Octopus & Indianapolis
Hans and I were able to have a "date night" in Indianapolis last week--a date that included a trip to the most delicious Asian buffet. We began our evening at Teppenyaki, a restaurant with Japanese-style food. I cannot began to explain to you the variety of delicious food items, for there were at least a dozen stations filled with steaming shrimp, chicken and stuffed crab shells.
Hans and I wandered the aisles, staring at each offered dish with ravenous curiosity. Plate after plate, we filled our palettes with small samples. Our gluttonous appetites kept us going back for more and more--for more mushrooms, for more shrimp, for more sushi.
A salad bar was one of the first stations, but I found myself intrigued with only the baby octopi. With an texture obsession, I placed two of them atop my stuffed crab shell. My lips were eager to taste them, to try them. Spicy or not, I wanted to chew their meat, feel the suckers rubbing my taste buds.
"Look what I found!" I exclaimed to Hans, pointing at the octopi.
His eyes widened with hunger. "Where did you find those?" He asked eagerly.
I pointed to the salad bar. "Over there. They have seafood salad, too," I said seductively, knowing very well that he would serve himself a mound of the sliced and diced crab meat.
Back at the table, I stared at the glass dividers, the makeshift walls between booths. Green and pink and purple lights reflected through the glass, illuminating etched leaves and branches and birds. "This is so delicious," I gushed to Hans, my mouth full of flavored salmon. "Thank you so much for taking me there. This is wonderful. I wish we had come here earlier so would have been able to come back."
He nodded, his mouth full of octopus. "It's a bit spicy," he warned me.
"It's okay," I waved him off. "I really, really just want to feel this," I said, my eyes with determination. "It will be the most texturally interesting thing I ever eat."
"Says the girl who hates onions and celery because they're not soft enough."
"You be quiet," I said lazily, forking a cephalopod into my mouth. I sighed, chewing. It was slightly rubbery, yes, a bit spicy, too, but wonderful. Delicious and full of texture and grit and salt and seawater and sauce.
"This is so good," I said again, repeating our dining mantra.
Indeed, Teppenyaki was absolutely delicious. It didn't matter that it was a buffet; it didn't matter that you could find green beans and mashed potatoes nestled between General Tso chicken and "Triple Threat" seafood pasta. It didn't matter that there was tiramisu or Jell-O. It was colorful, visually and tastefully vivid. Watermelon triangles were stacked just opposite of steamed broccoli and beef. A man, quiet in his work, avidly rolled sushi in a back corner while appreciative customers tipped him a dollar, or two, or three.
"Thank you again," I said, as we paid and started to exit. We paused for a moment by the water wheel, the trees sparkling with multi-colored Christmas lights.
"The wheel is off-balance," Hans noted, pointing at it. "Watch it." His eyes followed it's movement, his voice narrating its pattern. "See?" he said, as the wheel momentarily slowed before speeding up, faster and faster before, suddenly, it slowed again. "Fast, fast, slowing, sloowwwwwwing, fastfastfast." The pattern continued despite the constant flow of water spewing from the mouth of a fish statue.
"Huh," I dumbly responded, knowing I could not match the mechanical comments of Hans. Instead, I snapped a bokeh photo of the lights, one that I would jokingly announce to be "just a picture of some Venn diagrams." After immaturely pointing at the palm trees and noting the unfortunate presence of "just two nuts," we left, holding hands and laughing.
"Ready to see the lights?" Hans asked me, as he opened the car door for me.
"Yes!" I exclaimed giddily. "I'm excited! I'm still kind of upset that I didn't get to go with you to the City Market on the 8th."
"Well, I hope you have fun."
"Of course I will. I like lights. ...and shiny things in general."
The rest of the drive into downtown Indy was uneventful, save for the moment where I exploded in laughter.
"You didn't see that sign, did you?" I asked, giggling, my thumb pointing back over my shoulder.
"No, I didn't."
"I didn't think so, as you're driving." I sighed. "I wish I had gotten a picture of that." I laughed a bit more. "There was a sign back there, a really large banner, really, on a restaurant. It had 'HAPPY 32th ANNIVERSARY' printed on it! ...how do you even pronounce that?" I laughed. "That is a copy editor's nightmare."
"You and words."
"Hey..." I said, looking at him with a smile on my face. Hans glanced at me, smirking, his eyebrows raised. "...that's all I got," I said, laughing again. We rounded a corner, turned onto a street and there it was, there was Monument Circle, aglow with Christmas lights and candy canes.
"It's so pretty," I whispered to myself as Hans struggled to find a place to park. We drove in squares, in rectangles, for blocks and blocks until we parked at an intersection a ways from the Circle. Outside of the car, the air was brisk, windy. We struggled to stand upright, fought against the air to keep our fingers and toes warm. When we finally reached the Circle by foot, I became enraptured by the lights. Mesmerized, I looked upward. Upward and out, around and around. I twirled on my own feet, distracted by blinking Christmas trees and bell ringers and sparkling lights.
We walked up the steps of the Monument, each taking in the lights. We pulled cameras out of pockets and off of shoulders, capturing what we saw. I, jealous of his pictures, he, jealous of mine. I looked up, up and up and up. The cables whipped in the wind, breathed like an open-air tent.
I danced around the cables, swirled around them and smiled at the Capitol Building. I watched Hans take his own photos, capture his own memories. I twirled and twisted, smiled and laughed, a ballet between myself and the decorations. I was happy; happy with how pretty things were, happy to be there, happy to be there with Hans. Even the ground was bedecked, the lights and drains reflecting the bulbs above my head. Over me and below me, it was a playground of electrical confetti.
Storefronts and buildings with curved architecture reflected the enormous “Christmas Tree,” altered and expanded and warped it into a vivid world of color.
We contemplated drinks, contemplated more walking, as we strolled around the Circle. Our eyes were drawn to different things—to the reindeer outside the entrance to the Symphony, to the colorful LED tree, to the beautifully cluttered tea store. “This is so beautiful,” I said, gazing at everything. I stared up at the Monument again, it’s creation years illuminated. Its steps were guarded by over-sized nutcrackers, an army of cartoonish characters.
“Yep, this is where I walked the other day, the day you couldn’t come,” Hans said to me, pointing at the nativity we were nearing. “I took a picture of that. Remember?” I nodded, glaring at the bell tower, which had been chiming for several minutes.
The walk back to the car was difficult, and we spent many a minute wandering, confused and lost. When we finally found the car, I insisted on going across the street to photograph the “blue cacti” I had seen. Tall and domineering, the lights turned the trees into regal saguaros, the cacti of Massachusetts Avenue.
Back in the car, huddled and shivering, I thanked Hans for the trip. “This was … fantastic,” I said. “Thank you so much for a wonderful evening. That food … wow. That food was amazing. And thank you so much for taking me to see the lights.”
“You’re very welcome, Sweetheart. You deserve it.”