“You’re paying, right? Remember you promised to take me out the other weekend, but we didn’t go so this can be to, like, make up for it.”
She pulls the crust off of a piece of garlic bread and dips it into her pasta’s sauce.
I resist the urge to slap her and call her a cheap bitch.
She takes the piece of garlic bread she’s de-crusted and squeezes it. The oils run together and dribble onto her fingers.
The waitress drops the bill on the table, smiles and goes back through the swinging doors into the kitchen.
“You were totally checking her ass out.”
It doesn’t seem worth denying.
“So you know that internship I applied for in New York, at the advertising firm? Well, I got it.”
I take what is left of my potatoes and flatten them out on the rim of the plate. I want her to acknowledge how smooth I’ve gotten them.
My silence has no motive.
“Well, I accepted it. I’ve always wanted to live in New York, and it’s a really good agency. It’s such a good opportunity for me.”
The power in the relationship long ago shifted to her, meaning she has less to lose if it ends. To me, being in a relationship makes it feel like I somewhat have my shit together. At least I’m a capable enough male to attract a mate.
I look at the bill and try to calculate the tip in my head.
“Seriously, are you even like, listening? Do you have anything to say about what I just told you?”
I can’t be sure if I do or not. The emptiness I feel seems to be aware only of itself.
“I was also thinking it’d be best if I did this on my own. I don’t want to be tied down to anything. It wouldn’t be fair to me or you. I mean, maybe you can come visit me. It’s not like I want to stop talking. Let’s just see how we both feel when I get home.”
I carve a geometric pattern into the potatoes. It looks a bit like Sumerian runes.
“I leave for New York in two weeks. I don’t want to not see you, but it may be harder, you know? I mean, it’s not like we can pretend I’m not going away, that things are normal.”
She hasn’t used the words ‘breaking up.’
I think about what the waitress with the nice ass is doing and realize how a restaurant is all these different worlds depending on one’s role: patron, wait staff, cook, dishwasher, manager, hostess, but nobody ever really considers another’s because they’re wrapped up in their personal universe.
Nobody’s reality can be felt by anybody else, which goes a long way towards explaining human relations. I have all of these ideas in my head, but to somebody else I’m just a body. A lump of flesh. Not them.
“I don’t know what else to say right now. I should probably go. Just think about things, OK? Let’s talk in a couple of days.”
She stands up and puts on her coat. As she walks by she puts her hand on my cheek and looks at me sadly, then leans in and kisses me not quite passionately, but more than a peck. “I’m really going to miss you.”
It’s not until I get home later and lay down on my bed that I start to cry, and even then it feels like my body is doing it on its own, as if I have no say in the matter.