A Chinese restaurant in the pouring rain with a person I did not really know: what had I gotten myself into?
I have done plenty of bizarre things in my life, but this situation definitely had the potential to redefine all of those moments—or at least sound that way.
Luckily, David was not a complete stranger. We had been paired together for an assignment to get to know more about Columbia and more about each other. So that’s exactly what we did.
At first, we did not really have a plan of action other than to not have one at all. We had both been to our fair share of eateries around Columbia but neither of us had the desire to just pick a simple destination. Left with little options, we wondered down Hitt Street toward Broadway where we ran into a girl who seemed more than unfortunate. Dressed in five-inch heels and a fitted dress that was probably the modern version of Joseph’s dream coat, she called out to us and asked for directions. I was happy to see that between both David’s and my knowledge of Columbia, we were able to help this pathetic girl find her way.
Satisfied by our sense of direction in a rather new place, David and I continued walking. It was then that we noticed one of those light-up florescent signs beckoning us closer as the word “Formosa” flickered aimlessly.
As we walked up the steep staircase that hid the restaurant, I felt at home. It was as if this little part of Columbia had the power to transport me back home to Chicago where restaurants above shops were commonplace. We walked through Formosa’s glass doors and entered the Asian atmosphere that made me feel like I was not in Columbia anymore.
Aside from a young man with a woman three times his age on a date in the corner, David and I were the sole customers of the restaurant. I immediately regretted the decision but decided to give this little hole in the wall a shot. After all, the assignment was to explore.
We sat down in the old leather booth and watched as the rain outside started to calm down to a light trickle. Cars slushed on by through the street’s puddles and pedestrians hurried along with their Thursday evening agendas.
When the waiter came to take our drink orders, David recommended I try the house tea. Surprised by his suggestion, I decided to order the tea and as the waiter walked away, our conversation began.
David is not a journalism major, despite his presence in our journalism FIG. In fact, he’s a computer science major, which confusled (yes, that’s a word) me a bit. An inhabitant of St. Louis, we were able to bond over our love for big cities and our desire to go back to their fast past lifestyle. Yet we agreed that Columbia provides us with a break from all that stress. David also told me how he enjoys using Tumblr as a means of blogging.
As we ordered our meals, conversation moved toward our classes that we were taking and our goals for the future. I found it amusing that David’s favorite class and my least favorite class were one in the same: communications.
When our food finally arrived, the two of us were quite disappointed. The fried rice simply looked like rice with butter and the chicken was bland. But we ate anyway because it was all part of the experience.
I noticed my phone had died, something that would probably freak out most people who are at a random restaurant with a random person. Yet luckily, David and I were able to keep up the conversation. We paid the bill and left the restaurant before walking back. Along the way, we discussed the places we have been and mutual friends or acquaintances.
In the end, the night was not as horrifically-dramatized as I made it sound at the beginning. Despite the weather, the bad food, and the general awkwardness that comes with hanging out with people you don’t really know, I learned even a fortune cookie cannot predict the possibilities an adventure will bring.