Jack and I shower (separately) and dress (I carted heels 2,000 miles for this dinner) and take a car to Astrid y Gastón, a restaurant owned by the famous Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio. We haven’t had the chance to eat since breakfast so we’re growing a little tetchy.
ASTRID Y GASTÓN
We follow the maitre d’ through the Astrid y Gastón dining room, past several elegantly dressed couples (I am still finding mud on parts of my body I missed in the shower). He pulls my chair out for me. Our server greets us formally, places our napkins onto our laps and hands Jack the leather-bound novel of a wine list while another server adroitly fills our delicate wine glasses from an ornate silver pitcher. A basket of bread materializes. Jack stabs the butter with his left hand while reaching across the table with his right, then goes to town on a piece of bread that he has placed on his cover plate, oblivious to the smaller plate and knife just to the left.
“I really like you,” says Jack, inviting me back to his room. This is awkward. I have had a wonderful time with Jack this past week, and I’m sure that the trip was more fun with him than it would have been without him, but I cannot wait to be on my own again. I realize that I am hypercritical and that if I find fault with him wearing shorts and not using his bread plate then I am probably destined to lead a solitary life. I want to have fallen for him — he’s a catch — but the ridiculous fact is, I’m physically attracted to the dangerous Erwin and emotionally attracted to the worldly Price Peterson persona that we concocted. I guess that means I want James Bond, and 007 is a fictional character.
SAYING GOODBYE: PANAMA CITY AIRPORT
“So, uh, have a good trip back to Minnesota.”
“Yeah, you too, Chicago.”
And Jack and I have not run into each other in a bar since.