COVID-19, Dumped, And Happy

Manuel Offshein never expected in a million years to get dumped during the pandemic by his girlfriend Rachel Lamtrew.

The relationship between Manuel and Rachel started off hot and heavy. They had met at a party and there was instant chemistry. The problem was Rachel got bored very quickly, so she wanted Manuel to keep her interested and happy.

At first Manuel took great pleasure in setting up exotic and interesting dates. He wanted to do things that Rachel would always remember and appreciate. If he would have gotten to know Rachel better he would have figured out he was fighting an uphill battle. It was very hard to please a woman who was never really happy with anything.

During Covid, Manuel was nervous about going to different restaurants every night. Rachel on the other hand derided him for cowardice. ‘’Manuel, you have to stop believing everything you read. Did you know that there are some top name American actors here in Toronto, and they’re going to all the best restaurants, if they’re not afraid, why are you?’’

In order to keep Rachel happy, Manuel devised a plan. He would get take out from the best restaurants and serve a different dinner in his apartment every night. He would change decor, lights, and music, and make every night fun.

The first of his planned ‘’Gourmet at Home’’ Dinners featured a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, a beautiful garden salad and a baked potato with a Rib Eye steak from Prime on Avenue Road. Chef Brad had brought the food over himself with instructions how to make sure the steaks were served properly.

Rachel arrived about twenty minutes late with no call to say she would be delayed. She walked in to the apartment and threw her coat on the couch and looked around. ‘’What’s with the Frank Sinatra music and the lights on so low?’’ She was wearing a black leather skirt, and a sheer red top. She looked as always gorgeous.

Manuel walked over to give her a kiss and she turned her face to give him her cheek. ‘’Honey, I wanted to make dinner special, so I had Chef Brad from Prime on Avenue Road prepare everything. I hope you like it, can I pour you a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon to get things started?’’

Rachel sat down and under her breath but loud enough for Manuel to hear she said ‘’High class in borrowed shoes’’ Manuel ignored the comment and brought out the salads and a bottle of Perrier.

Manuel sat down and looked at Rachel who picked up her fork, took one bite and put it back down. He tried the salad on his plate and thought it tasted excellent. ‘’Are you okay Rachel, you only took a little salad.’’ Rachel was tapping her foot, looking angry. ‘’You don’t want to know what I’m thinking.’’

Manuel stood up and took the plates in to the kitchen, came back and got the salad bowl and also put it in the kitchen. He would eat the rest of the salad the next day. He loved the poppy seed dressing Chef Brad had used.

‘’He gently took the steaks off the broiler and plated the potatoes beside them. He then cut some fresh tomato and cucumber to compliment the meat. He next brought out fake sour cream and chives for the potato. Rachel looked at the fake sour cream and shook her head. ‘’What the hell is that supposed to be?’’ Manuel looked at her. ‘’You know I don’t eat milk and meat, so this is a milk substitute.’’

Frank Sinatra was playing ‘’My Way’’ in the background as Manuel cut into his steak and took a piece. It was beyond divine. He looked over at Rachel and she was repeating the same scene from the first act. She took one little piece, and then put her cutlery down. ‘’When you’re finished, I suggest we go to a good restaurant, so I can eat what I want.’’

Manuel knew at that very second his relationship with Rachel was over. He felt it in his body and his bones. He and Rachel were done. He decided to take his time while eating the steak and potato. He was loving every morsel.

‘Rachel stood up and walked over to her jacket. She put it on and stood by the door. Manuel was still enjoying his food. ‘’Uh, Manuel, maybe you haven’t noticed, but I am ready to go.’’ Manuel ignored her and continued to munch on his cucumber. He looked up and wondered what his blood pressure was, cause he could feel his nose getting red.

‘’Rachel. I ordered food for us from different restaurants every night this week. One night was going to be Chinese, the next Mexican, Japanese, Fusion. Italian, Deli and I was excited about trying different dishes with you.’’

Rachel shook her head ‘’You’re such a Bozo. You never consulted me, why would I want to eat in your apartment. Now let’s get going, we can grab a bite at Bemmelman’s in Yorkville.’’

Manuel didn’t move an inch. He looked up at her and Rachel was glaring at him. ‘’If you don’t haul your ass off that seat and get moving, we are done.’’ Rachel had her had on the door knob and her voice went up an octave. ‘’Last chance, if you do what I want tonight maybe I’ll stay over. If you don’t get your act together and we don’t get to Bemelman’s I don’t ever want to see your wimpy ass face again.’’

Manuel studied Rachel. There was a popular song in the nineties in Canada by a group called The Northern Pikes. The song was called ‘’She Ain’t Pretty, She Just Looks That Way’’ and it fit Rachel perfectly.

Manuel stood up ‘’I have some amazing apple strudel for dessert, would you like some?’’ Rachel was now glaring. ‘’Are you stupid? Are you Stupid! I told you what I want and I am out of patience.’’ With a strong pull Rachel yanked the door open and walked out into the hall. Manuel walked over and turned the lock. He then went over to her steak and cut around the piece she had taken a bite out of and discarded it. He wrapped the rest of the steak in aluminum foil and put it in the fridge. He cleaned up and put on the news to watch the US election results while snacking on the most amazing apple strudel he had ever tasted.

When it was time to go to bed, he thought about the night and the amount of food he would be eating during the week by himself and he realized he really didn’t care. He was about to practice some self indulgence for the first time in his life.

He couldn’t sleep that night because he kept thinking about Rachel. She had so much misplaced rage. She was a pretty woman externally but inside something was really off. He wished her a happy life, but now that they were over he was feeling like a load had been lifted.

Two nights later, while Manuel was enjoying some outstanding Italian food, a report came on the news that was shocking. A restaurant in Yorkville was closing up because a number of people had contracted Covid-19. They had been at the restaurant two nights earlier and three patrons who had been overseas had spread the virus. The name of the restaurant was Bemelman’s. All Manuel could think about was that he had been dumped for not going there and that turned out to be a blessing. In the big picture it was probably the best thing that could have happened to him during the pandemic. He wondered if Rachel felt the same way.


Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.

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