Lunch

14 May

Lunch

By L. Stewart Marsden

 

Thank you for meeting me today. I realize it’s awkward, but it speaks tomes about the kind of person you are.

We try.

The waiter interrupts, asking for drink orders.

Make mine an Old Fashion.

Make that two.

He nods and whisks away.

I don’t normally drink before five. Certainly not at lunch. Not one of those people.

Nor do I. I think it’s warranted, given — well, you know.

Absolutely. So, you wanted to ask me something?

I do.

Ask away.

She pauses and looks out at the front sidewalk where passersby click away to their various destinations.

Am I making a mistake?

Beg your pardon?

Am I making a mistake? With him?

I’m not sure I understand.

You know him much better than I.

I suppose. Well, I thought I did.

There are things I already know about him. As a man, I mean. He has almost literally swept me off my feet.

Yeah. I know. Been there.

The waiter returns with the drinks. They clink glasses, and feebly say Cheers!

Are you making a mistake? I don’t think I can answer that. I don’t think I should answer that. That’s a question your best friend answers. Or your mother — and the answer from her is yes, definitely. At least that’s my experience.

They laugh, and the tension is reduced.

Are you making a mistake? What does your shrink say?

I don’t see a shrink. I don’t trust them.

You might want to reconsider that. How about your pastor — or who you go to for spiritual advice?

I’m agnostic. Bad experiences in that area.

Oh. Understood.

So, am I? Making a mistake?

A long pause and a deep breath.

Maybe you are. But, maybe not. When I met him we fell head over heels. It was so spontaneous! So incredibly unlike anything else I ever experienced before — and believe me, I was experienced!

Yeah, me too.

This isn’t easy for me, you know.

I know.

I hear about you guys — from friends as well as him, sometimes.

I’m sorry.

Not your fault. We came to an impasse. What had been wasn’t. The spark had died.

Why do you think that happened? If you don’t mind my asking.

We quit tending the fire, I guess. And it was as much me as it was him. One day I looked at him and thought, Who is this man? A relationship is so much more than the giddy stuff, you know. It’s the trenches stuff, like he would say. Dating and dancing and champagne and walking on the beach hand-in-hand are only moments you catch here and there after time.

The waiter returns, and asks if the two women are ready to order. They aren’t, but ask for another round.

Why would you come to me and ask me if you’re making a mistake?

I know what I know about him, and I’m so pleased with that. It’s what I don’t know I worry about.

Honey, every man has a basement full of things they never let you see at the beginning. To be honest, I didn’t exactly reveal all my warts at first.

Why not?

What? Because I liked him and I didn’t want to scare him off! Men are skittish like that!

They laugh again, and the waiter delivers the Old Fashions.

Look, maybe you are making a mistake. But who cares? The mistake he and I made was letting things go over a long period of time. Our split didn’t happen overnight. Besides, you are always going to make mistakes, and they won’t be the same ones he and I made.

I know that. I’m not naïve enough to think it’s the fairy tale ending.

He’s not a serial killer or a bank robber or a secret agent, if that’s what you’re worried about. There was that time an enforcer from the mob showed up looking for money, though.

What!

I’m kidding!

They laugh. The waiter reappears, and asks if they are ready to order.

Not quite, right? Bring us one more round, Sweetie. I’m going to have to take a cab home!

We both will!

Honey, what’re you worried about?

Nothing. Everything! The data isn’t good for second marriages.

The data’s not good for first marriages, either.

True. But my parents have been married going on 45 years.

Wow! That’s a long time. Mine divorced when I was in college. Dad remarried got a second divorce. Mom said the hell with it and came out.

She’s gay?

And happy, if I can be redundant. So, nothing’s guaranteed.

I guess not.

But you want a guarantee, right?

I suppose. It’s not like I don’t know what pain is like. I’ve had three relationships I thought were it.

And they weren’t?

I don’t know. I couldn’t get past the what ifs.

Yeah. I can relate.

So, am I making a mistake?

Honey, I wish I could give you a definite answer. He and I were a different couple than you and him. That much I do know. You seem to be a nice fit. That’s really difficult for me to say, by the way.

I know. I shouldn’t have imposed on you.

Well, if it were the reverse, I might have done the same thing.

Really?

I know what you want. And I don’t blame you in the least. But I can’t guarantee you’re making a mistake by taking this relationship to the next level. On the other hand, I can’t guarantee it’s not a mistake if you don’t. Make sense?

Yes. And that’s what I’ve been struggling with. There aren’t any guarantees. And you’re right, I want one. So you can’t tell me whether I’m making a mistake or not?

I can’t.

You know what?

What?

I think he made the mistake.

Which was?

Letting you go. Cheers!

Cheers! You hungry?

Famished!

Waiter!

 

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