Last night, Mom took me to a new restaurant called Masgouf. Mom said that it was an Iraqi restaurant and that we have to go because we are open-minded people and we should support it. I thought it was weird though because Matt’s brother is in the army in the real Iraq and their car says SUPPORT THE TROOPS. So it kind of felt like we were supporting the restaurant instead of Matt’s brother.

Mom said that all the women in her book club already went to the restaurant, but I didn’t know why that meant we had to go to the restaurant too. And I don’t know why Mom is even in the book club because she doesn’t read any of the books and, on the nights before the book club meetings at our house, she says “Fuck” a lot and asks me to look on Wikipedia. Then I have to read the plot synopsis and major characters to her while she vacuums, which is hard because the vacuum is really loud and I have to follow her around the house holding my computer and reading.

The first weird thing I noticed when I walked into Masgouf is that a lot of the people eating there wear big black face masks so you can only see their eyes. Mom said to me kind of disappointedly that she was hoping there would be more people who “look like us.” But I said that we don’t know what those people look like because they’re hiding in the masks. Then Mom elbowed me in the neck, which is what she does when I say things that are either too loud or too quiet or if I’m laughing.

When Mom looked at the menu she said, kind of quietly under her breath, “Figures, it’s fucking dry.” I’m not sure what she meant by that but I think it has something to do with alcohol because whenever Mom opens a menu, the first thing she does is look at the alcohol and breathe a sigh of relief.

Mom said that she would order for both of us and that we should share, which she usually says when she doesn’t think the food will be good. When the woman came over to take the order, Mom looked at her like she was kind of a homeless person and said, “And where are you from?” When the woman said, “Iraq,” Mom said, “Oh, beautiful, what city?” Then the woman said “Baghdad” and Mom said, “Aww” as though the woman was crying, but the woman wasn’t crying, she was smiling. So I looked up at the woman and I smiled very big to show her that I was not always on Mom’s side but when the woman saw me smiling she made a weird face like I was making fun of her, which I wasn’t. Then Mom kicked me under the table and my leg hurt for the rest of the night and a little bit the next morning, which is today.

The first thing the woman brought us was a weird pile of rice on a plate and big bowl of soupy looking eggplant in a red sauce. I could tell Mom got a little nauseous by it but she smiled at the woman and said, “Wow. Traditional! Can’t wait to dig in!” But I could tell that Mom was lying because when the woman walked away, Mom took a little bite of it, just with the front of her teeth, and then flared her nostrils like she wanted to puke right there at the table. Then she said, “Sweetie, I think you’ll like this. Why don’t you try it,” so I knew she must not have liked it. Then Mom poured the eggplant stuff onto the rice and kind of moved it around the plate to make it look like we had eaten it.

Then the woman brought us the other dish, which was a chicken shish kabob with French fries. The French fries just tasted like French fries, even though they didn’t have ketchup, and the chicken shish kabob just tasted like regular chicken. When Mom and I tasted how normal it was, we looked at each other in a relieved way, like we were Matt’s brother and we had just come back from Iraq.

On the way home, Mom called all the women in her book club to tell them that we went to Masgouf. She lied the whole time, telling them how nice it was to spend some alone time with me and how interesting it was to see all the Iraq people in their black face masks, and that she didn’t even think about Dad’s new girlfriend one time during the fun and tasty dinner. When Mom lies, she doesn’t just say things she doesn’t mean, she says the opposite of the things she does mean. And probably most children would be angry at their moms for lying so much, but for some reason it just makes me want to hug her.

When we got home I read Mom the plot synopsis for Wuthering Heights while she vacuumed in her underwear. Then Mom said her stomach kind of hurt and I thought that mine did too. So Mom and I both went to separate bathrooms and didn’t come out for a long time. That’s why I’m giving Masgouf 129 out of 2000 stars.