"How about a date Friday night?" asked my husband one day when we were working on the house. Absorbed with children, work, college for me, and house-building, we seldom ventured such frivolity, and I responded warmly. "Sounds great. Where shall we go?" I responded
"How about Baltimore?" he asked. He had been there recently for a professional meeting and had come home insisting that this was one city which had a flavor all its own.
"They even make their own beer, and it's good beer, too," he had raved. "They call it Baybridge, and it's different. So are the people. Even the waitresses have a flair, and you can get a feeling of the sea in the restaurants. Baltimore is one of the largest seaports in the country, you know."
Well, I decided his meeting must have been unusually good and thought no more about it, preferring the country myself. However, when he suggested we take our sally there, I suddenly became intrigued.
"We could have dinner at the restaurant where you ate," I tendered.
"And we'll try mint juleps!" he expanded.
We had been so enthralled with the idea of the South when we moved to Washington that we had blithely, in deference to the southern influence, added the middle name "Lee" to our son born shortly after our move. We had not yet, however, sampled mint juleps, one of the most intriguing components of the southern style, in spite of the fact that we'd planned to even before we moved here.
We set our departure to suit the baby's schedule, leaving the first sprout to sit, and took off gaily for the twenty mile drive to Baltimore with me sitting close to the driver as good dates should do. I found I still remembered from our courting days how to shift gears to keep his arm free for cuddling, and the miles faded rapidly by. We got lost in the city, as we always do no matter what city we are in, but finally located the restaurant my husband had enjoyed so much before.
Our search for streets had diverted our attention from observing the uniqueness of the town and, as we approached the restaurant, I began to seek the flavor he had described. The restaurant was different, all right. It looked dingy on the outside and dim on the inside, with very few people around. We were escorted downstairs to a cocktail lounge which made me feel quite sophisticated and just a little uncertain. It was, I believe, my first experience in one. The plushness, if there was any, was lost in the dimness of the lights, but the sound of ice in a shaker was good. Though I felt timid, I was impressed.
My date was all poise. "Just wait till you taste the seafood," he said. "It comes straight from the Bay, and it's good."
The waitress looked garish, even in the dim light. She wore some kind of uniform, heavy make-up, and distressed hair. She was, however, friendly.
"Hello, there," she said. "Are you two out on the town tonight?"
"How did you know?" I asked innocently.
"You look like you're having fun," she said. "What are you going to drink?"
"We'll have two mint juleps," my husband said firmly. "Coming right up," she replied.
While she was gone we studied the menu, trying to choose which of the many varieties of seafood we should try. They all sounded good, but we hadn't lived near the sea long enough to know which we liked best.
"You get one kind and I'll get another," my husband suggested, "and then we can taste each other's."
While we were deciding, the waitress returned.
"I'm sorry," she said forlornly, "but we're out of mint. We can't make your mint-juleps. What will you have instead?"
My husband and I looked at each other in consternation. Mint juleps were part of our plan. Then I had an inspiration. "How about Baybridge beer? I'd love to try that!"
"Fine," he replied, and to the waitress he said, "We'll have two Baybridge beers."
"What a revoltin' development!" she exclaimed as she turned on her heel.
We roared in laughter as she left. Indeed, Baltimore did have a flavor of its own.
So much of what I am is because of what he is, this man who is my husband. Throughout the years of our life together, he has been a part of my becoming. It's the way of love, I guess, because I do the same to him to some extent. We drove along the wharf that night, full of shrimp and oysters and indulging in an orgy of flavoring the city for dessert, and my life was a little richer than before.