You have to be a real asshole to resent your baby. At least that’s what I used to believe. It wasn’t until I was actually at that crossroads when I realized…there are extremely valid reasons to resent your child. For example, when you realize that the time and money associated with raising the kid is going to cost you something you and your wife have dreamed of since January 7, 2013. What’s the significance of that date? Well, if you don’t follow every Housewives show on Bravo like we do, you probably don’t realize that January 7 was the premiere of the show Vanderpump Rules. And if you’re not serious foodies like we are, you also don’t know that the show focuses on the inner workings of Sur; a destination that has been the object of our obsession since we learned that Lisa Vanderpump was opening this sexy, tres chic alternative to her other restaurant, Villa Blanca. But now we’ll have to scrap any plans to visit anytime in the next couple of years thanks to this kid. When we’re watching reruns on DVR, we’re careful not to look at her and go “It’s YOUR fault!”, but emotions run high and mistakes do happen. We had pretty much resigned ourselves to never being able to experience the height of culture and fashion, and the all-encompassing vibrance that the Los Angeles dining scene has to offer. But that whole attitude changed one day recently when a friend rekindled that hope. The request was simple- I had not taken my wife out for sushi since before she was pregnant, so I wanted to find someplace nice….super classy and sophisticated, with a good energy, but less rapey than what one might find in the Power and Light District.
“Have you heard of Ra Sushi?”, they asked me.
“Yeah, isn’t that out in Town Center Plaza next to Dick’s Sporting Goods and Panera?”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, buddy….it is NOT at Town Center Plaza, it’s at Park Place Village…across the street from Town Center Plaza. It’s just the kind of classy you’re looking for, and the parking garage makes it much less like a strip mall. Plus, there’s a cupcake store and one of those upscale barber shops.”
Well, what the hell. Maybe it wouldn’t be the same as eating at Sur, but the promise of mediocre sushi and improvisational courting antics courtesy of “Puma Wednesdays” made it the closest thing we’d be finding for awhile….so we headed out to the land of prefab developments based on tourism photos from larger cities in the early 90’s. I think of it as “Earl’s Scottsdale”.
It’s quite a drive from north of the river, and the fact that we drove past so many restaurants we already knew were good really upped the anticipation. But my friend was right, the addition of the parking garage gives the impression that you’re going to have to work just a little harder to get where you’re going, so it was kind of urban-y but without any of the loitering Westport rank and file. We did have one very strange encounter between the parking garage and the front door. While there isn’t exactly a lot of street parking, there are a few spaces between the entrance and the garage. As we got closer to the entrance, we noticed a small group of six or seven men flanking a vehicle parked near the curb. It is kind of hard to describe exactly what was going on…the closest comparison I can think of would be early to mid-90’s footage of rockabilly youth in Japan, dressed in rolled cuff jeans, white t-shirts, motorcycle jackets with extremely exaggerated ducktail hairdo’s and huge sideburns. They were all just kind of shimmying around this Kia Soul with the back gate open, and Bowie’s “Suffragette City” blasting and cracking the cheap speakers. That seemed like a really weird combination of things, but the closer I got I realized…they were all middle aged Indian men. And I’m pretty sure I worked with one of them across the street at Sprint about ten years ago. It was a lot to take in, but it was the constant (not exactly synchronized) movement that was most off-putting…constant swaying, fidgeting to get just the right hand-in-pocket poses, assorted Zippo lighter tricks….I wasn’t sure if it was purposely ironic like the movie Johnny Suede, or if we were about to witness a “Greased Lightning” flash mob. I was planning for us to walk right past and do our best to forget about it, but the guy I recognized started walking over. At first I thought it was to say hi to me, but he made a bee line for my wife.
“Heeyy there Ms. Lady coming to Puma night! Why you don’t bring some more ladies instead of this turd?”
Thinking he was just screwing around because he remembered me, I was like “Hey man! You still at Sprint?”
“Whooo the fuck you think you talking to? I’m talking to the lady about Puma night, boy. You out of your league, so go over and tickle some Aaron Sanchez nuts across the street at Mestizo before it gets hurting here! He might let you wash dishes, fucking turd!
I was convinced he was just really committed to this joke, “Yeah, you literally worked two cubicles down from me, how’s it been going?”
“WHAT THE FUCK YOU THINK THIS IS? We don’t need no more sausage at this party, boy. Leave the lady, but I think she has your PURSE!”
