Bad Table 

Where waiters and diners tell tales.

Cafe Botulisimo

My girlfriend and I attribute the longevity of our relationship to food poisoning on our first date. We'd decided to meet at a popular Mexican restaurant in Oakland. I still remember her walking in the door in a purple Berkeley Women's Music Collective T-shirt, all ripped up. She was very cute, but I was wary; she looked like she might be trouble. I had a chicken tostada, she had a burrito. We hung out at the place a couple of hours, having a good time. Still, I was planning to just say goodnight when the meal was over.

Until I suddenly felt as if I would pass out from the stomach pains ... absolute steely fire in my belly, a thousand hot javelins at once. The next thing I knew she was driving me to my apartment at 80 mph while I sat with my head scrunched between my legs, praying. The next five hours were surreal, me on the white tile floor of the bathroom, her gently holding me while I puked. Crisis brought out the best in this gal. She was the perfect tattoo-covered nursemaid. Between rounds over the toilet, I told her my father said true love meant being willing to help someone vomit. She liked that. Two weeks later, I wrote to the restaurant to say I'd almost died from food poisoning. They sent a $10 gift certificate. We decided we wouldn't spend a penny over the tenner, so we smuggled in drinks. We made a pact that if we survived another night at Cafe Botulisimo we'd stay together. And so we have -- eight years and counting.

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