There was a strange incense burning, smelling of lemon dishwashing soap mixed with marijuana. She surveyed the room’s statues of many-armed creatures; these, she assumed were part of an exotic middle eastern religion; she had no idea that India was a country in South Asia – you see, "the foreigners all look the same."
First one, then another potential dinner date arrived, each adding to her anxious disappointment, and one even shaking his head with a patronizing, ‘no. it’s not me.’
The he walked in – his wrinkled Mexican waiter shirt, 70’s shoes he paid over $100 to wear, and ironic tortoise-shell, horn-rimmed glasses betraying his hipster roots, and ultimately, his politics.
"Are you Dan?"
"Yes. Daniel. Are you Tracey?" asking the obvious.
He pulled a small spray bottle of orange liquid from his messenger bag and misted the plastic cover on the velvet chair.
He unfurled the fan-folded napkin from his setting and wiped the seat free of bacteria. Then he sat, pointed his fingers to hook the attention of one of the waiters bustling about and pointed at the soiled napkin on the floor. He needed a fresh one.
She noticed the gleam of well-manicured fingernails as he started to push a long combination of buttons on his razor-thin cell phone to turn the ringer to "vibrate."
She always giggled at vibrating cell phones.
And he still hadn’t said, "Hello."
She told him she was new to the area and liked to try "these unusual restaurants… I’m usually a steak and potatoes kind of girl, so it’s nice to try something different."
"Yeah… I’m a vegetarian… so…" His voice trailed off to let her finish the sentence in her head with any number of options, each making her feel more and more like she should be wearing overalls, milking cows, and watching Jerry Springer back home at Hicksville.
He stared at her… running his calculations in his head. Burning his critique into her face.
She took a sip of her tea, her thin fingers unable to wrap around the cereal bowl of a glass, "Well… then it’s a good thing you picked the restaurant."
He smirked, "They have a buffet. You can try lots of things to find something you like."
It was the way he said it… as if he knew full well she would not like any of it.
That’s when she realized how much she missed the porch swing at Gamm’s house.
And that’s precisely the moment when she snapped…