OK, this is a little silly, but I just went with it.
The waiter set the crepe in front of her, the slice of lemon twisted upon itself, the powdered sugar shaken to the edge of the plate. “Anything else?” he asked. Lisa shook her head and smiled. He stepped backward, pivoted and turned his attention to another table, a four-top, two couples made up of people most likely in their 20s, she thought. Early 20s. She listened to the guys order for their girlfriends – wives? – as if they were rehearsing for the role in which they had already been cast. “She’ll take the, uh, the one with the sun-dried tomato?”
The waiter knew his trade. “Does the lady want the sun-dried with the goat cheese? Or with the pesto?” he asked the man, then smiled at the woman. Respect appropriately given, the girlfriend – wife? – was free to answer without seeming as though she was correcting her husband. Boyfriend?
Lisa smiled again. Used her knife to slice a bite of crepe and her fork to tuck it into her mouth. The lemon tanged on her tongue even as the sugar sweetened it. She closed her eyes, let the flavors meld a moment longer before swallowing. She opened her eyes, pondered the wisdom of eating her food as if she was in some sort of Italian food commercial, decided she should save the sensual indulgence for somewhere other than the middle of lunch hour at the most popular restaurant in town and so settled down to eat her crepe in a more American manner.
Lisa sliced the remaining crepe into triangles with her fork, eating steadily, not making eye contact with the other customers, although she couldn’t help but overhear the couples, whose food had arrived by this point.
“Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere, they’re in each other all along.” The woman with the sun-dried tomato crepe – goat cheese version – recited the Rumi quote adorning the back wall. The quote provided a flourish to a mural that featured a sort of water goddess whose legs turned into trees rooting deep into the top half of planet Earth.
Lisa could hear the men exchange glances and she knew without looking that those glances carried the opposite message than the one the two women were likely exchanging. She smiled to herself as the last bite of lemon sugar butter dissolved on her tongue. Women were so predictable, as were men. What she wanted, what she longed for, what she looked for, was that place where all the learned behavior fell away. We have all emerged from the darkness, birthed from sea to cave to a place on land where we’re forever reaching for the sky and imagining some sort of other resides within, she thought as she set down enough cash to cover the check plus a 20 percent tip. The math annoyed her. She figured it was easier to just always leave too much. Not fiscally prudent, but fuck it, she was a poet, not a professor.
The waiter set the crepe in front of her, blue cheese crumbled onto apple slices so thin paper would ruffle with envy. “Anything else?” he asked. Black eyebrows framed eyes so blue that Sonia couldn’t speak. Instead she smiled and shook her head, turned her reddening face to her plate. The waiter faded to the next table, one where two couples sat facing each other, the women chatting and pointing at the menu as the men shifted in their seats saying nothing until the waiter asked if they were ready to order. Sonia pulled out her phone despite her earlier promise to herself to not be that woman sitting alone in a restaurant fiddling with her cell phone. Four more emails from students claiming confusion over the most recent assignment. Sonia skipped ahead to the fifth email, the one from Marcus asking if she was attending tomorrow’s brown bag lunch seminar on Motivating Millenials: A Guide to Today’s Generation. If you are, she thought. If you are and I can sit next to you and our legs will not quite touch and I’ll touch my hair too much and worry that I’m oversmiling every time you whisper some smartass comment in my ear. Her crepe arrived. This time Sonia didn’t blush, just said thank you as the waiter set her plate down. Her gaze wandered over the wall. She’d seen the mural a hundred times at this point, the creperie having captured her business years ago. The ocean goddess was hokey, she’d decided, and the whole tree-Earth thing contrived, but she couldn’t help but agree with Rumi’s observation that “Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere, they’re in each other all along.” She had so much inside her, after all, and couldn’t wait to meet the person who manifested her best self in his own, preferably blue-eyed and slightly French, way.