Diner Talk

She instantly drew herself up as she watched the chestnut haired figure she’d been waiting for. She waved emphatically at the suited man. She followed his strides along the windowed wall until he disappeared from her sight as he turned the corner. She didn’t know how long she’d been waiting but seeing the gorgeous man, short haired and scruffy, accentuating his strong, square jaw and knowing he was there for her made it well worth her time.
He opened the door. The bell seemed to reverberate in his ear, cut short as the door shut on it, abruptly ending its ring. He gazed over the configuration of the diner. He’d seen her in the window, now he just needed to find out where that meant she was in the diner. He saw her, her head turned almost 180 degrees, while her shoulders only allowed her to turn a mere 90. She was perked up like a meerkat, scanning for predators. He chuckled as he told himself she didn’t need to worry about predators. She was the predator, stealing life with her incessant nagging in that mouse squeak of a voice. He walked her way. Before sitting down he spoke, “We need to talk”. The exuberance that had danced in her hazel eyes as he walked over left as he uttered those four words.
“About what?” She pouted. He looked at her as she formed her lips to make the most beautiful frown.
“No I can’t do that…” He muttered under his breath. “I can’t let her do that.”
“What was that?” She asked. He was about to answer her, but his jaw fell slack and his mind went blank. His train of thought had been derailed by the far off sound of a bell and the loud voice of the cook screaming something about pigs in a blanket or some other diner speak that meant an order was up. “What do ya mean?” He was suddenly jerked back to reality by her words.
“Ya.” He thought to himself. It was such a common mistake that people made in everyday speech. No matter how common, he couldn’t forgive it of her. In the simple two letters of the word, she had been stripped. Her hair in her tightly coiled bun let loose, her professional white blouse, burst in all the right places. For once she looked human to him instead of this professional being she had always tried to fool people into believing. None of the people surrounding him saw this magnificent transformation. The businessman, dressed similarly as he was, were too busy going about their power lunches, mixing the pleasure of the sports section with the business of legal documents stained with the remains of today’s lunch special. The others, he had decided, couldn’t possibly see a change. They had seen what she was all along. She was a mere woman who, like others before her, had believed the key to being taken seriously was to dress sharply. This explained her wardrobe choice of the simply cut white top, with a form fitting knee length black skirt. “I can’t… this. Look, I can’t take thinking about this all the time anymore. It’s driving me mad, I can’t even get any work done anymore.”
Her eyes lit up. Was this it she thought? Was he asking her what she thought he was? “Yes…” she coyly said, egging him on.
“What does it mean to be honest to you?” he stated flatly. Her eyes grew dull, her disappointment showing. She didn’t know what to say to this. She scavenged his face for any signs.
“Where is this going?” She asked, her discomfort beginning to show. He looked about the restaurant. He was trying to avoid eye contact. She knew this maneuver. He’d done it on the third or fourth date when she tried to hold his hand and he had jerked away, wincing as if in actual physical discomfort as if his hand had just been doused with kerosene and set on fire. She tried not to let it hurt her whenever he did this. She had done a god job because she now only noticed it in passing, thinking nothing of it. The problem was, he still thought of it. He too remembered the first time she had tried to grab his hand and force it to coincide with her own. He had ripped his hand away, not out of embarrassment; it wasn’t her touch that caused him to feel the burn that caused him to wince. He had felt as though every time she touched him, all eyes were on them. He couldn’t take this kind of attention, with the already palpable strain of a relationship. He could feel all eyes congregate at a common focal point, the crimson leather booth where the girl and he presided. The eyes darted away from news broadcasters on the television, the crosswords of the Sunday times, and stock portfolios, to rest upon the two of them.
“Just answer the damn question. What does it mean to be honest to you?” He said quickly. She could tell his short temper was wearing thin. She had seen his eyes scope out the crowd at the diner. She allowed her eyes to wander across the crowded dining room. She saw nothing. She returned her gaze to meet his stern brown eyes.
