We had grand plans. Dinner at Bones Chophouse, a new place said to be an old-fashioned steak house that sears prime-and-better beef on steel heated to sixteen hundred degrees. I’ve seen photos of their rib-eye steaks that made my mouth water. Those images triggered my olfactory senses, too. I would have sworn I could actually smell the meat cooking. People who have eaten there almost swoon when talking about their meals. It’s possible, of course, that the cause of their near-faint reaction was the price they paid for their meal. Bones is not your average “let’s go out for dinner” sort of venue. Dining at Bones demands one of three circumstances: a spectacularly special occasion worthy of taking out a bank loan; personal wealth of such scale and scope that it possessor, by default, owns at least two homes in the Hamptons; or fiscal irresponsibility that virtually guarantees financial ruin in the near-term. In our case, only the first circumstance applied: we were celebrating our thirty-eighth wedding anniversary and would promise one another not to spend so much on a meal for at least a year.

Actually, our anniversary celebrations have become rather routine and not subject to the anxiety that might accompany the first or second or third or fifth anniversary. In those early years, if something got in the way of our planned celebration, I can imagine we might have been overwrought. (Though I don’t recall anything of the sort.) For number thirty-eight, it’s just another day, but with an excuse to splurge.

All during the day on our anniversary we heard weather forecasts calling for severe weather right about the time we had our “tentative” reservations (the place does not take reservations, but when I called and plaintively cried “it’s our anniversary,” they took my name and said, “we’ll see what we can do”).  As the time drew near for us to need to leave, the weather forecasters’ predictions seemed to be playing out to the west of us. If the storms heading our way maintained their strength, we decided, we could be caught right in the middle of a super cell or tornado about half-way home.  So, we decided to call and cancel. I spoke to the same woman who had said she’d do what she could. She did not seem particularly pleased. I said I would plan to try again soon.

There would be time, we decided, to zip over to El Jimador, our favorite little Mexican place in the Village.  We enjoyed our dinner (we always get the same thing) and I went to the counter to pay. I pulled out my wallet, opened it, and discovered something was missing—the credit card I intended to use to pay for dinner. I looked and looked. I emptied my wallet. It was not there. The restaurant manager said, “No money? You’ll have to do the dishes!” He laughed. I laughed, but not as loudly as he. My wife drew a credit card from her purse and paid for the meal. We went to the car. I sat there, stewing. “Where the hell did I leave it?”

My wife asked what I had done the day before. “I slept most of the day. Where did you go while I was sleeping?” I tried to remember. Yes, I had gone out. Yes, she slept most of the day to compensate for her inability to sleep the night before, due to her allergies and hours-long sneezing outbreak. Yeah, I had gone out. But where? It was the day before, for goodness sake! I couldn’t remember what had I done! Finally, it came to me. I went out only to a writers’ meeting in the morning and I attended an art show at which my neighbor won a prize in the afternoon. Nowhere else. I did not use my credit card.

My wife finally figured it out. I must have left it at another restaurant earlier in the week. I called. Sure enough, it was there. Sighs of relief echoed throughout the house. We could stop worrying that someone might be using my credit card to buy cruise missiles or a Caribbean island.

The storms arrived just a little behind schedule. Fierce winds, pounding rain, and regular screams from the NOAA emergency weather radio. When alerted to tornado warnings and advised to “take cover,” we hid in the hallway (our “safe spot”) until the television in the next room announced the cancellation of the tornado warnings.

We squarely placed blame for the derailed dinner plans and the discovery that my credit card was missing and the beastly weather on the fact that our anniversary fell on Friday the 13th.  Of course, our anniversary has fallen on Friday the 13th before. A little internet sleuthing (forget calculating it with a calendar) revealed that we’ve celebrated on that dreaded day in these previous years:

  • 1984, 1990, 2001, 2007, 2012, 2018


Just another average anniversary.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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