Burrito Threesome

When a restaurant gets too crowded you end up having dinner with strangers, sharing a long bench table, perhaps with an attractive woman who ordered her burrito in line in front of you just moments ago, who you end up sitting across from, and diagonally across from her date seated next to her. This happened last night — of my writing, not your reading, this — though that barely matters. Nights have a way of propagating on top of one another, stacking into volumes of forgettable Proust, and then we are asleep, all met by the same stubborn ball of sun every pale dawn. This is called time.

We are not friends, so I awkwardly eat my carne asada “super” burrito through a set of tight hand and facial movements which do not require me to look straight ahead. Her date, who hasn’t made love to her yet, and probably ever, talks in a manner so as to impress upon her how complex and unique his mind is. He goes on about himself, actually saying “anybody who knows me knows …” I know this, because I’m a guy, and there’s a certain way guys act towards girls they want to sleep with; it’s a kind of pathetic self-nobility, the tight-rope walk between confident and cocky. He remarked how “awesome” his burrito was, code for him being awesome too.

They were old friends, perhaps from college or even earlier, as they inquired about the lives of mutual friends, in a casual non-judgmental manner. “How is Erin Waller?” “Hey, whatever happened to Joe, the steroid wrestler, remember?” “Is Jenny still married to that asshole?” “I hear Todd Metzger was gay for awhile.” “Is Brett Covy still, you know…” Each name thrown out like pawns for ennui chess. Life happens. We live slower, older. Those who hold on to their youth – the latest in band, a relevant t-shirt, an edgy haircut – do so through wrinkles or layers of fat, the aggregate of chronic self. When I finally looked at her, she was less lovely than I imagined. To dream inside a woman’s face is to always wake up.

And the answers: “Who knows.” “Got a masters, moved to London.” “Yeah, totally” “I think so.” “He’s in Colorado now.” “Probably, wasn’t he Mormon?” “I thought they got divorced, or he died or something?” The answers often incur more questions. The occasional silences were great, save the squishy saliva-lubed mastication of our mouths. We were given urban modern life rules: to eat so close together next to one another as in family, but not be in the same place, so we earnestly ignored each other, looking down, looking up, looking anywhere, until I finished my burrito, carefully backed away from my narrow position without bumping into the group similarly situated behind me, and exited into the street.

I don’t know who Erin or Joe or Jenny of Todd are. It doesn’t matter, because I have my own set of wonder: John B., Michelle D., Charles & George W., Neeraj I. can’t remember his last name. And you have your own too, the ones who fell out of your mind then back in, the flappy masks of someones inside your mind; the crisp names and blurred faces we inherit. Some people manage to lodge themselves inside a chest, as a cardiovascular memory, or disease, like warm pieces of coal or tiny asteroids drawn to home.

Men are boring, and will always be. After dinner he’ll try to kiss you, and you may concede, lightly leaning in with mild acceptance, your lips pensively sealed as you feel a tepid patch of wet on your cheek, a lost ship moving towards the mouth. You will become a name he’ll ask about years later, a face he never dared to see on his pillow thinned out by a million lies. You will hear cars rushing behind you to their respective destinations, driven by people who, for one moment at red, turned their heads to see the quaint sad scene of two people going through the mechanisms of a curb goodbye.

He goes to a popular social networking site and looks for you, finds you, then at you, forensically making sense of each clue behind you – the passing season in the branches; the spilled drinks on the wet table; the grim location of someone else’s hand – as if patching together the mystery of why you didn’t smile that night. The click of a mouse is its cry. Every clue of you is an embalmed sign, briefly described by the sudden forward constellation of a camera’s unloving blue flash. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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