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The lack of a book


is the same as lacking companionship.

I went without either today after my haircut. My transportation wouldn’t be able to come for a little while (the parental unit and the sibling units were at the local UberCuts getting locks shorn for summer), so I sauntered up the sidewalk past Ruby Tuesday’s until I reached Texas Roadhouse. Upon reaching TR I turned back to the first building.

“They might have cheesecake or something,” I’d said to my mother on the phone.

A man was crouching in front of the door with an Exacto knife, moving the shiny gold new hour sticker (1 o’clock, which side of the meridian I’m not sure). Begging his pardon, I slipped into the dark interior to be confronted with a salad bar. No “please wait to be seated” or other friendly instructive rectangles. I peeked around the wall to the near empty dining area, looked over towards the bar. The bartender regarded me briefly, then ignored me.

A young woman with chin length, angled straight hair (very cute. Slender, short, dressed in black like the other waitresses) appeared in the empty expanse of the dining room.
“Have you been helped yet?”
“No.” I shook my head.
“How many in your party?”
“Just me.” With a smile, feeling sheepish, never having dined alone in a sit-down restaurant before. Also feeling vaguely pathetic.
Later Mom would say I could have said that I was waiting for someone but then that’d be even more pathetic because he (or she) would have never showed up.
No novel, no notebook, no texting (plan, anyway).

A bussing waitress (also cute, skinny, straight long hair, glasses) says loudly in my direction “We have five dollar margaritas….”
“Too bad I’m underage.” With a smile, wondering if I were twenty-one how I would drive safely home from drinking alone.
“Really? When will you be twenty-one?”
“Next year. I’ll be twenty at the end of this month. So I’m still waiting!” With a bit of wistful frustration, maybe even threw my hands up.
“Oh, it’ll go fast. I remember twenty going by really fast. You’re twenty and all of the sudden you’re in a bar.”
She finishes with the table she’s at and goes to check the status of other customers. I’m in nonsmoking; there is one other occupied table–a couple at whom I didn’t look too closely.

Dessert page. Blonde brownie with vanilla ice cream. (Blondie for One, a variant of the dessert is called and is what I order). More interactions with another waitress, tanned, very cute (of course), with light eyeshadow and long highlighted straight hair. All in black, everyone in black.
I’m wearing brown shoes with ribbon-bows and no makeup and my hair is crunchy from too much mousse and a brown shirt with buttons that are shiny.
Yet as I sit waiting for my water and my brownie/ice cream and pretending to text or to pass the time I feel strangely beautiful, like I am a mysterious young woman here by herself ordering a dessert. As if I sought out RT for the mere reason of confectionary delight instead of waiting out the ticking of second hands on the invisible wrist watch of the universe.

It comes. The plate is beautiful. White, square, crosshatchings of caramel, creamy scoop of creamy white vanilla ice cream diagonal from the triangular blond brownie. The whole display seems oddly geometric, much like the lampshades with their oblong squares and the hanging copper-colored plates on the far wall. The spoon has a small bowl and a long handle, the brownie is appropriately warm, nutty; its tango partner is sweet and cold but just soft enough to curl away under the spoon like the skin of a yielding orange.

Delicious. I pretend I’m alluring as I eat and to some extent believe my pretension, wishing I was in costume or at least in Audrey Hepburn wayfarers.
The long haired waitress swoops by.
“Is it good?”
“It’s delicious.” Emphasis, mouth half-full.

I wonder if I should have ordered two waters simply so I could pretend you were coming. I think about the difference between eating alone and eating with you and the difference in this outing if you’d been present. I toy with the idea of calling you, I don’t (you’re working. Probably). I play with the notion of texting you, I don’t (Expensive. Don’t have a plan).

Have I ever eaten a dessert this slow, I wonder.
Waste not, want not.
Not wasting, but I do want.

One second before the last bite, my pocket vibrates, I say I’ll be right out.
In the plastic folder I leave a 5 dollar bill, generous tip and payment in one crisp Lincoln.

Out the door, out of silence, back to books and companionship (still no texting).

But for now, I’m still

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