Finally catching on, I wasn’t sure how to respond to this level of ineffective badgering. I wasn’t afraid, these guys were tiny, but I was really, really wanting to check out the sushi, and at this point we’d gotten the attention of his posse. They didn’t stop with any of the shimmying or posing, but they just kind of started drifting over our way and forming a perimeter. It was not unlike the Martin/Aykroyd wild and crazy guy dance. Just meaner.
“YOU AIN’T GONE YET FUCKING PUSSY?!?! Am I a joke here to you or some thing? Am I your bitch ass chai wallah out here? You thirsty pussy? As soon as I get done selling this data plan I’ll be right with you! I been stealing rides on trains all day but I can still show you around the Taj Mahal motherfucker! Special rate for white turds! You think I’m joking? Piece of shit! Wanna see some fucking jai ho dancing? I do it on your broken DICK!
At this point I figured what the hell. Zero danger unless these little bastards had tiny switchblades. “Hey, I love Sha Na Na! Which one of you is Bowzer’s SHIT?”
Fucking switchblades. This night was not going well. You’d think after living out this scenario a few dozen times at Sprint, I would have remembered the switchblades. I told my wife this would probably take a few minutes, but to head inside and get us on the list for a table. As the wee Roy Orbisons closed in, a well dressed gentleman burst out of the front door of Ra.
“Sumit! I have TOLD YOU a HUNDRED TIMES to LEAVE PEOPLE ALONE! Haven’t I?”
“Yes Sir. Sorry.”
“You and your boys are to stay at least fifty feet from the entrance on Puma Wednesdays! Are we going to have to file a restraining order like we did for Milf Mondays?”
“No Sir! No! Sorry Sir! We’ll stay off the property!”, but then he looked right at me and mouthed “Fucking PUSSY!” So this clearly wasn’t over.
“Folks, I am so so sorry, please, come right in and we’ll get you a table! Welcome to Ra Sushi!”
“Thanks! Hey, did you say there’s Milf Mondays too?” I was a little pissed I didn’t know about that. It would clearly be superior to Puma Wednesdays, culturally speaking.
“We haven’t had them for about three months now. Long story, but we had some staff suffering recurring nightmares due to Milf Mondays, and before someone pulled OSHA into the mix we cancelled them. But Puma Wednesdays are great! Anyway, sorry again about that silly Sumit. He’s actually a very nice man. Faithful customer. If you need anything at all, my name is Greg.”
The only other minor hiccup we experienced was being seated in a windowless room next to the kitchen, along with Fred Durst and that little old lady who died in the movie 54. Oh, and a Steampunk couple. Clearly, they did not know I am “PX” in many fine establishments AND my Yelp reviews have received “Review of the Day” status on numerous occasions. Nobody seats us in the section of the damned. After showing my Yelp Elite profile to the Hostess, the problem was quickly remedied. So FINALLY, we felt that we had arrived at the infamous Ra Sushi. And while we may not have had Jax or Stassi from Sur to wait on us, we received the most cheerful confirmation that we were indeed at the right place at the right time. Shortly after we were seated, the Britney Spears song “I Wanna Go” began playing. It was the theme song for what was arguably the best ever “Summer By Bravo” commercial from back in 2011, and I could not think of a more pleasant way to begin our meal.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret…..Ra is actually a buffet. A buffet of style and culture. The interior is the perfect combination of Z Gallerie and Hot Topic, with low lights, dark finishes and geometric accents. A loyal commitment to black and red. Sure the dark finishes are probably harder to clean, there is the occasional hand stuck to the table, but appearance is what’s most important. And the great thing is, they not only have an early and a late happy hour, but almost every night has some sort of theme in between them that has drink and food specials as well. Pretty smart on their part. When you’re putting out that kind of volume, presentation takes a back seat, so it really takes the pressure off and adds to the trendy indifference vibe.
We anticipated a much larger crowd for Puma Wednesday. We were hoping for a packed house energy that would transport us out west, but it was strangely quiet. We did have a table of sharp looking thirtysomething men next to us. And by sharp looking, I mean that they had on those really cool jeans with the bedazzled crosses on the pockets, and tight fitting button down shirts with the same big crosses…but embroidered. And flip flops. It takes real moxie to pull off flip flops when you’re a male older than ten and there’s no pool in sight. They didn’t seem to be having a great time, but they perked up when the server came over to take their drink order.
“Would you gentlemen care to start with a cocktail? I see you’ve got our list of Puma Wednesday drink specials!”
“Yeah, I’ll have a Summer Breeze Vagiplasty. Ciroc in that if you’ve got it. Oh, no homo.”
“I’ll have the same, but whatever you’ve got in the well is fine. No homo.”
“I’m gonna try the Kegel Kooler.”
