Today, I officially ventured out into the public eye. The venue for my grand re-entrance into society: The Pink Pearl. This restaurant may sound like a nickname for a part of the female anatomy, but it is actually a delicious dim sum restaurant. Like any true Vancouverite, I am a dim sum fiend. An offer of dim sum is enough to induce me to do pretty much anything, including braving the weekend crowds and taking a long car-ride into Vancouver, and I pine for a taste of The Pink Pearl whenever I'm in the "good-BBQ-and-mediocre-mexican-food" Midwest. I had been looking forward to this trip for ages.
The Pink Pearl belongs to that category of restaurant where, even though you will get food poisoning roughly 30% of the time, you keep going back. It's part of the charm. You just have to tell your G.I. tract, "Ok, rally the troops, shore up the perimeter, mount the sentry, because this is happening whether you like it or not." And so I shed my daily shorts-and-T-shirt uniform and put on jeans and a form-fitting black shirt with two white dragons silkscreened on the chest (fancy!), steeled my lower intestine and headed out, ready to experience what glorious creations can be made out of pork, white flour, lard, sugar and red dye.
While my mom was parking the car and I was waiting for my entourage to arrive, I sat alone at the table, when I was greeted by the waiter with the seven little words I have not heard since before the surgery: "Do you want something to drink, sir?"
Sir. I am over six feet tall* and am admittedly less-than-gifted in the boob department (read: Simon Cowell is better endowed than I am. Read: I have gone into bra stores and been told by the owner, "I'm not sure why you bother.") Still, it is always a little blow to your ego (not to mention your sense of femininity) to be mistaken for a man when you are wearing a tight-fitting shirt with dragons (dragons!) over your nipples: dragons whose sole purpose is to draw attention to your chest in a non-subtle way, dragons who are supposed to proclaim to the world, "Look! No, really! Those aren't just over-developed pecs!" Plus, I was rocking form-fitting jeans and the swelling around my incision was actually compensating for the atrophy on my left side quite nicely, I thought.
Well, fuck. I told the waiter that I would like tea and a water (no tip for him!) and soon my friends and my mom showed up. I was not about to let a little case of mistaken gender identity spoil my big day. And so began two hours of feasting on BBQ pork wrapped in various types of pastry, (including my special favorite, steamed BBQ pork buns, which are like biting into a cloud and finding it suprisingly filled with garishly red pork); steamed egg cake; those delicious custard tarts, (which were still so hot and fresh out of the oven that the custard hadn't fully set up and will be the subject of many happy dreams for weeks to come); sticky rice in the banana leaf so it's like unwrapping your presents on Christmas morning, except instead of a dead woman's grabber, you get delicious rice and meat; hai gao; those long flat rice noodles with more pork inside. The list went on. My belly expanded to look as if I'd just entered my second trimester. It was wonderful.
Since I'd planned ahead and worn a black shirt, I did not even mind when my inability to full lean over the table caused me to become covered in a fur of greasy pastry crumbs (nothing a little Spray n' Wash won't fix). Note to those planning a hip replacement: invest in a bib. Even my hip-precaution cushion (also black) was covered with so much fallen food that it should have requested a doggy bag.
I have, however, learned a valuable lesson. Next time my fragile ego and I venture out into public after months away, I will wear a pink party dress, a padded bra, false eyelashes, hair bows and a prosthetic ass. And I will probably be mistaken for a drag queen.
* Potential "Young and Hip" drinking game. Take a shot every time I mention my height.