Monday, February 1, 2016

I Only Eat Cucumbers for the Hydration

On Saturday I found myself sitting at a small table with a carafe of water, two books and three magazines, and a bottle of Brooklyn Sarachi Ace. The table was in my favorite Belgian pub called Park Brugue, and I was there as an excommunicated person . From my own house.

Three days prior to this lovely solo date with myself, I had put on a one woman show my husband very graciously called an Adult Tantrum. Two of my three roommates were actively participating in an activity I call "stalling" or, when I am particularly hot about it, thoughtless and selfish behavior. As in, we all needed to get out of the door within the next 3 minutes in order for everyone to get to their school/work/Bible study on time and the urgency was obviously felt by no one but me.

I ask, I remind, I chide. Then I bristle and raise my voice. When the increased volume falls on deaf ears and I realize that it isn't a hearing problem, but a lack of desire to respond, I as they say in Jane Austin novels, became undone. On this particular Wednesday, after seeing my son empty an entire laundry basket of folded clothes on the floor in an attempt to find a pair of feetie pajamas that he wouldn't be wearing to school anyway, the exhibition of my feelings was to announce that he would never be allowed to wear pajamas again in his life. Which of course, dissolved him into tears. The proof of the good life at age 4 is a pair of pajamas covered in reindeer that show no skin from neck to toe.

When Grant took me aside and reminded me that not only was my consequence unreasonable, but hugely inconvenient, he asked if I needed some alone time. Usually I can tell when I am reaching my thin ice point and send myself off with a book and a beer, but this time caught me off guard. I didn't realize how tired I was. We made a plan, and I went back to apologize and resolve things with my son.

Saturday. So I am seated at a table cozily inbetween two other tables with couples eating brunch and chatting. Once my beer glass is full and I am tucked into The Other Journal, everything becomes white noise around me. I am as good as alone. Sometimes you just need people around you that don't know you. Then as I finish up one essay and turn the page to begin the next, I hear it.

"I didn't eat the honeydew from this fruit salad. Melons are just sweet cucumbers, mostly just water. I don't like eating cucumbers because they don't taste like anything. But I eat them for their hydrating abilities."

I am a shameless eavesdropper when I am exposed to conversations worth listening to, and sitting practically at the same table to two people having a conversation like this in my ear is like a dream come true for me. My Anthropology background comes alive, and I grab my Moleskine journal from my purse and begin documenting an ethnography of the two guys I am observing. I literally cannot write fast enough.

"Did you like this omelette? I could tell it was a good one, but I am in more of the hearty cabin food mode right now."

"Modest Mouse plays State College a lot. Probably because they are from New Jersey."

"I'm pretty sure I have worms. I ate raw bacon 5 years ago in Korea and they have worms everywhere."

"What are we doing now? I want to do something outside. Like work for Habitat for Humanity."

"You tipped 8 bucks? You are making me look bad. Now I have to redo mine."

By the time these two guys finish brunch, one of them takes a phone call from a poor person who he didn't want to answer the call from but answered it he told her because "I just wanted to let you know I couldn't talk" (??), and left the pub, I was furious at having a few minutes of my precious exile taken up by their unbelievable stream of consciousness brunch conversation. I was also hysterically laughing with a completely straight face.

These two decided to leave their homes, pay a good amount of money for brunch and beer, just to talk like this to one another. And I wonder if they would have chosen to talk about any other subjects if they had known I was shorthandedly writing down as much as I could so I wouldn't forget. Like when you have a fantastic idea in the middle of the night and write nonsense on a napkin so your memory can be sparked by the few words and the entire idea can be rekindled. Right now, looking at the sentences I did manage to write down, I remember much of the conversation that flowed inbetween and connected them. I remember the way the two of them kept leaning back away from their plates like they were giving up, then returning to eating position to try a bit more omelette. I remember how one of them kept offering his hash browns to his friend.

It was the very definition of comfortable, uncomplicated, beautiful friendship that exists between human beings after a substantial amount of life has been lived in each other's company. They didn't make brunch plans to discuss anything significant or exciting. Neither of them had just broken up with a girlfriend and needed to process in sympathetic company. No one had been fired or just taken an epic trip or gotten accepted to law school or even signed up for art classes.They just wanted to have some eggs together. And my inner Margaret Mead gleefully witnessed and documented my etic perspective.

I love humankind. And while my beer and my books slowly made their way through my body, these two colorful tablemates had a Saturday brunch like they had probably had a thousand times before. But that day, they said something new. At least it was new to the girl at the next table.


  1. So much in love with this post, and super glad to see/hear/think of you again. I have less running around stress in my life these days...all are grown and no one is prison...haha. But I love going to coffee shops to read and for this, to listen and watch the fellow humans around me share bits of their humanity with me whether they wanted to or not. :) Glad to hear all are well and that the footie pajamas survived. Much love, Cris

  2. So happy to find this! I just joyfully read every entry.