Pico de Gallo

Table Manners

H

er heart fastened to the surfer curls of the server. She was sure he surfed. He was probably a vegetarian, maybe even a vegan too. She had a gift for knowing (things about) people so she didn’t need to test how accurate her instinct was.

He smiled at her.

“Would you like salt?”
“No thank you.”
“Watching your cholesterol huh?”

She giggled. She knew she had a cute laugh (just like she knew she was a good dancer). She practised it at an age when all the other girls in her year were pretending to sign their married names.

“I think you mean blood pressure,” she replied.
“Haha, right-”
“Although, both are still matters of the heart.”
“I’ll remember that!”

She knew she could make him fall in love with her. She had a gift for that too – but it wouldn’t be fair. Her boyfriend had travelled so far.

Why did she make him fall in love with her? He was so exotic with an accent and stories of travel. He had soft eyes of sharp green and a lazy smile that made her smile – even when she didn’t feel like it – like a recalcitrant toddler being hugged.

All experiences are temporary, she decided. So why then were they always so resentful when it ended?

“Nobody can every really know anyone,” she blurted out last time before he had to leave.

He was complaining again – about the pizza they ordered. She thought he was trying to hurt her and got defensive. She forgot how good she was hurting people back.

“What’s the fuck is the point then?” he said.

She felt a flush of tears and hot earlobes – and suddenly felt ugly and damaged. Why was he being so mean?

A cool wind grazed the courtyard. It courted summer with the sharp distinction and promise of hazy days.

A different server returned with her drink.

This was the weather they built on with a tradition of afternoon margaritas with free chips and salsa. Her boyfriend would call it nostalgic – bottomless bliss. But she had caught an intoxicating, new scent of change.

It smelt like thyme – which accompanied the margarita surprisingly well.

She drained her margarita with a loud slurp. She always drank cocktails way too quickly – like fruit juice.

She didn’t want to think about the sacrificial loss. But she was adept at ignoring the consequences of letting go of whatever she needed to be able to feel something new – something different.

She thought of ordering a mojito and almost sneezed. She looked up to order and caught the curly-haired server smiling at her.

With a growing craving for the salmon and watercress special on the menu she decided she would be vegan again (starting next week). And she treated the decision with careless disregard, as if she had been one her whole life while justifying how it this made it okay to order seafood for lunch.