“Raspberry or Kaffir Lime with that, sir?”
“Kaffir Lime. No homo.”
“Kaffir Lime….that’s my favorite! And for you sir?”
“I’ll have the I Know, Right??? Up instead of on the rocks. No Homo.”
“That sounds kind of homo”, his buddy chuckled.
“Just leave it alone Todd! I like the little ice chips from the shaker! DAMMIT!”
“Thank you gentlemen, I’ll put those orders in and be right back to talk about dinner! Oh, I should go ahead and mention that we’re sold out of the Honey Mustard Maki Rolls.”
Propelled by a gust of disappointed groans, the server headed our way. She was way friendlier than one would expect in a restaurant that’s trying to corner the suburban exclusivity market. That would be my only complaint about the service. Other than that, very professional. First off, I had to inquire about the sparse, predominantly male and assorted couples crowd. Was this normal for Puma Wednesday? Where were all of the Cougars pretending to be young enough to be Pumas?
“Oh, are you two swingers? White Rock Garden night is actually THURSDAY….”
“Oh no. God no. Nothing like that. My friend just said that Puma Wednesdays were as close to a happening Los Angeles scene as you’re going to find in Kansas City.”
“Oh NORMALLY, it is. It’s usually very happening in here. I think most of our usual ladies are at a fundraiser tonight down at The Bullet Hole. Kris Kobach is hosting a Bullets for ‘Bortions pro-life rally. It’s similar to those Beer Pong for Babies type fundraisers, but his whole thing is that new laws are always a good idea unless they involve guns. Apparently his events are a great place to find guys who aren’t very good at arguing with you!”
Oh well, there would be other Puma Wednesdays. Apparently the crowd who wants to make the world safe from voter fraud that doesn’t actually exist had won this round. We were feeling pretty defeated, and decided we’d have the drinks we ordered and leave. Food isn’t the reason you come to a restaurant like Ra, so we would return another time when we could enjoy the spirit of outdated concepts and vacuous attitudes.
As we were waiting for the server to pick up our tab, I headed to the men’s room in preparation for the long drive north. A huge surprise awaited me! What’s that you ask? I shit you not, Ra Sushi has a DJ in the bathroom! Right there in the corner, near the paper towel dispenser, is a full DJ station. And it is LOUD in there! I don’t know if Dubstep is the usual choice, but the telltale Casio keyboard and WHU-WHU-WHU-WHU-WHU had begun ramping up as I walked in.
Loud and CROWDED! No kidding, there were about eight urinals along the wall and I got the only one that wasn’t in use. I looked over at the DJ station and asked the guy next to me, “Hey, is that DJ Ashton Martin?”
“No, he hasn’t played in here in about six months. That’s DJ Fiat Abarth. Ashton Martin has gone off the charts lately, you can’t get him to play a toilet north of 135th anymore!”
It took me about ten more seconds to realize…nobody was moving. No flushing, nobody leaving, nothing. In a full bathroom, no peeing was taking place. Since the guy next to me was aware of the rise and fall of Ra’s Ashton Martin period, I asked him what the hell was going on.
“Waiting for the drop!”
“The drop man, the DROP! This song is just taking a little longer, but still, no pissing before the DROP!”
“I really have to go!”
“We ALL really have to fucking go, man! But trust me buddy, save it for the drop. You’ll see!”
It’s hard to tell with Dubstep, but it sounded like we weren’t TOO far from the drop. The WUH-WUH-WUH-WUH had gotten loud enough to change the air pressure in the room, and through my strained eardrums I could hear ocean waves start to feather into the mix. Then all of a sudden- silence, gong, a single dog barked, Optimus Prime screamed “NO HOMO!”, aaannnd the DROP!
A wave of relief made its way down the row of men as the streams of urine found purchase. That guy wasn’t kidding. You wait for the drop. Between the relief of urination and the pressure in the room going back to normal, I finished my business on a wave of euphoric contentment. The disappointment of a Puma-less Wednesday was far behind me as I went back out to meet my wife and head home. As we walked outside, I spotted that crazy Sumit and his friends perched on the hood of the Kia Soul, a safe distance from the front door. He was as good as his word.
“HOPE YOU HAD A GOOD TIME, PUSSY!”, he screamed, “BE SURE TO BRING YOUR WOMAN BACK SOON, YOU FUCK! ”
Oh, I will. Trust me Sumit, I’ll be back. While our evening did not turn out as we had hoped, the promise of Los Angeles evenings in the Midwest was strong enough to draw us back, floating in on the siren’s song of the Pumas.
11638 Ash St.
Leawood, KS 66211