On October 20, 2012, Detective Patrick Benjamin received a call from a landline associated with Patina, the most critically acclaimed restaurant in Los Angeles. The caller claimed that four people had made a reservation and then eaten dessert. Detective Benjamin’s interview with suspect one, Peter Nichols, is available here, and with suspect two, Katie Browne, here.
Suspect Three: Adriana Widdoes
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Ms. Widdoes, you are my third interviewee. And really, I have the same questions for all of you. But because the taxpayers want from me not only objectivity, but also variety, I’m faced with a conundrum: how to begin this interview in a different way from the last two?
ADRIANA WIDDOES: Detective, why don’t I just tell you what happened. Because my instincts tell me that your first two interviews have barely scratched the surface.
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Thank you.
ADRIANA WIDDOES: For two hours, we ate a meal consisting of only dessert and champagne. Five desserts each, heavy silverware with scratches that made it look antique-y, the cheapest champagne on the menu. That’s what we did.
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Who are you, Ms. Widdoes? I mean, on the inside.
ADRIANA WIDDOES: I’m twenty-four. I drove the car we rode in on. I am an artist.
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Can you give me some art so that I understand?
ADRIANA WIDDOES: Of course, Detective. This one’s called “Rose Air.” Puff / Mouth / Breath / Food / Spoon / Suck / Attitude
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Thank you.
ADRIANA WIDDOES: It’s about the soapy rose air dessert we ate in course one.
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Does eating air sufficiently furnish your insides?
ADRIANA WIDDOES: I don’t do this all the time, Detective.
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: What do you do all the time, Ms. Widdoes?
ADRIANA WIDDOES: I was craving meatballs by the end of the meal.
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: You ate the air, then you wanted the meatballs, because that’s your normal food.
ADRIANA WIDDOES: That doesn’t sound very ladylike, but if you suck down soapy rose air, and count pistachio flan for protein, I promise that at the end, you will want either meatballs or kielbasa or tacos to rescue you, to bring you back down.
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Did you like the desserts?
ADRIANA WIDDOES: Funny that’s the first time you’ve asked any of us that question.
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Did you?
ADRIANA WIDDOES: At first, yes. By the end, not at all. I felt sick, Detective. Disgusted.
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Did you get meatballs at the end to “bring you back down”?
ADRIANA WIDDOES: We asked and they didn’t have any. Although they had at one time had some. The waiter at first didn’t remember that they used to have meatballs. We watched him remember, and we watched his memory amuse him. We asked for meatballs. He hurried to say no, because to him, it was inconceivable that a restaurant like Patina could ever have meatballs. Then he remembered that, not too long ago, they had had meatballs, and he corrected himself.
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Do you think the meatballs they had had were the meatballs you were imagining?
ADRIANA WIDDOES: Knowing Patina, the meatballs they had had centers of dehydrated pea.
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Excuse me, Ms. Widdoes?
ADRIANA WIDDOES: Not “pee,” Detective. Pea. Like, those green things, dried out and made crunchy. If I had to wager, I’d say that’s what Patina did with the notion of meatball. Patina suffers from the obligation to experiment, from the weight of its own conceit. They cannot play it straight. It is an experimental restaurant. They cannot serve up normal meatballs.
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: What are the other characteristics of experimental restauranting?
ADRIANA WIDDOES: They asked me what color napkin I wanted.
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: And the options were…
ADRIANA WIDDOES: One of the low level waiters came around dangling napkins of many different colors, like a flag salesman at a bullfight in an alternate universe.
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: The point of the colors was?
ADRIANA WIDDOES: Presumably, to match our outfits.
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: And you chose…
ADRIANA WIDDOES: Black, Detective. Imagine what I wore. Could it have been anything but a slinky black dress?
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: I confess that I can’t imagine it could have been anything else, Ms. Widdoes.
ADRIANA WIDDOES: Black napkins go with black dresses, Detective.
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: What colors did the others go with?
ADRIANA WIDDOES: Katie went with the Technicolor dream coat napkin. Peter went with the burlap sack colored napkin. Tom went with white.
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: White is an extraordinarily awful decision, in my opinion. Unless he was wearing an all white suit.
ADRIANA WIDDOES: You know perfectly well that he wasn’t.
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: That’s just such a terrible napkin choice.
ADRIANA WIDDOES: This is an odd time for editorializing, Detective. Remember that you are in the position of gleaning from our evening perfect objectivity. That’s what the people want, the people who pay your salary, the taxpayers. They want perfect objectivity. They don’t want to know what color napkin you think is the best. They don’t want to know what situations you deem appropriate for napkin selection. They don’t want to know how often you wipe your hands. They want to know dessert, they want to know dining, they want to know about sexual tension. These are the people’s wants. Patina is an experimental place. They peddle dessert. They induce sugar comas in their clientele. It’s a strange world, Detective. But they’ve been validated on Zagat’s, so you can’t blame us for going. We are young. We are artists. We will try anything. So stick to the facts, Detective. Can I quiz you on what you’ve learned so far?
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: No.
ADRIANA WIDDOES: What desserts did we eat?
DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: I recall rose air. I recall pistachio flan. Mr. Nichols mentioned a mushy lemon custard.
ADRIANA WIDDOES: You do not, however, recall the chocolate paper. The dehydrated Nutella. The concentrated Meyer lemon peanut butter ice cream-esque ice cream. You do not know which desserts required spoons, and which required forks. You do not know what happened there that night, Detective. You cannot. You must not. Confess to the taxpayers, Detective. Confess to them your frailty.
Click here for Detective Benjamin’s interview with suspect four, Tom Dibblee.
Adriana Widdoes is a writer currently living in Los Angeles. She is a coastal hybrid of sorts.
Patrick Benjamin is a writer living near Los Angeles. He lives with his sister and grandmother.