Sake Bombed

ImageOur relationship was…untraditional at first. Through mutual friends, we had been introduced at a concert one night and before long, over talks of Faulkner’s total inability to end his sentences in a timely fashion, we wandered back to my place to get intimate. I still have yet to consult the Guinness Book on this, but it was possibly the first time in history that a discussion of Faulkner has ever directly preceded intercourse between consenting adults. I’d like to believe that this stands as testament to my faculties as a conversationalist, but considering my notoriously ineffective flirting skills, it’s probably more fair to say that we wound up together in spite of, rather than thanks to, my hawk-like analyses of sentence structure.

In any event, we had both intended for it to be a one night stand; but then a similar circumstance occurred several nights later, and again several nights after that. A full month of such night stands passed, and we elected to make it official by going on an actual date. In the interest of preserving her anonymity, let’s call her “Ariel.”

Ariel was allergic to shellfish; I was an avid sushi lover. Spurred on by my assurance that sushi chefs sterilize their instruments between dishes, she insisted on trying, at the very least, a cucumber roll. We set the date.

I arrived at the restaurant ten minutes before she did, and got us a table. Our waitress approached and asked if I’d like to order any drinks while I waited. Sake bombs were on special; in accordance with my “never say no to trying new mixed-drinks” policy, I ordered two, along with an equal number of cucumber rolls and one California roll for me.

Ariel arrived, and so did our beverages. While I was aware already that she detested beer, the fact that it is an integral component of sake bombs had not crossed my mind. She grimaced, but grudgingly agreed to give it a try. Taking note of our mystified expressions, the waitress then explained how to imbibe them: “Slam your fists on the table, so that the shots of sake fall from the chopsticks into the beer, then down them in one fell slurp.”

We raised our fists. The waitress again interjected and asked if we would like her to do “the chant.” I had no idea that that entailed much more shouting and theatrics than a party of two could possibly desire in public, but was eager to get on with the date, and agreed.

“When I say ‘sake,’ you say ‘bomb!’ Sake!” The waitress belted.

“Bomb.” We muttered, suddenly aware that we were now the focus of the entire restaurant’s attention.



“One! Two! Three! Banzai!”

With all the kinetic energy of an asteroid plummeting to Earth, I slammed my fists on the table, which wobbled, and knocked Ariel’s sake not into her glass, but onto the table and into her lap. Undeterred, I proceeded to lift my own sake, which, by some unholy defiance of the laws of physics, had failed to tumble from its chopstick hold. I dropped it in, and discovered immediately and to my unwelcome surprise exactly how much more force two additional inches of gravity can generate. A startling volume of beer leapt from its silicon dioxide enclosure, across the table and onto the face and chest of Ariel.

The waitress excused herself immediately–as did Ariel, who crossed the length of the restaurant to the women’s room at a rate just shy of the speed of sound. I pretended not to notice that the gazes of every other patron were locked magnetically upon me, and swiftly downed what remained of our beverages.

Each minute spent hours in passing, as I awaited either Ariel’s return or the realization that she had climbed out of the bathroom window and fled the country in embarrassment.

Our food arrived, and shortly thereafter, she emerged from hiding. I apologized profusely. She waved it off, but dejection nonetheless poured from her features, and spelled out the necessity for the remainder of our meal to conclude with all possible haste.

I set about inhaling more sushi than air; she sized up a single cucumber roll, and tepidly brought it to her lips. Her eyes widened as she began to chew–the texture of it scraping her nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard. Wincing, she choked it down, then promptly set her chopsticks on the table, her appetite suddenly escaping her.

At her insistence, I finished the rest of the food myself, then called for the check. As I crossed the T’s in my signature, I looked over and noticed that her wrists had grown swollen and red.

We rushed from the doors of the sushi bar to the doors of her apartment building two blocks away. I had, by this point, banished any illusions that she might invite me up to her place, or even speak to me again; I asked repeatedly if she would like me to drive her to the hospital, but she politely declined, saying that it wasn’t an emergency–she just needed to take her allergy medicine and get some rest.

Needless to say, a week later when the name “Ariel” popped up next to the words “Call From” on my cell phone, the last thing I expected to hear was her asking for a do-over. But she did. It’s funny how the best bonding experiences are often the most mutually embarrassing ones. We stayed together for four months after that.


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