hole-in-the-wall fish place
I’m eavesdropping. And I’m not embarrassed. In fact, the only bad thing is that I’m writing this with the stubby pen I keep in my wallet. Bad girl to head out without a good pen.
At my eleven-o’clock, there are two older men who’ve met for lunch. They’re veterans, of
—-ran out of ink! lovely server brought me a replacement.
of some sort, and they haven’t caught up in awhile. One said, “I miss her… and your wife, too. They were good birds.”
“I keep the picture in my wallet. That’s too bad, to live like that. I have it written down, I have it that if I’m that way, to pull the plug.”
“Well, she didn’t even know they were there. You can’t talk to her.”
This breaks my heart. They’re both a little hard of hearing, so I can’t help eavesdropping. Fortunately, in between my salad and my broccoli, they’ve started talking about pay toilets.
I’ve been shopping, and still have more to do. I don’t mind eating in a restaurant on my own, but I usually have a book with me instead of a notebook.
“Do you remember in Kellyfornia, when we went around? In that car? Oh, that was a great time. I had all my toes!”
When I have a notebook, I feel more self-conscious. I wonder if the server’s looking over my shoulder. But these two… I keep catching bits and pieces. I wish I were at the table with them, asking questions.
“It was Anne, Lorraine, and then Sharon.”
“I danced with her, at the party!”
“And then Florence.”
Whoo, daddy. These boys were wild.
“No, Sharon. She’s my god-daughter. But anyway, I says to Barbara, the other customer, what do they say about that? One hour, fifty dollars.”
“And she comes from Stittsville. I let her in, and I go out for the day, and when I come home, it’s all cleaned up, and she leaves, and I lock the door. I only have just the apartment, I don’t need every week, so I say, every two weeks.”
Oh. Cleaning lady. This is not as wild a story as the Kellyfornia one.
When I moved out on my own, I did a lot of things solo—not just restaurants. I go to movies on my own often. I spend days on my own in the city, eavesdropping and windowshopping and I can’t think of another word that ends with -opping. Clippity-clopping? Sometimes I wear my clogs.
The noisier of the two old men thanked the other, Charlie, for lunch. “That was just right. You let me know the next time you’re in town and I’ll let you see that new sixty-five year medal.”
Oh, heck. Definitely veterans. I was hoping not. They’ve been through a lot, but they’re so chipper. Of course I don’t know what it’ll be like when not-Charlie goes back to his apartment and pays Barbara and locks the door. I hate thinking that he’ll be lonely, but something tells me he’ll be on the phone the rest of the night, telling everyone he knows about his day out. I know what that’s like.