A $430 meal ($80 tip included)

All I can say is this: “Thank you, thank you, thank you, Evelyn, for the fantastic meal at Tao last night!!!  I always enjoy spending time with you and your family and am honored to be considered part of your family.  I love you all, and thank you, again, for everything!”  Last night was fantastic!  Ket, my lifelong best friend and partner in crime from my days at Rocky Mountain College, made a spur-of-the-moment trip up here to Montana from Kansas City, Missouri and I, Furb, was invited, as is our tradition, to dine out with her and her family at a sushi restaurant.  Last night, we dined at Tao.

An interlude with the details of the day is in order here.  I had gotten up at 0440 hrs (or so I thought), and immediately realized that there was a discrepancy between what time my alarm clock, which is self-updating concerning Daylight Saving Time, said it was and what time the rest of the clocks said it was.  It turns out that my alarm clock had prematurely updated a day ahead of time and I was actually fully dressed and had taken my morning medications by 0350 hrs or so.  Oh, well.  I decided to stay up.  Jerrold and I watched Squiggle Bug from 0600 hrs to about 0730 hrs, and then I remained up while Jerrold went back to bed for a while.  I read the introduction and three of Neil Gaiman’s short-story pieces from the book Trigger Warning and then proceeded to set up my blue-covered Climbing, Training, and Tx Bullet Journal further.  I wrote a blog post, which I was proud of for its analytical value into a behavioral problem that occurs frequently enough to be troublesome for me, and then had coffee with my mom.  After my mom had gotten finished watching Cullen while my brother got a haircut, she came down to get me and we went to our local Shipton’s Big R to get some crushed walnut shell cat litter.  My mom buys it there because the other locations are usually out of it.  With five indoor cats, my brother and sister-in-law go through a lot of cat litter…  Mom and I went to Perkins for lunch and we ate light, even though it felt quite filling upon finishing it!  Mom dropped me off and I came inside our basement apartment, took my boots off, and took a much-needed nap instead of climbing in order to give my shoulder, and myself, some more rest.  Upon waking from that nap, it took me a while to truly wake my mind up.  I was very tired and still under sleep’s spell.  About an hour later, I was functioning well enough to get ready for dinner out with Ket and her family.  I took the green Duluth Trading Co. flannel shirt from the back room and put it on.  It looked great.  I dug out the chopsticks that Ket had bought while she was in Japan and given me over five years ago out of the small kitchen drawer they’re usually stored in.  Yep, there they were.  They’d been used only a handful of times because my dexterity when it comes to chopstickery is limited.  Ket always has to show me how to hold and use them properly  every time we eat sushi, which is only every time she visits from Missouri (once a year).  I washed the beautiful black chopsticks with gold leaf leaves on the top ends of them off and dried them on a towel.  Real chopsticks.  With texturing at the tips and sentimental value beyond price.  That’s what they were.  I had decided I would take my own chopsticks to dinner this time and, even if it took all night, I would eat my dinner with them!!!  This was a very special occasion!!!

I found a prime parking space at the restaurant, which was unusual, but handy.  I was 25 minutes early for our 1900 hrs meeting time.  Ket texted me and said they were running a bit late and would meet at 1930 hrs instead.  I replied that it was fine and I would be there.  Ket called me when they showed up and waited for me to give me a big hug as a greeting before we walked in together.  All together, there were seven of us dining at Tao in the corner booth with chairs around the other two sides of the table.  I let Ket order for me because she knows what she’s doing and I don’t know what most of the stuff on the menu is.  Ket gave me some practice with my chopsticks in picking up tea bag wrappers and disposable chopstick wrappers from the table and then playing some combination of air soccer and keep-away with our chopsticks once I got the wrapper picked up.  It was fun, haha.  Last night, I’m proud to say, I ate almost my entire meal (or what was meant to be eaten with chopsticks) with my chopsticks using them the correct way.  I did have to stab a gigantic scallop, but beyond that, I redeemed myself by picking up a single, thinly sliced cooked mushroom with my chopsticks, which made me very proud and gave me a lot of confidence.  I even ate my rice from the Bulgogi (Korean thin-sliced steak) with my chopsticks!  And of course, the sushi.  I ate plenty of sushi with my chopsticks.  I drank plenty of tea and we even had dessert, which was a first.  The dessert was definitely fork-food due to its frozen nature.  Oh, so good!!!  The just-over-20% tip ended up being $80.  I looked up at Evelyn.  Someone else asked how much the bill was, thank God.  “Oh, three hundred and forty-something dollars,” she said, nonchalantly.  Total, we left approximately $430 in the payment folder.  I thanked Evelyn profusely.  She really went all out!!!

Ket walked me to my truck.  We walked arm-in-arm and talked about how short her time was here as we approached my truck.  She spoke of possibly coming back in August.  We gave each other a long, tight hug that I wish could’ve lasted forever and told each other that we missed each other and that we loved each other.  I told her that if she ever needed anything to call or text or…  “I know,” she said with a smile.  “Take care.”  She walked away.  I hate goodbyes, even if they’re just see-ya-laters.  They’re still hard.  She flies back to Missouri today.  I’ll be climbing sometime today for sure!!!

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