I knew it might be crowded, but I pulled in anyway. Sure enough the parking lot was jammed, I had hopes it was for the other businesses. Saturdays are the worst. The quaint little place is something straight out of the past. It’s kinda like stepping through a mirror in the Twilight Zone from the present back in time to the 50’s or 60’s.
The walls are filled with memorabilia honoring the people from the past and present who have served our country in the Armed Services. I like those kinds of places… The outside tables were taken and it looked like the folks weren’t in any hurry to be leaving anytime soon. Rats… I like outside… Strike one.
I tried to force my eyes to adjust quicker to the inside light than they wanted to, “There’s a seat at the bar”! one of the waitresses hollered across the postage stamp size of a restaurant. My adjusting eyes quickly spotted the bar seat she was trying to fill. I immediately knew there was zero chance of me trying to shoe horn myself into a space that would have given Houdini the sweats.
I try to be understanding and cooperate with people in business. I know they want to reserve a table for more than one person, but under the circumstances it was a table or bust. “You mind if I sit there”? I asked pointing at the two top, one row in from the narrow walkway area where I stood. “Sure Hon! – “Whichever one you want”! she shouted kindly.
I quickly assessed the few likely paths I might navigate to get there. I turned sideways trying to make my way around and behind people, brushing against them and their chairs as I squeezed through. After a few tight Olympic maneuvers, I found my chair and place inside the human sardine shop.
The tables were so tight that the table to my left, across the supposed walkway, was less than 30″ away. A tight fit. The table to my right had about a 4″ space between my table and my ever too close neighbors, which meant I had to be careful while eating so as not to hit the older gentlemen with my elbow.
There would be no such thing as a private conversation in that place. It was like a movie… As tight as it was, everyone seemed to grow closer and closer. The volume of the conversations grew louder, to the point of deafening.
As if on cue, everyone started coughing. The place was full of folks with colds or pneumonia… Wonderful, and me a germaphobe… As I was beginning to inhale my omelette, the wife of my pal I was rubbing elbows with took a break from telling her husband how to do everything in his life, while adding several, “I told you so’s,” to blow her nose into her overused kleenex in my direction. The lady directly behind her started clearing the hockey pucks from her lungs as well.
With my little germ-infested world closing in on me, I stacked my unfinished plates on top of one another to signal the waitress of my tapping out.
As I contemplated Paul’s words of “our vile bodies,” it dawned on me; it couldn’t have been any sort of picnic sitting next to me either. The slow drying sweat and my body spilling over the sides of the petite chairs put me in the same boat, or sardine can as it were…
Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it, but were not so different…
Right down to the planks in our eyes…