollow because the evening was so miserable.

*sigh* At least I have my "Asian Challenge Victory Shoes" to comfort me.