There's a story I know.

In this one, some of the people who are now among my best friends went out to dinner at a renowned Chicago restaurant one winter evening. They ate and ate to their hearts' and stomachs' content. Then the bill came, and yea, it was large. Legendarily large.

Tonight, I went with some good friends to a very fine restaurant in Cambridge--exactly my kind of very fine restaurant: simple and perfectly cooked food, perfectly matched with an array of wines (and even a glass of stout, which I drank! and liked!), served in a simple and beautiful setting over the course of several hours. We arrived at 6:30. We left at nearly 11.

And I knew how much we were paying: it was a set menu, and we paid a set price for it. And it was our big winter meal; two among us will be gone within a few weeks (leaving, in a twist that I both love and hate, on, it would seem, the same airplane that will bring my family to me--they're going out on the London to U.S. leg of the U.S. to London flight my whole family will catch only hours later). And I saw the pounds piling up and making their ways down the table.

But somehow, when I saw the 8" receipt for our meal, I couldn't keep from exclaiming like a silly and uncosmopolitan person. I, for one, have never seen a receipt for a dinner whose total would convert to a dollar figure well into four digits. "We just ate a month's rent," I said to one of my friends as we walked away from the restaurant, heading home. "And that's the end of my crass economic exclaiming," I went on. "If I were in a Henry James novel, something bad would be getting ready to happen to me. I'm that girl right now." Now I, too, have eaten my share of a legendarily expensive meal. And what a share it was.

Meanwhile, my horoscope seems right on, as usual:

Sometimes subtleties frustrate you and that is certainly happening right now. You're not totally sure what exactly is going on, but you can tell that there's a lot more going on than meets the eye.
"Should we make a vow," my friend said to me along our walk home, "that we will give blood at some point while we're here?" This because I had commented that the beef we ate in our dinner's third course was the best I'd ever had, in both texture and flavor. "And that's a good thing," I said, "given that it's because of British beef that I'm not ever allowed to donate blood at home." Somehow, by the time we'd walked much further, we seemed to have stumbled, half-jokingly, into a plan to give blood and then go on a pub crawl. Somehow, I don't imagine that we'll actually do either--though I do believe that I should and will give blood in a country where my blood is acceptable, since it's not at home. Here, we might all have the human variant of mad cow disease, see, so it doesn't seem to matter whether we pass it around.