Let me set the scene: it’s a Friday afternoon, hot, every face, every object, with that sweaty, New-York-in-the-summer shine to it. Kate and I are meeting for lunch, naturally, and she’s suggested a place in the East Village. I can’t say the name because I promised Kate I wouldn’t. (It’s a best-kept secret, only it wouldn’t be if I blabbed, is the idea.) Technically it’s a restaurant, though “restaurant” seems like too highfalutin a term to convey its essence. “Hole-in-the-wall” might be nearer the mark, “dump” nearer still: linoleum floor, laminated menus, Asian-y pop music on the speakers (“Asian-y” is as close as I’ll get to giving away its identity—see, Kate, I didn’t break my word), ceiling fan moving the thick, soupy air around some without cooling it any. Yet the food is as good as the ambience is bad, as I will soon discover when a guy, a waiter I assume though he’s in street clothes, flings on the table first Kate’s dish and then, following a discreet dick adjustment, mine.