Sunday, October 19, 2003

Booth By The Window Day!

It's Sunday again so you're drinking alone. Normally, you'd take the second booth from the back. The one by the newspaper stack so you can leaf through the Sunday entertainment sections. But tonight you wanted to look at faces. Tomorrow you'll remember it more as you waiting for a face, like you made plans to meet someone there. But tonight, as far as you're concerned, you're just sitting in the booth by the window and letting your eyes register the folks passing by.

Down the block, crossing the street towards you, will be Jonathan. It will take you a second, then you'll remember that he had a small part in an awful one-night play you got roped into eight months prior. You shared twenty seven words with him that night and you remember liking him and hoping he might come out to the bar after the show. He did not and you decided he probably did not drink and therefore had nothing in common with you. You forgot about him.

He'll get close enough to hear you knock on the window, but you won't. He'll be close enough for you to see that his is not the face of a man who wants to come in and catch up over a Sunday evening drink. He'll be close enough for you to see that he's broken. You won't put on your coat before you run out after him.

Your gray sweater is a thick one, but it'll still be too cold out for you to leave your jacket in the bar. It'll all be okay in a minute though, you'll think.

You'll have to run half the block before you're within arm's length of him. His pace will be quick. When you can reach out and grab him, you'll hesitate. Then you'll reach out and grab his left hand. He'll wheel around, not like he's going to take a swing, but like he might be getting arrested.

Close up, you'll see his limp cheeks climb back onto their bones with not a little effort. You'll watch him take in your face and go from puzzlement to recognition, then back to puzzlement. He'll say, "Oh, hey. How've you..."

You'll cut him off when your left hand joins your right in holding his left hand tight. You'll squeeze his hand tight in both your hands, then you'll look up and let him know without saying so that he can keep on looking terrible in front of you.

His face will fall and he'll take a deep breath then two steps into your embrace. Eight months ago, you shared twenty seven words. Tonight he'll take two steps into your embrace and you'll stop thinking about how cold it is outside. He'll kiss the side of your head, your cheek, then your lips. Then you'll walk back to the bar with your arms around each other and you'll take a seat in that booth by the window. He'll have a whiskey, thank goodness.

Happy Booth By The Window Day!