Monday, September 6, 2010

Love on the Woks

Coming from suburbia, I am pretty well-versed in the world of casual dining. These are reasonably-priced sit-down restaurants that are a step up from pizza but won't break the debit card—and Midtown Manhattan could use a few. Actually, we really just need Pei Wei—it has all the atmosphere of a place you'd actually take a date, but is priced about like Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

Shakespeare once wrote: "if music be the food of love, play on." I say "If Pei Wei be the food of love, why aren't there any around here?" See, there is a direct correlation between the number of casual dining restaurants like Pei Wei and the amount of casual dating that goes on. Considering the one Chipotle is about the closest we get to a Pei Wei, it goes without saying that there are a lot of wasted Friday nights.

Sure, casual dating isn't the only thing that matters. But think about your parents' college experience. They went out with multiple people, sometimes in groups, sometimes not, but there was some residual "Brady Bunch" mentality of "going out" being different from "going steady." This is what most people call "casual dating." It's that lost art of being interested in someone without being committed, and of getting to know the person before you jump in like an eighth-grader and declare you're "going out" and then just awkwardly eat lunch together sometimes.

Seems like a nice thing, right? Wrong, say the higher-ups at Pei Wei. It might be a nice thing for suburbia—they have high schools, supermarkets, orthodontists, and other normal things. But here in midtown? We have the Empire State Building for crying out loud! 30 Rock! Rick's Cabaret! What would you want with casual dating in a place like this?

So they keep it away, those higher-ups at Pei Wei. They hoard their moderately-priced Asian-inspired dishes, they hide their thick, lush napkins, they squirrel their snappy red-and-black "East of Usual" decor, and leave us to eat our Subway sandwiches by ourselves.

I know you don't believe me, but it's true. A relationship is an investment—in time, money, and emotional energy. Before you sign the dotted line, you read through the fine print. Before the fine print though, you read through the big print—metaphorically speaking, that's casual dating. You see if it's worth it to get all the way to the fine print, or if you need to go "refine your search terms" and start over. However, relationships are a two-way street. The girl is reading your big print, and you don't want it to say "cheap"—and neither does she. Pei Wei is an elegant solution to this problem as it's not a huge down payment, but it gives off that hip, swanky expression we're all dying to exude. Pei Wei really is the answer to this generation's dating woes. Who knew it could be that simple?

So the next time you're taking a bite of that Spicy Korean (no really, I promise it's a dish at Pei Wei!), think of all the single souls that Spicy Korean helped pair together—and say a little prayer for those of us trying to read the large print at Empire Pizza.

I was craving Pei Wei in:
White sheath dress with large purple geometric print, purple hemp hoop earrings, large silver flower ring, and green leather stilettos with cork heels and platforms.