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A little less than a year ago, I visited The Melting Pot restaurant in Framingham, MA for the first time, with Friend from Cowboy/Ski-Pole Country.  For our meal, we were seated at a lovely booth for two, in a section of the restaurant I later found out is called “Lovers Lane”, and the server thought we were lesbians.  Full story is here.

Now a Melting Pot has opened in Providence much to the delight of Jewish Friend.  The first week it opened, we stopped there before their opening time and were offered a tour by a very eager girl.  Because I had already eaten a handful of mints by this point, put another handful in my purse, and didn’t want to be rude, I acquiesced and dragged Jewish Friend along.  Later that afternoon we came back and had our first vat of cheese at that place.

Next week we went back again, and last night Jewish Friend said “I’ll buy you Melting Pot as a way of saying thank-you for watching my cat while I’m gone.”  Jewish Friend’s rewards are actually usually just things that she wants to do, rather than something I might choose, but she does this in a charming way, and I don’t dislike Melting Pot, I’m just a little bored by it.

It seems too, that for people to go to Melting Pot as often as we is not quite standard.  Every time we go, they ask if we’ve been before.  We say “yes” and assure them that there is no need to give us the entire pre-order speech, we don’t want the “Big Night Out” and we know better than to touch the burner.

They usually give us a slightly stripped-down, but still annoying version of the speech anyway.

Last night, Jewish Friend insisted that I call Melting Pot as we drove there and make a reservation.  When I did, the girl told me that it would be a 45-minute wait, so I hung up on her.

“They’re liars.” I told Jewish Friend, “we’ll just go there, and sit in the bar, it’ll be fine.”  Since we’re there so often, I’ve noticed that Melting Pot is very self-important when it comes to available seating, and they mostly just don’t like drop-ins.  Jewish Friend and I are two very small girls, they can fit us just about anywhere.

Once we got there, we were told we could wait for a booth or sit at the bar, just like I predicted.  We sat in the bar, ate our vat of cheese followed by a vat of chocolate, and everything was just fine.

After the meal Jewish Friend excused herself to go to the bathroom, and the manager came up to me.

“Have you guys ever been here before?” he asked, like they always do.

“This is our third time.” I told him.

“At this location?”

I just shrugged and indicated Jewish Friend’s empty chair, “She really, really likes fondue.  We come here pretty often.”

We chatted a bit more until Jewish Friend came back from the bathroom, and then he excused himself with a “Hope to see you ladies again soon.”

Perhaps I’m being hyper-sensitive about this, but I think the fact that Melting Pot is so completely designed for couples makes the staff think that anyone who eats there is one.  This is compounded by the fact that Jewish Friend and I eat there all the time, and I refer to us as a “we” when asked.  There is no good way to sort of fold in: “by we, I mean we straight/ successful gal-pals who eat too much cheese, but are not a couple.”

At least Jewish Friend is hot.

A while ago my friend from cowboy-ski-pole country, Kelly, came for a visit. We saw some sights, relaxed, and ate a lot of cheese. Toward the end of the visit, she expressed an interest in eating a different type of cheese– fondue.

“Do you like fondue?” she asked me.

“Well, I’ve only had it once, but it’s a bubbling hot-pot of cheese with bread on the side, so it’s really everything that I love.”

We did some web-based research and found out that Providence is very lacking in the fondue restaurant department. There was one in Boston that sounded promising, but expensive; and there was a “Melting Pot” in Framingham, MA, which is a bout 45 minutes away. Even though the brakes on my car were making horrifying noises– we drove to our cheese because it’s important.

When we arrived, I must admit, I was impressed with the decor. Sure the outside looked like a car dealership, but the inside was quite cozy, all booths with lots of privacy. There were lots of families with hyperactive 10-year-olds, and petulant pre-teens, but the hostess led us away from all of that to a cozy booth for two.

Our server, a nice younger guy, chatty, but not too chatty, and knowledgeable of wine, came out, lit our tabletop burner, and we ordered our first vat of cheese. We finished it quickly, and ordered another (cause why not). As we were ordering the second, out server asked us, “How did you two meet?”

“Well,” Kelly said, “we went to college together, sort of, and we also worked together, although we really didn’t like each other at first…”

“And the rest is history.” he finished.

“Well, no, not really…” I started.

“I’m from Montana!” Kelly blurted out, cutting me off. “I’m just visiting.”

I looked at her in complete confusion, but the server rolled with it by asking if she skied.

Once he’d gone, I looked at her still with complete confusion, and she responded with, “he thinks we’re a couple, and I would like to sleep with him, I can’t have him thinking I’m gay. Do you think we could work something out so I can sleep with him?”

A week later, I was recounting this incident to another friend on the phone.

“Yeah, I guess that makes sense,” she said, “fondue restaurants are kind of romantic with the food sharing and the fact that it’s kind of expensive. Didn’t you know that? Why did you go there?”

“Because Kelly wanted fondue, and I haven’t had it since we were in Switzerland 7 years ago, and that was the least romantic meal ever. Don’t you remember, we sat at a rustic picnic table in a building that looked like a ski chalet? Also, Kelly said she always goes there with her mom, and there were tons of families there.”

“Yeah, but it’s totally a date place, at least Kelly’s hot.”

At least Kelly is hot.