Two things you need to know about my husband.
First, he has a nose that can detect the raunchiest smells and whines about them until the smell goes away. (We have a hospital grade HEPA filter because I want sometimes to eat tuna fish!)
There’s no such thing as date night at my house.
Which, looking back, these two things combined should have perhaps been the pre-emptive of doom.
My husband invited me to dinner at a new restaurant. A new place offering Curry Chicken.
My husband does not like the smell of curry. In fact, there was once a time I was being kind and bought an energy drink for my husband, in another state, from a gas station. I drove one and a half hours home and joyously handed it off to him.
His reply, “Where did you get this? It wreaks of curry!”
There is no deceiving the nose. Curry is strong.
I knew my husband dislikes the smell of curry, and really? Who would have thought curry could survive a refrigerated case, an aluminum can, and a drive home from another state?
But, again, date night is not a thing at my house, and I happen to like curry chicken really, so I accepted.
We ran errands. My husband almost talked himself out of the date, but alas we were in the parking lot, staring at a Maserati Ghibli, and ready to conquer curry chicken.
The door open, we stepped in, and people seemed to scatter like cockroaches. Perhaps it was my imagination because my husband said nothing.
We were seated, given menus and left to listen to our bellies.
I glanced around, and something was off. My stomach was fluttering. I mentioned to my husband that something seemed amiss.
He asked if I had decided what I was ordering?
There’s a group of women off to the right. They have small children and what little fabric they have on is animal prints.
I bring up again that my stomach has butterflies.
My husband grumbles then sighs heavily and questions why?
I mention it could have something to do with Sug’ Knight and Tupac guarding the front door or the table of women dressed more like ladies of the night than Mommy and Me lunch dates.
He laughs like I’m joking.
We order our food. I’m having the curry chicken; he’s playing it safe with a Philly Cheese Steak.
I begin noticing a woman who keeps going from the back to the front desk with bags of food. “They offer take-out?”
My husband reminds me it’s Friday night and it’s a new place, “People are excited.”
A table of two is seated across the room and to the right of us.
I point out the woman who now looks like she’s in the running for how many grocery bags can you carry and say, “that seems like a LOT of take-out!”
“Busiest place in town.”
I bring up my stomach flutters again.
We’ve been seated for about 15-minutes. My husband mentions he doesn’t smell curry.
“How is that possible? You can smell curry on a can that I’ve hauled 120 miles!”
“I don’t smell any food cooking actually, ” he says with furrowed brows and his nose somewhat extended as if he’s tracking the scent.
“Maybe they have the same HEPA filter we do?”
My chicken curry is brought to me.
My husband insists I begin eating.
I finish my meal as his Philly Cheese Steak is brought to the table.
A few bites in, there’s yelling at the front door.
Another plate of chicken curry is brought to the table, and the waitress says, “the kitchen made a mistake and made yours twice, so we’re just going to give this to you.”
I thank her; it’s generous.
The “bag-lady” comes through again with her arms hauling half a dozen grocery bags on each side of take-out. The thought crosses my mind as to why they wouldn’t have just packaged this extra plate they brought out for someone else?
That thought falls short because the front door is LOUD.
It doesn’t fade; there is hollering.
As my body turns to see what all the commotion is about, my husband growls at me, “Do NOT turn around, just mind your business.”
I begin to face forward again, and as I do, I say to my husband, in a hoarse whisper, “So? There’s like thirty guys that weren’t here a minute ago lining up.”
It’s deafening behind me with the voices. I hear someone say, “Oh, you lookin’ at me?!”
I can see the fear in my husband’s eyes, something I’ve never seen before, as he urgently exclaims,
“He has a gun! Let’s GO!”
It’s then I notice my husband is leaving our booth.
I’m trying to catch up.
I feel like I’m swimming in molasses.
People are everywhere now. I weave through them and head down the hallway in the back.
I don’t make it very far.
A giant man with latex gloves cuts me off and tells me I cannot exit this way. I hear my husband telling someone we are leaving in the distance behind me.
Latex Gloves won’t let me pass, which means I have to exit through the front, where all the chaos is unraveling; but first I have to get through the dining area.
I’m cut off again by the man who looks like Sug’ Knight. He’s telling me something about credit card verification and driver’s licenses.
My head is swimming. I can only whisper, “Sir, I just want to leave.”
Sunlight shoots through the front door, and I see my husband almost out of the building. I pick up the pace, but it all seems like slow motion.
There is a gentleman in the booth behind where we were sitting filming with his mobile device.
I reach the front door, and Sug’ Knight is here. He’s apologizing; I think?
My breathing feels labored. I can hear my heartbeat in my head.
I see my husband exit.
I’m not far behind.
The chaos has overflowed out into the parking lot area around the entrance.
The last thing I hear is, “They’re lighting up in the back.”
My husband has the car in gear, and we drive off, feeling lucky to be alive.
Hoarsely I say, “That was like West Side Story!”
My husband replies, “We are never going back. I hate curry chicken!”
Date night’s not really a thing at my house. Just that one time, I ordered curry chicken and ended up in the middle of a gang drug war. The scariest day of my life.