Tim was working late Thursday night, getting the magic late-afternoon light for just the right shot. That left me needing to find dinner on my own. I seem to have little issue with eating by myself at lunchtime, but at dinner it can be tougher, especially if I want something in one of the finer restaurants.
I wanted Cambodian Hot Bowl at Natasha’s.
I figured I could sit at a bar. This can be a good option for introverts like me. I don’t really have trouble talking to people if they talk first. The question becomes, if I can get a seat at the bar, will I be the only one eating? With chopsticks? Is this going to work out?
I went. It’s basically a five-seat bar, and there was a seat available between a couple and this other guy. “So What” was playing on whatever they’re playing music on in restaurants these days: CDs programmed to random? iPods? Bar Guy was talking to a lingering waiter about John Coltrane.
The bartender’s name was Phaedra. Bar Guy told me. He’s a regular.
I hesitatingly ordered the Cambodian Hot Bowl, asking Phaedra how gauche it was to eat at the bar. She assured me it would be fine. I still had worries that I would be the only one scarfing down dinner. I didn’t want to be mocked.
Bar Guy couldn’t predict whether he would mock me. He claimed to be a Zen MockerTM who mocked only in the moment.
By the time the Cambodian Hot Bowl arrived, we were so engrossed in conversation about comedy, extreme darkness, good television, Michael Moore, blogs, and music that Bar Guy must have forgotten to mock me as I—and I alone—inhaled my bowl full of Asian vegetables, dainty rice cakes, shrimp, chicken, pineapple, fried banana, chopped peanut, mint, and cilantro. Every last bit of it. And I forgot to care that Others might be Watching.
I love this town.
When I left, “So What” had come around again.
Here’s Miles Davis, John Coltrane, et al. in 1958.