If I was going to throw up before service got busy, now was the time. With only three women in the restaurant, all in the beginning stages of enjoying their meal, it was either now or the parking lot, and a cardboard produce box isn't as glamorous as a restroom stall. I looked over at my partner in crime, Brian Brossa, owner and general manager of the neighborhood Enoteca. He was across the restaurant tapping on the iPad used for reservations. I didn't want to alert him in the event that he would be worried, or more likely try to film me.
Days ago, he had jumped at the chance to document a crazy three-day diet together. Brian gets especially exuberant when it comes to self-restricting health kicks. But what started out as a playful attempt at a Mad Men era-esque diet, was quickly met with feelings of, what was Vogue thinking?
Recently, the "Wine and Eggs" diet, originally printed in 1977, has experienced a viral resurgence. It's turned heads not because of its health benefits or results, but because of its ridiculous parameters.
So, what did it take to lose five pounds in three days, according to the "Wine and Eggs" diet?
It didn't sound all bad, it actually sounded great; a diet involving caffeine and alcohol. We were confident in the challenge and double-downed on that fact by scheduling it while working busy weekend dinner shifts. On top of videotaping ourselves we would make it entertaining and news-worthy by highlighting three different types of Chablis wine and nine different coffee shops in Houston.
But, I quickly discovered as I choked down the black coffee at lunch that I wouldn't in a million years group any of these stand-out establishments with this health regimen. No, the plan changed and instead we decided to focus on documenting the way it made us feel. Naïve still, I thought I could will my body out of the nausea, tingling headaches, and fatigue.
Upon discovering the most sensible order for consuming breakfast and lunch; hard boiled egg first as a base followed by black coffee, and lastly the white wine which, dulled stomach-rumblings, I thought perhaps we had a chance at making it three days. I was especially confident in Brian, who again, has a special love for practicing restraint. I knew that if I wanted to bail, he would do his best to carry the team.
But, as the second wine buzz faded and all that sloshed in my stomach was black coffee and a few organic eggs, I quickly realized, maybe three days was two days too many.
This wasn't the first time Brian's and my overconfidence would outsprint the limitations of our bodies. In our minds, we could do this, we can do anything, though as another wave of nausea hit, I wasn't sure I wanted to waste two more precious days of life and the delicious enjoyments that come along with it.
Around 4 p.m. as I tried to keep busy I couldn't shake the mental picture of a heaping pile of hash browns.
"Like all brown and crispy, those kind of hash browns?" Brian baited me.
"Yeah, yes, just like that." I was cutting lemons and cracked a big smile. I knew we were going to quit, I just hadn't voiced it yet.
"You're thinking about quitting."
"How did you know?"
"I just know. Come on! One more day, we have to at least do it for two days."
In the last stall of the restroom I emptied my stomach and with that, hope was born again.
The night started off slow enough to notice the headache wavering here and there like a gnat. Since we aren't in the habit of walking around, saying things like "my head hurts," or "I'm tired," all I had to do was glance over at Brian, who was carefully expediting food, to know he was feeling the same. My brain speed had slowed considerably as I scribbled down the easiest of orders. I imagined hundreds of synapses collapsing within my skull.
At 7:15 p.m. the restaurant filled up quickly. In a matter of minutes, five new tables were sat in the bar. Fifteen new drink orders, followed by 15 different appetizers and entrées, I slipped into the execution of it all, my favorite place to be.
But something was different this time. I felt high-strung, ready to snap, but without anger. It wasn't until this one interaction with a guest that pushed me into a euphoric overdrive of workflow. The woman had come in grumpy and it didn't take long to determine this was an everyday mood. When I quickly set down a salad in front of her, she looked up annoyed.
"The golden beets are missing?"
Yellow and red beets are the same thing, equally sweet and disgusting, I thought to myself as I ripped open the garde manger lid to see the cook had only red beets on her station. I returned to the table.
"Only red beets today." I told her, zero fucks written all over my face. I waited just long enough to see her unpleasant reaction when I hadn't groveled an apology. It felt good.
Moments later, I began to notice how amazing my body felt in the routine movement of a vigorously shaken Martini. I imagined my tendons being stretched and tightened in the way a musician twists a tuning key and the instrument responds with a well-sounding note. On my way to do three things I glanced at Brian with a berserk look in my eye, which was returned in kind; he was feeling it too.
"Brian, I feel GREAT." I told him, my eyes blinked, they were moist with oxygen.
"SAME." He looked at me, equally euphoric.
He held out his fist and I slammed mine into his, the level of fist-bump that for some is painful but for us serves more as a battle cry.
Two hours passed and as heavy metal American Express cards were swiped and valet tickets turned in, I noticed I was ravenous.
"Better put that steak in." Brian nodded. "Well-done."
"I could go rare," I said.
"Yeah, make it bloody."
We were in agreeance. Slowly slicing into the prime grade 16-ounce boneless ribeye was pleasure. In a bite, the juice from the bloody middle sated a strange hunger I had never experienced before. It was bloodthirst. While Brian drank his wine, I took a tiny sip of coffee, it was all I could manage. I planned to finish the bottle of wine safely on my couch, it would help a little in numbing the strange body aches that had now taken up residence.
Walking out of the restaurant, my eyes were heavy. I could have curled up and slept in the comfort of anywhere. Arriving home, I threw up again, somewhat relieved to extract some of the acidic black liquid.
Water in my glass instead of wine, I crawled into bed and worried about Brian making the hour-and-a-half commute to his home in Chappell Hill on such low energy. Before I had left the restaurant, I could tell if I had said, okay one more day, he would have rallied.
But I didn't.
Instead, I called him to talk about absolutely nothing, the facial similarities between quarterback Tom Brady and actor Casper Van Dien, peppered with, "we need to quit the diet." I didn't want him to fall asleep at the wheel.
Brian pulled into Whataburger and I cheered him on as he ordered a Patty Melt with jalapenos and an order of onion rings. It was 12:30 a.m. I asked him at what point he had decided to quit after he had spent the better half of the night trying to cheer me on.
"When I saw the potato in your hand. I decided to give up when I saw you walk out of the restaurant with a Russet in your hand."