[i'm warning you now, this is a weird one]
On most days I am a vital, outgoing person. On a good day, one might even say I'm perky. But Friday night, I just sat there, a lumpy lump on one side of the couch, taking in nuggets of Fortune West spicy orange chicken and spitting out wads of some bizarro form of spicy-orange-chicken-flavored chewing gum. Something despicable was afoot.
Fortune West always seemed depressing to me. A newish Chinese restaurant on Fairfax, it was always mostly empty, save for a few apparent vagabonds and outcasts: the shriveled up man with his Amazonian wife, the dour-faced woman in soccer mom jeans and a floral-print purse that looked straight out of 1987. But then I noticed Soccer Mom stealing a kiss from her husband as he waited for the bill, and heard the waitress cheerfully call Shriveled-up Guy by name. So maybe the depressingness was in me, not in the restaurant.
I've only gone to Fortune West at low points. Times when I'm exhausted, bitter, grumpy. This was only the second time I had visited the restaurant, and both times, I've been completely boring and ordered the spicy orange chicken. In those moments, I lack the energy to even consider being adventurous. The first time I was there was on a rainy drive after a late night at work, harried and miserable and feeling entitled to Chinese takeout. Friday night, I sank to an even lower low point.
It was raining, I had just picked up my beloved laptop from having a complete brain transplant (that's right, kids, hard drive and motherboard), and was faced with the harrowing task of recovering the empty hard drive to its prior glory, one file, folder, application at a time. Friday nights are never good for this kind of thing -- a weeks' work leaves me spent, but there are times in a woman's month when everything miserable is compounded. I was a sad sack.
I skipped plans. I slumped into the couch, plunking files from the iPod onto the new hard drive. I watched an episode of Sex and the City, and then another one, and then another. I avoided with my chopsticks the frightening red chiles and strips of orange zest and picked out pieces of chicken. I chewed through each one, sucking out the pungent sauce -- addictive with citrus, spice, and lots and lots of garlic. The chicken is truly delicious, but I had managed to forget that the chicken is completely inedible. Turns out it's mostly skin, and when it's super-hot-wokked into orange chicken, it becomes a tough rubbery substance for which human teeth are no match. Realizing I would never chew through it enough, I started spitting out the remnants. (I know. Gross!)
The scariest part is that Saturday morning I woke up and started eating (well, gnawing) cold leftover spicy orange chicken and watching Sex and the City. Again! What took over me? The only explanation is that the small black plastic container that the diabolical chicken comes
in, is actually a black hole. Its infinite gravity sucks the life out of everything that comes near it. It turned me into a subservient zombie, powerless under its saucy pull. What I'm saying people, is that Friday night, I was abducted by extra-terrestrial chicken. Watch out.
Fortune West is at 418 1/2 N. Fairfax Ave., 1 1/2 blocks north of Beverly.
Incidentally, if you haven't already, please check out the Menu For Hope fundraiser for the United Nations Food Programme. More info here.