“Well, I’ve always heard that honesty means never having to say you’re sorry…” She answered half expectedly, hoping to get a laugh from him. She scratched lightly at her neck with her appliqué French tip nails. This was her tell, but the man ignored it.
“You sure that wasn’t love?” he answered agitatedly. “Anyways, that wasn’t what I was asking!” He began to raise his voice and the people in the diner began to stare. This only served to make him more agitated, but he didn’t need the attention so he silently fumed. When he was able to collect his thoughts, he whispered in a venomous tone, “What does it mean to be honest to you?” He asked, placing strong emphasis on each syllable. “Would you say you’re always honest with me?”
She was uneasy again as she answered, “Yeah, for the most part.” He wanted to leap across the table at her. She was driving him mad and she didn’t even know it. How could this possibly work? He had asked himself that question many times, especially when they had first started dating. She would always call when she said she would. He wasn’t used to this from the women he normally dated. All signs would point to the possibility that he’d been dating all the wrong women. But he wasn’t. He knew he wasn’t, because when they hadn’t called he hadn’t expected them to call. Unlike the woman seated across from him, the light from the windows lining the wall reflecting her radiant skin, but somehow turning it flat and unappealing, lacking dimension or tone, or any sense of life to it, she had always called when she said she would. How he missed the girls that never called.
Just as he was about to speak, the waitress came. It was a marvel, they’d been sitting for 15, maybe 20 minutes of his hour long lunch break, and she decides to come at the most inconvenient time. When the waitress reached the table, she stood, hand on hip, left leg rigid with the right bent at the knee limply. She formed a bubble with her gum in her left cheek and popped it, causing it to crack without it ever leaving her mouth. She then opened her mouth to say, “What can I get for y’all?”
“I’ll have whatever today’s lunch special is.” He responded, eager for her to leave. She slowly jotted this down as if to make him more uncomfortable by her presence.
“Um… I… think I’ll have… the… salad, with the house dressing and… water with lemon.” The girl ordered painfully slowly. The waitress looked the girl up and down before deciding she probably could’ve ordered for the woman, all those women that came in her with their businessman boyfriends and husbands ordered the same thing. The girl felt the sting of her server’s calculating eyes. The girl responded to this with “That’s a lovely shade of eye shadow you’re wearing…” attempting to take the edge off with a compliment. “Where did you get it?”
“It’s from the dollar store, it’s called Teal Seal.” The waitress said gruffly. With that, she grabbed their menus and retreated to the solitude of the cash register to deliver their order tickets to the cook on duty.
“Oh my God!” The girl guffawed as the waitress walked away, but still not quite of earshot. “Did you see that girl? Her skin looked like the gobbler of a turkey! Ugh, and that eye shadow! But did you see her uniform? It’s a wonder they don’t chase off customers with those little numbers. Pale pink with white frills on the sleeves? What were they thinking?”
“Yeah,” he said quietly, more aware of the waitress’s presence than the woman obviously was. “Anyways, I was just about to say something.” He said uneasily, less angry this time, more afraid of the response he was going to get. “You said most of the time. I’d agree I’d say you’re honest with me for the most part and I’m honest with you for the most part.” He wanted to hit himself for tacking on that “for the most part” in the preface to his million-dollar question. “Well,” he began shakily, “what if I told a lie?” he wanted to scream. It was always his intention to pose this as a hypothetical question, but he had just successfully blown his own cover. He smiled to overcompensate for his tremendous mistake.
She saw his teeth arranged to form an overwhelming grin. She grew horrified at this. It had been so long since he had even smiled at her, and to be greeted for the first time in what seemed like years, although their relationship only spanned several months, with a smirk resembling that of a used car salesman. She prepared herself for the worst, only to find, he had already asked a question, and she was the only one who could supply an answer. She wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of a simple answer. She had a couple of questions of her own, and she deserved answers of her own. She feared that she didn’t want the answers that he could give. “Is there something you need to tell me?”


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