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Dinner and a Movie: ACK!!! Bissinger's Chocolate, Valentine's Day and the Single Girl

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New Line Cinema
Saturday, 5:20 p.m.

There are three courses of action for a single woman on this night of all nights, the Saturday night preceding the commercialized festival of love.

1. She can get very drunk, denounce the Smug Marrieds of the world, sing Motown songs into her hairbrush and then collapse into a sodden mess and sob over her continued singleness. (The Bridget Jones approach.)

2. She can eat lots of chocolate and cheese and watch a romantic movie, wistfully if it is a comedy, sniffling if it is a tragedy. (The Nora Ephron/Cathy approach.)

3. She can spend time with her parents and prove that a single daughter can be an asset to her family by doing some of the cooking and all the dishes. (The Jane Austen approach.)

Option 3 is out, given that said family is 300 miles away and parents already have plans. Option 1 is tempting, however complicated in recent years by the fact that almost all my friends have joined the Married tribe and I would feel kind of lousy denouncing them because, for the most part, they aren't really Smug.

Option 2 it is.

I choose Valentine's Day and go early to maximize convenience for all. For one thing, I won't annoy a waiter by taking up a table at a busy time, ordering a small single-woman portion and leaving a correspondingly small tip (although slightly enhanced out of guilt for daring to take up space). Also, I won't have have to endure couples dining romantically a deux. Most of the time they ignore you, but sometimes you get a pitying glance: There but for the grace of God...

5:35 p.m.

Find parking spot in Central West End next to Cupcakery. ACK!!! Must...restrain...self...

5:38 p.m.

Enter Bissinger's: A Chocolate Experience. Brace self and request table for one. Host appears to take this in stride, though get placed in front of the window so the whole world can watch single girl devouring chocolate alone. Study menu and decide on the Cococcino and an Irish coffee. Given early reviews of Valentine's Day, a little alcohol seems a necessity.

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5:53 p.m.

Food arrives. The Cococcino is a molten chocolate cake served in a big coffee cup, topped with a vanilla-bean crème anglaise. It tastes like a brownie fresh out of the oven. The coffee is satisfying. Attempt to eat with elegance and restraint, unlike comic-strip heroine Cathy, who devours chocolate with all the elegance and restraint of a wild beast and then instantly gains about twenty pounds.

Pull out book, serious tome on the history of American bohemianism ca. 1910. Coincidentally reach part about New Women, who live in a lousy part of Greenwich Village with no indoor plumbing but have a splendid time together in a literary discussion group that makes male visitors uncomfortable after they learn that their mere presence is not enough to get them laid.

This is satisfying.


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