Second Date and the Squid
I was sitting at a little table at Maiwand Kabob in Columbia the other day. In walks this fetching red head and she’s looking around for someone. She stood there rather nervously “waiting.” The place was very busy and the wait staff was slow. It was a night of waiting, all around. She stood there for a few moments and then her face lit up and turned three shades of red. She covered her mouth and began laughing uncontrollably. I turn to see that a beautiful young man had entered the restaurant and he was smiling wildly at her. I don’t know how I knew, but they had that “second date” look about them. They stood there waiting to be seated for quite a long time, but they didn’t seem to notice the wait, they were so caught up in each other. It got me thinking about the passage of time and how quickly it flies when you’re with the one who makes you laugh. They were animated, and happy, and happy to be out with each other on this beautiful, temperate afternoon at the end of a long working day. I wondered if they knew they were being watched. I wondered how they’d feel about knowing what a beautiful picture they make, folded into each other, responding and reacting, mirroring back, in that way you do on a second date. That way you do when you want to say… “I really, really like you.” I finally asked our waitress if she would seat the nice couple. She muttered something about it being the bus boy’s job. But watching them wait made me anxious. And I wanted them to win! I became almost territorial. Like… someone needs to make sure these two people make it out of here alive! I felt that any incompetence on the part of the wait staff might spoil something, but then I remembered, at moments like this, when you’re with someone who feels that good, it’s almost as if the interference brings you even closer… and closer still when your shared reactions begin to bounce between and off of each other like bumbling bumblebees looking for nectar … like…”how curious, he just laughed that right off,” “how darling, her face all scrunched up,” “doesn’t anything phase her, how long can I wait for the kiss?” As the couple passed by, I finally saw the reason for her blushing. A giant yellow squid was now draped over her shoulder. Did he know? Did he guess? Was it her screenname? A bullet item under “likes,” no… “obsessions.” The important thing, I told myself, is that he had been paying attention. Somewhere along the line, he had been paying attention. It was so darling watching them watch each other. Watching her get up to powder her nose. Watching him check and straighten, while alone and pensive at the table. Waiting. I imagined her touching up her lip gloss. And I wondered if she felt beautiful that night when she looked in the mirror in the restroom of Maiwand Kabob. Or if it almost certainly paled in comparison to the way he saw her. The fullness of her. The wholeness of her. And that moment of wholeness too large for the largest of lenses, but which will most certainly top spot on his “best ofs” mix tape: her face in shades of crimson, as he walked through the door with that goddamn squid.