Once outside of Grand Central Station Reindeer looks down the sidewalk and says, “One of my batch mates works around here.” “Batch mate,” I repeat. “Is a word only desis use.” He agrees and two blocks later an extremely friendly staff speedily seats us.
With menus in hand Reindeer asks, “Who do you find attractive.” Hhhmm, this is a tricky date inquiry. Through telepathy I ask Reindeer, “What is the correct answer to your broad question? You. George Clooney. My neighbor Wyatt?” As though he read my mind Reindeer adds, “Someone I have heard of.” Ah, and I reply, “Patrick Dempsey, Jason Lewis, Mathew McConaughey, Rob Lowe and Val Kilmer.” Reindeer shakes his head. “Val Kilmer I know. Are the others TV stars? I don’t have a television.” What? Who doesn’t watch TV? It is the best thing on earth! So what if it’s dumbing down America! I’m already educated!
“Who is on your list?” I ask. “Eva Longoria, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Terri Hatcher, Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz,” he replies. “Cami Dee?” I say. For some reason her appearance on his list makes me feel bad about myself. He laughs very deep and sexy, and asks, “Why?” “You’re like the international love machine,” I state. “Except Cameron doesn’t fit.” He looks me square in the eye, “I prefer brunettes.” Swoon!!!
After we order appetizers and dinner, he tells me about his seafood allergy. Because north Indians (Delhites, Punjabis, Rajputs) are landlocked, we aren’t fish eaters like the coastal Goans, Keralites, and Bengalis. So I ask, “Did you learn of your allergy the hard way?” Sheepishly he nods and shares, “We went for a fancy seafood dinner and as soon as we were finished I felt ill. My body broke out in hives and I was…” This is when he realizes vomiting is not appropriate dinner or date conversation.
I nod and say, “I know what happens next. I’ve been food poisoned.” I don’t care what anyone says, it is worse than the flu. You have no control over your body’s violent desire to purge the toxins, before food literally kills you. The first day you think you are dying and the second day you wish you were dead. “Did the hives go away?” I ask. “I had this friend who was studying medicine who told me to use calamine lotion. So I stripped to my shorts and rubbed it all over my body.” Interesting. Should I read into the sub-text?
“Do you like fruits?” Reindeer asks. “Yes. Berries and watermelon. And of course mangoes, the national fruit of India!” I reply. “Every summer my parents would bring home buckets of mangoes and my brother and I would sit in the kitchen in our shorts and eat the sticky, sweet fruit,” Reindeer says. “You spend a lot of time in your shorts,” I finally say, addressing my concern that he references to his shorts could be pervy. But he genuinely seems embarrassed.
To be cont.