Thursday, February 17, 2011

location: pho cali

I woke up this morning and really wanted a glass of "salty plum", a vietnamese drink they serve here. Today they are out and I have to settle for "salty lemon" instead. I've had this happen before. The salty plum and salty lemon aren't that different in taste. It isn't a bad compromise. Salty plum seems a bit more far removed from the norm though, salty lemon just sounding like lemonade with salt in it.

A woman just knocked the window pane accidentally as she shaded her face with her hands and peered into the restaurant. We made eye contact and she seemed slightly embarrassed. She then entered the restaurant.

My salty lemon was just delivered to the table by the man who I have always assumed owns the place. He's a friendly middle aged vietnamese man that is best described as adorable. A friend of mine and I come here often so I figured he would be the one to drop off my salty lemon in order to say hello. He said "always the salty for you" as he set the glass on the table. He then asked if I had graduated and where I am currently working. He asked where Jenny was and why I now come alone. Jenny is in Portland I say, teaching art to young children. She is happy there. He smiles and says that he is happy for the both of us and I say thank you and he then walks to another table to resolve an issue that has arisen between an old woman and a girl who I am assuming is her grand daughter. The old woman is complaining that she didn't get what she ordered. She says her pho was supposed to have shrimp in it and that she is very upset. Her grand daughter is loudly exclaiming that she is wrong. They are causing a scene now. The grand daughter makes the point that there is no way the old woman could have ordered the pho with the shrimp in it because she wasn't even turned to that page on the menu when she ordered. The old woman is not stepping down from her position in the argument, responding that whatever she read off to the waitress had the word "shrimp" in it. The whole restaurant is staring at them. This includes a couple seated near me who have been quietly arguing amongst themselves and it is obvious to me that they are going through a break up. They have got to be somewhere just over or under thirty. The young woman has barely spoken a word as I hear the young man state that he feels the two of them just aren't on the same page anymore and that clearly this is what's best. She isn't facing me. Her back is towards me but I can tell she is crying because I can see as she lifts her hands to her face that she is wiping away tears in her eyes. I never understood why it is that men break up with their girlfriends over dinner, in a public place. Perhaps it is seen as a great way to avoid getting slapped or hit with a household object, such as a lamp or a dish. They think there will be less yelling, things will surely be handled more calmly and rational if you take the girl out in public. She wouldn't dare start screaming at the top of her lungs in the middle of the restaurant. Beware young fellow. There is always the one woman who will not hesitate to sand up and dump a bowl of pho on you and leave egg noodles dangling off your forehead. Hell she might even chuck some silverware your way, or go for the common drink throw to the face as she shouts out everything she possibly can to humiliate you in front of everyone.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I'm Sorry I Went Away For A Year.

I wonder what the old woman thinks about as she prunes the bushes in her yard wearing a floral bathrobe, her hair in rollers. Her daughter died in a car accident two years ago and her son committed suicide earlier this month. She has no children left now.

My mother always says that no mother should ever have to bury her children.

Location: Pastry Art

A girl I know is sitting at a table behind me. She is using the free Wi-Fi here at the cafe. I'm not sure she noticed me as I entered. If she did then I should feel guilty for not having flashed a smile or gestured a wave at her. She is a friendly girl, one I would expect to have tried to grab my attention and let me know she has spotted me. She did not do this so I think I am safe to assume she hasn't seen me and is now peering over the top of her Dell pondering whether the blonde haired girl sitting here writing is indeed a girl she knows as me.

The table I am seated at sits four. It is comprised of two smaller tables meant for two that have been pushed together. Two women entered the cafe just now and began to whisper about whether or not they would be justified in splitting the tables apart to claim two of the three seats that still remain available in the dining area. I cannot hear them, I just know by their eye contact and subtle pointing that this is what is being discussed. I don't mind. I love eavesdropping and will do just that the minute they seat themselves next to me. They ordered drinks and pulled half my table away only about 6 inches or so to form a semi-private bubble of their own where they are now free to converse. I wonder if they are suspicious of me tapping into their bubble. I doubt it. They probably are assuming I am some local college student scribbling away in her journal writing about a boyfriend or perhaps working on a poem or venting about a bad day. I am doing nothing of the sort, but am instead listening to every word they say. One woman worked at Stafford as a teacher. The lady she is with is similar in age. The ex-teacher is blonde. I can see her out of the corner of my eye. They both are not native to the area, and both lived in Washington D.C. at one point in their lives. The blonde moved here recently, the other has been here since '02. They seem to both agree that "there are a lot of idea people here, " says the blonde "...but no follow through." says the other, finishing the blonde's sentence. Doesn't that apply to almost everybody in any town? They are now discussing non-profits and setting up practices, having "familiarity with the medical side of things". They do not know one another well or they would not be discussing where they went to school, where they have lived over the past twenty years, and what their husbands do for a living. The Stafford blonde's husband writes software and works for G-Whiz, a hands on science center here in town. I am now lost. It is hard for me to keep up with them in between answering text messages. I now have to go. A sushi date awaits me a few blocks away. Should I walk or drive?