The Prik Monologues

Photo by David Robert

We have to eat and gossip fast because the Vagina Monologues are in less than an hour. I’m taking Sophie out for her birthday, which occurred some time ago. We are running late because our outfits had to match. We are both wearing handmade skirts patched together from old jeans and scrap fabric, and Sophie’s looks way better than mine because she knows how to use a sewing machine, the bitch. I tell her this, leaving out the bitch part, and she is obligatorily gracious and tells me mine is better.

Thai Royal used to be a place called the Golden Chopsticks, a dark and sleepy Chinese joint. Chinese food is generally too slippery and superficially dense for me, what with all those thick noodles and slimy vegetables, but Thai dishes are piquant and complex and soft, so I’m excited about the prospect of new Thai in town. So I decide to take Sophie, though we make an interesting dining duo—she can’t eat wheat, dairy, gluten or anything really spicy (and I’m taking her to Thai?), and I’m a vegetarian.

When we walk in, at about 6:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night, the only people eating are a group of animated businessmen. The hostess, also our waitress, leads us to a booth, which is bright red—'50s-diner red. The booths are the only holdover from Golden Chopsticks; the walls are deep orange and everything else is elegant and muted. In preparation for the Vagina Monologues, we talk about boys—the RN&R’s male staffer has told me they like to be referred to as men—and giggle a good deal as we look over our menus. Suddenly, Sophie exclaims, “They have Prik!”

I tell her I know this, but she points to the menu, which features “Pla Lard Prik.” Then she says, “Wow, it’s really common.” And it is—Prik on almost every page.

While Prik abounds, veggie dishes do not. I finally find a section of vegetarian items at the back of the menu, but nothing especially appealing—no yummy curries. Then, while scanning the menu, I catch sight of a salmon curry, cooked in coconut milk, herbs and lime leaves ($12.95), and it makes my eyes go all gooey. I waffle, because for just about every food story I’ve ever written I’ve forsaken my vegetarianism and eaten fish, largely because fish is expensive and these things are paid for out of the editorial budget. I don’t want to look chronically morally ambiguous, but oh well. Sophie orders Phad Thai with shrimp ($9.95), but with no eggs, no onion and mild spices.

“Who knows what else is in there that they don’t write down,” Sophie says warily.

The food comes served on leaf-shaped green plates. My salmon curry looks and smells like heaven. I take a bite and, dude, it’s good—tender fish in pungent red curry. It’s almost (as I will soon find out) Margot Kidder’s-final-monologue good. Sophie says that her Phad is also good—mild to specifications—but she finds onions. And the noodles are slightly overcooked.

We pick up our speed of consumption, because it’s after 7 o’clock and Monologues starts at 7:30 p.m., and I’m sad because I wish I had hours to savor the curry. We pay up and head out, arriving late to the show, which turns out to be wonderful, although the word "fish" is invoked more than once. I take this as punishment for once again having fallen off the vegetarian wagon with my blissful salmon curry.