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The Promise

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On March 25, 1979, Starsky and Hutch go to the Pits to celebrate Starsky’s 36th birthday. Starsky orders a bacon double cheeseburger with all the fixins, fries, and a large vanilla milkshake, while Hutch orders a blue cheese burger and a beer. Hutch pays for Starsky’s meal.

On May 15, 1979, Starsky wins a ping-pong game and the accompanying bet where the loser has to treat the winner to a three-course meal at the restaurant of his choice. He tells Hutch he knows of a restaurant so fancy that they take credit references with their reservations and says that he wants a three-course dinner complete with broiled lobster and a New York steak. Hutch, never a gracious loser, tries to weasel out of buying Starsky his fancy dinner by sardonically promising to take him out the following night at five in the morning. But long before the next night rolls around, Starsky lies in a coma, dying, and Hutch is beside himself with grief.

On March 25, 1980, for Starsky’s 37th birthday, Hutch tells Starsky that he wants to make up for trying to get out of buying him dinner after the ping-pong game, so he promises Starsky that from now on, he will take him out to dinner every year on his birthday to the restaurant of Starsky’s choice. Starsky asks why, and Hutch replies it’s because he will be forever grateful for each year that Starsky is around to celebrate another birthday.

He takes Starsky to a romantic French restaurant in Malibu called Micheline where Starsky orders an appetizer of Feuilleté de Chevre and an entrée of Filet Mignon with Sauce Bordelaise and Mashed Potatoes. Hutch orders Truite au Amandes with Sautéed Almonds, Mashed Potatoes, and Carrots and offers some of his appetizer to Starsky who turns up his nose at the escargots that Hutch has ordered. For dessert, they share a pudding Chômeur, feeding each other with their spoons.

Afterwards, they go back to Venice Place and make love in the greenhouse and then lay in each other’s arms as moonlight streams over their faces, illuminating their gently closed eyes and contented smiles.

For Starsky’s 38th birthday, Hutch takes him to a seafood restaurant overlooking the waterfront in Long Beach known for its spectacular views and a two-story wine cellar. Starsky orders the Seafood Linguine with Fresh Egg Pasta, Gulf Shrimp, Sea Scallops, Manila Clams, Basil Pesto, Garlic Butter, and Fresh Tomato, while Hutch orders Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna with Japanese Cold-Cured Vegetables, Shishito Peppers, and Mushroom Ponzu. Then they walk on the waterfront holding hands as the full moon rises over the bay and luminous ripples appear on the dark water, stretching as far as the horizon.

And so every year on Starsky’s birthday, Hutch takes Starsky to the restaurant of his choice and tells him to order whatever he wants, and Starsky, of course, obliges.

On March 25, 2009, for Starsky’s 66th birthday, they deviate a little from their normal routine, because before they head for dinner, they marry in an intimate ceremony on the beach surrounded by their closest friends and family, nine months after gay marriage becomes legal in the state of California. Starsky had been eager for them to marry as soon as possible after it was legalized on June 16th the prior year, but Hutch had insisted they wait until Starsky’s birthday came around. His reason is because Starsky’s birthday means he can celebrate another year of his partner’s life, and it’s such a special day to Hutch that he can’t imagine celebrating something on any other day.

And so Starsky’s 67th birthday is also Starsky and Hutch’s one-year wedding anniversary, and once again, Hutch takes his partner out to dinner to the restaurant of his choice, where they spend most of the meal holding hands on top of the table whenever they aren’t using their utensils. Hutch tells Starsky that the only anniversary gift he wants is another year with his husband lying beside him in their bed, holding him in his arms, and so Starsky reserves giving gifts to Hutch only on Valentine’s Day, Hutch’s birthday and Christmas.

On March 15, 2020, the governor of California orders all bars, nightclubs, wineries, and brewpubs to close due to the threat of the pandemic and tells adults age 65 and over to stay home. Restaurants are allowed to stay open but with reduced capacity.

On March 19, 2020, the governor announces a statewide order to shelter at home which affects 40 million Californians. The order restricts all non-essential travel and activities.

On March 25, 2020, they celebrate Starsky’s 77th birthday at home for the first time. Hutch picks up their dinner from Starsky’s requested restaurant and sets a romantic tablescape out on their deck, complete with pristine white tablecloth, a bottle of chilled Champagne, and candles whose flames sway gently in the warm breeze coming off the Pacific.

On March 25, 2021, they again celebrate Starsky’s birthday at home, his 78th, with takeout from Starsky’s new favorite restaurant which has just recently opened nearby. Afterwards, they make love in their bedroom with the windows open to catch the ocean breeze.

On March 25, 2022, they celebrate Starsky’s 79th birthday at a restaurant overlooking the ocean, and, just as they’ve done every year for the past 42 years, they promise once again to love each other forever.