Susan's Blog

Friday, September 19, 2008

Lunch Hour

A man and a woman walked into a restaurant together. He was tall, thin, and blond. She was older, darker. Their faces seemed somewhat alike, with full red lips, well-defined chins and nicely shaped large noses. The man was a few feet in front, taking large steps into the dining room, apparently eager to be there. The woman was slower, looking around, taking in the dark woods, the high ceilings, and the white tablecloths. They sat down across from each other in a booth. The woman opened her menu and studied the offerings. The man left his closed, not as interested. A waiter came over to take their drink order, and the man ordered a Sprite, while his companion asked for some water.

They pored over their menus and after some discussion about types of pasta, sauces, and salads, they settled on two Caesar salads and a chicken parmagiana. The waiter brought their drinks, announced the specials before anyone could stop him, and then the woman ordered, checking with the man, who mumbled his choices. The waiter looked a little confused, and the woman briskly repeated what the man had said.

The man’s salad came first, and he started picking out the croutons and pulling off the shavings of cheese. The woman offered to take the cheese. He gave her all of the papery yellow slices, and then dumped the entire ramekin of dressing into the middle of his salad. He shoveled the gloppy lettuce into his mouth, occasionally picking pieces of cheese off his tongue. The waiter refilled the man’s soda and took away the other glass, which seemed to puzzle the man.

They sat in silence, while he ate. The woman gazed at the man’s face, with a smile on her own that was radiant. He rarely looked at her. Now and then the woman would ask something or mention this or that about nothing in particular. The man would always answer “Yes,” courteously, but he never said anything else but that.

At last the woman’s Caesar came, along with the chicken parm for the man. He immediately scraped off the cheese and the woman took it, and dripped a large wad of it into her mouth. The man cut the slab of flattened chicken into large pieces and chewed with gusto. The woman said that her salad was “so good,” and repeated this when the waiter came over.

When their meal was finished, the woman wondered if they should look at desserts, and the man agreed immediately. As the woman began reading the choices out loud, the man interrupted her and said, “Chocolate,” and that was decided. “A decaf and the brownie sundae,” the woman told the waiter.

The brownie sundae was a mountain of ice cream, cake, and hot fudge, in a fishbowl-sized glass. The man dug into it, allowing the woman one taste. She then had to satisfy herself with sweet coffee and with watching him greedily consume the dessert.

He stood up when he was finished, and seemed to want to leave. He picked up his empty glass and looked as if he wanted to bring it, presumably, to the sink. “No, darling, they will clean it up,” she said. “Sit down, I have to pay.”

He watched intently while she signed. There was never any question of who would pay. The woman was clearly in command of this particular aspect of the relationship.

They walked out, he in front of her, into the sparkling sunshine. They were both smiling. And no one in the restaurant was any the wiser.

3 comments

Except you. There you were. You took it in and smiled that knowing smile. You probably missed him a little. The world is a more understanding place because of observers like us, I’d like to think. -Tina G.

— added by Anonymous on Friday, September 19, 2008 at 11:19 pm

I’m glad you got it, Tina. It is amazing to me how few people figured out that I was talking about Nat and me at lunch!! I’m so proud of him.

— added by Susan Senator on Sunday, September 21, 2008 at 7:27 am

I got it. I got it except for feeling it was something you imagined doing in the future vs. present day. I think the word ‘man’ got me thinking that way because despite his age; I still picture Nat more of a big kid than a man. It had me tingling from word one. Lovely writing as always. Thanks, Anna

— added by Anonymous on Sunday, September 21, 2008 at 9:34 am

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