Despite the disclaimer that you would “Dine in the Dark,” you still didn’t feel prepared for the pitch blackness of the venue.

Vantablack. This must be what vantablack is.

The sepia-colored lights and the black curtains you passed through didn’t exactly prepare you for the darkness. You closed your eyes, a gesture convincing yourself that you still had control of your vision. There was no difference.

“How do you think they managed to get this pitch darkness?”

“Black curtains,” he said, “tons of it.”

On your left, you felt for the edges of the marble-like table to get to his hand; on your right, you tapped the walls. “Sounds like glass to me.”

You tried to pour water on each other’s acrylic glass using the pitcher at the center of your table. You were careful, using your sense of touch to not only feel for the utensils around you to get to the glass but also to feel for the nose of that pitcher. If you had willed it, he would have drunk his water with the saltiness from your fingertips. Meanwhile, he used his hearing to give you your fill of water. The waiter, JC, served you “mocktail,” which you didn’t remember was included in the night’s meal. You were a little bit apprehensive, thinking of the other vices you could do in the dark.

“Do you think they can see us?” he interrupted your thoughts.

“For sure!” you tried to convince yourself. How else would they be serving us food? you thought and dismissed your previous musings.

You smelled your drink. It certainly didn’t smell alcoholic, so you gave it a swig. It tasted fresh and vegetable-like. Your initial thought was lime. But the second sip told you that it was fresher and less citrus-like and bland. The scent and the taste was something you would rather find sliced up in circles and on your eyes instead of in your drink and through your mouth. Upon third and fourth sips, you were already sure that it was cucumber.

Next came the entrée. You were sure you ordered meat, and you were expecting beef like a fillet mignon to get your fancy dinner fantasy going. It was your first time dining at a hotel together after all. But it was dark and you were not exactly sure how fancy the place was or even how to eat what was set in front of you.

Your instinct told you to touch your food. You felt some mayo-consistent sauce on top of something, there was another thing that was coated in breadcrumbs, and then there was a tower with potato shoestring, “There’s hydra!” you blurted as you picked one stick. Bland but very interesting. The chef really thought about making this meal a tactile experience. The plating was well thought-out despite the fact that diners would not be able to appreciate it visually. Or did you?

You were ready to eat and there was a knife set to your left, but you opted for the spoon and fork instead. You scooped from both sides of the plate, aloof that you were eating some fancy dinner in a Makati hotel. Well it’s dark, you tried to reason out and continued eating. This was how you ate: you caught the chicken cordon bleu on your spoon and you chugged it down whole. On another occasion, you tried to use your fork and you were stabbing anything that was on your plate. You got the pork and the occasional sliced vegetables. They were covered in teriyaki-sweet sauce. You didn’t like that you got pork fat in your mouth because chewing it was troublesome. You thought against spitting it out and putting it on the side of your plate and it was a good decision considering that you opted to use your hands to eat the potato ball.

“Are you using your hands?”

“Can you see me?” you slowly lowered the potato ball on your plate. “Oh God, can you see me?”

He laughed. He said that he didn’t hear your utensils hitting the plate anymore.

You laughed, too. Despite his compliments on your dress – which didn’t have pockets, proving uncomfortable when you needed somewhere to put your gadgets for Pokemon hunting – you still acted like your rowdy self. “Well…” you shrugged.

When dessert came, you did the exact same thing: touched your food. But this time, you decided to share the tactile experience. With a grin on your face, you said, “Put your hand on top of the pitcher, I’m going to ‘show’ you something.” You asked him to take a round chocolate and a cube brownie. “Isn’t that cool?” You couldn’t contain your frivolity, and you started blabbering about how wonderfully ironic it was to have such wide-eyed wander despite the dark.

***

During down times when you’re not hyped up eating, you just laid your hands on the side of the table, hoping that his hand would be there too. On other occasions, you tried to imagine you were alone and the music and your cucumber-infused mocktail was all that mattered. Sometimes it was totally okay, because his hand was not always were you expected it to be. He was busy eating too. And maybe it was a solitary activity. Eating in the dark that is.

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