Ramen for foreplay
The plan was to do laundry but because it was cold and raining and the thought of lugging dirty clothes across the street was unbearable, we said, screw laundry, let’s nap.
And when we woke up with a pounding headache after sleeping too much and saw that it was still raining, we said, fuck laundry, let’s eat ramen.
We bundled up – and when I say bundled up, I mean I put on two shirts, jeans over my leggings, a cardigan, a knit sweater, a bubble vest, a scarf and my incredibly warm circle knit scarf.
I was wearing so many layers that I looked and felt like a mascot.
I may have overdone it, I thought, because as we walked to the subway, people were staring. They looked sleek in their hoodies and jackets and I looked like a yeti.
I really had overdone it because once inside the train, I began to overheat. All the layers made it difficult for me to breathe so I took off the scarves and the bubble vest and dumped them in my backpack.
It’s a bit of a walk to Totto Ramen. On a dry day, 12 minutes are a breeze but when it’s raining, they’re an eternity, especially when you’re wrestling with an umbrella.
I cannot say this enough: I hate umbrellas. They’re so much work. I never know what to do with them once they’re wet. I would usually choose getting soaked over bringing an umbrella but Jill gave me her special death stare – the kind that can melt the Titanic iceberg – so I grudgingly brought one.
It was 4:55 when we reached Totto Ramen, it was still raining and we realized with horror that they wouldn’t open until 5:30.
Were we really willing to stand in the rain for thirty minutes? Did we want ramen that much?
A Japanese man arrived. “No! Closed?” he asked when he saw the sign.
“Yup, they open at 5:30,” we said.
But there was another sign – Totto Ramen has a new branch just a couple of blocks away and it opens at 4.
“Should we go there?” Jill asked.
“I don’t mind,” Janna said.
We started walking, with Jill and Janna ahead of me. My stupid umbrella wouldn’t open so I walked for a block with my scarf wrapped around my head and the useless umbrella dangling from my hand.
Jill ran back, grabbed the umbrella from me and opened it with ease. Just call her the umbrella whisperer.
We entered Totto Ramen, dumped our umbrellas, grabbed a table and peeled off our layers.
We ordered three paitan ramens with pork, no onions, no scallions, extra eggs plus extra corn for me.
We were already eating when the waitress sat a couple at the table next to ours.
And when I say next to ours, I mean they were just six inches away.
“Just like Hong Kong, right?” the guy said.
“Date!” Janna said immediately. Their awkwardness made it clear.
The girl looked like a pre-makeover Tai – you know, Brittany Murphy’s character in Clueless. She was totally Tai – curly hair, bright eyes, scuffed shoes.
The guy, Janna swears, looks like Ogie Alcasid. But Jill says Janna is crazy. I’m not sure. I never saw his entire face because he was right beside me.
I didn’t see him but I heard him.
I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, I really didn’t. But they were so close that I couldn’t help but overhear everything they said.
They started talking about the guy’s facial hair. Apparently, it was his first time to grow a moustache.
It was puny as far as moustaches go but Tai was totally into it. “Facial hair is hot these days, right? I like it. I mean, if fashion states that you should do something other than put a razor against your delicate face in the morning and you can do something else in the morning, I’m all for that. You have my two thumbs up.”
Delicate face? What? This girl totally had the hots for Ogie.
They went on and on about facial hair and even started discussing The Hulk’s moustache. At one point, Tai calling Ogie “a rogue man” but Ogie did not understand what she meant. They only stopped the moustache discussion when the waitress not-so-subtly reminded them that they needed to order.
“I already know what I want!” Ogie announced grandly, while Tai scrambled to read the menu.
He ordered the extra-spicy ramen with bamboo shoots, egg and corn.
She ordered the chicken paitan ramen.
“Go on, get some toppings, they marinate the bamboo shoots here really well,” Ogie said.
So the girl ordered bamboo shoots “and maybe an egg.”
They talked about the Japanese soda he was drinking. He let her take a sip.
Their food arrived. Tai took one taste of her ramen and said, “Mmm mmm. I woke up today and said, “I want chicken noodle soup.” And I got it. And this is fancy.”
She started talking about her good friend “who is losing his mind.”
“A bunch of people in the east coast – well, not in New York – are trying to live cashless,” she said.
“You mean he squats?” Ogie said, a little snootily.
“Oh no, it’s with permission. He’s an artist.”
It was a very long story. Her friend went to Mexico, met a woman, fell in love and got married but, because he doesn’t have money, he is having a hard time trying to bring his wife to the States.
Tai seemed to find it romantic but Ogie didn’t seem impressed.
They moved on to another topic: Tai’s trip. She said she was just going to be in New York for ten days and wouldn’t have time to see all her friends.
Ogie cleared his throat. “Well, thank you for making time.”
Tai blushed, “Oh of course! I love this! This is great!”
And then they started talking about how they were going to Ogie’s apartment after.
“I did some spring cleaning. I took some of my books out of storage to show you,” he said.
“Ooh, I can’t wait to see your apartment.”
It wasn’t dinner, it was foreplay. The sexual tension was so thick I could poke it with my chopstick.
“Oh yeah, someone’s getting laid tonight,” we nodded in agreement.
I turned back to my ramen. It was good.