I was tickled when I found Kudeta in my Google Maps search of New Haven restaurants. I fondly remember my ninth-grade English teacher reading out the definition of a word known only in East Texas, “coop-day-tat”. If poor Ms. Hill ever made it to New Haven, Kudeta alone would finally have the courage to be phonetically honest with her.
A place like that seemed like a perfect choice for a date night away from all the stress and pretension of campus. I called my boyfriend, told him to pretty himself up and got ready for a romantic evening.
It should have given me pause that, when I met a friend on the street and told her I was going to Kudeta, her first reaction was to make her little hands into claws and say “Rarrr! The place with the cage in the window.” I couldn’t really hear her (“Sensual Seduction” on loop on my iPod), so I forged ahead.
When I got to my boyfriend’s room, he was wearing a tie and a blue-button down with slacks. I had hastily tucked in my Old Navy shirt with the squares on it before I knocked on his door.
“Just promise me we’re not going on another date at Yorkside.”
“No, no. I promise, mon sherry. This place will be way different from Yorkside.”
Sure enough it was. Not only was there indeed a cage in the corner (with a booth inside, where you ate, imprisoned), out of the center of the main dining room rose an immense glass obelisk, at least twice my height, filled with butterflies and changing colors to different shades of tacky every few seconds. We were seated next to an older couple huddled at its base.
When our waiter appeared he looked like he could have been, at one point, a normal straight man before les proprieteurs of Kudeta sealed him inside the Butterfly Obelisk for three weeks and his eyebrows started to spontaneously pluck themselves and his hair hardened into a permanent faux-hawk.
He gave my boyfriend eyes when he ordered his mai tai. Cut you, bitch.
When I opened the menu, my wallet called out for a kudegras.
“You don’t mind if I whore myself to pay for your dinner, do you hon?” I asked.
“You’re whoring again?” my boyfriend shouted as he threw down his menu. He kept saying the word “whore” extra loud, “Don’t WHORE yourself. You’re better than a WHORE. You’re my WHORE.”
The woman at the next table snuffled. I told my boyfriend to keep it down.
He giggled. “I want another mai tai.”
On the menu I found something called Beef Ho Fun for close to ten dollars. It was perfect – funny name, low price, beef.
“I wonder if the Beef Ho has fun too, or just the client.”
“Don’t make bad jokes, dear, it’s unattractive.”
“Weren’t you the one screeching about wh–”
Just then Madame Butterfly fluttered back to our table to deliver the second Mai Tai and take dinner orders. When he heard my boyfriend’s order, he said, “Oh you’ll love it, it’s huge!” and held up his hands to show how big it was. He then whipped out a lighter and tried to set our table on fire. He was going for the little candle in the middle, but the lighter was turned all the way up, so this big plume of flame came roaring out and almost immolated my hand. He re-aimed, blasted the candle and twittered away.
“That’s the kind of lighter crackheads have, you know.” I said to my boyfriend, “So they can freebase.”
“Nonsense”, he said. “He’s cute.”
“He is not cute! He probably doesn’t have any teeth.”
“I saw his teeth; they’re straighter than yours.”
“There is no part of him that is straighter than me! I’ll bet he’s in the kitchen sucking on a crack pipe right now!”
“Calm down, babe. Why are you getting upset?”
“I am not getting upset!”
“You’re shouting. I can’t take you anywhere besides K-mart.”
I realized I had been talking pretty loud. I snuck a look at the table next to us, where the woman was staring fixedly down at her plate. One of the following three thoughts was running through her head:
1. Gays! Loud. Gross. The little one is so articulate and handsome though. Stuffyface McGee in the tie better be paying.
2. They’re bickering, how cute. I remember when we used to bicker. I remember when we used to have sex, too.
3. BUTTERFLIES COLOR WASH I ADORE THEE OBELISK LESBIAN BUTTERFLIES.
I leaned in to whisper to my boyfriend. “I don’t shop at K-Mart anymore.”
He leaned in to whisper back. “I know, and that’s a big first step. Someday you’ll never have to go back to Old Navy, either.”
“And I’ll have you know that I’m taking you out tonight.”
“Don’t worry, I know.”
“Sorry about the Obelisk.” It glowed an ominous red in the background.
“No, I like it. It’s like the Dark Crystal if Jim Henson had been on crystal meth.”
He pecked my cheek. Fireball Nancy flew in with our entrees and talked my boyfriend into a third mai tai.
“You know,” he said when he dropped it off, “After dinner hours, we clear the tables away so it’s just our Obelisk, and this place turns fierce. You should linger.”
“Sorry,” my boyfriend said, pressing his palms together and looking cherubic, “Gotta get up early for church.”
Steven Kochevar em le frahnsay.