I told Drew exactly where I wanted to go for dinner on my birthday.

I wanted him to take me to my new favorite restaurant, Gyu-kaku, a fun Japanese place where you cook your own food on an open grill. We went there a month ago, on its opening night, and had a great time. While we were there, we were talking to a young couple on a date, and they surprised us when they asked us how long we’d been together. It was the first time we were officially recognized as a couple by complete strangers. And the food was great, too.

But Drew wanted to surprise me, so Gyu-kaku wasn’t going to work. I knew for sure that he’d chosen another restaurant when he told me he had to pick me up at 6:30 in order to get me there for our 7:00 reservation. Gyu-kaku is only five minutes away from my apartment. I was a little disappointed, but I was sure he’d picked somewhere equally fun to eat. There were lots of places I’d mentioned that I wanted to go, and I was having fun trying to call what restaurant names I’d dropped casually over the preceding weeks. Was it the Buggy Whip? Roscoe’s Chicken N’ Waffles? Hometown Buffet?

Drew was coming from a baby shower that ran late, so he didn’t arrive to pick me up until 6:45. I got into his car, and he blindfolded me so I couldn’t see where we were headed. I tried desperately to thwart his game, using my sense of direction and time to estimate where we were. “We’re crossing Santa Monica Boulevard… we just turned left on Gardner… traffic seems awfully light, we must be on a side street…” I immediately ruled out the Buggy Whip, which is south of us near the airport. We were clearly headed North, towards Hollywood, and possibly Burbank. Could it be the Outback Steakhouse? Well, it seemed unlikely, as earlier that day, I had heard the restaurant call Drew to confirm his reservation. Outback didn’t seem like the kind of place that would do that. … or was that all a trick???

About fifteen minutes went by, and we were now late for our reservation. Drew called Julie and Victoria, who were meeting us at the restaurant, to tell them we were about fifteen minutes away. Now I was convinced we were headed for Burbank. It was driving me crazy.

At 7:15, after half an hour in the car, Drew pulled into a parking lot and told me to take my blindfold off.

We were at Gyu-kaku. He had been driving around in circles for half an hour, wasting time and keeping my friends waiting, to take me exactly where I wanted to go.

I was surprised.

Drew’s birthday is two weeks from today. Now I know what I have to live up to.

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